KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Report On Global Food Policy Finds Hunger Persists In Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia

VOA News: Ending Hunger and Undernutrition
“A new report says ending persistent hunger and undernutrition should be top development priorities. The International Food Policy Research Institute, IFPRI, has released its annual Global Food Policy Report. IFPRI has set a goal of 2025 for ending hunger and undernutrition. …[F]igures actually represent an improvement in recent years. But the progress has not been uniform. The report said there are still major hunger challenges in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia…” (DeCapua, 3/13).

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Gates Asserts That Philanthropy, Progress Depend On Innovation

News outlets report on comments by Bill Gates at events in Washington, D.C., this week.

The Atlantic: Bill Gates: ‘The Idea That Innovation Is Slowing Down Is … Stupid’
“Bill Gates is aware that there’s a lot of gridlock in Washington. He’s just not sure it matters all that much for innovation. … ‘[T]he way that money’s being spent has gotten more intelligent every year’ since 2000 [Gates said]. As the practice of buying friends in foreign capitals with development aid has faded with the end of the Cold War, he argued, the impact per dollar of assistance has become easier to track. And almost 40 percent of U.S. aid, he said, now goes to the most measurable categories: health and agriculture…” (Friedman, 3/12).

Fiscal Times: Gates Gives Clinton Administration a Low Grade on Foreign Aid
“Bill Gates and Bill Clinton are soul mates and fellow travelers who for years have fought for increased funding for global health, education, agriculture and anti-poverty initiatives. … In grading the federal government’s performance in providing critically needed overseas assistance during the past couple of decades, however, the Microsoft co-founder and multi-billionaire gives his friend the former president a Gentleman’s C at best…” (Pianin, 3/13).

Huffington Post: Bill Gates Isn’t Worried Because Progress ‘Doesn’t Depend On Washington’
“… The world’s richest man again, with a net worth of $76 billion (despite having given away some $28 billion so far through his Gates Foundation and other vehicles), the 58-year-old Microsoft founder claimed not to be worried about the dysfunction junction that is Washington. ‘Fortunately,’ he said, the forces of material progress, augmented by the continuing ‘miracle of software,’ do not entirely, or even mostly, depend on ‘Washington doing something different’…” (Fineman, 3/13).

VOA News: Gates: Philanthropy Depends On Innovation
“Bill Gates, one of the world’s leading inventors, businessmen and donors, said that philanthropy, like technology, depends on innovation to achieve the best possible results. Gates said in Washington Thursday that most innovation is driven by private enterprise, but that only governments can make broader social improvements…” (Hoke, 3/14).

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U.N. Releases Guidelines On Puberty Education In Developing Countries

News outlets report on the U.N. release of guidelines promoting puberty education.

TIME: U.N. Sets Guidelines for How Developing Countries Should Teach Puberty
“… [F]or the first time, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization) — in partnership with sanitary product maker Procter & Gamble — is releasing a publication setting out guidelines for puberty education. The goal is to provide developing countries with a framework of programs that promote access to hygiene products for girls, safe sanitation facilities in schools, and better puberty knowledge and skills for both boys and girls beginning at age 10…” (Sifferlin, 3/13).

Xinhua: U.N. releases guidelines on promoting puberty education
“United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Thursday released a publication setting out guidelines for promoting puberty education across the world. … The booklet, the ninth publication in the UNESCO series Good Policy and Practice in Health Education, identifies ways for all partners to work together on puberty education and menstrual hygiene management starting in primary school…” (3/14).

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U.N. Official Says Nigeria's Ban On Same-Sex Marriage May Harm Public Health

Agence France-Presse: U.N. rights chief slams Nigeria ban on gay marriage
“The U.N. rights chief, Navi Pillay, Thursday said Nigeria’s recent ban on same-sex marriage violated human rights and the nation’s constitution. … President Goodluck Jonathan had in January approved a bill banning gay marriage and same-sex partnerships that sparked international condemnation. … ‘It (the law) may have negative consequences for public health in Nigeria,’ the U.N. chief said…” (3/13).

