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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.N. Launches Zero Hunger Challenge In Asia, Pacific

The U.N. on Monday in Bangkok “launched the Zero Hunger Challenge in Asia and the Pacific, calling on governments, farmers, scientists, business, civil society and consumers to work together to end hunger in the region where the majority of the world’s undernourished people live,” Bernama reports (4/30). “First proposed at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil last June, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Zero Hunger Challenge aims for a future where every individual has adequate nutrition,” the U.N. News Centre notes, adding, “Its five objectives are to make sure that everyone in the world has access to enough nutritious food all year long; to end childhood stunting; to build sustainable food systems; to double the productivity and income of smallholder farmers, especially women; and to prevent food from being lost or wasted” (4/29). According to a speech transcript, U.N. Deputy-Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said at the launch, “With this drive to defeat global hunger, we are embracing a vision for the future — a future where all people are nourished and able to live healthy and full lives. Now, it is time for us to rise to the challenge and finally make the world free from hunger” (4/29).

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2011 Somali Famine Killed Estimated 260K People, Most Of Them Children, According To Report To Be Released Thursday

“The 2011 Somali famine killed an estimated 260,000 people, half of them age five and under, according to a new report to be published this week that more than doubles previous death toll estimates, officials told the Associated Press,” the news service reports. “A Western official briefed on the new report — the most authoritative to date — told AP that it says 260,000 people died, and that half the victims were five and under,” the news service writes. “Two other international officials briefed on the report confirmed that the toll was in the quarter-million range,” the AP notes, adding, “All three insisted they not be identified because they were not authorized to share the report’s contents before it is officially released.” According to the AP, “[t]he report is being made public Thursday by FEWSNET, a famine early warning system funded by the U.S. government’s aid arm USAID, and by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit — Somalia, which is funded by the U.S. and Britain” (Straziuso, 4/29).

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U.N. Agencies Appeal For $29.4M To Meet Health Needs In North Korea

“Five U.N. agencies appealed for $29.4 million to meet the most critical health and nutrition needs for the people of North Korea through the end of the year,” UPI reports (4/29). “The agencies in the DPRK — the World Food Programme (WFP), [UNICEF], the [WHO], the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) — remain seriously underfunded,” they said in a statement (.pdf), according to the U.N. News Centre (4/29). The U.N. “agencies may soon be forced to suspend their programs in North Korea if they do not urgently receive” the funding, Devex’s “Development Newswire” reports, adding that “the agencies stressed that so far they have only received 27 percent of the $147 million requested to finance their operations.” According to Devex, “$20 million would go to WFP, which has recently been forced to suspend production of fortified cereal and biscuits as well as reduce rations and cut distribution of critical food aid to young children in the western part of the country” (Santamaria, 4/30). “As a result of the persisting deficit, agencies are unable to respond effectively to the humanitarian needs in the country, they say,” the U.N. News Centre adds (4/29).

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Haiti To Rollout Rotavirus Vaccine With Support From GAVI

GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog reports on Haiti’s plan to vaccinate 250,000 children with the rotavirus vaccine, an effort being supported by the GAVI Alliance. “As a result of GAVI’s efforts, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline will soon provide the oral rotavirus vaccine, Rotarix, to Haiti for a fraction of the retail cost,” the blog notes, adding, “GAVI has committed to funding $4.7 million worth of the vaccine until 2016, and Haiti’s government will contribute $0.20 for each dose, for a total of about $350,000, GAVI’s Deputy CEO Helen Evans said.” Children in the country will receive the vaccination at no cost, the blog states. “Global Pulse” includes an interview with Evans, who discusses the significance of the rotavirus vaccine rollout, as well as the logistics of the campaign (Miley, 4/29).

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New York Times Features News Analysis On Media Reports Of HIV/AIDS 'Cures'

The New York Times features a news analysis on “all the recent ‘cured of AIDS’ headlines,” including the so-called “Berlin patient,” an infant in Mississippi, and 14 patients in France. Experts agree that the cure for HIV/AIDS has not been found and that patients should not stop their medications, the newspaper notes, adding, “But several experts say the reported cures — if confirmed by others — do suggest that some AIDS policies should change in at least two ways.” The newspaper continues, “First, instead of waiting for the infected to wander into testing clinics, health authorities ought to be aggressively seeking them out. Second, those who test positive ought not to dither about taking medication,” as early treatment shows several benefits such as longer lifespan, less risk of passing on the infection, and the potential for stopping treatment later. The New York Times describes several of the cases and the science behind fighting HIV infection, and it quotes several HIV researchers (McNeil, 4/30).

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Guardian Special Report Examines China's Involvement In African Development

The Guardian on Monday published a special report on China’s involvement in Africa, noting the country “has committed billions of dollars in development finance for Africa over the past decade as Beijing seeks to secure its political and economic clout on the continent.” Among others, the section includes an article on an “expansive aid program that will offer 18,000 government scholarships and train 30,000 Africans ‘in various sectors’ by 2015”; an article on a hospital in Zambia built and staffed by the Chinese; and an interactive on China’s financial commitments to the continent, including 192 health-related projects (4/29).

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Editorials and Opinions

Global Health Community Must Maintain Commitment To Defeat Malaria

“The Millennium Development Goals target of halting and reversing the incidence of malaria is now in sight, and 50 countries are on track to reduce their malaria burden by at least 75 percent by 2015,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in the Huffington Post’s “World” blog. “However, major challenges remain,” he continues, noting, “Malaria continues to inflict a major toll on least-developed countries — primarily in Africa — and millions of people still lack access to life-saving interventions.” He adds, “Weak surveillance systems mean that cases are vastly under-reported; and governments and the [WHO] have too little information about where malaria occurs and how trends are changing, although improvements in data collection are under way.” And “[e]merging resistance of the malaria parasite to drugs, and mosquitoes to insecticides, are further complicating efforts to combat this persistent threat to lives and productivity,” he states.

