KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

NIH, CDC Leaders Urge Congress To Quickly Approve Zika Funding; Bill Package Introduced In U.S. House Would Provide Vaccine Development Incentives

Bloomberg BNA: Zika Vaccine Developer Would Get Tax Credit Under House Bill
“Drug companies that develop a Zika virus vaccine could be eligible for a tax credit under a slate of bills introduced in the House Feb. 12 designed to reduce the spread of the mosquito-borne virus. Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Fla.) said he introduced a three-part legislative package on Zika to combat a virus that has spread to more than 30 nations throughout the Americas as a multipronged approach to prevent Zika infection, to ensure that the disease doesn’t become prevalent in the U.S., and to ensure that localities are prepared to deal with any instances of outbreak as they arise…” (Baumann, 2/16).

CQ News: NIH, CDC Push Lawmakers to Fund Zika Request Promptly
“Top federal health officials warned Congress Wednesday that they will not be able to effectively carry out a long-term response to the escalating Zika virus crisis if lawmakers don’t provide additional cash — quickly. The National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chiefs also outlined steps that are already underway to combat the emerging Zika virus as they wait for lawmakers to act on an emergency funding request…” (Zanona, 2/17).

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Puerto Rico At Risk Of Large Zika Outbreak, U.S. Health Officials Say

USA TODAY: CDC: Puerto Rico could be hit hard by Zika
“The Zika virus could hit Puerto Rico hard in the coming months, with the potential for tens of thousands of cases, a federal official said Wednesday. … Puerto Rico is battling outbreaks of two other diseases spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that also transmits Zika, said Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…” (Szabo, 2/17).

Washington Times: Zika-infested Puerto Rico faces blood shortage, looks to U.S. mainland
“Puerto Rico, already reeling from a man-made financial crisis, could have ‘tens of thousands’ of infections from the Zika virus, which has been linked to a serious birth defect, imposing an economic toll and forcing the island to import blood supplies from mainland donors, the Obama administration’s top scientists said Wednesday. … ‘Clearly, Puerto Rico has many challenges, and Zika is the most recent,’ Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday in a briefing hosted by the Kaiser Family Foundation…” (Howell, 2/17).

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Brazil Says 'Most' Confirmed Microcephaly Cases Associated With Zika; Colombia Records No Microcephaly Cases Yet, Says Initial Estimates Too High

Reuters: Brazil says ‘most’ of confirmed microcephaly cases linked to Zika
“Brazil’s Health Ministry said on Wednesday that most of the 508 confirmed cases of microcephaly reported in the country are likely related to the ongoing outbreak of Zika virus, and called its previous count too conservative…” (Prada, 2/17).

Reuters: Study suggests Zika can cross placenta, adds to microcephaly link
“…In a study in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, the scientists said their finding suggests Zika virus can cross the placental barrier, but does not prove it causes microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads. More research is needed to understand the link, they said…” (Kelland, 2/17).

Reuters: Colombia’s forecast on Zika-linked birth defect may be too high: minister
“…In an interview, Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria suggested the Andean nation may revise downward its projection of 500 to 600 cases of Zika-linked microcephaly, as the condition, marked by an abnormally small head, has not yet shown up in fetal ultrasounds. That forecast would represent a fivefold spike in the number of Colombian microcephaly cases seen on average each year…” (Cobb/Acosta, 2/17).

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Warming Climate Will Increase Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes' Range, Threat Of Outbreaks, Experts Warn

New York Times: Zika Outbreak Could Be an Omen of the Global Warming Threat
“…[E]xperts added that the Zika epidemic, as well as the related spread of a disease called dengue that is sickening as many as 100 million people a year and killing thousands, should be interpreted as warnings. Over the coming decades, global warming is likely to increase the range and speed the life cycle of the particular mosquitoes carrying these viruses, encouraging their spread deeper into temperate countries like the United States…” (Gillis/Romero, 2/18).

