Author: Elizabeth Kohlway

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GLOBAL HEALTH SECURITY: INVESTING GLOBALLY MATTERS LOCALLY

This post was written by Anupama Varma, Communications Associate at Global Health Council.

The panel of speakers at the event.

A disease outbreak anywhere is a risk everywhere.” – Dr. Tom Frieden, former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In today’s world, when diseases can reach American borders in less than twelve hours, it is more imperative than ever that the global health community open space for dialogue on global health security. The World Bank estimates that the United States could have a loss of $80 billion dollars each year due to a global health security risk. Hence, the country must be prepared. The latest initiative, the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), aims to improve transparency through Joint External Evaluations (JEE) and develop lasting multilateral relationships among WHO member nations in order to ensure a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats.

Global health security starts at home – making sure the United States has the tools to prevent, detect, and respond to health threats. It is also critical that efforts address building systems and capacity in low- and middle-income countries with weak health infrastructures that prevent them from adequately responding to disease outbreaks. As Amie Batson, Chief Strategy Officer and Vice President of Strategy and Learning at PATH, reminds us, “We are only as strong as the weakest country in the system.”

Dr. David Smith, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, delivers keynote speech.

In July, Global Health Council (GHC) partnered with one of its organizational members, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to host “Global Health Security: Investing Globally Matters Locally,” on Capitol Hill focused on current and future global health security efforts. Friends of the Global Fight also released a new brief highlighting how U.S. investments in bilateral health programs fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, in coordination with strategic investments in The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (The Global Fund), save millions of lives and protect the U.S. from future disease threats. Dr. David Smith, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, delivered the keynote speech, and a panel of speakers from PATH, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and CDC discussed how investments in global health prevent epidemics at their sources and reduce the likelihood that infectious diseases will undermine public health in the United States.

The key takeaways from the panel discussion include:

1.) Technical expertise for global health security exists, but designated leadership is required.

2.) Epidemic preparedness is critical in order to ensure economic, social, and political security, as well as the stability of all nations, including the U.S.  As Garrett Grigsby, Director of the Office of Global Affairs at HHS, reiterated, “We can pay now, or we can pay a lot more later.”

3.) According to Dr. Nancy Knight, Director of the Division of Global Health Protection at CDC, “The key to successful global health security efforts lies in community-based response.”

4.) The focus of global health security is on four core areas: improving surveillance systems, strengthening laboratory capacity and capability, developing a robust global health workforce, and building a strong emergency operations and response system.

5.) The GHSA has become a model for governments to emphasize ownership of their borders.

6.) It is critical to work not only with governments and international organizations, but also with the private sector to increase the impact of global health security efforts.

7.) According to Dr. Audrey Jackson, Senior Fellow at CSIS’s Global Health Policy Center, tuberculosis (TB) remains a primary health threat to the U.S., and multilateral relationships such as The Global Fund are critical to fight TB.

Ultimately, U.S. leadership is key to the global health security vision and mission, and could help save millions of American lives both here and abroad.

Download the Friends of the Global Fight brief.
View Dr. David Smith’s keynote speech.
Advocate for global health security using facts and figures and success stories from GHC’s Global Health Briefing Book.
Join GHC’s Global Health Security Roundtable. The purpose of the Roundtable is to provide a space for NGOs, private sector organizations, and academia to work together to advance sound policy and advocate for robust investment in global health security. Learn more.

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U.S. Senate Introduces Legislation Aimed to Save Lives of Women and Children Around the World

Washington, DC (August 3, 2017) – Yesterday, Global Health Council (GHC) applauded U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chris Coons (D-DE) who led a bipartisan group of 10 Senators to reintroduce the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (S.1730). This bipartisan legislation aims to accelerate the reduction of preventable child, newborn, and maternal deaths, putting us within reach of the global commitment to end these deaths within a generation.

“Strong investments in maternal and child health programs have been critical in helping us to drastically reduce the number of maternal, newborn, and child deaths. However, every day women and children still die from preventable conditions such as complications during labor or from diarrhea, and this is unacceptable when we know what works,” said Loyce Pace, GHC President and Executive Director. “The Reach Every Mother and Child Act ensures that we are maximizing investments to save the lives of women and children around the world.”

The Reach Act builds upon the success of such global health initiatives as PEPFAR and the President’s Malaria Initiative, and would enact key reforms that increase the effectiveness and impact of USAID maternal and child survival programs. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the House later this year.

