KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

World Leaders Sign U.N. Declaration On Universal Health Coverage

The Telegraph: World leaders pledge that no one will fall into poverty because of health costs
“World leaders have committed to providing health care for all in what has been described as a ‘landmark’ declaration. At a high-level meeting at this week’s United Nations General Assembly world leaders signed a declaration agreeing to provide universal health care. Under the agreement countries must now ensure that no one suffers financial hardship because they have had to pay for health care out of their own pocket. They must also guarantee access to sexual and reproductive health care and address the health needs of refugees and migrants…” (Gulland, 9/23).

U.N. News: U.N. welcomes ‘most comprehensive agreement ever’ on global health
“Describing it as an ‘important landmark’ on our ‘journey to health for all,’ Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday welcomed the U.N. Political Declaration on universal health coverage, or UHC, which commits countries to advance towards full coverage for their citizens in four major areas around primary care. During a meeting of heads of State, ministers, health leaders, policymakers, and universal health coverage champions, the U.N. chief called UHC ‘the most comprehensive agreement ever reached on global health — a vision for Universal Health Coverage by 2030’…” (9/23).

Additional coverage of the UHC declaration is available from Quartz and Xinhua.

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World Leaders Make Few Commitments At U.N. Climate Summit; SG Guterres Warns 'Nature Is Angry'

Associated Press: ‘You are failing us’: Plans, frustration at U.N. climate talks
“Scolded for doing little, leader after leader promised the United Nations on Monday to do more to prevent a warming world from reaching even more dangerous levels. As they made their pledges at the Climate Action Summit, though, they and others conceded it was not enough. And even before they spoke, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg shamed them over and over for their inaction: ‘How dare you?’…” (Borenstein, 9/24).

New York Times: At U.N. Climate Summit, Few Commitments and U.S. Silence
“…[D]espite the protests in the streets, China on Monday made no new promises to take stronger climate action. The United States, having vowed to pull out of the Paris Agreement, the pact among nations to jointly fight climate change, said nothing at all. A host of countries made only incremental promises. … There were some concrete measures. The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, said in closing remarks that 77 countries had announced efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, several asset fund managers said they would aim to get to a net-zero portfolio of investments by the same year, and dozens of businesses said they would aim to abide by the Paris Agreement targets…” (Sengupta et al., 9/23).

POLITICO: ‘Nature is angry,’ warns U.N. chief
“U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday denounced governments and the fossil fuel industry for fueling climate change, and called for taxing ‘pollution, not people.’ Opening the U.N. Climate Action Summit, meant to spur international climate efforts, Guterres had stark words about the state of the planet. ‘Nature is angry and we fool ourselves if we think we can fool nature because nature always strikes back and around the world nature is striking back with fury’…” (Oroschakoff, 9/23).

Additional coverage of the U.N. Climate Action Summit is available from NPR, Reuters, and USA TODAY.

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U.S., 18 Other Nations Present Joint Statement Urging U.N. Drop SRHR References From Official Documents, Saying Language 'Ambiguous'

CNN: Trump administration pushes U.N. to drop mentions of reproductive health from official documents
“U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is encouraging world leaders to expand access to health care without the inclusion of terms such as ‘reproductive health and rights.’ He delivered these remarks at a high-level meeting on universal health coverage during the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Monday…” (Howard, 9/23).

The Hill: Trump administration pushes U.N. to drop mentions of reproductive health from official documents
“…Azar called on the U.N. to oppose what he called ‘ambiguous terms’ pertaining to sexual health. ‘We do not support references to ambiguous terms and expressions, such as sexual and reproductive health and rights in U.N. documents, because they can undermine the critical role of the family and promote practices, like abortion, in circumstances that do not enjoy international consensus and which can be misinterpreted by U.N. agencies,’ Azar said…” (Budryk, 9/23).

