KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Western Countries Continue To React To Uganda's Anti-Gay Law

News outlets continue to report on reactions to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, signed into law this week by President Yoweri Museveni.

Associated Press: Uganda health minister: Gays will still get care
“…Now that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has signed a new law imposing harsh sentences for gay sex, life is expected to become even more difficult for the country’s homosexuals, including getting health care. The Ugandan government has issued assurances that health workers will not discriminate against homosexuals, but some gays say they are not confident about that…” (Muhumuza, 2/26).

Devex: Uganda’s anti-gay law: A silver lining for LGBTI aid?
“After some international donors threatened and a few even confirmed they will be cutting aid to Uganda after the government passed a controversial law targeting homosexuals, now there is a clear opportunity for the donor community to invest in protecting the human rights and health of the country’s LGBTI community…” (Rogers, 2/27).

Reuters: Western anger at anti-gay law hits Uganda’s currency
“Uganda’s currency tumbled on Wednesday on concerns that a new anti-gay law will damage relations with Western countries alarmed at what they see as a government-backed violation of human rights…” (Croome/Biryabarema, 2/26).

Reuters: Kerry likens Uganda anti-gay law to anti-Semitism and apartheid
“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday likened new anti-gay legislation in Uganda that imposes harsh penalties for homosexuality to anti-Semitic laws in Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa…” (Wroughton, 2/26).

New York Times: Kerry Condemns Uganda’s Antigay Law
“Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday condemned the antigay measure signed into law in Uganda this week, saying it is as serious a moral offense as anti-Semitism in 1930s Germany or apartheid in white-led South Africa…” (Gordon, 2/26).

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Kerry Says Climate Change Threatens National Security

The Hill: Kerry doubles down on climate change
“Secretary of State John Kerry doubled down Wednesday on his comments calling climate change a major national security threat. … ‘It is increasingly going to provide major challenges to food security; to water security; to refugee populations, which it’s going to create; to the stability and instability of countries; to economies. This is growing in its urgency for us to respond to it. And so I will continue down that path'” (Pecquet, 2/26).

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WHO Warns China Over Unhealthy Air Pollution In Beijing

News outlets report on unhealthy levels of air pollution in Beijing, China.

BBC News: China pollution: Beijing smog masks tallest building
“As smog once again blankets Beijing, the BBC’s Martin Patience looks at the impact on China’s capital and its residents. Smog levels regularly top levels considered hazardous by the World Health Organization (WHO)…” (Patience, 2/25).

Bloomberg News: China’s Smog Tops Hazardous Levels Before Congress Meeting
“Pollution in Beijing was stuck at unhealthy levels for the seventh straight day, prompting warnings for people to stay indoors as thick gray smog shrouded the capital a week before the annual meeting of China’s legislature…” (Shen, 2/25).

Bloomberg News: Xi Jinping Calls Pollution Beijing’s Biggest Challenge
“Chinese President Xi Jinping said pollution was Beijing’s biggest challenge as thick smog blanketing northern China cleared after seven straight days at hazardous levels…” (Peng/Turk, 2/27).

The Guardian: China’s toxic air pollution resembles nuclear winter, say scientists
“Chinese scientists have warned that the country’s toxic air pollution is now so bad that it resembles a nuclear winter, slowing photosynthesis in plants — and potentially wreaking havoc on the country’s food supply…” (Kaiman, 2/25).

Wall Street Journal: WHO Warns Beijing of Hazardous Pollution Risk
“The World Health Organization on Tuesday called on China to improve its air quality and urged residents of Beijing to stay indoors as the capital city suffered a sixth day of hazardous-level air pollution…” (Burkitt, 2/25).

Wall Street Journal’s “China Real Time”: Pollution Bad, but Hard to Tell How Bad, Experts Say
“Leaders of the World Health Organization say they are concerned about the air quality and health effects on citizens amid a recent bout of heavy pollution in Beijing. Still, they said they were unsure of the specific toll air pollution takes on any one person’s body, casting doubts on local reports tying the region’s dirty air to particular cases of illness…” (Burkitt, 2/25).

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U.N.'s Ban Highlights Importance Of South-South Cooperation To Improve Maternal, Child Health

Daily Times NG: Ban Ki-Moon Announces New Global Action To Support Women, Children’s Health
“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says a global action to improve the health of women and children will be enhanced through a new program to share ideas and successes among developing countries. Ban had, on Monday night in New York, with members of Partners in Population and Development (PPD), attended a high-level dinner to highlight the critical role of South-South collaboration and as a means to advance women’s and children’s health and the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)…” (Adejoro, 2/26).

