KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

News Outlets Continue To Examine Potential Impacts Of Trump Administration's Proposed FY18 Budget Cuts On U.N., Food Aid, Global Health

Devex: Webinar: What’s next for the U.S. budget process and what you can do to prepare
“…Devex Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar spoke to Washington insider and Kyle House Group Founding Partner Porter Delaney for an in-depth look at what’s next for the budget process and what development professionals can do to prepare for it. During the hour-long webinar, Delaney covered a range of topics, including the ins and outs of the budget reconciliation process, which he said would likely not be finalized until fall. He also said that while potential cuts to foreign assistance are very likely, the true figure will be closer to five to 10 percent. The Kyle House Group expert said he thinks global health — beyond funding for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR — will likely be protected and that the budget’s proposed cuts to food aid will not go through…” (Edwards, 5/24).

New York Times: U.N. Says Trump Budget Cuts Would ‘Make It Impossible’ to Do Its Job
“The United Nations said on Wednesday that the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts would ‘simply make it impossible’ for the global organization to maintain essential operations. The statement, by a United Nations spokesman, added to the growing criticism of a budget submission for the 2018 fiscal year that would reduce funding of the State Department by roughly a third and cut foreign assistance … The spending proposal, which was released on Tuesday, would reduce American financial support for the United Nations, including for its peacekeeping operations and international aid programs. The United States is the organization’s biggest single donor…” (Gladstone, 5/24).

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U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley Emphasizes U.S. Leadership In Human Rights, Humanitarian Efforts, In Contrast To President Trump

Foreign Policy: At Odds With Trump, Nikki Haley Charts Her Own Foreign Policy Path
“…Four months into her tenure as the envoy of a president she once denounced as reckless, Haley has carved out a distinct foreign policy path, one that sees Russia unambiguously as an enemy, touts America’s role as a human rights champion, and advocates for continued U.S. leadership on the humanitarian front. While it may be too early to discern a Haley foreign policy doctrine, the former South Carolina governor has been building a strikingly independent political brand that distinguishes her from a White House that has veered from one crisis to the next while showing little regard for human rights or the plight of the poor…” (Lynch, 5/23).

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Sens. Young, Shaheen Introduce Legislation Calling For National Diplomacy And Development Strategy

Devex: U.S. senators call for national diplomacy and development strategy
“Two United States senators from across the partisan divide introduced legislation on Wednesday calling for the creation of a new strategy to guide U.S. diplomacy and development efforts. Todd Young, a Republican from Indiana, and Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, want to see the Department of State periodically produce and submit to Congress a National Diplomacy and Development Strategy, which would directly support the National Security Strategy produced by the executive branch. The strategy would resemble the quadrennial diplomacy and development reviews carried out during the Obama administration, but unlike the QDDRs it would be classified — accompanied by an unclassified summary…” (Igoe, 5/25).

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U.S. HHS Secretary Price Outlines 5 U.S. Priorities For New WHO DG

Global Health NOW: Tom Price’s 5 Priorities for a Better WHO
“…Attending his first World Health Assembly, the Secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services startled some in the audience by opening with a ringing endorsement of the WHO and its mission. ‘The U.S. strongly, strongly supports the WHO. Together we’re working to combat diseases and to ensure the highest attainable level of health for all people,’ [Tom] Price told attendees of the event sponsored by Management Sciences for Health, Harvard Global Health Institute, Global Health Council, and others. However, Price said, it’s only a matter of time until a new health emergency emerges so the world needs to make sure that the WHO is up to the task. To that end, he spelled out five main U.S. priorities for the new DG … to take on at the WHO…” (Simpson, 5/23).

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Incoming WHO DG Tedros Faces Several Challenges, Including Securing Agency's Funding, Regaining Member States' Confidence

Devex: Priorities for the next WHO director general
“The next director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, will have his work cut out for him when he takes the helm. Even before the election, government, business, and civil society leaders were weighing in on what the priorities of the next director general should be. From restoring faith in WHO, to updating and upgrading systems, to improving transparency and coordination between local offices and headquarters, the recommendations can help form a roadmap, not just for Tedros’ first 100 days but for his critical first year in office and beyond…” (Saldinger, 5/25).

Devex: Tedros’ fundraising strategy for WHO, global health
“Ensuring a well-funded World Health Organization is one of the biggest responsibilities — and headaches — Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will have to bear in the next five years when he officially takes over as director general of WHO in July. … WHO, he said, is the ‘leader of the global health agenda’ and therefore should look at raising funding not just for its own programs, but also for multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Global Fund to Fight HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, whose programs help fill gaps in health financing and service delivery in countries…” (Ravelo, 5/25).

