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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. House To Consider Emergency Spending Package For Zika Outbreak

CNN: House Republicans push own Zika plan
“House Republicans, who have resisted approving the $1.9 billion that President Barack Obama requested to combat the Zika virus, now are preparing their own spending package and are aiming for a vote as early as next Wednesday…” (Walsh/Barrett, 5/14).

CQ News: Anti-Zika Spending Bill to Be Unveiled by House Republicans
“House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers will unveil a standalone Zika aid package on Monday that would appropriate funding in fiscal 2016, but less than a $1.1 billion bipartisan compromise package reached in the Senate…” (Medjrich et al., 5/13).

The Hill: House to vote on emergency Zika package
“…The amount will be lower than the $1.1 billion package being [considered this] week in the Senate, House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said Friday. … The total cost of the bill is still under discussion, but it will be offset in full, Hing said. Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who has led negotiations on the package, hopes to set up a vote on a standalone bill sometime [this] week, she added…” (Ferris, 5/13).

Reuters: U.S. House to attempt passing emergency Zika funds next week
“…Under the House plan, the money would be available to the Obama administration through Sept. 30, the end of this fiscal year, with the expectation that more money would be contained in legislation still to be written funding government programs in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1…” (Cowan, 5/13).

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International Business Times Examines Potential Uses Of Zika Funding, Congressional Stances, Actions

International Business Times: Zika Virus In The U.S.: 3 Things To Know Before The Senate Votes On At Least $1B In Emergency Funding To Fight Mosquito-Borne Disease
“…As Congress drags its feet, public health officials have warned they risk being caught flat-footed in their efforts to protect people in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, especially women who are pregnant or considering having children and thus face the greatest risk of being affected by the virus. … Will Congress finally grant the emergency funding state and federal officials say is so desperately needed? We can’t predict that, but here’s what you need to know about why that funding matters and how it will be used, why Congress stalled in the first place, and what could happen [this] week…” (Whitman, 5/15).

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Vox Discusses Disease Outbreak Preparedness, Funding With Public Health Thinkers

Vox: The U.S. doesn’t have an emergency fund for health crises like Zika. That’s a huge mistake.
“…If we know that globalization, climate change, and other factors are only heightening the risk of potentially devastating pandemics, why do we subject health officials to what has become an annual scramble [for funding]? Why do we imperil our own health and global health every time a potential outbreak is on the horizon? I put those questions to leading health thinkers and asked them how we might do better. Here’s what they told me…” (Belluz, 5/13).

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Puerto Rico Reports First Case Of Zika-Linked Microcephaly

New York Times: Puerto Rico Reports First Microcephaly Case Linked to Zika
“A pregnant woman in Puerto Rico has become the first American whose fetus developed microcephaly because of a Zika infection acquired in the United States, the territory’s health department said on Friday…” (McNeil, 5/13).

Reuters: Puerto Rico reports first case of Zika-related microcephaly
“Puerto Rico’s health ministry confirmed on Friday its first case of Zika-related microcephaly in a fetus, increasing concerns of the virus’ spread by mosquitoes and the financially strapped U.S. commonwealth’s ability to address the growing health crisis…” (Bases, 5/13).

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Mail & Guardian Africa Examines Increasing Partnering Of Aid Agencies, NGOs With Large Corporations

Mail & Guardian Africa: The business of aid: there’s big money being made fighting poverty, disease and hunger
“Aid agencies and NGOs are increasingly partnering with large corporations. New answer to global development — or just corporate welfare for the one percent? … The corporate takeover of aid is not just about co-financing projects with aid donors, however. Large corporations are also increasingly involved in the design and delivery of projects, and, again, in shaping policy and setting the agenda. Jen Kates at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said: ‘there really has been a concerted shift and change in the conversation around the private sector.’ And ‘whether it’s self-interest, economically driven, or due to their sense of being part of a global community,’ she said, companies are now involved in aid and development in a ‘way that wasn’t there 20 years ago, 15 years ago’…” (Kenard/Provost, 5/15).

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White House Launches National Microbiome Initiative To Investigate Microscopic Organisms' Impacts On Health, Environment

ABC News: Microbiome Research Just Got a Mega Infusion of Government and Private Funding
“The Obama administration announced a $121-million National Microbiome Initiative [Saturday] to study how microscopic organisms that live all over the environment — and our bodies — can impact our health, climate, and food security…” (Chopra, 5/13).

The Atlantic: The White House Launches the National Microbiome Initiative
“…These minuscule organisms are attracting mammoth budgets: federal agencies are committing $121 million to the [National Microbiome Initiative (NMI)] over the next two years, while more than 100 universities, non-profits, and companies are chipping in another $400 million…” (Yong, 5/13).

