KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Sebelius Asserts Health Is 'Great Global Connector,' Says World Cannot Ignore Disease

Associated Press/Washington Post: U.S. health secretary: Nations cannot ignore disease
“Health is the ‘great global connector’ and ignoring disease in other nations will punish people everywhere as the world increasingly is connected by air travel and food transported across the globe, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Monday…” (4/7).

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USAID Increasingly Funding Work Through Local Groups, New York Times Reports

New York Times: In Switch, Development Agency Welcomes Business and Technology to Poverty Fight
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, “who will face tough questions about his $20 billion budget in testimony to Congress on Tuesday, has set off a fierce debate over the way the agency operates and the usefulness of traditional foreign aid. Rather than pouring billions of public dollars into programs to fight poverty, the agency is increasingly using loan guarantees to get local banks to finance big projects, giving its money directly to foreign development groups and embracing projects like the ‘Cuban Twitter’ account, which deliberately hid American involvement and shut down in failure in 2012…” (Nixon, 4/7).

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Philippine Supreme Court Upholds Family Planning Law

News outlets report on the Philippine Supreme Court’s passage of a controversial family planning law.

Agence France-Presse: Philippine top court approves controversial birth control law
“Millions of poor people in the Philippines will have access to free contraceptives for the first time after the nation’s top court on Tuesday approved a deeply controversial birth control law…” (Gutierrez, 4/8).

Al Jazeera: Philippine court upholds birth control law
“The Philippine Supreme Court has struck down a legal challenge to a controversial birth control law that supporters say could transform the lives of millions of poor Filipinos, despite bitter opposition from the country’s powerful Roman Catholic Church…” (4/8).

Associated Press: Philippine court rules family planning law legal
“The Philippine Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a family planning law is constitutional, allowing the government to provide reproductive health care services primarily to the country’s poor despite strong opposition to the law from the Roman Catholic Church…” (4/8).

BBC News: Philippine top court defies church to back birth control
“The Supreme Court in the Philippines has approved a birth control law, in a defeat for the Catholic Church. The law requires government health centers to distribute free condoms and contraceptive pills. The court had deferred implementation after the law’s passage in December 2012 after church groups questioned its constitutionality…” (4/8).

Philippine Star: SC waters down RH Law
“The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the constitutionality of the controversial Responsible Parenthood and the Reproductive Health (RH) Law, but struck down some of the major provisions. Voting unanimously, the magistrates upheld the law’s provisions granting the Department of Health to procure and distribute contraceptives as well as provide RH education to adolescents. The high court, however, declared unconstitutional part of Section 7 requiring private health facilities and medical centers owned by religious groups to provide family planning methods…” (Diola, 4/8).

Reuters: Philippine court upholds contraceptive law as constitutional
“The Philippines Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a family planning law but ruled out provisions to punish health workers who do not inform people about contraceptive options…” (4/8).

Wall Street Journal: Philippine Supreme Court Upholds Most of Reproductive Health Law
“The Philippine Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld most of a controversial reproductive health law, handing the government a victory in its effort to provide greater public access to birth control and family planning education in the heavily Catholic country…” (Larano, 4/8).

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U.N. Commission On Population And Development Begins Meeting To Assess 20-Year Progress

News outlets report on the start of a week-long meeting of the U.N. Commission on Population and Development.

The Guardian: U.N. to measure women’s rights progress over past 20 years
“Progress towards 20-year-old targets that sought to put women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights at the center of development policy will be assessed at a U.N. meeting in New York this week. The week-long Commission on Population and Development (CPD), which begins on Monday, will measure how far countries have come in meeting the action plan that emerged from the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994, and discuss ways to plug the gaps…” (Ford, 4/7).

U.N. News Centre: Challenges facing world population take center stage at annual U.N. forum
“Member States today kicked off a week-long assessment at United Nations Headquarters of action taken over the past 20 years to improve people’s lives and address population issues amid changes in aging, fertility, mortality, migration and urbanization…” (4/7).

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Rwanda Marks 20 Years Since Genocide; Progress In Public Health System Noted

News outlets describe how Rwanda and the global community is commemorating the 20th anniversary of the country’s 1994 genocide, as well as the economic and public health progress Rwanda has made since.

