KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

COVID-19 Pandemic Impacting Efforts To Achieve SDGs; Food Insecurity, Lack Of WASH Access Threaten Poor Communities

The BMJ: Covid-19 pandemic has derailed progress on Sustainable Development Goals, says WHO
“The rate of progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals is too slow and is being further ‘thrown off track’ by the covid-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization has said…” (Thornton, 5/14).

IPS: Stay Home? Wash Hands? But 1.8 Billion Remain Homeless & 3.0 Billion Have No Access to Water
“The relentless battle against the devastating coronavirus pandemic has been underlined by several widespread advisories from health experts — STAY HOME. WASH YOUR HANDS. WEAR MASK. KEEP SOCIAL DISTANCE. But the U.K.-based WaterAid and U.N. Habitat in Nairobi point out the paradox in at least two of the warnings: a staggering 3.0 billion people worldwide have no water to wash their hands and over 1.8 billion people have no adequate shelter — or homes to go to…” (Deen, 5/14).

Washington Post: Hunger could be more deadly than coronavirus in poorer countries
“The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic may prove more devastating than the disease itself for the world’s poorest countries as the global economy hurtles into recession, people lose jobs by the hundreds of millions, and the risk of hunger grows, U.N. officials and aid experts fear…” (Sly/Mahfouz, 5/14).

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Tensions Mount Over Which Country Would Gain Access To First Novel Coronavirus Vaccine; World Leaders Call For Any Vaccine To Be Free To All

NPR: Confusion Over Who Would Get 1st Access To Coronavirus Vaccine Exposes Problems
“Confusion over who would get first access to a multi-national company’s coronavirus vaccine has laid bare the sensitivities over nationalism and medicine during the pandemic…” (Beardsley, 5/14).

STAT: Under an ‘America First’ president, will the U.S. corner the market on Covid-19 vaccine?
“The United States is sprinting headlong toward the development and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. But under an ‘America First’ president, public health experts worry, the United States could seek to gobble up early supplies — and set the stage for prolonged devastation in the rest of the world…” (Branswell, 5/15).

U.N. News: Presidents and prime ministers lead call for ‘people’s vaccine,’ free to all
“UNAIDS, the U.N. agency fighting against the deadly HIV/AIDS virus, has initiated a petition from global leaders requesting that when a successful COVID-19 vaccine is developed, it be made available free of charge to all. On Thursday, more than 140 world leaders and figures signed an open letter requesting Governments unite behind a ‘people’s vaccine’ against COVID-19, marking the most ambitious position yet set out by world leaders on what has become the most urgent quest in modern science…” (5/14).

VOA: Search for Coronavirus Vaccine Sparks Tensions
“There are currently no known vaccines for COVID-19 but fighting over those that might be produced has begun. … Experts say that if a successful vaccine were found, producing enough to meet the immediate global demand would require a massive effort. Health officials warn of a new and possibly more deadly wave of COVID-19 infections in the fall…” (5/14).

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Lockdowns, Contact Tracing, Border Closures Could Impact Privacy, Human Rights, Access To Health Care, U.N. Agencies Warn

Devex: Tracking COVID-19: What are the implications for privacy and human rights? (Cornish, 5/15).

The Hill: UNICEF health chief warns ‘indiscriminate lockdowns’ could cause more harm in poorer nations (Klar, 5/14).

NPR: Countries Slammed Their Borders Shut To Stop Coronavirus. But Is It Doing Any Good? (Brumfiel/Wilburn, 5/15).

The Telegraph: UNICEF warns lockdown could kill more than Covid-19 as model predicts 1.2 million child deaths (Newey, 5/13).

U.N. News: U.N. rights chief warns against mishandling the lifting of COVID-19 lockdowns (5/14).

U.N. News: Workers and COVID-19: Access to healthcare, now ‘a matter of life and death’ (5/14).

