Global Health Policy Center Monthly Newsletter: January 2018

Dear colleague,

Happy New Year and welcome to the January 2018 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.

Publications:

  • America’s Dangerous Syndemic: Opioid Addiction, HIV, and Hepatitis C: My colleague Lillian Dattilo, Program Manager and Research Associate, and I published a paper that examines the opioid epidemic’s sister epidemics of HIV and hepatitis C, which we believe have received inadequate political and media attention. The unanticipated 2015 outbreak of HIV and hepatitis C in Scott County, Indiana demonstrated the great human, social, and economic costs of knock-on epidemics. In this report, we describe rising rates of injection drug-associated HIV and hepatitis C and the geographic misalignment of facilities to prevent, detect, and treat these costly diseases. Marginalization of opioid users further limits the heath care system’s reach. An effective national strategy to combat the opioid crisis will systematically address geographic, financial, and conceptual barriers to preventing more outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C.

  • Reorganization and the Future of PEPFAR: Implications of State and USAID Reform: In November, Sara M. Allinder, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, and I participated in a working group of global health experts and former officials from Republican and Democratic administrations to discuss the potential implications of proposals that recommend moving coordination of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) from the State Department to USAID. The working group, convened by Matthew Kavanagh of Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, reviewed the rationale for housing the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) in State and whether that still held true. The group then considered the risks and opportunities posed by moving OGAC, or changing PEPFAR’s organizational or leadership structure, for the U.S. role in the global fight against HIV/AIDS and global health. In addition to other recommendations, the group called for maintaining the current structures of OGAC and PEPFAR as well as reinforcing the whole-of-government approach to global HIV/AIDS that these structures are intended to promote. The working group’s report and full recommendations can be foundhere.

Podcast Episodes:

  • PATH Offers Global Health Security Roadmap for Continued U.S. Engagement: In October, PATH released a new report titled, “Healthier World, Safer America: A U.S. Government Roadmap for International Action to Prevent the Next Pandemic.” In this episode of Take as Directed, Carolyn Reynolds, Vice President for Policy and Advocacy at PATH, joined us to discuss the importance of continued U.S. leadership in global health security and the ways in which PATH is working to keep the health security conversation front and center throughout ongoing budget discussions.

  • The podcast series is available here and on iTunes. Please subscribe using the podcast app.

Documentary:

  • The New Barbarianism – A CSIS Original Documentary Film The New Barbarianism is a CSIS GHPC original feature documentary that explores the surge of violence we have witnessed in recent years against the health sector across multiple wars, both new and old, and the accompanying shredding of international humanitarian norms.
The documentary was screened on December 7 at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). The screening was followed by a panel discussion featuring Peter Piot, Director of LSHTM; Laura Hammond, University of London School of Oriental and African Studies; Louis Lillywhite, Senior Consulting Fellow at Chatham House; Justin Kenny of Small Footprint Films and Co-Director of The New Barbarianism; and myself.

The documentary was also screened on December 18 at the National Academy of Medicine in Washington, DC (pictured above). The screening was followed by a panel discussion featuring Alexandra Boivin, Head of Regional Delegation for U.S. and Canada, International Red Cross; Rebecca Everly, Director, Committee on Human Rights, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Leonard S. Rubenstein, Center for Public Health and Human Rights, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and myself. The panel was moderated by Peggy Hamburg, Foreign Secretary, National Academy of Medicine.

PBS NewsHour featured the documentary in a segment that aired on December 29. In the broadcast, PBS NewsHour anchor Hari Sreenivasan discusses the film, the contribution made by Justin Kenny, co-director and writer (and award-winning, former NewsHour foreign editor), and the wave of violence against the health sector with Dr. Ahmad Tarakji, President of the Syrian American Medical Society, and myself. You can find the full broadcast and transcript here.

If you’re interested in hosting a viewing, please contact Chris Millard (cmillard@csis.org).
 

Next Steps:

As a follow-up to our documentary, The New Barbarianism, the CSIS Global Health Policy Center is exploring what mix of CSIS activities might best address the central question raised in the film: What can be done to prevent violence against health providers and humanitarians? We imagine putting a focus on actions by the U.S. military and counterparts, the U.S. Congress, and international diplomats and other experts keen to update and revitalize respect of international legal norms. To help us answer this question, and with the help of Program Manager and Research Associate Lillian Dattilo, I organized three consultations with external partners who can provide guidance.

  • On December 15, I led a discussion with staffers from offices of prominent Democratic and Republican members of the House and Senate to discuss how U.S. legislators may want to engage in this issue. All of the staffers work for members who play an active role in shaping foreign affairs legislation, and many expressed interest in working with CSIS to build this new initiative in the coming months. We also discussed past attempts to pass legislation on medical neutrality, as well as aspects of international law that no longer apply to the type of violence we see in conflict zones today.

  • We consulted with political counselors of various European embassies. Engaging our partners in Europe is a key factor to the success of this project, and we had a fruitful discussion about the radiating effects of violence against the health sector in warfare. Part of the discussion focused on how to follow-up on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2286, which condemns attacks against medical facilities in conflict zones. We also discussed how to further integrate international organizations and non-profits into this initiative. Sweden and the Netherlands will be on the UN Security Council in 2018 and are eager to be active on these issues.

  • The third consultation was a high-level dinner on December 21. Attendees included senior-level officials in government, legal practice, international organizations, and the military. Several CSIS colleagues were in attendance, including CSIS President John Hamre, to help us determine our next steps in this project.
In the coming weeks, we will decide on a course of action for 2018. Stay tuned!
 

New Hires:

We are pleased to welcome three new hires:
 
  • Alex Bush joins us as a Program Manager and Research Associate and will primarily support our HIV/AIDS research portfolio. Prior to joining CSIS, Alex worked as a research consultant on international health and development projects at the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. He holds a M.P.H. from the George Washington University and a B.A. in economics with a minor in chemistry from William Jewell College.
  • Isra Hussain joins us as a Program Coordinator and Research Assistant and will support the program’s polio and immunization research agenda. Prior to joining CSIS, she interned at the Disparities Research Unit at Harvard Medical School. Isra holds a B.A. in psychology with a minor in Arabic studies from Boston College, where she was a member of the Class of 2017 Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program.
  • Aishwarya Raje joins the Global Health Policy Center as a Program Coordinator and Research Assistant. Prior to joining CSIS, she was a program associate at Meridian International Center, a non-profit organization that administers international exchange programs. Aishwarya holds a B.A. in international studies and Spanish from Johns Hopkins University.

As always, I welcome your questions and comments.

Sincerely,

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