KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

2B People Worldwide Better Off Than 25 Years Ago, U.N.'s Human Development Index Shows

Associated Press: U.N. says 2 billion people have improved living standards
“The United Nations says that two billion people have lifted themselves out of low human development in the last 25 years. The Human Development Index by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) calls for equitable and decent work for all. The report was launched on Monday in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa…” (Meseret, 12/14).

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Global Burden Of Cancer Incidence Shifting To Developing Countries, Study Shows

Washington Post: Global cancer hotspots: Burden of disease is shifting to developing world
“The global burden of cancer is shifting dramatically. … In an analysis that maps the world’s hot spots for cancer [published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention], epidemiologist Lindsey Torre found a tremendous heterogeneity in which forms of the disease are most commonly diagnosed in different countries. Among the most significant trends they identified is a growing inequality between high-income countries and lower-income countries in cancer diagnoses — with cancer rates declining in high-income countries but rising in lower-income countries…” (Cha, 12/14).

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WHO Calls For SE Asian Nations To Address Underlying Causes Of Newborn Mortality

U.N. News Centre: Some 1.8 million newborn deaths a year in South-East Asia are preventable — U.N. health agency
“Nearly 7,400 newborns die every day in South-East Asia, causing untold misery to mothers and families, yet two thirds can be saved with proven cost-effective measures, the United Nations health agency said [Monday], calling on governments to act urgently against a scourge that kills 2.7 million newborns annually. … The [U.N.] agencies pledged to address underlying factors like health, nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation, and highlighted the importance of investing more in early childhood development and adolescent health…” (12/14).

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Iraq's Health, Sanitation Systems Struggling Under War, Sanctions, Cholera Outbreak

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Cholera in Iraq strains the fragile state
“The current cholera outbreak in Iraq has exposed fault lines in the region’s public health infrastructure…” (Bagcchi, January 2016).

Reuters: Squeezed by budget and Islamic State, Iraqi health system struggles
“…With Iraqis fleeing Islamic State in ever greater numbers, the country’s growing population of internal refugees is straining public facilities already ground down by decades of war, sanctions, and red tape. … The World Health Organization says Iraq’s public health, water, and sanitation systems are collapsing…” (Rasheed/Kalin, 12/15).

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U.N. Urges Increased Humanitarian Support For Syrians Affected By War; Russian Airstrikes Halt Aid To Northern Region

The Guardian: Lack of food means Syrian children face ‘irreversible’ health issues, says U.N.
“…Dina El Kassaby, a spokeswoman for [the World Food Programme], says ongoing funding problems mean the agency can’t ensure that young children are getting sufficient nutrients or that pregnant women are getting the nutrition they need to give their children a healthy start in life. The organization provides rations and food aid to four million people within Syria and another 1.5 million who are displaced across the region…” (Grant, 12/14).

U.N. News Centre: Syria crisis a ‘blot on our collective conscience’ U.N. relief chief says, urging sustained aid access, funding
“Speaking from Damascus [Monday], the top United Nations relief official said the situation in Syria is ‘unacceptable,’ with nearly 13.5 million Syrians in need of some form of assistance, and he urged the international community to generously support the U.N.’s $3.2 billion humanitarian operations plan for the war-torn country…” (12/14).

Washington Post: Russian airstrikes force a halt to aid in Syria, triggering a new crisis
“Aid agencies are warning of a worsening humanitarian crisis in northern Syria as sharply intensified Russian airstrikes paralyze aid supply routes, knock out bakeries and hospitals, and kill and maim civilians in growing numbers…” (Sly, 12/14).

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News Outlets Examine Health Care In Cuba

BBC News: Prevention better than cure in Cuban health care system
“…In terms of having healthy people, the Cuban health service outperforms other low- and medium-income countries and in some cases, outperforms much richer ones too. Despite spending a fraction of what the United States spends on health care (the World Bank reports Cuba spends $431 per head per year compared with $8,553 in the U.S.) Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S. and a similar life expectancy…” (Hill, 12/13).

New York Times: Changes Coming for Health Care in China and Cuba
“Two countries that are models of effective public health intervention, China and Cuba, have recently embarked on important policy changes, leaving some experts wondering whether citizens will be left worse off. In September, Cuba and the Obama administration began moving closer to normalized relations, which may expose Cuba’s vaunted medical system to powerful new market pressures. In October, China renounced its one-child policy, under which most families were forbidden to have more than a single child…” (McNeil, 12/14).

