KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Canadian International Development Minister Discusses Nation's 'Feminist' Agenda In Devex Interview

Devex: Canada’s development minister sounds new call for a ‘feminist’ agenda
“Canadian International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau is calling on fellow donor nations to ensure that international development and humanitarian assistance prioritizes the needs of women, she told Devex. Most donors are ‘seriously considering’ evidence that demonstrates the importance of empowering women, Bibeau explained in an interview with Devex Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar on the sidelines of the annual World Bank meetings in Washington, D.C…” (Lieberman, 10/27).

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Bangladesh To Provide Voluntary Sterilization To Rohingya Refugees; UNICEF To Conduct Child Nutrition Survey

Agence France-Presse: Bangladesh eyes sterilization to curb Rohingya population
“Bangladesh is planning to introduce voluntary sterilization in its overcrowded Rohingya camps, where nearly a million refugees are fighting for space, after efforts to encourage birth control failed. … Pintu Kanti Bhattacharjee, who heads the family planning service in the district of Cox’s Bazar where the camps are based, said there was little awareness of birth control among the Rohingya…” (10/28).

U.N. News Centre: Rohingya crisis: U.N. agencies focus on improving access as overcrowded camps hamper response
“As the number of Rohingya refugees sheltering in southern Bangladesh crosses 800,000, United Nations agencies responding to the crisis are working hard to ensure access in the difficult to reach area so that much needed assistance can be delivered in a timely manner…” (10/27).

VOA News: Malnutrition Crisis Grips Rohingya Refugee Children
“The U.N. children’s fund warns potentially life-threatening malnutrition is soaring among Rohingya refugee children who have fled to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to escape violence and abuse in Myanmar. The U.N. children’s fund does not know the extent of acute malnutrition among Rohingya child refugees. So, UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado says a nutrition survey is underway that will provide vital data when it is completed in November…” (Schlein, 10/28).

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Women, Peace, Security Addressed In New Global Index, U.N. Security Council Meeting

Devex: Regional, global gaps magnified in first index to monitor women, peace, and security
“A new global index on women, peace, and security released at the United Nations on Thursday highlights huge regional and global disparities in women’s well-being, as well as a continuing lack of gender-disaggregated data limiting analysis on key issues. The index identified Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen as the least safe places for women, both in and out of the home. Meanwhile, some countries — including the United Arab Emirates and Namibia — strongly outperform their regional averages…” (Lieberman, 10/27).

U.N. News Centre: Security Council debate on ‘women, peace, and security’ spotlights prevention and gender equality links
“At the Security Council [Friday], a senior United Nations official called on Member States, regional organizations, and civil society for greater partnership to boost women’s participation at all levels and help ensure U.N. peace efforts are stronger and more sustainable…” (10/27).

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Youth Advocates Join Conference Discussions To End Child Marriage In West Africa

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Teenage girls step in to stop child marriages in West Africa
“…Driven by poverty, religion, and insecurity, marrying off girls once they reach puberty or even before is a deeply engrained tradition in much of West and Central Africa, but with detrimental effects on health, education, and development. As leaders from across the region met at a landmark conference in Senegal [last] week to confront the issue, [advocate Leyla] Gouzaye and other youth activists also came together to share strategies and ideas…” (Peyton, 10/27).

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Millions Of People In Conflict-Hit DRC's Kasai Region Face Starvation, WFP Executive Director Warns

BBC News: DR Congo’s Kasai conflict: ‘Millions face starvation without aid’
“The head of the U.N. food agency has appealed for aid to avert a humanitarian crisis in the conflict-wracked DR Congo province of Kasai. David Beasley told the BBC that more than three million people were now at risk of starvation. He warned that hundreds of thousands of children could die in the coming months if aid was not delivered…” (10/29).

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Refugees From CAR Find No Relief In Congo Camps

IRIN: “People are dying every day” — CAR refugees fleeing war suffer in Congo
“The camps of ramshackle mud-brick shelters line the banks of the River Ubangi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Inside, refugees from Central African Republic are suffering: from heat, from hunger, from disease. … After four years of conflict, refugees are once again pouring across CAR’s borders. In five months, 64,000 have fled from towns and villages in southeast CAR to isolated river communities in neighboring Congo…” (Kleinfeld, 10/30).

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Abortion Rate Remains High In Argentina Despite Procedure Being Banned In Most Cases

Los Angeles Times: Argentina bans abortion in most cases. So why is its abortion rate far higher than that of the U.S.?
“…In Argentina, and across much of Latin America, where edicts of the Catholic Church are often enshrined in law, elective abortion in cases of unwanted pregnancy is illegal. Yet the laws are widely circumvented, and researchers are finding that the abortion rate in Latin America is far higher than it is in the U.S. and other places where the procedure is legal. … Argentina tries to appease both sides. It keeps abortion illegal — except in cases of rape or when a pregnancy poses a health risk — but allows it to continue anyway to meet the significant demand…” (Parvini, 10/29).

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Missing Maps Organization Works To Document Remote Areas To Better Account For People, Deliver Services

Newsweek: Mapping poverty to save more than a billion lives in the world’s most remote slums
“…Globally, over a billion people are unaccounted for — literally not attached to a physical address in cartography or databases, which means they often don’t receive basic services. That number is growing; by 2020, there will be 1.5 billion people living in slums, the majority of whom are unmapped. Accounting for these people is important not just to better understand our world but also because there’s a direct link between people being not accounted for on maps and the risk of catastrophe for them — and, as the Ebola outbreak demonstrated, for the rest of us. … Over the past few years, Missing Maps has made much progress, but in many places satellite photos are either obscured or inaccurate…” (Parshley, 10/29).

