KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Secretary Of State Tillerson Announces $533M In Aid For African Nations Suffering Conflict, Drought, Praises PEPFAR In Speech Ahead Of African Tour

Associated Press: Tillerson to Africa on a damage-control mission for Trump
“As far as Africa’s concerned, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Trump administration have some explaining to do. President Donald Trump’s description of ‘shithole countries’ in January was greeted with a mix of horror and outrage in Africa, where many don’t know what to think about the U.S. president — or what he thinks of them. He’s rarely spoken about priorities for the continent, which garnered a mere seven paragraphs on the very last pages of Trump’s National Security Strategy. It falls to Tillerson to mend the damage as he travels to the continent on Tuesday, becoming the most senior U.S. official to set foot there since Trump took office more than a year ago…” (Lederman, 3/7).

Bloomberg Politics: Tillerson Heads to Africa With Security, Not Aid, as U.S. Focus
“…Tillerson heads to the continent with the Trump administration advocating cuts of more than a third in aid to African countries and programs, along with deep reductions to global health initiatives. With several U.S. allies struggling to rein in Islamist extremist groups, and China increasingly making inroads on the continent, the U.S. security relationship will be the focus…” (Wadhams, 3/7).

Los Angeles Times: Tillerson heads to Africa to discuss counter-terrorism, development, China, and debt
“…Before leaving Washington, Tillerson announced a new allotment of $533 million in aid for Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, and parts of the Lake Chad region, areas suffering from armed conflict and drought. He received support from the commander of U.S. military forces in Africa, who advocated Tuesday for a stronger diplomatic arm on the continent…” (Wilkinson, 3/6).

New York Times: Seeking to Heal a Rift, Tillerson Pledges New Aid to Africa
“…In a speech before leaving Washington, Mr. Tillerson trumpeted American efforts to improve access to electricity across Africa and provide critical drugs for millions of people to treat HIV/AIDS. He did not mention, however, that the Trump administration has proposed slashing funding for both programs, along with other aid efforts seen as vital in Africa. Mr. Tillerson is scheduled to visit Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Chad, and Nigeria…” (Harris et al., 3/6).

Quartz: China is pushing Africa into debt, says America’s top diplomat
“…After repeatedly demonstrating indifference and skepticism about Africa’s place in U.S. foreign policy, Tillerson’s speech ahead of his five-nation tour was the first to offer some sense of the Trump administration’s Africa policy. During his meetings in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Chad, and Nigeria, Tillerson said he will engage leaders on issues ranging from counter-terrorism and governance to trade and investment. He also lauded the success of signature George W. Bush and Barack Obama programs like Power Africa to provide electricity, the Young African Leaders Initiative to support upcoming leaders, and the PEPFAR initiative to fight HIV/AIDS…” (Dahir/Kazeem, 3/7).

Reuters: U.S. to provide more than $533 mln in aid amid African conflicts, drought
“The United States will give more than $533 million in humanitarian aid for victims of conflicts and drought in Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and the West and Central African countries bordering Lake Chad, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday. … He also said the United States supported the creation of a development finance institution for Africa…” (Brice, 3/7).

Wall Street Journal: Tillerson to Stress Security, Trade on Africa Trip, as U.S. Seeks to Set Priorities
“…The Trump administration has yet to nominate a chief U.S. diplomat for Africa, while eight embassies, including South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia, remain without ambassadors. The State Department has said its working with the White House to put officials in place and that career staffers are capable of the work in the interim…” (Stevis-Gridneff/Schwartz, 3/6).

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U.S. Lawmakers Debate Proposal To Move Nation's Emergency Medical Stockpile Control In Pandemic Preparedness Bill

CQ News: Debate Over Medical Stockpile Emerges in Pandemic Bill Talks
“Lawmakers working on a bipartisan pandemic preparedness bill are sparring over the future of the nation’s emergency medical supply stockpile. Congress needs to renew the authority by Sept. 30 for programs that fund the development of drugs and other products for infectious disease outbreaks or other emergencies. … [S]ome House and Senate Democrats worry that a proposal to transfer authority over the emergency stockpile from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to another office within the Department of Health and Human Services risks politicizing its governance and could give industry outsized influence over what is purchased…” (Siddons, 3/5).

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U.K. Secretary Of State For International Development Penny Mordaunt Discusses Disability-Inclusive Development In Devex Interview

Devex: Q&A: Penny Mordaunt on the urgent need for disability-inclusive development
“Wednesday afternoon, Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt will give a speech at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Disability, outlining her goals for the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development’s focus on disability and inclusion. … Mordaunt spoke to Devex about her plans for putting disability at the center of U.K. aid, how she sees disability cutting across the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and how disability fits into DFID’s other priorities, namely poverty reduction…” (Anders, 3/7).

