KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. House Passes $8.3B Emergency Spending Bill For COVID-19 Response; Senate Expected To Vote On Bill Soon

CNN: House passes $8.3 billion total coronavirus response package
“The House voted on Wednesday to pass a sweeping spending package to dedicate billions of dollars to dealing with the coronavirus outbreak as lawmakers scramble to combat the spread of the disease. The measure will next need to be taken up by the Senate. The White House is expected to back the deal…” (Foran et al., 3/4).

The Hill: Lawmakers clinch deal for $8.3 billion to combat coronavirus
“…The bill, negotiated by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), provides $7.76 billion to combat the coronavirus — three times the $2.5 billion initially requested by the White House. It also authorizes another $500 million in waivers for Medicare telehealth restrictions, bringing the total figure greenlighted under the bill up to $8.3 billion…” (Carney, 3/4).

MedPage Today: Coronavirus Control Needs More $$, Better Messaging
“Public health experts called for more funding and clear messaging from the federal government to support state and local community responses to the novel coronavirus at a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing Wednesday. One of those requests was on the way to being met: later in the afternoon, the House passed an $8.3 billion emergency aid package for the COVID-19 response. The Senate will take up the package; Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who chairs a key committee, issued a press release promising to speed enactment, although it gave a figure of only $7.8 billion…” (Firth, 3/4).

POLITICO: House swiftly passes bipartisan $8.3B coronavirus package
“…The agreement comes after several days of partisan bickering over vaccine affordability and other issues that had ensnared the bipartisan, bicameral talks. Negotiators ultimately agreed to include $300 million ‘to help ensure that, when a vaccine is developed, Americans can receive it regardless of their ability to pay,’ according to a House Democratic aide. Vaccine affordability has been one of the biggest holdups to a final package…” (Emma et al., 3/4).

Wall Street Journal: House Passes $8.3 Billion Bill to Battle Coronavirus
“…The legislation, crafted by top Republicans and Democrats, caps less than two weeks of negotiations that began when the White House said it planned to spend roughly $2.5 billion on fighting the virus, an amount lawmakers said was too low. It passed the House overwhelmingly, with just two Republicans voting against it and 415 members supporting it. President Trump has said he would sign whatever package Congress approves…” (Duehren, 3/4).

Washington Post: House passes $8.3 billion emergency spending package to respond to coronavirus outbreak
“…Some 85 percent of the money in the bill would be spent domestically, but there is also $1.25 billion for the State Department to assist in battling the spread of the coronavirus overseas. This would include evacuation expenses and humanitarian aid, among other things. The final price tag on the bill dwarfed a $2.5 billion spending proposal the White House presented last week, which was divided between $1.25 billion in new funds and $1.25 billion taken from other accounts, such as an Ebola response fund. By contrast, the congressional bill is all new money…” (Werner et al., 3/4).

Additional coverage of the COVID-19 emergency spending bill, the U.S. government response, and the outbreak’s impact on U.S. elections is available from Axios, Business Insider, CNBC, Financial Times, The Hill, New York Times (2), NPR, and Washington Post.

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Nations Worldwide Facing Disruptions, Impacts From COVID-19 As Virus Spreads West

AP: Global spread of new virus brings more travel woes, bans
“The accelerating spread of the coronavirus created new barriers between the world’s regions and peoples Thursday, draining color from India’s spring festivities, closing Bethlehem’s Nativity Church, contributing to a British airline’s collapse, and blocking Italians from visiting elderly relatives in nursing homes. As China, after many arduous weeks, appeared to be winning its epic, costly battle against the new virus, the fight was just revving up in newly affected areas of the globe, unleashing disruptions that profoundly impacted billions of people…” (Sedensky et al., 3/5).

Additional coverage of how various nations and organizations are addressing COVID-19 is available from New York Times (2), NPR, Reuters (2), U.N. News, and Washington Post.

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U.S. Government, Pharmaceutical Companies Working Quickly To Develop COVID-19 Vaccines, Treatments For Testing

Devex: Inside the race to find a coronavirus vaccine
“The global health community is trying to fast-track the development of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus. COVID-19 has now affected over 70 countries globally, with 93,090 confirmed cases and 3,198 deaths. Questions are also emerging on global access to the vaccine, once a viable candidate has been developed…” (Ravelo, 3/5).

Financial Times: U.S. defense department in race to identify coronavirus treatment
“Scientists funded by the U.S. defense department are racing to extract coronavirus antibodies from the blood of a recovered patient, in an attempt to develop short-term treatments to protect frontline healthcare workers and military personnel…” (Manson, 3/4).

