KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump Administration Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Gilead Over HIV PrEP Drugs

New York Times: Trump Administration Sues Gilead, Maker of HIV-Prevention Drugs
“The Trump administration on Wednesday sued Gilead Sciences, a pharmaceutical company that sells HIV-prevention drugs that can cost patients up to $20,000 a year [in the U.S.], accusing the company of earning billions from research funded by taxpayers without paying taxpayers back. The government said the company infringed upon patents owned by the Department of Health and Human Services, and had refused attempts by the department to license its patents and collect royalties. The company sells two drugs, Truvada and Descovy, that can be taken once daily to prevent HIV infection, a strategy called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP…” (Victor, 11/7).

Additional coverage of the lawsuit is available from Daily Beast, HuffPost, and Washington Post.

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News Outlets Report On ProPublica Investigation Into Vice President Pence's Efforts To Direct Foreign Aid In Middle East

CNN: ProPublica: Pence’s office pressured USAID to award grants to Christian groups in Iraq
“Vice President Mike Pence’s office and political appointees have been pressuring the U.S. Agency for International Development to direct its Middle East funding to preferred Christian groups in Iraq, an effort that career officials warned could be unconstitutional, ProPublica reports. USAID last month announced grants to two Iraqi organizations that had been previously been rejected, ProPublica reported on Wednesday…” (Stracqualursi, 11/6).

Washington Post: How Trump’s foreign policy mixes religion with money
“…In her investigation, ProPublica’s Yeganeh Torbati found that the vice president’s office and others had pushed the U.S. Agency for International Development to reroute aid destined for the Middle East to religious minorities. Iraqi Christian groups in particular were specified to have received U.S. money, Torbati reported, citing internal emails and interviews with current and former officials. A spokeswoman from USAID defended the funding as appropriate, while Pence’s office has not commented on the reporting…” (Taylor, 11/7).

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11 Of 61 Countries On Track To Meet WHA Stunting Targets By 2025, SUN Progress Report On Malnutrition Shows

Devex: ‘Must do more, better and faster,’ SUN progress report on malnutrition says
“Only 11 of 61 Scaling Up Nutrition Movement countries are on track to meet World Health Assembly stunting-reduction targets by 2025, according to a new report released as members meet to take stock and formulate the movement’s next phase. ‘This fact calls all of us to increase our support to country-level action: we must do more, better and faster,’ SUN Movement lead group chair Henrietta Fore wrote in the progress report, which was released at the SUN Global Gathering 2019 on Wednesday in Kathmandu…” (Welsh, 11/7).

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Ebola Transmission Rate Slows In DRC, But WHO Warns Security Issues Continue To Hinder Response; J&J Files For European Approval Of Ebola Vaccine

CIDRAP News: DRC Ebola cases hit 3,285 as transmission rate slows
“From Oct. 28 to Nov. 3, only 10 new Ebola cases from five health zones were confirmed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that security issues and poor access continue to hinder the response in rural hot spots. In research findings, a study [Wednesday] highlighted serious long-term symptoms among Ebola survivors…” (Soucheray, 11/6).

Reuters: Johnson & Johnson files for European approval of Ebola vaccine
“Johnson & Johnson said on Thursday it had filed for an approval from European regulators for its two-dose experimental vaccine to protect against Ebola, less than a month after the agency recommended approval of Merck & Co Inc’s vaccine. J&J said it submitted two marketing authorization applications to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for its vaccine regimen targeting the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus, which most commonly causes outbreaks of the deadly disease…” (Mathias, 11/7).

Additional coverage of how Ebola survivors are assisting in care of patients in DRC is available from Christian Science Monitor.

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Takeda's Experimental Dengue Vaccine Shows Overall Efficacy In Late-Stage Study But Efficacy Varied By Viral Strain

Reuters: Takeda’s dengue vaccine effective overall in study but with major limitation
“Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s experimental dengue vaccine was highly effective at preventing the mosquito-borne disease in a late stage study, but it failed to protect against one type of the virus in people with no prior exposure to dengue. Takeda’s vaccine was 80.2% effective at preventing dengue among children and teens in the year after they got the shot, according to results of a Phase III study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday…” (Steenhuysen, 11/6).

STAT: A Takeda vaccine for dengue appears effective, but the story is nuanced
“…The late-stage study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tested two doses in more than 19,000 children and adolescents in eight countries. Breaking down the results further, though, shows a more nuanced story. In one strain — known as DENV-2 — the effectiveness rate was an impressive 97.7%. But effectiveness in two other strains — DENV-1 and DENV-3 — was much lower, at 73.7% an 62.6%, respectively. There was not enough data to assess the extent to which the vaccine mitigated the fourth strain, known as DENV-4…” (Silverman, 11/6).

