Policy Updates

Each week, Donor Tracker's team of country-based experts bring you the most important policy and funding news across issue areas in the form of Policy Updates.

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Germany hosts World AIDS conference, reasserts 2030 goals

July 22, 2024 | Germany, Global Health | Share this update

On July 22, 2024, the World AIDS Conference, hosted in Munich, kicked off with a call to reinforce the fight against HIV/AIDS and protect vulnerable groups from discrimination.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated the goal to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030. He announced that Germany will join the UNAIDS Global Partnership for Action to Eliminate all Forms of HIV-related Stigma and Discrimination. Scholz further noted that Germany is contributing EUR1.3 billion to the Global Fund from 2023 to 2025 and stressed that Germany will continue its support for the Global Fund, as well as for UNAIDS and WHO.

Germany has introduced significant cuts to development in its 2025 draft budget. The German contribution to the Global Fund for its upcoming replenishment and funding cycle remains uncertain.

Press release - SZ article (in German)

South Korean companies pursue global health projects

July 21, 2024 | South Korea, Global Health R&D, Global Health | Share this update

On July 21, 2024, an article following the efforts of South Korean bio-companies to proactively pursuing projects to promote global health was published, emphasizing contributions to vaccine capabilities and technology sharing.

SK Bioscience is implementing a ‘glocalization’ project to contribute to solving the vaccine imbalance problem triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and expand into overseas markets. The project aims to transfer vaccine research and production capabilities to overseas governments and partners to build production infrastructure that meets the needs of each region.

Lunit, a South Korean medical AI-based company, is promoting a project to supply AI image analysis such as chest X-rays and mammograms to Africa in cooperation with KOICA and other international organizations. Lunit spokespeople have stated the hope that the technology will be a win-win strategy for entering new markets and improving health care in developing countries. Seegene, a molecular diagnostic company, has also promoted a similar technology-sharing program.

These initiatives are a result of South Korea’s bio industry’s pursuit of profits and ESG strategies. There is a global need for bio-innovative technologies to be used for public purposes, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Global health experts have recommended that government ministries should cooperate with the domestic bioengineering industry to become more active in the global health sphere.

News article - Yna (in Korean)

Ursula von der Leyen endorsed as European Commission President

July 18, 2024 | EUI, Agriculture, Gender Equality, Climate, Global Health | Share this update

On July 18, 2024, the European Parliament endorsed Ursula von der Leyen for a second term as President of the European Commission through a secret ballot, where she received 401 votes, 41 votes above the 361 votes needed to get a qualified majority.

Von der Leyen received 289 votes against, 15 abstentions, and 7 votes were invalid. The secret ballot suggests von der Leyen managed to garner support from a coalition of pro-European, democratic groups across the center-left and right. Experts noted that this could indicate that a centrist coalition is possible, though future policy decisions will need to be built on a case-by-case basis amidst ongoing polarization.

During the debate that preceded the vote, von der Leyen outlined her political priorities for the next five years. The main proposals related to EU global engagement included appointing a Commissioner for Enlargement and one for the Mediterranean, developing a new economic foreign policy through the Global Gateway, and focusing on strategic partnerships, particularly with Africa ahead of the EU-Africa Summit in 2025.

Von der Leyen emphasized the need for the EU to remain a leader in international climate negotiations and proposed new initiatives, such as a European Climate Adaptation Plan and a Clean Industrial Deal. Her agenda included a focus on security and defense, with plans to create a European Defense Union, appoint a new Commissioner for Defense, as well as developing a new European Migration and Asylum strategy and a Pact for the Mediterranean. Von der Leyen's focus on health has decreased since the pandemic, with a focus mainly on a Critical Medicines Act, an action plan for hospital cybersecurity, and a strategy to support medical countermeasures through HERA.

The focus of the EU's new seven-year budget will be on simplicity, flexibility, speed, and strategic priorities. It will streamline funding allocation, moving away from a program-based budget to a policy-based one. External action financing is expected to further align with EU interests. Von der Leyen also highlighted support for the introduction of new EU resources.

