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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. House, Senate Conference Committee Aims To Reconcile Zika Funding Legislation

The Hill: Congress heading toward Zika conference
“…The Senate agreed by a voice vote Wednesday evening to go a joint House-Senate conference committee on a wide-ranging appropriations bill that includes $1.1 billion in unpaid-for funding to combat the Zika virus…” (Carney, 6/8).

New York Times: Congress Will Work on $1.1 Billion Measure to Fight Zika, McConnell Says
“With public health officials warning of a fast-spreading emergency, House and Senate negotiators will work to reconcile legislation aimed at providing up to $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that carry it, Senator Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday…” (Herszenhorn, 6/8).

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Puerto Rican, U.S. Health Authorities Study Zika As Virus Spreads On Island, Across Americas

New York Times: Zika Virus Swamps Embattled Puerto Rico
“…Zika has blanketed three-quarters of this lush island over the past six months, say health authorities, who expect it to keep spreading now that it is prime mosquito season. More than 1,350 people have tested positive for Zika since the beginning of the epidemic here, including 168 pregnant women. One patient died. Thousands more are likely infected without symptoms, health authorities say. Puerto Rico’s battle with Zika is giving local and U.S. health authorities a rare chance to better understand the disease as it makes its relentless march across the Americas…” (McKay, 6/8).

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Gene Editing Of Organisms To Prevent Disease, Ecosystem Damage Promising But Must Be Approached With Caution, National Academies Report Says

New York Times: Species-wide Gene Editing, Applauded and Feared, Gets a Push
“A revolutionary technology known as ‘gene drive,’ which for the first time gives humans the power to alter or perhaps eliminate entire populations of organisms in the wild, has stirred both excitement and fear since scientists proposed a means to construct it two years ago. Scientists dream of deploying gene drive, for example, to wipe out malaria-carrying mosquitoes that cause the deaths of 300,000 African children each year, or invasive rodents that damage island ecosystems…” (Harmon, 6/8).

NPR: New Genetic Engineering Method Called Promising — And Perilous
“…[A] report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine concludes that it’s far too soon to release any organisms altered with the technique, known as a gene drive, into the environment. Even so, scientists should continue conducting experiments using this approach inside laboratories, the report urges. And the panel endorsed the possibility of conducting very controlled studies of creatures altered with a gene drive outside laboratories…” (Stein, 6/8).

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U.N. General Assembly Adopts Political Declaration To Fast-Track Response To HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Agence France-Presse: U.N. plan to end AIDS by 2030 faces Russian resistance
“U.N. member-states agreed on Wednesday to fast-track their response to end the AIDS pandemic by 2030 despite a last-minute bid by Russia to dilute efforts to focus on drug users and gay men. … [The declaration] sets out three targets to be reached by 2020: reducing new HIV infections, reducing mortality rates, and eliminating HIV-related discrimination…” (6/8).

Associated Press: Cultural sensitivities obstacle at U.N. AIDS conference
“…A number of gay and transgender groups were excluded from attending the three-day-long conference that began Wednesday by countries who objected to their presence and nations squabbled over references in a final statement to topics involving gay sex and intravenous drug use…” (Astor, 6/8).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. General Assembly adopts political declaration to fast-track progress on ending AIDS
“… ‘AIDS is far from over,’ U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized at the opening of the meeting. ‘Over the next five years, we have a window of opportunity to radically change the trajectory of the epidemic and put an end to AIDS forever. Despite remarkable progress, if we do not act, there is a danger the epidemic will rebound in low- and middle-income countries,’ he added…” (6/8).

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WHO Declares End Of Liberia's Most Recent Ebola Outbreak

Agence France-Presse: West Africa marks end of Ebola outbreak
“Liberia said Thursday it was free of Ebola, meaning there are now no known cases of the deadly tropical virus left in West Africa following an outbreak that began in neighboring Guinea in December 2013…” (Dosso, 6/9).

Reuters: WHO declares Liberia free of active Ebola virus transmission
“Liberia has reached the end of active Ebola virus transmission, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday, the fourth such declaration from one of the West African countries at the epicenter of the world’s worst outbreak of the disease…” (Giahuye/Brice, 6/9).

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TRF Outlines 4 Reasons African Nations, Gates Foundation, Obama Administration Working To Eliminate Malaria

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Four reasons why Africa, Gates and Obama want to end malaria
“The world’s richest couple, Bill and Melinda Gates, and U.S. President Barack Obama are giving financial backing to global plans to eliminate malaria. … Here are four of their arguments for pouring money into the issue: It promises almost a 20-fold return on investment … It’s the only way to deal with drug-resistance … More children in school, less in hospital … It frees up money for ‘the next epidemic’…” (Migiro, 6/9).

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European Parliament Urges G7's African Food Initiative To Focus Less On Intensive Agriculture, More On Smallholder Farmers

The Guardian: European parliament slams G7 food project in Africa
“For a large majority of Euro-MPs, the G7’s decision to base its program for food security in Africa on intensive agriculture is a mistake. The European parliament took its first official stance on the subject with the adoption of a report on the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN) on Tuesday. ‘We have already made the mistake of intensive agriculture in Europe. We should not replicate it in Africa because this model destroys family farming and reduces biodiversity,’ said Mara Heubuch, a German Green MEP and rapporteur on the new alliance…” (Barbière, 6/8).

