KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Announces Plan To Lower HIV Drug Prices, Spur Development Of New Drugs

Gay Times: Bernie Sanders announces plan for an ‘AIDS-free generation’
“The Democrat’s campaign released a statement on his website claiming that one of the ‘biggest problems’ in the U.S. is allowing access to affordable drugs for HIV-positive people…” (Megarry, 3/15).

The Hill: Sanders releases plan to lower AIDS drug prices
“Bernie Sanders on Monday released a plan aimed at making HIV/AIDS drugs more affordable, part of a larger effort aimed at bringing down prescription prices. Sanders’s plan would be a major shake-up of the current drug system. … The goal is to bring down prices while still providing an incentive for companies to innovate…” (Sullivan, 3/14).

Wall Street Journal: Bernie Sanders to Unveil HIV/AIDS Research Initiative
“…[Sen. Bernie] Sanders, who is advocating a single-payer health system, will propose establishing a $3 billion annual fund to reward developers who come up with new treatments for HIV and AIDS. The candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination wants to award money from the HIV/AIDS prize fund and permit generic competition for the newly developed drugs immediately after they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration…” (Armour, 3/14).

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U.N. Officials Continue To Call For Gender Equality At Commission On Status Of Women Session

The Guardian: U.N. Women’s head: ‘Historic shift’ needed to find concrete ways to end gender inequality
“The resolve of world leaders to end gender inequality will be tested at this year’s Commission on the Status of Women, the head of U.N. Women told delegates during the opening session on Monday. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said the annual two-week meeting in New York would be critical in finding concrete ways to implement the ambitious sustainable development goals (SDGs), a blueprint for development to 2030 that member states adopted in September. She urged leaders to make ‘an historic shift’ in agreeing ways to implement the goals — specifically goal five, which promises to end gender inequality and empower women and girls…” (Ford, 3/15).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. Commission on Status of Women opens with calls to ‘seize the day;’ ensure gender equality
“…Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka added that this is the moment ‘to capitalize on all the positive commitments,’ and the moment to Step It Up for Gender Equality, referring to U.N. Women’s call to action, to which 98 countries have pledged…” (3/14).

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Study Raises Questions Around Strategy To Prevent Malaria In Pregnant Women

New York Times: Study Calls a Malaria Preventive for Pregnant Women Into Question
“…To protect [pregnant women and their unborn babies from malaria], health agencies use ‘intermittent preventive treatment,’ or IPT, under which all pregnant women in [areas where falciparum malaria is common] are given doses of anti-malarial drugs at regular intervals, whether or not they are tested for the disease. But malaria fighters sharply disagree over how to do it, and a study recently published by The New England Journal of Medicine adds fuel to the debate…” (McNeil, 3/14).

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Reuters Examines Relationship Between Brazil's Infrastructure Inequality, Zika

Reuters: Infrastructure inequality is catalyst for Brazil’s Zika epidemic
“…Brazil made significant gains against inequality over the past decade, hauling some 40 million people out of poverty. But the Zika outbreak, detected for the first time in the Americas last year, and the worst recession in decades have exposed the limits of Brazil’s faded boom. Decades of rapid and chaotic urbanization in the nation of 205 million people have left many impoverished areas without basic sanitation, putting the poor at far greater risk of contracting Zika and other mosquito-borne viruses…” (Brooks, 3/15).

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News Outlet Provides Q&A On Zika Vaccine Research

Associated Press: Shots for other viruses offer clues in race for Zika vaccine
“Scientists are racing to create a Zika vaccine, and while they’re starting from scratch against a poorly understood disease, copying shots for similar viruses offers a head start. A variety of potential candidates are being pursued: Simple DNA vaccines, made with only a few genes from the virus; some made from killed or inactivated virus, much like a standard flu shot; others made with live but weakened virus…” (Neergaard, 3/14).

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U.K. Panel Discusses Lessons Learned From Ebola

SciDev.Net: DFID makes the right noises over Ebola lessons
“The outbreak of Ebola that devastated West Africa is out of the media spotlight, and no doubt many of us have wondered what happened to all those debates over lessons to be learned. A panel discussion at the United Kingdom’s Parliament delved into this issue last week…” (Makri, 3/14).

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1 In 4 Deaths Due To Environmental Factors, WHO Says

Media outlets discuss findings from a WHO report stating that an estimated 12.6 million people die each year due to unhealthy environmental conditions.

Agence France-Presse: Environment behind nearly quarter of global deaths: WHO
“One in four deaths worldwide are due to environmental factors like air, water, and soil pollution, as well as unsafe roads and workplace stress, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday…” (3/15).

