Global Health Policy Center Monthly Newsletter: May 2017

Dear colleague,
Welcome to the May 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.

  • New Partnerships Needed After Ebola’s Hard Lessons: Program Manager and Research Associate Chris Millard and I published a new commentary exploring the vital importance of vaccines in both preventing and mitigating the effects of the next pandemic. We argue that three lessons came from the Ebola experience: 1) not having a vaccine at the ready when an outbreak strikes creates huge vulnerabilities and imposes tremendous costs; 2) scrambling to accelerate vaccine development in the middle of an outbreak is expensive and no way to conduct business; and 3) a new approach is needed to create durable partnerships, innovate and act early, and get ahead of the curve in vaccine development against dangerous pathogens. The piece was published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
  • Meeting Basic Health Needs in a Venezuela in Crisis: In a new report, Senior Associate Katherine Bliss examines the deteriorating health situation in Venezuela, where the administration of President Nicolás Maduro has been reluctant to seek external assistance to address the resurgence of malaria, a rise in maternal and infant mortality, and lack of availability of essential medicines following the collapse in international oil prices and a deepening economic crisis. With the government's insistence that there is no humanitarian emergency in Venezuela, and with diplomatic relations between the United States and Venezuela strained, the options for direct U.S. engagement on health are limited. However, Bliss identifies opportunities for the U.S. and other countries in the region to work through the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to encourage the Maduro government to fulfill its obligations to provide health services to the Venezuelan people and with Venezuelan civil society organizations, as well as Venezuelan health care providers living outside the country, to develop proposals for health sector reform, should there be a political opening to introduce them.    
  • HHS and Global Health in the Second Obama Administration: In a new commentary, Jimmy Kolker, former Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), reflects on his tenure at HHS and the key global health issues that occurred during the Second Obama Administration, including Ebola, the Global Health Security Agenda, the World Health Organization’s deficiencies, and health diplomacy.
  • Alan J. Magill Malaria Eradication Symposium: On April 24, 2017, one day before World Malaria Day, we collaborated with the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene to convene the inaugural Alan J. Magill Malaria Eradication Symposium: Accelerating to Zero Through Innovation, Policy and Partnerships. The gathering was in honor of the late Dr. Alan J. Magill, who inspired us with his vision of the achievable defeat of malaria. Dr. Magill was former president of ASTMH, director of the malaria program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The symposium consisted of three panels: progress towards malaria eradication and the critical role of the U.S.; innovative science in support of elimination and countering resistance; and the role of partnerships across sectors in malaria elimination. Bliss’s Venezuela report referenced above was also launched at the event.
  • The Future of Global Health Financing Amid a Changing Policy Landscape: In partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation, we hosted the launch of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME) Financing Global Health 2016 report. Joseph Dieleman, Assistant Professor at IHME, presented the report findings. Tim Evans, Senior Director of Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank Group; Christopher J.L. Murray, Professor and Director at IHME; and myself discussed the policy implications in a panel moderated by Jennifer Kates, Vice President and Director of Global Health and HIV Policy, at the Kaiser Family Foundation. The conversation focused on the implications of these findings going forward; the importance of supporting countries as they transition from low- to middle-income country status; and the stark health disparities that are projected to persist even in 2040.
  • Where Does Global Health Fit in U.S. Foreign Policy and Security Issues?: The GHPC hosted a plenary session exploring where global health fits within broader U.S. foreign policy and national security interests. The plenary was part of the 2017 Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) annual conference. Panelists included Bill Steiger, former Chief Program Officer at Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon; Amy Pope, former Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Homeland Security Advisor on the National Security Council Staff during the Obama Administration; Eric Goosby, professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and former U.S. PEPFAR czar; and Bob Kadlec, former Special Assistant to George W Bush for Biodefense Policy. The conversation focused on the significant success brought about by high-level U.S. engagement in global health, and how such investments have become increasingly fundamental to advancing U.S. foreign policy and security interests. The panel also addressed how such gains are tenuous and how sustained, long-term progress rests on clear policy priorities, predictable, multi-year budgets, a durable, bipartisan consensus in Congress, and an administration that prioritizes global health even in the face of other competing interests.
  • Addressing Data and Research Gaps to Advance the Health of Adolescent Girls and Young Women: The GHPC also hosted a breakout session at CUGH focused on the research agenda needed to improve health outcomes for adolescent girls and young women. The panel, which was moderated by Deputy Director and Senior Fellow Sara Allinder, included Amie Batson, Chief Strategy Officer, PATH; Asma Lateef, Director, Bread of World Institute; and Ezekiel Emmanuel, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress, University of Pennsylvania. Building on the work of the CSIS Task Force on Women’s and Family Health, the discussion focused on how major gaps in data—including demographics, disaggregation, and output indicators—complicate efforts to reach adolescent girls with health programs tailored to meet their needs and on the stark need for research and development to discover new products and innovations. Panelists also discussed how nutrition stands out as an area where much more research is needed to understand the range of issues adolescent girls face, and how programs can be built to complement other critical health interventions.
  • The Administration’s Budget Congress, and Global Health: The GHPC hosted a CUGH satellite session on the new policies and actions by the Trump Administration and Congress on global health and the implications for the U.S. academic community and its partners. The panel, which I moderated, featured Liz Schrayer, President and CEO of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition; Jennifer Kates; and Chris Beyrer, Director of Center for Public Health and Human Rights, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The conversation focused on current uncertainties and the budget cuts proposed in the Trump Administration’s March 16 blueprint budget.
Podcast Episodes:
  • Task Force Member Chris Elias on Family Planning: Chris Elias is President of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He was also a member of the CSIS Task Force on Women’s and Family Health, which generated a bold vision for a major U.S. initiative led by the Trump Administration with the goal of securing the health and prospects of adolescent girls and young women in 13 low-income countries. The Task Force unveiled its final report at CSIS on March 20. We asked him to discuss the Task Force recommendation to increase access to voluntary family planning.
  • We plan to post two additional podcasts with Task Force Members Steve Davis, President and CEO of PATH, and Jeff Sturchio, President and CEO of Rabin Martin, on Friday, May 5.
  • The podcast series is available here and you can subscribe using the podcast app. 
  • Malawi: Janet Fleischman, Senior Associate, and Katey Peck, Program Manager and Research Associate, traveled to Malawi to examine implementation of DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe). This PEPFAR-led public-private partnership, designed to reduce HIV incidence in adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in 10 countries in east and southern Africa, grows out of the stark data showing that 75 percent of new HIV infections among young people in sub-Saharan Africa are female. To reach this population, DREAMS includes a package of evidence-based, multi-sectoral interventions spanning education for girls, family planning and HIV services, economic empowerment, gender-based violence, community norms change, and programs for parents and male partners. Through meetings in Lilongwe and site visits in Machinga district, the team met with U.S. and Malawian government officials, implementing partners, civil society representatives, traditional leaders, and young women participating in DREAMS programs. The visit highlighted some of the major opportunities and challenges of this ambitious approach to reach 10-24 year-old young women, and the urgency of reaching this population for epidemic control.