Additional coverage of the study is available from NPR and Science.

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Abbott Laboratories Researchers Discover First New HIV Strain In Nearly 20 Years

CNN: Scientists discover first new HIV strain in nearly two decades
“For the first time in 19 years, a team of scientists has detected a new strain of HIV. The strain is a part of the Group M version of HIV-1, the same family of virus subtypes to blame for the global HIV pandemic, according to Abbott Laboratories, which conducted the research along with the University of Missouri, Kansas City. The findings were published Wednesday in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes…” (Christensen, 11/7).

Wall Street Journal: A New Strain of HIV Is Recorded Under Group That Caused Pandemic
“…The latest strain was found in just three people, but the findings by Abbott Laboratories — a maker of HIV tests — are expected to strike up a broader conversation about how to classify new viral strains that could surface. … Wednesday’s Abbott Labs findings have established a 10th group M strain. The three people who are known to carry it live in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the first HIV infection surfaced in a human in the mid-1900s…” (Rana, 11/6).

Additional coverage of the findings is available from Chicago Tribune, The Hill, and Scientific American.

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More News In Global Health

Al Jazeera: U.N. calls for action as Somalia floods affect 200,0000 children (11/6).

The Atlantic: We Are Running Out of Air (Hamblin, 11/6).

Devex: A unique maternal health program seeks to transform experience of childbirth (11/7).
Devex: Q&A: ‘Manyata is not just about a checklist’: Experts weigh in on a maternal health initiative (11/7).

Devex: World Bank staff chastise the board over lack of diversity (Edwards, 11/7).

Devex: Global innovation lab UNLEASH doesn’t want to stop at ideation (Cheney, 11/6).

NPR: In China, Kids Of Unwed Mothers May Be Barred From Public Health Care, Education (Feng/Cheng, 11/6).

Quartz India: India’s Green Revolution, which once staved off famines, is now threatening lives (Vij, 11/6).

U.N. News: Cholera prevention efforts underway to protect millions in Sudan’s Khartoum state (11/6).

Xinhua: Malawi government in Ebola virus disease simulation exercise (11/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

Leaders Must Enshrine Access To Sexual, Reproductive Health, Rights Into Efforts To Achieve Universal Health Coverage, Current, Past PMNCH Board Chairs Write

Thomson Reuters Foundation: OPINION: Universal health coverage will remain elusive for women and adolescents unless it includes sexual and reproductive health and rights
Helen Clark, board chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) and former prime minister of New Zealand; Michelle Bachelet, U.N. high commissioner for human rights, former PMNCH board chair, and former president of Chile; and Graça Machel, former PMNCH board chair and founder of the Graça Machel Trust

“This week, Nairobi plays host to global leaders, policymakers and influencers to mark the 25th anniversary of the ground breaking International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994 which established an ambitious program of action to achieve comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights for all. … The Nairobi Summit must emphatically restate that sexual and reproductive health are matters of fundamental human rights — and they are critical for women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health. At a time when there is growing political momentum in countries to provide affordable, quality health for all — universal health coverage — we must ensure that the full panoply of sexual and reproductive health interventions are included in national health plans, with the financial resources to back them up. We also must direct urgent attention to the ways in which discrimination and stigma prevent the most marginalized groups, including adolescents, migrants, people with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, minorities and indigenous peoples, amongst others, from accessing sexual and reproductive health services. … On the eve of the Nairobi Summit, as current and past leaders of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, we call on other leaders, in all their diversity, to unite their voices behind fully financed health plans to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights…” (11/6).

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Sanctions On North Korea Worsening Humanitarian Crisis, Access To Health Care Supplies, Expert Writes In Opinion Piece

USA TODAY: Doctor: I deliver health care in North Korea. Sanctions make the humanitarian crisis worse.
Kee B. Park, lecturer on global health and social medicine and lead for the Korea Policy Project at Harvard Medical School, and director of the North Korea Program at the Korean American Medical Association

“…As one of the few American physicians who has worked to deliver humanitarian aid and improve health care in North Korea, I have seen how the North Korean doctors have adapted to scarcity. … The current sanctions are making matters worse. Critical parts for vital medical equipment are no longer able to be quickly and effectively imported. … The United Nations Security Council, the United States, and other countries that have imposed sanctions on North Korea bear some of the responsibility for the worsening humanitarian crisis. … The international community is rightly concerned with the humanitarian conditions inside North Korea. But we cannot hold these positions while also supporting policies that exacerbate the problem. The time is now to lift sanctions that harm and hamper the delivery of lifesaving medical and humanitarian aid…” (11/7).

