KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Global Health Experts Discuss Potential Impacts, Challenges Of President Trump's FY18 Budget Request

Devex: What the aid community can do to withstand Trump’s ‘wrecking ball’ budget
“The Trump administration’s budget recommendation may take a ‘wrecking ball’ to foreign aid but the development community needs to seize this opportunity to build a broader constituency, according to the chief executive officer of CARE USA. Michelle Nunn described the president’s budget proposal as both a challenge and a ‘tremendous opportunity’ for aid workers to make the case for increased financial, public, and political support for their work…” (Edwards, 5/30).

Global Health NOW: Loyce Pace: Making Sense of the U.S. Budget Proposal for Global Health
“At a World Health Assembly side event on Tuesday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the U.S. ‘strongly, strongly’ supports WHO. That same day the Trump administration released an FY18 budget with a 26 percent reduction in global health funding among other massive cuts to U.N. agencies. To make sense of the budget dichotomy and get a preview of the global health community response, GHN turned to Loyce Pace, president and executive director of the Global Health Council…” (Simpson, 5/26).

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Former CDC Director Frieden Warns Of Disease Threats, U.S. Retreat From Global Health Leadership Role In Commencement Address

Scientific American: Former CDC Head Warns of Threats Biological and Political
“Tom Frieden, head of the CDC from 2009 to 2017, told graduating medical students that we face challenges from pathogens and from politicians. … Frieden addressed the graduating class of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine here in New York City May 23rd, 2017. ‘We face threats from nature — whether it’s the next Ebola or Zika or SARS or pandemic influenza or HIV, it is just a few mutations away. We face threats, frankly, from killer industries, tobacco, and other unhealthy and addictive substances. And we face threats from policymakers, who may deny quality medical care and prevention to millions of people in this country and around the world … We’re also faced with the threat that America could retreat from or undermine our role in the world’…” (Mirsky, 5/26).

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Bono, George W. Bush Meet In Texas, Laud U.S. Global Health Efforts To End AIDS

People: Bono Applauds George W. Bush’s Commitment to Fighting AIDS in Buddy-Buddy Photo
“…[Bono, t]he lead singer of U2, 57, visited [former President George W. Bush’s] Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas, on Friday, ahead of the band’s sold-out Joshua Tree Tour concert at AT&T Stadium. ‘More than 11 million people are alive today thanks to this man’s creation of PEPFAR, the U.S. AIDS program that has been saving lives and preventing new HIV infections for over 10 years, with strong support from political leaders right, left, and center,’ the musician captioned a photo of the activists on Instagram. ‘That progress is all at risk now with President Trump’s budget cuts, which will mean needless infections and lives lost’…” (Mizoguchi, 5/26).

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WHO Sees $28M Increase In Flexible Funding; Amount Lower Than Requested By Outgoing DG Chan

Devex: WHO’s budget and the tasks for the next director general
“When Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus takes the helm of the World Health Organization in July, he’ll have an additional $28 million flexible funding at his disposal to use where necessary. That could have been more — as much as 10 percent of member states’ assessed contributions, or $93 million — but WHO was in a pinch. … So as often is the case in international agreements, the secretariat and member states agreed on a compromise…” (Ravelo, 5/30).

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WHO DG-Elect Tedros Pledges To Abide By One-China Policy In Relations With Taiwan

Xinhua/New China: WHO’s newly elected chief reaffirms one-China principle
“Newly elected World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom on Friday reaffirmed the one-China principle. Tedros told Xinhua that he would abide by the one-China principle as enshrined in the related U.N. General Assembly resolution and World Health Assembly resolution when handling issues in the WHO which are related to China’s Taiwan. … The WHO plenary on Monday rejected a proposal to discuss the invitation of China’s Taiwan to the WHO’s annual assembly…” (5/26).

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Intellectual Property Watch Covers News From Ongoing World Health Assembly

Intellectual Property Watch: WHO Official: Medicines Should Not Be Priced At The Value Of A Life
“Member governments of the World Health Organization are increasingly talking about how to bring about ‘fair’ pricing of medicines. And what’s clear is that it should not be based on how much you would pay to save your life, a senior WHO official said [last] week…” (New, 5/26).

