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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

National Security, Faith, Economic Arguments Can Help Make Case For Foreign Aid, Development Experts Say

Devex: How to defend aid in the Trump era: Try national security, business and faith
“…The Trump administration and its ‘America First’ policy agenda has caused advocates for foreign assistance to rethink their arguments as they attempt to make the case for aid. But if one door closes, another opens, numerous sector experts said at the Global Washington conference, citing an increased opportunity for faith-based organizations to also speak up for development assistance at a time when evangelical Christians have the ear of the White House via Vice President Mike Pence. … ‘It’s harder today to do events with Congress in an era of fake news where there are alternative facts,’ [John Glenn, policy director of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition,] said, ‘issues of trust come up.’ But the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, which includes a mixture of name-brand businesses and social-impact NGOs, has successfully navigated that tightrope by making the economic case for foreign assistance alongside the national security one. ‘The national security message opens the door, but the business message gets people to walk through the door and stay,’ Glenn said…” (Scruggs, 12/6).

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Devex Discusses USAID's Gender-Focused Announcements, Programs Highlighted At Global Entrepreneurship Summit In India

Devex: USAID’s newest gender-focused programs represent ‘true collaboration,’ Green says
“In early 2018, the United States Agency for International Development will issue an open call for proposals for innovative ideas to bridge the ‘gender digital divide,’ or gender inequalities caused by barriers such as network coverage, online security, cost, and technical literacy. The initiative is one of several announcements the agency made at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India’s tech capital last week, all aimed at empowering women…” (Rogers, 12/5).

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Study Finds Air Pollution Increases Health Risk For Unborn Children; UNICEF Says 17M Babies Live In Areas With High Rates Of Air Pollution

The Guardian: Air pollution harm to unborn babies may be global health catastrophe, warn doctors
“Air pollution significantly increases the risk of low birth weight in babies, leading to lifelong damage to health, according to a large new study. The research was conducted in London, U.K., but its implications for many millions of women in cities around the world with far worse air pollution are ‘something approaching a public health catastrophe’, the doctors involved said…” (Carrington, 12/5).

New York Times: Air Pollution May Harm Babies Even Before They Are Born
“…Researchers in London calculated mothers’ exposure to air pollution and traffic noise in various parts of the city from 2006 to 2010. Then they amassed data on birth weights of 540,365 babies born during those years to women who lived in those areas. The average pollution exposure was 14 micrograms per cubic meter of PM 2.5, the tiny particles that easily enter the smallest airways in the lungs. The researchers found that for each 5 microgram per cubic meter increase in PM 2.5, the risk of low birth weight increased by 15 percent…” (Bakalar, 12/5).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Toxic air puts 17 million babies’ brains and lungs at risk – UNICEF
“About 17 million babies worldwide live in areas where outdoor air pollution is six times the recommended limit, and their brain development is at risk, the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF) said on Wednesday…” (12/5).

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U.N. Report Highlights Environmental Dimension Of Antimicrobial Resistance

CIDRAP: U.N. report cites environmental threat of antimicrobial resistance
“A report [Tuesday] from the United Nations Environment Programme (U.N. Environment) highlights the environmental dimension of antimicrobial resistance. The Frontiers Report, launched during the third U.N. Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, lists the release of antimicrobial compounds into the environment by households, hospitals, pharmaceutical factories, and farms as one of six emerging issues of environmental concern because of the potential impact on antibiotic resistance…” (Dall, 12/5).

U.N. News Centre: Careless disposal of antibiotics could produce ‘ferocious superbugs,’ U.N. environment experts warn
“Growing antimicrobial resistance linked to the discharge of drugs and some chemicals into the environment is one of the most worrying health threats today, according to new research from the United Nations that highlights emerging challenges and solutions in environment. ‘The warning here is truly frightening: we could be spurring the development of ferocious superbugs through ignorance and carelessness,’ said Erik Solheim, chief of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), on Tuesday…” (12/5).

Xinhua News: U.N. says antimicrobial resistance from pollution biggest health threats
“…The report looks at six areas — the environmental dimension of antimicrobial resistance, nanomaterials, marine protected areas, sand and dust storms, off-grid solar solutions, and environmental displacement…” (12/6).

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WHO Supports Decision By Philippines To Halt Dengue Vaccine Use Amid Safety Concerns

NPR: Vaccine Safety Concerns Shut Down Immunization Campaign In Philippines
“The world’s only vaccine against dengue has hit a roadblock, and this complication is causing some countries to restrict use of the vaccine. Sanofi Pasteur, the French company that manufactures the shot, raised new safety concerns last week about the vaccine. In response, the Philippines suspended a mass immunization campaign, which has already given one dose of the vaccine to more than 700,000 children. And the Brazilian government has tightened restrictions on the shot. The vaccine — called Dengvaxia — raises the risk of a deadly form of dengue for people who have never been exposed to the virus, Sanofi Pasteur wrote Wednesday in a statement. The company says it discovered the complication after analyzing data from a six-year study…” (Doucleff, 12/5).

