KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Changes At White House NSC, Administration's Request For Rescission Of Emergency Ebola Funds Amid Latest Ebola Outbreak In DRC Raise Concerns, Questions Among Experts, Policymakers

The Atlantic: Ebola Returns Just as the White House Loses Its Top Biodefense Expert
“[Last] week, three things happened with painfully ironic synchronicity. First, the Democratic Republic of the Congo revealed that it is facing down its ninth Ebola outbreak. Second, President Trump asked Congress to rescind a $252 million pot that had been put aside to deal with Ebola. And third, global health expert Tim Ziemer unexpectedly departed the National Security Council, where he served as senior director for global health security and biodefense…” (Yong, 5/11).

The Hill: Pelosi slams Trump move to claw back Ebola funds amid Congo outbreak
“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday slammed a White House request to cut funds from an old account for responding to Ebola after a new deadly outbreak of the disease in Congo. The White House on Tuesday requested that Congress rescind $252 million of the … funds left in an account created to respond to the 2014-2015 outbreak of the deadly virus. The request was included in a broader rescissions package that sought to claw back some $15.4 billion in unobligated funds sitting in old accounts…” (Elis, 5/11).

Vox: Ebola is back — and the top White House official in charge of pandemics is gone
“…On the home front, health experts have long said the U.S. is underprepared for a pandemic. But right now the situation looks even more precarious. … ‘[The departure of Tim Ziemer] at this moment is definitely a cause for concern,’ said Jennifer Kates, director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. ‘At this time, it’s not yet known what the White House’s plan for coordinating such a response will be.’… (Belluz, 5/11).

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U.S. Senators Urge Trump To Support Flu Vaccine Act To Authorize Additional Universal Flu Vaccine Research Funding

The Hill: Senators urge Trump to support universal flu vaccine bill
“Seven senators are calling on President Trump to support their legislation that would provide a $1 billion boost for research to create a universal flu vaccine. Six Democrats and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) called the seasonal flu a ‘pressing public health threat, taking a substantial toll on our families, health care system, and economy each year’ in a letter sent to Trump Friday…” (Roubein, 5/11).

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Former U.S. State Department Official John Prendergast Discusses Situation In South Sudan, Potential Impact Of U.S. Aid Review In NPR Interview

NPR: South Sudan Update
“NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro speaks to John Prendergast of the Enough Project about the effects of U.S. humanitarian aid to South Sudan amid a humanitarian crisis. … The Trump administration says it will review all aid that it gives to South Sudan as the eight-year-old nation spirals into further chaos. The U.S. is the largest donor for humanitarian programs in the country, so any potential change could have an enormous impact. John Prendergast is the founding director of the Enough Project, which seeks to stop genocide in Sudan. He’s also a former State Department official on the Africa Desk, among other government posts…” (5/13).

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DRC Ebola Outbreak Could Take Up To 4 Months To Control, Expert Says; WHO Preparing For All Scenarios As First Funding Pledges Announced

The Atlantic: The New Ebola Outbreak Could Take ‘Three, Maybe Four’ Months to Control
“The Democratic Republic of Congo is currently fighting its ninth Ebola outbreak — and Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum … the first scientist to encounter Ebola during the first-ever outbreak in 1976 … [said,] ‘I think we will need three months to control (this new) outbreak. Maybe four’…” (Yong, 5/11).

Bloomberg: WHO’s Leader Will Visit Congo This Weekend Amid Ebola Outbreak
“The World Health Organization’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus [visited] the Democratic Republic of Congo this weekend to assess the country’s needs as it faces an Ebola outbreak that was declared earlier this week, WHO said in a statement…” (Tam, 5/11).

Deutsche Welle: Ebola outbreak: WHO puts 10 countries on ‘high alert’
“The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday said 10 countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its neighbors, have been put on high alert after local authorities declared an Ebola outbreak [last] week…” (5/11).

Devex: First pledges announced to combat Ebola in DRC
“…The United Kingdom government pledged 1 million British pounds ($1.36 million) on Thursday through the Joint Initiative on Epidemic Preparedness, with the Wellcome Trust committing a further 2 million pounds to support rapid response to the outbreak. … WHO released $1 million from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies to support response over the next three months … On Wednesday, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention … activated its Emergency Operation Center … mobilized its epidemic response team … and set aside an initial $250,000 for response activities. U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock also announced $2 million from the U.N. Central Emergency Relief Fund to kickstart the response and support the DRC government…” (Abrahams/Anders, 5/11).

