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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Additional Funding Needed For Zika Response, U.S. Senior Health Officials Say, Warning Situation Evolving, More Complex Than Previously Thought

Associated Press: U.S. officials: The more we learn about Zika, scarier it is
“The more researchers learn about the Zika virus, the scarier it appears, federal health officials said Monday as they urged more money for mosquito control and to develop vaccines and treatments. … President Barack Obama has sought about $1.9 billion in emergency money to help fight the Zika epidemic internationally and to prepare in case the virus spreads here, but the request has stalled in the GOP-controlled Congress. Last week, the administration said it would use [$510 million] in funds left over from the Ebola outbreak for some of that work…” (Neergaard, 4/11).

The Atlantic: The Obama Administration’s Zika Offensive
“…Now, even top public health officials seem willing to join the political fight. … When [Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,] last spoke to White House reporters in February, along with the principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Anne Schuchat, the two officials didn’t wade into the funding battle much at all. On Monday, Fauci was particularly vocal about the urgency of the funding request, insisting — as other agency directors did earlier this month — that the full $1.9 billion is needed…” (Kelly, 4/12).

BBC News: Zika virus ‘scarier than thought’ says U.S.
“… ‘When the president asked for $1.9 billion, we needed $1.9 billion.’ Dr. Fauci said initial trials of a Zika vaccine would likely start in September this year. Depending on the results, larger trials could begin at the start of 2017…” (4/12).

The Hill: CDC: Zika ‘scarier than we initially thought’
“… ‘Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought,’ said Dr. Anne Schuchat, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who was invited to the daily White House press briefing to make the case for new funding…” (Sullivan, 4/11).

New York Times: Zika Fight Requires More Money, Congress Is Told
“…If Congress does not provide the needed funds, Dr. Fauci said, public health authorities will probably have to divert money from malaria and tuberculosis prevention programs, as well as from flu vaccine programs…” (Davis, 4/11).

Reuters: U.S. officials warn Zika ‘scarier’ than initially thought
“…Schuchat declined to forecast the number of Zika infections that could occur in the United States. While she said she did not expect large outbreaks in the continental United States, ‘we can’t assume we’re not going to have a big problem’…” (Gardner/Mason, 4/11).

Roll Call: Zika Threat Wider Than Originally Thought, White House Says
“…On Capitol Hill, Republican lawmakers remained hesitant to cut a check of nearly $2 billion, especially since the sum would breach spending caps. ‘We’re glad the administration has agreed to our request to use existing Ebola funds to address the Zika epidemic,’ Doug Andres, a [spokesman for House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)], said in an email. ‘If additional Zika resources are needed, those funds could and should be addressed through the regular appropriations process,’ Andres said…” (Bennett, 4/11).

TIME: Zika ‘Scarier Than We Initially Thought,’ U.S. Officials Say
“…In the update, Schuchat said experts have learned that the virus is linked to a broader set of health problems beyond microcephaly — where babies are born with underdeveloped heads — including premature births and vision problems. Health complications from Zika infection seem to be a risk for most of a woman’s pregnancy and not just her first trimester…” (Sifferlin, 4/11).

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World Set To Switch To New Oral Polio Vaccine; Only 9 Cases Reported So Far In 2016

New York Times: For Polio Vaccines, a Worldwide Switch to New Version
“Starting on Sunday, more than 150 countries and territories will switch to a new oral polio vaccine. It will be the first worldwide vaccine change ever attempted. Polio is on the edge of eradication. There were only 74 cases last year, all in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This year, there have been only nine, also in those two countries…” (McNeil, 4/11).

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Reliable Census Data Critical To Achieve SDGs, U.N. SG Ban Says

U.N. News Centre: Data ‘essential’ to 2030 Agenda, U.N. Commission on Population and Development told
“Addressing the opening of the 2016 session of the Commission on Population and Development, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [Monday] underscored the importance of that body’s role in advancing the new global development agenda. … Governments will have to gather census data and use it to understand demographic change because that will help them develop effective plans, he said…” (4/11).

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Some Activists Worry Push For More HIV/AIDS Funding From LMICs Could Negatively Impact Vulnerable Groups

Inter Press Service: Plan for Poorer Countries to Fund HIV Response Raises Concerns
“Calls for low- and middle-income countries to contribute an additional 6.1 billion dollars to the global HIV response by 2020 could see some vulnerable groups left behind, said HIV activists meeting at the United Nations last week. … The proposed changes to funding could affect vulnerable groups, including adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa who now make up 74 percent of new HIV infections in the 15 to 24 age group according to UNAIDS…” (Rowlands, 4/11).

