KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Congressional Negotiations Continue Over Zika Funding As CDC Reports 6 U.S. Cases Of Birth Defects Linked To Virus

The Atlantic: Will Congress Reach an Agreement on Zika?
“In the nearly four months since the Obama administration issued its $1.9 billion Zika funding request, congressional lawmakers have publicly bickered over each chamber’s response to the virus. This week, select members met formally for the very first time to begin reconciling their dueling ideas. But after a brief session on Wednesday, the end of the debate is not yet in sight — and lawmakers are running out of time…” (Kelly, 6/16).

POLITICO: Zika messaging campaigns stalled by funding flux
“It’s hard to communicate about a potential Zika outbreak as public health experts struggle to learn about the virus and must beg for money from Congress, which is ‘not yet acting as though this is a serious problem,’ said Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association…” (Holloman, 6/16).

Roll Call: Zika Deal in the Works as CDC Reports Virus-Linked Birth Defects
“House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Thursday the chamber may vote on a conference report addressing a response to the Zika virus outbreak next week if Senate and House negotiators produce a final package. … The comments came as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported three babies had been born in the U.S. with birth defects linked to Zika, and that three more had been lost to miscarriages or aborted because of the defects. All of the cases were connected to travel to regions with outbreaks of the mosquito-borne virus…” (6/16).

Wall Street Journal: Zika Virus Tied to Birth Defects in 6 Babies, Fetuses in U.S.
“…Overall, 234 pregnant women had tested positive for Zika infection in the U.S. as of June 9, according to the registry. More than half of the pregnancies are still under way, Denise Jamieson, co-lead of a pregnancy and birth-defects task force for the CDC’s Zika response, said in an interview…” (McKay, 6/16).

Washington Post: CDC: 6 pregnancies in Zika-infected women resulted in birth defects
“…The information released Thursday is the first time the agency has provided a total number of Zika-related birth defects since the start of the U.S. response earlier this year…” (Sun, 6/16).

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Federal Officials Outline Steps To Address Antimicrobial Resistance At Congressional Hearing

CIDRAP News: Feds detail range of steps to limit antibiotic resistance
“Federal officials at a congressional hearing this week outlined a range of measures to combat antimicrobial resistance (AR), such as increased laboratory capacity, a national genome sequencing database, and an incubator program to help get new experimental drugs into clinical testing…” (Roos, 6/16).

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Researchers, Advocacy Groups Urge U.S. Presidential Candidates To Address Medical Research Funding, Drug Development

The Lancet: U.S. presidential candidates urged to support health research
“As the most tumultuous presidential primary season in recent times comes to an end, biomedical researchers, physicians, and advocacy groups want the candidates campaigning for the White House to address some of the substantive matters they worry about: National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, advancing Alzheimer’s disease research, speeding up drug development, and a host of research-related issues…” (Jaffe, 6/18).

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Transgender People Face Challenges In Accessing Quality Care, Lancet Series Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Transgender people face challenges for adequate health care: study
“Millions of transgender people around the world face major challenges in getting adequate medical care despite multiple health issues, from depression to high rates of HIV, researchers say. The community remains marginalized, and laws and policies denying them gender recognition make access to health care even more challenging, said the first of a series of papers on transgender health published in The Lancet medical journal on Friday…” (Yi, 6/17).

VOA News: Lancet: World’s Transgenders Do Not Receive Adequate Health Care
“…Authors of the study are urging the World Health Organization to move the transgender diagnosis from its manual as a ‘mental and behavioral disorder’ to a chapter on ‘conditions related to sexual health.’ They are also calling for physicians to receive training about the health care needs of the transgender community whose health concerns include and extend beyond feminizing and masculinizing hormones…” (6/17).

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WHO Experts Back Dose Cut In Yellow Fever Vaccine To Stretch Supplies; Disease Continues To Spread In Angola, DRC

The Lancet: Yellow fever continues to spread in Angola
“Although an emergency meeting of health experts last month stopped short of calling the yellow fever outbreak in Angola a global public health emergency, humanitarian groups on the ground warn the epidemic is still far from over. Even as the number of newly reported cases declines, the disease continues to spread. If it reaches areas with low vaccination coverage, the outbreak could flare up again…” (Green, 6/18).

Reuters: WHO backs cut in yellow fever vaccine dose to eke out supplies
“World Health Organization advisers have recommended using a fifth of the standard dose of yellow fever vaccine in the event of a global shortage to combat the worst outbreak of the deadly disease in decades. Fears of a widening outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease were fueled this week by a spike in cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which now says it has seen more than 1,000 suspected cases since March…” (Nebehay/Hirschler, 6/17).

