KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Gates Foundation Backing Phase III Clinical Trial Of New TB Drug Regimen

News outlets report on the announcement of a Phase III clinical trial for a drug regimen that has the potential to fight drug-resistant tuberculosis.

The Guardian: New and better treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis on the horizon
“A new trial of a novel drug combination that could dramatically shorten treatment for tuberculosis, including some of the drug-resistant strains, will start within the year — as long as enough money can be raised…” (Boseley, 4/23).

Reuters: Gates-backed TB drug to enter late-stage testing
“The first experimental drug that fights both conventional and drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis is advancing to late-stage clinical testing, researchers said on Wednesday, raising hope for a new way to stem the growing threat of drug-resistant TB…” (Steenhuysen, 4/23).

Wall Street Journal: Gates Foundation to Fund New Tuberculosis Drug Trial
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said Wednesday it would help fund a clinical trial of a promising drug regimen that, if effective, would offer a powerful new tool to fight drug-resistant tuberculosis…” (McKay, 4/23).

TB Alliance: New Tuberculosis Drug Regimen Will Move to Landmark Phase III Clinical Trial
“Based on positive results from earlier clinical studies, TB Alliance is advancing the first-ever drug regimen designed to treat both drug-sensitive and some forms of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) to a global Phase III clinical trial…” (4/23).

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WHO Asserts Vaccinations Save Millions Of Lives Each Year

As World Immunization Week kicks off, news outlets report on the WHO’s assertion that vaccinations save millions of lives each year.

Agence France-Presse: WHO hits back at anti-vaccine deniers
“The World Health Organization hit back on Wednesday against vaccine deniers who claim that immunization is pointless, risky, and that the body is better off fighting disease unaided…” (4/23).

VOA News: Vaccinations Save Millions of Lives Every Year
“The World Health Organization says effective vaccines against killer diseases are averting between two to three million deaths every year. The agency is kicking off its yearly World Immunization Week campaign by urging children and adults to get immunized against deadly and debilitating diseases…” (Schlein, 4/23).

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Women Are Not 'Commodities,' Deserve Equal Rights, U.N. Official Says

The Guardian: Women must be treated as human beings, not commodities, says U.N.
“Women and girls are not commodities and must be treated as human beings with equal rights to men, politicians from across the world who are gathered at a conference in Stockholm heard on Wednesday. Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the U.N. population fund, UNFPA, told delegates at the international parliamentarians’ conference that they had a duty to raise the status of women in their countries and to remind their heads of state of the commitments they made to improve the lives of women and girls…” (Ford, 4/24).

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U.N., Aid Agencies Urge Global Community To Do More In S. Sudan

News outlets report on responses to the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, the result of ongoing ethnic violence in the country.

Agence France-Presse: Major international effort seen as crucial to end South Sudan carnage
“As ethnic massacres in South Sudan spiral out of control and politicians lose their grip on rampaging militias, only a concerted international effort stands any chance of ending the four-month-old civil war, analysts say…” (Martel/Mathes, 4/23).

PBS NewsHour: Will violent rivalry tip South Sudan toward famine?
“…Judy Woodruff takes a closer look at the root of the crisis, tensions over natural resources and the urgency of humanitarian aid and regional diplomacy with Nancy Lindborg of USAID and Khalid Medani of McGill University…” (4/23).

RTT News: UNICEF Warns Of Worsening Malnutrition Crisis In South Sudan
“Confirming that children were killed in South Sudan during recent brutal attacks on displaced civilians or as a result of being recruited by armed groups, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned Tuesday that the surging violence is exacerbating an already ‘very dangerous’ malnutrition crisis…” (4/22).

VOA News: Aid Agencies Scramble to Avert Health Disaster in South Sudan Town
“Humanitarian agencies are scrambling to provide services to thousands of new arrivals at the United Nations base in Bentiu, where the number of people seeking refuge has risen more than six-fold since opposition forces overran the town 10 days ago…” (Green/Doki, 4/23).

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U.N. Officials Call On Warring Parties In Syria To Allow Unfettered Humanitarian Aid Access

Media outlets report on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria.

Foreign Policy: Syria’s War on Medicine
“…Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, the Syrian government has conducted a multi-pronged assault on the country’s medical system, targeting doctors suspected of treating its opponents, bombing hospitals, clinics and blood banks in opposition areas, and denying deliveries of life-saving medical supplies to rebel-held areas…” (Lynch, 4/24).

