March 2019 newsletter of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center
MARCH 2019

Global Health Policy Center Monthly Update

J. Stephen Morrison

Dear colleague,
Welcome to the March 2019 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 Publications:

More Is Possible Now to Address North Korea’s Health and Humanitarian Needs
Ahead of President Trump and Kim Jong-un’s second summit in Hanoi, I wrote a commentary arguing that the Trump administration and the international community should give serious consideration to concrete actions to protect and advance a health and humanitarian agenda that can directly benefit North Korea’s impoverished majority and reduce the threat of a runaway tuberculosis outbreak. There are several sensible options that could be readily advanced and would not interfere with international sanctions but rather could build confidence and goodwill, meet urgent human needs, lower serious health security threats, and build on the recent shift to greater flexibility. The commentary follows our earlier documentary and analysis undertaken as part of the CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security. I would welcome your thoughts.
Read here.

Recent Events:

Last month, my colleague Aishwarya Raje, GHPC Program Coordinator and Research Assistant, and I attended the 2019 Munich Security Conference, where CSIS hosted two health security-related events as part of the work of the CSIS Commission on Strengthening America's Health Security. The first was a high-level, private roundtable which aimed to discuss health security in geopolitical crises, and featured senior leaders from international organizations, the private sector, and foreign governments. The second event was a public town hall titled “An Update on Ebola in the DRC and Beyond”, which focused on what more needs to be done in terms of high-level diplomacy and security in the rapidly evolving Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, provided opening remarks and an overview of the current situation in the DRC and the WHO’s operational role in combating the outbreak. Other featured speakers were Dr. Michael Ryan, recently appointed Executive Director of the WHO Emergencies Programme; Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF; Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson; and Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. 

Recent Travel:

Sara Allinder, GHPC Executive Director and Senior Fellow, and Janet Fleischman, GHPC Senior Associate, conducted a two-week research trip to South Africa in February to examine HIV hyper-epidemics in the country. Hyper-epidemics refer to areas or populations with adult prevalence above 15 percent, and South Africa has some areas with rates as high as 50-60 percent among young women in antenatal clinics. Sara and Janet met with researchers, implementers, government officials, and affected populations in KwaZulu-Natal Province, Gauteng Province (including Johannesburg and Pretoria), and Cape Town in the Western Cape Province. Their interviews and site visits highlighted the political, economic, and social challenges to achieving control of the HIV epidemic in South Africa, and the particular risks faced by adolescent girls and young women. In addition, they explored the role of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria in supporting the government of South Africa’s national HIV response, and the complicated state of donor funding. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for a commentary on their observations and additional products related to their visit. 

Sara and Janet meeting with peer educators involved in pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) demand creation in Hillbrow Health Precinct, Johannesburg, with Wits RHI (University of Witwatersrand Reproductive Health and HIV Institute)


New Take as Directed Podcast Episodes:

Tune in to our latest Take as Directed episodes and subscribe via your favorite podcast service to get notices of our releases every Tuesday, as well as special bonus episodes throughout the season.
Sustaining Momentum for Polio Eradication in Pakistan
The global campaign to eradicate polio is particularly focused on those three countries that remain polio-endemic: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. In this episode of Take As Directed, Senior Fellow Nellie Bristol is joined by Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq of Pakistan, chairperson of the senate committee on delegated legislation. The senator served as the prime minister’s point person on polio eradication from 2013 through 2018. She discusses the evolution of Pakistan’s polio program, the challenges remaining in achieving an end to transmission, and her hopes for the new government in sustaining momentum.
Listen here.
Navy Admiral Looks to Turn the Tide on the American Opioid Epidemic
In this episode, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff joins me to discuss the story of his son Jonathan, who died from a fentanyl overdose last year. Admiral James "Sandy" Winnefeld is a retired four-star Navy admiral, and has become a vocal advocate for opioid death prevention. He heads Stop the Addiction Fatality Epidemic, or S.A.F.E. Project U.S., a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the opioid epidemic in the United States. Admiral Winnefeld describes how difficult it was to find treatment for Jonathan and recounts the challenges of recognizing signs of recovery—and signs of relapse.
Listen here.
The CDC’s Role in the Eastern Congo Ebola Response
The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains a priority in any discussion of global health security. As of February 17th, there have been 840 cases and 537 deaths in the outbreak, and the response effort continues to encounter insecurity on the ground. In this episode of Take as Directed, I speak with Dr. Mitch Wolfe, Acting Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Washington, D.C. office and the CDC’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Wolfe discusses the role and methods of the CDC in the current Ebola response, as well as what to expect from this dangerous outbreak as we look ahead.
Listen here.

