KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

DRC Approves Clinical Trials For Experimental Ebola Treatments; U.N. Notes Increase In Cases Among Newborns

Al Jazeera: DRC: Ebola clinical trials begin as U.N. warns of newborns infected
“Authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have approved clinical trials for four experimental Ebola treatments, even as the deadly disease’s outbreak among newborn babies raises new fears…” (11/24).

Associated Press: Congo starts first-ever trial testing Ebola drugs
“Congo has begun the first-ever trial to test the effectiveness and safety of four experimental Ebola drugs, the first time scientists have directly compared such treatments, the World Health Organization said Monday. The U.N. health agency described the multi-drug trial as ‘a giant step’ that would ‘bring clarity about what works best’…” (Petesch, 11/26).

Axios: Ebola outbreak in Congo getting close to becoming 2nd biggest ever
“The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to steadily grow — creeping closer to becoming the second largest outbreak recorded globally (current second highest is 425 cases). [Friday], the DRC reported 399 confirmed and probable cases for this outbreak that started Aug. 1…” (O’Reilly, 11/23).

Additional coverage of the Ebola outbreak and response in the DRC is available from Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, CIDRAP News, Deutsche Welle, Devex, and Reuters.

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Major Humanitarian Organizations Urge U.S. To Take Action In Yemen; Save The Children Estimates 85K Children Under 5 Might Have Died From Hunger-Related Causes

The BMJ: Yemen: Number of children under 5 who have died from malnutrition may be as high as 85,000, says Save the Children
“An estimated 85,000 children aged under five may have starved or died from hunger-related disease since Saudi Arabia and its allies began fighting in Yemen in March 2015, according to the charity Save the Children…” (Dyer, 11/22).

CNN: Act now over Yemen conflict or share blame for mass famine, charities tell U.S.
“The United States will bear shared responsibility for what may be the largest famine in decades if it does not cease its military support for the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Yemen, the heads of five major humanitarian organizations have warned. In an unusually stark joint statement, the leaders of the International Rescue Committee, Oxfam America, CARE U.S., Save the Children USA, and the Norwegian Refugee Council USA together urged the U.S. government to act to save Yemeni lives…” (Smith-Spark/Elbagir, 11/26).

Washington Post: 85,000 children have starved to death during the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, says new report
“…With only a few hospitals still operational, the nongovernmental organization says that the human toll of the conflict cannot be fully captured by simply relying on official numbers. Instead, the charity used historical mortality rates and United Nations data on Yemeni malnutrition to estimate that more than 25,000, or 20 to 30 percent of all acutely malnourished children, have died every year since April 2015. The estimates, the NGO said, may still be lower than the actual number of deaths…” (Noack, 11/21).

Additional coverage of the Save the Children report is available from CBS News and Deutsche Welle.

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USAID Programs In Syria Need To Be Reformed In 2019, U.S. OIG Says

Wall Street Journal: USAID Programs in Syria Are in Need of Reform, U.S. Watchdog Says
“U.S. Agency for International Development programs in Syria are a top challenge for reform in 2019, according to a government watchdog that cited recent price-fixing schemes and fraud that led to dozens of companies and officials being barred from receiving U.S. contracts. The Office of the Inspector General has been investigating corrupt practices including bid rigging, bribery, and fraud in Syria since 2015…” (Donati, 11/23).

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FP2020 Executive Director Beth Schlachter Discusses Contraception Access In Al Jazeera Interview

Al Jazeera: Contraception use on the rise in 69 poorest countries: report
“Almost 46 million women and girls in the world’s lowest-income countries have gained access to contraception over the past six years, a new progress report from Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) has said. … Al Jazeera spoke to Beth Schlachter, FP2020’s executive director, about how contraception empowers women and societies, which countries are doing better than expected, and what the main challenges are in the efforts to raise awareness…” (Ritzen, 11/18).

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U.K. Government Pledges £50M To Help End FGM Worldwide By 2030

The Guardian: U.K. pledges £50m to help end FGM across Africa by 2030
“The British government is to invest £50m in an attempt to end female genital mutilation by 2030, claiming it is the single biggest investment to tackle the issue by an international donor. The money, announced on Friday, will go to grassroots programs working to stop the practice across Africa, where it is most prevalent. Penny Mordaunt, international development secretary, said the investment was also key to ending FGM in the U.K…” (Salih, 11/23).

