Advocacy Updates ~ July 13, 2021

July 13, 2021

Administration News

Biden administration releases global COVID-19 response and recovery framework 

On July 1, the White House released its U.S. COVID-19 Global Response and Recovery Framework, which outlines five objectives to achieve its overarching goals of ending the pandemic and strengthening global recovery and readiness for future pandemic threats. These objectives include: 1) accelerating equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines; 2) reducing morbidity and mortality, mitigating transmission, and strengthening health systems; 3) addressing acute needs driven by the pandemic to mitigate shocks and build resilience; 4) bolster economies and other systems strained by the COVID-19 pandemic; and 5) strengthening the international health security architecture. Progress on the framework will be measured using a set of “high level proxy metrics and time-bound targets” to track implementation of the framework. GHC, along with partner coalitions and other stakeholders, are working to schedule discussions with relevant agencies to learn more about the details of their activities, contribution, and alignment within the broader framework and U.S. approach to the international COVID-19 response.

Atul Gawande nominated to be Assistant Administrator for Global Health at USAID

On July 13, President Biden nominated  Dr. Atul Gawande to be Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Global Health at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Gawande is a surgeon, writer and researcher. He served as a member of the Biden transition COVID-19 Advisory Board and previously served as a senior advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton Administration.

Congressional News

House Appropriations Committee approves SFOPS bill 

On July 1, the House Appropriations Committee approved its Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) bill on a party line vote, with overall funding totaling $62.2 billion—a $6.7 billion increase over the FY21 enacted level. This bill provides a $1.45 billion increase in funding for Global Health Programs over the FY21 enacted level. Several budget lines received considerable increases over FY21 enacted levels, including: +$810 million for global health security, +$150 million for Tuberculosis programs, +$150 million for bilateral HIV/AIDS programs, and +$830 million for international family planning (including +$38 million for the United Nations Population Fund). Notably, the bill removes Helms Amendment restrictions on using foreign assistance funding for abortion services and permanently repeals the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits foreign nongovernmental organizations receiving U.S. assistance to provide abortion services, counseling or referrals with their non-U.S. funds. Additional details can be found in the bill report

House Appropriations Subcommittee passes FY22 LHHS bill

On July 12, the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee passed its FY22 spending bill on voice vote. The Department of Health and Human Services would be funded at $119.8 billion, including nearly $10.6 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an increase of $2.7 billion above the FY21 enacted level,  and $49 billion for the National Institutes of Health, an increase of $6.5 billion from the FY21 enacted level.

International News

G20 Finance Ministers release paper for increasing pandemic preparedness

On July 9-10, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors held their third official meeting under the G20 Italian presidency with their discussion culminating in an official communiqué. The Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors recognized COVID-19 immunization as a global public good and recognized the urgent need to better prepare for future global health threats by welcoming the report of the G20 High Level Independent Panel on Financing Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. The panel calls for $75 billion in international financing over the next five years to close major gaps in pandemic preparedness and prevention, at least doubling current spending levels, and identified four major preparedness gaps: infectious disease surveillance, health system resilience, global capacity to deliver vaccines and other medical countermeasures, and global governance. Increased international financing for pandemic preparedness and prevention would include shoring up financing for international institutions like WHO and establish a $10 billion Global Health Threats Fund. More information can be found in the full report, A Global Deal for Our Pandemic Age.

Generation Equality Forum Paris concludes with major commitments to gender equality

The Generation Equality Forum is a global gathering co-convened by UN Women and the governments of France and Mexico, which kicked-off in Mexico on March 29-31 and culminated in Paris on June 30-July 2. The Forum aimed to take stock of progress and set concrete actions toward achieving gender equality over 25 years after the Fourth World Conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Paris Forum concluded with bold commitments totaling $40 billion in investments, the largest investment to advance gender equality and women’s rights ever, and a five-year plan to accelerate gender equality by 2026. Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris gave remarks at the outset of the Paris Forum ahead of the U.S. announcement of its $1 billion commitment to end violence against women and $175 million to respond to gender-based violence globally. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed $2.1 billion to advance women’s economic empowerment, strengthen family planning, and accelerate women in leadership in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Henrietta Fore to step down as UNICEF Executive Director

On July 13, Henrietta Fore announced she would be stepping down as the Executive Director of UNICEF to devote her time and energy to her husband’s serious health issues. Fore noted that she will remain as UNICEF’s Executive Director until the conclusion of the Executive Board and the UN General Assembly, and will remain in her role until her successor is named. UNICEF’s Executive Director is appointed by the UN Secretary-General in consultation with the Executive Board. This post is traditionally held by an American given that the United States is UNICEF’s largest funder.

WHO, UNICEF release joint household WASH report 

This report shows progress made toward the Sustainable Development Goal 6, to ‘Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030,’ between 2000-2020 on household drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene. Five years into the SDGs, the world is not on track, according to the joint report released earlier this month. 25% of the global population, or approximately 2 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, and nearly half the world’s population does not have reliable access to sanitation. These global and regional averages can mask even more stark inequality, and disaggregation of the data sheds additional light on disparities within and between countries.

FAO and UN agencies release joint report on food insecurity and nutrition

Up to 10% of the world’s population suffered from food insecurity in 2020, up from 8.4% in 2019, according to the latest joint report from multiple UN agencies. While there was a noticeable increase in the setting of COVID-19, this unfortunately accelerated pre-pandemic trends. This year’s report goes on to outline six “transformation pathways” in an attempt to curb the drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition. 

WHO releases guidance on artificial intelligence for health

WHO has released its first global report on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the delivery of healthcare and medicine, along with six guiding principles to ensure AI works for global public interest. This report outlines for countries how to maximize the opportunities provided by AI while minimizing its risks as the technology continues to spread.