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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Obama's State Of The Union Call To End Malaria Conjures Warnings From Researchers Over Drug Resistance, Other Challenges

New York Times: Obama’s Goal to Wipe Out Malaria May Be a Dream Too Far
“…Under Mr. Obama, the President’s Malaria Initiative has grown into a $618 million program that works in 19 African countries as well as the Mekong River region of Southeast Asia. … The program accounts for a significant portion of global spending on anti-malaria efforts, which reached $2.5 billion in 2014. The United States government is responsible for about half of the total, and about half of America’s spending comes from the president’s initiative. Despite undeniable progress, serious challenges remain…” (Harris, 1/17).

NPR: Obama’s Upbeat Message About Ending Malaria Omits Discouraging Signs
“…Newly reported cases of resistance to malaria drugs, and some signs that mosquitoes are becoming resistant to insecticides, are worrisome. If resistance spreads, it could derail more than a decade of improvement in controlling malaria. Some 3.2 billion people live in parts of the world, many in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria continues to be a threat, according to WHO. Last year, there were 215 million cases and 438,000 deaths from the disease…” (Brink, 1/17).

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Vice President Biden Begins U.S.-Led Effort To Find Cancer Cures

The Hill: Biden kicks off anti-cancer push
“Vice President Joe Biden began his post-State of the Union push on cancer research Friday in Philadelphia, saying he plans on leading anti-cancer efforts for ‘the rest of my life.’ President Obama will soon announce a presidential memorandum allowing Biden to convene a task force in his push to speed up progress in the fight against cancer, the vice president said…” (Sullivan, 1/15).

POLITICO: Biden launches moon shot for a cancer cure
“…Biden plans to discuss cancer with international researchers at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, next week. Later this month he’ll hold the ‘first of several meetings’ with Cabinet heads and agency officials to discuss how the federal government can play a bigger role…” (Wheaton/Karlin, 1/15).

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Vox Examines Congressional Bills Aimed At Improving Foreign Aid Transparency, Maternal, Child Health

Vox: Congress is actually working together on something: reforming foreign aid
“Congress, against all odds, appears to be working again. … As far as 2016 is concerned, the odds of progress are looking good on one topic where you’d never expect the parties to agree: foreign aid. … The first bill, the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, has already gotten halfway to President Obama’s desk. … Somewhat more ambitious is the Reach Every Mother and Child Act, or REACH Act…” (Matthews, 1/15).

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Overhaul Of Humanitarian Aid System, New Funding Sources Needed To Fill $15B Gap, U.N. Panel's Report Says

News outlets discuss findings from a new report by the U.N. High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing.

Associated Press: U.N. panel: $40 billion needed to aid people in war, disasters
“An estimated $40 billion is needed annually to help the rapidly growing number of people needing humanitarian aid as a result of conflicts and natural disasters — and one possibility to help fill the $15 billion funding gap is a small voluntary tax on tickets for soccer games and other sports, concerts and entertainment events, airline travel, and gasoline, a U.N.-appointed panel said…” (Batrawy/Lederer, 1/17).

The Guardian: Fix the aid system or you will fail the poor, experts warn world leaders
“The world’s overstretched humanitarian system needs substantial reform, new sources of funding, and greater efficiency to safeguard a global public good simply ‘too important to fail,’ a new study says…” (Chonghaile/Rankin, 1/17).

IRIN: U.N. aid panel calls for ‘grand bargain’ on finance
“…In addition to calling for more ‘collaborative efficiency’ under what it calls a ‘grand bargain’ between donors and aid actors, the 31-page document also appeals for: more engagement with the private sector; better channeling of Islamic social financing; and the possible introduction of solidarity levies to fund humanitarian responses…” (Redvers, 1/18).

U.N. News Centre: Despite age of ‘mega-crises,’ U.N. chief says humanitarian finance gap is a ‘solvable problem’
“… ‘I believe the panel has seized this opportunity and delivered,’ [U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon] stated, thanking them for the important contribution to shaping the priorities for the World Humanitarian Summit, scheduled next May in Istanbul. ‘In a few weeks I will publish my report and vision for the future humanitarian agenda. I will build on the excellent report launched today to shape this important thinking’…” (1/17).

