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Advocacy Update ~ November 20, 2017

This post was written by Danielle Heiberg, Senior Advocacy Manager, and Melissa Chacko, Policy Associate, Global Health Council.

 

Update on FY18 Appropriations

Congress is working against the clock to pass a final Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 spending bill before the Continuing Resolution (CR) ends on December 8. The final push will not be easy, as the current spending levels are higher than the budget caps for FY18. Unless Congress can pass a deal to raise the budget caps, across the board spending cuts, or sequester, will be triggered. It is expected that a short-term CR will be needed for the remainder of December, but it is unclear what a final spending bill will look like.  For the House and Senate proposed FY18 numbers click here.

End Tropical Diseases Act Marked up by House Foreign Affairs Committee

On November 15, Congressman Chris Smith’s (R-NJ) bill, The End Tropical Diseases Act (H.R. 1415), was marked up and passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The bill aims to expand programs to address neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) which disproportionately impact individuals living in extreme poverty, especially in developing countries. Moreover, the bill calls for USAID and other federal agencies to not only respond to these diseases but also develop and distribute medicines to treat NTDs with an emphasis for field research on the impact of these treatments for future application. As Title II of the bill is under the jurisdiction of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the bill must be marked up by that committee before moving to the House floor for a vote. Read the press release statement from Congressman Smith here.

Roundtable Round-Up

1) In mid-November, the NCD Roundtable organized a Hill day and met with 12 Congressional offices to discuss the importance of NCDs in the global health agenda.
2) The Global Health Security Roundtable met with the Office of Global Health at CDC to receive a debrief on the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) ministerial meeting and the extension of GHSA.

If you are interested in joining these roundtables please email advocacy@globalhealth.org.

The Changing Demographics of Global Health

Analysis of rapid rise of cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in poorer nations, and the preparedness of those nations’ health systems for that shift. Infographic courtesy: Council on Foreign Relations

 

In support of the Health Affairs study (see below), Michael R. Bloomberg, the World Health Organization’s Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases, issued the following quote:  

NCDs pose a major global health challenge, and these new findings underscore how important it is to confront them head-on. If we don’t act now, NCD risks will only continue to rise across low- and middle-income countries, threatening the livelihoods of current and future generations.”

The Council of Foreign Relations website now includes an engaging data interactive entitled the “Changing Demographics of Global Health.” This interactive resource was released in conjunction with a Health Affairs article that was released on November 2, 2017. The paper, “Lower-Income Countries That Face The Most Rapid Shift In Noncommunicable Disease Burden Are Also The Least Prepared,” analyzes the rapid rise of cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in poorer nations, and the preparedness of those nations’ health systems for that shift.

 

Building Community Capacity to Fight Pneumonia and Save Children’s Lives

This blog post was written by Amy Sarah Ginsburg, MD, MPH, Senior Advisor in International Programs at Save the Children U.S.A, and Kurabachew Abera, MD, MPH, Health and Nutrition Team Leader for Save the Children Ethiopia. Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In the United States and around the world, they give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. Save the Children is a Global Health Council 2017 member.

 

“We are living in the midst of a pneumonia pandemic. No disease kills more children.”
 – Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General

As we mark World Pneumonia Day this month, we reflect on our progress in the fight against pneumonia as well as the work ahead. A Save the Children report, Fighting for Breath, shows child mortality rates are at an historic low, however even this “good news” means 5.6 million children died in 2016 before their 5th birthday.

Why are millions of children still unable to access life-saving nutrition, vaccines, and medicines? How can we ensure all families have access to the health care they need to protect their children from pneumonia and other illnesses? The answer is simple: we need to reach the unreached. The reality, however, is one of the most daunting global health challenges we have yet to face.

Today’s global health landscape has greater complexity than we encountered in past decades. We have made remarkable progress by addressing a then-universal challenge of developing countries – the lack of access to basic health care interventions such as antiretrovirals, vaccines, and contraception. Aggressive strategies, developed by global institutions and skillfully implemented by countries, began to close – though not eliminate – the access gap between industrialized and impoverished countries. This global approach, coupled with significant economic gains in many African and Asian countries, yielded dramatic results. By employing a largely “one size fits all” approach, we succeeded in saving millions of lives.

