KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

POLITICO Examines U.S. Vice President Pence's Influence On U.S. Abortion-Related Policies

POLITICO: How Mike Pence’s ‘Indiana mafia’ took over health care policy
“…[B]ehind the scenes, [U.S. Vice President Mike] Pence has developed his own sphere of influence in an agency lower on Trump’s radar: Health and Human Services. … ‘There have been many staff level meetings on pro-life issues with HHS. He and the president will always advocate for pro-life policies,’ a White House official said of Pence’s involvement at the health department. … Pence is far from the only administration official with deeply held anti-abortion views; HHS and the White House staff include numerous appointees with roots in anti-abortion organizations or the offices of conservative Republican lawmakers most active in opposing abortion rights. … These conservative and religious views have played into the administration’s foreign as well as domestic policy. Internationally, Trump and Pence have gone beyond even other Republican administrations … by expanding the so-called Mexico City policy barring U.S. [global health] foreign aid to [foreign nongovernmental] groups that promote or provide abortion…” (Pradhan/Ollstein, 5/20).

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News Outlets Report On Opening Of 72nd World Health Assembly

Associated Press: The Latest: U.S. backs reform efforts at U.N. health agency
“The United States, the biggest contributor to the World Health Organization, says it supports efforts by the agency’s chief to restructure and find reforms in the organization’s budget. … U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services Alex Azar said Monday the United States … was ‘supportive’ of efforts by its chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to restructure the agency…” (5/20).

Global Health NOW: A Surprise Beginning for #WHA72
“…Usually a rote exercise of procedure and aggrandizement, the Assembly surprised many with an unexpected quality: Emotion. The change came early in the morning when Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, gave a passionate guest address in which he shared a personal health crisis…” (Simpson, 5/20).

Xinhua News: Universal health coverage: WHO vows to leave no-one behind
“The 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA) kicked off [in Geneva] on Monday focusing on the theme ‘Universal Health Coverage: Leaving No-one Behind.’ … ‘Primary health care is where the battle for human health is won and lost,’ said the director general in his address opening the WHA. ‘It’s through strong primary health care that countries can prevent, detect, and treat non-communicable diseases.’ … WHA delegates are scheduled to adopt a number of resolutions, including a detailed budget for the WHO, after the organization unveiled its structural reform in March…” (5/20).

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U.S. Supports Calls For Taiwan Observer Status During World Health Assembly

Associated Press: U.S. backs calls for Taiwan to get role at U.N. health assembly
“The United States is backing calls for Taiwan to be granted observer status at the U.N. health agency’s biggest annual gathering, the U.S. health secretary said Monday. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar spoke to reporters in Geneva on the sidelines of the start of the World Health Organization’s annual assembly, which China’s government has prevented Taiwan from attending. China claims sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan…” (5/20).

VOA News: China Bars Taiwan From World Health Assembly
“Taiwan is protesting China’s decision to exclude the island from participation in the annual World Health Assembly, calling such action an unjustified political move that could harm global health. … This move is particularly ironic this year, as the theme of the assembly is universal health coverage. Taiwan’s national health system is widely considered one of the best in the world. Taiwan’s minister of health and welfare, Chen Shih-chung, says the island is ready to share its experiences on how to achieve affordable, efficient universal health coverage with the global community…” (Schlein, 5/20).

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WHO DG Tedros Calls For Unity To End DRC Ebola Outbreak; AFP Examines Burial Practices In DRC

Agence France-Presse: DRC must unite in Ebola fight amid ‘high’ risk of spread: WHO chief
“The World Health Organization chief on Monday urged different political factions in the Democratic Republic of Congo to unite in the battle against Ebola, warning that the risk of spread ‘remains very high.’ ‘Ebola does not take sides. It is the enemy of everybody,’ WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the opening of the organization’s annual assembly in Geneva…” (5/20).

Agence France-Presse: High-security Ebola burials spark dismay, anger in DR Congo
“People in Ebola-hit eastern DR Congo are struggling to come to terms with high-security burials that are part of a hard-pressed strategy to roll back the disease. Anyone who dies of the highly infectious hemorrhagic fever has to be buried in carefully controlled conditions designed to minimize the risk of infection from body fluids. But that means ceremonies are carried out in sanitized conditions, with relatives and friends kept at a distance — for many, a traumatic break with traditions that demand the body of a loved-one be seen or touched…” (5/21).

