KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

NPR Continues Profile Of PEPFAR Successes, Challenges; Examines Treatment For Serodiscordant Couples In Kenya

NPR’s “All Things Considered” examines PEPFAR, saying the program — the largest public health initiative ever undertaken to address one disease — has been “transformative and yet the challenges ahead are enormous.” The program includes comments from David Wilson, the World Bank’s Global AIDS Program director, and Amanda Glassman of the Center for Global Development (12/18). The show and NPR’s “Shots” blog examine access to HIV treatment for Kenyan serodiscordant couples. The WHO “now recommends that any HIV-positive individual in a discordant relationship be supplied HIV treatment,” the blog writes, adding, “But discordant couples are still being treated on an ad hoc basis in Kenya, primarily because the funding for the medication just isn’t there.” NPR discusses treatment funding provided through PEPFAR and the Kenyan government (Warner, 12/18).

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U.S. Ambassador To U.N. Visits CAR To Assess Ongoing Violence, Next Steps

“The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations arrived Thursday in Central African Republic [CAR] in the highest profile American effort to date to quell the cycle of violence in this impoverished country that has claimed hundreds of lives and displaced at least 10 percent of the population,” the Associated Press reports. “The violence has been vicious and primarily directed toward civilians and is increasingly sectarian,” Ambassador Samantha Power said in a conference call with reporters, adding, “Obviously urgent action is required to save lives,” according to the AP. “Muslim rebels overthrew the government of [CAR] in March and a cycle of atrocities and revenge attacks followed, peaking over the last few days with hundreds killed around the country,” the news agency notes (Schemm, 12/19). “[T]he U.N. reported that several hundred were killed in recent clashes in Bangui; more than 600,000 people have fled their homes since the beginning of the year,” Foreign Policy reports, adding, “The airport at Bangui is swelling with more than 38,000 displaced civilians, who lack access to clean water, latrines or shelter, according to the U.N.’s refugee agency” (Lynch, 12/19).

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Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Urges International Community To Increase Global Health Spending

Lawrence Summers, a former U.S. Treasury secretary and chief economic adviser to President Obama, visited the University of California, San Francisco on Tuesday “to present a report, ‘Global Health 2035,’ that recommends ‘a grand convergence’ of the international health community ‘around infectious, child and maternal mortality; major reductions in the incidence and consequences of non-communicable diseases and injuries; and the promise of “pro-poor” universal health coverage,'” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. According to the newspaper, “[t]he report was written by the Lancet Commission on Investing in Health, chaired by Summers and staffed by 25 economists and global health experts” with the goal of “‘scaling up new and existing tools’ and health delivery systems to tackle HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, tropical diseases, child and maternal maladies by 2035.”

With a cost for the 34 countries targeted at “about $70 billion a year,” Summers acknowledged “it will require a selling job,” the newspaper writes. But “the payoff should far exceed the cost,” the newspaper states, adding, “According to the report, one-quarter of the income growth in low- and middle-income countries between 2000 and 2011 resulted from health improvements.” The newspaper notes, “Members of the commission will be dispatched beginning next year to brief health and development organizations, finance ministers and other stakeholders” (Ross, 12/18).

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BBC News Examines Polio's Resurgence In Africa, Middle East

BBC News examines polio’s resurgence in some parts of the world. In a 60-second video report, the news service “outlines the struggle against polio,” noting that, “[d]espite a quarter-century-long vaccination program … experts fear it could make a comeback in countries riven by conflict” in the Middle East and Africa (12/19). In a second video, the news service looks at an emergency vaccination campaign underway to stop “a significant outbreak” in the Horn of Africa (12/19). And in an article, BBC highlights an emergency vaccination campaign in the Middle East, where a recent outbreak of the disease in conflict-ridden Syria “sent shockwaves around the region, especially across Syria’s western border in Lebanon” (Torbey, 12/19).

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WHO Expert Panel On Innovation In Funding For R&D Faces Criticism

“A WHO expert panel set up to find new ways to fund health research for neglected diseases has defeated the purpose of the initiative by selecting less-ambitious rather than mold-breaking ideas, civil society groups have said,” SciDev.Net reports. “At a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, earlier this month (December 3-5), the panel shortlisted several ‘demonstration projects’ intended as examples of innovation in funding research and development (R&D) for neglected diseases and other health issues that have fallen through the cracks of the current global R&D system, particularly in developing countries,” the news service notes. However, “there is nothing new in the seven research proposals, plus one side proposal, that were chosen, according to Judit Rius Sanjuan, who attended the meeting and who manages the U.S. Access Campaign for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which promotes global access to medicines and diagnostic tests,” the news service writes and examines “[c]urrent efforts to find new funding models for health R&D” and discusses “criticism of the panel’s selection” (Dobrovolny, 12/18).

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PBS NewsHour Reports On Humanitarian Aid Coordination In Typhoon-Hit Philippines

PBS NewsHour reports on aid efforts in typhoon-hit Philippines. With support from the Under-Told Stories Project at Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota, correspondent Fred Sam De Lazaro examines how relief workers are coordinating food and other aid as it flows into Tacloban, one of the hardest-hit areas. “For now, relief officials say at least the most basic food need is being met. The ongoing challenge will be to keep replenishments moving in and out swiftly,” he reports, adding, “The next priority for many in the recovery effort is sanitation, everything from latrines to toiletry essentials” (12/18).

