KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

AIDS 2016 Opens In Durban Amid Hope To End Epidemic, Warnings Of Lagging Funding, Efforts

Agence France-Presse: AIDS summit in South Africa to warn of lagging effort
“Sixteen years after Nelson Mandela galvanized the world to take up the fight against AIDS, experts and activists return to the South African city of Durban on Monday, seeking to revitalize the fight against the disease. Some 18,000 scientists, campaigners, funders, and lawmakers are descending on the port city for the five-day 21st International AIDS Conference — a council of war on a pandemic that has claimed more than 30 million lives in 35 years…” (Van Schie, 7/16).

Agence France-Presse: AIDS summit opens with warnings that progress at risk
“…Again hosted by the coastal city of Durban, the International AIDS Conference is seen as the key biannual gathering of experts tackling a pandemic that has claimed more than 30 million lives in 35 years. Among those attending this 21st edition are U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, activists including singer Elton John and actress Charlize Theron, and Britain’s Prince Harry…” (Van Schie, 7/18).

Associated Press: Global AIDS conference exposes South Africa’s dramatic turn
“The first time the world came to South Africa for a conference on AIDS, the country’s leader shocked attendees by questioning whether HIV really caused the disease. … On Monday, the return of hundreds of AIDS researchers and activists to the seaside city of Durban will highlight how radically the country’s outlook has changed…” (7/17).

The Guardian: HIV/AIDS resurgence in Africa feared as Durban hosts conference
“Sixteen years after a groundbreaking conference shocked the world into the realization that thousands of Africans were dying of AIDS because they did not have access to life-saving drugs, campaigners, and scientists meeting once again in Durban this week will warn that the progress made since 2000 is not enough to end the epidemic. … Money is a growing concern. A report from the Kaiser Family Foundation in the U.S. and UNAIDS this weekend said that funding from donor governments had fallen last year for the first time in five years from $8.6bn in 2014 to $7.5bn…” (Boseley, 7/18).

NPR: World AIDS Conference Returns To Durban, South Africa. How Has The Conversation Changed?
“The port city is hosting the International AIDS conference for a second time. NPR’s Jason Beaubien tells NPR’s Lynn Neary that much progress has been made in combating AIDS, but more needs to be done…” (7/17).

NPR: International AIDS Conference Returns To Durban, South Africa
“When the conference was held there in 2000, HIV was terrifying. It was spreading rapidly and an infection was viewed as a death sentence. Now, conference attendees celebrate a sea change around HIV…” (Beaubien, 7/18).

Public Finance International: AIDS/HIV virus progress stalls as funding is cut
“…This year, for the first time since they jolted the world into action in 2000, attendees will issue warnings that the virus is starting to win back ground. The number of people that become infected with the virus every year, which had been falling, has now stalled in many countries. In others, a report by the United Nations’ agency UNAIDS said there had been worrying increases in new infections. … In a report released over the weekend, UNAIDS and the U.S.-based Kaiser Family Foundation warned that funding to support HIV efforts in low- and middle-income countries had fallen for the first time in five years in 2015…” (Rumney, 7/18).

VOA News: Optimism About Ending AIDS Misplaced, Some Experts Say
“…[UNAIDS’] ’90-90-90’ treatment plan, using 2020 as a target date, aims for 90 percent of people living with HIV to know their HIV status; 90 percent of HIV-positive people to receive treatment; and 90 percent of people on treatment to show suppressed viral loads. … It won’t come cheaply, UNAIDS said. In the next five years, low-income countries will need as much as $9.7 billion, and lower-middle-income countries will need $8.7 billion. That means the bill will fall on wealthier international donors, like the United States and other Western nations…” (Powell, 7/16).

Washington Post: A cure for AIDS is no longer unthinkable
“…Discussion of a cure will lead off the conference, which comes little more than a month after the United Nations committed to action to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, despite formidable obstacles. Leaders of the global battle against HIV have described 2016 as a pivotal year in their effort…” (Bernstein, 7/16).

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Bill Gates Delivers 14th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture, Pledges To Invest $5B More In African Health, Innovation Over Next 5 Years

Associated Press: Gates: Foundation to invest $5B in Africa over next 5 years
“Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates said Sunday his foundation will invest another $5 billion in Africa over the next five years. Gates delivered the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture ahead of Mandela Day, when South Africans are encouraged to donate 67 minutes of their time to help others. Gates is also in South Africa to attend a global AIDS conference that starts Monday. Gates said the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has already invested more than $9 billion in Africa. Health is a major focus…” (Caraanna, 7/17).