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Nearly 250M People In 47 African Countries Will Become Ill With Coronavirus Over Next Year, Research Predicts
The Guardian: Africa facing a quarter of a billion coronavirus cases, WHO predicts
“Nearly a quarter of a billion people across 47 African countries will catch coronavirus over the next year, but the result will be fewer severe cases and deaths than in the U.S. and Europe, new research predicts. A model by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional office for Africa, published in the BMJ Global Health, predicts a lower rate of transmission and viral spread across the continent than elsewhere, resulting in up to 190,000 deaths. But the authors warn the associated rise in hospital admissions, care needs and ‘huge impact’ on services such as immunization and maternity, will overwhelm already stretched health services…” (McVeigh, 5/15).

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U.N. Calls On Nations To Address Mental Health Within COVID-19 Pandemic Responses

U.N. News: U.N. leads call to protect most vulnerable from mental health crisis during and after COVID-19
“Decades of neglect and underinvestment in addressing people’s mental health needs have been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.N. said on Thursday, in a call for ambitious commitments from countries in the way they treat psychological illness, amid a potential global spike in suicides and drug abuse. Spearheading the alert ahead of the upcoming World Health Assembly in Geneva, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged the international community to do much more to protect all those facing mounting mental pressures…” (5/14).

Additional coverage of the pandemic’s impact on mental health is available from Democracy Now!, NPR, U.N. News, UPI, and VOA (2).

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Seeking Invitation To WHO Meeting, Taiwan Says U.N. Agency 'Forgotten Their Professionalism And Neutrality'

Reuters: Taiwan says WHO has ‘forgotten’ neutrality by barring island
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has ‘forgotten’ its professionalism and neutrality in locking Taiwan out of the body for political reasons, Taiwan Vice President Chen Chien-jen said on Thursday…” (Lee et al., 5/14).

VOA: Taiwan Dispute Spotlights Political Challenges Ahead of WHO Meeting
“…At a time when the WHO is battling to curb the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. officials have accused the group of bowing to political pressure from China, backing Beijing’s preference for excluding Taiwan, despite Taipei’s success in the coronavirus fight…” (Chung, 5/14).

Washington Post: Taiwan beat covid-19 and won friends. At the WHO, it’s still fighting for a seat at the table.
“…Taiwan has won praise for its effective response and donations of medical equipment, including millions of face masks — the fruits of a campaign to combine health diplomacy and relief with an effort to bolster Taiwan’s international image. … One symbol of recognition remains elusive: an invitation for Taiwan to observe next week’s World Health Assembly. Despite a growing pro-Taiwan coalition backing their inclusion, health officials in this self-ruled democracy remain sidelined from the World Health Organization’s decision-making body at the urging of China’s government, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan and has sought to sever its international contacts…” (Aspinwall/Rauhala, 5/15).

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Amid COVID-19 Response, U.S.-China Tension Impacting WHO Response

AFP: China rejects U.S. claim of attempted vaccine theft as ‘smearing’
“Beijing accused the United States on Thursday of smearing China after Washington alleged Chinese hackers were attempting to steal research on developing a vaccine against the coronavirus. The claims have added fuel to tensions between the global superpowers, who have traded barbs over the origin of the pandemic that has killed 300,000 people…” (5/14).

Reuters: Special Report: Caught in Trump-China feud, WHO leader under siege
“…The internal debate over the WHO’s messaging around China provides a window into the challenges facing the 72-year-old United Nations organization and its leader as they engage in battles on two key fronts: managing a deadly pandemic and coping with hostility from the United States, its largest donor. Interviews with WHO insiders and diplomats reveal that the U.S. offensive has shaken Tedros at an already difficult time for the agency as it seeks to coordinate a global response to the pandemic…” (Kelland et al., 5/15).

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Trump Signs Executive Order Allowing U.S. DFC To Invest In Domestic COVID-19 Response

Devex: Trump authorizes U.S. DFC to invest in domestic COVID-19 response
“U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order Thursday giving the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation the authority to invest domestically to improve supply chains and shore up production of strategic resources in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The move was a surprise to some development experts who questioned why an agency with an international development mandate was the right fit to manage the task…” (Saldinger, 5/15).

