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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

White House Speeding Up Zika Response; Democrats Continue Calls For Senate To Reconvene To Approve Emergency Funding

The Hill: White House: Zika money is half depleted
“…The White House is speeding up the national response to the mosquito-borne virus amid mounting public concerns that Zika is spreading in the U.S., though Republican lawmakers still say the money is being spent too slowly…” (Ferris, 8/2).

The Hill: Florida Dem pushes McConnell on Zika funding
“Sen. Bill Nelson is urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to use one of the Senate’s brief summer sessions to pass funding to fight the Zika virus. The Florida Democrat sent a letter to McConnell Tuesday saying he could use what’s called a pro-forma meeting, which normally last for a few minutes at most, to avoid bringing every senator back to Washington…” (Carney, 8/2).

Huffington Post: With Congress On Break, Zika Funding Runs Out This Month
“Key federal programs to create a vaccine against the Zika virus will run out of money this month if Congress doesn’t authorize new spending, the Obama administration said Monday. Congress is on vacation until after Labor Day, and leaders of the House and Senate both said Friday that there was no reason for Congress to rush back…” (McAuliff, 8/1).

Huffington Post: Mitch McConnell Admits Zika Legislation Is Not Clean
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has made a revealing admission: The Zika legislation that failed in Congress before lawmakers went on their long vacation is not ‘clean.’ … ‘No bills are completely clean,’ McConnell said, implying that all legislation needs to be loaded down with partisan favors in order to pass. ‘They’re always a combination of interests because neither side is irrelevant. This is divided government. Both Democrats and Republicans have sway, have power to influence things.’ It wasn’t clear from McConnell’s remarks what he thought Democrats were getting in the Zika bill that Republicans found objectionable…” (McAuliff, 8/2).

POLITICO: Kaine calls on GOP to cancel recess and pass Zika bill
“Democratic vice presidential nominee [and sitting Virginia Senator] Tim Kaine called on Republican leadership to reconvene Congress to pass new Zika legislation after Democrats blocked a GOP proposal earlier this summer. … He did not mention the Zika virus during his first solo rally in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday, but made sure to focus on it here at Daytona State College…” (Everett, 8/2).

Reuters: U.S. officials provide stopgap Zika funds, Congress urged to act
“Federal health officials, scrambling to fund efforts to combat the spread of the Zika virus in the United States, said on Tuesday they have provided more stopgap money to various locales while calls grew for Congress to cut short its recess and act…” (Grover et al., 8/2).

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Democratic Presidential Nominee Clinton Launches Plan To Reach Goal Of AIDS-Free Generation

OUT Magazine: Hillary Pledges ‘An AIDS-Free Generation’ With Plans to Back HIV-Preventative Drugs
“The Hillary Clinton campaign launched a comprehensive plan to tackle HIV/AIDS on its website [Tuesday], laying the groundwork for extensive backing of Truvada in all its forms, as well as other strategies to help create the first AIDS-free generation since the epidemic began over 30 years ago. … Clinton, who is no stranger to the fight against AIDS as both first lady and senator of New York, calls for the dramatic expansion of the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief as part of her new platform, which includes more widespread education about and access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)…” (Heching, 8/2).

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Atlanta Journal-Constitution Highlights Global Food Security Act, Georgians Who Pushed For Bill's Passage

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: New international food initiative got a political push from Georgia
“…The measure, known as the Global Food Security Act, seeks to leverage public and private money to help poor nations learn from U.S. expertise on how to grow and maintain their own, more resilient food supply. The effort was years in the making and brought together disparate political forces, including Republican Party elder U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson; Michelle Nunn, the Democrat who mounted a rough-and-tumble but unsuccessful campaign to join him in the Senate two years ago [and who now heads the humanitarian organization CARE]; and a pair of agricultural labs at the University of Georgia…” (Hallerman, 7/31).

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Saving Lives At Birth Event Showcases African Innovations To Improve Maternal, Newborn Health

VOA News: African Innovators Aim to Improve Health Care for Mothers and Newborns
“Innovators from across the African continent were among 50 finalists in Washington showcasing solutions to maternal and newborn care challenges in the developing world recently. The African doctors, scientists, and inventors took part in Saving Lives at Birth, an annual event sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other organizations…” (Solomon, 8/2).

