KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

House Panel Passes FY16 SFOPs Appropriations Bill With Restored Funding For Health Programs

CQ News: House Panel Advances Foreign Aid Bill; Lowey Predicts Major Overhaul
“A House subcommittee advanced a bill on Wednesday to fund the State Department and foreign aid programs with the panel’s top Democrat predicting the measure would have to be substantively re-worked due to the president’s veto threat. The House Appropriations State-Foreign Operations panel unanimously approved by voice vote its draft fiscal 2016 spending bill. The measure falls … below the amount sought by the Obama administration and is $1.4 billion less than current levels…” (Oswald, 6/3).

Devex: USAID, economic programs come up short in U.S. budget talks
“…Despite these cuts, [Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas)], who recently expressed concerns that USAID is ‘too big,’ praised the bill for restoring funds to health-related programming, originally cut by about four percent in the president’s request, and for singling out wildlife programs. Granger called the bill ‘first and foremost a national security bill,’ in her opening statement at Wednesday’s hearing…” (Anders, 6/5).

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Religious Leaders Call For Executive Order Making U.S. Funding Available For Abortions Among Women Raped In Overseas Conflicts

New York Times: Religious Leaders Urge U.S. to Fund Abortions for Rape Victims in Conflicts Abroad
“…A coalition of religious and human rights leaders on Thursday … [demanded] that [President] Obama support the financing of abortions for women raped during violent conflicts overseas by members of terrorist groups like the Islamic State and Boko Haram. … [T]he religious groups said Thursday that the Helms Amendment mentions only abortions used as a method of family planning and should not be viewed as restricting the use of federal funds to make abortions available in cases of rape or incest. They called on Mr. Obama to issue an executive order making government funds available for that purpose…” (Shear, 6/4).

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South Korea's MERS Case Total Rises To 41 With 4 Deaths; WHO To Send Team In Joint Mission With Government

Agence France-Presse: Seoul mayor declares ‘war’ on MERS after fourth death
“South Korea reported on Friday a fourth death from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), as an infected doctor fueled fears of a fresh surge in cases and prompted Seoul’s mayor to declare ‘war’ on the virus…” (Chang-Won, 6/5).

CNN: Korean Air Force member at U.S. base has MERS
“A Korean Air Force member stationed at a U.S. air base in South Korea tested positive for MERS earlier this week and remains in isolation at a military hospital on the base, a Korean Department of Defense official said…” (Kim et al., 6/5).

Deutsche Welle: WHO to send team to South Korea to respond to MERS outbreak
“…A statement posted on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website on Friday said the team, to be led by its assistant director-general for health security, Dr. Keiji Fukuda, would set up a joint mission with the South Korean health ministry…” (6/5).

New York Times: South Korea Confirms 2 More Deaths in MERS Outbreak
“The number of people who have died of Middle East respiratory syndrome in South Korea increased to four on Friday after officials confirmed two more deaths in what has become the largest outbreak of the virus outside the Middle East. As fear spread, the government of President Park Geun-hye was accused of not doing enough to contain the outbreak and of endangering the public by withholding information about it…” (Sang-Hun, 6/4).

New York Times: What You Need to Know About MERS
The newspaper offers questions and answers on basic facts regarding MERS, including what causes the illness and how it is transmitted (McNeil, 6/4).

Reuters: South Koreans squabble about MERS as more cases appear
“…With 41 cases, South Korea has the most infections outside the Middle East where the disease first appeared in 2012, and where most of the 440 fatalities have been. As the number of infections in South Korea rises daily, fear and anger are growing. South Korea’s neighbors are also increasingly concerned…” (Kim/Pearson, 6/5).

Reuters: South Korea confirms death of fourth MERS patient
“…About 1,600 people have been quarantined in South Korea, most at home but some in medical institutions. The new cases bring the total globally to about 1,185, based on WHO data, with at least 443 related deaths…” (Pearson, 6/4).

ScienceInsider: Communication gaps fuel MERS worries in Korea
“… ‘People need to understand that this virus is not circulating in the community in Korea,’ says Peter Ben Embarek, the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) point person on MERS. (To epidemiologists, ‘in the community’ means outside hospitals.)…” (Kupferschmidt, 6/4).

USA TODAY: Fourth patient dies of MERS in South Korea
“…Quarantining people potentially exposed to MERS is a sound strategy to prevent spread of the virus, said Robert Murphy, director of the Center for Global Health at Northwestern University in Chicago. Careful infection control procedures at hospitals also can halt the spread of MERS ‘pretty quickly,’ Murphy said…” (Szabo, 6/4).

