KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Ministers Fail To Reach Agreement On TPP; Set To Meet Again In January

“Ministers in Trans-Pacific trade talks said on Tuesday they had made ‘substantial progress’ during a four-day meeting in Singapore but have not reached a final agreement and will meet again next month,” Reuters reports (12/10). “The 12 ministers working on the Trans-Pacific Partnership said they had found potential ‘landing zones’ for many of the remaining disagreements, which involve intellectual property and agricultural products, among other issues,” the New York Times writes (Lowrey, 12/10). “Some TPP provisions would ‘trample over individual rights,’ according to WikiLeaks, which this week … released two documents it said were prepared by a TPP negotiating country and showed strong disagreement between the U.S. and its partners on issues including investor-state dispute settlement, intellectual property and the treatment of medicines,” Bloomberg notes (Chen, 12/10). “The goal of the [TPP] is to reduce or eliminate tariffs on nearly all traded products and establish rules of the road to give companies a level playing field in areas such as intellectual property and the role of government in private enterprise,” according to the Wall Street Journal (Mauldin/Brereton-Fukui, 12/10).

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Humanitarian Efforts Continue In Philippines; Donors Urged To Focus On Long-Term Recovery

“Efforts are intensifying to improve access to much needed humanitarian assistance to remote Philippine islands, one month after the category five Super Typhoon Haiyan” struck, IRIN reports in an analysis. “Some remote areas that are difficult to reach in ordinary circumstances have become even more inaccessible since Haiyan swept through the region,” the news service writes, noting, “[T]he challenge grew to manage, coordinate and effectively deploy the goods provided by some 45 humanitarian actors.” The news service examines the delivery of aid by foreign military services, and highlights reconstruction efforts and needs (12/9).

In related news, “[t]he Red Cross warned against aid dependency in the Philippines Tuesday as the United Nations urged donors to double their assistance to millions of victims of the country’s deadliest-ever typhoon,” Agence France-Presse writes, adding, “The secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Bekele Geleta said that, a month after Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the islands, longer-term recovery needs should begin to take precedence over food aid” (12/10). “Now that the storm has passed, the trickiest balancing act will be providing pressing humanitarian assistance while simultaneously working toward a long-term recovery,” Elizabeth Ferris, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, writes in PBS’ “Nova Next” blog (11/26).

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Pope Francis Denounces 'Global Scandal' Of Hunger, Launches New Campaign In Video Message

“Pope Francis denounced the ‘global scandal’ of hunger on Monday, calling for an international ‘wave of prayer’ to bring attention to the plight of the needy and homeless,” Reuters reports. “‘We are in front of a global scandal of around one billion — one billion people who still suffer from hunger today,’ he said in a video message launching a campaign by Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 164 Catholic charities working in 200 countries,” the news service writes, noting, “The campaign, called ‘One Human Family — Food for All,’ kick[ed] off on Tuesday.” According to Reuters, “Francis, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, urged organizations, churches and individuals to ‘give a voice to all of those who suffer silently from hunger, so that this voice becomes a roar which can shake the world'” and “also appeared to call for lifestyle changes, urging people ‘to become more conscious in our food choices, which often lead to waste and a poor use of the resources available to us'” (12/10).

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WHO, UNICEF Launch Polio Vaccination Campaign Targeting 23M Children In Middle East

“The [WHO] and UNICEF have launched a massive polio vaccination campaign aimed at immunizing 23 million children in the Middle East after 17 cases were discovered in Syria, the agencies announced Monday,” Al Jazeera America reports. “It will be the largest-ever immunization response in the region, WHO and [UNICEF] said in a joint statement,” the news service writes (12/9). “The national immunization campaign … will take place until December 12, and again from January 12 to 16,” according to a UNICEF press release (12/9). “Vaccinators working to contain the outbreak must reach every child under the age of five in the seven countries in the region, an already complex task made that much more difficult by the civil war raging in Syria,” VOA News notes, adding, “The first round of vaccinations last month reached more than two million Syrian children, according to UNICEF spokeswoman Juliette Touma” (Baragona, 12/10). “The total cost to UNICEF and WHO of supporting the seven-country polio response from November through April is US$ 39 million, based on a strategic plan developed for the Middle East,” a WHO press release states (12/9).

