Advocacy Updates ~ September 28, 2020
Administration proposes rule to extend Mexico City Policy to global health contracts
On September 14, the Trump administration published a new proposed rule to extend the Mexico City Policy, also known as the global gag rule, to global health contracts. This is the first time the policy would ever apply to contracts, as opposed to only grants and cooperative agreements, potentially impacting a whole new set of global health organizations and programs overseas. Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that close to 40 percent of global health funding is provided through contracts. The rule is open for a 60-day comment period closing November 13.
FY21 Continuing Resolution in sight
On September 22, Congress and the administration reached a deal on a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to extend government funding at fiscal year (FY) 2020 levels through December 11. The House overwhelmingly approved the CR by a vote of 359-57 and it is set to pass the Senate by September 30 before going to the President for his signature and averting a government shutdown.
Emergency Supplemental COVID-19 negotiations
While progress on negotiations around the next Emergency Supplemental for COVID-19 remained stalled for weeks, there is now some movement. Late last week, it was reported that Speaker Pelosi directed Committee Chairs to put together a “scaled back” COVID-19 emergency funding bill. The legislation is expected to be a slimmed-down version of the massive HEROES Act the House passed in May. Last week, GHC led a letter to congressional appropriators, with more than 50 global health advocacy, implementing, and research organizations calling for funding for global health in the next COVID-19 relief bill.
House passes the Global Health Security Act of 2019 (H.R. 2166)
As an early supporter, Global Health Council applauds the passage of the Global Health Security Act of 2019 (H.R. 2166) by the House of Representatives. The Global Health Security Act, authored and introduced by Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Steve Chabot (R-OH) is bipartisan legislation that reaffirms the U.S. commitment to elevating global health security and the Global Health Security Agenda, an international partnership that works to build countries’ capacity to prepare for and respond to infectious disease outbreaks. Read our statement here, and floor statements from Rep. Chabot and Rep. Connolly.
House Passes the Global Child Thrive Act of 2020 (H.R. 4864)
On September 22, the House passed the Global Child Thrive Act (H.R. 4864). The bill, introduced by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), supports incorporating early childhood development interventions into current foreign assistance programs serving young children and their families.
Bipartisan lawmakers launch International Water & Sanitation Caucus
On September 17, a group of 12 bipartisan lawmakers who support WASH as central to national and global health, economic productivity, ecosystems, and national security, launched the International Water & Sanitation Caucus. The caucus will raise awareness for the need for safe drinking water, how connected WASH is to other development goals like maternal and child health, nutrition, girls’ education, and safe health care facilities.
UN General Assembly
After adopting a wide-ranging COVID-19 resolution on September 11, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly high-level debate kicked off virtually on September 22, mostly virtually. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a call for unity in the face of the range of global threats and world leaders provided taped remarks. President Trump’s remarks were focused on blaming China for a range of issues, including COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) also issued a plea to the world’s leaders for funding to fight the COVID-19 pandemic—saying that $35 billion is needed to fast track development, procurement, and distribution of 2 billion vaccine doses, treatments, and tests over the coming year.
The ACT-Accelerator Economic Investment Case and Status Report and Plan are now available online. The Economic Investment Case outlines economic arguments for investing in the ACT-Accelerator within an overall context that recognizes the broader human health and societal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of the world’s best bets and a viable solution for restarting the global economy. The Status Report and Plan outlines the aspirations, achievements, and plan for the ACT-Accelerator and provides the economic rationale for investing while giving an overview of the funding requirements for each of the Pillars and Health Systems Connector. Additionally, a social media toolkit is now available to help partners and supporters promote and share essential information about ACT-Accelerator.
Economies worldwide sign up for COVAX Facility for equitable vaccine distribution
At a WHO press conference on September 21, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance CEO Seth Berkley announced that 64 high-income countries have joined the COVID-19 Global Vaccine Access (COVAX) Facility, with a further 38 economies expected to sign on soon. A total of 156 economies, representing nearly two-thirds of the global population, are now committed to or eligible to receive vaccines through the Facility. This does not include the U.S. or China. The COVAX Facility is part of COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and WHO – working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, UNICEF, the World Bank, civil society organizations and others.
G20 Health and Finance Ministers Meeting
On September, 17, G20 Health and Finance Ministers met virtually under the auspices of the G20 Presidency of the Kingdom Saudi Arabia and produced the following joint statement coming out of the meeting. The statement touches on response to COVID-19 but also ongoing G20 priorities such as universal health coverage and antimicrobial resistance. The C20 put out a statement and recommendations in advance of the meeting. The C20 will host its summit virtually from October 6–10, you register to attend the summit here.