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Advocacy Update ~ June 11, 2018

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

White House Withdraws Ebola Rescission

Early last week, the White House made a number of modifications to its proposed rescission package, including a removal of the rescission of $252 million in remaining unobligated Ebola response funding. The modifications to the package were expected after pushback from a number of Congressional Republicans on several of the proposed rescissions, including the Ebola response funding.  Late last week, the House voted on it modified bill, H.R. 3. The Senate has until June 22 to act on the rescission package, but it remains unclear if it will act on it. (Read more about the rescission process.)

The timing of the withdrawal also comes shortly after the administration committed an additional $7 million to respond to the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the additional funding during the World Health Assembly in Geneva in late May. Read the Global Health Security Roundtable’s statement on the funding commitment.

The White House is reportedly working on another rescission package targeting unobligated funding from Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The International Development Budget is expected to be a target and proposed rescissions will reflect the administration’s budget requests for FY2018 and FY2019.

FY19 Appropriations: Update on Bills and Pompeo Testifies on State Department Budget

Congress remains committed to completing the FY2019 appropriations process by the end of the fiscal year on September 30, with markups of the individual bills expected to begin this month. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) canceled three weeks of the Senate August recess, in order to work on nominations and appropriations. The House is still expected to take all of August off. Despite all of this, many Beltway-insiders still expect that a Continuing Resolution (CR) will be needed to keep the government open after September.

In late May, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 State Department budget. Both hearings focused on a range of foreign policy issues including North Korea, Iran, and South Sudan, and on diplomatic security. There was little emphasis on global health issues. However, Representative Ami Bera (D-CA) and Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) were concerned by the President’s rescission package which includes a $252 million cut to remaining unobligated Ebola response funding from the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account at USAID (the White House has since withdrawn this rescission; see item above). In the Senate, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) pushed on the administration invoking the Kemp-Kasten amendment and the withholding of funds from UNFPA without any evidence, to which Secretary Pompeo responded that he would follow up on the question.

Global Health Security Roundtable Welcomes Additional U.S. Funding for Ebola Response

Washington, DC (May 23, 2018) — The Global Health Security Roundtable welcomes U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar’s announcement that the U.S. is contributing an additional $7 million in response to the evolving Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), bringing the total U.S. commitment to $8 million. From May 8 – 21, the outbreak has led to 58 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases, including 27 deaths, and the number of cases is expected to increase.

This recent outbreak illustrates the continuing threat of infectious diseases to the United States and the world, and the outstanding need to more effectively finance prevention, detection, and response. While the Roundtable is encouraged to see today’s announcement of additional support, it is critical to note that this commitment comes just two weeks after a proposed $252 million rescission of Ebola supplemental funding, which Congress allocated in 2015 to assist with comparable future outbreaks.

History has shown us that as successful public health interventions stem an outbreak or lead to an overall decline in infectious disease rates, public funding for those very programs is subsequently cut in favor of other priorities, leaving us vulnerable to the next infectious disease threat. The Global Health Security Roundtable calls on the Administration and Congress to prioritize future and preventive investments in preparedness, and notes that it should not come at the expense of other lifesaving global health and development programs, which often serve as the backbone of health security programming. Additionally, the Roundtable reiterates the need for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other U.S. agencies to have access to the same types of financing as the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Emergency Response Fund, in support of a comprehensive U.S. response to outbreaks such as that in the DRC.

The ongoing threat that epidemics and pandemics pose to U.S. health, economic, and national security interests demands dedicated and sustained funding for global health security, with a concerted focus on enabling low- and middle-income countries to strengthen their capabilities in proven public health interventions. Although it may be impossible to completely prevent the emergence and spread of infectious threats, the United States and the world can be much better prepared, coming together behind a comprehensive U.S. strategy for outbreaks, robust investments, and continued vigilance both at home and abroad.

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About the Global Health Security Roundtable

Managed by Global Health Council and chaired by Beth Cameron (Nuclear Threat Initiative), Carolyn Reynolds (PATH), and Annie Toro (U.S. Pharmacopeia)—the Global Health Security Roundtable is a diverse coalition of over 40 organizations that seek to provide effective tools for U.S. Congress and the current administration on the importance of investments in global health security.

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.