MEA WorldWide: U.S. and 18 countries tell U.N. there is ‘no international right to abortion’; pro- and anti-reproductive rights groups react
“…Azar was joined by representatives from countries like Brazil, Iraq, and Poland while making the statement which was signed by 17 countries besides the U.S. and Russia. The latest remarks issued by the U.S. health secretary came after a letter was released in July by Azar and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It spoke about similar concerns and asked foreign leaders to ‘join the United States in ensuring that every sovereign state has the ability to determine the best way to protect the unborn and defend the family as the foundational unit of society vital to children thriving and leading healthy lives’…” (Ghosh, 9/23).

NPR: At U.N., Trump Administration Professes ‘No International Right To An Abortion’
“…Conservative groups are praising the statement, saying the U.S. should focus on what they describe as less divisive issues such as maternal mortality. … Meanwhile, reproductive rights groups are calling for expanded access to abortion and contraception around the globe. … The U.N. press office says it has not received that statement, but the Netherlands’ minister of foreign trade, Sigrid Kaag, tweeted and spoke in support of sexual and reproductive health care on behalf of several countries…” (McCammon, 9/23).

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U.S. To Resume Some Foreign Assistance To Northern Triangle Countries, DHS Secretary Says

Devex: U.S. to resume Northern Triangle aid programs that support its interests, official says
“Due to ‘leadership commitment’ from Central American governments in response to the migration crisis, the Trump administration is looking at ways to resume some foreign assistance to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said Monday…” (Welsh, 9/24).

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U.K. Pledges Additional £600M To Support Family Planning Programs Worldwide

The Guardian: U.K. promises extra £600m for family planning in poorest countries
“The U.K. government has pledged to spend an extra £600m to support family planning programs in some of the world’s poorest countries. Most of the money, which will be rolled out between 2020 and 2025, will be given to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), which works in 150 countries, including the 46 with the highest rates of maternal deaths and lowest rates of modern contraceptive use…” (Ford, 9/24).

The Telegraph: U.K. announce £600m aid for family planning as U.S. ramps up anti-abortion stance
“…Alok Sharma, the U.K.’s International Development Secretary, told delegates the U.K. would promote and defend ‘women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights’…” (Newey, 9/23).

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U.K. MPs Criticize Lack Of Transparency In Increased Aid Spending Outside DFID

The Guardian: MPs criticize ‘dramatic increase’ in aid spending over lack of transparency
“MPs have criticized a ‘dramatic increase’ in aid spending in ministries outside the Department for International Development, because they have not put in place adequate measures to assess value for money. A report, by the House of Commons public accounts committee, questioned the doubling of the Newton Fund, managed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to £735m, despite the department’s ‘weak understanding’ of how funds were spent, where, and with what results. … The PAC report, published on Monday, raised questions over the dramatic increase in aid spending by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office — from 6% of its budget in 2010 to 50% next year. The FCO has spent 45% of its overseas development assistance on ‘frontline diplomatic activity,’ mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, the report said. MPs said more needed to be done by the government to show the £14bn spent on foreign aid is effective. DFID is the only department to meet the government’s transparency targets, it said…” (McVeigh, 9/24).

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Tanzania's Reluctance To Share Information With WHO Regarding Suspected Ebola Cases Shows Importance Of Global Health Transparency, Experts Say

Devex: Suspected Ebola in Tanzania highlights importance of transparency
“Over the weekend, the World Health Organization issued a statement accusing the Tanzanian government of withholding clinical information on suspected Ebola cases. The statement outlines a series of unofficial reports of suspected Ebola cases in the country and the government’s repeated refusal to provide information that WHO requested to better understand the situation. … This move shows ‘how seriously WHO sees the role of full transparency and disclosure about Ebola cases in this outbreak,’ said Thomas Inglesby, director of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. ‘It’s obviously quite unusual for WHO to make a statement like this, so they clearly have concerns’…” (Jerving/Ravelo, 9/24).

