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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Health Officials Stress Need For Funding To Combat Zika; NIH Hoping For Early Safety Study Of Potential Vaccine By September

The Hill: Surgeon general: ‘We are going to run out of funds’ for Zika
“The nation’s top doctor is stepping up his warnings about the need for funds to fight the Zika virus in the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says federal health agencies are nearing the end of their reserves as they to try to halt the outbreak and will need new funds from Congress immediately to keep fighting the disease…” (Ferris, 6/3).

Yahoo! News: Billions needed to combat Zika virus, possible vaccine by September
“The National Institutes of Health is ‘very aggressively pursuing’ a potential vaccine to combat the Zika virus and hopes to have an early safety study of a vaccine by September 2016, said National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci, MD. … The NIH requires funding for basic and clinical research, such as understanding the virus’s implications for pregnancy and microcephaly in the fetus, Fauci said…” (Heller, 6/3).

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WHO To Examine Risks Of Holding Olympic Games In Rio Amid Zika

BBC News: Olympic Games: World Health Organization to conduct Zika examination
“The World Health Organization is to examine the risks of holding the Olympics in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro because of the Zika virus…” (6/3).

The Hill: U.N. health agency to weigh Zika risk from Olympics
“…WHO Director-General Margaret Chan was responding after [U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H)] raised concerns that holding the Olympics in Brazil as scheduled could accelerate the spread of the virus, which can cause birth defects…” (Sullivan, 6/3).

NPR: Does The Olympics In Rio Put The World In Danger Of Zika?
“…Nearly 200 scientists signed a letter to the World Health Organization last week, calling for the games to be moved because of the ongoing epidemic of Zika in Brazil. But many health officials — including those at WHO — say having the games in Rio doesn’t pose a big enough threat to warrant moving them…” (Doucleff, 6/3).

Reuters: WHO emergency panel to meet in June on Zika and Olympics: spokeswoman
“…WHO makes risk assessments of a public health issue and it would be up to the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to decide on holding the event in Rio de Janeiro, due to start on Aug. 5, [WHO spokeswoman Nyka Alexander] said…” (Nebehay/Berkrot, 6/3).

U.S. News & World Report/Associated Press: U.N: Experts Being Asked to Examine Zika Risk at Rio Games
“…[WHO Director General Margaret] Chan said in a letter released by [U.S. Senator Jeanne] Shaheen Friday that WHO has sent senior scientists to Brazil four times to assess the risk of Zika to the approximately 500,000 athletes and visitors expected to attend the Aug. 5-21 Olympics…” (Cheng, 6/3).

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In NEJM Letter, Scientists Caution Zika May Be Spread Through Oral Sex

Fox News: Scientists say Zika may be transmitted by oral sex, kissing
“Amid growing concern over an increasing number of Zika cases in the Americas, scientists are now cautioning that the usually mosquito-borne virus may be transmitted not only by vaginal sex, but also by oral sex and kissing…” (6/3).

Huffington Post: Experts Say Zika Virus May Spread Through Oral Sex
“…In an op-ed published in the New England Journal of Medicine Thursday, doctors described their theory that a man traveling from Rio de Janeiro may have spread the virus to his partner through oral sex…” (Alemendrala, 6/3).

New York Times: Zika May Be Transmitted by Oral Sex, Scientists Find
“‘I don’t think this changes anything, but it shows you how elaborate the number of avenues of possible transmission can be,’ said Dr. William Schaffner, head of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical School…” (McNeil, 6/2).

Vox: Why oral sex might be another way Zika can spread
“…Though this is the first description of potential oral transmission of Zika, doctors have noted several cases that demonstrate Zika can be spread through sex…” (Belluz, 6/4).

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Zika Could Be Linked To Wider Range Of Birth Defects, WHO Announces

CIDRAP News: WHO: Array of Zika birth defects equals new syndrome
“Because of mounting reports that maternal Zika virus infections are linked to a wider range of birth defects than previously thought, the World Health Organization (WHO) [on Friday] announced that the collective effects represent a new congenital syndrome, with efforts under way to define it…” (Schnirring, 6/3).

CNN: Zika’s ground zero: Generation of babies born with microcephaly face uncertain future
“…Discoveries [of Zika] are happening every day at the Altino Ventura Foundation Clinic in Recife. … This port city in Brazil’s northeast was Ground Zero for the country’s Zika outbreak; months on, it is seeing the babies born under a global spotlight age quietly, their symptoms and burdens growing daily…” (Cotovio/Paton Walsh, 6/6).

Quartz: The WHO is expanding the list of birth defects that might be caused by Zika
“Only weeks after confirming that Zika is indeed linked to microcephaly, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced in its June bulletin that there might be a wider range of birth defects caused by the virus. Beyond microcephaly, WHO says there is evidence of a connection between Zika and conditions that include seizures, cardiac issues, feeding difficulties, disproportionated faces, and eye problems…” (Merelli, 6/3).

Reuters: WHO experts say Zika may cause birth defects in thousands of babies
“…Health officials had previously concluded that Zika infection in pregnant women was a cause of microcephaly in babies … They now believe the range of potential neurological problems in infants could be much wider…” (Berkrot, 6/3).

