KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Japan Hosts International Meetings On UHC, Global Fund Replenishment

News outlets report on the opening of the International Conference on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the 5th Replenishment Preparatory Meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, taking place in Tokyo.

EFE/La Prensa: Bill Gates participates in Tokyo conference to end malaria and AIDS
“…The two-day symposium is also being attended by World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan, health ministers of several countries, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Canadian Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau…” (12/16).

Japan Times: Japan hosts international health conference ahead of G7 summit
“…The conference at a Tokyo hotel, attended by about 300 people, focused on how to spread ‘universal health coverage’ (UHC) as Japan is considering announcing measures to help spread basic medical care in developing countries as one of its foreign policy priorities when it hosts the summit of major nations next year. At the start of the conference, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on international organizations and communities to ‘work together toward a common goal of strengthening health systems’…” (12/16).

Xinhua News: Abe, Gates promote global health care vision at Tokyo conference
“…Making basic medical care available to those in developing countries is likely to be announced as one of Japan’s major foreign policy drives forthwith, and means to raise funds to globalize the UHC framework and train more medical staff to deal with emergency health incidents, such as the Ebola virus epidemic, were traversed at the conference…” (12/16).

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1 In 8 Infants Born In Conflict Zones In 2015, Face Higher Risk Of Death, UNICEF Reports

News outlets report on UNICEF data showing more than 16 million infants were born in conflict zones in 2015.

Newsweek: UNICEF: More Than 16 Million Babies Born in Conflict Zones This Year
“More than 16 million babies were born in conflict zones in 2015 — around one in eight births worldwide — according to latest figures released by UNICEF on Thursday. The figure represents a slight increase from last year…” (Ilsley, 12/16).

New York Times: Millions of Babies at Risk, UNICEF Says
“…Its report said newborns and mothers faced particularly acute risks in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, and Syria…” (Gladstone, 12/16).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: One in eight babies were born in conflict zones in 2015 — UNICEF
“…Children born in war are apt to suffer unhealthy emotional and cognitive development and are more likely to die before age five than are children born elsewhere, UNICEF said…” (Malo, 12/17).

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U.K. Has 'Moral Duty' To Study GM Insects For Disease Prevention, House Of Lords Committee Says In Report

News outlets discuss a new report from the U.K. House of Lords Science and Technology Committee encouraging research into genetically modified insects to reduce disease transmission.

The Guardian: Stepping up GM insect research a ‘moral duty’ for U.K. says Lords committee
“Britain has a ‘moral duty’ to step up research into genetic modification as a way of controlling insect pests and disease carriers, according to a new report from the House of Lords. Half the planet is at risk from infections such as dengue fever and malaria and countless lives could be saved by the introduction and spread of genetically modified (GM) insects that could no longer transmit such diseases, says the Lords Science and Technology Committee after a four-month study of the technology, its possibilities and its challenges…” (Radford, 12/16).

Reuters: Lawmakers call for British trials of genetically modified insects
“…An influential committee of parliament’s upper house said GM insects … had powerful potential against diseases like malaria and dengue, and in controlling crop pests that cost billions in lost production. ‘But the development of GM insect technologies has come to a screeching halt because the E.U. (European Union) regulatory system is woefully inadequate,’ the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee said in a report…” (Kelland, 12/16).

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U.N. Agencies Face Increasing Barriers To Aid Delivery, Including Funding Shortfalls, Security Concerns

The Guardian: Delivering aid: agencies struggle with increasing needs, costs, and insecurity
“…Decisions to stop or cut parts of a program are not taken lightly, but aid agencies are being forced to make them all too often due to shortages in funding. The U.N.’s consolidated appeal process … is less than 50 percent funded for 2015, at the time of writing. … The nature of humanitarian work has changed, too. Today, 80 percent of the U.N.’s humanitarian work is in areas of conflict and the complexities of delivering aid in insecure environments push up the costs…” (Purvis, 12/16).

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World Bank To Loan India $1.5B For Government-Led Sanitation Initiative To Improve Toilet Access

Associated Press: World Bank approves $1.5 billion loan for toilets in India
“The World Bank has approved a $1.5 billion loan for a state-led sanitation program in India, where millions of people have no access to toilets, the bank said Wednesday. The loan, disbursed over a five-year period, will be used to support government efforts to provide toilets in villages and end the practice of open defecation by 2019, it said…” (12/16).