Reuters: More than 1,000 suspect cases of yellow fever in DR Congo: WHO
“The Democratic Republic of the Congo has reported 1,044 suspected cases of yellow fever since March, including 71 deaths, up from three probable cases and 57 laboratory-confirmed a week ago, the World Health Organization said on Thursday…” (Nebehay, 6/16).

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WHO Warns Of Increased Risk Of Disease Outbreaks Among Civilians Trapped In Iraq's Besieged City Of Fallujah

Reuters: Civilians stuck inside IS-held Fallujah at risk of disease: WHO
“Tens of thousands of civilians stranded inside Islamic State-controlled Fallujah are at risk of disease outbreaks as Iraqi government forces press their assault to retake the city, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Thursday…” (Hameed, 6/16).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency expresses concern over disease outbreaks in besieged city of Fallujah
“The low level of immunity coupled with poor hygiene conditions raises the risk of disease outbreaks, such as measles, in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, where more than 42,000 people have been displaced since the beginning of military operations in May…” (6/16).

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India Reduced Child Malnutrition But Facing High Diabetes Prevalence, Global Nutrition Report Shows

Wall Street Journal: India Is Making Progress on Reducing Malnutrition But Now Has a Diabetes Problem
“While India has dramatically reduced its rate of child malnutrition, a new report points to the increasing burden of diabetes in the world’s second most populous country. According to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report released Tuesday, India is reducing childhood stunting at double the rate it was a decade ago. … However, the country is facing a new health issue. India has a 9.5 percent prevalence of diabetes, putting it ahead of the U.K., with 7.8 percent, and the U.S., with 8.4 percent, the report showed…” (Malhotra, 6/16).

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Kenyan Court Upholds Government's Use Of Anal Exams On Men Suspected Of Being Gay; Human Rights Groups Say Exams Medically Useless, Abusive

New York Times: Judge in Kenya Upholds Use of Anal Exams for Men Suspected of Being Gay
“Human rights groups expressed outrage on Thursday over a Kenyan court’s decision to uphold mandatory anal examinations of men who were suspected of being gay. … On Thursday, a court in Mombasa denied a petition to overturn the government’s practice of subjecting men to forced anal exams. While human rights groups criticized the exams as abusive and medically worthless, government officials argued that they were a useful way to tell if a man was gay…” (Gettleman, 6/16).

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Gene-Altered Mosquitoes Likely To Be Used As Disease Prevention Method, Bill Gates Says

Bloomberg News: Gates Says Altered Mosquito Is Next Weapon to Fight Malaria
“Bring on the genetically modified mosquitoes, Bill Gates says. In recent years, biologists armed with a new gene-editing technology have proposed altering mosquitoes so they’re more resistant to diseases like malaria and dengue. Using a mechanism known as a ‘gene drive,’ the researchers say they can quickly push an alteration through an entire species. ‘In less than five years, I think there’s a good chance it will be out there,’ Gates said in an interview with Bloomberg News before speaking at a conference of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston…” (Chen, 6/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

'USAID Needs Strong Mandate From Congress' To Help End Preventable Child, Maternal Deaths Worldwide

The Hill: Saving women and children around the world must continue to be a top priority
J. Phillip Gingrey, senior adviser at the District Policy Group, former U.S. congressman from Georgia, and physician

“…As the global health community marks the fourth anniversary of a global call to action for child survival, we must continue to make women and children a top priority of our foreign assistance programs. … By ramping up evidence-based approaches such as prenatal care, labor and delivery services including emergency care, nutrition and simple treatments for childhood illness, USAID has contributed to huge declines in maternal and child deaths. … In order to carry forth these efforts, USAID needs a strong mandate from Congress to meet the ambitious deadline of ending [preventable child and maternal] deaths over the next two decades. … One way is by supporting the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (HR 3706, or its companion bill, S 1911), which makes ending preventable child and maternal deaths a goal of U.S. policy and ensures effective, impactful funding for programs around the globe…” (6/16).

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Ending Preventable Child Deaths Possible With Financial, Political Commitments

Quartz: India is proof that health care miracles can save millions of children from death and disease
Mathuram Santosham, professor of international health and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, and co-chair of the ROTA Council

“…Four decades on, child mortality in India has been cut [from 4.5 million] to 1.2 million per year, eradication of diseases is no longer merely a theory. When political and economic will is in place, miracles do happen. … In 1975 the last case of smallpox was seen in South Asia and, in 1980, the WHO declared the disease eradicated. This declaration redefined what was possible and ignited a broader movement to save children from preventable disease. … Success breeds momentum. … I know that we still have a lot of hard work to do; too many children still suffer from preventable disease. However, we’ve successfully eradicated smallpox; polio and Guinea worm are both moribund and child mortality has been cut dramatically. Transformational change is possible. But it only happens when we first believe it and then back it up with financial, political, and human resources…” (6/17).

