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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Launches $56M Global Zika Response Plan

News outlets discuss the release of the WHO’s Zika response plan.

CIDRAP News: WHO unveils Zika game plan, mosquito-control assessment
“The World Health Organization (WHO) [Tuesday] released the details of a joint strategy to battle Zika virus, which will cost $56 million to implement, and weighed in on mosquito control, a complex challenge that might get a boost from new techniques…” (Schnirring, 2/16).

Reuters: WHO issues $56 million plan to combat Zika virus
“…The WHO expects the funds to come from member states and other donors and said that in the meantime it has tapped a new emergency contingency fund for $2 million to finance its initial operations…” (Nebehay, 2/17).

U.N. News Centre: Zika: U.N. health agency launches global response strategy; Member States briefed on outbreak
“…The Strategic Response Framework and Joint Operations Plan focuses on mobilizing and coordinating partners, experts, and resources to help countries enhance surveillance of the Zika virus and disorders that could be linked to it; improve vector control; effectively communicate risks, guidance and protection measures; provide medical care to those affected; and fast-track research and development of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics…” (2/16).

Washington Post: WHO: $56 million to fight Zika outbreak. U.S.: $1.8 billion to combat Zika virus.
“…In releasing Tuesday’s action plan, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the Zika outbreak is ‘particularly serious’ due to the potential for its further spread, the lack of immunity among many populations and the absence of vaccines, treatments, and tests to detect the disease. What’s needed, she said, is a forceful response ‘to prevent further outbreaks and control them when they do occur, and to facilitate research that will help us better understand this virus and its effects’…” (Dennis, 2/16).

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Various Techniques Must Be Examined For Mosquito Control, WHO Says

News outlets discuss a WHO statement on potential techniques to control mosquitoes that transmit Zika and other diseases.

BBC News: Zika virus: WHO backs GM mosquito trials
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has backed trials of genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes that could be used in the fight against the Zika virus. The WHO also said sterile irradiated male mosquitoes could also be released to mate with wild females…” (2/16).

Deutsche Welle: Zika virus: WHO supports controversial genetically modified mosquitoes
“…The Geneva-based U.N. health body said in a statement on Tuesday that controversial methods such as genetically modified mosquitoes may be necessary to wipe out the insects now spreading Zika across the Americas. Cases have also been reported in dozens of countries across Asia and Africa…” (2/16).

The Guardian: WHO paves way for use of genetically modified mosquitoes to combat Zika
“… ‘Given the magnitude of the Zika crisis, WHO encourages affected countries and their partners to boost the use of both old and new approaches to mosquito control as the most immediate line of defense,’ the WHO statement said…” (Radford, 2/16).

Reuters: Genes, bugs, and radiation: WHO backs new weapons in Zika fight
“…However, the concept of wiping out an entire mosquito species also raises serious ecological questions, since it runs counter to preserving biodiversity…” (Hirschler, 2/16).

Washington Times: WHO looks for new ways to wipe out mosquitoes, Zika
“…Health officials in Brazil and elsewhere are still pleading with citizens to knock out areas of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, calling to the most effective way to cut the insects’ ranks…” (Howell, 2/16).

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FDA Issues Guidance To Reduce Risk Of Zika Transmission Through Blood Supply

News outlets report on new FDA guidance recommending individuals not donate blood if they have visited Zika-affected areas, possibly have been exposed to the virus, or have had Zika virus infection in order to reduce the risk of Zika transmission through the blood supply.

CQ HealthBeat: Travelers to Zika Areas Should Defer Blood Donation, FDA Says (Siddons, 2/16).

The Hill: FDA moves to protect blood donations from Zika virus (Sullivan, 2/16).

New York Times: FDA Issues Zika Virus Guidelines for Blood Supply (Saint Louis, 2/16).

Reuters: FDA recommends ban on blood collections from Zika-affected areas (Clarke, 2/16).

Washington Post: FDA: Blood donors at risk for Zika should defer giving blood for 4 weeks (Dennis/Sun, 2/16).

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Women On Web Sees Increase In Abortion Pill Requests From Pregnant Women In Zika-Affected Countries, Helps Answer Questions About Abortion

Washington Post: With abortion banned in Zika countries, women beg on web for abortion pills
“…In more than a thousand emails to Women on Web, a Canada-based group that provides advice and medication for women wanting an abortion in countries where it is banned, the women beg for the pills that are banned by law in their respective countries of Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, or El Salvador….” (Miller, 2/17).

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Rumor, Mystery Surround Zika As Health Authorities Continue To Learn More About Virus

New York Times: Conspiracy Theories About Zika Spread Through Brazil With the Virus
“…Like Zika itself, rumors about it have replicated with viral ferocity through social media and word of mouth, frustrating the Brazilian authorities as they grapple with a poorly understood pathogen whose origins and implications are still something of a mystery. With many of the rumors started and spread abroad, Brazil’s Health Ministry has been scrambling to do damage control…” (Jacobs, 2/16).

