Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Government Recognizes SDG Framework, Does Not Endorse Individual Goals, According To Internal Memo, Devex Reports

Devex: While China embraces the SDGs, the U.S. government would rather not talk about them
“The U.S. government recognizes the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework, but does not endorse any of the 17 individual goals, according to an internal guidance document obtained by Devex. In the ‘2030 Agenda Talking Points’ memo, officials are instructed to differentiate between the SDGs as a platform, which the U.S. government ‘recognizes,’ and the SDGs as a set of specific goals, which the U.S. government cannot individually endorse. … A draft presidential memorandum on development, obtained by Devex and expected to be made official soon, states that it is the policy of the Trump administration to ‘shift foreign assistance to bilateral channels as much as possible.’ … The Trump administration’s effort to distance itself from the SDGs contrasts sharply with other countries, including China, which have been quicker to recognize them as an opportunity to brand their international engagement as part of a global, cooperative effort…” (Igoe, 9/17).

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U.S. Delegation Wraps Up Visit To African Nations, Ebola Outbreak Zones; Former DRC Health Minister Arrested Over Alleged Misuse Of Funds

CIDRAP News: U.S. officials end visit to DRC Ebola region; cases rise to 3,129
“Over the weekend and through today the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Ebola total grew by 19 cases, as U.S. government officials who recently visited the outbreak area voiced their support for not only the outbreak response but also for the country’s overall health system. Over the weekend, a U.S. government delegation, including Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, MD, and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci, MD, toured an Ebola treatment center in Butembo. The officials were accompanied by World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, PhD, and United Nations (U.N.) Emergency Ebola Response Coordinator David Gressly…” (Schnirring, 9/16).

New York Times: As Congo’s Ebola Outbreak Drags On, Untracked Cases Sow Confusion
“The United States remains committed to fighting Ebola in Africa, American health officials said on Monday, but the scope of the current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has become somewhat unclear. There were rumors that Ebola had reached Tanzania, the officials noted. And the arrest of Congo’s former health minister, who until recently led his country’s response to the outbreak, has raised doubts about how effective that effort ever was. … Of about 3,100 Congolese with confirmed infections, almost 2,100 have died. ‘It’s a genuine health emergency with significant challenges,’ Mr. Azar said. … Some American government personnel are now working in front-line areas in eastern Congo, Mr. Azar said Monday, but he did not say more precisely where…” (McNeil, 9/16).

Science: Congo arrests former health minister for alleged misuse of Ebola funds
“Police in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have arrested the former health minister, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, for allegedly mismanaging $4.3 million in Ebola response money. The 14 September arrest came on the same day that an unprecedented high-level delegation of U.S. government health officials met with the DRC’s president and other leaders in Kinshasa to discuss the 13-month-old Ebola outbreak, which is the second largest in history. There’s no obvious link between the two events, but worries have steadily increased over the past few weeks that shortfalls in funding could hamper the country’s efforts to end the outbreak, which has killed two-thirds of the 3,100 people who have developed the disease…” (Cohen, 9/16).

Additional coverage of the U.S. delegation’s visit and the DRC Ebola outbreak response is available from the Associated Press, CNN, The Guardian, and VOA.

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Gender, Geography Drive Global Inequality, Hamper Efforts To Achieve Development Goals, Gates Foundation Report Says

Devex: Gates wants development done differently. Here’s how.
“…On Tuesday, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched its third annual Goalkeepers report as part of its commitment to track progress on the Sustainable Development Goals every year through 2030. ‘Examining Inequality 2019’ features new data on global inequality at the district level, and serves as a call to action for three areas to target the poorest: primary health care, digital governance, and climate adaptation. Bill and Melinda Gates, co-chairs of the Gates Foundation and co-authors of the report, urge the development community to double down in areas that have have been left behind…” (Cheney, 9/17).

Reuters: Perils of gender and geography hamper global development, report finds
“Despite steady development gains, a child’s birthplace is still the biggest predictor of its future health, and no matter which country you’re born in, life is harder if you’re a girl, a major report said on Tuesday. The analysis by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a leading philanthropic funder of health and development, found that some half a billion people worldwide still don’t get basic health and education, and girls everywhere suffer disadvantage…” (Kelland, 9/17).

Wall Street Journal: Effort to Stem Deaths Among Children Falls Short of Goals, Report Says
“… ‘We’re not really converging the way that you would expect,’ said Bill Gates, the billionaire philanthropist who co-chairs the foundation with his wife, Melinda Gates, in an interview. At the current rate of improvement in child mortality rates, as well as educational attainment, at the end of the century there ‘will still be a dramatic level of inequality, super dramatic,’ he said. The shift is particularly alarming because population growth is higher in parts of the world that lag the most behind, Mr. Gates said…” (McKay et al., 9/17).

