KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO DG Tedros Revokes Appointment Of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe As Goodwill Ambassador After Experts, Governments Express Outrage, Confusion

Associated Press: World Health Organization revokes appointment of Mugabe
“The head of the World Health Organization revoked his appointment of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe as a ‘goodwill ambassador’ on Sunday after the choice drew widespread outrage and criticism. Zimbabwe’s government said it respected the turnabout and that the U.N. health agency ‘benefited tremendously’ from the attention…” (Mutsaka, 10/22).

The Hill: World Health Org rescinds Mugabe appointment after U.S. criticism
“… ‘Over the last few days, I have reflected on my appointment of H.E. President Robert Mugabe as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for NCDs in Africa. As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment,’ WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said in a statement. … The State Department ripped the appointment in a statement to the Associated Press on Saturday, saying ‘this appointment clearly contradicts the United Nations ideals of respect for human rights and human dignity’…” (Manchester, 10/22).

New York Times: WHO Removes Robert Mugabe as ‘Goodwill Ambassador’
“…On Wednesday, at a global conference in Uruguay on noncommunicable diseases, Dr. Tedros, an Ethiopian and the first African to lead the United Nations’ health agency, said he was ‘honored’ to be joined by Mr. Mugabe, 93, and appoint him an ambassador. Dr. Tedros said the leader could use the role ‘to influence his peers in his region’ when it came to fighting noncommunicable diseases — such as heart attacks, strokes, and asthma — in Africa…” (Joseph, 10/22).

POLITICO: WHO removes Zimbabwe’s Mugabe as goodwill ambassador
“…Tedros, a former Ethiopian foreign affairs minister and the WHO’s first director general elected directly by member countries, previously said Zimbabwe ‘places universal health coverage and health promotion at the center of its policies to provide health care to all.’ But critics argued that Zimbabwe’s health care system has collapsed under Mugabe’s 30-year rule…” (Gurzu, 10/22).

Reuters: Mugabe removed as WHO goodwill envoy after outrage
“…Jeremy Farrar, a global health specialist and director of the Wellcome Trust charity and the NCD Alliance, representing health groups combating chronic diseases, welcomed the reversal. ‘Dr. Tedros deserves all our support to ensure he and WHO build a global health movement that is inclusive and works to improve health for everyone,’ Farrar said in a statement…” (Nebehay et al., 10/22).

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U.S. Sen. Corker Spoke Directly With President Trump To Prevent Restrictions On Food Aid Programs

Devex: Bob Corker: Food aid reform threatened by ‘nativist’ White House interests
“Senator Bob Corker, a top Republican lawmaker, told an audience in Washington, D.C., that it was a direct phone call he made to President Donald Trump that stopped the White House from issuing an executive order in June that would have placed additional restrictions on United States food aid programs. But he warned there is a good chance political supporters will try to enact further restrictions again…” (Edwards, 10/20).

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U.S. Congress Expected To Discuss Expanded Mexico City Policy During Appropriations Negotiations

CQ News: Trump’s Expanded ‘Mexico City Policy’ Will Face Hill Scrutiny
“How foreign clinics and nongovernmental organizations abroad use U.S. foreign aid for public health programs will be a flash point in coming weeks as the House and Senate try to reconcile appropriations bills that fund the State Department and foreign operations. Opposition to abortion, or anything related to it, is the heart of this issue, but it is more complicated this year because President Donald Trump greatly expanded the ‘Mexico City policy,’ which restricts foreign medical clinics and charities from using U.S. public health funds if they offer education about, refer women to, or counsel women about abortions…” (10/23).

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NYT Magazine Examines Secretary Of State Tillerson's Role In Trump Administration

New York Times Magazine: Rex Tillerson and the Unraveling of the State Department
“…Accommodating the president, rather than working with him, is not a normal mission for a secretary of state — and for Tillerson, it seems to be an increasingly doomed one. … The question among many people inside and outside the Trump administration is not necessarily what’s keeping Tillerson from resigning; it’s what’s stopping Trump from firing him. One Trump administration official offered me a tentative theory: ‘Losing a chief of staff in the first year is a big deal, but losing a secretary of state is an even bigger one’…” (Zengerle, 10/17).

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NYT Examines Philanthropy Of 'New Megadonors,' Including Gates Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

New York Times: Giving Away Billions as Fast as They Can
“…In a matter of years, a new crop of ultra-wealthy Americans has eclipsed the old guard of philanthropic titans. With names like Soros, Gates, Bloomberg, Mercer, Koch, and Zuckerberg, these new megadonors are upending long-established norms in the staid world of big philanthropy. … Having made billions and shaped the world with their companies, this new guard is setting lofty goals as they prepare to give their fortunes away. Take the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, established by the Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. It is not looking to merely improve health in the developing world. One of its aspirations is to help ‘cure, prevent, or manage all diseases by the end of the century’…” (Gelles, 10/20).

