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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Expanded Mexico City Policy Impacting Health Services In Kenya, Uganda, HRW Says

The Independent: Trump’s ban on global abortion funding has already hit health care in Africa
“Donald Trump’s expansion of the Mexico City policy to cover billions of dollars in global health assistance has already led to cuts in basic health services in Kenya and Uganda, a leading rights group has claimed. State clinics have lost out on training and equipment they would usually receive from non-governmental groups, while there has been ‘widespread confusion’ about how to comply with the rules, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said…” (Sharman, 10/27).

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U.S. Will Funnel Financial Assistance For Persecuted Religious Populations Through USAID, Not U.N., VP Pence Says

The Atlantic: Mike Pence Promises to Defend Christians in the Middle East
“…On Wednesday, [Vice President Mike Pence spoke] at the In Defense of Christians conference, where he announced that he will be visiting persecuted minorities in the Middle East in December. He also said the Trump administration will redirect aid money formerly granted to the United Nations to the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, satisfying a long-standing conservative policy priority. As the Trump administration moves to slash the State Department’s aid budget, this announcement suggests it will continue to prioritize religious issues in its foreign-policy agenda — at least rhetorically…” (Green, 10/26).

CNN: Pence says U.S. will bypass U.N. in aiding persecuted communities
“Vice President Mike Pence announced Wednesday night that the Trump administration will no longer fund ‘ineffective’ programs run by the United Nations to help persecuted communities and will instead send money to such groups directly through the U.S. Agency for International Development…” (Landers, 10/26).

The Hill: Pence says US to stop funding ‘ineffective’ U.N. relief efforts
“… ‘The United States will work hand in hand from this day forward with faith-based groups and private orgs to help those who are persecuted for their faith. This is the moment, now is the time, and America will support these people in their hour of need.’ He did not specify what U.N. programs or initiatives the U.S. will no longer fund…” (Greenwood, 10/25).

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Annual Deaths From Measles Drops Below 100K For First Time, International Agencies Announce

Reuters: Global measles deaths fall, but elimination goals far off
“Annual deaths from measles dropped below 100,000 worldwide last year for the first time, to 90,000, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international agencies said on Thursday…” (Kelland, 10/26).

U.N. News Centre: Measles deaths fall, but world still far from eliminating disease — U.N.-backed report
“… ‘We have seen a substantial drop in measles deaths for more than two decades, but now we must strive to reach zero measles cases,’ said Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, in a joint statement on Thursday for the Measles and Rubella Initiative (MR&I)…” (10/26).

VOA News: Experts Say Measles Victims Dropped Below 100,000 in 2016
“…The WHO says ‘far too many children’ — about 20.8 million — have not had their first measles vaccine dose. Most of those children live in Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The disease puts children at risk of developing complications such as pneumonia, diarrhea, encephalitis, and blindness…” (10/26).

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Africa Must Scale Up Health, Education, Gender Equality Efforts To Meet Needs Of Growing Youth Population, UNICEF Reports

U.N. News Centre: ‘Imagine the potential of one billion children;’ UNICEF urges investment as Africa’s youth population surges
“If Africa is to keep pace with an unprecedented demographic transition — African’s under-18 population will reach 750 million by 2030 — scaled-up investment in health, education, and women’s protection and empowerment will be needed or the continent will face a ‘bleak’ future, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported Thursday…” (10/26).

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National Geographic Examines International Efforts To Improve Access To Vaccines To Prevent Childhood Illnesses

National Geographic: Here’s Why Vaccines Are So Crucial
“…[F]rom the vantage of a country like the United States, it can be easy to imagine that the most pressing vaccine challenge of 2017 lies in convincing certain communities of skeptical parents that they really ought to inoculate their kids. Those efforts are important, to be sure. But even more urgent — more ambitious, more complex, involving many governments and billions of philanthropic dollars — is the international collaboration to get new vaccines to children in the developing world…” (Gorney, November 2017).

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Devex Examines Challenges, Successes Of Clean Cookstove Industry

Devex: Can these ‘stovers’ finally crack the clean cooking problem?
“…Inyenyeri, a Rwandan company that provides cookstoves to households at no cost in exchange for customers buying their wood fuel pellets, announced at the Clean Cooking Forum in New Delhi, India, that it has raised more than $20 million in loans, grants, and the sale of carbon credits. … An entire sector exists to get the three billion people who cook over open fires or with traditional cookstoves to use cleaner methods of cooking…” (Cheney, 10/26).

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More Efforts Needed To Address Humanitarian Crisis Among Rohingya Muslims, Reach Political Solution, NGO Official Says

The Guardian: World failing Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, top Red Cross official says
“A top Red Cross official has described the humanitarian crisis affecting Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims as unprecedented and said the world was failing in its response. Speaking to the Guardian on a visit to the rapidly expanding refugee camps in the Bangladeshi port town of Cox’s Bazar, the head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Elhadj As Sy, said a political solution was needed and called for all leaders ‘without exception’ to take the situation seriously…” (McPherson, 10/26).

