KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

News Outlets Summarize 2015's Biggest Global Health, Development Stories, Look Ahead To 2016's Leading Issues

The Guardian: 2015 in review: the year’s top development stories
“From the start, 2015 was billed as a crucial one for development: a year when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expired and their replacement — the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — were adopted after three years of talks. While the politicking went on at the U.N., we reported on earthquakes in Nepal, escalating conflicts in South Sudan and Burundi, the refugee crisis, giant rats on a mission to rid the world of landmines, and countries emerging from Ebola…” (Ford, 12/30).

NPR: Global Health Forecast For 2016: Which Diseases Will Rise … Or Fall?
“…[A]s 2016 begins, readers might well wonder what biological culprits — parasites, bacteria, and viruses — are lurking out there, ready to unleash another outbreak of something terrible on an unsuspecting world. We put the question to four infectious disease experts: What are your best educated guesses about the big global health stories in 2016?…” (Brink, 1/4).

SciDev.Net: Our 10 most popular news stories of 2015
“Ingenious water treatment and hybrid African cars were among the highlights of our coverage of 2015. But climate change and environmental damage also caught the eyes of our readers. Based on the number of views each story received, here is the countdown of our top 10 news articles of the year…” (Vesper, 12/23).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Syria to South Sudan: aid groups list their top humanitarian concerns for 2016
“…In a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll of 15 of the world’s leading aid agencies, we asked them to name their top three humanitarian priorities for 2016. Not surprisingly, Syria topped the list of concerns. But what were the others?…” (Esslemont, 12/27).

U.N. Dispatch: 5 Under-the-Radar Stories that Will Drive the Global Agenda in 2016
“It may not make the front page of the New York Times, but behind-the-scenes these events, trends, and circumstances are sure to influence policymakers around the globe in 2016…” (Goldberg, 12/28).

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Academics, NGO Representatives Create List Of Top 100 Development Research Areas

SciDev.Net: Researchers map top 100 development questions
“…The list of 100 research areas, drawn up in a paper published last month in Development Policy Review, aims to highlight the most important research questions around the SDGs, which were introduced in September 2015 to replace the Millennium Development Goals. … A team of 14 academics and 21 NGO representatives collated the questions, which they describe as ‘of critical importance for the post-2015 international development agenda’…” (Rabesandratana, 1/5).

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New Diagnostic Test Could Help Stem Cryptococcal Meningitis Deaths In Africa

Newsweek: How to Stop Crypto, A Deadly Disease So Neglected It’s Missed on the ‘Neglected’ List
“…[U.S.-based] Immuno Mycologics, aka Immy, started out in the late ’70s with a modest goal: make simpler tools to diagnose fungal infections. It’s now one of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation, built entirely on unique diagnostics. One of its most important developments in recent years is a rapid test, the Cryptococcal Antigen Lateral Flow Assay, or CrAg LFA, which global health experts believe could be key to stopping one of the planet’s biggest killers: cryptococcal meningitis…” (Adams, 1/4).

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Tropical Diseases Becoming More Common In U.S. Due To Multiple Factors, Including Climate Change, Human Travel

New York Times: U.S. Becomes More Vulnerable to Tropical Diseases Like Zika
“Tropical diseases — some of them never before seen in the United States — are marching northward as climate change lets mosquitoes and ticks expand their ranges. But that does not mean that epidemics will break out, scientists say. Whether a few cases explode into a full-fledged outbreak depends on a set of factors far more complex than the weather…” (McNeil, 1/4).

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Gates Foundation's WASH Director Discusses Innovative Toilet Technologies, Climate Change Challenges In SciDev.Net Interview

SciDev.Net: Q&A: Toilets confront climate change
“Two-and-a-half billion people worldwide have no access to safe, durable sanitation systems. Brian Arbogast, director of the water, sanitation, and hygiene program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, tells SciDev.Net how innovative toilet technologies and business models could help fix this — and help communities cope with the devastation of climate change…” (Singh, 1/5).

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Al Jazeera America Examines Ethiopia's Funding Needs In Face Of Severe Drought, Food Shortages

Al Jazeera America: Ethiopia’s drought overlooked as aid funneled to more desperate crises
“…By some estimates, Ethiopia’s current drought may be the worst the country has seen in 50 years. … Foreign financial assistance is arriving, totaling about $167 million so far, combined with the Ethiopian government committing an unprecedented $192 million to help prevent deaths from the drought. But the overall emergency response could cost $1.4 billion, according to aid agencies, especially if El Niño quashes Ethiopia’s next rainy season…” (Jeffrey, 1/4).

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WFP Attempts To Reach People In Yemeni City Of Taiz, Cut Off From Supplies For Weeks

U.N. News Centre: Yemen: U.N. agency appeals to all sides to allow food in for hundreds of thousands under siege
“The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) [on Thursday] appealed to all parties to the conflict in Yemen to allow food in for hundreds of thousands of hungry people under siege in the central city of Taiz, who have been deprived of supplies for many weeks…” (12/31).

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Shifts In Polio Vaccination Strategies Helping Pakistan Improve Health Worker Safety, Immunization Rates

The Guardian: Pakistan success stories increase hopes of global polio eradication
“…Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries where polio is still endemic, but in the past year there has been a dramatic drop in cases to 66 in the two countries, compared with 332 cases in nine countries in 2014. … A fundamental change in approach aimed at reducing health workers’ exposure, combined with improved security and community engagement, is now paying off…” (O’Carroll, 12/28).

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Filippo Grandi Assumes Position As UNHCR Head

U.N. News Centre: New U.N. refugee chief takes over at time of record numbers and unprecedented challenges
“Filippo Grandi of Italy, a veteran of United Nations efforts to help refugees, took up his post [Monday] as head of the U.N. refugee agency at a time of unprecedented challenges, with record numbers of people worldwide forced to flee war and persecution…” (1/4).

