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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

President Obama Arrives In Africa To Kick Off 3-Country Visit

“President Barack Obama opened a weeklong trip to Africa on Wednesday, a three-country visit aimed at overcoming disappointment on the continent over the first black U.S. president’s lack of personal engagement during his first term,” the Associated Press reports, noting “Air Force One touched down in the Senegalese capital of Dakar on Wednesday evening” (Pace, 6/26). “As the president flew to Senegal on Wednesday to begin a tour that will also take him to South Africa and Tanzania, the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said the administration’s approach to Africa was similar to the one it had taken toward Asia, where Mr. Obama has insisted on greater attention and investment,” according to the New York Times (Shear/Kulish/Polgreen, 6/26). “Obama’s focus in Senegal will be on the modern-day achievements of the former French colony after half a century of independence,” the AP writes in a second article (Pickler, 6/27).

“Obama’s upcoming visit to South Africa will affirm the strong relations between Pretoria and Washington, particularly in the areas of trade and the fight against HIV/AIDS, says International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane,” a press release from the South African government states, adding, “‘The visit will provide an opportunity for both countries to reflect on the positive work done by the U.S. on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR),’ Nkoana-Mashabane told reporters at a briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday” (6/26). “Oxfam is urging President Obama and African leaders to make bold commitments to help transform African institutions into models of transparency and accountability over the next decade as billions of dollars in aid flows and oil, gas and mining revenues pour into the continent, affecting millions of lives,” the organization writes in a press release (6/26).

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Saudi Arabia, WHO Announce 7 More MERS Cases, Bringing Global Total To 77

On Wednesday, “Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry … announced seven additional laboratory-confirmed cases and a death in a previously confirmed case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV),” RTT News reports, noting the global total now stands at “77 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection, including 40 deaths.” Four of the newly reported cases are among children aged seven to 15, two were among female health care workers, and the seventh case is a 50-year-old woman, according to the WHO, the news service adds, noting, “A 32-year-old man who was reported with infection from the Eastern Region died later” (6/27). “Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns,” a WHO press release states (6/26).

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TB Patients, Activists Protest Drug Shortages In New Delhi

“Tuberculosis patients and activists protested outside the federal health ministry in New Delhi Wednesday, angered at a shortage of life-saving medicines in government clinics,” the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog reports. “Since January this year, pediatric drugs for tuberculosis have been in short supply in many Indian states, according to TB officials,” the blog states, adding, “Government TB officers in several state and local programs say they began experiencing shortages of streptomycin, a TB drug, late last year. By January, some state and local officials say, they were also short of low-dose rifampicin, a more powerful TB drug.” The blog notes, “A five-year grant from the British government to provide TB drugs through the Stop TB Partnership’s global drug-procurement facility expired in 2011,” adding, “The Indian government didn’t immediately solicit bids from companies to replace the supply of drugs, which is a lengthy process, an official close to the Central TB Division told The Wall Street Journal earlier this month.” According to “India Real Time,” “More than 1.5 million people currently receive free drugs at 13,000 Indian government centers nationwide.” The blog continues, “Ministry officials told protesters that they are ‘responding to the crisis,’ according to [Blessina Kumar, a health activist and vice-chair for Geneva-based Stop TB Partnership], who attended the meeting” (Shah/Pokharel, 6/27).

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Aid Officials Raise Concerns Of Disease In Wake Of Indian Monsoon Flooding

“Rotting corpses contaminating water sources and poor sanitation amid devastating floods in northern India could lead to a serious outbreak of diseases such as cholera and dysentery, aid groups warned on Wednesday,” Reuters reports. The monsoon floods “have killed at least 822 people in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand and forced tens of thousands from their homes,” and “[o]fficials say the death toll may cross 1,000 and thousands are still reported missing,” the news agency notes. “Aid workers said they were concerned that a combination of heavy rains and corpses lying out in the open would contaminate streams and rivers,” Reuters adds (Bhalla, 6/26).

