KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

COP25 Talks End With Patchwork Compromise, Lack Of Firm Commitments From Largest Carbon-Emitting Countries To Address Climate Change

Washington Post: U.N. climate talks end with hard feelings, few results and new doubts about global unity
“Global climate talks lurched to an end here Sunday with finger-pointing, accusations of failure, and fresh doubts about the world’s collective resolve to slow the warming of the planet — at a moment when scientists say time is running out for people to avert steadily worsening climate disasters. After more than two weeks of negotiations, punctuated by raucous protests and constant reminders of a need to move faster, negotiators barely mustered enthusiasm for the compromise they had patched together, while raising grievances about the issues that remain unresolved. The negotiators failed to achieve their primary goals. Central among them: persuading the world’s largest carbon-emitting countries to pledge to tackle climate change more aggressively beginning in 2020…” (Dennis/Harlan, 12/15).

Additional coverage of the COP25 outcomes is available from BBC, CNN, Devex, The Guardian, New York Times, and Reuters.

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More Than 1 In 3 Low-, Middle-Income Countries Face Double Burden Of Malnutrition, Lancet Series Says; WHO Calls For Food Systems Reform, Multinational Corporations To Do More

BBC: Poorest countries facing both obesity and malnutrition
“A third of the poorest countries in the world are dealing with high levels of obesity as well as under-nourishment, which leaves people too thin, according to a report in The Lancet. It says the problem is caused by global access to ultra-processed foods, and people exercising less…” (12/16).

The Telegraph: WHO hits out at junk food companies as ‘twin-pronged’ nutrition crisis hits global growth and development goals
“…The series — entitled The Double Burden of Malnutrition — argues that dysfunctional food markets are endangering global growth and development as they do not efficiently deliver the nutrition that people need to grow and prosper. … In a press conference organized to launch the Lancet paper, the WHO said multinational food giants were refusing to voluntarily reduce sugar and salt levels in food. … The WHO said these companies were doing little to tackle the problems they have caused…” (Newey/Nuki, 12/15).

U.N. News: One third of poorer countries face both undernutrition and obesity: WHO report
“…Examples of actions that can deal with undernutrition and obesity range from improved antenatal care and breastfeeding practices, to social welfare, and to new agricultural and food system policies which have healthy diets as their primary goal. The authors of the report called on governments, international organizations and the private sector to invite new areas of society, such as grass-roots organizations, farmers and innovators, to join them in a fresh bid to address the double burden of malnutrition…” (12/15).

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DRC Experiences Spike In Recorded Ebola Cases, WHO Says, Citing Security Concerns

CIDRAP News: Weekly Ebola cases spike, involve 3 transmission chains
“The number of Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) outbreak for the week ending Dec. 10 substantially increased, with 27 reported, up sharply from the average weekly total of 7 reported during the previous 3 weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest weekly snapshot of the epidemic. The spike in cases underscores earlier WHO warnings that illness numbers could increase again, given suspensions in response operations owing to deadly security incidents that occurred about 2 weeks ago…” (Schnirring, 12/13).

U.N. News: ‘Air bridge’ vaccination operation begins for Ebola-hit communities in DR Congo
“…Most of the new cases identified in the last week were linked to one individual near Beni town who could have infected 17 people. … According to WHO, this same person recovered from Ebola six months ago. It is now investigating whether they were reinfected by someone else — which has never been documented — or suffered a relapse, which has happened before. … To ensure continued care, WHO has mounted a limited daily helicopter ‘air bridge’ operation to the communities still at risk…” (12/13).

VOA: DRC, WHO Roll Out Measles Immunization Campaign
“…[WHO] says there are a quarter million suspected measles cases in the country and all provinces have been affected, making it one of world’s fastest and largest moving epidemics. As VOA Correspondent Mariama Diallo reports, the WHO and DRC government are carrying out an immunization campaign to combat the crisis…” (Diallo, 12/13).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak is available from Borgen Magazine, The Guardian, Health Policy Watch, Reuters, and VOA.

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WHO Updates TB Treatment Guidelines For Drug-Resistant Strains, Recommends All-Oral Regimen

Health Policy Watch: WHO Recommends Worldwide Adoption Of All Oral Regimen For MDR/RR-TB
“The World Health Organization issued new guidelines for the treatment of multi drug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis on Wednesday, prioritizing for the first time an all-oral treatment regimen. The new treatment recommends replacing the painful injectable drugs that patients had to endure under previous treatment guidelines with a shorter course of oral bedaquiline — one of only three new drugs approved for treatment of TB within the last half century…” (Ren, 12/13).

Science Speaks: WHO recommends expanded access to new, shorter, all oral regimens for drug-resistant TB
“…Among the data leading to the updated recommendation, released in a WHO Rapid Communication Thursday, was data from South Africa’s TB program showing that replacing the injected medicine with bedaquiline — approved in 2012 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat drug resistant TB and still one of the newest tuberculosis treatment medicines — led to better patient outcomes and less loss to follow up care…” (Barton, 12/13).

