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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Media Outlets Report On Protests Against Trump Administration's Reinstatement, Expansion Of Mexico City Policy

Devex: ‘Global gag rule’ impact already being felt, family planning advocates warn
“The impact on women’s health of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to reinstate and extend the ‘global gag rule’ is already being felt in a number of countries around the world, according to reproductive rights advocates speaking at a protest event held outside the White House. The order[, which] seeks to prevent all non-U.S. NGOs that provide services or information relating to abortion from receiving U.S. government funding for any of their [global health] activities, is facing strong opposition from NGOs, high-profile donors including Bill and Melinda Gates, and also U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen…” (Edwards, 3/8).

Humanosphere: Women gather in D.C. to protest Trump’s Global Gag Rule
“…[The Mexico City policy] has been controversial since it was first instated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, but Trump’s version dramatically expanded the scope of the Gag Rule. … Trump’s expansion of the policy … cover[s] all global health assistance — a move women’s health advocates say would threaten the lives of millions of the world’s poorest women and families. The expanded policy would cut funding to [non-U.S. NGOs that do not agree to adhere to the Mexico City policy under] health programs ranging from family planning, maternal and child health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS (including PEPFAR), infectious diseases, malaria, tuberculosis to neglected tropical diseases. Advocates have pointed to mounting evidence that the rule actually leads to an increase in unsafe abortions and a decrease in access to contraception, leading to more unwanted pregnancies, higher rates of HIV, and other health issues for women across the developing world. Criticism of Trump’s foreign aid approach surged again last week, when his administration proposed a 37 percent cut to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to help pay for increased military spending…” (Nikolau, 3/8).

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Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau Announces Financial Commitment For Family Planning, Reproductive Health Activities Globally

Agence France-Presse: Anti-abortion stance denies women their future: Trudeau
“Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vigorously defended women’s access to abortion services, saying on International Women’s Day Wednesday that they have a right to ‘choose their path, their future.’ ‘When we take a stand against abortion… we are taking away the power of women to choose their path, their future, when, how, (and) with whom to start a family,’ he said at an event to announce Can$650 million over three years for women’s health initiatives overseas. The prime minister’s support of a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion sharply contrasts with U.S. President Donald Trump’s anti-abortion stand…” (3/8).

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PolitiFact Examines Types Of Entities Receiving U.S. Foreign Aid

PolitiFact: Most U.S. foreign aid flows through U.S. organizations
“President Donald Trump’s budget director Mike Mulvaney confirmed recently that foreign aid is on the chopping block. … Critics of programs that aim to boost economies, increase education, and otherwise give poorer nations a leg up often say such aid is wasted through corruption and poor design. … The former head of the U.S. Agency for International Development Raj Shah wrote recently that such concerns about fraud and theft are way behind the times. … Shah said that most U.S. foreign assistance goes to private companies and nonprofits in the form of contracts and grants. According to the Congressional Budget Office, USAID, the government’s largest agency for non-military aid, spends about four percent of its funds on direct aid to foreign governments. A trade publication reported that 70 percent of the agency’s money ran through U.S.-based organizations. The use of contracts and grants has grown over the past three decades. An independent aid analyst said the general pattern at USAID applies across the other government offices that oversee foreign assistance. We rate this claim True” (Greenberg, 3/8).

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Experts Discuss Yellow Fever Outbreak In Brazil, Call For Vigilance To Prevent Potential Spread To U.S.

CNN: U.S. officials keep watchful eye on yellow fever outbreak in Brazil
“An outbreak of yellow fever in rural Brazil is raising concerns that the disease could spread across borders to the U.S., like Zika, say two health experts writing in an essay published in the New England Journal of Medicine…” (Park, 3/9).

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U.N. Secretary-General Guterres Calls For Donor Aid To Avert Famine, Address Cholera In Somalia

SABC News: Thousands in Somalia in need of humanitarian aid
“More than 300,000 children in Somalia may starve to death if humanitarian aid does not reach them soon. The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that Somalia is teetering on the brink of a famine and called on donors to provide urgent assistance to end their suffering. Close to 1,000 people have died in the country following an outbreak of cholera…” (Kimani, 3/9).