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Nigerian Millionaire Donates $1M To International Polio Eradication Program

“Sir Emeka Offor, a wealthy Nigerian oil baron, has donated $1 million to PolioPlus, an international polio eradication program promoted by Rotary International, Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper has reported,” according to Forbes. “Offor, who is the founder and executive vice chairman of Chrome Group, a Nigerian conglomerate with interests in oil trading, biofuels, dredging and logistics, made the donation on Sunday during the ongoing 2013 Rotary International Convention taking place in Lisbon, Portugal,” the magazine writes, noting, “Last year, he gave $250,000 to the program.” Forbes notes, “Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the few remaining areas in the world that are still affected by polio” (Nsehe, 6/26).

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Researchers Developing Clinical Trial To Evaluate Early Infant Treatment As HIV Cure

Nature News examines ongoing research efforts into an HIV cure, writing, “At a symposium on HIV cure research on 29 June at the International AIDS Society’s biennial meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, investigators will describe how they are racing to design a clinical trial to test whether [aggressive treatment begun within hours of birth] works, and why.” Noting “the case of the ‘Mississippi baby’ — who seemed to be cured of HIV after aggressive treatment was begun within hours of birth, the news service writes, “The trial, sponsored by the International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials (IMPAACT) Group, marks a change for the field: so far, most research worldwide has focused on adults.” Nature News describes the details of the proposed research, as well as the “practical and ethical challenges” (Hayden, 6/26).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Committed To Eliminating Health Disparities For LGBT Communities Globally

“[I]n every country of the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons face barriers to accessing the health care they need simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Nils Daulaire, assistant secretary for global affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, writes in a LGBT Health opinion piece. “However, our government recognizes that these health challenges must also be addressed at a global level,” he states, adding, “The Obama administration has made improving access to health care for the LGBT community a top priority, both domestically and around the world.” Daulaire continues, “And now, because of the leadership of the United States partnering with other countries, for the first time in history WHO is beginning to address the topic of the health challenges that LGBT persons face.”

Daulaire notes discussions about the issue at the 65th World Health Assembly in May 2012, as well as the May 2013 WHO Executive Board meeting, and he highlights a WHO summary report on LGBT health, which found “that around the world LGBT persons ‘often experience poorer health outcomes than the general population and face barriers to health care that profoundly affect their overall health and well-being.” He states, “The U.N. process, while often slower than we would want, is deliberative and an important avenue for generating global consensus on sensitive topics,” adding, “The United States remains committed, ensuring that WHO engages in efforts to eliminate health disparities across the board, notably including those impacting the LGBT community” (6/20).

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Private Sector, Civil Society Can Play Central Role In Ending Extreme Poverty

“We are closer than ever before to ending global poverty,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece, adding, “As a result, the World Bank Group has adopted two new goals: end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity by maximizing income growth for the poorest 40 percent in every country.” He continues, “Two key groups can play a central role to help achieve these goals: the private sector and civil society.”

“We need the private sector to scale up investment in developing countries, to support job-creation, and strong, sustainable economic growth,” and “to start thinking about a double bottom line — the powerful possibility of both making a profit for your business and also being able to tell your children and your grandchildren that you are part of the movement to end poverty,” Kim states. “We need [non-governmental organizations (NGOs)] and civil society leaders to catalyze a global movement around ending poverty and building shared prosperity, focusing the world’s attention on the biggest challenge of our time” and “to dream beyond their individual mandates — to show us how their work is critical to the larger goal of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity,” he adds. “Together, we must rise to the occasion and create a groundswell of momentum toward the world we all want — one free of extreme poverty, with shared prosperity for all,” Kim concludes (6/26).

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Report From U.N. High-Level Panel On Post-2015 Development Agenda Forms 'Important Basis' For New Framework

“With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expiring in just two years’ time, we now have a golden opportunity to create a new global development framework that both addresses our challenges and fulfills our aspirations,” Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway, director general of the WHO from 1998-2003, and current deputy chair of The Elders, writes in a Forbes opinion piece published in partnership with the Skoll World Forum and The Elders. “Published last month and submitted to the U.N. Secretary-General, the [High-Level Panel (HLP) of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda’s] report will form an important basis for discussions leading to the new framework,” she states.

