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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

White House Criticizes Republicans For Lack Of Action On Zika Funding

Washington Times: Zika virus fight needs quick, generous spending, Obama administration says
“The White House accused Republicans of being indifferent to pregnant women and their unborn babies by refusing to spend the nearly $2 billion President Obama wants freed up to fight the Zika virus, escalating the fracas in Washington over spending…” (Howell, 5/31).

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U.S. Lawmakers Might Not Replenish Ebola Funds Reprogrammed For Zika Response, STAT Reports

STAT: Millions in Ebola funding, a casualty of Zika virus, may not be replenished
“Lawmakers are getting closer to steering additional money toward the effort to cope with the Zika virus. What they do not appear ready to do is plug a gaping hole in funding for what was until recently another global health crisis, Ebola…” (Scott, 6/1).

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Sexual Transmission Of Zika Virus More Common Than Previously Believed, WHO Says In New Guidance

Agence France-Presse: WHO releases new updated guideline on sexual transmission of Zika virus
“The World Health Organization has released an interim guidance update underscoring the mounting evidence that sexual transmission of the Zika virus is not only possible, but more common than previously assumed…” (5/31).

Reuters: WHO advises eight weeks of safe sex after return from Zika areas
“People returning from areas where the Zika virus is found should follow safe sex practices or abstain from sex for at least eight weeks rather than just four, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday…” (Nebehay/Miles, 5/31).

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17M HIV-Positive People On Treatment Worldwide, With 2M Gaining Access In 2015, UNAIDS Data Show

Science Speaks: Latest UNAIDS numbers shows impacts of inequities — including in program norms
“In time for the United Nations High-Level Meeting that begins next week on the global HIV pandemic, UNAIDS has come out with its latest update of data, that show, the authors say, that ‘ending AIDS’ can be done…” (Barton, 5/31).

U.N. News Centre: Two million more people living with HIV on life-saving treatment in 2015 — new U.N. report
“The number of HIV-positive people taking antiretroviral medicines more than doubled to an estimated 17 million people from 2010 to 2015, with two million people gaining access to the life-saving drugs last year alone, the United Nations agency leading the world’s HIV/AIDS response announced [Tuesday]…” (5/31).

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Letter From U.N. Leadership Shows Signs Of Compromise Over Haiti's Cholera Epidemic

The Guardian: U.N. response to Haiti cholera epidemic critics signals ‘potential breakthrough’
“The United Nations is showing the first signs of compromise over the Haiti cholera epidemic, after more than five years in which it has consistently refused to accept responsibility for a disaster that has claimed tens of thousands of lives. … The U.N.’s olive branch comes in a letter from its second-in-command, Jan Eliasson, in response to sharp criticisms leveled against the U.N. leadership by the organization’s own human rights experts…” (Pilkington, 6/1).

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Hepatitis C Medicines Financially Inaccessible In Many Nations, WHO Study Shows

STAT: Hepatitis C drugs remain unaffordable in many countries, says WHO study
“In the latest effort to quantify the burden of expensive medicines, a new study found that the cost of two widely used hepatitis C treatments remains out of reach for people in many poor countries and poses a ‘financial and ethical dilemma’ for payers and doctors. In general, current prices are unaffordable and, as a result, poorer countries may be paying higher prices than wealthier nations, according to the study, which appeared on Tuesday in PLOS Medicine and was conducted by World Health Organization officials…” (Silverman, 5/31).

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WHO Declares End Of Ebola Transmission In Guinea For 2nd Time

Reuters: Guinea declared free of active Ebola transmission: WHO
“Guinea has reached the end of active Ebola virus transmission, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, the second such declaration from the country at the epicenter of the world’s worst outbreak of the disease…” (Brice/Nebehay, 6/1).

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Russian AIDS Advocates Work To Increase Funding For, Awareness Of HIV Prevention

Agence France-Presse: Russia activists struggle to raise HIV awareness as epidemic grows
“…Despite the efforts of activists like [Vadim Pokrovsky, head of Russia’s Federal AIDS Center], the total number of registered HIV cases in Russia exceeded one million in late 2015, with authorities struggling to contain an epidemic that experts say could be curbed by increased funding and more awareness campaigns…” (Panina, 5/28).

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Turkish President Calls On Muslims To Reject Contraception To Promote Population Growth, Angering Women's Rights Group

Agence France-Presse: Family planning not for Muslims, says Turkey’s Erdogan
“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that family planning and contraception were not for Muslim families, in his latest comments promoting population growth that angered women’s activists…” (Williams, 5/30).

Newsweek: Turkey’s Erdogan Calls on Muslims to Reject Birth Control in Order to ‘Multiply’
“…On Twitter, the women’s rights group Platform to Stop Violence Against Women criticized Erdogan’s stance. ‘You cannot usurp our right to contraception, nor our other rights with your declarations that come out of the Middle Ages. We will protect our rights,’ the group wrote…” (Moore, 5/31).

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Pakistan's Environmental Samples Test Negative For Polio, Signaling Progress Against Disease

Associated Press: Pakistan says new sampling shows progress against polio
“For the first time in Pakistan’s history all the previous month’s environmental samples for polio have tested negative — a sign of progress in the campaign to eradicate the virus, an official said Monday…” (5/30).

