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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump Administration's FY18 Budget Request Proposes $2.2B Cut To Global Health Programs Account

NPR: Trump’s Proposed Budget Would Cut $2.2 Billion From Global Health Spending
“…On one level the reductions did not come as a surprise. Trump had already made clear in his ‘skinny budget’ proposal, released in March, that he wanted to lower spending on foreign assistance by more than a third. Yet advocates for global health programs say they are nonetheless reeling as they pore through this week’s more detailed release. … Overall, Trump would cut the annual global health budget by about 26 percent, or around $2.2 billion in the 2018 fiscal year that begins October 1, decreasing it from about $8.7 billion in the current fiscal year budget to less than $6.5 billion…” (Aizenman, 5/25).

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Bill Steiger Appointed To USAID Chief Of Staff, Devex Reports

Devex: Bill Steiger to serve as USAID chief of staff
“The United States Agency for International Development will have a new chief of staff on Monday. William ‘Bill’ Steiger, who led U.S. engagement with a number of international health initiatives during the George W. Bush administration, will take over the post according to a staff newsletter seen by Devex. … Steiger was part of the Trump administration’s ‘beachhead team’ at the State Department, helping to aid in the transition before political personnel are appointed…” (Igoe, 5/26).

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Global Health Experts Offer Hopes, Expectations For New WHO DG Tedros

Global Health NOW: Up First for Tedros: Budget, Then Universal Health Coverage
“WHO’s budget situation requires immediate attention, while universal health coverage will be an enduring priority, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday in his first press conference as WHO director general-elect…” (Simpson, 5/24).

Global Health NOW: Shaping WHO’s Future: 5 Experts Advise the New DG
“…Following a keynote speech by Secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services Tom Price on Tuesday that laid out U.S. expectations, [several] experts from academia, NGOs, civil society, and [corporations] followed with their own recommendations for shaping WHO’s future…” (Simpson, 5/25).

U.S. News: Can the New Leader of WHO Save the Agency?
“…Many public health experts are hopeful that Tedros, who was backed by the African Union as well Pacific and Caribbean countries, will be able to put an end to questions about WHO’s relevance…” (Haynie, 5/25).

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Attacks On Health Care Workers, Facilities In Conflict Zones Continue Despite U.N. Security Council Resolution, Guterres Says, WHO Data Show

Associated Press: U.N. Chief: Health Care Attacked in Over 20 Conflict Countries
“Attacks on hospitals, doctors, ambulances, the wounded, and sick took place in at least 20 countries affected by conflict last year, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Thursday. Guterres told a U.N. Security Council meeting on health care in conflict that in most of the countries ‘fragile medical systems were already at the breaking point’ — and in most cases no one was held accountable…” (Lederer, 5/26).

New York Times: Attacks on Health Workers in War Zones Continue, Despite U.N. Resolution
“…[A Security Council] resolution, passed last May, served to remind countries of the laws of war that have long been on the books. Targeting a medical center is a war crime if it is intentional — and that is a difficult legal hurdle to overcome. … The WHO data, released on Friday, show that attacks on health facilities have gone on unabated since the Security Council adopted the resolution that explicitly condemned such strikes and called for accountability. The WHO tallied 302 such attacks last year, compared with 256 in 2015 and 338 in 2014…” (Sengupta, 5/25).

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World Bank Report, Expert Panel Discuss Global Pandemic Preparedness, Provide Recommendations

Business Insider: Disease experts reveal their biggest worries about the next pandemic
“…Five disease experts recently convened at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) to discuss the threat of pandemics. … ‘The pandemic of greatest concern is the pandemic of poverty,’ said Don Weiss, a medical epidemiologist with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, during the discussion. Each expert also explained their biggest worry about the next pandemic. Here are their concerns…” (Loria, 5/25).

CIDRAP News: World Bank says most nations not ready for pandemic
“A working group set up by the World Bank to take stock of the world’s pandemic readiness said most countries aren’t adequately prepared and that the world isn’t doing enough to finance recommended steps. … The 131-page report said many countries chronically underinvest in critical public health tasks that help with early identification and containment of infectious diseases: surveillance, diagnostic labs, and emergency operations centers. It also spells out 12 recommendations to ensure adequate financial support and infrastructure…” (Schnirring, 5/25).

