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Advocacy Update ~ October 9, 2018

This post was written by Victoria Rodriguez, Advocacy Associate, and Danielle Heiberg, Senior Manager, Policy & Advocacy.

Appropriations Update

Determined to get the appropriations process back on track this year, Congress passed and the President signed five of the 12 appropriations bills before the end of the Fiscal Year (FY) on September 30. On September 28, the President signed an appropriations minibus that includes the Labor, Health and Human Services and Defense spending bills, as well as a Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds remaining appropriations bills, including the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) bill, until December 7. The differences in the House and Senate versions of the FY 2019 SFOPS appropriations bill, which funds global health programs at USAID and the State Department, will be worked out in conference during the next few months. Votes on the remaining appropriations bills are expected to occur in a lame duck session after the midterm elections.

BUILD Act on the Move

The FAA Reauthorization Act, which includes the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act of 2018 (H.R. 5105/S. 2463), also known as the BUILD Act, passed in the House and Senate.

The BUILD Act is aimed to assist economic growth in developing countries through U.S. business investments and will create the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC), assuming the activities of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), USAID’s Development Credit Authority, USAID’s Enterprise Funds, and other programs.

The IDFC will have broad authority to perform multiple tasks, some of which include issuing direct loans, providing technical assistance, and assisting in making limited grants to unlock larger investments. Under the BUILD Act, the IDFC will prioritize projects in low- and lower-middle-income countries where it furthers U.S. national security and economic interests.

In a joint press statement released by the Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Chris Coons (D-DE), cosponsors of the Senate bill, Senator Corker stated, “Our legislation will advance American interests for stability abroad by using the free-market to help countries become more self-reliant and put U.S. foreign aid programs out of business.” Senator Coons added, “The bipartisan BUILD Act will create a 21st century development finance institution with the full suite of tools to bring U.S. private sector investment to low income countries around the world. These new investments will reduce poverty in countries that are critical to our national security while helping U.S. businesses grow and succeed.”

The President is expected to sign the FAA reauthorization and BUILD Act bill in the next few days.

PEPFAR Reauthorization Passes Out of Committees

In late September, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) passed the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Reauthorization bill (S. 3476/H.R. 6651), which will extend programmatic funding until 2023. During markup, HFAC amended its bill to address the omission of the set aside for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) impacted by HIV/AIDS, which had been included in PEPFAR law since 2003. Floor votes on the bill are anticipated to occur after midterm elections in November.

On September 27, during the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary Pompeo announced the release of 2018 Progress Report on the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control (2017-2020).

Administration Transferred Crucial HHS Funds

In September, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar sent a letter to Congress detailing his intention to transfer up to $266 million from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) accounts that support health, education, and research programs—some of which include programs led by the CDC and NIH—to the Office of Refugee Resettlement to cover costs associated with caring for unaccompanied children crossing the border.

Accounts that we know are affected include:

1.) $16.7 million from CDC overall

 a. )$1.9 million from NCEZID
b.) $1.286 million from CDC Global Health

i. $436,000 Global HIV/AIDS
ii. $597,000 polio
iii. $170,000 measles
iv. $83,000 parasitic diseases and malaria

2.) $87.269 million from NIH overall

a.) $12.123 million from NIAID, incl. $235,000 universal flu vaccine
b.) $178,000 from Fogarty
c.) $1.744 million from NCATS

While the transfer is fait accompli, GHC is circulating an organizational sign on letter to Secretary Azar expressing our concerns about the precedent set by these transfers, and the impacts they have on global health long term.

If you are interested in signing on, please email advocacy@globalhealth.org for a copy of the letter. Deadline is Wednesday, October 10.

 

 

#UNGA73: Making the UN Relevant to all People

This post was written by Victoria Rodriguez, Advocacy Associate at Global Health Council.

This year marked the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). UNGA73 focused on making the UN relevant to all people through shared responsibilities for peaceful and equitable global leadership. In conjunction, the third high-level meeting (HLM) on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and the first HLM on tuberculosis (TB) convened members states, experts from the field, and civil society to discuss ways to better support each community.

HLMs on TB and NCDs

Heads of State, government officials, and civil society members gathered to discuss capacity building around addressing TB, which in 2017 alone, attributed to 1.6 million deaths and NCDs, which account for 70% of deaths globally.

Mike Bloomberg, World Health Organization (WHO) Global Ambassador for NCDs and Injuries, addresses the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs during UNGA.

