KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.N. Calls For End Of 'Medicalization' Of FGM/C On Day Of Zero Tolerance; FGM Affects More Women In U.S. Than Previously Thought

The Guardian: U.N. calls for FGM zero tolerance after a year in which the world woke up
“The United Nations has designated Friday a worldwide day of zero tolerance on FGM, and called for concrete action to be taken against the cutting of girls and women. This follows 12 months of historic change and growing awareness of the practice…” (Topping, 2/6).

The Guardian: FGM affects three times more people in the U.S. than previously thought
“…Unpublished draft figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seen by the Guardian, show that since the last prevalence study was done in 1997 the number of women and girls living with or at risk from FGM in the U.S. has increased from an estimated 168,000 to 513,000…” (Topping, 2/5).

Reuters: U.S. women at risk of FGM more than double since 2000: research
“…The report, released on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on Friday, said the main cause of the rapid growth was a doubling of immigration to the United States between 2000 and 2013 from African countries where the brutal tradition is prevalent. ‘We put out these numbers so decisions can be made by policy makers in this country,’ said Charlotte Feldman-Jacobs, an author of the report and director of the gender program at the nonprofit Population Reference Bureau (PRB)…” (Anderson, 2/6).

U.N. News Centre: Breaking silence, disproving myths first steps towards eliminating female genital mutilation — U.N. chief
“On the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, marked every year on 6 February, and this year focused on ending the ‘medicalization’ of the procedure, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on health workers around the world to eliminate what he called a ‘deeply harmful’ practice…” (2/6).

Vatican Radio: The struggle against Female Genital Mutilation
“…The U.N. estimates that 150 million women and girls are affected by FGM, primarily in Africa but also in the Middle East and in South-East Asia. … Tommy Simmons is the founder of the Italian branch of Amref Health Africa, a charity that aims to improve the health of people in Africa and end the practice of FGM, and he’s just returned from a visit to Kenya. He spoke to Susy Hodges about this issue…” (2/5).

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Despite Signs Of Slowing Epidemic, Experts Warn Ebola Outbreak Not Over, Note Challenges To Reach Zero Cases

Newsweek: Another Ebola Outbreak ‘Inevitable’
“Doctors and experts say another Ebola outbreak is ‘inevitable,’ unless the international community unites around a long-term, common approach to combat the disease in the future and substantial investment is made into the health services of affected developing countries…” (Phillips, 2/6).

New York Times: Small Rise in New Cases Shows Ebola Hanging On
“Officials from the United Nations and the World Health Organization expressed concern on Thursday over data showing the first weekly rise in new Ebola cases this year, countering the downward trend in the disease that has ravaged three West African nations…” (Gladstone, 2/5).

Reuters: Secret burials thwarting efforts to stamp out Ebola: U.N.
“Efforts to stamp out West Africa’s Ebola epidemic are being thwarted by villagers touching and washing the infectious bodies of dead victims at secret burials and difficulty in tracing those exposed to the virus, U.N. officials said on Thursday…” (Nebehay, 2/5).

U.N. News Centre: ‘Last mile in fight against Ebola will be the hardest,’ says senior U.N. relief official
“The international community’s mobilization in the global Ebola response has been ‘very impressive and effective’ but efforts to reach zero cases must continue unabated, a top United Nations humanitarian official has confirmed…” (2/5).

Washington Post: Guinea, the ground zero of the Ebola outbreak, now hopes the end is near
“…A year after the Ebola epidemic started here, Guinea hopes it is finally close to extinguishing the outbreak. Government officials say their goal is to wipe out the disease within 60 days, through the diligent tracing of anyone who has come into contact with an Ebola patient. But health experts warn that Guinea may face a far harder time eliminating the disease than did its neighbors because of its geographic size, its large population — bigger than that of Liberia and Sierra Leone combined — and a public that has resisted the message that Ebola is real…” (Brittain, 2/5).

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IMF Grants $100M In Debt Relief, Considers Loaning Additional $160M To Ebola-Hit Nations

Bloomberg News: IMF to Provide $100 Million in Debt Relief for Ebola-Hit Nations
“The IMF said it will provide close to $100 million in debt relief for Ebola-hit countries and is considering another $160 million in loans as they try to repair economies ravaged by the outbreak…” (Mayeda, 2/5).

The Guardian: IMF grants Ebola-hit countries $100m debt relief
“…The IMF also urged other international lenders to the countries to take similar action as it established a catastrophe containment relief trust to provide grants to countries suffering epidemics and other natural disasters. … Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, said: ‘[The trust] aims at enhancing our support to the countries in Africa hit by Ebola, as well as other low-income countries that may be affected by public health disasters in the future. This is a strong example of the IMF demonstrating flexibility and innovation in responding to the needs of our global membership’…” (Treanor, 2/5).

