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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

White House, Republican House Leaders Wrangle Over Zika Funding

CQ News: Finger-Pointing Over Zika Money Sets White House Against Ryan
“Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s office on Thursday joined an ongoing fight pitting the White House against House Republican appropriators over $1.9 billion in emergency funding the Obama administration wants to combat the Zika virus. Ryan and House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) want to move a Zika supplemental spending bill, an aide to the speaker said. But they cannot finish a measure Rogers has ordered the spending panel’s staff to begin writing until they receive more information from the administration, the aide said…” (Bennett, 4/14).

The Hill: White House, GOP play blame game on Zika
“…House leaders say the Obama administration has actually delayed the funding by ignoring recent letters and refusing to answer questions about what one lawmaker called a $2 billion ‘slush fund.’ Tensions erupted on Thursday, as House GOP offices and the White House released competing timelines of meetings, briefings, and letters to reporters aimed at pinning blame on the other side…” (Ferris, 4/14).

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U.S. Health Officials Divided Over Pregnancy Advice For American Women In Light Of Zika Virus

New York Times: Health Officials Split Over Advice on Pregnancy in Zika Areas
“As the Zika virus bears down on the United States, federal health officials are divided over a politically and ethically charged question: Should they advise American women to delay pregnancy in areas where the virus is circulating? … Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, described the internal debate as ‘a very long conversation.’ For now, ‘we do not have a recommendation to not become pregnant,’ Dr. Frieden said at a ‘Zika summit’ held recently at disease agency headquarters in Atlanta. ‘We do recommend access to contraception’…” (McNeil, 4/14).

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Food Security Experts Examine Tanzania's Experiences, Successes With U.S. Feed The Future Initiative

Devex: Want to understand the promises and limits of Feed the Future? Look to Tanzania.
“Tanzania has received more funding from Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security program, than any of the initiative’s 18 other focus countries — $330 million so far. As East African countries grapple with El Niño’s impacts on food systems, food security experts are looking to the East African development partner’s experience to find lessons that can shape the future of a key initiative in the Obama administration’s development legacy…” (Cheney, 4/14).

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International Response To Southern African Drought 'Slow,' The Economist Reports

The Economist: Southern Africa’s drought: Too little, too late
“…The world’s response has been slow and stingy. Emma Donnelly, the coordinator for Britain’s Department for International Development in Zambia, says the migrant crisis in Europe and the war in Syria are straining donors’ capacity and will. Delay is costly: a study by the department in 2012 noted that responding to drought early is several times cheaper than waiting until famine takes hold…” (4/16).

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U.K. Chancellor To Urge Global Action On Antimicrobial Resistance At IMF Expert Panel Meeting

The Guardian: Antimicrobial resistance a ‘greater threat than cancer by 2050’
“Antimicrobial resistance to antibiotics will present a greater danger to humankind than cancer by the middle of the century unless world leaders agree international action to tackle the threat, according to George Osborne. The British chancellor will tell a panel of experts at an IMF meeting in Washington that 10 million people a year could die across the world by 2050 — more than the number of people lost to cancer every year — without radical action…” (Watt, 4/14).

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Worldwide Polio Vaccine Switch To Begin Next Week, Global Polio Eradication Initiative Announces

U.N. News Centre: World’s largest, fastest vaccine rollout targets polio’s ‘final strongholds’ — U.N. initiative
“In a massive undertaking aimed at stamping out polio once and for all — dubbed ‘the switch’ — a United Nations-backed eradication initiative will next week begin the largest and fastest globally coordinated rollout of a vaccine into routine immunization programs in history. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) announced [Thursday] that between 17 April and 1 May, 155 countries and territories around the world will stop using the trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV), which protects against all three strains of wild poliovirus, and replace it with bivalent OPV (bOPV), which protects against the remaining two wild polio strains, types 1 and 3…” (4/14).

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WHO Immunization Expert Group Recommends Sanofi's Dengue Vaccine For High-Prevalence Areas

Reuters: WHO group backs Sanofi’s vaccine in areas with high dengue rates
“The World Health Organization’s expert group on immunization said on Friday it recommended that countries consider introducing Sanofi’s dengue vaccine Dengvaxia in areas where prevalence of the virus was 50 percent or higher…” (Miles, 4/15).

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Politics, Religion Influence Efforts To Codify Sierra Leone's 'Safe Abortion Bill,' Reuters Reports

Reuters: Religion, rights, and politics clash over Sierra Leone abortion bill
“…Since December, parliament, dominated by President Ernest Bai Koroma’s party, has twice passed the ‘Safe Abortion Bill,’ which would scrap the current ban, both times with more than the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. Koroma has refused to sign it into law, however, saying it runs counter to the right to life enshrined in the constitution and should be put to a referendum…” (Fofana, 4/15).

