Advocacy Updates ~ February 1, 2021

February 01, 2021

Congressional News

The Honorable Barbara Lee to serve as House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee Chair for State and Foreign Operations

Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) was announced as House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee Chair for State and Foreign Operations. Chairwoman Lee has a long history of engaging on global health issues, particularly HIV/AIDS, promoting the Sustainable Development Goals, and more recently in the effort to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

Global Health Security Act reintroduced in the House

Representatives Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) reintroduced the Global Health Security Act. This legislation, which passed the House in September 2020 and is co-sponsored by 55 members, reaffirms U.S. commitment to global health security and combating COVID-19.

Administration News

Global Health Council welcomes Biden-Harris administration commitments to global health

A new administration was inaugurated on January 20. The Biden-Harris administration has, over the course of the past few weeks, made a number of announcements to appoint experts to key global health positions within the federal government. We welcome the opportunity to work alongside the new administration. You can read our full statement here.

United States rejoins World Health Organization

On President Biden’s first day in office, his administration sent a letter to UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, retracting the U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization made on July 6, 2020. The U.S. will cease the drawdown of U.S. staff seconded to the WHO and will resume regular engagement of U.S. government personnel with the WHO directly and through Collaborating Centers.

United States joins COVAX

During the World Health Organization’s 148th Executive Board Meeting, Dr. Anthony Fauci delivered remarks announcing that the United States plans to join COVAX and support the ACT-Accelerator to advance multilateral efforts for the COVID-19 vaccine, therapeutic, and diagnostic distribution, equitable access, and research and development. You can read his full statement here.

Executive Order on Organizing and Mobilizing the U.S. Government to Provide a Unified and Effective Response to Combat COVID-19 and to Provide U.S. Leadership on Global Health Security

President Biden issued an Executive Order in an effort to direct the federal government to act to combat COVID-19 by creating the position of Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President. The order takes other steps to organize the White House and activities of the government to combat COVID-19 and prepare for future biological and pandemic threats.

National Security Directive on U.S. Global Leadership to Strengthen the International COVID-19 Response and to Advance Global Health Security and Biological Preparedness

This National Security Directive reaffirms the 2016 Executive order (13747) which made clear that biological threats pose global challenges that require global solutions. It outlines that the Biden Administration will treat epidemic and pandemic preparedness, health security, and global health as top national security priorities, and will work with other nations to combat COVID-19 and seek to create a world that is more safe and secure from biological threats.

Presidential Memorandum on Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad

President Biden signed a Presidential Memorandum revoking the Mexico City Policy, which prohibited US funding for foreign NGOs engaged in abortion-related services. The memorandum also reestablished funding for the United Nations Population Fund, which put vital health care out of reach for millions around the world and undermined global health investments.

CDC Center for Global Health releases new report on response to outbreaks

The report highlights how the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Center for Global Health has responded to outbreaks like COVID-19, by drawing on existing capacities developed overseas in partnership with other nations. Programs within the Center for Global Health have adapted to the pandemic to continue addressing long-standing global infectious disease threats.

International News

148th World Health Organization Executive Board Meeting

The most recent Executive Board meeting took place between January 18-26. At this year’s convening, COVID-19 was still at the forefront of discussion. Topics of discussion highlighted the immediate effects of the pandemic as well as some of the secondary and tertiary effects ranging from reductions in immunization rates to mental health concerns. The provisional agenda for the 74th World Health Assembly was set and the next meeting of the Executive Board was set for June 2, 2021.

Global Health Council submitted the following statements on official agenda items:
Agenda item 8: Global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property
Agenda item 9: Antimicrobial resistance
Agenda item 12: Immunization Agenda 2030
Agenda Item 14.1: COVID-19 response
Agenda item 16: Social determinants of health
Agenda item 19.2: WHO reform: involvement of non-State actors in WHO’s governing bodies
Agenda item 19.5: Report on the implementation of the Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors.

UK launches G7 website

The UK has launched its G7 website, which can be accessed here. The Leaders’ Summit will be in Cornwall on June 11-13. South Korea, Australia, and India will also be invited. They also shared their policy priorities which includes “leading the global recovery from coronavirus while strengthening resilience against future pandemics.”