KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

White House, Obama Administration Officials, Congressional Democrats Urge Republican Movement On Emergency Zika Funding

Bloomberg: Zika Fight Starts to Bite Republicans Ahead of Mosquito Season
“Senate Republican leaders entered this week hoping to act quickly to fight the Zika virus, but ran into internal feuding and now face the prospect of political fallout in election battleground states like Florida. Talks with Democrats on an emergency spending package stalled and lawmakers now anticipate doing nothing before they leave on a one-week recess at the end of the week…” (Dennis, 4/26).

CNN: Democrats turn up the heat on Republicans to act on Zika
“The political battle over Zika funding intensified Tuesday as congressional Democrats and the White House amped up pressure on Republicans to pass money aimed at combating the dangerous virus that is spreading north to the United States…” (Barrett/Walsh, 4/26).

CQ News: Zika Funding Squabble Engulfs Senate, House, and White House
“…The White House joined in the attack on the GOP. Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Obama administration officials ‘don’t take much solace’ in Senate Republicans’ plans to attach Zika money to a regular appropriations bill that likely will never reach Obama’s desk, adding that to tie a Zika funding bill to an ‘inept’ budget process means the legislation is ‘destined to fail’…” (McCrimmon/Shutt, 4/26).

The Hill: Rift opens in GOP over Zika funding
“Congressional Republicans are split on whether to provide emergency funding to fight the Zika virus. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) cast doubt on the emergency request Tuesday, saying he thinks the issue should be dealt with through the regular appropriations process. That would mean new funds have to wait until Oct. 1. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are working with Democrats toward a deal that could make new Zika funding available well before then…” (Sullivan, 4/26).

The Hill: Senate Dems: Skip break, pass Zika funding
“… ‘I believe this is a serious public health challenge, so serious we should not leave Congress this week and take a recess without passing the president’s emergency budget supplemental for public health and the Zika virus,’ Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said. ‘The mosquitoes are not going to be on recess next week.’ Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) added senators ‘can’t go on break without taking care of this emergency’…” (Carney, 4/26).

The Hill: McCarthy casts doubt on emergency Zika funding
“… ‘There is enough money there especially to deal with (it) this year,’ McCarthy said. ‘So if we’re going through the proper appropriations process this year, it’s the best way to handle it, best place to get the answers’…” (Sullivan, 4/26).

NBC News: Congress Struggles to Get a Deal to Pay for Zika Virus Defense
“…The top U.S. health officials say [Zika is] an emergency and the White House has asked for $1.9 billion to pay for preparations, to develop vaccines, tests, treatments, to fight mosquitoes, and to train health experts to recognize and deal with cases. … ‘The American people are counting on the Congress to act. And instead we have gotten bureaucratic excuses from Congress as to why they have done nothing,’ White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday…” (Fox, 4/26).

New York Times: Senate Nears Deal for at Least $1.1 Billion to Fight Zika Virus
“Senate negotiators on Tuesday moved closer to an agreement to provide at least $1.1 billion in emergency financing to combat the rapidly spreading Zika virus, which public health officials warn poses an imminent threat in the United States, but House Republicans said they were still not ready to approve additional funds…” (Herszenhorn, 4/26).

POLITICO: Kevin McCarthy: No standalone emergency Zika bill
“…Congressional Democratic leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, have blasted Republicans for failing to pass supplement emergency funding to combat the spreading virus. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, for example, warned Monday of the increasing threat to the American public should Congress fail to provide funding, pointing to 500 confirmed cases of Zika discovered just south of Florida, in Puerto Rico…” (Bade/Everett, 4/26).

Reuters: White House urges Congress to move on Zika funding
“Two senior Obama administration officials wrote congressional leaders on Tuesday to urge legislation be passed to fund the fight against the Zika virus, as concerns mount the United States will soon face locally transmitted cases of the disease. … ‘Without significant additional appropriations … the nation’s efforts to comprehensively respond to the disease will be severely undermined,’ Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, and Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in the letter…” (Gardner, 4/26).