Washington Post: Bangladesh is now home to almost 1 million Rohingya refugees
“…Some 604,000 people, mostly Rohingya, have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since Aug. 25, where they have joined more than 300,000 who fled in earlier waves of ethnic violence over the past three decades. With thousands still crossing the border each day, the total number of Rohingya refugees is expected to cross the one million mark in the coming days or weeks…” (Bearak, 10/25).

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Incidence Of Waterborne Illnesses Increasing In Puerto Rico Following Hurricane Maria

NBC News: Puerto Ricans at Risk of Waterborne Disease Outbreaks in Wake of Hurricane Maria
“Waterborne illnesses are on the rise in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria — and health professionals fear the storm’s aftermath could unleash an epidemic on the devastated island. The death toll from the storm rose to 51 on Tuesday, with the two latest victims dying of leptospirosis…” (Silva, 10/26).

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PBS NewsHour Features 2-Part Series On Efforts To Eliminate Polio From Pakistan

PBS NewsHour: Pakistan’s polio health workers make inroads toward eradication
“Polio remains prevalent across Pakistan, one of only three countries in the world where the crippling viral disease is endemic. A campaign to dispense vaccinations have helped relieve the crisis, but threats of violence and misinformation from the Taliban are still hampering eradication efforts. In cooperation with the Associated Press, special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports…” (de Sam Lazaro, 10/26).

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Electronic TB Patient Referral System Being Piloted In Southern African Countries To Help Close Treatment Gaps

Devex: Digital patient tracking aims to tackle TB crisis in Southern Africa
“Every year, 500,000 men travel across southern Africa to work in South Africa’s mines. In doing so, they find themselves triply vulnerable to contracting tuberculosis. Mines produce high levels of silica dust, which renders the lungs prone to bacterial infection. HIV is also prevalent in the region, and those with compromised immune systems are more likely to contract TB. Finally, confined work spaces and poor living conditions facilitate airborne transmission. … In response to this public health crisis, four countries earlier this year launched a landmark electronic referral system that aims to serve as a medical passport for patients…” (Cousins, 10/27).

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Experts Fear Nigeria Facing Resurgence Of Leprosy, As More Attention Given To Other Diseases

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Leprosy neglected in Nigeria as health spotlight turns away
“…In 2016, Nigeria recorded 2,576 new cases, of which 149 were children, ranking third among African countries with the highest burden of leprosy, after Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo. Experts are worried that Nigeria could be facing a re-emergence of leprosy, at a time when the global health spotlight and funding focuses on diseases like HIV and malaria…” (Nwaubani, 10/27).

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Violence Continues To Cut Off Access To Health Care Throughout Afghanistan

IRIN: Afghan health care under siege as escalating conflict cuts off access
“…Throughout Afghanistan,… an increasingly violent struggle for control is threatening access to vital health care. Pressure from a web of armed groups, including a resurgent Taliban, has seen medical workers targeted and health clinics commandeered or shut. This has obstructed access to lifesaving care for hundreds of thousands of Afghans this year…” (Hamer, 10/26).

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Education Efforts Aim To Reduce Death, Disability From Snakebites In India

The Guardian: Venom, myth, and medicine: India fights its reputation as world snakebite capital
“…In rural and remote areas of India, where medical facilities are far removed and transportation limited, the impact of snakebites is severe. … In June 2017, the World Health Organization added snakebite to the list of neglected tropical diseases. However, in India — despite 50,000 deaths a year and tens of thousands of survivors suffering disability and trauma — snakebite is not a health priority. Education helps in creating awareness…” (Roopa, 10/27).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Address WHO DG Tedros's Appointment, Withdrawal Of Zimbabwe's Mugabe As Goodwill Ambassador

The Herald: WHO and what it means to be Robert Mugabe
Isdore Guvamombe, political and features writer at The Herald

“…This week, the discourse was on President Mugabe being awarded an ambassadorial role for the United Nations World Health Organization and its subsequent withdrawal. … There is no doubt from my village standpoint that the Ethiopian director had, in his rightful senses, always revered President Mugabe, the last standing liberation icon who has done a lot for African people. Our story as Zimbabweans in our broad totality should question U.N. systems and, in fact, see reason in the need for the much-needed and much-delayed U.N. reforms. What happened in WHO is even a more glaring insight on how U.N. systems have been and continue to be manipulated by Western European powers. … To be Robert Mugabe is to be the spokesperson of the downtrodden. So, to be Robert Mugabe means to be under the Western Europe microscope all the time. It is indeed to be identified as a champion of things that make Africans better at the expense of Western Europeans. It is, therefore, to be dangerous to European supremacy” (10/27).

