KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

G7 Health Ministers Focus On Strengthening Primary Health Care, Ending Health Inequalities At Paris Meeting

Health Policy Watch: G7 Countries Prioritize Primary Health Care At Health Ministers’ Meeting In Paris
“Health Ministers from G7 countries wrapped up a two-day meeting [Friday] in Paris that focused on strengthening primary health care, health inequalities for developing countries, and the elimination of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Entitled ‘Ensuring Health Care For All: A G7 Priority,’ the meeting of the Group of 7 (G7) most developed countries also announced the launch of a new primary health care initiative — which will seek to improve primary health care through knowledge sharing…” (Branigan, 5/17).

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Foreign Policy Examines Trump Administration's Efforts To Redline References To Sexual, Reproductive Health In G7 Communique On Gender Equality

Foreign Policy: U.S. Quietly Waters Down Another Communique on Gender Equality
“The Trump administration pushed the G7 nations to water down a declaration on gender equality last week as part of its broad effort to stamp out references to sexual and reproductive health in international institutions, according to people involved in the process and drafts reviewed by Foreign Policy. It is only the latest iteration of the administration’s hard-line stance against any language that might suggest approval of abortion in the official documents of international institutions that include the United States. The heavy-handed diplomatic strategy has put Washington at odds with European allies and drawn criticism from women’s advocacy groups for undercutting wider efforts to improve global gender equality…” (Gramer, 5/17).

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CNN, Guardian Examine How U.S. Abortion Laws, Policies Compare Internationally, Affect Access To Services In Other Countries

CNN: If Alabama were a country, this is how its abortion law would stack up
“Alabama passed a near-total ban on abortion [last] week, strict enough to rival abortion rules in countries like Brunei, Guatemala, and Syria. … In theory, the new law would become enforceable in six months but, given the number of legal challenges it’s likely to face by groups arguing it’s unconstitutional, it will likely be tied up in court for years, delaying enforcement. … The United States is one of at least 49 countries that allow abortions at a woman’s request with no justification requirement, according to the World Health Organization…” (Fox, 5/17).

The Guardian: Trump takes war on abortion worldwide as policy cuts off funds
“The Trump administration has taken its war on abortion worldwide… The Mexico City policy, dubbed the ‘global gag [rule]’ by its critics, denies U.S. federal [global health] funds to any [foreign nongovernmental] organisation involved in providing abortion services overseas or counselling women about them. It was [first] instituted by the then U.S. president Ronald Reagan and has been revoked by every Democrat and reinstated by every Republican president since. But, under Trump, the net has been thrown wider… Two years since Trump’s original edict, [made] on the day he came into office and in line with his pledge to religious groups he courted for votes, it is still early to assess the impact, but it is likely to be considerable…” (Boseley, 5/17).

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Violence, Rumors Continue To Hinder DRC Ebola Response; U.K. To Send Additional Funding, Personnel As Outbreak Grows

New York Times: Fighting Ebola When Mourners Fight the Responders
“…Efforts to combat the epidemic have been hobbled by attacks on treatment centers and health workers; deep suspicion of the national government, which is managing the eradication efforts; and growing mistrust of the international medical experts who have struggled to steer patients into the treatment centers, according to interviews with dozens of family members, politicians, doctors, and health workers in recent weeks…” (Goldstein, 5/19).

The Telegraph: U.K. scrambles to boost aid as Congo’s Ebola crisis ‘spirals dangerously out of control’
“The [U.K.] government is to send new funding and expert personnel to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) amid fears the rapidly escalating Ebola crisis there is spiraling out of control and could spread into neighboring countries. The International Development Secretary Rory Stewart will tell the Commons on Monday that the crisis in DRC is at a ‘tipping point’ and call on others to follow Britain’s lead and pledge further expertise and support…” (Newey, 5/20).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak and response is available from Deutsche Welle and VOA News.

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U.N. Officials Call On Security Council To Support Immediate De-Escalation In Syrian War, Citing Multiple Attacks On Medical Facilities, Risk Of 'Humanitarian Fallout'

NPR: In Syria, Reports Of 19 Medical Facilities Bombed Since April 28
“…This spike in attacks on medical facilities is not a new tactic but represents a continuation of an ongoing strategy pursued by the Syrian government and its affiliates, says Rayan Koteiche, the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) researcher for the Middle East and North Africa. ‘The Syrian government and its allies are well aware of the value of medical services to populations in need and of the impact of denying these services,’ he says…” (Cole, 5/17).

Reuters: Western powers clash at U.N. with Russia, Syria, on Syrian hospital attacks
“…Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen said Russia and Syria were responsible for the attacks on the health centers. He said it was ‘most alarming’ that several of the centers attacked were on a list created by Russia and the United Nations in an attempt to protect them…” (Nichols, 5/17).

