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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Security Adviser Rice Calls For More Partnerships To Address Infant, Maternal Mortality Challenges

“U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice called for more ‘eureka moments’ and ‘unorthodox partnerships’ on Wednesday, as she addressed scientists working on decreasing infant and maternal mortality in poor countries” at a USAID event to announce the award finalists for the agency’s “Saving Lives at Birth” initiative,” Agence France-Presse reports (Seck, 7/31). The agency “announced 22 Round 3 award nominees from a pool of 53 finalists — innovators who descended on Washington for three days to showcase bold, new ideas to save the lives of mothers and newborns in developing countries with aspirations of international funding to realize their vision,” according to a USAID press release. “The award nominees cut across maternal and neonatal health, family planning, nutrition and HIV, and they present not only cutting-edge technologies that can be used in resource-poor settings, but innovative approaches to delivering services and the adoption of healthy behaviors,” the press release states (7/31).

“Rice, in her first public remarks since taking on the job, said these researchers had ‘done a remarkable job advancing the president’s vision to elevate development alongside diplomacy and defense as an equal pillar of our national security,'” AFP writes, noting the researchers, “many of whom were finalists for a competitive USAID grant, came up with varied schemes, including … engineering bacteria to fortify yogurt with vitamin A.” According to Rice, “a woman in labor in sub-Saharan Africa was 136 times more likely to die than her counterpart in a developed country,” the news agency adds (7/31). “‘We need to harness our power for progress and put it to work improving the lives of people around the world. That’s the spirit the Obama administration has brought to all of our development work,’ she said in her address” at the event, First Post notes (8/1).

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Evidence Growing That Lack Of Sanitation Leads To Child Undernutrition

“Soap and clean water for effective handwashing can help boost a young child’s growth, according to the first large-scale scientific review to link hygiene to height — one measure of child nutrition,” IRIN reports. The study — a review of “14 studies conducted in low- and middle-income countries that provided data on the impact of WASH [water, sanitation and hygiene] programming on the physical growth of nearly 9,500 children” — “showed a ‘small but improved’ average growth of half a centimeter among children who received clean water and soap for handwashing as opposed to those who did not,” according to the news service, which notes, “Researchers found clean water and soap reduced stunting by up to 15 percent.” IRIN states, “There is growing scientific evidence that repeated bouts of diarrhea reduce a gut’s ability to absorb life-enhancing nutrients that allow children to develop mentally and physically” (8/1). “Stunting, or low height for age, affects 165 million children worldwide, has negative long-term impacts on physical and mental development, and reduces productivity in adulthood,” The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” notes, adding, “Undernutrition causes 3.1 million deaths annually — nearly half (45 percent) of deaths in children under five.” The blog discusses how open defecation and lack of access to toilets, which affects 2.5 billion people, also contributes to undernutrition (Tran, 8/1).

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'Mapping Pathways' Project Advocates Community-Driven Solutions For HIV Treatment As Prevention Programs

“Despite years of scientific advances in HIV treatment and prevention, more than two million people are newly diagnosed with HIV annually, demonstrating how community-driven approaches to prevention are still needed to curb the epidemic, experts say,” IRIN reports in an article examining a project looking into local approaches to HIV treatment as prevention (7/31). The project, titled “Mapping Pathways,” brings together “a research institution and community-based organizations in three countries to develop a research-driven but community-led understanding of the evidence base for new antiretroviral-based prevention strategies,” Molly Morgan Jones, a researcher at the public policy research organization Rand Corporation and lead author of a recent report (.pdf) from the group, said, according to a video on the Rand website (6/19). “Development of the Mapping Pathways model relied on research carried out with partners in the U.S., U.K., South Africa and India,” IRIN notes. “We need these processes to be local from inception,” Jim Pickett, Mapping Pathways’ project director, said, “echoing arguments from the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to health that the participation of affected populations in decision-making is key to successful interventions,” IRIN writes (7/31).

