KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Secretary Of State Tillerson Delivers Wide-Ranging Foreign Policy Speech To State Department Employees

Associated Press: Tillerson calls for balancing U.S. security interests, values
“Translating ‘America First’ into diplomatic policy, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday declared the United States can’t always afford to condition its foreign relationships and national security efforts on countries adopting U.S. values like human rights. He spoke to a State Department eager for answers about changing priorities and a sweeping, impending overhaul…” (Lederman/Lee, 5/4).

The Atlantic: Rex Tillerson Spells Out U.S. Foreign Policy
“…In a 40-minute speech, his second to the department’s staff, Tillerson refrained from discussing the administration’s proposed budget cuts. Nevertheless, he offered perhaps the most comprehensive roadmap of U.S. foreign policy, addressing the nation’s involvement with East Asia, Russia, Africa, and the Western Hemisphere…” (Bendix, 5/3).

The Hill: Tillerson stresses ‘difference between policy and values’ for State Dept.
“…[Tillerson] acknowledged that the country’s national security and economic interests may, at times, outweigh the desire to enforce certain values, like human dignity and ‘the way people are treated,’ saying the U.S. will no longer demand other nations conduct themselves according to American values. ‘I think it’s really important that all of us understand the difference between policy and values, and in some circumstances, we should and do condition our policy engagements on people adopting certain actions as to how they treat people,’ he said. ‘We should demand that. But that doesn’t mean that’s the case in every situation’…” (Greenwood, 5/3).

New York Times: Tillerson: It’s Time to Restore ‘Balance’ With Other Countries
“…Mr. Tillerson offered few specifics for a staff deeply anxious about a proposed budget that would cut outlays [up to] 31 percent and that aides to Mr. Tillerson have said could eliminate about 2,300 jobs, or about three percent of the department’s 75,000 employees. The reductions are expected to be achieved through attrition…” (Harris, 5/3).

Wall Street Journal: Tillerson Points to Shift in U.S. Foreign Policy Priorities
“…In separating U.S. policies from values such as human rights, democracy, press freedom, and the treatment of minorities, Mr. Tillerson appeared to outline a departure from priorities pursued during both the Bush and Obama administrations. … Human rights groups and some lawmakers have raised concerns about what they’ve described as a U.S. turn away from an emphasis on human rights and basic freedoms. … But Mr. Tillerson said emphasizing rights can impede other imperatives…” (Schwartz, 5/3).

Washington Post: Tillerson says putting pressure on North Korea is just the beginning
“…Tillerson offered the most expansive expression of his worldview since his confirmation hearing. He said many policies and practices enacted decades ago must be modified to meet the realities of a post-Cold War era. President Trump’s ‘America first’ philosophy means restoring ‘balance’ in relationships with allies, such as in trade and defense spending. ‘We just kind of lost track of how we were doing. And as a result, things got a little bit out of balance,’ he said…” (Morello/Gearan, 5/3).

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U.S., Japan Agree To Cooperate During Health Crises, Take Leadership Roles In Global Health

Japan Times: Japan and U.S. pledge to play leading role in global health
“Japan and the United States agreed Wednesday to take a leadership role in global health, including the fight against infectious diseases, according to Japan’s health minister. ‘We agreed that Japan and the United States cooperate in the event of health crises and take a leadership role in global health,’ Yasuhisa Shiozaki, the minister of health, labor and welfare, told reporters after meeting with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in Washington…” (5/4).

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Los Angeles Times Examines Myths, Truths About U.S. Foreign Aid

Los Angeles Times: Foreign aid: A waste of money or an aid to world stability? Here are the facts
“It has long been a divisive issue: how much money the United States gives to foreign nations in aid, what kind of effect development assistance actually has on recipient nations, and whether America should be involved in the aid-giving business at all. Advocates of foreign aid say programs backed by U.S. funding help feed the needy, promote social and economic progress, and foster political stability. Critics, on the other hand, point to fraud and the misuse of aid, inadequate tracking of provisions, and the prospect of nations becoming dependent on U.S. handouts. So what’s true and what’s false about one of politics’ most contentious issues?…” (Simmons, 5/3).

