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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Countries Commit To Nearly Doubling Number Of People On HIV Treatment At U.N. High-Level Meeting On Ending AIDS

Associated Press: Countries commit to double AIDS treatment
“Countries committed to nearly doubling the number of people who receive life-saving HIV treatment over the next five years as a high-level United Nations conference devoted to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 drew to a close Friday. During the three-day-long meeting, countries also saw the U.N.’s 193-member states commit for the first time to monitoring the quality of treatment, with a goal of getting 90 percent of those receiving antiretroviral medicine to reduce their viral load to the point where it is undetectable — something that improves quality of life and reduces the risk of transmission…” (6/10).

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U.S. Health Officials Release Draft Zika Response

The Hill: White House rolls out Zika crisis plan
“The White House is amplifying its efforts to contain the chaos from a nearly inevitable outbreak of Zika virus in the U.S. in upcoming weeks. Senior health officials outlined the national Zika response plan for the first time Thursday during a video briefing with officials from nine states deemed most vulnerable to an outbreak…” (Ferris, 6/10).

New York Times: Officials Preparing for Zika Virus to Spread in the U.S.
“…The 60-page document, a blueprint for action when the first cases of locally transmitted Zika occur in the continental United States, could be released early [this] week, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. They emphasized that it was a working draft that could change based on advice from state officials…” (Tavernise, 6/10).

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Men, Women In Zika-Affected Nations Should Be Fully Informed About Reproductive Options, WHO Official Says

STAT: WHO seeks to clarify: It’s not suggesting pregnancy delays in Zika regions
“…William Perea, the WHO official who is coordinating global health guidance on the Zika outbreak, told STAT on Friday that the agency is not trying to push people in Zika-affected countries towards any one choice regarding pregnancy. Instead, he said, the WHO wanted to make it clear that women and men living in places where the virus is spreading should be fully informed about all of their options and the risks they entail…” (Branswell, 6/10).

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Non-Profit Organizations Urge U.K. Government To Maintain Overseas Aid Spending Levels At 0.7% Of National Income

The Guardian: Charities urge MPs not to cut back on overseas aid spending
“Some of Britain’s biggest charities are calling on MPs to stick with the country’s commitment to overseas aid, with a major debate on the subject taking place in Westminster on Monday. Critics say the U.K.’s aid budget — 0.7 percent of national income — is too high. But in a letter signed by, among others, the chief executives of Oxfam, the anti-poverty ONE campaign, Marie Stopes International, UNICEF U.K., and Christian Aid, parliamentarians are told Britain should be proud of the impact it has on millions of lives…” (McVeigh, 6/12).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Leading aid agencies urge U.K. to stick to aid spending commitment
“…The issue will be debated by lawmakers on Monday, prompted by a petition to scrap the government’s pledge to spend 0.7 percent of national income, or 12 billion pounds ($17.1 billion), a year on aid and to protect the budget from cuts. Central to the petition, launched by the Mail on Sunday newspaper in March and signed by 230,000 people so far, is the spending by private contractors hired by Department for International Development (DfID) to deliver aid…” (Zweynert, 6/12).

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Response To Antimicrobial Resistance Will Require Broad Political Action, Experts Say

Inter Press Service: Antibiotic Resistance Requires Global Response Similar to AIDS, Climate Change
“Addressing antibiotic resistance will require a global political response similar to the way the world has reacted to climate change or HIV/AIDS, Sweden’s Minister of Public Health Gabriel Wikstrom, told IPS recently. … Heads of state and government will discuss the pressing issue of the decreasing effectiveness of antibiotics at a high-level meeting scheduled to take place at the U.N. in September…” (Rowlands, 6/12).

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Syrian Town Of Daraya Receives First Food Aid In 4 Years; Agencies Struggle To Deliver Supplies Amid Continued Violence

Deutsche Welle: Aid agencies struggle to deliver food and medical supplies to desperate Syrians
“The delivery of food aid to a besieged suburb of the Syrian capital is supposed to be the start of a series of deliveries to as many as 19 besieged towns across the country that remain home to nearly 600,000 Syrians…” (Konviser, 6/11).