The Lancet: Offline: Dr. Tedros, Robert Mugabe, and WHO
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet

“…Effective leadership means being prepared to change one’s mind. Dr. Tedros, WHO’s director general, did change his mind. Out of this short-lived but intense crisis, WHO can emerge stronger. That said, it’s important that lessons are learned. … By anointing President Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador, WHO gave the impression that it was endorsing a violent dictator, an endorsement that Zimbabwe’s government gleefully welcomed. President Mugabe’s regime has presided over the slow asphyxiation of the country’s health system. … Dr. Tedros may not have liked all he read about his appointment of President Mugabe, but he was better served by sharp critics than by overprotective guardians. … To succeed, Dr. Tedros and his team must think strategically and consult widely. And, as he showed better than those who reflexly justified the unjustifiable, he should never fear public criticism. Robust dialogue and exchange are good for global health” (10/28).

Health Affairs: World Health Organization’s Robert Mugabe Debacle: A Hopeful Sign After A Hapless Decision
Ashish K. Jha, K.T. Li professor of international health in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute

“…While the appointment of Mugabe was undoubtedly a grievous error, the rescinding of the offer shows an agency possibly on the mend after its catastrophic performance managing Ebola. … And the first 100 days under Tedros’s leadership have been good ones. … Those of us who desperately want WHO to succeed have had our hopes revived — which is why the appointment of Mugabe was so crushing. … To demonstrate its commitment to global public health, as I have outlined before, WHO needs to show it is committed to reform, including transparency and accountability. It needs to engage with civil society organizations — such as non-government organizations and others on the front lines of public health. And finally, it needs to stand up to national governments when that is necessary to remind us it is accountable beyond its member states for promoting public health. We need WHO to be the globe’s public health agency. Early on a Sunday in October, it took a small but important step to becoming exactly that” (10/26).

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International Congress, Lancet Commission Aim To Take Action On Adolescent Health

The Lancet: The next phase for adolescent health: from talk to action
Editorial Board

“Close to 1,000 delegates from more than 65 countries are expected in New Delhi, India, on Oct 27-29, for the 11th World Congress of the International Association for Adolescent Health — a doubling of participants compared with the last conference four years ago. … In many countries, high-income included, technical expertise in adolescent health is still lacking. So, capacity building — in LMICs in particular — is a very important step to take in parallel with country-level policy action. Young people themselves are a vital part of this capacity building and need to feel empowered, equipped, and motivated to join the discussions. … The new Lancet Standing Commission, led by George Patton, will convene in Delhi and aims to take these next steps to provide the impetus and momentum to move from global talk to global and country-level action. Adolescents’ and young people’s future is now” (10/28).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

HRW Summarizes Letter Sent To U.S. Secretary Of State Tillerson On Impacts Of Mexico City Policy In Kenya, Uganda

Human Rights Watch: U.S.: Trump Policy Harming Kenya, Uganda Health Services
“Early effects of United States restrictions to global health aid include cuts to essential health services in Kenya and Uganda, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that was released [Thursday]. The changes have resulted in a loss of training and equipment from nongovernmental groups for government health clinics, and widespread confusion about implementation. Human Rights Watch sent its findings in advance of a six-month review by the State Department of these funding restrictions…” (10/26).

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CGD Podcast Discusses Humanitarian System Response, Reform With U.N.'s Mark Lowcock

Center for Global Development’s “CGD Podcast”: The Humanitarian System Needs Development Partners — Podcast with the U.N.’s Mark Lowcock
In this podcast, Rajesh Mirchandani, vice president of communications and policy outreach at CGD, highlights a conversation between the new U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock and CGD’s president Masood Ahmed at Lowcock’s first public event since taking up his new role. A full recording of the event also is available (10/26).

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Wellbeing Foundation Africa President Discusses Efforts To End Polio In Nigeria

Council on Foreign Relations’ “Africa in Transition”: Ending Polio in Nigeria Once and for All
In this guest post, Toyin Saraki, founder and president of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa and an advocate for universal immunization in Nigeria, discusses the reemergence of polio in Nigeria last year and reflects on “the mistakes made and the challenges ahead in tackling this disease.” Saraki writes, “Eradication is finally within our grasp, and we would be remiss to let this opportunity slip through our hands” (10/26).

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From the U.S. Government

State Department Blog Post Discusses Blockchain Technology's Potential Uses In Diplomacy, Development

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Blockchain for Diplomacy and Development: Hype or Ripe?
Thomas Debass, acting special representative for global partnerships at the U.S. Department of State, discusses a forum held at the Department of State in early October on blockchain technology, writing, “The benefits of blockchain are many: assisting the world’s most vulnerable populations, transforming foreign aid and trade, promoting government efficiency and transparency, countering corruption, enhancing cybersecurity, and more” (10/26).

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