EU foreign ministers endorse new Africa-EU Partnership Strategy

EU foreign ministers have endorsed a new joint EU-Africa Strategy that seeks to strengthen mutual engagement, address security, and promote sustainable, inclusive economic African development. The Strategy Communication, launched in May 2017, identifies two strands for these objectives. First, the strategy aims at building more resilient states and societies, with a focus on 1) preventing conflicts, address crises and peace-building, 2) strengthening governance systems; and 3) managing migration and mobility. Second, it aims at creating more and better jobs, especially for youth, with a focus on 1) attracting investments, 2) promoting renewable energy, 3) transforming African agriculture and agro-businesses, and 4) improving knowledge and skills in the African continent. The European Council’s endorsement underscored the importance of human rights, gender equality, and sexual and reproductive health and rights in the work to be supported by the new strategy.

Press release - Council of the EU

EDCTP and Mundo Sano Foundation agree to co-fund research on NIDs

The Mundo Sano Foundation and the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) have agreed to partner on research funding for neglected infectious diseases (NIDs). During the next two EDCTP calls for proposals, the private foundation will contribute up to €2 million on top of the EDCTP’s budgeted €30 million for clinical and product-focused implementation research. The two calls for proposals will be launched once the European Commission approves the EDCTP 2017 work plan.

News report - EDCTP

European Medicines Agency prepares for Brexit

The Management Board of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has begun to prepare for the likelihood that the UK will become a “third country” under its protocols starting in March 2019. EMA, which is currently located in London, regulates the effectiveness, safety, and quality of medicines while maintaining a regulatory environment supporting innovation and development of new medicines. Due to the exit of the UK from the EU, the EMA must prepare for re-location to an EU member state, as well as  redistribution of workload and provision of guidance and information to pharmaceutical companies in this new landscape. 

Press release - EMA

Australia appoints first ambassador for regional health security

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has announced the appointment of Australia’s first-ever Ambassador for Regional Health Security, Mr Blair Exell. Mr Exell currently serves as First Assistant Secretary in the Development Policy Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. According to Bishop, the creation of the role is "an important step in reducing health security risks" to the region, and signals Australia’s commitment to leading in this area. The new role expands the responsibilities currently undertaken by the Australian Ambassador for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, in order to “advance Australia’s interests” by focusing on the particular needs of the Indo-Pacific.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs 

Australia Global health

EU, Japan, and US to coordinate fight against anti-microbial resistance by aligning data standards

Drug regulatory agencies from the EU, Japan, and the US have agreed to align their data requirements to stimulate the development of new treatments to fight antimicrobial resistance. Each regulatory agency will now develop streamlined guidance documents and advise medicine developers in line with the new agreement. The agreement took place at a high-level meeting in Vienna, which follows an initial meeting that took place in September 2016 where the agencies discussed regulatory approaches for the evaluation of new antibacterial agents.

Press release - European Medicines Agency

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Canada’s development minister announces US$78 million to eradicate polio

Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced that Canada will contribute CAD100 million (US$78 million) over three years to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative's Endgame Strategic Plan, which aims to eradicate polio by 2020.  Canada has been a long-time supporter of the fight against polio, contributing CAD600 million (US$470 million) to its eradication since 2000. The announcement was made at 'Drop to Zero', a global polio pledging event held in Atlanta, Georgia, in June 2017, and is part of Canada’s commitment to eliminating the disease polio by 2030. 

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

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Australia commits A$18 million to global polio eradication

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has announced that the Australian government will contribute new funding to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to support the global fight to end polio. Australia will provide a further A$18 million (US$13.5 million) over two years (2019-2020) to contribute to ending polio transmission in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria – the only countries where polio remains active. This announcement brings Australia's total funding for GPEI to A$104 million (US$78 million) since 2011.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs

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Canada launches new feminist foreign assistance policy

After a year of extensive consultations with the Canadian civil society and the public at large, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau, has launched a new feminist international assistance policy. With it, Canada joins a handful of countries who either have explicit feminist international development policies or gendered policies and plans, including Australia, Sweden, and Norway.

The new policy will apply a human rights-based approach to six core pillars:

  • Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls
  • Human dignity (including health education, humanitarian assistance, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and food security)
  • Inclusive growth
  • Environment and climate change
  • Inclusive governance
  • Peace and security.

Other highlights  include:

  • By 2021-2022, “at least 95 percent of Canada’s bilateral international development assistance investments will either target or integrate gender equality or the empowerment of women and girls”.
  • Discontinuation of Canada’s “countries-of-focus”, shifting instead towards a regional allocation with a focus on least developed countries and by which no less than 50% of Canada’s bilateral international assistance will go to countries in sub-Saharan Africa by 2021-2022. The allocation strategy is to be released at a later date.

The policy does not come with a costed funding framework, and the Budget 2017 released this spring did not specify any new increases in spending. However, the government announced that it will contribute an additional CAD150 million (US$117 million) over five years to support local organizations that work to advance women’s rights in developing countries.   

Press release – Global Affairs Canada

Canada’s new international assistance policy – Government of Canada

Lancet Journal and LSHTM launch new series on health in humanitarian crises

The Lancet and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have released a series of four papers that highlight gaps in the understanding of the health impacts of humanitarian crises.

The papers call for aligning humanitarian interventions with development programs, for more timely and robust health-information distribution, and for improvement in leadership and coordination to ensure that interventions are more efficient, effective, and sustainable. In addition, the papers call for action to ensure the protection of humanitarian workers. The series brings together lessons learned from "recent failures in humanitarian crises" and "to provide recommendations to improve a broken system".

Website – The Lancet

Italian health NGOs denounce lack of attention paid to health at G7

Several Italian health NGOs have claimed that this sector was a missing piece of the G7 Summit in Taormina, noting that the language around health in leaders’ communiqué is weak compared to the previous G7.  Representatives of a variety of organizations pointed out that this year health was not openly recognized as a human right, nor were there explicit references to Universal Health Coverage (UHC), GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, or the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

News article - Sociale Corriere (in Italian)

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