KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Senate Confirms Andrew Bremberg As U.S. Representative To U.N. In Geneva

Catholic News Agency: New U.S. rep to United Nations in Geneva hailed for pro-life beliefs
“…On Oct. 22 the Senate voted 50-44 to confirm Bremberg, assistant to the president and senior advisor for domestic policy at the White House, as the U.S. Representative to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva. Bremberg was nominated for the position by President Trump Sept. 28, 2018. … The position is an important diplomatic post, representing the U.S. in front of more than 100 international organizations on issues ranging from refugee resettlement to human rights, arms control, and the environment. As a key adviser to the White House domestic policy, Bremberg had a role in crafting and implementing the administration’s expansion of the Mexico City policy…” (Hadro, 10/23).

Rewire.News: Senate Republicans Confirm Ambassador to UN Who Helped Craft Global ‘Gag Rule’
“…The Senate voted for the confirmation along party lines, 50-44, with two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), voting against it. … During a hearing in June before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bremberg was transparent about his opposition to abortion no matter the circumstances. When asked by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), ranking member of the committee, whether ‘victims of sexual violence should be able to terminate the pregnancy where legal,’ Bremberg affirmed his blanket disapproval of abortion rights. ‘Senator, I don’t believe abortion is a moral solution to any problem,’ Bramberg said. ‘I am pro-life,’ he continued when pressed by Menendez. ‘I believe that all human life is sacred and that human life begins at conception’…” (Boguhn, 10/23).

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U.S. Underprepared For Bioterrorism Threats, Experts Testify At U.S. House Subcommittee Hearing

Homeland Preparedness News: Experts testify United States is underprepared for bioterrorism threats
“Terrorist threats against the United States continue to grow and evolve, including the use of non-conventional weapons, begging the question of whether this country is well-equipped for such attacks. The conclusion of experts who testified Thursday before the U.S. House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery was that the country is not equipped. The hearing was entitled, ‘Defending the Homeland from Bioterrorism: Are We Prepared?’…” (Adrien, 10/18).

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NIH, Gates Foundation Announce At Least $200M Investment Over 4 Years To Develop Affordable Gene-Based Therapies For Sickle Cell Disease, HIV

STAT: NIH and Gates Foundation launch effort to bring genetic cures for HIV, sickle cell disease to world’s poor
“The National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will together invest at least $200 million over the next four years to develop gene-based cures for sickle cell disease and HIV with an attribute even rarer in the world of genetic medicine than efficacy, the groups announced on Wednesday: The cures, they vowed, will be affordable and available in the resource-poor countries hit hardest by the two diseases, particularly in Africa…” (Begley, 10/23).

Additional coverage of the investment is available from AFP and Bloomberg Law.

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More Funding, Political Will, New Treatments, Diagnostics Needed To Reach 2020 Tuberculosis Goals, WHO Report Says

Devex: New tools, old problems: TB funding gap persists
“Several new technologies are in the pipeline to diagnose and treat tuberculosis, including a promising vaccine that could prevent people with latent TB infection from developing the disease, according to the World Health Organization’s latest report. … Funding for TB research and development in 2017 reached $772 million, but well below the target $2 billion annually that member states agreed to at the U.N. high-level meeting on TB in 2018…” (Ravelo, 10/18).

U.N. News: Tuberculosis Infections Declining, But Not Fast Enough Among Poor, Marginalized: U.N. Health Agency
“A staggering 1.5 million people died from tuberculosis (TB) last year, the U.N. health agency said on Thursday, in an appeal for far greater funding and political support to eradicate the curable and preventable disease. … [A]lthough the 2018 TB toll was marginally better than in 2017, the burden remains stubbornly high among poor and marginalized populations, particularly those with HIV. One of the reasons for this is the cost of TB care, with data showing that up to four-fifths of TB patients in so-called ‘high-burden’ countries spend more than 20 percent of their household income on treatment. Drug resistance remains another obstacle, WHO maintained…” (10/17).

Additional coverage of the WHO’s TB report is available from CIDRAP News, SciDev.Net, and Science Speaks.

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WHO Committee Extends Ebola Emergency Declaration; European Regulators Recommend Experimental Vaccine For Approval; DRC Outbreak Slows But Response Funding Short

CIDRAP News: WHO advisors extend Ebola emergency; European regulators conditionally approve vaccine
“In a pair of major Ebola developments [on October 18], an emergency committee for the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended extending the public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) for the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and European drug regulators conditionally approved Merck’s VSV-EBOV vaccine…” (Schnirring, 10/18).