Associated Press/The Guardian: Rwanda genocide: 20th anniversary brings a nation together to mourn
“…President Paul Kagame and Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary general, lit a flame at the Kigali genocide memorial center, which estimates that more than one million Rwandans perished in three months of machete and gunfire attacks, mostly by extremist Hutus on the country’s minority Tutsi population…” (4/7).

BBC News: Rwanda genocide: U.N. ashamed, says Ban Ki-moon
“The U.N. is still ashamed over its failure to prevent the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has said. He was addressing thousands of people in the capital, Kigali, as Rwanda began a week of official mourning to mark the 20th anniversary of the genocide…” (4/7).

New York Times: 20 Years After, Rwanda Pauses to Recall Carnage
“Rwanda on Monday commemorated the 20th anniversary of the genocide there with a fusion of tears, recrimination and regret at the killing of more than 800,000 people in 100 days that shocked the world, redrew regional battle lines and continues to shape the debate over how nations should respond to mass atrocities…” (Cowell, 4/7).

New York Times: Once a Nation of Death, Now a Symbol of Life
“The Rwandan genocide began 20 years ago, and in articles assessing the consequences, one surprising fact stands out: In public health, Rwanda has risen from the ashes to become Africa’s biggest success story…” (McNeil, 4/7).

Reuters: Weeping Rwandans told ‘never again’ 20 years after genocide
“The United Nations chief told a packed stadium of sombre and weeping Rwandans on Monday the world would ‘never again’ let genocide tear their nation apart, at a ceremony marking 20 years since 800,000 people were butchered…” (Clover, 4/7).

VOA News: Rwanda Marks 20 Years Since Genocide
“On the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, President Paul Kagame paid tribute to the victims and also took a swipe at the international community following a diplomatic rift with France…” (Joselow, 4/7).

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WHO Urges Countries To Prioritize Vector-Borne Diseases

News outlets discuss the WHO’s call on World Health Day, April 7, for better protection against vector-borne diseases.

Deutsche Welle: Small bite, big danger: vector-borne disease
“If things go the way the World Health Organization wants, no one will die from a mosquito or tick bite in the 21st century. The WHO has ‘declared war’ on so-called vector-borne illnesses…” (Witte, 4/7).

U.N. News Centre: World Heath Day: U.N. urges countries to prioritize combat against vector-borne diseases
“Warning that a ‘small bite can carry a big threat,’ the United Nations family is marking World Health Day by urging the international community to back a global health agenda that gives higher priority to controlling the spread of vector-borne diseases, a step towards ensuring that no one in the 21st century would die from the bite of a mosquito or a tick…” (4/7).

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U.N. Forced To Cut Food Rations In Syria Due To Donor Funds Shortage

Reuters: U.N. has to cut Syria food rations for lack of donor funds
“The United Nations has been forced to cut the size of food parcels for those left hungry by Syria’s civil war by a fifth because of a shortage of funds from donors, a senior official said on Monday…” (Nebehay, 4/7).

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Polio Spreads To Iraq From Syria

New York Times: Polio Spreads From Syria to Iraq, Causing Worries
“Syria’s polio outbreak has now officially spread to Iraq, the first neighbor of the war-ravaged country to be hit by the crippling virus despite an ambitious Middle East inoculation effort, and global health officials warned Monday that dozens of vulnerable Iraqi children could potentially be infected…” (Gladstone, 4/7).

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Pope Supports Chastity As AIDS Prevention Strategy

Associated Press: Pope presses anti-AIDS chastity strategy in Africa
“Pope Francis has praised church workers in Africa who promote chastity as a key way to prevent the spread of HIV. Francis was speaking Monday at the Vatican to bishops from Tanzania…” (4/7).

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CAR Crisis Destroying Economy, Civil Society, U.N. Warns

U.N. News Centre: Central African Republic: U.N. study warns crisis devastating economy, livelihoods
“The crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) is devastating the economy and people’s ability to secure basic necessities, says a new joint United Nations assessment, which warns that as the violence continues and the rains set in, providing the type of broad action needed to halt the country’s downward spiral is becoming more difficult and expensive ‘with every passing day’…” (4/7).