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CDC Issues Travel Guidance Warning Pregnant Women Of Zika Virus In Latin America, Caribbean

News outlets report on a CDC interim travel guidance related to Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Associated Press: Pregnant women told to avoid countries with Zika outbreaks
“Pregnant women should avoid traveling to Latin America and Caribbean countries that have outbreaks of a tropical illness linked to birth defects, health officials said Friday…” (Stobbe, 1/15).

HealthDay News: CDC Warns Pregnant Women to Avoid 14 Countries in the Americas
“…The travel alert targets pregnant women and those who want to become pregnant and follows reports that thousands of babies in Brazil were born last year with microcephaly, a brain disorder experts associate with Zika exposure…” (Reinberg, 1/15).

New York Times: To Protect Against Zika Virus, Pregnant Women Are Warned About Latin American Trips
“… ‘We believe this is a fairly serious problem,’ said Dr. Lyle R. Petersen, chief of vector-borne diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ‘This virus is spreading throughout the Americas. We didn’t feel we could wait’…” (McNeil, 1/15).

New York Times: Zika Warning Spotlights Latin America’s Fight Against Mosquito-Borne Diseases
“…[A]t each turn, mosquitoes are outwitting their human opponents, a challenge highlighted by the United States’ decision to advise pregnant women to postpone traveling to more than a dozen Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are rapidly expanding the reach of Zika…” (Romero, 1/17).

Reuters: U.S. issues travel alert over Zika virus in Latin America, Caribbean
“…Petersen, speaking on a conference call, said the CDC had confirmed 26 cases of the disease among returning U.S. travelers since it was first reported in 2007, and is still receiving specimens for testing from travelers who recently became ill…” (Beasley, 1/15).

Wall Street Journal: CDC Issues Warning on Zika Virus
“…The virus is spreading rapidly through the Americas, after it was detected in Brazil in May 2015 and subsequently sparked a health crisis. Dr. Petersen said the CDC expects the number of cases reported in the U.S. to rise as more travelers bring it home…” (McKay, 1/15).

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Brazil Taking Steps To Quell Fears Over Mosquito-Borne Diseases Ahead Of Carnival, Olympics

Associated Press: Brazil to fund development of vaccine for Zika virus
“…Health Minister Marcelo Castro said Friday that the goal is for the Sao Paulo-based Butantan Institute to develop ‘in record time’ a vaccine for Zika, which is spread through mosquito bites. Institute Director Jorge Kalil said that is expected take three to five years…” (1/16).

Reuters: Zika virus scare spreads as Brazil gears up for Carnival, Olympics
“Olympic and tourism officials in Brazil downplayed risks for foreign visitors from the mosquito-borne Zika virus on Monday, even as the health ministry warned pregnant women to consult doctors before visiting the country amid a widening scare…” (Prada, 1/18).

Wall Street Journal: Brazil Struggles to Contain Zika Virus
“…Brazil is ground zero in the Americas for three genetically similar mosquito-borne diseases — dengue, chikungunya and Zika — that have hit record levels here in recent months…” (Johnson/Jelmayer, 1/18).

Xinhua News: Brazil has record number of dengue cases in 2015
“Brazil registered 1.6 million cases of dengue fever in 2015, a new record, up from the last record of 1.4 million cases in 2013, the country’s Health Ministry announced on Friday…” (1/15).

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CDC Confirms Zika Infection In Infant Born In Hawaii With Microcephaly; Mother Infected While Living In Brazil

New York Times: Hawaii Baby With Brain Damage Is First U.S. Case Tied to Zika Virus
“…The Hawaii State Department of Health said that a baby born in an Oahu hospital with microcephaly — an unusually small head and brain — had been infected with the Zika virus, which is believed to have caused the same damage in thousands of babies in Brazil in recent months. The presence of the virus was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…” (McNeil, 1/16).

Reuters: Baby born in Hawaii with brain damage confirmed to have Zika infection
“…The mother became ill with the Zika virus while living in Brazil in May 2015 and the baby was likely infected in the womb, Hawaiian state health officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. ‘There’s no indication at this point that there’s any Zika virus circulating in Hawaii,’ CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told Reuters…” (Whitcomb, 1/16).