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Cuts To Global Health Aid Under Trump Administration Could Lead To Backslide In Development Progress, Gates Foundation Official Says

Business Insider: Trump could threaten years of progress in eliminating poverty around the world
“In late 2014, the Gates Foundation made a bold prediction in its Annual Letter: ‘By 2035,’ the letter stated, ‘there will be almost no poor countries left in the world.’ … Less than three years later, the Gates Foundation has doubts about whether the target is still accurate, given the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts and general lack of attention to global health goals. Rob Nabors, the Gates Foundation’s director of U.S. policy, advocacy, and communications, says the idea that falling child mortality rates and polio cases could start climbing again ‘keeps him up at night’…” (Weller, 5/3).

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Global Fund Board Selects New Chair, Vice Chair

Xinhua News: Global Fund elects new board chair
“The board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) met in the Rwandan capital Kigali Wednesday and selected Aida Kurtovic as its new chair for a two-year term. … The board also selected John Simon, the former U.S. ambassador to the African Union as incoming vice chair…” (5/4).

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Funding For Future NTD Efforts Must Come From National Governments, Innovative Financing, WHO Report, Summit Attendees Note

Devex: Neglected tropical diseases: Funding the next stage of the fight
“The recent NTDs Summit in Geneva, Switzerland, highlighted the massive strides that have been made against neglected tropical diseases over the past five years with relatively small sums of money. … Yet delegates also highlighted that while NTDs are considered one of the best buys in public health, they continue to be underfunded, and remain largely dependent on donors. More of the much-needed resources for the next stage of the fight — which in 2015 the WHO estimated at $750 million a year up to 2020, and $460 million a year thereafter — must come from national governments and innovative financing, they said…” (Patnaik, 5/3).

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News Outlets Summarize Global Health-Related Sessions At Fortune's Brainstorm Health Conference

Fortune: Google and Facebook Say This Is What’s Holding Back Health Care for the World’s Poorest Kids
“Executives from Google and Facebook and a slew of world health leaders say there’s a pretty big tech disparity that’s preventing children in the world’s poorest countries from getting world class health care: a lack of access to broadband and online networks. That was one of the main topics explored during a Wednesday breakfast panel at Fortune’s second annual Brainstorm Health’s conference in San Diego…” (Mukherjee, 5/3).

TIME: How to Keep the World Safe from Superbugs
“…Combating [antibiotic resistance] is going to require a collaborative effort, according to antibiotic resistance experts at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego. Here are three key ways medicine must change in order to keep antibiotics effective and superbugs from taking over. Use fewer antibiotics … Diagnose health problems faster … Get pharma involved…” (Sifferlin, 5/3).

TIME: ‘You Can’t Bomb Ebola’: How Nations Should Respond To the Next Pandemic
“The Ebola outbreak of 2014 infected more than 28,000 people in West Africa and killed more than 11,000. It also exposed gaps in the world’s ability to respond to epidemics of infectious diseases. Are we more prepared now to respond to future emerging disease outbreaks? Experts say countries are better positioned, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement…” (Sifferlin, 5/3).

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Plan International U.K. CEO Speaks To Devex About Successful Public-Private Partnerships In Development

Devex: Plan International U.K. CEO on what makes private partnerships work
“…While … corporate partnerships are no longer a rarity in the development sector, few organizations have pursued them with such zeal and to such impact as Plan. By working with corporations at the junction where their needs meet those of a development project’s, organizations can reach far more people than with grants alone, says Plan International U.K. Chief Executive Officer Tanya Barron. … Barron sat down with Devex at the Asian Development Bank’s 50th annual meeting to explain how to utilize those structures, what Plan looks for in a corporate partner and why this may well be the key to sustainable change…” (Seiff, 5/4).

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Research Shows High Diversity Among Malaria Parasites, Raises Questions For Control, Prevention Techniques

Bloomberg: DNA Fingerprinting Throws Doubt on Glaxo Malaria Vaccine Effort
“Groundbreaking research has shown the potentially deadly malaria parasite has greater genetic diversity than scientists previously understood, a finding that throws doubt on the efficacy of vaccines in development by companies such GlaxoSmithKline Plc. … The research, published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to rely on DNA fingerprinting to show how malaria’s genetic diversity enables it to evade the human immune system and establish a chronic infection…” (Gale, 5/3).