Nature: White House goes big on microbiome research
“…Private investors will contribute another $400 million to the effort over several years. Among them is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will spend $100 million over four years on nutrition and pest control programs in developing countries, and several research institutions that will examine microbes’ role in subjects such as cancer therapeutics and marine microbiology…” (Reardon, 5/13).

Science: Earth’s microbes get their own White House initiative
“…The initiative’s underlying goal, says microbiologist Jeff Miller at University of California, Los Angeles, should be to enable experiments testing cause and effect — not just showing inconclusive associations that have so far been typical of microbiome research…” (Servick, 5/13).

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Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton Meets With HIV/AIDS Activists To Discuss Ending Epidemic In U.S., Abroad

Huffington Post: Hillary Clinton Meets With HIV/AIDS Activists At Campaign Headquarters
“Hillary Clinton sat down with HIV/AIDS activists at her campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday, where they discussed how to eradicate the epidemic across the U.S. and abroad. … ‘We need to rededicate ourselves to fighting AIDS and leaving no one behind,’ Clinton said, while sitting alongside AIDS activist Peter Staley…” (Gebreyes, 5/13).

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As Women Deliver Conference Begins In Denmark, UNFPA Warns Of Funding Shortfalls, Experts Speak About Key Actions To Improve Women's, Girls' Lives

The Guardian: Fears that maternal health funding cuts could put lives at risk
“The U.N. agency responsible for ending deaths in childbirth is facing a $140m (£98m) shortfall in its budget this year, putting the lives of tens of thousands of women at risk. … The impact of this year’s shortfall could result in the closure of 80 clinics staffed by midwives in Afghanistan, while in Mozambique, the cuts will slow down its family planning programs, which aim to reduce almost one billion unintended pregnancies by 2020. … The news comes as more than 5,000 government officials, business leaders, and campaigners convene in Denmark on Monday for the start of the four-day Women Deliver conference…” (Ford, 5/16).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: How can the world improve the lives of women and girls by 2030?
“…Key participants attending the fourth global Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen were asked what they thought were the most important actions needed to improve the lives of women and girls by 2030…” (Goldsmith/Batha, 5/15).

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U.N. Secretary General, IOM Director General Warn Global Humanitarian Crises Negatively Affecting Families, Overwhelming Aid System

The Guardian: Global crises overwhelming aid system, says migration chief
“The world’s top official managing migration flows has warned that the global aid system is crumbling under an overwhelming number of crises, from wars across the Middle East and Asia to natural disasters and earthquakes. William Swing, veteran head of the International Organization for Migration, has spent more than five decades working across some of the world’s worst troublespots but believes the scale of current challenges dwarfs anything he has grappled with before…” (Graham-Harrison, 5/14).

U.N. News Centre: Marking ‘Day of Families,’ Ban urges support during ‘heavy toll’ of crisis situations
“The rise of violent extremism, the effects of forced displacement, extreme weather events, and other challenges are taking a heavy toll on the health and integrity of families in crisis situations, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said [Sunday], marking the International Day of Families with a call for governments to support the crucial role of families in all their diverse forms…” (5/15).

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Venezuela's Economic Crisis Creates Public Health Emergency, New York Times Reports

New York Times: Dying Infants and No Medicine: Inside Venezuela’s Failing Hospitals
“… ‘The death of a baby is our daily bread,’ said Dr. Osleidy Camejo, a surgeon in the nation’s capital, Caracas, referring to the toll from Venezuela’s collapsing hospitals. The economic crisis in this country has exploded into a public health emergency, claiming the lives of untold numbers of Venezuelans. It is just part of a larger unraveling here that has become so severe it has prompted President Nicolás Maduro to impose a state of emergency and has raised fears of a government collapse…” (Casey, 5/15).

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Editorials and Opinions

Investments In Women's, Girls' Health Necessary To Achieve SDGs

Huffington Post: Women, Girls, and Global Goals: Why Ensuring Women’s and Girls’ Health and Rights Is Crucial to Achieving the SDGs
Ariel Pablos-Mendez, assistant administrator for global health and child and maternal survival coordinator at USAID, and Elizabeth Fox, USAID deputy maternal and child survival coordinator and director of the Office of Health, Infectious Diseases, and Nutrition

“This week, international leaders from all sectors of society convene in Copenhagen for the Women Deliver 2016 Conference. There, they will discuss how we as a global community can implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) … so that they are especially meaningful for women and girls, with a particular emphasis on women’s and girls’ health and rights. … At the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), our efforts in maternal and child health are improving health outcomes for mothers and their children in countries around the world. … [W]hen we invest in women’s health and rights, we invest in much more than that: we invest in global goals from education to the environment, from peaceful societies to prosperous economies. … At the heart of USAID is our mission to end extreme poverty and to promote resilient, democratic societies. With such broad benefits across the board, women’s health is one of the smartest investments that we can make…” (5/13).