Specifically, the legislation would require a coordinated U.S. government strategy that addresses ending preventable child and maternal deaths, as well as institute reporting requirements to improve efficiency, transparency, accountability, and oversight of maternal and child health programs. In addition, it would establish the position of Child and Maternal Survival Coordinator at USAID and ensure that the return on U.S. investments are maximized through a scale-up of the highest impact, evident-based interventions. The legislation would also allow USAID to explore innovative financing tools.

In addition to Senators Collins and Coons, the Reach Act is sponsored by Gerald Moran (R-KS), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Richard Durbin  (D-IL), and Chris Murphy (D-CT).

The Reach Act is supported by more than 50 diverse non-profit and faith-based organizations working to end preventable maternal, newborn, and child mortality at home and abroad.

About Global Health Council
Established in 1972, Global Health Council (GHC) is the leading membership organization supporting and connecting advocates, implementers, and stakeholders around global health priorities worldwide. GHC represents the collaborative voice of the community on key issues; we convene stakeholders around key priorities and actively engage with decision makers to influence global health policy. Learn more at www.globalhealth.org. Follow GHC on Twitter or “Like” us on Facebook for more information.

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Tips for Tedros from Civil Society

In July, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus began his tenure as the new Director General (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO). Prior to taking office, Global Health Council (GHC) and partners hosted a World Health Assembly (WHA70) side-event, “Priorities for the Next WHO Director General” to discuss which items the new WHO DG should tackle, and how that leader should work with key partners and stakeholders, specifically civil society. From that event and with support from its members, GHC formulated the recommendations below for Dr. Tedros and team on how WHO can maximize its potential and outreach.  

We stand behind leadership at the World Health Organization (WHO) in driving an agenda for health and wellness worldwide. We believe civil society is critical to those efforts. We recommend the following steps as Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus begins his tenure (Download the full document here):

  1. Listen.

Any good leader knows to listen first. In particular, Dr. Tedros needs to understand critical assumptions and opinions about WHO, and outstanding questions regarding its way forward. Only then can he respond meaningfully to internal and external concerns, and restore confidence in the institution. Listening also allows the new director-general to learn how best to leverage the contributions and talent of staff and missions as well as tailor initiatives and objectives that meet the needs of member states.

  1. Be strategic.

The leadership challenge at WHO is both short- and long-term. It is just as much about what one does today as what one does tomorrow. Dr. Tedros should immediately have conversations with staff and stakeholders that outline his vision for the organization, with the expectation that a roadmap will be delivered after a clearly defined amount of time. Ideally, he establishes a collective understanding regarding next steps. Then, takes action accordingly, prioritizing more pressing goals and activities on which WHO is most qualified to lead.

  1. Know your strengths.

There are issues and activities WHO must clearly take on. Conversely, the agency should leave some activities to other stakeholders. Dr. Tedros needs to make tough decisions about what the organization should and should not do with its limited resources and adopt a laser-focus on its highest and best use. (Ultimately, WHO and those it serves should be able to articulate and demonstrate its added value well.)

  1. Maximize return on investments.

Given WHO’s increasingly-limited resources, leadership must consistently develop and demonstrate value-for-dollar programs and campaigns. This, in turn, helps spur additional investments and enables the organization to unlock more capital for its important work. Dr. Tedros should invest wisely while exploring new avenues of funding that yield the most positive outcomes for the greatest population.

  1. Track success. And failure.

We heard often from previous leadership at WHO that what gets measured gets done. It is an age-old adage that rings just as true for the WHO of today as before. Dr. Tedros and his team should know when they’re doing well so they can expand on good work. It is just as important for them to know when that work is falling short of expectations so they can iterate, accordingly, mitigate negative outcomes, and ensure accountability in the process.

  1. Be transparent.

A key ingredient to ensuring WHO’s success is restoring public trust in the agency. It is no secret that trust in WHO has waned in recent years, with governments and civil society alike questioning its overall effectiveness. Dr. Tedros must face criticisms head-on, acknowledging shortcomings throughout the organization and outlining openly and transparently how he plans to course-correct and reconcile persistent challenges.

  1. Expand partnerships.

It will take many actors to realize the lofty goals of WHO. Therefore, it is critical to invite multiple stakeholders to the table in planning and implementing key initiatives. New champions yield new resources and perspectives that help advance the overall agenda in ways the agency sorely needs.

