KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

White House To Redirect $510M In Ebola Funding, $79M In Other Funding Toward Zika Response; Administration Urges Congress To Approve Emergency Funding

Associated Press: White House: $589M to go to fight Zika virus
“Federal money left over from the largely successful fight against Ebola will now go to combating the growing threat of the Zika virus, the Obama administration announced Wednesday…” (Taylor, 4/6).

CIDRAP News: White House to shift Ebola funds for Zika response
“The Obama administration announced [Wednesday] that because the president’s request for $1.9 billion in emergency funding has stalled in Congress, it will shift $589 million, most of it from Ebola resources, toward critical activities such as controlling mosquitoes, building lab capacity, and developing vaccines and diagnostic tests…” (Schnirring, 4/6).

CNN: White House warns Congress: Fight Zika or live to regret it
“The White House on Wednesday issued a dire warning to Republicans in Congress: Spend money to prevent the Zika virus from spreading within the United States or regret it later…” (Kosinski, 4/6).

CQ News: Obama Administration Redirects $589 Million to Battle Zika
“…Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget, announced in a conference call with reporters that the administration has identified $589 million in existing funds that can be immediately redirected to target the virus, which is spreading in Latin America and has been linked to birth defects. Donovan said $510 million would be repurposed from existing resources across multiple agencies provided in 2014 to combat the Ebola outbreak that year…” (McCrimmon, 4/6).

Foreign Policy: White House Shifts Ebola Funds to Try to Stop Spread of Zika
“…The shift in funds comes as more evidence emerges that Ebola — which two years ago ignited global panic after overwhelming public health systems in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone — has yet to be fully eradicated…” (Francis, 4/6).

The Hill: Overnight Healthcare: White House dips into Ebola funding for Zika
“…The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will ramp up ‘immediate, time-critical’ efforts to stop the spread of the [Zika] virus, which remains difficult to diagnose with no vaccines or treatments available…” (Ferris/Sullivan, 4/6).

New York Times: Obama Administration to Transfer Ebola Funds to Zika Fight
“…In addition to funds moved from the Ebola budget, an additional $79 million would come from several other accounts, including money previously allotted to the national strategic stockpile of vaccines and other emergency supplies for epidemics, said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services…” (McNeil, 4/6).

Reuters: White House finds temporary fix in Zika funding fight
“…Without full Zika funding, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said mosquito control and surveillance may have to be delayed or stopped, vaccine development could be jeopardized, and development of faster diagnostic tests could be impaired…” (Rampton/Gardner, 4/6).

STAT: Obama administration diverts $500 million from Ebola response to Zika fight
“…Administration officials had resisted tapping the Ebola money to fuel the Zika fight, but said Wednesday they could not wait any longer for Congress to act. … Without additional funding, ‘there are activities that we cannot start now,’ said Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget. ‘There are activities in the coming months that we may need to stop doing’…” (Joseph, 4/6).

USA TODAY: As Congress stalls funding, White House will move Ebola funds to Zika
“…House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers said he was pleased that the administration had found existing funds to battle Zika, put promised oversight ‘to ensure the best and most effective use of these funds’…” (Korte, 4/6).

Wall Street Journal: White House to Shift About $500 Million for Fighting Ebola to Combating Zika
“…More than 60 percent of the money is to be spent domestically, and the rest on aid to other countries for programs including educational campaigns, maternal and child health efforts, and mosquito management…” (Armour, 4/6).

Washington Post: White House to divert Ebola funds in $589M push to fight Zika
“…Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee said they expect to discuss additional funding to combat Zika in the annual spending process that is currently underway. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who chairs the subcommittee that oversees federal health and human services issues, said he is still assessing how long the Ebola funds will last and how much additional money is needed. … Democrats were disappointed the White House was forced to raid the Ebola fund…” (Eilperin/Snell, 4/6).