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Colombia Reports 2 More Zika-Linked Birth Defect Cases; Number Of Microcephaly Cases Remain Stable In Brazil

New York Times: Colombia Confirms More Birth Defects Linked to Zika
“Colombian health officials said on Tuesday that they had confirmed two more cases of babies born with brain damage to mothers who had Zika during pregnancy, but said overall cases of the mosquito-borne virus were decreasing in the country…” (Kaplan/McNeil, 4/26).

Reuters: Brazil says Zika-linked microcephaly cases stable at 4,908
“The number of confirmed and suspected cases of microcephaly in Brazil associated with the Zika virus remained stable at 4,908 in the week through April 23, just one case more than a week earlier, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday…” (Haynes/Boadle, 4/26).

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International Community Must Fund Humanitarian Needs, Build Resiliency As Part Of El Niño Response, U.N. Relief Official Says

U.N. News Centre: ‘Worst case scenarios’ could become reality without more funding for El Niño response — U.N. relief chief
“With 60 million people across the world affected by droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events triggered by El Niño, the top United Nations relief official [Tuesday] called on the international community to act now to address urgent humanitarian needs and support building communities’ resilience to future shocks…” (4/26).

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BMJ Report On Global Surgery Draws Attention To Multiple Challenges Of Providing Quality Services

NPR: The Improvisational Surgeon: Cardboard Casts, No Power, Patients Galore
“…A new report in BMJ Global Health says essentially that surgery has become the overlooked stepchild of global health. The authors say that five billion people lack access to proper surgical care and they argue the world needs to rethink the importance of surgery. … Dr. Josh Ng-Kamstra, one of the authors of the new report on global surgery, says in much of the developing world surgery gets far less funding, attention and resources than treatment for, say, infectious diseases…” (Beaubien, 4/26).

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About 1 Child Dies Every 2 Minutes Of Malaria; African Nations Bear Greatest Burden

PolitiFact: Malaria’s toll: Close to one African child killed every 2 minutes
“A grim statistic is circulating this World Malaria Day. USAID’s Tina Dooley-Jones, deputy mission director in Kenya, marked the occasion in Nairobi saying that ‘globally, malaria kills a child every two minutes.’ … One organization claimed a child died every 30 seconds, another said once every two minutes, and in between was [Rear Admiral Tim] Ziemer’s figure. … In this fact-check, we affirm that the correct number is closer to once every two minutes. … As a humanitarian matter, the exact death toll makes little difference. This table from the Kaiser Family Foundation, using World Health Organization data, clearly shows that Africa bears the greatest burden of malaria…” (Greenberg, 4/25).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss U.S. Disease Outbreak Preparedness, Response

USA TODAY: Daschle and Klain: We’re not ready for next Zika virus
Tom Daschle, former U.S. Senate majority leader and member of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, and Ron Klain, former White House Ebola response coordinator

“…Combating biological threats — either naturally occurring like Ebola or Zika, or deliberate, like anthrax or smallpox — requires a coordinated response. We urge the next administration to start planning for biosecurity risks from day one, and to replace the current ‘governing by crisis’ response cycle with a more permanent and resilient approach. … The next administration must organize and prioritize biodefense and preparedness. This will require strong leadership and a sense of urgency, as well as the recognition that dedicating modest resources today will help avoid costly emergency spending tomorrow. Given what we know now, there is no excuse for not being ready when — not if — the next biological threat occurs” (4/26).

The Hill: A fiscally responsible path to fighting Zika
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), serving on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee

“…[T]he president continues to portray Congress as the only thing holding the United States back from a [Zika] recovery effort. This is a mischaracterization of the facts. … Congress stands ready to support the reallocation of [Ebola and other] resources to address the health and safety concerns of Zika. … Transferring … idle funds is a viable option toward fighting Zika in a fiscally responsible way. … [O]ur government can play a unique role in addressing the Zika outbreak. … An effective and responsible path already exists, and it involves transferring existing, unobligated funds toward Zika control so that the medical community can access the resources it needs…” (4/26).

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World Immunization Week Requires Focus On Increasing Vaccination Coverage, Researching Vaccine Efficacy In 'Global South'

The Guardian: Why are millions of children still dying from preventable diseases?
Amy Whalley, head of policy advocacy at Results U.K.