New York Times: Diplomatic Efforts on Syria Have Failed, U.N. Chiefs Say
“Two months after the United Nations Security Council ordered Syria’s warring parties to allow access for humanitarian aid to civilians, the heads of five United Nations agencies warned on Wednesday that diplomacy had failed and that the desperate plight of civilians in many parts of the country was getting worse…” (Cumming-Bruce, 4/23).

U.N. News Centre: Syria: U.N. chiefs issue impassioned plea to save besieged civilians
“Calling urgently on Syrian authorities and the opposition to allow aid access, end siege warfare and halt the indiscriminate bombing of civilians, the top United Nations humanitarian officials today also issued a strong challenge to ‘those with the responsibility, power and influence’ to find the courage to re-energize a thus-far failed diplomatic push to end the brutal three-year conflict…” (4/23).

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NPR Interviews Gates On Why He Fights Diseases Abroad

NPR: Why Bill Gates Fights Diseases Abroad, Not At Home
“This week in Seattle, Bill and Melinda Gates are attending a meeting of the minds. Five hundred of the world’s top innovators in global health have gathered for the Global Health Product Development Forum, an annual event in which scientists, engineers, policymakers, and activists work to develop new tools for fighting diseases…” NPR interviews Bill Gates about why he focuses his efforts abroad (Greene, 4/24).

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West Africa's Ebola Death Toll At 147, WHO Says

Media sources report on the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Associated Press: Ebola death toll in West Africa rises to 147
“The World Health Organization says 147 people have died from the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. In a statement posted on its website, the organization said more than 240 cases of the virus have been recorded in Guinea and Liberia…” (4/23).

Washington Post: The African Ebola outbreak that shows no sign of slowing
“…There are several theories explaining the outbreak, Africa’s worst in seven years and the first to kill in the continent’s west…” (McCoy, 4/23).

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Burkina Faso Aims To Halve Malaria Cases In 5 Years

Deutsche Welle: Fighting malaria from childhood in Burkina Faso
“…The Burkina Faso government says the fight against malaria is its top priority. Health minister Lene Sebgo has the ambitious goal of halving the number of malaria cases within five years…” (Osterath, 4/24).

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Cholera Outbreak In Haiti Could Happen Again

CNN: Why Haiti’s deadly cholera epidemic ‘could strike again’
“… Even before the [January 2010 seven-point magnitude earthquake], Haiti’s water systems were fragile, and just months after the quake the country was hit with a devastating cholera outbreak — the first in nearly a century. By the time the outbreak subsided, more than 8,000 people had died and hundreds of thousands more had become sick. … Today, Haiti’s Mirebalais University Hospital is training new doctors for another cholera outbreak…” (Jean-Francois, 4/23).

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Cause Of AIDS Announced 30 Years Ago

News outlets recount the announcement 30 years ago that scientists had discovered the virus that causes AIDS.

ABC News: HIV Turns 30 Today
“It’s been 30 years since scientists announced the cause of AIDS: a shifty retrovirus that would come to be known as HIV…” (Moisse, 4/23).

ABC News: Researchers Identify HIV Virus: April 23, 1984
The news outlet provides a video report from 1984 and notes, “Health and Human Services officials referred to the virus as ‘HTLV-3’ during a 1984 news conference” (4/23).

Associated Press: AP Was There: Probable cause of AIDS found
“…On April 23, 1984, the Department of Health and Human Services held a press conference to announce that the probable cause of the disease had been found — a virus that was eventually called the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. … Thirty years after its publication, the AP is making its original report on the announcement available…” (Leary, 4/23).

MSNBC: The day they discovered the AIDS virus
The announcement “revealed the source of what would soon become one of the worst plagues in human history, and it sparked scientific and social revolutions that are still playing out today…” (Cowley, 4/23).

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Editorials and Opinions

Action, Funding Needed To Alleviate Cholera In Haiti

New York Times: Haiti in the Shadow of Cholera
“…The United Nations is in an awkward spot in this crisis. It has been blamed for bringing cholera to Haiti in the first place, through its negligent soldiers who contaminated a river with their sewage. Because it has steadfastly refused to accept responsibility, it is a tarnished advocate, begging donors to send money that they have gotten tired of giving. But even if the conscience of the world [is] no longer shocked by Haitian sickness and deaths, the Haitian people still need the world’s help. At current rates, officials expect 45,000 people to contract cholera this year. In what other country would such a vast and preventable tragedy be tolerated, with little more than wrung hands, empty promises and underfinanced plans?” (4/23).