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On World Health Day, WHO's Chan Calls For 'Rethink' Of Eating, Exercise Habits In Light Of Increase In Global Diabetes

U.N. News Centre: ‘We need to rethink our daily lives,’ warns U.N. health chief, urging action to halt rising tide of diabetes
“…To mark World Health Day (7 April), which celebrates WHO’s founding in 1948, the agency is issuing a call for action on diabetes. In its first-ever Global report on diabetes, WHO highlights the need to step up prevention and treatment of the disease. … ‘If we are to make any headway in halting the rise in diabetes, we need to rethink our daily lives: to eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain,’ says Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director general…” (4/6).

Washington Post: Diabetes was once a problem of the rich. Now it belongs to the poor.
“As the global diabetes rate soared over the past quarter-century, the affected population transformed: What was once predominantly a rich-country problem has become one that disproportionately affects poorer countries. That’s one of the many conclusions of the World Health Organization’s first global report on the chronic disease…” (Choksi, 4/7).

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Bloomberg Examines Global Rise In Obesity, Efforts To Reverse Trend

Bloomberg: The World Is Getting Fatter and No One Knows How to Stop It
“…Economic forces are conspiring to cause the great global weight gain. Countries grow wealthier and increase consumption. People move from rural areas to cities, where they have ready access to inexpensive, processed foods. Machines do work that humans once did, decreasing the amount of energy people use. And global trade means the reach of junk food has never been greater. Up against these trends, no country has figured out how to reverse the rise of obesity…” (Tozzi/Diamond, 4/6).

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Scientists Look To Rubella For Answers On Zika, While Vaccine Researchers Work To Respond To Polio, Zika, Other Diseases

The Atlantic: What Zika Researchers Can Learn From the Rubella Outbreak of 1964
“…[P]ublic health officials in the United States are looking back to the history of the disease as they try to figure out what to do about a threat unlike anything they’ve seen in decades. The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness believed to cause grave outcomes among fetuses infected in utero, has startling — and potentially useful — similarities to rubella…” (LaFrance, 4/6).

IRIN: Polio hopes and Zika fears in the vaccine race
“It’s busy times for the vaccine industry — a new vaccine against dengue fever has been deployed in the Philippines, research for a vaccine against Zika virus is gaining steam (although questions remain over the threat it poses), the Ebola outbreak refuses to go away, and a yellow fever outbreak in Angola has exposed an alarming lack of stockpiles. Against this backdrop, the biggest-ever effort in human immunization might finally be reaching the beginning of the end. Wild polio, once crippling hundreds of thousands a year, is found now in only two countries — Afghanistan and Pakistan…” (Parker, 4/6).

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Amid Multiple Crises In Brazil, Recife's Officials, Doctors Respond To Zika With Few Resources

NPR: How To Fight Zika When Your Country Is In Trouble: Improvise
“[Recife Health Secretary Jailson Correia] asked for $7 million to fight Zika. He got a few hundred thousand dollars. … Why so stingy? Because Zika isn’t the only emergency in Brazil. Two other mosquito-borne viruses are spiking: Dengue and chikungunya. Meanwhile, the country is going through a massive economic and political crisis as well, facing one of the worst recessions in its history…” (Garcia-Navarro, 4/7).

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Philippines Launches First School-Based Dengue Fever Immunization Campaign

CNN: World’s first dengue fever vaccine launched in the Philippines
“…The Philippines’ Department of Health launched a school-based immunization program in highly affected areas, making it the first country where the vaccine is commercially available…” (East, 4/6).

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South Sudan Faces Drug Shortages, MSF, Government Official Say

IRIN: Major drug shortage hits South Sudan
“South Sudan is facing a critical shortage of drugs and life-saving medicines, according to Médecins Sans Frontières and a government official. It comes at a time when humanitarian organizations have been placed in a near-impossible situation — increasingly relied upon to provide most of the funding in the medical and educational sectors but subject to new legislation that could burden their operations…” (Lynch, 4/7).