U.N. News: Risk grows of ‘catastrophic humanitarian fallout’ in Syria’s Idlib, where 3 million are trapped: top U.N. officials urge unity in Security Council
“The U.N.’s Political and Humanitarian Affairs chiefs on Friday called on the Security Council to unite in support of an immediate de-escalation of fighting around Syria’s Idlib province, and work towards an enduring political solution on behalf of the Syrian people…” (5/17).

VOA News: U.N. Decries Surge in Attacks on Hospitals in Syria’s Idlib
“…More than 3 million Syrians live in Idlib, many of them displaced from other parts of the country, and the U.N. has warned for months that a full-scale military operation there against the terrorists risked triggering a humanitarian catastrophe…” (Besheer, 5/17).

Xinhua News: U.N. humanitarian chief warns of “deadly” conflict escalation in northwest Syria
“…According to [U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock], a total of 49 health facilities have partially or totally suspended activities. They have provided an average each month of at least 171,000 medical outpatient consultations and 2,760 major surgical operations, and now ‘they are not doing those things’…” (5/18).

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South Korea To Provide $8M In Humanitarian Aid To North Korea Despite Nuclear Talks Stalemate

New York Times: South Korea Announces $8 Million Aid Package for North
“South Korea said on Friday that it would provide $8 million in humanitarian aid to help North Korea’s malnourished children and pregnant women, as the North faces severe drought and a food crisis caused by its worst harvest in a decade. The sum represents funds that the South had originally planned to donate in 2017, through the World Food Programme and the United Nations Children’s Fund. But the donation was shelved after North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan that year and Shinzo Abe, Japan’s leader, argued for delaying it. South Korea made it clear on Friday that it did not regard the current stalemate in talks over the North’s nuclear program as a reason to deny the aid…” (Sang-Hun, 5/17).

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More News In Global Health

CIDRAP News: Four new polio cases in Pakistan as study tackles partial-dose vaccination (Schnirring, 5/17).

Devex: What role should donors play in helping drones for delivery take flight? (Cheney, 5/20).

Devex: E.U. states meet on youth, Sahel, but ministers stay home (Chadwick, 5/17).

Financial Times: Gates-backed computing platform raises $110m for new drug push (Kuchler, 5/19).

Global Health NOW: Public Health’s Precarious Nature (Simpson, 5/17).

The Guardian: The man with a tablet for making aid to African countries better (Austin, 5/20).

The Guardian: U.S. pastor runs network giving 50,000 Ugandans bleach-based ‘miracle cure’ (Pilkington/Mwesigwa, 5/18).

The Guardian: Revealed: air pollution may be damaging ‘every organ in the body’ (Carrington, 5/17).

Inter Press Service: Stop The War on Children (Yakupitiyage, 5/17).

NPR: Measles Outbreak In The Philippines (Beaubien, 5/19).

NPR: The Unanswered Questions About Anthrax (Schreiber, 5/17).

U.N. News: Promoting ‘a healthy sustainable future,’ the U.N. health agency engages young and young at heart to ‘Walk the Talk’ (5/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Piece Discusses Trends In Global Health Spending, Financing

The BMJ: Trends in global health financing
Marco Schäferhoff, managing director at Open Consultants; Sebastian Martinez, researcher at the University of Glasgow; Osondu Ogbuoji, deputy director at the Center for Policy Impact in Global Health at Duke University; Miriam Lewis Sabin, manager of accountability at the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health; and Gavin Yamey, director at the Center for Policy Impact in Global Health at Duke University

“…The overall picture [for global health spending] is mixed. Absolute levels of health spending are rising — but they remain too low in many countries to finance universal health coverage, and health is still not given enough priority by governments. Governments should more strongly prioritize health in their budgets. Over the next few years, over a dozen middle-income countries will become ineligible for assistance from funders such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and many of these countries are vulnerable to disease resurgence. The positive trend in official development assistance for health and research financing for neglected diseases could be threatened by a looming global economic recession, and it is essential that donors strongly support upcoming replenishments of global funds” (5/20).

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New Approaches Needed To Respond To DRC Ebola Outbreak

Washington Post: Ebola is like a fire. It keeps burning.
Editorial Board

“…So far, Ebola has not leapt over international boundaries, and teams of extremely brave health care and medical workers are trying to execute the tactic that has worked before: contain the virus inside a ring, interrupting transmission. This requires a skillful choreography: surveillance, case investigation, contact tracing, and vaccination. … But now the WHO has announced that the public health and medical responders are, in some cases, being forced to suspend work because of the militia attacks. … [T]he problem of mistrust of doctors in the community, as well as danger to them of violent attack, has led some medical personnel to essentially go undercover to carry out their lifesaving efforts. … Improving security is not a simple matter. Bringing armed forces into the region might further complicate the trust problem in communities. In the West Africa epidemic, authorities realized belatedly that forced quarantines created panic and were counterproductive. Trust cannot be coerced but must be won. New approaches are desperately needed…” (5/19).

