KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton Apologizes For Comments Crediting Nancy Reagan For Starting 'National Conversation' About HIV/AIDS

The Guardian: Hillary Clinton says she misspoke about how Reagans dealt with AIDS crisis
“Hillary Clinton outraged LGBT activists on Friday with her comments at Nancy Reagan’s funeral praising the former first lady for helping start a ‘national conversation’ about HIV — remarks that critics say ignore the Reagans’ deeply troubling legacy on the 1980s AIDS crisis…” (Levin, 3/11).

The Hill: Clinton further apologizes for Nancy Reagan AIDS comment
“Hillary Clinton penned an article in Medium Saturday, expanding on her previous apology for praising Nancy and Ronald Reagan’s response to HIV and AIDS. ‘Yesterday, at Nancy Reagan’s funeral, I said something inaccurate when speaking about the Reagans’ record on HIV and AIDS,’ she wrote. ‘I made a mistake, plain and simple’…” (Rupert, 3/12).

Mother Jones: “I Made a Mistake, Plain and Simple.” Clinton Issues Longer Apology for Praising Nancy Reagan’s AIDS Record.
“… ‘To be clear, the Reagans did not start a national conversation about HIV and AIDS,’ she wrote. ‘That distinction belongs to generations of brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, along with straight allies, who started not just a conversation but a movement that continues to this day’…” (West, 3/12).

New York Times: Hillary Clinton Lauds Reagans on AIDS. A Backlash Erupts
“…The comments struck a particular chord with older gay men who watched in the 1980s as their communities were ravaged by the disease…” (Chozick, 3/11).

NPR: Clinton’s Comments On Nancy Reagan And HIV/AIDS Cause An Uproar
“…[I]t wasn’t until 1987 that President Reagan gave his first speech on the topic, calling for more testing (but not making it mandatory). At that time, according to the New York Times, there had been nearly 36,000 cases of AIDS and nearly 21,000 deaths. Reagan has been roundly criticized for not doing enough to educate the public and draw attention to the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic during his administration…” (Taylor/Kurtzleben, 3/11).

POLITICO: Clinton retracts praise for Reagans’ HIV/AIDS legacy
“…Reagan and Congress did, however, quietly increase funding for AIDS research as the disease began to ravage the gay community, and beyond. By fiscal year 1983, the federal government was spending $44 million per year on HIV/AIDS research. By that time, a ‘national conversation’ was well underway…” (Collins, 3/11).

Washington Post: On drugs, Nancy Reagan just said no. On AIDS, she said nothing.
“…Nancy Reagan wasn’t president, but she was a symbol, a spokeswoman, with her own kind of power. And she was damned by some for her actions on one issue — a drug policy stance that many viewed as simplistic — and damned for her inaction on another…” (Zak, 3/13).

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GMO Mosquitoes Clear Initial FDA Approval; Water, Sanitation Important In Zika Prevention, U.N. Says

CQ HealthBeat: Test of Zika-Fighting Mosquito Clears First FDA Hurdle
“A proposed field test of a mosquito genetically-modified to combat the Zika virus wouldn’t have a significant environmental impact, the FDA announced on Friday. That decision sets up a public comment period and FDA review that, when finished, could result in the testing of the modified mosquito in the U.S…” (Siddons, 3/11).

Reuters: FDA says engineered anti-Zika mosquito environmentally safe
“…The self-limiting strain of the Aedes aegypti mosquito was developed by Oxitec, the U.K.-subsidiary of U.S. synthetic biology company Intrexon Corp. The male mosquitoes are modified so their offspring will die before reaching adulthood and being able to reproduce…” (Swamynathan/Grover, 3/12).

Reuters: Mosquitoes’ rapid spread poses threat beyond Zika
“As the world focuses on Zika’s rapid advance in the Americas, experts warn the virus that originated in Africa is just one of a growing number of continent-jumping diseases carried by mosquitoes threatening swathes of humanity…” (Hirschler, 3/13).

U.N. News Centre: Water and sanitation likely to be best answer to Zika virus, say U.N. experts
“Improving water and sanitation services may be the best answer to addressing the outbreak of the Zika virus, according to United Nations human rights experts, who stress that such critical factors should not be in the shadow of hi-tech solutions being considered…” (3/11).

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PRI Examines U.S. Disease Outbreak Preparedness

PRI: Is the U.S. ready for the next big pandemic?
“In 1994, public health experts Laurie Garrett and Stephen Ostroff warned of disturbing trends in global public health: Rising antibiotic resistance, overlooked and underfunded public health infrastructure and a frightening resurgence of old diseases we thought we’d beat. More than 20 years later, they say many of the threats to our public health, including the threat of a massive epidemic, remain the same…” (Shockman, 3/12).

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U.N. Officials, Activists Call On World Leaders To End Gender Inequality

The Guardian: Activists call on world leaders to make gender equality pledge a reality
“World leaders must back up their pledge to end gender inequality with concrete commitments on how they plan to empower women, said activists preparing for the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. The annual CSW meeting to review progress on women’s empowerment, which begins in New York on Monday, is the first since the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)…” (Ford, 3/14).