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Longer Maternity Leave Lowers Risk Of Infant Mortality In LMICs, Study Shows

SciDev.Net: Longer paid maternity leave saves babies
“More generous policies for paid maternity leave can save the lives of babies in developing countries, a study has found. The paper estimates that each extra month of maternity leave is linked to about eight fewer infant deaths for each 1,000 live births. This represents a 13 percent reduction — a ‘pretty sizable’ decrease, says lead author Arijit Nandi, an epidemiologist at McGill University in Canada…” (Rabesandratana, 4/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

On World Health Day, Global Community Must Commit To Preventing Deaths, Complications From Diabetes

Huffington Post: World Health Day 2016: Let’s Beat Diabetes
Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO

“…Preventing deaths and complications from diabetes requires access to affordable health care services with equipment sufficient to diagnose and monitor diabetes; patient education to promote healthy diet, physical activity and self-care; essential medicines for diabetes management, including life-saving insulin; regular screening for complications and early treatment when they are found; and a referral system across various levels of health care. Governments also need to invest in better monitoring of diabetes, including who is getting access to the treatment they need, and who is missing out. Together, we can halt the rise in diabetes and provide care to improve quality of life for the millions of people living with the disease. Deliberate, effective responses are needed from government; health care providers; civil society; producers of medicines, technologies, and food; from people living with diabetes; and from each of us. Everyone has a role to play” (4/6).

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Improved Data On Women, Girls Essential To Achieving SDGs

The Guardian: Leaving women out of development statistics just doesn’t add up
Mayra Buvinic, U.N. Foundation senior fellow working on Data2X, and Ruth Levine, director of the global development and population program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and co-chair of the Data2X technical advisory group

“We have a sexist data crisis: information we depend on to make social and economic policy, and to monitor progress, is unable to reflect the reality of the lives of women and girls. … For many of the issues in the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)], information is not disaggregated by sex, obviating any possibility of understanding gender differences. For others, gender bias is ingrained in the measurement process. … The data revolution that has been called for to support the SDGs is an opportunity that should not be missed to improve data on women and girls. This will require high-level political commitment, technical advances, and earmarked resources for larger investments than have been made to date. For every political exhortation about the importance of bettering the lot of women and girls, we need a comparable demand by leaders for gender-specific information about not just health and education, but also work, personal security and freedom, and protection from environmental harms…” (4/7).

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Adapting, Expanding New Financing Instruments Can Help LDCs Achieve SDGs

Devex: Big gaps and little money: Why solutions to finance SDGs in LDCs matter
Gail Hurley, policy specialist on development finance at the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), and Marianne Mensah, adviser for innovative financing for development at the Agence Française de Développement

“…Over the past 15 years, new financing instruments have emerged both within and in addition to [official development assistance (ODA)]. These include: blended finance; guarantees; green bonds; local currency loans; diaspora financing vehicles; impact investing; performance-based loan contracts; and insurance, among others. But beyond a handful of cases, these approaches have not been widely used in the [least-developed countries (LDCs)]. … While these types of financial instruments have the potential to bring new solutions to the financing of Agenda 2030 in the LDCs, they will not be effective unless they are adapted to the specific needs and circumstances of each country and fully support national development strategies. Expanding financing to the LDCs — in ways that make sense to each country — will be critical if we are to remain true to the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)] promise to ‘leave no one behind'” (4/6).

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International Coordination, Investment Critical To Mental Health Efforts

Nature: Action on mental health needs global cooperation
Pamela Y. Collins, director of the Office for Research on Disparities & Global Mental Health at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, and Shekhar Saxena, director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the WHO

“…The need and demand for mental health care is increasing as vulnerable populations expand. … Now, clinicians, patients, caregivers, and researchers need to learn from each other. The knowledge gained in all countries must be evaluated, disseminated, and adapted for local use everywhere. Crucially, everyone involved must start with the same mindset: when it comes to mental health, all countries are developing countries. … To meet the mental health needs of vulnerable people everywhere, we must develop, study and practice the translation of knowledge and ideas in all directions. How? … Determine which innovations will scale up. … Train scientists to translate research findings. … Use the community’s knowledge. … Sustain effective mental health treatments. … Evaluate the outcomes of treatments. … Disseminate successes and failures…” (4/6).

