Global Health Policy Center Monthly Newsletter: March 2017

Dear colleague,
Welcome to the March 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:


  • Promoting Accountability in Nigeria’s Health System: In late 2016, Richard Downie, Deputy Director and Fellow with the CSIS Africa Program, traveled to Nigeria to examine the U.S.-Nigeria health relationship. In visits to Abuja, Lagos, Ondo State, and Maiduguri, he found a health system that has partially collapsed under the weight of its citizens’ health needs and decades of neglect, mismanagement, and underfunding by governments at the federal, state, and local levels. Health services have been sustained by donors, the private sector, and patients themselves, who pay for most health services out of pocket. Furthermore, with Nigeria in the midst of an economic recession and donor support projected to decline in the coming years, the outlook for health financing is uncertain at best. Despite this gloomy picture, pockets of Nigeria’s health system continue to deliver good services. Richard’s new report looks at how these examples of excellence can be sustained and scaled up, and considers what the new U.S. administration can do to engage most effectively with Nigeria on health.
  • Dangerous Intersection: Zika Transmission and Cuts to Reproductive Health Services in Texas: Senior Associate Katherine Bliss examines the implications of cuts to reproductive health services for low-income women in Texas, where local transmission of Zika virus was reported in late 2016. Considering lessons learned from the experience of Latin American countries with Zika, which is linked to long-term neurological complications in infants born to women infected while pregnant, she notes that the closure of family planning clinics in counties across Texas may limit low-income women's access to contraception at a time when their need is great.
  • What Will It Take to End HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean?: The Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS and Caribbean Faith Leaders met in early February in Trinidad and Tobago to discuss strategies to fight the disease. The groups endorsed initiatives such as increasing prevention through better communication and dissemination of information and facilitating best practices through support of treatment and care. In a commentary published in the Latin America Advisor, Sara Allinder, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, outlines key steps that regional governments can take to enable further success.
  • Examining the Opioid Epidemic: CSIS hosted the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, for a conversation about public health approaches to the opioid epidemic and promotion of emotional well-being. Noting that the quantity of prescribed opioids has quadrupled since 1999 with no significant change in pain reported by patients, the Surgeon General called for increasing access to treatment (including naloxone provision by first responders), more training for healthcare professionals on ways to treat pain effectively, and raising public awareness on the health effects of prescription opioids. He said we should view addiction not as a moral failing, but as a chronic illness deserving of skill, urgency, and compassion. The Surgeon General also emphasized the role of emotional pain as a root cause of disease and contributor to addiction and chronic illness.  As we pursue new cures, Dr. Murthy said compassion and love are our oldest medicines with immense power to heal individuals and communities. The event was fashioned into a podcast episode as part of our Take as Directed series.
Podcast Episodes:
  • Tom Malinowski on Ethiopia and the U.S. Role in Human Rights: In a new episode hosted by Senior Associate Janet Fleischman, guest Tom Malinowski, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, discusses the complicated human rights dialogue between the U.S. and Ethiopia, and reflects on his tenure at the State Department. He also provides his thoughts on human rights under the Trump administration.
  • RADM Tim Ziemer Looks Back at 10+ Years Leading PMI: For ten and a half years, Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer led the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), a historic U.S. Government initiative to reduce the burden of malaria and help relieve poverty in Africa. He has been recognized as “one of the most quietly effective leaders in public health.” This episode, which I hosted, was recorded on his last day as U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator.
  • Ambassador Deborah Birx Reflects on PEPFAR’s Achievements and Priorities: Ambassador-at-Large, Deborah Birx is the Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy. As the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Birx oversees the implementation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in history, as well as all U.S. Government engagement with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. She was asked by the Trump administration to remain at her post until a successor is named and confirmed. In a new episode hosted by Sara Allinder, Ambassador Birx reflects on PEPFAR’s accomplishments and discusses what is next in terms of PEPFAR priorities.
  • Why Should Global Health Matter to U.S. Ambassadors?: In a new episode hosted by Janet Fleischman, U.S. Ambassador Mark Storella reflects on the opportunities and challenges of global health diplomacy and how global health can advance U.S. priorities.
  • Women’s Health in Refugee and Displaced-Person Settings: Sarah Williamson is Executive Director of Protect the People. In a new episode hosted by Sara Allinder, she discusses the health challenges faced by women in refugee and displaced person settings and outlines recommendations for how to address the ongoing refugee crises.
  • The podcast series is available here and you can subscribe using the podcast app. 
Upcoming Events:
  • March 14We will host a conference from 9 am to 2 pm to discuss solutions to Nigeria’s health challenges. Participants will outline policy ideas and program innovations that improve the quality and reach of health care in Africa’s most populous country, as well as emphasize the fact that while Nigeria continues to experience major challenges in delivering quality health services to its citizens, it remains a key diplomatic partner that boasts incredible potential, especially in the health sector. Confirmed speakers include the outgoing Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun MimikoMartin Alilio of the President’s Malaria Initiative; and Hank Tomlinson from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The conference will be used to launch two new reports by the GHPC. "Promoting Accountability in Nigeria’s Health System", by Richard Downie, evaluates the U.S-Nigeria health relationship and suggests strategies for future engagement. "Tackling Infectious Diseases in Nigeria: Turning the Tide on Tuberculosis and Accelerating towards Malaria Elimination", by Audrey Jackson, Senior Fellow, and Deen Garba, Program Coordinator and Research Assistant, examines Nigeria’s progress—with U.S. support—in fighting malaria and TB. Register here.
  • March 20Please join us from 2:30 pm to 5:00 pm for the public launch of the report of the CSIS Task Force on Women’s and Family Health. The Task Force has generated a bold vision for a major U.S. initiative led by the Trump Administration and Congress to unlock the potential of adolescent girls and young women in select low-income countries.

    The event will feature a number of Task Force members, including: Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME); Rep. Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. (R-NY-11); former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL); Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13); Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH); Lisa Carty, Director, U.S. Liaison Office, UNAIDS; Steve Davis, President and CEO, PATH; Christopher Elias, President, Global Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Ezekiel Emanuel, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives and Chair of Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania; Patrick Fine, CEO, FHI 360; Michael Gerson, Senior Adviser, ONE Campaign; Asma Lateef, Director, Bread for the World Institute; Afaf Ibrahim Meleis, Dean Emerita and Professor of Nursing and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing; Diane Rowland, Executive Vice President, Kaiser Family Foundation; and myself.

    The launch will provide an opportunity to walk through the details of the proposal, and to hear more about the process that led to its creation. We will also hear from Task Force members about options for engaging Congress, the administration, and other key actors including the private sector, implementers, multi-lateral organizations, and the faith community. Register here.
  • April 7–9: The 8th Annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) Conference will take place from April 7-9 at the Washington Hilton Hotel. As an organizing partner, CSIS will be convening two sessions as part of the conference. The first will be a plenary, “Where does Global Health Fit in U.S. Foreign Policy and Security Interests?” held from 2:30-4 pm on Friday April 7. The second will be a panel discussion, “Addressing Data and Research Gaps to Advance the Health of Adolescent Girls and Young Women,” held from 4:30-6 pm on Saturday, April 8. For more information, and to register for the conference, visit   

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