KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

DRC Health Ministry Confirms 9 Dead Of Ebola In Latest Outbreak; 43 Cases Confirmed, Probable, 46 Suspected

Agence France-Presse: Nine confirmed dead in DR Congo’s Ebola outbreak: ministry
“Nine confirmed Ebola victims have died since the virus resurfaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo this month, the country’s health ministry said Tuesday. … ‘In total, 43 cases of hemorrhagic fever have been reported in the (Beni) region, including 16 confirmed and 27 probable, and 46 suspected cases are under investigation,’ the ministry said Tuesday…” (8/7).

CIDRAP News: Genetic tests confirm separate DRC Ebola outbreak; vaccination begins tomorrow
“…On Twitter [Tuesday], Peter Salama, MD, the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) deputy director general of emergency response, said the genetic testing at the National Institute for Biomedical Research (INRB) in Kinshasa has confirmed that the Ebola Zaire virus found in North Kivu isn’t closely linked to the Equateur outbreak strain, confirming the North Kivu outbreak is a new event. He also said the confirmation means that responders can start using the VSV-EBOV vaccine, which targets the Ebola Zaire strain, as early as tomorrow…” (Schnirring, 8/7).

Reuters: Latest Congo Ebola outbreak is Zaire strain, vaccinations to start
“…The virus … poses a high regional risk, WHO has said, noting that Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and South Sudan share borders with eastern Congo. About 900 contacts of confirmed or suspected cases have been identified for monitoring, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said…” (Nebehay et al., 8/7).

Additional reporting on this story is available from the Associated Press, Devex, New York Times, TIME, and VOA News.

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Devex Examines PEPFAR's $100M Key Populations Investment Fund Announced In 2016

Devex: What happened to PEPFAR’s $100M Key Population Investment Fund?
“The head of the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has said government bureaucracy prevented her from giving $100 million directly to in-country groups targeting key populations living with HIV. The money will now be delivered through U.S. government agencies instead, Ambassador Deborah Birx said. HIV/AIDS groups have been keen to know the whereabouts of the money behind the Key Population Investment Fund, a five-year funding stream announced in 2016 to support the scale-up of community-based approaches to enhance HIV service provision for key populations and marginalized groups, such as sex workers, drug users, and LGBTQ communities. The fund also included support for evidence gathering and advocacy activities…” (Edwards, 8/8).

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GlobalPost/PRI Examine Access To HIV Treatment In Uganda, Supply, Funding Shortfalls

GlobalPost/PRI: Tested but untreated: How Uganda’s new AIDS efforts are leading to a drug shortage
“… With new efforts to eradicate the virus worldwide, and millions in U.S. and foreign funding every year, some say the end of HIV/AIDS is near. But those same efforts are having the opposite effect in Uganda, where poor planning, lack of donor accountability, and chronic budget gaps are leaving thousands of patients without treatment…” (Nelson, 8/7).

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1 In 7 Infants Of Mothers Exposed To Zika Virus Develop Health Problems, CDC Study Shows

CNN: One in 7 babies prenatally exposed to Zika has health problems, CDC says
“Nearly one in seven babies born to women infected with the Zika virus while pregnant had one or more health problems possibly caused by the virus, according to a Vital Signs report published Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The problems consisted of birth defects including small head size, brain damage, eye damage, and nervous system problems, such as vision and hearing impairments, as well as seizures…” (Scutti, 8/7).

The Guardian: Zika: one in seven babies with mothers exposed to virus developed health issues
“…Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who conducted the study said it was the first to follow such a large sample of children exposed to the virus…” (Glenza, 8/7).

PBS NewsHour: CDC says 1 in 7 babies exposed to Zika have health problems
“…The CDC at a press conference Tuesday recommended that children whose mothers test positive for Zika infection during pregnancy should undergo comprehensive developmental screening in the months following birth…” (Grennell, 8/7).

STAT: 1 in 7 babies exposed to Zika in the womb have health problems, CDC reports
“…The study focused on cases in the U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, and looked at children likely exposed to the Zika virus during pregnancy who were at least one year old. It’s possible that additional neurodevelopmental problems could emerge as the children grow up…” (Joseph, 8/7).

