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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Members Of U.S. Congress Urge President Obama, Administration To Address Zika Virus Outbreak In Latin America

The Hill: McConnell presses Obama to fight Zika virus
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pressing President Obama to move aggressively to combat the spread of the Zika virus. McConnell on Tuesday warned that Obama needs to act now before panic grips the country, as it did when the Ebola virus dominated headlines in 2014…” (Bolton, 2/2).

National Journal: Congress Begins to Tackle Zika Virus
“… ‘The ma­jor act­ors here — Con­gress, the ad­min­is­tra­tion, the World Health Or­gan­iz­a­tion — are act­ing faster than dur­ing the Ebola crisis,’ said Jen Kates, a Kais­er Fam­ily Found­a­tion vice pres­id­ent, ‘and I do think it’s in large part be­cause of the Ebola crisis. … There’s a heightened aware­ness of how glob­ally con­nec­ted we are’…” (Roubein, 2/1).

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Zika Virus Outbreak Highlights Women's Reproductive Health Challenges In Latin America; U.S. Could Use Diplomatic Leverage To Improve Access To Services, Kaiser Family Foundation Brief Suggests

USA TODAY: Zika highlights lack of access to contraception, abortion in Latin America
“The Zika outbreak spreading throughout Latin American and the Caribbean is shedding light on what women’s health advocates call an equally important public health crisis: the lack of contraception and basic maternity care in much of the region. … Latin America and the Caribbean have some of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws, according to [a brief released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation]…” (Szabo, 2/2).

Vox: Why Zika is a huge Catch-22 for pregnant women
“…The United States may have a role to play as well, according to researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation. The U.S. government could boost family planning aid, although it can’t help with abortion services due to the restrictions [currently interpreted] under the Helms amendment. The U.S. could also use its public health expertise and diplomatic leverage to pressure countries into protecting the rights of women and girls…” (Crockett, 2/3).

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WHO Establishes Zika Response Unit, Warns Africa, Asia Of Outbreak's Possible Spread

Agence France-Presse: World health officials mobilize on Zika threat
“World health officials mobilized with emergency response plans and funding pleas Tuesday as fears grow that the Zika virus, blamed for a surge in the number of brain-damaged babies, could spread globally and threaten the Summer Olympics…” (Smith, 2/2).

BBC News: Why Asia should worry about Zika too
“…The spread of the disease across the Americas is being described as an ‘explosive pandemic’ and now Asia is on alert…” (Rowlatt, 2/2).

Deutsche Welle: Africa urged to be vigilant over Zika virus
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the Zika virus, responsible for a surge in birth defects in South America, could rapidly spread to Africa. A global response unit has been set up…” (Muvunyi, 2/2).

Reuters: Africa, Asia vulnerable to spread of Zika virus: WHO
“The Zika virus linked to a microcephaly outbreak in Latin America could spread to Africa and Asia, with the world’s highest birth rates, the World Health Organization warned as it launched a global response unit against the new emergency…” (Nebehay, 2/2).

U.N. News Centre: Zika virus: U.N. agencies step up response measures following declaration of public health emergency
“…[Antony Costello, the director of maternal, child, and adolescent health at WHO,] also informed reporters that a global response unit has been set up, bringing together all people across WHO in headquarters and in the regions, to prepare a formal response using the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis. Meanwhile, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is working with governments to mobilize communities to protect themselves from infection…” (2/2).

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U.S. Health Officials Confirm Case Of Zika Sexual Transmission In Dallas County; WHO Calls For Further Investigation

Agence France-Presse: Zika virus ‘sexually transmitted’ in Texas
“The Zika virus has been transmitted sexually, top U.S. health authorities confirmed, fueling fears of the rapid spread of the disease blamed for a surge in the number of brain-damaged babies…” (Sheridan, 2/3).

The Hill: CDC confirms Zika virus transmitted through sex in Dallas
“…The case, in Dallas County, Texas, occurred when someone recently traveled to a country with Zika virus, and then returned to the U.S. and transferred the virus to their sexual partner…” (Sullivan, 2/2).

Reuters: First U.S. Zika virus transmission reported, attributed to sex
“…After this case, the CDC advised men to consider using condoms after traveling to areas with the Zika virus. Pregnant women should avoid contact with semen from men exposed to the virus…” (Herskovitz, 2/3).

