KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Confirmed Reports Of Local Zika Transmission In Florida Prompt U.S. Senate Democrats To Call For Immediate Funding Compromise; Health Advocacy Groups Urge Action

Devex: Cecile Richards on the Zika funding blockade
“Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards has fought her fair share of battles to protect the health services organization’s work around the world. Now she’s fighting for the opportunity to tackle a global threat: Zika. Richards stopped by the Devex studio after meetings on Capitol Hill where she pressed the U.S. Congress to fund an adequate response to this growing health emergency…” (Espinosa, 7/28).

The Guardian: Democrats demand Congress end its vacation to approve Zika funding
“Senate Democrats have called for Congress to end its recess and immediately approve emergency funds for combating the Zika virus in America, after Florida reported its first cases of mosquito-borne infections on the mainland, and funding for mosquito nets for pregnant women started running low…” (Walters, 7/31).

The Hill: Reid: Congress should return ‘immediately’ to fight Zika
“Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) on Friday called on Congress to return from its summer recess early to provide funding to fight the Zika virus. The call comes after officials in Florida announced earlier in the day that there is a high likelihood that the first cases of the virus being transmitted in the continental United States by mosquitoes have occurred…” (Sullivan, 7/29).

Los Angeles Times: Zika’s unrelenting march across the Americas: ‘An emergency that we need to address’
“…On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said four patients in Florida were probably infected with Zika by local Aedes species mosquitoes — the first evidence of mosquito-borne transmission in the continental United States. The virus, which can also be spread sexually, was already circulating in the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands…” (Zavis, 7/29).

Miami Herald: Zika hits Miami: Nation’s first local outbreak, health officials confirm
“…Zika’s arrival in the continental United States has been anticipated since last fall, following the virus’s rapid spread through the Caribbean and Latin America. But confirmation that local mosquitoes have transmitted Zika in Florida set off alarm bells in Congress, with Republicans and Democrats blaming each other for failing to approve emergency funding to respond to the public health threat…” (Chang, 7/29).

USA TODAY: Florida Zika cases a ‘game changer’ that puts pressure on Congress to act
“…A variety of health groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association, criticized Congress for leaving for summer vacation without providing emergency funding to fight Zika. Although President Obama requested $1.9 billion for Zika prevention in February, Republicans and Democrats in Congress were unable to agree on funding. Congress will reconvene after Labor Day. Both parties have blamed the other for failing to reach a compromise…” (Szabo, 7/29).

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Number Of Zika Cases Rising Quickly In Puerto Rico, CDC Report Shows

New York Times: Zika Cases in Puerto Rico Are Skyrocketing
“The Zika epidemic that has spread from Brazil to the rest of Latin America is now raging in Puerto Rico — and the island’s response is in chaos. The war against the Aedes aegypti mosquito carrying the virus is sputtering out in failure. Infections are skyrocketing: Many residents fail to protect themselves against bites because they believe the threat is exaggerated. Federal and local health officials are feuding, and the governor’s special adviser on Zika has quit in disgust…” (McNeil, 7/30).

Wall Street Journal: Spread of Zika Virus in Puerto Rico Accelerates
“…According to the CDC’s latest report, released Friday, Zika has spread virtually to all corners of the island, with cases reported in 77 of 78 municipalities. Authorities identified 5,582 Zika cases between November 2015, when the virus reached the island, and July 7. That includes 672 pregnant women…” (McKay, 7/30).

Washington Post: Zika is spreading explosively in Puerto Rico, report says
“…What’s noteworthy in the report is the ‘consistency of evidence that Zika is spreading rapidly in Puerto Rico,’ said CDC Director Tom Frieden in an interview. ‘Puerto Rico is in the midst of an epidemic that is spreading silently and rapidly, and every day that passes means more infants at risk.’ About 32,000 women delivered babies in Puerto Rico last year. The recent data show that in June, about five percent of asymptomatic pregnant women tested positive for Zika, Frieden said. That’s a huge jump from 0.8 percent in February, according to the report…” (Sun, 7/29).

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The Guardian Examines Efforts To Reach AIDS-Free Generation Goal

The Guardian: Think the AIDS epidemic is over? Far from it — it could be getting worse
“The 2000 AIDS conference in Durban shocked the world into action. Now, a new crisis looms, one fueled by drug resistance, costly treatments, and the lack of power many women have in sexual relationships…” (Boseley, 7/31).

