Newsletter

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.

NCDs: We Have Had ENOUGH. Have You? – A Global Public Health Campaign

DOWNLOAD THE TOOLKIT

ENOUGH is an NCD Alliance-led campaign calling for the right to a healthy life free from preventable suffering, disability and death from noncommunicable diseases for everyone, everywhere. Death and illness caused by NCDs bring suffering and heartache to millions of people worldwide every year – those who live with the diseases, as well as their families and friends. The greatest injustice: much of this NCD suffering and death is preventable, and we have long known the solutions. This is unacceptable.

The ENOUGH campaign appreciates the support to help build a movement to end preventable death and suffering from noncommunicable diseases. The hope is that for the 2018 UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs, this campaign will show policymakers that they must act now, and you can help.

In addition to a  social media toolkit, the Alliance has provided an array of social assets that you can share with some of the suggested posts, with more being added ahead of the day of action.

From May 31, 2018:

1) Download the social media toolkit and accompanying graphics – remember to share with the hashtag #enoughNCDs.
2) Sign up for their Thunderclap Campaign.

On June 14:

As well as signing up to the Thunderclap, post one of the messages and accompanying graphics from the social media toolkit.  To amplify the impact of ENOUGH, tag friends, other influencers and community leaders!

NCD champions are stepping up to the challenge to raise awareness, motivate investment, and inspire and commit to political action to reverse the trajectory of NCD burden. Consider following their digital channels for the campaign on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Global Health Roundup ~ 05/29/2018

Medtronic Foundation Offers Grants To Improve the Efficiency of Healthcare Delivery

Medtronic Foundation invites organizations to submit project ideas that test or scale innovative solutions aimed at improving the efficiency of healthcare delivery. Example project proposals include: reducing barriers and addressing gaps in distance, time or workforce capacity; demonstrating health outcomes for underserved populations; and addressing non-communicable diseases. Successful applicants will receive a one-time, one-year grant for $50,000 – $100,000, and will participate in a global learning collaborative facilitated by the Medtronic Foundation. Up to 10 grants will be provided and two webinars will be held for those interested. Health and non-health organizations are encouraged to apply by June 14.

GHC Members and Partners Join Hands to Strengthen National Immunization Programs

On May 15, Yale Global Health Initiative, the University of Global Health Equity, PATH, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance launched a training program to strengthen the management of national immunization programs in Gambia, India, Liberia, Rwanda, and Zambia. The Expanded Program on Immunization Leadership and Management Program (EPI LAMP) is a training course designed to improve the managerial capacity of governments in order to support Gavi’s mission of ensuring that 300 million children worldwide are immunized between 2016 and 2020. The program will address planning, implementation, and monitoring gaps in national immunization programs, especially in countries with inadequate training resources.

Atlanta Enhances its Global Health Impact With a New Health Innovation Hub

On May 9, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, along with the Georgia Global Health Alliance and Deloitte, launched Global Health ATL in the background of Atlanta’s 2018 Bill Foege Global Health Awards. Global Health ATL is an initiative designed to grow the current global health talent pool in the Atlanta metro region, foster health innovation, increase funding for global health programs, and drive impact in disease eradication. The Georgia Global Health Alliance will lead the long-term relationships and collaborations that result from the Global Health ATL initiative. Atlanta is also home to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and GHC members such as the American Cancer Society, thus making it an ideal city to initiate the next innovation hub. Read the press release.

NEWS BLURBS

1) May 1: Unitaid launched a call for proposals to fund projects to fight tuberculosis and its drug-resistant strains, with a special focus on targeted gene sequencing, a technique that finds genetic mutations in TB bacteria associated with drug resistance. Deadline for submission is June 29, 12 Noon CET.
2) May 8: A new report from WaterAid and PATH’s Defeat Diarrheal Disease (Defeat DD) Initiative showed major gains can be obtained when and if decision-makers act to coordinate, integrate, and invest in child health and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) interventions.
3) May 14: The Triangle Global Health Consortium announced that abstract submissions are now open for the 2018 Triangle Global Health Annual Conference. Submissions for panel discussions, workshops, and story-telling are due by July 11, 5 PM ET.
4) May 16: Management Sciences for Health announced a microlearning seminar (June 4-8) to highlight practical solutions for using evidence to inform decision making in global public health.

