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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Number Of People Living With Depression Globally Increases 18%; Disorder Is Leading Cause Of Disability Worldwide, WHO Says

Agence France-Presse/The Guardian: Depression is leading cause of disability worldwide, says WHO study
“Cases of depression have ballooned almost 20 percent in a decade, making the debilitating disorder the leading cause of disability worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. By 2015, the number of people globally living with depression, according to a revised definition, had reached 322m, up 18.4 percent since 2005, the U.N. agency said on Thursday…” (3/31).

Fortune: Depression Is Now the World’s Most Widespread Illness
“…Worryingly, if unsurprisingly, the agency found that the majority of those with the condition aren’t receiving adequate care: in high income countries, it estimates 50 percent of those with the disorder don’t get treatment, while in low-income countries that number rises to 80 percent to 90 percent. In part, this stems from a lack of funding — on average, only three percent of a government’s health budget is spent on mental health programs…” (Entis, 3/30).

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New Washington Global Health Alliance CEO Dena Morris Speaks With Devex About Policymaking, Advocacy In Trump Era

Devex: ‘The idea of America First has a lot of potential:’ Q&A with the new CEO of Washington Global Health Alliance
“The Washington Global Health Alliance has appointed Dena Morris as its new president and CEO, it announced on Thursday, ending a three-month search to replace founding director Lisa Cohen, who had run the organization for a decade. … Morris, former director of the Washington, D.C., office of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will start her new role on Monday. She shared her thoughts with Devex about how a collective voice from Washington State is more important than ever in the context of an ‘America First’ administration in Washington, D.C…” (Cheney, 3/31).

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IRIN Examines Factors Leading To, Exacerbating Food Insecurity, Famine In 4 African, Middle Eastern Nations

IRIN: We are not the world: Inside the ‘perfect storm’ of famine
“…A badly strained humanitarian system finds itself facing not one but four vast challenges. In all, more than 20 million people are at risk of starvation and famine across South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and northeastern Nigeria. Much has been learnt since [Ethiopia’s famine in] 1984: the value of building resilience before crises arrive, the role climate change plays, the imperative of early conflict prevention, the importance of cash aid, the need to prioritize water as well as food. Nonetheless, the goal posts for those struggling to reach the world’s most vulnerable and provide them with life-saving assistance have shifted. Why? The simple answer is conflict…” (3/30).

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CARB-X Partnership Announces Up To $48M Investment In Research To Find New Antibiotics

Washington Post: Quest for new antibiotics gets first major funding from global partnership
“A major global partnership aimed at fighting superbugs announced Thursday that it is investing up to $48 million in research projects, including potentially the first new classes of antibiotics in decades, to target the deadliest drug-resistant bacteria. The investments announced by CARB-X include $24 million in immediate funding for 11 companies. The firms can receive up to $24 million in additional payments over three years if they meet specific milestones. … Funding comes from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Wellcome Trust, a London-based global biomedical research charity…” (Sun, 3/30).

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Papers In Vaccine Journal Examine Overchilling Of Vaccines, Stock-Outs

The Economist: Managing supplies of vaccines is a huge problem
“…[A] vial of vaccine that has been accidentally frozen, and then thawed, may lose its potency as surely as one that has been warmed up. A study published this week in Vaccine, by Celina Hanson of UNICEF and her colleagues, suggests that the overchilling of vaccines is alarmingly common. … Another problem of vaccine distribution, ‘stock-outs,’ is also the subject of a paper in this week’s Vaccine. … In an average year, a third of [194] countries had at least one vaccine out of stock at national level for a month or longer…” (3/30).

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Civil Society Groups Send Letter To E.U. Leadership Urging Support For WHO Feasibility Study On Cancer R&D Fund

Intellectual Property Watch: 17 Civil Society Groups Urge E.U. To Support WHO Resolution On Cancer
“A range of civil society organizations [Thursday] issued a letter to European Union leadership urging support for a World Health Organization resolution that mandates a feasibility study on a fund for cancer research and development that delinks R&D costs from the price of health technologies…” (3/30).

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WHO, Partners Send 3.5M Yellow Fever Vaccine Doses To Brazil

Associated Press: U.N. sends 3.5M emergency yellow fever vaccines to Brazil
“The World Health Organization said it and partners have shipped 3.5 million doses of yellow fever vaccine to Brazil to help the country stamp out its worst outbreak in years…” (3/30).

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Previous Infection With Dengue Or West Nile Viruses Could Worsen Zika Infection, Study In Mice Shows

Reuters: Prior exposure to dengue or West Nile could make Zika worse: report
“Prior infection with West Nile or dengue — two viruses closely related to Zika — can make Zika symptoms worse, U.S. researchers said on Thursday. The findings in mice, published in the journal Science, confirm studies in cells suggesting that prior infection with dengue could worsen the effects of Zika…” (Steenhuysen, 3/30).

Science: Dengue may bring out the worst in Zika
“…If such ‘antibody-dependent enhancement’ (ADE) also takes place in people, it could have helped fuel Zika’s recent explosion in Brazil, where more than 90 percent of people in some communities have been infected with dengue…” (Cohen, 3/30).