Devex: Tanzania continues to dodge WHO recommendations on Ebola
“The Tanzanian government has yet to conduct a second test of its suspected Ebola cases, as recommended by the World Health Organization, Dr. Michel Yao, incident manager for WHO in DRC, confirmed during a press conference in Nairobi on Friday…” (Jerving, 10/18).

The Hill: Ebola outbreak wanes, but funding lags
“Global health officials are cautiously optimistic that an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Congo is slowly coming under control after more than a year spent battling one of the most complex epidemics in modern history. … But public health officials have warned that those scrambling to stop the outbreak are running low on money…” (Wilson, 10/18).

New York Times: WHO Continues Emergency Status for Ebola Outbreak in Congo
“The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is still a public health emergency and will be one for at least the next three months, the World Health Organization said on Friday. At the same time, ‘We believe we are on what could be a bumpy road to zero’ new infections, said Dr. Michael Ryan, the agency’s director of emergency response…” (McNeil, 10/18).

STAT: With European backing, the world is on the brink of the first approved Ebola vaccine
“The world came a big step closer to having a fully licensed Ebola vaccine on Friday, with a panel of the European Medicines Agency recommending conditional marketing authorization for Merck’s experimental Ebola vaccine. Meanwhile, the company announced the brand name for the vaccine; it will be sold as Ervebo. The vaccine protects against the most common strain of Ebola viruses to cause outbreaks, the Zaire ebolavirus…” (Branswell, 10/18).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak and response, as well as other Ebola-related news, is available from ABC, CIDRAP News (2), Devex, Homeland Preparedness News (2), Nature, Reuters, Science Speaks, U.N. News, and Xinhua.

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Wild Poliovirus Types 2 & 3 Eradicated, WHO Announces On World Polio Day, Calls For Increased Efforts To Continue Vaccinations

New York Times: Two Strains of Polio Are Gone, but the End of the Disease Is Still Far Off
“In another milestone on the long, expensive, and sometimes discouraging road to wiping out polio, global health officials announced Wednesday that two of the three strains of wild polio virus have officially been eliminated. Although that brings the world another step closer to eradication, the effort has taken far longer than was ever anticipated. … But two major obstacles emerged. First, millions of families around the world have not let their children have the drops because of persistent false rumors that the vaccine is a Western plot to sterilize Muslim girls or do other harm. Second, in some countries viruses used in the oral vaccine itself have mutated into a form that can be passed on in diapers and sewage, and can paralyze unvaccinated children…” (McNeil, 10/23).

Additional coverage of the progress on polio eradication, detection of new outbreaks, and World Polio Day, recognized annually on October 24, is available from the AP, BBC, Devex, Reuters (2), and STAT.

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Europeans' Support For Overseas Development Aid Dips But Still Viewed As 'Major Priority,' Survey Shows

Devex: Dip in Europeans’ support for development aid
“A clear majority of Europeans still think it is important to help lower-income countries, but public support slipped on a range of development issues in the past year, according to new data. A Eurobarometer survey of 27,464 people conducted in June and published Wednesday found that 73% think aid spending by the E.U. and its member states — amounting to €74.4 billion ($98 billion) last year — should either stay the same or increase, compared to 77% who held that view last year. In addition, 86% say it is important to help people in developing nations, down from 89% in the past three years…” (Chadwick, 10/23).

The Guardian: Two-thirds of British people see overseas aid as ‘a major priority’
“…The annual poll … canvassed views on migration, the private sector, and gender. It also asked what people thought should be the role of national governments and the E.U. in development. Claire Godfrey, interim director of policy, advocacy and research at Bond, the British network for organizations working in international development, said the survey was ‘incredibly timely’ as the U.K. government begins to redefine its role in a post-Brexit world…” (Lamble, 10/23).

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Humanitarian, Global Health Organizations Discuss How Climate Change Impacting Sector Responses

Devex: New research asks: Is the humanitarian health sector prepared for climate change?
“The impact of climate change and a world 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer or above is already changing the face of humanitarian responses. By 2030, the price for climate-related humanitarian disasters could be $20 billion annually, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has predicted. But how prepared are humanitarian organizations for the climate-related disease burdens that are emerging as a result of climate change, and likely to get worse? The Centre for Humanitarian Leadership is asking that question, with the aim of ensuring the sector has the right knowledge and leadership to respond to increasingly urgent needs…” (Cornish, 10/21).