STAT: ‘The clock is ticking’: WHO’s next chief faces sobering challenges
“…Huge challenges face Tedros … when he takes over the embattled global health agency’s top job on July 1. Those problems don’t all boil down to inadequate funding — and threatened funding cuts from the WHO’s second largest donor, the U.S. government. But the question of how to secure the cash the agency needs to do the job expected of it is pretty much top of the list, people familiar with the organization and its troubles said…” (Branswell, 5/25).

U.N. News Centre: ‘All roads should lead to universal health care,’ says new WHO chief
“The newly elected head of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, outlined his priorities for journalists at the agency’s headquarters [Wednesday] in Geneva, where he stressed the need for Member States to provide health care for all and to implement international health regulations. … He said that another major issue was regaining confidence in Member States and ensuring the best use of their contributions…” (5/24).

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Many Nations Continue To Underfund Pandemic Preparedness Efforts, World Bank Group Report Says

CNBC: If a new pandemic hits, most countries aren’t ready: World Bank group
“Most countries are not adequately prepared for another infectious disease outbreak, despite progress made in the aftermath of recent Zika and Ebola cases, according to new research. A report by the International Working Group (IWG) on Financing Pandemic Preparedness — a bloc of business, academic, and non-profit experts created by the World Bank — said many countries are chronically under-invested in critical public health infrastructure…” (Chandran, 5/25).

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Violence, Food Shortages, Disease Outbreaks, Health Infrastructure Damage Threaten Millions Of Lives In Africa, Middle East

The Guardian: Scientists race against time as Yemen’s deadly cholera outbreak spirals
“As Yemen’s cholera outbreak gathers pace, an investigation is under way to determine whether a new and more deadly strain of the disease is responsible for a second wave of cases that hit the country last month…” (Summers, 5/24).

The Guardian: Somaliland’s hunger crisis: ‘The world doesn’t respond until children are dying’
“Somaliland’s foreign minister has said that the international community’s refusal to recognize the republic 26 years after it declared independence means aid is taking far longer to reach people on the brink of famine…” (Wintour, 5/24).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Violence in central Congo leaves 400,000 children prey to deadly malnutrition: U.N.
“Spiraling violence in central Democratic Republic of Congo has disrupted farming and shut down health centers, leaving hundreds of thousands of children vulnerable to life-threatening malnutrition, UNICEF said on Wednesday…” (Guilbert, 5/24).

U.N. News Centre: Violence in North Africa, Middle East puts health of 24 million children in jeopardy — UNICEF
“From Libya to Syria, grinding conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East have damaged health infrastructure and compromised water and sanitation services, threatening the health of 24 million children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned [Wednesday]. ‘Violence is crippling health systems in conflict-affected countries and threatens children’s very survival,’ said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa…” (5/24).

U.N. News Centre: South Sudan: ‘Fighting must stop now’ so millions can be spared from famine, say U.N. agency chiefs
“Despite ‘appalling conditions’ in South Sudan, it is not too late to save more people from dying, the head of the United Nations agriculture agency said [Wednesday], joining the World Food Programme (WFP) chief in a call to all parties enmeshed in the country’s conflict to end the violence and work together to ensure access to food and other life-saving support…” (5/24).

Washington Post: Somalis are fleeing famine — only to find death in a place of refuge
“…The drought and the looming specter of a famine have brought nearly 160,000 people to Baidoa from the baked countryside. They have come to save themselves from almost certain starvation. But an outbreak of cholera is spreading death through this place of refuge. … Half of Somalia’s population, about six million people, is now dependent on humanitarian aid…” (Bearak, 5/24).

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Innovative Financing Solutions Needed For Nations To Meet SDGs, U.N. Member States Say

Devex: Innovative financing needed to counter stalled SDG progress
“Innovative sources of financing are necessary to advance stalled progress on eradicating global poverty by 2030, United Nations ambassadors said Tuesday, cautioning that governments alone do not have the required funds to meet the Sustainable Development Goals on poverty, health, environment, and justice. Member states gathered early this week at the U.N. for the second annual forum on financing for development, almost two years after the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which established a framework for implementing the 2030 development goals…” (Lieberman, 5/24).

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Global Community Celebrates Progress On Treating, Preventing NTDs, But Lack Of Political Will, Funding Threatens Efforts

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Ending neglected tropical diseases
“Just five years after signing the London Declaration, WHO and its partners celebrated global successes in combating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) this April. Releasing its report at the Global NTD summit in Geneva, Switzerland, WHO boasted the tremendous progress made in controlling 18 disabling poverty-related diseases. … However, the U.S. President Donald Trump’s financial threats, such as the proposal to cut 28 percent of the USAID funds, threaten to dampen the efforts to control NTDs…” (Balakrishnan, June 2017).

