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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Appoints First LGBT Rights Global Envoy

Associated Press: U.S. names first global envoy for LGBT rights
“The United States named its first international envoy for gay rights Monday, tasking a veteran diplomat with leading U.S. efforts to fight violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals overseas…” (Lederman, 2/23).

Washington Post: Kerry names special envoy for LGBT rights
“…[Secretary of State John] Kerry announced Monday that Randy Berry, currently consul general in Amsterdam, would be the first special envoy for LGBT rights. … ‘Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally — the heart and conscience of our diplomacy,’ Kerry said Monday…” (Kamen/Itkowitz, 2/23).

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Knowledge, Prevention Gaps Remain On How To End MERS Outbreak In Saudi Arabia, U.N. Experts Warn

BBC News: WHO calls for action over MERS virus
“Too little is being done to control the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which has infected 50 people in Saudi Arabia so far this month, the World Health Organization has warned. The rising number of cases in health care facilities indicates current infection-control measures are not being implemented, it says…” (2/23).

Reuters: U.N. experts warn of “critical knowledge gaps” on Saudi MERS virus
“… ‘Critical gaps in knowledge remain, and several challenges … will require further work,’ [U.N. experts] said in a joint statement. ‘How and why infections occur in the community is yet to be understood, and this is critical for stopping the outbreak’…” (Kelland, 2/23).

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WFP Head Appeals For More Funding, Flexibility To Achieve Zero Hunger

EurActiv: World Food Programme chief appeals for ‘more flexible’ aid
“Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), made an appeal [Monday] for more funds to fight hunger in crisis areas, but also for more flexibility on how to use the funding…” (Gotev, 2/23).

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Experimental Ebola Drug Shows Promise In Treating Early Infection, Study Shows

Agence France-Presse: Limited promise in early results from Ebola drug trial
“Early results from an Ebola trial using the experimental drug Avigan (favipiravir) showed it was somewhat effective at saving lives if given early in the illness, but not later…” (2/23).

Reuters: Ebola drug in Guinea helps some, stirs debate on broader use
“…Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), which ran the trials of favipiravir in Guinea, said mortality rates fell from 30 to 15 percent in patients with a low to moderate Ebola count but was not effective on those with a high level of the virus…” (Farge, 2/23).

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Ebola-Hit Nations Push For Trials Testing Survivor Blood Transfusions As Treatment

Al Jazeera America: Blood transfusions show early promise as possible Ebola cure
“…At a meeting held by the World Health Organization on Sept. 5, representatives from Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia pushed for tests on whole blood and blood plasma. ‘The countries really liked the blood option more than the drugs because there is no manufacturer behind it and no international regulatory approvals required,’ says David Wood, a virologist at the WHO…” (Maxmen, 2/16).

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Quality Of Dietary Habits Declining Worldwide, Study Shows

News outlets report on a study in The Lancet Global Health and a Lancet series on obesity published last week.

New York Times: Food Habits Getting Worse Around the World
“People in some poor and middle-income countries have healthier diets than those in rich ones, but major Western snack and soft drink makers are targeting children in ways that will damage their health, according to a new series of studies on obesity…” (McNeil, 2/23).

Reuters: World’s diet worsening with globalization, major study finds
“…Between 1990 and 2010, middle- and low-income countries saw consumption of unhealthy foods increase dramatically, [Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University,] said, citing information in a study he co-authored for the March edition of The Lancet Global Health journal…” (Arsenault, 2/23).

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Cancer Mortality Increasing In Africa, But Donors Continue Focus On Infectious Diseases

EurActiv: Cancer is the poor parent of development aid
“The absence of prevention, poor infrastructure, lack of medical staff, and late diagnoses, but also an increase in life expectancy in low-income countries, have made cancer Africa’s new health scourge. … As for developed countries, who are public aid providers to development, the fight against cancer is also left behind, the priorities being the fight against pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, or even the Ebola crisis…” (Barbière, 2/24).

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U.N.'s Haiti Cholera Response Coordinator Speaks About Efforts To Eliminate Disease In Interview

U.N. News Centre: Interview with Pedro Medrano Rojas, U.N. Senior Coordinator for the Cholera Response in Haiti
“…Spearheading the U.N. system’s [Haiti cholera] efforts is Pedro Medrano Rojas of Chile, the senior coordinator for the cholera response in Haiti. … Mr. Medrano spoke with the U.N. News Centre as he prepared to depart on a multi-country tour to update donors on the latest developments and to urge continued support to achieve the goal of eliminating cholera…” (2/23).

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Merck Registers HIV Drug With Medicines Patent Pool, Allowing For Production Of Low-Cost Pediatric Formulations

Associated Press: Merck grants free license for pediatric HIV drug
“Drugmaker Merck & Co. has granted a free license allowing one of its HIV medicines to be made and sold inexpensively for use in young children in poor countries hard hit by the AIDS virus…” (Johnson, 2/24).

