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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

International AIDS Conference Ends With Calls For More Funding, Less Discrimination, Greater Focus On Women, Children

Agence France-Presse: AIDS summit ends with call for more funding
“The International AIDS Conference in South Africa wrapped up Friday with calls for increased funding as the search for a cure continues and with HIV infections running at around 2.5 million a year…” (Van Schie, 7/22).

Eyewitness News: Motsoaledi pleads with donor countries to continue contributing to HIV/AIDS cause
“[South African] Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS depend on funding, and he’s pleaded with donor countries not to withdraw or reduce their donations. The health minister delivered the closing remarks at the International 2016 AIDS Conference at the Durban International Convention Centre [Friday]…” (Rahlaga, 7/23).

U.N. News Centre: U.N.-backed AIDS conference closes with calls to end discrimination, bolster HIV care, support
“As the 21st International AIDS Conference wrapped up in Durban, South Africa, the deputy executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Luiz Loures, called for ending discrimination against patients, especially those from the most vulnerable populations…” (7/22).

Xinhua News: Roundup: Call to action as AIDS 2016 ends
“On the final day of the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) in Durban on Friday, delegates called for focus on preventing new infections and targeting women and children. Many expressed satisfaction with the conference. South African Deputy Minister of Social Development Henrieta Bogopane-Zulu told Xinhua that the conference met the expectations…” (Mlilo, 7/23).

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UNAIDS/Kaiser Family Foundation Report Showing Decline In AIDS Donor Funding For Low-, Middle-Income Countries Prompts Worry, Fear Among Some Advocates

Seattle Medium: Show Me The Money: Global HIV/AIDS Funding On The Decline
“Throughout AIDS 2016, whispers that global funds to fight HIV/AIDS have begun to dry up have turned to shouts. … Donor government funding to support HIV efforts in low- and middle-income countries fell for the first time in five years in 2015, according to data gathered and analyzed jointly by the Kaiser Family Foundation and UNAIDS. In U.S. currency, over $1 billion dried up; AIDS money dropped from $8.6 billion in 2014 to $7.5 billion in 2015, a 13 percent decline. … ‘We know that governments are facing fiscal austerity measures,’ explained [Jen Kates, Kaiser Family Foundation vice president and director of global health and HIV policy]. ‘We also know that they are faced with competing demands, including refugee and humanitarian emergencies that are affecting their budgets.’ No matter the explanations, activists are worried — and angry…” (Villarosa, 7/22).

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Researchers, Advocates Encouraged By PrEP As HIV Prevention Tool, Say Health Delivery Systems Must Be Bolstered

Devex: Barriers to PrEP: Rollout of this HIV prevention tool is hitting bumps
“…Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is the use of antiretroviral medication to prevent the acquisition of HIV infection by uninfected people. In 2014, the World Health Organization recommended offering PrEP to men who have sex with men — known as MSM — and in September broadened its recommendation to include all people at substantial risk of HIV infection as an additional prevention choice. … Keletso Makofane from the Global Forum on MSM and HIV said that while the prevention tool was encouraging, it would have no impact unless the health care delivery systems responsible for delivering PrEP were fixed. Staff shortages, frequent stockouts, treatment oversights, and stigma within clinics and the community were some of the issues he listed…” (Cousins, 7/22).

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Intergenerational Sex Among Older Men, Younger Women Driving HIV Epidemic In Southern Africa, Research Shows

Agence France-Presse: ‘Sugar daddies’ and ‘blessers’: A threat to AIDS fight
“…The man who infected [27-year-old Lebogang Motsumi] with [HIV] was a ‘sugar daddy’ or, in local parlance, a ‘blesser’ — an older man who ‘blesses’ a younger, often poorer girl with money and gifts and expects sex in return. The danger of the ‘blessers’ [was] in the spotlight at the International AIDS Conference in Durban … In South Africa, seven million people live with HIV — and older men are thought to be largely to blame for the shockingly high rate of infections among teenage girls and young women…” (Van Schie, 7/21).

The Guardian: Village girls fight scourge of the ‘blessers’ — whose gifts ruin their lives
“…Generally married, always older, blessers are men who use their money to control young women. The term has become so entrenched that there are four ‘levels’ of blesser: at the lowest level the man offers mobile phone data cards and visits to drinking clubs. Then there’s gifts or much-coveted hair extensions. At the highest levels phones, cars, and trips abroad are offered. Professor Salim Abdool Karim, director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research, told last week’s International AIDS Conference in Durban that intergenerational sex, led by blessers, was driving HIV infection rates…” (McVeigh, 7/23).

NPR: The HIV Trap: A Woman’s Lack Of Control
“…That’s exactly what’s driving the AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa: women’s lack of control. HIV is often considered a disease that affects gay men, drug users, and prostitutes. That’s true in many places. But in Southern Africa the epidemic has taken a surprising turn. Young women — at many economic and educational levels — are bearing the brunt of the epidemic. AIDS is the biggest killer of young women in Southern Africa…” (Doucleff, 7/23).