Reuters: WHO calls for further investigation into sexual spread of Zika virus
“The World Health Organization (WHO) voiced concern on Wednesday over a report the Zika virus had been sexually transmitted in the United States and called for further investigation into the mosquito-borne virus…” (Nebehay, 2/3).

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U.S. Government, Nonprofit Agencies Working To Prevent Zika From Entering Blood Supply

Bloomberg Business: U.S. to Halt Blood Donation by Travelers to Areas With Zika
“…The Food and Drug Administration is working with other government agencies and with blood collection establishments ‘to rapidly implement appropriate donor deferral measures for travelers who have visited affected regions in order to protect the blood supply in the United States,’ Tara Goodin, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in an e-mail Wednesday…” (Edney, 1/27).

Reuters: U.S. Red Cross asks blood donors to wait 28 days after visiting Zika areas
“The American Red Cross appealed on Tuesday to prospective donors who have visited Zika outbreak zones to wait at least 28 days before giving blood, but said the risk of transmitting the virus through blood donations remained ‘extremely’ low in the continental United States…” (Catania/Gorman, 2/2).

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Researchers Face Challenges In Zika Vaccine Development, Mosquito Control Efforts

The Guardian: Race is on to develop Zika vaccine but tests on pregnant women raise concern (Milman, 2/3).

NPR: Attention Turns To Repelling Mosquitoes That Carry Zika, Dengue (Montagne, 2/2).

Reuters: Scientists’ Path to Usable Zika Vaccine Strewn with Hurdles (2/2).

Reuters: Zika mosquitoes’ habits may foil U.S. elimination efforts (Steenhuysen, 2/2).

Reuters: U.N. ready to irradiate mosquito sperm to combat Zika virus (Nasralla, 2/2).

Reuters: Florida leads U.S. in ramping up mosquito programs over Zika virus (Gonzales, 2/2).

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U.S. Government Releases Power Africa Roadmap As Congress Approves Electrify Africa Act Supporting Initiative

Devex: A new roadmap for Power Africa
“An ambitious new roadmap released last week lays out how Power Africa, the United States government initiative to increase power generation capacity and access to electricity in Africa, will achieve its targets by 2030. The report outlines areas of new emphasis for the initiative, including a greater focus on energy access and on renewables…” (Saldinger, 2/2).

VOA News: Congress Passes ‘Electrify Africa Act’ to Help Millions Get Access to Power
“The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday passed the Electrify Africa Act, after nearly two years of trying to get the measure through both chambers of Congress. It now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature. The bill will provide a framework for a major public-private partnership between the United States and sub-Saharan African countries to help millions of people gain access to reliable electricity…” (Saine, 2/1).

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Daily Beast Examines Politics Surrounding Helms Amendment Interpretations For Women Raped In Conflict

Daily Beast: Where Do Refugee Women Turn for Abortions?
“…[T]here’s an abortion law that has largely been left off the campaign trail and quietly ignored by the Obama administration. It’s a law that, as it is currently being interpreted, refuses abortion funding to refugees who have been raped. But the Helms Amendment … doesn’t actually include that explicit prohibition. As an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA), it specifies that no federal assistance funds ‘may be used to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.’ Terminating a pregnancy resulting from rape, as abortion rights advocates have repeatedly pointed out, is not really a matter of ‘family planning’…” (Allen, 2/3).

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Increased Urbanization, Travel Exacerbates Dengue Outbreaks In Cities, Necessitating Prevention Innovations

Smithsonian.com: The World’s Megacities Are Making Dengue Deadlier
“…The influx of people, increased construction, and ongoing travel of humans and mosquitoes around the world have led to a 30-fold rise in urban dengue outbreaks between 1960 and 2010, according to the World Health Organization. Fighting this problem will mean combining some of the world’s most basic public health measures, like plumbing and sanitation, with high-tech vaccines and mosquito control measures…” (Arnold, 2/2).

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Hunger, Starvation Affecting Civilians In South Sudan Conflict Zones, Ceasefire Monitor Says

Agence France-Presse: Civilians ‘starving to death’ in S. Sudan war zones: monitor
“South Sudanese civilians are dying of starvation as warring forces flout a peace deal, the chief ceasefire monitor said Tuesday, adding he was ‘staggered’ at conditions after two years of war. … ‘I continue to urge you, the leaders of South Sudan, to do whatever you can to ensure the humanitarian effort is successful,’ said Festus Mogae, a former Botswana president, who is pushing efforts to form a unity government…” (2/2).