“Overall, we should all welcome the panel’s comprehensive analysis and recommendations,” Brundtland continues, and writes, “The panel’s 12 illustrative goals and associated targets, to be met by 2030, go well beyond the scope of the MDGs. They reflect the reality that a more equal, prosperous, peaceful and just world will require a sea change on a wide range of issues.” She discusses a number of goals and recommendations from the report, including “the panel’s reaffirmation that there is a moral imperative to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030,” its “call for equitable growth,” and its focus on “the importance of girls and women in development.” She concludes, “As the process moves forward, we must not lose sight of the ambitions we have for the world we want. … The panel has made an important contribution to the post-2015 process; let’s not lose the momentum now” (6/26).

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Commonwealth Of Nations Must Develop Plan To End Child Marriage

“Child marriage is a devastating human rights violation that has robbed, and continues to rob, millions of girls of their childhood,” as the practice “forces them out of education and into a life of poor prospects, with increased risk of violence, abuse, ill health or an early death in childbirth,” Nazma Kabir, director of programs at Plan U.K., writes in The Guardian’s “Global Development Professionals Network Adolescent Girls Hub” blog. “One girl in three in the developing world will be married by her eighteenth birthday according to a UNFPA report,” she notes, adding, “The study also revealed that if nothing is done to stop current trends, more than 140 million girls will become child brides by 2020.” She continues, “Now is the time to work together to end child marriage.”

The Commonwealth of Nations “has committed to working towards ending the practice and the High-Level Panel on the Post-MDG framework has recommended that ending child marriage by 2030 should be a specific development goal for the Commonwealth and the rest of the global community,” Kabir writes. “We must take the commitment made at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011 (.pdf), and turn it into action now,” she continues, adding, “A Commonwealth plan of action to end child marriage must be developed.” She writes, “The 54-member states can also drive this agenda forward at the United Nations, by ensuring the secretary general maintains ending child marriage as a central plank to future development goals and supporting a U.N. resolution to end child marriage by 2015.” Kabir concludes, “The wider Commonwealth community can be the agents of change for children around the world — within and beyond our country borders” (6/26).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Examines PEPFAR Funding Uncertainties

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines ongoing federal budget negotiations and funding for PEPFAR, writing, “As policymakers and legislators celebrated PEPFAR’s 10th birthday with pledges of ‘strengthened’ commitment to the goal of an AIDS-free generation, and researchers compared findings on the challenges ahead, events on Capitol Hill left the funding for the work yet to be done uncertain.” The blog provides quotes from Secretary of State John Kerry; Chris Collins, vice president and director of public policy at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research; and Bridget Kelly of the Institute of Medicine (Aziz, 6/26).

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Hidden Hunger Index Aims To Raise Awareness Of Micronutrient Deficiencies

Development blogger Tom Murphy reports in Humanosphere about a recent report looking at malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. “Researchers collected data on micronutrient deficiencies in young children to map areas where the problem is concentrated,” and they developed the Hidden Hunger Index, published recently in PLOS One, he notes. Klaus Kraemer, director of Sight and Life and co-author of the paper, said the private sector and civil society have roles to play in helping improve micronutrient uptake, and he “hopes that the index can help bring hidden hunger to the greater malnutrition discussion,” according to Murphy (6/26).

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Article Examines Impact Of NTDs On Children's Lives

The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog describes some of the impacts neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) can have on the lives of children, including chronic pain, scarring and fatigue. “As a new Archives of Disease in Childhood article, ‘Global trends in neglected tropical disease control and elimination: impact on child health,’ by Global Network’s Drs. Gregory Simon and Neeraj Mistry, Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Dr. Peter Hotez and Baylor College of Medicine’s Meagan Barry, reveals, millions of children living in extreme poverty are suffering from the grave impact described above because NTD control programs, including mass drug administration (MDA), have not yet treated even close to the targeted percentage of at risk people,” the blog notes, and highlights “some of the staggering facts they point out for the NTDs most common in children.” However, “the authors are optimistic that we ‘may be able to reduce or eliminate the tremendous NTD disease burden in children globally,'” the blog states (Elson, 6/26).

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