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Zika Likely Spread Undetected In Latin America, Southern U.S. Before First Case Reports, Studies Show

The Atlantic: How Zika Conquered the Americas
“…With summer approaching and mosquito populations rising, the key to predicting and controlling Zika’s future lies in understanding its past. … By collecting viruses from different places and comparing their genomes, scientists can work backward to estimate when and where an outbreak would have actually begun. A huge international team of scientists has now done just that for Zika. … [T]hey’ve confirmed what many had believed: In almost every affected country, Zika was already there for months — or even years — before the first cases were reported…” (Yong, 5/24).

Financial Times: Scientists ‘way behind the curve’ on threat of Zika virus
“…Scientists from the U.K., U.S., and Brazil analyzed more than 200 viral genomes — Zika DNA collected from patients and the mosquitoes that spread infection. The data, published in Nature, enabled them to reconstruct the spread of the virus across South and Central America, the Caribbean, and the southern U.S. The project demonstrates the power of new genetic technology to track diseases…” (Cookson, 5/24).

NPR: Miami’s Zika Outbreak Began Months Before It Was First Detected
“Last year’s Zika outbreak in Miami likely started in the spring of 2016, with the virus introduced multiple times before it was detected, researchers say. And most of those cases originated in the Caribbean. … The study concludes that Miami’s Zika outbreak was caused mostly by infected travelers arriving from the Caribbean, the region with the highest incidence of the disease. … The Miami study is one of three featured this week in Nature using genomic analysis to trace the spread of the Zika virus through the Americas…” (Allen, 5/24).

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Expert's Population Estimates For China Highlight Controversies Over Official Statistics, Country's Family Planning Policies

New York Times: Expert Doubts China’s Population Number, Saying India May Be No. 1
“…Yi Fuxiang, a Chinese scientist based in Wisconsin, … this week in Beijing … laid out arguments that India may already be more populous than China, a view that has created a controversy about whose numbers to believe in forecasting China’s demographic and economic destiny. … His findings have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Some Chinese experts said that Mr. Yi overstated the problems in the official data, perhaps to fit his longstanding criticism of China’s family planning controls…” (Buckley, 5/24).

Washington Post: Does India have more people than China? A U.S. researcher claims Beijing’s population statistics are wrong.
“…Multiple media outlets in China, India, and beyond quickly picked up the news. If Yi was right, the implications would certainly be big. Not only would it mean that India had already overtaken China as the world’s largest nation — something the United Nations had estimated to happen in 2022 — but that China’s population growth slowdown was worse than many thought and being hidden from the public. … Yi’s status as a passionate activist against China’s family planning policies is well-known and has led some to question his estimates of China’s population…” (Taylor, 5/24).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Should Continue To Invest In U.S. Foreign Assistance As Part Of 'America First' Strategy

New York Times: Colin Powell: American Leadership — We Can’t Do It for Free
Colin Powell, secretary of state from 2001 to 2005

“…The administration’s proposal, announced Tuesday, to slash … the State Department and foreign assistance budget signals an American retreat, leaving a vacuum that would make us far less safe and prosperous. While it may sound penny-wise, it is pound-foolish. … The idea that putting Americans ‘first’ requires a withdrawal from the world is simply wrongheaded, because a retreat would achieve exactly the opposite for our citizens. … Do we really want to slash the State Department and … USAID at such a perilous moment? The American answer has always been no. Yet this budget proposal has forced us to ask what America’s role in the world is and what kind of nation we seek to be. … America is great when we’re the country that the world admires, a beacon of hope, and a principled people who are generous, fair, and caring. … If we’re still that nation, then we must continue to devote this small but strategic one percent of our federal budget to this mission…” (5/24).

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U.S. Foreign Aid Must Focus On Needs Of Recipient Nations, Will Not Be Successful If Marketed As 'America First'

Devex: Opinion: ‘America First’ doesn’t work in foreign aid
Eric Bjornlund, co-founder and president of Democracy International, and adjunct professor in the Department of Government at Georgetown University

“…We must help our development partners around the world to see how the policy and institutional changes we recommend work for them. It is harder to do that if we argue they should do those things because it will benefit us. In fact, we believe that international development will be of mutual benefit. To achieve the goals of an America First orientation to further the interests of Americans, we cannot sell our efforts as America First. In pursuit of greater efficiency and better alignment of foreign assistance with national interests, the Trump administration has hinted that it may fold USAID into the State Department. This would be a mistake. The State Department should focus on diplomacy and protecting American national interests, such as economic and security interests. At the same time, USAID can focus on long-term development challenges, which are better explained as being in the interests of recipient countries, even as they are simultaneously in the interests of the U.S. … Development assistance can only have an impact, and thus can only serve our long-term national interests, if it is focused on the needs and concerns of the recipients of that assistance. It is not about us; it’s about them. Such an approach is ultimately better both for them and for us” (5/24).