The Guardian: Environmental risks killing 12.6 million people, WHO study says
“…It suggests environmental risks now contribute to more than 100 of the world’s most dangerous diseases, injuries, and kills 12.6 million people a year — nearly one in four or 23% of all deaths…” (Vidal, 3/15).

International Business Times: Unhealthy Environment Was A Factor In Nearly Quarter Of Global Deaths In 2012, WHO Says
“…Of these, two-thirds, or 8.2 million deaths, were from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) attributable to air pollution, such as strokes, cancers, and heart illnesses — a significant rise in the 10 years since the first edition of the report was published…” (Pandey, 3/15).

PressTV: 1 in 4 deaths worldwide in 2012 caused by environment-related factors: WHO
“…The deaths were caused by human-caused environmental risks such as pollution, chemical exposure, climate change, and ultraviolet radiation, among other factors…” (3/15).

TIME: How Your Surroundings Could Be Killing You
“…But, unlike many diseases, environmental health can be addressed with well-understood public policy interventions that include improved water treatment, clean energy policies, and reconfigured urban spaces. Indeed, the number of deaths related to communicable diseases has declined in the past decade thanks to these types of programs…” (Worland, 3/15).

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E.U. Suspends Aid To Burundi Over Political Conflict

The Guardian: E.U. suspends aid to Burundi’s government
“The E.U. has suspended direct financial support for Burundi after concluding that the authorities in the central African nation had not done enough to find a political solution to a conflict that has so far cost more than 400 lives…” (3/15).

Humanosphere: European Union cuts aid to Burundi
“…Proposed changes by the Burundian government were deemed ‘insufficient to address the E.U. concerns,’ according to an E.U. statement. The cuts come at the expense of the government itself, humanitarian assistance will continue for people living in Burundi…” (Murphy, 3/14).

Reuters: E.U. suspends direct aid to Burundi government
“…Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza triggered the crisis in April last year when he announced a bid for a third term. He went on to win a disputed election in July, in the face of street protests and violent clashes…” (Blenkinsop, 3/14).

New York Times: European Union Suspends Aid to Burundi Over Political Crisis
“…The United States and its European allies have called on Mr. Nkurunziza to release some 2,000 political prisoners, lift restrictions on the media, and allow independent United Nations monitors to investigate the political violence there…” (Chan, 3/14).

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U.N. Reiterates Call For Food Aid In Mauritania, Warns More Than 450K Facing Food Insecurity

U.N. News Centre: U.N. agencies warn of funding gaps as 450,000 Mauritanians face food insecurity
“Two United Nations agencies today reiterated calls for more financial contributions to fund their work in Mauritania, where more than 450,000 people are suffering from food insecurity…” (3/14).

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Millions Facing Hunger, Malnutrition In Zimbabwe Due To Drought, Economy

Associated Press/ABC News: UNICEF Warns of High Malnutrition Rates in Zimbabwe
“The U.N.’s children’s agency says Zimbabwe is facing its worst malnutrition rates in 15 years due partly to drought caused by the El Nino phenomenon. … Zimbabwe, once known as southern Africa’s breadbasket, has increasingly relied on food aid due to persistent drought conditions and a struggling economy. El Nino has caused wetter weather in some areas but drought in parts of eastern Africa like Zimbabwe and Ethiopia…” (3/15).

Reuters: Zimbabwe says up to 4 mln need food aid after drought
“The number of Zimbabweans requiring food aid has risen to 4 million, up from 3 million initially, a state-owned newspaper said on Tuesday, as the southern African nation grapples with its worst drought in more than two decades…” (Dzirutwe, 3/15).

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Quality Of Cameroon's Health Services Under Fire Following Death Of Pregnant Woman

VOA News: Death of Pregnant Woman Provokes Debate on Cameroon’s Health Care
“Hundreds of people protested in Douala, Cameroon, Sunday, a day after the death of a pregnant woman who was reportedly left untreated by hospital staff because she was not able able to pay consultation fees. … [T]he tragedy had led to criticisms and protests from political parties, human rights groups, and angry youths, as well as sparked debate about the quality of services delivered in Cameroonian hospitals…” (Kindzeka, 3/14).