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WHO Aims To Declare SE Asia Region Polio-Free, But Progress Stalls In Other Countries

The Lancet: Polio eradication effort sees progress, but problems remain
“WHO looks set to declare its southeast Asia region polio-free at the end of this month. But progress is faltering in other regions with the remaining polio-endemic countries…” (Maurice, 3/13).

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IRIN Discusses The Role Of WASH Programs In Conflict Resolution

IRIN: Factoring conflict reduction into WASH programs
“Evidence that sanitation interventions can contribute to local stability and conflict reduction is encouraging and should be considered in program design, experts say. … However, WASH programs… must be carefully crafted if they are to take into account local socio-political conditions…” (3/14).

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Conflict-Torn South Sudan Could Face Famine, U.S., E.U. Envoys Warn

Agence France-Presse: War-torn South Sudan facing ‘spectre’ of famine: U.S., E.U. envoys
“South Sudan faces possible famine if warring forces continue to flout a ceasefire deal, U.S. and E.U. envoys warned Thursday, after almost three months of raging conflict left thousands dead…” (Fortin, 3/13).

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Cameroon Struggles To Keep Up With Influx Of CAR Refugees

IRIN: CAR refugees overwhelm Cameroon
“Up to 130,000 refugees have fled from the Central African Republic (CAR) to Cameroon, many of them wounded from attacks, dehydrated or traumatized, say local officials and aid workers, who are struggling to cope with the speed of the influx…” (3/12).

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Rohingya Deprived Of Medical Care After MSF Is Forced To Halt Operations In Myanmar

New York Times: Ban on Doctors’ Group Imperils Muslim Minority in Myanmar
“Nearly 750,000 people, most of them members of a Muslim minority in one of the poorest parts of Myanmar, have been deprived of most medical services since the government banned the operations of Doctors Without Borders [Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)], the international health care organization and the main provider of medical care in the region. The government ordered a halt to the work of Doctors Without Borders two weeks ago after some officials accused the group of favoring the Muslims, members of the Rohingya ethnic group, over a rival group, Rakhine Buddhists. Already, anecdotal evidence and medical estimates show that about 150 of the most vulnerable have died since Feb. 28, more than 20 of them pregnant women facing life-threatening deliveries, medical professionals said…” (Perlez, 3/13).

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Surgery Helps Children Born With Cleft Lip In Africa

Agence France-Presse: Branded as witches, cleft lip children now see hope in Africa
“Accused of witchcraft or sorcery, children with cleft lips or palates are often driven into hiding in several African countries, forced to live as outcasts unless they receive an early operation. … In the West, children with the condition generally receive an operation within three months of being born, but specialized care of this nature remains rare across Africa, even though the operation costs only $250 (180 euros)…” (Fioriti, 3/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

Anti-Gay Laws Worsen The AIDS Crisis, Blog Says

Washington Post: Making the AIDS crisis worse
Michael Gerson, Washington Post columnist

“…When Western governments lecture African countries about their retrograde views, it can feed a populist, anti-colonial backlash. When donors threaten to cut off aid, it can cause lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists to cringe — fearing they will be scapegoated for the punishment of their whole country. What might be more effective is a forceful health-related message. This is an area in which civil rights — starting out with a simple zone of personal privacy — is a requirement of public health. Nations such as Nigeria and Uganda are committed to ambitious objectives in fighting AIDS. Those goals are unachievable while any group is targeted for discrimination and excluded from effective outreach” (3/13).