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Guinea Worm Disease On Track To Be Eradicated In 2016

Quartz: How this horror movie-like disease went down more than 99.99% in 30 years
“…In 1986, 3.5 million people were affected by [Guinea worm disease] every year. Currently, thanks to a campaign lead for the past 30 years by the Carter Center, there are only 18 cases recorded, Don Bundy — a senior adviser for neglected tropical diseases in Africa — told Quartz. The parasite is on its way to complete eradication, which is on track to be certified in 2016. … [T]hat was achieved through a rather simple, if demanding, strategy: combining the treatment of water bodies hosting the parasites with education, teaching local population to filter their drinking water…” (Merelli, 12/17).

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The Guardian Examines El Salvador's Strict Abortion Laws, Impacts On Women

The Guardian: El Salvador: where women are thrown into jail for losing a baby
“…Civil rights groups say 17 women in El Salvador have been wrongfully imprisoned for miscarriages. Countless more have been jailed for having abortions. While several other countries in the region have relaxed their anti-abortion laws, El Salvador has moved backwards. … As a result, abortion — or miscarriages treated as suspected abortions — can now be regarded as murder, which can carry a 40-year sentence…” (Watts, 12/17).

The Guardian: El Salvador: ‘I had a miscarriage. The judge accused me of murder’ — video
“For Salvadoran women who suffer a miscarriage, the physical and emotional trauma of losing a child can be the start of a life-changing ordeal consisting of poor medical treatment, arrest without recourse to legal advice, and imprisonment for up to 40 years. Women who have fallen foul of El Salvador’s punitive anti-abortion law, and are either serving time or have completed a prison sentence, describe the torment of life behind bars and reveal how their lives have been altered forever” (Baqué et al., 12/17).

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Ugandan Government Working To Secure Loan To Cover Funding Shortfall For Imported HIV Drugs, Official Says

Reuters: Uganda facing HIV drugs shortage, govt seeks cash for imports
“Uganda is suffering a shortage of imported drugs to treat [people living with HIV] due to a weak currency and insufficient foreign exchange but the government is raising funds to cover the shortfall, a senior finance ministry official said…” (Biryabarema, 12/16).

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MSF Establishes Cholera Treatment Center In Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp After More Than 540 Sickened

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Cholera strikes 500 in Kenyan refugee camp amid heavy rains
“A cholera outbreak has sickened more than 540 people in Kenya’s largest refugee camp and killed seven in the last few weeks, the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said, warning the epidemic could worsen due to heavy rains. MSF has set up a cholera treatment center in the sprawling Dadaab camp, which is home to some 350,000 refugees…” (Migiro, 12/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

Japan's Upcoming G7 Presidency Offers Opportunity For International Community To Rally Around Global Health Preparedness, UHC

Huffington Post: It’s Time for Action on Universal Health Coverage
Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group

“…Japan’s upcoming G7 presidency presents a golden opportunity to remedy [a global lack of access to basic health care] by making progress toward universal health coverage, or UHC, in every country. Since Japan established universal health coverage, it has helped take this concept global, sharing knowledge and resources, and rallying political will. … [T]he world is rallying to Japan’s priorities of building resilient and sustainable health systems and enhancing the global health architecture to respond to public health emergencies. The World Bank Group is working with other organizations to do its part. … Japan’s G7 presidency in May is our moment for action. … It also is our opportunity to prepare ourselves before the next pandemic hits. Accomplishing these goals will represent a quantum leap forward in people’s health and economic well-being” (12/16).

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Frontline Health Workers, Funders Critical To Progress Against Polio

Project Syndicate: The Polio Heroes
Bill Gates, founder and technology adviser of the Microsoft Corporation and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…The credit [for the progress against polio] goes to an international coalition of visionary people: the leaders who make polio eradication a high priority in their countries and the funders who underwrite the work of combating the disease. … [T]he stunning progress we’ve seen over the last three decades would not be possible without the volunteers and frontline health workers who go out — sometimes at the risk of their own lives — to make sure every child is protected. Whether navigating floods, hiking up treacherous mountains, or working in some of the world’s most conflict-ridden areas, 13 million children are alive and walking today because of these inspiring individuals. … Thanks to their efforts … we are achingly close to eradicating polio. Now we need to finish the job. I am optimistic that we will get there soon, through the diligence of those fighting the disease and the generosity of countries … that make their work possible…” (12/17).

