KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Taiwan Continues To Seek Inclusion In World Health Assembly As Observer

New York Times: Blocked by China, Taiwan Presses to Join U.N. Agency’s Meeting
“Taiwan will continue to seek inclusion in the World Health Assembly’s annual meeting this month in Geneva, government officials said on Monday, pushing back against the latest in a series of efforts by China to block the self-ruled island from participating in international organizations…” (Horton, 5/8).

Reuters: Uninvited Taiwan says going to U.N. health meeting, warns China on ties
“…Self-ruled Taiwan has accused Beijing of obstructing its efforts to attend the May 22-31 annual meeting in Geneva of the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO). China views democratic Taiwan as a renegade province to be retaken with the use of force if necessary, and says other countries and international organizations should not recognize it or treat as a separate country…” (Wu, 5/9).

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Eradicating Poverty Remains An Urgent Challenge, U.N. Deputy SG Says At ECOSOC

U.N. News Centre: Task of eradicating poverty must be met ‘with a sense of urgency,’ says deputy U.N. chief
“Eradicating poverty remains the greatest global challenge, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said [Monday], calling for a collective and comprehensive approach that recognizes the multidimensional nature the issue and its interaction with other aspects. ‘Addressing poverty, inequality, climate change, food insecurity and a sluggish and unpredictable global economy requires integrated responses and engagement by all actors,’ Ms. Mohammed said at the opening of the 2017 Integration Segment of the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)…” (5/8).

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Gates Foundation Lends Support To Clean India Campaign

Business Insider: Bill Gates is helping India win its war on human waste
“…Right now, 600,000 of the world’s 1.7 million who die annually from unsafe water and sanitation (due primarily to open, unclean toilets) live in India. As billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates recently wrote on his blog, those kinds of conditions make a plan like Clean India [India’s plan to install millions of toilets around the country] worthy of both praise and financial support. Over the past several years, The Gates Foundation has donated millions in aid and grant money to both federal governments and private companies. Some of those donations were used to created high-tech toilets for use in low-income countries…” (5/8).

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Meningitis Likely Cause Of Mysterious Outbreak In Liberia

AP: Bacteria appears to be behind mysterious outbreak in Liberia
“A contagious bacterial infection appears to be the cause of at least some cases in a mysterious outbreak in Liberia, U.S. health officials said Monday. The bacteria can cause meningitis, a dangerous brain infection, as well as blood infections. The country has reported 31 illnesses, including 13 deaths…” (Stobbe, 5/9).

Newsweek: U.S. Officials Say Mystery Liberia Outbreak May Be Meningitis
“…Liberian health authorities quickly ruled out a return of Ebola, the virus that killed more than 11,000 people across three West African countries between 2014 and 2016, but requested assistance from global health bodies in determining the cause of the outbreak…” (Gaffey, 5/9).

Reuters: Mystery illness in Liberia appears to be meningitis: minister
“Medical samples from four of the victims of a disease in Liberia that initially baffled scientists have tested positive for a type of meningitis, the minister of health said on Monday…” (Giahuye/Farge/Heinrich, 5/8).

Science: Liberian mystery disease may be solved
“…The disease spreads through close contact such as kissing and often causes devastating epidemics across what is known as the meningitis belt stretching across Africa. But it is unfamiliar in Liberia…” (Kupferschmidt, 5/8).

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Media Outlets Report On Cholera, Meningitis, Dengue Outbreaks In Middle East, Africa

Agence France-Presse: Hundreds of suspected cholera cases in Yemen: MSF
“At least 570 suspected cases of cholera have surfaced in war-torn Yemen in the past three weeks, sparking fears of a potential epidemic, Doctors Without Borders said Sunday…” (5/7).

Reuters: Yemen cholera outbreak kills 25 people in a week: WHO
“A cholera outbreak in Yemen killed 25 people this week, the World Health Organization said, as two years of war continues to wreak havoc on the impoverished country’s health and sanitation system…” (5/8).