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Pakistani Religious Scholar Speaks In Support Of Polio, Other Vaccines

“A radical Pakistani religious scholar known as the ‘Father of the Taliban’ has issued a fatwa urging parents to immunize their children against polio and other fatal diseases, adding that vaccinations comply with Islamic law,” Agence France-Presse reports. “The edict by Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, who heads the hardline Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania seminary, comes more than a year after the Pakistani Taliban banned polio immunization following a fake CIA vaccination program meant to help track Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden,” the news service writes, noting, “The ban has led to a surge in polio cases in Pakistan that threatens worldwide efforts to eradicate the infectious crippling disease, which is also endemic in Nigeria and Afghanistan.” However, “according to a statement signed by Haq and dated October 30, parents should disregard the militants’ warnings,” AFP states (12/10).

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USAID Launches HIV Research Project In Cambodia

“The United States government on Wednesday launched an HIV research project in Cambodia, aiming to collect and disseminate critical data that will help the country in the fight against HIV,” Xinhua reports. “Rebecca Black, [USAID’s Cambodia mission director], said the [HIV Innovate and Evaluate Project] would work closely with the Cambodian government counterparts and development partners to build a strong foundation in applied research for evidence-based decision making to support national efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” the news service writes (12/11).

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Guardian Interviews Peter Piot About Growing Threat Of Dementia

“Peter Piot, the man who discovered the fatal Ebola virus, and whose pioneering work made HIV/AIDS a global priority, is warning about the next pandemic — dementia,” The Guardian reports in an interview with the microbiologist. “One in three of us will develop the disease — 135 million people by 2050, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) — while its worldwide health and social care cost in 2010 was estimated at £400 billion [$655 billion],” the newspaper writes, adding, “Our aging population means it will get worse, yet no one is ready for the impact of dementia, [Piot] says.” The Guardian states, “He wants better research, treatment, prevention and cultural change which, when combined, he says, might create a tipping point for dementia,” and notes, “The 64-year-old professor’s warning coincides with [Tuesday’s] G8 summit on dementia in London” (Salman, 12/10).

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LMICs' R&D Funding For Neglected Diseases Remains Low, Report Says

“Developing nations’ research and development (R&D) funding for neglected diseases remains low, despite hopes that emerging economies would provide new funding streams, according to a major annual report published [Wednesday],” SciDev.Net reports. “Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) provided only four percent of public funding for such R&D in 2012, the sixth ‘G-FINDER’ (Global Funding of Innovation for Neglected Diseases) report shows,” the news service writes. “The report also found that more than 99 percent of LMIC funding is directed at domestic research, rather than regional or international research efforts,” SciDev.Net writes, adding, “This shows that these countries prioritize growing their domestic research capacity over global health priorities, it says” (Kennedy, 12/11).

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CSIS Paper Examines Economic, Structural Development To Help End Poverty In Developing Countries

IRIN examines a paper, titled “Combating Global Poverty,” published recently by Daniel Runde of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). “Now is the time, he says, for donor countries to shift their focus away from alleviating poverty. It is time, instead, he says, to concentrate on helping developing countries reach a position from which they can end poverty and deliver social goods for themselves,” the news service writes. “Going forward, Runde says there should be more focus on issues such as tax collection, commercial law, contract enforcement and secure land tenure — matters he describes as ‘not really very sexy — it takes a very long time to see results, it’s hard to measure, and it’s working on a lot of plumbing issues that are not emotionally compelling and are hard to generate a political constituency for,'” IRIN states (Blunt, 12/11).

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PAHO Releases Update On Cholera In Haiti, Latin America

“The South Asian strain of cholera most likely introduced to Haiti by U.N. peacekeepers in 2010 has infected more than 700,000 people and spread to three other countries,” according to an update (.pdf) from the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) issued last week, Slate’s “The World” blog reports. In Haiti, “there have been 692,098 infections with 8,470 deaths,” “[m]ore than 30,000 people were infected by the disease in the neighboring Dominican Republic,” and “Cuba, which hadn’t seen a cholera outbreak in more than century, has reported nearly 700 cases,” the blog notes. “The latest country impacted is Mexico, which began noticing cholera cases in September” and has reported 184 with one death, the blog states. “The outbreak is believed to have began when Nepalese peacekeeping troops contaminated a river next to their base through a faulty filtration system,” the blog writes, adding, “The U.N. has not yet fully acknowledged responsibility for the outbreak, though a panel of independent investigators the body convened found ‘irrefutable molecular evidence’ that the cholera came from Nepal” (Keating, 12/9).

