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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Obama Administration Officials Send Letter Urging Congress To Approve Zika Funding

Associated Press: Inaction on Zika funding likely to delay vaccine testing
“The Obama administration on Tuesday cautioned top lawmakers that continued gridlock over legislation to combat the Zika virus could delay research and development of a vaccine to protect against Zika and tests to detect it. The warning came in a letter from White House budget chief Shaun Donovan and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell…” (Taylor/Jalonick, 7/12).

CQ News: White House in Last-Minute Zika Plea Backs Off Dollar Figure
“…Notably, the letter contains no reference to a specific dollar figure or offsets, main points of contention on the Zika aid package. It also does not mention the ‘poison pill’ provisions that Democrats have cited repeatedly as their reason for opposing a Republican-written agreement on Zika aid that’s stalled in the Senate…” (Bennett, 7/13).

The Hill: GOP chairman blasts White House over Zika spending
“…House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that the Obama administration has spent just $90 million of the $590 million it redirected from its Ebola virus fund in April to launch efforts against Zika. That would mean the administration has spent less than one-fifth of its available money, even as Democrats continue to hammer the GOP and block a $1.1 billion Zika funding plan…” (Ferris, 7/13).

Huffington Post: Mosquito Mascot Trolls Senate Republicans At Zika Hearing
“…The human-sized mosquito, a reproductive rights advocate with NARAL Pro-Choice America, made an appearance to denounce Republicans’ lack of action on the Zika epidemic. Members of the House and Senate are struggling to agree on a plan to address the virus, and House Republicans have proposed a solution that could make it harder for women in Zika-affected countries to access birth control and family planning services…” (Bassett, 7/13).

Kaiser Health News: NIH’s Fauci On Combating Zika: ‘You Have To Have The Resources To Act Quickly’
“…At the center is Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He oversees federal Zika vaccine research and development activities and has been the leading government spokesman on the overall anti-Zika effort. It’s also been his job to find resources within NIH to support vaccine development while fighting for Congress to provide the additional funding. If it doesn’t happen soon, he warns, the progress made so far will stall. … Fauci recently spoke with Kaiser Health News’ Carmen Heredia Rodriguez about the safety considerations that go into developing a vaccine and the ongoing funding fight…” (Rodriguez, 7/12).

MSNBC: Zika Virus Funding Battle in Congress ‘Simply Inexcusable’
“The failure of Congress to approve any money to help fight Zika is ‘simply inexcusable’ and a ‘dereliction of duty,’ senators said during a hearing Wednesday, with just two days left before a long break means no money before autumn. As senators traded accusations at the hearing, Texas reported a baby was born in Houston’s Harris County with microcephaly, the disturbing birth defect that’s become the hallmark of Zika virus infection…” (Fox, 7/13).

Roll Call: Zika Talks Stalemated Despite Last-Minute White House Plea
“…Democrats are urging Republicans to send a $1.1 billion aid package to President Barack Obama’s desk that excludes budgetary offsets or language on contraception curbs and environmental permitting for mosquito spraying. Those and other provisions are included in an anti-Zika conference package to which Democrats and the administration object. That measure passed the House, but remains stalled in the Senate. It is possible that Senate Republican leaders on Thursday will try another procedural vote to advance the legislation that is expected to fail…” (Bennett, 7/13).

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Low Risk Of Zika Spreading In Most Countries Due To Olympic Games Travel, CDC Says; Colombia Sees Much Lower Numbers Of Zika-Related Fetal Deformities Than Brazil

Associated Press: Low risk in all but 4 countries of Olympics-related Zika
“The upcoming Olympic games are not likely to have a major impact on the spread of Zika virus, although four developing countries could face a substantially higher risk, according to a new government estimate…” (7/13).

Bloomberg: Finally, Some Good News for the Olympics: Zika Risk Not Elevated, CDC Says
“…Because travel for the Olympics represents less than 0.25 percent of total travel to Zika-affected countries, and because the Games’ August and September dates come during Brazil’s winter months, when mosquitoes are less prevalent, the Games themselves represent a very low additional risk for transmission, the CDC found…” (Shanker, 7/13).

Wall Street Journal: Global Zika Risk Is Low for Rio Olympics, CDC Says
“…The finding bolsters a conclusion reached by the World Health Organization last month that the Olympics, scheduled to get under way in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 5, need not be postponed due to Zika…” (McKay, 7/13).

Washington Post: Colombia offers the possibility that the Zika epidemic may not be as bad as feared
“In the nine months since the Zika virus appeared in Colombia, the government has reported nearly 100,000 cases, including more than 17,000 among pregnant women. But the epidemic has not produced the dreaded wave of fetal deformities witnessed in Brazil…” (Miroff, 7/13).

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U.S. House FY17 Foreign Aid Spending Bill Limits Assistance For International Family Planning Programs

Roll Call: Foreign Aid Bill Omits U.N. Family Planning, Climate Change Funds
“House appropriators on Tuesday advanced the $52 billion fiscal 2017 foreign aid spending bill, as amended, which includes Republican policy riders that would block funding for a U.N. climate change fund and limit financial assistance for family planning programs. … In both cases, the Senate is closer to the request by the Obama administration…” (Oswald, 7/12).

