KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Obama Administration Updates Zika Funding Request To Congress, With More Money Going To Vaccine Research

The Hill: White House tweaks Zika money request with eye toward vaccines
“The White House is tweaking its request to Congress for Zika funding amid a battle with Republicans. The updated request sent late Monday keeps the same top-line number of $1.9 billion but shifts more money into vaccine research, according to a summary, in a response to new developments…” (Sullivan, 4/19).

The Hill: McConnell: In the end, no resistance to new Zika money
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that in the end, he does not think there will be opposition to providing new funding to combat the Zika virus. McConnell said congressional Republicans are working with the administration to figure out the details…” (Sullivan, 4/19).

Roll Call: Zika Funding Fight Reignites
“..In Congress, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers continued his war of words with the administration over the emergency supplemental. ‘For several months now, we’ve been trying to find out what is absolutely needed now, in ’16, in order to find out whether or not the moneys left over from Ebola [are] enough to cover the rest of this fiscal year,’ Rogers told CQ Roll Call late on Monday, prior to the disclosure of the administration’s updated request…” (Mejdrich, 4/19).

STAT: White House wants to direct more money to Zika vaccine
“…In an updated request sent to Capitol Hill Monday and provided to STAT by a congressional aide, the administration increases the amount of research funding, including vaccine research, for the National Institutes of Health from $130 million to $277 million. … The administration is also upping its request for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority’s work on vaccines and diagnostic tests from $100 million to $188 million…” (Scott, 4/18).

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U.S. President Obama Signs Bill Adding Zika Virus To FDA List Of Diseases For Priority Review Voucher Program

CBS News: President Obama signs Zika virus bill
“President Obama on Tuesday signed into law a bill aimed at encouraging pharmaceutical companies to help combat the Zika virus and develop vaccines. The legislation puts the Zika virus — a mosquito-borne illness that is spreading throughout South and Central America — to the Food and Drug Administration’s priority review voucher program in order to jump-start the development of treatments for tropical diseases…” (Schultheis, 4/19).

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U.S. Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton Sending Aides To Puerto Rico To Attend Zika Meetings

Reuters: Clinton aides traveling to Puerto Rico for Zika meetings
“U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is dispatching two top aides to Puerto Rico this weekend for a fact-finding trip to learn more about the Zika virus, her campaign said on Tuesday. … Clinton said in a statement provided by her campaign to Reuters that more must be done to combat the spread of Zika in Puerto Rico, which has an abundant mosquito population and also a decades-long recession that has made curbing that population difficult…” (Becker, 4/19).

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Increased, Sustained U.S. Funding For Global Health R&D Needed For Effective Disease Outbreak Responses, Report Says

CNN: Cuts could leave United States unprepared for disease outbreak, report warns
“The world was pretty far from having a vaccine for Ebola when the virus ravaged West Africa in 2014 and 2015. But it might have been a little closer if the United States had not cut funding for research on a promising new Ebola vaccine in 2012, according to a report by the Global Health Technologies Coalition. These types of missed opportunities are the reason the coalition, which is made up of 27 nonprofit groups, issues a report every year with recommendations for how much funding Congress should give to agencies involved in health research, such as the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration…” (Storrs, 4/19).

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U.S. Public Health Spending Cuts Could Impact Zika Outbreak Response, Report Says

USA TODAY: Cuts to public health could hamper Zika preparation, response
“A report released Tuesday shows the USA reduced spending on public health by hundreds of millions of dollars in the past several years. … ‘We’re not adequately funding state and local health departments,’ which will provide the ‘boots on the ground’ if Zika cases are diagnosed in the USA this summer, said Richard Hamburg, interim president and CEO at the Trust for America’s Health…” (Szabo, 4/19).

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U.N. General Assembly Special Session Addresses Global Drug Policies, With More Focus On Human Rights-Based Prevention, Treatment Approaches

Agence France-Presse: World’s nations urged to shift focus on drug problem
“World governments at a U.N. meeting on the global drug problem were urged Tuesday to move away from repression, abolish the death penalty for drug offenses, and step up treatment…” (4/19).