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U.N. Secretary General, Marches Mark International Day For Elimination Of Violence Against Women

New York Times: Marching to End Violence Against Women
“Thousands of people took to the streets of countries around the globe on Sunday, a day set aside by the United Nations to raise awareness of and to protest violence against women. It was the beginning of a 16-day campaign urging individuals and organizations to fight the kind of violence that will affect more than a third of women globally during their lives, according to the United Nations…” (Minder et al., 11/25).

U.N. News: Violence against women a ‘mark of shame’ on our societies, says U.N. chief on World Day
“Violence against women and girls is not only a fundamental human rights issue but also a ‘moral affront’ against them and a ‘mark of shame’ on all societies, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has said, calling greater action by everyone around the world to root out the scourge. In a message on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Mr. Guterres also underscored that such violence and abuse is a major obstacle to inclusive, equitable, and sustainable development…” (11/25).

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Ahead Of World AIDS Day, UNAIDS Releases Report, Statement Highlighting HIV Testing

U.N. News: To win combat against HIV worldwide, ‘knowledge is power,’ says UNAIDS report
“Ahead of World AIDS Day, marked every year on 1 December, the United Nations issued a report on Thursday that highlights the critical importance of scaling up HIV testing worldwide. Titled ‘Knowledge is Power,’ it presents evidence on progress made against AIDS thanks to early detection and treatment and calls on countries to step up their efforts. ‘To reach the millions who do not know their status, we need universal access to HIV testing services. HIV testing should be as widely available as pregnancy testing,’ said Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS…” (11/21).

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Cuba Begins Withdrawing Doctors From Brazil; Situation Could Reduce Health Care Access For Those In Remote Areas

The Guardian: Thousands of Cuban doctors leave Brazil after Bolsonaro’s win
“Cuba has begun withdrawing 8,300 doctors working in some of the poorest regions of Brazil, prompting fears that indigenous villages, small towns, and isolated rural communities could soon be left without medical care…” (Phillips/Augustin, 11/23).

The Lancet: Cuban doctors’ withdrawal from Brazil could impact health
“…The decision was made after Brazil’s president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, stated that Cuban doctors would be allowed to remain in the program only if they took an exam to validate their medical credentials, started to receive full wages paid by the Brazilian government, and were allowed to bring their families to Brazil…” (Alves, 11/24).

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IRIN Publishes Special Report On Health, Humanitarian Crises In Venezuela

IRIN: Venezuela: A humanitarian crisis denied
“…In late August and early September, journalist Susan Schulman spent two weeks traveling across Venezuela, covering 1,400 kilometers from Carupano in the east to Tucuco in the far west, reporting on the impact of the crisis. Her stories reveal a desperate population struggling to survive pervasive hunger, the resurgence of disease, and the absence of medicines — in sum, an acute humanitarian crisis denied by its own government…” (11/20).

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More News In Global Health

Al Jazeera: Health crisis: Papua New Guinea fights tuberculosis menace (Thomas, 11/26).

Associated Press: Tijuana declares ‘humanitarian crisis,’ seeks help from U.N. (Watson, 11/24).

BBC News: How climate change could be causing miscarriages in Bangladesh (11/26).

Devex: Scaling up efforts in blood donation innovation (Cheney, 11/22).

Devex: Q&A: Nick O’Donohoe on impact investing, CDC in India, and a riskier portfolio (Saldinger, 11/22).

Devex: Q&A: Gates Foundation on India’s agriculture and nutrition challenges (Welsh, 11/21).

Devex: One trend in access to medicines may be cause for concern (Cheney, 11/20).

The Guardian: Deadliest year for dengue fever in Bangladesh as cases explode in Dhaka (Savage, 11/21).

The Guardian: GM mosquito trial sparks ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ lab fears (Watts, 11/25).

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: HIV in China: a changing epidemic (Burki, December 2018).

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Highlights from IDWeek 2018 (McConnell, December 2018).

Reuters: UNAIDS puts Nigeria country director on leave over sexual harassment allegation (Nebehay, 11/22).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Tens of thousands ‘left to starve’ as Mali conflict escalates (Peyton, 11/22).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: As Nepal warms, a new health threat looms: dengue fever (Subedi, 11/22).

