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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO/PAHO Release Updated Zika Strategic Response Plan, Call For $121.9M In Funding

Reuters: WHO says 122 million dollars needed for global response to Zika virus
“Almost $122 million is needed to prevent and manage the medical complications of the Zika virus spreading throughout the Americas and causing birth defects in babies, the World Health Organization said on Friday…” (Kelland, 6/17).

VOA News: WHO Launches $121 Million Plan to Combat Zika Virus
“…WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the response to Zika requires an integrated approach that places support for women and girls of child-bearing age at its core…” (Schlein, 6/17).

U.N. News Centre: New Zika response strategy to focus on preventing, managing medical complications — U.N. health agency
“…The Zika Strategic Response Plan from July 2016 to December 2017 would place a greater focus on preventing and managing medical complications caused by Zika virus infection, requiring $121.9 million for its effective implementation, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)…” (6/17).

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Zika Spreading Rapidly In Puerto Rico, According To Blood Donation Screenings, U.S. Health Officials Say

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: CDC: Zika spreading rapidly in Puerto Rico, blood donations suggest
“The Zika virus has gained a startling foothold in Puerto Rico based on the number of blood donations that have tested positive for the disease, federal health officials said Friday…” (Bentley, 6/17).

New York Times: Number of Zika-Positive Puerto Ricans Surprises Health Officials
“Roughly one percent of recent blood donors in Puerto Rico showed signs of active infection with the Zika virus, suggesting that a substantial portion of the island’s population will become infected, federal health officials reported on Friday…” (Saint Louis, 6/17).

Reuters: Zika infections in Puerto Rico increasing steadily: officials
“…Puerto Rican health officials on Friday reported that 1,726 people in the U.S. commonwealth have been infected with Zika, including a total of 191 pregnant women. That is up from a total of 1,501 total infections and 182 infections in pregnant women a week ago…” (Steenhuysen, 6/17).

Washington Post: CDC director: Puerto Rico could see hundreds of Zika-infected babies with microcephaly
“…The latest data show that the most accurate, real-time indicator of Zika infection suggests that thousands of pregnant women there could contract the virus in the coming months. That, in turn, could lead to ‘dozens to hundreds of infants born with microcephaly in the coming year,’ Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a media briefing…” (Sun, 6/17).

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Contraceptives Donated To Puerto Rico Amid Zika Epidemic Face Delivery Delays, Public Health Officials Say

Reuters: Exclusive: In Zika-struck Puerto Rico, trouble delivering donated contraceptives
“Only a small fraction of contraceptives donated in Puerto Rico to prevent Zika-related birth defects are expected to get to the women who need them this month, public health officials told Reuters. The donations — tens of thousands of intrauterine devices and birth control pill packs — came from major health care companies as the virus spreads rapidly through the island. The delivery delays illustrate the struggles of Puerto Rico’s health care system, which is faltering amid the commonwealth’s financial crisis…” (Mincer, 6/20).

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Record 65.3M People Displaced Worldwide Due To Violence, Persecution, Conflict, UNHCR Report Says

CNN: UNHCR report: More displaced now than after WWII
“The U.N.’s refugee agency reports that the number of displaced people is at its highest ever — surpassing even post-World War II numbers, when the world was struggling to come to terms with the most devastating event in history…” (McKirdy, 6/20).

Deutsche Welle: U.N. reports record-breaking 65 million people displaced last year
“…A record-breaking 65.3 million people were driven from their homes due to violence, persecution, and conflict in 2015, according the agency’s annual Global Trends report released to coincide with World Refugee Day…” (6/20).

The Guardian: One in every 113 people forced to flee, says U.N. refugee agency
“…With 24 people being displaced every minute and the threshold of 60 million crossed for the first time, the number of forcibly displaced people across the world is now greater than the entire population of the U.K. Were the 65.3 million to be counted as the population of a single country, it would be the 21st largest in the world…” (Jones, 6/20).

New York Times: Record 65 Million Displaced by Global Conflicts, U.N. Says
“…While most are displaced within their own countries, an unprecedented number are seeking political asylum in the world’s rich countries. Nearly 100,000 are children who have attempted the journey alone…” (Sengupta, 6/20).

Reuters: Record 65.3 million people displaced, often face barriers: UNHCR
“…Germany, where one in three applicants was Syrian, led with 441,900 claims, followed by the United States with 172,700, many of them fleeing gang and drug-related violence in Mexico and Central America. Developing regions still host 86 percent of the world’s refugees, led by Turkey with 2.5 million Syrians, followed by Pakistan and Lebanon, the report said…” (Nebehay, 6/20).