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England's Chief Medical Officer Urges Doctors, Pharmacies To Properly Treat Gonorrhea, Warns Of Drug-Resistant Strains

Washington Post: Gonorrhea may soon be untreatable, Britain’s chief medical officer warns
“Dame Sally Davies, Britain’s chief medical officer, has reportedly written to doctors and pharmacies in Britain sounding the alarm on antibiotic resistant gonorrhea. The sexually transmitted infection is increasingly caused by strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae that resist antibiotic treatment…” (Feltman, 12/28).

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Bat-To-Human Disease Transmission Most Likely To Occur In Sub-Saharan Africa, Paper Shows

ScienceShot: Map pinpoints hotspot of bat-transmitted diseases
“The next deadly disease to jump from bats to humans is most likely to emerge in sub-Saharan Africa, according to an article published [Monday] in The American Naturalist…” (Kupferschmidt, 1/4).

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Editorials and Opinions

Congress's Funding Cut To UNFPA 'Harmful' To Women Globally, Especially In Crisis Settings

The Hill: Standing for the world’s women
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.)

“…I am extremely disappointed in the so-called ‘pro-life protections’ of the omnibus that some in Congress have touted, including slashing UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, by seven percent, or $2.5 million. … [F]raming the cut as ‘pro-life’ makes little sense, as UNFPA does not fund or provide abortions. … The voluntary family planning done by UNFPA provides help to prevent recourse to abortion. The cut to UNFPA is a direct blow to the expectant mothers and babies who need it the most. Women do not stop getting pregnant or having babies when a crisis hits. … As the largest contributor to the United Nations and funder of international family planning, the U.S. is in a unique position to continue to lead the global agenda and place reproductive health at its core. … I call on all those who care about the needs of women, especially in crisis settings, to reconsider this harmful spending cut to the United Nations Population Fund and the life-saving work they do each day” (12/28).

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Opinion Piece Highlights 10 Memorable Global Health Moments In 2015

Huffington Post: 10 Defining Moments that Shaped Global Health in 2015
Margarite Nathe, senior editor and writer at IntraHealth International

“When you look back on 2015, what will you remember? … Here are 10 of the moments that lit (or littered) our path to greater health and well-being in 2015: Maternal deaths fall 44 percent from 1990. … Ebola recedes (then resurfaces, then recedes again). … MERS follows on Ebola’s heels. … Pope Francis inches forward the conversation on family planning. … U.S. announces Africa needs additional one million health workers to address HIV. … Gun violence in the U.S. escalates to an average of more than one mass shooting per day. … A million refugees come ashore in Europe. … U.N. International Labor Organization finds that over half of the world’s rural population will go without health care in 2015. … The Sustainable Development Goals begin. … The Paris climate accord prompts landmark commitments from 195 countries…” (12/23).

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The Lancet Commission's Global Surgery Plan Offers Lessons For Large Businesses

Washington Post: Large businesses can learn from lessons on global surgical treatment
Gerry Yemen, senior researcher at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, and John G. Meara, professor of global surgery at Harvard Medical School

“…Leaders at a top medical journal, The Lancet, created a commission on global surgery to examine the realities, problems, and potential solutions for delivering surgery to all in need. … The commission created a national surgical plan template to help ministries of health develop systems worldwide that incorporate surgery and anesthesia and suggested six core indicators that every country should collect in concert with the WHO and the World Bank. … It turns out that many of the problems the Lancet Commission set out to examine are similar to those in large business organizations. Among those: motivating managers and employees with a sense of urgency, moving workers toward a common goal, managing reorganization to better deploy resources, launching employee and organizational change, and creating short-term wins to keep a process going. Executing a complex action plan in any context involves seeing the issues, understanding the situation, asking what elements are missing, and anticipating obstacles” (1/2).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

As G7 Chair, Japan Can Promote UHC By Framing As Health Security Issue

BMJ Blogs: Gavin Yamey: Can Japan rouse the G7 nations to action on universal health coverage?
Gavin Yamey, a professor at the Duke Global Health Institute, discusses Japan’s G7 chair status and its potential influence in promoting universal health coverage (UHC) as a focus issue for upcoming G7 summits. Yamey also talks about the possible benefits and risks of framing UHC as a health security issue, writing, “The ‘securitization’ of health makes many of us uncomfortable, as it conflates public health — with its core principles of justice, equity, and a focus on the poor — with military and intelligence concerns. … Perhaps the addition of the words ‘human’ or ‘health’ ahead of ‘security’ will make all the difference in preventing such conflation…” (12/22).

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Governments, Donors Must Account For 'Invisible Costs' Of Community Health Workers

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog”: Time Has Value: The Hidden Time Costs of Community Health Worker Programs
Sebastian Bauhoff, research fellow at CGD, discusses the debate around the cost-effectiveness of recruiting community health workers (CHWs), writing, “Though the potential benefits of the approach are easily touted, the full costs remain murky and are often an afterthought. In particular, many CHWs are not compensated and the value of their time is not reflected in program costs. As a consequence, it is unclear whether CHWs are cost-effective, especially if deployed as an integral component of a health system. It’s high time for governments and donors to account for the invisible costs of CHW programs and to rethink their advocacy for this delivery platform…” (1/4).

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Rotary's Polio Plus Program Director Discusses Disease Eradication Efforts In Interview

National Geographic’s “Germination”: Polio Eradication: Is 2016 The Year?
Maryn McKenna, journalist and author, discusses polio eradication efforts with “Carol Pandak, director of the Polio Plus program at Rotary International — which since 1988 has lent millions of volunteers and more than a billion dollars to the eradication campaign…” (1/4).

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