Reuters: Tanzania summons World Health Organization rep over Ebola complaint
“Tanzania on Tuesday summoned the World Health Organization’s local representative over its assertion that the government refused to share information on suspected Ebola cases, signaling displeasure at the agency’s rare public rebuke. … WHO said late on Saturday it was made aware on Sept. 10 of the death of a patient in Dar es Salaam, and was unofficially told the next day that the person had tested positive for Ebola. The woman had died on Sept. 8…” (Ng’wanakilala et al., 9/24).

Additional coverage is available from The Guardian and Vox.

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Debate Continues Over Ebola Vaccination Strategy In DRC, As WHO Announces Use Of 2nd Experimental Vaccine

Associated Press: 2nd Ebola vaccine to be used in Congo, as U.N. efforts slammed
“The World Health Organization on Monday announced Congo will start using a second experimental Ebola vaccine, as efforts to stop the deadly outbreak are stalled and Doctors Without Borders criticizes vaccination efforts to date…” (Cheng, 9/23).

NPR: Doctors Without Borders Calls For More Transparency In Distribution Of Ebola Vaccine
“…Dr. Isabelle Defourny, the group’s director of operations, said in a statement Monday that at least 2,000 people could be receiving the vaccine each day, instead of the maximum of 1,000 who are vaccinated daily at present. She called for WHO to supply more vaccines to medical teams…” (Zialcita, 9/23).

STAT: Vaccination strategy in long-running Ebola outbreak comes under fire
“…Strident debate about how to use vaccine in this outbreak has raged for months with disagreements swirling about both the strategy behind use of the Merck vaccine — the only Ebola vaccine for which there are Phase III efficacy data — and about how and where to deploy the J&J product, for which there aren’t yet human efficacy data…” (Branswell, 9/23).

Additional coverage of vaccine use in the DRC Ebola outbreak is available from Al Jazeera, The Hill, and New York Times.

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Bill Gates, African Billionaires Note Importance Of Family Planning For Africa's Future Success

Forbes: Bill Gates and Two African Billionaires Say Family Planning is Essential to Africa’s Future
“Bill Gates, the second richest person in the world; Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa; and Mohammed ‘Mo’ Ibrahim, a U.K billionaire born in Sudan, spoke about ways Africa can reach its potential in the coming decades during an event at the Africa Center in Harlem in New York City on Monday. As Africa’s population expands, the continent needs to create jobs and keep up with food demand, the billionaires said during a fireside chat at an event called The Future Africa Forum. Ibrahim said there is a controversial topic that can help Africa develop sustainable communities and cities: family planning…” (Yakowicz, 9/24).

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130 Banks From Nearly 50 Countries Join New U.N. Initiative To Focus More On Social, Environmental Impacts

Devex: One-third of world’s banking industry pledges to align business with SDGs
“A group of 130 banks is on board to reorient the industry away from a purely profit focus to a new paradigm where social and environmental impacts matter, too. The banks, hailing from nearly 50 countries, have signed the new Principles for Responsible Banking, an initiative between the financial institutions and the United Nations. Skeptics question whether this effort will really impact an industry that needs to transform in order to finance global development and climate work. But the announcement has some in the financial sector excited about getting banks on board with the Sustainable Development Goals…” (Saldinger, 9/24).

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Simpler TB Prevention Drug Regimen Raising Hope Among Experts

New York Times: A Simple Regimen Can Prevent TB. Why Aren’t More People on It?
“…The world is sorely in need of new ways to prevent TB, not just treat it. Drugs to stave off the infection do exist, but the monthslong regimens are difficult and people often do not finish the prescribed courses. That may soon change: A new drug course, lasting just one month, is just as effective as longer regimens at preventing TB, scientists reported earlier this year. The results have left experts hoping for new progress against a disease that has been an intractable enemy for centuries…” (Mandavilli, 9/23).

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More News In Global Health

AFP: Indonesian forest fires putting 10 million children at risk: U.N. (9/24).