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Editorials and Opinions

Mexico City Policy Is An 'Assault' On Global Health, Women

News Deeply: Contraception in the Crosshairs: The Real Impact of the Global Gag Rule
Ulla Müller, president and chief executive officer of EngenderHealth

“…The gendered nature of [the Mexico City policy, or global gag rule’s] assault on global health cannot be glossed over: This is an attack on women. … That’s not an upbeat message for International Women’s Day, but it’s the truth. Traditionally, this is an occasion to take stock of women’s status around the world and celebrate the progress that has been made on the long, slow journey to gender equality. This year, with the new gag rule poised to wreak global havoc, I think we must acknowledge that women are facing the biggest threat to their health and rights in decades. … [F]amily planning is more than just a health intervention. It’s a societal intervention. Family planning unlocks women’s potential as economic actors, as agents of change, and as custodians of culture. It enables parents to provide better opportunities for their children. It leads to an educated and productive citizenry that can support a vibrant economy and cope with the challenges of the modern world. A society where women are empowered is stronger, more stable, and more prosperous for all. To know all of this, and then to think of what is happening with the global gag rule, is heartbreaking. It’s even more heartbreaking to think of the women — the rocks of endurance — to whom we’ve promised so much and delivered so little” (3/8).

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Mexico City Policy Could Stunt Progress Made In Women's Health, Violates Women's Rights

Project Syndicate: Donald Trump’s Little Women
Françoise Girard, president of the International Women’s Health Coalition

“…[The] latest manifestation of the [Mexico City policy] goes further than its predecessors. Whereas previous versions affected U.S. family planning funding, [President] Trump’s rule affects all U.S. health aid, including for HIV, malaria, maternal and child health, tuberculosis, and nutrition programs — up to $9 billion per year. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief comprises the largest portion of U.S. global health spending, currently $6.8 billion per year. Organizations that have long combined PEPFAR aid with other funds to provide comprehensive reproductive health care to women living with HIV, and to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, will now be placed in an untenable position. … With the reinstatement of the global gag rule, hard-won progress in women’s health could be stunted, or even reversed, all while violating women’s legal and human rights. … To prohibit funding to organizations committed to providing quality health care and information to these women and girls is punitive, and a violation of their human rights. To impose the gag rule despite clear evidence of the harm it causes is a transparent attempt to control women’s bodies and health…” (3/8).

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Investing In Girls, Women Vital To Advancing Gender Equality, Improving Opportunities For All People

Huffington Post: Investing In Girls And Women Is The Smartest Thing We Can Do
Tedros Adhanom, special adviser to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia

“…Despite all the progress we have made, millions of women and girls continue to face challenges ranging from access to education and employment opportunities, to early marriage and lack of access to reproductive/maternal health services that hampers them from achieving their full potential. … We must continue advocate for global actions and investments to support countries advance gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women. First, I believe reproductive rights are immensely important. … Second, I believe that investing in girls’ education is critical. … Finally, we must encourage women’s participation in our economy and in all levels of our government. … Investing in girls and women is the smartest thing we can do, and will help us to improve opportunities for all people. With equal access to education, health care, employment, and representation in political and economic decision-making, girls and women are [a] force to be reckoned with. A force that will build the resilient societies and sustainable economies we wish to achieve” (3/8).

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Structural, Attitudinal Barriers Must Be Addressed To Achieve Gender Parity In Africa

Thomson Reuters Foundation: International Women’s Day: a chance to reflect on achievements and barriers to gender equality in Africa
Toyin Saraki, founder and president of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa

“…Although the general continental trend [in Africa] in recent years has been towards gender parity, there remain vast structural and attitudinal barriers that must be addressed. … Despite some clear shortcomings, vast legislative improvements have been made throughout the continent. What is more pressing, and more challenging to overcome, is the system of archaic practices and beliefs that override legal structures to consolidate a woman’s status in society as second class. … [R]eproductive rights are denied in various forms across various countries, stripping women of decisions over their own bodies. Better health safeguards must be put in place to ensure that young girls can give birth in clean and safe conditions, and have access to family planning and contraception. … The absence of government funding in sectors that affect women, particularly maternal health, is dangerous and also perpetuates gender divisions around the world. … I am a gender parity optimist, and firmly believe that global gender parity can and will be achieved within the lifetime of my children. But measures in place, although effective, are insufficient on their own. Women must be treated as equals for society to progress — the barriers to equality must be addressed…” (3/8).

