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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

India's Lower House Of Parliament Passes Food Security Bill

The Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of parliament, “has passed a flagship $22 billion program to provide subsidized food to the poor,” Al Jazeera reports, noting the bill “will entitle 67 percent of Indians to highly subsidized food” (8/26). “Congress President Sonia Gandhi [on Monday] asked all political parties to set aside differences and support the Food Security Bill so that a ‘big message’ could be sent out about India’s capabilities,” the Financial Express writes (8/26). In her speech opening discussion, Ghandi “had rejected questions over whether the country had resources to implement the landmark measure,” according to FirstPost (8/27). “Parties had sought over 300 amendments to the bill; some were withdrawn, others were voted on one by one before the bill was passed by voice vote,” NDTV notes (Asrar, 8/27). “The vote broke a long stalemate in Parliament, potentially clearing the way for several reforms aimed at spurring the flagging economy which the government hopes to pass in an extended session that ends on September 6,” Reuters adds (Kotoky/Bhardwaj, 8/26). The Wall Street Journal provides a timeline of the bill’s advance (8/26).

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U.N.-Sponsored Meetings Address Food Security, Nutrition In Africa

“Strengthening ecosystems is key to helping local farmers in Africa adapt to climate change and ensuring that they produce enough food to meet people’s nutritional needs, participants decided at the end of an international United Nations-organized conference in Kenya,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The conference, convened [in Nairobi] by the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), other U.N. agencies, governments and partners, explored ecosystem-based approaches to enhance food security, ecosystem productivity and climate change adaptation in Africa,” according to the news service (8/26). At another conference beginning in Nairobi today, the U.N. System Network for Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) is “bringing together experts from various U.N. agencies working on the continent to drive forward the fight against undernutrition,” according to a joint U.N. agency press release. “More than 100 participants from 17 African countries, as well as regional and global representatives from various United Nations agencies, will share their knowledge and discuss ways of strengthening joint action at country level to tackle nutrition deficiencies across Africa,” according to the press release (8/26).

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IPS Examines Efforts To Improve Maternal Health In Bangladesh

Inter Press Service examines efforts to improve maternal health in Bangladesh. “In the last decade, the Bangladesh government has invested in a maternal health program with support from a number of foreign development partners,” the news service writes, adding, “The health, nutrition, and population program of Bangladesh has adopted a national strategy for maternal health focusing on emergency obstetric care for reducing maternal mortality, concentrating especially on early detection and appropriate referral of complications, and improvement of quality of care.” According to IPS, “A maternal mortality and health care survey conducted in 2010 with the help of several development partners found that maternal mortality in Bangladesh fell from 322 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2001 to 194 in 2010 — a 40 percent decline in nine years.” However, the news service continues, “In its country report in 2011, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stated that though maternal mortality has been reduced in Bangladesh, only half the mothers receive antenatal care from skilled providers. The report said that health care correlates with household wealth and educational background” (Haq, 8/23).

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South Korean, U.N. Officials Meet To Discuss Post-2015 Development Agenda

“South Korea’s foreign ministry launched a local forum on Monday to discuss new international aid agendas to replace the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015,” Yonhap/GlobalPost reports. “U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se attended the … Post-2015 Korea Forum, with about 200 civic activists, lawmakers and government officials … to formulate South Korea’s proposals for the new U.N. global development agendas when the current eight MDGs expire,” the news agency writes. Ban said the MDGs “have been the most successful poverty eradication movement in history, and no other formats have received the international support, understanding, cooperation and participation that MDGs have taken,” according to the news agency (8/26).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Global AIDS Investments In Rwanda Have 'Profound Impact'

“Last Friday, I was privileged to join six U.S. senators in seeing the truly profound impact of U.S. global AIDS investments in Rwanda,” Ambassador Eric Goosby, head of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Global Health Diplomacy and the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. He notes Mark Dybul, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and Rwandan Minister of Health Agnes Binagwaho also attended. Goosby recounts the stories of two HIV-positive individuals that he spoke with at the Kicukiro Health Centre in Kigali and states, “These individual stories are deeply inspiring; they give us hope. And, thankfully, they are no longer the exception.”

“A decade ago, only 400 Rwandans had access to lifesaving [antiretroviral therapy (ART)],” Goosby notes. “Today, because of PEPFAR, the Global Fund, and, most importantly, the extraordinary leadership of the Rwandan government and the Rwandan people — the picture has changed dramatically,” he continues and provides statistics. “As we move forward, both the challenge and the opportunity before us in Rwanda — as in much of sub-Saharan Africa — is to consolidate these unprecedented gains, to reach those who have not yet received services, and to chart a course toward sustainability,” he writes, adding, “This requires a shared responsibility and continued collaboration among all partners — principally, the Government of Rwanda, the Rwandan people, PEPFAR, and the Global Fund” (8/26).

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Letters To New York Times Editor Respond To Opinion Piece On Trade Agreement, Tobacco Control

The New York Times on Monday published several letters to the editor in response to New York City Michael Bloomberg’s August 22 opinion piece urging the Obama administration to retain a “safe harbor” provision in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that would protect nations with strong anti-tobacco laws.

