KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Devex Examines U.S. Government Efforts To Increase Funding To Christian Groups, Work With Hungary

Devex: To direct more funding to Christians, USAID looks to Hungary
“In mid-September 2018, a Hungarian official named Tristan Azbej traveled to Washington, D.C. for a series of meetings and events he hoped would draw the Hungarian and U.S. governments closer together in a mutual effort to help Christian minorities that had been targeted for genocide by the Islamic State in Iraq. The visit came at an important time for both governments. On Sept. 12, 2018, the European Parliament voted to sanction Hungary for violating European Union rules on democracy, civil rights, and corruption. Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Agency for International Development was under intense pressure from Vice President Mike Pence to provide more support to Christian communities that were rapidly vanishing from the Middle East…” (Igoe, 11/25).

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1-In-3 Women Experience Physical, Sexual Abuse, U.N. Says Ahead Of International Day To Eliminate Violence

U.N. News: A staggering one-in-three women, experience physical, sexual abuse
“Violence against women and girls is among the most widespread, and devastating human rights violations in the world, but much it is often unreported due to impunity, shame, and gender inequality, the U.N. highlighted ahead of Monday’s World Day to stamp out abuse of women and girls. … To spotlight the scale of the problem, on this year’s International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women, the United Nations is sharing the many ways in which the scourge manifests itself in physical, sexual, and psychological forms, and the organization is underscoring the life-altering, adverse consequences women suffer as a result…” (11/24).

Additional coverage of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is available from DW, IPS, and Reuters.

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Violence Continues To Hinder Ebola Outbreak Response In DRC, WHO Official Says; Measles Outbreak In Country Kills More Than 5K

CIDRAP News: WHO official highlights Ebola security challenges: ‘We are so close’
“[Friday] Mike Ryan, MD, the World Health Organization (WHO) executive director of health emergencies, spotlighted recent violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and its impact on the Ebola outbreak response and issued a dire warning. ‘We just want to express how alarmed we are that a lack of access and security is now preventing us from ending the outbreak,’ Ryan said. ‘At this stage of the outbreak, one case matters, one case can reignite the outbreak, and means the virus can get ahead of us again’…” (Soucheray, 11/22).

The Guardian: Children bear the brunt as the world’s biggest measles epidemic sweeps Congo
“More than 5,000 people, mostly children, have been killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in what is currently the world’s biggest measles epidemic. Measles, which is preventable through vaccination, has spread to all 26 provinces of the country, which is also battling a 15-month-long Ebola epidemic…” (Ratcliffe, 11/22).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak is available from Reuters, Science, U.N. News, and VOA.

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Norway Launches World's First International Development Assistance Strategy Focused On Non-Communicable Diseases

Health Policy Watch: Norway Launches First-Ever Strategy By Major International Donor To Combat Non-Communicable Diseases
“Norway has launched a milestone ‘Better Health, Better Life’ strategy to combat deadly non-communicable (NCDs) diseases as part of its international development assistance. This makes Norway the first to develop a strategy for combating this large and growing global health threat, which currently receives only about 1% of international health assistance…” (Fletcher, 11/22).

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Lack Of Investment Hindering Global Efforts To Achieve Universal Access To Clean Cooking Methods, Experts Say

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Dirty fuels kill millions as investment in clean cooking runs short
“Meager investment is hindering countries’ ability to meet a global target to ensure universal access to clean, modern cooking fuel by 2030 and end the millions of deaths caused by indoor pollution every year, say clean energy experts. Three billion people globally cook with dirty solid fuels such as charcoal and wood on open fires or traditional stoves that produce high levels of carbon monoxide, killing four million people annually, says the World Health Organization…” (Bhalla, 11/22).

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Health Officials Detecting More Vaccine-Derived Polio Cases Than Wild Virus Cases, Report Shows

AP: More polio cases now caused by vaccine than by wild virus
“Four African countries have reported new cases of polio linked to the oral vaccine, as global health numbers show there are now more children being paralyzed by viruses originating in vaccines than in the wild. In a report late last week, the World Health Organization and partners noted nine new polio cases caused by the vaccine in Nigeria, Congo, Central African Republic, and Angola. Seven countries elsewhere in Africa have similar outbreaks and cases have been reported in Asia, including the two countries where polio remains endemic, Afghanistan and Pakistan…” (11/25).

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Media Outlets Continue Coverage Of Efforts To Prevent Dengue, Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Devex: Q&A: Mosquito breeding trial raises hopes of defeating dengue (Ravelo, 11/25).

HealthDay News: Bacteria Could Be Weapon Against Mosquito-Borne Dengue (Preidt, 11/22).

Popular Science: Mosquitoes are becoming resistant to our best defenses (Eschner, 11/22).