Media Contact

Liz Kohlway, Senior Manager, External Affairs & Operations
Global Health Council
ekohlway@globalhealth.org
(703) 717-5283

GHC News Flash: Global Health Roundup – 05/07/2018

Gavi Prepares for Upcoming Mid-Term Review

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance’s Mid-Term Review (MTR) is set for December 10 – 11, 2018 in the United Arab Emirates. This high-level conference aims to analyze Gavi’s performance halfway through its current five-year strategic period (2016-2020). Global health partners can promote the importance of global immunization in the months leading up to the MTR using Gavi’s microsite. This site features multimedia stories on topics such as the alliance’s approach to modernizing the cold chain and accelerating the development of an Ebola vaccine and showcases progress made from Gavi’s public-private partnership model. Partners can also derive resources from Gavi’s partner content hub, which includes key milestones for the MTR. Follow Gavi on Twitter to learn more.

Countries Initiate Action to Prevent NCDs Caused by Dangerous Air Pollution Levels

Following World Asthma Day (May 1), new data from WHO’s Ambient Air Quality Database reveal the global burden of noncommunicable diseases such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and asthma can be significantly reduced by tackling air pollution. Currently, 91% of the world’s population is living in regions where air pollutant levels are dangerously higher than WHO’s safety thresholds. India and Mexico City are already working to reduce air pollution by committing to cleaner vehicle standards. WHO will convene the first Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health from October 30 – November 1, 2018, to bring governments and partners together in a global effort to improve air quality and combat climate change. Learn more from WHO’s ambient air quality and health fact sheet.

Global Health Policy Partners Identify Approaches to Reduce Uncertainties in the Family Planning Landscape

On May 4, the Center for Global Development and the Kaiser Family Foundation published approaches to reduce uncertainties caused by recent U.S. policy shifts in family planning. These two organizations, along with U.S. government officials, donors, NGOs, and private sector partners, identified cross-cutting themes across three focus areas: financing and policy changes; country transitions; and commodities. Key themes include: improving donor alignment to ensure sustainable long-term funding; measuring and mobilizing domestic resources; filling data gaps to help policymakers shape the agenda more effectively; supporting integration with other global health programs without diminishing the focus on family planning; and recognizing that unique opportunities reside within these uncertainties that could aid in strengthening family planning assistance. View the published document.

USAID Awards Grant to Public Health Institute to Expand the Global Health Talent Pool

USAID awarded a $94 million Cooperative Agreement to the Public Health Institute (PHI) to initiate the new Sustaining Technical and Analytical Resources (STAR) project on May 1. The project aims to identify and strengthen the capacity of diverse and talented global health professionals across the world and to build sustainable, long-term partnerships between U.S. and foreign academic and professional institutions (especially in low and middle-income countries). PHI strives to achieve this goal with assistance from global health partners such as Johns Hopkins University, University of California San Francisco, and the Consortium of Universities for Global Health. View the press release.

GHC News Flash: Global Health Roundup – 04/23/2018

The Global Health Community Gets #ReadyToBeatMalaria

Ahead of World Malaria Day (April 25), the global health community has renewed its commitment to ending malaria, a preventable, treatable, and curable disease, which manages to endure despite significant global progress. During the 2018 World Malaria Summit last week, world leaders, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.K. government, contributed $4.1 billion to the fight against malaria. The road towards eradicating malaria has reached a pivotal moment, and U.S. leadership is needed, now more than ever, to ensure that resurgence and drug resistance do not overpower progress. Recognizing this, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria launched their new Tipping Point report on April 12 and hosted a Twitter Chat to discuss ending the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria once and for all. View the chat takeaways.

USAID Releases New Materials for Health Advocates

USAID’s Advocacy for Better Health (ABH) program in Uganda runs on the sole proviso that “when citizens know their rights and responsibilities and hold those in power accountable, change at all levels is possible.” This social accountability and citizen engagement model has resulted in a successful program since 2014. In particular, the program focuses on improving health policies; increasing budgets; strengthening health service delivery; and holding leaders accountable for health policies through sustainable, citizen-centered advocacy. PATH, one of the program leads, recently shared impact stories and the program’s new website and portfolio which dives deeper into the ABH program and the model behind it. Consider spreading the word on social media using the hashtag #Advocacy4Impact or follow @PATHtweets on Twitter to learn more.

