KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

NCD Commission Issues Report Making 6 Recommendations For Governments, Split On Recommending Sugar Tax

Devex: NCD commission split over sugar tax
“More involvement from heads of state, a ‘fresh relationship’ with certain industries, and a possible ‘multi-donor trust fund’ to catalyze financing, are among the recommendations in an expert report on combating noncommunicable diseases such as cancer and diabetes. The group stopped short of backing a tax on sugary drinks, a reflection of the rifts between members. Time to Deliver, released today, is the first report from the Independent High-level Commission on NCDs, a group comprised of four heads of state, several ministers, academics, and philanthropists…” (Chadwick, 6/1).

Reuters: WHO diseases panel split on soft drink sugar tax to cut obesity
“…The commission made six recommendations in its report, including for government heads to take responsibility for disease reduction and to increase regulation. It did not mention taxes specifically. … A WHO spokesman told Reuters that the report was from an independent commission, not the WHO, which he said still sees the benefits of using taxes to reduce consumption of harmful products including sugary drinks…” (Nebehay, 6/1).

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U.N. General Assembly Approves Plan To Reform U.N. Development System

Devex: U.N. approves reforms for a more transparent, efficient system
“The United Nations General Assembly approved a new reform strategy that offers the ‘most ambitious and comprehensive transformation of the U.N. development system in decades,’ U.N. [Secretary-General] António Guterres said Thursday. The plan for management reform will formally launch in January 2019, with the aim of simplifying policies and procedures, and synthesizing U.N. positions of authority…” (Lieberman, 6/1).

U.N. News: Countries back ‘ambitious and comprehensive’ reform of U.N. development system
“…The reform process will mean significant changes to the setup, leadership, accountability mechanisms and capacities of the whole U.N. development system; ensuring it meets national needs not only for implementing the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)], but also in meeting the climate change commitments made through the 2015 Paris Agreement…” (5/31).

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Fragile Global Antibiotic Supply Chain Causing Shortages, Increasing Resistance Risk, Report Says

CIDRAP News: Report: Fragile supply chain causing antibiotic shortages, resistance threat
“A new report is warning about an emerging crisis in the global antibiotic supply chain that’s causing antibiotic shortages and contributing to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In a white paper released [Thursday], the Dutch nonprofit Access to Medicine Foundation argues that a fragile global supply chain that’s dependent on a small number of antibiotics manufacturers, along with a financially unstable economic model, are responsible for shortages of antibiotics on a global and national level…” (Dall, 5/31).

Reuters: Another antibiotic crisis: fragile supply leads to shortages
“…In absence of the right drugs, patients may take less effective or poor quality medicines that increase the risk of antimicrobial resistance developing. ‘Things are getting worse because the market is not fixing the problem, despite the expansion in the need for such specialist antibiotics,’ said AMF Executive Director Jayasree Iyer…” (Hirschler, 5/31).

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Campaigners Urge British PM May To Intervene In Alleged Mishandling Of UNAIDS Sexual Harassment Claims

The Guardian: Theresa May urged to demand top U.N. official quits over harassment crisis
“Female whistleblowers and global HIV activists have urged the British government to demand the resignation of a senior U.N. official over his alleged mishandling of serious sexual harassment claims. The high-profile group of campaigners, which includes Martina Brostrom, who maintains she was sexually assaulted by a former U.N. assistant secretary general while she worked for UNAIDS, wants Theresa May and the Department for International Development to intervene over the conduct of the agency’s executive director, Michel Sidibé. The U.K. will chair the organization’s programming board when it meets in Geneva in June…” (Beaumont, 6/1).

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Health Workers Tracking, Vaccinating Ebola Contacts In DRC, Warn More Cases Possible

ABC News: At the center of Ebola in the Congo, worry and indifference coexist
“…Mbandaka is one of three areas affected by an Ebola outbreak in [the Democratic Republic of Congo] and the focus of Ebola response efforts, since it’s a hub in the region. Boats with passengers and goods travel to and from the city on a daily basis. Neighboring countries lie just across the busy Congo River. Three people in Mbandaka have died from Ebola disease in the past few weeks and more than 400 people are being monitored because they are believed to be at risk…” (Dewast, 5/31).

