Advocacy Update: Top Things to Know This Week
President Biden to appoint Dr. Mandy Cohen as new CDC Director
On June 16, President Biden announced his intent to appoint Dr. Mandy Cohen as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Formerly Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Cohen will take over for Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky who led the CDC from the beginning of President Biden’s term and announced last month that she would step down from her position on June 30.
House SFOPS bill released, threatening U.S. global health programs
On June 22, the House Appropriations Committee State and Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) Subcommittee released a fiscal year (FY) 2024 funding bill that would provide $52.5 billion in discretionary funds, a $7.2 billion, or 31%, cut from the FY23 enacted level. The bill includes $3.6 billion for global health programming at the U.S. Agency for International Development, a $542 million decrease from FY. The bill is detrimental to global health and would:
- Underfund global family planning efforts;
- Eliminate the International Organizations and Programs Account, endangering support for UN Women, UNICEF, and the UN Development Program (UNDP);
- Prohibits funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO); and
- Reinstates the Global Gag Rule on non-governmental organizations that receive U.S. assistance.
Global Health Council is working with our members and other development partners to reach out to speak to policymakers about how detrimental this bill is to global health.
Senate appropriators begin FY24 negotiations
Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved topline 302(b) allocations for FY24, which included $58.4 billion, a $1.34 billion, or 2.2%, cut from the FY23 enacted level.
FY24 appropriations negotiations will continue and are expected to be contentious as the House funding levels are set well below the agreed-upon levels in the bipartisan debt limit and spending deal between President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy.
Houlahan Reintroduces Legislation to Protect Women and Girls through the UNFPA
On June 15, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) reintroduced her Support UNFPA Funding Act, which ensures the United States contributes to the United Nations (UN) Population Fund, an agency within the UN that promotes gender equality, empowers women and girls, and provides life-saving resources to women globally. Houlahan’s Support UNFPA Funding Act has earned the support of 116 cosponsors and has been endorsed by 48 organizations.
PEPFAR reauthorization encounters hurdles
On June 6. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations Subcommittee, circulated a letter to colleagues stating that legislation reauthorizing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) must include anti-abortion language. Rep. Smith, who in the past has championed PEPFAR, claimed in the letter that “bad actor” NGOs that promote abortion have received $1.34 billion in PEPFAR funds since fiscal year 2021. The Biden Administration has pushed back on these claims and there continues to be strong bipartisan support for the program and its reauthorization. GHC will continue to work with other advocates toward a clean reauthorization.
Biden-Harris administration issues Global SRHR Factsheet
On June 24, the Biden-Harris Administration released a fact sheet addressing their commitment to advancing and protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) around the world. The factsheet noted that the U.S. continues to support global sexual and reproductive health programs, including through its comprehensive programming on voluntary family planning, maternal and child health, and prevention and response to gender-based violence and remains the largest bilateral donor to global family planning assistance
Dr. Ashish Jha to leave post as COVID-19 Response Coordinator
On June 8, President Joe Biden announced that COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha is leaving the administration. Dr. Jha stepped down from his role on June 15 and will return to his previous post as dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University.
Zero draft Political Declaration for TB, UHC, and pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response released
The zero draft Political Declarations of the High-level Meetings (HLMs) for tuberculosis (TB), Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response (PPPR) have been released. The zero draft Political Declaration for UHC reaffirms the right of every human being to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and renews their political commitment to accelerate the implementation of the 2019 political declaration of the HLM of the General Assembly on UHC among other things. The latter Political Declaration recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought urgency to efforts to strengthen the way countries and the world prepare for, prevent, and respond to pandemics and health emergencies, and expresses concern about the inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines among other items. GHC has been active in collecting feedback from members and working with other civil society partners to influence the political declarations for both the UHC and PPPR HLMs.
Dr Vanessa Kerry appointed as WHO Director-General Special Envoy for Climate Change and Health
On June 22, the WHO announced the appointment of Dr. Vanessa Kerry as the first-ever Director-General Special Envoy for Climate Change and Health. Dr. Kerry is a renowned global health expert, medical doctor, and CEO of Seed Global Health who will play a vital role in amplifying WHO’s climate and health messaging and undertaking high-level advocacy.
David Marlow to become Interim Gavi CEO
On June 26, the Gavi board appointed David Marlow, currently Gavi’s Chief Operating Officer, to become Interim CEO. This appointment follows an announcement from Dr. Muhammad Pate, who was slated to become Gavi’s next CEO, that he will no longer be able to join Gavi.