KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

In Paris Climate Deal, Leaders Agree To Reducing Emissions, Raising Money To Help Poor Nations Build Resiliency

News outlets report on the adoption of the Paris agreement on climate change at COP21.

The Guardian: World leaders hail Paris climate deal as ‘major leap for mankind’
“A historic, legally binding climate deal that aims to hold global temperatures to a maximum rise of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, staving off the worst effects of catastrophic global warming, has been secured. The culmination of more than 20 years of fraught U.N. climate talks has seen all countries agree to reduce emissions, promise to raise $100bn a year by 2020 to help poor countries adapt their economies, and accept a new goal of zero net emissions by later this century…” (Vidal et al., 12/12).

New York Times: Leaders Move to Convert Paris Climate Pledges Into Action
“…With nearly every nation on Earth having now pledged to gradually reduce emissions of the heat-trapping gases that are warming the planet — a universal commitment that had eluded negotiators and activists since the Earth Summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 — much of the burden for maintaining the momentum shifts back to the countries to figure out, and carry out, the concrete steps needed to deliver on their vows…” (Chan/Eddy, 12/13).

New York Times: Climate Accord Is a Healing Step, if Not a Cure
“…The agreement reached here on Saturday will, if faithfully carried out, achieve far larger cuts in emissions than any previous climate accord. It will reduce, without eliminating, the risk that runaway climate change might render parts of the Earth uninhabitable. … The deal, in short, begins to move the countries of the world in a shared direction that is potentially compatible with maintaining a livable planet over the long term…” (Gillis, 12/12).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Paris climate deal throws ‘frayed lifeline’ to the poor
“A new global deal to tackle climate change, agreed in Paris on Saturday, is an important step towards protecting the poor from more extreme weather and rising seas — but does not offer enough funding or assurance that their rights will be respected, vulnerable countries and agencies working to support them said…” (Rowling/Goering, 12/13).

Wall Street Journal: Scientists Hail Climate Pact as Key Step in Fight Against Warming
“…[C]limatologists argue that the pledged emission cuts by nations aren’t by themselves sufficient to achieve those goals. The warming is already approaching one degree and is predicted to reach 1.2 degrees in 15 years. That makes the hope of restricting overall warming below 1.5 degrees especially challenging…” (Naik, 12/13).

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U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Birx Speaks About PEPFAR, HIV/AIDS In Africa In ICASA Interview

The Herald: ‘No room for stigma in the fight against AIDS’
“Zimbabwe successfully hosted the 18th edition of ICASA between November 29 and December 4, 2015. … Many African countries, Zimbabwe included, have benefited from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Features Editor Roselyne Sachiti (RS) speaks to Ambassador-at-Large and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx (DB) on the sidelines of ICASA on this and other issues…” (12/12).

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NIH Announces Plans To Drop 10% Budget Set-Aside For HIV/AIDS Research, Reprogram $65M In Funding Aimed At Ending Epidemic

ScienceInsider: NIH drops special 10% set-aside for AIDS research
“In a major shakeup for the HIV/AIDS research community, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) [Friday] announced it will no longer support setting aside a fixed 10 percent of its budget — or $3 billion this year — to fund research on the disease. The agency also plans to reprogram $65 million of its AIDS research grant funding this year to focus more sharply on ending the epidemic…” (Kaiser, 12/11).

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Advocates, Researchers Oppose Pharma Executive's Plan To Raise Price Of Chagas Drug; Plan Raises Questions About FDA Voucher System For Neglected Diseases

The Independent: Martin Shkreli: The ‘most hated man in America’ is raising the price of another form of drug
“The man who increased the cost of an effective [toxoplasmosis] drug by 5,500 percent has now increased the price of another form of medicine. Martin Shkreli has now increased the price of a medicine used to treat Chagas disease, a parasitic infection that can cause heart failure…” (Grice, 12/12).

International Business Times: Martin Shkreli, Pharma’s Most Notorious Exec, Denies Move On Parasitic Disease Treatment Is To Game FDA Voucher System
“…Shkreli said he’s applied to obtain a so-called priority-review voucher from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that could speed the agency’s approval of benznidazole, which is used to treat Chagas. The issue raises questions about how the U.S. government promotes drug development and whether this is part of a larger problem that causes patients and their insurers to pay so much money for so many drugs. These FDA vouchers can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars when they’re acquired by one company and sold to another firm…” (Young, 12/12).