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Samoa Extends State Of Emergency Over Measles Outbreak; New Zealand Announces Funding To Help Combat Disease In Region

CBS News: Measles outbreak in Samoa kills 72, most of them children
“The Samoa measles outbreak has not slowed down, prompting the government to extend a state of emergency on Saturday to December 29. Over 5,100 measles cases have been reported since the outbreak, with 74 recorded in a recent 24-hour period alone, according to Samoa’s government…” (McNamara, 12/14).

Reuters: Samoa extends measles state of emergency, NZ to fund Pacific vaccination campaign
“The South Pacific island nation of Samoa on Saturday extended a state of emergency due to a measles outbreak which has killed 72 people, mostly infants, as New Zealand announced NZ$1 million ($640,700) to help combat measles in the Pacific…” (Ziebell, 12/14).

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Malaysia Working With UNICEF On Plans To Vaccinate Visitors For Polio To Prevent Disease's Spread

Bloomberg: Malaysia Plans to Vaccinate Overseas Visitors to Combat Polio
“Malaysia will vaccinate overseas visitors in the country in a bid to prevent the proliferation of infectious diseases, state news agency Bernama reported, citing Ministry of Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah. … Some 20% to 30% of overseas visitors, especially in the Borneo island of Sabah and Sarawak, enter the country without screening, raising concerns about their vaccination status, according to the report…” (Raghu, 12/15).

Reuters: Malaysia to work with UNICEF on polio vaccination in Sabah state
“Malaysia’s health authorities on Sunday said they are working with UNICEF to bring polio vaccines to the state of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, where the country’s first polio case in nearly three decades was detected last week…” (Sipalan, 12/15).

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Argentina's New Health Minister Issues Protocol Guaranteeing Access To Abortion In Rape Cases

Reuters: Argentina’s new government moves to guarantee access to abortion in rape cases
“Women and girls in Argentina seeking to end pregnancies caused by rape will be guaranteed access to abortion under a protocol announced on Thursday aimed at reducing the latitude hospitals have in deciding whether or not to perform the procedure. … ‘The protocol will be used as a guide, especially in cases where the law clearly allows for the interruption of pregnancies,’ Health Minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia told a news conference. He was sworn in on Tuesday after moderate Peronist President Alberto Fernandez was inaugurated…” (Bronstein, 12/12).

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Vox Examines Management Consultancies' Involvement In Global Health

Vox: How McKinsey infiltrated the world of global public health
“…Global health, a field dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of the poor and most vulnerable, has quietly developed a penchant for highly paid management consultants and their business world tools. According to an internal 2016 McKinsey PowerPoint presentation obtained by Vox, the firm has been involved in the response to the biggest international disease outbreaks of recent years, from MERS in Saudi Arabia to Zika in Brazil. … The 80-plus global health leaders and staff, current and former consultants at multiple firms, researchers, health care professionals, and NGO workers we spoke to for this story described the consultants as ‘pervasive’ and ‘ubiquitous.’ And many have become wary of consultants’ involvement in the sector. But how these secretive businesses, which mostly profit from serving corporate interests, are shaping global public health is an open question — and one that’s hard to answer. An additional mystery: How much money — designated by foundations and governments for improving the health of the poorest — is being spent on them?…” (Belluz/Buissonniere, 12/13).

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More News In Global Health

BBC: How Africa will be affected by climate change (12/15).

Devex: Is the world ready for an HIV vaccine? (Jerving, 12/16).

Health Policy Watch: Leveraging Urban Leaders To Battle NCDs — Healthy Cities Partnership Expands To 70 (Fletcher, 12/12).

NBC: Child marriage is a global scourge. Here’s how Ethiopia is fighting it (Clark, 12/14).

New Humanitarian: Negotiations at Red Cross conference shrouded in global politics (Aly, 12/13).

Newsweek Pakistan: Eradication of Polio Essential for Pakistan’s Future: Imran Khan (12/14).

New York Times: A Research Nonprofit Shutters TB Vaccine Effort and Lays Off Scientists (Thomas, 12/13).

Quartz Africa: Africa’s medical scientists are struggling to get funding to back their research (Atabong, 12/13).

The Telegraph: ‘We survived war in Afghanistan — but Kabul’s pollution could kill us’ (Glinski, 12/16).

U.S. News & World Report: Lessons in the Fight Against AIDS (Bhatia, 12/16).

Washington Post: WHO measles statistics: These five countries have the most cases, but the U.S. is struggling with the disease, too (Blakemore, 12/14).

Xinhua: Sri Lanka faces alarming dengue cases with 120 dead (12/16).

Xinhua: East African countries intensify cross-border collaboration against major public-health perils (12/13).

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Editorials and Opinions

International Community Must Take Steps To Reverse Rising Trend Of Mother-To-Child HIV Transmission, Opinion Piece Says

Global Health NOW: Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV Is Creeping Back — Here’s How to Stop It
Chip Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

“In a worrisome trend, mother-to-child transmission of HIV has been creeping back in a handful of countries over the last 18 months — jeopardizing progress in settings that once held the promise of eliminating pediatric AIDS. … To drive programmatic improvement — and reverse increasing infection rates — we are mapping the following approaches: Improve maternal retesting … Intensify data monitoring … Improve linkage to prevention services … Expand proven youth-friendly pregnancy services … Scale up use of point-of-care early infant diagnosis … Expand proven models for intensified follow-up … Expand male-tailored services … While each of the above components individually represent important focus areas in our programs, combined they are an opportunity to markedly improve MTCT services…” (12/12).

