KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

In U.S. House Subcommittee Hearing, PEPFAR's Birx Addresses U.S. Approach To Global Health Supply Chain Technical Assistance

Devex: PEPFAR chief questions U.S. approach to supply chain technical assistance
“Speaking to United States lawmakers in a congressional hearing on Thursday, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Deborah Birx questioned whether the $3 billion spent on supply chain technical assistance since 2009 had been used effectively. ‘When you talk to the Global Fund, when you talk to the field, the one comment that continues to come up is the integrity of the supply chain. So, there is an issue there that persists, despite a significant investment,’ Birx told a House of Representatives subcommittee, which had gathered to ask questions about the U.S. Agency for International Development’s global health supply chain project. Birx, who has led the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief since the Obama administration, said that the congressional inquiry into USAID’s $9.5 billion project — being implemented by Chemonics International — has, ‘asked us to step back, to really say … why, 15 years in, are we talking about glitches in the system?’…” (Igoe, 5/21).

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In Letter To Bolton, 2 U.S. Senators Inquire About Sudden Departure Of NSC's Global Health Security Leader

HuffPost: Top Democrats Want Answers On Global Health Security Head’s Sudden Departure
“Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have requested answers from the White House about last week’s sudden departure of Rear Adm. Tim Ziemer, who led the now-disbanded global health security team at the National Security Council. In a Friday letter to National Security Adviser John Bolton, the senators asked not only why Ziemer left, but also why his unit had been disbanded just as an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo was declared…” (Weber, 5/18).

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Ron Klain Discusses DRC Ebola Outbreak Response, Lessons Learned From 2014 In Daily Beast Interview

Daily Beast: Obama’s ‘Ebola Czar’ Ron Klain Asks: Will Donald Trump Step Up Now?
“…[I]n light of a recent outbreak that has begun to claim lives and spread at a worrisome rate, the question remains: Did Ron Klain’s legacy as the Ebola czar work? Are all the T’s crossed and the I’s dotted? Not quite — though Klain, who currently serves as general counsel at Revolution LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm, says he’s cautiously optimistic … ‘I think there’s some good news and some things we should be worried about,’ Klain said. ‘There are clearly tools available this time that weren’t available last time, which most notably includes the Merck vaccine’…” (Basu, 5/18).

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CDC, USAID To Send Experts, Funding To Help In DRC Ebola Outbreak Response

The Hill: CDC prepares to join Ebola fight in Africa
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is preparing to deploy staffers to several cities and towns deep in the Congolese jungle amid a new Ebola outbreak that has claimed at least two dozen lives…” (Wilson, 5/18).

HuffPost: USAID Donates $1 Million To Fight Ebola Outbreak In DR Congo
“The U.S. is sending $1 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development to fight the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a USAID spokesman told HuffPost Friday. The U.S. funding will join the less than $9 million contributed so far by the World Health Organization’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies, the Wellcome Trust, the U.K., the United Nations, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance…” (Weber, 5/18).

Reuters: Ebola experts from U.S. Centers for Disease Control ready to go to Congo
“…The CDC, which played a major role in responding to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, already has experts in a field office in Kinshasa, the capitol of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who are working with the health ministry there, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said…” (Steenhuysen, 5/18).

Washington Post: U.S. plans to provide several million dollars for Ebola outbreak in Congo
“The United States is planning to provide several million dollars to support the global response to the growing Ebola outbreak in Congo, officials said Friday. Details are being finalized, and an announcement is expected early next week. … [T]he U.S. response so far appears to be appropriate for this outbreak, experts say. … USAID is also sending 2,000 personal-protective-equipment kits, laboratory materials for diagnostic testing, and other technical support. … The National Security Council, which last week lost its top official responsible for leading the U.S. response to pandemics and split up the global health security team he oversaw, is managing the overall response in coordination with the CDC and USAID, a spokesperson said” (Sun, 5/18).

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Ebola Vaccination Campaign Launches In DRC; Total Ebola Deaths Rise To 27, With 49 Confirmed, Suspected Cases

Associated Press: Nurse dead in Congo as Ebola vaccination campaign starts
“A nurse has died from Ebola in Bikoro, the rural northwestern town where the outbreak began, as the country Monday begins a vaccination campaign in three health zones affected by the deadly outbreak, Congo’s health minister said. The nurse’s death brings the death toll to 27. There are now 49 hemorrhagic fever cases: 22 confirmed as Ebola, 21 probable and six suspected, according to Health Minister Oly Ilunga…” (Mwanamilongo, 5/21).