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Poverty Eradication At Core Of Post-2015 Development Agenda, Chinese U.N. Envoy Says

Xinhua News: Chinese U.N. envoy stresses poverty eradication in post-2015 development agenda
“A Chinese envoy to the United Nations on Wednesday said that poverty eradication should remain the core of the post-2015 development agenda. Wang Min, China’s deputy permanent representative to the U.N., made the remarks at a meeting of Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on 2014 operational activities for development segment…” (Yang, 2/27).

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Antibiotic Resistance Poses New Public Health Threat In Africa

VOA News: Antibiotics Overuse is Price of Success in Africa Malaria Fight
“As malaria rates decline across much of Africa, a new study seeks to fight another problem. Drug-resistant bacteria are a growing concern as antibiotics have become the automatic choice for treating a child with a fever…” (Baragona, 2/26).

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Health Systems Struggle To Keep Pace With Niger's Progress In Reducing Child Deaths

IRIN: Niger’s ‘remarkable’ progress in reducing child deaths
“Niger has made remarkable progress in cutting under-five mortality over the past decade, and it looks set to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on reducing infant mortality rates by two-thirds by 2015. But high maternal mortality, skyrocketing population growth, and low government capacity are still impeding progress, say partners and health practitioners…” (2/27).

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Kangaroo Mother Care Can Reduce Newborn Deaths, Research Shows

VOA News: Q&A with Joy Lawn: Kangaroo Mother Care
“A mother’s touch really can save a child’s life. That’s the claim behind Kangaroo Mother Care. … There is solid research to back up the claims. The research is led by neonatologist Joy Lawn and appears in the International Journal of Epidemiology…” (Alonzo, 2/25).

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Guardian Expert Panel Explores Ways To Help Refugees

The Guardian: From Syria to Central African Republic, how to invest in refugees
“As scenes from Syria’s Yarmouk camp shock the world, our expert panel explores the ways the development community can go beyond meeting basic needs in refugee camps…” (Scott, 2/26).

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Vietnam Raises Alarm Over H7N9 Bird Flu Risk

Nature News: Vietnam on high alert over flu risk
“The H7N9 avian influenza virus that has killed more than 100 people in China in the past year has for the first time been detected in a province bordering Vietnam, raising the prospect that the disease may take hold across Asia and beyond…” (Butler, 2/26).

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Egypt's Claims Of HIV, Hepatitis C Cures Dismissed As Political Ploy

New York Times: Disbelief After Egypt Announces Cures for AIDS and Hepatitis C
“At a news conference late last week, an Egyptian Army doctor confidently announced that the country’s military had developed a cure for the virus that causes AIDS, as well as hepatitis C, one of Egypt’s gravest public health threats. … Independent experts were skeptical about the inventions and treatments. In recent days, as news of the discovery spread, it seemed easy to dismiss as the latest embarrassment imposed on Egyptians by their leadership…” (Fahim/El Sheikh, 2/26).

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Kidnapped Polio Workers, Security Personnel Released In Pakistan

News outlets report on the release of several polio workers and guards who had been kidnapped in Pakistan.

Agence France-Presse/GlobalPost: Kidnapped Pakistan polio team released
“A six-member polio vaccination team was released by their captors Wednesday, two days after gunmen kidnapped them in southwest Pakistan, officials said…” (2/26).

APP/Dawn.com: Kidnapped polio worker, Levies men released in Awaran
“A polio worker and three Levies personnel who were kidnapped from Awaran were set free late Tuesday night, police said…” (2/26).