Intellectual Property Watch: World Health Assembly Adopts Resolution To Fight Sepsis; Antimicrobial Resistance Major Threat
“Antimicrobial resistance is a growing health concern as was acknowledged by countries at the World Health Assembly [last] week, and a resolution was adopted to fight sepsis, which is a life-threatening blood stream infection for which there is growing resistance…” (Saez, 5/26).

Intellectual Property Watch: Unlikely Alliance Of India, U.S. Could Keep Medicines Access On WHO Agenda
“It is not often that on the matter of access to medicines, India and the United States agree at the World Health Organization. But the issue of access to medicines is rising on the international agenda and developed countries are feeling the bite of prices of new medicines…” (Saez, 5/28).

Intellectual Property Watch: Review Of WHO Public Health And IP Strategy: Help Needed On TRIPS Flexibilities
“International organizations, in particular the World Health Organization, should help poor countries implement the flexibilities enshrined in international trade rules, a number of developing countries said at the World Health Assembly on 26 May…” (Saez, 5/28).

Intellectual Property Watch: Health R&D Still Underfunded — WHO Members Concerned, NGOs Call For More Ambition
“Hopes of stimulating research and development for diseases affecting primarily poor countries and vulnerable populations, through a strategic work plan at the World Health Organization, are dimmed by the lack of funding…” (Saez, 5/29).

Intellectual Property Watch: Cancer Drugs: Innovation ‘Blackmail’ Leads To Unaffordable Prices, Delinkage Needed, Speakers Say
“…Tragic stories and the possibilities to avert them were center stage at a panel last week on the margin of the ongoing World Health Assembly. Delinking the cost of research and development from the market prices of medicines was urged by speakers on the panel: representatives of cancer patients, civil society, and a senior Brazilian official…” (Saez, 5/30).

Intellectual Property Watch: Challenges Remain For Worldwide Immunization By Vaccination
“Even though important milestones in the elimination of rubella and measles have been achieved worldwide, key challenges remain, presenters said during a technical briefing organized by the World Health Organization last week…” (Saez, 5/30).

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Advancements In Ebola Response Seen In DRC Outbreak, But More Must Be Done To Improve Reaction Time, Funding, Experts Say

Thomson Reuters Foundation: New Ebola cases may show effect of improved alerts, global official says
“The rapid reaction by the Democratic Republic of Congo to recent cases of Ebola showed lessons were learned from earlier outbreaks, a top global health official said on Friday, stressing the need to factor health into disaster risk plans. … With the improved activation of early alert systems and emergency teams in Congo, ‘hopefully we will not get into a full-blown outbreak like it was a few years before,’ the secretary general of the International Red Cross and Red Cross Societies told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview…” (Hares, 5/27).

Wall Street Journal: Are We Now Ready for Ebola?
“The deadly Ebola virus is back, and the world is responding more aggressively this time. But it’s still not as prepared as it needs to be to thwart deadly infectious disease threats, despite the hard lessons of the last epidemic. … Only two [people] have been confirmed with Ebola, and at least three more who died likely had the disease. Still, it took more than two weeks for word of the outbreak to make its way to health authorities who could muster the means to stop it — a tragic reminder of how dangerous microbes thrive in places with poor health systems…” (McKay/Bariyo, 5/26).

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DRC Approves Use Of Experimental Ebola Vaccine; Epidemiologists Search For Origins Of Strain Causing Current Outbreak

Quartz: DR Congo is tackling a new Ebola outbreak with an experimental vaccine
“…On May 12, the World Health Organization declared an Ebola outbreak in DR Congo after it confirmed three deaths. At the time, the United Nations health agency said there was no cause for panic. Now, with as many as 52 suspected cases, DR Congo’s health ministry is stepping up its response and has approved the use of a new experimental vaccine to stop the outbreak…” (Kazeem, 5/29).

Reuters: Congo approves use of Ebola vaccination to fight outbreak
“…The vaccine, known as rVSV-ZEBOV and developed by Merck, is not yet licensed but was shown to be highly protective against Ebola in clinical trials published last December. … WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said in Geneva that vaccination would be deployed ‘should an EVD (Ebola virus disease) laboratory confirmed case be identified outside already defined chains of transmission’…” (Ross/Nebehay, 5/29).