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Editorials and Opinions

Shifting Americans' Opinions On Foreign Aid Possible With Knowledge Of How Much U.S. Actually Spends Relative To Other Outlays

Washington Post: Americans love to hate foreign aid, but the right argument makes them like it a lot more
Reuben Hurst, PhD candidate at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business; Darren Hawkins, professor of political science at Brigham Young University; and Taylor Tidwell, PhD candidate at the University of Kansas

“…[D]espite difficulties in establishing a causal relationship between public sentiment and aid spending, some scholarship suggests that if Americans warmed up to the idea of aid, the United States would give more of it — or at least resist the sort of deep cuts proposed in the latest federal budget. … Given these high stakes, we set out to test which arguments prove most effective in swaying U.S. opinions on aid. We looked at academic debates as well as popular views of U.S. aid spending and identified commonly invoked arguments by those who oppose and champion foreign aid. … On this particular issue, though, there seems a clear prescription: If you want to get Americans to support government spending on foreign aid, tell them how little the government currently spends” (5/4).

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Stabilizing Vulnerable Communities Enhances Resiliency, Eases Dependency On Humanitarian Aid

Los Angeles Times: Stabilizing vulnerable communities in Nigeria is key for easing dependency on humanitarian aid
Edward Kallon, resident representative for the United Nations Development Program in Nigeria

“…Humanitarian aid is reaching those in need [in northeast Nigeria], but with the existing funding gap, assistance will soon run out and the lives of millions will be at risk. We must help them now. This crisis is exposing long-standing vulnerabilities — poverty and exclusion have just made matters worse. … Stabilizing communities — both where they are sheltering now and where they intend to return to — will enhance resilience and help ease dependency on humanitarian aid. Communities need to be stable before people can go home, which means restoring basic services and buildings, getting livelihoods back up and running, and restoring security to protect the vulnerable. When the international community adopted the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, we declared that no one would be left behind. This was not meant only for those living in peaceful countries. … Whether you’re in a camp, a host community, or at home, everyone deserves a better life. Everyone deserves access to education, health, justice, jobs, and a prosperous community. We must not forget the most vulnerable in our aim to reach the goals and must ensure that no one is left behind” (5/4).

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Strengthening Health Systems, Educating Communities Vital To Ensure Access To Childhood Vaccines

Project Syndicate: Where We Must Vaccinate
Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, founding director of Aga Khan University’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, co-director of SickKids Centre for Global Child Health, and president of the International Pediatric Association; and Naveen Thacker, president of the Asia Pacific Pediatric Association and coordinator of the International Pediatric Association

“…We have the tools to … ensure that no child dies unnecessarily from an illness that vaccination could have prevented. To succeed, however, several obstacles must be overcome. First, we must resolve systemic weaknesses in [South Asia’s] underdeveloped health systems, by improving training for health workers, ensuring proper storage and transportation of vaccines, and developing effective ways to deliver them. … Second, we must actively confront the growing anti-vaccine lobby, which threatens to undo the gains made in recent years. … Finally, we must continue to encourage countries in the region to increase vaccine coverage rates, in particular with newer vaccines proven to protect against pneumonia and diarrhea, the two leading infectious killers of children. … Vaccines are a proven tool for improving children’s health and development. Ensuring that children have access to them is an achievable public health goal behind which parents and pediatricians everywhere should unite” (5/4).

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Succeeding WHO Director General Will Face Several Challenges, Have Large 'Task Ahead Of Them'

The Conversation: Whoever Fills The Role, The New WHO Director-General Has A Rocky Road Ahead
Sonia Allan, consultant on health law and governance, associate professor at Deakin University, and associate at Monash University

“…All three candidates [for WHO director general] have promised similar things, including leadership, improving WHO capabilities, transparency, coordination, and funding. The new director general will also need to resolve the issues of divisions between regional and country systems, bureaucracy, and budget. He or she will need to focus on achieving sound goals within an environment of competing priorities and, at times, the highly politicized views of member states, industry, and advocacy groups. The role will require technical ability, administrative leadership, diplomacy, integrity, and prowess. All three are highly accomplished global health leaders, which bodes well for the future direction of the WHO. The task ahead of them, however, is a large one” (5/3).

