Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Should Ensure Women's Access To Safe Abortions, U.N. Human Rights Office Says

Reuters: U.S. must ensure access to safe abortions: U.N. rights office
“The United Nations human rights office called on U.S. authorities on Tuesday to ensure that women have access to safe abortions, saying bans lead to risky underground abortions that can endanger a woman’s life…” (Mantovani, 5/21).

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Christian Science Monitor Examines Trump Administration's Objection To 'Sexual, Reproductive Health' Language At U.N.

Christian Science Monitor: How U.S. abortion wars translated into battle over 4 words at U.N.
“…After a couple of years of trying, the Trump administration appears to be making headway in its efforts to take its conservative views on reproductive health policies … to the United Nations. But for many of the United States’ closest allies, from Britain to France and Germany, the initiative signals an alarming shift away from Western values they have long promoted together, including women’s rights and gender equality. Instead, they see their traditional friend and leader moving toward the camp of socially conservative countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia, and others that have not been at the forefront of promoting women’s issues at the U.N. … In the U.N. Security Council debate late last month over a German-sponsored resolution on sexual violence in conflict, the U.S. succeeded … in having the words ‘sexual and reproductive health’ stripped from a U.N. text. … To many, the phrase might seem to offer little to fuss about, but removing it set off a caustic debate, revealing the deep fissures that continue to mark the international community over the issue of women’s rights…” (LaFranchi, 5/21).

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U.S., China Cooperation On HIV Vaccine Research To Continue Despite Trade Tensions

Global Times: Trade tension won’t halt China-U.S. cooperation on AIDS elimination: scientists
“HIV research scientists gave assurances that China-U.S. cooperation on HIV vaccine trials would not be affected by current trade tensions, adding that China plays a significant role in AIDS elimination. A collaboration program between the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) is expected to make progress later this year, Shao Yiming, chief scientist of the National Center for AIDS and STD Control and Prevention, CDC, told the Global Times on Sunday…” (Feng, 5/21).

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U.S. Prepares To Take Action On Venezuela's Government-Run Food Aid Program For Alleged Corruption, Money-Laundering

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Prepares Charges, Sanctions Over Venezuela’s Food-Aid Program
“The U.S. is preparing measures ranging from criminal charges to sanctions against people it believes to be involved in Venezuela’s military-run emergency food program, according to U.S. officials, part of an effort to target what they describe as a large-scale money-laundering operation run by the government. … The emergency food program — known by its Spanish initials, CLAP — is the main food source for an estimated 15% of Venezuelans and a critical supplement for a far larger percentage of the population…” (Talley et al., 5/21).

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Devex Highlights Webinar Describing USAID's Nutrition Activities

Devex: Webinar: Nutrition at USAID
“The U.S. Agency for International Development has more than 250 ongoing or recently finished nutrition-related projects across 79 countries. An increase in nutrition-specific spending in the budget, coupled with the establishment of major global initiatives — such as Feed the Future and Food for Peace — has substantially boosted USAID’s engagement in addressing malnutrition…” (5/21).

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Devex Highlights Issues Discussed At 72nd WHA, Including WHO Foundation, Report On WHO Health Emergencies Program

Devex: Exclusive: The early stages of the WHO Foundation
“Even as World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced at the 72nd World Health Assembly that the WHO Foundation would be set up this year, Devex has learned the foundation is in very early stages of discussion, and member states have very little information…” (Ravelo, 5/22).

Devex: Report finds lack of diversity, gender balance in WHO health emergencies program
“The World Health Organization has demonstrated ‘impressive progress’ in the speed and scale of its emergency response. But it needs to strengthen its human resource capacity and staff trained in emergency response at the country level. It also needs to improve the diversity of its staff, including in its health emergencies program, according to a special report by the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee of the WHO Health Emergencies Program…” (Ravelo, 5/22).

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Experts At WHA Discuss DRC Ebola Outbreak As Cases Surpass 1.8K

CIDRAP News: Third burial team attacked in DRC, Ebola infects another health worker
“The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC’s) ministry of health [Monday] reported an attack on a burial team working in Butembo, noting that police were slightly injured in the encounter. … Officials [were expected to] confirm 21 new cases of Ebola [Tuesday], raising outbreak total to 1,847. As of [Monday], there were 1,218 deaths in this outbreak, and another 245 suspected cases still under investigation…” (Schnirring, 5/21).

Devex: Questions arise again over need to declare Ebola public health emergency
“As the Ebola outbreak rages on in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the World Health Organization and other organizations face increasing challenges to respond, questions swirl again over whether it’s time to declare a public health emergency of international concern. … Speaking before member states on Tuesday, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, minister of health of the Democratic Republic of Congo, shared successes, despite the complexity of the response. The epidemic has not spread out to neighboring countries, and they have vaccinated over 100,000 people…” (Ravelo, 5/22).