International Business Times: Syria Conflict: Besieged Town Of Daraya Bombed After Receiving First Food Aid In Four Years
“Barrel bombs were dropped on a Syrian suburb Friday barely a day after the besieged town received its first food aid drop in four years, according to the local council of the town. … The Damascus suburb was delivered food aid late Thursday by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the United Nations for the first time since it came under siege in 2012…” (Chabba, 6/10).

New York Times: Besieged Syrian Town Gets First Food Aid Since 2012, Then Gets Bombed
“…News of the bombing nearly overshadowed the aid delivery, provoking anger among some Western powers hostile to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria…” (Saad/Gladstone, 6/10).

Wall Street Journal: After Years of Siege, First Food Aid Reaches Syria’s Daraya
“…The latest convoy, consisting of nine trucks and carrying 480 food parcels for 2,400 people, entered the town late Thursday. The delivery included hygiene products as well as flour, according to the United Nations’ World Food Programme, one of several agencies that delivered the aid…” (Raydan, 6/10).

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U.N. Supporting Haitian Government's Sanitation Campaign To Provide 30K Residents With Clean Water

U.N. News Centre: Haiti: U.N. supports government in potable water campaign reaching 30,000 residents
“Some 30,000 residents of three localities in Haiti now have access to potable water, thanks to a sanitation campaign launched by the government and supported by the United Nations following a cholera epidemic that killed almost 100 people in the community…” (6/10).

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Scientists Develop Model To Predict Disease Outbreaks Using Climate, Population Data

Reuters: Scientists use climate, population changes to predict diseases
“British scientists say they have developed a model that can predict outbreaks of zoonotic diseases — those such as Ebola and Zika that jump from animals to humans — based on changes in climate. Describing their model as ‘a major improvement in our understanding of the spread of diseases from animals to people,’ the researchers said it could help governments prepare for and respond to disease outbreaks, and to factor in their risk when making policies that might affect the environment…” (Kelland, 6/12).

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Editorials and Opinions

Ending AIDS Requires Vigorous, Generous Global Efforts

New York Times: The World Could End AIDS if It Tried
Editorial Board

“The world has made so much progress in reducing the spread of AIDS and treating people with HIV that the epidemic has receded from the public spotlight. Yet by any measure the disease remains a major threat … [Ending AIDS by 2030 is a] laudable and ambitious goal, reachable only if individual nations vigorously campaign to treat everyone who has the virus and to limit new infections. The medicines and know-how are there, but in many countries the money and political will are not. Besides shining a spotlight on the disease, it’s crucial that wealthy nations like the United States continue to pony up generously to underwrite what must be a global effort. … [The numbers of people affected by AIDS] do not argue for complacency, but instead for more vigorous public health campaigns, increased access to condoms, clean needles for drug users, and prescriptions for pre-exposure drugs. There is still no cure for AIDS. But there are many ways to minimize its deadly consequences” (6/13).

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Continued Investment Needed To Develop Women-Specific HIV Prevention Tools

Devex: Innovative prevention options for women offer new hope to end HIV and AIDS
Zeda Rosenberg, CEO of the International Partnership for Microbicides

“…Ending AIDS must start with women because they bear the greatest burden. … One major reason is the lack of prevention options that women can use on their own to stay HIV free. … Fortunately, recent scientific innovations offer hope. New HIV prevention tools specifically designed to meet women’s unique needs and different life situations are advancing through research and development. Continued investment in these promising tools could have enormous payoff. … If the world wants to get serious about ending AIDS, we must get serious about improving women’s sexual and reproductive health. Continued investment in scientific innovation for women is an essential step toward a future free of HIV and AIDS — one where women thrive and their communities and nations prosper” (6/10).

