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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Official Urges President-Elect Trump To Expand Obamacare, Improve Access To Health Care For All Americans

Reuters: WHO urges Trump to expand Obamacare, ensure health care for all
“The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday urged U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to expand Obamacare and ensure all Americans have access to health care. The real estate magnate takes office next month after promising to repeal outgoing President Barack Obama’s signature health care policy which helped millions more Americans get medical insurance but has been a target of Republican attacks. Agnes Soucat, the WHO’s director of health system governance and financing, said there were various ways of providing health cover to more people, and it amounted to ‘political choices’…” (Nebehay, 12/9).

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4-Fold Overall Increase In Number Of Microcephalic Infants Born In Colombia Following Zika Outbreak, CDC Report Shows

Agence France-Presse: In Colombia, deformed babies quadrupled amid Zika crisis
“Four times the number of babies born with skull deformities linked to Zika virus were reported in Colombia this year following the outbreak of the mosquito-borne infection, said a U.S. government report Friday…” (12/9).

CIDRAP News: Study confirms 4-fold rise in Zika microcephaly in Colombia
“…The team reported the preliminary findings in an early online report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). From January 31 through the middle of November, Colombia reported 473 microcephaly cases, a fourfold increase over the same period in 2015. The increase in July was ninefold compared with July of 2015…” (Schnirring, 12/9).

New York Times: Colombia Reports Major Rise in Birth Defect Amid Zika Crisis
“…Because births of microcephalic infants peaked five months after the epidemic did, at about nine times the numbers of the previous July, scientists feel sure that the greatest risk is to babies whose mothers were infected during their first trimesters or early in their second…” (McNeil, 12/10).

STAT: Zika-related birth defects in Colombia far more common than believed, study suggests
“…Colombia has reported only 60 cases of Zika-linked microcephaly to the World Health Organization. … [S]enior author, Martha Ospina Martinez, insisted there is no discrepancy between what Colombia is reporting to the WHO and the figures in the study. The 476 number represents all reports of microcephaly, each of which is being investigated…” (Branswell, 12/9).

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NYT Video Report Examines Drug Research Funding, Patents, Pricing

New York Time’s “Retro Report”: ‘Could You Patent the Sun?’
In this video report, the New York Times examines new drug research in the U.S., including funding sources and patent holders, and how rising drug prices affect consumer access (12/11).

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Humanitarian Experts Face Decisions On Prioritizing Efforts As Funding Gap Grows

IRIN: Scale up or cut back? Aid sector grapples with growing funding gap
“[Last] week, the U.N. announced that $22.2 billion would be required to meet the needs of an estimated 92.8 million people affected by conflicts and natural disasters in 2017. It’s the largest humanitarian appeal ever launched, but current funding trends suggest that aid agencies will be lucky to raise half the amount they’re asking for. Given this ever-widening chasm, some aid experts believe it’s time to prioritize, to focus humanitarian efforts on the most urgent life-saving endeavors and ensure at least they are fully funded…” (Siegfried, 12/9).

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Case Numbers Of Liver, Other Cancers Rise Significantly Worldwide, Especially In Poor Countries, Since 2005

NPR: Liver Cancer Is Becoming A Top Killer In Poor Countries
“The number of new cancer cases grew worldwide to 17.5 million in 2015 from 13.1 million in 2005. And the fastest growth is in some of the world’s poorest countries, according to a report on the global burden of cancer in the Dec. 3 journal JAMA Oncology. … One cancer that is common in poor countries — and not so common in wealthier countries — is liver cancer. We asked [Christina Fitzmaurice, an author of the report and assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and the Division of Hematology at the University of Washington in Seattle,] about liver cancer and two other top killers…” (Brink, 12/9).