STAT: The Ebola response effort is struggling. Experts say these steps could help
“With Ebola response teams struggling to contain the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the World Health Organization and its partners can make changes to shore up their effort and try to prevent the crisis from escalating further, according to a handful of experts surveyed by STAT. … Good data are key … Lab capacity needs to be increased … If Ebola treatment centers are seen as toxic, find alternatives…” (Branswell, 5/21).

VOA News: WHO: Ebola Strategies Need Adjusting in Congo
“…WHO officials are appealing for intensified international political engagement and financial support to combat Ebola. They warn the further spread of the dangerous disease would have serious social and economic regional implications and would trigger an even greater crisis” (Schlein, 5/21).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak and response is available from CIDRAP News, Global Health NOW, and The Guardian.

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False, Misleading Information On Vaccines Must Be Removed From Social Media To Prevent Hesitancy, Experts At WHA Side Event Say

Agence France-Presse: Fight vaccine hesitancy as ‘contagious disease,’ U.N. meeting told
“Faced with a global resurgence of measles, health experts called Tuesday for countries to step up the fight against vaccine resistance, warning the movement was spreading like a contagious disease. World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus joined experts and health ministers from a range of countries at an event on ‘promoting vaccine confidence,’ amid rising concerns that resistance to immunization is allowing preventable diseases to flourish…” (5/21).

Reuters: Vaccine doubts spread like disease, must be taken offline: vaccine chief
“…Speaking at a U.S.-sponsored event on the sidelines of the World Health Organization’s annual assembly in Geneva, Gavi CEO Seth Berkley said there was a strong scientific consensus about the safety of vaccines. But social media algorithms favored sensational content over scientific facts, rapidly convincing people who had never seen family members die from preventable illness. … Misinformation about vaccines, which the WHO says save two million lives annually, was not a freedom of speech issue and social media firms need to take it offline, Berkley said…” (Miles, 5/21).

Additional coverage of the side event is available from IDSA’s “Science Speaks” blog.

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UNICEF Receives Sanction Exemption From U.N. Security Council To Deliver Aid To North Korea

Yonhap News Agency: U.N. grants sanctions exemption for UNICEF’s aid projects in N. Korea
“The U.N. Security Council has granted a sanctions exemption to allow the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to carry out aid programs in North Korea to improve the health and nutrition of people in the impoverished country, according to the U.N. website. The exemption, granted on April 11, paves the way for UNICEF to import items to deliver safe water supplies to communities and enable effective treatment at hospitals, especially for malnourished children and mothers…” (5/21).

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More News In Global Health

Associated Press: Correction: WHO Travel story (Cheng, 5/21).

Bloomberg: Somalia Needs $710 Million in Humanitarian Aid, U.N. Says (Ahmed, 5/21).

The Economist: The global battle over high drug prices (5/21).

Financial Times: Health threat to migrant workers revealed in new study (Dodd, 5/21).

Globe and Mail: Canadian scientists create stable, affordable way to transport fragile vaccines (Anderssen, 5/21).

NPR: Medical Investigation: How Did 494 Children In One Pakistani City Get HIV? (Samad, 5/21).
The Telegraph: ‘Unprecedented’ HIV outbreak infects hundreds of young children in Pakistan (Farmer, 5/21).

STAT: Inspired by breath strips, scientists break away from needing a ‘cold chain’ to deliver vaccines (Cooney, 5/21).

UPI: Watchdog: 10,000 Russians dying annually from HIV (Hughes, 5/20).

Washington Post: An American pastor reportedly gave ‘miracle water’ to Ugandans. It was bleach (Weber, 5/22).

Xinhua News: U.N. chief calls for more cohesive, integrated U.N. development system (5/22).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Should Continue Leadership Role, Make Strategic Investments In Foreign Aid, Global Health

The Hill: Ending AIDS requires U.S. investment
Mark Dybul, faculty co-director of the Center for Global Health and Quality and professor in the department of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, and Bill Frist, heart and lung transplant surgeon, former U.S. Senate majority leader and chair of the executive board of Cressey & Company

“…Not only is America’s continued leadership in the fight against AIDS, TB, and malaria the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do. … U.S. leadership on international development has laid the groundwork for mutually beneficial economic relationships around the world. It has also delivered life-saving treatment and prevention programs to poor and vulnerable communities across the globe. If we shortchange that legacy by cutting foreign aid, we risk losing our leadership position, and put millions of lives at risk. Instead, we must continue making strategic investments in foreign aid and global health, which are a clear win-win. This year, that means increasing funding to the Global Fund for its sixth funding replenishment cycle and increasing, or at the very least maintaining, funding for PEPFAR. We urge the Senate to follow the lead of their colleagues in the House and increase funding to proven solutions like the Global Fund. In doing so, we will not only help to end the epidemics of AIDS, TB, and malaria, but we will also ensure Americans continue to receive the associated economic and security benefits that make our country so great” (5/21).