U.N. News Centre: Education and reproductive health for girls key to sustainable development — U.N.
“…Speaking at the event, organized by UNFPA and U.N. Women ahead of next week’s Commission on the Status of Women, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said it should not ‘take an act of courage’ to go to school, but that in too many parts of the world, girls risk their lives just to attend class. … Noting that girls who are subject to poverty, early marriage, female genital mutilation, abuse, and other violations hold a great potential for progress in their homes and the world, Mr. Eliasson recalled that the U.N. has had a mandate for gender equality since the day it was founded…” (3/11).

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MSF Opposes Pfizer's Pneumonia Vaccine Patent Application In India

LiveMint: Doctors Without Borders opposes Pfizer’s pneumonia vaccine patent in India
“Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders, a Paris-based international humanitarian-aid non-governmental organization, on Friday said it has filed a ‘patent opposition’ in India to prevent U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. from getting a patent on the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13), so more affordable versions can become available to developing countries and humanitarian organizations…” (Pila, 3/14).

Reuters: Médecins Sans Frontières files to block Pfizer patent on pneumonia vaccine in India
“…Some of the world’s poorest countries and medical charities such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) depend on India’s robust pharmaceutical industry to make cheaper forms of drugs and vaccines developed by big Western pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer. If India granted Pfizer a patent on its Prevnar 13 pneumonia vaccine, Indian firms would not be able to produce affordable versions of it for domestic use or exports, MSF said…” (Siddiqui, 3/11).

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3.7M Syrian Children Born Into War Risk Becoming 'Lost Generation,' UNICEF Report Says

News outlets discuss findings of a report on children affected by the Syrian war.

Agence France-Presse: 1 in 3 Syrian children know nothing but war: UNICEF
“One in three Syrian children have known nothing but a lifetime of war, UNICEF said Monday, as the country’s conflict enters its sixth year this week…” (3/14).

Newsweek: Nearly 4 million Syrian children born into war risk becoming ‘lost generation’: UNICEF
“…In a report released one day before the uprising’s five-year anniversary, UNICEF warns that 8.4 million, or more than 80 percent of children under 18, in the country are affected by the conflict. The 3.7 million children born into war risk becoming a ‘lost generation,’ Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s executive director, said in the report…” (Westcott, 3/14).

New York Times: One-Third of Children in Syria Were Born During War, UNICEF Report Finds
“…More than 300,000 of these children, who total about 3.7 million, were born as refugees, according to the report by UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. It said their lives had been ‘shaped by violence, fear and displacement’…” (Gladstone, 3/14).

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More Than 10M Ethiopians Need Food Assistance; Only Half Of $1.4B Appeal Raised So Far

USA TODAY: World overlooks Ethiopia drought crisis that is leaving millions hungry
“…Despite the crisis confronting … millions of other Ethiopians lacking food and drinking water, a world caught up in strife is paying insufficient attention to their plight, because it is distracted by other urgent needs. The government and the United Nations are trying to raise $1.4 billion to feed 10.2 million Ethiopians, but only half has come through so far, as the wars in Syria and Yemen plus the migrant crisis dominate the news…” (Cousins, 3/13).

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New York Times Examines Islamic State's Use Of Birth Control For 'Sex Slaves'

New York Times: To Maintain Supply of Sex Slaves, ISIS Pushes Birth Control
“…It is a particularly modern solution to a medieval injunction: According to an obscure ruling in Islamic law cited by the Islamic State, a man must ensure that the woman he enslaves is free of child before having intercourse with her. … To keep the sex trade running, the fighters have aggressively pushed birth control on their victims so they can continue the abuse unabated while the women are passed among them…” (Callimachi, 3/12).

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Low Levels Of Essential Amino Acids Linked To Stunting Among Malawian Children, Study Shows

NPR: The Strange And Surprising Debate Over How To Help A Malnourished Kid
“…More than 60 percent of the [Malawian children in the trial] were stunted, the researchers reported in EBioMedicine. And, compared to taller children, blood levels of all essential amino acids in stunted kids were 15 to 20 percent lower, suggesting that those kids are consuming significantly less protein. … The team is now analyzing links between stunting and socioeconomics…” (Sohn, 3/13).

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Editorials and Opinions

AIDS-Free Generation Possible With Increased Investments, Reduced Stigma

Medium: On the fight against HIV and AIDS — and on the people who really started the conversation.
Hillary Clinton, 2016 presidential candidate and former U.S. secretary of state

“…[A]t Nancy Reagan’s funeral, I said something inaccurate when speaking about the Reagans’ record on HIV and AIDS. … To be clear, the Reagans did not start a national conversation about HIV and AIDS. That distinction belongs to generations of brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, along with straight allies, who started not just a conversation but a movement that continues to this day. … We’ve come a long way. But we still have work to do to eradicate [HIV/AIDS] for good and to erase the stigma that is an echo of a shameful and painful period in our country’s history. … [L]et’s continue to increase HIV and AIDS research and invest in the promising innovations that research is producing. … We should increase global funding for HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. … For the first time, an AIDS-free generation is in sight. As president, I promise you that I will not let up until we reach that goal. We will not leave anyone behind” (3/13).