Wall Street Journal: Zika’s Long-Term Toll Is Heavy for Children
“…The CDC also said Tuesday that it now recommends that men who may have been infected with Zika wait at least three months before attempting to conceive with their partner. The agency had previously recommended a six-month wait, but said that recent evidence shows the virus isn’t infectious that long…” (McKay, 8/7).

Washington Post: 1 in 7 babies exposed to Zika in U.S. territories have birth defects, nervous system problems
“…The National Institutes of Health is leading an effort to develop vaccines for Zika, but researchers are still in the testing phase…” (Cha, 8/7).

Additional reporting on the study is available from The Hill, NPR, and Reuters.

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Argentina's Senate To Hold Vote On Bill To Loosen Nation's Abortion Laws

The Guardian: Argentina holds historic abortion vote as 1m women rally to demand change
“…On Wednesday, the debate [over abortion in Argentina] comes to a climax when the country’s senate votes on a law decriminalizing abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. If approved, Argentina would become the largest country in Latin America to legalize the procedure. … Human rights activists argue that the regions’s near-total bans on abortion only push women to seek unsafe clandestine terminations, a major cause of maternal mortality. … The bill before congress has been strongly opposed by both the Catholic church and evangelical Christians. Pope Francis — who remains deeply involved in the politics of his home country — has made no secret of his opposition to the bill…” (Goñi, 8/8).

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Papua New Guinea Confirms 3rd Polio Case, 55 Suspected

Radio New Zealand: Third PNG polio victim confirmed — 55 suspected cases
“…Three cases are now confirmed [in Papua New Guinea]; two in Morobe province in June and July and the latest a three-year-old boy from Mulitaka in Enga Province. The WHO says there are also 55 suspected cases. PNG’s Secretary of Health, Pascoe Kase, said since the first cases, surveillance had been stepped up…” (8/7).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: Civil society looks to independent review of SDGs, beyond government reporting (Lieberman, 8/7).

IRIN: Meet “Baba IDP”: the local hero making sure Boko Haram victims get health care (Lawal, 8/7).

WIRED: The Unknowability of the Next Global Epidemic (Keats, 8/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Examine Global Food System Challenges, Including Waste, Access, Pricing

The Hill: Wasted food is a factor that remains noticeably absent from the climate change discourse
Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), ranking member of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, and Michael Shank, communications director for the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network

“…Globally, nearly 30 percent of all agricultural land produces food that is ultimately lost or wasted. … Waste appears throughout the supply chain, from produce damaged at farms to retail packages that don’t properly store food, to our very own eating habits that lead us to discard food before it has passed its prime. And when this food goes uneaten, we waste the water and energy needed to produce it, harvest it, and bring it to market. … Beyond the obvious environmental impacts, the socioeconomic consequences are equally disastrous. … We must employ every effort to retool our food system … The reforms we need are entirely within reach, provided we have the political stomach, if you will, to make sure all the world’s mouths are fed. The fix is achievable. It starts with reducing and recycling and requires a keen focus on solving the logistical challenges of getting appropriate food to those communities in need…” (8/7).

Project Syndicate: The High Cost of Food Monopolies in Africa
Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, co-founder of AACE Food Processing & Distribution, managing partner of Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition, founder of LEAP Africa, and a 2018 Aspen Institute New Voices fellow

“In May, global food prices increased 1.2 percent, reaching their highest level since October 2017. This upward trajectory is having a disproportionate impact in Africa, where the share of household income spent on food is also rising. To ensure food security, governments must work quickly to reverse these trends, and one place to start is by policing the producers who are feeding the frenzy. … [T]he primary cause is poor public policy: African governments have failed to curb the power of agribusinesses and large food producers, a lack of oversight that has made local agriculture less competitive. In turn, prices for most commodities have risen. … Reducing the prices of staple food by even a modest 10 percent … by tackling anticompetitive behavior in these sectors, or by reforming regulations that shield them from competition, could lift 270,000 people in Kenya, 200,000 in South Africa, and 20,000 in Zambia out of poverty. … Ultimately, it is the responsibility of political leaders to protect consumers from collusion and price-fixing…” (8/7).