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Global Fund To No Longer Allow Extensions For Grants; Countries' Unspent Money Will Be Reallocated Into Fund's Next Funding Cycle

Devex: Global Fund pushes countries to spend faster — or lose funds
“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is cracking down on countries that don’t spend the entire grants they’ve received from the fund for their HIV and AIDS, malaria, and TB programs. In a change in policy, when the Global Fund’s three-year funding implementation cycle ends, countries can no longer apply for extensions to use up the remaining funds. For the first time, the Global Fund placed a firm deadline at the end of December last year which prevented countries with unspent funds from using those funds into the new year. This is a shift from the past when the fund was more flexible on extensions for the use of unused funds…” (Jerving, 3/7).

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Bloomberg Philanthropies Announces New Global Tobacco Watchdog Group At International Tobacco Conference

Business Day: Michael Bloomberg and STOP have Big Tobacco in their sights
“Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is putting $20m into countering the tobacco industry’s attempts to undermine tobacco control measures, with the creation of a new global watchdog called Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP) that will be run by his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies. The initiative was launched as the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health gets under way in Cape Town this week…” (Kahn, 3/7).

The Guardian: Michael Bloomberg launches tobacco industry watchdog
“…The agency will ‘aggressively monitor deceptive tobacco industry tactics and practices to undermine public health,’ said Bloomberg Philanthropies. Global information and data on the behavior of the tobacco companies, especially in low- and middle-income countries where they are seeking to grow their markets, will be collated and held on a public website. The move follows recent uproar among anti-tobacco and public health campaigners over the investment of $80m by the world’s biggest cigarette-maker, Philip Morris International (PMI), in a new body called the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World…” (Boseley, 3/7).

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International Tobacco Conference Forbids Attendance By People Associated With Industry, Including Head Of Foundation For A Smoke-Free World

Health24: Ex-WHO expert banned from tobacco conference after links to Marlboro maker
“The global tobacco control conference opens for the first time on African soil today in Cape Town, but South African-born Dr. Derek Yach, a former World Health Organization (WHO) official, has been forbidden to attend because of his links to Marlboro. … Today, the South African-born doctor is a pariah in the tobacco control world, after his appointment in September 2017 to head … the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, which is being bankrolled by Philip Morris International (PMI), the manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes. … The attendance section of the 17th World Conference of ‘Tobacco or Health’ website expressly forbids access to anyone associated with the new foundation or any tobacco company…” (Cullinan, 3/7).

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520M Children 'Uncounted' In SDG Progress Data, UNICEF Says

U.N. News: Over half a billion ‘uncounted’ children live in countries unable to measure their development progress — UNICEF
“…UNICEF’s Progress for Children in the SDG Era is the first thematic performance assessment report toward achieving the global targets that concern children and youth. The report raises the alarm that 520 million children live in countries that lack data on at least two-thirds of child-related SDG indicators, or lack sufficient data to assess their progress — rendering those children effectively ‘uncounted’…” (3/6).

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CEPI, Austrian Biotech Company Themis Sign Agreement To Develop Vaccines For MERS, Lassa Fever

STAT: Global health coalition inks agreement to develop vaccines for MERS, Lassa fever
“…In a major step, that organization known as CEPI — the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations — said this week that it has awarded its first contract, an agreement with an Austrian biotech company to develop vaccines to protect against Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, and Lassa fever. Themis Bioscience, of Vienna, could receive up to $37.5 million to develop and manufacture the vaccines. The privately held company already has Zika and chikungunya virus vaccines in its development pipeline…” (Branswell, 3/6).

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Pakistan Government's Crackdown On NGOs Harming Access To Health Care, Aid Workers Say

IRIN: Pakistan’s NGO crackdown prompts widening alarm among aid workers
“…Pakistan’s government has slapped punitive taxes on NGOs, threatened to shut down international organizations that don’t meet opaque new registration requirements, and launched a separate graft investigation across the sector. International NGOs work in key sectors including disaster response and health in [rural] places like Bhagwal, where government services don’t always reach. Advocates warn that millions of people across the country could face new risks…” (Saeed, 3/6).

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Argentina Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Legalize Abortion In Early Pregnancy

Reuters: Argentina lawmakers present bill to legalize abortion
“Dozens of Argentine lawmakers of all political stripes presented a bill to legalize abortion on Tuesday, launching a debate that promised to divide a deeply Catholic nation. Amid cheers from activists, around 70 members of the lower house of Congress unveiled a bill that would allow women in Argentina to interrupt pregnancy during the first 14 weeks, according to a copy of the proposal seen by Reuters…” (Misculin/Stauffer, 3/6).

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More News In Global Health

CNN: 16 and trying not to get pregnant (Field/Quiano, 3/5).

Devex: How rats could help reduce the global TB burden (Jerving, 3/6).

The Guardian: Can health workers stop thousands of women being killed in Guatemala? (Johnson, 3/7).

New York Times: Getting Care to Those Who Need It, and Fast (Mohn, 3/7).