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U.S. President Trump Should Push For Political Solution In Yemen To Help Alleviate Humanitarian Crisis

New York Times: Will President Trump Help Save Yemen?
Editorial Board

“Add cholera to the famine threat and other crises that are devastating Yemen. More than 360 people have died of the disease in recent weeks, and thousands more are at risk. All that is unfolding against a civil war that has killed 10,000 people in two years and come to a grim stalemate … President Trump could have used his trip to Saudi Arabia this week to spotlight the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen and push for a political solution to the conflict. … The war has put seven million people in danger of starvation, crushed the economy, and decimated the health system. The problems are exacerbated by a virtual blockade of the Houthi-held port of Hudaydah, a lifeline for food and medicine entering Yemen. … A comprehensive peace deal may be out of reach, but the United States, Britain, and the United Nations could focus on interim measures that would put Hudaydah under the administration of neutral parties and impose the quickest possible cease-fire” (5/25).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CGD Blog Post Examines Foreign Aid Aspects Of Trump Administration's FY18 Budget Request

Center for Global Development’s “U.S. Development Policy”: President Trump’s First Budget Slashes Foreign Aid
Erin Collinson, senior associate for policy outreach at CGD, discusses the administration’s budget request for FY 2018, examining proposed funding cuts for the Department of State and Foreign Operations (5/24).

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ODI Director Examines Impacts Of Proposed U.S. Foreign Aid Cuts On Health Care In Developing Countries

Overseas Development Institute: Trump’s proposed aid cuts: the view from Uganda
Alex Thier, executive director of ODI, discusses how the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to U.S. foreign assistance could affect health care in developing countries and Uganda specifically, writing, ” [T]he U.S. can’t afford not to provide a basic minimum of live-saving aid abroad. People may say ‘let’s build bridges at home,’ but there is no argument that can seriously compete with the power of a few dollars that utterly transforms lives” (5/24).

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'Science Speaks' Discusses Expanded Mexico City Policy Guidelines

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Global gag rule spelled out, restricting services, support and resources, turning recipients into enforcers across the foreign aid spectrum
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” highlights recently released USAID guidelines for organizations receiving U.S. aid to implement the reinstated and expanded Mexico City policy. She notes “the new version turns overseas recipients of American aid into enforcers of the policy, tasking them with not [only] adhering to the policy but ensuring that no sub-recipient (or organization carrying out any of the funded work) violates the policy as well. … Further … the enforcement role affects American nonprofits carrying out U.S.-funded programs as well, tasking them with policing their sub-recipients for violations…” (5/24).

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World Health Assembly Approves WHO Program Budget

WHO: Seventieth World Health Assembly update
“Delegates at the World Health Assembly [Wednesday] approved the organization’s proposed program budget of U.S.$4421.5 million for the biennium, which includes a three percent (or U.S.$28 million) increase in Member State assessed contributions for 2018-2019. This approved budget sets out the organization’s priorities in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. It includes increased investments in the new WHO Health Emergencies Program (U.S.$69.1 million) and combating antimicrobial resistance (U.S.$23.2 million)…” (5/24).

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WHO Policy Briefs Offer Actions To Reduce Risk Of Double Burden Of Malnutrition

PLOS Blog’s “Global Health”: New WHO policy briefs: common drivers and solutions to undernutrition and obesity
Alessandro Demaio, medical officer in noncommunicable conditions and nutrition at the WHO, discusses two new WHO policy briefs on the double burden of malnutrition — defined as “the coexistence of undernutrition along with overweight, obesity, or diet-related NCDs” — and double-duty actions for nutrition, including efforts undertaken to simultaneously reduce the risk or burden of both undernutrition and overweight, obesity, or diet-related NCDs. Demaio writes, “Combating malnutrition is one of our greatest global health challenges. Together, these briefs reinforce the notion that with renewed focus and increased investment in the double burden and double-duty actions, we can tackle these challenges utilizing existing and novel solutions” (5/24).

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Guttmacher Report Examines Sexual, Reproductive Health Needs Of Very Young Adolescents In Developing Countries

Guttmacher Institute: Very Young Adolescents’ Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs Must Be Addressed
“…A new report published by the Guttmacher Institute examines and contributes to the existing evidence on the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs of very young adolescents in developing countries. The report includes a new analysis of data on sexual debut, marriage, and childbearing before age 15 from national surveys conducted in more than 100 developing countries. Drawing on these data and published literature, the report maps out ways to advance efforts to meet young adolescents’ SRH needs…” (5/24).

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