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Trump Administration To Expand Strategic Stockpile; U.S. Health Officials Win Praise, Disappear From TV; CDC Releases Scaled Back Reopening Plan; Obama Administration Did Leave Behind Pandemic Plan, McConnell Says

CNN: Top health officials vanish from national TV interviews as White House refocuses messaging (Darcy, 5/14).

The Hill: McConnell says Obama administration ‘did leave behind’ pandemic plan (Carney, 5/14).

POLITICO: Trump administration to expand strategic stockpile for pandemic needs (Lim, 5/14).

POLITICO: CDC releases scaled-back guidance on reopening after White House blocked earlier release (Roubein, 5/14).

USA TODAY: Dr. Deborah Birx wins praise for managing the White House’s coronavirus message and Trump (Hjelmgaard/Jackson, 5/14).

Vox: Trump’s plan to limit the pandemic’s death toll: Undercount the numbers (Yglesias, 5/14).

Washington Post: ‘Not an acceptable answer’: Trump rebukes Fauci’s concern over reopening schools (Chiu, 5/14).

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News Outlets Highlight Ousted BARDA Chief Bright's Testimony In U.S. House

POLITICO: How Rick Bright grabbed the spotlight and angered the Trump administration
“Ousted federal vaccine expert Rick Bright seized Washington’s spotlight for hours on Thursday, warning mask-clad lawmakers that the Trump administration had failed to prepare for the Covid-19 outbreak and actively misled Americans on its response. Bright’s testimony represented a critical moment in the virus crisis: He’s the first federal health official to publicly criticize the Trump administration so harshly, and in such detail, given his prominent position in the biomedical world. Trump defenders were nowhere to be found in the House hearing room because they declined to send someone, giving Bright hours of air time and a news cycle’s worth of headlines…” (Owermohle/Diamond, 5/14).

Additional coverage of Bright’s testimony is available from The Atlantic, Financial Times, The Hill (2), STAT (2), U.S. News, and Washington Post.

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WHO Seeks Further Details On Burundi Expulsion; 1st COVID-19 Case Detected In Rohingya Camps; Russia Defends Case Counts; Brazil Health Systems Struggle Amid Pandemic; Yemen Coronavirus-Like Cases Spike


AP: Years of conflict leave Somalia ill-equipped to fight virus (Guled/Nor, 5/15).

The Guardian: ‘People are more scared of hunger’: coronavirus is just one more threat in Nigeria (Akinwotu, 5/15).

New Humanitarian: Tanzanian doctors sound alarm over hidden coronavirus cases (Houttuin/Bastmeijer, 5/14).

New Yorker: What African Nations Are Teaching The West About Fighting The Coronavirus (Moore, 5/15).

U.N. News: WHO seeking further details on staff expulsion from Burundi (5/14).

VOA: Sierra Leonean Uses Ebola Experience to Help Spain Fight COVID (Keeley, 5/14).


AP: 1st COVID-19 case detected in Rohingya camps in Bangladesh (Alam/Milko, 5/15).

New York Times: Here’s How Wuhan Plans to Test All 11 Million of Its People for Coronavirus (Wee/Wang, 5/14).

POLITICO: How New Zealand beat the coronavirus (Richter, 5/14).

Reuters: Bangladesh says coronavirus detected in Rohingya refugee camp: official (Paul et al., 5/14).

Xinhua: U.N. provides help to health workers in Myanmar (5/15).


Financial Times: Health and care workers six times more likely to catch coronavirus (Cookson, 5/14).

NPR: Russia Defends Its Tally Of Coronavirus Deaths After Reports Of Undercounting (Maynes, 5/14).


NPR: Argentina’s Early Efforts To Fight The Pandemic Show Positive Results (Reeves, 5/14).