Business Day: New and better ways needed to reverse AIDS toll, says Gates
“New and better prevention solutions, such as effective vaccines and medicines that people are more likely to use consistently, are needed to deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, says Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Delivering the 14th annual Nelson Mandela lecture in Pretoria on Sunday, Gates said the rate of new infections remained high, with more than 2,000 young people under the age of 24 being infected in sub-Saharan Africa every day…” (Phakathi, 7/18).

Fortune: Bill Gates On Africa: Tomorrow’s Innovations Depend On Today’s Opportunities For Youth
“Despite its numerous health and economic challenges, Africa is in a position to overcome these through its youth and ‘the ingenuity of the African people,’ Microsoft founder Bill Gates said in the 14th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in South Africa on Sunday…” (Shapshak, 7/17).

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Global Health NOW Publishes Final Installments Of Interview Series With IAS President Chris Beyrer

Global Health NOW: What to Look for at AIDS 2016: IAS President Chris Beyrer’s Q&A, Part 3
“In a special preview, International AIDS Society President Chris Beyrer shares some of the big news and key talks to look for during [this] week’s AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa. Beyrer, the Desmond M. Tutu Professor in Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is co-chair of the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), which starts Monday, July 18 in Durban, South Africa. Before departing for Durban, Beyrer sat down for a Q&A with GHN Editor-in-Chief Brian W. Simpson…” (7/14).

Global Health NOW: We Can’t Give Up the Fight: IAS President Chris Beyrer’s Q&A, Part IV
“In this final installment of an exclusive 4-part Q&A before [this] week’s AIDS conference, International AIDS Society President Chris Beyrer explains what it means for the conference to return to Africa and what global leaders don’t understand about the epidemic. He also reflects on his tenure as IAS president and offers advice for his successor, Linda-Gail Bekker, in this Q&A with GHN Editor-in-Chief Brian W. Simpson…” (7/15).

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Ahead Of International AIDS Meeting, TB2016 Conference Gathers Scientists, Advocates To Examine Progress In TB Research, Treatment, Prevention

Science Speaks: AIDS 2016: TB preconference highlights response stymied by neglect of patient needs and research funding deficits
“Calling for change in approaches to tuberculosis to address poverty, malnutrition, and human rights, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease leader Jose Luis Castro, at a pre-conference event [in Durban] Saturday, urged TB responders globally to embrace patient-centered approaches and language…” (Lubinski, 7/18).

Science Speaks: AIDS 2016: TB vaccine development in the 21st century takes new approaches
“…[Willem Hanekom of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation] highlighted the strengths and limitations of the only existing vaccine against tuberculosis, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, which offers infants and young children 80 percent protection against extra pulmonary tuberculosis, 50 percent protection against pulmonary TB, and 20 percent protection against TB infection itself. The first new approach is to act on the realization that ‘for real impact, we have to interrupt transmission,’ he said…” (Lubinski, 7/18).

Xinhua News: Global fight against tuberculosis highlighted at Durban conference
“…Organized by the International AIDS Society (IAS), which also leads the AIDS 2016 conference, TB2016 represents a unique partnership of HIV and TB scientists and advocates, convened to build greater urgency and innovation to combat both epidemics. … This inaugural TB pre-conference at the international AIDS meeting will see global experts advancing knowledge and innovation on TB, promoting and sharing best practices to reinvigorate the global TB response, and galvanize political leadership and commitment to end TB by 2035, the IAS said…” (7/16).

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Pandemic Financing Facility Will Help Stem Future Disease Outbreaks, World Bank President Jim Kim Says

The Guardian: Escalation of Ebola crisis could have been avoided, says World Bank president
“The catastrophic Ebola outbreak in West Africa could have been snuffed out as early as the summer of 2014 had sufficient money been available, according to Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank president. … In an interview with the Guardian, Kim said there need never again be such a delay following the launch of a pandemic financing facility, backed by insurance companies, that will ensure million of dollars are instantly released to fight similar disease outbreaks in the future…” (Boseley, 7/18).

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U.S. Health Officials Plan For Zika After Congress Adjourns Without Passing Additional Funding

The Atlantic: Congress Falls Short on Zika
“…Lawmakers adjourned [last] week for a seven-week summer recess without passing additional money to fight the Zika virus. Now, federal public health officials are weighing how to stop the spread of infections with no new money coming down the pipeline — and with further budget battles near-guaranteed in the fall…” (Kelly, 7/16).