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WHO To Release Data On Global Air Pollution Next Month, The Guardian Reports

The Guardian: Shock figures to reveal deadly toll of global air pollution
“The World Health Organization has issued a stark new warning about deadly levels of pollution in many of the world’s biggest cities, claiming poor air quality is killing millions and threatening to overwhelm health services across the globe. Before the release next month of figures that will show air pollution has worsened since 2014 in hundreds of already blighted urban areas, the WHO says there is now a global ‘public health emergency’ that will have untold financial implications for governments…” (Vidal/Helm, 1/16).

The Guardian: Air pollution: a dark cloud of filth poisons the world’s cities
“…According to a recent study in Nature, led by Johannes Lelieveld, director of the Max Planck Institute for chemistry in Germany, more people now die from air pollution than malaria and HIV combined. They include 1.4 million people a year in China and 650,000 in India. This compares with about 180,000 a year in Europe…” (Vidal, 1/16).

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U.K. Should Have Listened To MSF Warnings Over Ebola Outbreak, Parliamentary Committee Report Says

The Guardian: U.K. should have heeded M​SF warnings on Ebola, MPs say
“…A report from the International Development Committee (IDC) says that, rather than waiting for the WHO to acknowledge the threat posed by the outbreak, which did not happen until August 2014, the government should have been listening to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which had raised the alarm two months earlier. It says DfID was too slow to respond to warnings from MSF and others because of its overreliance on the existing international public health system and its expectation that the WHO would act quickly…” (Jones, 1/18).

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Southern African Nations, Ethiopia Experiencing El Niño-Related Droughts, Food Shortages, U.N. Food Agencies Warn

Reuters: U.N. food agency says 14 million face hunger in Southern Africa
“About 14 million people face hunger in Southern Africa because of a drought that has been exacerbated by an El Niño weather pattern, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Monday…” (Stoddard, 1/18).

U.N. News Centre: Funding shortfall threatens U.N. efforts to counter El Niño-exacerbated drought in Southern Africa
“…WFP is working with governments, regional organizations, and other partners on contingency, preparedness to secure food supplies, and protect people’s livelihoods. WFP assessment analysts estimate that more than 40 million rural and nine million urban people in the region live in geographic zones that are highly exposed to the fall-out from El Niño…” (1/18).

U.N. News Centre: Ethiopia: $50 million needed to tackle food insecurity caused by El Niño-induced drought, says U.N.
“As the worst El Niño-induced drought has sparked a sharp deterioration in food security and massive drop in agricultural and pastoral production in Ethiopia, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) [Friday] presented a $50 million plan to assist agriculture- and livestock-dependent households and enhance their resilience…” (1/15).

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Madaya, Other Besieged Syrian Towns Continue To Face Food, Medical Supply Shortages, U.N. Agencies Warn

CNN: Help arrives in Madaya, but too late for some
“…In a war where food has long been a weapon of war, the fate of Madaya has shone a brief spotlight on a savage tactic of war that aid workers say all sides are guilty of exploiting…” (Walsh, 1/16).

International Business Times: Syria: Madaya humanitarian situation still grim says UNICEF
“Though a second humanitarian convoy arrived in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya, the situation remains grim as help reached very late for many, the UNICEF chief for Syria said…” (Jimmy, 1/16).

New York Times: Medical Aid Sent to Starving Syrian Town of Madaya
“Alarmed by starvation in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya, aid agencies sent a mobile medical clinic there on Friday and planned to increase medical support…” (Cumming-Bruce, 1/15).

NPR: As Aid Is Offered In Madaya, Other Regions In Syria Are Still Besieged
“…U.N. officials are emphasizing that the need in Syria extends far beyond those towns. Almost 400,000 people are living in besieged areas in Syria, the U.N. says…” (Domonoske, 1/17).

