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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Nutrition For Growth Summit Yields New Commitments To Tackle Malnutrition

“The Nutrition for Growth event held in London [on Saturday] delivered a new opportunity to further reduce the crippling impact of stunting and other forms of undernutrition for millions of children,” a UNICEF press release reports (6/8). “At the event, governments and development agencies made commitments [.pdf] of up to $4.15 billion to tackle undernutrition up to 2020 in a deal dubbed the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact,” Reuters writes, adding, “Other initiatives included improving the nutrition of pregnant women and young children, and saving children’s lives by increasing breastfeeding and improving the treatment of severe malnutrition” (Golovnina, 6/8). A U.N. statement “said that leaders from governments, international organizations, businesses, as well as civil society organizations, development agencies and research groups, signed the compact and made concrete commitments to act for better nutrition globally over the next seven years,” AfriqueJet notes, adding that the commitments included targets to reduce the number of children affected by malnutrition, as well as new government policies and business practices (6/9). Ahead of the conference, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) announced “a new partnership to improve nutrition among pregnant and breastfeeding women to ensure that children get a good start toward a healthy and productive life,” the U.N. News Centre notes (6/7).

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “praised Britain for ‘leading the way’ on tackling child hunger as the U.K. government committed £655 million [$1 billion] over the next six years to saving millions from chronic malnutrition,” The Guardian writes (Renton/Townsend, 6/8). “Other commitments came from the E.U., the World Bank and a number of non-governmental donors,” the Financial Times notes, adding, “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said it would invest £555 million [$862 million] over the coming seven years on nutrition programs” (Jack, 6/8). “The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, or CIFF, … committed $787 million,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek (Rowling, 6/8). “The commitments mean that funding on nutrition will effectively double from about $418 million to about $900 million a year between now and 2020,” The Guardian notes in a separate article (Tran, 6/8). U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron “was said to be making further calls to G8 countries to see if any other funds could be unlocked,” The Guardian adds in another article (Wintour, 6/7). “United Nations officials have welcomed the funds pledged and political agreements reached at the Nutrition for Growth summit … as a new opportunity to ensure millions more infants and pregnant women have better diets, and to reduce cases of stunting and deaths from malnutrition,” according to the U.N. News Centre (6/8).

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U.N. Seeks More Than $5B In Aid For Syria, Its Largest Humanitarian Appeal In History

“The United Nations made the largest humanitarian appeal in its history Friday, sharply increasing its estimate for the funds needed for Syria, as rights groups said it must do more to ensure its aid cannot be used by President Bashar al-Assad as a weapon of war,” the Washington Post reports (Morris, 6/7). The U.N. “launched a $4.4 billion humanitarian appeal … to assist the growing number of people suffering the effects of the crisis in Syria, which began two years ago with peaceful demonstrations but has since turned into a bloody conflict,” according to the U.N. News Centre. “The appeal, revised from $1.5 billion in January, covers relief activities for the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP) and the Regional Response Plan (RRP),” the news service adds (6/7). “The appeal comprises $2.9 billion for refugees, $1.4 billion for humanitarian aid and $830 million for Lebanon and Jordan, the biggest recipients of Syrian refugees,” Reuters writes (Miles, 6/7). “The civil war in Syria has led to the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world amid a conflict in which hospitals, schools and water and sanitation infrastructure have been targeted,” according to The Guardian. “But some fear that the $5 billion appeal will not be enough as aid agencies have struggled to keep pace with the three-year crisis which has left more than 80,000 people dead,” the newspaper adds (Tran, 6/7).

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International Harm Reduction Conference Begins In Lithuania

The four-day International Harm Reduction Conference opened in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Sunday, drawing “hundreds of scientists, politicians, researchers, health workers, doctors and activists from about 70 countries” to “focus on an HIV hotspot: central and eastern Europe and central Asia, where there are more than 3.7 million injecting drug users, almost a quarter of the worldwide tally,” the Philippine Star reports (Le Roux, 6/10). “Thirty-three percent of HIV diagnoses in Eastern Europe between 2006-2010 were linked to injecting drug use, according to a report by the World Bank, [WHO] and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,” Agence France-Presse notes. The news agency includes quotes from former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, now a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy; Martin Donoghoe, program manager for HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections and viral hepatitis at WHO/Europe; Lithuanian singer Jurgis Didziulis; and British singer and AIDS activist Elton John, whose Elton John AIDS Foundation is supporting the conference (6/9).

