KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Researchers Aim To Develop Quick, Accurate Diagnostic Tests For Zika

San Francisco Chronicle: Bay Area researchers scramble to create tests for Zika virus
“…[A] widely available quick and accurate diagnostic test approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would allow doctors to refer patients suspected of having the mosquito-borne virus to local medical labs anywhere. ‘We don’t have widespread use of good laboratory tests,’ said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation. ‘If there was widespread use of a good test, you could have a much better handle on how the disease is spreading, who’s getting the disease, who’s most at risk.’…” (Colliver, 3/11).

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Devex Profiles Health Organization Women Deliver, Founder Jill Sheffield

Devex: Maternal health issues ‘aren’t finished yet’ — and neither is Jill Sheffield
“In 2007, 1,700 people gathered at a large conference center in an east London borough. They’d come at the invitation of Women Deliver, a fledgling advocacy organization founded by Jill Sheffield that same year. It was time, she told them, to challenge the world’s vision of what could be done to lower maternal mortality…” (Rogers, 3/15).

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SciDev.Net Series Examines Mental Health In Developing World

SciDev.Net: Mental health matters
“Mental illness is a huge but overlooked challenge in the developing world — despite a high burden few people get the help they need and many are treated inhumanely. What is the evidence for the gap between needs and proper treatment, how does social stigma hinder care and in what ways does culture matter? This Spotlight presents an in-depth analysis including opinions, facts and figures, and key resources…” (3/16).

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At Least 250 People Dead In Angolan Yellow Fever Epidemic

Agence France-Presse: Yellow fever death toll rises to at least 250 in Angola
“A yellow fever epidemic in Angola has killed at least 250 people since the end of December and continues to spread, stretching limited resources, doctors and officials said Tuesday. The head of the Luanda pediatrics hospital, Mateus Campos, said 27 children died there on Monday alone, with 900 suspected cases turning up each day…” (3/15).

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Zimbabwe Faces Worsening Malnutrition Rates Among Children, UNICEF Says

News outlets continue to discuss findings of a UNICEF report describing worsening malnutrition rates among children in Zimbabwe and the country’s appeal for $1.6 million in aid.

Agence France-Presse: Zimbabwe faces worst malnutrition in 15 years: UNICEF (3/14).

BBC News: Zimbabwe hunger may spiral out of control, U.N. warns (3/15).

Deutsche Welle: Report: Zimbabwe says millions need food aid (3/15).

U.N. News Centre: Zimbabwe facing worst malnutrition rates in 15 years — UNICEF (3/15).

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Editorials and Opinions

Investing In Girls' Education Will Support SDG Achievements, Contribute To AIDS-Free Generation

Huffington Post: Building On the Momentum to Empower Adolescent Girls
Deborah L. Birx, ambassador-at-large and coordinator of the U.S. government activities to combat HIV/AIDS

“…Investing in girls’ education is key to enabling young women to live the Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe (DREAMS) lives they deserve. When women have the resources and opportunities to fulfill their dreams, the benefits extend beyond their personal well-being, strengthening their families, communities, and countries. Healthy and empowered women play a vital role in facilitating global development, security, and prosperity. … [Secretary of State John Kerry’s] announcement of $40 million to target the intersection of HIV and girls’ education directly or indirectly supports the achievement of many of [the Sustainable Development] Goals … [It] reflects a commitment to innovative ideas and high-impact approaches to meet the urgent and complex needs of adolescent girls and young women, and builds on the landmark Let Girls Learn initiative. This Women’s History Month, as the world looks back at how far we’ve come and still must go to enable all women to realize their dreams, PEPFAR is proud to make its contribution…” (3/15).

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Ending Extreme Poverty Requires Continued Investment In Research, Innovation

The Guardian: To end poverty, put science at the heart of development
Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Nick Hurd, parliamentary under secretary of state at the U.K.’s Department for International Development

“…[T]he Department for International Development (DfID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have signed a partnership aimed at using research, technological innovation, and knowledge-sharing to transform the lives of the poorest people. We believe that science should go not only to improving the lives of those who can afford it, but also to those with the greatest need, regardless of where they are. … So why has the need not been met already? In spite of the clear moral and public health rationale for R&D, the profit motive is less clear. The market, on its own, finds it hard enough to invest in high-reward, low-risk ventures, never mind those where the patient is an AIDS orphan or a person with tuberculosis. … [G]overnments and philanthropists of the developed world have a … role to play in correcting market failures that mean the public goods needed most are not being developed. … Through our continued investment in these global public goods, we are confident that we will be able to improve the lives not only of the poorest, but of all of us” (3/16).

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Opinion Piece Discusses, Raises Questions On Sanders's Plan For HIV Drug Innovation

Forbes: Will The Bernie Sanders $3 Billion Prize For New HIV/AIDS Drugs Stimulate Innovation?
John LaMattina, senior partner at PureTech Ventures

“It’s no secret that Senator Bernie Sanders has little respect for the drug industry, and this is driven home in a recent position paper on the need for new HIV/AIDS drugs entitled ‘Working to Create an AIDS and HIV-Free Generation.’ … Would the Sanders Prize Fund spur innovation for new HIV/AIDS drugs? Actually, it might have the opposite effect. A CEO could decide that investing precious R&D resources into an area where only one winner will be declared — a winner who might have to share the prize with others — wasn’t worth the risk. Beyond going through the normal rigors of R&D, you have to bank on the fact that you’ll be first. Plus, there would be no guarantee that the $3 billion wouldn’t be split 10 ways. In addition, there is no way that you’d invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a manufacturing plant to make the new drug for the thousands who would need it. Thus, it’s likely that most companies would DROP their HIV/AIDS R&D, making it even more difficult to find the next breakthrough. Sanders has a noble vision of making drugs affordable for all. That’s a real problem. But this isn’t the solution” (3/15).