Additional coverage of the Ebola outbreak in DRC is available from Al Jazeera, Associated Press, and PBS NewsHour.

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U.K. Foreign Secretary Announces $90M For WHO-Backed Health Program For Emerging Economies

Xinhua News: Britain announces multi-million dollar boost for global health program
“Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced Monday a 70-million-pound (90 million U.S. dollars) boost for a WHO-backed global health program. The Better Health Program will operate a range of health initiatives to help improve the lives of up to 150 million people across eight emerging economies — Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar…” (5/21).

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Associated Press Examines WHO Travel Expenses, Alleged Spending Abuses

Associated Press: AP Exclusive: U.N. health agency struggles with travel abuses
“The World Health Organization spent nearly $192 million on travel expenses last year, with staffers sometimes breaking the agency’s own rules by traveling in business class, booking expensive last-minute tickets, and traveling without the required approvals, according to internal documents obtained by the Associated Press. The abuses could spook potential donors and partners as the organization begins its week-long annual meeting Monday in Geneva, seeking increased support to fight a devastating outbreak of Ebola in Congo and other deadly diseases including polio, malaria, and measles…” (Cheng, 5/20).

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Devex Examines Efforts To 'Decolonize' Global Health, Spur Discussions

Devex: The activists trying to ‘decolonize’ global health
“Earlier this year, students from Harvard University’s school of public health, spurred by a curriculum they found short on political and historical context, organized a conference on ‘decolonizing’ global health. … Though activists agree there can be no single solution to addressing the colonial influence on health systems, the way forward is still under discussion…” (Green, 5/21).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: Health worker attacks are up, but numbers might not tell the full story (Lieberman, 5/21).

Global Health NOW: Start Local to Stop Air Pollution (5/19).

Global Press Journal: Unclear Abortion Laws in Uganda Leave Women Who Are Raped Unsure of Options (Segawa, 5/19).

Global Press Journal: In Zambia, Rumors About Birth Control Hinder Family Planning (Phiri, 5/15).

Homeland Preparedness News: WHO Science Division creates online resource for neglected disease R&D efforts (Galford, 5/20).

New York Times: Nurse Hitchhikes to Help Girl Whose Photo Drew Attention to Hunger in Venezuela (Herrera/Kurmanaev, 5/20).

Reuters: Dengue fever numbers soar on La Reunion: WHO (Miles, 5/21).

U.N. News: Hunger in Yemen: WFP considers aid suspension in face of repeated interference by some Houthi leaders (5/20).

VOA News: Uganda Remembers AIDS Victims (Athumani, 5/17).

Washington Post: For Melinda Gates, heartbreak motivates philanthropy (Ottesen, 5/21).

Xinhua News: Malnourished children receive treatment at care-center in Yemen (5/20).

Xinhua News: Thailand records over 20,000 cases of dengue fever in nearly 5 months (5/20).

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Editorials and Opinions

Establishing Trust Within Communities, Investing In Prevention Critical To Curbing Potential Pandemics

The Hill: We can curb potential pandemics by investing in prevention tactics
Ashley Arabasadi, health security policy adviser at Management Sciences for Health

“Along with the Ebola outbreak that’s already infected more than 1,600 people, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is fighting another battle: An epidemic of fear and mistrust. Community members are afraid to seek treatment, including a promising experimental vaccine. … Political strife has worsened this escalating situation while highlighting vulnerabilities in handling outbreaks in fragile states. … Building the capacity of local health staff at the outset can … help establish trust among communities. … Ultimately, the most effective way to curb a potential pandemic is to invest in prevention tactics. … We also need a health lead in the National Security Council to coordinate the work of the many U.S. agencies that contribute to global health security … These high-level commitments to low-level action are the only way we can ensure the safety of those who are putting themselves in danger on the ground. Our future depends on their success” (5/20).

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Directing Investments Toward Those In Greatest Need Vital To Ensuring Health For All Children

Devex: Opinion: Public funds need to better align with child health inequalities
Claire Leigh, director of international development at Save the Children U.K.

