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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Leading NGOs Hold Briefing Ahead Of G8 Summit To Discuss Prominent Issues

“Leading [non-governmental organizations (NGOs)] held a briefing June 12 to discuss issues they hope will figure prominently at the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland,” taking place June 17-18, VOA News reports. “Among them are food security, nutrition, tax havens, transparency, and mining,” the news service adds. “The NGOs pointed out that the global economic downturn in recent years has meant commitments made at past G8 summits have not always materialized,” the news service writes, noting, “But at the Food and Nutrition Summit held ahead of the upcoming meeting, over four billion dollars were pledged to address global food security. The grassroots advocacy group ONE said it will be monitoring the implementation of these and other commitments.”

“Ben Leo, the group’s global policy director, explained that groups like the ONE campaign actively monitor how G8 leaders and governments follow through,” according to VOA. “He also emphasized that it’s more than making a pledge and keeping it; it’s about providing people with the proper tools to get out of poverty,” the news service writes, adding, “For example, he said his organization has been working hard over the past couple of years to bring the plight of smallholder farmers — who are mostly women — to the forefront” (Lewis, 6/14). In related news, The Telegraph examines the agenda of the 39th annual summit, highlighting key attendees of the event (Hope et al., 6/17).

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World Population Expected To Reach 9.6B By 2050, U.N. Report Says

“The current world population of 7.2 billion is projected to increase by one billion over the next 12 years and reach 9.6 billion by 2050, according to a United Nations report launched today, which points out that growth will be mainly in developing countries, with more than half in Africa,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The report, titled “World Population Prospects: the 2012 Revision,” “notes that the population of developed regions will remain largely unchanged at around 1.3 billion from now until 2050,” the news service writes, adding, “In contrast, the 49 least developed countries are projected to double in size from around 900 million people in 2013 to 1.8 billion in 2050” (6/13). “The report also anticipates a rise in the number of old people, with life expectancy projected to rise to 76 globally by 2050 and 82 by 2100,” according to The Guardian (Provost, 6/13). “The report found global fertility rates are falling rapidly, though not nearly fast enough to avoid a significant population jump over the next decades,” the Associated Press/USA Today reports, noting, “In fact, the U.N. revised its population projection upward since its last report two years ago, mostly due to higher fertility projections in the countries with the most children per women.” John Wilmoth, director of the Population Division in the U.N.’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “cautioned that ‘there is a great deal of uncertainty about population trends,'” the AP writes, adding, “He said projections could change based on the trajectories of three major components — fertility, mortality and migration” (6/13).

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At Least 25 Children Infected With Wild Polio Virus In Northern Nigeria

At least 25 children in northern Nigeria have been infected with wild polio virus this year, according to an official, the country’s Premium Times reports. WHO Consultant on Vaccine Security and Logistics Bolaji Buari “said this on Friday at Tegina town in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State … during the commencement of the 5th round of Immunization Plus Days (IPDs) in the state as part of effort[s] to stem the scourge,” the newspaper notes (6/14). “He said among the states found with new cases of the wild polio virus, Borno State has the highest number with 10 cases while Niger State and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has the lowest with one case each,” the Nigerian Tribune adds (Oladipo, 6/15).

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Two Polio Volunteers Shot To Death In Northeastern Pakistan

“Two volunteers in a polio immunization campaign were shot to death on Sunday in the Swabi district of northeastern Pakistan, the police said,” the New York Times reports. “The two volunteers, one a local schoolteacher, were killed by two gunmen, the district police chief, Mian Saeed, said,” the newspaper notes (Khan, 6/16). “The vaccinators were attacked while they administer[ed] polio drops to children in Swabi area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, officials said,” Zee News writes, adding, “This was the second such attack in Swabi” (6/16). “No one claimed responsibility for the Sunday attack,” according to the Associated Press, which notes, “Some Pakistani militant groups oppose the vaccinations and accuse the workers of spying for the U.S.” (Khan, 6/16). “Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the Sunday killings …, calling their slayings ‘cowardly and inhuman,'” CNN adds (Smith, 6/17). Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif also “strongly condemned” the killings and on Sunday “paid tribute to the volunteers who lost their lives in playing their role for eradicating … polio from the country,” according to the Associated Press of Pakistan (6/16).

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Saudi Arabia Reports Another MERS-Related Death

“One more person has died and two more have fallen ill in Saudi Arabia from the new SARS-like coronavirus, MERS-CoV, the Saudi Health Ministry said on Friday,” Reuters reports. The country has recorded “46 cases, of whom 28 have died, data from the ministry showed,” and worldwide, 33 people have died of the disease, according to the WHO, the news agency notes (Kasolowsky, 6/14). “The virus is a member of the coronavirus family, which includes the pathogen that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS),” Al Arabiya writes, adding, “Health officials have expressed concern about the high proportion of deaths relative to cases, warning that MERS could spark a new global crisis if it mutates into a form that spreads more easily” (6/14).