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Argentina Facing Worst Dengue Outbreak In 7 Years

New York Times: Argentina Battles Major Outbreak of Dengue as Mosquito Population Swells
“Argentina is grappling with its worst outbreak of dengue in seven years as the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which also transmit the Zika virus, expands in the subtropical northeast of the country. … There were nearly 4,900 reported cases of dengue in Argentina in the first five weeks of the year, according to data compiled by the Pan American Health Organization. Experts say the figure could be 10 times higher…” (Gilbert, 2/17).

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U.N. Convoys Deliver Humanitarian Aid To 5 Besieged Syrian Towns

New York Times: Aid Deliveries Begin to 5 Besieged Syrian Towns
“More than 100 trucks laden with emergency food and medicine began deliveries on Wednesday to tens of thousands of desperate Syrians in five locations besieged for months by the civil war, United Nations officials and relief workers reported…” (Cumming-Bruce/Gladstone, 2/17).

U.N. News Centre: Life-saving humanitarian aid reaches five besieged towns in Syria — U.N.
“As United Nations relief wing convoys reached five besieged towns in Syria with aid [Wednesday], the Office of the U.N. Special Envoy for the country announced that a task force will meet for a second time [Thursday] to discuss humanitarian access issues…” (2/17).

Wall Street Journal: U.N. Delivers Aid in Syria
“…The bulk of 100 trucks carrying food and medical supplies delivered the aid to the opposition-held Damascus suburbs of Madaya and Moadhamiya. The pro-regime Shiite villages of Fouah and Kafraya in the northern province of Idlib, which are encircled mainly by Islamist rebel groups including the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, also received humanitarian relief…” (Dagher, 2/17).

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Nearly 1M Children Severely Malnourished In Eastern, Southern Africa, UNICEF Reports

Thomson Reuters Foundation: El Niño drought leaves 1 million African children severely malnourished — U.N.
“Nearly one million children need treatment for severe malnutrition in eastern and southern Africa due to drought that is putting millions more at risk of hunger, water shortages, and disease, the U.N. children’s agency said on Wednesday…” (Rowling, 2/17).

U.N. News Centre: Malnutrition mounts in eastern and southern Africa as El Niño takes hold — UNICEF
“…The situation is being aggravated by rising food prices, which are forcing families to implement drastic coping mechanisms such as skipping meals and selling off assets, resulting in almost one million children being in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition in the region, said Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala, UNICEF regional director for eastern and southern Africa, in a press release [Wednesday]…” (2/17).

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Niger Needs 3.2M Meningitis Vaccine Doses, Food Aid For 2M, U.N. Says

Agence France-Presse: Niger needs 3.2 million meningitis vaccines: U.N.
“Niger needs millions of doses of meningitis vaccines to ward off a possible epidemic after a spike that has seen dozens of cases reported since January, the United Nations said Wednesday…” (2/17).

Agence France-Presse: Two million need food aid in Niger despite crop surplus: U.N.
“…Aid groups will help some 1.5 million people including refugees from neighboring countries, said the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The Nigerian government has pledged to help another 500,000 people in need. … The difficulties come despite the fact that Niger recorded an 88,000-tonne surplus of cereal production this year…” (2/17).

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Burundi Facing Possible 'Major Crisis' Of Malnutrition, Disease, UNICEF Warns

The Guardian: Burundi close to ‘major crisis’ as hunger and disease take hold, warns UNICEF
“Political violence, malnutrition, and the looming threats of malaria and cholera have pushed Burundi to the brink of a ‘major crisis,’ the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, has warned. … Bo Viktor Nylund, UNICEF’s representative in Burundi, said the violence had exacerbated the country’s already dire food situation, damaged its institutions, and led to the withdrawal of some of the donor funding on which it is heavily reliant…” (Jones, 2/18).