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Contraception Access Can Change Course Of Population Growth, Climate Change

Al Jazeera America: Family planning for climate change
Malcolm Potts, director of the Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, and J. Brian Atwood, chair of global policy studies at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota

“… Helping women and couples plan the families they desire does not mean telling them what to do; it means listening to what they want. It means meeting their need for increased access to information and a range of modern contraceptive methods. … The challenge is not simply a humanitarian one: It is also a security issue of growing magnitude. … By undertaking immediate, large-scale integrated efforts among governments, donors, NGOs, and the private sector to make modern contraception universally available, by investing in girls and young women, and by bringing the most appropriate and cost-effective technologies to help farmers adapt to climate change, we can change course” (4/23).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

New Drug Regimen Aims To Transform TB Treatment, Improve Health

“The first-ever drug regimen designed to treat both drug-sensitive TB and MDR-TB [multidrug-resistant TB] has reached a critical milestone and will advance to a global Phase III clinical trial — the last, but most important stage of testing before it can be made available,” Mel Spigelman, president and CEO of the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, writes in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “Scientifically, it would fully validate a new approach to develop TB treatments, one that would reduce the time it takes to develop novel regimens from decades to years. Economically, it would shatter the existing cost-based burdens to expanding MDR-TB care. And, from a human perspective, it would transform TB treatment, improving health and productivity around the world,” he writes (4/23).

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CSIS Report Examines GAVI Replenishment

The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) has published a new report, titled “Replenishing GAVI in 2014: Options for U.S. Engagement.” The report, by Katherine Bliss, senior associate with CSIS Global Health Policy Center, “reviews GAVI’s progress and challenges during the current phase of operations and offers recommendations for U.S. policymakers to consider as they develop an approach to the upcoming GAVI replenishment,” according to the summary (4/23).

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Health Systems Strengthening Is Global Health Best Buy

In a post on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, blogger Jennifer James discusses PSI’s latest “Impact” magazine issue and a recent panel discussion held at the Center for Global Development, both of which highlight best buys in global health. “While many may automatically think of key interventions that are both cost effective and save lives, the best buy in global health overall turns out to be health systems strengthening,” James writes (4/22).

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New Analysis On Child Death, Population Growth Challenges Conventional Beliefs

In a Humanosphere blog post, Tom Paulson, founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere, discusses a new analysis that challenges the conventional belief of the “virtuous cycle,” which asserts that preventing child deaths reduces birth rates and improves the economic well-being and health of communities. The analysis finds “no evidence to support the claim that reducing child deaths leads to a reduction in population growth. In fact … reducing child mortality initially causes a spike in population numbers” (4/23).

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Global Health Community Must Address Acid Attacks

“At a recent social function benefiting the Acid Survivors Foundation, I learned about an insidious worldwide problem that barely figures on the global health radar, but should. Acid violence, sometimes called acid throwing or an acid attack, involves throwing or pouring acid onto a person with the intent of killing or maiming them,” Jocalyn Clark, executive editor and scientific writing specialist at icddr,b in Dhaka, Bangladesh, writes in the PLOS “Speaking of Medicine” blog. “A comprehensive report from Cornell University says there are two factors in addition to gender discrimination related to the prevalence of acid violence: one, impunity for acid attack perpetrators and two, easy availability of acid. These give clues to how the global health community can act to support broader legislative change and prevent such horrible acts of violence against women…” (4/22).

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Venezuela Making Progress Toward Eliminating Onchocerciasis

“Less than a year after Colombia eliminated onchocerciasis from its borders, its neighboring country, Venezuela, is making similar strides in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). … The People’s Ministry of Health of Venezuela (MPPS) and the PAHO country office will now begin the three-year surveillance stage. If no new cases are found during the three years, Venezuela can begin the process for certifying the elimination of onchocerciasis,” Raquel Corona-Parra of the Global Network for NTDs writes in the group’s blog (4/23).

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Blog Discusses Global Health Contributions

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog discusses global health contributions, reviewing recent meetings and publications on global health funding and human rights (Barton, 4/23).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has published Issue 242 of its “Global Fund Observer.” The issue includes a commentary on the Global Fund’s impact in China, an article on how Ukraine can maximize the impact of Global Fund assistance, and an article on the Global Fund’s work in southern and eastern Africa (4/23).

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