Additional coverage of the use of an experimental Ebola vaccine, and potentially experimental drugs, is available from Fortune, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Nature, NPR, Reuters, USA TODAY, and VOA News.

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DRC Ebola Outbreak Does Not Warrant Emergency Declaration, WHO Committee Decides; Agency Calls For More Funding, 'Vigorous Response'

Financial Times: WHO calls for extra funds to contain Ebola outbreak
“The World Health Organization has urged the international community to provide $26m to contain a growing outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo or risk a much larger bill if the epidemic spreads…” (Aglionby, 5/19).

Science: Despite spread to port city, Congo Ebola outbreak isn’t an international emergency yet, WHO says
“The Ebola outbreak underway in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is still too limited in scope to warrant a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), a special status that would allow the World Health Organization (WHO) to issue far-reaching recommendations to stop it. That was the conclusion [Friday] of a high-level WHO advisory group…” (Cohen, 5/18).

U.N. News: DR Congo Ebola outbreak not yet a global ‘health emergency,’ but strong response to disease vital — U.N. health experts
“…But the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee advised the Congolese government and all other actors to remain engaged in a ‘vigorous response’ and called on the international community to support efforts on the ground. ‘Without this, the situation is likely to deteriorate significantly,’ read the Public Health Advice issued by the committee, which also called for global solidarity among the scientific community and for international data to be shared freely and regularly…” (5/18).

Additional reporting on the WHO Emergency Committee’s decision is available from CNN, HuffPost, New York Times, NPR, STAT, Science Speaks, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

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Media Outlets Examine Response To DRC Ebola Outbreak, Preparedness Now Compared With 2014

Al Jazeera: Ebola in DRC: Aid workers racing to spread awareness (Matheson, 5/20).

Bloomberg: Why the Newest Ebola Outbreak Raises Alarms Far and Wide (Torsoli/Clowes, 5/18).

Devex: Aid groups respond rapidly in DRC as Ebola cases confirmed in major city (Roby, 5/21).

The Hill: The Ebola superhighway: Why the new outbreak terrifies public health authorities (Wilson, 5/19).

NPR: Response Is Swift To Try To Contain Congo’s Ebola Outbreak (Simon, 5/19).

NPR: Ebola Outbreak: How Worried Should We Be? (Beaubien, 5/18).

Reuters: Ebola preparedness much better now than for 2014 outbreak: WHO (Miles, 5/21).

Reuters: In Congo city where Ebola resides, fear but not panic (Ligodi/McAllister, 5/19).

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Devex Previews Issues To Watch At This Week's World Health Assembly

Devex: What to watch at this year’s World Health Assembly
“…While the Ebola outbreak has spotlighted global health security at this year’s assembly, member states should be reminded that it’s not the only critical health issue — or issue more generally, for that matter — that will carry serious consequences if left unchecked. Here are some of the key issues we’ll be following this week in Geneva. Polio … Tuberculosis … NCDs … Access to medicine … Gender equality and diversity at WHO … Civil society engagement… (Ravelo/Chadwick, 5/21).

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Taiwan 'Very Angry' Over Exclusion From World Health Assembly

Associated Press: Taiwan ‘angry’ over not being invited to WHO assembly
“Taiwan’s health minister says the island feels ‘very angry’ that it was not invited to the World Health Organization assembly in Geneva. Chen Shih-Chung attributed the U.N. body’s refusal to let Taiwan participate to tensions between mainland China and Taiwan…” (5/20).

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Pakistan Close To Eliminating Polio But Challenges Remain, With 1 Case Reported So Far This Year

New York Times: Pakistan Has Just One New Polio Case, but Isn’t Declaring Victory Yet
“…Pakistan has come agonizingly close to declaring victory over polio. Each of the last three years, nongovernmental organizations involved in fighting it have optimistically declared it the virus’s final year, seeking support from international donors and local officials as they embark on the daunting task of vaccinating every child five and under in the country. But polio has persisted here and in neighboring Afghanistan, where increasing instability has left both countries at risk, the finish line just beyond reach…” (Ahmad, 5/20).