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Standardizing Terminology Important For Effective Global Response To Drug Resistance

Nature: Antibiotic resistance has a language problem
Marc Mendelson, professor of infectious diseases and head of the Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital at the University of Cape Town, and colleagues

“…Many of the terms routinely used to describe [antimicrobial resistance] are misunderstood, interpreted differently, or loaded with unhelpful connotations. On 16 March, the United Nations formed an interagency group to coordinate the fight against drug resistance. We urge that, as one of its first steps, this group coordinate a review of the terminology used by key actors. Such an effort could improve understanding across the board and help to engender a consistent and focused global response. … Because terminology has geographic, disciplinary, and societal variations that affect understanding and interpretation, a program of research is needed to optimize the lexicon across different countries and languages. Such a program could be undertaken within the current WHO global action plan objective 1 — to improve awareness and understanding of drug resistance through effective communication, education, and training. … [G]iven the gravity of what’s ahead, now is the time consider the power of words to change the course of events…” (5/3).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

'Science Speaks' Discusses Future Of Global Health Financing Event Hosted By KFF, CSIS

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Future of global health funding uncertain during time of great need, panelists say
Rabita Aziz, policy research coordinator at the Center for Global Health Policy, discusses an event hosted last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the future of global health financing. During the event, Joseph Dieleman, assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), presented findings from IHME’s latest report on financing for global health. The presentation was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Jen Kates, vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at KFF. Panelists included Tim Evans, senior director of health, nutrition, and population at the World Bank Group; J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center; and Christopher Murray, professor and director at IHME (5/3).

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PLOS Blogs Features Interviews With WHO Director General Candidates

PLOS Blogs’ “Your Say”: Where do the (3) candidates for the next WHO Director General stand on the most challenging global health issues of the decade?
Anne-Emanuelle Birn, professor at the University of Toronto; Yogan Pillay, deputy director general in the South Africa Department of Health (writing in his personal capacity); and Timothy H. Holtz, adjunct associate professor at the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, write, “As co-authors of Oxford University Press’s just-published Textbook of Global Health (4th edition), we have drawn from the book’s critical political economy of health framing … to pose a series of direct questions to the three candidates: Dr. Sania Nishtar of Pakistan; Dr. David Nabarro of the United Kingdom; and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia. We present their unedited responses to help [World Health Assembly] members and their constituencies decide which candidate is best placed to lead WHO to fulfill its constitutional mandate to work for the highest attainable level of health for all people — and thus who is most fit for this very important position…” (Costello, 5/4).

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WHO Releases 10-Year Review Report Chapter Focusing On HIV

WHO: HIV: from a devastating epidemic to a manageable chronic disease
This chapter of the WHO’s “Ten years in public health 2007-2017” report focuses on WHO’s role in the global AIDS response. “WHO’s standard-setting work helped make prevention and treatment more accessible, safe, effective, and efficient, and encouraged integrating HIV services into existing health systems. WHO has prequalified more than 250 products for HIV-related conditions. New targets aim to prevent 1.6 million new infections and 600,000 deaths per year, ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030” (May 2017).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Secretary Of State Offers Remarks On 'America First' Foreign Policy

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Progress on ‘America First’ Foreign Policy
This blog post discusses remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on “his perspective on how the Trump administration’s policies of ‘America first’ fit into [U.S.] foreign policy and foreign affairs” (5/3).

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From KFF

Kaiser Family Foundation Data Note Assesses How Mexico City Policy Affects Provision Of Legal Abortion Services In U.S.-Assisted Countries

Kaiser Family Foundation: What Is the Scope of the Mexico City Policy: Assessing Abortion Laws in Countries That Receive U.S. Global Health Assistance
“On January 23, 2017, President Trump reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy requiring foreign NGOs to certify that they will not ‘perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning,’ using any funds (including non-U.S. funds), as a condition for receiving U.S. government global health assistance. … On March 2, the U.S. government took the first step in implementing the reinstated policy by issuing guidance on its application to family planning assistance; further guidance on other U.S. global health assistance is expected soon. This analysis assumes that the final guidance will include the same abortion-related provisions as the guidance released on March 2. One metric for gauging impact of the MCP is assessing the abortion laws in countries that receive bilateral U.S. global health assistance. This data note provides an assessment of the legal landscape to identify how the MCP affects the provision of legal abortion services by foreign NGOs…” (Kates/Moss, 5/3).

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