  • HHS Deputy Secretary Bill Corr praises Bloomberg’s leadership on tobacco issues, and states, “The Obama administration has a long history of tackling the tobacco epidemic, including the landmark Tobacco Control Act, expanded cessation coverage and new investments in community-based prevention.” He continues, “The United States government’s proposal on tobacco in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations represents a step forward for public health in the international trade community. It would provide health authorities a new opportunity to voice their views, and critically, it recognizes that tobacco is a product like no other with an unparalleled effect on human health because it is addictive, always harmful to health, and the single most preventable cause of death worldwide.”
  • John Maa, chair of the Tobacco Related Disease Research Program at the University of California, also recognizes Bloomberg’s tobacco control efforts in New York City, and he writes, “I appreciate Mayor Bloomberg’s disappointment regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and also understand the difficult realities to reach consensus in the trade agreement.” He continues, “Controlling the global epidemic of tobacco use is an international responsibility that other world leaders must also champion. It is my hope that the leadership of the mayor and the president can be unified to resolve remaining domestic tobacco concerns first: banning menthol in cigarettes, regulating electronic cigarettes and achieving the full use of graphic warning labels to end tobacco’s deadly toll in America.”
  • Calman Cohen, president of the Emergency Committee for American Trade, states, “We support efforts to improve public health, but we oppose inserting provisions in trade agreements in the name of public health that are unnecessary and unjustified and could open the door to measures by our trading partners that threaten American exports and jobs.” He says, “For half a century, administrations have maintained that in trade agreements the United States remains free to safeguard the national and public interest, including public health,” and he adds, “When science and evidence support a nondiscriminatory regulatory action, it already has a safe harbor in our trade agreements and under sovereign United States law. To imply otherwise is to create problems where none exist” (8/26).

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On Women's Equality Day, Recognizing Role Of Female Empowerment In Ensuring Healthier Communities

“As the CEO of WomanCare Global, a non-profit women’s health company focused on delivering high-quality health care products, I believe that empowering women by ensuring their reproductive choice is critical for women who simply want to provide a better quality of life for their children and ultimately, themselves,” Saundra Pelletier writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “Empowering girls may be the greatest strength we possess to redefine equality and fight social and economic inequities,” she states, adding, “On a global scale, an investment in female empowerment ensures healthier, wealthier and better-educated communities.” She writes, “Starting with access — to education, health care, and choice — we need to make a conscious decision to invest in women by ensuring they have the tools to invest in themselves.”

“At WomanCare Global, we are doing our crucial part to provide sustainable access to reproductive health care products in over 100 countries,” Pelletier continues, noting, “Among women and girls in developing countries, affordability, school attendance and the stigma of menstruation persist as common themes.” She writes, “WomanCare Global is committed to investing in girls in the developing world so they can achieve education and break the cycle of poverty,” adding, “This Women’s Equality Day serves as a call to action for all to ignite women and girls to become catalysts of change and a voice in their communities. … By building strength in our girls, we can mobilize the women of the world” (8/26).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

USAID Launches Report To Congress On Public Law 109-95, 'Children In Adversity' Website

USAID on Monday released its sixth annual report (.pdf) to Congress on Public Law 109-95, titled “From Strong Beginnings to Youth Resilience: Pathways Out of Adversity,” which “describes the objectives of the U.S. Government Action Plan [on Children in Adversity], and how it will be implemented,” according to an email update from the agency, which notes the Action Plan, launched in December 2012, “is the first-ever strategic guidance for U.S. government international assistance for children zero to 18 years of age who are affected by HIV and AIDS, trafficked, orphaned, exploited for child labor, in disasters, recruited as soldiers, neglected or in other vulnerable states.” In addition to the report, the agency is also launching “the brand new Children in Adversity website, which provides an overview of the U.S. government’s efforts to implement the Action Plan” and includes “a global profile of children in adversity, which has the most up-to-date statistics and status indicators” (8/26).

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Gates Foundation Blog Publishes Posts Addressing Sanitation Issues In China, India

In a post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Doulaye Kone, a senior program officer for sanitation technologies and tools at the foundation, reports on the launch of “the first-ever country-specific Reinvent the Toilet Challenge in China,” writing, “The foundation has partnered with the University of Science and Technology Beijing (USTB) to call for proposals from China’s leading research institutions, non-profits and companies” for “a ‘next generation toilet’ that kills all pathogens, is self-contained, is affordable, and that people want to use” (8/23). In another post in the blog, Girindre Beeharry, director of the India Country office, overseeing the Gates Foundation’s global health and development activities in India, examines how access to safe and clean toilets can protect children in the country from deadly diseases, “especially diarrhea that drains the body of its nutrients” and leads to malnutrition (8/26).

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Improving Access To Health Care For Marginalized Populations In South Africa

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog discusses how advocates, health care workers and others in South Africa are addressing gaps in access to health care and HIV prevention services for sex workers, and gay and transgender people. “The [South African] representatives who met with [a U.S. congressional delegation] last week described efforts to close the gaps: with legal advocacy, counseling, support, care, and culturally relevant information, and the work yet to be done,” the blog states (8/26).

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Poverty, Conflict Helping Polio Re-emerge

“The polio virus, as it is frustratingly inclined to do, has rebounded again despite the ongoing, determined effort aimed at worldwide eradication,” development blogger Tom Paulson writes in the Humanosphere blog, noting the virus has caused active infections in Ethiopia and Somalia and been found in sewage in Israel. “The main driver, arguably, for the recent surge polio cases is conflict, instability and, of course, ongoing poverty,” he states, reviewing several recent media reports on polio. “The world may yet defeat polio, but it’s important to recognize that the root cause here is chaos and poverty,” he writes, adding, “Unless we are also working to eradicate those two drivers of diseases of poverty, we’ll just have to keep doing whack-a-mole with a new and different mole” (8/23).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has published Issue 226 of its “Global Fund Observer.” The issue includes an article examining the “decision of the Global Fund Board to approve renewal funding for an HIV grant to Cambodia” despite “concerns about the grant’s financial and procurement management”; an article about “the next implementation period of a single-stream-of-funding [tuberculosis (TB)] grant to Guinea”; and an article highlighting the Global Fund’s efforts in Indonesia “to ensure early and full access to the most appropriate diagnosis and treatment services in both the public and private health sectors for everyone suffering from TB,” among other articles (8/27).

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