Reuters: U.N. says has reports of starvation in Syria’s besieged Deir Al-Zor
“Unverified reports say 15 to 20 people died of starvation in the Syrian city of Deir al-Zor last year, the United Nations said on Saturday, warning that 200,000 residents there face a severe food shortage and sharply deteriorating conditions…” (Miles, 1/16).

Reuters: Severe malnutrition confirmed in Syria’s Madaya, 32 deaths reported in month: U.N.
“…The United Nations said another convoy was planned to Madaya, sealed off by pro-government forces, and rebel-besieged villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in Idlib [this] week, and that regular access was needed…” (Davison/Nebehay, 1/15).

U.N. News Centre: ‘Sharply deteriorating conditions’ in besieged areas of Syria, U.N. aid agencies report
“United Nations humanitarian agencies expressed concern [Monday] that an estimated 200,000 people are facing ‘sharply deteriorating conditions’ in the besieged western side of Deir-Ez-Zor city in Syria, while the top U.N. relief official stressed that the world body continues to act ‘impartially, neutrally, and independently’ to reach people in need throughout the country…” (1/18).

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The Lancet Series Shows More Progress Needed To Lower Global Stillbirth Rate

The Guardian: World making barely any progress on preventing stillbirths, says Lancet
“…In a series of papers on ending preventable stillbirths, published in The Lancet this week, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), found the number of stillbirths had remain unchanged since 2011 and was still unacceptably high. The average stillbirth rate had fallen from 24.7 per 1,000 total births to 18.4 between 2000 and 2015, but was still way above the World Health Assembly (WHA)-endorsed target of 12 or fewer in all countries by 2030…” (Ford, 1/18).

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Pakistani Lawmakers Withdraw Bill Banning Child Marriage After Leading Religious Body Objects

Washington Post: Bill banning child marriage fails in Pakistan after it’s deemed ‘un-Islamic’
“Pakistani lawmakers had to withdraw a bill aimed at curbing the practice of child marriage after a prominent religious body declared the legislation un-Islamic. The bill, which proposed raising the marriage age for females from 16 to 18, also called for harsher penalties for those who would arrange marriages involving children…” (Tharoor, 1/15).

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Russian Civil Society Urges National Government To Destigmatize HIV/AIDS, Provide Better Treatment

Daily Beast: The Forgotten AIDS Crisis in Russia
“…[Anton Krasovsky, a leader of the AIDS Center working around Moscow and the Moscow region,] said that his AIDS center would do everything to push the Russian government to destigmatize the disease and reform its approach to HIV/AIDS. Thanks to civil movements and the effort of leading doctors, the Moscow Regional Center on AIDS managed to enlarge its facilities by more than 400 square meters. But even a 1,000-square-meter clinic was too small for the 39,000 people of the Moscow region with HIV and AIDS…” (Nemtsova, 1/18).

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Editorials and Opinions

'Radical Rethink' On Humanitarian Funding Needed To Bridge 'Humanitarian-Development Divide'

The Guardian: Will a ‘grand bargain’ solve the humanitarian funding crisis?
Charlotte Lattimer, senior policy and engagement adviser at Development Initiatives

“…[The findings from the High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing’s report launched recently in Dubai] have the potential to expand the responsibility to act beyond the narrow confines of the humanitarian community. The recommendations use finance as a driving force to enrich the aid ecosystem and push for institutional changes to bridge the humanitarian and development divide. … [However,] we need a radical rethink of what we know about what makes people vulnerable to crisis in the first place and how to match their needs with the right resources. … A bigger vision is required, in which all resources, beyond just international humanitarian resources can be counted. … Turning the grand bargain into a big deal will clearly be a challenge. Vested interests, competition for scarce resources, and the humanitarian-development divide are as old as aid itself. What’s different now, perhaps, is the window of opportunity that the World Humanitarian Summit has created. Responsibility for taking the panel’s recommendations forward now passes from the hands of technical experts to those of the political and financial decision-makers who will be represented en masse in Istanbul in May…” (1/18).