NPR: Pakistan Still Struggles To Eradicate Polio
“…It is not easy because in order to vaccinate a kid, you need to find the kid several times over many weeks and give several doses of vaccine. So now every few weeks, almost half a million people are going out and trying to vaccinate 38 million children. Things are looking good. There’s only been one polio case this year, but getting down to zero is tough. Here’s NPR’s Diaa Hadid in Rawalpindi, Pakistan…” (Hadid, 5/18).

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More News In Global Health

Associated Press: Medical teams sent to south India amid deadly virus outbreak (5/21).

The Lancet: HIV/AIDS community divided over allegations about UNAIDS (Zarocostas, 5/19).

The Lancet: Tramadol: Africa’s opioid crisis (Salm-Reifferscheidt, 5/19).

Newsweek: Anti-fungal drug resistance as serious as the antibiotic apocalypse, warn scientists (Gander, 5/18).

Reuters: Regulators flag possible birth defect link to GSK’s HIV drug (Hirschler, 5/18).

U.N. News: Teenage girl’s death sentence spotlights Sudan’s failure to tackle forced marriage, gender-based violence — U.N. rights office (5/18).

U.N. News: U.N., Somali government seek $80 million in immediate relief for flood-affected populations (5/20).

Xinhua News: Kenya receives WHO Guinea worm free certificate (5/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

Trump Administration Should Install 'Prominent Coordinator' To Lead U.S. Efforts On Ebola

Washington Post: Ebola is back. It’s an emergency.
Editorial Board

“…In a world of globalized transportation, dangerous pathogens do not stop at passport control. Braking Ebola in Congo is essential to keeping it from Chicago. The Trump administration seems to get this point in theory — a recent report declared, ‘An infectious disease threat anywhere can be a threat everywhere.’ But in practice, the National Security Council is being reorganized, and responsibility for pandemic response is being given to those already burdened by other difficult issues, such as fighting the spread of weapons of mass destruction. What has long been needed is to treat Ebola and other pandemic risks like the singular national security danger they are, and to install a prominent coordinator who is devoted to marshaling resources for combating them before they wreak havoc on a wide scale. This was also a lesson of 2014. Have we not learned it?” (5/18).

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U.S. Retreat On Efforts To Address Global Health Security Leaves U.S., World At Greater Risk

The Lancet: False economy and global health security
Editorial Board

“…President Trump’s retreat on efforts to combat major global health security issues leaves the USA and the entire world at greater risk: his administration announced its intention to cut $252 million in funds already allocated to Ebola response initiatives, on the same day that the latest outbreak was declared. Trump is also poised to allow funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [to address global health security, as part of emergency funding Congress provided during the Ebola outbreak,] to lapse in 2019. … As Trump abandons long-held global health priorities, advocates in the White House, Tim Ziemer and Tom Bossert (who was developing a biosecurity strategy), have abruptly resigned, leaving a strategic vacuum in global health security — one that an increasingly belligerent and inward-looking U.S. administration seems uninterested in filling. … The need for robust responses to global health security dangers will not go away. We cannot afford to turn away from proven and effective responses in the name of false economy and blinkered nationalism” (5/19).

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U.S. Foreign Assistance, Leadership 'Indispensable' In Making Health, Development Gains Worldwide

Des Moines Register: U.S. foreign aid is our country’s most cost-effective budget allocation
Kurt Meyer, volunteer at Lutheran World Relief

“…[T]he role of the U.S. government remains indispensable: by convening gatherings with other governments, negotiating agreements, opening access to marginalized populations, and keeping front-line workers safe. … The world cannot afford a reduced U.S. role or funding cuts that would hinder continued progress. Our state and nation are richly blessed. Many different faiths and political persuasions are steadfast in support of a common goal — helping all God’s children. Iowans in faith communities must continue to raise voices of compassion so U.S. foreign assistance does not fall victim to budget cuts or short-sighted political wrangling. The small part of the U.S. budget dedicated to foreign aid cannot become a sacrificial lamb and, with it, the vulnerable people whose lives depend on it” (5/18).

