KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

At WHA, U.S. Does Not Agree With Inclusion Of Sexual, Reproductive Health And Rights Language In Draft Political Declaration On UHC

Health Policy Watch: U.S. Faces Off Against 43 Countries On Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights
“The United States faced off against 43 other countries at the 72nd World Health Assembly [last] week regarding a proposal to include language protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in the draft political declaration on universal health coverage (UHC), due to be issued at a U.N. high-level meeting in September. … In a lively debate on Wednesday, the U.S. representative to the WHA argued that such rights should be interpreted within national cultural and legal contexts, and stated that the U.S. does not agree with including language referring to the right to sexual and reproductive health in the draft political declaration. At the same time, a bloc of 43 countries, represented by Sweden and backed by civil society groups, strongly advocated for the inclusion of SRHR as ‘indispensable and integral’ to universal health coverage…” (Branigan, 5/24).

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WHO Committee Adopts Weakened Draft Resolution On Drug Pricing Transparency

Reuters: WHO agrees watered-down resolution on transparency in drug costs
“World Health Organization members agreed on Tuesday to push for clearer drug pricing but stepped back from proposals by activists to force pharmaceutical firms to disclose the cost of making medicines. … An earlier draft of the text would have given the WHO explicit powers to collect and analyze data on procurement prices and costs from clinical trials. But that wording was omitted from a draft published on Tuesday. A WHO committee adopted the draft by consensus after a long negotiation, just in time for it to be considered by the WHO’s annual assembly which was due to close later on Tuesday…” (Miles, 5/28).

Additional coverage of negotiations on the resolution is available from CBC News, Health-e News, and Health Policy Watch (2).

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Media Outlets Cover Various Outcomes, News From World Health Assembly

CNN: Chinese medicine gains WHO acceptance but it has many critics (Hunt, 5/26).

CNN: Burnout is an official medical diagnosis, World Health Organization says (Prior, 5/27).

Devex: WHO seeks equitable answer to health worker shortage (Chadwick, 5/25).

Devex: Global health actors share different perspectives as WHO reform unfolds (Ravelo, 5/25).

Global Health NOW: Time to Act: WHO’s New Snakebite Strategy (Simpson, 5/24).

Health Policy Watch: Green Light For First-Ever WHO Strategy On Health, Environment And Climate Change (Saez, 5/23).

Newsweek: World Health Organization Designates Gaming Addiction as a Disease (Moritz-Rabson, 5/27).

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Conference Focused On Ending Sexual, Gender-Based Violence In Humanitarian Crises Yields $363M In Pledges From 21 Countries

U.N. News: ‘Huge’ stakes, ‘daunting’ job to tackle gender-based violence, UNICEF chief tells ground-breaking conference
“One-in-three girls or women will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime, and ‘the risk multiplies’ during a conflict or natural disaster, the executive director of UNICEF told delegates attending the first-ever ‘Ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Humanitarian Crises Conference’ on Friday, in the Norwegian capital, Oslo. In a ground-breaking collaboration, the governments of Norway, Iraq, Somalia, [and] the United Arab Emirates (UAE), together with U.N. agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), is taking on the global SGBV challenge. The conference yielded a total of $363 million in pledges from 21 countries for 2019, 2020, and beyond, including $226.2 million to be spent on priorities this year alone…” (5/24).

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Violence Continues Against Ebola Health Workers In DRC, Leaving 1 Dead; U.N., Partners Begin Cholera Vaccination Campaign Amid 'Unprecedented' Dual Epidemics

Agence France-Presse: Villagers kill Ebola health worker in eastern DR Congo
“Villagers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo killed a health worker engaged in the fight against a major Ebola outbreak and looted a treatment center [on Saturday], according to an official report seen Monday by AFP. … In a separate incident, the triage center at Valumba in the Butembo health sector, was vandalized overnight Saturday to Sunday, the report said…” (5/27).

Associated Press: Malawi peacekeeper awarded U.N. medal for bravery posthumously
“Secretary-General António Guterres awarded the United Nations’ highest medal for bravery on Friday to a peacekeeper from Malawi who saved a wounded comrade in the Ebola-stricken region of eastern Congo and was then killed by rebel fire…” (Lederer, 5/24).

U.N. News: Amid ‘unprecedented combination’ of epidemics, U.N. and partners begin cholera vaccination campaign in DR Congo
“Amid what [Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance] is calling an ‘unprecedented combination’ of epidemics, the U.N. and partners are supporting the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s major new immunization campaign against cholera which began on Monday, targeting more than 800,000…” (5/27).

Additional coverage of the Ebola outbreak and response is available from CIDRAP News, VOA News, and Xinhua News.

