KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Zika Expected To Spread Quickly In Puerto Rico, Threatening Mainland U.S.

Washington Post: Zika is expected to infect 1 in 5 Puerto Ricans, raising threat to rest of U.S.
“…There are 117 confirmed cases of the virus in Puerto Rico, four times the number at the end of January. The island territory, which has a population of 3.5 million people, is ‘by far the most affected area’ in the United States, Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Friday. The number will almost certainly rise sharply in coming weeks, making it ever more likely that the virus will spread to the continental United States…” (Sun, 2/29).

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Study Offers Evidence Of Link Between Zika, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, But More Research Needed, Experts Say

News outlets discuss findings from a study published in The Lancet showing an association between Zika virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

New York Times: New Study Links Zika Virus to Temporary Paralysis
“A new study of 42 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome in French Polynesia offers the strongest evidence to date that the Zika virus can trigger temporary paralysis, researchers reported on Monday. But experts cautioned that more evidence from other locations was needed to be conclusive…” (Saint Louis, 2/29).

Reuters: Scientists find Zika increases risk of rare neurological illness
“…In a retrospective study analyzing data from a Zika outbreak in French Polynesia during 2013 and 2014, researchers led by Arnaud Fontanet of France’s Institut Pasteur calculated the estimated risk of developing Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) at 2.4 for every 10,000 people infected by Zika…” (Kelland, 2/29).

USA TODAY: Zika can cause Guillain-Barré syndrome, study shows
“…About 88 percent of the Guillain-Barré patients had experienced Zika-like symptoms — such as fever, rash, and joint pain — about six days before developing paralysis, according to the study. That’s a significant detail, according to an accompanying commentary from researchers David Smith at the University of Western Australia and John Mackenzie of Curtin University, also in Australia…” (Szabo, 2/29).

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Brazilian Town, Researchers Work To Prevent, Investigate Zika Virus

Huffington Post: How A Town In Brazil Reportedly Rid Itself Of The Zika Mosquito
“…Compared to other similarly sized rural towns in Brazil, Água Branca should have a mosquito problem. But in 2013, when Zika virus wasn’t even an issue, the town launched a community initiative to address rising dengue fever rates. The partnership between municipal health authorities and residents focused on eliminating mosquito hotspots, and as a result, Água Branca has reportedly been mosquito-free for three years. Now the state’s governor is taking the program to other towns, where officials hope to replicate Água Branca’s success…” (Rosa/Almendrala, 2/29).

Newsweek: How a Small Team of Doctors Convinced the World to Stop Ignoring Zika
“…Urged on by an independent experts committee, the WHO finally decreed a global health emergency in February 2016. After weeks of sleepless nights, [physician Carlos Brito, who investigated Brazil’s microcephaly outbreak] — the father of three young women — could finally breathe; the world had opened its eyes to the medical crisis that was first uncovered three months ago by a small group of doctors in northeast Brazil. Public health officials across the Americas are now working feverishly to devise some solution to Zika…” (Braga, 2/29).

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Ebola Can Persist In Survivors' Semen For Months, Study Shows

News outlets discuss findings from a study published Monday in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases looking at the presence and persistence of Ebola virus in survivors’ bodily fluids.

Agence France-Presse: ‘Low’ risk of getting Ebola from survivor: study
“The risk of catching Ebola from a survivor is generally low since the virus disappears from the blood within weeks, but it may persist in semen for many months, researchers said Monday…” (Sheridan, 2/29).

Washington Post: You’re unlikely to catch Ebola from a survivor — unless you have sex with them
“…70 percent of semen samples from survivors tested positive for the virus in the first seven months after the illness. This may have had serious implications during the latter days of the epidemic, when areas thought to be clear of the virus saw new cases of the disease cropping up…” (Cowart, 2/29).

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Washington Post Examines Abortion Policies In Countries Worldwide

Washington Post: The world’s abortion policies, explained in 7 charts and maps
“The U.S. Supreme Court will hear its most significant abortion-related case in nearly a decade on Wednesday. With eyes focused on Washington, it is worth exploring how other countries have dealt with the issue…” (Cameron/Noack, 3/1).

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WFP To Resume Food Aid Delivery In Syria Following Successful Donor Conference

Agence France-Presse: First U.N. aid delivery in Syria since start of truce: Red Crescent
“Aid workers on Monday began carrying out the first delivery of humanitarian assistance to Syrians since a landmark truce came into effect at the weekend, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent said…” (2/29).

New York Times: Syria: United Nations Says Food Aid Will Be Restored
“The United Nations announced on Monday that it would fully restore all food aid to hundreds of thousands of war-ravaged Syrians that had been cut by funding shortfalls…” (Gladstone, 2/29).

U.N. News Centre: Syria: U.N. agency restores full rations thanks to boost in donor funding
“…The record pledge of $675 million made during the ‘Supporting Syria and the Region Conference’ will support a ‘comprehensive restoration’ of food assistance for refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt from March until the end of the year, WFP said in a press release…” (2/29).

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Ethiopia Distributes Food Aid, Appeals For Funding To Feed 10.2M Affected By Drought, Hunger

Thomson Reuters Foundation: For Ethiopia’s famine survivors, new drought stirs hunger and fear
“…[The Ethiopian government] started distributing emergency food aid in October after the strongest El Niño on record triggered a drought which left wheat shoots to wither in the fields. The government and aid agencies have asked for $1.4 billion to feed 10.2 million people — the third largest appeal globally after Syria and Yemen…” (Migiro, 2/29).