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Diagnostics Are 'Key Component' For Achieving Universal Health Coverage

STAT: Diagnostics are essential for universal health coverage to succeed
Madhukar Pai, Canada research chair in epidemiology and global health at McGill University, director of McGill’s Global Health Programs, and director of the McGill International TB Centre; Catharina Boehme, chief executive officer at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND); and Ilona Kickbusch, director of the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and co-chair of the UHC2030 Steering Committee

“…[Universal health coverage (UHC)] won’t truly happen unless the ability to detect illnesses and outbreaks is made an integral part of it. … As countries make progress toward universal health coverage and design and deliver their essential health benefits packages, diagnostics must be included as a key component of such packages. … [C]ountries need to invest in tiered, connected, integrated laboratory networks, procure quality diagnostics, and train laboratory professionals to assess results. … We also need to work harder to develop novel diagnostics to address the biggest unmet needs. … Later this year, the United Nations General Assembly will host a high-level meeting on universal health coverage. … We call on … stakeholders to include diagnostic tests as a key component of the UHC agenda and prioritize diagnostics in the global response to antimicrobial resistance and pandemics. It is time to acknowledge that diagnostics are as important as medicines and vaccines in delivering UHC” (5/20).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Save The Children Applauds Approval Of House FY 2020 SFOPs Appropriations Bill

Save the Children: Save the Children Applauds House Committee Rejecting Cuts to Foreign Aid, Increasing Funding for Key Programs
“The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved the fiscal year 2020 Department of State and Foreign Operations (SFOPs) appropriations bill, which includes funding for international development, global health, gender equality, and humanitarian assistance programs. Not only does the bill include strong funding levels for these programs, the bill even provides for important increases in funding to better meet maternal and child health, basic education, and humanitarian assistance needs…” (5/17).

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International Rescue Committee President/CEO Discusses Visit To DRC, Calls For More Coordination On Ebola Outbreak

International Rescue Committee: International Rescue Committee: David Miliband: Eyewitness to the fight against Ebola
“International Rescue Committee president and CEO David Miliband recently visited the IRC’s Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Congo has spent decades in the grip of violent conflict, and attacks on health centers are hindering efforts to treat patients and prevent the spread of the virus.” This video discusses the challenges related to the Ebola response in the DRC (5/17).

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AVAC Executive Director Discusses Importance Of Renewed Global Commitment To Vaccines In HIV Response

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: Will a vaccine crisis of confidence impact the global response to HIV?
In a guest post, AVAC Executive Director Mitchell Warren recognizes HIV Vaccine Awareness Day and discusses the role and importance of vaccines in ending HIV, noting, “This HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, it’s time for a renewed global commitment to vaccine research, development, and delivery. Vaccines save lives today, and a new generation of vaccines can save even more lives tomorrow” (5/17).

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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, has published Issue 356 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter features several news articles, including a summary of the main decisions from the Global Fund’s 41st Board meeting that took place last week; a piece on the Board’s approval of the Global Fund’s updated allocation methodology for 2020-2022; and an announcement of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s approval of increased funding for the Global Fund’s sixth replenishment (5/17).

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Latest Issue Of FT Health Guest-Curated By Director Of Wellcome Trust Jeremy Farrar

FT Health: Why we need collective action and brave research
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter was guest-curated by Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, who previews this week’s World Health Assembly; interviews Tim Cook, consultant at the Royal United Hospitals NHS Trust Bath and director of the national audit project program at the Royal College of Anaesthetists; and includes commentary on various news reports and scientific articles on global health (5/17).

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From the U.S. Government

HHS Secretary Alex Azar Participates In Bilateral Meetings, Final Day Of G7 Health Ministerial Meeting, GHSI Special Ministerial Meeting On Ebola

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Secretary Azar Participates in Final Day of G7 Health Ministerial Meeting and Global Health Security Initiative Special Ministerial Meeting on Ebola
“[On] May 17, 2019, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar participated in bilateral meetings with health ministers, attended the final day of the G7 Health Ministerial Meeting in Paris, France, as the head of the U.S. delegation, and attended a Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI) Special Ministerial Meeting on Ebola…” (5/17).

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HHS Secretary Azar Meets With Pasteur Institute Officials, Discusses Vaccines, Global Health Security

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Secretary Azar Meets with the Pasteur Institute
“[On] May 18, 2019, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar participated in a meeting with the Pasteur Institute. … [Officials] discussed the history of the Pasteur Institute and the continued collaboration between the Institute and HHS, through the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to improve influenza and emerging infectious disease surveillance networks in Africa and Southeast Asia. They also discussed vaccine development to prevent pandemic flu and the importance of vaccinations to prevent diseases, such as measles. Secretary Azar emphasized global health security and combatting antimicrobial resistance as major priorities for the U.S…” (5/18).

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