Washington Post: In Brazil, a desperate search for an open bed (McCoy/Traiano, 5/14).


Al Jazeera: Rise in deaths with COVID-like symptoms in south Yemen: Aid group (Bays, 5/15).

AP: Iraqi doctor’s fight with virus lays bare a battered system (Kullab, 5/15).

AP: U.N. reports Yemen cease-fire progress, COVID-19 cases rising (Lederer, 5/14).

CBS News: 48,000 Yemeni women could die giving birth as U.N. starts shutting down maternity services due to funding gap (Ott, 5/15).

New Humanitarian: ‘Like a ship about to sink’: Refugees in Jordan voice pandemic despair (Vidal, 5/14).

Reuters: Yemen reports first coronavirus cases in southern province (Ghobari, 5/14).

Washington Post: In Yemen, deaths with coronavirus-like symptoms spike as hospitals shut down (Raghavan, 5/14).


AP: Mexico sees largest 1-day coronavirus case rise, at 2,409 (5/15).

AP: Concerns grow as Puerto Rico to spend $2B to fight COVID-19 (Coto, 5/14).

CBS News: Bill Gates is funding an at-home coronavirus test program — but now it’s on hold due to federal regulations (Lewis, 5/14).

NPR: With School Buildings Closed, Children’s Mental Health Is Suffering (Kamenetz, 5/14).

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Devex Examines National, Regional Development Finance Institutions In Africa

Devex: The challenges facing Africa’s development finance institutions
“National and regional DFIs have operated with varying levels of success across the African continent — held back by key barriers such as inadequate funding, poor governance, political interference, and a tendency to stray from their mandate…” (Jerving, 5/15).

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Afghanistan Maternity Hospital Attack Decried By Governments, Rights Groups; U.S. Blames Islamic State

AP: U.S. blames brutal attack on Afghan maternity hospital on IS
“A U.S. official said Friday the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan carried out this week’s horrific attack on a maternity hospital in a majority Shiite Muslim neighborhood in Kabul, killing 24 people including newborn babies and mothers…” (Gannon/Akhgar, 5/15).

PRI: Shocked Afghans ask why perpetrators targeted a maternity hospital and a funeral
“… ‘Under international humanitarian law, we know that [hospitals] are protected institutions,’ said Hadi Marifat, executive director of the Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization. ‘So, any attack on civilian institutions and particularly medical centers and medical facilities is a war crime,’ Marifat said. In fact, in a statement, Human Rights Watch described this week’s attack on the hospital as a war crime…” (Jaafari, 5/14).

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More News In Global Health

Borgen Magazine: Telemedicine in Developing Countries (Barnes, 5/15).

CNBC: ‘Superbugs’ are a hidden danger in the fight against coronavirus, says former CDC director (Cher, 5/13).

Financial Times: Special Report: Future of AI and Digital Healthcare (Multiple authors, 5/14).

The Guardian: Kenya’s pastoralists face hunger and conflict as locust plague continues (Smith/Kayama, 5/15).

The Lancet: In the aftermath: the legacy of measles in Samoa (Thornton, 5/16).

NBC News: These disinformation researchers saw the coronavirus ‘infodemic’ coming (Zadrozny, 5/14).

NPR: Why Antibiotic Resistance Is More Worrisome Than Ever (Brink, 5/14).

Science: From Black Death to fatal flu, past pandemics show why people on the margins suffer most (Wade, 5/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Including Global Health Governance, WHO

Devex: Opinion: Now is the time to prioritize mental health
Kirsten Gelsdorf, professor of practice and director of global humanitarian policy at the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, and colleagues (5/15).

Financial Times: Health systems worldwide receive wake-up call
Brooke Masters, opinion and analysis editor at the Financial Times (5/14).

Foreign Affairs: The International Order Didn’t Fail the Pandemic Alone
Thomas R. Pickering, vice chair of Hills & Company, and Atman M. Trivedi, managing director of Hills & Company and adjunct fellow at the Pacific Forum (5/14).