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U.K. House Of Lords Report On GM Insects' Potential To Control Malaria, Dengue Overlooks Uncertainties Of Technology

The Guardian: GM insects and moral blackmail
Jack Stilgoe, senior lecturer in science policy at University College London, and Sarah Hartley, research fellow at the University of Nottingham

“…The [House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee] have been persuaded that [genetically modified (GM)] insects have the ability to save countless lives. They argue that we have a ‘moral duty’ to support the technology and clear out any regulation that might slow its development … [but] we do not know enough. … No new technology lives up to all of its promises, and they all bring risks. To only invest in the hope without considering the rest is far from ‘responsible innovation.’ … The report … emphasizes the risks from malaria and dengue as a reason to develop and deploy GM insects … [However,] their report is poorly constructed moral blackmail. … Technologies are always hyped, and the younger they are the more hype they attract. The difficulties of making them work in the real world are realized later, and their troubles often become clear only in hindsight…” (12/17).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Surveillance, Detection Critical To Controlling Emerging Diseases

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: People. Pathogens. Protection.
Joel Montgomery, chief of global disease detection at the CDC’s Center for Global Health’s Division of Global Health Protection, discusses CDC’s efforts to help countries prevent, detect, and respond to health threats. “[W]e need laboratory systems in place to figure out what pathogens could be emerging as new diseases. We need surveillance networks in place to know what diseases are naturally occurring and at what levels … We need the reach of the network of Global Disease Detection Centers to quickly respond to diseases within their region. And, most importantly, we all need to work together,” Montgomery writes (12/15).

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Blog Post Examines Global Health-Related Portions Of FY16 Omnibus Spending Bill

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Global HIV, tuberculosis programs flat funded in FY 2016 spending bill, yet again
Rabita Aziz, policy research coordinator for the Center for Global Health Policy, discusses the global health-related aspects of the FY 2016 omnibus spending bill, which Congress released this week (12/16).

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USAID Announces Additional $173M In Emergency Food Aid To South Sudan

USAID: The U.S. Announces $173 Million in Additional Emergency Food Assistance for South Sudan
“The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing an additional $173 million in lifesaving emergency food assistance for those suffering from hunger as a result of the conflict that broke out in South Sudan two years ago. This new assistance is from USAID’s Office of Food for Peace and will provide more than 85,000 tons of emergency food assistance, including specialized nutrition products designed to treat acute malnutrition…” (12/15).

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Addressing Climate Change Can Advance Economic Growth, Reduce Poverty

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: To Reduce Poverty, Developing Countries are Addressing Climate Change
In a post originally published on Medium.com, Doug Mason, director for environmental and social performance at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, discusses the role of developing countries in reducing emissions to address climate change, and how incorporating environmental considerations into development programs can help advance economic growth (12/16).

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U.S. Polio Efforts Aid In Extending Broader Health Care Services To Border Populations In Ethiopia

Center for Strategic & International Studies’ “Smart Global Health”: Delivering Health Services to Ethiopia’s Borderlands
Chris Millard, program manager and research associate for CSIS’ Global Health Policy Center, discusses challenges to delivering basic health care to border populations, particularly women and children in Ethiopia, as well as the positive impact of U.S.-funded polio efforts on extending broader health services to these populations (12/15).

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CFR Podcast Discusses WHO Reform

Council on Foreign Relations’ “The Internationalist”: The Future of the WHO: Lessons Learned and Priorities for Institutional Reform
In a guest blog post and podcast, Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, speaks with Steven Hoffman, associate professor and director of the Global Strategy Lab at the University of Ottawa, and Kelley Lee, director of global health at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, about the challenges of WHO reform (Patrick, 12/16).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, published Issue 277 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter features articles on various topics, including analyses of the fund’s $13 billion replenishment goal, investments in human rights programming, and efforts to prioritize HIV/AIDS among children under the new funding model (12/17).

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