Von der Leyen's proposals reflected the current geopolitical landscape and internal EU dynamics, focusing on strengthening the Union’s resilience and strategic interests. Her agenda also proposed a significant increase in research and innovation spending, the establishment of new roles, such as a Commissioner for Equality and a Commissioner for Intergenerational Fairness, the set-up of a new European Competitiveness Fund, and policies addressing housing, youth, and agriculture.

Press release - European ParliamentConference statement - European CommissionGovernment document - European Commission

US provides additional humanitarian assistance to Chad, Sudan

July 18, 2024 | US, Agriculture, WASH & Sanitation, Global Health | Share this update

On July 18, 2024, the US announced additional humanitarian assistance to both Chad and Sudan to help alleviate urgent humanitarian needs, totaling US$203 million for the people of Sudan and US$69 million for the people of Chad.

The assistance in Chad is intended to help address the needs of crisis-affection populations that are facing severe food insecurity, in part because of the conflict in Sudan and the refugee crisis it has caused. In Sudan, populations are facing historic levels of food insecurity, including famine.

In both cases, the humanitarian assistance will include food, nutrition, health care, WASH services, shelter, and cash. The assistance funding comes through both the US State Department and USAID.

Press release - USAIDPress release - USAID

UK global health review finds funding is relevant, should focus more on high-impact interventions

July 16, 2024 | UK, Global Health R&D, Global Health | Share this update

On July 16, 2024, the UK’s ICAI, the leading body responsible for assessing UK development policy and spending, published a landmark review of the UK's DHSC assistance-funded global health R&D.

The review is the first of its kind by ICAI. It provided a comprehensive overview of the UK's global health research efforts and its global impact. In 2023, DHSC’s ODA spending was the third-largest of all government departments, after the FCDO and the Home Office.

A significant share of UK health ODA is spent on research, far larger than many other DAC donors. Between 2018-2019 and 2024-2025, DHSC’s ODA spend on global health research will total almost GBP1 billion (US$1.3 billion). This funding goes to DHSC’s Global Health Research portfolio managed by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, and a Global Health Security research and innovation portfolio managed by DHSC.

The review was largely positive, highlighting the impact of ODA-funded global health R&D by DHSC. The research has played a crucial role in improving healthcare worldwide, addressing health challenges in developing countries, and tackling issues that are often underfunded and stigmatized. The report highlighted case studies in Malawi, India, and Brazil and confirmed the relevance of the research to local health challenges.

While the review was positive, it also underscored the need for more rigorous tracking of research project impacts to ensure that investments are directed towards areas with the potential for the greatest impact. Additionally, the review recommended that DHSC's ODA be untied, allowing researchers in low- and middle-income countries to choose their own global partners.

ICAI recommendations included calling for DHSC to:

  • Focus research on areas with the biggest impact by improving the tracking of impact across its research portfolio and bolstering its guidance for potential applicants;
  • Progressively untie its assistance for global health research, to ensure value for money and allow low- and middle-income country researchers to identify the best partners; and
  • More work more closely with FCDO to strengthen UK health ODA coherence and alignment to partner country needs and priorities.
Report - ICAI

Sweden unveils US$85 million strategy to address Syrian crisis

July 9, 2024 | Sweden, Nutrition, Education, Gender Equality, International development, Security policy, Global Health | Share this update

On July 9, 2024, the Swedish government announced a three-year, SEK880 million (US$85 million), strategy to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria and its impact on neighboring countries.

The plan, to be implemented by Sida, aims to support Syrians both within their country and those who have sought refuge in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.

Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell emphasized the severity of the crisis under Syria's authoritarian regime and noted that more than half of Syria's civilian population has been displaced.

The strategy focuses on improving livelihood opportunities and access to basic public services for Syrians and refugees. It also emphasizes support for human rights, with particular attention to women's rights and religious freedom.

Sweden's approach includes efforts to hold the Assad regime accountable for its actions against Syrian civilians. Additionally, the plan addressed the crisis's broader implications for Europe, including irregular migration and the threat of violent extremism. The initiative aims to create more sustainable conditions for Syrian refugees and their host communities, while promoting voluntary return to Syria when conditions allow.