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Editorials and Opinions

African Leaders Have Obligation To Protect Citizens, Including Those In LGBT Communities

New York Times: Antigay Laws in Africa
Adotei Akwei, managing director of government relations at Amnesty International USA

“The new antigay law in Uganda is alarming and, sadly, not shocking. … [I]t follows the passage of similar legislation in Nigeria and fits within a growing trend that Amnesty International reported on last July. … The direction in which these leaders are taking their countries is horrific and appalling. Human rights activists and societal leaders must raise their voices and use their power to prove to one’s compatriots that being gay is not an affliction and that all people, no matter what their sexual orientation, have a right to be protected by their governments” (2/26).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S., U.K. Call On Global Community To Take Action Against Sexual Violence

“Preventing sexual violence in conflict isn’t about politics. It’s about our common humanity, and we all need to be united in action against it. That’s why the United Kingdom and the United States are working together to protect and empower vulnerable populations during conflict, humanitarian emergencies and peacetime,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague write in a “DipNote” blog post. “…It’s time we shift the stigma of shame from survivors of these crimes onto those who actually commit, command and condone them. Together with partners around the world, the United Kingdom and the United States are standing behind survivors as they seek to heal their wounds, gain justice and rebuild their lives and communities…” (2/25).

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Blog Summarizes Changes To Foreign Food Aid Under Farm Bill

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food for Thought” blog summarizes the 2014 Agricultural Act’s impact on international food aid, writing, “The Act contained reform measures, designed to increase the flexibility and effectiveness of the food aid program. According to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, the Act will allow the agency to reach 600,000 more people with the same resources…” The blog post also lists additional resources (2/26).

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AIDS-Free World Directors Ask For Removal Of U.N. Special Envoy For HIV/AIDS In Africa

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Paula Donovan and Stephen Lewis, co-directors of AIDS-Free World, state, “We write to you out of deep concern regarding Ms. Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe, U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. In the wake of Uganda’s passage of a law criminalizing homosexuality, Ms. Wandira-Kazibwe’s reprehensible silence, and her ongoing position as a senior adviser to President Museveni, threaten to undermine the credibility and independence of the United Nations. We urge you to terminate her position as Special Envoy and appoint an impartial advocate for the rights of all Africans. … Ms. Wandira-Kazibwe’s split loyalty presents an obvious conflict of interest that has damaged her credibility. Continued inaction by your office risks damaging yours as well” (2/26).

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Report Suggests Western Nations Compensate African Nations For HCW Training

Humanosphere examines a new report (.pdf) on health workforce and capacity that says that since “Western nations are benefiting from the migration of skilled health professionals trained in Africa … Western countries should pay back the poor countries for the training. One of the challenges to health in sub-Saharan African countries is a lack of health workers. Africa bears 24 percent of the global disease burden, but only three percent of the health workers in the world are on the continent. This shortage is exacerbated by the migration of health workers from African countries to the West…” (Murphy, 2/26).

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Global Community Must 'Keep Going' To Create AIDS-Free Future

In a guest post for the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog, Naomi Rutenberg, vice president and director for HIV/AIDS at the Population Council, asserts that even in light of recent political developments and anti-gay measures, “creating an AIDS-free future is contingent on addressing the discrimination that has such a significant impact on public health. In the face of potentially devastating roadblocks like the laws in Nigeria and Uganda, we have an option: Keep going” (2/26).

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WHO Cholera Vaccine Stockpile Used For First Time In S. Sudan

“Last year, the World Health Organization established a two million dose cholera vaccine stockpile for the first time. Cholera outbreaks can be fast and explosive, and if communities are not prepared, they can be deadly. This week the WHO announced the vaccines from the stockpile are currently being given to nearly 140,000 people in two internally displaced persons camps in South Sudan,” Helen Matzger, a senior program officer on the Vaccine Delivery Team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “…Health prevention does not often make the news because there is no health crisis to write about. While South Sudan is in the news for other reasons, hopefully cholera will not be one of them thanks to this preventive use of the vaccine” (2/26).

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South Africa's Progress Against HIV/AIDS Seeing Benefits

In a post in the Council on Foreign Relation’s “Africa in Transition” blog, John Campbell, the Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies, discusses South Africa’s progress in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. “…The payoff can be seen in South Africa’s significant increase in life expectancy, from 54 years in 2005 to 60 years in 2011. South Africa still carries a heavy HIV/AIDS burden, and will do so for a long time. But, the South African government’s campaigns against HIV/AIDS are a major achievement” (2/26).

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New Issue Of ‘Global Fund News Flash’ Available Online

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has published Issue 38 of its newsletter, the “Global Fund News Flash.” The issue features an article on country dialogue, which is a fundamental requirement in the fund’s new funding model; an article on risk management as it applies to the fund’s grants on programming, finance, and health products and governance; and an article featuring John Rae, a documentary and commercial photographer who works with the fund (2/27).

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