Science: Mosquitoes armed with bacteria beat back dengue virus (Servick, 11/22).

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Sierra Leone Working To Contain Lassa Fever Outbreak; Dutch Doctor Dies Of Disease After Being Transported Back To Netherlands

BBC: Dutch doctor dies after contracting Lassa fever in Sierra Leone
“A Dutch doctor who was evacuated from Sierra Leone after contracting Lassa fever has died in hospital. The medic was flown home on Tuesday after being infected in the northern town of Masanga, an area not previously known to have been affected. … A second Dutch doctor who was also evacuated is being treated for the disease. … Four other Dutch medical professionals and three Britons have also been airlifted, the BBC’s Umaru Fofana reports from Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown. A Sierra Leonean anesthetist has also been infected by the virus” (11/24).

Sierra Leone Telegraph: Sierra Leone on high alert as Lassa fever kills two people
“Health officials, doctors and nurses in Sierra Leone are working hard to contain the spread of a Lassa fever outbreak, reported at a hospital in Masanga, Tonkolili district in the north of the country, where the suspected source carrier (index case) – a pregnant woman, was operated on by doctors. There are no reports of any outbreak, elsewhere in the country. … On Saturday, 23rd November 2019, Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation reported to have found a total of 7 cases of Lassa fever, with 2 deaths between 30th October and 23rd November 2019…” (Thomas, 11/25).

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Argentina's Health Secretary Resigns After President Rejects Protocol Aimed At Widening Access To Abortion

Reuters: Argentine health chief quits in abortion fight with conservative president
“Argentina’s health secretary resigned on Friday after a protocol he signed the day before, aimed at making abortion more available, was revoked by conservative President Mauricio Macri, less than a month before he is to leave office. ‘Unfortunately, the repeal of the protocol forces me to resign my position as the nation’s secretary of health,’ Adolfo Rubinstein said in his resignation letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters. The proposed nationwide protocol would have widened the criteria under which abortion is allowed…” (Lammertyn/Bronstein, 11/22).

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More News In Global Health

AP: Samoa measles epidemic worsens with 24 children now dead (Perry, 11/25).

AP: U.N. humanitarian chief calls for urgent int’l help to Sudan (11/25).

BBC: HIV in Pakistan: ‘Our children’s lives are at stake’ (11/25).

The Guardian: Living near busy road stunts children’s lung growth, study says (Laville, 11/25).

Health Policy Watch: Executive Director Of Unitaid Lelio Marmora Stepping Down In March 2020 (Ren, 11/22).

MedPage Today: A Third of Zika-Exposed Toddlers Face Developmental Delays (Walker, 11/24).

MedPage Today: Hookworm Vax Mostly Safe, Well-Tolerated in Early Trial (Walker, 11/23).

MedPage Today: Ebola Vax Seems to Work in Kids, Too (Walker, 11/23).

SciDev.Net: Q&A: Countries need to prioritize which SDGs to pursue (Deighton, 11/25).

New York Times: Air Pollution May Damage the Brain (Bakalar, 11/25).

New York Times: Pakistan Blames India for Its Air Pollution. Its Citizens Disagree (Abi-Habib/Masood, 11/22).

NPR: A Sip Of Morphine: Uganda’s Old-School Solution To A Shortage Of Painkillers (Aizenman, 11/25).

Reuters Health: Poor hand hygiene may be biggest transmitter of superbug E.coli (Chander, 11/22).

U.N. News: U.N. agencies ramp up Somalia measles and polio campaign (11/24).

Wall Street Journal: ‘Food Is the Ultimate Power’: Parched Countries Tap the Nile River Through Farms (Scheck et al., 11/24).

Wall Street Journal: Takeda’s Dengue Vaccine Shows Promise (McKay, 11/23).

Xinhua: ECA chief says Africa home to half of children die before 5 years old (11/24).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Sanctions Could Be Harming Child Health In Venezuela, NYT Columnist Kristof Writes

New York Times: Venezuela’s Kids Are Dying. Are We Responsible?
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times opinion columnist

“[Venezuela] is a kleptocracy ruled incompetently by thugs who are turning a prosperous oil-exporting nation into a failed state sliding toward starvation. … President Nicolás Maduro’s brutal socialist government is primarily responsible for the suffering, and there are steps Maduro could take to save children’s lives, if he wanted to. But there is evidence that sanctions imposed by President Barack Obama and President Trump are adding to the economy’s deterioration and the torment of ordinary Venezuelans. … Venezuela may now be sliding toward collapse and mass starvation, while fragmenting into local control by various armed groups. Outbreaks of malaria, diphtheria, and measles are spreading, and infant mortality appears to have doubled since 2008. Maduro’s response is unconscionable. He buys the loyalty of military officials with money or resources that could go for medicine, he refuses to accept some foreign aid and he bars entry by important international humanitarian organizations. The best thing for the Venezuelan people would be a new government. But sanctions have failed to drive Maduro from power, inflicting anguish instead on vulnerable Venezuelans. … So let’s seek new ways to pressure the kleptocracy without adding to the suffering of ordinary Venezuelans. Maybe an oil-for-food program could help, along with greater efforts to force Maduro to allow more humanitarian aid. As we careen toward a humanitarian catastrophe in our hemisphere, let’s rethink our strategy” (11/23).

