KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. House Appropriations Committee Expected To Consider FY20 SFOPs Spending Bill On Thursday

CNSNews.com: Foreign Ops Funding Bill Includes Measures Targeting Trump’s ‘Policy of Protecting Life’
“The Appropriations Committee in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives on Thursday will consider a draft bill on foreign affairs and aid funding — including contributions to the United Nations … [T]he funding bill also contains several specific measures opposed by Republicans, relating to issues such as abortion around the world and U.N. global warming initiatives. Earlier, a Republican committee member warned that unless partisan measures targeting ‘the president’s policy of protecting life’ were removed, the bill stood no chance of passing…” (Goodenough, 5/15).

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USAID Procurement Leaders Discuss Agency's Policies To Engage More Local Organizations

Devex: Conference call: Inside USAID’s local procurement reform efforts
“The U.S. Agency for International Development has undertaken an exhaustive review of its procurement systems and policies in an effort to create new tools for engaging local, sustainable organizations in development projects. Building on lessons learned from the previous administration’s ‘Local Solutions’ initiative, the agency has rolled out a new vision and focus for acquisition and assistance. Devex Senior Reporter Michael Igoe spoke with two of the agency’s procurement leaders, Randy Tift and Roman Napoli, to discuss the implications of these strategic reforms — and what they mean for local procurement…” (5/14).

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DRC Ebola Outbreak Shows No Signs Of Slowing As Violence Continues; WHO Not Equipped To Fight Disease In Conflict Zone, Ron Klain Says

CIDRAP News: DRC Ebola total climbs by 15 cases; vandals hit Katwa hospital
“The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) saw no let-up on new Ebola cases and attacks on the response [Tuesday], with 15 more illnesses reported along with a report of vandalism at a hospital in Katwa. In other developments, South Korea [on Tuesday] announced a plan to provide $500,000 in humanitarian aid for the Ebola response, and a group that analyzes humanitarian events warned that increasing attacks near the Ebola-hit DRC areas could displace more people and ease the spread of the disease…” (Schnirring, 5/14).

Devex: WHO not equipped for conflict response, says former Ebola czar
“The World Health Organization’s response to the current Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo shows how much the institution has improved in the last five years — as well as the limits of what it can reasonably be expected to do, according to the former U.S. government ‘Ebola czar.’ ‘They have been everything that they were not in 2014. They have been fast. They have been transparent. They have been candid, and they have been quite responsive. And their leadership is exceptional,’ said Ron Klain, who served as the U.S. Ebola response coordinator in 2014 and 2015. … This time, WHO’s inability to stop the spread of the deadly virus is not a result of poor leadership, but due to the fact the organization was not created or equipped to mount a response effort in an active conflict zone, Klain said…” (Igoe, 5/15).

The Guardian: ‘Terrifying’ Ebola epidemic out of control in DRC, say experts
“An Ebola epidemic in a conflict-riven region of Democratic Republic of Congo is out of control and could become as serious as the outbreak that devastated three countries in West Africa between 2013 and 2016, experts and aid chiefs have warned. … Those on the frontline in North Kivu fear no end is in sight. Whitney Elmer, a country director for Mercy Corps, one of the humanitarian NGOs working on preventing the spread, said there had been ‘a drastic change in the security situation,’ which was causing a big rise in the number of cases…” (Boseley, 5/15).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak and response is available from The Guardian (2) and Xinhua News.

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More Than 900 Attacks Recorded On Health Facilities, Personnel, Patients In 2018, Safeguarding Health In Conflict Coalition Report Shows

The BMJ: At least 167 health care workers were killed in conflict last year
“Over 900 recorded attacks were carried out on health care facilities, personnel, and patients in 23 countries in conflict last year, a significant rise on the 701 instances reported in 2017. The figures are included in the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition 2018 report, which brings together data from bodies such as the World Health Organization and the U.N…” (Mahase, 5/15).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Fights to end polio, contain Ebola made tougher by rising violence, research finds
“…[T]he coalition cautioned that it was unclear if the higher number reflected more attacks or higher reporting after the World Health Organization (WHO) implemented a standardized system for collecting data on attacks last year. … The countries with the most reported attacks on health workers in 2018 were the occupied Palestinian territories with 308 and Syria with 257, followed by Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, and CAR. … In the 23 countries studied, the attackers included government forces, foreign government forces, religious extremists, and armed rebel groups, the coalition said…” (Wulfhorst, 5/15).

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Swine Fever Spreading Across Asia, Impacting Pork Supply, Threatening Regional Food Security

New York Times: As Swine Fever Roils Asia, Hogs Are Culled and Dinner Plans Change
“…[B]ecause China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork, the mainland government’s move to cull more than a million pigs is now being felt across a sprawling global industry that includes truckers, pork dealers, and soybean feed farmers. … The highly contagious virus, which affects pigs but not humans, has been around for years. But the current outbreak affects a region where pork is often the primary staple of local diets. The current outbreak was first reported in mainland China in August. Since then, the virus has spread to pig herds in every mainland Chinese province, as well as to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Mongolia…” (Ives/Li, 5/14).