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Guardian Seminar Explores WHO's 'Test And Treat' HIV Policy With Expert Panel

The Guardian: Can WHO’s new ‘test and treat’ HIV policy reach those who need it most?
“…The WHO’s new ‘test and treat’ policy aims to cut HIV transmission by suppressing the virus in those carrying it, which decreases their likelihood of passing it on to others. Yet, reaching the remaining millions of people living with HIV who are not yet receiving treatment won’t be easy. The many barriers blocking such expansion — such as access to HIV testing, the cost of the drugs, and the persistent stigma of HIV infection — were discussed by a panel of six experts at a recent Guardian seminar, supported by Gilead Sciences, the pharmaceutical company behind many anti-HIV drugs. … The seminar took place in Durban, South Africa, during the International AIDS Society (IAS)’s 21st conference held in the city…” (Nordling, 8/3).

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Ghana's Economy Losing More Than $2B Annually Due To Child Malnutrition, Study Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Child malnutrition costs Ghana more than $2 billion annually: experts
“Ghana economy’s is losing more than two billion dollars a year due to the impact of child malnutrition, which has driven up health care costs, strained the education system, and hindered the productivity of the workforce, a study said on Tuesday…” (Guilbert, 8/2).

U.N. News Centre: Undernutrition in Ghana takes huge human and economic toll — new U.N. study
“… ‘In the northern region of Ghana, 30 percent of children under five are stunted or chronically malnourished. This not only affects their growth but also their educational development and economic potential, and consequently the future of the country,’ said Margot van der Velden, the World Food Programme (WFP) deputy regional director for West and Central Africa, said in a press statement…” (8/2).

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New $22M Hospital Never Opened In Madagascar After Political Upheaval

The Guardian: Health in Madagascar takes turn for the worse as $22m hospital abandoned
“…The hospital was almost complete, with just the morgue unfinished, when work suddenly stopped in 2012. A large metal fence was erected around the perimeter and a security guard installed to keep the public out. This $22m (£17m) hospital in Menabe, west Madagascar, was a pet project of former president Marc Ravalomanana, who was ousted in 2009, but the initiative was not continued under President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, despite the dire need for improved health services in the area…” (Ghouri, 8/3).

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Fewer Women Gave Birth In Health Facilities During Ebola Epidemic In Liberia, Study Shows

TIME: Ebola Took a Toll on Maternal Health: Study
“…In a new report published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine, researchers looked at the results of a survey conducted by the nonprofit Last Mile Health in Rivercess County, Liberia, a rural area where Ebola transmission was limited and where the health facilities stayed open during the outbreak. … The researchers looked at the odds that women gave birth in a health care facility before the outbreak compared to during, and found a 30 percent drop in health facility births. Since the region the researchers surveyed wasn’t as hard hit by Ebola compared to other places, the researchers argue the drop in births in health care facilities is likely greater in other areas…” (Sifferlin, 8/2).

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In Brazil, Increased Breastfeeding Among Mothers, Access To Breast Milk Banks Help Significantly Lower Child Mortality Rate

Huffington Post: Brazil Slashes Child Mortality Rates With Breastfeeding, Milk Banks
“…Brazil is being heralded as a pioneer for the innovative way it has substantially increased breastfeeding rates and reduced its child mortality rates by 73 percent from 1990 to last year. … Part of what distinguishes Brazil from other countries is that is has the most human milk banks. Of the 292 human milk banks in the world, 220 of them are based in Brazil…” (Goldberg, 8/2).

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UNICEF Official Urges Somalia To Pass Law Banning FGM

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Somalia urged to pass law banning ‘horrendous’ FGM
“Somalia’s next government should ensure a law is passed banning all forms of female genital mutilation (FGM), a U.N. official said on Tuesday, describing the deeply entrenched practice as a ‘horrendous rights violation.’ … A bill on FGM is sitting in parliament but is unlikely to be debated until next year because of elections expected this month in the Horn of Africa country. Jeremy Hopkins, deputy representative for UNICEF in Somalia, said the U.N. children’s agency was optimistic a law would eventually go through, but the details in it would be crucial…” (Batha, 8/2).

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17 Indian Women From Small Islamic Sect Begin Petition To End FGM

NPR: Petition Against Female Genital Mutilation Provokes An Angry Backlash
“…[L]ast winter, 17 Indian women from a tiny sect of Islam blew the lid off a guarded secret … They authored a petition asking the government of India to outlaw female circumcision. Until the petition went public in December, many Indians didn’t know female genital mutilation — or FGM — happens in the country at all. In India, the Dawoodi Bohra Muslims are the only community that practices female genital mutilation in the form of circumcision, a practice they call khatna that dates back 1,400 years, according to the clergy…” (Sachdev, 8/2).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss U.S. Response To Zika Virus

Wall Street Journal: Zika and the Democrats
Editorial Board

“The Zika virus is only beginning to hit the U.S. mainland, but its political exploitation is already an epidemic. … The White House that is responsible for public health is trying to blame Congress while ducking its own failures. … [T]he administration continues to insist it needs more money even though it can’t spend the money it has fast enough. … [T]he root cause of Washington’s Zika pathology is Democrats who are exploiting the virus to score political points” (8/2).

