Advocacy Updates ~ October 25, 2021

October 25, 2021

Administration News

USAID releases implementation plan for global COVID-19 response

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) released its implementation plan detailing the agency’s role in advancing the goals of the U.S. COVID-19 Global Response and Recovery Framework. USAID’s plan: 1) outlines the problems the agency will address as it implements the broader U.S. framework, 2) defines cross-cutting principles to guide the agency’s response, 3) summarizes opportunities to integrate the plan into program design and management, and 4) describes a monitoring, learning, and evaluation approach to ensure the agency is delivering on its commitments. Funds to implement the plan will come from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and other funds appropriated for the COVID-19 response. USAID has also released an updated COVID-19 response factsheet, which details agency investments in the COVID-19 response as of October 4.

Biden administration releases first ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality

On October 22, the White House Gender Policy Council released the first ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality. The strategy sets forth “a comprehensive agenda to advance gender equity and equality in domestic and foreign policy” identifying ten interconnected priorities, including increasing access to healthcare. Regarding global health, the strategy aims to improve health care, promote access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and address the effects of health inequity. 

Biden administration releases GHSA annual report

On October 14, the Biden-Harris administration released its annual report titled Strengthening Health Security Across the Globe: Progress and Impact of United States Government Investments in the Global Health Security Agenda,” which details progress made to strengthen health security capacity through the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. This year’s report cites how GHSA investments have contributed to the COVID-19 response and outlines a strategic approach for assessing countries to meet specific targets. GHSA, initially launched as a five-year program in 2014, to evaluate and strengthen health security capacity resulted in another five-year plan, “GHSA 2024” committed to bold action in 100 countries. 

USAID releases MCH fact sheet

USAID has released a fact sheet detailing its investments in maternal and child health and nutrition outlining how and where the agency is delivering lifesaving results as well as a funding snapshot of the FY20 budget. 

2021 PEPFAR Scientific Advisory Board meeting 

The 2021 PEPFAR Scientific Advisory Board meeting will take place virtually November 2-3. Please visit the link for a full agenda and dial-in details.

Congressional News

Nominations update

The nomination of Dr. John Nkengasong to serve as Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator of United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS Globally at the Department of State was sent to the Senate on October 19, beginning the formal nomination process of Dr. Nkengasong.

House Appropriations SFOPS Subcommittee to hold hearing on global COVID-19 response

On October 27 at 10:00am, the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) Subcommittee will hold a hearing: U.S. Global COVID-19 Response: Actions Taken & Future Needs. Among the witnesses are Jeremy Konyndyk, Executive Director of the USAID COVID-19 Task Force and Senior Advisor to the Administrator at USAID, and Gayle Smith, Coordinator for Global COVID-19 Response and Health Security at the Department of State.

Democratic representatives sign letter to administration urging bold action to expand COVID-19 access and manufacturing 

On October 12, twelve Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Biden-Harris administration officials urging them to “take bold steps to dramatically expand global COVID-19 vaccine access and manufacturing capabilities as quickly as possible.” The letter calls out Moderna for not cooperating with calls to share its COVID-19 vaccine technology and urges the administration to review its contract with Moderna, which may allow the government to access and share Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine information. The letter also outlines a series of questions to better understand the scope of the administration’s contract with Moderna, to be answered no later than Tuesday, October 26.

Senate releases final FY22 appropriations bills, including SFOPS and LHHS

On October 18, the Senate released their final nine fiscal year (FY) 2022 appropriations bills, including the SFOPS and Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) bills. The SFOPS bill includes $10.35 billion for global health programs, a nearly $1.2 billion increase above the FY21 enacted level (although a slightly smaller increase than the House level). The bill includes $1 billion for global health security, an $810 million increase above the FY21 enacted level, and also provides increases for many other disease programs, including: TB (+$81 million); malaria: (+$30 million); maternal & child health (+$85.45 million); nutrition (+$10 million); neglected tropical diseases (+$10 million); vulnerable children (+$5.5 million); and family planning (+$75 million). For more information, visit the explanatory statement and bill text.

The LHHS appropriations bill includes $9.73 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an increase of approximately $1.85 billion over the FY21 enacted level (this is lower than the House level but above the President’s FY22 Budget Request). The bill provides an increase of approximately $4.9 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over FY21 enacted levels (though the topline comes in lower than the President’s FY22 Budget Request). For more information, please visit the explanatory statement and bill text.

International News

G20 happenings: G20 leaders meetings and final C20 communique

Much anticipated G20 leaders meetings will take place at the end of the week. G20 Health and Finance Ministers will meet on October 29-30 and the G20 Leaders’ Summit will take place on October 30-31. In the lead up to these meetings, G20 Finance Ministers released a communique which renewed commitment to supporting vulnerable countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and also welcomed the new general Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocation implemented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on August 23, 2021. It also  reaffirmed “the crucial role of the multilateral development banks’ long-term support towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

C20 held meetings last week and published its communique focused on centering human rights and utilizing a gender lens. C20 remains concerned about the lack of concrete pledges and hope that the health and finance ministers’ meeting will provide some more concrete items.

Lastly, GHC’s Multilateral Roundtable sent a letter to the U.S. government highlighting key priorities we would like to see reflected in those deliberations. These include: working with G20 partners on COVID-19 dose sharing and resource mobilization for the ACT-A framework, strengthening global manufacturing, and re-investing in priorities that build towards the sustainable development goals.

World Health Summit kicks off

The 2021 World Health Summit is taking place in Berlin and virtually from October 24-26. This year’s sessions are focused around the themes relating to vaccine equity and pandemic preparedness, among others. In his remarks, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros called out four areas of the global health architecture that must be strengthened: governance, financing, systems and tools, and WHO itself. Additionally, Dr. Tedros announced a joint World Health Summit in 2022. The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board is expected to release its annual report on the sidelines of the World Health Summit on Tuesday, October 26. 

WHO releases ACT-A Strategic Review

On October 8, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) partners released an independent report, prepared by Dalberg, reviewing ACT-A’s current functions and the mechanism’s future role. The strategic review also outlined the mechanism’s achievements, challenges, and gaps to inform its future work. Among the report recommendations are calls to close the equity gap in access to COVID-19 tools, ensure recipient countries play an active and mentoring role in the work of ACT-A, and build strengthened visibility and accountability to make it easier to follow ACT-A’s work.

WHO releases position paper on health system resilience, UHC, and health security

On October 19, WHO released a position paper on Building health systems resilience for UHC and health security during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” which calls for renewed commitment to build resilient health systems through the integration of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and health security efforts. The position paper outlines seven policy recommendations which range from investing in primary health care to strengthening preparedness and response capacity to ensuring a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach to position health as central to socioeconomic growth and resilience. This position paper is closely aligned with GHC’s New Vision for Global Health: Building Equitable and Resilient Health Systems

World TB report released, progress against TB reverses 

The WHO has released its annual Global 2021 Tuberculosis Report, which provides a comprehensive assessment of the global TB epidemic. According to the 2021 report, COVID-19 has reversed years of progress against the disease and, for the first time in over a decade, deaths from TB have increased. Major challenges in 2020 included a reduction in access to TB services and resources, leaving people struggling to seek care in lockdowns.

New members of SAGO announced/new COVID origins study

On October 13, WHO announced the 26 proposed members of its Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO), which will advise WHO on a global framework to guide studies of the origins of emerging pathogens with pandemic potential, including SARS-CoV-2. Following the announcement is a two-week consultation period for the WHO to receive feedback on the proposed SAGO members, which will then be followed by the SAGO’s first meeting.

2021 Lancet Countdown releases annual report on health and climate change

The Lancet Countdown, an independent international collaboration that monitors the linkages between climate and health, has released its 2021 report. This annual report highlights trends in public health and climate change. This year’s report coincides with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from October 31-November 12.