Additional coverage of the Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers report is available from Fast Company, Financial Times, Quartz, and VOA.

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Guardian, Telegraph Examine Potential Impacts Of Climate Change On Health

The Guardian: ‘Like a sunburn on your lungs’: how does the climate crisis impact health?
“The climate crisis is making people sicker — worsening illnesses ranging from seasonal allergies to heart and lung disease. Children, pregnant people, and the elderly are the most at risk from extreme weather and rising heat. But the impact of the climate crisis — for patients, doctors, and researchers — is already being felt across every specialty of medicine, with worse feared to come…” (Holden, 9/16).

The Telegraph: Climate change is one of the greatest threats to global health, experts warn
“…Tropical medicine specialists from around the world were asked to rank the greatest threats to the world’s health and they listed climate change, antimicrobial resistance, and emerging infectious diseases as the biggest dangers. Climate change poses a range of health threats, the 619 experts polled by the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene warned. Half of those polled said that mass migration, emerging infectious diseases such as dengue, and a shortage of food would be the biggest health-related implications of climate change…” (Gulland, 9/17).

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New York Times Examines American Nonprofit Involved In Government Health, Nutrition Policy Worldwide

New York Times: A Shadowy Industry Group Shapes Food Policy Around the World
“…[T]he International Life Sciences Institute [is] an American nonprofit with an innocuous sounding name that has been quietly infiltrating government health and nutrition bodies around the world. Created four decades ago by a top Coca-Cola executive, the institute now has branches in 17 countries. It is almost entirely funded by Goliaths of the agribusiness, food, and pharmaceutical industries. … The organization rejects allegations that it works to advance the interests of its corporate members…” (Jacobs, 9/16).

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Explosion At Russian Laboratory Stockpiling Viruses Poses No Threat To Public, Authorities Say

The Guardian: Blast sparks fire at Russian laboratory housing smallpox virus
“A gas explosion has sparked a fire at a Russian laboratory complex stockpiling viruses ranging from smallpox to Ebola, authorities have said. The State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology denied that the fire had exposed the public to the pathogens stored inside, some of the deadliest on Earth…” (Roth, 9/17).

Additional coverage of the explosion is available from Forbes and Newsweek.

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More News In Global Health

Al Jazeera: Philippines: Worst dengue outbreak in years kills over a thousand (Santos, 9/17).

Devex: ‘Assertive authorities’ threaten humanitarian ethics (Mednick, 9/17).

Homeland Preparedness News: European Commission, WHO co-host Global Vaccination Summit to highlight vaccine benefits (Galford, 9/16).

MedPage Today: In 1995, There Was No AIDS Conference — Here’s What Happened in 1994 (Walker, 9/16).

Mosaic: Why is it so hard to stop people dying from snakebite? (Surugue, 9/17).

NPR: Taliban Lift Ban On Red Cross, Pledge To Protect Aid Workers In Afghanistan (Chappell, 9/16).

Reuters: U.N. aid chief says Saudi Arabia to pay $500 million for Yemen aid next week (Nichols, 9/16).

U.N. News: One million facing food shortages, nutrition crisis after Mozambique cyclones: UNICEF (9/16).

Xinhua: South Sudan mulls public health plan amid high alert for Ebola virus (9/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Piece Discuss U.N. High-Level Meeting On UHC

The Lancet Global Health: Investing in leadership for universal health coverage
Editorial Board

“…The U.N. High-Level Meeting, ahead of the 74th U.N. General Assembly in New York, will see governments debate and commit to a high-level political declaration, and as WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said on many an occasion, [universal health coverage (UHC)] is a political choice. … Many pieces of research make an extremely good case for investing in UHC. Most notably, perhaps, the Lancet Commission on Investing in Health demonstrated that pathways that targeted the poorest first, such as publicly financed insurance, could provide financial protection and essential health-care interventions to everyone and that returns on these investments would far exceed the costs. In this month’s issue, several papers focus on innovative ways to make coverage of treatments for non-communicable diseases in resource-limited settings more affordable…” (10/1).