Washington Post: Fact-checking Trump’s accelerated timeline for a coronavirus vaccine
“…Health experts say they have completed vaccine options ready for testing at a historically fast rate. However, a vaccine available for public use is different than a vaccine ready for the first phase of testing. Experts have emphasized that actual deployment of the vaccine is more than a year away, not a few months, as Trump has suggested…” (Samuels, 3/4).

Additional coverage of efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine is available from Financial Times, IBT, and STAT.

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Media Outlets Examine Political, Social, Economic Impacts Of Coronavirus Outbreak

The Atlantic: The Coronavirus Is More Than Just a Health Crisis
“…An outbreak like the coronavirus reveals the priorities and values of a society, and how long it can cope without the freedoms it’s accustomed to. Here in London, the government acknowledges that its own power is limited, and that it may have only a small window to impose curbs on a population unused to even basic state restrictions. The first task for governments hoping to lead their countries calmly through the challenge might be to level with the public about this basic fact: that the puzzle of how to respond to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is not solely a scientific one, but a social and political one requiring widespread buy-in…” (McTague, 3/5).

U.N. News: Coronavirus COVID-19 wipes $50 billion off global exports in February alone, as IMF pledges support for vulnerable nations
“The extent of the damage to the global economy caused by novel coronavirus COVID-19 moved further into focus on Wednesday as U.N. economists announced a likely $50 billion drop in worldwide manufacturing exports in February alone. In remarks made at a joint press conference with the head of the World Bank Group, the IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, said that the U.N.-backed global funds would make up the shortfall, in effect, by offering to inject around $50 billion into low-income and emerging market nations, pending requests for support…” (3/4).

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News Outlets Report On COVID-19 Outbreak In China, Country's Response, Residents' Reactions

AP: China’s virus slowdown offers hope for global containment (Tanner et al., 3/4).

New York Times: China’s Battle Against Coronavirus: 7 Takeaways (McNeil, 3/4).

NPR: Many Younger Chinese Speak Out Against Handling Of Coronavirus (Feng, 3/5).

Reuters: China to step up funding support for virus-hit regions (Yao/Singh, 3/5).

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Foreign Policy Examines Political Appointee In U.S. State Department Role Overseeing Relations With U.N., WHO

Foreign Policy: Trump Loyalist Appointed to Oversee Relations With U.N., World Health Organization
“Sean Doocey, the former chief of the White House personnel office, has been appointed to a senior position at the State Department Bureau of International Organization Affairs, putting another political appointee with little experience in multilateral affairs in the top ranks of an agency responsible for managing U.S. relations with the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and other international organizations. The appointment — which hasn’t been publicly announced — comes just weeks after the White House announced that Pam Pryor would serve as the bureau’s acting assistant secretary of state. … The dual hires have dealt a blow to morale among State Department career staffers, who have endured nearly three years of hostile treatment from Trump appointee loyalists, according to a report by the department’s Office of the Inspector General and to State Department officials who spoke to Foreign Policy…” (Lynch/Gramer, 3/4).

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U.N. Appeals For $253M To Address Growing Food Insecurity In Haiti; USAID's Green Answers Questions In Congressional Hearing

Miami Herald: Millions of Haitians are facing famine. U.N. appeals for $253 million to address crisis.
“With millions of Haitians potentially facing famine, the United Nations on Wednesday launched an emergency humanitarian appeal seeking $253 million to help the most vulnerable and in need of assistance. … [Bruno Lemarquis, the U.N humanitarian coordinator for Haiti, told journalists in New York,] 4.6 million Haitians, or 40% of Haiti’s estimated 11 million residents, today are facing a humanitarian crisis…” (Charles, 3/4).

Miami Herald/C-SPAN: USAID on the crisis in Haiti
“[U.S. Agency for International Development] Administrator Mark Green is asked about Haiti during a budget request by members of Congress…” (3/4).

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DRC Health Officials Enter 42-Day Observation Period In Ebola Outbreak; WHO Says Additional $40M Needed For Strategic Response Plan

Devex: Last Ebola patient discharged — what’s next?
“…This is the first time over the past year and a half that the response has entered into an observation period, according to Dr. Abdou Salam Gueye, DRC incident manager at the World Health Organization. … If there are no new cases by the end of this [42-day] period, WHO will declare the end of the outbreak. The countdown started on March 2. … The current strategic response plan — which outlines the response activities needed to end the outbreak — calls for an estimated $83 million from January to June to fund the response, but WHO said it still needs $40 million. Funds are also needed for surveillance efforts and to keep treatment centers active to manage suspected cases. … If this is truly the end of the Ebola outbreak in the DRC, this could mean that more attention can be paid to other outbreaks in DRC, including the world’s worst measles outbreak, as well as prevention efforts for a COVID-19 outbreak…” (Jerving, 3/5).