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Drought Conditions Increasing Food Insecurity In Ethiopia, Northern Somalia, U.N. Says

Bloomberg: Food Emergency Spreads in Ethiopia as Drought Worsens, U.N. Says
“…Consecutive missed rainy seasons last year caused by the ocean-warming effects of El Niño have left about a fifth of Ethiopia’s approximately 100 million population in need of food aid. A total of 443 districts were categorized as being in at least some difficulty, up from 429 in December, the U.N.’s humanitarian office said Tuesday in an e-mailed bulletin…” (Davison, 4/12).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. agencies step up joint response to help drought-affected northern Somalia
“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) are intensifying joint efforts to assist communities in northern Somalia coping with a severe drought exacerbated by El Niño conditions. … The aid package includes food assistance, nutrition programs, and health services, as well as support to help communities access safe water and improve sanitation and hygiene conditions…” (4/11).

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WFP Airdrops Food Aid To Syrian City Besieged Since March 2014

Associated Press: U.N. Airdrops Food Aid to Besieged Syrian City
“A U.N. agency has used parachutes to air drop food aid to a Syrian city under siege since March 2014. The Rome-based World Food Programme says the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, its local partner, collected 22 of 26 pallets dropped Sunday from a chartered aircraft for the hungry in Deir el-Zour, eastern Syria. WFP was working to discover what happened to the other four pallets…” (4/11).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. food aid reaches besieged Syrian city of Deir Ezzor by air
“…[The area is] controlled by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). … A total of 20 metric tons of urgently needed food supplies — mainly beans, chickpeas, and rice, and enough to feed 2,500 people for one month — were dropped from high altitude by a WFP-chartered aircraft, the agency said in a press release…” (4/10).

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21 Dead In DRC Yellow Fever Outbreak; Some Cases Imported From Neighboring Angloa

Reuters: Yellow fever outbreak kills 21 in Congo, WHO says
“Twenty-one people have died of yellow fever in Democratic Republic of Congo, some of them from infections contracted in neighboring Angola, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday…” (Miles, 4/12).

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Untreated Dairy Products, Consumer Preferences Help Spread Brucellosis In East Africa

SciDev.Net: Raw milk breeds fever disease in East Africa
“Consumer preferences and poor dairy processing techniques have made East Africa a hotbed for brucellosis, a fever disease spread by contaminated milk, a study warns. The disease, which is caused by Brucella bacteria shed in livestock’s urine, milk, and other bodily fluids, is spreading across East Africa, says an article in the latest issue of the African Crop Science Journal…” (Nakweya, 4/12).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorials, Opinion Piece Address U.S. Zika Response

Orlando Sentinel: Don’t play politics in Zika fight: Editorial
Editorial Board

“[T]here should be no patience with partisan brinkmanship when public health is at stake. It’s been nearly two months since Obama formally requested that Congress appropriate $1.9 billion to fight the Zika virus. … Congress’ GOP leaders have refused to approve that request. … Republican leaders have insisted there’s plenty of money available to fight Zika from other sources, including leftover dollars that Congress set aside in 2014 to deal with another public health threat, the Ebola virus. … On Friday, Florida’s junior U.S. senator, Republican Marco Rubio, broke with party leaders and announced his support for Obama’s request for funding. … Florida’s senior U.S. senator, Bill Nelson, also has called on Congress to approve the president’s request. So as far as the Sunshine State’s Senate delegation is concerned, support for the president’s request is bipartisan. It should be throughout the other 49 states, too” (4/12).

USA Today: Zika warning ‘a bit scarier’: Our view
Editorial Board

“…As warmer weather makes mosquitoes more active in the USA, the guiding principle for political and public health leaders ought to be preparation without panic … It’s difficult to know how much money will be required to combat Zika, but rushing from crisis to crisis is no way to keep the nation prepared. … The most critical needs include continued search for a vaccine (though none will be ready for this summer), better tools to diagnose the virus, and more effective mosquito control … The country has suffered when government leaders have failed to get ahead of a public health threat or politicians have created unnecessary panic with careless comments. Zika is a menacing disease that deserves more research, serious funding, speedy action, and calm and candid communication with the public” (4/11).

Forbes: Zika Virus, Birth Control And Abortion
Peter Lipson, physician and Forbes contributor

“…[M]osquito bites will likely continue to be the main way people become infected [with Zika]. For most people, the infection is either mild or not noticed at all. But the implications for pregnancy are enormous. And Zika is probably heading our way. … We need to focus on mosquito control now, as the season is upon us. We need to make sure that women in areas likely to be affected by Zika have information about the disease and access to birth control — and, if desired, abortion. … We need to prepare for the public health, medical, and societal problems that the latest mosquito-borne disease brings with it” (4/11).