Yahoo! News: What America Can Learn from the Cuban Health Care System
“…Cuba sorely lacks the resources and the advances in medical technology that exist in the U.S., but the nation’s emphasis on preventive care and public health holds important lessons for the U.S., [William Cunningham, assistant dean for the College of Osteopathic Medicine in West Michigan and interim director of Michigan State University’s Institute of International Health,] believes — lessons that can perhaps help shape future cadres of medical professionals in this country and even influence the U.S. health care system going forward…” (Iyer, 12/14).

Yahoo! News: The Cuban Health Paradox
“…Much has been made in recent years of what public health and policy experts call the Cuban Health Paradox. Despite its third-world economy, the country has managed to achieve some first-world health indices — namely, a life expectancy (officially, 78 years) that matches that of the U.S., and an infant mortality rate (4.63 deaths per 1,000 live births) that’s slightly better than the States’. It has also achieved one of the highest doctor-to-patient ratios in the world and established a legitimate pharmaceutical sector … At the same time, however, health care in Cuba is actually abysmal…” (Interlandi, 12/13).

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The Atlantic Examines Promotion Of Breastfeeding In Brazil, Links To Decreased Infant Mortality

The Atlantic: Why Brazil Loves Breastfeeding
“…Brazil promotes breastfeeding much more aggressively than the U.S. does, and perhaps as a result, breastfeeding is far more common here. More than half of Brazilian mothers exclusively breastfeed their children until they’re six months old, according to the Health Ministry, compared with 16 percent of American moms. … The breastfeeding push is partly credited with helping slice Brazil’s infant mortality rate by more than two-thirds in the past two decades…” (Khazan, 12/14).

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Centralized HIV Testing Facilities Might Decrease Time To Results, Increase Patient Follow-Up, Study In Mozambique Shows

Fortune: How Big Data is Helping Fight AIDS in Africa
“…[I]n Mozambique, [Jérémie Gallien, a professor at the London Business School,] with co-authors Sarang Deo and Jónas Oddur Jónasson, found a surprising answer. To speed the return of [HIV] test results, they recommended that testing facilities, instead of dispersed, be highly centralized. While slightly slowing average sample transportation times, the added efficiency in test processing would more than make up for it. … When test results took more than 30 days, babies’ mothers were much less likely to come back to get their results — or treatment…” (Morris, 12/14).

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New Yorker Examines Hookworms' Impacts On Human Health, Development

New Yorker: War of the Worms
“…[Two species of hookworms] have evolved to live within us, and they quietly plague us. As a species, we suffer from many chronic parasitic infections; scientists have grouped the major ones as ‘neglected tropical diseases’ in an effort to draw attention to their prevalence. Of these diseases, hookworm … is one of the most debilitating and widely disseminated…” (Klass, 12/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

Congress Should Fully Fund National Health Security Programs

The Hill: Time to invest in our nation’s health security
Paul Chaplin, president and CEO of Bavarian Nordic, and Elizabeth G. Posillico, president and CEO of Elusys Therapeutics, both co-chairs of the Alliance for Biosecurity

“…An important recent report — the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense — highlights the need to invest in preparedness as a matter of national security. … The panel highlights significant underfunding of the government’s Project BioShield Special Reserve Fund (SRF) and pandemic influenza program. These are the primary programs used by the Department of Health and Human Services to procure and stockpile medical countermeasures, including medicines and vaccines. … The reality is these programs are critical components of our national security. If we fail to act now, we risk unnecessary illness and deaths here at home. … Congress needs to take concrete actions and fully fund investments in biosecurity preparedness in order to avert another crisis [like Ebola]. The omnibus appropriations package that is being crafted to fund the government for the next year is the best opportunity to address this historical underfunding of critical programs. In the context of a $1.1 trillion budget, fully funding these national security programs is the wisest investment our leaders can make” (12/14).