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Malawi Tests Use Of Drones In Effort To Improve HIV Diagnostic Process

Globe and Mail: Drones enter Africa’s fight against HIV
“…Drone delivery has the potential to revolutionize medical testing and supplies in Africa. … In its first formal test on Monday afternoon, a small drone flew successfully from a rural clinic to a hospital laboratory in Malawi’s capital, carrying simulated blood samples. … The trial this week is the first known use of drones in Africa for the improvement of HIV services, officials said…” (York, 3/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Lawmakers Should Prioritize Zika Response, Funding

The Hill: Clock is ticking on Zika funding
Katy Caldwell, CEO of Legacy Community Health

“…While public health officials and providers have a sense of urgency [around the Zika virus], the federal government is dragging its feet. The head of the House Appropriations Committee recently rejected the Obama administration’s $1.8 billion emergency funding request to help find a vaccine and care for low-income pregnant women, pointing to existing funds for Ebola that could be used. … And last week the Energy and Commerce subcommittee held a hearing on Zika with top health authorities where some lawmakers came across as skeptical or dismissive of the funding need. Needless to say, action on Zika has stalled. … Congressional and administration leaders need to lock themselves in a room and not come out until a deal is reached. According to a February poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the American people are watching. … Texas and other southern states need all the help we can get limiting or preventing damage to moms and their babies. Like any health care provider, our number one priority is the health and well-being of the people we serve. We hope this is the priority of lawmakers, too, even in an election year” (3/14).

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Culturally Sensitive Care Imperative To Ensuring Sexual, Reproductive Health Of Refugee Women

Devex: Ensuring healthier sexual and reproductive lives for our refugee patients
Komal Soin, family physician

“With a rising influx of refugees resettling in the United States, it is imperative for health providers to feel comfortable discussing reproductive health issues with this population … Ultimately, to provide effective counseling and to increase utilization of services, providers need to feel comfortable approaching sensitive topics such as sexual and reproductive health with women coming from different backgrounds. We as providers need to make an effort to learn about their background and the challenges our patients have faced as a population. … If we are able to create an environment that promotes culturally attuned care, we as providers will feel comfortable talking to our patients about sensitive topics such as their sexual and reproductive health. In turn, we can hopefully prevent unintended pregnancies and foster healthier sexual and reproductive lives for all our patients” (3/14).

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'Layered Approach' Needed To Address HIV In Nigeria, Help Alleviate Economic Burden Of Disease

The Conversation: Free ARVs are not enough: the hidden costs of treating HIV in Nigeria
Obinna Onwujekwe, professor of health economics and policy and pharmaco-economics/pharmaco-epidemiolgy in the Departments of Health Administration & Management and Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of Nigeria’s College of Medicine

“…Since 2006 [the Nigerian government] has provided free antiretroviral treatment at designated facilities in the country … But this has not been enough to eliminate the high and sometimes inequitable economic burden of HIV/AIDS on households. … To address this inequality, interventions need a layered approach to the problems that are impoverishing people living with HIV/AIDS. To tackle the problem, policy interventions need to focus on two areas. These are spreading treatment centers so that they are nearer to people and deploying more health personnel to these centers. … Financial risk-protection mechanisms should also be implemented to significantly remove the expenses that people living with HIV/AIDS and their households have to incur to receive antiretroviral services. … [U]ltimately, universal financial risk protection within the sphere of universal health coverage should be the ultimate goal of HIV/AIDS treatment services. This will protect all households against the occurrence of catastrophic health expenses to access the necessary treatment” (3/15).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Post Discusses Zika Vaccine Research, Importance Of 'Leveraging' Research On Other Diseases

BioMed Central’s “On Health”: When will we get to a Zika vaccine: hints from dengue research on protective immunity
Meng Ling Moi, an associate professor at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nagasaki University, discusses Zika vaccine research, noting “the vaccination strategy for Zika may be less complicated in comparison to dengue,” and the importance of leveraging research on dengue, Japanese Encephalitis, and other flavivirus diseases, in order to understand Zika (3/15).

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'Science Speaks' Discusses Article On Sexual Transmission Of Ebola, Lessons From HIV Response
Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Comprehensive health responses and lessons from HIV can guide efforts to confront sexual transmission of Ebola

Antigone Barton, senior writer and editor of “Science Speaks,” discusses a recent article in Clinical Infectious Diseases, “Confronting Ebola as a Sexually Transmitted Infection,” and says that the discovery that Ebola could be sexually transmitted “has changed the definition, the timing and the demands of controlling an outbreak, and of responding to the needs left in its wake.” Barton writes that the article notes that some lessons learned from HIV research can be applied to Ebola (3/14).

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Blog Post Provides Roundup Of Recent Global Health Research News

Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs”: Research Roundup: antibiotic resistance in preemies, a low-cost TB test, and more
Kat Kelley, GHTC’s senior program assistant, highlights recent news in global health research, including a study on antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the gastrointestinal tracts of premature infants; a study on the impact of a new test to diagnose TB using a urine sample; and a meeting discussing the establishment of a high-level committee to review proposals on research that makes viruses more dangerous than natural strains (3/14).

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