During the HLM on TB, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator, Mark Green, called on the global community to accelerate shared responsibility to address and end TB via the Global Accelerator to End Tuberculosis initiative. The initiative will leverage resources from countries, the private sector, and community organizations in order to meet the UN target of treating 40 million people by 2022, with a focus on countries with the highest burden of TB. USAID will work directly with nearly 50 communities within TB priority countries to provide accessible services, resulting in increased diagnosis and treatment success rates.

Additionally, USAID made a $30 million commitment to strengthen and accelerate India’s efforts to end TB via the USAID-India End TB Alliance initiative. The initiative will convene leading experts in the public and private sectors to offer innovative approaches to combating TB in India.

Patient Advocate Hannah Amora speaking at a #UNGA side-event in NY.

The next day, the focus shifted to how the global community can come together to address NCDs. While the U.S. did not make any financial commitments to tackle NCDs, commitments to leverage innovation and partnerships to address this disease burden did arise.

A joint statement from GHC and the NCD Roundtable, a diverse coalition of over 60 organizations, commended efforts to bring forth discussion on NCDs with the recognition of mental health as a large contributor to the global burden of disease. The statement reiterated the importance of consistently engaging civil society in conversations that directly impact them, adopting a life-course approach that includes young people facing NCDs, and developing concrete targets with mechanisms for government accountability to push the conversation around NCDs forward.

GHC hopes to see the discussion come to fruition through tangible actions. Recognizing the importance of TB and NCDs was well noted, but concrete actions and financial commitments are necessary to truly address the burdens these diseases pose, and we need to ensure that these discussions are carried into next year’s HLM on Universal Health Coverage (UHC). UHC cannot be achieved without addressing these burdens.

Global Health Council (GHC) Participation

GHC had the privilege of inviting Hannah Amora, an advocate standing up for solutions to address congenital heart disease (CHD) and the mother of a child living with CHD, to UNGA73. As principal of her own consultancy company, she was thrown into the world of CHD with the birth of her second son. That journey led her to becoming a champion advocate and establishing her organization, Let it ECHO, to raise awareness of CHD and develop programs in her country of the Philippines.

Learn more about Hannah’s story, or read her contributor blog post.

Also, read the Devex Op-Ed penned by Hannah Amora, Patient Advocate, and Loyce Pace, GHC President and Executive Director advocating  for patient voices to be an important part of beating NCDs.

American Heart Association – A relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.

This blog post was written by John Meiners, Chief of Mission Aligned Businesses and Healthcare Solutions at the American Heart Association. From humble beginnings, the AHA has grown into the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. AHA is a 2018 Global Health Council member as part of our Member Spotlight series.

Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, accounts for more than 17 million deaths per year… one third of all global deaths. By 2030, this figure is expected to reach approximately 23 million, with an estimated global cost more than a trillion dollars by 2030.

The American Heart Association believes everyone should live longer, healthier lives, and our international department focuses on that effort outside the U.S. We have been in the business of saving lives since 1924. The support of more than 30 million passionate supporters and volunteers, key partners and a global network of relationships helps us deliver lifesaving programs and training into hospitals, businesses, schools and homes.

Image credit: American Heart Association

Over 10 years ago, we began a concerted effort to address cardiovascular disease around the world, offering technical support, science exchange and training to governments, healthcare providers, hospital and pre-hospital systems, workplaces and communities.

Through groundbreaking science and programs targeting governments, healthcare providers, hospital and pre-hospital systems, workplaces and communities, our system of care approach—in coordination with local heart health advocates, societies and government leaders, drives global heart and brain health around the world, in many ways and through a variety of programs.

In support of a country’s health priorities, we provide our technical expertise and experience in developing both patient and public programs and campaigns to improve the quality of life and promote a culture of health. With our partners, we share the best in science with people around the world through our annual Scientific Sessions, International Stroke and 10 specialty conferences, and by supporting joint science sessions with other countries’ cardiology societies at their local meetings.

We create hundreds of educational programs and tools that help people improve their health, like My Life Check® – Life’s Simple 7 and Go Red For Women® (now in nearly 50 countries).

Photo Credit: American Heart Association

We help improve systems of care with programs like Get with the Guidelines (GWTG), addressing hospital and healthcare provider systems of care, and Saving Children’s Lives in Botswana, Tanzania, and India designed to empower community health workers with skills to reduce under five mortality in low to middle income (LMIC) areas.