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H7N9 Bird Flu Might Easily Develop Resistance To Common Treatments, Research Shows

“Scientists have found that a mutation in a new strain of bird flu infecting people in China can render it resistant to a key first-line treatment drug without limiting its ability to spread in mammals,” Reuters reports. Researchers “found [H7N9] was highly resistant to Tamiflu, but also that it still had the ability to infect human cells in a laboratory dish, and spread between laboratory animals just as efficiently as its non-mutated counterpart,” the news agency writes, adding, “While this does not make H7N9 any more likely to develop into a human pandemic, researchers said it means doctors should be prudent in their use of antiviral medicines to treat H7N9 cases, and consider using drugs other than Tamiflu, such as GlaxoSmithKline’s Relenza, where possible” (Kelland, 12/10).

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DNDi Recognizes 10th Anniversary

The Financial Times profiles the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), which is recognizing its 10th anniversary this month. “DNDi has delivered six treatments for neglected diseases and has 12 ‘new chemical entities’ under development,” the newspaper writes, adding, “At €183 million [$252 million] spent to date, that translates into a modest price tag for each successfully launched medicine compared to the costs for drugs launched by drug companies” (Jack, 12/10).

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Editorials and Opinions

G8 Leaders Must Address Alzheimer's As They Did AIDS

“As G8 government leaders meet in London later this week to launch a strategy for Alzheimer’s disease, it is worth recalling how global leaders did it for HIV/AIDS not too long ago,” Michael Hodin, executive director of the Global Coalition on Aging, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Post50” blog. He recounts the progress made against HIV/AIDS, and says, “Though the fight against AIDS must remain in full force, it is of profound significance that the leader of the 20th century UNAIDS program, Dr. Peter Piot, has recognized that Alzheimer’s is the ‘ticking time bomb’ of the 21st century.” He continues, “Given [the] incredible increase in incidence [of Alzheimer’s], this World AIDS Day we should learn from the global movement against AIDS to create a strategy for defeating the emerging global Alzheimer’s epidemic … We need health leaders to be joined by the private and public sectors — and the rest of us as well. The G8 meeting in London can be such a milestone moment” (12/9).

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Urgent Need For Multipurpose HIV Prevention, Family Planning Methods Aimed At Women

“High HIV infection rates among women around the world point to an urgent demand for new prevention methods that specifically address women’s health needs,” Bethany Young Holt, the executive director of the Coalition Advancing Multipurpose Innovations, a project of the Public Health Institute, and Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan, a scientist with the WHO, write in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece. “It is time to turn our collective will toward finding methods that protect women from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections at the same time as preventing unplanned pregnancy,” they state, adding, “Multipurpose prevention technologies are a new class of products in development that do just that.”

“What stands in the way of advancing the field may be how women’s health issues are funded,” Holt and Lusti-Narasimhan continue, noting, “Sexual and reproductive health is generally understood as a subdiscipline of women’s health care, but HIV and reproductive health research operate with separate funding streams and discrete research disciplines that tend not to cross-pollinate ideas, share findings or collaborate.” They conclude, “Investing in multipurpose technology development and strengthening linkages between research fields will advance the sexual and reproductive health needs of women everywhere — and help stop the spread of HIV” (12/9).

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Investing In Breastfeeding Will Help Future Generations Thrive

“Out of 135 million babies born each year, 83 million are not properly breastfed. … Several resolutions on infant and young child nutrition adopted by the [WHO] … have committed governments, global communities and the United Nations to a plethora of actions; yet the rates of optimal infant and young child feeding practices continue to stagnate,” Arun Gupta, co-founder and central coordinator of the Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India, an affiliate of the International Baby Food Action Network for Asia, writes in a Devex opinion piece. “It is time to implement the necessary interventions to universalize optimal breastfeeding, and national governments, donor agencies and multilateral organizations and institutions must make the resources available,” he writes, adding, “Raising breastfeeding rates can propel developing nations to improving child health, reducing child morbidity and mortality, increasing the overall intellectual capacity of society and reducing non-communicable disease” (12/10).

