KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Guinea Worm Disease Nears Eradication

News outlets report on the progress of eradicating Guinea worm, saying that the steep decline in cases indicates that eradication of the parasite is reachable.

Carter Center: 148 Cases of Guinea Worm Disease Remain Worldwide
“The Carter Center announced today that 148 Guinea worm cases were reported worldwide in 2013. These provisional numbers, reported by ministries of health in the remaining four endemic nations and compiled by the Center, show that cases of the debilitating disease were reduced by 73 percent in 2013 compared to 542 cases in 2012. When the Center began leading the first international campaign to eradicate a parasitic disease, there were an estimated 3.5 million Guinea worm cases occurring annually in Africa and Asia…” (1/16).

HuffPost Live: Jimmy Carter Announces Guinea Worm Disease On The Brink Of Eradication
“A painful and debilitating disease which dates back to ancient times is on the brink of eradication, former President Jimmy Carter announced on HuffPost Live Thursday. The latest provisional numbers for cases of Guinea worm disease have reached a historic low of 148 people worldwide in 2013…” (Hamdan/Schuster, 1/16).

New York Times: Guinea Worm Said to Infect Few in 2013
“Only 148 cases of Guinea worm disease were found in the world in 2013, a 73 percent drop from the 542 cases found one year earlier, the Carter Center announced Thursday…” (McNeil, 1/16).

NPR: From Millions Of Cases To 148: Guinea Worm’s Days Are Numbered
“The world recorded only 148 cases of Guinea worm last year, the Carter Center said Thursday. That’s nearly three-quarters less than in 2012, and a tiny fraction compared to the 3.5 million cases back in 1986…” (Doucleff, 1/16).

Science: Guinea Worm Eradication at Risk in South Sudanese War
“…Next week, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was scheduled to travel to the South Sudanese capital Juba and announce that the world is now closer than ever to eradicating guinea worm disease. … But now that progress is in peril. In December, violence erupted between rebels and the South Sudanese government, leading the Carter Center in Atlanta, in charge of the three-decade fight against the guinea worm, to evacuate its expat staff of more than 30 people and cancel the Juba meeting. If the violence continues and spreads, it could wipe out recent progress in South Sudan and the region…” (Enserink, 1/17).

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Studies Examine Drug-Resistant TB, New HIV Infections Among Youth In South Africa

Media outlets report on news surrounding HIV and tuberculosis (TB) in South Africa.

Agence France-Presse: Probe highlights risk from South Africa’s drug-resistant TB
“A long-term probe has found that South Africans with highly drug-resistant TB are ‘systematically’ discharged from hospital without being cured, placing themselves and others at risk, its authors said Friday. … Experts have long warned that patients with drug-resistant TB who are released without support have a low chance of survival — and may also infect others with the dangerous germ…” (1/16).

Reuters: South Africa risks spreading totally drug-resistant TB — study
“…Despite being treated intensively with an average of eight anti-tuberculosis drugs, many of the patients fared poorly, with high rates of treatment failure and death. Five years after treatment initiation, only 12 of the patients had favorable outcomes and 74 percent had died. … Commenting on the findings in The Lancet, Max O’Donnell from New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the United States said they should serve as an ‘urgent alarm’…” (Kelland, 1/16).

Bloomberg News: New HIV Infections in South Africa on Steady Decline, U.N. Says
“New HIV infections among South Africa’s youth fell to 160,000, or 1.4 percent of the age group, in 2012, according to a report by the United Nations agency set up to tackle AIDS…” (Mbatha, 1/17).

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U.N. Fears Genocide In CAR, Appeals For More Assistance

News outlets examine the worsening humanitarian situation in Central African Republic (CAR). U.N. officials express fear over possible genocide, while food aid and funding assistance to the country remain limited.

Agence France-Presse: U.N. fears ‘genocide’ in C. Africa: humanitarian chief
“The spiraling violence in the Central African Republic could turn into a genocide, the U.N.’s humanitarian operations director warned Thursday, calling for large-scale aid and military support to help stabilize the country…” (1/16).

Reuters: ‘Seeds of genocide’ in Central African Republic, U.N. warns
“A senior U.N. official warned of the risk of genocide in Central African Republic without a more robust international response to communal bloodshed in which at least 20 more people were killed on Thursday…” (Braun/Miles, 1/16).

