KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Foreign Policy Examines Effects Of PEPFAR's New Strategies, Funding Constraints

Foreign Policy: Obama Dreams of an AIDS-Free Generation
“…The new strategy engineered by [Deborah Birx, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator,] and publicly introduced at the end of 2014 reflects all of these concerns: demographics, coverage, and funding constraints. In effect, the strategy repositions resources to address the areas and populations most likely to reverse PEPFAR’s gains. … Officials say this strategy offers PEPFAR its best chance to realize the goal of an AIDS-free generation within its funding constraints. … Given the current funding constraints, there is some consensus — both within and outside PEPFAR — that Birx has hit on the model that will save the most lives. But critics fault Congress and the Obama administration for promising to usher in an AIDS-free generation while forcing PEPFAR to ration the expansion of critical HIV services…” (Green, 4/18).

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U.S. Senate Democrats Urge Approval Of Emergency Zika Funding In Letter To Majority Leader McConnell

The Hill: Dems take Zika funding plea to Senate GOP
“Senate Democrats are urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to take action on President Obama’s long-delayed emergency funding request to fight the Zika virus. In a letter to McConnell sent Monday, Senate Democrats warned of a ‘heightened threat’ from the mosquito-borne virus, which is expected to begin spreading in the U.S. in early June…” (Ferris, 4/18).

Washington Times: Senate Dems to Mitch McConnell: Take up $2B Zika request now
“…Forty Senate Democrats and two independents said that [reprogramming $510 million in Ebola funding] was a stopgap measure, so new money is still needed. ‘Although (the transfer) was necessary in the face of congressional inaction and the growing and rapidly changing public health threat posed by Zika, it would be shortsighted and dangerous for Congress not to act quickly to give the administration the resources it needs to fully fight the Zika virus and protect Americans,’ their letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said…” (Howell, 4/18).

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Dengue Infected More Than 58M People Worldwide In 2013, Costing Nearly $9B, Study Shows

CIDRAP News: Study says dengue affects 58 million, costs $9 billion a year
“About 58.4 million contracted symptomatic dengue in 2013 and more than 13,000 died, resulting in approximate global costs of $8.9 billion, according to a new study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases…” (Vestin, 4/18).

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Afghan Children Lack Access To Health Care, Education Due To Continuing Violence, U.N. Report Says

Reuters: Afghan schools, hospitals under threat, U.N. says in grim report
“Schools and health facilities have come under increasing threat as violence spreads in Afghanistan, making it harder for children especially to get access to education and medical care, the United Nations reported on Monday…” (Smith, 4/18).

U.N. News Centre: Afghanistan: children increasingly struggle to access health care and education, U.N. reports
“…The report, ‘Education and Healthcare at Risk: Key trends and incidents affecting children’s access to healthcare and education in Afghanistan,’ was jointly produced by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and covers the three-year period from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2015…” (4/18).

United Press International: Afghan children’s health, educations at risk, U.N. report says
“… ‘The report’s findings are deeply troubling. It is simply unacceptable for teachers, doctors, and nurses to be subjected to violence or threats, and for schools and medical facilities to be misused or attacked. All parties must take measures to protect education and health services in Afghanistan,’ said Nicholas Haysom, the U.N. secretary general’s special representative for Afghanistan…” (Adamczyk, 4/18).

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Russia's Support Of 'War On Drugs' Complicates Efforts To Reduce HIV Incidence

VICE News: How Russia Became the New Global Leader in the War on Drugs
“This week, diplomats gathered at the United Nations in New York will adopt a document outlining the future of global drug policy — a text that may have been better in the eyes of many advocates if it weren’t for one country: Russia. Moscow’s rise as the most vocal proponent of the drug war not only affects the pace of change worldwide, it has also created a domestic HIV crisis, and coincided with allegations of corruption among top Russian drug officials…” (Oakford, 4/18).

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Abortion Legal In Colombia, But Women Face Barriers To Accessing Procedure

Foreign Policy: Colombia’s Pro-Lifers Are Objectively Pro-Zika
“…Before 2006, Colombia was one of three countries in the region that completely banned abortion. But that year, a group of human rights lawyers won a hard-fought constitutional battle, and the country’s Constitutional Court overturned the ban. … [T]hanks to a byzantine bureaucracy, judicial delay, conservative opposition, and many doctors’ refusing to perform abortions or offer referrals, Colombian women in need of pregnancy termination have been prevented from understanding their legal options. … Pregnant women with Zika should be able to receive legal abortions, since the risk of giving birth to a deformed baby would be considered damaging to their mental health, as defined by the law…” (Calderon, 4/18).

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WFP To Launch Food Aid Operation To Assist 1M Haitians Affected By Drought

U.N. News Centre: U.N. food relief agency to assist one million Haitians hit by three-year drought
“The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced [Monday] it will launch an emergency operation in Haiti to assist one million people devastated by three years of prolonged drought exacerbated by the El Niño weather phenomenon…” (4/18).