U.N. News: DR Congo: U.N. prepared for ‘all scenarios’ despite low risk of Ebola spreading
“…Peter Salama, who leads the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, said that WHO was preparing for all eventualities, speaking at a press conference in Geneva. To date there have been 32 suspected cases in and around Bikoro in remote Equateur Province — close to the Congo River — two confirmed by laboratory testing. There are 18 probable cases and a dozen classified as ‘suspicious,’ according to WHO…” (5/11).

Additional coverage of the Ebola outbreak in DRC is available from CIDRAP News, CNN, HuffPost, and Reuters.

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WHO Prepares To Deploy Experimental Ebola Vaccine To Congo In Latest Outbreak

Associated Press: Ebola vaccines to be shipped to Congo, WHO chief says
“Ebola vaccines will be shipped as quickly as possible to Congo as the number of suspected cases in the latest outbreak grows, the head of the World Health Organization said Friday as the agency prepared for a ‘worst-case scenario’…” (Mwanamilongo/Keaten, 5/11).

Reuters: WHO has 4,000 Ebola vaccines ready for Congo deployment
“… ‘We’re working on the deployment of these materials, especially readying the cold chain,’ WHO Africa Director Matshidiso Moeti told Reuters by telephone. ‘The start date of the vaccinations will depend on this deployment’…” (Ligodi/Cox, 5/13).

STAT: WHO readies to test Merck’s experimental Ebola vaccine in Congo outbreak
“…There are currently 4,300 doses of Merck’s V920 vaccine in Geneva, held by the WHO, the company told STAT in an email. Merck has given its permission for that stock to be used in DRC…” (Branswell, 5/11).

Additional coverage of this story is available from New York Times, Reuters, STAT, and Washington Post.

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WHO Releases Plan To Cut Trans Fats From Global Food Supply To Help Prevent Heart Disease

Associated Press: U.N. health agency aims to wipe out trans fats worldwide
“The World Health Organization has released a plan to help countries wipe out trans fats from the global food supply in the next five years. … In a statement Monday, the U.N. health agency said eliminating trans fats is critical to preventing deaths worldwide. WHO estimates that eating trans fats — commonly found in baked and processed foods — leads to the deaths of more than 500,000 people from heart disease every year…” (Stobbe, 5/14).

Wall Street Journal: Food Makers Vow to Cut Trans Fats Globally
“…The public health arm of the United Nations said it will urge governments to ban or restrict those fats and replace them with healthier fats and oils. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said eliminating trans fats from human diets would be ‘a global win in the fight against cardiovascular disease.’ … The WHO is promoting a six-point blueprint called ‘Replace’ to help governments implement regulations, create awareness and take other steps to eliminate trans fats in their countries. It was developed in partnership with Resolve to Save Lives, part of the public health nonprofit Vital Strategies…” (McKay/Bunge, 5/14).

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Airborne Viruses Pose Greatest Threat Of Pandemic, Hopkins Center For Health Security Report Says

Live Science: Here’s What the Next Pandemic Pathogen Might Look Like
“…[A]lthough pathogens like Ebola and Zika make headlines, they are unlikely to cause a global pandemic disaster. Instead, viruses that are spread through the air — including those related to the common cold virus — pose a bigger threat, even though some of these viruses don’t receive much attention. … ‘We need to get serious about respiratory viruses,’ said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, who led the report…” (Rettner, 5/12).

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400K Children Severely Malnourished In DRC's Kasai Region, UNICEF Warns, Appeals For $88M

Al Jazeera: UNICEF: 400,000 children on ‘verge’ of death in the DRC
“Up to 400,000 children are at risk of starving to death in the Democratic Republic of Congo unless humanitarian aid efforts are ramped up, the U.N.’s children’s agency has warned…” (5/11).

Al Jazeera: What can be done to save children in DRC from starvation?
“…The agency wants $88m to fund its programs there. In December, the U.N. declared the crisis at the highest level — the same as Yemen, Syria, and Iraq…” (Dobbie, 5/12).