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Kenya's High Court Upholds Colonial-Era Laws Criminalizing Gay Sex

NPR: Kenya’s Judges Uphold Laws That Criminalize Gay Sex
“Kenya’s High Court has chosen to uphold colonial-era laws that criminalize gay sex, dashing the hopes of activists who believed the judges would overturn sections of the penal code as unconstitutional and inspire a sea change across the continent. Three judges said Friday that the laws in question did not target the LGBTQ community. They were not convinced that people’s basic rights had been violated, they said…” (Ingber, 5/24).

Reuters: Kenya’s high court unanimously upholds ban on gay sex
“Kenya’s high court on Friday upheld a law banning gay sex, keeping same-sex relations punishable by 14 years in jail in the East African nation and drawing strong criticism from the United Nations and rights activists. Same-sex relationships are a crime in more than 70 countries around the world, almost half of them in Africa…” (Ndiso, 5/24).

Additional coverage of the court’s ruling is available from CNN, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and VOA News.

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Many Of World's Rivers Contaminated With High Levels Of Antibiotics, Study Shows

The Guardian: World’s rivers ‘awash with dangerous levels of antibiotics’
“Hundreds of sites in rivers around the world from the Thames to the Tigris are awash with dangerously high levels of antibiotics, the largest global study on the subject has found. … The research, presented on Monday at a conference in Helsinki, shows that some of the world’s best-known rivers … are contaminated with antibiotics classified as critically important for the treatment of serious infections. In many cases they were detected at unsafe levels, meaning resistance is much more likely to develop and spread…” (Gilbert, 5/26).

Additional coverage of the study is available from Agence France-Presse, CNN, and Deutsche Welle.

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More News In Global Health

Agence France-Presse: Over 600 people test HIV positive in Pakistan city (Jaffry, 5/26).

Agence France-Presse: Malaria back with a vengeance in crisis-hit Venezuela (5/25).

Al Jazeera: Years of war and poverty take toll on Afghanistan’s health care (Latifi, 5/25).

BBC News: Working the night shift on malaria’s frontline in Sierra Leone (Myles/Jewell, 5/27).

Devex: Big tobacco, global health, and the limits of shared value (Igoe, 5/25).

New York Times: Pope Francis Says Abortion, Even of a Sick Fetus, Is Like Hiring a ‘Hitman’ (Horowitz, 5/25).

New York Times: Half of HIV Patients Are Women. Most Research Subjects Are Men (Mandavilli, 5/28).

Quartz: The current global measles outbreak, mapped (Foley, 5/25).

Reuters: WHO sees high risk as polio breaks out in Central African Republic (Miles, 5/28).

The Telegraph: Scientists discover compound that tackles antibiotic-resistant bugs (Gulland, 5/28).

U.N. News: Around 600,000 Afghan children face death through malnutrition without emergency funds: UNICEF (5/24).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Should Continue Strong Leadership Role In Support Of Global Fund

Deseret News: Guest opinion: Don’t slash the Global Fund
William E. Cosgrove, past president of the Utah Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

“…Every three years the donor nations meet to re-commit to supporting the Global Fund. This October there is another opportunity for the United States to again step up and continue to lead this effort with both financial and moral leadership. The Global Fund fulfills humanitarian goals, has efficient and transparent processes, helps strengthen a country’s own health infrastructure, protects local economies, and thus lessens the chances of regional conflicts. It has always had strong bipartisan support in Congress. This year that support in Washington is threatened. … What is now needed is the heroism to stand up to the administration and demand that the U.S. continue its strong leadership role in the fight against these diseases. … In the ongoing battle for survival between humans and microorganisms, the president, the secretary of state, and the world need to be told which side we are fighting for. … [The supply of lifesaving medicine provided through the Global Fund] depends upon our congressional leaders…” (5/25).

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Well-Designed Global Health Aid Can Improve Both Health, Governance Of Countries

Foreign Policy: Good Health Supports Good Governance
Matthew M. Kavanagh, visiting professor of law at Georgetown University and the director of the Global Health Policy and Governance Initiative at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law

“…There is plenty of research showing that countries that succeed in building effective health systems rely on strong governance institutions — those that distribute power, ensure transparency, check corruption, and provide strong legal systems. These same institutions are critical for economic growth and development. It would seem, then, that there is good reason to focus on building strong institutions first in order to ensure better health in the future. But we don’t have to choose. Well-designed global health aid can have beneficial effects on governance as well. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria is a clear example. … In a recent study, … [w]e found that increased aid from the [Global Fund] was associated with better control of corruption, government accountability, political freedom, regulatory quality, and rule of law … This relationship held true even when we controlled for other factors that might explain the difference like a country’s wealth, relative political stability, and level of corruption at the start of funding. … Improving health is not possible in a vacuum. We do need strong institutions. And just as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals link improved health with improved governance, our research on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria shows that aid, when it flows through well-designed mechanisms, can be a key part of doing both” (5/24).