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Opinion Piece Outlines Calls To Action To Help Young Women Impacted By HIV, Their Children

Devex: Opinion: Stop the exclusion — the double stigma facing HIV-affected women and girls
Lisa Bohmer, chair of the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS and senior program officer for the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

“…In addition to being at the epicenter of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, young women … are subject to a multitude of broader disadvantages: gender inequality, poverty, violence, exclusion, and poor education. Their children are at greater risk of early childhood developmental delays. Yet their health and well-being, as well as those of their children, have been largely overlooked. This perpetuates a cycle of poverty and vulnerability, which is passed down across generations. Understanding the unique challenges in reaching this particularly vulnerable population — as well as the urgency required to do so — is essential. And there are several ways to help do this. … The [Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS] has outlined five calls to action necessary to reach adolescent HIV-positive mothers: 1. Decentralize resources and decision-making powers to communities, children, adolescents, and families. 2. Repeal laws and policies that exclude HIV-affected adolescent mothers and their children and make them more vulnerable. 3. Champion integrated, evidence-based national strategies for HIV-affected adolescent mothers and their children, as well as campaigns to build public support for their inclusion. 4. Support the participation of HIV-affected adolescent mothers in decision-making, accountability, and service delivery and support them as a movement. 5. Generate evidence on what integrated approaches work best for HIV-affected adolescent mothers and their children…” (12/13).

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Opinion Piece Urges Greater Global Action On Climate Change, Health Impacts

Channel News Asia: Commentary: We call it climate change. It’s more like a global health crisis
Maria Neira, director of the department of public health, environmental and social determinants of health at the World Health Organization

“The climate crisis is also a health crisis. The same emissions that cause global warming are also largely responsible for polluting the air we breathe, causing heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and infections, and affecting every organ in our bodies. Air pollution is the new tobacco, causing as many deaths as cigarettes do. And though it threatens us all, children, the elderly, pregnant women, and adults with weakened immune systems are the most at risk. … It is clear that we need an international and just response to this increasing strain on public health. Future efforts must reflect the real costs of our fossil-fuel based economy and aid those most affected. To achieve this, we will need all signatories to the Paris climate accord to strengthen their national climate plans by 2020. Beyond that, we need to establish new, robust mechanisms for protecting the most vulnerable and helping communities adapt to the realities of climate change. Health must be at the heart of our Paris commitments…” (12/16).

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India Should Intensify WASH Efforts To Help Address AMR, Opinion Piece Says

The Wire: Water, Sanitation Can Systematically Prevent Antimicrobial Resistance in India
Arundati Muralidharan, member of WaterAid India’s policy team

“…India has indeed made tremendous strides in reducing maternal and neonatal deaths through various initiatives that promote antenatal care, maternal nutrition, institutional deliveries, and better care for newborns. However, poor quality of care, which includes limited access to water, sanitation, handwashing facilities, and waste management services, increases the risk of life-threatening infections because of unhygienic health care settings. This, in turn, leads to greater use of and dependence on antibiotics to combat these avoidable infections and contributes to [antimicrobial resistance (AMR)]. … India is committed to addressing AMR. The urgent need now is to accelerate progress. Specific interventions must be intensified to stop avoidable infections and diseases that necessitate antibiotic use. Handwashing with soap, toilet use, and prevention of water contamination must be promoted as important preventative measures in communities, schools, anganwadis, and health care settings. … Greater awareness, leadership, and coordination across sectors, government, and non-government is urgently required for action against AMR…” (12/12).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

New UNAIDS Executive Director Outlines Vision, Priorities For 2020

UNAIDS: UNAIDS Executive Director outlines her vision to the UNAIDS Board
“Winnie Byanyima, speaking at the first meeting of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) since her appointment as the UNAIDS Executive Director, has outlined her priorities for 2020. … The Executive Director of UNAIDS said that UNAIDS would step up its work in four areas: women and girls in Africa; defending the human rights of everyone; putting science, innovation, and technology in the hands of people; and financing the global AIDS response. … During the meeting, the PCB also requested a review of the UNAIDS 2016-2021 Strategy, its implementation, and the results obtained. The results of the review will be considered in a wide-ranging consultation and will be presented at the next meeting of the PCB, in June 2020, as part of the development of the next UNAIDS strategy…” (12/13).

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WHO Recognizes Smallpox Eradication Anniversary

Word Health Organization: WHO commemorates the 40th anniversary of smallpox eradication
“The World Health Organization commemorated the 40th anniversary of smallpox eradication [Friday], recognizing the historic moment on 9 December 1979 when the end of smallpox was confirmed to have been eradicated. Five months later, in May 1980, the 33rd World Health Assembly issued its official declaration that ‘the world and all its peoples have won freedom from smallpox’…” (12/13).

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