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Myanmar's Efforts To Eliminate Malaria Serve As Model For 'Disease Diplomacy'

Los Angeles Times: Pursuing disease diplomacy in Myanmar
Myaing Myaing Nyunt and Christopher Plowe, both public health scientists at the Institute for Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine

“…Last summer in Washington, D.C., more than a dozen of [Myanmar’s] officials, military leaders, opposition politicians, and ethnic groups — people with a long history of mutual distrust — met to discuss how to combat [malaria]. … [E]ngaged in what might be called ‘disease diplomacy,’ they agreed to cooperate on malaria elimination no matter what happened in the election or what became of ongoing cease fire negotiations. … The meeting was a model for how to use science and medicine not only to solve important health problems, but also to foster wider social and political change. … We are convinced that to eliminate malaria in Myanmar, everyone must be involved. … [T]here is no question that this alliance already has been a catalyst for more dialogue, reconciliation, and social change. Linking health and diplomacy can improve the prospects for both — in Myanmar, and in other troubled places as well” (12/14).

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Private Sector Involvement, Collaboration Across Sectors Critical To Achieving UHC

Huffington Post: Achieving Universal Health Coverage: It’s About Time
Jeffrey L. Sturchio, president & CEO at Rabin Martin

“…[Achieving universal health coverage (UHC)] requires a marriage between the art of allocating resources appropriately with the reality of the burden of disease and what can be done to mitigate it. … Each country has to determine its unique path to UHC, develop a strategy to reach that goal, and engage other sectors to support their efforts. Multilateral institutions, private providers, patient groups, NGOs, foundations, and companies have the expertise, knowledge, and human capacity that can assist countries in achieving UHC. … It is only through greater collaboration across sectors that real progress will be made toward achieving UHC. … Let’s focus on how the private sector can help realize universal health coverage for the millions of people around the globe who need it the most. It’s about time” (12/14).

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Promoting Technology, Incentives, Recognizing 'Health Systems Do Not Exist In A Vacuum' Keys To Achieving UHC

Project Syndicate: Why Economists Put Health First
Kenneth J. Arrow, Nobel laureate in economics, and emeritus professor of economics and professor of operations research at Stanford University; and Apurva Sanghi lead economist for Kenya at the World Bank

“…[T]he question is not whether universal health coverage is valuable, but how to make it a reality. More than a hundred countries have taken steps down this path; in the process, they have revealed important opportunities and strategies to accelerate progress toward the goal of health for all. … [W]e must push public health systems beyond their usual boundaries by investing in and promoting new technologies, sharpening incentives, and recognizing that health systems do not exist in a vacuum. Universal health coverage is right, smart, and overdue. To achieve a world where everyone’s health needs are met and nobody is trapped in poverty, our leaders must heed this message and act on it” (12/14).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Private Funding For HIV Totals $618M In 2014, FCAA Report Says

Philanthropy News Digest: Grantmaking for HIV/AIDS Totaled $618 Million in 2014, Report Finds
“Philanthropic support for HIV/AIDS initiatives in low- and middle-income countries totaled $618 million in 2014, up eight percent from 2013, a report from Funders Concerned About AIDS [(FCAA)] finds. According to the report … the increase — which followed an eight percent drop in 2013 — was driven by significant increases from the top two funders, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation … and Gilead Sciences … The increase in funding was mostly directed to efforts in the United States, making the U.S. the top recipient country of private funding…” Other key findings are highlighted in this FCAA press release (12/13).

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Blog Post Examines Debate Surrounding Roles Of Markets, Government In Health Systems

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Do governments have a role to play in health care?
In this article originally published on LiveMint, Nachiket Mor, senior adviser at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and former board member at the Reserve Bank of India, and Winnie Yip, professor of health policy and economics at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, and senior research fellow and director of the Global Health Policy program at Green Templeton College, discuss issues surrounding the relative roles of markets and governments in financing and regulating health care systems (12/15).

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Reducing Stigma, Increasing Tobacco Taxes Will Help International Community 'End' TB

U.N. Dispatch: Can the World Really “End” Tuberculosis?
Elyse Lichtenthal, a public sector communications officer for IBM’s Global Public Sector, discusses the recent 46th World Conference on Lung Health, held in Cape Town, South Africa, and some steps the international community can take to reduce tuberculosis incidence, such as reducing stigma surrounding the disease and increasing tobacco taxes to be used for health research and treatment (12/14).

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India Working Toward Eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis With Annual Mass Drug Administration Campaigns

Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect”: National Filaria Week: Campaign to treat lymphatic filariasis may be one of India’s last
“This week, the Indian government is leading one of the largest mass drug administrations (MDAs) to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (LF), a debilitating disease that threatens nearly 352 million people in India. … Though India alone accounts for more than 40 percent of the global burden of LF, the country has made remarkable strides since launching annual MDAs in 2004…” (10/14).

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