Commitments to End Polio and Yellow Fever Builds the Momentum Towards World Immunization Week

On April 16, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative announced that the United Arab Emirates fulfilled its $120 million commitment made at the 2013 Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi, paving the way towards sustained on-the-ground eradication efforts within vulnerable communities in Pakistan. This support contributed to a 97 percent decline in cases from 2014 – 2017 and a report of just 22 wild polio cases worldwide in 2017. The good news continued with an announcement from WHO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, and partners of a joint commitment to protect nearly one billion people in Africa against yellow fever by 2026. Spread the word on vaccine effectiveness via WHO’s World Immunization Week (April 24 – 30) campaign materials and read a new WHO blog exploring reasons why immunization rates in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina are steadily declining.

NEWSBITES:

April 5: Devex, in collaboration with Philips, explored the acceleration of progress towards health and health-related SDGs and the potential role that private sector plays in a new report.

April 9: Massachusetts Institutes of Technology (MIT) released four new Solve challenges, one of which is dedicated to frontline health worker investments and services to improve their access to effective and affordable care. Deadline to post a solution is July 1, 2018.

April 12: The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) announced a call for applications for the 2018 CSIS Accelerator Series, a training program designed to help young professionals refine their leadership, strategic management, professional, and communications skills. Deadline for applications is May 15.

April 17: Organizers of the Second International Conference on Primary Healthcare announced an opportunity for the public to shape a new Declaration on Primary Health Care. Share input on the draft Declaration by April 23, 12:00 AM CEST.

GHC News Flash: Global Health Roundup – 04/09/2018

NCD Child Encourages Young Minds to Participate in Global Art Contest

On April 3, ahead of World Health Day (April 7), NCD Child launched a global art and video contest for adolescents to visually highlight the importance of non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention and control for young people and their communities. Based on the theme, Health For Youth = #HealthForAll, the contest invites artists between the ages of 12 and 21 to electronically submit original drawings, paintings, or videos. Finalists will be formally recognized at a ceremony during the 2018 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting in New York City. The contest is supported by a grant to NCD Child and the American Academy of Pediatrics from Novo Nordisk. Deadline for submissions is May 31.

World Health Worker Week Elevates the Voices of Real Changemakers

The Fifth Annual World Health Worker Week (WHWW) took place last week (April 2 -8), with several events occurring in the Washington, DC area. OnApril 2, IntraHealth International and Frontline Health Workers Coalition (FHWC) co-hosted a Twitter chat to highlight health workers who are influencing policy change and to generate ideas to help health workers become more effective advocates. On April 5, FHWC, the United Nations Foundation, and Johnson & Johnson hosted a Health Heroes + SocialGood summit, which re-invigorated a vital call to action to support and empower health workers worldwide. Follow up on all of the WHWW social media conversations using the hashtags #HealthHeroes and #HealthWorkersCount. Also, view FHWC and IntraHealth International blogs, which amplify the voices of health workers who are creating powerful changes in their health systems. Next up on the World Day circuit is the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights on April 11. Consider joining a blog carnival to champion maternal and reproductive health advocates.

New Global Health Fellow Program (GHFP) II Crossover Study Seeks Participants

Last month, Global Health Fellows Program (GHFP) II launched a qualitative study to identify the motivations, challenges, and successes of a unique group of professionals who have experienced a “crossover” between their global and public health careers. Previous research shows that most health professionals stay in their area of specialty throughout their careers. Moreover, there is significant evidence of domestic health professionals finding it difficult to transition into global health work. This study will explore the experiences of select professionals, especially those who were able to successfully move from domestic public health to global health work. If you are interested in participating and want to see if you qualify for the study, please complete this survey by April 27.

NEWSBITES:

1) March 26
: Organizers of the 2018 Global Health Mini-University, an annual, one-day learning forum bringing together global health professionals and students, announced calls for sessions proposals to shape the event. Deadline for submission is April 20.
2) March 29: CORE Group opened registration for its first post-conference workshop following the Global Health Practitioner Conference (to be held in June 2018), focusing on the integration of NCDs into global health programs.
3) April 2: PATH’s Defeat Diarrheal Disease Initiative and partners announced, Take the Plunge, an interactive experience that will enable advocates to explore the solutions that ensure children survive childhood and reach their full potential.
4) April 2: A new PBS film, Global Health: Preventing Pandemic, will be screened in New York later this month at an event hosted by Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Rabin Martin as well as in Washington, DC, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ headquarters. The screenings will be followed by panel discussions by global health experts.
5) April 3: WHO updated its position paper on typhoid vaccines to formally recommend the use of the first typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) in routine immunization programs of typhoid-endemic countries.