KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

In Hearing, Letter, U.S. Senators Express Concern Over Tillerson's State Department Plans

Newsweek: Rex Tillerson’s State Department Is Putting America In Danger, Say Alarmed Senators
“An exodus of career diplomats and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s project to slash and burn parts of the State Department has created an ‘alarming’ situation, say senators. ‘We put our country in danger when we do not give adequate voice and resources to our all [sic] country’s national security tools,’ said Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tuesday during a hearing…” (Lanktree, 11/15).

Washington Post: State Department’s plan for staff cuts causing new worry in Congress
“…In the latest example, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) urged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday to lift a hiring freeze and promote experienced Foreign Service officers, requesting in a letter more details about Tillerson’s reorganization plan. Citing reports of declining morale, recruitment, and retention levels, the senators wrote that ‘America’s diplomatic power is being weakened internally as complex, global crises are growing externally.’ Tillerson’s management decisions, they say, ‘threaten to undermine the long-term health and effectiveness of American diplomacy’…” (Morello, 11/15).

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U.S. Secretary Of State Tillerson Meets With Myanmar Leaders, Calls For Independent Investigation, Halting Of Violence Against Rohingya Muslims

New York Times: Rex Tillerson Tells Myanmar Leaders to Investigate Attacks on Rohingya
“…In a five-hour visit in Myanmar [on Wednesday], [U.S. Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson met with Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the nation’s military commander, and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate and head of the country’s civilian government. He urged both to investigate and halt the violence that has driven more than 615,000 Rohingya to flee over the border to Bangladesh since late August…” (Beech/Nang, 11/15).

Wall Street Journal: Tillerson Calls for Independent Probe Into Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis
“…In a press conference on Wednesday with Aung San Suu Kyi, who heads the country’s civilian government, Mr. Tillerson said he was ‘deeply concerned by credible reports of widespread atrocities committed by security forces and by vigilantes unrestrained by security forces.’ An internal probe by the military concluded this week that no violations had occurred, drawing criticism from human rights groups…” (Mandhana, 11/15).

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U.S. To Host High-Level Discussions With African Foreign Ministers, A.U. Officials

VOA News: Before High-Level Discussions, U.S. Aims to Strengthen Ties to Africa
“U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will welcome 37 African foreign ministers to Washington … this week in the largest African foreign policy event to date under President Donald Trump. The event on November 16 and 17 will include discussions on trade and investment, counterterrorism, and good governance. In addition to the ministerial attendees, African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and other A.U. representatives will attend…” (Makori, 11/14).

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U.S. Sens. Corker, Flake Request USAID IG Examine Agency's Contract For Global Health Supply Chain Program

Devex: Senators ask USAID watchdog to examine health supply chain project
“…Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, both Republicans and chairs of the Committee on Foreign Relations and Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy respectively, sent a letter Tuesday, which Devex obtained, to Ann Calvaresi Barr, USAID’s inspector general. The senators outlined their ‘great concerns’ about the performance of the [$9.5 billion] ‘Global Health Supply Chain — Procurement Supply Management’ project. They requested that the development watchdog initiate work on the supply chain project and report back to the Foreign Affairs committee with their findings…” (Igoe, 11/15).

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NIH Defends Choice Of Exclusive Zika Vaccine License Recipient Amid Conflict-Of-Interest Allegations

CQ HealthBeat: NIH Pushes Back on Zika Vaccine Conflict Allegation
“The government’s premier medical research agency is refuting allegations that its choice to help bring a Zika vaccine to market was a conflict of interest. … In October, [NIH] announced that it was planning to grant an exclusive license to California-based PaxVax, Inc., a small pharmaceutical company that specializes in vaccines, to further develop the product and eventually bring it to market. But Ken Kelley, the founder and former chief executive of PaxVax, is currently an adviser in the vaccine research center at the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the NIH division that has been researching the Zika vaccine…” (Siddons, 11/15).

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New Global Fund Executive Director Peter Sands To Prioritize Organization's Accountability, Transparency

Associated Press: New chief of Global Fund says accountability is ‘imperative’
“The new executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria says he is committed to ensuring the group is as transparent as possible about how its billions of dollars are spent to fight the three killer diseases. … In an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday, [Peter] Sands said it was ‘absolutely imperative’ that the fund be able to demonstrate that the $4 billion it gives out annually to about 100 countries is used appropriately…” (Cheng, 11/15).