VOA News: Cameroon Doctors Overwhelmed with Patients (Kindzeka, 11/25).

VOA News: WHO: Nigeria Malaria Prevention Campaign Working (Obiezu, 11/23).

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Editorials and Opinions

Washington Post Editorial, Opinion Piece Discuss Venezuela's Humanitarian Crisis

Washington Post: Venezuela’s public health is in ruins. It must open the gates to aid.
Editorial Board

“War and disaster often capture the headlines, but another kind of catastrophe, the invisible spread of disease, is as lethal and heartbreaking. As chaos envelops Venezuela, bringing hunger, food shortages, hyperinflation, and flight by millions of people, disease is following. Sicknesses that were once eliminated in Venezuela and are easily prevented by vaccine are breaking out routinely. … Venezuela has imploded under the ruinous hand of President Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chávez, with help from Cuba. To their legacy of failed socialist policies, corruption, mismanagement, and political repression must now be added the destruction of public health in an oil-rich nation once among the continent’s most developed. Mr. Maduro’s regime has met the chaos by refusing humanitarian aid offers from abroad while broadcasting mindless propaganda at home, denying there is a crisis. He told the United Nations in September that Venezuela ‘is the victim of world media attacks designed to construct a supposed humanitarian crisis so as to justify a military intervention.’ Millions of his people know this is not true, that the humanitarian crisis is real and not ‘supposed.’ At the very least, he should open the gates to desperately needed food and medicine” (11/23).

Washington Post: Venezuela is a tragedy, not a terrorist threat
Amanda Erickson, foreign affairs reporter at the Washington Post

“Venezuela is a country in crisis. The economy is in shambles. … Public services and health care are nearly impossible to come by. … Diseases once largely eradicated, such as diphtheria and tuberculous, are soaring. … It’s obvious that Venezuela needs help. Instead, the Trump administration is now threatening to add it to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. … States on the list can face sanctions, bans on arms-related sales, prohibitions on economic assistance, and other punishments. But it’s a questionable tool, and there’s little evidence that it has helped keep the United States safer. … Ultimately, adding Venezuela to the list would make it harder for the United States to provide humanitarian aid and global leadership on the issue. And support from the United States is needed if the international community is going to tackle the crisis, which is spreading across South America. … What Venezuelans need now is help, in the form of food and medicine and aid…” (11/21).

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Investing In Women's Health Vital To Population, Economic Security

Devex: Opinion: The economic case for reproductive rights
Vanessa Kerry, CEO and co-founder of Seed Global Health

“Good health is critical to advancing economic opportunities for women and the societies in which they live. … The risk to women’s health has effects that go far beyond an individual woman. … When women have access to the tools they need to control whether, when, and how often to have children, their families benefit too. … At the macrolevel, it’s about economic security. Existing studies show that prioritizing women’s health is tied to long-term productivity. It results in improved population health, better-educated societies, and increased household finances. … [I]f we cannot see the very basic and evident moral, ethical, and human argument for a women’s right to health, we should embrace the evidence of the impact of investing in women’s health. It will mean better community, country, global, economic, political, population, and climate security. There is a simple truth: Investing in women’s health creates a ripple effect that results in healthy societies on all levels…” (11/20).

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Electing, Appointing More Nurses As Leaders In Health Critical To Driving UHC Agenda

STAT: Nurses will help turn the promise of universal health care into a reality
Ilona Kickbusch, director of the Global Health Center, adjunct professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, co-chair of UHC2030, and member of the WHO Independent High-level Commission on NCDs

“…Achieving [universal health coverage (UHC)] — meaning everyone, everywhere has access to the health services they need, when they need them, without suffering financially — is a top priority in global health. According to a new report published by the World Innovation Summit for Health and the UHC Forum 2018, universal health care won’t be attainable without nurses and midwives. Yet policy approaches to universal health care have traditionally neglected the health workforce and the role of nurses. … Electing and appointing more nurses as leaders in health and beyond will be essential for driving forward the universal health coverage agenda. For too long, nurses have been underutilized and under-resourced. Realizing the huge nursing dividend is the key to delivering on the promise of health for all” (11/23).

