KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump 'Seriously Considering' Richard Grenell For U.S. Ambassador To U.N., POLITICO Reports

POLITICO: Trump considering Richard Grenell for U.N. ambassador
“President Donald Trump is now seriously considering Richard Grenell, the controversial U.S. ambassador to Germany, to replace Nikki Haley at the United Nations, according to three people familiar with the matter. Trump initially seemed to rule out choosing Grenell for the job, telling reporters he’d prefer to keep him in Germany. … But in recent days, several of Trump’s closest advisers have put forward Grenell’s name again, pointing to his seven-year stint as the United States’ U.N. spokesman…” (Restuccia, 10/18).

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Cardiologist Working With Other Advocates To Influence Trump Administration's Syria Policies

Wall Street Journal: From Anguished Appeal to Presidential Tweet: The Doctor Who Changed U.S. Policy
“President Trump uses Twitter as a bully pulpit for everything from the economy to CNN’s ratings. But one tweet of his on Sept. 4 about Syria may have helped avert a massacre. So says Rim Albezem, a cardiologist from New Jersey, who was its unlikely catalyst. Dr. Albezem was sitting in a conference room with Mr. Trump at an Indiana fundraiser days earlier when she made a passionate appeal for action to stop a looming assault by the Syrian regime on the country’s last major rebel sanctuary. It worked. … Dr. Albezem’s intervention in Indiana … was the culmination of a determined campaign by a small group of Syrian-American doctors, businessmen, and activists who figured out how to spur Mr. Trump to action. Their success in influencing Mr. Trump’s foreign policy offers a roadmap for advocacy groups in the Trump era…” (Nissenbaum, 10/18).

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DRC Health Ministry Confirms More Ebola Cases; Epidemiologists Work To Find Out Why Children Disproportionately Infected

CIDRAP News: More Ebola cases reported from Beni, WHO update covers more ‘red zone’ risks
“The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) health ministry [Thursday] reported three more lab-confirmed Ebola cases, all from Beni, the current outbreak hot spot. In related developments, field teams are making headway in the main outbreak areas in recent weeks, but big risks remain … The new cases lift the overall total to 223, which includes 188 confirmed and 35 probable cases…” (Schnirring, 10/18).

STAT: An Ebola outbreak presents a new mystery involving children
“Epidemiologists working on the world’s latest Ebola outbreak are racing to try to solve a mystery. Why have so many children — some still infants — been infected with the virus? The disproportionate number of recent infections among children in the Democratic Republic of Congo — specifically in Beni, the outbreak’s current hot spot — has come as a surprise; typically young children don’t make up a big proportion of cases during an Ebola outbreak…” (Branswell, 10/19).

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China Levies $1.3B Fine On Company Responsible For Faulty Vaccines

New York Times: China Imposes Record Fine on Vaccine Maker Over Safety Scandal
“China has imposed a potentially crippling $1.3 billion fine on the company responsible for faulty vaccines given to hundreds of thousands of children, sending its strongest signal yet of a stricter legal environment for the scandal-prone industry. The fine against the Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology Company dwarfs previous penalties imposed on vaccine makers embroiled in safety scandals…” (Wee, 10/17).

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London Conference Addressing Sexual Abuse In Aid Sector Hears Commitments, Protests

Devex: Commitments and chaos at London’s #AidToo summit
“Hundreds of delegates from government and civil society gathered in central London Thursday to discuss how to prevent sexual abuse in light of the scandals that have rocked the aid sector in recent months. The key announcement at the International Safeguarding Summit was a register of aid workers to be piloted at hubs in Africa and Asia, in partnership with Interpol, with the aim of preventing abusers from moving between countries and organizations. The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development is putting up a fifth of the £10 million ($13 million) needed for the project…” (Abrahams, 10/19).

The Guardian: Penny Mordaunt confronted on stage by protester over failings on aid sex abuse
“Penny Mordaunt was dramatically confronted on stage by a protester who accused her of failing to give women a voice at a conference on sex abuse in the aid sector. Alexia Pepper De Caires, a whistleblower and former Save the Children employee, approached the minister while she was delivering her speech in London on Thursday. Pepper De Caires said: ‘A number of us would like to be on this platform but we have been kept back by DFID [Department for International Development] and your attempts to control women who are speaking out in this sector’…” (McVeigh/Summers, 10/18).