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Boko Haram Insurgency Spreads Fear Of Food Shortages From Northeastern Nigeria Into Neighboring Niger, Some Aid Workers Say

New York Times: Niger Feels Ripple Effect of Boko Haram as Fears of Food Shortage Spread
“Only two years old, Fatouma Ouseini lay in a hospital room, undernourished and listless from fever. … Fatouma and her family fled from just across the border in northeastern Nigeria, the epicenter of the war with Boko Haram, where scattered areas have teetered on the brink of famine for most of this year, according to the United Nations. Now, some aid workers fear that similar conditions could spill over to bordering areas like here in Niger, putting even more children at risk…” (Searcey, 12/12).

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Editorials and Opinions

UHC Is 'Ultimate Expression Of Fairness,' Critical To Achieving Health-Related SDGs

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Universal Health Coverage: an affordable goal for all
Margaret Chan, director general of WHO, and Gro Harlem Brundtland, deputy chair of The Elders

“…Achieving [Universal Health Coverage (UHC)] and the other health-related [Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)] targets isn’t just about spending more money. Governments need to ensure these resources are used efficiently and fairly to scale-up the supply of quality health services for everyone, with enough well-trained and motivated health workers, and to transform health systems to address the needs of people, not diseases. … We … recommend that countries implement health reform strategies that move swiftly towards full population coverage in an equitable way. The vital first step is to scale up primary health care services, focusing on meeting the needs of vulnerable groups such as the poor, women, girls, and adolescents, as well as the disabled and older populations. To reach everyone, essential health services need to be free at the point of delivery. … The inclusion of UHC as one of the targets in the Sustainable Development Goals provides the platform for moving towards all other health targets through the delivery of integrated, people-centered services that span the life course, bring prevention to the fore, and protect against financial hardship. UHC is the ultimate expression of fairness and one of the most powerful social equalizers among all policy options” (12/12).

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African Nations Must Strengthen Steps To Implement Universal Health Coverage

Project Syndicate: Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Africa
Matshidiso Moeti, regional director for Africa at the WHO

“…[S]trong health care systems are critical not only in times of crisis. They are also needed to provide children with life-saving immunizations; to provide women with reproductive care, including contraception; and to provide all people with preventive services and treatments to address the growing burden of non-communicable diseases. When people are healthy, everyone benefits. … Countries across Africa are already taking steps to advance [Universal Health Coverage (UHC)]. … Yet much more work needs to be done to ensure that all people in all countries across Africa — and, indeed, across the developing world — have access to the health care they need. … Indeed, the [WHO] Windhoek meeting — which coincides with the third UHC Day on 12 December — offers an unprecedented opportunity for countries to define the critical measures needed, and make concrete commitments to strengthen integrated, people-centered services rooted in primary health care. … Achieving UHC is not just a moral imperative; it’s also an economic one. The time has come to fulfill it” (12/12).

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Public Investment To Help Private Companies Work In Poor Countries Will Help Promote Development Goals

Financial Times: Shifting aid to support business is the right decision
Paul Collier, professor of economics and public policy at Oxford University

“The decision last month by Britain’s Department for International Development to allow more of the U.K.’s aid budget to flow via the CDC (formerly the Commonwealth Development Corporation), in order to support private investment, has met predictable criticisms from familiar quarters. … Shifting aid to support for business will be essential for the small low-income countries that are the core of the development challenge. … Informal micro-enterprises are no substitute. … Aid is needed to pay for the substantial public benefit of bringing reputable companies into difficult countries. Without such groups, the poorest countries will struggle to develop, and without public support there will be too few of them. This view should not be contentious. Happily, development agencies are belatedly recognizing its merits. … It takes courage for a politician to navigate aid policy between the travesties of left and right. Priti Patel, the U.K. international development secretary, should be commended for her support of the CDC” (12/11).