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Tenfold Increase In Climate Change Finance Needed To Ensure Access To Water, WaterAid Report Says

Devex: WaterAid calls for tenfold increase in climate finance for access to water
“Countries with the lowest levels of water access receive as little as 17 cents per person per year in climate finance for water service adaptation, according to a new report by WaterAid, which said that amount should be 10 times higher since improved access to clean water is a vital defense against the impacts of climate change…” (Root, 3/5).

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Venezuela's President Urges All Women To Have 6 Children As Nation's Humanitarian Needs Grow

AP: Venezuela’s president urges all women to have 6 children
“President Nicolás Maduro wants Venezuelan women to have many children as a way to boost the country, which has seen millions of people flee in recent years to escape its economic crisis. Maduro made the exhortation during a televised event Tuesday evening for a government program promoting various birth methods…” (Rueda, 3/4).

The Guardian: Venezuela’s president urges women to have six children each ‘for good of the country’
“…The comment sparked outrage in the country where a deepening economic crisis is felt across society. Venezuela’s central bank said inflation reached nearly 10,000% last year, while shortages from basic foodstuffs to medical supplies are widespread. Child malnutrition is estimated at 13%, according to UNICEF. Venezuela’s government has not published infant mortality figures since 2017, when a health ministry bulletin revealed that 11,466 children had died the previous year — a 30% jump in infant mortality…” (Daniels, 3/4).

New Humanitarian: Q&A: Venezuela’s growing aid needs and continuing political restrictions
“In February 2019, a tense standoff over U.S. humanitarian aid for Venezuelans led to accusations of a foreign invasion and rival pop concerts at opposite ends of the bridge connecting Venezuela to the Colombian border town of Cúcuta. A year on, much has changed, but not the politicization of aid within Venezuela. According to Miguel Pizarro, who acts as the U.N. representative and as an intermediary with international organizations for the opposition ‘government’ of Juan Guaidó, politics is even depriving people of basic services…” (Dupraz-Dobias, 3/4).

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PRI Examines Debate Over Abortion Rights In Colombia, Argentina

PRI: Two key decisions on abortion in Colombia and Argentina this month
“…Debate over abortion rights across Latin America, as in other parts of the world, has often been adversarial, and supporters and opponents from across the continent followed the Colombian court’s decision. They are looking forward to pending legislation that would legalize elective abortions in Argentina. On Monday night, Colombia’s Constitutional Court voted to uphold a previous ruling that allows the procedure when a woman’s life is at risk, the fetus is malformed, or the pregnancy is a result of rape. Tens of thousands of women in both countries have been taking to the streets to demand legal access to reproductive health rights, but have faced opposition, as public opinion is mixed in their largely Catholic and often conservative societies…” (Valencia, 3/4).

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More News In Global Health

The Guardian: UNAIDS chief vows to act after tribunal upholds staff harassment complaints (Ahmed, 3/5).

The Guardian: Nine out of 10 people found to be biased against women (Ford, 3/5).

The Guardian: Save the Children chief resists calls to quit after damning watchdog inquiry (McVeigh, 3/4).

PRI: Analysis: A crucial moment for women’s rights in Afghanistan (Barr, 3/4).

Reuters Health: New TB drug regimen controls resistant disease in 9 of 10 cases: study (Emery, 3/4).

U.N. News: Yemen: U.N. Population Fund stresses women’s needs, amidst world’s worst humanitarian crisis (3/4).

U.N. News: Syria: U.N. food relief agency ‘doing everything we can’ to reach Idlib civilians (3/4).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Issues Related To COVID-19, Including Global Need To Strengthen Health Systems

Financial Times: World Bank: Coronavirus highlights the need to strengthen health systems
David Malpass, president of the World Bank Group

“…[A]ddressing emergency health and economic impacts from this outbreak must be followed by longer-term investments to build stronger and more resilient health systems. This makes sense both from a health and an economic perspective. … All governments should increase their health security. Strong primary health systems are the most effective way to do that. … This outbreak can be contained. Actions taken now by countries and the international community can save lives. The breadth of the response will be crucial to its effectiveness. Countries must … strengthen their health surveillance and primary health systems, which are essential to stopping the spread of this and any future outbreaks” (3/4).

The Atlantic: It’s Not Too Late to Fight the Coronavirus
Lawrence Gostin, professor of global health law and director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, and director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law (3/5).

Bloomberg: Coronavirus Just Made Iraq’s Political Crisis Worse
Bobby Ghosh, columnist and member of the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board (3/3).

CNN: The Trump administration’s ludicrous approach to coronavirus vaccine
Jeffrey Sachs, professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University (3/5).

