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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Obama, Rice React To Revelation Uganda's President Will Sign Anti-Gay Bill

News outlets report on U.S. officials’ reactions to an announcement by a Ugandan official that the country’s president plans to sign an anti-gay bill.

Associated Press: Obama: Anti-gay bill step backward for Ugandans
“President Barack Obama warned Uganda Sunday over its plans to further criminalize homosexuality, saying it would ‘complicate our valued relationship.’ … Susan Rice, the U.S. national security adviser, said Sunday on Twitter that she spoke ‘at length’ with Museveni on Saturday night and urged him not to sign the bill. The United States is Uganda’s largest donor, sending more than $400 million in aid annually in recent years. If Museveni signs the bill, the U.S. is expected to review its relationship with the country with an eye on finding ways to register disappointment over the law…” (Superville, 2/16).

Associated Press: Official: Ugandan leader to sign anti-gay bill
“An official says Uganda’s president plans to sign into law an anti-gay bill passed by lawmakers that would allow life imprisonment for gays. Ofwono Opondo, a government spokesman, said in Twitter posts Friday that President Yoweri Museveni told lawmakers that he would do that after receiving a report from ‘medical experts’ saying ‘homosexuality is not genetic but a social behavior.’ Opondo did not say when the signing would happen…” (2/14).

Reuters: Museveni says he plans to sign anti-gay law after all
“Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on Friday he would sign a controversial anti-gay bill into law, warning that those who promoted homosexuality would be dealt with harshly. Museveni last month indicated he was planning to shelve the bill, which has attracted fierce criticism from Western donors and human rights groups since its inception in 2009…” (Jorgic, 2/14).

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USAID's Shah Reiterates Agency's Support Of Public-Private Partnerships

Devex: Is the private sector always welcome in development?
“Are there any areas of development where the private sector should not be involved? According to U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah, the answer is plainly, ‘no.’ ‘There is really no element of any of this where I think I could just say with confidence that there is no role for the private sector,’ he said on Friday at an event about public-private partnerships in development at The Woodrow Wilson Center on Friday in Washington, D.C…” (Saldinger, 2/17).

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U.S. Rep. Blumenauer Suggests Funding For U.S. Nuclear Weapons Be Shifted To Foreign Aid

Devex: A ‘nuclear option’ for U.S. aid funding?
“One U.S. representative thinks he’s found an extra $5 billion for U.S. foreign aid programs — but the funds are currently locked up in the budget for maintaining the United States’ arsenal of nuclear weapons. ‘We are going to spend over the next decade approximately $700 billion on a nuclear arsenal that we’ve not used in 69 years,’ Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) said at a public-private partnerships event at the Woodrow Center on Friday…” (2/17).

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The Guardian Highlights G8 New Alliance For Food Security And Nutrition

The Guardian released a series of articles on the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, including an interactive on the 10 African countries that made a commitment, articles on the controversy surrounding the initiative, and individual articles highlighting Malawi, Ghana, and Tanzania.

The Guardian: The G8 and the fight for the future of African farming — interactive
“As part of the New Alliance, 10 African governments have signed up to change dozens of laws, policies and regulations to make their countries more attractive to the private sector. Collectively, they have made more than 200 commitments, including the overhaul of seed and tax laws and the setting aside of hundreds of thousands of hectares of land for commercial investors…” (Provost et al., 2/18).

The Guardian: Ten African countries and their G8 New Alliance commitments
The Guardian highlights 10 countries in Africa and their commitments to the G8 New Alliance. Highlighted countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tanzania (Provost, 2/18).

The Guardian: G8 New Alliance condemned as new wave of colonialism in Africa
“A landmark G8 initiative to boost agriculture and relieve poverty has been damned as a new form of colonialism after African governments agreed to change seed, land and tax laws to favor private investors over small farmers…” (Provost et al., 2/18).

The Guardian: Aid to Africa: private sector investment becomes new priority
“Rich countries are in the midst of a major reshuffle of aid priorities as more turn towards the private sector and look to fund business opportunities in poor countries. Investors have increasingly targeted African farmland since the 2008 food, fuel, and financial crises. Grow Africa, a ‘partnership platform’ which helped to gather companies’ commitments under the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, said there had been a ‘historic shift’ in the level of investment on the continent in 2012…” (Tran et al., 2/18).