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WHA Side Event Explores Improving Access To Medicines, Roles Of Accountability, Transparency

Intellectual Property Watch: Expanding Access To Medicines: What Role For Transparency?
“…On Tuesday afternoon, those not busy casting a vote for the next World Health Organization director general got the chance to dig into [questions about transparency and accountability in global health] at a panel co-sponsored by the Graduate Institute [Global Health Centre] and FIND. In particular, discussion focused on transparency in terms of public access to two types of information: drug R&D costs and clinical trial data. … [D]iscussion quickly focused in on the role and responsibilities of the pharmaceutical industry…” (Pillinger, 5/25).

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Devex Examines Innovative Funding Mechanisms, Highlights Global Health Investment Fund

Devex: This fund seeks a traditional return and grant-like impact for global health R&D
“…The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has explored various financing models to support research and development of cures for infectious diseases affecting poor people in developing countries. To create the Global Health Investment Fund, or GHIF, a social impact investment fund that would ensure both a social return to neglected populations and a financial return to investors, it worked with J.P. Morgan. In the nearly four years since it was launched, the fund estimates that it has saved 4,200 lives and improved the lives of 1.5 million people through its investments…” (Cheney, 5/25).

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Early Response Could Help Contain DRC Ebola Outbreak; Fears Of Spread Across Border Into CAR Remain, WHO Says

The Lancet: Ebola outbreak in the DR Congo
“On May 12, an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) was declared, affecting a remote area of the northern DR Congo. … The outbreak triggered a response involving more than 13 international agencies. It could prompt the roll-out of an Ebola vaccine candidate, pending government approval of its use…” (Green, 5/27).

Science: New Ebola outbreak rings alarm bells early
“…In the wake of the devastating West African Ebola that spiraled out of control in 2014, there’s acute awareness that virus can cause mayhem if not contained early. This time, there’s also the possibility of using an unlicensed but promising vaccine that had great success in 2015 in a trial in Guinea. But given the confusing details of the DRC outbreak — the first case apparently fell ill 21 April and he’s only one of two confirmed cases to date — the government has yet to request the vaccine…” (Cohen/Vogel, 5/26).

STAT: Ebola outbreak may be smaller than feared, WHO indicates
“There are signs that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo may not be as big as was once feared, World Health Organization officials indicated Thursday. Fourteen suspected cases have tested negative for the deadly virus, Alison Clement, a WHO spokeswoman currently in Likati, the epicenter of the response, told STAT in an interview…” (Branswell, 5/25).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Congo’s Ebola outbreak threatens CAR after violence forces thousands across border
“An Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo could spread to the neighboring Central African Republic, where militia violence has forced thousands of people to flee across the border, the World Health Organization said on Thursday. … [R]ecent attacks by Christian militias in Central African Republic’s border town of Bangassou have driven about 2,750 people into Bas-Uele, raising the risk that the Ebola outbreak could spread across the border, a WHO representative said…” (Guilbert, 5/25).

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Sanofi Will Price U.S. Army-Developed Zika Vaccine To 'Facilitate Access,' Executive Says In Response To Criticism Over Exclusive License

STAT: Sanofi fires back at criticism of deal with Army for a Zika vaccine
“In response to criticism of its arrangement with the U.S. Army to produce a Zika virus vaccine, a Sanofi executive maintained the company is not pursuing the project based on ‘commercial return’ and intends to price the vaccine in order to ‘facilitate access’ in the interest of public health. The reassurances were offered in a May 22 letter sent to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee amid mounting concerns the Army will offer Sanofi an exclusive license on two patents without receiving a commitment that a vaccine will be affordable for Americans whose tax dollars funded the discovery…” (Silverman, 5/25).

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Editorials and Opinions

Public Knowledge, Engagement Critical To Reducing Impacts Of Climate Change, Food Insecurity

The Guardian: Barack Obama on food and climate change: ‘We can still act and it won’t be too late’
Barack Obama, former president of the United States

“During the course of my presidency, I made climate change a top priority, because I believe that, for all the challenges that we face, this is the one that will define the contours of this century more dramatically perhaps than the others. No nation, whether it’s large or small, rich or poor, will be immune from the impacts of climate change. … [T]he good news is that there are steps we can take that will make a difference … The path to a sustainable food future will require unleashing the creative power of our best scientists, and engineers and entrepreneurs, backed by public and private investment, to deploy new innovations in climate-smart agriculture. … [W]e’re starting to see a better way to feed a growing planet, combat hunger and malnutrition, put healthy food on the table, and save our environment. … Food has not been the focus of climate change discussions as much as it should have been. … [P]art of the problem that we need to address is just lack of knowledge in the general public. … If we’re going to be successful, we have to engage producers. We also have to engage consumers. … When we think about issues like food security or climate change, ultimately politicians can help guide policy. But the energy to bring about change is going to come from what people do every day… ” (5/26).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Potential Global Health Impacts Of Administration's Proposed Cuts To U.S. Foreign Aid

