KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Devex Outlines 8 Main Issues Discussed At 70th World Health Assembly

Devex: 8 takeaways from the 70th World Health Assembly
“…For those who weren’t able to attend this year’s [World Health Assembly], which ran from May 22 to 31, here are the main takeaways. 1. WHO director general election outcome … 2. The 3 percent increase in member states contributions … 3. WHO’s regional office for Africa’s transformation agenda … 4. Focus on implementation in AMR action plans … 5. Access to medicines … 6. Cross-agency collaboration … 7. Global compact for progress towards universal health coverage … 8. Polio…” (Ravelo/Saldinger, 5/31).

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Environmental Issues Threaten Health, Development Gains, WHO DG Chan Says

Global Health NOW: “The Most Important Endangered Species?” Humans.
“Nearly a quarter of all deaths worldwide are linked to environmental issues. That’s 12.6 million deaths every year, according to WHO. ‘Human beings really are the most important endangered species,’ said Margaret Chan, WHO’s outgoing director general. The ‘harsh reality’ is that the world is losing its capacity to sustain human life, and the health sector cannot provide all the solutions, Chan told an audience of more than 200 during a May 26 technical briefing on health and the environment at the World Health Assembly…” (Simpson, 5/29).

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Funding For Health SDGs Must Come From Variety Of Sectors, Models, Expert Says

Devex: Stepping up nontraditional financing for health
“…At the B20 Health Conference in Berlin earlier this month, Devex spoke with several delegates about the types of funding that could help the global health sector in particular to achieve SDG targets. Dr. Patricia Mechael, executive vice president of the Personal Connected Health Alliance, shared her thoughts about which actors are providing the most effective models of sustainable financing for health care. This must come from a multitude of sources including governments and private sector engagement, said Mechael…” (Okwonga, 5/29).

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Tobacco Production Causes Environmental Damage, Use Threatens Health, Development, WHO Says On World No Tobacco Day

Reuters: Big tobacco leaves huge ecological footprint — WHO
“Tobacco growing is causing ‘massive harm’ to the environment through the extensive use of chemicals, energy, and water, and pollution from manufacturing and distribution, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday…” (Nebehay, 5/30).

U.N. News Centre: Tobacco’s killer toxins also wreak havoc on the environment, U.N. health agency warns
“Stamping out tobacco use can save millions of lives and combat poverty, the World Health Organization (WHO) said [Tuesday] and spotlighted for the first time the ways in which tobacco affects human well-being from an environmental perspective — caused by production, distribution, and waste. … The U.N. health chief’s assessment comes on the eve of World No Tobacco Day, marked annually on 31 May, and which targets the threats tobacco poses to global development worldwide…” (5/30).

VOA News: Stronger Tobacco-control Measures Vital, WHO Warns
“…WHO calls tobacco a threat to development. Besides the heavy toll in lives lost, global estimates show that ‘tobacco costs the global economy $1.4 trillion a year,’ or 1.8 percent of global gross domestic product. The WHO notes this estimate takes into consideration ‘only medical expenses and lost productive capacities’…” (Schlein, 5/30).

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DR Congo Approves Use Of Experimental Ebola Vaccine; Current Outbreak Subsiding, Officials Say

Nature: Ebola vaccine approved for use in ongoing outbreak
“Regulatory and ethics-review boards in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have approved the use of an experimental Ebola vaccine to combat an ongoing outbreak of the virus, officials announced on 29 May. If they decide to deploy the vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV, health care workers will offer it to those at highest risk of contracting the disease…” (Maxmen, 5/30).

NPR: Powerful New Ebola Vaccine Heads To Congo To Help Stop Outbreak
“…The outbreak already shows signs of slowing down. There hasn’t been a new confirmed case since May 11. And several suspected cases were ruled out last week…” (Doucleff, 5/30).

U.N. News Centre: DR Congo approves Ebola vaccine to counter outbreak; U.N.-trained volunteers to educate local populations
“To contain the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provided technical support to 145 volunteers of the Congolese Red Cross and community health workers to deliver lifesaving information to local populations in remote areas along the Central African Republic border…” (5/30).

