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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Senate Leaves For Week-Long Recess Without Zika Funding Compromise; Obama Administration Officials Warn Lack Of Funding Could Limit Research, Prevention Efforts

The Atlantic: The Senate Goes Home Without Funding Zika
“The U.S. Congress doesn’t look any closer to funding anti-Zika efforts now than it did last week. If anything, lawmakers appear to have taken steps back. After hours of speeches on Zika from the Senate floor on Thursday, lawmakers adjourned for a week-long recess still fundamentally divided on how best to combat the virus…” (Kelly, 4/29).

CQ News: Senate Republicans Block Zika Package, but Say Talks Continue
“Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a Democratic attempt to take up a $1.9 billion funding package to address the Zika virus, maintaining that appropriators’ work on a compromise measure was continuing behind the scenes…” (McCrimmon, 4/28).

CQ HealthBeat: Zika Vaccine, Mosquito Control May Be Hampered by Limited Funds
“Obama administration officials on Thursday said there may not be enough funds to move on aspects of the Zika response such as vaccine development and robust mosquito control, even after the White House shifted $589 million in budgeted money to address the spread of the mosquito-borne virus…” (Young, 4/28).

The Hill: Senate GOP hardening stance against emergency funding for Zika
“Senate Republican leaders are hardening their stance against emergency funding for the Zika virus, just one week after prominent GOP lawmakers signaled a funding package was on its way. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) dismissed President Obama’s $1.9 billion funding request as a ‘blank check’ that would allow him to divert funds to agencies outside of the Zika virus efforts, such as the Environmental Protection Agency…” (Ferris, 4/28).

Huffington Post: It’s Time To Freak Out Over Zika, Marco Rubio Warns GOP
“Republican leaders in Congress may be taking a slow, deliberate approach to dealing with the looming threat of the Zika virus, but Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) warned his colleagues Thursday that it’s about time for them to freak out about the mosquito-borne disease…” (McAuliff, 4/28).

The Lancet: U.S. responds to increase in Zika cases
“…In early February, President Barack Obama requested more than US$1.8 billion in emergency funding to enable the NIH, CDC, and other agencies to respond to the virus. Since that request, Zika cases in the USA and its territories have risen nearly 15-fold in about 10 weeks…” (Jaffe, 4/30).

Washington Post: Why Republicans are opposing President Obama’s request for Zika funding
“…Last week, there appeared to be a deal in the works among Senate appropriators in which a smaller sum, about $1 billion, would be provided in emergency Zika funding as an amendment to one of the 2017 spending bills now moving through the regular process. But that deal is now on ice, partly due to an unrelated blowup over the Iran nuclear deal and, it appears, internal GOP politics…” (DeBonis, 4/28).

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Clinton Adviser, HHS Secretary Visit Puerto Rico To Assess Zika Outbreak, Response

NBC News: Clinton Adviser Amanda Rentería Looks at Zika Prevention in Puerto Rico
“The Zika virus has hit Puerto Rico as the U.S. commonwealth reels from an economic crisis that has led to thousands of layoffs at its hospitals. … Amanda Rentería, national political adviser to Hillary Clinton and a former Senate chief of staff, visited the island last weekend to learn how Puerto Rico is responding and to bring that information back to Congress…” (Gamboa, 4/28).

USA TODAY: Zika outbreak in Puerto Rico grows, endangers pregnant women
“Nowhere in the U.S. has been hit harder by the Zika outbreak than Puerto Rico, where 570 people have been diagnosed with the virus, including 48 pregnant women. … Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who just returned from a two-day visit to Puerto Rico, said her department has awarded $5 million to 20 health centers in Puerto Rico. The money will help expand family planning services, including contraception, outreach and education…” (Szabo, 4/28).

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Zika-Linked Brain Damage More Severe Than Expected, Experts Say

Wall Street Journal: Brain Damage in Zika Babies Is Far Worse Than Doctors Expected
“…The scale and severity of prenatal damage by the Zika virus are far worse than past birth defects associated with microcephaly, a condition characterized by a small head and brain abnormalities. Scans, imaging, and autopsies show that Zika eats away at the fetal brain. It shrinks or destroys lobes that control thought, vision, and other basic functions. It prevents parts of the brain not yet formed from developing…” (Magalhaes/McKay, 4/28).

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U.S. Pledges Nearly $90M In Additional Humanitarian Aid To South Sudan

The Guardian: U.S. pledges $90m to South Sudan but warns of sanctions should peace fail
“The U.S. has promised almost $90m (£60m) of extra aid to South Sudan but warned its newly reconciled leaders that failure to engage properly with the peace process could result in sanctions or an arms embargo. … The new funding is earmarked to provide safe drinking water, emergency health care, food, shelter, and training to the most vulnerable families and communities…” (Jones, 4/28).

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Sierra Leone's Ebola Survivors Press For Government's Promise Of Free Health Care

The Guardian: Ebola leaves a painful legacy for survivors in Sierra Leone
“…When Sierra Leone was first declared Ebola-free in November last year, President Ernest Bai Koroma addressed the nation, saying: ‘We remain committed to ongoing work to support survivors. This includes a comprehensive package of support for survivors, including free health care and psychosocial support.’ Many survivors feel he has not delivered. Earlier this month they protested outside parliament, accusing the government of not providing free health care as promised…” (Acland, 4/28).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Congress Should Not Delay On Fulfilling President Obama's Zika Funding Request

Bloomberg View: Congress Has No Good Reason to Delay Zika Funding
Editorial Board

“…The case for action [to respond to Zika] now is overwhelming. … Among the questions Republicans say remain unanswered is what portion of the money [the White House requested] is needed for the current fiscal year. That level of detail wasn’t necessary in 2005 when President George W. Bush requested and received emergency funding from Congress to combat avian flu. Nor was it necessary in 2014 when [President] Obama sought and received emergency funding to fight Ebola. Republicans also argue that the federal government has enough money left over from the fight against the Ebola virus to deal with Zika, since Ebola is no longer a public health emergency. But the administration … claims that taking more from that effort could leave Americans exposed to another outbreak … Finally, House Republicans say that any request for new money to combat Zika should come through the regular appropriations process, rather than through an emergency request. That approach would delay any new money until the end of the year — at the earliest. … Whatever the explanation for Republicans’ truculence … it’s a delay that could endanger lives. … Republicans need to move, and quick” (4/28).