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India Marks 10 Years Of Cost-Free ART Program

LiveMint: Govt HIV treatment program completes 10 years
“India completed 10 years of the free antiretroviral treatment (ART) program for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patients, now covering 768,000 people. While the first HIV case in India was detected in 1986, about 2.1 million Indians are now living with the AIDS virus…” (Mehta, 4/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Examine Achievements, Challenges In Rwanda Since 1994 Genocide

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, the following opinion pieces discuss the country’s achievements in development as well as challenges the country faces.

Huffington Post: The Next Frontier in Rwanda
Mark Shriver, senior vice president for strategic initiatives at Save the Children

“… There is much talk about economic development in Africa and clearly it is important. Indeed, Rwanda does have a number of significant barriers to its future, not the least of which are too many places where there are still dirt roads, lack of electricity, and unclean water — though they seem to pale in comparison to reconciling a population that was torn apart by a brutal genocide. But we can also look to Rwanda and be proud of their achievements on the health front. Rwanda has a real opportunity to show the world what is possible when government, civil society, and the private sector come together around a common goal. Wouldn’t it be incredible to have a country that today is most associated with an atrocity that left one million of its citizens dead, instead be seen as a leader in the fight to save the 2.9 million newborns who still die each year around the world? Let’s hope that the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit seizes that opportunity…” (4/7).

Foreign Policy: ‘There Is No Hope To Get a Better Life’
Marie Berry, PhD candidate at UCLA

“… Rwanda has made tremendous progress in many areas since the genocide, and Rwandan women are, in many ways, in a better position than they were two decades ago. Certainly elite women in government, NGOs, and business have more rights and financial stability than ever before, and there is some hope that their progress will eventually trickle down to the masses. Perhaps most importantly, the country has not seen a resurgence of violence. Yet for ordinary Rwandan women, paying for rent, school fees, and food is extremely difficult, as ‘good jobs’ are scarce. Beneath the façade of gender equality and strong development in general, discontent is slowly growing — a discontent exacerbated by young men, too, who find themselves unemployed and desperate. This growing unhappiness raises the specter of social instability in Rwanda, something neither the government nor its international backers want…” (4/7).

Foreign Policy: In the Wake of Mass Murder
John Norris, executive director of the sustainable security program at the Center for American Progress

John Norris, a former USAID disaster-relief worker in Rwanda, recounts stories of his time working in the country after the genocide in 1994 (4/7).

Foreign Policy: ‘Never Again’ Isn’t Enough
Jonas Claes, senior program officer in the Center for Applied Research on Conflict at the U.S. Institute of Peace

“The 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide offers an opportune moment to reflect on the horrific events of 1994, and honor the countless victims and survivors who still carry the collective trauma of mass murder. Remembering these deliberate efforts to extinguish an entire ethnic community should not only give us pause, but also encourage our atrocity prevention community, including humanitarian and peace organizations around the world, to rethink how such failures of humanity can guide us forward, beyond ‘Never Again’ slogans…” (4/7).

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Opinion Pieces Address Issues Surrounding World Health Day

The following opinion pieces discuss issues surrounding World Health Day, recognized annually on April 7.

The Guardian: Improving disease control in emergencies
Rich McEachran, a finalist in the Guardian International Development Journalism competition

“…There are several areas where aid groups can focus their attention to help stop the spread of vector-borne diseases in emergencies, in both the short- and long-term. … Securing funding and making the most of technology; Protecting aid workers; [and] Raising awareness in communities … Stopping disease from spreading is a collective responsibility. It’s not just community awareness that makes a difference; it’s supporting the health workers and volunteers caught up in the crises so their work on the ground can be effective” (4/7).

Huffington Post: On World Health Day, Take Heart in Knowing the Global Fight Is Going Strong
Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association

“…About 75 percent of all deaths in the world are from noncommunicable diseases, which includes both injuries and chronic causes; the majority are related to cardiovascular diseases and stroke. So in May 2012, a global mobilization began. The U.N. held a high-level summit focusing on noncommunicable diseases. … The global experience of these health challenges creates a unique opportunity to share lessons learned and make a difference. We can change the tide and will need to pull together to bring about the greatest impact” (4/7).