Inter Press Service: U.N. Body Demands Debt-Cancellation for Ebola-Impacted Countries
“The U.N. Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is calling on multilateral institutions and governments to cancel the debts of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, to give them ‘breathing space’ to address the region’s economic challenges…” (Vives, 2/3).

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WHO's Slow Ebola Response Prompts Agency, Critics To Call For Reform

NPR: Critics Says Ebola Crisis Was WHO’s Big Failure. Will Reform Follow?
“…Although [WHO Director Margaret Chan] has said no single agency could have solved the Ebola epidemic, critics, including the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, have said WHO should have done more. Now Chan is pushing for the most sweeping reforms of WHO since its founding in 1948…” (Beaubien, 2/6).

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WHO Remains Concerned Over MERS Spread In Middle East

Reuters: WHO still concerned about spread of Saudi MERS virus
“The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday it remained worried about the spread of MERS, a respiratory disease that has infected and killed hundreds of people, overwhelmingly in Saudi Arabia…” (Kelland, 2/5).

World Health Organization: WHO statement on the Eighth Meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee regarding MERS-CoV
At the eighth meeting of the Emergency Committee regarding MERs-CoV, “…[t]he WHO Secretariat provided an update on and assessment of epidemiological and scientific developments, including a description of recent cases and transmission patterns. … The Committee further noted that although significant efforts have been made to strengthen infection prevention and control measures, transmission in health care settings is still occurring…” (2/5).

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E.U. Countries Should Honor Foreign Aid Spending Pledge, Recommit To 0.7% Target, E.U. Commissioner Says

EurActiv: Commission unveils its position on global development after 2015
“The European Commission published priorities for a sustainable development agenda on Thursday (5 February), ahead of negotiations for the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). … ‘The Commission wants the E.U. to continue to lead by example on official development assistance, so we propose a re-commitment of the 0.7 percent target as our political goal and leverage in the negotiations,’ the commissioner [for international cooperation and development] stated…” (Jacobsen, 2/5).

The Guardian: E.U. countries must honor foreign aid pledge, says commissioner
“…Neven Mimica, the E.U. commissioner for international cooperation and development, said that honoring the commitment on official development assistance (ODA) would enhance Europe’s global standing and help pressure other countries into accepting their financial responsibilities…” (Jones, 2/6).

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GHIT Joins Gates Foundation In Grand Challenge Against NTDs, Pledges Initial $4M For Drug, Vaccine Development

SciDev.Net: Japan joins Gates’s Grand Challenge on tropical diseases
“The Gates Foundation and Japan [on Thursday] launched a Grand Challenge to tackle neglected diseases, with an initial funding pledge of U.S. $4 million supplied jointly with Japanese companies. … The Tokyo-based Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund, of which the [Gates F]oundation is already a partner, will coordinate research on visceral leishmaniasis, elephantiasis, and Chagas disease. This is the first time Japan has become involved in the Grand Challenges program…” (Sharma, 2/5).

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Upcoming Elections Could Threaten Nigeria's Current Polio-Free Status, Experts Worry

TIME: Nigerian Elections Threaten Campaign to Make Africa Polio-Free
“…If [Nigeria] can stay [polio-free] another six months it will be removed from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) polio-endemic list, leaving just Pakistan and Afghanistan behind. But the general election, on February 14, has global public health officials worried that Nigeria might yet backslide: every election since 2003 has been followed by a surge in polio cases…” (Baker, 2/5).

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Madagascar, Malawi Face Continuing Threats Related To Flooding, U.N. Agencies Say

Bloomberg News: Madagascar Faces Triple Threat From Disasters as Hundreds Die
“Madagascar is confronting a triple threat: an outbreak of the plague, drought-induced starvation, and the aftermath of a tropical storm that have killed at least 250 people and forced tens of thousands more to flee their homes. Making a difficult situation worse, the natural disasters have coincided with political upheaval in the Indian Ocean island nation…” (Alida, 2/6).

Reuters: UNICEF says 300,000 displaced by Malawi floods, double previous estimate
“More than 300,000 people have been displaced by flooding in Malawi, almost twice as many as previously estimated, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday. Floods triggered by weeks of heavy rains have affected more than one million people, killed 276, and injured more than 600, according to new figures released by the U.N. Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) unit…” (Caspani, 2/5).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. agency boosts aid for Malawi’s flood victims, as Member States are briefed on situation
“The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has announced [Wednesday] that it is scaling-up its efforts in Malawi, following weeks of devastating floods that have displaced large numbers of people and presented complex challenges for that country’s government…” (2/4).