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Gates Foundation Looking Toward Non-Western Nations, Donors To Be Leaders In Global Health, Development Initiatives

Devex: Exclusive: Gates Foundation sees Gulf, China as most promising markets for future partnering
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sees China and the Gulf as among the most promising regions to develop future partnerships on global health and development, Chief Strategy Officer Mark Suzman told Devex. … Although the foundation will continue to push for Western and other traditional donors to maintain and even increase their funding, it views the future of development funding as being led primarily by developing countries themselves, Suzman said…” (Dickinson, 11/15).

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Gates Foundation, UAE Launch $100M Reaching The Last Mile Fund To Eradicate River Blindness, Lymphatic Filariasis

Devex: Exclusive: New $100M fund to eradicate river blindness and lymphatic filariasis
“Abu Dhabi’s crown prince and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Wednesday launched a $100 million fund to eliminate river blindness and lymphatic filariasis from key countries in Africa and the Middle East. Reaching the Last Mile Fund is a 10-year facility that will be hosted at the END Fund, a multi-donor platform focused on neglected tropical diseases. Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will contribute $20 million to the fund, and the Gates Foundation will add up to $20 million. This confluence of influential backing then hopes to ‘kickstart a rally of donors’ to the fund, said Maha Barakat, board member of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership…” (Dickinson, 11/15).

Emirates News Agency: Mohamed bin Zayed launches ‘Reaching the Last Mile’ fund to raise US$ 100 million
“…His Highness Sheikh Mohamed said, ‘The UAE, under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, continues to provide regional and international support for humanitarian, developmental, and health initiatives that target countries and communities in need. The launch of this fund is part of international efforts to rid the world of two debilitating and preventable diseases’…” (11/15).

The National: Reaching the Last Mile: New $100m fund announced in Abu Dhabi
“…Watched by an international audience of experts, leaders, and health experts, Mr. Gates was presented with the Federation Medal, one of the country’s highest awards, by Sheikh Mohammed in recognition of his contribution to supporting disease eradication. The Crown Prince also presented a new award that acknowledges outstanding contributions made by individuals in the fight against disease. Among those honored was former President Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Center has been in the forefront of combating Guinea worm disease…” (Al Nowais/Langton, 11/15).

Wall Street Journal: Gates Foundation, Abu Dhabi Pair to Fight Forgotten Diseases
“…Beyond the capital commitments, GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Merck & Co. are also supporting the eradication effort. GSK will supply treatment to deworm children in target countries while Merck will donate the medication ivermectin to treat parasites linked to lymphatic filariasis and river blindness…” (Wonacott/McKay, 11/15).

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WHO Global Malaria Program Chief Pedro Alonso Discusses Challenges, Progress In Devex Interview

Devex: Q&A: Pedro Alonso, director of WHO’s Global Malaria Program
“…Ahead of the release of the World Malaria Report 2017, Devex caught up with [Pedro Alonso, head of the WHO Global Malaria Program since October 2014,] to discuss how the program is tackling its most pressing challenges and to unveil progress in crucial initiatives such as vector control. He also shared his views on the role of the private sector, domestic contributions, and partnerships, and explained what the expansion of the President’s Malaria Initiative programs means to global efforts…” (Pallares, 11/15).

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More Action Needed To Stem Climate Change Impacts Projected To Increase Child Malnutrition, Food Insecurity, Experts Say

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Manage climate risks or face much more hunger by 2050: U.N
“Climate change threats, from worsening drought and flooding to sea level rise, could increase the risks of hunger and child malnutrition around the world by 20 percent by 2050, food security researchers warned Wednesday. But looking carefully at the very different risks facing each country, region, and type of food producer — from highland rice farmers in Cambodia to cattle herders in South Sudan — could help reduce that threat of growing hunger, they said…” (Goering, 11/15).

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Threat Of Influenza Outbreak Remains 100 Years After 1918 Pandemic, Experts Warn

Global Health NOW: A Century After 1918, Flu Pandemic Preparedness Still Lacking
“…Despite a century’s worth of lifesaving scientific and medical advances to head off a similar tragedy, [experts] warn that an influenza pandemic could still trigger waves of mass death. … With the centennial of the 1918 flu pandemic on the horizon, Smithsonian magazine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health gathered experts to explore the state of pandemic preparedness…” (Powder, 11/15).