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Recent Current Events Could Signal Food Price Volatility

CNN: Are more food protests around the corner?
Evan Fraser, Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security at the University of Guelph

“This week’s headlines may have been dominated by the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines passenger plane, but three seemingly unrelated stories that have developed over the past week might have much broader and long lasting implications for the international community…” The drought affecting parts of the Middle East, the conflict in Ukraine, and an increase in global food prices “are already combining to spook commodity markets.  On March 3, wheat futures jumped 4.6 percent, their biggest one-day gain in almost 2 years, a rise some commentator are already linking with rising prices for food in Europe.  With this in mind, it’s easy to see how 2014 could herald a return to the kind of food price volatility and associated political and economic turmoil the world witnessed in 2008 and 2011…” (3/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kerry Defends FY15 Global Health Budget At House Subcommittee Meeting

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on Thursday’s House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations hearing, where Secretary of State John Kerry “lauded U.S. aims and achievements in global health… pointing to the administration’s proposed $1.35 billion contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, as well as to President Obama’s call for ‘an AIDS-free generation,’ adding that goal ‘would have been absolutely unthinkable 10 years ago.’ … Global health advocates, though, have said that Obama’s proposal, which [is] calling for the same $4.35 billion [in bilateral funding] for the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief allocated for 2014, flatfunds a program that has seen $600 million in [bilateral funding] cuts since 2011, will be inadequate to fund the accelerated efforts needed to turn the trajectory of the global AIDS pandemic…” (Barton, 3/13).

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FY15 Budget Request Has Mixed Results For Global Health R&D, Blog Says

The Global Health Technology Coalition “Breakthroughs” blog continues to discuss the impact of President Barack Obama’s FY 2015 budget request on global health, noting specifically that “the results continue to be a mixed bag for global health research and development (R&D).” The blog presents their analysis on the Administration’s priorities for FY 2015, breaking down the budget request by agency: National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and Department of Defense (DoD) (Taylor, 3/12).

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Blog Examines Shifts In Global Health Funding, Focus

In a Humanosphere post, development blogger Tom Paulson talks about the changing landscape of global health funding, writing “for the first time in nearly 15 years, the U.S. government is poised to reduce its investment in global health…” He describes Obama’s foreign assistance request, which “has disturbed many in the global health community who, for more than a decade, saw themselves as at the top of the aid and development hierarchy…” (3/13).

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Blog Discusses The Economic Costs Of Homophobia

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on major themes at a World Bank event on the economic impact of homophobia, which include the cost of discrimination on the health and economies of nations (Aziz, 3/13).

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Health Care Workers Ask President To Put Pressure On Uganda, Nigeria To Reverse Anti-Gay Laws

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports, “More than 900 physicians, researchers, nurses and other health care workers from institutions, facilities and organizations tackling HIV around the world sent a letter to President Obama today expressing horror over anti-homosexuality laws recently passed in Uganda and Nigeria and urging the president to follow words condemning the laws with action. … In their letter, clinicians and researchers from the University of Alabama, Yale, Harvard, Johns Hopkins University, and other health research centers, as well as AIDS-fighting clinics, hospitals, and organizations from Hawaii to Zimbabwe, ask the Obama administration to ‘follow up immediately’ with resources to support and protect those who will be affected. Signers also ask the administration to redirect funding from organizations supporting the laws, and to continue to pressure both countries to reverse the laws” (Barton, 3/13).

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Blog Highlights The Power Of Networks In Advancing Health Issues

In the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Mariam Claeson, director of the Gates Foundation’s Maternal, Newborn and Child Health team, and Ruth Landy, principal, Strategic Communication for Social Impact, write about the power of social and media networks to advance breastfeeding, noting “the breastfeeding community has yet to coalesce as an effective network. Today it’s in search of the strong leadership, unified agenda and contemporary message required to spark a social movement for breastfeeding in the 21st century…” (3/13).

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Humanitarian Response To Disasters Should Not Exclude Disabled People

“People with impairments suffer disproportionately when a humanitarian disaster strikes. There is a long history of disabled people being excluded from humanitarian crisis responses,” Sue Coe, a development and disability inclusion consultant, writes in SciDev.Net. “Providing access to humanitarian response for disabled people shouldn’t be classified as ‘taking risks.’ It is fulfilling their rights. … My hope is disability inclusion will be seen as a regular part of all humanitarian response in [the] future, will be recognized by all donors, and extended across all impairment groups” (3/14).

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