    This is an important moment for adolescent girl programming in Malawi, signaled by a high-level mission in December 2016 that included leadership from PEPFAR, the Global Fund, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Partnership for Education, and Girls Not Brides, which led to a Malawian interministerial task force that is developing a national strategy. DREAMS has contributed to this focus on AGYW, and many are hoping to learn from the program’s approach. CSIS will be publishing further information about DREAMS and Malawi in the coming weeks.
  • Botswana and Namibia: Fleischman participated in a delegation to Botswana and Namibia organized by Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon that included former President George W. and Mrs. Laura Bush. The trip focused on programs to screen for and treat cervical cancer linked to the PEPFAR platform, as HIV infected women are up to five times more likely to develop cervical cancer, and national efforts to roll out the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls.
  • Japan: On April 14, the GHPC and the Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI), with support from Gilead Sciences, Inc., co-hosted a half day symposium in Tokyo exploring how governments can best balance healthcare innovation with long-term financial sustainability. The event featured discussions with experts from Japan and the U.S., including Karen DeSalvo, former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and former Acting Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS; David Gollaher, Vice President of Government Affairs and Policy at Gilead Sciences, Inc.; and Xavier Chan, Director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, Asia. A rapporteur’s report summarizing the day’s discussion will be forthcoming.
Upcoming Events:
  • May 8: In partnership with the World Affairs Council of Atlanta, CARE USA, and the McKinsey Social Initiative, we are hosting the sixth annual Atlanta Summit on Global Health. This conference will focus on adolescent girls and women in low-income countries. Confirmed speakers include Anne Schuchat, Acting Director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Michelle Nunn, CEO, CARE; and Mayor Kasim Reed, City of Atlanta. The summit will feature the newly released report of the CSIS Task Force on Women’s and Family Health, which proposes a major U.S. initiative to expand the delivery of four proven health interventions to adolescent girls and young women. Register here.
  • May 17: The Communication Initiative Network is hosting a panel discussion on current polio circulation, opportunities and challenges facing the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and reflections on the way forward. The panel discussion will feature Ellyn Ogden, USAID; Ellen Coates, former Director of the CORE Group Polio Project; and GHPC Program Manager and Research Associate Chris Millard. Registration information will be forthcoming.
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