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Philippines Health Department Resumes Contraceptive Distribution Following Agency Ruling, Lifting Of Supreme Court Restraining Order

CNN Philippines: DOH starts distribution of contraceptives
“The Health Department (DOH) said Thursday it is now distributing family planning supplies to regional health offices. This comes four days after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced 51 contraceptives are non-abortifacients, thereby lifting a temporary restraining order on these that was issued in 2015 by the Supreme Court…” (Morales, 11/16).

Reuters: Philippines reallows contraceptive devices after certifying them safe
“…Congress passed a law allowing contraceptive devices in 2012 but the Supreme Court imposed a restraining order in 2015 after bishops said some drugs and devices caused abortions…” (Mogato, 11/16).

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More News In Global Health

Associated Press: Iran earthquake survivors, sleeping on rubble, ask for help (Karimi/Nasiri, 11/15).

Global Health NOW: One Global Health Leader’s Non-Traditional Path (Simpson, 11/13).
Global Health NOW: “A Really Big Change”: Global Health Leader Marian Wentworth (Simpson, 11/14).

New York Times: U.N. Climate Fund Promised Billions to Poor Nations. For Some, the Wait Is Long (Tabuchi, 11/16).
New York Times: At U.N. Climate Conference, Treading Lightly Around the Americans (Friedman/Plumer, 11/15).

Reuters Health: Physicians may be biased against research from poor nations (Cohen, 11/15).

STAT: Rare strain of gonorrhea identified in Canada, compounding fears of drug resistance (Branswell, 11/16).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Could giant rats help fight tuberculosis in major cities? (Kanso, 11/15).
Yahoo News: The hero rats of Africa sniff out land mines — and TB infections (Conley, 11/14).

U.N. News Centre: Viet Nam: Children at risk of malnutrition in aftermath of Typhoon Damrey, reports UNICEF (11/15).

Xinhua News: 925,000 suspected cholera cases in Yemen as supplies run out: U.N. (11/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Congress, U.N. Should Continue To Press For Political Solution In War-Torn Yemen

New York Times: Saudis Try to Starve Yemen Into Submission
Editorial Board

“…Misery has been Yemen’s lot after more than three years of unrelenting war. … A raging cholera epidemic has sickened some 900,000 people, and 17 million Yemenis are now completely dependent on humanitarian aid for survival. … Impeding humanitarian assistance and using famine as a weapon are war crimes, and Saudi Arabia must realize that the world is finally taking notice. On Monday, the United States Congress passed a resolution denouncing the targeting of Yemeni civilians and calling for all parties involved to ‘increase efforts to adopt all necessary and appropriate measures to prevent civilian casualties and to increase humanitarian access.’ The vote should serve as a warning to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is intent on expanding Saudi Arabia’s regional influence, that while he may have the unreserved blessing of President Trump, American lawmakers are less tolerant of flagrant violations of international law and of basic humanity. The only way to end the Yemeni people’s hell is for Congress and the United Nations to keep pressing all parties for a political solution” (11/16).

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Engaging Men In Family Planning Key To Sustainable Efforts, Global Gender Equality

Devex: World Vasectomy Day: How to engage men in family planning efforts
Ana Karina De la Vega Millor, country director of DKT Mexico and lead of DKT International’s efforts in Central America, the Caribbean, and Venezuela; and Jonathan Stack, documentary filmmaker and co-founder of World Vasectomy Day

“We are living in an era focused on women and girls — which is appropriate given the persistent and debilitating gaps in global access to education, health care, and economic opportunity between the genders. Yet, there is also a gap in complementary funding and research to engage men, which not only makes overall family planning objectives more elusive, but puts even greater stress and pressure on women to shoulder the burden of contraception on their own. … Involving men in the broader conversation is key to sustainable family planning. Here are three tips for doing so. 1. Think big picture and start with the goal … 2. Be provocative and make it fun … 3. Be open and connected, and create community … By involving men in family planning programs, raising awareness of vasectomies as a simple and effective method, and celebrating the men who take part, we can truly shake up the stagnant growth in contraceptive use and global gender equality” (11/15).