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News Outlets Continue To Discuss New Report Examining Disparities In Child Survival

News outlets discuss a new report from Save the Children, titled “Lottery of Birth.”

Devex: The ‘lottery of birth’: How to give every child an equal chance for a better life
“…Save the Children President and CEO Carolyn Miles shared with Devex that while the advances in child mortality strategies reflect a declining trend in the past few years, the progress is unequal and does not paint the reality on the ground where money, race, and birthplace remain critical factors for a child’s chance of survival…” (Santos, 2/5).

Huffington Post: Malawi’s Child Mortality Rate Dropped 72% With A Program Any Poor Country Can Replicate
“A new report found that 78 percent of surveyed countries face overwhelming obstacles in reducing deaths in children. But Malawi’s notable progress proves impoverished countries are capable of keeping more kids alive…” (Goldberg, 2/5).

Humanosphere: Whether child ‘survives to the age of 5’ is a game of chance
“Every minute 255 children are born. The chances of survival for these children varies greatly depending on where in the world they are born. Children born in the poorest places are more likely to die, according to a report released today by Save the Children…” (Murphy, 2/5).

VOA News: Giving Kids Equal Chance at Survival
“…The report, The Lottery of Birth, said, ‘In 78 percent of the countries studied, at least one social or economic group…is being left behind.’ In 16 percent of the countries, the report found ‘inequalities in children’s survival chances increased across all the groups’ for which data was collected. But the report said there are countries already trying to close the equality gap…” (DeCapua, 2/5).

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Measles, Other Vaccines Have Saved Millions Of Child Lives, But Challenges To Global Immunization Coverage Remain

Inter Press Service: Measles Still Kills Thousands of Children Each Year
“Measles remains one of the leading causes of death for young children worldwide, even though a safe vaccine is available. … Jos Vandelaer, principal adviser on immunizations for UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency, told IPS that the children most at risk of missing out on vaccinations are among the world’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged, including children from minority backgrounds and displaced or refugee children in temporary accommodation…” (Rowlands, 2/5).

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In Devex Interview, NGO Head Says Implementing Gavi-Supported Immunization Programs Will Not Be Easy

Devex: Gavi implementation not a ‘walk in the park’ — NGO chief
“When Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance announced last week in Berlin that it had reached its target of $7.5 billion in pledges for the organization’s 2016-2020 replenishment, many global development actors were relieved. But one stakeholder now warns that even if the funds have been committed, actually implementing the programs and achieving global vaccination goals will be no easy task. It’s ‘not going to be a walk in the park,’ Save the Children International CEO Jasmine Whitbread said in an interview with Devex…” (Okwonga, 2/5).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Mark International Day Of Zero Tolerance For FGM/C

The Lancet: FGM: the mutilation of girls and young women must stop
Audrey Ceschia, senior editor at The Lancet

“Feb 6, 2015, marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, a day to reflect on one of the most cruel of human practices — an ancestral tradition that became a social norm — which has been tolerated for far too long. … Beyond helping women who have been cut, ending FGM must be the ultimate goal. … FGM is a global health issue that must receive more attention if we are to change the lives of millions of girls worldwide. The present debate on the definition of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals — and the place of women and children within them — certainly provides an opportunity to end FGM within a generation” (2/7).

Huffington Post: Calling on Health Workers to Mobilize to End Female Genital Mutilation
Nafissatou J. Diop, senior adviser and coordinator for the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Program on Female Genital Mutilation Cutting: Accelerating Change

“…Today is the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, and this year’s theme is a call to action for health workers around the world to mobilize against FGM. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) lead the largest global program to accelerate the abandonment of FGM, with a focus on 17 countries in Africa and the Middle East. As underlined by our Executive Directors, health workers are uniquely credible and influential in their communities and can take a leadership role in eliminating the practice…” (2/6).

The Guardian: My mother’s refusal to undergo FGM has given me license to dream
Miriam Jerotich, a writer and researcher from Kenya working at the Africa Coordinating Center for the Abandonment of FGM/C based at the University of Nairobi

“…As I grew up, I gradually came to understand the significance of my mother’s actions. She rejected circumcision in the 1970s, at a time when no one in her community had contemplated such an idea. She did not hesitate in sacrificing her own social identity and acceptance to hold on to her educational dreams. … I have attended school through to university without having to worry that [FGM] might cut short my dreams. My mother has given me the license to dream. She has imbued me with the confidence of encouraging other girls to dream alternative futures that do not rely on FGM as a prerequisite” (2/6).