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'Entertainment-Education' Can Play Role In Ending Child Marriage

Devex: Opinion: Could the entertainment industry help end child marriage?
Maryam Mohsin, communications officer, and Kate Whittington, program officer, both at Girls Not Brides

“…[H]ow would ‘entertainment-education’ work in practice if it were to be used as a tool to end child marriage? … This approach has all of the promise and evidence to make a difference because it has the potential to be popular, reach audiences at scale, hit a nerve, prompt debate and discussion, and excite people. … But entertainment-education is not a silver bullet. As with most interventions, to be truly effective it needs to be combined with programs aimed at working with communities, families, and young girls. Girls need to be valued and have viable alternatives to marriage, such as education and vocational training. Policymakers, civil society organizations, and NGOs are also critical in ensuring the laws, services, and infrastructure are there to translate shifting attitudes into shifting behaviors. But the … impact entertainment-education could have in shifting attitudes and warming audiences to the idea of ending child marriage could make this endeavor priceless” (3/8).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

USGLC Post Discusses U.S. Role In Empowering Women Globally

U.S. Global Leadership Coalition: How– and Why– the U.S. Can Do More to Empower Women Around the World
In recognition of International Women’s Day, which takes place annually on March 8, Elizabeth Holtan, digital communications manager at the USGLC, discusses the importance of U.S. investments in efforts to improve women’s lives globally, writing, “Working to better empower half of our population is the right thing and the smart thing to do — for communities, for the U.S., and for women across the world” (3/8).

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International Medical Community Must Protect Women's Reproductive Rights

BMJ Blogs: Sonia Adesara: Women’s reproductive rights must be protected
Sonia Adesara, co-chair of the Young Medical Women International Association and chair of the Young Fabian Health Network, discusses how the political environments in parts of the world, including in the U.S. and parts of Europe, may pose a threat to the progress made on improving women’s health and reproductive rights globally. Adesara writes, “The progress we have made for women’s health and their reproductive rights is jeopardized by this tide of political change. The international medical community has a duty to take a stand; to protect women’s reproductive rights and address the immediate funding shortfalls. … By staying silent, we risk the lives of women and girls across the globe” (3/8).

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Stanford University Panel Discussion Examines Gender Parity In Global Health Conferences, Events

Stanford Medicine’s “Scope”: Gender parity in global health events: A conversation
Rachel Leslie, communications officer at the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford University, discusses a panel discussion on the under-representation of women in global health conferences and events. During the conversation, participants discussed challenges in achieving gender parity and presented recommendations. Panelists included Michele Barry, director of the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health; Roopa Dhatt, co-founder of Women in Global Health; and Karen Goraleski, executive director of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (3/8).

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Journal Article Examines Global Health Governance Challenges, Priorities

Global Public Health: Future-proofing global health: Governance of priorities
Belinda Bennett, professor at the Australian Centre for Health Law Research at the Queensland University of Technology, and colleagues discuss global health governance challenges. The authors “present four thematic challenges that will continue to challenge prioritization within global health governance into the future unless addressed: framing and prioritizing within global health governance; identifying stakeholders of the global health community; understanding the relationship between health and behavior; and the role of governance and regulation in supporting global health” (3/8).

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Council On Foreign Relations Publishes Interactive Feature On NCDs

Council on Foreign Relations: The Emerging Crisis: Noncommunicable Diseases
As part of its Task Force on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), CFR published a series of interactives on NCDs, highlighting epidemiological, cost, and other data to illustrate the challenges of and global response to NCDs. The Council on Foreign Relations also published studies from several countries, as well as the task force’s recommendations for the U.S. response to NCDs (March 2017).

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From the U.S. Government

Ambassador Birx Highlights International Women's Day, Discusses PEPFAR's Efforts to Address HIV Among Young Women, Girls

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: International Women’s Day 2017: A Time for Action
Deborah Birx, ambassador-at-large, coordinator of U.S. government activities to combat HIV/AIDS, and U.S. special representative for global health diplomacy, highlights International Women’s Day, and discusses girls’ vulnerability to HIV and PEPFAR’s efforts to address HIV, especially among this population. Birx writes, “PEPFAR’s efforts, alongside our many partners, are changing the very course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. … Ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 is possible, but only if we empower, protect, and support adolescent girls and young women…” (3/7).

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