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Researchers Face Challenges Modeling Zika Virus

Wall Street Journal: Zika Draws U.S. Researchers Into a Race for Understanding
“…Understanding how fast and far a disease will spread helps policy makers and public-health workers respond efficiently to the threat of an epidemic. In the past, models have helped allocate resources such as mosquito nets, treatment, and vaccines for malaria. … So far, there isn’t a lot the modelers can tell us about Zika…” (McGinity, 6/3).

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Human Rights Violations Impede Progress To End AIDS, U.N. Says

U.N. News Centre: AIDS epidemic still driven by human rights violations, U.N. experts warn
“Ahead of next week’s high-level meeting on ending AIDS by 2030, United Nations independent experts are warning that the epidemic is still being driven by human rights violations, urging all Governments to remove punitive laws, policies, and practices…” (6/3).

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U.N. To Ask Syrian Government To Approve Aid Airdrops

Financial Times: U.N. faces mounting pressure to start Syria aid airdrops
“The UN has faced mounting pressure this week to use aid airdrops to reach the hundreds of thousands of Syrians living in besieged parts of the war-torn country, but the agency’s officials have countered that the method could be dangerous, expensive and inefficient…” (Collard, 6/3).

The Guardian: U.N. to ask Syria to approve airdrops of humanitarian aid
“The United Nations is to formally ask the Syrian government to approve airdrops of humanitarian aid to areas besieged by forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad, U.N. aid chief Stephen O’Brien has told the security council. The request, which is likely to be relayed to the Syrian government this weekend, followed a closed-door meeting of the security council in New York…” (Wintour, 6/3).

Wall Street Journal: U.N. Will Request Syrian Permission for Aid Airdrops
“…The announcement Friday at an emergency meeting of the Security Council came after a June 1 deadline set by a group of countries that support the Syrian peace process passed without notable improvement in aid deliveries…” (Fassihi, 6/3).

Wall Street Journal: A Besieged Syrian Town Goes Wanting Another Day
“A delivery of emergency food aid to a rebel-held Syrian town besieged for more than three years by the Assad regime didn’t arrive Friday, dashing the hopes of thousands of hungry and malnourished civilians…” (Abdulrahim, 6/3).

U.N. News Centre: ‘Operating space for humanitarian actors is shrinking’ in Syria, U.N. relief chief warns Security Council
“The top United Nations relief official said [Friday] he remains extremely concerned about the welfare of civilians across Syria, who he said continue to face ‘horrific deprivation and violence,’ particularly those trapped in besieged areas…” (6/3).

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Editorials and Opinions

AIDS-Free World Possible With Effective Treatment, Prevention Tools, Addressing Needs Of Transgender Community

STAT News: An AIDS-free world is possible, but do we have the will to achieve it?
Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH, and Deborah L. Birx, ambassador-at-large and coordinator of U.S. government activities to combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. special representative for global health diplomacy at the Department of State

“…Together, HIV treatment and other proven prevention interventions provide a powerful toolbox for ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic. … We have come a long way since we first confronted AIDS in 1981. Science has created effective tools that have saved millions of lives. However, we need to apply these tools with intelligence and alacrity to end the epidemic. We must ensure that HIV services reach the most vulnerable populations. Everyone — from governments and communities to philanthropists and the private sector — must play a part. We have the extraordinary opportunity to usher in the first AIDS-free generation in more than 35 years. The only question is: Do we have the will to do it?” (6/6).

Huffington Post: Why Focusing on Transgender Health Is Essential to an AIDS-Free World
Doug Wirth, president and CEO of Amida Care

“…We can’t end the AIDS epidemic without addressing the needs of the transgender community — needs that have been largely overlooked for too long. Health care is a right, not a privilege. As one of the groups most deeply affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the transgender community must become a main focus of our efforts to create an AIDS-free world. We can and we must do a better job of reaching this underserved community and help them access the comprehensive care they need. … The vitality of life on the planet must become grounded in social and economic justice for all” (6/3).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Funding For, Private Investment In SDGs

The Guardian: The missing development trillions: how you would fund the SDGs
Rachel Banning-Lover and Guardian readers

“More than 50 people shared their ideas on where the sector will find over $3tn a year to fund the Sustainable Development Goals. Here’s a selection of our favorites..” (6/3).

Project Syndicate: Spurring Private Investment for Developments
Nirj Deva, ranking member of the European Parliament and Conservative Vice-President of the Development Committee

“Successful economic development has hewed to a well-known pattern. Lifting a country out of poverty and placing it on a path of sustainable growth requires hard work, the creation of a robust system of property rights, and – crucially – private investment. … [the Sustainable Development Goals] come with a high price tag, and there remains a funding gap of around $2.5 trillion if all 17 goals are to be met. A chasm this big cannot be bridged by cash-strapped governments and taxpayers alone. … That is why a recent decision by the European Parliament to back my report calling for the mobilization of private capital in the fight against global poverty is so important. … Helping developing countries grow will stimulate investment opportunities for E.U. companies and open new markets for their goods. The result will be a virtuous cycle of development that benefits everyone – and that moves the world significantly closer to achieving the ambitious goals that it has adopted” (6/3).