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Global Community Must Rethink Response To Refugee Crisis

New York Times: Bono: Time to Think Bigger About the Refugee Crisis
Bono, lead singer of the band U2 and a founder of the advocacy group ONE and its division (RED)

“…[W]e have a chance to reimagine [the reality experienced by refugees] — and reinvent our relationship with the people and countries consumed now by conflict, or hosting those who have fled it. That needs to start … by parting with a couple of wrong ideas about the refugee crisis. One is that the Syrian refugees are concentrated in camps. … Another fallacy is that the crisis is temporary. … The United States and other developed nations have a chance to act smarter, think bigger, and move faster in addressing this crisis and preventing the next one. … I keep hearing calls from a real gathering of forces — Africans and Europeans, army generals, and World Bank and International Monetary Fund officials — to emulate that most genius of American ideas, the Marshall Plan. That plan delivered trade and development in service of security — in places where institutions were broken and hope had been lost. Well, hope is not lost in the Middle East and North Africa, not yet, not even where it’s held together by string. But hope is getting impatient. We should be, too.” (4/12).

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'More Holistic Conceptualization' Needed To Address Global Malnutrition

Medical Journal of Australia: Rethinking malnutrition, and its solutions
Alessandro Demaio, medical doctor and co-founder of NCDFREE

“…[A] double burden of malnutrition describes a coexistence of both undernutrition, including wasting, growth stunting, and deficiencies in micronutrients (including iron, folate, and vitamin A), with overweight and obesity — and resulting nutrition-related non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancers. … In reality, it is a combination of biological, environmental, and behavioral factors that determine bodyweight — a dimension that is particularly important and apparent when considering the global scale of the burden of malnutrition. … The change to a more holistic conceptualization of malnutrition may seem subtle, but the potential public health benefits could well prove transformational. … If we can move beyond traditional silos and focus efforts on shared drivers, solutions, and treatments to all forms of malnutrition, we will be truly kicking goals” (4/11).

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Investments In Small Farmers Critical To Reach Many Development Goals

Huffington Post: Small Farmers Can Help Meet Sustainable Development and Climate Goals — But They Need Our Support
Shenggen Fan, economist and director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute

“…[S]mall farmers can help us achieve many of the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)], but only if we bolster their ability to cope with climate change and other challenges. … When you count them up, empowered small farmers can help achieve more than half of the 17 SDGs … [T]he success of the SDGs will depend on country-led and -owned efforts that include everyone. To keep this agenda in focus, we must not leave small farmers behind. Instead, we must reach small farmers through better communication and harness their potential to elevate country-level progress by including them in national strategies as well as global climate negotiations…” (4/11).

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'No Space For Complacency' In Addressing Gender Equality, Health Equity To Achieve SDGs In Kenya

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Gender equality and equity in health will anchor drive towards sustainable national development
Sicily K. Kariuki, cabinet secretary for public service in Youth and Gender Affairs at the Government of Kenya, and Siddharth Chatterjee, UNFPA Representative to Kenya

“…[T]o achieve health equity, gender equality, and fulfill the right to health as guaranteed in [Kenya’s] Constitution, it is essential to identify the underlying causes of health inequalities. This calls for a need to look inwards, rather than global indicators. It is only by identifying the disadvantaged or excluded groups, that evidence-based policies, programs, and practices can be designed and inequalities tackled effectively. … Reproductive health complications represent a hideous feedback loop, as they are not only the result of poverty, but also contribute to poverty. In addressing access to reproductive health matters and gender equality, there is no space for complacency. … Empowering, educating, and employing Kenya’s women and girls will launch our economy to new heights and ensure Kenya reaps a demographic dividend. … For development to be sustainable and resilient, it must be inclusive and equitable, [and] given that half of humanity are women, their empowerment is a must and not an option” (4/12).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Flooding Causing Food Insecurity In DRC's Katanga Province; 40K Face Hunger

Humanosphere: 40,000 face hunger as floods hit eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
Charlie Ensor, a freelance journalist and Humanosphere contributor, examines recent flooding in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, specifically the Katanga Province, which “has destroyed houses, farms, and livelihoods, and it is thought that 40,000 people face food shortages. Without a contingent climate risk adaption strategy in place, and with the global effects of El Niño set to continue, it is likely that Katanga could face further flooding and humanitarian emergency…” (4/11).

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