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Saudi Arabia Confirms Another MERS-Related Death, Bringing Global Total To 31

“The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia has notified the [WHO] of another death from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), bringing the death toll caused by the new coronavirus up to 31, the WHO said Friday,” Xinhua reports. “Globally, WHO has been informed of a total of 55 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV from September 2012 to date,” the news agency writes (6/8). “There have now been 41 confirmed cases in Saudi Arabia, 26 of them fatal, according to WHO figures,” according to Agence France-Presse (6/8). “Based on the current situation and available information, WHO urged all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns,” RTT News reports (6/7). Scientific American examines the challenges in addressing MERS, including the upcoming Muslim holiday of Ramadan and the annual hajj pilgrimage. “Infectious disease experts are aghast that this late into MERS’s spread the world still has no idea what puts people at risk of infection, how long the incubation period is, when people are contagious or whether there are mild cases that are being missed because surveillance is focused on finding sick people in hospitals,” the magazine writes (Branswell, 6/7).

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Fourteen H7N9 Patients Remain Hospitalized In China; 132 Cases Confirmed

“A total of 131 H7N9 avian flu cases have been reported on the Chinese mainland, including 39 that have ended in death, according to an update released Sunday by health authorities,” Xinhua reports (6/9). “Only 14 patients from China’s H7N9 bird flu outbreak are still in hospital, national health authorities said in their latest update on the disease,” Agence France-Presse adds, noting, “One other case was recorded in Taiwan” (6/10). “China’s confirmed H7N9 virus cases are isolated and there has been no sign of human-to-human transmission, the [National Health and Family Planning Commission] said,” according to Xinhua (6/9).

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Financial Times Magazine Examines Pakistan's Polio Fight

The Financial Times Magazine features a story examining the challenges volunteer polio workers face in vaccinating children in Pakistan. The article details the murder of several polio workers in December 2012, the operation of vaccination teams and their security details, and rumors surrounding the polio vaccine that have caused some families to refuse the drops for their children (Marx, 6/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Address Issues Surrounding Nutrition For Growth, G8 Meetings

On June 8, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron co-hosted the Nutrition for Growth summit in London, ahead of hosting the G8 meeting later in the month. The following opinion pieces address issues surrounding the summits and the global campaign against hunger.

  • Kirtana Chandrasekaran and Nnimmo Bassey, The Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog: The G8 “meeting is expected to expand the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a special initiative launched in 2012 to mobilize private capital for investment in African agriculture,” Chandrasekaran of Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Bassey of Friends of the Earth International, write. However, the “New Alliance prioritizes unprecedented access for multinational companies to resources in Africa,” making it “a flawed project,” they write, concluding, “Continuing to pursue it will cast a shadow on Cameron’s commitment to ending hunger” (6/7).
  • Jamie Cooper-Hohn, Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog: “We have a unique window of opportunity now to marshal the global coalescence around the nutrition agenda and to tackle the root cause of child mortality and economic underachievement,” Cooper-Hohn, president and CEO of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, a co-sponsor of the Nutrition for Growth summit, writes. The conference will “take action in partnership and make a lasting change for all children around the world,” she says (6/8).
  • Nick Deardon, The Guardian’s “Comment is Free” blog: Deardon, director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, notes that “Africa’s farmers labeled [the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition] a ‘new wave of colonialism’ because countries taking part in new alliance pilots are told, for instance, to make it easier for foreign corporations to buy up agricultural land and end trade protection.” He continues, “The concentration of power in the hands of corporations, especially financial business, is at the core of global injustices such as the deprivation of food” (6/9).
  • Pascale Fritsch, The Guardian’s “Global Development Professionals Network” blog: The Nutrition for Growth summit “is a perfect opportunity to raise the issue of undernutrition in older people in humanitarian crises,” Fritsch, emergency health and nutrition adviser for HelpAge International, writes. “By advocating to policymakers, [non-governmental organizations (NGOs)], donors and U.N. agencies and training humanitarian and health workers involved in nutrition programs, as well as by building evidence of older people’s vulnerability for undernutrition and developing guidelines for interventions, the development community can bring the right of older people to proper nutrition to the attention of the humanitarian community,” she states (6/8).
  • Rick Leach, Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog: “We are proud to celebrate this month a major milestone in global progress on maternal and child health: the thousandth day since the international community committed to Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN),” Leach, president and CEO of the World Food Program USA, writes. He concludes, “Focusing on nutrition means bringing partners together to invest in the future of mothers and children. We hope all Americans will join us in ensuring that for every child, the first 1,000 days mark the beginning of a life full of promise” (6/7).
  • Jay Naidoo, Project Syndicate: “We need the political will to tackle malnutrition now, with access to nutritious food recognized as a fundamental human right,” Naidoo, chair of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), writes. He details different steps to tackling malnutrition, including focusing on newborns’ first 1,000 days of life, women, and partnership. “By investing now in nutrition and improved food security, by 2020 we can lift 50 million people out of poverty, prevent stunting in 20 million children under the age of five, and save 1.7 million lives,” he concludes (6/8).
  • Alex Renton, The Guardian: The Nutrition for Growth summit — “attended by no significant G8 figure other than Cameron himself — is more evidence that the ability of grand red-carpet summits to address issues such as world food supply may be over. Both the G20 and the G8 have proved big on promises but not so hot on delivery,” journalist Renton writes in an analysis. “Whatever measures to tackle the problem of 870 million malnourished people are announced by the G8 this month, without China’s commitment they lack much significance,” he adds (6/8). In a related piece, Renton outlines “eight ways to solve world hunger” (6/8).
  • Samuel Worthington, Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog: “As world leaders tackle hunger, poor nutrition and extreme poverty, they need to ensure their solutions are not top down,” Worthington, president of InterAction, writes. “Farmers, particularly women farmers, must be central to any strategy and not an afterthought,” and they “must drive the decisions made at today’s Nutrition for Growth event and this month’s G8 summit if we are sincere in our mission to end extreme poverty,” he concludes (6/8).