VOA News: Study: Prior Dengue Infection May Make Zika Worse
“…In the study of mice, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York gave the rodents human antibodies to dengue virus from 141 infected individuals. Another group of animals received antibodies from 146 individuals with West Nile virus. The mice were then exposed to Zika virus. Only 21 percent of mice with the antibodies from dengue patients survived being infected with Zika. Similar results were reported in mice that received antibodies from West Nile patients…” (Berman, 3/30).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. President Trump Should Take Advice Of Military Leaders To Not Cut Foreign Aid

USA TODAY: State Department cuts risk lives: Our view
Editorial Board

“In his budget proposal, which would gut any number of agencies to pay for massive military increases, President Trump repeats a mantra about achieving security for the American people. ‘Without safety, there can be no prosperity,’ he says. True enough, but the administration’s spending plan fails to recognize that safety comes from both military ‘hard power’ and diplomatic ‘soft power.’ As a result, it is profoundly shortsighted. … Trump’s cuts would slash assistance by the U.S. Agency for International Development, relief funding through the United Nations, and Treasury investment programs aimed at stabilizing global hot spots and expanding markets for American businesses. … Some State Department programs could undoubtedly be run more efficiently, but it’s disappointing that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson didn’t push back harder against the magnitude of the cuts targeting his department. As more than 120 retired admirals and generals argued in a letter to Congress last month, ‘Elevating and strengthening diplomacy and development alongside defense are critical to keeping America safe.’ For a president who never served in the military, and who likes to say he’ll listen to the generals, that’s advice worth taking to heart” (3/30).

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Christian Principles Support Case For Foreign Aid

Washington Post: The Christian, conservative case for foreign aid
Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S., and Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services

“…[The U.S. government] plays a critical role in fulfilling the moral responsibility of all Americans to help those less fortunate. … Yet now, President Trump’s proposed budget threatens to severely cut that foreign aid. … At less than one percent of the federal budget … foreign assistance promotes our values, our own prosperity, and our nation’s security, all while providing a lifeline to the most vulnerable in the world … In an increasingly unstable world, this small but vital account is the ounce of prevention that is worth a pound of cure. … By drastically cutting foreign assistance, we risk the extraordinary gains we have made against hunger, disease, and extreme poverty. It is penny-wise and pound-foolish to forfeit funding that does so much good in the world” (3/21).

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'Engaging Wide Range Of Partners' Critical To Implementing Successful Maternal, Child Health Initiatives, Scaling Up Health Care Delivery In Kenya

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights is key to achieving the SDGs
Mette Knudsen, Denmark’s ambassador to Kenya, and Siddharth Chatterjee, United Nations resident coordinator to Kenya

“…[To] maintain [the momentum of progress toward a decline of the maternal mortality and childhood death ratios in Kenya, the country] needs to urgently address issues affecting the health sector, create room for improvement, and explore new avenues to expand universal primary health care through partnerships. … Improving maternal and child health in [the six counties that accounted for close to half of all Kenya’s maternal deaths through a government and U.N. partnership] has positively impacted national trends and statistics. The initiative has mobilized a multitude of partners across sectors to go where not many went before and to collectively and holistically help increasing demand for and access to affordable quality maternal and child health care. The Government of Denmark has committed $6 million to the second phase of the maternal and child health six county initiative. … By engaging a wide range of partners there is great potential to develop new models that offer the best of both public and private sector, with the potential for scaling-up the delivery of health care for vulnerable and poor populations in low-resource settings. … In a shifting landscape, it is increasingly critical to break down the silos that have traditionally governed development financing and implementation. … [T]o make a difference for the one thousand women and girls who die every day in pregnancy or childbirth globally, we need to combine our efforts…” (3/30).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CGD Podcast Presents Highlights From Event On How To Make Case For U.S. Foreign Aid

Center for Global Development’s “CGD Podcast”: The Case for Foreign Assistance — Podcast with Gates Foundation’s Mark Suzman and CGD Experts
In this podcast, Rajesh Mirchandani, vice president of communications and policy outreach at CGD, discusses remarks made by Mark Suzmam, chief strategy officer and president of global policy and advocacy for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, at an event on the future of financing development. At the event, Suzman talked about how to make a case for U.S. foreign aid to an administration proposing to cut it and was joined on a panel by Masood Ahmed, president of CGD; Amanda Glassman, senior fellow and chief operating officer at CGD; and Antoinette Sayeh, CGD distinguished visiting fellow and former finance minister of Liberia, to discuss what aid is achieving and how to prioritize it (3/29).

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Development Experts Debate How Best To 'Fight World Poverty'

Center for Global Development’s “Views from the Center”: Getting Kinky with Chickens
Lant Pritchett, senior fellow at CGD, responds to a Vox piece that Chris Blattman, professor in the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, wrote on “Bill Gates’ commitment to chickens as a high impact poverty intervention.” Pritchett writes, “Chris Blattman is a brilliant and influential scholar, worth taking seriously. How can he and I disagree so completely on what is the best investment to ‘fight world poverty’? I think there are actually two deep disagreements. … First, I suspect … that we fundamentally disagree on how to define ‘world poverty.’ … The second big area in which I suspect Chris and I might disagree is what it means to ‘fight’ world poverty and who is imagined as the active agent of that fight. … ‘Chickens versus cash’ might be the ‘best investment’ for a very narrow question but I argue it probably isn’t in the top 100 value for money research questions in development economics” (3/28).

Chris Blattman Blog: Two views on fighting world poverty
In response to Lant Pritchett’s CGD post, “Getting Kinky with Chickens,” Blattman writes, “I think Lant’s right and he’s wrong. We have to focus on the big picture and growth as a society, but I think there’s a strong argument for directly tackling the worst poverty now. … The reason I like the research I propose is simple: I can see exactly how it will be used and how it will change life for a large number of people in a short period of time” (3/30).

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From the U.S. Government

CDC's MMWR Examines Yellow Fever Outbreak In DRC

CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”: Yellow Fever Outbreak — Kongo Central Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, August 2016
John O. Otshudiema of the Epidemic Intelligence Service Program and the Meningitis and Vaccine Preventable Diseases Branch in the Division of Bacterial Diseases at the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases and colleagues examine the yellow fever outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Kongo Central Province, including the steps taken to control the outbreak, as well as challenges faced (3/31).

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