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Chinese Proposals To Tighten Vaccine Distribution Supervision Would Help Curb Illegal Distribution But Difficult To Implement, WHO Says

Reuters: China’s tougher vaccine rules ‘welcome,’ complex to implement: WHO
“China’s proposals to impose tougher rules over its vaccine market will help stamp out illegal behavior and strengthen oversight, but will be ‘complex’ to implement, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement on Friday. The State Council, China’s cabinet, said on Wednesday it would tighten supervision of vaccine distribution, with better record keeping for the production, storing, and transport of vaccines and tougher punishments for lawbreakers…” (Jourdan, 4/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

PEPFAR Continues To Use Data-Driven Approach To Achieve AIDS-Free Generation

Huffington Post: Harnessing the Data Revolution for an AIDS-Free Generation
Deborah L. Birx, ambassador-at-large and coordinator of the U.S. government activities to combat HIV/AIDS

“A data revolution is underway at the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). … By collecting local-level granular data, more frequently, and analyzing it through innovative approaches, we’re accelerating progress toward reaching the bold HIV prevention and treatment targets set by President Obama last September and, ultimately, achieving our globally agreed goal: end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. … Over the past two years, we’ve made considerable progress in leveraging data to prevent more new HIV infections and save more lives. But we’re not satisfied. PEPFAR remains deeply committed to data-driven decision-making, mutual accountability, transparency, and ensuring our programs have clear and deliberate impact. And amidst the statistics and spreadsheets, we must always remember that each data point represents one of the millions of men, women, and children that we serve. At the end of the day, that’s what harnessing the data revolution is all about” (4/14).

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Congress Should Act Quickly To Respond To Zika

New York Times: On Zika, Congress Is Failing to Do Its Job
Editorial Board

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has concluded that the Zika virus causes brain damage in babies born to infected women, which adds to the growing evidence that the virus is a major public health emergency. Yet Republicans in Congress are refusing to appropriate the money needed to respond to this crisis. … After weeks of fruitless talks with Congress, the administration said last week that it would shift nearly $600 million to anti-Zika efforts from Ebola and other programs. That is not sufficient and could increase the risk of another outbreak of Ebola, which remains a persistent threat. … Lawmakers might be tempted to consider Zika a distant threat, but that is a dangerous misconception. … Having learned from its slow response to Ebola, the Obama administration is trying to move faster against Zika. But if Congress doesn’t do its job, the public will be put at needless risk” (4/14).

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International Aid System Should Account For 'Shifting Patterns Of Poverty,' Broaden Eligibility Requirements

Wall Street Journal: A New Map of Poverty, a New Approach to International Aid
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…[W]ell-focused support enables developing countries to do a few really important things better: provide basic health care, increase access to education, and help subsistence farmers improve crop yields. Yet the way that the current global-aid system measures poverty [by using a nation’s average income] could deal a setback to countries and people on the cusp of escaping it. … I am attending the spring meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund this weekend in Washington, D.C., where adapting the aid system to account for shifting patterns of poverty will be a topic of discussion. I’m optimistic that aid experts will embrace some fresh ideas now circulating. These include broadening eligibility requirements to account for health, education, and agricultural productivity, adapting the aid system to address the needs of the poorest where they are, as well as making the transition away from aid more gradual…” (4/14).

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Congress Should Support Efforts To End Preventable Maternal, Child Deaths, Alleviate Food Insecurity

The Hill: Global moms say ‘thank you’ to the American people
Lisa Bos, director of government relations, and Beth Ann Saracco, policy adviser for food security and livelihood, both at World Vision U.S.

“…We urge members of Congress to acknowledge the powerful message of ‘thank you’ we heard on our recent trips [to Kenya and Zimbabwe] by robustly supporting and funding … life-saving and critical international development programs in fiscal year 2017. … Combined together, the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (REACH Act) and the Global Food Security Act (GFSA) would support efforts to end preventable deaths of moms and babies and address chronic food insecurity and malnutrition. We have learned from our time in Kenya and Zimbabwe that when a woman is empowered, the entire family and community is strengthened. What better way to honor women like [those we visited] than by equipping other global moms with the same ability to transform their lives for the better, impacting the future of generations of children and families to come” (4/14).

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Global Community's Support To Ethiopia Critical As Country Faces Food Shortages, Drought

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Six million children in Ethiopia are hungry and without clean water. It is in all of our interests to help Ethiopia overcome the worst drought in fifty years
Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International

“…[Ethiopia’s] government is faced now with dealing with three challenges: the emergency needs of the 10 million people facing food shortage; preparing to respond to the next drought, which could come at any time … ; and developing a longer term sustainable plan for adapting to this changing environment and ensuring livelihoods and communities are given the skills and resources for much-needed change. The funding and resourcing must be available to take on all of these tasks, if any of them are to truly succeed. … The international community invested heavily in bringing Ethiopia to a point where it can lead a self-sustaining economy, capable of withstanding crisis. This included the development of all the early warning systems to identify risk and to stop emergencies like the current food crisis escalating into a catastrophe. It is the failing of us all, if we ignore the sound of the alarm bells ringing now” (4/14).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Congressional Hearing Examines Lessons Learned From Ebola Response

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog/Rethinking U.S. Development Policy”: Congressional Panel Looks to Learn from Ebola
Erin Collinson, senior associate for policy outreach, and Sarath Ganj, policy outreach associate, both at CGD, discuss last week’s Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing on West Africa’s Ebola epidemic. “Amanda Glassman, CGD’s director of global health policy, was one of four expert witnesses who spoke to the response and recovery in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, as well as the broader U.S. approach to global health security,” they note and summarize statements made at the hearing (4/14).

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New Framework Allows Focus On Resiliency Within Food For Peace Initiative

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: Joan Whelan on a New Strategy at the Office of Food for Peace: Address Conflict
Sean Peoples, a multimedia producer with the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program, summarizes a podcast featuring Joan Whelan, a senior policy and learning officer at USAID’s Office of Food for Peace. Whelan discusses “a new framework [that] allows Food for Peace to address issues that indirectly affect food security, including conflict prevention, livelihoods, financial inclusion, disaster risk-reduction, natural resource management, climate change adaptation, and more,” Peoples writes (4/15).

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