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Access To Safe Abortion Critical To Lowering Global Maternal Mortality Rate

The Guardian: Illegal abortions are killing women and aid restrictions are just making it worse
Hannah Mitchell, physician based in Botswana

“…What is stopping women from accessing safe abortions? The first is restrictive laws in their own countries, which can extend to a ban. … The second barrier is the tight regulation governing donor aid. … [F]amily planning and the safe provision of abortions go hand in hand. They are two key components of women’s reproductive rights. … We will not reduce the world’s appalling rate of maternal mortality until we are clear about a woman’s right to choose. We have a key role in the U.K. to help U.S. policymakers change this and ensure that donor aid is no longer subject to these counterproductive stipulations. … All countries across the world must look at their legislation and customs to ensure that illiberal abortion laws are not preventing the most vulnerable women from getting the help they so desperately need” (6/17).

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Reproductive, Sexual Health Services Access Essential For Protection, Empowerment Of Refugee Women, Girls

TIME: Ashley Judd: We Can’t Ignore Refugees’ Sexual Health
Ashley Judd, actress and goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

“…If ever there was a time girls and women need to know how to regulate their fertility, and be empowered to make thoughtful choices about their family size, it is when they’re on the run from armed conflict. … [W]hile girls and women always need to be able to prevent and address sex’s unrelated facsimile, gender-based violence, they especially need to, and cannot, as refugees. … Working with partners on the ground, UNFPA delivers essential services that provide for and protect refugees, and help them begin to increase their self-reliance. The benefits to both refugees and host communities are massive. Refugees who can plan and space births; access pre- and post-natal care; learn how to disrupt and prevent gender-based violence; [and] end harmful practices, such as child marriage and low school attendance amongst girls, may become more empowered and self-confident, and can in turn meaningfully contribute to host communities…” (6/15).

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AIDS 2016 Conference Provides Opportunity To Take HIV Prevention, Treatment 'Models To Mainstream'

The Lancet: AIDS 2016: from aspiration to implementation
Kenneth H. Mayer, Olive Shisana, and Chris Beyrer of the International AIDS Society

“…The upcoming 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) in Durban, South Africa, on July 18-22, 2016, must take on the challenge of expanding access to HIV treatment. … The impetus to develop successful [HIV prevention and treatment] programs was the legacy of the 2000 Durban meeting, but in 2016, we need to move from models to mainstream if we are to take control of the epidemic. … Over the past 16 years, many best practice programs have been developed. AIDS 2016 will be the forum for their presentation, dissemination, and replication, which can bend the epidemic curve. We hope that this Durban conference will point the way towards the ultimate control of the devastation of AIDS” (6/18).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. State Department Convenes Meeting On Improving Health Of Women, Girls

Friends of the Global Fight: U.S. State Department: Include Women and Girls to Ensure Healthy Futures for All
Katie Broendel, senior communications manager at Friends of the Global Fight, discusses an event hosted by the U.S. State Department on the importance of improving the health and well-being of women and girls. U.S. Ambassador Deborah Birx, global AIDS coordinator and special representative for global health diplomacy at the State Department, moderated the event, and several panelists made remarks, including Jacquelyne Alesi, executive director of the Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV & AIDS; Pam Scott, founding member of the Maverick Collective; and Deborah Messing, actor and PSI ambassador (6/16).

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Treating Female Genital Schistosomiasis Could Help Prevent HIV Among Women, Girls In Africa, Research Suggests

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Preventing HIV through treatment of neglected tropical diseases could save billions
In a guest post, Paul Henry Brodish of MEASURE Evaluation discusses research showing that “[a]mong girls and women [in Africa], genital schistosomiasis increases the likelihood of later infection with HIV” and suggests “that treating young girls with parasitic-fighting drugs … could avert millions of new cases of HIV at far less cost than treating HIV” (6/16).

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Chicago Council Report Offers Recommendations For India To Improve Urban Food Systems, Bolster Nutrition

Chicago Council on Global Affairs: New Council Report: Food Insecure India Needs Systemic Reforms to Nourish Growing Cities
“A new report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, entitled Investing to Nourish India’s Cities, argues that substantial public investments are needed to address food system inefficiencies and improve food and nutrition security in urban India” and offers recommendations on how to “better organize the Indian food system such that it is able to deliver healthy foods affordably to India’s cities” (6/16).

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