IRIN: Schemes to stop sex abuse in the aid sector off to a shaky start
“…As the host of the 18 October London conference on steps to address sexual abuse in the aid sector, [Mordaunt] went for a bumpy ride: a prominent activist conspicuously boycotted the event; a whistleblower interrupted Mordaunt’s keynote address, walking on stage and charging that victims were not being heard; and the agenda, speaker list, and planning process all came under heavy fire in private and across social media. On top of all that, critics charged that the event was elitist and white-dominated. Before the U.K.-hosted international Safeguarding Summit 2018 even began, the flagship initiative for which the conference had been intended to serve as a launching pad had already come under sharp criticism…” (Parker, 10/18).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: PNG health minister on malaria cases rise: ‘We let our guards down’ (Ravelo, 10/19).

Devex: Long Story Short #32: Responding to Indonesia’s dual disaster (10/18).

Devex: Australia recommends code of conduct changes in response to #AidToo (Cornish, 10/19).

The Economist: A new device can identify air travelers carrying an infectious disease (10/18).

IRIN: Early warnings, late response to Senegal’s food crisis (Rouse, 10/18).

NPR: They Call Her ‘Queen Of Dung’ — And She Doesn’t Mind (Loelius, 10/18).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Feature: Go fish! Minnow ‘nutrient bombs’ deployed to end malnutrition (Ferrie et al., 10/18).

Vox: Bednets are one of our best tools against malaria — but myths about their misuse threaten to obscure that (Piper, 10/18).

Xinhua News: China makes remarkable efforts to improve family planning: official (10/18).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Government Should Encourage Pharmaceutical Companies To Transform Approach To Drug Development To Focus More On Public Health Objectives

WorldPost/Washington Post: Big Pharma is hurting drug innovation
Mariana Mazzucato, director of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose

“…If governments acted with the same urgency and strategic deliberation toward improving health as they do when it comes to national defense, we might be able to transform health care and deliver the next generation of medical breakthroughs to reach the people who need them the most. … [T]he Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should introduce a research mission … to stimulate innovation in health care … A more empowered HHS — one better focused on achieving solutions to public health needs — could also strike better deals. … HHS should also push for more transparency among the different actors bearing the cost of research and development. … Lastly, the government must create the conditions to ensure new drugs remain affordable and easily accessible. … It is clear that the pharmaceutical business model is one that pursues profits rather than public health objectives. … Profit-making has become so entrenched in the drug industry that it requires a fundamental transformation — one that compels it to deliver public value and spark genuine market-invigorating innovation. We can do this only if we begin to focus on what really matters: putting patients over profits…” (10/17).

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DRC's Ebola Outbreak Poses Specific Challenges For Control Efforts

Foreign Policy: Welcome to the First War Zone Ebola Crisis
Laurie Garrett, former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations

“The signs of a coming Ebola crisis are mounting. The disease is spreading rapidly in a region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where health care workers have been facing unprecedented violent attacks, both by insurgent militants and anxious locals. Nevertheless, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the confounding announcement on Wednesday that he will not declare the outbreak a ‘public health emergency of international concern.’ … Although Tedros and the WHO decided there is no need to declare an international emergency at this time, forestalling the delivery of additional medical and public health personnel and logistic and supplies support from multiple U.N. agencies, there is reason to be deeply concerned about this situation. It is the first Ebola outbreak in a war zone. … Meanwhile, by ordering U.S. government personnel to retreat from the epidemic, the [U.S.] State Department has made a unilateral decision regarding the security threats in the region. … In the absence of U.S. engagement, the WHO must take a political lead … by pulling national security and legal experts into immediate planning should a worst-case security breach occur. … Unfortunately, Tedros’s advisers, who suggested he avoid declaring a public health emergency, have already shown how little they know about the region’s devastating carnage and warfare” (10/18).

Washington Post: Why this strain of Ebola will be far more difficult to stop
Lindsay Scorgie-Porter, assistant professor of political science at Huron University College

“…This latest Ebola outbreak was first reported in August. Health officials have registered 220 cases, nearly two-thirds of them proving fatal. The affected border region covers much of eastern Congo and part of western Uganda. Three factors make responding to this Ebola outbreak enormously challenging: 1. There is little trust in the government … 2. The [Allied Democratic Forces (ADF)] and other rebels make the region unsettled … 3. Ebola can easily traverse eastern Congo’s many cross-border networks … Ultimately any one of these three factors — lack of state legitimacy, rebel violence, and cross-border migration — would make containing Ebola’s spread difficult. With all three factors in play, Ebola continues to be a serious concern for the region and beyond” (10/19).