Associated Press: Nearly 700 get Ebola vaccine in Congo; more cases possible
“More than 680 people have received Ebola vaccinations in the three health zones where dozens of cases of the deadly virus have been confirmed, Congo’s health ministry said. Health experts are pushing to find contacts of those infected, having already located more than 1,000…” (Petesch/Cheng, 6/1).

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3 Gambians File Suit Against Former Leader Alleging Human Rights Abuses Related To Fake HIV Treatment

Associated Press: Gambians file suit against ex-leader over alleged HIV ‘cure’
“Three survivors of a supposed HIV treatment program run by Gambia’s former leader Yahya Jammeh featuring what he called an herbal remedy ‘cure’ filed a lawsuit Thursday against him, claiming they suffered under the forced regimen…” (Petesch, 6/1).

CNN: Former Gambian leader sued over fraudulent AIDS cure
“…The plaintiffs are seeking financial damages for harm suffered and a declaration from the high court that their human rights were violated, the advocacy group AIDS-Free World said…” (Feingold, 5/31).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Victims of fake AIDS treatment sue Gambia’s ex-ruler
“…Jammeh, whose 22-year rule over the tiny West African country was marked by accusations of human rights abuses, fled to Equatorial Guinea last year after losing an election…” (Peyton, 5/31).

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Financial Times Special Report Examines Research Into, Treatments For Cancer

Financial Times: FT Health: Combating Cancer
“Have blunt instrument drugs like chemotherapy had their day? Plus: genetic research makes personalized treatments a reality, the push to immunotherapy, apps that extend lives, the scourge of Western lifestyles and the ‘toxicity’ of cancer drugs’ cost.” This special report includes six articles on various aspects of research, treatment, and prevention of cancer (Multiple authors, 5/31).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: Innovation at IRC: ‘What can we do to make the sector better?’ (Cheney, 5/31).

The Guardian: Antibiotic apocalypse: E.U. scraps plans to tackle drug pollution, despite fears of rising resistance (Neslen, 6/1).

Inter Press Service: Peru’s Poor and Disabled Struggle in the Shadows (Vale, 5/30).

The Lancet: Nipah virus outbreak in India (Chatterjee, 6/2).

The Lancet: Palestine not to seek full membership of WHO (Zarocostas, 6/2).

News Deeply: Deeply Talks: Exploring the New Access to Nutrition Index (Green, 5/31).

Quartz: On World No Tobacco Day, Japan’s health ministry removed its cigarette vending machine (Steger, 6/1).

U.N. News: U.N. agencies join forces against environmental risks that cause 12.6 million deaths a year (5/31).

Vox: A genetically modified organism could end malaria and save millions of lives — if we decide to use it (Matthews, 5/31).

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Editorials and Opinions

To Be Trusted Partner In Global Health, Private Sector Must Be Transparent, Accountable

The Lancet: Offline: Global health and the private sector
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet

“…The World Health Assembly is under attack. It is under attack by a private sector that seeks to exploit the growing calls for more partnerships in global health. In particular, the pharmaceutical industry is slowly colonizing global health in the same way that it has colonized clinical medicine. … The private sector is a core part of the global health ecosystem. But if it is to be a trusted partner, the private sector needs to be transparent and accountable for its claims and commitments. It needs to submit its work to independent evaluation and publication. And it needs to be subject to rules for participating in global health events, such as the World Health Assembly” (6/2).

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With Proper Investments, WHO's Essential Diagnostics List Could Help Strengthen Health Systems Globally

The Lancet: Essential diagnostics: a lever for health systems reform?
Editorial Board

“…Timely and accurate diagnosis is fundamental to achieving quality patient-centered care and has myriad benefits beyond individuals including enabling rapid detection of disease outbreaks and reducing the inappropriate use of antibiotics. WHO will update [its Essential Diagnostics List (EDL)] annually, with plans to broaden its remit to include tests for addressing neglected tropical diseases, antimicrobial resistance, and the specific requirements of disease outbreak and emergency settings, among other areas. … Whether the Essential Diagnostics List will contribute to the health systems capacity building required for universal health coverage and other health-related Sustainable Development Goals will depend, crucially, on integrating its application and adaptation to local contexts with rigorous evaluation efforts. Without investment in health systems research alongside attempts to achieve delivery of this essential package, the opportunity to make comprehensive progress in improving diagnostic services around the world may well be squandered” (5/26).