Global Health NOW: Cutting Through the Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage
Dominique Vervoort, a Belgian physician and MPH/MBA student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

“When the U.N. convenes its High-Level Meeting next week on universal health coverage, increased access to surgery not only needs to be a top priority for political rhetoric but for genuine commitment. … At next week’s U.N. General Assembly, the million-dollar question remains: Will the world be able to achieve UHC by 2030 — just over 10 years away? Cross-cutting and comprehensive health systems strengthened with emergency and essential surgical services — aligned with primary health care interventions and backed up by budgets — will prove key in truly bringing health for all to all…” (9/16).

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Access To Safe Water, Sanitation Vital For Child Survival In Conflict Zones

Devex: Opinion: Water and sanitation are unexpected life savers for children in war zones
Alexander Carnwath, senior humanitarian policy adviser with UNICEF U.K.

“…[R]ecent UNICEF research shows that in protracted conflicts, children under 5 are more than 20 times more likely to die from diarrheal disease linked to unsafe water and sanitation than violence directly linked to conflict and war. Lack of adequate clean water, sanitation, and hygiene is a huge and under-recognized threat to the lives and long-term well-being of children in war zones. … The growing number of protracted conflicts and recurring humanitarian crises has given new impetus to discussions of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus … In a new report, UNICEF identifies some key areas of focus. These span a range of different issues, from how WASH can help prevent conflict to how humanitarian and development WASH actors can ensure they reach the most vulnerable. … Funding is, of course, an important consideration in all of this, and the amount of money allocated to WASH humanitarian programming in 2019 is less than 25% of what is currently needed…” (9/17).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CSIS Expert Discusses Ebola In DRC, Challenges To Controlling Outbreak

Center for Strategic & International Studies: The Ebola Virus Is Winning in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo
In this commentary, J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president of CSIS and director of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, writes, “Ebola in eastern DRC is not going away anytime soon. Nor are the hard barriers to access rooted in insecurity and chaos and the companion barriers linked to DRC’s governance, major power indifference, an excess burden of health security challenges, and weak management.” Morrison outlines three areas for “immediate action,” including efforts to address insecurity, utilize political leadership, and increase U.S. government involvement (9/12).

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BMJ Analysis Examines Role Of Health Governance In Addressing Global Migration
The BMJ: Building alliances for the global governance of migration and health
Jo Vearey with the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of the Witwatersrand and the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh and colleagues discuss the role of health governance in addressing global migration. The authors write, “Health governance is the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches that governments and others use to steer countries and communities in the pursuit of health and wellbeing. Effective governance requires alliance building with constituencies who are ultimately responsible for tackling health and migration … While we support previous calls to action and recognize opportunities for migration and health to be integrated into existing and new multilevel governance mechanisms, we have identified four concerns that are limiting progress which should be tackled to improve health for all migrants…” (9/16).

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Former BMJ Editor Discusses Various Ways Forward In Addressing NCDs

BMJ Opinion: Richard Smith: The “NCD crowd” vent their frustrations but identify some ways forward
Richard Smith, former BMJ editor and director of the Ovations initiative, discusses a recent meeting on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) at Chatham House, where proponents of addressing NCDs voiced “frustration.” Smith concludes, “[B]ut positives did emerge during the meeting. And encouragingly a professor from Africa told me that the mood at African meetings on NCD was completely different — upbeat, optimistic, and positive. Perhaps Africans can lead where pundits from high income countries have floundered” (9/16).

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Wilson Center Launches New Series Focused On NCDs, Maternal Health
Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”:  The Maternal Health Initiative Launches the CODE BLUE Series on Non-communicable Diseases and Maternal Health
“Each year, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for 2 in every 3 deaths among women globally. It is estimated that NCDs kill 35 million people each year, and women of reproductive age make up about half of these deaths. The compounding effects NCDs have on pregnancy complicate women’s experiences in many unseen ways. … In our new series, CODE BLUE, the Wilson Center and Emd Serono, a business of Merck, KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, are partnering to bring to light and investigate what’s behind these alarming statistics and how NCDs directly (and indirectly) impact women’s lives, particularly during their reproductive years…” (9/17).

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From the U.S. Government

HHS Release Discusses Secretary Azar's Meeting With Ugandan Health Minister

HHS: Secretary Azar Meets with Ugandan Minister of Health, Tours Public Health Emergency Response Sites
“[Monday], September 16, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, joined by other senior U.S. health officials, met with the Ugandan Minister of Health Jane Aceng and toured key public health response centers. Uganda borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history is now occurring, and experiences thousands of cross-border travelers daily. Supported by the United States, Minister Aceng’s proactive public health response efforts have helped to control and contain the spread of Ebola from the DRC into Uganda…” (9/16).

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