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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Opposes Language In U.N. Resolutions Addressing Refugees, Violence Against Women, Girls, Other Issues

Reuters: U.S. isolated at U.N. over its concerns about abortion, refugees
“The United States found itself isolated in the 193-member United Nations General Assembly on Monday over Washington’s concerns about the promotion of abortion and a voluntary plan to address the global refugee crisis. … The United States was the only country to oppose the draft [annual resolution on the work of the U.N. refugee agency] last month when it was first negotiated and agreed by the General Assembly human rights committee. It said elements of the text ran counter to its sovereign interests, citing the global approach to refugees and migrants. … The United States also failed in a campaign, which started last month during negotiations on several draft resolutions in the General Assembly human rights committee, against references to ‘sexual and reproductive health’ and ‘sexual and reproductive health care services’…” (Nichols, 12/17).

Washington Post: U.S. alone in its opposition to parts of a U.N. draft resolution addressing violence against girls
“…In the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, the United States … was the only country that opposed nonbinding language in a draft resolution designed to tackle violence against girls and women, as well as sexual harassment. It was also almost alone in its opposition to language used in another draft resolution against early and forced marriage — only the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru felt comfortable with being on Washington’s side this time. … U.S. statements also indicated that there were concerns about the [violence against girls and women] resolution conflating ‘physical violence against women with sexual harassment.’ … While the United States was the only country opposed to language included in the resolution on violence against girls and women, it certainly wasn’t the only government opposed to encouraging abortions. Instead of putting the resolution into jeopardy, however, 31 other countries with the same view decided to abstain” (Noack, 12/18).

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DRC Ebola Outbreak Total Reaches 539; PBS NewsHour Examines Challenges To Response, Including Regional Violence

CIDRAP News: Ebola hits 539 cases as outreach efforts extend in Beni
“The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ministry of health [Monday] and over the weekend confirmed 18 new Ebola cases, including nine deaths, in the ongoing outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the northwest. The new cases bring the outbreak total to 539, of which 491 are confirmed and 48 are probable. Officials have recorded 315 deaths since the outbreak began in August, and 75 cases are still under investigation…” (Soucheray, 12/17).

PBS NewsHour: Responding to Ebola in Congo is hard work, but made that much harder by violence
“Ebola has been reported in a number of locations in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, making the current outbreak the second worst in history. Getting medical care to the sick is complicated by ongoing violence. Nancy Aossey of International Medical Corps speaks with Nick Schifrin about prevention, treatment options, and why the health crisis is likely to get worse before it gets better…” (Schifrin, 12/17).

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WHO Guidelines For Inexpensive TB Urine Test Too Restrictive, Some Advocates Say

New York Times: The World Needs a Urine Test for TB. But It’s Already Here.
“For at least a decade, one of the most urgent needs in public health was a urine dipstick that could quickly diagnose tuberculosis in the most vulnerable population: those with advanced HIV. Now that test exists. It’s inexpensive and has been recommended by the World Health Organization since 2015. But it is hardly used in the countries that most need it. … Part of the problem, [Sharonann Lynch, a policy adviser at the medical charity Doctors Without Borders,] says, is that the WHO’s recommendation for the test is too limited. … ‘It’s a test with suboptimal accuracy,’ said Christopher Gilpin, senior scientist at the WHO’s Global TB Program. ‘This is probably part of the limited uptake.’ Another reason, he said, is that few clinics in resource-poor regions have the equipment needed to determine CD4 counts. Advocacy groups take issue with both points, saying the WHO is making perfect the enemy of good…” (Mandavilli, 12/17).

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SciDev.Net Publishes Feature Stories On Snakebite, Antivenom Research

SciDev.Net: Race against time to treat hump-nosed pit viper bites (Harikrishnan, 12/18).

SciDev.Net: Hi-tech antidotes for snakebite (Axt, 12/18).

SciDev.Net: Pakistan tackles snakebite envenomation (Ebrahim, 12/18).

SciDev.Net: Q&A: Safer snakebite antivenom through biotech (Nguyen, 12/17).

SciDev.Net: India battles snakebite scourge (Parvatam, 12/17).