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Control Over Plague 'Tenuous,' 'Transient' Given Drug Resistance, History Of Disease

Project Syndicate: The Eternal Return of the Plague
Kyle Harper, professor at the University of Oklahoma and author

“…The plague in Madagascar today is an offshoot of what is known as the ‘third plague pandemic,’ a global dispersion of Yersinia pestis that radiated from China in the late nineteenth century. There still is no vaccine; while antibiotics are effective if administered early, the threat of antimicrobial resistance is real. That may be the deepest lesson from the long history of this scourge. Biological evolution is cunning and dangerous. Small mutations can alter a pathogen’s virulence or its efficiency of transmission, and evolution is relentless. We may have the upper hand over plague today, despite the headlines in East Africa. But our long history with the disease demonstrates that our control over it is tenuous, and likely to be transient — and that threats to public health anywhere are threats to public health everywhere” (11/15).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

MSF, Stop TB Partnership Call For High-Burden TB Countries To Align Testing, Treatment Practices With International Standards

Médecins Sans Frontières: TB: Governments given deadline to increase testing and treatment
“Ahead of the first-ever Global Ministerial Conference on ‘Ending TB’ in Moscow, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Stop TB Partnership called for countries with high burdens of tuberculosis (TB) to implement the latest international treatment and testing standards by World TB Day, 24 March 2018. … The #StepUpforTB petition is an urgent call for health ministers in key TB-affected countries to get their TB policies and practices in line with international standards, as defined by WHO, including testing and treatment of TB and its drug-resistant forms…” (11/15).

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Political, Financial Commitment Vital To Advancing TB R&D, Eliminating Disease

BMJ Opinion: Grania Brigden: The first step on a long road to TB elimination
Ahead of the Global Ministerial Conference on Ending TB in the Sustainable Development Era in Moscow, Grania Brigden, Life Prize project lead with the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease (The Union), discusses obstacles to eliminating TB, including R&D and funding challenges. Brigden writes, “The focus on R&D at this week’s Ministerial Conference in Moscow builds on recent declarations at the G20 and BRICS summits, which highlighted the importance of R&D for developing new tools. … The collaboration and innovative ideas taking place in the field of TB must be matched by the political and financial commitment of countries and donors” (11/15).

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Geospatial Analysis Can Help Improve Health Landscape, Services Delivery

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Exploration of geography with technology can open the health landscape and put services within reach
John Spencer, senior GIS specialist at MEASURE Evaluation, highlights a video on the role of geospatial analysis in global health and discusses topics from the Geo4Good Summit, which recently took place on Google’s campus (11/15).

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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 325 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter includes articles on various topics, including primary decisions made at the Global Fund Board meeting; the Board’s approval of a $312 million operating expenses budget for 2018; and the approval of the 2017-2022 Key Performance Indicator Framework, which provides the Global Fund with a set of targets against which to measure its work (11/16).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. State Department, USAID Release Global Water Strategy

U.S. Department of State: Global Water Strategy To Create a More Water-Secure World
“[On Wednesday] the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development [released] the U.S. government’s Global Water Strategy. Safe water and sanitation are fundamental to human health, economic development, peace, and security. … The Global Water Strategy envisions a water-secure world, where people and nations have the water they need to be healthy, prosperous, and resilient…” (11/15).

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PMI Releases FY 2018 Malaria Operational Plans

PMI: Resource Library: FY 2018 MOPs
PMI releases its FY 2018 Malaria Operational Plans for 22 countries (November 2017).

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Q&A Series Highlights Women Working In Development, Supported By USAID

USAID/Medium: Q&A Series #1: When Women Do Better, Countries Do Better
“In this series of blogs, we introduce you to some of the women whose ideas USAID has supported. They are having an outsized impact in the developing world  —  and beyond  –  proving that when women do better, countries do better. First in the series is Dara Dotz, co-founder of Field Ready, which provides made-in-the-field humanitarian supplies using 3D printing and other technologies…” (11/13).

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State Department Fact Sheet Outlines U.S. Efforts To Provide Assistance To Burma

U.S. Department of State: United States Assistance to Burma
This fact sheet discusses U.S. efforts to provide assistance to Burma, including addressing the crisis and long-term challenges in Rakhine State, strengthening democratic transition and development, and supporting the national peace process (11/15).

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