The Guardian: Why Obama’s ambition of an AIDS-free generation is a pipe dream — podcast transcript
“Sarah Boseley is joined by experts and campaigners including Charlize Theron as she looks at progress on treating and preventing AIDS and ponders the road ahead…” (Boseley/Stewart, 8/1).

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VICE Examines Successes, Challenges Of HIV Prevention, Treatment Efforts In Islamic Nations

VICE: Is the Islamic World Facing Up to Its Rising HIV Problem?
“Despite strict rules against promiscuity, homosexuality, drug use, and sex work, the Islamic world is nevertheless — and perhaps as a result — facing up to a growing HIV problem. … For most governments in the Islamic world, public health pragmatism has trumped religious doctrine, the outlawing of homosexuality, and public prejudice. Governments have responded to the rising tide of HIV by stepping up the distribution of condoms, clean needles, and treatment for drug addiction and for those with HIV. Much of this is implemented with the help of foreign NGOs, which is also a convenient way for conservative regimes to avoid being seen as helping the ‘unworthy’ by a less than sympathetic public…” (Daly, 8/1).

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UNICEF, WHO Promote Exclusive Breastfeeding For First 6 Months Of Newborns' Lives To Reduce Risk Of Death, Illness

Forbes: Lagging Worldwide Breastfeeding Rates Keep Newborn Lives At Risk
“About half of all newborns across the world do not begin breastfeeding within an hour after they enter the world even while overall early breastfeeding rates have been increasing, found a new report from UNICEF ahead of World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7…” (Haelle, 7/29).

U.N. News Centre: Breastfeeding within hour of birth provides baby’s ‘first vaccine,’ says UNICEF
“…According to the agency, delaying breastfeeding by two to 23 hours after birth increases the risk of dying in the first 28 days of life by 40 percent. Delaying it by 24 hours or more increases that risk to 80 percent. ‘Early breastfeeding can make the difference between life and death,’ France Bégin, UNICEF senior nutrition adviser, said [Friday] in a press release…” (7/29).

VOA News: UNICEF: Mother’s Milk Best For Newborn Babies
“…To mark World Breastfeeding Week (August 1 to 7), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) are calling for newborns to be breastfed exclusively for six months. UNICEF says newborns should be breastfed within the first hour of life. This provides them with the essential nutrients, antibodies, and skin-to-skin contact with their mother that protects them from disease and death…” (Schlein, 8/1).

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U.N. Food Agencies Warn Security Council Of Food Insecurity Caused By Conflict Among 56M People Worldwide

U.N. News Centre: Millions worldwide trapped in vicious cycle of violence and hunger — U.N.
“Two United Nations agencies warned the U.N. Security Council [Friday] that ongoing conflicts around the world have pushed more than 56 million people into ‘crisis’ or ’emergency’ levels of food insecurity and are hindering efforts to eradicate malnutrition. According to a series of 17 country briefs prepared for the Security Council by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), Yemen and Syria top the list in terms of sheer numbers of people whose food security is being negatively impacted by ongoing conflict…” (7/29).

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Attack On Humanitarian Convoy In Northeast Nigeria Stalls Deliveries, Concerns Aid Groups

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Aid groups fear hold up in relief as U.N. suspends aid in Nigeria after attack
“Major aid agencies in northeast Nigeria said on Friday their operations could be hampered after an attack on a humanitarian convoy prompted the United Nations to temporarily suspend aid deliveries in Borno state, the former stronghold of Boko Haram…” (Guilbert, 7/29).

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Editorials and Opinions

Local U.S. Transmission Of Zika Virus Should Prompt Congress To Take Action Against Disease

New York Times: Local Zika Cases in Florida Should Wake Up Congress
Editorial Board

“The Zika-carrying mosquitoes are here. Public health officials said on Friday that four people in the Miami area have become infected with the Zika virus. This is likely to be the first local transmission of the virus by mosquitoes in the continental United States. Perhaps this news will shock Congress and state and local governments into taking more forceful steps to fight this disease. … As for members of Congress, when they return to work after Labor Day, one of their first tasks will be to pass a bill that gives health officials the resources to fight this epidemic — without insisting on ideological provisions. Congress’s delay has already put too many people at risk” (7/29).

