Advocacy Update: Top Things to Know This Week

October 31, 2022

Biden administration launched new National Biodefense Strategy

On October 18, President Biden signed National Security Memorandum-15 (NSM-15) following the launch of the National Biodefense Strategy and Implementation Plan for Countering Biological Threats, Enhancing Pandemic Preparedness, and Achieving Global Health Security. The strategy outlines several concrete steps to transform U.S. biodefense and health security by utilizing 20 federal agencies to help the country and the world to detect, prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from biological incidents. GHC released a statement commending the Biden-Harris Administration for instituting this whole-of-government approach to strengthen global health security, and to prepare the U.S. and the world for future pandemics. 

Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act signed into law

On October 19, President Biden signed H.R. 4693, the Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act into law. The bill authorizes the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to carry out activities to prevent and treat malnutrition globally. Approximately 345 million people worldwide are facing acute food insecurity. 

Congress passes Continuing Resolution to avert government shutdown

The Continuing Resolution (CR) extends fiscal year (FY) 2022 spending levels through December 16 and puts final negotiations on FY23 spending levels to the lame duck session following the November midterm elections. The CR package approved by Congress also included $12.3 billion for emergency supplemental aid to Ukraine, but notably did not include any emergency funding for COVID-19 or monkeypox responses. As bipartisan negotiations continue, GHC continues to urge Congress to provide increased investments for global health programs, in line with the highest dollar amount requested for each line item either by the House of Representatives or the Senate. GHC is also advocating for Congress to support the $4 billion put forth by the Senate for the global COVID-19 and emerging infectious disease threats, like monkeypox and Ebola. 

Ambassador Pamela K. Hamamoto appointed as U.S. Negotiator for the Pandemic Accord

On October 11, the Department of State and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the appointment of Ambassador Pamela K. Hamamoto as U.S. Pandemic Negotiator on the proposed accord on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response being negotiated at the World Health Organization (WHO). In this role, Ambassador Hamamoto will lead management and oversight of U.S. engagement in this important dialogue. Prior to this role, Ambassador Hamamoto served as U.S. Permanent Representative to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva.

American Pandemic Preparedness Plan Annual Report released 

On September 1, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released the First Annual Report on Progress Towards Implementation of the American Pandemic Preparedness Plan (AP3). The report highlights advancements made toward pandemic preparedness while also noting priority areas for investment and additional efforts needed in the years ahead.

New WHO report reveals tuberculosis cases and deaths increased during the COVID-19 pandemic

On October 27, WHO released the WHO Global Tuberculosis Report 2022, which provides a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic and progress in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease at global, regional, and country levels. According to the report, an estimated 10.6 million people fell ill with TB in 2021, an increase of 4.5% from 2020, showing an increase in TB cases for the first time in nearly 20 years. Additionally, 1.6 million people died from TB in 2021. 

IHR Review Committee announced and work begins

On October 6, the IHR Review Committee commenced its work regarding amendments to International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR). The role of the Review Committee is to provide  technical recommendations to the Director-General on amendments proposed by State Parties to the IHR, as decided by the Health Assembly in Decision WHA75(9). These recommendations will inform the work of the Member States Working Group on Amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005) (WGIHR). The WGIHR will convene for its first meeting from November 14-15, 2022, and will present its proposed amendments to the IHR for consideration by the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly in 2024.

INB hosts informal consultations and second round of public hearings 

The Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) held its second round of public hearings on September 29-30 in relation to a new international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. Interested parties were invited to submit a video statement on their views about what should be addressed at the international level to better protect against future pandemics. GHC’s video statement can be found here. The recording of both days of the public hearing can be found here. From September 21-October 14, the INB hosted a series of informal, focused consultations. These sessions covered: legal matters; operationalizing and achieving equity; intellectual property (IP), production and transfer of technology and know-how; and One Health and antimicrobial resistance, climate change, and zoonoses. The recordings of the sessions are available here.  

UNAIDS appoints Deputy Executive Directors

On October 5, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the appointment of Angeli Achrekar and Christine Stegling as Deputy Executive Directors of UNAIDS. Each of them will also be an Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.

New joint report highlights dangers of increase in deadly heat waves

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) released a report titled Extreme heat: Preparing for the heat waves of the future ahead of next month’s UN’s COP27 Climate Change Conference. The joint report notes that 38 heatwaves accounted for the deaths of more than 70,000 people worldwide from 2010 to 2019. With climate change increasing the frequency and intensity of heat waves, it is noted that entire regions will be uninhabitable within decades and will significantly impact countries already reeling from hunger, conflict, and poverty. The publication also offers recommendations and best practices from developing countries that have put in place measures to support long-term adaptation to climate change.

PAHO appoints new Director

On September 28, Dr. Barbosa da Silva Jr. was elected as the new Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Currently, he serves as the Assistant Director at PAHO “where he has led the Organization’s efforts to increase equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and to enhance regional capacities to produce medicines and other health technologies.” Dr. Barbosa will begin his term on February 1, 2023.