Wall Street Journal: There’s No Panacea for the Zika Epidemic
Henry I. Miller, founding director of the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology and research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution

“…[In July,] Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, predicted that developing and stockpiling the [Zika] vaccine would take only 18 months to two years. Count me skeptical. There are numerous reasons — scientific, technical, regulatory, and economic — that the horizon for a Zika vaccine is probably much more distant. … [P]ublic health authorities should focus on controlling the mosquitoes that transmit Zika, a task that the feds have badly fumbled. A British company called Oxitec has created genetically modified male mosquitoes whose offspring self-destruct before reaching maturity. Despite successful field trials in a number of foreign countries, tests in the Florida Keys have been held up for years by the FDA’s regulatory review. Maybe, now that Zika is loose in Miami, the bureaucrats will finally feel a sense of urgency to do their job” (8/2).

Slate: Florida’s Zika Outbreak Was Expected
Marc Siegel, professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at New York University’s Langone Medical Center

“…Why are we alarmed by Zika in Florida but not in Puerto Rico? … Whatever the reason, we need to counter a misapprehension of risk with sober facts. … In Puerto Rico … hundreds if not thousands of pregnant women have been exposed and will need to be monitored closely for signs of the virus. … [CDC Director Tom] Frieden is right to be alarmed at the ostrich approach to Zika prevention and containment in Puerto Rico. The cultural response to Zika couldn’t be more different between the continental U.S. and one of its important territories. Here, we tend to imagine the worst and are preoccupied with exaggerated risks. The operative response to a new outbreak of Zika in Florida is irrational fear, whereas in Puerto Rico it is irrational denial. Both reactions can lead to ineffective responses. Instead, what is required is a calm consideration of facts and careful implementation of public health strategies” (8/2).

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Atlanta Journal-Constitution Highlights Global Food Security Act, Georgians Who Pushed For Bill's Passage

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: New international food initiative got a political push from Georgia
“…The measure, known as the Global Food Security Act, seeks to leverage public and private money to help poor nations learn from U.S. expertise on how to grow and maintain their own, more resilient food supply. The effort was years in the making and brought together disparate political forces, including Republican Party elder U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson; Michelle Nunn, the Democrat who mounted a rough-and-tumble but unsuccessful campaign to join him in the Senate two years ago [and who now heads the humanitarian organization CARE]; and a pair of agricultural labs at the University of Georgia…” (Hallerman, 7/31).

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Foreign Aid Should Aim To Save Lives Today, Minimize Long-Term Consequences

Financial Times: There is a solution to the aid dilemma
Angus Deaton, Dwight D. Eisenhower professor of economics and international affairs, emeritus, at Princeton University

“…One of the greatest recent achievements of aid has been that so many are alive today who would be dead but for aid-funded antiretroviral therapies, as well as the many children whose lives have been saved by the use of insecticide-treated bed nets, and by reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Even when aid-funded provision reduces local responsibility, the issue becomes a trade-off between lives (certainly) saved today and lives (possibly) lost tomorrow. We should surely decide in favor of lives today, especially if we are careful to do what we can to minimize long-term negative consequences. My belief that we should follow this route has been strengthened in recent conversations with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In most countries, the Global Fund is able to exploit the synergy that comes from the fact that their drugs are supplied in clinics that double up for other purposes, such as maternal and child health, thus improving overall health outcomes beyond those immediately targeted. The Global Fund agrees that it would be better if countries were to fund their own drugs and health systems, and the organization has had considerable success in working towards country funding and away from international aid. This is a continuing process and it will take time for the Global Fund to close shop, which is its aim. But stopping today would cost many lives…” (8/2).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

'Science Speaks' Discusses AIDS 2016 Session On HIV, Related Infections Among Prisoners

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: AIDS 2016: Seeds planted at 2000 conference grow infectious disease responses in prisons
Reporting on the AIDS 2016 conference that took place last month in Durban, Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” discusses a session during which panelists shared their experiences of responding to HIV, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases within prison health systems (8/2).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, published Issue 293 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter features articles on various topics, including an analysis of the Brexit vote’s potential impact on development aid and the Global Fund, as well as an article examining a recent Global Fund report on its progress implementing gender equality and key population action plans (8/3).

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