“…To go the next mile on child survival, development and government leaders will have to grapple with two big challenges: inequality and the role of public finance in addressing this. … In order to achieve the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)], countries must achieve convergence between the groups furthest behind and the rest. In other words, the inherent logic of the SDGs is that the furthest behind must move fastest. And it is this that is failing to happen, putting the goals at risk of ultimate failure. … This is a failure of leadership, prioritization, but also — crucially — funding. Where leaders choose to direct public funds is a key driver of inequality. … Without purposeful efforts to increase and direct scarce health resources toward the children and regions in the greatest need, and toward the types of primary health care services that most benefit the poor, countries will not see the convergence in health outcomes that must underpin overall SDG progress. … [T]he primary duty of ensuring every child’s right to adequate health and nutrition rests with their government, and in the provision of universal, well-designed, and appropriately funded services. It’s time for equity to be placed at the heart of health budgeting so that the commitment to leave no one behind becomes more than a noble intention” (5/20).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

'Science Speaks' Reports From WHA 2019, Highlights Discussion Around Improving Access To Medicines, Diagnostics, Vaccines

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: World Health Assembly 2019: No universal health coverage without better access to medicines, health ministers say
Rabita Aziz, writer at “Science Speaks” and senior specialist in global health policy at the Infectious Diseases Society of America, reports from the 72nd session of the World Health Assembly and highlights discussion around the importance of and challenges to improving access to medicines, diagnostics, and vaccines to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) (5/20).

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WHO Europe Participates In WHA 2019

WHO Regional Office for Europe: WHO’s strategic priorities in focus at Seventy-second World Health Assembly
“The Seventy-second World Health Assembly runs from 20 to 28 May 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. … [T]his annual gathering is attended by delegations from WHO Member States around the world, including the countries of the European Region. … Their discussions and decisions will help to determine the policies and budget of WHO, and will serve as important guidance for taking collective action on health priorities in the coming years. The 2019 agenda covers a number of key strategic priorities for WHO that follow up on the Organization’s 13th General Programme of Work. These include implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and specifically moving towards universal health coverage (UHC) and strengthening primary health care…” (5/21).

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Wellcome Director Highlights 5 Areas To Consider At WHA 2019

Wellcome: 5 matters of urgency for the World Health Assembly 2019
Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome, discusses five global health topic areas to consider at the World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting, including antimicrobial drug resistance, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Ebola epidemic, universal health coverage, and the global burden of snakebite (5/20).

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U.K. Secretary Of State For International Development Provides Parliament Update On U.K.'s Ebola Response Efforts In DRC

U.K. Department for International Development: Oral statement to Parliament on the Ebola crisis in DR Congo
In an oral statement to Parliament, U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Rory Stewart provided an update on the Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the U.K.’s response (5/20).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. HHS Secretary Azar Attends 72nd WHA, Delivers Plenary Statement, Participates In Several Bilateral Meetings

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Secretary Azar Attends the 72nd World Health Assembly as Head of U.S. Delegation
“Monday, May 20, 2019, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar [participated] in the 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA) as head of the U.S. delegation. Since arriving in Geneva, Switzerland, Secretary Azar has delivered the U.S. plenary statement and participated in multiple bilateral meetings with his counterparts. In his plenary address, Secretary Azar emphasized the importance of the World Health Organization (WHO) focusing on its core mission, of supporting global public health and health security…” (5/20).

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From KFF

KFF Releases Updated Fact Sheet Breaking Down U.S. Global Health Budget By Program Area

Kaiser Family Foundation: Breaking Down the U.S. Global Health Budget by Program Area
The U.S. government is the largest donor to global health in the world. This KFF fact sheet breaks down the U.S. global health budget by program area: HIV/PEPFAR; tuberculosis (TB); malaria/the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI); the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; maternal & child health (MCH); nutrition; family planning & reproductive health (FP/RH); global health security; and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) (5/21).

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KFF Updates Brief On DRC Ebola Outbreak, U.S. Role In Response

Kaiser Family Foundation: Ebola Spreads amid Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and U.S. Role Remains Limited
In this brief, KFF summarizes available information about why the outbreak continues, describes the ongoing U.S. role in the response, and discusses what might come next (Michaud/Kates, 5/20).

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