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Devex Examines International Efforts To Work Toward Universal Health Coverage

Devex: Universal health coverage movement, alliance or partnership?
“…One of the targets under SDG 3 is to achieve universal health coverage, which helped garner support behind a proposal of creating a partnership — now with a wider set of players — that would boost efforts to achieve strong and resilient health systems to achieve UHC. The World Health Organization together with the World Bank, which hosts the [International Health Partnerships, or IHP+,] Secretariat, circulated a letter in March 2016 asking all 66 signatories to the partnership what they think of the idea of transforming IHP+ to cater to a UHC partnership. The answer, Devex has learned from a source close to the matter, was unanimous: Yes, we are in favor of expanding the IHP+’s mandate to accommodate these emerging priorities…” (Ravelo, 7/13).

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MSF Says U.N. Failing In Northeast Nigeria, As Food Crisis Kills Hundreds Daily

The Guardian: U.N. accused of failing as north-east Nigeria at risk of famine
“The U.N. has been accused of failing to act quickly enough to save hundreds of thousands of lives in northern Nigeria where a food crisis already killing hundreds of people a day is poised to become the most devastating in decades. … Isabelle Mouniaman, head of Médecins Sans Frontières operations in Nigeria, said MSF has been raising the alarm in northern Nigeria for two years and U.N. organizations have failed to respond…” (Greenwood, 7/14).

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Food, Medicine Stocks Dwindle In Aleppo, Syria, After Government Forces Cut Off Road Access

Wall Street Journal: Syria’s Aleppo Running Out of Food, Medicine After Regime Forces Advance
“Food and medicine have begun to dwindle in the city of Aleppo after an advance by Syrian regime forces effectively cut off the only road into the rebel-held side of the divided city, residents and opposition leaders said Wednesday…” (Abdulrahim, 7/13).

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Women In Cambodia's Garment Industry Lack Access To Health Information, Safe Abortion

The Guardian: Cambodia’s garment workers vulnerable to unsafe abortions
“…The garment industry is the linchpin of Cambodia’s economy, and the single biggest employer of women. … Away from their homes and support networks, and with low levels of education and income, these women are particularly vulnerable and may be inhibited from accessing health care information and services, including abortion, according to the U.N. population fund, UNFPA…” (Kasztelan, 7/13).

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STAT Examines Roles Of Scientists Involved In Discovering Ebola

STAT: History credits this man with discovering Ebola on his own. History is wrong
“If you ask Google who discovered Ebola, you will immediately be presented with a picture of Dr. Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. … There’s a small problem here, however. Piot did not discover Ebola on his own — and depending on how you define discovery, may not be able to actually make the claim at all. … But over the years he has come to be credited, perhaps unwittingly, with an outsized role in the story of Ebola, to the mounting annoyance of infectious disease scientists who have known better…” (Branswell, 7/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Should Support Comprehensive Zika Response In Addition To Continuing Ebola Efforts

STAT: What the fading Ebola epidemic can teach us about the looming Zika crisis
Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“…Ebola showed us how important it is to make sure that our nation and others have the capacity to rapidly detect, respond to, and prevent disease outbreaks. Yet CDC has had to borrow resources from its ongoing, vital work on Ebola to launch and sustain our fight against Zika. The funds we’ve borrowed from are essential to find and stop Ebola as embers of the epidemic continue to smolder in West Africa, to respond to new cases and clusters of Ebola, and to build each country’s capacity to detect and respond to health threats. … We must now wage an efficient and effective fight against Zika while continuing to strengthen early-warning and rapid-response systems around the world and continuously improve preparedness for the inevitable future emerging disease outbreaks we will face. CDC is using borrowed money on borrowed time to support a comprehensive Zika response while keeping a watchful eye on Ebola and other health threats. The stakes are too high not to fully commit to protecting America’s health” (7/13).

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Opinion Pieces Encourage Congress To Act On Zika Response Plan

Los Angeles Times: The Zika crisis: How Congress abandoned its duty to govern
Michael Hiltzik, columnist

“…It’s tempting to blame Republicans and Democrats equally for the [Zika funding] impasse, but that’s not what the facts dictate. … The GOP majorities in the House and Senate have saddled Zika funding bills with riders they know are unacceptable to Democrats. Some would roll back long-standing environmental programs, others bar funding for affiliates of Planned Parenthood … The latter stunt is especially cynical, since the public health services provided to women by Planned Parenthood are especially crucial now, when a medical threat with particularly acute consequences to pregnant women is on the rise. … It seems obvious that the congressional majority is comfortable putting off a Zika bill indefinitely, because to most Americans the threat still seems an abstract one. … [T]he guilty parties will be easy to identify. They’ll be the ones whose answer to a public health crisis was to make hostages out of environmental safety and women’s health” (7/13).