The international community continues to grapple with the long-term consequences of the Syrian conflict, now in its 13th year. Sweden's strategy reflects a growing recognition of the need for comprehensive, regional approaches to protracted crises and underscores the ongoing humanitarian challenges in the region as well as the complex interplay between assistance, migration, and security concerns.

Press release - Press Release - Government of Sweden

US provides additional US$57 million in humanitarian assistance to South Sudan

July 5, 2024 | US, Nutrition, WASH & Sanitation, Global Health | Share this update

On July 5, 2024, the US, in response to the continuing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, announced an additional US$57 million to the people of South Sudan to address the compound effects of violence, mass migration, and climate events such as seasonal flooding.

The care provided by the US will include health, WASH services, shelter, and other protections for vulnerable populations.

The UN estimates that 73% of the local population will need humanitarian assistance in 2024. 1.6 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition.

The US has provided US$351 million in FY2024 and a total of US$7.3 billion to South Sudan since 2011, when the country gained its independence.

Press release - USAID

PEPFAR faces additional funding cuts in FY2025

July 4, 2024 | US, Global Health | Share this update

On July 4, 2024, it was reported that PEPFAR, which had already faced hurdles on reauthorization, appears set to be cut by more than 6% in FY2025.

The US' Biden administration is planning to cut the program by 6% in FY2025. PEPFAR was due to be reauthorized for an additional five-year term in 2023, but accusations of using funding for abortions, which is prohibited by US law, eventually led the program to be reauthorized for a single year.

Supporters of PEPFAR worry that the progress made since the turn of the century will be jeopardized. PEPFAR is viewed as one of the most effective US foreign assistance programs, but progress across countries has been uneven. HIV/AIDS advocates called for a strategic review of the program to ensure past gains are not lost.

News article - Devex

Japan hosts strategic dialogue on treatment for schistosomiasis

July 4, 2024 | Japan, Global Health | Share this update

On July 4, 2024, Japan hosted a strategic dialogue in Tokyo that brought together key stakeholders committed to ensuring preschool-aged children have access to a new pediatric treatment for schistosomiasis.

Schistosomiasis affects tens of millions globally, particularly in Africa, where 50 million preschool-aged children are thought to be at risk. The Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium developed a previously unavailable pediatric option, financially supported by various international partnerships. Recent milestones, including a positive opinion from the European Medicines Agency and WHO prequalification, have paved the way for broader access.

The Tokyo event was organized by Uniting Efforts, which is a joint initiative of the Japanese government, GHIT Fund, and the UNDP-led ADP. The meeting included representatives from the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium, WHO, and several African countries. Japan’s long-term support in addressing neglected tropical diseases was highlighted, with officials emphasizing the need for equitable and sustainable patient access to the new treatment.

Stakeholders discussed the importance of collaboration, technical support, and resource mobilization for implementing the new treatment. Insights from pilot deployments in Tanzania and Uganda were shared, focusing on optimal delivery models, implementation protocols, and advocacy strategies. The dialogue underscored the necessity of inter-country knowledge exchange and a shared commitment to eliminating schistosomiasis as a public health problem by 2030.

Press release - The Access and Delivery Partnership

Japan provides US$6 million in medical supplies to Uzbekistan

July 3, 2024 | Japan, Global Health | Share this update

On July 3, 2024, Japan signed and exchanged letters with Uzbekistan to provide four medical containers worth JPY1 billion (US$6 million) as part of its Economic and Social Development Program.

In Uzbekistan, particularly in rural areas, medical facilities face shortages and outdated equipment, hindering timely and adequate medical care. Rising transportation costs further burden the rural poor, making it difficult to access necessary medical services in urban centers and forcing some to forego essential examinations and treatments.

The cooperation involves supplying four medical containers equipped with CT scanners, X-ray machines, and other medical equipment to rural Uzbekistan, facilitating mobile healthcare. This initiative is expected to enhance access to medical services for rural residents, strengthening the country’s overall healthcare system and contributing to its economic and social development.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (in Japanese)

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