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UNICEF Launches New Initiative To Address Violence Against Children

“Violence against children often goes unseen, unheard and unreported, [UNICEF] said [Wednesday], launching a new initiative urging the international community to speak out more forcefully against the scourge, which leaves millions of girls and boys physically and emotionally scarred every year,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The End Violence Against Children initiative “urges people around the world to recognize violence against children, join global, national or local movements to end it, and bring new ideas to focus collective action on this goal,” the news service writes, adding, “According to the [WHO], some 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 years experienced sexual violence and exploitation, and an estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked every year, according to a 2005 report by the International Labour Organization (ILO)” (7/31). Actor Liam Neeson has partnered with UNICEF to launch the campaign, the Huffington Post’s “Entertainment” blog notes. The blog includes a video PSA from Neeson about the initiative (Jacobs, 7/31).

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Devex Examines Need To Include People With Disabilities In Post-2015 Development Agenda

Devex examines how the aid community can “start helping 650 million disabled persons worldwide, many of them living in dire conditions in the world’s poorest countries,” noting “[p]eople living with disabilities have largely been sidelined by the global development agenda in recent years, despite efforts to include [them] in the post-2015 goals.” The news service quotes Rosangela Berman-Bieler, senior adviser on children with disabilities at UNICEF, who told Devex, “As cash-strapped donors want greater results for lesser money, they should include in their programming specific targets to address the daily struggles of people living with disability.” However, “the biggest push lies in the post-2015 agenda, said Berman-Bieler,” according to Devex, which notes she “suggested the goals for including people with disability in the post-2015 development framework should address health, education and employment: ‘We will not be able to have one indicator. We need a set of indicators that depend on the goals'” (Morales, 7/31).

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Report Examines Declines, Advancements Among World's Poorest Communities

“Despite global efforts to provide development aid, the world’s poorest are getting poorer, says a new report by the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD),” Inter Press Service reports. “Several factors beyond the control of poor communities, such as government corruption, natural disasters and economic barriers, have exacerbated or displaced many poor people’s livelihoods, according to the report, [titled] ‘Setting the post-2015 development compass: voices from the ground,’ a part of the agency’s COMPASS 2015 research project,” the news service writes. The report also points to lack of education access as a major driver of poverty, the news service notes. However, “[n]ot all findings from the report were negative indicators of poverty,” IPS writes, noting, “The report found communities with significant improvements on changing discriminatory norms, such as increased political participation for indigenous people and government policies with reduced stigma attached to being HIV-positive.” IPS continues, “The findings of the report also reflect the major policy areas that need to be addressed — such as prioritizing conflict prevention, disaster and conflict risk reduction and promoting the creation of decent jobs — by policymakers at multiple levels” (Lim, 7/31).

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Editorials and Opinions

New Approaches, Partnerships Needed To Make Use Of Available Development Assistance Resources

“After rising threefold during the first decade of the 21st century, development assistance for health has plateaued,” Anurag Mairal, the global program leader for technology solutions at PATH, writes in The Guardian’s “Global Development Professionals Network” blog. “To further reduce health inequities, we need new approaches that make the most of available resources, and I believe public-private partnerships across international borders are key to providing the highest value for money and achieving sustainable impact,” he states. He continues, “In 35 years of developing and delivering high-impact, cost-effective health technologies for developing countries, we [at PATH] have found that both public- and private-sector partners are essential to effectively and efficiently drive lifesaving innovations to scale,” and he highlights the organization’s work to develop and introduce the Silcs diaphragm, “the first new cervical barrier method to receive regulatory approval and enter the market in more than a decade,” as an example of a successful public-private partnership.

“Effective public-private partnerships to improve global health leverage the complementary skills and capacities of government, commercial firms, and NGOs,” Mairal continues, adding, “They make the most of limited resources — financial, technical, and structural — by reducing costs for each sector and avoiding duplication of efforts.” He states, “To succeed, partners need to address multiple challenges along the way,” including “gaps in scientific understanding and tools, insufficient funding, weak and disjointed regulatory systems, and limited local research and manufacturing capacity.” He concludes, “Despite the challenges, the truth remains that in this age of stagnant funding for global health, the best way to get lifesaving technologies to all who need them is through international public-private partnerships. They offer excellent value for money and the greatest likelihood of sustainable impact” (7/31).

