WHO released a new Global Influenza Strategy for 2019–2030 this month, “the most comprehensive and far-reaching [strategy] that WHO has ever developed for influenza,” according to its press release. The two overarching goals of the strategy are 1) to build strong country capacities for disease surveillance and response, prevention and control, and preparedness and 2) to develop better tools to prevent, detect, control and treat influenza.
U.S. President Trump submitted a budget request to Congress that called for a 23 percent reduction in the international affairs budget, including ending all funding to UNICEF, UNDP, UNEP, UNFPA, UN Women and nearly 20 other international organizations.
In previous budget requests, the president proposed a 33 percent decrease in 2017 and a 29 percent decrease in 2018; Congress rejected both cuts. Both the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee called the proposed foreign affairs budget “dead on arrival.”
Lebanon withdrew its nomination of Ziad Hayek for the World Bank presidency early this month, leaving senior U.S. Treasury official and Trump nominee David Malpass primed to become its next leader. This continues the long-standing tradition of an American leading the World Bank, despite growing criticism of this convention. World Bank directors expect to conclude their selection process before their spring meetings in April.
Global Health 50/50 released its 2019 annual report, assessing 198 global health organizations on their sexual harassment policies, gender pay gap and gender parity in leadership. Key findings of the report included a 13.5 percent pay gap, with men 50 percent more likely to reach senior management than women. Only one-quarter of organizations have publicly-available sexual harassment policies, and of those, only 30 percent used common best practices in their policies.
The sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) took place March 11–22 at United Nations headquarters in New York, bringing together representatives of member states, UN entities and civil society organizations from around the world to address issues faced by women.
According to a UN report released earlier this month, over 320 people reported sexual violence and exploitation by UN staff or affiliates in 2018, a significant increase from 2017. The UN attributed the increase to “special measures,” first implemented in 2017, that aim to improve reporting processes and allow for victims to file reports without fear of retribution or reprisal.
The second High-Level Conference on South-South Cooperation met March 20-22 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The first conference, held in 1978, adopted the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA) focused on improving technical cooperation among developing countries. This year’s conference added the concept of triangular cooperation, where developed states and multilateral organizations facilitate South-South initiatives.
The second WHO Africa Health Forum, co-hosted by the government of Cabo Verde and WHO AFRO, took place March 26–28 in Praia, Cabo Verde. The forum concluded with a road map for governments and partners in the region to meet Africa’s health needs. The recommendations call for faster action building national health systems, prioritizing primary health care, ensuring that vulnerable groups are reached, strengthening public-private partnerships, and greater, more efficient investment.
March 7, 2019 — In an internal email Thursday, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore announced high-level leadership changes for two UNICEF regions, as well as a new director for internal audits.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the six WHO regional directors announced sweeping changes to WHO’s organizational structure and leadership during an all-staff global teleconference on Wednesday.
President Trump formally nominated David Malpass, U.S. Treasury undersecretary, for the vacant World Bank presidency early this month. The nomination concerns some World Bank members because of Malpass’ criticism of the institution and fears that he will use the position to advance Trump administration foreign policy priorities.
China leapfrogged Japan to become the second-largest donor to the UN’s regular budget in 2018, recognizing value in the multilateral system as the country increases its international clout. According to Bloomberg, analysts worry that China’s increasingly expansive approach and budget influence may undermine human rights efforts, as suggested by China’s and Russia’s (unsuccessful) push last year to cut human rights posts within peacekeeping missions.
The World Food Programme (WFP) provoked controversy this month by signing a five-year, $45 million partnership with data mining firm Palantir to use its software to link internal data systems and streamline delivery of food and cash-based assistance. According to WFP, the partnership builds on an earlier pilot project between the two organizations, which supported WFP’s Optimus supply chain optimization tool. According to WFP, Optimus has saved more than $30 million in operations where it is being used and tested.
Gavi announced earlier this month that the United Kingdom will host its fifth replenishment conference in 2020, to raise funds to support Gavi’s programs for 2021–2025. Gavi will publish the investment case, including the required amount, later this year. The previous Gavi replenishment conference was held in Berlin in January 2015 and raised $7.5 billion for the 2016–2020 period.
WHO’s Executive Board (EB) meeting earlier this month was criticized on multiple fronts by pharmaceutical companies and civil society organizations (CSOs), with objections focused on WHO’s draft roadmap on access to medicines and proposed rules changes to limit civil society input into WHO decision-making, according to a Devex article.