CNN: Act One of ‘Zika Hits the USA’ has begun
Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations

“…Local mosquitoes in the Miami area are carrying the Zika virus, and have infected at least four Floridians. … It would be a grave mistake to imagine that Zika will confine itself to the seaside villas of Miami or the suburbs of Broward County. … The pressure Floridians are now applying in pursuit of federal support will swiftly magnify, as counties from Cameron, Texas, to Monmouth, New Jersey, join the din, demanding help from Washington. Yes, we all know Washington is dysfunctional these days, but this isn’t about arguing and refusing to compromise about highway construction — this is about the nation’s babies…” (7/29).

The Hill: It’s time for lawmakers and the country to take Zika seriously
Neil Silverman, clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology/Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

“…The fact that mosquitoes are now carriers here in the U.S. … should be a wake-up call. Had the CDC and state and local health agencies been allocated the necessary resources they requested months ago, Zika might not have been seen as the threat it’s being viewed as. … As it stands, those heroes on the ground working to contain the virus in Florida are doing the best they can with the resources they have available. I genuinely hope they succeed, and hope even more strongly that they are finally given the resources they need — we clearly need them. Political posturing and lack of public awareness for Zika should be viewed as ultimately and absolutely unacceptable by us all” (7/31).

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Breast Milk Key To Improving Nutritional Status Of Vulnerable Newborns, Achieving Several SDGs

Devex: Breast milk for newborns: A key to sustainable development
Leith Greenslade, chair of the Breastfeeding Innovations Team

“…[World Breastfeeding Week] is the time for all global and national health authorities to acknowledge that optimal access to breast milk for sick and vulnerable newborns is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially ending child malnutrition (Goal 2) and reducing newborn deaths and deaths from noncommunicable diseases (Goal 3). … If I had one wish for this week, it is that authorities would announce the world’s first independent assessment of how sick and vulnerable newborns are being fed across several populations with the highest rates of newborn death, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. … Ultimately, however, little will change until governments set ambitious goals for optimal feeding of sick and vulnerable newborns and invest in programs that make sure these babies have access to the most lifesaving — and too often the only — ‘medicine’ available: breast milk” (8/1).

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Decriminalizing Sex Work, Ensuring Female Sex Workers' Access To Health Care Critical To Ending AIDS, Achieving Gender Equality

The Guardian: There’s something holding us back on AIDS: our attitude to sex workers
Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity

“…Female sex workers bear a disproportionate burden of HIV and AIDS, but also have unmet needs such as family planning, safe pregnancy, abortion access, and gender-based violence prevention. The causes of poor health for female sex workers are diverse but structural barriers such as criminalization and systemic human rights violations are common. … [A report by the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)] concludes that decriminalization of sex work is necessary for female sex workers to fully realize their rights and is necessary for an effective global HIV response. However, decriminalization is not a cure-all. National health plans should recognize female sex workers and ensure that health care is available, accessible, and acceptable. … Now is the time to refocus our efforts to achieve gender equality and end the HIV epidemic with female sex workers at the center. We cannot end AIDS or achieve gender equality if female sex workers are left behind” (8/1).

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Resilience Programming Critical To Improving Small-Scale Farmers' Income Potential, Food Supply

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Sowing the seeds of resilience in Southern Africa’s epic drought
Agnes Kalibata, president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)

“…Improving [small scale farmers’] income potential not only helps countries develop economically, but also ensures a steadier supply of food. … Resilience programming — how to anticipate crises like Southern Africa’s current drought and prepare the people on the ground for the worst impacts — has been embraced by most development initiatives now. … You can see this in the U.S. with the Global Food Security Act, which President Obama just signed into law. This bill would amplify available resources from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) … as the worst impacts from El Niño continue to reverberate in Southern Africa. Natural disasters will always bring tragedy. But with the seeds planted for rural transformation, small-scale farmers can lift themselves out of poverty…” (8/1).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Family Planning, Population Growth Have Greater Impact On Water Scarcity Than Climate Change, Report Suggests

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: When It Comes to Water Scarcity, Population Growth Tops Climate Change
Robert Engelman, senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute and project director of the Family Planning and Environmental Sustainability Assessment (FPESA), discusses findings from a FPESA report released at a Wilson Center event that suggests population growth has a greater impact on water availability than climate change. In light of this finding, Engelman writes, “Since the widespread use of contraception yields slower population growth, among its many other benefits, and since continued population growth today is very likely a factor in environmental decline, encouraging access to and the use of voluntary family planning is likely to have environmental benefits — not the least of which is more freshwater availability” (8/1).

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