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Partnership Highlights Commitment To Integrate Global Efforts To Improve Health Of Women, Children

In the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, Nicole Schiegg, a former USAID senior adviser and a strategic communications consultant, examines a partnership between the Every Woman Every Child campaign and +SocialGood “to hone new ways to curate the women and child health story through the power of innovation and new media.” She highlights an interactive discussion held last week at U.N. headquarters “about harmonizing the global women and child health narrative,” writing, “The focus of the event centered on how to build coalitions and integrate messaging to communicate results and to foster accelerated action in the last 1,000 days of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).” She highlights several panel discussions, writing, “Panelists viewed the many emerging initiatives as both an opportunity and a challenge. … They agreed this is especially true when it comes to accountability for results at country-level. The panelists agreed that a focus on country needs leads to maximum impact and progress towards the MDGs.” Schiegg states, “With so many new partnerships and commitments, consistency of message can be a challenge. Harmonizing among women and child health partners is not enough; we must take the added step to find new champions and to be innovative in our storytelling. I am confident that the Every Women Every Child +SocialGood event was a big step towards realizing these goals.” She concludes, “Stakeholders are committed, more than ever, to strengthening the global women and child health narrative, by working together and honing the power of data in new and interesting ways” (7/31).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

White House World Hepatitis Day Event Shows Government Commitment To Confront Disease

Noting July 28 was World Hepatitis Day, Ronald Valdiserri, HHS deputy assistant secretary for health for infectious diseases and director of the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, writes in the AIDS.gov blog about a White House event that “brought together more than 200 stakeholders from the domestic and global viral hepatitis communities along with representatives of numerous federal agencies to put an important spotlight on U.S. efforts to confront this global health concern.” He writes, “Much of the half-day White House event was devoted to two panel discussions,” including one “about U.S. viral hepatitis health policy, programs and research” and another on “innovative programs and partnerships working to address viral hepatitis around the world.” The event “signaled the impact of both domestic and global activities undertaken by community members as well as the U.S. government to generate greater awareness of viral hepatitis and build meaningful momentum toward a day when these infections are prevented whenever possible and when they do occur, those living with the viruses are diagnosed in a timely manner and connected to lifesaving and curative treatment,” Valdiserri concludes (7/31).

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Global Fund Reiterates Commitment To Human Rights In Vietnam, Blog Reports

Noting a 2011 report (.pdf) from Human Rights Watch (HRW) on conditions within Vietnam’s compulsory drug treatment centers, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Wednesday released a statement “reiterating the charity’s commitment to human rights and announcing that the $85 million grant signed in May with Vietnam’s Ministry of Health includes a stipulation that requires the government to identify and allow an independent international organization to monitor conditions at the country’s compulsory drug detention centers.” The blog continues, “The fund has also been ‘closely working with its Vietnamese counterparts to ensure a sensible timeframe’ to close the centers, the statement says.” The blog includes comments on the Global Fund statement from Joseph Amon, director of the health and human rights program at HRW (Barton, 7/31).

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Working Paper Highlights 3 Population-Based Strategies To Help Sub-Saharan Africa Improve Food Security

In a post in the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) “Insights” blog, published as part of a series exploring “strategies to sustainably feed nine billion people by 2050,” Tim Searchinger, a senior fellow in WRI’s People & Ecosystems Program, and Craig Hanson, director of the program, highlight WRI’s new working paper, “Achieving Replacement Level Fertility,” which “finds that [sub-Saharan Africa] can match the rest of the world’s fertility rates through approaches that empower women, improve quality of life, and save millions of lives.” They write, “One way to help meet the food challenge would be to hold down population growth.” They examine the challenges in the region and discuss three strategies to “help nations achieve replacement level fertility”: increasing “educational opportunities for girls”; improving “access to reproductive health services, including family planning”; and reducing “infant and child mortality” (7/31).

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August 2013 Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

The August issue of the WHO Bulletin features an editorial on universal health coverage and universal access, a public health news roundup, a systematic review of interventions for common perinatal mental disorders in women in low- and middle-income countries, and a policy paper on health financing for universal coverage and health system performance, among other articles (August 2013).

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