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Vanuatu Launches Program To Deliver Vaccines By Drone

New York Times: An Island Nation Starts an Experiment: Vaccines Delivered by Drone
“In the village of Cook’s Bay, on the remote side of the remote island of Erromango, in the remote South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, one-month-old Joy Nowai was given hepatitis and tuberculosis shots delivered by a flying drone on Monday. It may not have been the first vial of vaccine ever delivered that way, but it was the first in Vanuatu, which is the only country in the world to make its childhood vaccine program officially drone-dependent. … [T]he country, with support from UNICEF, the Australian government, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, began its drone program on Monday. It will initially serve three islands but may be expanded to many more…” (McNeil, 12/17).

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El Salvador Court Ruling Prompts Calls From Campaigners For Reform To Nation's Total Abortion Ban

The Guardian: El Salvador court frees woman on trial after bearing rapist’s baby
“A rape victim who was charged with attempted murder in El Salvador after giving birth to her abuser’s baby has been found not guilty and freed from jail. Imelda Cortez, 20, has been in custody since April 2017 after giving birth in a latrine to a baby girl fathered by her abusive stepfather. She was facing 20 years in prison after prosecutors argued that failing to tell anyone about the pregnancy or seek medical attention for the baby amounted to attempted murder. … In what’s been hailed a precedent setting ruling, the judge concluded that the court could not expect Imelda to have acted differently given the emotional and psychological damage inflicted by the sexual violence she suffered since childhood. Monday’s verdict was welcomed by campaigners who called for urgent reform to save other women suffering the dire consequences of El Salvador’s total ban on abortion…” (Lakhani, 12/17).

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CTV News Publishes Video Series On State Of HIV Treatment, Highlights Oldest Known Patient As 'Sign Of Hope'

CTV News: The Lisbon Patient: meet the man who is living with HIV at 100
“With his 100th birthday coming this spring, Miguel is the oldest known person with HIV in the world.
Researchers say he is both a ‘sign of hope’ and the face of things to come since medical science transformed this once-menacing virus from a ‘death sentence’ into a ‘chronic, manageable condition'” (Favaro et al., 12/17).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: Aid groups adapt Rohingya mental health services for population in limbo (Rogers, 12/18).

Devex: Q&A: Linda McAvan on what aid stands to lose from Brexit (Edwards, 12/18).

Global Health NOW: The Muranga Solution: Extending Hemophilia Care to Rural Kenya (McNeish, 12/14).
Global Health NOW: More Than a Medical Story: A Q&A with Hannah McNeish (Simpson, 12/17).

The Guardian: ‘I beg them to let me go’: Sierra Leone’s sex workers targeted by police (Summers, 12/17).

Homeland Preparedness News: Nuclear Threat Initiative receives grant to counter global biological risks (Kovaleski, 12/17).

Homeland Preparedness News: Researchers identify drug targets for Ebola, Dengue, Zika viruses (Galford, 12/17).

Intellectual Property Watch: WHO To Form Expert Panel On Challenges Of Human Gene Editing (12/17).

New York Times: Inspired by India, Singaporeans Seek to End Gay Sex Ban (Qin, 12/16).

U.N. News: U.N. calls for funds to ease ‘deteriorating’ humanitarian situation in Gaza and West Bank (12/17).

Wired: A New Disease Is Testing Us For The Next Global Pandemic (McKenna, 12/18).

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Editorials and Opinions

Global Community Must Change 'Outbreak Culture,' Favor Readiness To Ensure Global Health Security

STAT: ‘Outbreak culture’ can derail effective responses to deadly epidemics
Lara Salahi, journalist and assistant professor of broadcast and digital journalism at Endicott College, and Pardis Sabeti, professor of immunology, infectious diseases, and evolutionary biology at Harvard University

“…In 2015, as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa had begun to slow down, we conducted an anonymous survey of more than 200 local and foreign Ebola responders about their experiences during the height of the epidemic. Nearly all of those surveyed mentioned that political and interpersonal challenges at times slowed their responses. Many said they feared the politics more than the virus. More than a quarter reported either witnessing, hearing about, or falling victim to illegal or unethical tactics while responding to the outbreak. … The creation of what we call ‘outbreak culture’ is driven by multiple factors, from political motivation and life-threatening fear to personal gain and isolation. … Shifting outbreak culture to a collective mindset, aligned incentives, and practices that favor collaboration will determine the strength of our ability to respond as threats increase from natural outbreaks, drug-resistant infections, and bioterrorism. … Subsequent epidemics should be met with readiness perpetuated by universal guiding principles and a global governing structure. If the global mindset does not change to favor readiness over response, dysfunction will persist. … The world is in need of a centralized governing structure dedicated to global health security that mirrors [a] military-style approach in both readiness and response. … [W]e must acknowledge that … devastation can and will happen … unless everyone involved in global health security strives to form a new — and positive — outbreak culture” (12/17).