The Guardian: Malawi’s small farmers kept in the dark about G8 New Alliance
“…Malawi announced its was joining the G8 initiative in June last year, promising a range of policy commitments and legislative changes to make the country more attractive to private investors and boost its agricultural output. The changes are to be rolled out between December 2013 and the end of 2018, but most should come into effect over the next two years…” (Ford, 2/18).

The Guardian: Ghana hopes G8 New Alliance will end long history of food insecurity
“Despite Ghana’s large tracts of fertile land, the west African country has a long history of food insecurity. Millions in the south are no longer at risk, but the number of vulnerable people in the more arid north has increased in recent years. The government says that is why Ghana became one of the first six African countries to sign up to the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in 2012. Under the initiative, the country will focus on five crops: cowpea, maize, cassava, rice and yam…” (Hirsch, 2/18).

The Guardian: Tanzania: ‘large-scale farming turns small farmers into mere laborers’
The Guardian speaks with Zitto Kabwe, chair of the Tanzanian parliament’s public accounts committee, on the G8 New Alliance, where “[h]e insists that small farmers need to be supported and involved in the process from the beginning, given access to social security schemes such as pensions and health insurance, and empowered to form strong local organizations which can defend their rights in negotiations with companies. ‘That,’ he said, ‘would be transformational'” (Provost, 2/18).

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African Nations Form G5 To Strengthen Development, Security In Sahel Region

Reuters: African nations form G5 to work on Sahel security, development
“The leaders of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, and Burkina Faso agreed on Sunday to create a regional organization to strengthen cooperation on development and security in the Sahel region…” (Prieur, 2/16).

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Humanitarian Aid, Development Both Essential For Crisis Response

U.N. News Centre: Aid, development must converge in responding to crises — U.N. reports
“The rising scale of needs, a collective inability to resolve protracted crises, and the interplay of new factors such as climate change, are making it harder for governments and aid workers to effectively respond to humanitarian challenges, the United Nations today reported, stressing that development aid must contribute to managing crisis risk…” (2/14).

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FDA Expresses Concern Over Safety Of Indian Drugs

New York Times: Medicines Made in India Set Off Safety Worries
“India, the second-largest exporter of over-the-counter and prescription drugs to the United States, is coming under increased scrutiny by American regulators for safety lapses, falsified drug test results and selling fake medicines…” (Harris, 2/14).

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International Community Should Focus More On Nutrition Security, U.N. Official Says

Huffington Post U.K.: U.N. Fears That Next Generation Could Have Worse Nutrition Than Parents
“The United Nations is concerned that this generation of children could be less well-nourished than the previous, living in developed nations hit by devastating economic crisis. David Nabarro, U.N. special representative for food security and nutrition, told the Huffington Post U.K. that nutrition of the next generation was a key concern for the international body, rather than just the amount of food a child was given to eat…” (Elgot, 2/15).

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Polio Workers, Police Escorts Kidnapped, Murdered In Separate Incidents In Pakistan

News outlets report on two incidents involving the kidnapping and murder of polio workers and their police escorts in Pakistan.

Agence France-Presse/GlobalPost: Gunmen kidnap six-member polio team in Pakistan
“Masked gunmen kidnapped a six-member polio vaccination team — a doctor, two local employees of the World Health Organization (WHO) and three guards — in northwest Pakistan on Monday, an official said…” (2/17).

Dawn.com: Two polio workers among six kidnapped from FR Tank
“Six men including two polio workers were kidnapped from a rural area in Frontier Region Tank, official sources told Dawn.com on Monday. Sources said that a driver accompanying a team of polio vaccination workers and three Khasadar security personnel were also picked up by unknown people while the team was on routine duty in Peeng village in FR Tank…” (Sherazi, 2/17).

The Nation: 6-member polio team snatched in Tank
“…The polio vaccination team was on its way to Jumaat Korono rural area in Peeng village bordering South Waziristan when unidentified masked group held it hostage at gunpoint and later kidnapped the team members. They also took away with them vehicle of the polio team…” (2/18).

Business Recorder: Policeman killed during vaccination drive
“A bomb killed at least one policeman and wounded another during a vaccination campaign for polio and other diseases among children on the outskirts of Peshawar on Sunday, officials said. The incident happened in Budhni area on the outskirts of Peshawar, the gateway to the country’s restive tribal regions, where the military has been battling Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants…” (2/17).