WHO: WHO and the Republic of Korea to carry out joint mission for the MERS-CoV outbreak
“…The pressing objective of this joint mission is to gain information and review the situation in the Republic of Korea including the epidemiological pattern, the characteristic of the virus, and clinical features. The team will also assess the public health response efforts and provide recommendations for response measures going forward…” (6/5).

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West African Governments, Donors Work To Rebuild Health Care Systems Weakened Further By Ebola Epidemic

Wall Street Journal: Ebola’s Long Shadow: West Africa Struggles to Rebuild Its Ravaged Health Care System
“…Now, as [Ebola] ebbs, the governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea — racked for years by civil wars, coups, and unrest — are joining forces to heal from the crisis. Working with foreign donors, they see an opportunity to remake health care in one of the poorest corners of the world, where more than 27,181 people have been sickened with Ebola and more than 11,162 have died. Better health systems will save more lives here and prevent future outbreaks that could spread around the world, they say. … To that end, Partners in Health is working with Liberia and Sierra Leone to upgrade or build new facilities… ” (McKay, 6/4).

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UNMEER Acting Head Peter Graaff Speaks With U.N. News Service About Recovery Efforts In West Africa

U.N. News Centre: Interview with Peter Graaff, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER)
“…Mr. Graff spoke to the U.N. News Service about the trajectory of the outbreak in West Africa and the U.N.’s efforts to jump-start early recovery from the epidemic that has affected more than 27,000 people and killed over 11,000, mostly in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone…” (6/4).

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FAO Head Calls On International Community To End Hunger, Malnutrition 'Once And For All'

U.N. News Centre: Senior U.N. official calls for global movement to end hunger once and for all
“The head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) [Thursday] called for a global movement to eradicate hunger as countries look ahead to the new set of development goals that will be adopted in September. ‘The entire world is called to join in a global movement to end hunger and malnutrition once and for all,’ FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said [Thursday] during his opening address at the International Agricultural Forum at EXPO Milan…” (6/4).

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Some NGOs Raise Concerns Over How To Measure SDGs

The Guardian: First draft of sustainable development goals exposes gaps, warn NGOs
“The new set of development goals that will address global poverty, inequality, and climate change over the next 15 years are strong on vision, but weak on the methods to make them a reality, NGOs warned this week. … The SDGs will replace the current Millennium Development Goals, which expire at the end of the year. However, concerns have been raised about how the new goals will be measured…” (Ford, 6/4).

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As Modi's 'Clean India' Campaign Builds Toilets, Getting People To Use Them Becomes Challenge

Washington Post: India is building millions of toilets, but that’s the easy part
“…[A]s part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Clean India’ campaign to provide new sanitary toilets to more than 60 million homes by 2019 … Modi has made toilet-building and sanitation a rallying cry since October. He has enlisted large companies to help. In the past year, his government has built more than 5.8 million toilets — up from 4.9 million the previous year. But reports show that many of them have gone unused or that they are being used to store grain or clothes or to tether goats, thwarting Modi’s sanitation revolution…” (Lakshmi, 6/4).

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Focus On Gender Equality Helps Bangladesh Pass India On Some Development Indicators, U.N. Representative Says

Wall Street Journal: How Poorer Bangladesh Outpaces India on Human-Development Indicators
“India is richer, in terms of per-capita economic output, than its smaller neighbor, Bangladesh, and a greater proportion of Indians are connected to the Internet and have cellphones. But if you look more closely at other measures of development such as life expectancy, child survival, and the proportion of girls to boys in secondary education … Bangladesh comes out ahead. … ‘Gender equality is good for economic growth and good for human development. That is really part of what explains the quite remarkable achievements in Bangladesh,’ said Christine Hunter, country representative for U.N. Women in Bangladesh…” (Sugden, 6/5).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Should Make Funding Available For Abortions Among Women Raped In Conflict

The Hill: Stand with women and girls raped in conflict
Rev. Harry Knox, president and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity

“…The Helms amendment is a decades-old provision that each president since it was enacted, including Obama, has incorrectly interpreted as a ban on all funding for abortion overseas. … It does not prohibit funding when the life of the woman is in danger, or in cases of rape or incest. … Ultimately, politicians must act to repeal Helms altogether. Until then, the president can — and must — act to ensure women and girls raped in conflict have access to safe abortion wherever possible. … Leaders of many faiths are calling on Obama to act with compassion and use his executive authority to show that the policies of the United States reflect the compassion of our people; and we do so not in spite of our faith, but because of it…” (6/4).