Deutsche Welle: World governments consider changing course from ‘war on drugs’
“The U.N. General Assembly is reconsidering its global strategy against drug use amid growing recognition that the ‘war on drugs,’ with its emphasis on law enforcement and incarceration of users, has failed. The World Health Organization (WHO) [Director-General] Margaret Chan told the assembly that the aforementioned approach was too narrow…” (4/19).

Reuters: U.N. reviews war on drugs amid global push for liberalization
“…Despite broad agreement on the need to deal with the global drug problem, there are deep divisions among the 193 U.N. member states, with some favoring a shift towards decriminalization and a greater focus on reducing the harm caused both by narcotics abuse and the war on drugs…” (Charbonneau, 4/19).

U.N. News Centre: World drug problem: U.N. adopts new framework for policies to ‘put people first’
“The United Nations [Tuesday] adopted a new framework putting people at the center of global policies on drug control, which the head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says can help promote the ‘urgent, united, and concerted action we need’…” (4/19).

Washington Post: More than 1,000 world leaders say the drug war has been a disaster
“The global war on drugs has proven ‘disastrous’ and ‘humankind cannot afford a 21st century drug policy as ineffective and counter-productive as the last century’s.’ So say more than 1,000 world leaders, including 27 members of the House of Representatives and six U.S. senators, in a letter to the United Nations ahead of a major international drug summit happening this week…” (Ingraham, 4/18).

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West, Central African Nations Need Increased Access To HIV Treatment, MSF Report Says

Humanosphere: West and Central Africa falling behind in the fight against HIV and AIDS, report finds
“…In West and Central Africa, a region that covers 25 countries, a Doctors Without Borders report released [Tuesday] has highlighted that 27 percent of all global deaths attributable to the AIDS pandemic occur in these countries. Furthermore, the region also represents 21 percent of all new HIV infections as well as 45 percent of the global total of children born HIV-positive…” (Ensor, 4/20).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Global HIV drive hampered without drugs for ‘neglected’ West and Central Africa
“A global drive to help curb the HIV epidemic by 2020 will fail unless millions of people with the virus in West and Central Africa receive life-saving drugs, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said on Wednesday. … Only one in four adults and one in 10 children living with HIV in West and Central Africa have access to antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, compared to almost half of HIV sufferers in Eastern and Southern Africa, MSF said…” (Guilbert, 4/19).

VOA News: Report: West and Central Africa Need More Focus on HIV Treatment
“…The report urges United Nations agencies, European donor agencies, national governments, and civil society to fast-track a plan to scale up antiretroviral treatment for countries in West and Central Africa where less than one-third of the population in need is currently getting treatment…” (4/20).

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Neglected Diseases Affect People In All Nations, U.S. Science Envoy Peter Hotez Says At British Parasitology Meeting

SciDev.Net: Neglected diseases also strike rich nations
“…Climate change and international travel allow viruses and parasites to spread across the world, far beyond developing countries, said Peter Hotez, the United States science envoy for the Middle East and North Africa, at an event in London, United Kingdom, last week. For example, ‘there are 12 million U.S. Americans with a neglected tropical disease, but awareness of this is nil,’ he told the British Society for Parasitology’s spring meeting on 12 April…” (Vesper, 4/20).

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Editorials and Opinions

Global Community Should Adopt Human Rights-Based Approach Toward People Who Use Drugs

Huffington Post: The World Needs a Healthier, Rights-based Approach Towards People Who Use Drugs
Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS

“…In a new report, ‘Do no harm: health, human rights and people who use drugs,’ UNAIDS presents the evidence for what works to reduce the impact of HIV and other harms associated with drug use. Countries that have shifted their focus away from laws and policies that are harmful to people who use drugs and that have increased investment in harm reduction programs have reduced new HIV infections and improved health outcomes. … UNAIDS would like to see a global adoption of a people-centered, public health, and human rights-based approach to drug use. … There is a unique opportunity to begin to treat people who use drugs with dignity and respect, to provide people who use drugs with equal access to health and social services, to greatly reduce the harms of drug use and to take a step towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals” (4/19).