U.N. News: Children ‘are dying’ now in DRC’s Kasai from malnutrition, warns UNICEF
“…Some 3.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the Kasais, including 2.3 million children. At least half of all children under-five years of age in the region — that’s 770,000 — are suffering from acute malnutrition, including 400,000 who are severely malnourished, according to a UNICEF report published [last] week…” (5/11).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: Analyzing Australia’s aid trajectory (Cornish, 5/11).

Devex: Applying a workplace model to family planning outreach in the Philippines (Ravelo, 5/14).

Nigeria’s Guardian: Federal government, U.S. sign MoU on HIV, Hepatitis B, C survey (Onyedika-Ugoeze/Onyenucheya, 5/11).

Newsweek: Meet the woman saving thousands of girls from female genital mutilation (Maza, 5/12).

New York Times: Noted Humanitarian Charged With Child Rape in Nepal, Stunning a Village (Schultz/Bhandari, 5/11).

Quartz: Africa’s desperate youth are getting high on opioids and anything they can get their hands on (Kazem/Chutel, 5/9).

Reuters: U.N. reports 120 unexplained deaths in northeast Congo (Miles, 5/11).

SciDev.Net: New strains of leishmaniasis may hit elimination plans (Mallapaty, 5/11).

SciDev.Net: Snakebite resolution set for Health Assembly approval (Irwin, 5/11).

Scientific American: Why Does Ebola Keep Showing Up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo? (Maron, 5/11).

U.N. News: Nigeria: ‘Largest-ever’ outbreak of Lassa fever contained but monitoring still needed, says U.N. health agency (5/11).

U.N. News: Mothers, children, lacking basic nutrition in North Korea: U.N. food aid chief (5/11).

U.N. News: For Rohingya refugees, imminent surge in births is traumatic legacy of sexual violence — special report (5/11).

Xinhua News: 91 killed in Yemen’s diphtheria outbreak: WHO (5/13).

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Editorials and Opinions

Columnist Discusses Former President Bush's Remarks On PEPFAR At Award Ceremony

Washington Post: George W. Bush reminds us how decent leaders sound
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post columnist

“…In receiving the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished International Leadership Award for his work [to] fight HIV/AIDS through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) initiative in Africa, [former President George W. Bush] explained, ‘In 2003, we decided that the greatest, wealthiest nation ever had a moral responsibility to intervene. … We recognized, too, that the United States had a national security imperative to act. Societies mired in disease breed hopelessness and despair, leaving those forgotten by wealthy nations susceptible to recruitment by radical extremists.’ … Bush, like every other modern president save the current one, understood the aim to use America’s resource to make the world safer and freer, which in turn will accrue to our benefit. (PEPFAR, Bush explained, ‘It’s the best kind of diplomacy there is. It’s soft power at its most beautiful.’) …” (5/11).

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Mexico City Policy Impacting Women's Health In Nigeria, Should Be Repealed

Vanguard: Repeal the Global Gag Rule
Sola Ogundipe, health editor at Vanguard Media Ltd.

“…There is little doubt that [Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance, otherwise known as the Mexico City policy or global gag rule,] is undermining Nigeria’s reproductive and overall health goals and Nigerians are not happy about it. … Trump’s gag rule will not only hurt abortion access or access to contraception but other forms of health care. The restrictions are causing easily preventable maternal deaths, both due to unsafe abortion and to an increase in unplanned pregnancies in areas where rates of maternal mortality are already high. … The impact is hitting hard on millions of women and girls who depended on … family planning, antiretroviral treatment, and other reproductive health services provided through funding by U.S. government. The message is clear — repeal the global gag rule” (5/12).

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Ensuring Global Health Security Includes Strengthening Current Health Systems To Respond To NCDs

Project Syndicate: The ABCs of NCD Care
Amy Israel, director for Global Health Thought Leadership and Policy at Eli Lilly

“…At the same time that we prepare for the emergence of Disease X, we must also strengthen the kind of supportive health care systems that help patients live full, healthy lives. To that end, health care providers, non-governmental organizations, governments, and businesses in some of the highest-risk countries are collaborating to develop innovative approaches to combat [noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)]. … [W]e should … remember that global health security is about more than protecting people from the latest bug. It means accompanying patients along the full continuum of care, to ensure that they live long, healthy, and productive lives. To do that, we will need to strengthen current health systems, educate and empower frontline health care workers, and maximize cost-saving technologies…” (5/11).