Dr. Mitch Wolfe and I recording this episode of Take as Directed. Photo courtesy of CSIS.

Improving Health Outcomes by Investing in Nutrition
Improving nutrition is among the most transformative and cost-effective interventions in global health and food security. In this episode of Take as Directed, Sara speaks with Dr. Robert Mwadime, Chief of Party of the USAID Integrated Community Agriculture and Nutrition Activity in Uganda, a program administered by Abt Associates. Dr. Mwadime has spent his career working with local governments and donors to administer nutrition and agriculture programs, and shares his thoughts on the future of U.S. investments in nutrition and the importance of multisectoral approaches in improving health outcomes. To learn more about U.S. government nutrition investments in Uganda, visit the GHPC program page for our report titled “Improving Nutrition in East Africa’s Bread Basket” and the on-the-demand video of our October 2018 public event “U.S. Global Nutrition Investments: The Lynchpin for Achieving Broader Health and Development Goals”.
Listen here.

Upcoming episodes include: Lena H. Sun, a national reporter for the Washington Post, speaking to the anti-vaxxer movement in the context of the recent surge of measles outbreaks across the United States.
If you there is something or someone you’d like to hear about on Take as Directed, please email your ideas to us at

The podcast series is available on our website, Spotify, Stitcher, and on iTunes. Please subscribe using the podcast app. 



In the News:

Senior Associate Katherine Bliss’s April 2017 commentary, “Meeting Basic Health Needs in a Venezuela in Crisis: What Roles Can the United States and International Community Play?” provides important global health context and clear insights that remain relevant today. Katherine walks us through her recommendations for how the United States and international community can engage on critical issues to strengthen the health system within Venezuela, which was once internationally recognized for its malaria elimination program, achievements in life expectancy, and progress in addressing infectious diseases. However, since 2014, Venezuela has shown increasingly negative health indicators, and the administration of President Nicolás Maduro has been unwilling to acknowledge the deteriorating health situation. As a result, Venezuela is experiencing the resurgence of diseases such as malaria, chronic malnutrition, and outward migration in search of food and healthcare, creating a health situation that many experts anticipate will remain difficult for the foreseeable future.

Read here.


Upcoming Events:

March 27: Post-Hong Kong: Human Genome Editing's Brave New World
On Wednesday, March 27, from 2:00-3:30 PM, the CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security, which I direct, will co-host a public event on gene editing with the National Academy of Medicine. This event follows the controversy in late November 2018 around the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong, over Chinese scientist He Jiankui’s claim to have created the world’s first babies genetically edited with CRISPR-Cas9. Panelists will include Victor Dzau, President of the National Academy of Medicine, a co-host of the Hong Kong conference; Tim Hunt, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Editas Medicine; and Jeffrey Kahn, Andreas C. Dracopoulos Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. Further details will be available shortly.
Register here.
March 28: Stretching the Dollar, Increasing the Reach: Maximizing U.S. Global Nutrition Investments
On Thursday, March 28, from 3:00-5:00 PM, the GHPC will host a public session to explore how the U.S. government can address the critical gaps and opportunities outlined in our nutrition policy primer, which will be launched at the event. The primer provides a global nutrition 101 for policymakers that examines the priority issues in global nutrition, important institutional players, and the U.S. government’s investments. It concludes with concrete recommendations on how the United States’ approach to nutrition can be strengthened institutionally and financially. Further details will be available shortly.
Register here.

Stay up to date on all of our events by visiting the Global Health Policy Center program page.

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

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 1962 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. It seeks to advance global security and prosperity by providing strategic insights and policy solutions to decisionmakers.

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