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Lesotho Experiencing Water, Food Shortages Amid Drought, U.N. Says

The Guardian: Lesotho’s ‘green drought’ pushes thousands deeper into hunger
“…A second year of inadequate rains has dried up water sources across the small mountain kingdom, killed livestock, and may leave as many as one in three Basotho requiring food aid until next year, according to local U.N. officials. Lesotho officials say a recent downpour greened Lesotho’s valleys, camouflaging a crisis that’s increasing malnutrition and disease…” (Mutizwa, 2/18).

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Editorials and Opinions

DREAMS Challenge Calls For Innovative Solutions To End AIDS Among Women, Girls

Huffington Post: Challenging Innovators to Help Us Make DREAMS Come True
Deborah L. Birx, ambassador-at-large and U.S. global AIDS coordinator

“…[T]he DREAMS Partnership took a stand [toward preventing HIV infections and empowering women and girls] by issuing a call for innovative ideas as part of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge. … The Challenge builds on the important progress made through the DREAMS Partnership, which PEPFAR launched on World AIDS Day 2014. … The DREAMS Innovation Challenge seeks to build on this progress by driving innovative, sustainable solutions in six areas: 1) strengthening capacity of communities for service delivery, 2) keeping girls in secondary school, 3) linking men to health services, 4) supporting pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), 5) providing a bridge to employment, and 6) using data to increase impact. Over the past 13 years, we’ve made tremendous progress in the HIV/AIDS response. … We’re calling on innovators and thought-leaders — particularly women’s groups at the community level — to join us. Bring us your ideas and your solutions, which can help make this generation of adolescent girls and young women an AIDS-free generation” (2/17).

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U.S. Approach To Foreign Aid Should Be 'Principle-Based'

The Hill: Better foreign aid
Former Representative Mark Green (R-Wis.), president of the International Republican Institute (IRI), and Rob Mosbacher, chair of the board of directors for the Initiative for Global Development (IGD), both co-chairs for the Consensus for Development Reform

“…[The Consensus for Development Reform (CDR)] proposes a simple, clear approach to development reform that begins first with the question, ‘What do we want our aid to accomplish?’ … First, our aid must promote economic opportunity and growth. … Second, we must reward effectiveness and commit to identify and reinforce what works and quit doing what doesn’t work … Third, our aid should aim to build institutions that are effective, accountable, and ultimately replace aid. … Fourth, we must maintain our humanitarian efforts that have been the cornerstone of the United States’ global leadership for 70 years. … Effective development assistance is an essential part of our global leadership, but our approach requires a clearer sense of purpose in what it seeks to achieve and greater relevance to the new economic and political landscape. Principle-based reform is an opportunity for greater relevance to the challenges of those we seek to help and a better use of taxpayer money” (2/17).

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Global Community Must Commit To Collaboration To Achieve SDGs

Huffington Post: 17 Goals, 15 Years, 1 Agenda: To Leave No One Behind
Jan Eliasson, deputy secretary general of the U.N.

“…Four guiding principles can help [achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)]. First, universality. … Second, national ownership. … Third, comprehensiveness. … Fourth, accountability. … The 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement are historic achievements. They are invitations to collaboration between and within nations, and among the full range of actors in civil society, the business community, and the academic world. … Our challenge now is to use these dynamic tools, and translate these agreements into realities for people on the ground. The United Nations is strongly committed to helping to mobilize the world to make collective progress towards a more peaceful and equitable world, a healthy planet, and a life of dignity for all” (2/17).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Zika, Opportunities To Improve Health Systems

Thomson Reuters Foundation: What Dengue and Ebola can teach us about Zika
Elhadj As Sy, secretary general at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

“…Health systems alone could not effectively respond to Ebola, and they will not be able to cope with the Zika outbreak. Governments in affected countries will need to adopt a ‘whole of society approach.’ Health system strengthening must go hand-in-hand with community system strengthening. … Health is the foundation of resilience. No individual or community will be able to cope with a disaster, or benefit from new economic opportunities, unless we invest in healthy communities and effective health systems. This is the best protection we can offer against Zika, and against the next health threat to come” (2/18).

