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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Fourfold Return On Investment In Mental Health, WHO-Led Study Shows; WHO, World Bank Convene Meeting To Boost Mental Health On Global Agenda

News outlets report on the findings of a new WHO-led study examining the return on investments in mental health, as well as a meeting convened by the WHO and the World Bank taking place this week in Washington, D.C., to address the issue.

CNN: Treating anxiety, depression can help global economy, study says
“…For every U.S. dollar invested in treating depression and anxiety, there was a $4 return in better health and ability to work, according to a new WHO-led study published Tuesday in The Lancet Psychiatry. The study is the first to argue that there are global economic benefits in investing in treatments for depression and anxiety…” (Imam, 4/12).

Newsweek: Worldwide Mental Health Investment Would Lead to a Projected $310 Billion Saved
“…The study … looked at the predicted costs and outcomes of treatment in 36 low-, middle-, and high-income countries between 2016 and 2030. Currently, investment in mental health is ‘far lower than what is needed,’ the study argues, with governments spending just one to five percent of health budgets on mental health…” (Westcott, 4/12).

New York Times: Aid Groups Aim to Put Mental Health on World Agenda
“…This week, the World Bank and the World Health Organization are convening hundreds of doctors, aid groups, and government officials to start an ambitious effort to move mental health to the forefront of the international development agenda. ‘The situation with mental health today is like HIV/AIDS two decades ago,’ Tim Evans, the senior director of health, nutrition, and population at the World Bank Group, said Tuesday in a call with reporters. ‘We are kick-starting a similar movement for mental health, putting it squarely on the global agenda’…” (Carey, 4/12).

Reuters: Better mental health treatment would boost nations’ economies: WHO
“…Last year, world leaders included mental health in an ambitious plan to end poverty and inequality by 2030, enshrined in 17 Sustainable Development Goals. ‘We know that treatment of depression and anxiety makes good sense for health and wellbeing; this new study confirms that it makes sound economic sense too,’ said Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO…” (Whiting, 4/12).

USA TODAY: WHO: Better mental health care means a better economy
“…As the number of people suffering from common mental disorders — such as depression and anxiety — skyrockets worldwide, governments need to develop mental health care initiatives, said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank. ‘Despite hundreds of millions of people around the world living with mental disorders, mental health has remained in the shadows,’ Kim said in a press release. ‘This is not just a public health issue — it’s a development issue’…” (Horn, 4/12).

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House Approves Bipartisan Bill Adding Zika To FDA's Priority Review Voucher Qualifying Diseases List; President Obama Expected To Sign

The Hill: House approves bill to speed up Zika drugs
“The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill to offer incentives to companies seeking cures for the Zika virus amid Congress’s growing battle over funding for the epidemic. The bipartisan legislation would add the Zika virus to a list of diseases that qualifies for a ‘priority review’ voucher from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It passed the Senate last month…” (Ferris, 4/12).

Reuters: Congress sends Obama bill on Zika drug development
“…White House spokeswoman Katie Hill said Obama was expected to sign the bill, which she called a ‘small step’ that could encourage the private sector to tackle Zika. ‘But it contains no funding and is ultimately insufficient on its own, since it doesn’t provide the $1.9 billion in funding that our public health experts have said is needed right now to prepare Americans for the imminent local transmission of Zika in this country,’ she said in a statement…” (Clarke, 4/12).

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In Letter To Congress, More Than 50 Public Health Groups Urge TPP Rejection, Citing Concerns Over Access To Medicines

The Hill: Public health groups call for Congress to reject TPP
“More than 50 public health groups on Tuesday called on Congress to reject a trade agreement between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations because it will block access to affordable medicines. Led by Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam America, the groups wrote a letter to Congress arguing that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement contains provisions that would undermine public health and in many cases make it more difficult to deliver lifesaving medicines to patients…” (Needham, 4/12).

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Speaking In Senate, Bono Urges Lawmakers To Consider Foreign Aid As National Security, Not Charity

Associated Press: U2’s Bono testifies before Congress on the refugee crisis
“U2 frontman Bono brought his star power to Capitol Hill Tuesday as he called on members of Congress to take swift action to deal with the global refugee crisis and violent extremism. In testimony before a Senate subcommittee, Bono drew a bleak picture as he described the flood of people fleeing their homes in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. The human torrent threatens the very idea of European unity, he said, as he urged lawmakers to think of foreign aid as national security instead of charity…” (Lardner, 4/12).

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U.N. Begins New Open Process For Selecting Secretary General

Associated Press: U.N. takes historic step to open selection of new U.N. chief
“The United Nations took a historic step Tuesday to open up the usually secret process of selecting the next secretary general, giving all countries the chance to question candidates on such issues as how they would resist pressure from powerful nations, tackle sex abuse by U.N. peacekeepers, and improve efforts to achieve peace…” (Lederer, 4/12).