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U.N. To Request $434M For Humanitarian Response In Bangladesh As Number Of Rohingya Refugees Nears 600K

CBS News: Number of Rohingya refugees reaches 589,000 as humanitarian crisis looms
“The United Nations says the number of Rohingya Muslims who have fled from Myanmar is now up to 589,000. Seven thousand crossed into Bangladesh on Friday. Over the past two months, religious and ethnic tensions in the nation once known as Burma have exploded…” (Myrie, 10/21).

TIME: The U.N. Needs $434 Million to Respond to the World’s Fastest Growing Refugee Crisis
“U.N. agencies convene Monday in Geneva to request a sum of $434 million to fund a massive emergency response to the Rohingya refugee crisis in eastern Bangladesh, where nearly 600,000 people have crossed the border after fleeing recent violence in Myanmar…” (Solomon, 10/21).

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Innovative Partnerships Can Help Address Malnutrition In Urban Centers, FAO Head Says

U.N. News Centre: Cities and local policies key to overcome hunger, stresses head of U.N. agency
“Highlighting the potential of cities to address malnutrition, the head of the United Nations food security agency has called for innovative partnerships between urban centers and wide range of stakeholders to overcome the challenge of food waste and to ensure a healthy and nutritious diet for all…” (10/20).

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Local Knowledge, Trust Important In Disease Outbreak Responses, Experts Say

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Motorbikes, trust, and pepper soup: Ebola tips to tackle deadly diseases
“Unsung local heroes who helped defeat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa may hold the key to thwarting deadly epidemics in the future, experts say. … And yet the contributions made by communities have been largely overlooked, Sierra Leone-based British anthropologist Paul Richards told the Uppsala Health Summit on tackling infectious diseases this month…” (Lazareva, 10/19).

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Uruguay's President To Increase Regulation Of Tobacco, Alcohol Industries

Bloomberg: Uruguay’s President, Who Won a Fight With Big Tobacco, Is Now Targeting Alcohol
“Uruguay’s President Tabare Vazquez is taking his crusade against cigarettes to alcohol, while doubling down on tobacco regulation after a court threw out a dispute with Philip Morris. The government will issue a decree next week requiring all tobacco producers use the same plain wrapper, becoming the seventh nation to do so, the 77-year-old oncologist said in an interview in his Montevideo office overlooking the Rio de la Plata on Thursday. Lawmakers could pass government-sponsored legislation to increase control over Uruguay’s loosely regulated alcohol industry as early as this year, he said…” (Parks, 10/20).

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Global Polio Eradication Initiative Video Series Features Interviews With Polio Experts

New York Times: The Long War on Polio, as Recalled by Its Generals
“‘Coffee With Polio Experts’ will not be picked up by Hulu anytime soon, but there is something compelling in these short videos put out by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The formula is simple: Doctors who have spent years fighting polio in the world’s most remote regions sit down over coffee with a World Health Organization representative to tell war stories…” (McNeil, 10/20).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Congress Should Push For Bipartisan Reach Act To Become Law

Seattle Times: How the U.S. can save mothers and children across the globe
U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.)

“…[M]ore can be done [to prevent global maternal and child deaths] at a minimal cost to American taxpayers. The Reach Act would greatly improve the rate at which moms and kids survive, and it would put us that much closer to the global commitment of ending all preventable deaths in the next generation globally. Through implementing strategies and tactics learned from other hugely successful and bipartisan global health initiatives such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President’s Malaria Initiative, the Reach Act would streamline and increase the impact of USAID’s maternal and child survival programs in the countries that need it the most. … [The Reach Act] is one of the most widely supported pieces of any bipartisan global health legislation in the past decade. I urge my colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to join me in pushing for this lifesaving bill to become law” (10/22).

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Donors Must Scale Up Response To Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Help save Rohingya women and girls: A plea to our donors, a plea to our world
Natalia Kanem, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

“…Women do not stop giving birth during humanitarian crises. … UNFPA does what it can to save every mother and newborn’s life through emergency obstetric care and expansion of maternal health services. … But even all of this is nowhere near enough. … That’s why the urgent needs of women and girls must also be prioritized in Geneva on October 23, where a multi-country ministerial-level pledging conference with donor governments and the United Nations will seek to raise the necessary funding to match the sustainable humanitarian response required. The plan calls for U.S.$434 million to meet the lifesaving needs of all Rohingya refugees and their host communities — an estimated 1.2 million people in total — in the months ahead. We appeal to all current and potential donor governments and institutions to respond swiftly to help us and our humanitarian partners scale up our response to save lives and restore dignity to the hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings — including vulnerable women and girls — trapped in a protracted situation none of us would ever wish for our loved ones, or ourselves” (10/20).