The Conversation: Yes, washing our hands really can help curb the spread of coronavirus
Karen Hofman, professor and program director at the SA MRC Centre for Health Economics and Decision Science – PRICELESS SA (Priority Cost Effective Lessons in Systems Strengthening South Africa) at the University of the Witwatersrand, and Susan Goldstein, professor at the School of Public Health at the University of the Witwatersrand (3/4).

Foreign Policy: Don’t Count on Disaster Diplomacy as a Path to Peace
Ilan Kelman, professor at University College London and the University of Agder in Norway (3/3).

IPS: Coronavirus Exposes Global Economic Vulnerability
Anis Chowdhury, adjunct professor at the University of New South Wales and Western Sydney University, and Jomo Kwame Sundaram, assistant director general and coordinator for economic and social development at the U.N. FAO (3/4).

New York Times: Letters to the Editor: Vaccine Development: The Ebola Example
Julie L. Gerberding, infectious disease doctor and chief patient officer at Merck (3/4).

New York Times: Coronavirus: Revenge of the Pangolins
Wufei Yu, Chinese journalist and contributor to Outside Magazine (3/5).

Project Syndicate: How America Can Beat COVID-19
James K. Galbraith, professor and chair in government/business relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and author (3/4).

Project Syndicate: Will the Coronavirus Topple China’s One-Party Regime?
Minxin Pei, professor at Claremont McKenna College and non-resident senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States (3/4).

STAT: How innovation is helping mitigate the coronavirus threat
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association and author (3/4).

Washington Post: Trump’s coronavirus response puts his authoritarian instincts on full view
Frida Ghitis, writer for the Washington Post (3/4).

Washington Post: Has Australia’s leader learned from the catastrophic fires? The coronavirus is a test.
Richard Glover, presenter of the ‘Drive’ show on ABC Radio Sydney and author (3/4).

Washington Post: Does the World Health Organization have the freedom to do what it needs to do about covid-19?
Jeremy Youde, global health politics researcher and dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota Duluth (3/4).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Health Community Publishes Blog Posts, Guidance On COVID-19

Center for Global Development: World Bank and COVID-19: Five Unanswered Questions on Funding Sources and Uses
Amanda Glassman, executive vice president and senior fellow at CGD and CEO of CGD Europe, and Scott Morris, director of the U.S. Development Policy Initiative, co-director of Sustainable Development Finance, and senior fellow at CGD, highlight five questions on the World Bank’s announcement of $12 billion in financing available to member countries to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak (3/4).

Council on Foreign Relations: Nigeria Responds to First Coronavirus Case, Learning From 2014 Ebola Response
John Campbell, Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa Policy Studies at CFR, discusses Nigeria’s response to its first coronavirus case and compares it to the country’s response to Ebola (3/4).

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Global Fund Issues New Guidance in Response to COVID-19
“The Global Fund announced [Wednesday] new guidance to enable countries to strengthen their response to the new coronavirus, COVID-19, by using existing grants in a swift, nimble, and pragmatic way. Working within its mandate to fight HIV, TB, and malaria and to strengthen systems for health, the Global Fund is encouraging countries to reprogram savings from existing grants and to redeploy underutilized resources to mitigate the potential negative consequences of COVID-19 on health and health systems. In exceptional cases, countries may be able to reprogram funding from existing grants to COVID-19 response…” (3/4).

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Policy Manager At ONE Campaign Highlights Key Takeaways From OECD's Latest ODA Data

ONE: ONE’s key takeaways from the latest aid data
Jorge Rivera, policy manager for development finance at the ONE Campaign, discusses key takeaways from OECD’s latest official development assistance (ODA) data for 2018: “Aid decreased for the second year in a row. But the devil is in the detail: many donors increased their investments … Less aid is staying in donor countries than before … A larger share of aid is being targeted to the countries and regions with the greatest needs … More aid is being spent in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment…” (3/4).

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From the U.S. Government

Senate Health Committee Chair Lamar Alexander Releases Statement On Coronavirus Supplemental Funding Legislation

Office of Lamar Alexander: Alexander: Congress Acting Quickly to Fight Coronavirus
“Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) [on Wednesday] released the following statement on the coronavirus supplemental funding legislation: ‘This legislation will deliver an important boost in funding to fight coronavirus and the Senate should pass it this week so President Trump can sign it into law as soon as possible. The United States has taken aggressive steps to keep Americans safe from the coronavirus and to prepare for additional cases, and this legislation will help that effort. … As Chairman of the Senate health committee, I will continue to work to make sure that the Administration is implementing the preparedness and response framework for emerging public health threats that Congress has already provided and continue supporting state and local public health departments…'” (3/4).

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