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African Development Bank Should Prioritize Continent's Health Security, EpiAFRIC CEO Writes

IPS: Four Ways the African Development Bank Can Support a More Secure Africa
Ifeanyi Nsofor, medical doctor, CEO of EpiAFRIC, and director of policy and advocacy for Nigeria Health Watch

“…[T]he recent increment in the capital base of the African Development Bank by $125 billion to $208 billion, should be commended as it could support improved health security across the continent. … Specifically, with its increased capital base, these are four ways the African Development Bank can support a more secure Africa. First, provide grants to the Africa Centre for Disease Control and national public health institutes to increase laboratory diagnostic capacities. … Second, work in partnership with the African Union to train the local health workforce and increase local African capacity to prevent, detect, respond to, and manage disease outbreaks. … Third, improve infectious disease detection between borders. … Fourth, work with national governments and support their efforts for universal health coverage. … [T]he African Development Bank should prioritize the health security of Africa, because a healthy continent would be more prosperous and then attractive to investors” (11/7).

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Global Nutrition Sector Must Investigate, Debate Collective Approach To Sustainability, Scalability, Opinion Piece Says

Devex: Opinion: The tension in global nutrition that no one is talking about
William Moore, executive director of the Eleanor Crook Foundation

“…The global nutrition sector needs to critically examine its collective approach to scaling. … We’ve seen scaling analysis as a critical gap among our partners — one that is affecting the success of our investments. We’ve also seen the muddled narratives that can emerge from trying to generate attention on an issue that is presented as so multisectoral that it frequently becomes indigestible by the audiences our partners seek to engage. Our team does not claim to have the answers about what exactly is best practice for sustainability and scalability in global nutrition. But we do feel confident that the tension between multisectoral approaches and scalability requires urgent additional focus and a fair amount of healthy debate. … We are hopeful that by further investigating these tensions around nutrition and scaling, we can focus on the highest impact opportunities and radically transform the pace at which we scale the next generation of improved nutrition solutions…” (11/6).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

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, has published Issue 367 of the ‘Global Fund Observer.’ The newsletter features a commentary from the Aidspan team calling for the Global Fund Board to examine country transition planning and outcomes; an analysis on Country Coordinating Mechanisms; and news articles on OIG audits of Global Fund grants in Liberia and Papua New Guinea (11/6).

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9 African Nations Begin Work Toward Pooled Procurement Of Vaccines, WHO Regional Office Notes

WHO Regional Office for Africa: Nine African countries agree to begin journey towards pooled procurement to increase their access to affordable life-saving vaccines
“Nine middle-income countries in Africa have agreed to work towards pooled procurement mechanisms by first sharing vital information on their vaccine purchasing practices, including the prices they pay and their suppliers. Sharing information and ultimately pooling their orders will better leverage their individual purchasing power and thus strengthen their vaccine security and increase their access to affordable life-saving vaccines…” (11/6).

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UNICEF Head Fore Urges Government Action To Address 'Toxic' Air In South Asia

UNICEF: Immediate action needed in South Asia to clean the air for children
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore released a statement on the impact of poor quality, or “toxic,” air on children in South Asia. Fore says, “UNICEF is calling for urgent action to address this air quality crisis. Governments in the region and around the world should take urgent steps to reduce air pollution by investing in cleaner, renewable sources of energy to replace fossil fuel combustion; provide affordable access to clean public transport; increase green spaces in urban areas; change agricultural practices and provide better waste management options to prevent open burning of harmful chemicals. Children have a right to live in a clean environment and to breathe clean air. We must act now” (11/6).

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UNICEF Working With Partners, Appeals For Aid To Support Children Affected By Flooding In South Sudan, Somalia

UNICEF: UNICEF appeals for US$10 million to support flood affected children in South Sudan
“While water levels are continuing to rise, UNICEF in South Sudan launched a flash appeal asking for US$10 million to respond to the most immediate needs of children affected by the floods. Over 900,000 people in South Sudan, including 490,000 children, are in need of urgent assistance” (11/7).

UNICEF: 200,000 children affected as heavy flooding in Somalia brings increased risk of malnutrition and disease outbreak
“An estimated 200,000 children have been affected by heavy flooding in Belet Weyne, Berdale, Baidoa, Jowhar and Mahadaiin, Somalia. … UNICEF is working closely with local authorities and partners to determine and meet the most urgent needs of children and their families” (11/5).

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