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HIV Disproportionately Affecting Some Indigenous Populations, Meeting Held Ahead Of AIDS 2016 Hears

VICE News: Indigenous communities worldwide are fighting to deal with the threat of HIV
“…[R]esearchers are trying to paint a more complete picture of how the virus is afflicting indigenous populations around the world. What is known is troubling — in one Canadian province, for example, 71 percent of new cases of HIV were aboriginal people, while in Fiji, 82 percent of new infections are indigenous people. … Attendees of the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV/AIDS are working to have indigenous peoples recognized as key populations in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, putting them alongside other groups considered at high risk, including men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, prisoners, and sex workers…” (Hill, 7/22).

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PEPFAR Abstinence Education Funding In Sub-Saharan Africa Not Associated With Reduction In HIV Risk Behavior, Study Shows

Scientific American: The U.S. Blew $1.4 Billion on Abstinence Education in Africa
“…A rigorous comparison of national data from countries that received abstinence funding under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with those that got none of the funding showed no difference in the age of first sexual experience or in the number of sexual partners or teenage pregnancies — all aspects of behaviors that have been linked to a higher risk of becoming infected with HIV. Instead the study showed that one of the most important factors associated with lower levels of risky behavior was the number of years women remained in school…” (Gorman, 8/1).

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18M People In Southern Africa Expected To Need Food Aid By March Because Of El Niño's Effects, WFP Warns

NPR: The Race To Stop A Looming Food Disaster In Southern Africa
“…[A] looming food crisis [is] expected to afflict at least seven countries across Southern Africa in the coming months. It’s projected that by next March as many as 18 million people will need food assistance. In Malawi alone, an estimated 40 percent of the population will need help. The cause of all this impending misery is a drought brought on by El Niño…” (Aizenman, 7/22).

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In Step Toward Africa Being Declared Polio-Free, Nigeria Marks 2 Years Without New Case Of Disease

Agence France-Presse: Nigeria hails major step towards polio-free Africa
“Nigeria on Sunday celebrated two years without a new case of polio, in a major stride towards Africa being declared free of the devastating disease. If no new case is reported by July 2017, Nigeria will be certified free of the virus, which mainly affects children under five and can leave its victims crippled or dead…” (Agoi, 7/24).

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More Than One-Fifth Of U.S. Zika Cases Imported From Dominican Republic

Kaiser Health News/PBS NewsHour: How a Caribbean island became prime source of U.S. Zika cases
“…Visitors to the Dominican Republic account for more than a fifth of the confirmed Zika cases in the U.S. through mid-July, according to data from state health departments. New York, Florida, and California alone tally 304 cases linked to the country, the data show. As Florida officials investigate what may be the first non-travel-associated cases of Zika infection in the U.S., Kaiser Health News looked more deeply into the origins of the 1,404 travel-related cases reported by all states to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…” (Galewitz, 7/23).

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Analysis Examines Public Funding For Abortion In Nations Where Practice Is Legal

The Atlantic: Why America Is a Global Outlier on Abortion
“…A policy called the Hyde Amendment restricts government funding of abortion through Medicaid in most cases. And in this, the U.S. is an outlier: Most other governments that allow abortion also publicly fund it in some way, according to an analysis of 80 countries published Friday in the journal Contraception. Just 21 nations, including the likes of Belarus, Bahrain, and Kyrgyzstan, provide as little government support for abortion care as the U.S. does…” (Khazan, 7/22).

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Children In Syria Most At Risk Among 5M People Without Sufficient Food, Water, Medicine; Government Airstrikes Hit 5 Clinics In Rebel-Held Areas

Al Jazeera: As war rages on, Syrian children starving to death
“…Hundreds of deaths have been reported from preventable causes in the area, and medics say there are around 40 children in a similarly perilous condition [of malnutrition]. Aid hardly reaches Hama, and when it does finally get through, products to treat hunger and malnutrition — such as peanut butter paste supplements — are not suitable for toddlers and babies. … As the fighting rages on around them, almost five million Syrians are not getting enough food, water, or medicine, according to UNICEF…” (7/24).

VOA News: Syrian Government Airstrikes Hit 5 Clinics in Rebel-held Areas
“Syrian government airstrikes struck five makeshift hospitals Saturday in rebel-held areas, killing one infant and jeopardizing medical care for more than 200,000 civilians in rebel-held areas, according to a British-based human rights group. The Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes disabled four clinics in the provincial capital of Aleppo and one in Atareb just west of the city…” (7/24).