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Governments, Not Private Sector, Remain 'Biggest Barriers' To Expanding Access To Medicines

Las Vegas Sun: U.N. taking foolish approach to improving delivery of medicines to developing countries
Joseph Allen, consultant and former head of the National Technology Transfer Center

“In developing countries, roughly one in three people lack dependable access to ‘essential’ medicines — a category that includes a range of things from ibuprofen to HIV/AIDS treatments. The United Nations hopes to address this global crisis through its High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines, which is expected to issue recommendations in the coming weeks. … [G]overnments — and not private research firms — are often the biggest barriers to expanding the availability of medicines. According to the World Health Organization, the main reasons the developing world lacks access to basic medicines are an inability to select and use those medicines rationally, unaffordable drug prices, inadequate financing, and unreliable health and supply systems. … As for the matter of affordability, the WHO points out that taxes, tariffs, and other government policies play a significant role in keeping drug prices so high in the developing world. … The U.N. should have looked at all of these factors. It chose, instead, to reinforce a counterproductive narrative in which patents are the enemy of medical access…” (6/11).

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Investments In Digital Health Could Contribute To SDG Progress

Devex: Unlocking the potential of digital health
Patricia Mechael, principal and policy lead at HealthEnabled, executive vice president for the Personal Connected Health Alliance, and visiting professor at Princeton University; and Misha Kay, head of the Global Observatory for eHealth

“…The recent adoption of the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)] marks an important moment in time to build strong systems before the [next health] crises happen. We need to use this opportunity to set a baseline, measure and monitor investments in digital health, and correlate those investments with progress against SDG 3, which includes ensuring healthy lives and well-being for all at all ages. The Global Digital Health Index — an interactive digital resource to track, monitor, evaluate, and score the effective use of digital technology for health among World Health Organization member states — will support these efforts. … The potential of digital health is there, but it must be unlocked. In many countries, a unique combination of political will, technological breakthroughs, private sector engagement, and getting people to take charge of their own health will do this…” (6/10).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts Highlight Discussions From 2016 U.N. High-Level Meeting On Ending AIDS

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: HLM 2016 AIDS: TB gets time and targets, as leaders weigh impacts of No. 1 killer
Antigone Barton, senior writer and editor of “Science Speaks,” reports on a discussion last week during which health ministers and global health leaders talked about “disconnects that continue to surround efforts to address tuberculosis and HIV together, between medical and community responses, as well as within medical and community responses — keeping screening and diagnosis for the two diseases apart…” (6/10).

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: HLM 2016 AIDS: Universal treatment access panel looks at issues in generic antiretroviral medicines
Christine Lubinski, executive director of the Center for Global Health Policy, discusses remarks made at a session during which Ren Mingui, assistant director general for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria, and Neglected Tropical Diseases at the WHO, discussed manufacturing generic antiretroviral drugs. Lubinski writes, “Incentivizing more companies to participate, supporting regional and local capacity to develop, manufacture, and deliver quality-assured generic medicines, simplifying treatments, and looking for cost efficiencies in other components of HIV care are among the actions he said will be necessary to ensure access to these medicines for those who live in low-income countries” (6/10).

Friends of the Global Fight Blog: AIDS is a crisis: What everyone should know from the 2016 High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS
This blog post highlights tweets related to and key points made at the 2016 High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS (6/10).

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Some Malaria Prevention Methods Would Also Help Reduce Spread Of Zika Virus

U.N. Dispatch: What can the fight against malaria teach us about Zika?
Blogger and international development professional Alanna Shaikh discusses malaria prevention methods and their effectiveness, including insecticide-treated bednets, which Shaikh says also could help prevent Zika infection (6/10).

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Pakistan Making Progress Against Polio, Working With Afghanistan To Ensure Children Receive Vaccinations

Humanosphere: Pakistan may have turned a historic corner in the battle against polio
Charlie Ensor, a freelance journalist, discusses the progress and challenges of efforts to eliminate polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan, including the nations’ coordination of vaccination efforts (6/10).

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