The Guardian: ‘This is why people hate Congress’: politics stymies fight against Zika virus
“…The federal government was left without resources to fund emergency preparations for Zika, which include critical vaccine development, mosquito control efforts, and other research related to containment and prevention. ‘This is no way to fight epidemics,’ CDC Director Tom Frieden lamented at the Senate hearing. It has become an all-too-familiar routine: political wrangling over must-pass legislation, at the expense of the public…” (Siddiqui, 7/16).

Vox: Zika is spreading. Congress did nothing. Now what?
“…To find out what the failure to secure more dollars to fight Zika means, I reached out to health officials in the federal government, as well as those working on the ground in the states likely to be hardest hit by the virus…” (Belluz, 7/15).

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Before Widespread Zika Epidemic, Pope Francis Said Contraceptives Permissible In Some Situations

Los Angeles Times: Before the spread of the Zika virus, the Vatican allowed contraceptive use in limited situations
“On his flight from Mexico back to the Vatican in February, Pope Francis made an unexpected comment about the Zika virus, saying that the outbreak — blamed for serious birth defects around the world — may justify the use of contraceptives. … The church has not formally sanctioned contraceptive use, but with the August start of the Olympics in Brazil — the epicenter of outbreak — it has offered the possibility of a solution…” (Weinberg, 7/16).

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Two-Thirds Of People In Countries Where FGM Occurs Oppose Practice, UNICEF Data Show

U.N. News Centre: Majority oppose female genital mutilation in countries where practice persists — U.N. agency
“New data from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reveal that about two-thirds of men, women, boys, and girls in countries where female genital mutilation is common say they want the practice to end. ‘Although female genital mutilation is associated with gender discrimination, our findings show that the majority of boys and men are actually against it,’ said Francesca Moneti, UNICEF senior child protection specialist…” (7/15).

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A.U. Commissioner Calls Child Marriage 'Harmful Traditional Practice'

VOA News: African Union Commissioner Condemns Child Marriage
“The African Union Commission launched a campaign against child marriage two years ago, and it’s trying to make it a priority for the continent’s heads of state. The commissioner for social affairs, Sierra Leonean medical doctor Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, said figures from 2014 suggest about a third of African females marry before they are 18, and many at age 15 or younger. … ‘I think child marriage is sitting at the top of the table when you’re talking about harmful traditional practices,’ he said at an A.U. summit in Kigali…” (Long, 7/15).

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Number Of Suspected Yellow Fever Cases Rises In DRC; Health Officials Prepare For Vaccine Campaign Along Angolan Border

Global Health NOW: DRC’s Scant Defenses Against Yellow Fever
“Last week, a few doctors from WHO drove for two days on rugged roads to reach this dusty town close to the Angolan border. They came to discuss yellow fever, a hemorrhagic disease spread by mosquitoes, which makes most people feel like they have the flu. However, 15 percent of people infected will develop jaundice, and perhaps half of those die in about a week. Their concern: Spillover to DRC from Angola’s ongoing yellow fever epidemic…” (Maxmen, 7/14).

Reuters: Suspected Congo yellow fever cases up 38 percent in last three weeks: WHO
“The number of suspected yellow fever cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo has jumped 38 percent in the last three weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, as health officials prepare to launch a vaccination campaign next week…” (Ross, 7/15).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss U.S. Role In Zika Response

Wall Street Journal: Democrats’ Zika Obstruction
Editorial Board

“Senate Democrats have taken their latest political hostages, and this time they’re pregnant women at risk for Zika virus infections. After demanding immediate emergency funding for months, they walked out on their own bill on Thursday to use the issue as a campaign bludgeon against Republicans. … [The number of Zika infections is] certain to rise in the summer months, not least because Congress has left town for the conventions and mosquito season without passing funding. Democrats seem to think that cost is worth it if they can turn the public health crisis into a partisan talking point through November” (7/15).

CNN: Could Zika be the next HIV?
Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations

“…A recent poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that two-thirds of Americans have heard of Zika, which means an alarming third of the population knows nothing about the disease, and is unlikely to take precautions against infection. Fewer still — less than half — were aware that Zika could be passed sexually. … [T]ime is running out. Researchers desperately need funding to provide the tools required to forestall a sexually transmitted Zika epidemic in the United States. In the absence of those tools, women will make difficult choices, deferring pregnancies for months, perhaps years, and seeking abortions. The stalemate on Capitol Hill may actually increase the likelihood that more American babies will be born with terrible malformations and neurological deficits. And, equally horribly, that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of couples will seek abortions based on suspicion of Zika infection, possibly terminating some healthy pregnancies” (7/15).