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U.N. 'Has Moral Obligation' To Fund, Implement Plan To Eliminate Cholera In Haiti

Washington Post: Cholera’s fresh attack in Haiti
Editorial Board

“…[A] recent spike [in Haiti’s cholera epidemic] — to about 1,000 new cases per week — is a grim reminder of how much is left to do to eradicate an illness that was virtually unknown in Haiti until U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal introduced it in 2010. … A plan to eliminate cholera in Haiti by 2022, devised in coordination with the Port-au-Prince government, was pegged to cost $2.2 billion. But of the $1.7 billion sought to execute the first five years of the plan, from 2013 to 2018, only 17 percent — about $286 million — has been raised and spent so far. … [The U.N. has] a moral obligation to do more, including pressing donors to fund the plan to eradicate the disease. There is no mystery about how cholera is transmitted or about the means to eradicate it. Only money is lacking” (6/4).

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Improving Childhood Nutrition Will Help Lower Global Child Mortality

Quartz: Bill Gates: Keep up the momentum against child mortality
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…It’s vital that the new [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)] keep child mortality as a primary area of focus — and that they establish clear, aggressive benchmarks for further progress. … However, we need to summon the will and the resources to get the job done. In particular, we must contend with the problem of malnutrition. … This strong link between malnutrition and child mortality is a major reason why our foundation is committing to a new nutrition strategy that focuses on the nations where the need is greatest…” (6/3).

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Focus On Better Management, Deployment Of Existing, New Drugs Instead Of Cost

The Hill: New approach needed in fight against deadly diseases
Roger Bate, scholar at the American Enterprise Institute

“…Constant focus on drug pricing and criticism of lack of access can discourage developers from investing in new treatments. … TB and malaria are being combated in poor countries, but drug resistance is rising and controlling such strains is vital. We need better management of existing treatments and the careful deployment of new ones. Rather than complain about drug prices, governments should help developing countries reform their drug approval regulations and strengthen distribution channels so proven drugs get to patients quickly and safely” (6/4).

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Global Health Altruism Needs To Be Supported By Appropriate Subsidies, Incentives For Innovation

Forbes: Global Health: Who Should Pay for Your Altruism?
Anumpam Jena, assistant professor of health care policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School and internist at Massachusetts General Hospital; and Tomas Philipson, Daniel Levin Chair in Public Policy at the University of Chicago and director of the Becker Friedman Institute’s health care research program

“…[A]ltruistic provision of health care, like all ‘public goods,’ is under-provided relative to its value. Rather than policies aimed at reducing prices for treatments, which place all the financing burden on innovators and reduce the incentive for innovation, policies should aim to subsidize HIV treatment in the developing world. If we desire poor countries to receive new treatments, shareholders of innovative companies should not be asked to foot the entire bill of our altruistic desires. … Therefore, innovation into developing world diseases should be stimulated rather than, as currently done, discouraged by global health policy. An ideal system has the altruism of rich countries reflected in subsidies for care. These subsidies can then provide rewards, rather than punishments, for innovations that fulfill the world’s altruistic needs” (6/4).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

USGLC Blog Post Discusses Details Of Draft FY16 SFOPs Appropriations Bill

U.S. Global Leadership Coalition: International Affairs Budget Update, 6/3/15
“[On Wednesday] the House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee (SFOPs) approved by voice vote its FY16 appropriations bill, which funds about 97 percent of the International Affairs Budget. The SFOPs bill provides a total of $47.8 billion, including $40.5 billion in base and $7.3 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding…,” Emily Morgenstern, a government relations associate at USGLC, writes (6/3).

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PLOS Article Examines Possible Factors Leading To Spread Of Ebola In West Africa

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases: What Factors Might Have Led to the Emergence of Ebola in West Africa?
This PLOS article examines “the sociological, ecological, and environmental drivers that might have influenced the emergence of Ebola in [West] Africa and its spread throughout the region,” and states, “To prevent future outbreaks, coordinated, multiscale, early warning systems should be developed that make full use of these integrated assessments, partner with local communities in high-risk areas, and provide clearly defined response recommendations specific to the needs of each community” (6/4).

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GHTC Blog Post Discusses Global Health R&D Outcomes From WHA Meeting

Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs”: World Health Assembly roundup: News on global health research and innovation
Ashley Bennett, GHTC’s global policy officer, discusses outcomes from the World Health Assembly, writing, “While we’re very excited by the progress made, much hinges on the connections between this year’s assembly decisions, the finalization of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and next year’s WHA, which will likely have an even greater focus on global health research and development (R&D)” (6/4).

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More International Focus On NTDs Needed

Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect”: Time for NTDs to Emerge from the Shadows
Liz Powell, communications associate for the Global Network and the Sabin Vaccine Institute, highlights recent discussions surrounding NTDs at the World Health Assembly and as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as at the upcoming G7 summit in Germany (6/4).

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