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Aid Agencies Should Prioritize Adolescents' Sexual, Reproductive Health Needs In Crisis Situations, Report Says

“Humanitarian organizations must prioritize the sexual and reproductive health needs of displaced adolescents at the earliest opportunity in a crisis to protect young people from sexual violence, sexually transmitted diseases and early pregnancy,” according to a report from the Women’s Refugee Commission and Save the Children, in partnership with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), Thomson Reuters Foundation reports. “‘The report calls for humanitarian organizations to integrate adolescent reproductive health services at the very beginning of any emergency response,’ said Sarah Costa, executive director of the Women’s Refugee Commission, speaking on a panel on Thursday at the United Nations, where the report was presented,” the news service writes. According to the report, “Investing in [Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive health (ASRH)] may help delay first pregnancy, reduce maternal death, improve health outcomes, contribute to broad development and reduce poverty,” the news service notes (Anderson, 6/14).

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African Countries Make Progress Toward MDGs, But Will Not Reach All Goals, Deutsche Welle Reports

Deutsche Welle examines African countries’ progress on reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline, writing, “Even though Africa will most likely not meet all eight [MDGs] by 2015, the continent has shown remarkable progress. But Africa still lags when it comes to targets like eradicating poverty.” The news agency reviews progress on reaching goals surrounding education, health, poverty and hunger. “Fifteen African countries are among the top 20 nations which have made the greatest progress toward reaching the MDGs,” the news agency writes (Steffan, 6/13).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Published Ahead Of G8 Summit

The following is a summary of opinion pieces published ahead of the 39th annual G8 Summit taking place in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, on Monday and Tuesday.

  • Lucy Chesire, Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog: “As the Group of Eight (G8) meetings get underway on the 17th and 18th of this month, there are many issues of great magnitude that world leaders will be asked to examine and review,” Chesire, executive director and secretary to the Board of the TB ACTION Group, writes. “Despite the incredible support that the G8 has provided to the Global Fund and the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria over the years there is a sense that somehow, it is no longer as important,” she states, adding, “We have the opportunity to start to defeat AIDS, TB and malaria but if we do not fully replenish the Global Fund for 2014-16 we will not reach the tipping point, we will slide back on the scale to a point where we no longer have the tools to fight epidemics that are on an upswing.” She continues, “As a woman living with HIV who is alive 20 years since my own diagnosis, I encourage the leaders who will gather at Lough Erne to celebrate their success for supporting the Global Fund this far, and to realize that our tomorrow depends on their decisions at this critical moment” (6/13).
  • Bill Nighy, The Guardian’s “Comment is Free” blog: “Even in today’s age of austerity, the G8 has a chance to build on the successes of the Gleneagles summit and, in particular, tackle the forgotten scandal of hunger,” Nighy, an actor and advocate for a Robin Hood tax, writes. “Since 2005, I’ve visited developing countries and campaigned with Oxfam at a number of G8 and G20 summits — pushing leaders to deliver on their promises to the poorest and seeing for myself the difference the money can make,” he notes, and writes, “This year’s G8 is unlikely to see much movement on aid beyond the very welcome additional money for nutrition announced at last weekend’s hunger summit.” He continues, “The actions the G8 needs to take are relatively simple. They need to agree new global rules — on information exchange and public information so it is clear who assets belong to — to ensure that companies can no longer use tax havens to avoid paying their fair share here and in poor countries” (6/13).
  • Baroness Jenny Tonge, Devex: “Amid all the collective speculation about the G8, the two global development-related themes that seem to be gaining momentum at present are food security and tax evasion,” Tonge, a British politician and former member of Parliament for the Liberal Democrat Party, writes. “But I hope that this will not detract from the attention that the lower profile and less well-supported areas of development receive,” she continues, adding, “Areas that are just as vital for societies’ long-term well-being in developing countries, such as the rights of women to make an empowered decision about their family size based on their aspirations, their economic means, the public services that are available to them and all that they have learned in school” (6/13).