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On International Day, U.N. SG Ban Says Impunity Over For Sexual Violence As Tool Of War

U.N. News Centre: On World Day, Ban declares era of impunity ‘over’ for sexual violence in war
“Marking the first International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [Sunday] said that the era of impunity for sexual violence as a tool of war is over, citing a host of landmark rulings against political and military leaders…” (6/19).

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DRC Declares Yellow Fever Epidemic; WHO Warns Of Low Vaccine Stocks

Reuters: Congo declares yellow fever epidemic, 67 recorded cases
“Democratic Republic of Congo declared a yellow fever epidemic in three provinces including the capital Kinshasa on Monday, after recording 67 cases of the disease. Health Minister Felix Kabange said seven of the cases were autochthonous, while 58 were imported from Angola, where the outbreak began…” (Ross/Cocks, 6/20).

U.N. News Centre: With 18 million doses exhausted, global stockpile of yellow fever vaccine running low
“The global stockpile of the yellow fever vaccine may not be sufficient if simultaneous outbreaks hit the densely populated areas not covered by emergency responses, the United Nations health agency has warned, noting that by mid-June 2016, almost 18 million doses have been distributed in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Uganda this year…” (6/17).

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Bill Gates Discusses Disease Prevention, Medical R&D, U.S. Global Health In STAT Interview

STAT: Philanthropist Bill Gates talks public health, biotech, and the race for the White House
“…Gates, 60, is arguably Harvard’s most famous dropout, but he was back in Boston on Thursday to speak at the opening session of the American Society of Microbiology’s annual scientific conference, Microbe. Before that event, Gates met at a downtown hotel with STAT Executive Editor Rick Berke and Helen Branswell, STAT’s senior infectious diseases and global health reporter. They discussed everything from Gates’s deep interest in science to his views of a presidential race in which the Republican nominee has suggested, despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, that vaccines may be tied to autism…” (Branswell/Berke, 6/17).

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Devex Speaks With U.N. Envoy David Nabarro About Global Nutrition, Food Security

Devex: David Nabarro: Malnutrition problem requires multi-partner solutions
“Malnutrition is the ‘new normal,’ according to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report released [last] week … For David Nabarro, special representative of the U.N. secretary general for food security and nutrition, it’s vital that the global community recognizes the damage caused by malnutrition in early life for the longer term development and well-being of individuals, societies, and even nations — and works together to help communities and individuals come into that mid-range…” (Morgan, 6/17).

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Slain British MP Jo Cox Remembered As Advocate For Maternal Health, Human Rights

Devex: Remembering Jo Cox: A maternal health advocate extraordinaire
“Jo Cox died Thursday from injuries sustained during an attack in her Yorkshire constituency. Cox was a mother of two and a member of the British Parliament. She was the former head of policy and advocacy at Oxfam, former director of the Maternal Mortality Campaign, and had advised and consulted Save the Children and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among many other positions. She was 41 years old. … Here is the short interview we conducted with Cox, upon naming her to our list of global development’s most promising young leaders [in 2011]…” (6/16).

Humanosphere: Jo Cox was ‘dedicated to getting us to live up to our promises’
“…While her constituents and Britain have lost a devoted and hard-working lawmaker, the world has lost a campaigner for justice and equality. … Her [humanitarian sector] experience … gave her strong political currency when talking about refugee and humanitarian issues…” (Ensor, 6/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

White House, Congress Should Work Together, Agree On Funding Package To Address Zika

U.S. News & World Report: The High Cost of Failing to Fund the Zika Fight
Cary Gibson, government relations consultant with Prime Policy Group

“…According to Health Affairs, the White House and the CDC have been redirecting funding from other sources to help with the Zika effort. … The overall effect could lead to a significant weakening of the public health safety net, making the U.S. less prepared to deal with not only Zika but other public health threats as well. Congress’s delay in passing [Zika] funding also sets a dangerous precedent for future emergencies, public health or otherwise. When the administration identifies a threat and asks for help, Congress should do its best to cooperate. Any action to the contrary makes the government response to disaster slow and inadequate. People can find relief faster and disasters can be minimized if Congress and the White House work closely together to deploy the necessary resources. … After months of letting politics get in the way, it’s time for Congress and the White House to come together and agree on a funding package to fight the Zika virus. Any further delay in action could be devastating” (6/17).