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Forbes Interviews Chief Of HIV/AIDS Section At UNICEF's New York Headquarters

In a recent interview with Forbes, Craig McClure, chief of the HIV/AIDS section at UNICEF’s New York headquarters, “discussed their latest report examining the progress being made in the response to HIV and AIDS for children.” The report “highlights key strategies to prevent HIV and to accelerate access to the treatment, care and support that children affected by AIDS need to remain alive and well,” Forbes notes. According to the transcript, McClure discusses the report findings he found most surprising, highlights “the most worrisome trends or insights that came out of the new country data from 2012,” and reflects on “signs of hope and progress,” among other topics (12/18).

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Study Shows No Increase In Sexual Risk Behavior When Taking Preventive HIV Drug

“Taking a pill as a preventive measure against HIV infection may not encourage people at high risk for the disease to engage in risky sexual behavior, according to a new U.S. study meant to address fears about its use,” Reuters reports. “The research, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS ONE, builds on the 2010 landmark study that found Gilead Sciences Inc.’s Truvada — a pill already used widely to treat the human immunodeficiency virus — was more than 90 percent effective at preventing HIV infections among test subjects who took the drug as prescribed,” the news agency writes. According to the study, “there was no increase in sexual risk behavior, and the study even showed a trend toward safer sexual practices,” Reuters notes (Steenhuysen, 12/18).

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Editorials and Opinions

Guardian Partner Zone Features Opinion Pieces From PATH

The Guardian’s “Global Development Professionals Network Partner Zone,” sponsored by PATH, features several opinion pieces from the organization. In the first of these pieces, PATH President and CEO Steve Davis “reflects on his recent trip to the [Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)], where he traveled with staff working to improve health services among some of the country’s most vulnerable people” (12/18). In a separate piece, Davis discusses what is meant by “innovation,” highlighting the organization’s “evidence-based approaches and tools to solve the world’s most difficult health problems” (12/18). In another piece, Carlos Campbell, director of PATH’s malaria control program, examines “the transformative impact” of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the need for its continued funding in order to end the diseases (12/18).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Bipartisan Budget Deal Set To Cut U.S. Food Aid, Blog Reports

“The bipartisan budget deal on track to pass the Senate is due to cut international food aid to millions who need it, thanks to a continued requirement to ship American food abroad rather than purchasing from local producers,” Hayes Brown, a national security reporter and blogger, writes in ThinkProgress.org. “What Congress has done, in effect, is the complete opposite of what the administration proposed: ending the repayment of funds to aid agencies that purchase American goods to send overseas,” he writes, adding, “If Congress really wanted to save money without harming the people around the world who depend on the U.S.’ aid, there were ways to achieve that goal.” Brown cites reports from the Center for Global Development and the Center for American Progress (12/18).

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TB Survivor Calls On USAID To Expand Support For Global Health R&D

In a post in the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog, part of a “new blog series to highlight the impact of USAID’s commitment to global health research and development (R&D),” Natalie Nelson, a tuberculosis (TB) survivor from Tennessee, in a Q&A calls for USAID to expand its support for health R&D to include TB vaccine research so “the agency [can] help change the lives of TB patients like her worldwide.” She discusses her personal experience with TB, reflects on “the growing issue of resistance to currently available TB treatment options,” and examines “how … new and improved vaccines — as well as treatment options — [could] help in the fight against TB worldwide,” among other topics (Lufkin, 12/18).

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PLOS Article Examines NTDs In Post-2015 Development Agenda

The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ (NTDs) “End The Neglect” blog discusses a recent PLOS NTDs article, in which “James Smith and Emma Michelle Taylor discuss why NTDs should be included in the post-2015 development agenda and highlight the advances made in NTD funding and recognition in spite of their omission from the [Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)].” The blog notes, “In the article, they say the very nature of NTDs — the fact that these diseases are ‘relatively invisible cross-cutting drivers of poverty’ — has limited efforts to focus on them.” According to the blog, “the authors state that by including NTDs in the post-2015 agenda, the international community could be signaling a new shift in international development — one that focuses on the ‘institutions we need to manage the complex social, economic, environmental, and health systems that interact to shape future development'” (Gordon, 12/18).

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PSI, UNFPA Report On Studies Examining Condom Use In 6 African Countries

“PSI and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) teamed up over the past year to study and report on the state of [male condom use] in six African countries. The results are out in six new case studies that will be presented during a consultative meeting on the Total Market Approach that PSI and UNFPA are hosting” this week, according to PSI’s “Impact” blog. “Each case study describes the market for male condoms in each of the countries, and the roles of the public, social marketing, and commercial sectors in those markets,” the blog notes, adding, “The studies aim to inform the development of appropriate, evidence-based decisions to increase condom use equitably and sustainably through actions undertaken in the public, socially marketed, and commercial sectors.” The blog then summarizes the case studies’ findings from each country (12/17).

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Blog Highlights Event On HIV Epidemic

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog highlights comments made by virologist Robert Gallo at a recent event (.pdf) sponsored by the Institute of Human Virology, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, InterAction, World Vision and the Catholic Medical Missionary Board, and titled “Getting to Zero: Translating Research into Action to End the HIV Epidemic.” The blog notes “Kent Hill and Gloria Ekpo of World Vision, Jeffrey Jordan of Catholic Medical Missionary Board, Benny Kottiri and Marta Levitt of [USAID], Rene Ekpini of UNICEF, and Mwayabo Jean Claude Kazadi of Catholic Relief Services also spoke at the event” (Barton, 12/18).

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