What we’re reading: A CDC director’s conflicts, Trump administration global health impacts a year in, and a Global Gag Rule update

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CDC Director Resigns – “a large, complicated stock portfolio that included hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments . . .[in] tobacco companies . . . as well as a number of pharmaceutical stocks” was too much baggage for new CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald to carry while overseeing national and global public health endeavors. Politico, which reported Tuesday that the physician and public servant continued investing in tobacco shares a month after taking office, breaks down the multiple conflicts of interest here, that would have caused her to recuse herself from large areas of her agency’s responsibilities. Dr. Fitzgerald, whose exit was preceded that of her boss, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, had cited difficulties unloading her existing concerning investments and had also raised eyebrows with her endorsement of “anti-aging medicine.”

A check up on U.S. Global Health Policy – A year after the inauguration of a President who vowed to put “America First,” the Kaiser Family Foundation looks at changes affecting infectious disease responses globally, and upcoming issues. Continued strong bipartisan support for global heath responses in Congress, and polls showing that about 50 percent of Americans favor the United States taking a major role in public health improvements worldwide, indicate that some domestic challenges to U.S.-led international disease-fighting efforts can be overcome. At the same time, the report notes that unfilled ambassador and in-country staff positions, along with policy changes that include the reinstated “Mexico City Policy” (see more below) present obstacles to current efforts and strong signals of future directions.

The Global Gag Rule’s Effects – This is not the first effort to examine the impacts of the expanded “Mexico City Policy,” also known as the the Global Gag Rule for its restrictions on the information and services U.S.-funded overseas medical providers can offer their patients, that President Trump reinstated last year. It also won’t be the last if the State Department follows through on plans to evaluate the effects of the policy within the year. But this piece, which provides links to a number of other sources, breaks down the intended and unintended consequences of the rule.

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