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Political Will, Funding, Health System Reform Needed To Fast-Track AIDS Response In South Africa

Newsweek: Why Mbeki’s HIV Views Have No Place In South Africa
Anele Yawa, general secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)

“Former South African President Thabo Mbeki published an open letter on Monday, addressing his handling of the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. … As before, he makes confused arguments about HIV and nutrition and misrepresents mortality data in the same way he did a decade ago. … The challenge is that in 2016, AIDS has fallen out of the limelight. Political will and donor funding is on the wane. We are in the agonizing situation where epidemiological models suggest that we can achieve an end to this syndrome if we invest in fast-tracking the AIDS response — but even as we finally see the shore ahead of us, the hard fact of the matter is that we are not seeing the investment or the reform of health care systems that will get us there…” (3/12).

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U.S. Food Aid Reform Would Reduce Systemic Inefficiencies, Help Achieve Universal Food Security

Devex: Fixing food aid to better feed hungry people
David Vanderpool, founder and CEO of LiveBeyond

“…[I]nefficiencies [around the production, packaging, and distribution of food to developing countries], encouraged by arcane and self-serving legislation, now threaten to limit the ability of well-meaning people to assuage the hunger that menaces much of the developing world. … Presently, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware have reintroduced a food bill, Food for Peace Reform Act of 2015, which would improve food aid distribution by abolishing the burdensome requirements of U.S.-only food sourcing, shipping, and monetization. … [I]f we can institute the further improvements in systemic efficiencies — such as cash-based or voucher food distribution systems and reducing burdensome requirements on in-kind aid — I know we can complete the laudable goal of achieving universal food security” (3/11).

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Editorial, Opinion Piece Discuss U.S. Role In Zika Response

Chicago Sun-Times: Editorial: Fight Zika as hard as we fought Ebola
Editorial Board

“…[H]aving learned from [Ebola’s] unsettling experience, Congress should address Zika with the same urgency it showed for Ebola. … The U.S. leads the world in medical solutions, cures and disease eradications. Medical professionals, say top experts, need money now to attack Zika aggressively. … As we learned from the Ebola scare, we don’t handle this stuff well when it makes it to our shores, or seems to be too close … Clearly the lesson of Ebola is to fight these things at their source. We have learned” (3/13).

Wall Street Journal: The U.S. Is Botching the Zika Fight
John J. Cohrssen, former associate director of President George H.W. Bush’s Council on Competitiveness, and Henry I. Miller, physician, founding director of the Office of Biotechnology at the FDA, and fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution

“…[The] Food and Drug Administration is blocking progress on a vital tool to control the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry and transmit Zika and the viruses that cause dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever. … The Oxitec mosquito should be regulated by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service … [but] the department demurred. It ceded jurisdiction to the FDA, which is unqualified to review the mosquito … With the Zika threat becoming more ominous, the president should take immediate action to unravel the regulatory tangle. The Agriculture Department should be directed to accept jurisdiction over the Oxitec field trial and subsequent tests of insect biocontrol agents (genetically engineered or not)…” (3/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

In First Major Policy Speech, USAID Administrator Gayle Reflects On U.S. Role In Advancing Global Development Agenda

Center for Global Development’s “Rethinking U.S. Development Policy”: A Lot of Vision, A Little Time: Gayle Smith’s First Major Policy Speech
Scott Morris, senior fellow and director of “Rethinking U.S. Development Policy,” discusses USAID Administrator Gayle Smith’s first major policy speech delivered on Capitol Hill last week. Morris writes, “Smith’s speech itself was impressive, reflecting the depth of strategic thinking of someone who has spent much of the past decade shaping President Obama’s approach to U.S. development policy…” (3/11).

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Present Helms Amendment Interpretation Should Be Clarified, Some Members Of Congress Say

Humanosphere: Decades-old U.S. law still limits international women’s reproductive rights
Humanosphere reporter Tom Murphy discusses the U.S. role in advancing women’s reproductive rights, including the Helms Amendment and the push by some members of Congress for the Obama Administration to clarify its interpretation (3/11).

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CGD Blog Post Discusses New Research Project Focused On Country Ownership

Center for Global Development’s “Rethinking U.S. Development Policy”: Country Ownership: Rhetoric or Reality? Let’s Find Out.
Casey Dunning, senior policy analyst, and Claire McGillem, research assistant, both at CGD, discuss new research focused on examining “how USAID and MCC define, operationalize, and implement country ownership principles — both in Washington, D.C., and in the field. From this agency-level perspective, we aim to explore how and when an ownership approach can be effective, and what tools and mechanisms each U.S. agency has at its disposal to implement such an approach,” they write (3/11).

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