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NPR Profiles Former Rwandan Health Minister Agnes Binagwaho

NPR: Agnes Binagwaho Is A Doctor With ‘Sassitude’
“…Throughout her life, Binagwaho — affectionately called ‘Dr. Agnès’ by colleagues — has been unafraid to defy authority by speaking her mind. In the process, she has helped to transform Rwanda’s health system…” (Ingber, 10/28).

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Deforestation Patterns Could Help Predict Future Ebola Outbreaks, Researchers Show

The Guardian: Research breakthrough raises hope of predicting future Ebola outbreaks
“Scientists studying links between the Ebola virus and deforestation have made a breakthrough that could lead to the development of an early warning system for outbreaks. Existing research into how the disease could be spread from animals to humans found Ebola hotspots matched deforestation patterns in West Africa…” (Summers, 10/29).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. President Trump Must Speak Out, Take Action On Rohingya Crisis

Washington Post: Trump needs to say something — and do something — about the assault on the Rohingya
Editorial Board

“The biggest and most ruthless campaign of ethnic cleansing the world has seen in years continues unabated in Burma. … After weeks of hesitation, the United States has finally begun to act against this staggering crime. … [H]owever, [it] is not enough. … [The Obama administration] lavished attention on [Burma] and lifted long-standing sanctions after it held a democratic election. It’s now clear that those who questioned whether President Barack Obama acted prematurely in removing the remaining sanctions before leaving office were correct. President Trump, who seems to take a visceral pleasure in reversing Mr. Obama’s legacies, would be right to do so in this case. … Mr. Trump has yet to speak out about the assault on the Rohingya, though it is the most serious human rights crisis to occur so far in his presidency. His upcoming visit to Asia, during which he will attend a summit of Southeast Asian nations that includes Burma, provides him an opportunity to show he will not ignore crimes against humanity” (10/29).

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Partnerships Among Governments, NGOs, Private Sector Critical To Improving Health Systems

Forbes: How To Cure An Infectious Disease In The World’s Poorest Countries
Gregg Alton, executive vice president of corporate & medical affairs at Gilead Sciences

“…[T]oday’s greatest health challenges also compete with other urgent policy crises — terrorism, refugees, climate change — for attention and resources. It is exceedingly difficult for any health condition to rise to the top of the political agenda. We are unlikely to see major new global health funding streams that would allow countries to make large health investments. Even in nations with a strong commitment to public health, their attention is splintered by numerous priorities. … [T]he reality is national health systems are not currently prepared or designed to make upfront investments in new medicines, even if they will yield long-term savings. … We need new approaches. … [N]o single actor can provide access to treatment, so pharmaceutical companies must collaborate with national governments, non-profits, and other private sector players in order to reach patients in need” (10/27).

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Donor Governments Prioritize Politics Over Health In Zimbabwe

Inter Press Service: Who is Really Responsible for Collapse of Zimbabwe’s Health Services?
Frédéric Mousseau, policy director at the Oakland Institute

“…Regardless of Robert Mugabe’s fitness for the position [of goodwill ambassador, the commentaries following his appointment and its rescission] do call for a clarification around who and what exactly destroyed the Zimbabwean economy and its health system. Zimbabwe’s economic collapse started after the land reform initiated in 2000. … In the years following the reform, aid from the U.K. and the U.S. went through a major shift that prioritized emergency food aid distributed by Western NGOs over public funding to health and agriculture assistance. In the following years, despite a prevalence of HIV/AIDS exceeding 20 percent — one of the highest in the world — Zimbabwe was excluded from the Global Fund … Zimbabwe was also excluded from other aid packages such as … the PEPFAR program. … The extent of Western outrage created by the nomination of Robert Mugabe as WHO ambassador is an indication that the so-called donors still don’t look beyond politics…” (10/27).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Post Discusses Debate Surrounding WHO Goodwill Ambassador Misstep

Africa is a Country: Goodwill (Ambassador) for WHO?
Simukai Chigudu, departmental lecturer in development studies at Oxford University, discusses the debate surrounding WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s appointment and withdrawal of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe as a WHO goodwill ambassador. “I might speculate that the appointment was a nod to some misguided conception of pan-Africanism … More pertinently though, I question the fervor with which the WHO’s decision was condemned…” (10/27).

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FT Health Examines Mugabe WHO Ambassador Misstep, Features Interview With Head Of Smoke-Free World Foundation

FT Health: The WHO’s screeching U-turn on Mugabe
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter discusses WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s decision to appoint and then rescind Robert Mugabe as a WHO goodwill ambassador, and features an interview with Derek Yach, head of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. The newsletter also features a roundup of other global health-related news stories (Jack/Dodd, 10/27).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Delegation To Travel To Burma, Bangladesh To Discuss U.S., International Responses To Rohingya Crisis

U.S. Department of State: Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Simon Henshaw Leads a Delegation to Burma and Bangladesh
“Simon Henshaw, acting assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, will lead a delegation to Burma and Bangladesh October 29-November 4 to discuss ways to address the humanitarian and human rights concerns stemming from the Rakhine State crisis and improve the delivery of humanitarian assistance to displaced persons in Burma, Bangladesh, and the region. … The delegation will meet with various stakeholders to discuss the U.S. and international responses to the ongoing crisis and to explore durable solutions…” (10/29).

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