Washington Post: What’s really scary about the Zika virus are the things we don’t know
“…What’s actually concerning about Zika isn’t what we know, however. It’s what we don’t know. These ‘known unknowns’ reveal just how little we really understand about this Zika outbreak so far. And while the international community has moved quickly into action — quicker than it reacted to Ebola, experts say — the scale of what we don’t know is still a huge cause for concern…” (Taylor, 2/17).

VOA News: Confusion Abounds About Zika Virus
“…Experts have lots of unanswered questions — as do ordinary citizens. … People used social media to ask questions on VOA’s Straight Talk Africa about the symptoms of the Zika virus. Eighty percent of those who get it don’t have any. Josh Michaud of the Kaiser Family Foundation was one of the guests who answered that question. ‘Among the 20 percent who do show symptoms, they have those mild symptoms that we’ve talked about: the rash, the red eyes and the fever,’ said Michaud…” (Pearson, 1/16).

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El Niño Causing Droughts, Food Shortages, Leaving Millions Worldwide In Need Of Assistance, U.N. Agencies Say

Agence France-Presse: A million children severely malnourished in eastern, southern Africa: U.N.
“Nearly one million children across eastern and southern Africa are suffering from ‘severe acute malnutrition’ after two years of drought and the strongest El Niño in 50 years, UNICEF said Wednesday…” (2/16).

The Guardian: El Niño is causing global food crisis, U.N. warns
“…New figures from the U.N.’s World Food Programme say 40 million people in rural areas and nine million in urban centers who live in the drought-affected parts of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, and Swaziland will need food assistance in the next year. In addition, 10 million people are said by the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to need food in Ethiopia, and 2.8 million need assistance in Guatemala and Honduras. Millions more people in Asia and the Pacific regions have already been affected by heatwaves, water shortages, and forest fires since El Niño conditions started in mid-2015, says OCHA in a new briefing paper, which forecasts that harvests will continue to be affected worldwide throughout 2016…” (Vidal, 2/16).

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E.U. Launches European Medical Corps To Better Respond To Health Emergencies

VICE News: New European Medical Corps Will Tackle Ebola-like Emergencies
“…It’s called the European Medical Corps (EMC), and its aim is to help the E.U. respond faster to health emergencies by relying on a pool of volunteer medical staff provided by member states. ‘Dozens of cases each day. An entire region under threat. And the whole world holding its breath … If there is one lesson we all learned from Ebola, it is this one: we were ALL not sufficiently prepared,’ said Christos Stylianides, the European commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, at the launch of the organization on Monday in Brussels…” (Caron, 2/16).

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Russia Denies Bombing MSF Hospital In Syria; U.N. Continues To Push For Humanitarian Access To War-Torn Nation

Washington Post: Russia pushes back against reports its planes bombed hospital in Syria
“Russia on Tuesday denied reports that its warplanes carried out a deadly strike on a hospital in northern Syria the previous day, complicating efforts to broker a cease-fire as the United Nations’ top Syria envoy arrived in Damascus to push for greater humanitarian access…” (Birnbaum/Morris, 2/16).

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WFP Delivers Food Aid To People In Chad, Cameroon Displaced By Boko Haram

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Food aid reaches thousands uprooted by Boko Haram in Chad: U.N.
“The successful delivery of food aid to thousands of people uprooted by Boko Haram violence in Chad and cut off from help since November may reflect improving security in the West African nation, the United Nations said on Tuesday…” (Guilbert, 2/16).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. agency reaches thousands of people in Chad and Cameroon displaced by Boko Haram violence
“…In response to growing food insecurity, malnutrition concerns and continued displacement in the Lake Chad Basin, [the World Food Programme] aims to scale up its assistance from 600,000 to nearly 750,000 people, including refugees, internally displaced people, returnees, and host communities…” (2/16).

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Pakistani Polio Worker Shot, Wounded During Nationwide Immunization Campaign

Reuters: Polio worker shot as Pakistan holds countrywide vaccination drive
“Gunmen shot and wounded a Pakistani polio worker in the eastern city of Lahore on Wednesday, the latest in a string of attacks against eradication teams in a country that accounts for more than 70 percent of the world’s cases of the virus. More than 100,000 health workers fanned out across Pakistan this week, stepping up a drive to eliminate the polio virus this year from one of its last bastions, despite threats from militants against the vaccination teams…” (Bukhari/Zahra-Malik, 2/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Women's Reproductive Rights, Strengthening Health Systems In Light Of Zika Outbreak

Project Syndicate: Zika and Reproductive Rights
Françoise Girard, president of the International Women’s Health Coalition

“…The Zika crisis has highlighted an obvious reality: Not providing women with reproductive health information and services places their lives — and those of their children — at grave risk. … The movement for reproductive rights has a long history in Brazil and in other parts of Latin America. Over the last several months — even before Zika — feminists had been taking to the streets in outrage at the lack of access to safe and legal abortions. The Zika crisis may mark a turning point in the fight for women’s health and equality. It is certainly a wake-up call for governments everywhere to rebuild and strengthen public health systems, and to guarantee all women and girls access to contraceptives and safe abortions…” (2/16).