Quartz: South Africa’s listeria outbreak is forcing the country to rethink its iconic national foods (Chutel, 3/6).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Under-pressure donors urged to help avoid famine in Somalia (Mannion, 3/5).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Should Continue To Lead In Providing Aid, Press U.N. Security Council For Arms Embargo As Famine Looms In South Sudan

New York Times: Famine Stalks South Sudan
Editorial Board

“In the catalog of horrors afflicting the world’s most hellish places, South Sudan can check about every bloodied box. More than four years of civil warfare has left tens of thousands dead, two million displaced, half the population at threat of starvation without aid, and a trail of atrocities — genocide, child warriors, rape, castration, burned villages. And now, warns the United Nations, famine stalks the tortured land. … An arms embargo is a must, and the United States must continue to press for one in the Security Council. Washington should also continue to lead the way in providing emergency assistance…” (3/6).

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Collecting, Using Data On Disaster-Related Losses Will Allow Countries To Better Manage Risk

Thomson Reuters Foundation: To prevent disasters, you must count your losses
Mami Mizutori, U.N. special representative of the secretary general for disaster risk reduction and head of the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

“…This month will see that work begin to bear fruit as countries start to use the online tool, the Sendai Framework Monitor, to report on their disaster losses in 2017 including mortality, numbers of people affected, economic losses, and damage to critical infrastructure. … From this work, a clear picture will start to emerge of the strategic challenges facing many countries at the local level in addressing the risk of both extreme and small-scale recurring events which destroy their ability to lift themselves out of poverty. … A more complete understanding of where and when these disaster losses are occurring will equip national and local governments with the insight necessary to meet another Sendai Framework target, which is to have a substantial increase in the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020…” (3/6).

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Focusing On Whole Health System Critical To Improving Maternal, Child Mortality

Project Syndicate: Why Does Childbirth Still Kill?
Katherine Semrau, epidemiologist and Better Birth program leader at Ariadne Labs

“Each year, more than 5.6 million women and newborns die during pregnancy, childbirth, or in the first month of life. What is more shocking is the vast majority of these deaths should never happen. … Ninety-nine percent of maternal deaths and 80 percent of newborn deaths can be prevented with known interventions. We know that giving birth in a health facility with a skilled clinician should mean better care and better outcomes. In many places, however, encouraging women to deliver in health facilities, rather than at home, has not resulted in reduced mortality. The problem is low quality care. To make progress on reducing mortality, we now need to focus on improving and strengthening the frontline primary care facilities where the majority of births worldwide are happening. … We are closer than we have ever been to closing the gap on maternal and newborn mortality. We know what is needed to make childbirth safer. Now we must determine how to make that happen in every facility around the world. It is time we deliver for women and their newborns” (3/7).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Post Calls On Congress To Protect U.S. Investments In Global Health Security

Nuclear Threat Initiative: Congress, Act Now. Protect U.S. Investments in Global Health Security
Elizabeth Cameron, vice president of global biological policy and programs at NTI, discusses the role of U.S. funding for global health security, highlighting the potential impact of insufficient funding for the CDC and USAID’s global health security programs. Cameron writes, “Without sufficient funding…, we weaken the global network of protection, increase risk to American lives, and threaten investments from other governments and the private sector” (3/5).

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MILQ Study Aims To Better Understand Differences In Nutrient Content, Intake Of Breast Milk

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Understanding Global Differences in Human Milk Nutrients
Trevor Mundel, president of global health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses the importance of breast milk in infant nutrition, highlighting the Mothers, Infants and Lactation Quality (MILQ) study, which aims to better understand and “make connections between the nutrient content of breast milk, the nutrient intake and status of the mother, the micronutrient status of infants, and the infants’ health” (3/6).

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Gates Foundation Announces 5 New Grand Challenges Calls

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Adding to the Innovation Ecosystem: Announcing Five New Grand Challenges Calls
Steven Buchsbaum, deputy director of discovery and translational sciences in the global health program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses the foundation’s five new Grand Challenges calls, including working within existing food systems to improve nutrition; using tools and technology for disease surveillance of crop plants; developing innovations to improve immunization systems; using data science approaches to improve maternal and child health in Brazil; and preventing Campylobacter infections in children (3/6).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, published Issue 332 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter includes articles on various topics, including news that India is preparing to transition away from Global Fund support over the next nine years; an evaluation of France’s five percent initiative for Global Fund grant recipients; and an overview of the Global Fund’s ongoing and planned regional and multi-country grants (3/7).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Secretary Of State Discusses U.S. Relationship With Africa, Including PEPFAR

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: U.S. Africa Relations: A New Framework
This blog post discusses U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s remarks on the U.S. relationship with Africa, including the U.S. commitment to achieve HIV/AIDS control through the work of PEPFAR (3/6).

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USAID Newsletter Discusses Role Of Faith-Based Organizations In Global Health

USAID’s “Global Health News”: Faith-based Organizations in Global Health
USAID’s February 2018 newsletter focuses on faith-based organizations in global health and includes articles highlighting the role and work of faith-based organizations in addressing Zika, HIV, and gender-based violence (February 2018).

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