Reuters: Philippines halts sale of dengue vaccine as Sanofi downplays risk
“…The World Health Organisation said on Tuesday it supported the decision by the Philippines to suspend vaccinations with Dengvaxia until more information was available. It said its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization would meet to review evidence next week…” (Serapio/Hirschler, 12/5).

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Male 'Agents Of Change' Program In Kenya Working To Prevent Gender-Based Violence

News Deeply Women and Girls: Kenyan Men Join the Fight Against Gender-Based Violence
“In the slums of Nairobi, male ‘agents of change’ are teaching men and boys how to prevent violence against women and girls in their communities. They tell News Deeply that the fight begins with challenging their own entrenched attitudes about gender…” (Wanzala, 12/5).

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Report Examines Practice In Some Countries Of Detaining Hospital Patients With Unpaid Medical Bills

U.S. News & World Report: Hundreds of Thousands of Poor People Detained in Hospitals
“…Mwenge is one of hundreds of thousands of people estimated to be illegally detained every year by hospitals in poor countries worldwide, according to a new study attempting to quantify the problem, which experts describe as a major violation of human rights. … In the report released by British think tank Chatham House on Wednesday, experts reviewed nine studies on the issue and combed through media articles documenting cases of patients detained in 14 countries from Latin America to sub-Saharan Africa. … The researchers said based on that limited data, the rate of detentions reported, and the size of the countries where such reports originated, it was likely that hundreds of thousands more people faced the same fate…” (Cheng/Maliro, 12/5).

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Donors Pledge $857M To UNHCR, Representing 11% Of 2018 Funding Needs

U.N. News Centre: Donors make initial pledges of $857 million to fund U.N. refugee agency’s work in 2018
“Donor governments on Tuesday pledged an initial $857 million to fund the United Nations refugee agency’s work to help some 67 million displaced or stateless people worldwide in 2018. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that while the pledges made at an annual meeting in Geneva represent only 11 percent of its total 2018 funding needs of over $7.5 billion, they indicate the anticipated funding levels next year. However, the gap between the funds received and the needs of refugees and other displaced people will likely continue growing, with new crises and worsening displacement running at record levels…” (12/5).

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More News In Global Health

NPR: How Bad Are Things In Yemen? We Asked An Aid Worker Holed Up In A Basement (Gharib, 12/5).

Reuters: WHO says 480 need to be evacuated from Damascus suburb with worst malnutrition (Nebehay, 12/6).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Hunger gnaws at Rohingya children in Bangladesh’s refugee camps (Worley, 12/6).

U.N. News Centre: Amid alarming spike in violence, looming famine, Yemen gripped by uncertainty — U.N. officials (12/5).

U.N. News Centre: West and Central Africa lagging far behind world in HIV response, warns UNICEF (12/5).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Leadership In GHSA Vital To Sustaining Momentum Toward Global Health Security

JAMA: The Importance of Continued U.S. Investment to Sustain Momentum Toward Global Health Security
Jennifer B. Nuzzo, senior associate at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and visiting associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Anita J. Cicero, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security; and Thomas V. Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

“…[T]he work of the [Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA)], including motivating and assisting countries to improve their capacities to prevent epidemics like Ebola from reoccurring, is now at a crossroad. Even though senior officials in the Trump administration have voiced support for the GHSA, and at a recent GHSA ministerial meeting in Uganda signed onto the Kampala Declaration to extend the GHSA for at least another five years, U.S. funding for the initiative is ending and no commitment for future financial support has been made. Without additional funding, prospects for the next phase of the GHSA will be endangered. It is important for the United States to commit to support the GHSA to help protect the nation and the rest of the world from epidemic disease. … As the GHSA enters its second phase, countries will look for signs of continued U.S. support. Failing to allocate additional GHSA funding would send a negative signal to international partners which may erode the initiative’s political capital and diminish other countries’ commitments. Tempering international will would reverse momentum of the first few years of GHSA. U.S. leadership in global health security via the GHSA is not merely important for preserving international commitment. It is also, as U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson recently said, vital to U.S. national security interests. If vulnerable countries do not have the capacity to quickly cope with disease outbreaks, those outbreaks are more likely to spread internationally, including to the United States. The GHSA is a powerful tool for helping to ensure that global gaps in health security are addressed before disease outbreaks occur. It is an international effort worthy of continued U.S. investment and support” (11/30).