Associated Press: Pakistan battles dengue epidemic, with 20 deaths so far (Ahmed, 9/24).

Barron’s: Financing Global Health (Schultz, 9/23).

Devex: How can private partnerships help countries meet the UHC goal? (Byatnal, 9/24).

Devex: Kenya is rolling out UHC — with a little help (Jerving, 9/24).

Devex: Q&A: The $5 eyeglasses for low-income settings (Root, 9/23).

New Humanitarian: What we’re watching at the U.N. General Assembly (Sampathkumar, 9/23).

Reuters: Tens of thousands march for ban on abortions in Slovakia (Jancarikova, 9/22).

STAT: Antibiotic resistance in food-producing animals surges in low- and middle-income countries (Silverman, 9/23).

STAT: More countries are banning or restricting sales of Zantac and other heartburn meds (Silverman, 9/23).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Poorest people getting world’s small change to cope with climate crisis (Rowling, 9/23).

VICE: Polio Is Back in the Philippines, 19 Years After the Disease Was Eradicated (Savillo, 9/24).

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Editorials and Opinions

Democratic Presidential Candidates Should Include Women's Empowerment In Climate Change Strategies, Opinion Piece Says

Rewire.News: Women’s Empowerment — Not Population Control — Is Key to Combating Climate Change
Osub Ahmed, policy analyst for women’s health and rights at the Center for American Progress

“…It is well-documented that when women are empowered, the planet benefits. … Women’s bodily autonomy — a necessity for women to pursue leadership opportunities — is key to achieving women’s empowerment and combating climate change. … Family planning — non-coercive, consent-based, and comprehensive — is a particularly powerful tool in enhancing bodily autonomy and helping women to determine their professional and economic futures. … Democrats running for president must fight to improve women’s bodily autonomy as an important element of their climate change strategy. Each candidate must consider the impacts of climate change through a gender-specific lens and recognize that, when we center women’s bodily autonomy and improve upon political and economic leadership opportunities for women, the climate and the world benefit” (9/23).

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In Opinion Piece, WHO DG Calls On World Leaders To Recognize Climate Change's Impacts On Health, Importance Of UHC

Foreign Affairs: Climate Change Is Already Killing Us
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO

“As world leaders gather on Monday for the Climate Action Summit at the U.N. General Assembly, it is sadly clear that the prospect of rising global temperatures and sea levels has failed to generate a sufficient sense of urgency around climate change. What might spur leaders to action, if it were better understood, is the enormous threat that climate change already poses to human health. Climate change exacerbates chronic and contagious disease, worsens food and water shortages, increases the risk of pandemics, and aggravates mass displacement. The broad environmental effects of climate change have long been discussed as long-term risks; what’s clear now is that the health effects are worse than anticipated — and that they’re already being felt. … At the first high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) at the United Nations, the WHO will call on world leaders to invest not only in safe water, hygiene, and sanitation services but also in universal access to health services for chronic disease, child health, and antenatal and palliative care. Almost every disease caused or aggravated by climate change can be prevented or treated if addressed early. Unfortunately, the WHO projects that by 2030, 42 percent of the world’s population will either not have access to health services or not be able to afford them. … As world leaders gather in New York to address climate change, they should remember the threat that it poses to human health and act decisively to implement universal health coverage” (9/23).

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Nations, NGOs Must Commit To Training Health Care Workers Worldwide To Achieve UHC

Devex: Opinion: We need a Marshall Plan to train health care workers around the globe
Rabih Torbay, president and CEO of Project HOPE

“…[The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal on universal health coverage (SDG 3.8)] is both a lofty goal and a worthy one. But in order to realistically achieve it, we must address an emerging crisis: the rising shortage of health care workers around the globe. … [I]f we really want to ensure that all people have access to the quality health care they need and deserve, this is the single most important thing we should commit to achieving over the next decade. … Unfortunately, we are currently headed in the opposite direction. … [W]e need governments and donors to commit to a Marshall Plan for training health care workers across the globe. In the same way the Marshall Plan spurred European recovery following World War II, we must see a global health workforce as an investment worth championing…” (9/23).