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Human Rights Leaders, Women's Advocates Urge Sierra Leone President To Sign Safe Abortion Bill

The Guardian: Sierra Leone’s president urged to sign safe abortion bill
“Women’s rights groups have joined U.N. and African human rights leaders in urging the president of Sierra Leone to support a bill that would change the law to allow women to terminate a pregnancy in any circumstances up to 12 weeks. The safe abortion bill, which would also allow abortion in cases of incest, rape, and fetal impairment up to 24 weeks, was passed unanimously by parliament in December. But the president, Ernest Bai Koroma, has refused to sign the bill into law, and sent it back to parliament after meeting faith leaders…” (Fofana/Ford, 2/3).

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The Guardian Panel Of Experts Discusses Ways To Improve Maternal Health Amid Conflict, Poverty

The Guardian: 11 ideas to improve maternal health in areas of conflict and extreme poverty
“How can we improve health care for new and expectant mothers in insecure environments? Our panel of experts share their thoughts…” (Purvis, 2/2).

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Editorials and Opinions

In Light Of Zika Virus, Health Policies Must Support Women's Access To Reproductive Health Services, Including Abortion, Contraception

Washington Post: Zika is the latest example of how hard it is to be a woman in Latin America
Jill Filipovic, journalist and lawyer

“…Again, the burden is on women to avoid pregnancy, and again, those same women have few tools to do it. … At no point have women been given the necessary medical, social, and financial support to carry out the task assigned to them. Zika means women who already carry enormous weight with little assistance are being assigned even more reproductive burdens, in countries where their labor is demeaned and their own decisions denigrated and unsupported. The socioeconomic status of millions of women is unlikely to change in a few weeks. Their access to health care, including contraception and abortion, could — if there’s the political willpower. Perhaps the virus will finally make Latin American governments realize the load with which they’ve saddled women is too heavy…” (2/3).

Winnipeg Free Press: The politics of global maternal health
Candace Johnson, associate political science professor at the University of Guelph

“…[A]ccessibility of birth control could be improved as a public health goal, even if the larger goal of women’s reproductive rights is still unpalatable in many countries in the region. Access to prenatal screening, which requires fairly sophisticated and expensive technology, and abortion, which does not, would also improve disparities, as the range of choices available to women would be expanded. While these are complex goals fraught with all sorts of political, religious, and cultural problems, the admonition to ‘not get pregnant for the next few years,’ is nonsensical. If only it were that simple. … What is needed is global maternal health policy that addresses the complex social and biomedical sources of inequality and infection in developing countries as a serious priority of international politics” (2/3).

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Cuba's Existing Anti-Mosquito Campaign Might Help Prevent Zika Outbreak In Nation

The Nation: Zika Is Circling Cuba. What Will Happen When It Lands?
Greg Grandin, author and history professor at New York University

“…Over in Cuba, Zika has yet to make an appearance. It’s circling. … But for the last few years, well before the current Zika outbreak, Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health has been carrying out an aggressive ‘lucha antivectorial’ (anti-vector struggle) against the Aedes aegypti, with campaigns to fumigate and clean up the places where mosquitos breed and to monitor fevers. Cuba’s public health campaigns are famous, and this one started specifically in response to an earlier regional outbreak of dengue and chikungunya. … [Cuba’s anti-mosquito campaign] has real limitations, as the account details, but so far, compared to surrounding countries, it has been relatively successful in containing dengue and chikungunya. … Hopefully, Cuba’s success will continue with Zika” (2/2).

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Obama Administration's Handling Of Syria Crisis Should Translate Into Action

Washington Post: Mr. Kerry continues to lecture as Syrians continue to starve to death
Editorial Board

“…Secretary of State John F. Kerry has been denouncing [the crisis in Madaya] in recent days. ‘People are dying; children are suffering not as an accident of war, but as the consequence of an intentional tactic — surrender or starve,’ he said Sunday. … Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s handling of the Syrian crisis appears to be enabling those very war crimes. … While issuing strong statements of disapproval, neither the United States nor the United Nations has taken, proposed, or even hinted at any action to force compliance by the regime of Bashar al-Assad or by Russia, which is doing much of the bombing. … Mr. Kerry and the Obama administration … are responding with nothing but rhetoric…” (2/2).