ScienceInsider: Could pigs be involved in Congo’s new Ebola outbreak?
“…[S]cientists and public health officials are investigating whether pigs are somehow involved in the Ebola outbreak now underway in a remote region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). If so, it would add a new — but not totally unexpected — chapter to the virus’s turbulent history…” (Kupferschmidt/Cohen, 5/26).

VOA News: Genetic Testing Underway on Virus Behind New Ebola Outbreak
“Tests are underway to determine the genetic sequence of the Ebola virus behind an outbreak in central Africa, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control researcher said Friday. Dr. Barbara Knust, an epidemiologist, told VOA’s Horn of Africa service that scientists are looking for ‘clues’ about where this strain of Ebola originated and how to treat it…” (Halake, 5/26).

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India Reports 3 Zika Cases Detected Since February 2016, WHO Says

Reuters: WHO says India reports cases of Zika virus
“India has reported cases of the Zika virus, the World Health Organization said, adding that efforts should be made to strengthen surveillance. The WHO said that on May 15 India’s health ministry reported three confirmed cases from the western state of Gujarat. Cases were detected during testing in February and November last year, while one was detected in January this year, according to the statement, which was released on Friday but did not gain public attention until Saturday…” (Kalra, 5/27).

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Los Angeles Times Outlines Multiple Causes Of Global Hunger, Malnutrition, Recognizes World Day

Los Angeles Times: On World Hunger Day, a look at why so many people don’t get enough food
“The United Nations has set a goal of eradicating hunger and malnutrition by 2030. Although the prevalence of hunger has declined in recent years, the lack of access to adequate and nutritious food remains an insatiable challenge across the globe. As World Hunger Day is observed on Sunday, here’s a look at what’s behind the continuing prevalence of hunger around the world…” (Simmons, 5/28).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Global Health Investments 'One Of The Best Displays Of American Greatness'

The Hill: Why global health investments are key to ‘Making America Great’
Loyce Pace, president and executive director of the Global Health Council

“…Now is not the time to withdraw our global health investments. … Decreased U.S. funding will undoubtedly result in significant setbacks, making us lose ground on epidemics we can’t afford to ignore. These cuts, if enacted, would rob us of an important, successful American legacy. Longstanding initiatives that combat infectious diseases, help children thrive, and build resilient health systems have saved both lives and dollars over time. They have enjoyed bipartisan support and are one of few surviving examples of what U.S. policymakers can achieve despite their differences. We have done the right thing by doing good in the world in a way that also has served our own citizens. To walk away from that now is a betrayal of our shared core values. And Congress agrees. … Let’s hope that proves true, because we all will be looking to our champions on the Hill to stand up and speak out in defense of this critical work and the consequences we will likely face by letting it go. Thousands have contacted their congressional representatives in support of global health funding, and key leaders across military, faith, and business communities have been vocal about the value of foreign assistance. … Investment in global health is one of the best displays of American greatness we have demonstrated as a country. Let’s continue to show our strength in ways that matter and serve us well” (5/26).

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New WHO Director General Must Bring Transformative, Bold Changes To Agency

New York Times: WHO’s Identity Crisis
Editorial Board

“On Tuesday, the World Health Organization, under more democratic rules than in the past, elected its first African director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Dr. Tedros, who goes by his first name, is a malaria expert who built his reputation by cutting through bureaucracy to bring transformative change to health services in his native Ethiopia. The WHO will need him to do just that in his new job. … Dr. Tedros will need to move swiftly to bring transparency and accountability to the WHO, and to demonstrate that every dollar is well spent. … The WHO is the only agency that can declare a global health emergency. It oversees cooperation … It sets global medical standards … The world desperately needs a fully functioning WHO, and must hope that in Dr. Tedros the organization has found the leadership it needs to overcome its current woes” (5/29).

Devex: Opinion: How new Director-General Tedros must modernize WHO’s engagement with the world
Gabrielle Fitzgerald, founder and CEO of Panorama

“When Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus takes over as the new director general of the World Health Organization on July 1, he … must make some bold changes to prepare the WHO to succeed. … Tedros should immediately embark on an effort to modernize the WHO’s financing and donor relations, and raise the funds the WHO desperately needs to execute its important role. … The WHO needs to … engage with other industry players. … In addition to serving as a resource for practitioners and communities on important data and information, the WHO needs to think of communications more strategically. … Tedros will take office with significant political momentum. His decisive win in a highly competitive race, combined with a level of energy and excitement about the WHO’s first African leader, give him a unique and time-limited opportunity to make bold changes to how the organization operates. And for the WHO to continue to be a driving force for a healthier world, Tedros needs to prioritize modernizing how his agency engages with that world” (5/26).