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'Precision' Approach To Global Health Moves Beyond Prevention, Control Of Diseases, Could Accelerate Progress Toward SDG Targets

The Lancet: Precision global health: beyond prevention and control
Editorial Board

“…A tailored approach [to health] will … help in reaching broader global health targets. … In some areas progress could be accelerated with more refined targeting of causes of death. Knowing where to target interventions to reduce mortality, by analyzing the variability in the distribution of health outcomes for different causes would optimize efforts to reduce child mortality. … Spatial analyses … provide crucial granular information — in line with a precision approach to global health — that could contribute to the progress towards the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)]. … [B]eyond the essential steps of event surveillance and case management, on which the prevention and control of diseases are based, if we are to truly advance health and eliminate diseases, a case can be made for a tailored approach and the advent of precision-style global health” (January 2017).

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'Collective Action' Needed To End Hunger Worldwide

Medium: 5 Lessons Learned While Leading Food for Peace
Dina Esposito, director of USAID’s Office of Food for Peace

“…As my time with Food for Peace comes to a close, I wanted to share five lessons I have learned: … Lesson 1: Conflict has returned as the predominant force shaping humanitarian assistance. … Lesson 2: The nutritional profile of food we offer and the way we program it must continue to evolve. … Lesson 3: Big results do not always equal sustainable results. … Lesson 4: Resilience is the core concept that links Food for Peace programs to the larger Feed the Future Global Food Security Agenda. … Lesson 5: #FoodforPeace and its partners are better placed than ever to advance [Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2] — Ending Hunger. … Together, we bring help and hope to the most food-insecure places in the world. Ending hunger requires collective action by public and private organizations, as well as individuals. As challenging as these times are, we are better placed than ever to make a difference” (12/9).

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WHO Should Work To Protect Public Health Rather Than 'Attack' Press Freedom

The Hill: United Nations works against press freedom when it comes to world health arm
Drew Johnson, journalist and public policy analyst

“Freedom of the press is under attack by the very organization that is supposed to be its greatest advocate: the United Nations. The U.N. does host World Press Freedom Day … [b]ut it’s hard to take the event seriously when the World Health Organization — the U.N.’s global public health arm — bans journalists from meetings, blacklists reporters who are critical of the agency, and awards high-profile events to countries that don’t allow a free press. … The WHO’s attacks on the values of press freedom underscores the reality that the organization is bad at its job and doesn’t want people to know it. … Clearly, the WHO has plenty to hide. But trying to keep its shortcomings secret by launching an assault against press freedom is not the solution. Rather than spending time and energy silencing journalists, the U.N. should focus its efforts on getting its house in order and doing a better job of protecting public health” (12/9).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

WHO Launches Universal Health Coverage Data Portal To Track Progress

WHO: New WHO data portal to help track progress towards universal health coverage
“To mark Universal Health Coverage Day, WHO [last week] launched a new data portal to track progress towards universal health coverage (UHC) around the world. The portal shows where countries need to improve access to services, and where they need to improve information. The portal features the latest data on access to health services globally and in each of WHO’s 194 Member States, along with information about equity of access. Next year WHO will add data on the impact that paying for health services has on household finances…” (12/7).

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Blog Post Examines 'How To' Of Expanding Universal Health Coverage

The Lancet Global Health Blog: Expanding universal health coverage from the ground up
Stefan Nachuk, a health systems specialist at Thinkwell Global, and Nathaniel Otoo, chief executive officer of the Ghana Health Insurance Authority and former steering group convener of the Joint Learning Network, and colleagues discuss lessons from the Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage (JLN), which “partners with countries to jointly develop resources, including DIY guides and interactive tools, that address the ‘how to’ of everything from how governments can engage the private sector in primary health care delivery to how governments can assess their provider payment systems…” (12/12).

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Achieving UHC Requires Investments In Health Care Systems, Health Workers

IntraHealth International’s “Vital”: To Achieve #HealthForAll We Need Health Workers for All
IntraHealth International’s editorial team recognizes Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day and highlights five articles on reaching UHC by 2020, including pieces on the future of health financing, investing in frontline health workers to address noncommunicable diseases, investing in resilient health systems, the potential threat of a health worker shortage in Africa, and progress toward UHC in Zambia through the work of nurses (12/11).

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