The Hill: Trump’s proposed foreign aid cuts put women in jeopardy
Seema Jalan, executive director of the Universal Access Project

“…The international reproductive health and family planning efforts that represent a tiny fraction of the foreign aid budget are fundamental to the health, dignity, and well-being of individuals. … There is no question that women’s access to reproductive health and family planning are essential for sustainable development. … But today the health and rights of women and families all over the world are jeopardized. The administration’s proposed slashing of … foreign aid for international reproductive health and family planning — layered on top of the administration’s recent decisions to reinstate and expand the global gag rule and to eliminate funding for the [U.N.] population fund — pose the greatest threat to women’s health and rights in decades. … Investing in [girls’ and women’s] lives, their dreams, and their contributions to the world matters for all of us. We have the opportunity to empower millions of girls, women, families and communities — but only if the U.S. maintains critical investments in international reproductive health and family planning” (5/25).

The Conversation: Trump budget’s cuts to international aid put global health security at risk
Ana Rita Sousa Sequeira, research associate at Murdoch University

“…The [cuts for foreign aid in the administration’s FY18 budget request diminish] the world’s capacity to prevent and coordinate interventions to tackle human health security issues. Reducing funding to national disease surveillance systems, training, and infrastructure in the developing world will hamper the ability to deliver rapid, coordinated, and consistent responses to borderless infectious disease outbreaks. … [I]f it is approved, the budget will be a game-changer for global health. It will lower financing of basic health care in the developing world, and reduce global disease surveillance systems. The change will need a new architecture and leadership in international aid. And it will require remedial action from a bloc of countries (leading E.U. countries and cooperation between middle-income and emerging countries), or from charities and foundations such as Bill and Melinda Gates, or public and private partnerships — or all of them. The world needs to take a coordinated action to ensure that global health is not neglected — we are all responsible for this” (5/26).

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New WHO Director General Should Seize Opportunity To Reform Agency, Improve Access To Health Care, Prioritize Ending Malaria

Huffington Post: New WHO Leader Could Improve Global Health Security By Turning WHO Upside Down
Ngozi Erondu, assistant professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

“…I’m hopeful that the WHO under [Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’] leadership will embrace local led initiatives and foster public-private collaborations to meet the health needs of all people. … Dr. Tedros steps into a WHO that must undergo significant reforms in order to define its role in coordinating global responses during health emergencies. To do this, WHO must work before times of crises to restore its authority in coordinating and directing these multi-institutional partnerships. Though this is no easy task, it seems that Dr. Tedros embraces these challenges and his experience in leading other multilateral organizations suggests he can help make the WHO leaner and less bureaucratic, and thus a more responsive organization connected to the realities on the ground. In addition, he brings the experience of reforming Ethiopia’s resource-constrained health system and proficiency in diplomacy — key skills that are critical for the director general position…” (5/25).

Huffington Post: Stakes And Opportunities High For New Head Of World Health Organization
James Whiting, executive director of Malaria No More U.K.

“…As he prepares to start his new role [as WHO director general], Dr. Tedros has the opportunity to accelerate … global progress [against malaria], something desperately needed as half the world’s population lives at risk of malaria and a child still dies every two minutes from this entirely preventable and treatable disease. The global community has agreed what needs to be done. … We need to reduce malaria infection rates and do it faster. We need to stand by the ambitious goal of eliminating malaria in more countries. We need a sustained and enhanced technical focus. We need an increase in funding. But above all we need global leadership from Dr. Tedros to ensure activation of this global plan. … We have to stay one step ahead of the game in developing new tools to fight malaria and the investment needed to deliver these. … We simply cannot risk the progress so many have worked so hard to achieve, including WHO. As I wish Dr. Tedros well with the challenges ahead, I also call on him to seize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to end malaria within a generation…” (5/25).