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African Members Of Parliament Must Prioritize Health, Education To Meet SDGs

Inter Press Service: Africa Must Increase Spending on Health Care, Education & Modern Contraception
Marie Rose Nguini Effa, member of parliament (MP), president of the African Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (FPA), member of National Assembly of Cameroon, and member of the Pan-African Parliament

“…Economic progress within the African continent as a whole has the potential to evoke a truly profound positive impact upon our collective achievement of the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)]. … Once the basic human rights of health and education are met, social progress accelerates dramatically, and this is what we hope to see as African economies continue to develop. … The voice we have [as members of parliament] gives us an unmatched responsibility to spread awareness on these vital issues within our political parties, our parliamentary groups, … as well as our constituencies and regions. … Parliamentarians must lead the conversations on maternal and infant mortality rates, abortion rates and whether to legalize it, [and] early marriages, with good health and well-being of citizens at the core of our intentions. I want us all to unite, sign resolutions and laws, and share best practices and ideas amongst our countries, because we are the voice of the voiceless” (10/18).

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Global Leaders Must Commit To Renewing All Aspects Of Primary Health Care In Astana

The Lancet: The Astana Declaration: the future of primary health care?
Editorial Board

“…[On October 25 and 26], the Global Conference on Primary Health Care will … meet in Astana, Kazakhstan, to endorse the Astana Declaration. The aim is to renew political commitment from member states and global organizations to developing people-centered primary health care, building on the principles of the Alma-Ata Declaration. A renaissance in primary health care is essential to provide health for all, including the most vulnerable. … The health workforce is a key contributor to the performance and sustainability of health systems — no more so than in primary health care. … Recruitment and retention of community health workers, nurses, and doctors must improve in most regions of the world. Making primary health care a more attractive working environment is crucial to recruit and retain the best staff. … The Astana Declaration marks the beginning of a better future for primary health care. Leadership after the Astana meeting is essential to rejuvenate and revitalize all aspects of primary health care” (10/20).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Survey Examines Progress, Challenges Toward FP2020 Global Consensus Statement

PSI’s “Impact Blog”: Charting the Way Forward for the FP2020 Global Consensus Statement
Sarah Anderson, communications intern with PSI, discusses the upcoming International Conference of Family Planning and progress on the FP2020 Global Consensus Statement. Anderson highlights results from surveys sent to 43 endorsing organizations that “have illuminated the statement’s role over the years since its inception, revealing both positive progress and challenges for the future” (10/17).

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Gates Foundation Presidents Discuss Germany's Role As Emerging Leader In Global Health

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: How Germany Can Take the Lead in Global Health
Christopher J. Elias, president of Global Development, and Trevor Mundel, president of Global Health, both at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discuss Germany’s role as an emerging leader in global health, highlighting the Gates Foundation’s engagement with “two German biotechnology companies that are pioneering new ways to make vaccines” and the recent announcement that the Gates Foundation will open a new European office in Berlin (10/18).

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Gates Foundation To Provide $62.5M To E.U. To Help Strengthen Health Care Diagnostic Services In Sub-Saharan Africa

European Commission: E.U. and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation join forces to support health services in Africa
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will contribute €54 million ($62.5 million) to E.U. efforts to strengthen diagnostic health services in sub-Saharan Africa under the External Investment Plan. This cooperation will help to mobilize private investment in laboratory facilities providing timely, cost-effective, and accurate diagnostic services for diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria, as well as support maternal and child health care. This will allow doctors to detect diseases earlier, respond faster, and better targe[t] treatments…” (10/18).

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Author, Hill Reporter Reid Wilson Discusses DRC Ebola Outbreak On Brookings Podcast

Brookings Institution: Podcast: How is the latest Ebola outbreak in the DRC different than the others?
“Reid Wilson, author of ‘Epidemic’ (Brookings Institution Press, 2018), explains why violence, political instability, and distrust in government will make the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo difficult to contain” (10/18).

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Brookings Experts Highlight 3 Insights On Child Survival Trends

Brookings Institution’s “Future Development”: 3 insights on child survival
John McArthur, senior fellow, and Krista Rasmussen, research analyst, both with global economy and development at the Brookings Institution, discuss recent U.N. data on child mortality and highlight three insights on child survival trends: “1. Even countries the furthest behind are making progress … 2. Three countries account for half the children’s lives at stake … 3. [Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)] success requires significant acceleration” (10/18).

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The Lancet Publishes Special Issue On Primary Health Care

The Lancet: Special Issue on Primary Health Care
This special issue on primary health care is being launched at the Global Conference on Primary Health Care, co-hosted by the Government of Kazakhstan, WHO, and UNICEF, which will bring together 1,200 leaders to endorse the Astana Declaration, 40 years after the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1978. The issue features a commentary by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and colleagues, and various other commentaries and articles on primary health care (10/20).

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