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The Economist Examines Effectiveness, Transparency Of Foreign Aid

The Economist: Foreign aid is a shambles in almost every way
“…Foreign aid can work wonders. … So donors strive to send the right sort of aid to the places where it will do the most good. How are they doing? … Donors have become far more open about where their aid goes and how it is spent. It is because of the advances in transparency that we know just how badly things are going. But knowledge and the willingness to change are not the same” (6/8).

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Locally Transmitted Yellow Fever Case Recorded In Congo, WHO Says

Reuters: WHO says new yellow fever case in Congo transmitted locally
“A new case of yellow fever detected in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital was transmitted by a local mosquito, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, raising the possibility of a wider outbreak of the disease in the country…” (Ross/McAllister, 6/9).

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Editorials and Opinions

Addressing Inequality Critical To Ending AIDS

The Guardian: It isn’t lack of drugs preventing us eradicating AIDS, but inequality
Lilianne Ploumen, Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation

“…It’s time that we as governments, together with our civil society partners, tackle the discrimination that prevents those infected with HIV from seeking and finding assistance and treatment. … The task of giving these people a voice and eradicating AIDS rests largely on the shoulders of governments. … So I call on world leaders to place women above cultural beliefs. Recognize their rights and tackle their disadvantaged position. Recognize the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Allow sex education. Give the poorest of the poor access to care and therapy. Do not give in to religious objections to condoms. Leave no one behind. That’s what we all promised to do when we pledged our support for the global goals last year. Let’s practice what we preach” (6/9).

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India Needs To Take Steps To End HIV Transmission Through Blood Transfusions

BBC News: Viewpoint: Why blood transfusions are still giving Indians HIV
Chapal Mehra, public health specialist

“A recent news report on HIV transmission through blood transfusion in India has been the cause of much controversy. … We must recognize the two key issues at play here. First, India’s blood safety standard has always been weak and needs to be reviewed, and implemented stringently. Second, India’s fight against HIV has slowed due to reduced funding and growing complacency. Not surprisingly, these issues are interlinked. Where blood safety is concerned, India needs to promote blood donations from regular, voluntary unpaid low-risk blood donors with a careful assessment of their suitability to donate. There needs to be stringent implementation of the screening of all donated blood … Unnecessary transfusions must be discouraged … India must also renew its fight against HIV. … India needs to increase, not decrease, it’s funding for health. … All of this is critically hinged on coordination, sufficient personnel, suitable infrastructure, and proper organization…” (6/9).

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India 'Has Potential To Make Great Progress' Toward Global TB Elimination

Huffington Post: TB Elimination: India can Lead the Way
Madhukar Pai, associate professor and director of global health programs at McGill University, and Barry R. Bloom, professor and former dean of Harvard School of Public Health

“As the Prime Minister of India speaks to the U.S. Congress this week, a neglected epidemic threatens India’s progress. It’s not Ebola or Zika — but rather tuberculosis, an ancient disease that silently kills one Indian every 90 seconds. … One-quarter of the world’s TB cases are in India. So, global TB elimination is an impossible goal without significant progress in this emerging superpower. With its strong research expertise in TB, and technological and pharmaceutical capacity, India has the potential to make great progress against this disease. And with strong financial and political commitment from Prime Minister Modi, engagement of both public and private sectors, and continued engagement with the U.S. and other partners, India can not only beat TB, but lead the world in our quest to end the TB epidemic” (6/8).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

UNAIDS, PEPFAR Announce 60% Decline In New HIV Infections Among Children In 21 Sub-Saharan African Nations Since 2009

UNAIDS/PEPFAR: UNAIDS and PEPFAR announce dramatic reductions in new HIV infections among children in the 21 countries most affected by HIV in Africa
According to this press release, “UNAIDS and the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) announced [Wednesday] that there has been a 60 percent decline in new HIV infections among children since 2009 in the 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have been most affected by the epidemic. New HIV infections among children in the 21 countries dropped from 270,000 [230,000-330,000] in 2009 to 110,000 [78,000-150,000] in 2015. Equally impressive are gains made in bridging the treatment gap among children…” (6/8).

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UNAIDS 90-90-90 HIV Strategy Expensive But Medically, Economically Beneficial, Study Says

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: UNAIDS 90-90-90 strategy is cost-effective, will save millions of lives, study shows
Rabita Aziz, policy research coordinator for the Center for Global Health Policy, writes, “Reaching [the] UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals, of 90 percent of people living with HIV diagnosed, 90 percent of those diagnosed accessing antiretroviral therapy, and treatment in at least 90 percent of those individuals suppressing their virus to undetectable levels, would not only benefit populations and improve individual health but would be cost-efficient, a study has found. The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, used an HIV treatment and progression model to compare outcome data from the current HIV strategy used in South Africa to the UNAIDS target strategy…” (6/8).

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AIDS 2016 Conference Programme Available Online

AIDS 2016: Conference Programme
The Conference Programme for the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) is now available online. The database comprises all sessions, satellite symposia, abstract titles, and other program activities. Additional information, such as late-breaker abstract titles, abstracts, slide presentations, webcasts, rapporteur reports, and e-posters, will be added as they become available (6/8).

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