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'Intelligent, Focused' Policies Needed To Address Obesity In Developing Countries

The Conversation: Developing countries could get sick before they get rich. Policy can help
Asit K. Biswas, distinguished visiting professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore; and Kris Hartley, lecturer at Cornell University

“…Residents of developing nation cities are increasingly susceptible to obesity, particularly amid the megatrends of urbanization, globalization, and industrialization of food supply. … As rural dwellers move to urban areas, easy access to cheap and convenient processed foods lures them into unhealthy diets. This crisis will test the political resolve of governments that have historically focused on ending hunger. These governments must understand that the factors making cities convenient and productive also make their residents prone to obesity. Intelligent, focused policies are needed to effectively manage this emerging crisis. … Policies related to taxation, urban design, education and awareness, and the promotion of localized food systems may help control obesity at a lower cost than eventual medical treatment for an aging and increasingly overweight population. … Combining controls on unhealthy foods with policies that incentivize healthy eating and active lifestyles constitute a promising response to rising obesity rates. Addressing public health is a policy mandate for developing countries from both an economic and social point of view. To paraphrase the recent Global Nutrition Report, addressing obesity is a global imperative for releasing the brakes on development” (12/5).

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History Offers Lesson On Air Pollution, Investing In Air Quality Yields Returns

Forbes: Take A Deep Breath And Remember The Great Smog Of 1952
K.N. Smith, freelance science journalist

“Three days after smog forced authorities in Delhi, India, to cancel a major sporting event, people in London are remembering one of the deadliest days of air pollution on record: the Great Smog of 1952. … Four years later, Parliament passed the Clean Air Act of 1956. The law regulated the burning of coal in some areas of London and moved coal-burning power stations away from the city. Other legislation has followed since, but London remains one of the world’s hardest cities to take a deep breath in. … But the problem extends far beyond London. Most of the world’s largest cities are shrouded in smog. … But if we can learn from the Great Smog 65 years later, we can clear the air and turn a profit. The Lancet’s Commission on Pollution and Health reports that shifting to alternative energy sources, investing in mass transit, and taking other steps to cut air pollution yields an economic return of about $30 for ever dollar spent. That makes air quality an excellent investment, especially since it also boosts your odds of living longer to enjoy it” (12/5).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

'Science Speaks' Highlights Recent Articles Focusing On HIV/AIDS

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: What we’re reading: World AIDS Day messages with urgency every day, and more
Antigone Barton, senior writer and editor of “Science Speaks,” discusses recent articles focused on HIV/AIDS in light of World AIDS Day, including articles on the U.S. government’s commitment to PEPFAR and a large HIV prevention trial in southern Africa (12/5).

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Transcript, Videos Of Washington Post Live HIV/AIDS Event Available Online

Washington Post: Transcript – Pathways to Progress: Combating the HIV/AIDS Epidemic
Videos and a transcript of “Pathways to Progress: Combating the HIV/AIDS Epidemic,” a Washington Post Live event convening top health officials, researchers, and advocates for a discussion about HIV/AIDS, are available online (12/5).

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Being 'Good Stewards' Of Health Resources Critical To Building Stronger Global Health Workforce

IntraHealth International’s “Vital”: To Build a Stronger Global Health Workforce, We Must Be Good Stewards
Allison Annette Foster, senior adviser for human resources for health at IntraHealth International, discusses global efforts to invest in primary health care and community health workers, writing, “We pledge to be good stewards of the resources we have so that primary care services bring real value for money — saving the lives of mothers and babies, creating learning and employment opportunities for youth, and providing ongoing services for adults and the elderly with noncommunicable diseases or long-term care needs” (12/5).

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Coalition Applauds Pledge By 12 U.N. Member States To Protect Health Workers, Facilities In Conflicts

IntraHealth International: Twelve Countries Pledge to Protect Health Workers and Facilities in Conflict Areas
“IntraHealth International, as co-secretariat of the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, applauds a new declaration by France and 11 other U.N. member states to take concrete actions to protect health workers in conflict areas around the world. … At a meeting hosted by the France U.N. Mission on October 31, the coalition joined member states and others to discuss measures needed to implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 2286. Adopted in May 2016, the resolution set out a roadmap for the protection of health workers and facilities globally, which have come under increasing attack in recent years…” (12/5).

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Antifungal Resistance A Growing Public Health Threat

Undark: Antifungal Resistance Is a Public Health Threat That Shouldn’t Be Ignored
Frieda Wiley, freelance medical writer and clinical pharmacist, discusses the global health threat of antifungal resistance, writing, “Fungal infections are on the rise and pose a serious threat to millions of people globally every year. Linked to everything from global warming to the overuse of antibiotics, which can make people more susceptible to fungal infections, they are surfacing at an alarming rate, and funding for research is not keeping up. … [T]he World Health Organization currently has no funded programs on fungal diseases, and there are fewer than 10 national programs monitoring their spread. Redirecting even a small percentage of the attention and funding that goes into antibiotic resistance could make a difference — and prevent a gathering threat from getting out of control” (12/5).

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