Reuters: Climate change hampers progress on fighting epidemics: Global Fund
“Climate change is making it harder to eradicate deadly epidemics, with rising temperatures helping mosquitoes spread malaria in higher places in Africa, the head of a global health fund said on Tuesday. Other potential deadly consequences of climate change include more intense cyclones which leave an increased risk of infections in their wake, said Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria…” (Farge, 10/22).

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Johns Hopkins University Simulation Tests Disease Outbreak Readiness, Response

Gizmodo: We’re Not Ready for the Next Pandemic
“If the seeds of a pandemic illness were planted tomorrow, how would the world fare? Well, according to a simulation carried out on Friday by Johns Hopkins University, the answer is: terribly…” (Cara, 10/18).

The Telegraph: Disease X dummy run: World health experts prepare for a deadly pandemic and its fallout
“…On Friday a panel of 15 high-powered international figures gathered in the ballroom of a New York hotel to ‘game’ a scenario in which a pandemic is raging across the world, killing millions…” (Alexander, 10/21).

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More News In Global Health

Borgen Magazine: The End Tuberculosis Now Act of 2019 (Gordon, 10/19).

Los Angeles Times: Measles making a deadly comeback across Africa (Mahr, 10/20).

New Dawn: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s vision for global health (10/17).

New York Times: Venezuela’s Water System is Collapsing (Kurmanaev/Herrera, 10/19).

NPR: Where You’re Born Even Within A Country Still Matters (Huang, 10/22).

POLITICO: Telescope: The New AIDS Epidemic (Multiple authors, October 2019).

The Telegraph: Family of doctor who helped U.S. target bin Laden plead for his release (Farmer/Yusufzai, 10/22).

The Telegraph: Drug companies urged to make research available to health workers in poorer countries (Gulland, 10/22).

U.N. News: Millions of young lives at risk due to humanitarian funding shortfall: UNICEF (10/22).

Washington Post: Industry dominates Trump’s new council of science advisers (Guarino, 10/22).

Xinhua: Spotlight: Impact of trade frictions raises concerns for global health (Pierrepont/Heng, 10/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

Global Fund Replenishment Shows Continuing Global Cooperation To Address HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, Opinion Piece Says

Axios: New Global Fund commitments resist pressures on public health backing
Gayle E. Smith, president and CEO of the ONE Campaign and former administrator of USAID

“A record $14 billion in commitments made … to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria could help the multilateral health partnership save up to 16 million lives while halving mortality rates from the illnesses it targets. … This round of commitments now has to be backed up with real dollars from donor countries, where some argue those funds would be better spent at home. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, could face similar headwinds in its scheduled replenishment next year. The bottom line: Funding multilateral health organizations has become harder in recent years, but this round of financing for the Global Fund is proof that global cooperation can still be marshaled” (10/18).

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Private Sector, Governments, Citizens Can Do More To Support Global Fund, Help End AIDS, TB, Malaria, Opinion Piece Says

Devex: Opinion: Continuing the fight against AIDS, TB, and malaria
Ted Turner, entrepreneur and philanthropist

“…The work of the Global Fund has changed the landscape when it comes to AIDS, TB, and malaria … Because of public and private sector partners uniting to take a stand, the Global Fund partnership has saved nearly 32 million lives and reduced the number of deaths caused by these three diseases by 40% in countries where the Global Fund invests its support. … On Oct. 10 in Lyon, France, many countries and private sector partners stood up for progress, pledging more than $14 billion for the Global Fund’s work over the next three years. While these pledges are very important, they are not enough. All of us, especially engaged citizens like you and me, need to keep raising our voices to make sure that the fight against AIDS, TB, and malaria remains a priority on the global agenda. … I call on private sector partners, country governments, and global citizens to help us all deliver on our promise for a better world” (10/22).

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Local, Regional, National Governments Must Prioritize, Invest More In Disease Outbreak Preparedness, GPMB Co-Chairs Write

Project Syndicate: Preventing the Next Pandemic
Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway and former WHO director general, and Elhadj As Sy, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, both co-chairs of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board

“…[A] new report by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board warns that humankind is stumbling toward the twenty-first-century equivalent of the 1918 influenza pandemic, which affected one-third of the world’s population and killed approximately 50 million people. … And yet, despite the threat that this and other health emergencies pose to global security, preparing for them is rarely a priority for political leaders. … To be sure, we have already developed many of the tools we need to prevent, treat, and contain disease, including vaccines, diagnostics, and drugs. But world leaders are not doing enough to scale them up. And if a pandemic erupts, it will be too late to avoid serious damage to communities. … For too long, health emergencies have been met with a cycle of panic and neglect — an approach that is highly inefficient and expensive — and that is putting all of us at growing risk. Governments worldwide must start thinking ahead and increase funding at the community, national, and international levels to shore up health systems, improve our capacity to respond to health emergencies, and prevent the spread of outbreaks, whether of known pathogens like Ebola or unknown ones, say, that spread from animals to humans…” (10/21).