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Plagued By Cholera Epidemic, Food Shortages, Ongoing Violence, Yemen Faces Collapse Without Additional Aid, U.N. Officials Warn

Associated Press: U.N. aid chief in Yemen warns of cholera rise without more aid
“Two senior U.N. officials on Tuesday warned of the spread of cholera and malnutrition in Yemen, where millions of civilians have been caught in a two-year-old civil war…” (5/31).

Deutsche Welle: U.N. humanitarian chief reports Yemen spiraling towards collapse
“United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that the civil war, cholera outbreak, and widespread hunger in Yemen could lead to the collapse of the country…” (5/30).

New York Times: Cholera, Famine and Girls Sold Into Marriage for Food: Yemen’s Dire Picture
“Cholera deaths in war-torn Yemen have surged into the hundreds, more than a quarter of Yemenis face famine, and parents are selling girls into marriage to buy food, the United Nations said on Tuesday…” (Gladstone, 5/30).

Reuters: Yemen cholera death toll rises, but number of infections drop: WHO
“The number of people who have died in a cholera epidemic affecting Yemen has risen to at least 471, according to World Health Organization (WHO) figures released on Monday. But the latest WHO bulletin covering the period from April 27, said that there was a ‘significant decrease’ in the daily average number of cases recorded in the week up to May 27 compared to the previous seven-day period…” (Miles/Aboudi, 5/29).

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Conflict, Lack Of Funding Intensifying Food Insecurity, Humanitarian Aid Shortages In South Sudan, Syria, Nigeria, U.N. Says

Associated Press: U.N. food agency warns South Sudan conflict is fueling famine
“The head of the U.N.’s food and agriculture agency warned Tuesday that conflict in South Sudan could undermine hopes of avoiding a new famine next year…” (5/31).

U.N. News Centre: Do not stand silent while Syrian parties use starvation, fear as ‘methods of war,’ urges U.N. aid chief
“Though there are significantly fewer reports of violence in some parts of Syria, the consequences of the conflict continue to devastate lives, the top United Nations relief official said [Tuesday], calling for ending attacks and obstacles that prevent humanitarian workers from reaching the hundreds of thousands of civilians still trapped in the war-torn country…” (5/30).

VOA News: Famine Looms in Former Boko Haram Stronghold in NE Nigeria
“The United Nations is warning that more than 1.4 million people in northeastern Nigeria could face famine by September because of a severe funding shortage. To date, only 28 percent of the U.N. appeal for more than $1 billion to provide humanitarian aid for nearly seven million people has been received…” (Schlein, 5/30).

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Sri Lankan Flooding Caused By Tropical Storm Threatens Increase In Cases Of Dengue, Cholera, Other Water-Borne Diseases

Humanosphere: Tropical storm floods Sri Lanka with increased disease and safety risks
“Torrential rains over the weekend buried Sri Lanka under mudslides and the worst floods since 2003. Although the storm — now Cyclone Mora — has left for Bangladesh, the effects are far from over. Aid agencies are bracing for more possible rains as well as an uptick in dengue, cholera, and other water-borne diseases…” (Lu, 5/30).

New York Times: Floods in Sri Lanka Displace Half a Million
“…The state-run Disaster Management Center on Sunday announced that 151 people had been killed and 112 others were missing. … The authorities estimate that more than 1,800 homes have been damaged and [more than] 442,000 people affected…” (Bastians, 5/28).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Sri Lanka’s flood survivors threatened by dengue, disease: aid workers
“…Outbreaks of diseases such as dengue fever and cholera, and illnesses like diarrhea and dysentery, are often a threat in the aftermath of floods due to water-logging, say experts…” (Bhalla, 5/29).

U.N. News Centre: Sri Lanka: U.N. agency deploys rapid assessment teams to assist in wake of monsoon floods, landslides
“…Rescue operations led by the Sri Lankan military are continuing and the DMC has already identified an urgent need for drinking water and non-food relief items, including shelter. Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry is also deploying mobile health units and will introduce vector control measures to combat expected outbreaks of mosquito-borne dengue fever, which often follows flooding. Displaced people living in emergency shelters are particularly vulnerable…” (5/30).