You Can’t Have Universal Health Coverage Without the Community

This guest post was written by Rita Bulusu, Deputy Director of Living Goods’ Community Health Strengthening Team. Living Goods supports networks of ‘Avon-like’ health entrepreneurs who go door to door to teach families how to improve their health and wealth and sell life-changing products such as simple treatments for malaria and diarrhea, safe delivery kits, fortified foods, clean cookstoves, water filters, and solar lights. Living Goods is a 2018 Global Health Council Member.

UHC is the acronym du jour – everyone is talking about how to achieve universal health coverage. But, it’s no surprise that there’s no simple solution. Like any other initiative in history that has successfully created radical change, UHC will require political will, the right people to be allocated sufficient resources, and scaling relatively low-cost, yet effective, interventions.

I urge you to think about what delivering universal health coverage to the poorest, most remote communities in the world really mean. Despite the UHC agenda being dominated by issues of health insurance and financing, it is not a national health insurance schemes that will deliver UHC, but well-resourced and efficient primary health care systems. I would even go one step further and suggest that the face of UHC should be community health workers (CHWs), the individuals physically reaching the last mile to provide basic healthcare to their communities; at a substantially lower cost than facility-based care when it comes to delivering basic services and preventative medicine.

Photo courtesy: Living Goods

The WHO has recognized the importance of CHWs in delivering UHC and is developing guidelines to assist national governments in the design and implementation of CHW programs. It is great to finally see community health being prioritized and governments being given clear guidance to facilitate and develop their own community health efforts. That said it remains a daunting task, especially when considering that national CHW programs require managing the performance and demonstrating the impact of a workforce often several times larger than those on the current payroll, based in disparate locations and with minimal education.

This is where technology can help. mHealth solutions can support governments to improve the quantity and quality of the data collected, improve the consistency and accuracy of diagnosis and treatments, and enable managers to monitor the performance of CHWs and their supervisors on a daily basis. This type of data highlights the direct impact of community health programs and enable more innovative financing methods such as results-based financing.

However, a smartphone in the hands of a CHW – even one that comes with a well-supported mHealth solution – is not a silver bullet. If governments are serious about UHC, they need to design CHW programs that are integrated into the broader healthcare system. This requires them to:

1) Strengthen supply chains, so that CHWs are properly equipped with lifesaving drugs;
2) Have dedicated supervisors able to provide supportive supervision in the field; and
3) Establish effective data collection and reporting mechanisms to provide visibility and accountability at the community level.

At Living Goods, we have shown that a well supervised, well equipped and properly motivated CHW can dramatically reduce child mortality (our randomized control trial showed a 27% reduction in under-5 mortality against our control households), and this can be done for less than $2 per person served a year. After a decade of experience, we are keen to translate what we’ve learned about high impact community healthcare and enable governments to adopt new models to manage their own CHW programs and ensure sustainability.

Happiness, Health & NCDs – Mind the Gap! How can we make public health decisions that make people happy?

This blog post was written by the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations as part of GHC’s Member Spotlight Series. The International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA) is a non-profit organization uniting national and regional psoriasis associations from around the world. More details on IFPA’s WHA side-event is available on GHC’s Special Events Calendar. IFPA is a 2018 Global Health Council Member.

Psoriasis is a severe chronic, non-communicable, disabling, disfiguring and painful disease for which there is no cure. On a global level, psoriasis affects 125 million people worldwide. The importance of actively working on psoriasis within the wider NCD context and the need for addressing psoriasis holistically derives from the two key facts:

1) Firstly, psoriasis affects the person in a holistic way, beyond the skin, causing severe impact on the body and mind, productivity, access to opportunities in life, participation in the community and more.
2) Secondly, people with psoriasis have increased chances of ‘comorbid conditions’ (such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, and more) and are affected by the main four risk factors influencing the onset and gravity of NCDs (tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, and the harmful use of alcohol).