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International Community Should Support Food Assistance, Humanitarian Relief Efforts In Ethiopia As Country Faces Drought

Devex: The impact of Ethiopia’s ‘Code Red’ food crisis
Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children and co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, and Liya Kebede, founder of the Liya Kebede Foundation

“…We face a dizzying array of pressing humanitarian problems around the world, but we cannot ignore this [drought and resulting food] crisis in Ethiopia. Failure to act will leave millions of families at risk of starvation. … In order [to] help these families and stop this crisis before it gets worse, the international community needs to focus on three things: First, we need to pressure governments to make good on their pledges of aid, both food and funding, as only approximately 30 percent of pledges have been received so far. Secondly, we urgently need more governments and individuals to help support and donate before the situation escalates and children begin dying in large numbers. And finally, we have to ensure that aid gets to the most vulnerable fastest, including children and their families, to save as many lives as possible. We must come together and do more to support humanitarian relief in Ethiopia now” (1/18).

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U.N., Member Governments Should Strengthen Local Surveillance, Capacity To Respond To Disease Outbreaks

Globe and Mail: The Ebola crisis taught us lessons, but will we learn from them?
Editorial Board

“…It is … essential to strengthen the capacity of the WHO to act quickly and independently in identifying and combating viral outbreaks, without the kind of hesitation that slowed the [organization’s Ebola] response in 2014. … The search for affordable vaccines and treatments must go on, but in the world of infectious diseases there is no substitute for ground-level vigilance and surveillance. … Viruses will thrive in broken societies. While the U.N., its agencies, and member governments are limited in their ability to impose the kind of peaceful, orderly conditions that are the best guarantors of a healthy life, they can do a much better job of building the capacities of local hospitals and health systems to better anticipate an outbreak and survive its onslaught. This will take money and a long-term commitment, and it will be worth it” (1/17).

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Global Community, Pharmaceutical Companies Should Invest In Coordinated Disease Prevention, Treatment Efforts

Deseret News: John Hoffmire: The influence of generic drug production on developing countries
John Hoffmire, director of the Impact Bond Fund at Saïd Business School at Oxford University, director of the Center on Business and Poverty at the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and chair of Progress Through Business

“Due to the difficulty in accessing drugs from brand-name pharmaceutical companies, most patients in developing nations are heavily relying on less-expensive generic drugs. … There is less coverage of the millions dying each year from [diseases like HIV/AIDS, cholera, malaria, and pneumonia]. Why? … These diseases do not afflict people in the West to such a great degree, and if they do, those living in developed countries can more easily and effectively treat them. … If every life is equal, we should do all that we can to prevent people from dying early. Preventive approaches, such as better sanitation, access to clean drinking water and mosquito netting will curb malaria and cholera respectively. We need to do all that we can to support well-coordinated efforts [among] the World Bank, the U.N., WHO, pharmaceutical firms, NGOs, and charities. Working cooperatively and collaboratively will lead to more efficient research, development, and delivery of effective, economical vaccines and other remedies to cure and ultimately prevent these diseases” (1/18).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kaiser Family Foundation Releases Primer On U.S. Congress, Global Health

Kaiser Family Foundation: The U.S. Congress and Global Health: A Primer
This Kaiser Family Foundation primer provides an overview of congressional engagement in global health. The primer examines the structure of Congress and its role and key activities in global health, illustrating these by using two global health examples: the creation and evolution of PEPFAR and the 2014/2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa (Moss/Kates, 1/15).

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GHTC Launches Video Series On Role Of Global Health Innovation In Achieving SDGs

Global Health Technologies Coalition: Harnessing health innovation to achieve the global goals
GHTC Communications Officer Marissa Chmiola discusses GHTC’s launch of “a four-part video series exploring the role of global health innovation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The series features interviews with global health thought leaders, advocates, researchers, product developers, and policymakers filmed on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly…” (1/15).

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Infectious Diseases Threaten Global Health Security, International Policy Digest Article Says

International Policy Digest: Epidemic Futures?
Kevin McCracken, honorary fellow at Macquarie University and honorary professor at Lingnan University, discusses the threat of infectious diseases on global health security, the need for sustained efforts to respond to them, as well as the release of The Neglected Dimension of Global Security: A Framework to Counter Infectious Disease Crises, which “warns that vastly increased funding … is essential to lift pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response around the world…” (1/19).

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