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World Unprepared For Widespread Yellow Fever Outbreak, Experts Warn

Nature: Fears rise over yellow fever’s next move
“As the largest outbreak of yellow fever in almost 30 years continues to spread in Angola, scientists are warning that the world is ill-prepared for what would be a public health calamity: the re-emergence of urban epidemics of the deadly infection, which could overwhelm vaccine stockpiles…” (Butler, 4/13).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Global Health Investments Contribute To Efforts To End AIDS, TB, Malaria Epidemics

Huffington Post: The Best of America: Part II
Deborah Derrick, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

“This is the second in a three-part series on U.S.-led successes in global health. This post focuses on a question recently posed to me: What game-changing advances lie ahead in fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria? … I’ve focused here on advances taking place that especially inspire HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria experts [including implementing HIV/AIDS prevention tools like PrEP, engaging with TB patients in new ways, and dedicating specific insecticides to public health-only use.] … Bipartisan, U.S. support of global health investments has resulted in stellar outcomes to date. With continued innovations like those above and expanded implementation through the Global Fund, PEPFAR, USAID, and the President’s Malaria Initiative, we have a historic opportunity. We can bend the curve on these diseases, work to end them as epidemics and save millions of lives. I feel sure that we Americans will choose to advance this opportunity” (4/12).

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Global Leaders Should Consider Creation Of Global Humanitarian Fund

The Guardian: The world needs a humanitarian fund to assist long-term crises
Robin Davies, associate director of the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University

“…It is anomalous that the world is equipped with global funds to finance action on infectious diseases and climate change, but not humanitarian crises. The centerless nature of fundraising for humanitarian action has long been a problem. The problem should no longer be tolerated. … A properly constituted global humanitarian fund would have good prospects of mobilizing much more funding for humanitarian crises than is presently available, from both governments and private donors. It would be especially useful for directing funds to where they are most sorely missing — protracted crises out of the spotlight. Its governing body could become an important global policy forum. Its resources, obtained via scheduled replenishments, could be used to benefit both low- and middle-income countries in need, including via blending with finance from the multilateral development banks. The World Humanitarian Summit provides a good opportunity to debate and register the merits of such a proposal…” (4/13).

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International Community Must Work Together To Address Humanitarian Crises

Huffington Post: The Forgotten Crises
Samuel A. Worthington, CEO of InterAction

“…We must not ignore people in Africa who are forced to flee from their homes due to violence and conflict. … [W]e must work to immediately alleviate suffering and build communities that are resilient to multiple shocks. … The world must step up to address crises that are preventing individuals everywhere from living up to their full potential. By joining forces, governments, U.N. agencies, international NGOs, local civil society organizations, and private businesses can collectively aide affected populations while building stronger, more resilient communities where people need not flee. As we prepare for the World Humanitarian Summit, it is critical that we bring attention to the world’s crises that are so often forgotten and ignored” (4/12).

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Ebola Recovery Must Include Training More Mental Health Workers In Liberia, Sierra Leone

Medium: Demand for mental health services surges in Liberia and Sierra Leone
Melanie Mayhew, communications officer in the Health, Nutrition, and Population Global Practice at the World Bank Group

“…Ebola … has deeply affected people’s mental health. When national statistics are available, the countries’ mental health experts expect that they will show that many, many thousands of people in Liberia and Sierra Leone need mental health treatment after surviving Ebola, losing relatives and friends to Ebola, helping the victims of Ebola, or simply living in the countries during this traumatic time. … Psychotropic drug shortages plague Sierra Leone and Liberia. … The countries also lack the skilled workforce they need to address widespread mental health issues, especially as the countries recover from Ebola. … In Liberia, The Carter Center, with a World Bank-administered $2.75 million grant from the Japan Social Development Fund, is training 700 health workers and is supporting 6,500 people in 30 communities who have mental health and psychosocial needs. … With access to health care, education, and jobs, recovery is possible. And when recovery is possible, healthy people, and healthy economies can thrive…” (4/12).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CSIS Report Examines U.S. Support For Women's, Family Health In Senegal

Center for Strategic & International Studies: Accelerating the Momentum
In this report, Janet Fleischman, senior associate, and Cathryn Streifel, program manager and research associate, both with the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, examine “the U.S. strategy for women’s and family health in Senegal at the community, facility, and national levels, including U.S. financing mechanisms designed to increase Senegal’s capacity and quality of services. The report argues that it is a critical time for the United States to elevate resources for integrated services to increase demand and uptake, especially to improve access to family planning and child health services…” (4/12).

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Antiretroviral Treatment Access Key To Lowering Opportunistic Infections Incidence In LMICs, Report Says

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Access to HIV treatment averted about a million serious illnesses, saved nearly $50 million in 2013 alone, review finds
Antigone Barton, senior writer and editor for “Science Speaks,” discusses a new report published in Clinical Infectious Diseases analyzing data on adults living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries, writing, “[I]nitiation of antiretroviral treatment lowered the risks of opportunistic infections during the first year of treatment from as much as 57 percent to 91 percent, saving millions of dollars in costs of treating illnesses that include pneumonia, fungal infections, parasitic infections, and tuberculosis…” (4/12).

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2 New Rapid Diagnostic Tests Aim To Advance Efforts To Eliminate NTDs

PATH blog: Fighting disease, fear, and fatigue
Tracy Romoser, communications officer and blog editor at PATH, discusses two new rapid diagnostics tests — the biplex test and LF monoplex test — for river blindness and lymphatic filariasis (LF), writing “These tests are a continuation of PATH’s work to advance new diagnostics to support elimination of NTDs” (4/11).

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