The success of this approach has fundamentally changed the challenges ahead. As is widely acknowledged, the communities untouched by global advancements are often the poorest of the poor, war-torn, geographically remote, mobile/pastoralist and/or historically underserved. Inequities in communities’ abilities to access basic health care are not only between rich and poor countries, there are often significant disparities within countries. Our continued progress is dependent on our ability to understand, navigate and influence these diverse communities.

Ethiopia’s experience illustrates this point. Nationally, the country has demonstrated remarkable progress in expanding access to health care, reducing hunger and undernutrition, and improving its economy. Since 1990, Ethiopia has reduced its child mortality rate by more than 75% from 203 to 58 per 1,000 livebirths. The success is largely due to increased use of tools and approaches made possible by the health extension program, a home-grown innovative community health program that increased access to basic health care.

Though Ethiopia has made significant headway, analysis shows this progress is uneven. The more remote areas of the country, such as the developing regional states of Somali and Afar, have made relatively few health gains. Many of these communities have weak linkages to the overall health system, which is inadequately resourced and often inaccessible. Cultural factors inhibit appropriate health practices, and there are few sources of accurate health information. Not surprisingly, there is poor uptake of the life-saving reproductive, maternal and child health interventions that are responsible for the dramatic health gains in other regions. As a result, the child mortality rate in these regions remains stubbornly high at nearly twice the national average.

In Afar and Somali, as in so many other communities around the world, cultural, geographic, political and economic forces converge at the community level and serve as complex barriers to improved health. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” strategy to reach the unreached. We need careful analysis of local facilitators and barriers and community engagement to determine the best way forward.

Save the Children is developing country advocacy initiatives to strengthen the capacity of countries to address their complex health challenges. In Ethiopia, we are working in Afar and Somali regions to identify significant health system gaps, and engaging communities and policymakers to develop ways to close them. Our current work in Ethiopia focuses on maternal, newborn and child health including prevention and treatment of childhood pneumonia, the leading infectious cause of death for children. Save the Children is working with the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia to ensure universal access to quality neonatal and child health services. To this end, improving quality and scaling up integrated community case management and community-based newborn care as part of the package of the health extension program in Afar and Somali regions are priorities. Coupling community-based advocacy with efforts to improve child health, allows us to drive change by promoting health interventions -including immunization, nutrition, and access to care- that can reverse persistently high rates of child mortality.

Our work in Ethiopia recognizes that countries are both innovators and implementers – to shape and sustain change we need to strengthen the work of in-country stakeholders, leaders and partners. We must find new ways to provide catalytic investments, build government and community capacity, and to foster evidence-based and systems innovations that can save lives. This means listening to, empowering and holding accountable, governments and stakeholders closest to the most difficult problems.

Our global vision of achieving the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals requires us to find new ways to improve the health of families in the poorest and most remote regions of the world. As we evaluate the global health community’s annual progress and consider priorities for the year ahead, high among them should be increased support for country advocacy. This is complex, incremental and important work. It is the path we must travel to meet our global goals and save children’s lives.

 

GHC News Flash: Global Health Roundup – 11/6/2017


Child Health Initiative Launches Declaration of Every Child’s Right to Safe & Healthy Streets

Road traffic injuries are the leading global cause of deaths for adolescents and 300 million children are regularly exposed to dangerously toxic levels of air pollution. Recognizing these grave dangers, the Declaration of Every Child’s Right to Safe & Healthy Streets was launched at the ‘Every Journey, Every Child’ Conference on October 4, containing six articles focused on the protection rights of children against road traffic injury and traffic related toxic air pollution. Mayors around the world, including those in the U.S., are invited to join the mayors of London, Accra, Guadalajara, and others in signing the Declaration. Read more about the conference.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Releases Results of its Global Health Security Work

On October 26, an article released in CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases(EID) journal showcased early results of CDC-supported Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) work in the first two years of its implementation. The analysis highlights the progress made by GHSA countries in their Phase 1 capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to public health threats. The report indicates that across 17 countries,  675 advancements were made as a result of CDC’s GHSA work, specifically in the fields of disease surveillance, laboratory systems, workforce development, and emergency management and response. Read the full article.

Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) Fact Sheet Series Explores the Importance of Global Health R&D

On October 31, GHC member GHTC released a new four-part introductory fact sheet series detailing why global health R&D matters in global health, the achievements unlocked in this sector, and why this investment is important to America. Also, GHTC released another fact sheet series focusing on the global health R&D investments at specific U.S. agencies – U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH), CDC, Department of Defense, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). View both fact sheet series.

NEWSBITES:
1) October 23PATH’s Center for Malaria Control and Elimination (CMCE) launched “A Conceptual Framework for Malaria Elimination,” a new report in their Malaria Learning Series, which builds directly upon the World Health Organization (WHO) Elimination Framework.
2) October 23: Ahead of the GHSA Ministerial held in Kampala, Uganda, Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) released an analysis focusing on global biosecurity and biosafety gaps.
3) October 24: The Global Health Fellows Program (GHFP) II 2018 internships are now open. Applications for summer internships must be submitted by November 28.
4) November 2: Kaiser Family Foundation released a new issue brief, “The U.S. Government and Global Health Security,” which includes an analysis of U.S. funding for global health security from FY 2006-2017 as well as the FY 2018 request.

ASTMH Kicks Off 2017 Annual Meeting by Premiering Its First Society-Level Medal Named After A Female Icon In Tropical Medicine

This blog post was written by Doug Dusik, Senior Communications Executive, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH)The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, founded in 1903, is the largest international scientific organization of experts dedicated to reducing the worldwide burden of tropical infectious diseases and improving global health. The organization accomplishes this through generating and sharing scientific evidence, informing health policies and practices, fostering career development, recognizing excellence, and advocating for investment in tropical medicine/global health research. ASTMH is a 2017 Global Health Council member.

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) kicked off its 66th Annual Meeting in Baltimore on Sunday by presenting a new honor and first for the Society: the Clara Southmayd Ludlow Medal, the first named after a female icon in tropical medicine. The ASTMH Council recognized the absence of a Society-level medal named after a woman as an oversight and announced its plans at the 2016 Annual Meeting, soliciting nominations earlier this year. The new medal recognizes honorees of either gender for their inspirational and pioneering spirit, whose work represents success despite obstacles and advances in tropical medicine. The medal was named for Clara Ludlow (1852-1924), the Society’s first female member and its first non-MD member, an entomologist with scientific zeal and tenacity who battled the odds of age, gender and skepticism of women in the sciences to advance the understanding of tropical medicine.

• Front of ASTMH’s new Clara Southmayd Ludlow Medal, its first named after a female tropical medicine icon.

The medal’s first recipient selected is Ruth S. Nussenzweig, MD, PhD, of New York University of Medicine, whose extraordinary contributions forever changed malaria vaccine research at time when it was thought that a malaria vaccine was impossible. Her work, with husband and collaborator Victor Nussenzweig, showed otherwise, paving the way for today’s malaria vaccine efforts. Dr. Nussenzweig was unable to attend the awards ceremony but her son, Andre, accepted the medal on his mother’s behalf. Also in attendance were Dr. Nussenzweig’s grandsons, Julian and Samuel.

• Back of the Ludlow Medal bearing the name of its first recipient, Ruth S. Nussenzweig.

The Society was equally delighted to have two family members of Clara Ludlow: Elizabeth Thomas and Sarah Brown Blake. Elizabeth Thomas is a second-year doctoral student in the Social and Behavioral Interventions Program, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and Sarah Blake Brown is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California, Davis. Her professional nursing experience is rooted in community and public health with a focus on Maternal Child & Adolescent Health. Clearly, the spirit of Clara Ludlow is in their DNA.

Elizabeth and Sarah bestowed the Ludlow Medal on Andre Nussenzweig. ASTMH President and awards ceremony moderator Patricia F. Walker, MD, DTM&H, FASTMH, described it as a way of history connecting to the past.

The ASTMH Annual Meeting continues through Thursday, when National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, will deliver a special plenary session. Other highlights included a keynote address by Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, Co-founder and Chief Strategist of Partners In Health (PIH) and a chance for attendees to give back to the global health community by receiving their annual flu shot via Walgreens’ Get a Shot. Give a Shot.® campaign through the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign.