Global Health Policy Center Monthly Newsletter: December 2016

Dear colleague,
Welcome to the December newsletter from the Global Health Policy Center (GHPC) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)! We invite you to catch up on our latest content:


  • December 1: We convened two sessions at the annual CSIS Global Security Forum. The first session, entitled "In the Cross Hairs: The Surge of Violence against the Health Sector,” focused on the alarming trend of increased attacks against health workers and facilities around the world. Speakers included: Jason Cone, Executive Director of Doctors without Borders (MSF), USA; Zaher Sahloul, Senior Advisor at the Syrian American Medical Society; Mark Swayne, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for SOLIC-Stability and Humanitarian Affairs; and Ben Taub, contributing writer for the New Yorker.

    At the second session, “The Global Health Security Agenda: Its First Years and the Way Forward,” Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reflected on the current state of global health security, past accomplishments, remaining challenges, and recommendations for the future. A moderated discussion between Dr. Frieden and myself followed. 

    At the Global Security Forum, we also unveiled the first trailer for our forthcoming documentary, “The New Barbarianism.” The documentary explores the disturbing and harrowing phenomenon of intentional attacks against the health sector—including health workers, patients, and health infrastructure—from three angles: why is this happening; what are the consequences of this erosion of international humanitarian norms; and what can be done to reverse this trend and re-establish respect for the neutrality of the health and humanitarian sectors. The full documentary will be released in early 2017 at a special event hosted at CSIS (details forthcoming).
  • Imperiling Progress: How Ethiopia’s Response to Political Unrest Could Undermine Its Health Gains: With each passing week, the political unrest and repression in Ethiopia is attracting new levels of global attention. There is little doubt that the inherent contradictions of Ethiopian rule—tight restrictions on human rights and governance while pursuing pro-poor policies—now threaten to derail its notable but fragile progress in women’s and children’s health. The current crisis also exposes the shortcomings of U.S. policy in Ethiopia; while providing substantial funding for health and development and maintaining close security ties, U.S. reluctance to hold its longtime ally accountable for its repressive tactics could put these investments at risk. In a recent report, Janet Fleischman, Senior Associate, and Katey Peck, Program Manager and Research Associate, examine the potential impacts of this turbulent situation on Ethiopia’s health gains. This report stems from two trips to Ethiopia in June and August 2016, and draws upon interviews with health extension workers and health providers, implementing partners, government officials, and donors.
  • U.S. Government Roles in Control of Global Tuberculosis: Opportunities for Strengthening Program Effectiveness: Tuberculosis (TB) leads to more deaths worldwide than any other infectious disease. Yet, TB programs face a persistent lack of prioritization in national and global health agendas. While most TB cases can be treated with readily available drugs, an increasing number of TB patients contract multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) or extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), which are much more difficult and expensive to treat. Drug-resistant TB represents a risk to global health security because of an airborne route of infection, low treatment success rates, and high mortality rates.

    There is a window of opportunity for the next U.S. president to elevate the fight against TB within his administration. This new report by Phillip Nieburg, Senior Associate, and Audrey Jackson, Senior Fellow, highlights opportunities for optimizing the U.S. contribution to global TB control and presents recommendations for strengthening the leadership, coherence, accountability, and effectiveness of U.S. global TB programs.
  • This World AIDS Day Congress Remains Essential to Stopping Global HIV: Each year, on December 1, the world commemorates World AIDS Day, pausing to remember the millions of people who have lost their lives due to the disease and expressing support for the nearly 40 million people around the world currently living with it. In a new commentary, Sara M. Allinder, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, examines the history of bipartisan U.S. leadership in the fight against HIV and the transformative impact of U.S. support in the communities and countries that have been hardest hit. She outlines the challenges ahead and argues that, in the aftermath of the U.S. elections, bipartisan engagement is more essential than ever.
  • The Task Force on Women’s and Family Health has released background studies in: family planning and reproductive health; maternal and child health; nutrition; and immunizations. These studies provide an overview of the U.S. and international approaches to improving outcomes in each of these areas.
  • The newly-formed polio Transition Independent Monitoring Board (TIMB) held a preparatory meeting November 14-15 in London. Among its 11 members are Jon Andrus, Executive Vice President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, Yvonne Maldonado, Senior Associate Dean at Stanford University, and Jeffrey Koplan, Vice President for Global Health at Emory University. The board is charged with overseeing the integration of polio infrastructure into public health systems; ensuring lessons learned are shared with other health programs; and the repurposing of appropriate capabilities to other health priorities. Among speakers at the session was GHPC Senior Fellow Nellie Bristol. She discussed her work related to polio transition including several country-specific reports, commentaries, and blogs. She also highlighted discussions of the CSIS polio eradication working group, which convenes polio, immunization, and child health experts along with Hill and Administration staff to discuss the U.S. government’s role in repurposing polio infrastructure. The TIMB is a separate panel from the six-year-old Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, but both are chaired by Sir Liam Donaldson, former Chief Medical Officer for England. The IMB is considered to be an essential voice in progress toward polio eradication. The TIMB will meet twice yearly through 2019 starting early next year.
  • We will shortly launch Take as Directed, a GHPC podcast series that will highlight important news, events, issues, and perspectives in global health policy, particularly in infectious disease; health security; and maternal, newborn, and child health. The podcast will bring you commentary and perspectives from some of the leading voices in global health and our in-house experts. The podcast will be launched no later than December 16 and will be available here. We will circulate a notice when the first episodes are available.

As always, I welcome your questions and comments.


J. Stephen Morrison
Senior Vice President and Director, Global Health Policy Center
Center for Strategic and International Studies