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TPP Would Create 'Damaging Monopolies,' Hurt Health System

Washington Post: Letter to the Editor: The Trans-Pacific Partnership would worsen health crises
Rohit Malpani, director of policy and analysis for Médecins Sans Frontières’s Access Campaign

“The April 25 editorial ‘A healthy agreement’ suggested the [Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)] won’t significantly restrict access to medicines, including in developing countries. [However, some] countries … have seen dramatically higher prices for medicines under TPP-like rules. … The TPP introduces damaging monopolies. Yet even the status quo is a crisis. Too many patients worldwide cannot afford treatment. The patent system doesn’t address many health needs, including antibiotic resistance. Countries should reject the TPP. Doubling down on the current system isn’t just the wrong prescription; it’s also a deadly one” (4/28).

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Governments Should Adopt New Model For Antibiotic Development, Access

Project Syndicate: Overcoming Market Obstacles to New Antibiotics
Jim O’Neill, commercial secretary to the U.K. Treasury, honorary professor at Manchester University, visiting research fellow at Bruegel, and chair of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance

“…In the field of antibiotics development, … the divergence between profit-seeking behavior and the public good is taking the world to the brink of crisis. … In January, the pharmaceutical industry took a big step toward solving this problem when more than 100 companies and trade associations from more than 20 countries signed a declaration calling on governments to adopt a new model of antibiotic development. As part of this new model, the signatories committed themselves to provide access to new drugs for all those who need them, increase investment in R&D that meets global public health needs, and help slow the development of drug resistance in humans and animals. Governments should encourage and enable the industry to meet these objectives…” (4/28).

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As WHO Begins Process For Electing New Head, Current DG Chan Should Make WHO 'Radical Voice For Health Equity'

The Lancet: The next Director-General of WHO
Editorial Board

“WHO last week fired a starting pistol to launch the election for its next director general. … It is likely that this lengthy process will … be more transparent, accountable, and disputatious (and considerably less corrupt) than past elections. … Next month’s World Health Assembly will be a useful opportunity for member states to take soundings about the issues that will decide the election (geography, gender, and proven political skills will likely be as important as technical expertise). In January, 2017, the Executive Board can propose up to three names to be considered by the World Health Assembly. … In her final 12 months, [current WHO Director-General Margaret] Chan should embrace her unprecedented freedom to speak without scruple and act without fear. Now is her best moment to make WHO the supremely radical voice for health equity and social justice it should be” (4/30).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kaiser Family Foundation Survey Examines Americans' Knowledge Of Global Health Issues

Humanosphere: Survey: Americans know about Zika, but not U.S. global health efforts
“Since 2010, the percentage of Americans who say they have heard ‘a lot’ or ‘some’ about U.S. global health efforts has dropped by 21 percent, according to a survey released last Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. This downward trend is in stark contrast to the recent increase in attention to specific global health crises, like the Zika outbreak, said Liz Hamel, one of the study’s authors and director of the foundation’s public opinion and survey research team…” (Nikolau, 4/28).

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U.S. Congress Must Act, Provide Funding For U.S. Zika Response

Health Affairs Blog: On Zika Preparedness And Response, The U.S. Gets A Failing Grade
Alexandra Phelan, adjunct professor and Sir John Monash scholar at Georgetown University Law Center, and Lawrence O. Gostin, professor and director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University and director of the WHO Collaborating Center on Public Health Law & Human Rights, discuss the U.S. response to Zika, writing, “[A]s Zika looms as a serious threat to the homeland, and as science is proving that Zika causes grave harms to newborns, Congress continues to shut its eyes and close its pocket book. This is more than simply a public health issue, but also a matter of social justice threatening the poorest people in our country. Congress must not ignore the ethical and moral implications of its delay while federal, state, and local public health agencies struggle without the critical funding needed to protect the health of poor Americans” (4/28).

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USAID, Liberia Work To Incorporate Country-Owned Development Approaches Into Nation's Health System

Center for Global Development’s “Rethinking U.S. Development Policy”: Country Ownership at USAID: Enabling and Empowering Liberia’s Ministry of Health
Casey Dunning, senior policy analyst, and Claire McGillem, research assistant, both at CGD, discuss the experience of a partnership between USAID and Liberia that used a Fixed Amount Reimbursement Agreement (FARA), a financing mechanism that enables the use of country-owned systems in project implementation — rather than using the typical USAID arrangement in which funding flows through non-governmental implementing partners — to improve health outcomes and strengthen health systems in Liberia (4/28).

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Gates Foundation Official Discusses Global Progress On Maternal, Newborn, Child Health In Wilson Center Podcast

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: Mariam Claeson: Quality, Not Quantity of Care for Maternal and Child Health
Sean Peoples, a multimedia producer with the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program, summarizes a podcast featuring Mariam Claeson, the director of maternal, newborn, and child health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Claeson discusses progress toward maternal and child health goals, including the 2015 Global Maternal and Newborn Health Conference in Mexico City and the upcoming Women Deliver 2016 conference (4/29).

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