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G7 Leaders Should Commit To Investing In Health, Nutrition, Especially For Women, Children

Thomson Reuters Foundation: For shared prosperity, G7 must invest in the health and rights of girls and women
Katja Iversen, president and CEO of Women Deliver

“…G7 leaders are expected to unveil a Roadmap for a Gender-Responsive Economic Environment at their annual summit starting today. If countries are truly committed to empowering women, they will prioritize comprehensive, multi-faceted investments. … The G7 countries can take immediate steps to shore up support for global maternal health, family planning, and girls’ education; they can also help women who have who have been displaced escaping violent conflict. Refugees, especially women, need quality health care, starting with maternal and reproductive health services. Only if countries simultaneously invest in all of these areas can we close the gender gap in economic empowerment and reap a massive return. … The evidence is irrefutable: to power progress for all, comprehensive investments in girls and women’s health, rights, and empowerment must be at the heart of every political agenda, not an afterthought. This is the mark of real gender equality champions — and we are watching to see whether G7 leaders pass the test” (5/26).

Inter Press Service: Why the G7 Must Fund Health & Nutrition
Grace Virtue, senior communications adviser for ACTION global health partnership

“…Since its establishment in 2002 by G7 countries, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) has saved more than 20 million lives through its support for AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria programs in countries and communities most in need. … The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which all G7 countries signed on to, called for the eradication of HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria by 2030. To achieve this, G7 leaders must continue to invest in the Global Fund. Concerned civil society groups like ACTION global health partnership … are hoping they will. [Another] major ask of G7 leadership include[s] accelerated efforts to eradicate malnutrition and ensure proper nutrients for every child, particularly in the first 1,000 days of life. Coupled with the inability to access proper health care by the world’s poorest people, malnutrition is one of the greatest barrier to human development and global prosperity. It is obvious that there are many complicated issues facing the G7 leaders, but, investing in health and nutrition should not be controversial — it should be fundamental” (5/25).

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History Shows U.S.-Russia Vaccine Science Diplomacy Could Help Ease Present-Day Tensions

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases: Russian-United States vaccine science diplomacy: Preserving the legacy
Peter J. Hotez, editor in chief of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

“…Could Cold War lessons in [vaccine diplomacy] ease today’s escalating tensions between the U.S. and Russian governments? … [E]xtraordinary opportunities remain to meld our scientific activities to eliminate the world’s major neglected and emerging diseases. … A joint U.S.-Russian initiative to develop new neglected disease vaccines is an achievable goal and one that could begin through the nonprofit Sabin Vaccine Institute, which has already launched similar U.S.-led initiatives with Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Malaysia. Since the 1950s, joint U.S.-Russian cooperation has shown a dual track record of improving both foreign relations and scientific collaborations. Vaccine science diplomacy is not a panacea for heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia, but the approach has proven valuable for promoting joint humanitarian efforts while simultaneously producing life-saving vaccines” (5/25).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CSIS Podcast Features Episodes Discussing 37th Global Fund Board Meeting, Current Global Health Issues

Center for Strategic & International Studies’ “Take as Directed”: Outcomes from the 37th Global Fund Board Meeting
Steve Morrison, senior vice president at CSIS and director of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, speaks with Jen Kates, vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Chris Collins, president of Friends of the Global Fight, “about the main outcomes from the Global Fund’s 37th Board Meeting and the search for the Global Fund’s next executive director” (5/19).

Center for Strategic & International Studies’ “Take as Directed”: A News Curator’s Take on Current Global Health Issues
Morrison speaks with Andrew Jack, a journalist with the Financial Times, where he “runs the curated content team that picks the best news and analysis from the FT and the rest of the web. … In this episode, he discusses FT Health; the Theresa May government and foreign aid; the election of the next WHO director general; and international drug pricing and access” (5/23).

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IntraHealth International Calls On Congress To 'Be Steadfast In Their Dedication' To U.S. Global Health Assistance

IntraHealth International: A Message to the U.S. Congress: Do the Right Thing
“We at IntraHealth International are alarmed by the troubling signals sent by President Trump’s administration this week, including the proposed budget for fiscal year 2018. We believe the proposal would lead to a deterioration of American leadership in global health and development and have a devastating impact on the health and security of people around the globe. … The U.S. Congress and executive agencies have long recognized the impact of investments in global health and frontline health workers, and we call on them now to be steadfast in their dedication to helping those in need and investing in the safety of our future…” (5/25).

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World Health Assembly Addresses Efforts To End Polio, Pandemic Flu Preparedness, Closing Health Workforce Gaps

WHO: Seventieth World Health Assembly update, 25 May
“The World Health Assembly [Wednesday] made decisions relating to polio, the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework, and the health workforce…” (5/25).

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