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HIV Treatment Program In Haiti Shows Success, NEJM Report Says

New York Times: AIDS Treatment in Haiti Promising for Developing Nations
“One of the first groups of HIV patients in a poor country to get free AIDS drugs has about the same survival rate as their closest counterparts in the United States, according to scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College. Ten years after a free treatment program was introduced in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, two-thirds of the first 910 patients enrolled were still alive, the researchers said in a brief report published in the New England Journal of Medicine…” (McNeil, 4/18).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Must Adequately Fund Public Health Measures To Effectively Prevent, Respond To Disease Outbreaks

Quartz: Zika is a warning to the U.S. public health system to stop rushing from fire to fire
Celine Gounder, physician and medical journalist

“…The Obama administration has wisely shifted funds to kick-start the national fight against Zika in advance of the summer. But the government’s struggle to come up with sufficient money to battle Zika without compromising other public health efforts has exposed all that’s wrong with the U.S. approach to health security. … What the Ebola epidemic should have taught us is that it’s important to have surveillance for disease outbreaks in place, as well as stronger local health systems to respond when they occur. … We can’t just keep running from one fire to the next, whether the current most pressing threat is Zika, Ebola, Legionnaire’s disease, or lead in the water supply. … How bad will things need to get before we take seriously the need to fund public health?” (4/18).

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Opinion Pieces Highlight Drug Policy Issues Being Discussed At U.N. Special Session

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Why the ‘war on drugs’ isn’t working
Francis Chimenya, Community Advisory Board member of the Johns Hopkins Research Project-Malawi and a member of Key Correspondents

“Public health experts are calling for reforms to drugs policies … Many countries continue to focus on reducing supply and depend on law enforcement and the criminalization of drug use. However research shows that public health approaches, such as ‘harm reduction,’ can be more effective. … [T]he latest research by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that needle and syringe programs reduce HIV risk without increasing or promoting drug use. … Current legislation, punitive law enforcement measures, and punishment, as well as social stigma, cause more harm among young people who use drugs around the world. … [P]revention policies are not working … [but] harm reduction does work…” (4/18).

The Guardian: The war on drugs has failed: time to stop fighting and start thinking
Magdy Martínez-Solimán, assistant secretary general of the U.N. and assistant administrator of UNDP

“…Without effective drug control strategies, marginalization, poverty, and inequality will persist in societies. … We cannot end AIDS by 2030 without prioritizing populations at the greatest risk of contracting HIV, which includes people who use drugs. Our sustainable development commitments … compel U.N. member states to use the best evidence in their efforts to end poverty, ensure health and well-being, and fight inequality and injustice. This includes an integrating, evidence, human-rights based, and well-funded approach to drug control” (4/18).

Project Syndicate: Rethinking West Africa’s War On Drugs
Abdul Tejan-Cole, executive director of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, and Nana Afadzinu, executive director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute

“…West African countries must use the U.N. special session [on the world drug problem] to make a clean break with the failed approach of the past decade. … The U.N.’s special session must be used to lay the foundation for the reform not just of laws and policies, but also of perceptions and attitudes. … If the U.N. special session is to realize ‘a society free of drug abuse,’ it must do more than reaffirm previous agreements and pledges. It must be bold and progressive, by proposing the most cost-effective and humane approach to address global drug use. That can happen only if the affected countries and regions — including West Africa — speak out loudly and collectively” (4/18).

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Though Ebola No Longer PHEIC, Global Community Must Continue Broader Response Efforts

The Lancet: Ebola PHEIC is over but emergency continues
Editorial Board

“…[A]lthough the [Ebola] outbreak is no longer characterized by WHO as [a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC),] it was still highlighted that there is an urgent need for continued and full international and technical support to prevent, detect, and respond to new outbreaks in the region. … A potential danger is that the termination of the PHEIC will be perceived by some parties as a signal that their work is done, particularly given the announcement suggested that the existing capacity to respond is strong. … [I]t would be a tragedy if there was an easing of efforts to fully realize the development of Ebola vaccines and prepare for the next outbreak. … So, although there are technical grounds to terminate the PHEIC — a diminished international threat — it must be made abundantly clear that there is still a long way to go before the real emergency is over” (May 2016).

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Global Community Should Invest In, Address Challenges Of Global Mental Health

Huffington Post: Addressing Global Mental Health Challenges and Finding Solutions
Inka Weissbecker, global mental health and psychosocial adviser at International Medical Corps

“…Although long stigmatized and often down-played as nations set their health care priorities, development strategies, and allocate budgets, failure to address mental health issues carry enormous social and economic consequences. … The solutions however, do not only lie with donors and increased funding. More accountability is needed for money that is spent on health care generally … Reporting on mental health data, indicators, and funding must improve. … [These efforts] will require the participation of all of those involved with the issue — donors, governments, local and international NGOs, academia, the private sector, as well as people living with mental illness — working together, investing time and resources to achieve the common goals of better mental health and the economic rewards that come with it” (4/18).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

New Report Discusses State Of Global Health Financing In 2015

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Global health spending is up but at slower pace than during ‘golden age’ of development assistance
Rabita Aziz, policy research coordinator for the Center for Global Health Policy, discusses an event last week hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the state of global health financing in 2015. During the event, panelists discussed results from a new report by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which “outlines international funding flows for global health areas, including where funding comes from, the intermediary channels it goes through, and where it goes” (4/18).

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Sustained Funding, Strong Partnerships Critical To Preventing Drug-Resistant Malaria

Friends of the Global Fight Blog: The Emerging Risk of Drug Resistant Malaria
Maile Young, communications intern at Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, discusses malaria parasitic resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) in the Greater Mekong Subregion, which “could have potentially devastating consequences for the global fight to eradicate malaria.” She highlights several initiatives aimed at preventing the spread of drug resistant malaria, concluding, “If we continue to build strong partnerships to facilitate the path from funding to treatment to prevention, this newly emerging problem can be stopped” (4/19).

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