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WHO Taking Steps To Address Health System Failure In CAR

The WHO last week announced it is taking steps to address the devastated health care system in Central African Republic, news outlets report.

VOA News: CAR’s Shattered Health System Needs Urgent Repair
“The World Health Organization reports the Central African Republic’s shattered health system is in desperate need of repair. A senior WHO official who just visited the CAR reports medical care throughout much of this devastated country is practically non-existent…” (Schlein, 2/14).

Xinhua: WHO takes steps to address health service gaps in CAR
“…’The vast majority [of hospitals and clinics] have been extensively looted and damaged and most health workers have left their posts, leaving huge gaps in delivery of care,’ U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said at a daily news briefing here. ‘The World Health Organization says it is taking key steps with its partners, such as extending health services to displaced persons in camps, vaccinating children, and distributing drugs,’ he said…” (2/14).

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Rwandan Newspaper Highlights Nation's 10-Year Relationship With Global Fund

New Times Rwanda: Ten years of Global Fund in Rwanda
“On February 11, the Government of Rwanda through the Ministry of Health signed an agreement with Global Fund, an international financing organization that aims to attract and disburse resources to prevent and treat HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis. … The same day marked a 10-year successful partnership between the Rwandan government and Global Fund, a partnership that has seen Rwanda achieve major milestones in improving health care and reducing lives lost through malaria, TB and HIV…” (Mwai, 2/17).

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China Reports Second Death From H10N8 Bird Flu Strain

New York Times: China Reports Another Case of New Bird Flu Strain
“Chinese officials have said a new strain of avian influenza, H10N8, has killed another person, according to a report on Friday by Xinhua, the state news agency. The victim was a 75-year-old man living in Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi Province, who entered a hospital on Feb. 4 after falling ill. He died on Feb. 8, Xinhua reported…” (Wong, 2/14).

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Simultaneous Treatment For Patients With TB, AIDS Is More Effective, Study Says

New York Times: Treating Tuberculosis and AIDS Together Saves Lives
“Patients who have multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis and AIDS are more likely to live if they get simultaneous treatment for both diseases rather than waiting weeks to start the AIDS treatment, a new study has found…” (McNeil, 2/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

Contraception Access For Adolescent Girls Is Critical To Achieve MDG5

The Guardian: Progress review: contraception use among adolescent girls
Venkatraman Chandra-Mouli, adolescent health and development coordinator at the WHO, and Karlien Braet, WHO intern

“Empowering adolescent girls to access and use contraception is a global public health priority. High unmet need for contraception translates into high numbers of unintended pregnancies, and into high maternal mortality in countries with poor maternal health care systems. That is why reducing the unmet need for contraception is a key target in Millennium Development Goal five. … At the Family Planning 2020 partnership (FP2020), there is a real opportunity to translate this readiness into action…” (2/17).

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Australia Stands With S. Africa In Defense Of TRIPS Flexibilities

Huffington Post: Unlikely Allies
Sandeep Kishore, chair of the Advisory Council of the Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network, and Kavitha Kolappa, a psychiatry resident at Massachusetts General/McLean Program

“The recent Executive Board proceedings of the World Health Organization (January 20-25, 2014) provided new ground for unlikely allies South Africa and Australia, as both struggle to temper intellectual property laws in the interest of public health. … Namibia, India, Brazil and several other nations made impassioned statements supporting South Africa and underscoring the need for safeguarding flexibilities enshrined within the 1994 Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. TRIPS flexibilities, which were affirmed by the Doha Declaration in 2001, protect the ability of countries to rely on generic production to provide life-saving medications for their people. … Recalling its fight against the tobacco industry in recent years, Australia too made a statement affirming the value of TRIPS flexibilities. … We hope that all developing and developed countries alike will support the valiant efforts of these two nations in choosing to protect the lives of their people over intellectual property” (2/14).