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News Outlets Examine Impacts Of Changes To India's Maternal Health Program, Ban On Foreign Funds For Public Health Foundation

The Guardian: ‘Risking lives of mothers and children’: India condemned for cuts to benefits
“Campaigners have warned that the lives of mothers and children are at risk after an Indian government scheme that pays women to receive maternal health care throughout their pregnancy was amended to apply only to first-borns…” (Safi, 5/30).

Reuters: Ban on foreign funds for non-profit may hurt India health programs
“India’s ban on foreign funding for the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), a non-profit group backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, may damage some government health programs, according to the group and a health ministry official. … Affected programs included those on eliminating black fever, HIV prevention, tobacco control, and universal health coverage, PHFI wrote in [a letter dated May 3], which was reviewed by Reuters…” (Kalra, 5/30).

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Indian Health Officials Knew About Country's First Zika Cases But Decided Against Public Outreach To Avoid Panic

Washington Post: Officials knew about India’s first Zika case for months. But they didn’t tell anybody.
“Officials in India knew about the country’s first case of Zika virus infection months ago. But they didn’t alert the public because they didn’t want ‘people to start panicking,’ one health official said this week. … Soumya Swaminathan, director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, confirmed that she and other senior officials of the Health Ministry knew about the diagnoses but decided against doing any public outreach about the Zika threat. … [S]he said the government launched major Zika surveillance campaigns by testing thousands of blood samples and mosquitoes from the area where the first case was detected…” (Doshi, 5/30).

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Editorials and Opinions

President Trump's Proposed Cuts To U.S. Foreign Aid Threaten Lives

The Guardian: ‘Trump’s aid budget is breathtakingly cruel — cuts like these will kill people’
Jeremy Konyndyk, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development

“President Trump’s new budget plans take particular aim at foreign aid spending, proposing [cuts to] civilian foreign affairs spending. … U.S. funding provides the backbone of global humanitarian response and saves millions of lives each year. The Trump administration proposes to drive it over a cliff … Global health funding takes a huge hit … The administration has tried to obscure this by claiming that it is shielding AIDS funding from debilitating cuts. … [D]on’t be fooled. AIDS funding would be cut by [roughly] a fifth, which would allow people currently receiving treatment to stay on their meds, but would dramatically reduce the number of new enrollees … [and] would likely disrupt testing too. … Incredibly, this is not even the worst news on the global health front. The budget proposal seeks to take a much bigger chunk out of non-HIV health programs … These programs work … Cutting these programs means more children dying of malaria, resurgence of preventable diseases like polio and measles, and many, many other deaths besides. By weakening public health systems, these cuts also increase vulnerability to major epidemic threats like Ebola and Zika. … This budget will harm tens of millions of lives to save fractions of pennies. … President Trump and his budget director should think hard about the standard they’ve expressed for themselves — and begin to refocus this budget on ‘actually helping’ people” (5/31).

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Congressional Approval Of HER Act Would Help Women Globally Access Health Care

The Hill: Letter to the Editor: Gag rule shows disregard to women
Rebecca Harrington, national field director at Population Connection

“…[I]n one of his first actions as president, Donald Trump imposed the global gag rule, which bans foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from so much as talking about abortion if they want to receive U.S. foreign assistance for family planning. To make this terrible policy … even more far-reaching than usual, Trump’s version impacts all U.S. global health funding, including for programs that work to eradicate tuberculosis, and to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and Zika. … Passing the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act would end Trump’s global gag rule and would prevent a future president from unilaterally imposing this terrible policy. It would ensure that foreign NGOs are not denied much-needed U.S. aid simply because they offer legal abortion services using non-U.S. funds, and it would prevent the deeply undemocratic violation of free speech that results from the gag rule” (5/30).

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Scientists Must Continue To Advocate For Science, Innovation

Nature: Keep shouting to save science
Editorial Board

“…The U.S. government has always been one of the largest and most reliable backers of basic science, but that would clearly change if [President] Trump controlled the purse strings. Many scientists draw hope from the fact that he does not, and it’s already quite clear that Congress — which allocates funding — takes a different view of things. The NIH saw its 2017 budget increase in the deal announced in late April, and the EPA saw a manageable … decrease. Trump’s 2018 budget proposal will not survive Congress in anything like its current form, but it could further poison the conversation, particularly among his most ardent supporters. Many groups are already mobilizing to save U.S. science, and those efforts should continue. But the conversation needs to expand. As this publication has stated before, scientists need to talk not only to their elected officials about what they do, but also to their neighbors and communities. Science and innovation have historically been a source of pride, not division, in the United States. That must not change” (5/31).