New York Times: Martin Shkreli’s Latest Plan to Sharply Raise Drug Price Prompts Outcry
“…Mr. Shkreli said on a conference call with KaloBios investors last week that if the company won FDA approval for benznidazole, it would have exclusive rights to sell it in the United States for at least five years. He said the price would be similar to that of hepatitis C drugs, which cost $60,000 to nearly $100,000 for a course of treatment. In Latin America, benznidazole costs $50 to $100 for the typical two-month course of treatment…” (Pollack, 12/11).

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Recognizing Universal Health Coverage Day, U.N. Calls On Nations To Provide Affordable Health Care Access

U.N. News Centre: U.N. calls on global community to ensure access to affordable, quality health services for all
“The United Nations is marking Universal Health Coverage Day with a strong call on countries to invest substantially in achieving affordable health care access worldwide to improve the lives of millions of people and contribute significantly towards achievement of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)…” (12/12).

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WHO Lists 8 Diseases Most Likely To Cause Severe Future Outbreaks

ScienceInsider: The most dangerous pathogens, according to WHO
“…About two dozen scientists and clinicians met in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday and Wednesday [last] week to select five to 10 diseases most ‘likely to cause severe outbreaks in the near future, and for which few or no medical countermeasures exist,’ according to a statement. They came up with a list of eight deadly diseases: Ebola, Marburg, severe acute respiratory syndrome, Middle East respiratory syndrome, Nipah, Lassa fever, Rift Valley fever, and Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever…” (Kupferschmidt, 12/11).

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MSF Says Death Toll At Bombed Kunduz Hospital 'At Least 42 People'

New York Times: Doctors Without Borders Raises Death Toll in Kunduz Strike to 42
“The number of those killed in an American airstrike that destroyed the Doctors Without Borders hospital in the northern city of Kunduz was much higher than previously thought, the medical group announced Saturday. The death toll ‘has been confirmed to be at least 42 people,’ the group, also known by its French name, Médecins Sans Frontières, said in a news release. Previously, the United States military and the United Nations had put the death toll at 30…” (Nordland, 12/12).

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India To Increase Federal Budget For Social Sectors, Including Sanitation, HIV/AIDS, Nutrition Initiatives

Reuters: India proposes federal budget hike for social sectors
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on Friday proposed to raise its budget for sanitation and the fight against malnutrition and HIV/AIDS, months after New Delhi faced criticism that spending cuts were crippling welfare programs. The budget increases for social sectors will come as a relief for the largely poor population in India, where many people, especially in remote towns and villages, lack access to basic health care and clean water…” (Kalra, 12/11).

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Islamic State Militants Hindering Polio Vaccination Campaigns In Some Areas Of Afghanistan, Health Official Says

VOA News: IS Hinders Polio Eradication Efforts in Afghanistan
“…Gula Khan Ayub, a Ministry of Public Health official, said around 100,000 children could not get vaccinated in a recent four-day polio vaccination campaign carried out in 14 eastern and southern provinces of Afghanistan due to militants’ threats…” (Zahid/Ghazi, 12/11).

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Editorials and Opinions

Human Rights Central To Achieving AIDS-Free Generation

Huffington Post: Why Protecting Humans Rights Is Critical to Achieving an AIDS-Free Generation
Deborah L. Birx, ambassador-at-large and coordinator of the U.S. government activities to combat HIV/AIDS

“…[S]uccess [in ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic] demands that the protection of human rights remains at the core of our work. Around the globe — including in the United States — stigma and discrimination still threaten key affected populations, including men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, people who inject drugs, and women. These violations, in turn, impede their access to and retention in HIV/AIDS services and, ultimately, produce poorer health outcomes. PEPFAR is working to ensure non-discriminatory access to HIV/AIDS services for all individuals in need … [O]n Human Rights Day, we recommit to helping break down the barriers to achieving an AIDS-free generation. The next five years can put us on this path, but only if every person can access the HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services they need…” (12/11).

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Digital Health Tools Can Contribute To Eliminating Mother-To-Child Transmission Of HIV

Devex: Harnessing the power of digital health to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission
Edward Bitarakwate, country director of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation in Uganda, and Hima Batavia, digital health in developing countries specialist

“…[S]imply through monitoring and tracking the delivery of a proven set of health interventions, the elimination of mother-to-child transmission [(eMTCT)] of HIV is very possible. … Uganda has made phenomenal progress in establishing health information systems to address vulnerabilities in its health system. To realize the vision of an integrated national digital health system that supports tracking women and children across the eMTCT cascade of care, three next steps are critical: First, Uganda needs to formally review and operationalize its national e-health strategy. … Secondly, a comprehensive review of eMTCT digital health tools needs to be conducted to architect an integrated platform that cuts across the eMTCT cascade of care. Finally, priority and investment is needed to establish unique patient identifiers to facilitate tracking of pregnant women and children through the health system and enable data to follow them between health information systems and digital health platforms. For the first time in history — by bringing together political will, resources, and the right digital health tools — the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and guaranteed HIV-free survival for newborns is within our reach…” (12/11).