Oman Daily Observer: Towards better global health
Rajan Philips, columnist

“…World Health Day (WHD) reiterates that it is not only the health of individuals that matters but also that of our communities, society and nations who owe it to their citizens to provide conditions that safeguard and promote sound health both physical and mental. While we all know and glibly quote the maxim ‘Health is wealth’ it becomes imperative to adopt positive steps that show we believe it and give health matters the top priority in our lives. WHD is a timely and compelling reminder to act promptly and decisively…” (4/7).

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More Effort Needed To Guarantee Reproductive Rights For All

Huffington Post U.K.: More Action Needed on Reproductive Rights for All
Lynne Featherstone, U.K. parliamentary under-secretary of state for international development

“…[W]hy after 20 years since the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and 58 years of the Commissions on the Status Women, are reproductive rights still being used as a bargaining tool in women and girls’ progress? … Achieving gender equality means allowing individuals to make decisions over their bodies, and this doesn’t just mean through ensuring reproductive rights, but also by eliminating violence against girls and women and practices such as female genital mutilation and child early forced marriage. … Reproductive rights should be guaranteed for all, without discrimination, otherwise we will not only fail to achieve the objectives of the ICPD, but also fail women, girls as well as men and boys, across the world” (4/7).

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Canada Supporting Polio Eradication, Child Health Efforts Wordwide

Ottawa Citizen: Op-Ed: On the brink of polio eradication
Peter Crowley, head of polio for UNICEF

“…Nearly three decades ago, governments and global health leaders including UNICEF, the World Health Organization and Rotary International created the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a public-private partnership to achieve a polio-free world. The government of Canada has provided unwavering support for the initiative, resulting in immense gains for children’s health. … But these tremendous advances also increase the urgency to act now and seize the opportunity to stop all transmission of polio before countries become re-infected. … At the prime minister’s summit on maternal, newborn and child health next month, Canada is well positioned to sustain its unwavering support to reach the most vulnerable and use its leadership and influence to encourage other governments to invest in efforts to improve child health including the eradication of polio…” (4/7).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

USAID Highlights Programs On World Health Day

“…Preventing and controlling vector-borne diseases, diseases carried by insects, ticks and small animals, is central to achieving President Obama’s vision of ending extreme poverty. On World Health Day, commemorated each year on April 7, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlights actions we can all take to protect ourselves from the serious diseases that these ‘vectors’ can cause,” the USAID Global Health Team writes in the agency’s “IMPACTblog.” The blog highlights “solutions to combat extreme poverty and vector-borne diseases” (4/7).

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Continued Leadership On PEPFAR, Global Fund Critical To Achieving AIDS-Related Goals

“The world has made huge progress against HIV in the past decade, thanks in large part to American leadership. Last week, Congress continued that commitment by confirming Ambassador Deborah Birx as the head of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR),” Michael Deich, director of policy and government affairs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “As the world transitions from the successful implementation of an emergency response to AIDS to the equally important job of building sustained access to HIV prevention and treatment, continued leadership from PEPFAR and the Global Fund will be critical. We look forward to working with Ambassador Birx and her team, affected communities, and many other partners to ensure that the world maximizes the human impact of every dollar invested in HIV,” he writes (4/7).

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New WHO Guidance Discusses Immunization Program Implementation, Evaluation

Writing in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Orin Levine, director of vaccine delivery at the foundation, discusses a new document from the WHO discussing immunization program implementation and monitoring. “…[W]e now have solid, evidence-based advice on how to introduce new vaccines in a way that will help achieve maximum impact. The WHO report is a valuable resource for anyone involved in the process of deciding, planning, implementing and/or monitoring vaccine introduction. It directs you to the latest guidance and tools related to decision-making, economic analyses, cold chain, integrated disease control, vaccine safety, communications, monitoring and evaluation, and highlights how vaccine introductions can be implemented strategically to strengthen immunization and health systems” (4/7).

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Study, Commentary Examine XDR-TB Treatment Outcomes In S. Africa

A post in the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog discusses a study and commentary published last week in The Lancet that evaluated the long-term outcomes of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) patients in South Africa. “…Both the report and commentary call for policymakers and national control programs to urgently develop strategies to use existing public health instruments for TB control. They also argue for community-based interventions and the creation of palliative care facilities to minimize disease spread by patients who fail treatment” (Aziz, 4/7).

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