Forbes Africa: Opinion: Without Universal Health Coverage We Are Sitting Ducks When the next Pandemic Strikes
Siddharth Chatterjee, United Nations resident coordinator to Kenya (5/13).

IPS: Opinion: Beyond Trump — U.S., U.N. & Global Health Governance
Lawrence Surendra, environmental economist, advisor on the U.N. SDGs, and council member of TSP Asia (5/14).

The Lancet: Reviving the U.S. CDC
Editorial Board (5/16).

The Lancet: Health inequity during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cry for ethical global leadership
David Chiriboga, associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and colleagues (5/15).

The Lancet: Offline: Don’t let COVID-19 divert us completely
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet (5/16).

Los Angeles Times: Trump is handing anti-vaxxers an invitation to smear coronavirus vaccines
Mariel Garza, editorial writer at the Los Angeles Times (5/15).

New Humanitarian: Coronavirus aid must aim far beyond the short-term health response
Vera Exnerova, Asia regional director at People In Need; Tim Jenkins, country director at People In Need in Mongolia; and Munkhsaruul Mijiddorj, gender adviser at People In Need (5/11).

Newsweek: The World Health Organization is not Salvageable | Opinion
John Yoo, Emanuel S. Heller professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley, visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Robert Delahunty, Le Jeune professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis (5/14).

New York Times: I Live in Sweden. I’m Not Panicking
Maud Cordenius, journalist (5/15).

Project Syndicate: Everyone Wins from Vaccine Cooperation
Susan Athey, professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business; Kendall Hoyt, assistant professor of medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College; and Michael Kremer, 2019 Nobel laureate in economics and professor of developing societies at Harvard University (5/14).

Project Syndicate: Will the Pandemic Set Women Back?
Beth English, director of the Project on Gender in the Global Community at the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination at Princeton University, and Kelly Pike, assistant professor of industrial relations at the School of Human Resources Management at York University (5/14).

Project Syndicate: What AIDS Taught Us About Fighting Pandemics
William A. Haseltine, scientist, biotech entrepreneur, infectious disease expert, and chair and president of ACCESS Health International (5/15).

STAT: Covid-19, a ‘supernova in human history,’ will need multiple perspectives to understand and manage
Vinay Prasad, hematologist-oncologist and associate professor of medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University, and Jeffrey S. Flier, endocrinologist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School (5/14).

TIME: Why We Need the World Health Organization, Despite Its Flaws
Ian Bremmer, foreign affairs columnist, editor-at-large at TIME, president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media, and lecturer of applied geopolitics at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (5/14).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Investing In Harm Reduction Services To Achieve Long-Term Health Goals; Funding For SDGs; Attack On Hospital In Afghanistan That Killed Mothers, Infants; How USAID v. AOSI Supreme Court Case Could Impact Mexico City Policy

Devex: Opinion: Funding for harm reduction services is key for long-term health goals
Naomi Burke-Shyne, executive director of Harm Reduction International (5/15).

IPS: Finding Money for Public Health, Green Economic Recovery & SDGs
John Garrett, Kathryn Tobin, and Chilufya Chileshe, all members of WaterAid’s policy team from its U.K., U.S., and Southern Africa offices (5/12).

Washington Post: How can Trump look past the slaughter of mothers and babies in Afghanistan?
Max Boot, columnist at the Washington Post, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and global affairs analyst for CNN (5/13).

Washington Times: USAID v. AOSI has potential to upend long-standing pro-life protections overseas
Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life (5/11).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts, Releases Address Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic

Brookings: In developing countries, communities and primary care providers — not hospitals — hold the key to successful pandemic response
Nachiket Mor, visiting scientist with the Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (5/14).

Center for Global Development: The IMF’s Growth Forecasts for Poor Countries Don’t Match Its COVID Narrative
Justin Sandefur, senior fellow, and Arvind Subramanian, senior fellow (on leave), both with CGD (5/14).