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Congress Should Approve Zika Funding, Not Divert Resources From Ebola Response

Huffington Post: Congress’ Big Gamble On the Health of America’s Children by Defunding Ebola to Fund Zika
Thomas Kenyon, president and CEO of Project HOPE

“…Diverting resources from Ebola makes little sense … Congress needs to approve the money to fight Zika, and quickly. By not providing appropriate funding for U.S. government agencies, who more than earned their credibility with the American people during Ebola, Congress is gambling with both the health of unborn American children and with the health security of Americans in general. The gamble is that $500 million for Zika is sufficient when experts say it isn’t, that the Zika virus won’t be actively transmitted on the mainland when experts say it will, and that withdrawal from maintaining Ebola control in West Africa won’t threaten health security again when experts say it could” (4/19).

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U.S. Should Ratify U.N. Convention On The Rights Of The Child

TIME: Obama Should Take Action to Protect the World’s Children
Caryl M. Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF

“U.S. ratification of the [U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)] is long overdue. … The benefits of U.S. ratification are clear. It would help restore our status as a human rights leader and bolster our credibility as we advocate for improved conditions for children and their families around the world. It would help focus our energies and resources where children need them most and empower children to exercise their rights, here and abroad. … So let’s ask President Obama to send the CRC to the Senate as soon as possible — so that the next Senate can debate and vote on it. U.S. ratification of this treaty will become a powerful symbol of our commitment to children everywhere…” (4/19).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

In Blog Post, Bill Gates Discusses Value Of U.S. Investment In R&D, Innovation

Gates Notes: America’s Secret Weapon
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses the value and impact of U.S. investment in innovation and research and development, writing, “My favorite example is health. America’s investment in this area creates high-paying jobs at universities, biotech companies, and government labs. It leads to new treatments for disease, such as cancer therapies. It helps contain deadly epidemics like Ebola and Zika. And it saves lives in poor countries. Since 1990, the fraction of children who die before age five has fallen by more than half. I think that’s the greatest statistic of all time, and the United States deserves a lot of credit for making it happen…” (4/18).

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Publish What You Fund CEO Speaks About 2016 Aid Transparency Index In CGD Podcast

Center for Global Development’s “CGD Podcast”: A Quarter of Aid Is Transparent — What About the Rest? Podcast with Rupert Simons of Publish What You Fund
In this podcast, Rajesh Mirchandani, vice president of communications and policy outreach at CGD, speaks with Rupert Simons, CEO of Publish What You Fund, about the organization’s 2016 Aid Transparency Index. Mirchandani notes, “Simons tells me … ‘we don’t see a global movement for data use yet. … We need global partnerships of data users, and not just of data producers'” (4/19).

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Tobacco Taxation Can Help Finance Development, Health Initiatives

World Bank’s “Voices”: Taxing tobacco and the new vision for financing development
Patricio V. Marquez, lead health specialist who is heading the Global Tobacco Control Initiative at the World Bank Group, discusses tobacco taxes as an innovative approach to funding development, writing, “The time has arrived to make tobacco taxation an important source of domestic resource mobilization that has the potential to generate substantial health and social welfare dividends across the world” (4/18).

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Experts Discuss Global Food System Challenges, Solutions In Food Tank Interviews

Food Tank: Ten Questions with Pamela Fessenden of the USAID Bureau for Food Security
Pamela Fessenden, director of the Office of Market and Partnership Innovations at USAID’s Bureau for Food Security, says improved resources for smallholder farmers could help “break the poverty cycle” (4/19).

Food Tank: Six Questions with Roger Thurow, Senior Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Roger Thurow, senior fellow on Global Agricultural Development at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, says he would like to see the end of childhood stunting within the next generation, which would involve “[i]mproving the nutritional quality of food and making those vital nutrients accessible and affordable to everyone” (4/19).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, published Issue 285 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter features articles on various topics, including an article on the Global Fund’s ranking in Publish What You Fund’s 2016 Aid Transparency Index, and the fund’s submission of a position paper to the U.N. special session on the world drug problem (4/20).

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