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Polio Eradication In Conflict Areas Requires Securing Support Of Political, Militant Leaders

Project Syndicate: The Politics of Polio Eradication
Jonathan Kennedy, teaching fellow at the UCL School of Public Policy and research associate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, and Domna Michailidou economic adviser for OECD’s Economics Department and teaching fellow at the Center for Development Studies at the University of Cambridge and the UCL School of Public Policy

“…Because immunization programs are led by national governments and the WHO, … it can be difficult to carry out vaccinations in areas where militants wage war against the state. The fall in the number of polio cases largely resulted from improved access to such areas. … [However, using] troops to assert control over conflict-affected areas is not the only way to improve access for polio workers, and in some cases it may not be the most effective. In Afghanistan, Somalia, and Syria, … immunization workers adapted to the political reality and worked with militants to gain access to areas under their control. … The lesson is clear. Successful immunization campaigns must secure the support of de facto political leaders — whether of an internationally recognized state or of a vilified militant organization. As objectionable as working with groups like the Islamic State might be, it is important to remember that the main objective of efforts like the campaign to eradicate polio is to improve the health of people wherever they may live” (3/15).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Secretary Of State Kerry Announces $47M In New Initiatives During Launch Of U.S. Global Strategy To Empower Adolescent Girls

U.S. Department of State: Secretary Kerry Launches U.S. Global Strategy To Empower Adolescent Girls
“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced $47 million in new initiatives during the launch of the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls at the Department of State [Tuesday]. In his remarks, Secretary Kerry said that $40 million from PEPFAR’s $85 million DREAMS Innovation Challenge will help girls access and remain in secondary school. … The remaining $7 million will go to empowering adolescent girls in Afghanistan, where the United States will fund efforts to change perceptions about early and forced marriage at the district and community level…” (3/15).

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U.S. State Department Working With Other Countries To Address Zika Outbreak

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Global Health Crisis: The Nexus of Zika and Foreign Affairs
Judith G. Garber, acting assistant secretary for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), discusses various aspects of the State Department’s response to the Zika outbreak in Latin America, writing, “The Zika virus — like the Ebola, SARS, H1N1, and other outbreaks before it — reminds us that the next pathogen to threaten global health can come from anywhere. As scary as they were, we contained and eventually defeated all those outbreaks. We can do it again with Zika by working with other countries to improve their surveillance systems, diagnostic capabilities, and response plans…” (3/15).

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Bipartisan Policy Center Panel Discussion Examines U.S. Response To Zika Outbreak

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: From PEPFAR to Ebola response, to Zika, to next pandemic, panel looks at returns on U.S. investments in global health
Antigone Barton, senior writer and editor of “Science Speaks,” highlights comments made at a recent panel discussion hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center on the U.S. response to the Zika outbreak. Participants included Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute; Anand Parekh, senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center; and Karl Hofmann, president and CEO of Population Services International (3/15).

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U.S. Continues To Make Progress On Foreign Aid Transparency Despite Challenges

Center for Global Development’s “Rethinking U.S. Development Policy”: Shining the Light on U.S. Foreign Assistance Transparency — An Interview with Dennis Vega
In an interview, Sarah Rose, senior policy analyst at CGD, speaks with Dennis Vega, managing director for planning, performance, and systems in the Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources at the State Department, about the U.S. government’s progress in foreign assistance transparency. Rose writes, “What clearly emerges [from the interview] is that there have been some massive (if sometimes unsung) accomplishments in U.S. foreign aid transparency over the last five years. Continued progress is still necessary, of course, and will take place amidst ongoing challenges — difficulties reporting data …, uncertainty about how best to drive data use …, and the big question of ‘so what?'” (3/15).

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Statements By U.S. Leaders Highlight Bipartisan Support For International Affairs

U.S. Global Leadership Coalition: What Congress is Saying About the Future of U.S. International Affairs Programs
Elizabeth Holtan, digital communications manager at USGLC, highlights statements made by Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. members of Congress on the future of U.S. international affairs programs (3/15).

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Blog Post Examines Reproductive Rights In Light Of Zika Outbreak

RH Reality Check: Tackling Zika: Have We Learned Our Lesson on Rights?
Luisa Cabal, chief of human rights and law at UNAIDS, and Mariangela Simão, director of rights, gender, prevention, and community mobilization at UNAIDS, discuss the Zika outbreak and reproductive rights. “…The response demands long-term commitments to three rights pillars: First, access to information and services. … Second, governments and stakeholders need to scale up their commitments to protect women’s agency. … Lastly … governments and different stakeholders need to bolster all efforts aimed at eliminating discrimination and violence against women and girls…” (3/15).

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U.N. Program Aims To End Child Marriage By 2030

Humanosphere: 28 girls are married every minute, new program aims to stop child marriage
Humanosphere reporter Lisa Nikolau discusses a new joint initiative by UNICEF and UNFPA that aims to end child marriage worldwide by 2030. “The UNFPA-UNICEF Global Program to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage is part of a global effort to prevent child marriage and to support those children already married in 12 countries across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, including Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Yemen, and Zambia…” (3/15).

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