  1. Think broadly.

The SDG mandate provides an opportunity for WHO to be relevant beyond the health sector alone. World leaders have acknowledged the interconnectedness of development priorities and offered a framework of action for UN agencies and countries alike to partner across core objectives in pursuit of common goals. Dr. Tedros should ensure the agenda of WHO integrates social determinants and SDGs.

  1. Be proactive.

WHO should lead the way in transforming the way people around the world view health and wellness. In a perfect world, key global health priorities, innovations, and investments are driven by WHO. The agency should guide where we should focus our efforts across both long-standing commitments or persistent problems and emerging or less-familiar priorities. Dr. Tedros should be mindful of and sustain this leadership role.

  1. Always focus on the mission.

    Ultimately, there is a greater good that drives leadership and decision-making at WHO in a way that reflects its core purpose and mandate. That should serve as Dr. Tedros’ North Star throughout his tenure and be something he and his team come back to throughout the organization’s direction (or trajectory). Only then can WHO ensure it is acting in service to communities globally and have a meaningful impact.

  2. Tell your story. (We will too.)

    In general, people don’t know WHO. They do not fully understand or appreciate its vast contributions and ultimate value to society.  WHO should communicate how it improves the lives of people worldwide and why the public should care. Ideally, Dr. Tedros encourages public relations campaigns that highlight WHO’s remarkable work and global health leadership.

The world needs WHO to set global health policy and to listen to the health needs of the poor and most vulnerable.

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Advocacy Update ~ July 10, 2017

This post was written by Danielle Heiberg, Senior Advocacy Manager at Global Health Council.

FY18 Appropriations
Capitol Hill was quiet last week because of the July 4th holiday. There is talk that the House State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee will hold a hearing to markup the FY18 appropriations bill in mid-July, with the full committee markup to shortly follow. There are also rumors that the Senate may delay its August recess by a week to address appropriations. Congress has few working days left to finish up the appropriations process before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.

CDC Director Nominated
On Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, named Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Dr. Fitzgerald is currently the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. Read the official announcement.

Mark Green Nomination
After postponing the meeting to vote on Ambassador Mark Green’s nomination to serve as Administrator of USAID, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has scheduled the vote for Wednesday, July 12. View the committee schedule.

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Why Global Health Security: GHC’s Global Health Security Roundtable Relaunches

This post was written by Danielle Heiberg, Senior Advocacy Manager at Global Health Council.

A health care worker in Monrovia, Liberia, cares for a young Ebola patient. © 2014 Kevin Sieff/The Washington Post, Courtesy of Photoshare

We live in a highly interconnected world in which goods and people cross borders daily. We also live in a world in which infectious diseases know no borders, and in which they spread at a much faster rate than ever before. We saw this during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and we saw how weak health systems in the affected countries contributed to delayed detection and a slow and inadequate response to the outbreak.

Following the Ebola epidemic, there is a renewed focus on increasing global health security and building the capacity of countries to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks and other public health threats.

While the new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, has voiced support for U.S. leadership on global health security, President Trump’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 does not reflect this priority. Budgets for CDC – a primary implementer of global health security-related programs – USAID, the State Department, and other agencies were slashed.

Protecting the health of Americans means investing in global health security around the world. That means supporting programs that increase the number of health care workers, build labs, and improve data sharing practices, all of which are critical to ensuring a faster and smarter response to an outbreak.

We have seen these investments work. At the start of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, it took more than 90 days from detection of the first Ebola cases to setting up a response. In May of this year, when 11 people died after attending a funeral, it took the Liberian government (with the help of CDC and other partners) less than 24 hours to launch an emergency response. That is an impressive improvement and it happened because of multi-stakeholder support.

Furthermore, global health security is more than just stopping “scary” diseases, it also builds stronger health systems, with the resources and trained health workers that provide quality health services to meet the needs of local communities. We know that healthier communities create stronger economies, which in turn can invest in sustainable health systems.

To raise awareness of the importance of global health security, GHC is relaunching the Global Health Security Roundtable. The Roundtable will provide space for NGOs, private sector organizations, and academia to work to advance sound policy and advocate for robust investment in global health security.

To be added to the Global Health Security Roundtable list serve, email advocacy@globalhealth.org.

 

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