“…World Immunization Week, which began on 24 April, offers an opportune moment to shine light on the progress being made to reach all children with vaccines through the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP). … It’s an ambitious roadmap but, in reality, it is failing, with millions of children still dying from preventable diseases. … Building [functioning health] systems matters to all of us. The stalling GVAP is a crucial issue. … A global refocus and commitment on efforts to increase immunization coverage, as a way to build stronger health systems, is essential to ensure every child is reached. No child or parent anywhere should have to live in fear of the child catching a vaccine-preventable disease…” (4/27).

Devex: Closing the gap on vaccine efficacy in the ‘global south’
Khalequzzaman Zaman, senior scientist and epidemiologist at icddr,b

“…What is … immediately concerning is the existence of vaccines that are known to be completely effective in industrialized nations, but that show reduced efficacy when introduced to impoverished communities in the global South. … Understanding the biological mechanisms behind [the vaccine] efficacy gap could inform the design of more effective immunization schemes. … There is a clear moral imperative to overcome this global divide in vaccine efficacy. Patient and creative research, conducted in extremely resource-poor settings, must play a vital role in these efforts. This tragic and cruel phenomenon ultimately fails the people most desperately in need of vaccines. A failure to address this issue is a failure to truly confront the suffering caused by poverty and disease” (4/27).

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Mental Health Stigma Could Be Lessened, Treatment Improved Through Legislation

The Guardian: Mental health laws would diminish stigma and improve the lives of millions
Laura Davidson, barrister and international development consultant

“…Despite compelling economic arguments for investing in mental health, stigma perpetuates the lack of resources allocated. So what can be done? A mental health law which enshrines the rights of those with a mental illness and gives them the right to treatment could help diminish stigma … A law can also frame policy, encourage prevention strategies, and set minimum skills for accreditation of mental health professionals and psychiatric facilities. … The global community must ensure that those with mental illness are not left behind. The world has a duty to spearhead positive change, and to prevent the continued marginalization of the mentally ill. Let’s not miss this opportunity” (4/26).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CSIS Paper Examines Options For U.S. Engagement In Central America As LMICs Transition From Gavi Support

Center for Strategic & International Studies: Transitioning from Gavi Support in Lower-Middle-Income Countries
Katherine Bliss, senior associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center and Americas Program, and Katherine Peck, program manager and research associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, examine ways in which the U.S. can engage in Central America to ensure the smooth transition of lower-middle-income countries (LMICs) from Gavi support, noting, “Examining the factors shaping the way countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are experiencing the Gavi transition process provides a helpful lens through which to examine options for U.S. engagement to support the sustainability of immunization programs in LMICs” (4/25).

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Wilson Center Event Explores Zika's Impact On Sexual, Reproductive Health, Rights Agenda

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: How Zika Is Shaping the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Agenda
Francesca Cameron, a program assistant with the Wilson Center’s Maternal Health Initiative, summarizes an April 12 Wilson Center event on Zika and women’s health and rights, during which a panel of experts “recommended governments and the global health community combat the disease by supporting vector control efforts, universal access to sexual and reproductive health care, and targeted outreach to marginalized communities and youth before it spreads further afield” (4/27).

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Transparency Critical To Development Aid Effectiveness

Humanosphere: Development aid is growing, but we still can’t track how most is spent
Humanosphere reporter Tom Murphy discusses the importance of transparency for development aid spending, citing recent reports from Publish What You Fund and the OECD. He concludes, “When countries rely on foreign aid, they make decisions based on promises by donor countries. The inability to know details about pledged aid can lead to significant budgetary problems. Which is to say, that more money is not necessarily helpful it if is hidden away” (4/26).

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Blog Post Examines UNGASS Document On World Drug Problem

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: U.N. Special Session on ‘the world drug problem’ just says no…
Antigone Barton, senior writer and editor of “Science Speaks,” discusses a document titled “Our joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem,” which the U.N. General Assembly adopted last week during its Special Session on the world drug problem. She notes, “The recommendations fall far short of those urged in a recent 46-page Lancet supplement with six pages of endnotes, released in March,” adding, “The document also ‘profoundly disappointed’ members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy…” (4/26).

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