IRIN: Major food crisis looms in CAR
“Farmers in the Central African Republic (CAR), which has been immersed in violence since a coup in March 2013, urgently need more seeds and tools to avert a nationwide food crisis, aid agencies have warned. As many as ’94 percent of communities report that they do not have enough seeds to plant for the next agricultural season’ in March, according to the findings of a Multisectorial Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) of humanitarian needs in CAR, which was undertaken by several U.N. agencies…” (1/16).

U.N. News Centre: Central African Republic: U.N. humanitarian appeal for $247 million only 6 percent funded
“Donors have provided only six percent of the $247 million that the United Nations needs over the next 100 days to ease the ‘mega-tragedy’ in strife-torn Central African Republic (CAR), where nearly 900,000 people have been driven from their homes and now lack the very basics of food, water, medical care and shelter…” (1/16).

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U.N. Says Syrian Crisis Threatening MDG Progress In Arab Region

Inter Press Service: Syrian Crisis Threatens Development in Arab World
“The widespread sectarian violence and ongoing military conflicts in several political hotspots, including Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, have not only claimed thousands of human lives and devastated fragile economies but also undermined the U.N.’s longstanding plans to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty worldwide. The U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), the world body’s lead agency monitoring human development, points out that the political turmoil, including in countries such as Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, is threatening to derail the U.N.’s highly-touted Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), specifically in the Arab world…” (Deen, 1/17).

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U.N. Relief Official Calls For Increased Humanitarian Support For Philippines

U.N. News Centre: Philippines: U.N. humanitarian chief urges donors to increase aid for typhoon recovery
“The recovery process in the Philippines has been steady but uneven, the United Nations top relief official said today, urging donors to increase support for the $788 million response plan for Filipinos, who continue to depend on humanitarian support, particularly to rebuild their homes…” (1/16).

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South Africa, Drug Companies Spar Over Intellectual Property Laws

Reuters: South Africa slams Big Pharma in generic drugs row
“South Africa on Friday slammed global drug firms over a covert campaign against its planned overhaul of intellectual property laws to favor cheaper generic drugs, accusing pharmaceutical companies of a ‘satanic’ plot to commit ‘genocide.’ … South Africa is in the final stages of implementing a new law that would allow generic drugmakers to produce cut-price copies of patented medicines and make it harder for firms to register and roll over patents…” (Motsoeneng, 1/17).

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Russia's 'No Methadone' Method Fails To Curb HIV

Bloomberg News: Russia’s Cold Turkey Fails to Stem HIV Among Drug Users
“Yekaterinburg, the Siberian city where drug users used to be handcuffed to their beds to help them quit, exemplifies Russia’s efforts to stamp out the habit in a nation that has the most HIV-infected addicts. … While its neighbors China and Ukraine are seeing the benefits of methadone and other ways of preventing HIV transmission such as clean needles, Russia is instead fighting drugs and the virus with a patchwork of home-grown strategies that emphasize willpower, personal discipline and healthy lifestyles…” (Bennett, 1/16).

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Pakistani City Contains Largest Reservoir Of Polio Viruses, WHO Says

Reuters: Pakistani city is world’s biggest reservoir of polio viruses
“Pakistan’s volatile northwestern city of Peshawar is the largest reservoir of endemic polio viruses in the world, the World Health Organization said on Friday, amid concerns over continuing violence against polio vaccination teams…” (Houreld, 1/17).

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Experts Watch Closely As Number Of H7N9 Cases Increases In China

Reuters: Increasing toll of H7N9 bird flu demands constant vigilance
“A big wave of H7N9 bird flu cases and deaths in China since the start of 2014 is a reminder that emerging flu strains need constant surveillance if the world is not to be caught off guard by a deadly pandemic…” (Kelland, 1/17).