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: On the Front Lines: Responding to COVID-19 (5/15).

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Protecting Mothers and Babies from HIV during the COVID-19 Pandemic (5/12).

Global Polio Eradication Initiative: Polio eradication programme continuity: implementation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic (May 2020).`

International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics: COVID-19 lockdowns leading to a rise in violence against women and girls
Jameen Kaur, global campaigner with GROW (4/14).

ONE: COVID-19 3 months on: The triple threats persist in Africa
Edwin Ikhuoriaone, executive director of ONE Africa (5/14).

Think Global Health: Hand-Washing is Crucial for Combatting Coronavirus
Alemnesh H. Mirkuzie, senior public health researcher and the coordinator for the National Data Management Center for Health at the Ethiopian Public Health Institute, and colleagues (5/13).

Think Global Health: What the HIV/AIDS Pandemic Can Teach Us About COVID-19
Magdalene K. Walters, fellow at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation on the HIV Global Burden of Disease team (5/12).

Think Global Health: A Call for Global Solidarity
Amanda McClelland, senior vice president of Prevent Epidemics and Resolve to Save Lives at Vital Strategies (5/13).

UNAIDS: World leaders unite in call for a people’s vaccine against COVID-19 (5/14).

UNAIDS: Russian regional AIDS centres leading the fight against COVID-19 (5/14).

U.N. Dispatch: How the Coronavirus Pandemic is Stifling Free Speech Around the World
Mark Leon Goldberg, executive editor of U.N. Dispatch (5/14).

World Economic Forum: 3 challenges in creating a coronavirus vaccine — and how they are being overcome
Charlotte Edmond, senior writer with Formative Content (5/14).

World Economic Forum: WHO officials warn against ‘magical thinking’ regarding lockdowns — COVID-19 briefing
Linda Lacina, digital editor at the World Economic Forum (4/14).

World Economic Forum: COVID-19: Collaboration is the engine of global science — especially for developing countries
Mukhisa Kituyi, secretary general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (5/15).

WHO Regional Office for Africa: COVID-19 could deepen food insecurity, malnutrition in Africa (5/14).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Secretary Of State Provides Statement On China, Intellectual Property, Data Related To COVID-19

U.S. Department of State: The United States Condemns Attempts by PRC-Affiliated Actors to Steal American COVID-19 Research
In this press statement, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “condemns attempts by cyber actors and non-traditional collectors affiliated with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to steal U.S. intellectual property and data related to COVID-19 research” (5/14).

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Ambassador-At-Large For International Religious Freedom Discusses Impact Of COVID-19 On Religious Minorities During Special Briefing

U.S. Department of State: Briefing With Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback On COVID-19 Impact on Religious Minorities
In a special briefing, Samuel Brownback, ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, discusses the impact of COVID-19 on religious minorities around the world, including the additional burdens faced by religious minorities as a result of the pandemic (5/14).

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U.S. Signs $230M Development Assistance Agreement With Ethiopia

U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia: U.S. Renews its Commitment to Ethiopia with $230 Million Development Partnership Agreement
“The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Federal Ministry of Finance signed a new development partnership agreement this week worth more than $230 million. … The USAID development assistance agreement provides funding and resources required to accelerate development gains and help Ethiopia achieve its goal of becoming a middle-income country. Under the agreement, USAID also will continue to work with the Government of Ethiopia and other international and local partners to expand access to quality health care and services, improve education, and advance a private sector-led model of transformative economic growth…” (5/14).

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From KFF

KFF Resources Examine Global, Domestic Issues Related To COVID-19

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of May 15, 2020 (5/15).

KFF: Global Funding Across U.S. COVID-19 Supplemental Funding Bills (Oum/Wexler/Kates, 5/12).

Additional KFF COVID-19 resources on the global situation, as well as those focused on the response and impact within the U.S., are available here. KFF’s new blog series “Coronavirus Policy Watch” is available here.

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