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Accelerating Progress Against Cancer Requires Collaboration, Research

The Hill: Powering our progress against cancer
Edward Abrahams, president of the Personalized Medicine Coalition; Margaret Foti, chief executive officer of the American Association for Cancer Research; and Marcia A. Kean, chair of Strategic Initiatives of Feinstein Kean Healthcare; all co-conveners of the Turning the Tide Against Cancer initiative

“…As a catalyst for more progress, [Vice President Joe Biden] has outlined two priorities for his remaining time in office — increasing funding for research … and integrating siloed research and treatment efforts into a coordinated attack against cancer. Many in the oncology community have already recognized that the most effective way to advance treatments for cancer is through collaboration. … As our organizations have helped lead this work, two themes have emerged. First, the value of research and innovation cannot be underestimated. … Second, achieving this goal requires us to harness the entire health care system to accelerate progress against cancer. … The president’s and vice president’s actions underscore a turning point in the fight against cancer. We are at the cusp of major scientific and treatment advances that can help advance their vision. Doing so will require shared commitment, collaboration, and research and health care systems that are fully aligned in support of faster progress…” (2/2).

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Expanding Family Planning Access Requires Coordinated Rights-Based Approach

Devex: Rights-based family planning: Collaboration for acceleration
Beth Schlachter, executive director of FP2020, and Yetnayet Asfaw, vice president for strategy and impact at EngenderHealth

“…We have both the opportunity and obligation to accelerate our progress [in expanding family planning access] by putting an individual’s rights at the center — and making sure they stay there. However, this must be a collective, concerted effort by governments, health care providers, communities, and clients. … [A] broad array of partners have collaborated to develop frameworks to articulate what a rights-based approach entails, design tools and trainings to help create rights-based programs, and now to roll out these tools as a way of engaging diverse stakeholders, measuring their impact, and ultimately holding our governments and ourselves accountable. … [L]et’s renew our promise to coordinate across donors, partners, and implementers and make rights-based family planning a reality for the millions of women and girls who are relying on us to get this right…” (2/2).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Electrify Africa Act, Power Africa Roadmap, USAID App Contribute To U.S. Efforts To Alleviate Energy Poverty In Africa

Center for Global Development’s “Rethinking U.S. Development Policy”: Congress Passes the Electrify Africa Act … Finally
Ben Leo, senior fellow, and Todd Moss, senior fellow and chief operating officer at CGD, discuss Congress’s recent passage of the Electrify Africa Act, the Obama administration’s launch of the Power Africa Roadmap, and the release of a USAID app to track Power Africa’s progress (2/2).

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U.S. Efforts In Post-Earthquake Nepal Focus On Resilience

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: In Nepal, Bouncing Back From the Earthquake
In an article originally published in USAID’s November/December 2015 issue of FrontLines, Stuti Basnyet, senior development outreach and communication specialist at the USAID mission in Nepal, and Bibek Bhandari, freelance journalist, discuss the threat and impact of earthquakes on health in Nepal and examine USAID’s efforts to help the country better prepare for future emergencies and natural disasters (2/2).

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CSIS Blog Post Examines WHO, U.S. Government Responses To Zika Virus Outbreak In LAC

Center for Strategic & International Studies’ “Smart Global Health”: Zika Virus
J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, discusses the similarities and discrepancies among the WHO’s and U.S. government’s responses to the Zika virus and associated birth defects in Latin America and the Caribbean (2/2).

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CGD Blog Post Provides Recap Of 4th International Conference On Family Planning

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog”: On Family Planning, Financing, and Fine Lines: Recapping ICFP 2016
Rachel Silverman, senior policy analyst at CGD, discusses the 4th International Conference on Family Planning, which took place in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, during the last week in January. Silverman highlights how different priorities within family planning can potentially affect funding flows, the unity and differences among constituencies in the family planning advocacy community, and the need for continued learning, evidence, and research. She cites research from CGD; the Alliance for Reproductive, Maternal, and Newborn Health; and Avenir Health, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (2/2).

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