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U.S. Policies Interfere With Women's Access To Safe Abortions

GlobalPost: Unsafe abortions kill 47,000 worldwide as U.S. politics interfere with lifesaving efforts
John Seager, president and CEO of Population Connection

“…We need to give women everywhere access to voluntary family planning services. Allow me to state the obvious: Fewer unplanned and unwanted pregnancies mean fewer abortions. … Sadly, though, U.S. abortion politics interfere with these important life-saving efforts and, at times, contribute to the number of women overseas who are dying from abortions performed or facilitated illegally by unskilled providers. … It’s a tragedy that women and girls are dying by the tens of thousands because they haven’t been granted the right to undergo a medical procedure that should be both safe and available in every country across the globe. Let’s decide, together, to end the crisis of unsafe abortion around the world and commit ourselves to fight the proposals in Congress that intend to bring unsafe abortion back to the United States” (2/5).

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Health Must Be Treated As Fundamental Human Right

The Lancet: Don’t forget health when you talk about human rights
Editorial Board

“Last week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released World Report 2015, their 25th annual global review documenting human rights practices in more than 90 countries and territories in 2014. … Viewed through the lens of health, the report contains several compelling and disturbing themes. … This latest HRW report is an important call to arms to protect health as a fundamental human right. It is a pity that HRW did not identify health as a core element in its analysis, not only as part of a comprehensive package of human rights protections but also as a necessary component of resilient human security. Their analysis should prompt all governments and international health organizations to reflect carefully on their actions to make health a core responsibility and right of all citizens” (2/7).

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Investing In Long-Term Development, Resiliency Will Help Response To Next Disease Outbreak

U.S. News: How to Stop the Next Pandemic
Martin Sajdik, president of the U.N. Economic and Social Council

“…Going forward, in order to put fetters on the ferocious appetite of this [Ebola] pandemic, we must not focus solely on a reactionary response. While quarantines, beds, and medical workers are essential in stemming the bloodied tide that has taken a devastating toll on Sierra Leone of late, we cannot lose sight of setting up resilient societies that are more immune to current and future pandemics. And this is why the work of the U.N. Economic and Social Council is so important, prioritizing prevention in an effort to identify solutions for a comprehensive and multi-sectoral response to the Ebola outbreak. We need to address the root causes rather then just symptoms. … This is the time to show that such pandemics can only be averted through long term investments in the development of societies” (2/5).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Government Marks International Day Of Zero Tolerance For FGM/C

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting
Catherine Russell, U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) and discusses the launch of the State Department’s “first-ever social media campaign to raise awareness and break the silence around FGM/C” (2/5).

White House: Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on Zero Tolerance Day for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting
“Today marks the twelfth annual International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). On this occasion, we stand in solidarity with the more than 125 million women and girls alive today who have undergone FGM/C, and we renew the call to end this harmful practice…” (2/6).

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CDC Epidemiologist Discusses Whether Eliminating Measles By 2020 Is Realistic Goal

U.N. Dispatch: Measles Around the World
Mark Leon Goldberg, managing editor of U.N. Dispatch, speaks with epidemiologist Rebecca Martin of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about “why epidemiologists are so concerned about the American [measles] outbreak; what accounts for the overall decline globally; and what needs to be done to reach that 2020 target [of elimination]” (2/5).

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Myanmar, World Bank Sign Agreement To Improve Access To MNCH Care

World Bank: Helping Myanmar Advance towards Universal Health Coverage: Maternal and Child Healthcare to Expand with New World Bank Financing
“The Government of Myanmar today signed a new agreement with the World Bank to bring improved maternal, newborn, and child health care to millions of mothers and their young children. The Essential Health Services Access Project will provide US$100 million in funding for increased and improved coverage of critical health services across Myanmar’s 330 townships. The project — initially approved by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors in October 2014 — is expected to benefit more than four million pregnant women and young children…” (2/5).

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Blog Post Examines U.K. Government Reports On Antibiotic Resistance

WIRED’s “SUPERBUG”: How To Fight Superbugs: Start Spending Money
In her blog, journalist Maryn McKenna discusses two recently released reports from the U.K. government on efforts to fight antibiotic resistance. “The government-chartered British project examining antibiotic resistance — which made such a splash in December with its prediction that untreatable resistance will kill 10 million people per year by 2050 — has produced its first set of recommendations for turning back the problem. They come down to this: Start spending money…” (2/5).

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