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'Meaningful Community Engagement' Essential To Addressing TB Epidemic

Devex: Opinion: We can address, control, and mitigate tuberculosis. Here’s how.
Ib Hansen, international development worker

“…While greater global investment into research and treatment is essential, the factors preventing a greater reduction in global incidents of TB must be addressed at a more localized level. Stigma, mistrust, and false beliefs among affected populations can only be tackled through direct engagement, the development of trust, and, crucially, tried and tested approaches to disease prevention in such communities. The good news is we know how to do this. … Approaches involving meaningful community engagement, based on tried and tested methods and models and working collaboratively with affected communities, must be prioritized, funded, and replicated if we are to break the back of the TB epidemic. At-risk communities deserve an approach that empowers them, consults with them, and strengthens their ability to lead the fight against TB. We cannot afford another lost decade” (10/20).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CGD, MFAN, Others Release Redesign Consensus For U.S. Foreign Assistance Reform

Center for Global Development’s “U.S. Development Policy”: Redesign Consensus: Advancing the Conversation on Effective U.S. Assistance
Cindy Huang and Jeremy Konyndyk, both senior policy fellows at CGD, discuss the signing of the Redesign Consensus: A Plan for U.S. Assistance, which provides recommendations for U.S. foreign assistance reform. The authors note, “The four main recommendations are to empower USAID as the lead independent aid agency, to create a full-fledged development finance institution, to establish a global development and humanitarian strategy, and to upgrade systems to better manage personnel, procurement, information, and evidence” (10/20).

Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network: Authors of Six Major Aid Proposals Release Unified Plan for State Department and USAID Redesign
In a statement, George Ingram, Tessie San Martin, and Connie Veillette, co-chairs of MFAN, announce the release of “a unified plan on how the reorganization effort [for the State Department and USAID] can build on a bipartisan legacy of greater efficiency and effectiveness with U.S. assistance.” The co-chairs note, “This plan represents an enormous opportunity to upgrade, streamline, and improve the structures that govern U.S. foreign policy while simultaneously achieving greater impact and more accountability for taxpayer dollars” (10/20).

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Devex, PATH Report Discusses Intersection Of Global Health, Security

Devex: From Healthy to Secure
“The intersection of global health and security is one critical but still nascent area of study. Today, the world is more crowded and mobile than ever, meaning a health threat somewhere is a threat everywhere. This special Devex report, in partnership with PATH, examines the challenges and opportunities at the nexus of health and security through more than 40 in-depth interviews with experts in a range of fields” (October 2017).

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Blog Post Highlights Innovations To Help Achieve TB Goals

Friends of the Global Fight: Experts highlight goals and innovations to help end the TB epidemic by 2030
Kate Broendel, senior communications manager at Friends of the Global Fight, discusses the 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health that took place in Mexico and highlights innovative developments for TB diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Broendel writes, “Innovations … to diagnose TB cases more quickly and effectively will be key to achieving the 90-(90)-90 goals, ending this deadly epidemic within a generation, and allowing people around the world to live their lives in good health” (10/20).

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FT Health Discusses Findings From Lancet Commission On Palliative Care, Features Interview With UNFPA Head

FT Health: The painkiller shortage hurting the poor
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter discusses findings from the Lancet Commission on palliative care, which addresses opioid use globally and finds that “[w]hile the U.S. suffers from a surfeit of mis-prescribed opioids causing unnecessary addiction and death, the bigger problem elsewhere is the lack of access to cheap drugs that would allow the sick to suffer less or die with dignity.” The newsletter also features an interview with UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem, as well as a roundup of global health-related news (Jack/Dodd, 10/20).

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From the U.S. Government

State Department Blog Post Recognizes International Day Of The Girl, U.S. Commitment To Girls' Rights

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: #GirlsShine on International Day of the Girl
Emily Kearney, senior policy adviser in the Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State, recognizes International Day of the Girl and discusses the U.S. commitment to promoting girls’ rights and empowerment, including U.S. efforts to end the HIV epidemic through “empowering, supporting, and protecting girls” and remarks by USAID Administrator Mark Green “in which he emphasized the role that girls play in [the U.S.] effort to end the need for foreign assistance” (10/20).

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