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U.S., North Korea Meeting Could Have Implications For Global Health Security

Forbes: U.S. — North Korea Meeting Could Be Make Or Break For Global Health Security
Nicole Fisher, founder and CEO of HHR Strategies

“…[A]s President Trump and Kim Jong-Un prepare for a potential meeting to discuss nuclear disarmament, the implications for global health hang in the balance. Without a meeting, and without compromise, the [humanitarian] situation is North Korea will likely grow worse. U.N. and humanitarian efforts will continue to be scaled back (meaning even less food, clean water, and medical aid), and multidrug-resistant TB and malaria stand to spread rapidly across the nation. Conversely, if diplomacy prevails — or talks are even allowed to advance — sanctions against North Korea could be decreased, and a flood of humanitarian aid and health care could enter the country. … Hopes are that in the coming months, real change is possible, and the world gets a better understanding of life, death, and disease in North Korea” (5/18).

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Exclusion Of Taiwan From WHA Harms Global Health Efforts

Times of India: Ensuring Global Health: Keeping Taiwan out of World Health Assembly doesn’t make sense
Rudroneel Ghosh, journalist

“…[L]eaving Taiwan out of the WHO architecture is a big mistake. Irrespective of political differences between China and Taiwan, global health cooperation is too big an agenda to be compromised in this fashion. After all, diseases and pandemics don’t recognize borders and separate territories. And excluding Taiwan from [the World Health Assembly (WHA)] will leave a huge gap in the global health response mechanisms. … Besides, Taiwan, time and again, has proved its commitment to international health. … [H]ealth can’t be compromised because of politics. Irrespective of China’s political reservations, it shouldn’t block Taiwan’s participation in WHA…” (5/18).

News Lens: Taiwan’s Exclusion from the WHA is a Detriment to Global Health
Kuo-Chang Huang, member of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan and chair of the New Power Party, and colleagues

“…By pressing for Taiwan’s exclusion from international issues such as global health, an issue on which Taiwan has a strong track record, China is denying the WHO and the global community the opportunity to benefit from Taiwan’s medical expertise. … It is of great importance to us that the WHA and the Secretariat of the WHO live up to their humanitarian vision and honor the opinions that have been advocating for Taiwan’s participation as an observer. … By giving way to Chinese demands, not only is public health put at risk, the organization is also subverting its own mission. We sincerely look forward to Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the WHA this year. The health of the world’s citizens should not be sacrificed on the whim of a single state’s political ambitions” (5/21).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CFR Expert Discusses PEPFAR's 'Fading' Impact On Global Health

Council on Foreign Relations: PEPFAR’s Impact on Global Health Is Fading
David P. Fidler, adjunct senior fellow for cybersecurity and global health at CFR, discusses the role of PEPFAR in addressing global HIV/AIDS, saying that PEPFAR’s impact is “fading.” Fidler writes, “PEPFAR’s future in global health has never been more uncertain. … While there is talk of an AIDS-free generation being within reach, the progress achieved through PEPFAR is fragile” (5/18).

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New USAID Bureau Could Improve Program Design, Effectiveness

Plan International USA: New USAID Bureau Would Be a Powerhouse for Program Effectiveness
Justin Fugle, senior adviser for policy and program outreach at Plan International USA, discusses USAID’s proposal for a new Bureau of Policy, Resources, and Performance (PRP), under the leadership of a new associate administrator, and examines the potential impact of this reorganization on USAID’s operations (5/16).

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World Health Assembly Takes Place This Week In Geneva

WHO: Seventy-first World Health Assembly
This website provides coverage of the 71st World Health Assembly, which takes place this week (May 21-26) in Geneva, Switzerland (May 2018).

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FT Health Discusses WHO's Call To Eliminate Trans Fats From Global Food Supply, Features Interview With Paul Farmer On Mental Health

FT Health: Transfat ban could save 500,000 lives a year
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter discusses the WHO’s call for governments to introduce a ban on industrially produced fats from the global food supply in order to avert deaths from cardiovascular disease, as well as features an interview with Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, on mental health. The newsletter also provides a roundup of other global health-related news stories (Jack/Dodd, 5/18).

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From KFF

Kaiser Family Foundation Fact Sheet Examines U.S. Engagement With Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance

Kaiser Family Foundation: The U.S. & Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
This updated fact sheet examines Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, its global immunization efforts, and U.S. engagement in the partnership (5/18).

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