Devex: Protecting women and children in Zika-affected countries
Jonathan Quick, president and chief executive officer of Management Sciences for Health; Nancy A. Aossey, president and CEO of International Medical Corps; and Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children and co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network

“The explosion of the Zika virus in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean has provided more vivid evidence of the urgency to invest in pandemic prevention and preparedness. … Three urgent actions are critical now for the well-being of women and children in Zika-affected countries: 1. Highly aggressive mosquito control is vital to reverse the explosion of new cases. … 2. Governments and communities must support women to make informed, empowered choices about pregnancy. … 3. National health services, local civil society, churches, and others must begin working with families and communities to create the necessary developmental and support services for children with Zika-related disabilities. … In a globalized world, a weak public health system anywhere increases people’s vulnerability everywhere. … The strongest defense against Zika and other emerging infectious disease epidemics is to focus on investing in strengthening national and local public health systems…” (2/16).

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Congress Should Increase FY17 U.S. Funding For Global WASH, Education Programs

The Hill: Obama’s budget addresses extreme poverty, but Congress must do more
Judith Rowland, U.S. policy & advocacy manager at the Global Poverty Project

“…[W]hile [President Obama’s FY 2017 budget request] shows strong support for life-saving vaccines and polio eradication, it misses the mark on funding for clean water, sanitation, and global education, which are essential to ending extreme poverty. Over the coming months, Congress should stand for the world’s poorest by approving Obama’s budget requests for vaccine and polio investment and increasing U.S. contributions to programs expanding access to clean water, safe sanitation, and education for all. … [T]he fate of these vital programs will fall in the hands of the House and the Senate, and it’s essential that Democrats and Republicans show unity on issues of extreme poverty. Interventions like vaccines, global education, and improved water and sanitation have demonstrated huge impacts in helping vulnerable people overcome the cycle of extreme poverty…” (2/16).

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Essay Discusses Social, Political Responses, Successes In Global AIDS Epidemic

The Conversation: AIDS: how far the world has come and how far it needs to go to get to zero
Lawrence O. Gostin, professor of global health & director of the O’Neill Institute at Georgetown University

“There is no story in global health as transformative, awe-inspiring, and yet as tragic as the AIDS pandemic. … The socio-political response was, at best, denial, ignorance, and silence. … But by 2010, UNAIDS announced a goal that was once unimaginable: getting to zero. Zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero discrimination. … [S]ocial mobilization [around AIDS] … unleashed unprecedented resources in global health — new funding for biomedical research, vaccines, and treatment. Moreover, social mobilization around AIDS literally transformed global health governance. … Although the international community has rallied to fight AIDS, fierce debates have raged within the movement. … These battles ensued within both domestic health sectors and foreign health assistance budget debates. They remain topics of lively debate” (2/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Innovative Technology, 'Interoperability' Critical To Strengthening West Africa's Health Information Systems

Medium’s “USAID 2030”: Building a More Resilient West Africa: How Open Innovation Can Help
Ann Mei Chang, chief innovation officer and executive director of the U.S. Global Development Lab at USAID, discusses U.S. efforts to use innovative technology to strengthen health information systems in West Africa, emphasizing the need for “interoperability,” or better communication and coordination within and among health information systems (2/11).

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Improving Access To, Preventing Excess Use Of Antibiotics Must Be 'Global Priority'

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: The challenge of global antibiotic policy: Improving access and preventing excess
Ramanan Laxminarayan, director and senior fellow at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP), discusses a recent CDDEP study published in The Lancet, as well as an accompanying commentary, examining access to antibiotics and drug resistance prevention. Laxminarayan writes, “Access to effective antibiotics should be a global priority, and must be balanced with policies that limit the dangerous trends of excess and inappropriate use that have caused the current crisis of resistance” (2/16).

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CGD Blog Post Examines Development, Foreign Aid Questions Raised By President's FY17 Budget Request

Center for Global Development’s “Rethinking U.S. Development Policy”: Questions on the FY 2017 Budget Request
Beth Schwanke, director of policy outreach, and Erin Collinson, senior associate for policy outreach, both at CGD, examine various development and foreign assistance issues raised by President Obama’s FY 2017 budget request, including questions about the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), the Electrify Africa Act, and the U.S. role in addressing the next global health emergency (2/16).

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'Science Speaks' Examines Recent Publications On Global TB Efforts

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Sciences Speaks”: A progress report, a plan, and a problem without borders … It’s all about following through — we’re reading about confronting tuberculosis
Antigone Barton, senior writer and editor of “Science Speaks,” discusses several recently published pieces on tuberculosis, including a personal narrative on drug-resistant TB published in Health Affairs; a panel discussion with South African health experts published in The Conversation on progress improving the country’s health services, including TB response efforts; and a statement from U.N. Special Envoy on Tuberculosis Eric P. Goosby on President Obama’s FY 2017 budget request (2/16).

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