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Researchers, Donors Must Embrace Data Sharing To Accelerate Scientific Progress

Project Syndicate: Making Open Data a Reality
Thoai Ngo, director of the Poverty, Gender, and Youth (PGY) Program at the Population Council and director of the Council’s Girl Innovation, Research and Learning (GIRL) Center

“…[T]he prevailing policy approach to promoting open data — if you mandate it, they will share … — is not working. To bring about change, researchers themselves must embrace data sharing. And to do that, we need the right information and incentives. … Beyond better incentives for researchers and donors, a fundamental shift in the culture of science is needed to accelerate scientific progress … We believe that open data can accelerate research transparency and innovative solutions that have a meaningful impact on the lives of the largest-ever generation of adolescents … And we believe that as open-data practices become more widespread, the benefits of sharing and collaboration that they enable will extend much further” (8/8).

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Encouraging Mothers In India To Breastfeed Requires Combined Efforts Of Family, Community, Health Workers

Times of India: Six months, two thousand feeds: It is essential to recognize that breastfeeding is not only the mother’s responsibility
Alok Ranjan, India’s country lead for nutrition at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…In India, analysis of breastfeeding trends shows that, over the last decade, the percentage of infants (under six months of age) who were exclusively breastfed in India increased … The national average, however, conceals variability across states — the rate in Bihar, for instance, has gone up, but it has fallen in neighboring Uttar Pradesh. One of the ways to increase exclusive breastfeeding, and help reduce infant mortality, is to create an enabling environment for the mothers. It is essential to recognize the fact that breastfeeding is not only the mother’s responsibility. A combined effort is required from the family, the community, Anganwadi workers, Asha workers [– types of community health workers –] and the medical staff in government and private hospitals. … [I]nfant nutrition needs to become a jan andolan [or mass movement], with district-specific action plans and strong monitoring and supervision. Only with successful implementation can we ensure that future generations are healthy and productive” (8/4).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

IntraHealth International To Expand HIV Efforts To Reach Key Groups In Central America

IntraHealth International: New Project Will Bring High-Quality HIV Services to the People Who Need Them Most in Five Central American Countries
“​IntraHealth International will expand its HIV prevention, care, and treatment efforts in Central America with a new $15 million award from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Strengthening Care and Treatment Cascade Project will help El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama improve the quality and reach of their HIV services and allocate more resources where they are most needed…” (8/7).

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UNFPA Offers Sexual, Reproductive Health, Social Services To Syrian Refugee Women, Girls In Turkey

UNFPA: Exile wreaks havoc on refugees’ sexual and reproductive health
“Refugee women and girls face extraordinary hardships. They endure grave risks and often brutal violence, and many are thrust into poverty. But they can also face another, more intimate, hardship, one that is seldom discussed — the effects of exile on their sexual and reproductive health. Some 475,000 Syrian refugees have sought safety in the desert city of Sanliurfa, Turkey … To meet their needs, UNFPA is operating four women’s and girls’ safe spaces in the city, which are all supported by European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). These centers offer health and social services for the refugees, as well as other support…” (8/6).

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From the U.S. Government

CDC Report Discusses Zika-Associated Birth Defects, Neurodevelopmental Abnormalities In Exposed Infants

CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”: Vital Signs: Zika-Associated Birth Defects and Neurodevelopmental Abnormalities Possibly Associated with Congenital Zika Virus Infection — U.S. Territories and Freely Associated States, 2018
Marion E. Rice, ORISE fellow in the Division of Congenital and Developmental Disorders at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the CDC, and colleagues discuss the impact of Zika virus infection during pregnancy on birth outcomes. The authors write, “Zika virus infection during pregnancy causes serious birth defects and might be associated with neurodevelopmental abnormalities in children. Early identification of and intervention for neurodevelopmental problems can improve cognitive, social, and behavioral functioning. … Careful monitoring and evaluation of children born to mothers with evidence of Zika virus infection during pregnancy is essential for ensuring early detection of possible disabilities and early referral to intervention services” (8/7).

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U.S. State Department Blog Post Features Interview On Closeout Of MCC Zambia Compact

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: As MCC Compact in Zambia Comes to a Close, a Conversation on its Impact and the Road Ahead
In an interview, Leslie O’Shaughnessy, deputy vice president for public affairs at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, speaks with Steve Marma, resident country director for MCC Zambia, and Pamela Bwalya, CEO of MCA-Zambia, on “their preparations for the closeout of the five-year MCC Zambia Compact this November” (8/7).

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