Advocacy Updates ~ February 9, 2022

Administration News

Acting OMB Director Shalanda Young testifies before the Senate

Shalanda D. Young, nominated to serve as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), provided testimony at two hearings last week before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, as well as the Senate Budget Committee. Young currently serves as the Acting Director of OMB and awaits voting by both committees to permanently lead the office.

White House outlines its commitment to global health

The White House released a fact sheet regarding the administration’s commitment to global health, which outlines the range of their successes over the last year, as well as priorities going forward. 

Beth Cameron to depart the National Security Council

Numerous reports have surfaced that Dr. Beth Cameron, senior director for global health security and biodefense at the National Security Council (NSC), will leave her post this spring. Dr. Raj Panjabi, the global health malaria coordinator at USAID, is set to replace Cameron this month.

NIAID releases Pandemic Preparedness Plan

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) released a Pandemic Preparedness Plan to direct its efforts on two main fronts: identifying viruses within viral families with the potential to cause human harm, or “prototype pathogens,” and priority pathogens known to cause significant human illness or death.

New COVID-19 fact sheets released by USAID and PEPFAR

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has updated the COVID-19 fact sheets that explain its pandemic-related work, including a COVID-19 topline funding fact sheet. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has also released a new fact sheet outlining how it has leveraged funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to support HIV and COVID-19 responses.

CDC Center for Global Health releases its 2021 annual report

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Center for Global Health released its 2021 annual report entitled Center for Global Health: Making an Impact Through Global Partnerships. Themes featured in the report include how CDC promotes health security, and how it leverages its global partnerships to respond to COVID-19 and save lives.

Congressional News

House passes stopgap funding measure through March 11

On February 8, the House passed a stopgap measure to fund the government through March 11, giving appropriators more time to come to an agreement on fiscal year (FY) 2022 topline spending numbers and controversial policy riders. The Senate will have more than one week to clear the measure before the current Continuing Resolution expires on February 18. A section-by-section summary is here. The full text of the legislation is here.

Congressional Democrats call for more global COVID-19 response funding

On January 25, congressional Democrats sent a letter to the administration asking President Biden to request at least $17 billion in supplemental funding for global COVID-19 response efforts in the FY22 appropriations omnibus. The letter notes this funding is critical to reaching the U.S. and global target of vaccinating 70% of the world’s population by mid-year, as well as to halt the emergence of new variants and ultimately end the pandemic. This letter to President Biden follows a bicameral letter the COVID-19 Global Vaccination Caucus sent to appropriations leaders in December, which was signed by more than 80 of their colleagues.

More than 40 senators send letter to congressional leadership urging permanct repeal of Mexico City Policy

On January 24, 46 senators, led by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), sent a letter to Democratic leaders calling for a permanent repeal of the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule. The policy bars foreign based non-governmental organizations that receive U.S. government global health assistance from providing abortion services, counseling, or reffering for abortion, with non-U.S. funds. The letter describes how the policy undermines U.S. global health investments and calls for repeal to be included in the FY22 State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies appropriations bill.

Senators Murray, Burr release discussion draft of domestic pandemic preparedness bill

On January 25, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) released a draft of their long-anticipated Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act (PREVENT Pandemics Act), a sweeping bill to strengthen U.S. pandemic preparedness efforts. Full bill text is linked here, the section-by-section summary is here, and the press release from Sens. Murray and Burr is here.

International News

WHO Executive Board concludes

The 150th session of the WHO Executive Board took place from Monday, January 24 through Saturday, January 29, 2022. The Executive Board considered over 40 agenda items in advance of the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) in May. Among the many decisions made at this meeting, the Board noted the report of the WHO Sustainable Financing Working Group and agreed to extend the group’s mandate until WHA, in the hopes that an assessed contribution formula can be agreed upon. Additionally, the Executive Board considered the work of the WHO  Working group on strengthening WHO preparedness and response to health emergencies (WGPR) and adopted two related decisions to strengthen the International Health Regulations and continue discussions around establishing a new Standing Committee on Health Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response. All relevant documents related to the Executive Board can be found here and recordings of all the proceedings can be found here. GHC will continue to track the progress of these items in the lead up to WHA.

ACT-Accelerator launches advocacy campaign with financing needed to end the pandemic

Today, world leaders launched a campaign for high-income countries to finance the $16 billion ACT-Accelerator funding gap to provide low- and middle-income countries with the tests, treatments, vaccines, and personal protective equipment needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This $16 billion gap is part of a $23.4 billion budget of immediate grant funding for the period of October 2021 to September 2022. Separately, $6.8 billion is needed for in-country delivery needs of vaccines and diagnostics from a combination of domestic resources, and multilateral and grant funding.

WHO Foundation appoints Ambassador for Global Health

The WHO Foundation, established to mobilize funding for WHO, has appointed Toyin Ojora Saraki as WHO Foundation Ambassador for Global Health. Saraki has decades of experience advocating on behalf of women and children, ending gender-based violence, and improving lives in sub-Saharan Africa.

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