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Seven Issues To Watch For On 2014 International Family Planning Agenda

In a post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Christopher Purdy, executive vice president of DKT International, and Philip Harvey, executive director of DKT International, examine seven issues and trends to watch for on the international family planning agenda in 2014. Their list includes the easing of China’s family planning policy, the growing use of digital technology as “a way to reach (especially young) people with messages on family planning,” the changing role of national governments on product availability on the ground, the development of new contraceptive products, and the influence of changing economic and social trends on family planning (12/6).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Ethiopia Is 'A Family Planning Success Story'

“Over the last two decades, Ethiopia has become a family planning success story, one of only a handful of countries in Africa to achieve that status,” David Olson, a global development communications consultant, and Andrew Piller, country director of DKT Ethiopia, write in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. Noting their article, titled “Ethiopia: An Emerging Family Planning Success Story,” “is available in the December 2013 issue of Studies in Family Planning, published by the Population Council,” they say the “report chronicles the history of that success, identifies four key factors that produced those successes, and details how these factors interacted to expand access and desire to use contraceptives” (12/10).

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Efforts Responding To Health Needs Of Female Sex Workers Must Be Comprehensive

In a post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” published as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence initiative, Andrea Vazzano of Johns Hopkins University, and Tisha Wheeler and Diana Prieto of USAID’s Office of Global Health examine “the complex intersection of violence, reproductive health, and HIV faced by sex workers around the world,” noting, “Over the past five years, the Research to Prevention (R2P) project, funded by PEPFAR through USAID, has demonstrated a clear need for policies and programming that address the multiple levels of influence on HIV risk among female sex workers, including their risk of violence and need for comprehensive reproductive health services.” They conclude, “It is not enough for HIV programs to address individual-level factors in HIV transmission among female sex workers; they must also acknowledge the high risk of violence and varied reproductive needs of these populations around the globe” (12/10).

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Blog Examines Results Of Various HIV Prevention Trials, Highlights AVAC Report

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines the results of various HIV prevention trials in recent years, and highlights Research & Reality, a report released by AVAC on Monday. “With research beginning to yield promising findings, and realities on the ground providing lessons of their own, the means to prevent HIV will be found where the two, research and reality overlap, the report says,” according to the blog (Barton, 12/9).

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IAVI Announces New Board Appointments

“The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is pleased to announce that Dr. Alex Godwin Coutinho has taken over the role of chair of its Board of Directors, and U.S. Ambassador Eric Goosby [who recently completed a four-and-a-half-year term as U.S. global AIDS coordinator,] and the Rt. Hon. the Lord Fowler have become new members of the Board,” the initiative reports in a press release. The press release provides a short bio of each and notes, “IAVI Board members comprise experts from more than 10 countries with a broad range of distinguished experience in health care, finance, vaccinology, clinical research, international development, and academia” (12/10).

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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 233 of its “Global Fund Observer.” The issue includes an article and analysis on the Global Fund’s recent replenishment conference, two articles discussing grants to applicants, and an article on how the “Eurasian Harm Reduction Network is implementing a $6 million regional program which seeks to facilitate effective regional advocacy for harm reduction among injection drug users across five countries in” the Eastern Europe/Central Asia region, among other articles (12/10).

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PLOS Blog Highlights Articles Published In PLOS Medicine

The PLOS “Speaking of Medicine” blog highlights a number of articles published in PLOS Medicine this week. “Using thematic analysis, Thomas Kerr and colleagues document the experiences of policing among people who inject drugs (PWID) in Bangkok and examine how interactions with police may affect drug-using behaviors and access to health services,” and “[i]n a linked perspective, Scott Burris and Stephen Koester examine policing activities in other countries and discuss the need for better integration of public health policy with policing activity,” the blog states. In addition, “Unni Karunakara and colleagues discuss how Médecins Sans Frontières decided to adopt a data sharing policy for routinely collected clinical and research data in humanitarian settings and its aspirations to create a truly open data set,” the blog notes (12/10).

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Huffington Post Publishes Infographic On Child Marriage

Noting “December 10 mark[ed] the anniversary of the presentation of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes that there are ‘equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family,'” the Huffington Post’s “World” blog states, “But, because of the widespread practice of child marriage, 14 million girls under 18 are denied those rights each year.” The news service presents an infographic on child marriage (Diehm, 12/10).

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