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Governments Should Heed WHO's Call To Ban Trans Fats

New York Times: The World Doesn’t Need Trans Fats
Editorial Board

“…[T]he WHO … has long urged countries to issue nutritional guidelines that advise people to avoid trans fats. But it is not always easy for consumers to know when they are eating these oils, which are often in packaged or prepared foods that are not clearly labeled. … Officials at the WHO developed its trans fats campaign with Resolve to Save Lives, a public health group led by Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who in 2007, as health commissioner of New York City, banned the use of trans fats in restaurants and bakeries. The WHO and Dr. Frieden say they will help countries assess how trans fats are used in food, educate consumers, promote alternatives, and develop policies to eliminate these substances over time. … Trans fats are a silent killer that many people are not aware of and can easily live without. Banning them should be an easy call for nations around the world, and the WHO is right to push them to do so” (5/14).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

George Ingram Of Brookings, MFAN Delivers Testimony On U.S. Development Finance Before U.S. Senate Committee On Foreign Relations

Brookings Institution: Testimony on modernizing development finance.
In testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on May 10, George Ingram, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, discussed the importance of modernizing U.S. development finance and ways to strengthen the BUILD Act. His testimony also is published on the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network site (5/11).

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UNFPA Article Outlines 9 Standards To Uphold Human Right To Family Planning

UNFPA: Fifty years ago, it became official: Family planning is a human right
In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Teheran Proclamation, which states that family planning is a basic human right, this article discusses nine standards to uphold the human right to family planning (5/11).

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CSIS Analysis Examines Rising Prevalence Of Overweight, Obesity In LMICs

Center for Strategic & International Studies: Weighing the Risk of Obesity in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Reid Hamel, senior fellow, and Elizabeth Black, research intern, both at the CSIS Global Food Security Project, discuss the rising prevalence of overweight and obesity in low- and middle-income countries, the challenges these conditions pose, and recommendations on how to address the issues. The authors write, “Increased advocacy and investments by the public and private sector in policies, research, and programs that address the overweight and obesity crisis, in addition to undernutrition and food insecurity, will only continue to pay off in the long run” (5/10).

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FT Health Highlights Newspaper's Special Report On Disabilities In Workplace

FT Health: Employers’ guide to disability in the workplace
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter highlights a special report from the Financial Times on disability in the workplace, as well as provides a round-up of global health-related news stories (Jack/Dodd, 5/11).

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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 336 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter includes articles on various topics, including key discussions and decisions made at the Global Fund Board meeting that took place last week in Skopje, Macedonia (5/12).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Partnership To Invest More Than $30M To End AIDS, Cervical Cancer Among HIV-Positive Women In Africa

PEPFAR: Renewed Partnership to Help End AIDS and Cervical Cancer in Africa
“In advance of Mother’s Day, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the George W. Bush Institute, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) [Friday] announced the Partnership to End AIDS and Cervical Cancer among HIV-positive women in Africa. Pending congressional approval, the United States will invest over $30 million through the renewed partnership. It will build on the earlier successes of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon by refocusing resources and advocacy efforts for greater impact in eight sub-Saharan African countries to prevent cervical cancer progression and mortality among HIV-positive women…” (5/11).

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USAID Administrator Visits Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand

USAID: USAID Administrator Mark Green Travels To Bangladesh, Burma, and Thailand
“U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green will travel to Bangladesh, Burma, and Thailand from May 13 to May 23. … While in Bangladesh and Burma, Administrator Green plans to visit several sites where the U.S. government is providing humanitarian assistance to displaced Rohingya and affected host communities. … Administrator Green will visit Bangkok from May 21 to 22 to meet with USAID Mission Directors from across Asia to discuss the implementation of the President’s Indo-Pacific Strategy” (5/11).

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From KFF

KFF Updates Resource On Ebola Amid Latest Outbreak In DRC

Kaiser Family Foundation: Ebola: Five Key Questions
With a new outbreak reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in May 2018, the Ebola virus is again in the news; four years have passed since the emergence of a major epidemic in West Africa in 2014 that eventually killed over 11,000 people. The current outbreak is generating a growing international response, including funding and technical assistance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other global health organizations. To better understand Ebola, this resource poses five key questions about Ebola and compares it to twelve other infectious diseases that represent public health challenges today (5/14).

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