VOA News: Doctors in Yemen Warn of Possible Cholera Epidemic
“…A cholera epidemic would be another level of misery for Yemeni civilians who already are suffering from the effects of war, airstrikes, severe food shortages and a long strike by civil servants that has paralyzed government functions…” (5/7).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Pain and panic as northern Nigeria races to contain deadly meningitis outbreak
“…Thousands of meningitis cases have been reported by the health ministry in the northern states Zamfara, Kebbi, and Sokoto since November 2016, in Nigeria’s worst outbreak of the disease since it killed more than 2,000 people in 2009…” (Egbejule, 5/8).

VOA News: Kenya Health Officials Issue Alert Over Dengue Fever Outbreak
“An alert has been issued in Mombasa County, Kenya, in response to an outbreak of dengue fever, a potentially fatal mosquito-borne disease…” (Ombuor, 5/8).

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Maternity Leave Legislation Proposed In Kenya Aims To Improve Maternal, Child Health

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Kenya hopes to double maternity leave to boost mother and child health
“Kenya will double maternity leave to six months from three if a bill before parliament is passed in a bid to boost the health of mothers and babies. But the new law has been opposed by employer groups who say businesses cannot afford to give women the time off, even though the second three months would be optional, unpaid leave…” (Wesangula, 5/8).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Leadership Critical To Ending Global AIDS

The Hill: How American compassion, vision and innovation can end the AIDS epidemic
Michel Sidibé, executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and under-secretary-general of the U.N.

“…Since 2002, with bipartisan support bridging political administrations, the United States’ global strategy on AIDS, started by President George W. Bush and sustained by President Barack Obama, has delivered unprecedented results. … It was welcome news that the 2017 budget reflected continued, strong bipartisan U.S. leadership on ending AIDS. Equally strong support is critical in 2018. Possible cuts to international assistance and U.S. global AIDS programs would have devastating consequences. … The opportunity to end AIDS is real. However, a business-as-usual approach will cost us dearly. … We must quicken the pace of action and we will need even stronger leadership to succeed. The next four years are crucial — they will determine whether we end the AIDS epidemic or whether it continues indefinitely. The leadership of the United States that has brought us to this point is needed to finish the job. President Trump and leaders from both parties in Congress have a historic opportunity to lead the world in ending AIDS — a humanitarian victory that once seemed impossible, but one which is now within reach” (5/8).

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Next WHO Director General Must Have Strong Moral Values, Ability To Transform, Lead Agency

The Guardian: We need a revolution in mindsets at the top of the World Health Organization
Mukesh Kapila, professor of global health and humanitarian affairs at the University of Manchester

“…Who will become WHO’s next [director general (DG)]? 194 countries, meeting as the World Health Assembly in Geneva in late May, will decide from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia, David Nabarro of the United Kingdom, and Sania Nishtar of Pakistan. All are well-qualified. More important are the differences that reveal their personal fitness for the top job. Who will transform WHO and not just navigate it better? The main determinants of population health are social and political, and the health struggle is too important to be left to technical experts. … A trustworthy director general is a sine qua non. They must have strong moral values, and demonstrated the courage of having lived them without fear or favor. The DG is required to stand up to vested interests and confront tough dilemmas consistently. They must know the fine dividing line between pragmatic expediency and cowardice. The electors of the DG should be wary of anyone who promises quick technical fixes to ‘make WHO great again.’ It is the personal character of the new leader that will ultimately determine whether the organization can renew its moral and practical purpose and give us the WHO we need” (5/9).

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Global Road Safety Week Aims To Raise Awareness Of, Advance Solutions For Road Traffic Accidents

Project Syndicate: Reducing Speed to Save Lives
Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO, and Michael Bloomberg, WHO’s global ambassador for noncommunicable diseases

“We can save so many lives around the world if we just slow down. Each year, more than 1.25 million people — many of them young people — die in automobile crashes. And a large proportion of these deaths are preventable: about one-third are due to vehicles traveling at excessive speeds. In low- and middle-income countries, that figure is closer to half. Regardless of where one lives, speeding is a lethal problem. … Improving road safety is one of the biggest opportunities we have to save lives around the world. And the good news is … we already know how to do it. … Over the course of [the United Nations Global Road Safety Week, which takes place from May 8-14], community events are being held in cities around the world, to help raise awareness of the problem and advance more solutions. … All of these events and initiatives will bring together local and national leaders in government, civil society, business, law enforcement, and other sectors. … A world in which far fewer lives are lost to automobile accidents is possible and entirely within our reach. It is up to all of us to make it a reality” (5/9).

