Global Health Policy Center Monthly Newsletter: October 2016

Dear colleague,
Welcome to the October 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:


  • September 20: Last October, we convened the CSIS Task Force on Women’s and Family Health because we saw an historic opportunity for the United States to advance the health of women and their families around the world. Over the past year, this bipartisan group of 25 thought leaders has worked to formulate a clear, concrete vision for the next administration and Congress on how the U.S. can best contribute to the four critical areas of reproductive health and family planning; maternal, newborn, and child health; nutrition; and immunizations. Its mandate includes outlining steps which can accelerate innovation, better leverage the private sector, and bring about integration across different programs. At its September 20 meeting, the Task Force reached a consensus to place a special emphasis on adolescent girls and young women. On September 29, Helene Gayle briefed the National Academy of Medicine committee on the work of the Task Force. The Task Force's final report will be completed in early 2017 and formally launched on March 8, 2017 at CSIS.
  • September 29: I moderated a conversation with Philippe Douste-Blazy, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Innovative Financing for Development, on his candidacy for Director-General of the World Health Organization. Dr. Douste-Blazy shared his vision for a reformed, stronger WHO. His plans include an enhanced diplomatic role for the Director-General, consisting of direct consultations with heads of state to set health agendas. In this role, he plans to frame health in economic and global security terms. Douste-Blazy also stressed increased reliance on innovative financing, which he implemented as founder and Chair of UNITAID. Other keystones of his proposal include pandemic preparedness, NCDs, health systems strengthening, affordable and accessible medicines, and anti-microbial resistance. The first round of voting for WHO Director-General will occur in January 2017, and the final election in May 2017.
  • October 6: We hosted a conversation with David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change, on his candidacy for Director-General of the World Health Organization. Sara Allinder, CSIS GHPC Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, moderated the conversation. A webcast of the event will be available early next week on the Global Health Policy Center’s webpage. CSIS hopes to convene sessions with the other candidates in the coming months.
  • Myanmar's New Dawn: Opportunities for Aung San Suu Kyi and U.S.-Myanmar Relations: Myanmar entered a new democratic era on April 1, 2016, when the National League for Democracy (NLD) government took over from the prior military government following a landslide electoral victory. In May 2016, the CSIS Global Health Policy Center and the Southeast Asia Program led a congressional staff delegation trip to Myanmar. The delegation examined the efforts of the new government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, to create a system of government that effectively shares power between the federal and state governments, to reach an enduring peace agreement with warring ethnic armed minority groups, and to address its significant economic and health challenges. The trip report, launched on the occasion of Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to Washington D.C., highlights the government's ongoing efforts to improve maternal and child health, to build up the country's primary health care system, and to eliminate malaria and prevent drug-resistant malaria from spreading beyond Myanmar’s borders, with the support of the U.S. and other international donors. They offer recommendations to the U.S. government as it continues to strengthen U.S.-Myanmar bilateral relations and support the nascent democratic transition.
  • Healthy Experiments: Innovative Approaches to U.S. Support for RMNCH in Ghana: In May 2016, a delegation from the CSIS Task Force on Women’s and Family Health traveled to Ghana to examine U.S.-Ghana bilateral cooperation on reproductive, maternal, neonatal, and child health (RMNCH) issues, as well as the way U.S. bilateral assistance on immunization programs complements support provided to Ghana by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The trip report, launched in early September, discusses the country’s partnership with Gavi and plans for sustaining high immunization coverage as it transitions from Gavi support; the U.S.-Ghana experiment with government-to-government financing at the sub-national level; the challenge of extending health services, including family planning services, to the community level; and the U.S. emphasis on building capacity for maternal and child health through health systems strengthening. It concludes with a series of recommendations for strengthening innovative U.S. engagement in Ghana and extending lessons learned from work in Ghana to other contexts.
  • Interview with Jon Andrus, Executive Director, Sabin Vaccine Institute, on measles elimination in the Americas, September 29, 2016: Measles elimination in the Americas was the topic of an interview September 28 between Sabin Vaccine Institute Executive Director Jon Andrus and Senior Fellow Nellie Bristol. The Americas region, which includes Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, is the first of the six World Health Organization regions to eliminate the disease. Dr. Andrus explains the significance of this milestone and the lessons learned that can be applied to other regions.
  • Richard Downie, Deputy Director of the CSIS Africa Program, traveled to Nigeria in September as part of a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to examine some of the United States’ most important bilateral health relationships. During visits to Abuja, Lagos, Maiduguri, and Ondo State, Richard saw a health system under severe economic strain, struggling to service a population with acute health challenges. He also found examples of good practice. In particular, Ondo State, in southwest Nigeria, has driven down maternal death by incentivizing women to give birth at health centers rather than rely on the services of Traditional Birth Attendants. Read his recent blog on the use of incentives to reduce maternal mortality in Ondo State. A detailed trip report is forthcoming.
  • October 13: Documentary Screening: “Ebola in America: Epidemic of Fear.” Please join us from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm at the Newseum for a screening of our groundbreaking documentary that illuminates how Americans experienced Ebola in 2014. The documentary features people at the heart of the response, including Dr. Kent Brantly, the first American to return to the United States to receive treatment for the disease; White House Ebola czar Ron Klain; and CDC director Tom Frieden. A panel discussion on how Americans experienced Ebola in 2014, and the news media’s role in that health crisis — including the Zika virus — will follow the screening. Panelists will include: Nurith Aizenman, Correspondent, Global Health and Development, NPR; Helene Cooper, National Security Correspondent, New York Times; Ray Suarez, writer and lecturer, formerly of Al Jazeera America and PBS’ Newshour; and myself. Gene Policinski, Chief Operating Officer, Newseum Institute and First Amendment Center, will moderate the conversation. Click here to RSVP.
  • October 20: On Thursday, October 20, the CSIS Global Health Policy Center will host a session focused on the new Lancet series “Maternal Health 2016.” Ten years after The Lancet published a series on maternal survival, this new release highlights current knowledge, successes, and gaps within the new development framework of the Sustainable Development Goals. During the session, series contributor Margaret Kruk, Associate Professor of Global Health at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, will speak to the content of “Maternal Health 2016.” Her remarks will be followed by a discussion highlighting the policy implications for the series. The conversation will also feature Elizabeth Fox, Deputy Coordinator for Maternal and Child Survival at USAID, and Mariam Claeson, Director of the Global Financing Facility for Every Woman Every Child at the World Bank. Janet Fleischman, Senior Associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, will moderate. The event will be webcast live. Click here to RSVP.
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