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Libyan Health System Collapsing Amid Conflict, Shortages Of Funding, Resources

Reuters: Libyan health crisis sharpens as resources dwindle
“…Libya’s health system [is] collapsing amid poor security, a funding crisis, and chronic shortages of staff and medicine. Problems only seem to have become more acute since a U.N.-backed government arrived in Tripoli in March aiming to end the armed conflict and political turmoil that has plagued Libya for years. It is gradually trying to assert its authority, but remains opposed by some factions on the ground…” (Elumami, 7/24).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss U.S. Congress's Inaction On Emergency Funding For Zika Response

Washington Post: The wrong way to fight disease
Editorial Board

“…It was irresponsible of Congress to leave town for the summer with President Obama’s $1.9 billion request [for emergency Zika funding] up in the air. It also underscores a larger problem: The system for financing public health emergencies is flawed. … This is not only a problem in the United States, but afflicts other nations and the World Health Organization, as the Ebola postmortems showed. … As Congress dithered this spring over whether to provide emergency funding for Zika, the administration responded by reprogramming about $589 million in existing funds to deal with the threat. This wasn’t a freebie. It robbed resources set aside to help other nations improve their disease surveillance and response systems … In effect, by inaction, Congress forced the administration to rob the future to pay for today. … Funding disputes in Washington will always be intense. But it is time to take infectious disease outbreaks seriously and establish a more stable financing mechanism for fighting them, such as a proposal by Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) to create a $5 billion public health emergency fund that would be ready for a rapid and flexible response when viruses and bacteria suddenly run rampant” (7/24).

Huffington Post: A Day Late, A Dollar Short: What The U.S. (And The World) Still Aren’t Getting About Zika
Steve Davis, CEO at PATH

“…[L]ong-term funding and coordination of research and development are essential. Because the most urgently needed vaccines often don’t have a commercially viable market, funding will need to come from governments and foundations that have a history of supporting global health initiatives. Such funding should be used to accelerate development of vaccines for the diseases already identified by WHO as most likely to cause severe outbreaks in the future. … As an urgent matter of national and international security, governments and WHO must join with pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, and nonprofits to establish a well-funded and well-coordinated public-private partnership program to prepare for the future disease outbreaks that are certain to strike. It won’t be cheap to fund or easy to manage. But failure to do so now will certainly carry a significantly higher cost in the future. In our complex and often insecure world, this step toward improving global health security is an essential investment” (7/22).

Forbes: While Zika Spreads in U.S. Congress Goes On Vacation
Judy Stone, infectious disease specialist and Forbes contributor

“…Once again putting partisan politics above public health, Congress left for a seven-week vacation without funding President Obama’s and the CDC’s request for emergency Zika funding — made [in] February. While … new cases occurred after Congress skipped town, they reflect Congress’s short sightedness in not proactively funding research and control efforts. … With the funding for public health having been gutted and Congress leaving without providing emergency Zika funding, we may not know how widespread Zika is for some time, especially since most cases are asymptomatic. … The lack of funding not only limits critical surveillance, but spraying for mosquitoes to reduce transmission. … We shouldn’t allow politics to trump public health. Elections have consequences. Remember that this fall” (7/25).

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Global Health Community Should No Longer Ignore Mental Health, Especially Among Populations Affected By Conflict

The Guardian: The global community is failing to address mental health
Laila Soudi, researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine and director of mental health at the Syrian American Medical Society, and Vikram Patel, Wellcome Trust principal research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and co-founder of Sangath

“When it comes to mental health, the global health community has failed. … Our failure … is that we have left large proportions of those affected … without access to even basic mental health care from which they can greatly benefit. … The consequences are grave, not only for the mental health of the individuals affected, but also for their physical health and the wellbeing of families and society at large. This unmet need for mental health services is greatest among populations affected by conflict and displacement. … Untreated, the impact of conflict on mental health can endure for years, and over generations, at great cost to society. With more than 60 million people displaced by war, conflict, or persecution, now is the time for the global health community to wake up and realize what’s at stake if we keep ignoring mental health” (7/25).

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Cost Savings On Cancer Drug Could Enhance Colombian's Right To Health, Long-Term Economic Development

Huffington Post: Right To Health, Colombia And U.S. Congress
Todd Howland, representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia

“Recent memos allegedly leaked from the Colombian Embassy in Washington describe intense pressure by the pharmaceutical industry and its congressional allies to discourage Colombia’s efforts to half the local price of Novartis’ Gleevec, one of the leading medications used to treat Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). … Without medication, CML … kills almost everyone who has the disease. Gleevec, approved in 2001, and its successors, radically changed the outlook for CML patients … Cost savings on Gleevec would allow Colombia to divert hundreds of millions of dollars to projects that ensure Colombians’ basic human rights and promote the long-term economic development and stability essential for peace. … The United States has a historical commitment to peace and human rights, and Colombia has a moral, and legal, obligation to do its utmost to protect the lives of its people. We have a choice: we can punish Colombia — and the individuals who suffer from CML — for striving to respect the fundamental human right to health, and in doing so, undermine Colombia’s progress toward peace and stability; or we can build on our investment and promote an ethical and humane foreign policy, facilitating a human rights success story” (7/22).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CGD Blog Post Discusses 3 Key Takeaways From White House Global Development Summit

Center for Global Development’s “Rethinking U.S. Development Policy”: My Three Takeaways on the White House Summit on Global Development
Cindy Huang, visiting policy fellow at CGD, discusses three key takeaways from panelists who spoke at last week’s White House Summit on Global Development. She highlights the advancement of development as a “key pillar” of foreign policy; the need to have “strategic patience” to advance development investments;  and the importance of building strategic and effective partnerships (7/22).

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