Washington Post: This is how the U.S. must lead the fight against Zika
Michael Gerson and Raj Shah, senior fellows with Results for America

“…The fight against Zika requires global leadership to coordinate a coherent, multi-country strategy committed to measurable outcomes, relentless innovation, and making good use of data. Only the U.S. government has shown the ability to lead that effort. Bush fought the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa with a successful, evidence-based strategy. Obama demonstrated leadership by successfully investing U.S. resources to fight Ebola and creating a global health security partnership with countries around the world. On health issues such as HIV/AIDS and Ebola, U.S. leadership — our science, technical skill, compassion, and political will — has been essential to changing the course of history. On Zika, important preparations, including with federal and state authorities, are ongoing. But a heightened global focus is required to make all our efforts effective. This requires Congress to return from its recess and pass a meaningful funding bill. Each of these pandemics demonstrates how our interests as Americans and our values as the world’s truly exceptional nation lead us in the same direction: to fight with urgency and ambition for the health of the world” (7/17).

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Congress's Budget Recommendations Reveal Bipartisan Leadership, Support For Global Health, Development

The Hill: Budget resolutions show bipartisan solidarity with the world’s poorest
Judith Rowland, U.S. policy and advocacy manager for Global Citizen

“…Now that both the House and Senate appropriations bills for the State and Foreign Operations and Related Programs subcommittees have been marked up, it is clear that Congress has stood up for the world’s poorest and committed to increase funding for programs tackling our world’s greatest challenges. This year, Congress is taking bipartisan action to lead the world in the fight to end extreme poverty. … The budget recommendations made by the Senate and House Appropriations committees reveal ongoing, bipartisan belief in U.S. leadership on the international stage. By funding lifesaving programs and making strides toward overcoming the world’s greatest challenges, Congress is standing for the world’s poorest and calling on other nations to do the same” (7/15).

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Advances In Cancer Research Could Guide Work Toward HIV Cure

CNN: Cancer research could help the search towards an HIV cure
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, co-discoverer of HIV and immediate past president of the International AIDS Society; Sharon Lewin, inaugural director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity; and Steven Deeks, professor at the University of California San Francisco; and all co-chairs of the IAS Towards an HIV Cure Symposium

“…Finding a safe, affordable, and scalable cure for HIV is a formidable challenge. … Despite these challenges, the quest to develop a cure for HIV has made remarkable advances over the past four years. … The parallels between HIV and cancer are striking. … Efforts are now underway to determine if … cancer therapies can be used to build up the immune system of patients with HIV in such a way that they too can achieve a durable and perhaps life-long treatment-free state of remission. … [W]e need to do more to bring HIV and cancer research together — incentivizing scientists to work across diseases and ensuring that research funding allows for these synergies. Transformative advances in the cancer field may well provide inspiration for future directions of a strategy to guide those working towards an HIV cure” (7/15).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

In Blog Post, Bill Gates Discusses Progress In, Challenges To HIV Prevention, Treatment

Gates Notes: We Haven’t Turned the Corner on AIDS
In this blog post and video, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses the progress in and challenges to HIV prevention and care. “…The good news is that the fight against AIDS has seen many successes. The infection rate declined for several years and millions of people have been put on treatment, allowing them to live full, productive lives. But we have not turned the corner. The infection rate has essentially stopped declining…,” he writes, noting stagnated funding and lack of access to proven prevention methods as challenges (7/14).

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As AIDS 2016 Conference Begins In Durban, Blog Post, Media Note Highlight Key Challenges To Global Epidemic Response

PLOS’s “Translational Global Health”: 21st International AIDS Conference: how do we unify and fund the future of HIV prevention?
Nicole Espy, a Harvard graduate and PhD candidate at the Chan School of Public Health, discusses challenges of funding the global HIV/AIDS response, writing, “Research in the HIV field continues to develop methods to improve patient outcomes and treatment delivery. But unless efforts are made to implement them early, consistently, and increasingly, the HIV/AIDS epidemic will go the way of the disease itself” (7/18).

WHO: WHO flags key challenges to global HIV response at International AIDS Conference
“The World Health Organization is flagging four key challenges as the international community meets at the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, from 18-22 July 2016. The organization is highlighting the need to renew attention to HIV prevention, whilst maintaining momentum on scaling up access to HIV treatment. It is also signalling the growing emergence of antiretroviral (ARV) drug resistance and the need for sustainable financing of the global response…” (7/15).

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