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Study Launched In Asia Examining Challenges To Hepatitis C, HIV Treatment

Thomson Reuters Foundation: First regional study on hepatitis C and HIV co-infection launched in Asia
“The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) has launched the first regional study in Asia looking at obstacles in treating people living with hepatitis C and HIV in low and middle-income countries…” (Win, 1/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Grand Convergence 'Provides Opportunity For Unity' In Global Health

The Lancet: Grand convergence: a future sustainable development goal?
“…Here is the case for grand convergence as a [sustainable development goal (SDG)]. A paralyzing weakness in the global health community is the rivalry between diseases. The ‘my disease is more important than your disease’ culture dissipates energy that should be directed towards the common goal of achieving the right to the highest attainable standard of health for all. But until now, except for universal health coverage, there has been no comprehensive, all encompassing objective that the global health community could unite behind. Grand convergence provides that opportunity for unity…” (1/15).

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Sustained Peace In South Sudan Critical For Guinea Worm Eradication

Huffington Post: The World’s Youngest Country and a Very Old Disease: South Sudan Proves Guinea Worm Can Be Defeated With Return to Peace
Donald Hopkins, vice president for health programs at the Carter Center

“…[T]his past year, the [South Sudanese] national program reported a 99 percent reduction in [Guinea worm] cases (113 cases in 2013, provisional) since 2006. In the history of the campaign, this is the greatest reduction of cases in just seven years and is a demonstration of what South Sudan can do with sustained peace when it puts its mind to it. … We know by the determination and civic spirit we’ve seen in the campaign to wipe out Guinea worm disease that the people of South Sudan have sacrificed greatly to achieve independence — too much to slide into a prolonged conflict…” (1/16).

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Developing Countries Need Strategies To Improve Science-Led Policy Development

SciDev.Net: Turning scientific consensus into development policy
Heneri Dzinotyiweyi, former minister of science and technology development of Zimbabwe

“Developing nations need a framework to bolster development plans through relevant research, says Heneri Dzinotyiweyi. … There is a need to evolve mechanisms that ensure that scientific consensus gets realized through appropriate positive responses by policymakers (at a minimum, the government’s consideration of issues raised by scientists). Such a framework could range from providing effective arrangements for collaboration between scientists and their governments, to setting up administrative mechanisms to strengthen government understanding of scientific issues — for example, by appointing national science advisers…” He discusses improving science-led policy, implementing science policy strategies, and addressing funding and “brain drain” concerns (1/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Omnibus Appropriations Bill Has Mixed Results For Global Health, Blog Says

Writing about the omnibus appropriations bill released this week by Congress, Nick Taylor, senior program assistant at the Global Health Technologies Coalition, writes in the group’s “Breakthroughs” blog, “…Funding for many accounts that fund research for new global health tools — such as those at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) — was higher than FY 2013 sequestered levels, and a few accounts even saw further increases. However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) remains woefully underfunded, even as Congress increased its budget by $1 billion over last year’s post-sequestration levels. Below are a few key highlights from the omnibus agreement…” (1/16).

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Blog Reviews Report On PEPFAR's Transition To Country Ownership In South Africa

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog discusses a new report by Health GAP and an accompanying article published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes about PEPFAR’s efforts in South Africa to transition to country ownership. “…The report’s eight concrete recommendations specific to the South Africa ‘transition’ include that PEPFAR launch an effort to track [patients lost to follow-up], correcting the failure to do so previously … and supplying information to help shape a more appropriate transfer of responsibility. The report also follows with global recommendations, pointing out, as does the JAIDS article, that what happens in South Africa will affect the future of AIDS-fighting efforts around the world” (Barton, 1/16).

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Lessons Learned From Progress At A Haitian Hospital

Sriram Shamasunder of the UCSF School of Medicine writes in the Global Health Core blog about his experience working at St. Marc Hospital in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. “A few lessons for global health can be gleaned from the progress here,” he writes, outlining and expanding on the ideas of starting small and local, investing in the public sector, and relying on international solidarity (1/16).

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Prisoners In Cambodia Should Receive Drug Use Treatment To Help Prevent HIV Infections

In the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Aphyra Chheav, a member of the Key Correspondents program, advocates that prisoners in Cambodia should have access to treatment for illicit drug use. “…One motivation to provide better drug treatment for prisoners relates to the global ambition to prevent new HIV infections. Dependence on opioids, such as heroin, is linked to higher rates of HIV infection due to the risks of sharing injecting equipment which is contaminated. … Many organizations are working together in Cambodia, including UNAIDS, AusAIDS and KHANA, among others, who believe substitution services and rehabilitation must be made available to people in prison” (1/17).

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