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Government Of Kenya, U.N. Partnership Sets Out Vision For Achieving UHC

Inter Press Service: United Towards Achieving Health For All in Kenya
Sicily Kariuki, cabinet secretary at the Ministry of Health in Kenya, and Siddharth Chatterjee, U.N. resident coordinator to Kenya

“…Of all the Sustainable Development Goals, few would rival good health as the definition of a country that has a sustainable, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous future, and the launch this week of the pilot phase of Kenya’s journey towards [universal health coverage (UHC)] heralds a major step towards that future. … The Ministry of Health has been working with the United Nations (U.N.) in Kenya and various stakeholders to identify what interventions represent the most effective pathways for attaining UHC in Kenya. … Our vision is for approaches that are not just affordable, but those that promote equity and effectiveness, ensuring that the rights of the most vulnerable are not forgotten, as the central tenet of universality. … The partnership between the Ministry and the U.N. system in Kenya is steadily building the foundations for a responsive health system for communities, for whom health was inaccessible, unaffordable, or altogether unavailable. … With Kenya’s Vision 2030 ambition of providing a high quality of life to all its citizens, the most urgent need is to ensure that everyone stays healthy to participate in economic development. The Government of Kenya and U.N. partnership is committed to make Kenya the blueprint for the rest of Africa on how universal health coverage can be attained” (12/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Brookings Roundtable Explores Challenges To, Opportunities For U.S. Leadership In Global Development

Brookings Institution’s “Future Development”: Advancing U.S. foreign assistance in uncertain times
Homi Kharas, interim vice president and director of Global Economy and Development at Brookings, discusses themes and outcomes from a roundtable on “Invigorating U.S. Leadership in Global Development.” Kharas highlights a post-conference report summarizing the findings from the roundtable, as well as three major themes discussed at the roundtable, including: “1. The evolving nature of international networks devoted to solving global development problems; 2. The shifting balance between the activities of federal U.S. government agencies and a broader concept of American leadership, and; 3. The choices between U.S. and Chinese ideas and approaches to development” (12/17).

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WHO Provides Resources To Support Member States In Development Of Policies Related To Climate Change, Effects On Health

WHO Regional Office for Europe: WHO provides health-based arguments and tools to support policy-making at U.N. Climate Change Conference
“WHO provided health-based arguments for action on climate change as well as tools to quantify the physical and economic benefits of improving air quality at the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The three products launched at the event … will support Member States in developing policies to tackle climate change and its effect on health and well-being…” (12/17).

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Forthcoming PLOS Medicine Special Issue To Focus On Role Of Nutrition In Maternal, Child Health

PLOS Blogs’ “Speaking of Medicine”: PLOS Medicine Special Issue: Maternal and Child Health & Nutrition
In this post, the editors of PLOS Medicine, together with guest editors Lars Åke Persson, professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Kathleen M. Rasmussen, Nancy Schlegel Meinig professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University; and Huixia Yang, professor and director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Peking University First Hospital, announce a forthcoming special issue of PLOS Medicine dedicated to the role of nutrition in maternal and child health (12/17).

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From the U.S. Government

Joint U.S.-U.N. Training Course Aims To Improve Accountability Related To Sexual Exploitation, Abuse

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Global Peace Operations Initiative Combats Sexual Violence and Abuse with Training Nepal
Andrew Strike, public affairs specialist in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, discusses the U.S. commitment to supporting the U.N.’s zero tolerance policy against sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), highlighting a joint U.N.-U.S. National Investigation Officer (NIO) training course focused on improving accountability for conduct and discipline issues. Strike writes, “Through training activities like the NIO course, [the State Department’s Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI)] is helping build a cadre of trained officers who can more effectively uphold the U.N.’s standards of conduct and improve accountability in the missions” (12/17).

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From the Kaiser Family Foundation

KFF Updates Fact Sheet Examining PEPFAR's Role, Efforts

Kaiser Family Foundation: The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
This updated fact sheet examines the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and its role in addressing global HIV/AIDS, including key activities, results, and funding (12/18).

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