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Newsweek Examines Maternal Mortality, Health Care In South Sudan

Newsweek: Giving Birth in South Sudan: A Matter of Life and Death
“…[O]ne issue that can remain invisible to anyone outside the walls of South Sudan’s hospitals is the extreme danger women put themselves in simply by giving birth. According to the latest World Bank data, 789 South Sudanese mothers die for every 100,000 live births — this is the world’s fifth-highest maternal mortality rate, behind only four fellow sub-Saharan African countries…” (Gaffey, 6/1).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Piece Discuss U.S. Funding For Zika

USA TODAY: Congress fiddles, Zika spreads: Our view
Editorial Board

“…Congress’s propensity to rush from crisis to crisis, and its inconsistent spending on public health, make each new disease an emergency. … [B]oth chambers refuse to vote on Zika funding by itself. They have forced it to hitch a ride on huge spending measures containing controversial issues. … House Republicans have expressed one important concern, that Zika spending be offset by other savings to avoid driving up the deficit. They’ve chosen to take money from Ebola. But how about this alternative? Eliminate the ‘carried interest’ tax break that benefits certain wealthy investment managers. According to the Congressional Budget Office, getting rid of this giveaway would generate … [the amount that is] just about what the administration says is needed to help swat away the Zika virus” (5/31).

USA TODAY: Rep. Tom Cole: Don’t worry, we’ll fund Zika fight
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee

“Rest assured. The Zika emergency response will be funded, and immediate needs are already being funded. The issue now is whether the funding will be paid for or irresponsibly added to the national credit card. … Republicans believe that when resources already exist to confront an emergency, we should use them. That’s why the House approach to Zika uses funds designated for Ebola and other infectious diseases. Sadly, Democrats claim that Republicans are heartlessly raiding the Ebola crisis fund. … Since additional funds used for Zika will be repaid, that’s more than enough to finance all the planned Ebola research for the foreseeable future. … While we listen to scientists, we also listen to economists who tell us that adding to the national debt when it is unnecessary is irresponsible. In this case, we have the money, time, and ability to deal with Zika and keep watch over Ebola in a thoughtful and prudent way” (5/31).

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PEPFAR Continues To Support Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision As HIV Prevention Measure

The Hill: Government’s commitment to fighting HIV stronger than ever
Lisa J. Nelson, deputy coordinator for program quality at the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy at the Department of State

“…[Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC)] has the potential to prevent millions of new HIV infections and save millions of lives … For this reason, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has long prioritized the expansion of VMMC services to reach the people and places at the greatest risk for HIV infection. … [O]ur data demonstrate that by targeting 15- to 24-year-old men — who are at an elevated risk of acquiring HIV and transmitting it to an infected partner — we can increase the impact of every VMMC procedure we support. PEPFAR’s rigorous data analyses also have shown that certain VMMC partners and program sites are more effective and efficient at reaching men and delivering safe, high-quality services. Based on these analyses, we have redirected some VMMC resources to these high-performing partners and sites and only closed sites for poor service delivery or non-performance. … VMMC is a powerful tool toward ending the AIDS epidemic, and PEPFAR’s commitment to accelerating access to VMMC is stronger than ever” (5/31).

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Shifting U.S. Military Spending To Development, Implementing Tax On 'Global Rich' Could Improve Child Health, Education

Project Syndicate: Financing Health and Education for All
Jeffrey D. Sachs, professor and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and director of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network

“…[M]assive suffering could be ended with a modest amount of global funding. … [A] shift in focus from war to development [funding] would greatly bolster U.S. and global security … A second option would tax the global rich, who often hide their money in tax havens in the Caribbean and elsewhere. … Both solutions would be feasible and relatively straightforward to implement. They would underpin the new global commitments contained in the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)]. … Our world is immensely wealthy and could easily finance a healthy start in life for every child on the planet through global funds for health and education. A small shift of funds from wasteful U.S. military spending, or a very small levy on tax havens’ deposits — or similar measures to make the super-rich pay their way — could quickly and dramatically improve poor children’s life chances and make the world vastly fairer, safer, and more productive. There is no excuse for delay” (5/31).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

IntraHealth International Officials Discuss Links Between Health Workforce, Economy

IntraHealth International’s “Vital”: 5 Challenges to Women’s Human, Economic, and Labor Rights in the Global Health Workforce
Constance Newman, senior team leader for gender equality and health at IntraHealth International, discusses the role of women in health care delivery and highlights challenges “to fully integrate women in the formal health economy in health systems that protect the earning potential, economic security, and labor rights of their female workers” (5/27).

World Economic Forum: Can the World’s Expanding Health Sector Heal Our Economies?
Kate Tulenko, vice president of Health Systems Innovation at IntraHealth International, discusses ways to ensure that health sector jobs will be cost-effective and improve health care, including “1. Fix the broken educational system … 2. Create career paths … 3. Address gender challenges … 4. Modernize management … 5. Rationalize financing…” (5/25).

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June 2016 Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

WHO: Bulletin of the World Health Organization
The June 2016 WHO Bulletin includes editorials, news, research, and policy articles on various topics, including an editorial on ending the AIDS epidemic, a news article on mortality from noncommunicable diseases, a research article on the role of law in reducing tuberculosis transmission in parts of Africa, and an article on priority-setting to achieve universal health coverage (June 2016).

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