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Focus On Economic Agenda Important For Africa To Meet MDGs

Sudan Vision: The Post-2015 Development Agenda: What Are the Priorities for Africa?
Alula Berhe Kidani, sustainable development advocate

“As 2015 and the conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) draws near, attention has increasingly turned within the United Nations to the post-2015 development agenda. In particular, a High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons (HLP) was recently convened to advise on the global development framework beyond 2015 and construct the next development agenda. … [M]ore proactive engagement between African governments and African firms with emerging market financial institutions is essential in unlocking nontraditional portals of finance for economic growth and development. … Finally, Africa needs to capitalize on its demographic dividend. Policies for creating jobs and inclusive and sustainable growth must be a part of the economic agenda in Africa…” (2/18).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Community Must Address Nations' Fragility In Order To Eradicate Poverty

“…The mutually reinforcing relationship between fragility and armed conflict creates circumstances that perpetuate extreme poverty. … To eradicate extreme poverty in the next 20 years and fulfill the commitment made by President Obama, together, our collective development efforts must result in accountable, legitimate, inclusive democracies that can ultimately sustain our collective investments in health, education, and agriculture, protect fundamental human rights, and give their citizens a voice in their own future,” Nancy Lindborg, assistant administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, writes in the agency’s “IMPACTblog” (2/13).

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New Report Examines Post-Market Safety Surveillance For Drugs, Vaccines

“To fight many of the diseases that plague the world’s poorest, we need tools — safe and effective drugs and vaccines that can reduce unnecessary suffering and afford millions the opportunity to lead healthy and productive lives. An essential part of having the right tools, and making sure that the right patients are getting and using them in the right way, is post-market safety surveillance…,” Trevor Mundel, president of Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. He highlights a Gates Foundation-supported report (.pdf), titled “Strengthening Post-Market Safety Surveillance in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.” He concludes, “This report represents innovative thinking in the field and has provided us with a plan for moving forward. Now it is our responsibility to work together on making it a reality” (2/17).

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Global Fund Is Part Of 'Winning Team' To Fight AIDS, TB, Malaria

In a guest blog post for Funders Concerned About AIDS, Deborah Derrick, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, discusses the success of the Global Fund’s partnership model. Derrick notes, “Winning the fights against the world’s most challenging global health threats — including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria — requires an unmatched team, with players who each bring different, but equally valuable skills to bear. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is an integral part of this team. The world’s largest public health financier, the Global Fund supports programs that save 100,000 lives per month…” (2/13).

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'Leadership' Needed To Improve Breastfeeding Rates Worldwide

Writing in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Shawn Baker, interim director of nutrition at the Gates Foundation; Mariam Claeson, interim director of maternal, newborn, and child health on the foundation’s Family Health team; and Werner Schultink, chief of nutrition at UNICEF, discuss the importance of breastfeeding for infant health and why breastfeeding rates remain low worldwide. “…Why has investment in breastfeeding programs remained so low, despite its powerful contribution to child survival, growth and development? What can be done to rally political will for this priority? In one word: leadership…” (2/17).

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Blog Post Examines Whether Foreign Aid Really Works

In a blog post for the Development Policy Centre’s “Devpolicy Blog,” Roger Riddell, who gave the keynote address at the 2014 Australasian Aid and International Development Policy Workshop, discusses whether foreign aid really works. In answering the question, he says that it works “[n]ot as well as it could, and not as well as it should. But against often far too high expectations of what it might achieve, much aid has had a positive impact. I believe there is still an important role for aid to play. Donors need to learn and do far more to address some of the more systemic problems that aid risks creating or perpetuating, and which they have only recently begun to start more fully appreciating. They also need to encourage and give more space to developing country assessments of aid’s impact — as uncomfortable as this might sometimes be — to obtain a more complete view of aid’s benefits and limitations” (2/14).

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Blog Post Visualizes Global NTD Burden

In a Humanosphere guest post, Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, writes, “…Through an international effort called the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases, organizations are working to secure donations from pharmaceutical companies to treat these diseases, which primarily affect the world’s poorest people. So far, the initiative has succeeded in channeling over a billion treatments for 10 of the most problematic NTDs to some of the poorest people in the world. Today, we’ll visually explore many of the different NTDs that the London Declaration aims to address…” (2/14).

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Canadian Study Shows Success With HIV Treatment As Prevention Strategy

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog highlights a recently published PLOS One article on HIV treatment as prevention in British Columbia, Canada. “…[T]he findings reflect similar findings showing population-wide impacts of HIV treatment as prevention, the authors say, noting ‘the magnitude of the impact of the expansion of HAART coverage on HIV transmission derived from our models is entirely consistent with the effect noted from the experience in Kwazulu-Natal.’ That experience, published in Science magazine last year, showed the more antiretroviral treatment coverage increased in KwaZulu Natal the more steeply rates of acquisition of HIV declined” (Barton, 2/14).

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