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Using 'Cleaner, More Efficient' Cookstoves Can Improve Global Health

Huffington Post: Five Ways Clean Cooking Improves Health
Radha Muthiah, CEO of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

“…Cooking over open fires and smoky stoves … leads to a wide range of noncommunicable diseases, such as pneumonia, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease. The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. Around the world, more and more people are buying cleaner, more efficient cookstoves, which require less fuel and produce far fewer toxic emissions. … As we celebrate World Health Day and look ahead to the World Health Assembly, this is a fitting time to focus on the many ways clean cooking can improve human health, including: Saving lives … Lowering risk of burns … Helping children survive and thrive … Reducing injury and exposure to violence … Cutting emissions and outdoor air pollution … To save millions of lives and improve global health, we must tackle the clean cooking issue…” (4/6).

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Global Community Should Invest In Surgery To Improve Health, 'Ease The Burden Of Human Suffering'

U.S. News & World Report: The Human Right to Heal
Fizan Abdullah, division head of pediatric surgery at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, professor of surgery at Northwestern University, and founding member of the G4 Alliance

“…[Achieving global surgery] will require us to break free of the toxic, parochial attitude that what happens half-way across the world is not ‘our’ problem. It will require the realization among the powerful, the influential, and ordinary people alike that no matter where we live, we are part of the same living, breathing organism. … We need to galvanize the global community to come together … for surgically treatable diseases. And this time around, we need not solve any scientific mysteries or even develop new drugs. We already have at our disposal the tools and know-how needed to ease the burden of human suffering. In doing so, the scalpel is now as critical as vaccines and pills…” (4/6).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Congress Must Act On Emergency Zika Funding To 'Get Ahead Of This Epidemic'

White House Blog: Chart of the Week: Why Congress Needs to Act on the Zika Virus
Tanya Somanader, director of digital rapid response for the Office of Digital Strategy, examines a digital chart showing the potential spread of Zika in the U.S. and discusses President Obama’s request for $1.9 billion in emergency funding for response efforts. She notes the White House is re-programming $589 million for the response, includes comments from Director of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan, and concludes, “We have the opportunity to do get ahead of this epidemic, but Congress needs to do its part” (4/6).

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Bill Gates Discusses Criteria For Foreign Aid Disbursement

Gates Notes: Who Should Get Foreign Aid?
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, examines how countries qualify for foreign aid, noting he will attend a World Bank meeting later this month to discuss the issue. He outlines how national income levels are an insufficient indicator for aid disbursement and evaluation, stating, “The point of aid is not to raise incomes; it is to help people improve their lives. So income should not be the only measure of success…” (4/5).

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Technological Innovations Can Improve Health Care Quality, Help Meet Development Goals

Frontline Health Workers Coalition: A Connected Health Workforce is Essential to Global Health Security
Corinne Mahoney, senior manager of communications and knowledge management at IntraHealth International, discusses the use of mobile phones to help spread information and knowledge among health workers, writing, “When we invest to give health workers what they need to do their jobs — whether it’s stronger communication, improved training systems, or more reliable supply chains — not only do we succeed in tackling the crisis du jour, we also build stronger, more resilient health systems in the long run…” (4/6).

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Developing Partnerships to Change the World
Todd Pierce, chief digital officer at the Gates Foundation, proposes the establishment of a Digital Foundation Partnership to help use technological innovations to achieve sustainable development objectives. “…In coming days, I’ll be calling on investors to say we need your financial support to help nonprofits connect with technology. I’ll be calling on technologists and entrepreneurs, because we need your big ideas to improve how we transact…” (4/6).

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