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Increased Support For Global Fund Could 'Turn The Tide Of History'

Noting the U.K. will host the G8 summit this month, with the “humanitarian focus” on nutrition, and how the 2005 G8 Gleneagles summit focused on reaching universal treatment, care and prevention goals for HIV/AIDS, British singer and AIDS activist Elton John writes in The Guardian’s “Comment Is Free” blog, “The results of that G8 can be counted in lives saved, health services revitalized, hope re-born. Around the world, governments that were struggling had new evidence that donors were sincere, and would help them meet their people’s needs.” John continues, “But I worry. With each new priority we seem to leave former gains unfinished. That does not make sense. Development means being there for the long run, to see things through, to get the job done.”

“The Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] and UNAIDS have calculated that $15 billion (£9.6 billion) over the next three years could turn the tide of history” on the three diseases, he states, writing, “You don’t abandon the investment as efficiencies start to kick in with better value for money, you don’t give up just when the science proves you can sustain it, and you don’t reduce your contribution when you know you can leverage more than double your share.” He continues, “The U.K. can make sure the Global Fund has enough money to turn the tide of history. Now is the moment to put serious money behind that hope: doubling its last contribution, putting in £1 billion over the next three years, will boost the Global Fund’s ability to achieve its goals and persuade others to do the right thing too.” John concludes, “By capitalizing on a historic opportunity now, AIDS won’t need to be on the table when the U.K. chairs the G8 in 2021” (6/7).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Support For Global Nutrition At Nutrition For Growth Summit

“As the head of USAID — and as a parent of young children — I am privileged to show the United States’ support for global nutrition at the Nutrition for Growth event,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah writes in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog. “On June 8, I was pleased to announce that the U.S. Government is providing more than $1 billion for nutrition-specific interventions and nearly $9 billion on nutrition-sensitive activities over 2012-2014,” he states, adding, “These investments support and accelerate trends in stunting reduction; ultimately to reduce stunting by 20 percent over five years in the areas where we work through Feed the Future, translating into two million fewer stunted children.” He notes, “We also signed on to the global Nutrition for Growth Compact, endorsing high-level goals for improving nutrition” (6/9).

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USAID Report Examines U.S. Role In Global TB Response

“The latest report [.pdf] from [USAID] on the U.S. role in the global tuberculosis response shows that while government agencies have made important contributions to the global TB effort, significant challenges continue to stand between universal access to prevention, care and treatment, and the impoverished populations that need those interventions the most,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “The report, ‘Accelerating Impact: Expanding Access to Care’ outlines USAID’s achievements in TB prevention and care, collaborative interagency activities, and USAID’s partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” the blog notes and discusses some of the report’s findings (Aziz, 6/7).

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Recognizing Caribbean-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Rachel Albalak, director of the CDC’s Caribbean Regional Office, and Jean Wysler Domercant, acting director of clinical services in Haiti at the CDC’s Division of Global HIV/AIDS, recognize Caribbean-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, observed in the U.S. on June 8, and examine HIV/AIDS in the region in the AIDS.gov blog. “According to the UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report 2012 [.pdf], the Caribbean region has the sharpest declines in the number of new HIV infections worldwide since 2001, with a drop of more than 42 percent,” they write, and continue, “Although tremendous progress has been achieved in the Caribbean region, and we have the tools needed to achieve an AIDS-free generation, many challenges remain.” They outline some of these challenges and conclude, “The gains we’ve made are impressive, but our work is not done. A historic opportunity is before us — achieving an AIDS-free generation” (6/7).

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Examining Global Commitment To Ensuring Women's Access To Contraception  

“A global community is recommitted and reenergized and we as individuals have the power to ensure that women’s autonomy over health-related decisions is a fundamental right, not a privilege,” Valerie DeFillipo, director of Family Planning 2020, writes in USAID’s “IMPACTblog.” “The effort to make contraception available is part of our commitment to reduce poverty, enhance human rights, feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty and share the wealth we have with those who need it. Each of these pieces needs the other, and is integrally connected to each other in order to thrive,” she continues, adding, “We can’t leave women’s lives up to chance. When we get the choices right for women, we get it right for development. And in the next seven years, with the lives, dreams and opportunities of millions of the world’s women at stake … we simply have no choice but to get it right” (6/8).

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