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India Should Implement Population-Based HIV Testing

Noting the publication of a paper by Kartik Venkatesh of Brown University and Jessica Becker of Yale that asks “if it would be a good idea for the government of India to try, at regular intervals, to test the country’s population for HIV,” an editorial in The Economist states, “The short answer is that, if it were feasible, it would be.” The researchers used a cost-benefit analysis, and they found “testing Indian adults every five years would cost $1,900 per year of life saved, and would thus pay off handsomely,” the editorial writes. “Whether it could actually be done is another matter. But India takes AIDS seriously and the fact that the epidemic has not run out of control in the way that was once feared is at least in part the consequence of the country’s policies,” The Economist writes, concluding, “The will to test therefore probably exists. Dr. Venkatesh and Dr. Becker suggest it would be worth finding the means, as well” (6/15).

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Proposed Changes To U.S. Food Aid Would Feed More People, Help Prevent Local Market Distortion

Discussing local agricultural market distortions in the U.S. and Haiti following hurricanes in each country, Alexandra Gordon, an environmental horticulturist with a family farm and nursery and a district chair with CARE USA, writes in a Miami Herald opinion piece, “It is estimated that [President Obama’s proposed] changes to the current food aid system” — which include purchasing food in local markets — “could feed as many as four million more people without costing taxpayers a dime if we adopt these simple and smart reforms. The food would also arrive more than 2 1/2 months faster, which could mean life or death for a person who is starving.” Purchasing food in or near countries in need “is a way of supporting local agriculture, and nowhere is that more important than in poor developing countries,” she writes, adding, “When we ship food to developing nations or provide it to relief organizations to ‘monetize’ by selling cheaply in local markets, we distort those markets and damage local production of agricultural commodities … and waste most of our food-aid dollar on subsidies and shipping.”

“There are agriculture groups that oppose such changes to the way food aid is delivered abroad. They say the current system works and the food aid system is OK the way it is,” Gordon notes, adding, “Of course, there is still an important role for U.S. commodities in places where food is not available or where local purchases are not beneficial to the market. Under Obama’s reforms, groups can still purchase commodities from U.S.-based producers where and when it is appropriate.” However, “[i]t’s clear that a more modern food aid system can be a part of lifting more people out of extreme poverty. It can stabilize developing nations. It can lead to strong local markets and permanent economic growth. It saves lives and is the right thing to do,” she continues. “As a small farmer in America, I encourage our policymakers to take this common sense stand and modernize our food aid system,” she concludes (6/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kerry To Commemorate PEPFAR Anniversary

“On Tuesday June 18, Secretary of State John Kerry will commemorate [PEPFAR’s] 10th Anniversary and discuss progress that is being made in the fight against global AIDS,” a State Department media note reports, adding, “The event will take place at 10:00 am EDT in the Dean Acheson Auditorium at the Department of State.” Joining Kerry will be Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. global AIDS coordinator and head of the State Department’s Office of Global Health Diplomacy; Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.); Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.); Namibian Minister of Health and Social Services Richard Nehabi Kamwi; and Tatu Msangi, nursing officer in charge at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC) in Tanzania, the media note adds. The event is open to the press and will be streamed live at www.state.gov, according to the media note (6/14).

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Humanosphere Blog Features Podcast On Bill Foege's Achievements In Global Health

The Humanosphere blog features a podcast on the work of Bill Foege, former director of the CDC and currently a senior fellow in the Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, examining his achievements in global health. “[L]ast year, Foege was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama for his leading role in eradicating smallpox, the only human disease to be eliminated,” the blog notes, and writes, “What does global health mean and how has it changed? Has the [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation] lost its way? And how did being really, really tall help him fight smallpox in Nigeria? We ask Foege all this and more” (6/14).

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Gates Blog Publishes Father's Day Collection

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimist” blog features a collection of current and past posts in recognition of Father’s Day, observed in the U.S. this year on Sunday, June 16. Included in the series is a post by Doulaye Kone, a senior program officer for sanitation technologies and tools at the foundation, on lessons learned from his father about caring for the most vulnerable (6/14). An older post from 2011, written by athlete David Beckham, a founding member of the Malaria No More U.K. Leadership Council and a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, examines the issue of malaria (6/19/11).

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WHO Releases Guidelines For Use Of Bedaquiline For MDR-TB

“The [WHO’s] release this week of interim policy guidelines on the use of bedaquiline for treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis [MDR-TB] offers hope to patients and their physicians running out of options to treat the disease, but the document also highlights the need for more research, selective use, and vigilant roll out of the first new approach to TB treatment in nearly half a century,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “WHO’s interim guidance is a necessary step but leaves much to be done, cautioned Erica Lessem of Treatment Action Group’s TB/HIV project,” the blog writes, adding, “The drug has only been approved for use in the United States, and the manufacturer has only filed applications for approval of its use in a handful of other countries, she noted” (Aziz, 6/14).

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