Science: African swine fever keeps spreading in Asia, threatening food security
“…The crisis is not only causing economic hardship, but also threatens food security in the region. In Vietnam, where pork accounts for three-quarters of the meat consumption, more than 1.2 million pigs across the country — 4% of the national herd — have now died or been killed, the Vietnamese government announced on 13 May. ‘This is probably the most serious animal health disease (the world has) had for a long time, if not ever,’ says Dirk Pfeiffer, a veterinary epidemiologist at City University of Hong Kong…” (Normile, 5/14).

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Newsweek Examines Antimicrobial Resistance, Efforts To Develop Financial Incentives, Innovate New Disease-Fighting Methods

Newsweek: The Death Of Antibiotics: We’re Running Out Of Effective Drugs To Fight Off an Army of Superbugs
“…There’s little in the pharmaceutical pipeline to replace the antibiotics to which bugs are becoming resistant. That’s because development of a new antibiotic runs about $2 billion and takes about 10 years — with little hope of ending up with the sort of blockbuster drug that justifies such an investment. … Medical researchers are now searching for other approaches…” (Freedman, 5/15).

Newsweek: Doctors Are Running Out of Effective Drugs Because of Poor Financial Incentives to Develop Them
“…Although researchers have many good leads, the bigger problem is a lack of financial incentives to bring new treatments through the drug-development gantlet. ‘When I signed up to be an infectious disease specialist 25 years ago, I never thought it would come to this,’ says Helen Boucher, a physician at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and director of its infectious disease fellowship and heart transplant programs. Boucher has been a leading advocate for finding ways of investing in new treatments. She spoke with Newsweek about the drug-resistance problem and how we might dig our way out of it…” (Freedman, 5/15).

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Regular Exercise, Non-Smoking, Healthy Diet Help Reduce Risk Of Dementia, WHO Says In First Prevention Guidelines

Reuters: WHO issues first advice on dementia: exercise and don’t smoke
“The World Health Organization published its first guidelines on the prevention and management of dementia on Tuesday, putting physical activity at the top of its list of recommendations for preventing cognitive decline. Stopping smoking, a healthy diet, and avoiding harmful use of alcohol were also among the recommendations of the WHO’s report, entitled ‘Risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia.’ Treatment for hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes also lowers the risks, the report said…” (Miles, 5/14).

U.N. News: U.N. health agency highlights lifestyle choices that can prevent onset of dementia, as millions more succumb each year
“…In recommendations to counter an expected tripling in the number of people with the degenerative condition in the next 30 years, the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines are designed to help medical professionals and governments to develop national policies. Today, around 50 million people globally suffer from dementia and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year…” (5/14).

Additional coverage of the WHO guidelines on dementia is available from Deutsche Welle, Mail and Guardian, USA TODAY, and Wall Street Journal.

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More News In Global Health

CIDRAP News: Study: Preventive antibiotics after assisted birth could reduce maternal infections (Dall, 5/14).

Devex: Development disrupted: A conversation with Kristin Lord and George Ingram (5/15).

The Guardian: ‘Go and we die, stay and we starve’: the Ethiopians facing a deadly dilemma (Gardner, 5/15).

South China Morning Post: Dengue fever is now like the flu, WHO chief says while urging countries to consider using new vaccine in fight against disease (Benitez, 5/15).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: As risks rise, too little is spent to avert disasters, say U.N. and Red Cross (Rowling, 5/14).

Xinhua News: Sri Lanka still at risk despite being certified as malaria-free by WHO (5/15).

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Editorials and Opinions

Ending Global Hunger, Poverty Requires Global Community To Focus On, Address Climate Change

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Global hunger is threatening families because of climate change
Siddharth Chatterjee, United Nations resident coordinator to Kenya

“…Today, 15 May, is the United Nations International Day of Families and the theme for this year is, ‘Families and Climate Action.’ The wellbeing of families is central to healthy societies, but is threatened by climate change, especially in the poorest parts of the world. … When crops are wiped out by flood or drought, families are robbed of livelihoods and food security. … The greatest killers of children — malnutrition, diarrheal disease, and malaria — will worsen because of climate change. … Africa’s biggest threat from climate change will remain the inter-generational downward spiral into deeper poverty that is brought on by decreased farm yields. … Increasing resilience to climate-related shocks in Africa’s agriculture will result in a rise in farm productivity. … Ending hunger and poverty is the prime mission of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, and will demand dramatic shifts in what and how we consume, and above all it will demand cooperation and collaboration on a regional and global scale. It will not be easy, but for the sake of every family, everywhere, we cannot fail” (5/15).