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Sustained Progress On Maternal, Child Health Critical To Success Of SDG Agenda

Huffington Post: In the complex and brave new world of the SDGs, we still have unfinished business on the basics of mother and child health
David de Ferranti, president; Robert Hecht, managing director; and Shan Soe-Lin, program director, all at Results for Development Institute

“…What has driven the success of the exceptional countries that have met the health [Millennium Development Goal (MDG)] targets for reduced child and maternal mortality and reversal of their AIDS, TB, and malaria epidemics? … [T]he successful countries generally focused on delivering a narrow set of high-impact interventions using a small handful of delivery platforms that reduced financial and physical barriers to access. … As the world embarks upon this broader [Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)] agenda, we would urge developing country governments and donors to sustain the highly effective efforts to lower infections, illness, and deaths among the world’s poor from the same causes that collectively we have been working so diligently to tackle over the past decade and a half … especially in the large numbers of countries, in Africa and in other regions, which missed out on the gains of the past 15 years” (12/11).

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Local Leaders, Organizations Critical To Ebola Response Efforts In Liberia

GlobalPost: Ebola is back in Liberia. Here’s how the country can beat it again
Dayugar Johnson, in-country consultant in Liberia for American Jewish World Service

“…Local Liberian groups did not have greater emergency response skills [during the Ebola epidemic] than the foreign staff and technical experts working with international organizations. What they did have was a most precious resource in an emergency: the public’s trust. Their long-standing connections to the communities where they lived and worked enabled them to serve as effective responders, educators, and advocates. These trusted local leaders complemented the efforts of global organizations, which provided technical support to the Liberian government and treated Ebola patients. As world leaders reflect on the Ebola outbreak and what the WHO or other elite organizations could have done differently, I implore them to give equal attention to the role of grassroots groups during this crisis — and to the game-changing role such groups must play in future health emergencies. Without the efforts of local organizations, I have no doubt that my country would still be battling the full force of the Ebola outbreak. Thanks to them, I’m confident that we will eradicate this horrific disease from our land once more” (12/12).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Updated Kaiser Family Foundation Issue Brief Examines U.S. Response To Ebola

Kaiser Family Foundation: The U.S. Response to Ebola: Status of the FY2015 Emergency Ebola Appropriation
This updated issue brief provides information on the U.S. response to the West African Ebola epidemic, “focusing on the $5.4 billion emergency Ebola funding and providing an overview of its international activities, the agencies carrying out these activities, and the status of funding to date…” (Kates et al., 12/11).

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U.S. Must Maintain Political Commitment, Funding For Malaria Elimination Efforts

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Transforming the Health, Well-Being, and Livelihoods of Millions Across the Globe
U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer discusses U.S. efforts to prevent and control malaria through the President’s Malaria Initiative. “…As we set our sights on malaria elimination, we stand to avert nearly three billion cases of infection and generate some $4 trillion in additional economic output over the next 15 years. But we must ensure political commitment and predictable financial resources necessary to carry us over the finish line…” (12/11).

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Community Health Workers, Strong Health Systems Essential To Achieving Universal Health Coverage

IntraHealth International’s “Vital”: Universal Health Coverage as a Global Goal: Is Everything Old New Again?
Laura Hoemeke, director of communications and advocacy at IntraHealth International, discusses the impact of the Alma Ata Declaration of 1978 on community health and health systems, as well as the challenges in achieving universal health coverage. “To have a real impact on universal health coverage, the global strategy must inform country strategies and translate into new policies, programs, and investments,” Hoemeke writes (12/11).

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Global Health Impact Index Can Help Assess Effectiveness Of Key Drugs

PLOS ONE: The Global Health Impact Index: Promoting Global Health
Nicole Hassoun, associate professor of philosophy and director of graduate studies at Binghamton University, “presents a model measuring companies’ key malaria, TB, and HIV/AIDS drugs’ consequences for global health … [and] aggregates drugs’ impacts in several ways — by disease, country, and originator-company.” The paper describes the author’s Global Health Impact Index (12/11).

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New 'PSI Pulse' Available Online

PSI Pulse: Issue 3
Issue 3 of PSI Pulse contains several pieces on global health-related issues, including an article on using development impact bonds as a model to finance global health; the use of voluntary medical male circumcision in Zimbabwe; a program that aims to improve gestational diabetes management and prevention in Nicaragua; and the use of SMS messages to improve maternal health in India, among other articles (December 2015).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.