Forbes: How The WHO’s Essential Diagnostics List Will Help The U.S.
Judy Stone, infectious disease specialist and author

“…The EDL should be an important aid for rural hospitals and for hospitals in developing countries, in particular. … The essential diagnostic test recommendations are tailored to the specific needs of the local population. … The need for accurate essential diagnostic tests and medicines is not just for developing countries. … The essential diagnostic list is tiered to different levels of care, with some tests targeted to offices and others to hospitals or better-equipped centers. Hopefully, as with the essential medicines list, this WHO list will have a wide-ranging impact on improving care globally” (5/31).

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Effective Data Collection, Distribution Critical To Saving Lives In Disease Outbreak Scenarios

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Effective data collection — the hidden work that’s essential to the Ebola control response
Chrissy H. Roberts, academic lead at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s (LSHTM) Open Research Kits project

“…In the context of a health crisis of potentially global consequence, the word ‘data’ may not be one of the first to trip off the tongues of many, but the information we collect in an epidemiological study is critical to public health research and evidence-based prevention, treatment, and care. In a disease outbreak we need to bring speed, accuracy, and an in-depth academic and clinical knowledge base to this process of designing and deploying data systems. … Using our tools in an emergency response is a turning point in our work as it marks a move out of academic research and into the realm of a real life or death situation. I’m very confident that we [at LSHTM Open Research Kits project] can make a big difference here, not least because what our team does is so much more than just hand out smartphones and set up databases. We have some of the best clinical researchers in the world on this team and they are absolutely focused on the data, because they believe that data saves lives” (5/31).

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Ebola Outbreak Reminder Of Greater Humanitarian Crisis In DRC

HuffPost: The Latest Ebola Outbreak In DRC Is Shocking, But It’s Just The Tip Of The Iceberg
Mike Penrose, executive director of UNICEF U.K.

“The escalating Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has recently driven this little-reported country into our headlines. … But this is just the latest blow for a country which seems to be trapped in a perennial state of flux. Forced recruitment [to militias], brutal violence, disease, and severe food insecurity have dominated the lives of the Congolese people for many years. DRC sits firmly near the top of many aid organizations’ priority lists, but its crises have been blindingly absent from international news. … [W]hile DRC has air time on the global media stage it’s vital that people understand the true scale of the problems. Without funding, the nutrition programs helping children … will cease to run. The centers liberating children from the militia and reuniting them with their families will close. The vaccination program to contain the spread of Ebola will not be scalable. The Ebola outbreak is a sinister reminder of the fragility of this country, but it is just the tip of the iceberg” (5/31).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Participants At Wilson Center Event Discuss Successful Scale-Up Of RMNCAH Interventions

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: Scaling Up Global Health Care for Women, Children, and Families
Julianne Liebenguth, program assistant at the Wilson Center’s Global Sustainability and Resilience Program, highlights discussions from a recent Wilson Center event on expanding reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health care (RMNCAH) interventions (5/31).

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Wellcome Highlights Initiatives In Tanzania, South Africa, Colombia To Reduce Antibiotic Resistance

Wellcome: Three pioneering ways to stop superbugs
Ahead of a second global conference co-hosted by Wellcome “to galvanize pioneering action to stop the rise and spread of superbugs,” this post highlights efforts in Tanzania, South Africa, and Colombia to reduce antibiotic-resistant bacteria (5/30).

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June 2018 Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

WHO: Bulletin of the World Health Organization
The June 2018 WHO Bulletin includes articles on various issues, including an editorial on the role of WASH in ending cholera; a news article on using local efforts to prevent yellow fever outbreaks in Nigeria, Brazil, and globally; and a research article on implementing tuberculosis prevention for exposed children in Burkina Faso (June 2018).

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From the U.S. Government

MMWR Examines Progress Toward Rubella, Congenital Rubella Syndrome Control In SE Asia

CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”: Progress Toward Rubella and Congenital Rubella Syndrome Control — South-East Asia Region, 2000-2016
Sudhir Khanal of the Expanded Program on Immunization at the WHO’s South-East Asia Regional Office and colleagues discuss vaccination and surveillance efforts to contain rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) in South East Asia from 2000-2016. The authors note, “The regional goal of rubella and CRS control by 2020 appears to be achievable; with continued investment in [vaccination activities], and improved rubella and CRS surveillance, a regional rubella elimination goal might be considered in the near future” (6/1).

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