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Stigma, Misunderstanding About HIV/AIDS Cause Parents To Pull Children From Sri Lankan School

Foreign Policy: Rumors About AIDS Shuts Down Sri Lankan School
“…The incident has sparked concern that adults sending their children to the school are largely misinformed about the risk of AIDS, and are ostracizing a healthy child over unsubstantiated rumors…” (O’Grady, 2/29).

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Global Health NOW Interviews Former WHO Communications Director Christy Feig

Global Health NOW: Christy Feig Q&A: Exit Interview, Part I
“…Timely and accurate communications are essential, says Christy Feig, who recently stepped down as WHO’s director of communications after six years. Feig, now a vice president with Global Health Strategies, shares her lessons learned and her reflections on Ebola and Zika in this exit interview with GHN editor-in-chief Brian W. Simpson…” (2/29).

Global Health NOW: Exit Interview with Christy Feig, Part II
“…Are there other lessons that you would pull out for global health leaders?
I think number one: Communicate. Keep the lines of communication open, and be transparent. If you get out and communicate, people trust you…” (2/29).

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Editorials and Opinions

Presidential Candidates Should Focus On Global Health Leadership

The Hill: Big-hearted, self-serving and right
Tom Daschle, former U.S. senator from South Dakota and Senate majority leader from 2001 to 2003, and Bill Frist, former U.S. senator from Tennessee and Senate majority leader from 2003 to 2007

“As the 2016 primaries unfold, it’s time for candidates of both parties to focus on expanding the big-hearted policies that have made this nation so exceptional. In recent years, the most effective of those policies has been global health — that is, putting U.S. resources to work saving lives in developing nations by spreading health treatments that work here at home. … Now, a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, released in January, has discovered that, while Americans are proud of the accomplishments of programs like PEPFAR, a majority (53 percent) believe we are already ‘doing enough to improve health in developing countries.’ And a majority (55 percent) believe that ‘spending more money won’t make much difference in improving health in developing countries.’ Those are disturbing statistics. They stray far from reality. The truth is that the U.S. has the innovation and the resources to put an end to rampant deaths not only from AIDS but from such scourges as malaria, tuberculosis, and hepatitis C. Based on the PEPFAR experience, we have proof that health will be improved dramatically — and Americans themselves will benefit. … As the presidential campaign progresses, we believe that Americans will want to hear candidates appeal to what Abraham Lincoln referred to as ‘the better angels of our nature.’ Wiping out diseases in poorer countries is simply the right thing to do. But Americans are pragmatic people, too, and, as the Kaiser research shows, we want our contributions to be both cost-effective and beneficial to our own nation as well. As our research has shown, programs like PEPFAR meet all of those tests: humanitarian, practical, and self-serving. In this election season, Americans must require candidates for public office who demonstrate the leadership we will need to ensure global — and national — health” (2/29).

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Global Health Community, Media Must Do Better Job Of Listening To Communities Directly Affected By Zika

CNN: What Ebola crisis can teach us about Zika
David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee

“Ebola was a brutal wake-up call not only for people across West Africa, but also for the global health community whose job it is to prevent such disastrous outcomes. The United Nations, nonprofit organizations, and foreign governments all promised to do better next time. … The missing link turned out to be something quite simple: Listening. Almost no one took the time to have a conversation with the people in affected communities — to listen to their concerns and fears. … The global health community and the media are now in danger of making the same mistake in fighting the Zika outbreak. … For Zika, coming so soon after Ebola, let’s not make this mistake again. Let’s remember that no matter how global they may seem, all epidemics are local” (2/29).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Birx Speaks About PEPFAR, Prospects Of Ending AIDS On CGD Podcast

Center for Global Development’s “CGD Podcast”: We Can Stop the Spread of AIDS, and Sooner Than You Think — Podcast with Amb. Deborah Birx
Rajesh Mirchandani, CGD vice president of communications and policy outreach, speaks with Ambassador Deborah Birx, U.S. global AIDS coordinator, about PEPFAR and the prospect of “a day when the disease starts shrinking” (2/22).

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Global Dispatches Podcast Interviews Former USAID Administrator Raj Shah

Global Dispatches Podcast: Episode 99: Raj Shah
Mark Leon Goldberg, editor of U.N. Dispatch and host of the Global Dispatches Podcast, speaks with former USAID Administrator Raj Shah about leading the agency, how “growing up the son of immigrants from India … compelled him to a career in global health and development,” his time with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other topics (2/29).

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Blog Post Provides Roundup Of Recent Global Health Research News

Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs”: Research Roundup: A vaginal ring to prevent HIV, antibodies against Ebola, and the U.S. response to malaria
Kat Kelley, GHTC’s senior program assistant, highlights recent news in global health, including two clinical trials demonstrating that a monthly vaginal ring containing the antiretroviral drug dapivirine can reduce the risk of HIV infection in women; the identification of 300 antibodies against Ebola that could play a role in the research and development of Ebola vaccines and treatment; and President Barack Obama’s call for Congress to allocate an additional US$200 million for the President’s Malaria Initiative (2/29).

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March 2016 Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

WHO: Bulletin of the World Health Organization
The March 2016 WHO Bulletin includes news, research, and policy articles on various topics, including adolescent sexual and reproductive health, Zika virus in Brazil, and global nutrition and health (March 2016).

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