The Guardian: The Zika virus mosquito is unmasking Brazil’s inequality and indifference
Eliane Brum, journalist, writer, and documentary maker

“…The quality of the response to the Zika epidemic [in Brazil] … could be an opportunity to tackle chronic problems for which solutions have always been postponed. Improving the living conditions of the population, with effective public policies and procedures, is the most efficient way of eradicating the mosquito’s breeding grounds. … The biggest challenge is not to defeat the whistleblower [in this case, the mosquito], but to change the structure that allows it to exist. … The decisive factor — as outlined by Deisy Ventura of the Institute of International Relations at the University of São Paulo, who researches the links between law and health — is not the disease itself, but when it travels beyond the place that it should be confined to, namely poor countries. In this case, Zika has become a global emergency by threatening the brains of children from rich countries. This long-legged insect also highlights the ethical fragility of the powerful sapiens” (2/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kaiser Family Foundation Web Briefing Discusses Zika Virus, U.S. Response

Kaiser Family Foundation: Web Briefing for Media — The Zika Virus: What’s Next in the U.S. and Abroad?
The Kaiser Family Foundation held a web briefing for journalists on Wednesday, February 17, during which Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Tom Frieden, director of the CDC; and Jen Kates, vice president and director of global health & HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, provided insights and answered questions about the Zika virus. A podcast of the briefing and presentation slides are available online (2/17).

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Blog Posts Discuss Various Aspects Of Zika Outbreak, Response

American Enterprise Institute’s “Ideas”: Venezuela’s health crisis, including Zika outbreak, threatens the region
Roger F. Noriega, an AEI visiting fellow who coordinates AEI’s program on Latin America, discusses Venezuela’s health care system and the threat of Zika virus. He writes, “Political instability, social upheaval, and a crumbling health care system could have very negative repercussions for many of Venezuela’s neighbors. An intelligent and coordinated regional effort is required to mitigate food and medicine shortages, stabilize the country during a political transition, and eventually reconstruct Venezuela’s crumbling infrastructure…” (2/17).

Council on Foreign Relations’ “The Internationalist”: From Ebola to Zika: Why the World Needs WHO Reform
In a guest post, Daniel Chardell, research associate in CFR’s International Institutions and Global Governance program, discusses priorities for reform at the WHO in light of the Ebola and Zika outbreaks. He concludes, “The WHO’s deficiencies are well-documented, but the remedies are clear. The only missing ingredient is the political will to implement them. If Zika has a silver lining, it may well be that this outbreak has added fuel to the dwindling political momentum for WHO reform…” (2/17).

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Gates Foundation's 'Grand Challenges' Highlights 14 Innovative Projects In Global Health

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Decade of innovation: Looking back at the first generation of Grand Challenges grants
David D’Argenio and Kedest Tesfagiorgis, both program officers in global health discovery and translational sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, mark a decade of the foundation’s “Grand Challenges in Global Health” and highlight 14 projects in depth, writing, “By understanding how some of the first projects have progressed, we can see glimpses of the amazing advances that are possible and glean lessons that will inspire more solutions for more people over time” (2/13).

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New IAVI Analysis Examines Vaccine's Potential Role In Ending AIDS Epidemic

Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs”: A vaccine is essential to conclusively end HIV/AIDS: New modeling data catalyzes conversations around the end of HIV/AIDS and a vaccine’s role in getting there
“In this guest post Tom Harmon, senior policy analyst at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), highlights a new analysis exploring the critical role of a vaccine in ending AIDS.” Harmon notes, “Under our base scenario, a vaccine of 70 percent efficacy with strong uptake would reduce HIV infections in [low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)] by 44 percent in its first 10 years and by 65 percent in 25 years, ultimately averting tens of millions of infections and saving millions of lives…” (2/18).

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New Issue Of 'Global Fund News Flash' Available Online

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Global Fund News Flash
The latest issue of the Global Fund News Flash includes articles on a new integrated grant management platform for improving health in the Middle East and a young Syrian refugee’s experience with TB (2/17).

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