Reuters: Merck places children’s HIV drug in shared non-profit patent pool
“…The non-profit Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), which aims to persuade leading drug companies to share rights to their products with generic manufacturers, said on Tuesday the deal for Merck’s raltegravir would add to the treatment arsenal…” (Hirschler, 2/24).

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WFP Begins Aid Delivery In Flood-Hit Malawi

U.N. News Centre: As Malawi reels from devastating floods, U.N. food agency delivers vital supplies
“The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has announced the delivery of a first round of emergency supplies to more than 288,000 people in flood-affected Malawi, providing much needed relief amid continuing rains…” (2/23).

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Editorials and Opinions

CDC, Partners Working With Haiti To Make Progress In Various Areas of Public Health

Huffington Post: What’s Working: Public Health Progress Since the Haiti 2010 Earthquake
Tom Frieden, CDC director

“…Addressing the public health needs of Haiti and helping them recover has been a daunting task, but it’s one that CDC, along with the government of Haiti and other partners, has taken seriously. And it’s working. Over the past five years since the earthquake the country has made real progress. Four particular areas of progress are clean water, HIV prevention and treatment, immunization, and core public health capacity. … CDC will continue to invest in Haiti’s public health systems through partnership and training, ensuring Haiti will be able to continue saving lives into the future” (2/23).

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More Concerted Global Effort Needed To Reduce Maternal, Newborn Mortality

Washington Post: In much of the world, the survival of newborns cannot be taken for granted
Michael Gerson, opinion writer

“…[T]he best way to strengthen a health system (as we’ve seen in vaccination campaigns and efforts to fight AIDS and malaria) is to pick and pursue an ambitious, achievable health goal. The reduction of maternal and newborn mortality is ripe for this kind of concerted international effort. Last year, the World Bank, Canada, Norway, and the United States announced the creation of a Global Financing Facility, dedicated to ending preventable maternal, newborn, child and adolescent deaths by 2030. But the effort remains shapeless…” (2/23).

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Next USAID Administrator Should Keep Smallholder Farmers As Priority For Global Development

Devex: Will the next USAID chief care about reaching the world’s poorest?
David Hong, global policy engagement at One Acre Fund

“…Around the world, there are still more than 800 million people who suffer from hunger and 165 million children who have become stunted from undernutrition. We agree with President Obama that the United States has a ‘moral obligation to lead the fight against hunger and malnutrition.’ In order to accomplish that, innovative approaches to scaling solutions in agriculture must be central to USAID’s programs and policies. [Former USAID Administrator Rajiv] Shah proved that setting strong organizational priorities within USAID starts at the top. We hope Shah’s successor is as committed to Feed the Future and global food security as he was” (2/23).

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International Community Must Take Action On Nutrition In Ebola-Hit Nations Before Crisis

The Guardian: Ebola: how to prevent a lethal legacy for food security
Saul Guerrero, director of operations at Action Against Hunger U.K.

“…There is growing evidence that the number of food-insecure people in these [Ebola-hit] countries is rapidly increasing. … The first task must be to ensure that food is available in remote areas and [to] those that were quarantined. Action is needed to help families and farmers to grow and harvest food. Reinvigorating trading and commerce must also be prioritized by guaranteeing traders a demand for their products. … The international community can learn from the mistakes and delays of the outbreak response by taking action before these tell-tale signs of need lead to a nutrition crisis” (2/23).

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Data Collection Essential To Creating Nutrition Programs, Evaluating Progress In India

Livemint: Advances in nutrition: myth or reality?
Purnima Menon and Lawrence Haddad, senior research fellows at the International Food Policy Research Institute

“…State-level trend data is essential to build data-driven nutrition strategies for individual states. … Overall, we believe good news [on nutrition in India] exists, and that progress against undernutrition in India is not a myth. Nonetheless, having systems that reliably and frequently generate data on a consistent set of indicators across the country will enable greater insights on how to lift the curse of malnutrition” (2/23).

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Eliminating Polio In Pakistan Requires Will Of Government, Religious Leaders, General Population

Huffington Post: Abolishing Polio’s Hold on Pakistan
Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, health activist for Pakistan

“…In order to achieve a polio-free Pakistan we must have the will from the people, government, and religious scholars. We need support from the government that they will keep our health workers safe and will fully commit to eradication efforts. We need to assure the people through our strong and targeted efforts that the campaign will be successful and we will have a healthier Pakistan because of it. And finally, we need to continue to speak out and denounce those endangering our children by claiming a threat exists in the drops…” (2/23).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Online University For HCWs Could Help Alleviate Shortage Of Health Workforce In Developing Countries

The BMJ: Richard Smith: A global university for health care workers
Richard Smith, chair of the board of trustees of icddr,b [formerly International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh] and chair of the board of Patients Know Best, discusses cardiac surgeon Devi Shetty’s vision of having a “virtual global university for health care workers” (2/24).

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