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International Community Must Reaffirm Commitments To Women's, Girls' Sexual, Reproductive Health

Inter Press Service: The World Made Promises to Women and Girls, We Must Fulfill Them
Monica Juma, cabinet secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“…Reaching [the goal of universal sexual and reproductive health care] is vital, not only for the health and well-being of women and girls everywhere, but also for the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly the ones related to ending poverty, securing good health, realizing gender equality, and achieving sustainable communities. Urgent and sustained efforts to realize sexual and reproductive health are therefore crucial. … [A]ll the evidence shows strong links between deliberate family planning; the health of the mother before, during, and after birth; and the health consequences for subsequent generations. … Every woman, regardless of her income or where she lives, has the right to information and services that allow her to determine for herself whether, when, or how often she becomes pregnant, starts and stops her childbearing. … [At this year’s Nairobi Summit, the international community must] reaffirm commitments that enable half of the world population to be empowered in a way that optimizes their contribution to human prosperity. On its part, the leadership of Africa must ensure that women’s health, and consequently that of the next generation, is frontloaded in all development plans. We must maintain the upward trajectory until every woman who wants to prevent a pregnancy has access to family planning and no woman dies giving life” (5/24).

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National Governments Should Prioritize Improving Nutrition Policies

Washington Post: It’s World Hunger Day. Here’s why so many people still suffer from malnutrition.
Carmen Jacqueline Ho, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and Institute of Development Studies at the University of Guelph

“…[N]ational nutrition policies remain inadequate in many low- and middle-income countries. … [W]hy don’t governments simply prioritize nutrition and introduce better policies? … All too often, effective solutions fail to reach the poor because of misaligned political incentives. The global nutrition community, however, has traditionally focused on generating scientific evidence to combat malnutrition. To be sure, this is important research, and it should continue. But evidence does not automatically make its way into policy. A critical area of research is on the impact of international initiatives on policy change — and when and how governments introduce better policies for poor women and children. To date, 60 countries have signed on to the Scaling Up Nutrition movement. What remains unknown is whether the initiative has been effective in eliciting policy change. … [I]nternational initiatives can improve social policies — but under certain conditions. Understanding these conditions, so that governments improve policies for those who need it the most, is an important step in improving social welfare…” (5/28).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

'Science Speaks' Provides Overview Of Deliberations Related To Drafting WHO Global Strategy On Health, Environment, Climate Change

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: World Health Assembly on 2019: U.S. steps aside on climate change health impacts
Amanda Jezek, senior vice president at the Infectious Diseases Society of America, highlights deliberations from a session of the World Health Assembly related to drafting the WHO global strategy on health, environment, and climate change. Jezek notes, “[T]he U.S. rejected the term ‘climate change’ and instead recognized the link between health, the environment, and climate” (5/24).

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FT Health Provides Highlights From WHA, Features Interview With WHO-AFRO Regional Director

FT Health: New approaches for old diseases
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter provides highlights from the World Health Assembly, which took place last week, and features an interview with Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, about top priorities for the region, the WHO’s decision to not declare Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a public health emergency, and how the region has addressed criticisms of management appointments. The newsletter also provides a round-up of global health-related news stories (Jack/Dodd, 5/24).

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LMICs Can Use Threat Of Compulsory Licenses To Increase Access To Medicines, LSHTM Professors Say

The BMJ: Threat of compulsory licenses could increase access to essential medicines
In this analysis, Gorik Ooms, professor of global health law and governance, and Johanna Hanefeld, associate professor of health policy and systems, both with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, “argue that low- and middle-income countries could increase access to medicines by forming an alliance to credibly threaten companies with compulsory licenses.” The authors conclude, “[T]he governments of low- and middle-income countries with manufacturing capacity are not as powerless as before the Doha declaration. They can issue compulsory licenses for all medicines needed to protect public health without violating the TRIPS agreement. They can declare their intention to help low- and middle-income countries without manufacturing capacity and, by doing so, empower these other countries. Whether they have the will to confront the likely political pressure is a different matter” (5/28).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID's Center For Innovation And Impact Releases Guide To Help Amplify Global Health Work Through Innovation

USAID’s Center for Innovation and Impact: Innovation Realized: Expanding the path to Health Impact
According to the document’s forward, USAID “created Innovation Realized: Expanding the Path to Health Impact to take stock of our successes, more clearly define innovation in the context of USAID’s global health work, and, most importantly, practically lay out ways that USAID staff can identify opportunities and then apply innovation to solve real problems in our work…” (5/24).

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