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Overcoming WHO Weaknesses Critical In Light Of Global Disease Threats

Huffington Post: Ebola, Zika and the Weakness of the Global Health Regime
Daniel Wagner, CEO of Country Risk Solutions

“…The WHO was widely, and justifiably, criticized for its failure to swiftly sound the alarm about the global spread of the Ebola virus. … This raises disturbing questions more generally about the strength (and weakness) of the global health regime currently in place, and whether conflicts of interest and politicization of issues related to the issuance of declaring a health emergency are preventing a more robust response. … It is bad enough that some multilateral organizations have succumbed to bureaucratic inertia and harmful politicization, but when the organization charged with maintaining the world’s health fails to live up to its organizational imperative and raison d’etre — ‘the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health’ — it is dangerous. … [I]t is high time that we get our houses of oversight in good order … The coming ‘summer of Zika’ should serve as reminder to everyone that our margin for error is increasingly small” (6/3).

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WHA Serves As Venue For An Expanding Global Health Agenda

Huffington Post: A to Z at the World Health Assembly: Discussions Range from Antimicrobial Resistance to the Zika Virus
John E. Lange, Senior Fellow for Global Health Diplomacy, United Nations Foundation

“The 69th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva demonstrated once again the central role of the World Health Organization (WHO) in global health. Whether one focuses on WHO’s global action plan on antimicrobial resistance or the international response to health emergencies like the Ebola and Zika viruses, there were countless venues for official and unofficial decisions and discussions on every health issue under the sun. … The explosive growth of global health programs over the last two decades has seen a concomitant growth in interest in WHA, and longtime attendees marvel at the increase in participation by NGOs and others. This was my 10th consecutive Assembly, and I have witnessed the range of issues at official and unofficial events during WHA week continue to expand – and the global health agenda has expanded accordingly” (6/3).

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Decision To Hold Olympic Games Must Consider Public Health Risks, Ethics

Project Syndicate: Should the World Go to Rio?
Peter Singer, professor at Princeton University and laureate professor at the University of Melbourne

“…If the Olympics go ahead, visitors will come to Brazil from many more countries than would otherwise be the case. If they bring Zika back to regions with Aedes aegypti and inadequate health care systems … millions of infections could occur before effective means of prevention or cure are developed. The WHO has said that canceling the Olympic Games would ‘compromise the huge investment that athletes and others have made in preparing for what should be a fantastic occasion.’ No doubt it would, but that needs to be balanced against the risks of spreading a dangerous virus. The Olympic Charter asserts that social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles are at the core of the Olympic movement. It is neither socially responsible nor ethical to ignore the risks that the Zika virus poses to adults and to children yet to be born. Perhaps the risks are low enough to justify going ahead with the Rio Olympics (which in any case could be postponed rather than canceled), but perhaps they are not. Until qualified experts have laid out all the facts, the world should stay away” (6/6).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

White House Statement Addresses 35th Anniversary Of HIV/AIDS In U.S.

White House Office of the Press Secretary: Statement by the President on the 35th Anniversary of HIV/AIDS in America
U.S. President Barack Obama writes, “On June 5, 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report on what would later be understood as the first documented cases of AIDS. The past 35 years tell a story that bends from uncertainty, fear, and loss toward resilience, innovation, and hope. … Nearly five years ago, I said that an AIDS-free generation is within reach, and today, the global community is committed to ending this epidemic by 2030. This will take American leadership, smart investments, and a commitment to ensure that all communities are heard and included as we move forward…” (6/5).

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UNAIDS Calls On Global Community To 'Fast-Track' Response To AIDS

UNAIDS: Calling on innovators, implementers, investors, activists, and leaders to Fast-Track ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030
“UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, stresses the importance of a people-centered approach at [the] up-coming United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS…” (6/3).

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Humanosphere Discusses WHO, CDC Statements On Zika, Olympics

Humanosphere: Should the Olympics be postponed over Zika fears? WHO and CDC say ‘no’
Humanosphere reporter Lisa Nikolau reports on statements from the WHO and CDC on Zika and the upcoming Olympic Games (6/2).

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Achieving SDGs Requires Innovative Funding, Political Will

DAWN: View from abroad: Time to walk the talk on Agenda 2030
Shada Islam, Dawn correspondent, discusses the challenges of funding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), writing, “Traditional [Official Development Assistance (ODA)] will remain crucial but governments and other donors need to start demonstrating creativity and innovation to find more money and get more bang for their buck. … Implementing Agenda 2030 will not be easy. It will require money, certainly but more than that it will need political will and determination” (6/4).

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Humanosphere Discusses Aid Air Drops In Syria

Humanosphere: Russia stands in the way of humanitarian air drops in Syria
Humanosphere reporter Tom Murphy writes, “With roughly 20 towns and cities under siege in Syria, the best possible way to provide assistance to people cut off from food and other supplies is through air drops. The U.N. wants to begin dropping in supplies, but it will not go ahead without support from Russia. So, for the time being, tens of thousands of people are still at risk of starvation and health problems because of the siege tactics employed by Syrian forces…” (6/3).

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