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Global Community Should Heed WHO's Guidance On Zika, Allow Olympic Games In Brazil To Continue

Washington Post: Don’t let Zika stop the Olympics
Ashish K. Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, K.T. Li professor of health policy at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School

“An expert panel convened by the World Health Organization just declared that there is no scientific basis for canceling, postponing, or moving the 28th Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August or the Paralympics in September because of the Zika outbreak. … There are ample reasons for alarm … but they don’t stand up to scrutiny. First, several new studies estimate an exceedingly low risk of travelers getting Zika. … Second, … [c]anceling the Olympic Games won’t change the fundamental dynamic that we live in a highly interdependent world where global travel is common and widespread. Finally, … to stem the tide of [Zika] sexual transmission, we have two relatively effective tools: education and condoms. … Ignoring this science and postponing the Olympic Games would set a dangerous precedent. … Postponing the Olympics would send a clear signal to future organizers of major world events : Keep disease outbreaks a secret or the world will act irrationally and cancel your event. That would be a wrong and dangerous message…” (6/19).

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Ability To Adapt To Disease Threats Makes Human Race Resilient

The Atlantic: Why Hasn’t Disease Wiped out the Human Race?
Amesh Adalja, infectious disease physician at the University of Pittsburgh

“…Diseases’ failure to knock us out is a testament to just how resilient humans are. Part of our evolutionary heritage is our immune system … This system, when viewed at a species level, can adapt to almost any enemy imaginable. Coupled to genetic variations amongst humans … this adaptability ensures that almost any infectious disease onslaught will leave a large proportion of the population alive to rebuild … When humans began to focus their minds on the problems posed by infectious disease, human life ceased being nasty, brutish, and short. In many ways, human consciousness became infectious diseases’ worthiest adversary. … Humans do face countless threats from infectious diseases: witness Zika. And if not handled appropriately, severe calamity could, and will, ensue. … When it comes to infectious diseases, I’m worried about the failure of institutions to understand the full impact of outbreaks. I’m worried about countries that don’t have the infrastructure or resources to combat these outbreaks when they come. But as long as we can keep adapting, I’m not worried about the future of the human race” (6/17).

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Developing-Country-Based Research Presents Opportunity For Cost-Effective Health Innovations

Project Syndicate: Health Care Innovation in the Global South
Shams El Arifeen, epidemiologist, senior scientist, and senior director of the Maternal and Child Health Division at icddr,b

“… [I]nnovators living and working in resource-poor settings are among the best equipped to develop and test cost-effective health solutions. After all, nobody understands the limitations of a weak health care system better than someone who has to work in one. … That is why globally networked, developing-country-based health research institutes like icddr,b are invaluable. They provide a platform for local researchers and innovators to recognize opportunities that an outsider may never see, and to develop and evaluate their ideas in the precise environment for which they are designed. With the data they collect, developing country health care innovators can set the stage for their clinical advances to be transformed into national public policies, not just in their own countries, but in resource-deprived communities worldwide. The results promise to transform the lives of neglected and impoverished people everywhere” (6/17).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Donors, Governments Should Collectively Respond To Food Security Threats Posed By El Niño In Madagascar, Southern Africa

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: El Niño Brings Drought and Hunger to Madagascar
David Lane, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. agencies in Rome, discusses a recent trip to Madagascar to see the effects of ongoing drought and the El Niño weather pattern on the country’s food security. He writes, “We need to take collective action for a greater response with other donors, and with the government — not only in Madagascar but across the region of Southern Africa — to address the acute needs generated by the drought and help save millions of lives” (6/17).

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Systemic Changes Needed Globally To End Gender-Based Violence

Humanosphere: Gender-based violence, misogyny, and a global hypocrisy that fuels it
Imana Gunawan, Humanosphere’s social media manager and podcast producer, discusses the prevalence of gender-based violence globally and within the U.S., writing, “[T]here are many faulty systems that lead to a culture in which these incidents are typical. And one of the most defunct parts is our society’s inability to look past specific cases and see an underlying cultural force that fuels these seemingly separate incidents. It’s hypocritical when international leaders or activists denounce a gang rape in Delhi, India, but not similar sexual assault cases that happen within fraternity houses across the United States. … They exist within and are perpetuated by the same system. Legal, political, cultural, and social systems have to work in tandem [to end gender-based violence]” (6/17).

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