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Integrated Care, Including TB, HIV Services, Vital For Health Of Women, Children

Huffington Post: Tackle TB to Reduce Maternal Deaths: No Time for Complacency
Eric Goosby, U.N. secretary general’s special envoy on tuberculosis

“…There is immense opportunity presented by antenatal and mother and child health clinics for increasing access to TB and HIV services, and, thereby, reducing preventable mortality among mother and child. However, this opportunity is squandered if we do not have integrated services. … As delegates gather together at the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen this month to discuss how to make development matter most for girls and women, TB and HIV-associated TB, clearly cutting across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), must have a place in these discussions. … Strategic partnerships and synergies across the health system and within communities must be fostered to maximize entry points to TB prevention and care for women. … We must establish integrated health systems that address all of the health needs of mothers and their children. And we must hold all stakeholders accountable for the delivery of comprehensive services, including TB prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Only then, can we begin to say that we are delivering real results for women in need across the globe” (5/15).

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U.S. Must Build 'National Strategy Against Communicable Diseases' Through Investment, Cooperation

Huffington Post: Lessons Not Yet Learned: Ebola, Zika, and Global Health Security
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)

“Despite a decade of lessons learned from fighting global health disasters like avian flu, SARS, and most recently Ebola, the United States continues to use an ineffective ‘crisis-by-crisis’ approach to combat health emergencies. … We need to put in place a system that can rapidly mobilize against infectious diseases instead of relying on a fragmented, reactive approach each time a crisis appears. … Let’s appoint a single entity to coordinate a U.S. response to health care epidemics. Let’s build a national strategy against communicable diseases by investing in our agencies with the capacity to develop tests, vaccine candidates, and educational tools. Let’s strengthen communication and collaboration with our international partners so that we truly are ready to detect, prevent, and respond to Zika and the next threat. Let us not wait until the next global health crisis to develop a lasting solution that reinforces global health security for decades to come” (5/13).

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Improving Access To Medicines Should Require Rethink Of Pharmaceutical R&D Funding

The Guardian: The cost of drugs is killing us. How can we foster access for all?
Mihir Mankad, health policy adviser on access to medicines and vaccines at Save the Children

“…During the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis, this [drug] price problem was relegated to the developing world, where people could not afford the prices paid for antiretrovirals in wealthy countries. Now, however, the high cost of many medicines is just as alarming for rich countries. … There is a more fundamental question: is there a better system for creating incentives to produce life-saving medicines priced at a level that means they can reach everyone? … The solution requires reform of the way that medicines are priced so that investments in R&D are separated from what companies charge. Delinking, through alternative models such as providing prizes instead of patents, would allow generic competitors to enter the market immediately while maintaining the rewards necessary to spur innovation. Research by Save the Children examines this and other potential solutions that would address which medicines are made, as well as high prices. Many of these would work not only in poorer countries, but also in wealthier ones…” (5/14).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Government's Global Health Supply Chain Strategy Helps People With HIV/AIDS Access Treatment Worldwide

USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: Delivering Life-Saving HIV/AIDS Drugs Around the World
Sherif Mowafy, a program manager in the Supply Chain for Health division of USAID’s Office of HIV/AIDS, discusses the USAID-led Supply Chain Management System project under PEPFAR, “the largest-ever public health supply chain in the world, [which] leverages the collective power of many different partnerships, both private and public, to deliver critical products to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” as well as the Procurement and Supply Management project, the new phase of the U.S. government’s Global Health Supply Chain Strategy (5/13).

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Zika Response Could Have Wider Public Health, Development Benefits

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: Free Lunch: The Development Argument for Taking Zika More Seriously
Alaka M. Basu, a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation and a professor of development sociology at Cornell University, discusses multiple potential public health and development benefits that could arise from a coordinated response to Zika virus. She writes, “On all these matters — water and sanitation, vector-borne illnesses, gastrointestinal disease, contraceptive access, the ability to demand safe sex — it is the poor, the rural, the young, the female, and the indigenous that suffer the most. As they do in their risk of exposure to Zika itself. If we believe inequalities in health care are unjust (and all the SDGs stress the need to reduce inequalities, especially SDG 10), then we are passing up more than one free lunch…” (5/16).

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