STAT: Stop using the Zika virus to attack Planned Parenthood
Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund

“…[T]he weak Zika-response plan proposed by Republicans in Congress would endanger those who are most vulnerable to this epidemic — pregnant women and their developing babies. … As Republicans in Congress have done before, [proposed legislation for the U.S. Zika response] puts politics before science and excludes critical reproductive health organizations that are uniquely suited to address the Zika crisis. … In a public health emergency, it is illogical and unethical to prevent the people and organizations who are best qualified to help, and who are already making a difference, from doing more. … Congress must step up now to defend the women and families counting on them to address and prevent this public health crisis while there is still a window to do so. Republicans’ political games will mean loss and heartache to families in the U.S. and around the globe” (7/14).

The Hill: The Congress of public health
Leana Wen, commissioner of health in Baltimore City

“This week, Congress has an unprecedented opportunity to use public health to transform the nation’s future. … This week, Congress can follow the principles of public health to prevent illness, mitigate harm, and treat diseases that will save millions of lives. They can go beyond the national outcry following recent events to prevent bullets from taking lives and wreaking tragedy. They can invest in the security and economic future of our country by stopping the impending scourge of Zika that would otherwise affect generations of our children yet unborn. They can channel our national angst about addiction into a sound plan to treat patients with urgency, rigor, and humanity. Congress, you have three critical decisions this week with one thing in common. Be on the right side of history. Don’t fail the public’s health” (7/13).

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U.S. Should Urge U.N. To Take Responsibility For Haitian Cholera Epidemic

Foreign Affairs: No Immunity from Cholera
Debra L. Raskin, lecturer at Columbia Law School, and Anil Kalhan, associate professor at Drexel University Thomas L. Kline School of Law

“…Despite [the evidence that U.N. peacekeepers brought cholera to Haiti,] the United Nations has refused to accept responsibility for the [2010 cholera] outbreak and has resisted efforts to hold itself accountable. To date, the United States has supported the organization in its resistance. … The United States must do more to urge the United Nations to take responsibility for its actions. … [T]he United States and other U.N. member states must help ensure that the United Nations has funds to compensate Haiti’s cholera victims. … The United States should use its influence within the international community to urge the United Nations to meet its obligations. Otherwise, the organization may find itself compromised or Haiti’s cholera victims may find themselves without any remedy … Bringing justice to the victims of cholera is not only good for U.S. legal and foreign policy, but will also ensure that international law and human rights are afforded the respect they deserve” (7/13).

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'Anti-Globalizationism' Might Pose 'Existential Threat' To Global Health, Development Initiatives

Foreign Policy: Brexit is a Global Health Risk
Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations

“…[The] new sense of nationalism that fueled Brexit, or, to coin a mouthful of a term, anti-globalizationism, poses an existential threat to an array of initiatives that have saved millions of lives, mostly in poor or war-torn regions of the world. … Globalization has become a dirty word in many political circles around the world, for different reasons. … Amid the shouting about building walls, respecting boundaries, eliminating trade agreements, national pride, and fiscal crisis, the advocates for a world without extreme poverty, famine, epidemics, climate-related disasters, and disease are drowned out. The great danger of this moment in history is a retrenchment behind the walls and ideals of me-first nationalism and the death of dreams of a better, safer, wealthier world for all of humanity” (7/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kaiser Family Foundation Budget Summary Analyzes Global Health Aspects Of FY17 U.S. House SFOPs Bill

Kaiser Family Foundation: House Appropriations Committee approves FY 2017 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill
This budget summary highlights global health-related funding contained in the FY 2017 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. The summary states, “Funding in the bill for the Global Health Programs (GHP) account, which includes the majority of global health funding, totaled $8.9 billion, $413 million (5%) above the FY16 enacted level, $340 million (4%) above the president’s FY17 request, and $252 million (3%) above the Senate FY17 SFOPs appropriations bill…” (7/13).

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CGD Podcast Examines U.K.'s Brexit Referendum, Implications For Development Programs

Center for Global Development’s “CGD Podcast”: Brexit Breakdown: What Now for Global Development? Podcast with Owen Barder
Rajesh Mirchandani, vice president of communications and policy outreach at CGD, speaks with Senior Fellow and Director of CGD Europe Owen Barder about the U.K.’s recent Brexit referendum, “possibilities for the U.K.’s future, and … implications for the country and the developing world…” (7/12).

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International Tribunal Upholds Nations' Rights To Implement Tobacco Control Measures To Protect Health

WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: International tribunal upholds states’ rights to protect health through tobacco control
“An international tribunal has upheld the sovereign authority of states to protect health through tobacco control. The World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) has confirmed that tobacco control measures applied by the government of Uruguay did not violate the terms of an investment agreement between Uruguay and Switzerland, under which the dispute was initiated. … The tribunal’s award affirms that parties to the WHO FCTC can confidently implement the convention and its guidelines to protect present and future generations from the devastating consequences of tobacco consumption” (7/12).

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