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Humanitarian Community Must Address Climate Change To Prevent Disasters

IRIN: Yes, climate change is a humanitarian issue
Maarten van Aalst, director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) coordinating lead author of A2R

“…[C]limate change is playing leveler among nations and … climate-related problems have caught the world’s attention as never before. As the workload of humanitarian responders becomes larger and more complex, it’s clearer than ever that the humanitarian system and the donors behind it must step up to deal with climate-related disasters. … Now there is real scope for expanding anticipatory action ahead of the climate-related disasters … [H]umanitarians need to be ambassadors for climate action by, above all, telling the stories of the impacts we address every day and sharing the solutions that work in the most difficult places. … [W]e also need to keep up work on the science that helps us understand changing risks in the most vulnerable places. And we need to make sure that the ambitions of the Paris agreement don’t just reach government ministers and corporate headquarters, but also reach across to the local level, especially in places that are often forgotten. … We need that increase in ambition to not just reduce emissions but also to more effectively address the rising risks in the humanitarian context by preventing the increasing hazards from becoming disasters…” (11/22).

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In Order To Achieve SDGs, International Community Should Support Drug Policy Reform

The Hill: Another decade lost to the global war on drugs
Helen Clark, member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy

“…Rather than eradicating drugs, prohibition is empowering and enriching organized crime groups. The combined impact of the drug war-fueled criminality, violence, and corruption ranges from harm in U.S. cities and other developed countries to undermining development in low- and middle-income countries. … As the Global Commission on Drug Policy … highlighted …, if the so-called ‘war on drugs’ continues unchallenged, achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals … will be difficult, if not impossible, for many populations across the world. … Many countries are pioneering and showing by implementation and practice the benefits from drug policy reform, and reducing the harms of current prohibition through prioritizing health and decriminalization. Others, informed by evidence from academia and civil society, are shifting the paradigm and seeing the end of prohibition as a critical component of effective approaches to drug policy. We hope that the United Nations will avoid simply rubber-stamping a repeat of historical mistakes [at the ministerial meeting] in Vienna in March, and instead show bold leadership in supporting reforms that provide a pragmatic, meaningful, and effective response to the presence of drugs in society” (11/20).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

FT Health Discusses Findings From World Malaria Report, Features Interview With DNDi Executive Director

FT Health: Progress stalls in fight against malaria
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter highlights findings from the World Malaria Report and features an interview with Bernard Pécoul, executive director of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), who discusses the recent E.U. regulatory approval of the initiative’s drug, fexinidazole, to treat sleeping sickness. The newsletter also provides a round-up of global health-related news stories (Jack/Dodd, 11/23).

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IntraHealth Interview Highlights Lessons From 2014 West Africa Ebola Outbreak

IntraHealth International’s “VITAL”: Getting to Zero: Lessons on Ebola and Global Health Security
In this interview, Jessica Turner, Global Health Corps fellow at IntraHealth International, speaks with Oliver Johnson, coauthor of the book “Getting to Zero: A Doctor and a Diplomate on the Ebola Frontline,” about how lessons from the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak are informing the current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Turner writes, “As an international community, we have a responsibility to learn these lessons, and urge investment in and support for frontline health workers around the world. We must remember the damaging impact that politics can have on response efforts and encourage all parties to prioritize health and human life over their own agendas” (11/20).

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Duke Global Health Institute Experts Discuss Need For Common Definition Of 'Global Public Goods For Health'

Brookings Institution’s “Future Development”: We need a consensus on the definition of ‘global public goods for health’
Gavin Yamey, director and professor; Osondu Ogbuoji, deputy director and head of research; and Kaci Kennedy, policy associate, all of the Center for Policy Impact in Global Health at the Duke Global Health Institute, discuss the growing attention to global public goods (GPGs) for health and challenges surrounding the lack of a common definition for GPGs (11/20).

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From the U.S. Government

PMI Releases FY 2019 Malaria Operational Plans

PMI: Resource Library: PMI 2019 Malaria Operational Plans
Last week, PMI released its FY 2019 Malaria Operational Plans (MOPs) for 23 countries. These documents review the current status of malaria control policies and interventions, describe progress to date, identify challenges and unmet needs, and describe planned activities under PMI in each country (November 2018).

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