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Group Of Development Academics, Practitioners Express Dismay Over Gates Foundation's Award To India PM Modi In Guardian Letter

The Guardian: Dismay at Gates Foundation prize for Narendra Modi
37 development academics and practitioners

“As international development academics and practitioners we are dismayed that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) intends to give its Goalkeepers Global Goals award to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on 24 September despite widespread global condemnation. We recognize the considerable efforts made by the Indian government in tackling India’s sanitation crisis. Yet while Modi has brought the issue into mainstream political discourse, evidence suggests there remains a massive gap between the rhetoric and reality of the achievement of universal sanitation under his watch. … But what is most worrying is Modi’s human rights record and divisive politics, which prevent the realization of the global goals that BMGF promotes. … The BMGF award, along with the Seoul peace prize and UNEP’s Champions of Earth prize, serves to legitimize and embolden Modi and his supporters to intensify their divisive politics in a way that is in complete contradiction with the spirit and soul of sustainable, equitable, and fair development” (9/23).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Brookings Experts Discuss U.N., SDG's 'Leave No One Behind' Commitment

Brookings: Getting specific to leave no one behind
Homi Kharas, interim vice president and director, and John McArthur, senior fellow, both with Global Economy and Development at Brookings, discuss the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the commitment by countries to “leave no one behind (LNOB).” The authors write, “[W]e, together with colleagues at the Japan International Cooperation Agency and other partners, collaborated on a new edited volume, Leave No One Behind: Time for Specifics on the Sustainable Development Goals. We thought it time to showcase ideas that could help shift LNOB from admirable slogan to practical approach.” The authors discuss key points of the book in this post (9/23).

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IRC Urges U.N., World Leaders To Include Needs Of Refugees In SDG, Climate Change, Other Discussions

International Rescue Committee: Equality for everyone on the planet — how do we get there?
This post discusses the need for refugees to be considered in U.N. debate on the Sustainable Development Goals, climate change, and other key issues. The post also discusses IRC’s efforts on these issues (9/23).

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Expert Calls For Consensus Surrounding UHC Implementation In Humanitarian Settings

The BMJ Opinion: Zulfiqar Bhutta: Delivering humane universal health coverage in humanitarian settings
Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, coordinator of the BRANCH Consortium (Bridging Research & Action in Conflict Settings for the Health of Women & Children), discusses the implementation of UHC in humanitarian settings, writing, “It is … imperative that there is clarity and consensus on how we could promote and implement effective UHC in … humanitarian settings. At the very least, this will require agreement on core essential interventions in various populations and age groups, prioritization of neglected areas such as mental health support, assurance of sexual and reproductive health services, and innovative financing strategies that do not further burden impoverished and displaced people…” (9/23).

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Civil Society Organizations Play Essential Role In Achieving UHC, Experts Say

Health Affairs Blog: The Global Community Has Pledged To Achieve Universal Health Coverage: What’s It Going To Take?
In this post, Marina Carter, managing director, and Aaron Emmel, director of strategic outreach, both with the Global Health Advocacy Incubator, discuss the importance of individuals and civil society organizations (CSOs) in advocating for national policies to achieve universal health coverage. The authors write, “CSOs aren’t just important partners in UHC. They’re essential to ensuring that the vision of access, quality, and affordability gets translated into reality. In-country CSO advocacy is at the heart of UHC” (9/23).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID, CDC, Other GHSA Partners Support Laboratory Capabilities In Vietnam

USAID: Laboratory Strengthening
This fact sheet discusses the U.S. government’s efforts to support Vietnam’s laboratory capabilities in order to “help detect novel viruses in wildlife, sample in high-risk settings such as live bird markets and wildlife farms, and harmonize procedures across animal and public health laboratories…” (9/23).

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