Actions on psoriasis open up new possibilities in the way we address the prevention and control of NCDs in general. Psoriasis is at the intersection between the four main risk factors, and the four main NCDs, which allows for action on psoriasis to have a spillover effect in the wider NCD context. Such actions are not necessarily highly resource- demanding as much as they are innovative and based on ‘thinking out of the box’ and better use of current resources.

To answer this potential, and the recent developments in the global NCD agenda, IFPA launched the Global Psoriasis Coalition, a program that unites stakeholders under the joint goal of improving the lives of the 125 million people living with psoriasis through a strengthened NCD advocacy, and innovation, and development of effective health system actions. In 2017, IFPA, with the support of Argentina, Ecuador, Panama, Philippines, and Qatar organized the side event ‘Psoriasis in the NCD Agenda – The Road to 2018’, aiming to educate, present opportunities and call for action in the context of the NCD discussions in 2018.

After this successful event, IFPA and the Global Psoriasis Coalition continued the high-level presence and participation at key NCD-related events and convenings worldwide. More importantly, IFPA continued with the innovative work, which included working with exploring happiness, and what the science behind it can tell us about people living with NCDs, the needs that must be addressed through health systems, and the means of making decisions under the premises of happiness.

On May 24, held on the sidelines of the 71st World Health Assembly, IFPA’s side event ‘Happiness, Health & NCDs – Mind the Gap! How can we make public health decisions that make people happy?’ was a co-sponsored event between IFPA and the NCD Alliance. The event took place as an external event at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum.

The side event aimed to:

1) present the latest research on happiness among people living with NCDs
2) showcase the connection between happiness and health and happiness and health
3) systems performance, including universal health coverage
4) showcase initiatives to involve people living with NCDs in policy processes,
5) explore and get inspired by various successful happiness-oriented policies, that have been implemented by Member States; and
6) provide direction on where the Third High-Level Meeting (HLM) on NCDs should aim if public decisions are to create happiness in people, increased quality of life and wellbeing.

Some takeaways from this event include:

1) The side event panel included Michael Birkjaer (Happiness Research Institute/PSO Happy); Fiona Adshead (NCD Alliance) and Josef de Guzman (Psoriasis Philippines / IFPA), moderated by Mario Ottiglio (High Lantern Group), who were able to reflect on happiness and mental health from different perspectives – scientific, global advocacy/engagement, and grassroots, respectively. The concept was proven to be very successful with the audience and cited as one of the best side events at the WHA
2) Social progress and welfare should be merged with happiness as a metric to measure society’s wellbeing
3) Findings from the First World Psoriasis Happiness Report were presented at the event, and reveal that psoriasis patients are 34% less happy than the average in Norway and Denmark (happiest countries in the world). 28% women and 16% men more suffer depression. 34% women and 27% men more feel lonely. 68% women and 51% men more are under stress. In addition, there are several exacerbating factors: co-morbidities, social isolation, risk factors and more
4) The side event introduced the outcomes of NCDA’s advocacy and training programme “Our Views, Our Voices” (OVOV), and how the NCD Alliance is aiming to involve people living with NCDs (PLWNCDs) in national and regional alliances, also aiming to raise dialogue about what is important for PLWNCDs, not about their diseases alone
5) The PsorCoach programme, lead-patient for patients, is the leading programme for psoriasis patients in the Philippines. There was a survey that said psoriasis patients are the saddest patients, after schizophrenia and chronic respiratory disease patients.
6) The High-level meeting on NCDs could benefit from the discussions by ensuring that it focuses on the right elements: people-centeredness,  accountability, and holistic approach. The NCD Alliance’s campaign priorities under were presented, as well as the campaign priorities for IFPA

Resources:

1) For more information on the NCD Alliance priorities, please follow this link, and for IFPA’s priorities, please click here.

2) The World Psoriasis Happiness Report is available here.

3) You can view and share the live-takeaways from this event on IFPA’s twitter account or by following the hashtag #PsoActNow and #EnoughNCDs.