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Development Community, Private Sector Must Work Together To Fill Global Health Financing Gap

Devex: Opinion: A fresh take on the global health financing gap
Brigit Helms, vice president for technical services at DAI; Chris LeGrand, president at DAI Global Health; and Robin Young, technical adviser and team leader on investment and financial services projects in frontier markets at DAI

“The international development community increasingly looks to the private sector to fill financing gaps, and global health is no exception. … [T]he U.S. Agency for International Development estimates that we need to triple global health funding to achieve our collective goals in this space … [T]he global health financing gap is real, but so is investor interest in health and related frontier markets. To capitalize on this interest, the development community must create more space and additional opportunities for the global health and investment sectors to interact and understand each other better. Speaking the same language about the potential of investment facilitation and innovative financial instruments — whether they offset origination costs through transaction advisory services, mitigate risks through loan guarantees, or advance proven solutions with [development impact bonds (DIBs)] or other mechanisms — will be critical for driving more private capital into health” (5/22).

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Significant But Worthy Investment Needed To End TB Globally

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: A good price to pay: An $8 billion investment could cure tuberculosis by 2045
Editorial Board

“Tuberculosis … could be eradicated by 2045. But achieving this reality … will require a significant investment — $2 billion per year for the next four years, to be exact. This estimate was made by a group of 37 commissioners from 13 countries in a report recently published by the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. … The commission specifically noted its hope that a group of countries could scrounge the $8 billion needed to fund a vital four-year period of tuberculosis research. But why not a wealthy benefactor like Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates? A donation of $8 billion would hardly put a dent in either of their pocketbooks while delivering a meaningful message of the power of philanthropy. But whoever ends up footing the bill, spending $8 billion to cure one of the world’s most pernicious diseases in 26 years seems like an awfully good price to pay” (5/18).

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: U.S. can lead the fights on disease, poverty
Stephanie Carleton, volunteer advocate for RESULTS

“…The United States has been a leader in providing a third of the financial resources for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria since 2002, helping to save 27 million lives. Leadership is not just a personal characteristic. It shapes the reputations and actions of countries as well. The Global Fund needs $14 billion dollars to save 16 million lives by 2022, and put us on a path to ending these diseases. It’s time for President Donald Trump, Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, and our other members of Congress to lead again by funding at least a third of the total needed for the Global Fund” (5/22).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Wilson Center Report Discusses Intersection Of Women's Health, Economic Empowerment

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: Healthy Women, Healthy Economies: A Look at Brazil (New Report)
“In Healthy Women, Healthy Economies: A Look at Brazil, Sarah B. Barnes, project director of the Maternal Health Initiative [at the Wilson Center], and Elizabeth Wang, Maternal Health Initiative intern, discuss the intersections of women’s health and well-being and their economic empowerment. The report also takes a look at current progress and remaining barriers to female participation in Brazil’s workforce…” (Wang, 5/22).

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U.N. Agencies To Celebrate First-Ever World Food Safety Day

World Health Organization: Celebration of World Food Safety Day
“The first-ever World Food Safety Day, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018, will be celebrated on 7 June 2019 under the theme ‘Food Safety, everyone’s business.’ WHO, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is pleased to facilitate Member States’ effort to celebrate the World Food Safety Day this year and in coming years. … Food safety is key to achieving several U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and is a shared responsibility between governments, producers, and consumers. … Through the World Food Safety Day, WHO pursues its efforts to mainstream food safety in the public agenda and reduce the burden of foodborne diseases globally” (May 2019).

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U.N. Environment Recognizes International Day For Biological Diversity, Underscores Importance Of Sustainable Management Of Biodiversity

U.N. Environment: Species extinction not just a curiosity: our food security and health are at stake
This post recognizes the International Day for Biological Diversity, which takes place annually on May 22, and discusses the need for sustainable management of biodiversity, noting, “The loss of diverse diets is directly linked to diseases or health risk factors, such as diabetes, obesity, and malnutrition, and has a direct impact on the availability of traditional medicines. … We need the diverse contribution of all living beings, even the smallest of all, to ensure that we continue to enjoy healthy, sustainable diets in a food-secure future” (5/22).

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Technology Plays Role In Helping To Achieve UHC, Philips Expert Says

World Economic Forum: How technology can help us achieve universal health care
Henk de Jong, chief of international markets at Philips, discusses the role of technology in advancing health care, writing, “With the power of technology and digital tools in our hands, and the willingness of the public and private sectors to work together, we stand a stronger chance of making [universal health coverage (UHC)] a reality by 2030” (5/21).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. HHS Secretary Azar Continues Participation In WHA, Bilateral Meetings, Attends Ebola Briefing, Co-Hosts Event On Vaccine Hesitancy

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Secretary Azar Attends Second Day of the 72nd World Health Assembly, Signs Agreement with Indonesia
“Tuesday, May 21, 2019, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar continued participation in the 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA) as head of the U.S. delegation. On Tuesday, he attended a briefing on the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters, participated in multiple bilateral meetings with foreign counterparts, and co-hosted a side event on vaccine hesitancy…” (5/21)

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