“Recently, global funding for malaria control has plateaued,” Ban notes, writing, “Although half the resources needed to achieve near-zero deaths from malaria by the 2015 ‘MDG’ deadline have been committed, there is still a near-$3 billion annual shortfall.” He continues, “To prevent malaria from resurging, and to continue to alleviate suffering, especially in the 10 countries with the highest malaria burden, the international community needs to provide the necessary funding to protect all at-risk groups and support research and innovation to develop new tools. Replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria should be a priority.” He concludes, “I urge the global health community, including political leaders in endemic countries, to maintain their commitment to provide universal access to malaria interventions and end needless suffering from this preventable and treatable disease” (4/29).

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U.S. Must Continue 'To Lead By Example' To Immunize World's Children

“[T]he progress UNICEF has made [in Cameroon] to prevent polio infections shows exactly what we’re capable of when we work hand-in-hand with the U.N. — and when the U.S. does not have to go it alone,” Peter Yeo, vice president of public policy at the United Nations Foundation, writes in an opinion piece in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” He continues, “By partnering with UNICEF and other global health partners, the U.S. is helping expand the use of under-utilized vaccines and accelerate the introduction of new ones worldwide. … Thanks to USAID and support from their partners, more than 100 million children now receive a basic set of immunizations every year, and tens of millions receive supplemental vaccines against polio, measles, and other devastating diseases.” Yeo discusses the “particularly successful” campaign against polio, notes the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s six-year plan to eradicate the disease, and says, “Polio is a global disease that requires a global solution, plain and simple.” He concludes, “We have the opportunity to give more children the chance to lead healthy, disease-free lives, if — and only if — the U.S. continues to lead by example” (4/29).

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Editorial, Opinion Piece Address Proposed Food Aid Reform

The following is a summary of an editorial and an opinion piece addressing proposed reform to the U.S. food aid program contained in President Obama’s FY 2014 budget request.

  • The Economist: “Since America began donating surplus wheat, corn meal, vegetable oil and other farm commodities to the world’s hungry six decades ago, the program has been captured by an ‘iron triangle’ of farm interests, shippers and voluntary organizations, with plenty of help from Congress,” the editorial states and describes how the program currently works. “The White House proposed big changes in its recent budget plan, but these fall short of an end to rules tying aid to American interests,” The Economist continues, adding, “Monetization within Food for Peace would be scrapped,” but “[i]n a sop to domestic farmers, at least 55 percent of funds would still be used for the purchase and transport of American produce.” The editorial states, “Now Congress, which approves budgets, must decide what to do,” and concludes, “But this would not be America if congressional turf fights did not loom, pitting farm-committee members against colleagues who oversee foreign affairs” (4/27).
  • James Bovard, Wall Street Journal: “The Obama administration is pushing reforms that could slightly reduce the number of Third World farmers bushwhacked by American food dumped into their marketplaces,” Bovard, a former World Bank consultant, writes. “But there is scant enthusiasm in Washington for any fix of a program that is beloved by many special interests,” he continues. Bovard provides a history of the Food for Peace program, launched in 1954 during the Eisenhower administration, outlines proposed reform to the program, and writes, “Not surprisingly, the administration’s proposals are facing staunch opposition from the farm lobby, relief organizations addicted to manna from USAID, and the merchant-marine lobby.” He concludes, “The resistance that the Obama administration’s modest reforms are facing epitomizes how Congress and special interests don’t care how much harm food aid does abroad” (4/29).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Examining U.S. Investment In Global Health Programs Supporting Frontline Health Workers

In the ONE blog, Mandy Folse, director of the Frontline Health Workers Coalition, discusses “the importance of U.S. investment in global health programs for the livelihood of millions.” Noting “President Barack Obama’s release of his fiscal year 2014 budget request” earlier this month, Folse discusses U.S. “[i]nvestments specific to the training and support of frontline health workers … made within programs to improve maternal and child health, improve nutrition, increase access to family planning, and prevent and treat diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and pandemic influenza.” She writes, “Because these investments are so widespread between different government agencies and within different programs of government, it is imperative that in order to get the most bang for our buck, the U.S. government have a strategy on how its programs will address the frontline health workforce crisis.” She concludes, “The Frontline Health Workers Coalition will continue to work with the U.S. government to get the maximum benefit of America’s global health investments by ensuring that the frontline workers needed to deliver health care in the developing world are well trained and supported” (4/29).

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CSIS Panel Discussion Examines Community-Based Health Programs

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on a recent “panel discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies [CSIS] Global Health Policy Center on ‘Using Community-Based Platforms to Provide Integrated Services for Women: The Pathfinder Approach in Tanzania.'” The blog includes comments from Pathfinder Tanzania Country Representative Mustafa Kudrati and notes other participants included CSIS Global Health Policy Center Senior Associate Janet Fleischman, Pathfinder President Purnima Mane, and Daniela Ligiero, senior gender adviser for the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (Barton, 4/29).

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Guardian To Host Live Chat On Global NTD Response

In a post in The Guardian’s “Global Development Professionals Network,” content manager Eliza Anyangwe announces a live chat to be held on Thursday, May 2, examining “how [neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)] can be kept under the development spotlight until they’re no longer quite so neglected.” She briefly discusses global efforts against NTDs, noting an increased momentum in recent years, and writes, “To join the panel or simply give your views ahead of the chat, email globaldevpros@guardian.co.uk. Follow our tweets using the hashtag #globaldevlive” (4/29).

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