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Acting Secretary Of U.S. Army Should Ensure Sanofi Pasteur Charges Fair Prices To U.S. Patients For Zika Vaccine

STAT: U.S. taxpayers are funding a Zika vaccine. Let’s make sure U.S. patients can afford it
Ed Silverman, senior writer and Pharmalot columnist

“Dear Acting Secretary Speer, As you know, the United States must prepare for future outbreaks of the Zika virus, but a high-stakes debate has erupted over a deal the federal government may strike with a private company to develop a vaccine. As acting secretary of the U.S. Army, you have an opportunity — and responsibility — to find a workable solution. The issue is whether the company — in this case, Sanofi Pasteur — should be required to make the vaccine, which is based on technology discovered with U.S. taxpayer funds, affordable for Americans in return for an exclusive license to develop it into a commercial product. I understand there are risks, but you should find a way to ensure that Americans do not overpay. … Senator Bernie Sanders and others maintain the Army should push Sanofi for fair pricing on the Zika vaccine. … In an era of rising drug costs … you have an opportunity to ensure that tax dollars spent subsidizing research provide a return on investment that benefits all Americans” (5/29).

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International Community Should Invest In Foreign Aid

The Guardian: As a doctor in Sudan, let me tell you: foreign aid saves lives
Tom Catena, doctor in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains

“…Countries that should be at the forefront of efforts to prevent catastrophes such as famine and to relieve the effects of drought on some of the world’s poorest people are turning a blind eye. This sends a worrying message that leading economies are no longer interested in being part of efforts to mitigate suffering. … Foreign aid has become a politically divisive issue. People assume the money is misspent, wasted on bureaucracy, or that foreign aid just doesn’t work. Of course, the system is far from perfect. … Nonetheless, in the short term, I see what a positive impact humanitarian aid can have. … There are people doing incredible work around the world every day to help preserve human life. … The international community must provide the resources to help us better serve the people who need our services. At a time when famine is reaching a crisis point in parts of Africa, and countless children are dying of starvation, the need for support from the world’s richest nations is even more critical” (5/27).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

On World No Tobacco Day 2017, WHO Calls On Governments To Implement Strong Tobacco Control Measures

WHO: World No Tobacco Day 2017: Beating tobacco for health, prosperity, the environment and national development
“Action to stamp out tobacco use can help countries prevent millions of people falling ill and dying from tobacco-related disease, combat poverty, and, according to a first-ever WHO report, reduce large-scale environmental degradation. On World No Tobacco Day 2017, WHO is highlighting how tobacco threatens the development of nations worldwide, and is calling on governments to implement strong tobacco control measures. These include banning marketing and advertising of tobacco, promoting plain packaging of tobacco products, raising excise taxes, and making indoor public places and workplaces smoke-free…” (5/30).

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70th World Health Assembly Reaches Decisions On Various Health Topics

WHO: Seventieth World Health Assembly update, 26 May 2017
“Today’s decisions at the World Health Assembly focused on implementation of the International Health Regulations, and improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of sepsis…” (5/26).

WHO: Seventieth World Health Assembly update, 29 May 2017
“Delegates at the World Health Assembly have reached new agreements on dementia; immunization; refugee and migrant health; substandard and falsified medical products, and the world drug problem…” (5/29).

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Laurie Garrett Discusses WHO's Future In Humanosphere Podcast Interview

Humanosphere: A conversation with Laurie Garrett about the road ahead for the WHO
In this podcast, Imana Gunawan, Humanosphere’s social media manager and podcast producer, and Joanne Lu, writer and editor at Humanosphere, speak with Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, about WHO’s future. Gunawan and Lu also discuss other global health-related news (5/26).

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FT Health Discusses Election Of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus As New WHO Director General

FT Health: New WHO chief faces tough challenges
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter discusses the election of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as new WHO director general, highlighting three issues Tedros addressed in his post-election briefing: universal health coverage, WHO’s emergency response program, and the agency’s reform. FT Health also provides a roundup of other global health-related news stories (Jack/Dodd, 5/26).

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