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Vector Control Requires Community-Centered Responses, 'Planetary Health Approach'

The Lancet Global Health: Vector control: time for a planetary health approach
Editorial Board

“…Vector control … has had a dramatic effect on infectious disease epidemiology since the beginning of the 20th century. … Yet it is not achieving its full potential. … [The Global Vector Control Response for 2017-2030] sets an ambitious global goal of reducing mortality due to vector-borne diseases by 75 percent and of case incidence by 60 percent relative to 2016, centering on four pillars of action: strengthening intersectoral and intrasectoral action and collaboration, enhancement of vector surveillance and monitoring and evaluation of interventions, scaling up and integration of tools and approaches, and engagement and mobilization of communities. … However, the final pillar of the response is perhaps the most crucial. Community ownership and direction are indispensable when it comes to the uptake of simple tools in hard-to-reach areas. … Eliminating a vector-borne disease is not the same as eliminating a vector, and indeed mosquitoes, ticks, bugs, flies, and snails — much as public health types might loathe them — have their place in the wider ecosystem to which we all belong. The next stage in our battle with these small but deadly creatures will involve commitment by countries to a community-centered, situation-specific, interdisciplinary approach encompassing urban design, forestry, aquatic ecology, entomology, agriculture, and water and sanitation: a planetary health approach, if ever one was needed” (June 2017).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Laurie Garrett Discusses Recent Developments In U.S. Global Health Policy, Other Related Topics

Council on Foreign Relations’ “Garrett on Global Health”: Letter
In this letter, Laurie Garrett, CFR senior fellow for global health, discusses the potential implications of the Trump administration’s policies on global health, development, and humanitarian programs, and the passage of the FY17 omnibus budget in Congress, as well as the race for the new WHO director general and other global health related topics (5/5).

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Blog Post Highlights Key Takeaways From Global Fund's 37th Board Meeting

Friends of the Global Fight Blog: Key Takeaways from the Global Fund’s 37th Board Meeting
This blog post discusses highlights from the Global Fund’s 37th Board meeting held last week in Rwanda, including the announcement that the board appointed Aida Kurtović as the new chair and U.S. Ambassador John Simon as the new vice chair; a session focused on the success in receipt of pledged funds; a presentation by Global Fund Executive Director Mark Dybul on “megatrends” that will be key to ending HIV, malaria, and TB epidemics; an action plan to “mobilize an additional $500 million over the Global Fund’s 2017-2019 Replenishment cycle”; and the approval of innovative pilot projects addressing procurement and and performance-based funding (5/8).

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Health Governance Capacity May Incentivize Greater Investment In Health Care R&D

Brookings Institution’s “Africa in Focus”: Setting the stage for greater health R&D investment in Sub-Saharan Africa
Liz Sablich, director of communications for governance studies at the Brookings Institution, discusses findings from a new report from the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings on “incentivizing private investors and pharmaceutical companies to raise their investment in health care R&D.” Sablich notes, “A first step toward incentivizing investment, the researchers argue, is assessing the health governance capacity — the ability of a nation’s government and institutions to implement health policies, provide medical services, and respond to global health crises — in the countries that seek private financing,” and highlights the health governance capacity scores of select African countries (5/8).

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'Science Speaks' Examines Findings From New Study On Geographic Differences In Hepatitis C Incidence Among People Who Inject Drugs

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Where harm reduction policies went up, hepatitis C incidence went down, study finds
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” discusses findings from research published in Clinical Infectious Diseases examining differences in hepatitis C infection trends among people who inject drugs across cities in North America, Australia, and the Netherlands. Barton notes, “Authors of the study … say the differences in incidence reflect differences in policies to reduce the harm of injecting drug use…” (5/8).

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