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Recognizing Link Between Climate Change, Epidemics Vital To Prevention, Management Of Diseases

Washington Post: Another deadly consequence of climate change: The spread of dangerous diseases
Brian Deese, senior fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard’s Kennedy School, and Ronald A. Klain, contributing Washington Post columnist, White House Ebola response coordinator from 2014 to 2015, and senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign

“With President Trump’s decision on U.S. participation in the Paris climate accords expected in the next few days, there has been widespread discussion of the many consequences that climate change will have for us and our children, including extreme weather events, displacement of people, submergence of lands, and devastation to our oceans. But one of the most potentially deadly effects has been far less discussed: an increase in the spread of dangerous epidemics and the risk of a global pandemic. … If we fail to integrate planning for the impact of climate change with planning for the prevention and management of pandemic disease, the consequences will be deadly. … As climate change accelerates the movement of people, the risks of disease formation and transmission will multiply. … There is no strategy to close our borders or shut our doors that can keep temperatures from rising, disease vectors from spreading, and humans from interacting in ways that create new vulnerabilities. The only way to keep our country safe is to better understand the science behind climate change and disease, better prepare our communities and public health officials to respond, and better arm other countries to anticipate the spread of these threats before they spill over national borders. Denying this reality will have deadly consequences” (5/30).

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WHO Framework Convention On Tobacco Control Aims To Help Achieve SDGs By 2030

Huffington Post: A hazard to global development
Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, head of secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC)

“…On May 30 in Geneva, the secretariat of the WHO [Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)] jointly launched a new paper with the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), gathering together evidence to show that tobacco must be at the heart of the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)]. If there’s a single key point to emerge from this document, it’s that by accelerating the implementation of the WHO FCTC, the global tobacco control treaty, we can help meet the SDGs on schedule by 2030 and so improve tens of millions of lives. The report — The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: an accelerator for sustainable development — examines how tobacco control implementation can generate a benign domino effect, whereby positive policies for one SDG can assist another. As governments get down to the detail of the SDGs, the paper aims to foster the unified, cross-government approach that ensures public policy coherence. … Without [tobacco], everyone can enjoy a better future” (5/30).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

New WHO Director General Should Apply Political Capital, Experience To Help Change Politics Of Global Health

BMJ Blog: Ilona Kickbusch: The new director general of WHO and the politics of global health
Ilona Kickbusch, director of the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, discusses challenges Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will likely face in his new role as WHO director general, as well as two political opportunities he should “take advantage of: 1. High level political processes … 2. A new global health compact.” Kickbusch writes, “This is a historical moment and the large structural issues at stake for global health must be addressed. Tedros will need to ensure that his political focus and determination are not diverted. … It is not only the future of the WHO that is at stake” (5/31).

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Special Issue Of Global Health Governance Journal Focuses On WHO Reform

Global Health Governance: Special Issue: Reform of the World Health Organization
This special issue of Global Health Governance features several articles on reforming the WHO (5/30).

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Understanding Intersection Of Gender, Infectious Disease Critical To Equitable Outbreak Response

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: It’s time for a new question in disease outbreaks
In a guest post, Brittany Iskarpatyoti, research associate and gender adviser for the MEASURE Evaluation, discusses the importance of monitoring gender data and understanding the links between gender and infectious disease, writing, “By creating a dialogue and shared understanding of the gendered inequity of public health emergencies, we could target response to the next outbreak so those affected can survive the crisis without compounding existing inequities” (5/30).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, published Issue 313 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter features articles on various topics, including Zambia’s prioritization of front-line rural health workers in TB/HIV and malaria funding requests; differences between the Global Fund and other health financing mechanisms; and a new guide on how to manage community-based sub-recipients (5/31).

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