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Government Health Officials Should Be Chosen Based On Merit, Not Political Connections, Former Italian Official Writes In Opinion Piece

Health Policy Watch: Health Is A Political Choice — But Should Health Officials Be Politicians Or Professionals?
Armando Bartolazzi, Italy’s former undersecretary of state for health

“…There is a long tradition in Italy of politicians appointing key health officials for the National Health System (NHS). However, I was part of an initiative in 2018 to change that system and ensure that key appointments in the health system were based on technical experience and merit, rather than political connections. Now, that initiative may be reversed by the new Health Minister, Roberto Speranza — to the detriment of the Italian public as well Italy’s image in international health leadership. … As a health professional myself, I doubt that the decision taken by the new minister is the best line of action for the interest of patients and the public-at-large. Italy’s NHS needs good managers, strong leaders in the global arena, and undisputed focus on the best interests of the whole community that it is supposed to serve” (11/19).

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Health Communication Experts Must Understand Digital Media Consumption To Help Improve Personal, Population Health, Opinion Piece Says

Global Health NOW: The New Norm of “Constancy” and Global Public Health
Dina L.G. Borzekowski, interim director of the Global Health Initiative and a research professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health

“We are beyond the tipping point. We now live in a world of constancy. Digital media are a pervasive and unceasing part of our modern existence. … In the new norm of constancy, initiatives can reach individuals as often as necessary, with personalized messages, any time of day or night, in any location. Barriers no longer exist. As digital media are now ubiquitous and always available, interventions can have impact at various levels in every conceivable environment. … As I discuss in a Health Education and Behavior paper published November 21 that introduces the concept of constancy as it relates to children, media, and health, this new always-on world has significant implications for global public health. We should use constancy and personal technology to improve personal and population health. The challenge is to understand if, when, and how digital media are being used and messages are being communicated” (11/21).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

ASTMH Conference Panel Addresses Ebola, History Of Responses To Outbreaks

American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene: Lessons Learned in 40 Years of Fighting Ebola Outbreaks
In this post, which is part of a blog that covered the proceedings of the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene’s (ASTMH) annual meeting earlier in November, Matthew Davis, science writer from Burness, reports on a panel discussion on Ebola and the history of responses to outbreaks. The panel featured Ebola experts, including ASTMH President-Elect Joel Breman, formerly of the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center; Socé Fall, WHO’s assistant director general for emergency response; Natalie Roberts, emergency coordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF); Armand Sprecher, a public health specialist at MSF; Lina Moses, an epidemiologist and disease ecologist at Tulane University; and Daniel Bausch, program chair at ASTMH and with U.K.’s Public Health Rapid Support Team (11/21).

Other posts covering the conference can be found here.

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Lancet HIV Series Examines Health-Related Outcomes Of People Living With HIV Beyond Viral Suppression

The Lancet HIV: HIV Outcomes Beyond Viral Suppression
This Lancet HIV Series’ executive summary states, “In the era of modern antiretroviral therapy people living with HIV can expect to live a normal lifespan. However substantial barriers to accessing non-HIV related care exist and impact the wellbeing of this population. Current targets for the HIV response focus on testing, treatment, and viral suppression. This Series explores wider aims, beyond viral suppression, and argues for an additional measure focusing on health-related quality of life. The role patient-reported outcomes could play in measuring progress and how stigma undermines health-related quality of life are also examined” (11/25).

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UNFPA-Supported Project Helps Train Midwives In Sahel Region

UNFPA: In the Sahel, where motherhood is deadliest, midwives are saving lives
This post discusses the Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend (SWEDD) project, which offers midwife training and is supported by the World Bank, UNFPA, and the governments of several Sahel nations. The post notes, “So far, the SWEDD project has helped train over 6,600 midwives across the implementing countries” (11/22).

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From the U.S. Government

Secretary Of State Pompeo Marks International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women

U.S. Department of State: On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
In this statement, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Pompeo states, “In observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, and the accompanying 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the United States is proud to reaffirm its commitment to defending the rights of women and girls around the world to live free from violence. The United States recognizes the inherent dignity that every woman and girl possesses and is committed to defending the safety and security of women and girls around the world and to cultivating their development as future leaders of our world” (11/25).

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