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Artificial Intelligence Could Play Role In Building Global Mental Health Care Capacity

Project Syndicate: An Intelligent Approach to Mental Health
Junaid Nabi, public health researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School

“…Globally, the supply of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists is nowhere near sufficient. … What could help are [artificial intelligence (AI)]-based solutions, such as chatbots. By mimicking natural language to sustain a conversation with a human user, these software systems could act as virtual therapists, providing guidance and support to those who have no alternatives. … The sort of provisional mental health care provided by chatbots would be particularly useful in communities with an inadequate supply of trained professionals. … Chatbots could also help overcome the stigma problem, because they can engage people who are otherwise reluctant to seek mental health care. … It is now up to clinicians, such as psychologists, to collaborate more extensively with AI developers. … To be sure, AI-enabled mental health interventions would not — and should not — replace human psychologists or psychiatrists. A chatbot cannot, after all, project real empathy. What it can do is screen for high-risk individuals, such as those with suicidal ideation, and potentially avert destructive behavior in the short term. … It is time to invest in long-term, cost-effective, and scalable solutions that build mental health care capacity. That effort must include expanded support for traditional services. But it should also take advantage of cutting-edge technologies like AI” (5/15).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.N. Dispatch Discusses U.S. House Draft FY20 SFOPs Appropriations Bill

U.N. Dispatch: With Democrats Now in Charge, U.N. Budget Gets a Big Boost in the U.S. House of Representatives
Mark Leon Goldberg, editor of the U.N. Dispatch, provides a summary of the House State and Foreign Operations (SFOPs) subcommittee’s draft FY 2020 appropriations bill, which includes funding for the U.N., humanitarian and development efforts, and global health efforts, including the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund and funding for international family planning and UNFPA (5/13).

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CGD Report Highlights 4 Policy Challenges Of 2014-2015 West Africa Ebola Outbreak, Lessons For Next Pandemic

Center for Global Development: Struggling with Scale: Ebola’s Lessons for the Next Pandemic
In a new report, Jeremy Konyndyk, senior policy fellow at CGD, explores lessons from the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and highlights four major policy challenges for U.S. and U.N. policymakers: “1. Operationalizing the U.S. government response … 2. Balancing the politics and the science of travel restrictions … 3. Defining the role of a reluctant military … 4. Coordinating complex international partnerships” (5/9).

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George Mason University Climate Experts Discuss Role Of Health Professionals In Addressing Climate Change

PLOS Medicine: Limiting global warming to 1.5 to 2.0°C — A unique and necessary role for health professionals
Edward W. Maibach, professor at the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, and colleagues discuss the threat of climate change on global health; outline three objectives in addressing climate change — clean energy, carbon drawdown, and preparedness; and discuss the role of health professionals in meeting these objectives. The authors write, “Climate solutions are health solutions, and health solutions are economic solutions. Health professionals are among the people best positioned to make sure that the public and policymakers understand this” (5/14).

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WHO Launches Online Resource To Guide R&D Of Health Products Addressing Global Health Issues

World Health Organization: Smarter research & development to tackle global health priorities
“Today, WHO’s new Science Division launched an online resource to guide the development of new health products for which there are limited markets or incentives for research and development. An essential tool for realizing universal health coverage, the Health Product Profile Directory, aims to promote research and development for products to combat neglected diseases and threats to global health, including antimicrobial resistance and diseases with pandemic potential…” (5/15).

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From the U.S. Government

GAO Report Examines U.S. Emergency Assistance For Zika, Recommends USAID Improve Funds Tracking, Response Planning

Government Accountability Office: Emergency Assistance for Zika: USAID Supported Activities Overseas but Could Improve Funds Tracking and Response Planning
This GAO report discusses emergency assistance for Zika, examining the status of USAID and State Department funding for the U.S. Zika response overseas, activities supported by these funds, implementation challenges, and responses to these challenges. GAO found that USAID did not “track Zika funding by country and took longer than desired to get response efforts launched in some countries” and recommended that USAID should “(1) take steps to ensure it is able to compile funding information by country for future infectious disease emergency responses and (2) take steps to improve its infectious disease response planning” (5/13).

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USAID Releases April 2019 Issue Of Innovation And Impact Newsletter

USAID: Innovation and Impact Newsletter — April 2019
The latest issue of USAID’s Innovation and Impact Newsletter features a new report by the Rockefeller Foundation and USAID’s Center for Innovation and Impact (CII), with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on artificial intelligence (AI) in global health; a summary of an event at the Aspen Institute launching the new report, titled “Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Global Health: Defining a Collective Path Forward”; and a list of upcoming events and recent news stories about innovation, design, and AI in global health (April 2019).

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