We train 22 million people around the world annually – from advanced healthcare providers, corporate employees to new parents – in first aid, CPR and advanced life support. We work in coalition with key global partners like the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations (UN) and the World Economic Forum to establish targets. Then, with partners like the Global Health Council, World Heart Federation, Non-Communicable Disease Alliance, and sister cardiology societies and foundations we speak with one voice to advocate for sound health and public policies around prevention and control of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

In the last few weeks, we’ve worked with multiple partners to spread awareness around the importance of prevention, treatment, and the management of cardiovascular diseases. On September 29, the American Heart Association participated in the World Heart Federation’s annual World Heart Day recognition. Leveraging this year’s theme of My Heart, Your Heart, we asked our supporters to make a promise as an individual to get more active, say no to smoking or eat more healthily … as a healthcare professional to save more lives … or as a politician to implement an NCD action plan. A simple promise… for MY HEART, for YOUR HEART, for ALL OUR HEARTS.

In the lead up to the United Nations High Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases, we brought together global health leaders to address the world’s leading killers. In support of the Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Care, the event included two panel discussions with patient advocates and global health experts focused on innovative practices and solutions aimed to deliver patient centered and quality health care. Patient stories and international examples of disruptive innovations at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels were shared with nearly 200 attendees. Panelists included Hannah Amora, supported by the Global Health Council, a committed mother and advocate for congenital health disease and global advocate for NCDs.

With a presence nearly 100 countries around the world, the American Heart Association is working to create a world where your risks for, and survival from heart disease and stroke are not determined by where you live.

Accelerating Efforts to Eliminate Cervical Cancer Around the World

This blog post was written by Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). ACS CAN is the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, and the nation’s leading advocacy organization helping to defeat cancer by educating the public, elected officials and candidates about cancer’s toll on public health. ACS CAN is a Global Health Council 2018 member.

Photo Credit: American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

We have the opportunity to end deaths from cervical cancer. Through increasing access to preventive vaccinations and supporting diagnostic screening and testing which improve opportunities for the early detection and treatment of the disease, we can eliminate a cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 570,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year, representing 6.6 percent of all female cancers. Almost 90 percent of deaths from cervical cancer will occur in low- and middle-income countries.

The opportunity to eliminate a cancer may sound like a herculean task, but coordinated efforts from governments, public health advocacy groups, NGOs, private industries and other interested parties can make it happen. That’s why the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, was happy to join forces with a broad cross section of stakeholders in New York City last month for an in-depth discussion of what’s being done to eradicate cervical cancer globally. ACS CAN and five other sponsoring organizations hosted the panel on September 26, just as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) held its annual meeting.  The panel made  clear that while much work remains to be done, the appetite for action in this effort has never been greater. We have the resources and the tools; now it’s time to act.

ACS CAN’s advocacy efforts in the campaign to eliminate this cancer have largely focused on integrating HPV vaccinations and cervical cancer screenings into existing U.S. global health initiatives around the globe, particularly in Africa. Increasing access to preventive vaccinations, as well as screenings, will help stem the tide in the battle against cervical cancer. Because cervical cancer deaths are preventable, and interventions are proven and cost effective, we should be providing resources to protect women against this disease, just like we provide resources to save lives from AIDS. That’s why ACS CAN is so committed to engaging with federal policymakers on the issue, particularly by increasing education and awareness that global cervical cancer prevention is one of our mission priority issues.

It was a privilege to bring key stakeholders together for such an energized discussion on how we end this disease around the world. The meeting that was held in New York City on accelerating efforts to eliminate cervical cancer provided a comprehensive landscape of where things stand in the fight against cervical cancer. The global community needs to commit itself to this campaign and after last month’s meeting with such a diverse group of stakeholders, I’m confident we can take the action necessary to someday give every girl and women the peace of mind that cervical cancer won’t hold them back from leading a fulfilling life, regardless of where they live.

To learn more about ACS CAN’s efforts in eliminating cervical cancer worldwide, visit www.acscan.org/globalcervical.

About ACS CAN
ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem.  ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org

ACTION Media Training on Immunization: Call for Applications

DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION GUIDE

The ACTION global health advocacy partnership will host a 4-day public speaking and media skills training for child survival advocates in December 10–14, 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. The training will develop a group of champions that can effectively advocate on the importance of Gavi and GPEI transition and engage at key moments such as the 2019 UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), G7 and G20 Summits, 2020 Gavi replenishment, and other moments throughout 2019 and beyond. The intensive training will include presentations, discussions, and participatory exercises on media engagement, interview techniques, message development & delivery, and social media. In addition, advocates will learn how to relate vaccines and polio advocacy in other conversations, e.g., universal and primary healthcare, health systems strengthening, nutrition, domestic resource mobilization, and innovative financing for health.

In the year immediately following the training, participants are expected to engage in at least four advocacy or media-related activities with ACTION partners, including writing a blog, op-ed, etc. and/or participating in World Immunization Week activities or other child survival events (e.g., WHA, Gavi or GPEI replenishment activities). Read more to find out.