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Community Engagement, Support Necessary To Achieve Universal Health Coverage, Opinion Piece Says

STAT: Put communities at the center of universal health coverage
Gunilla Carlsson, acting executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; Katie Dain, CEO of the NCD Alliance; and Rico Gustav, executive director of GNP+, the Global Network of People Living with HIV

“The Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage, adopted recently at the United Nations General Assembly, could set the stage for a fairer world in which health is viewed as a human right and not as a commodity. … Lessons from the response to the AIDS epidemic over the past four decades and the evolving response to the global emergency around noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) clearly demonstrate that community engagement and human rights must be front and center. … If universal health care is truly meant to reflect meaningful community engagement, governments need to invest in the leadership and capacities of the diverse communities of people directly affected by NCDs and infectious diseases. Scaling up health prevention and treatment from millions of people to billions of people cannot be achieved by governments alone. It will require more training and resources for community-led services that enable communities and governments to better work together. Support for communities has never been so urgent to help them challenge exclusion from decision-making, poor public services, corruption, and the inequality they see daily…” (10/21).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Brookings, CGD Experts Discuss New U.S. Development Finance Corporation In Blog Posts, Paper

Brookings Institution: How the new Development Finance Corporation can get off to a solid start
George Ingram, senior fellow in global economy and development at the Brookings Institution, and Sally Paxton, U.S. representative with Publish What You Fund, discuss the importance of transparency for the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, set to launch this fall (10/21).

Center for Global Development: Can DFC Compete?
Charles Kenny, director of technology and development and senior fellow at CGD, discusses a new paper he authored in which he discusses “some of the challenges DFC may face and the policy responses to ensure it can deliver on its mandate” (10/23).

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HRW Experts State Support For U.S. House Bill To Restore UNFPA Funding

Human Rights Watch: U.S. Congress Should Pass Law to Protect Women’s and Girls’ Rights Around the World
Amanda Klasing, acting co-director of the HRW Women’s Rights Division, and Elisa Epstein, senior advocacy coordinator, write, “Human Rights Watch joined 75 other organizations to support a new bill in the United States House of Representatives seeking to restore funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a key agency promoting women’s and girls’ human rights around the world. … UNFPA should be more public and unambiguous in China in defending its own approach to reproductive health care, which is fundamentally premised on voluntarism — that is, the individual right to make your own reproductive health choices. And UNFPA should not just defend its approach — it should work vigorously to advance it with Chinese authorities. Meanwhile, the U.S. should not risk the health of women and girls around the world that rely on the live-saving work that UNFPA carries out daily” (10/21).

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Harvard Law School Post Highlights Interview With Professor About HIV/AIDS, Panel Discussion On PEPFAR

Harvard Law Today: A Q&A with Robert Greenwald on ‘getting to zero’ and the success of PEPFAR, 15 years later
In this post, Kaitlyn Dowling, communications associate at the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School, interviews Robert Greenwald, clinical professor at Harvard Law School and the faculty director of the Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI), about HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and worldwide. Additionally, the post includes a video of a symposium hosted by Harvard on October 7 focused on PEPFAR (10/22).

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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 366 of the ‘Global Fund Observer.’ The newsletter features an op-ed by Global Fund Board Chair Donald Kaberuka and Vice-Chair Lady Roslyn Morauta, who “set out their priorities for the Global Fund to translate pledges into results,” a news piece on a report by the Global HIV Prevention Coalition showing most countries in the coalition are falling short on HIV prevention targets despite Global Fund investments, and other articles (10/23).

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From the U.S. Government

CDC's Polio Eradication Branch Chief Discusses Recent Polio Outbreaks, Successes In Eradication Efforts

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: We can finish the job of Polio Eradication but, it will not be easy.
John Vertefeuille, chief of the CDC’s Global Immunization Division’s Polio Eradication Branch, discusses recent polio outbreaks, as well as successes in polio eradication efforts around the world (10/22).

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