KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Experimental Dengue Vaccine Shows Positive Results In Early Human Testing, Study Says

News outlets report on a study showing promising results from an early human challenge trial of an experimental dengue vaccine.

CNN: New dengue vaccine shows promise
“A new type of dengue vaccine called TV003 seems to protect people against at least one type of the virus, according to a small study…” (Storrs, 3/16).

Nature: Dengue vaccine aces trailblazing trial
“…Concerns about the safety of deliberately infecting people have limited the use of human challenge studies. Researchers now generally test whether most vaccines work by vaccinating large numbers of people who were already at risk of contracting the disease concerned, and observing whether or not they were protected…” (Hayden, 3/16).

Reuters: U.S. made dengue vaccine 100 percent effective in small study
“A dengue vaccine developed by U.S. National Institutes of Health scientists protected everyone given the shot against the virus in a promising small study published on Wednesday, with the researchers saying it could become widely available by 2018…” (Dunham, 3/16).

Science Speaks: Dengue vaccine candidate protects fully in controlled human challenge trial
“…The vaccine candidate called TV003, developed by scientists at the National Institutes of Health, will now be tested among 17,000 volunteers in a trial that began in Brazil last month, researchers said…” (Barton, 3/16).

VOA News: Vaccine to Guard Against Dengue Fever Is Almost at Hand
“…Twenty-four of the participants who received the experimental vaccine were exposed to the virus and not one became infected. By contrast, all of those in the control group, who were not vaccinated, became infected…” (Berman, 3/16).

Washington Post: Scientists expose vaccine volunteers to dengue virus and find 100 percent were protected
“…In a conference call with reporters this week, researchers — who tend to pepper their description of studies with talk of limitations and caveats — were uncharacteristically optimistic that the vaccine will be successful…” (Cha, 3/16).

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Devex Examines Meningitis Vaccine Project, Lessons For Similar Efforts

Devex: Combating meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa and what the future holds
“…[P]ublic health officials across [Africa], along with the World Health Organization and PATH, formed the Meningitis Vaccine Project. This partnership — along with the Serum Institute of India — designed, developed, and produced MenAfriVac, the first vaccine for use specifically in Africa, with African leaders at the table. … So why was the meningitis A campaign so successful? And how can its success encourage other vaccination efforts on the continent?…” (Cousins, 3/16).

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Cuba Reports First Locally Acquired Zika Case; Cape Verde Records Africa's First Possible Zika-Associated Microcephaly Case

Reuters: Cuba reports first case of Zika contracted in the country
“Cuba’s Health Ministry on Tuesday reported the first case of Zika contracted in the country, in a 21-year-old woman living in central Havana and who had not been overseas. Cuba’s four previous cases of Zika all involved people who had contracted the virus while abroad…” (Trotta, 3/16).

Reuters: Zika-hit Cape Verde identifies first case of microcephaly
“The Cape Verde archipelago off West Africa has identified its first case of the neurological disorder microcephaly, thought to be linked to the Zika virus, in what would be a first for the continent…” (Rodrigues/Bigg, 3/17).

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Analysis Of French Polynesia Zika Outbreak Shows 1 In 100 Risk Of Microcephaly

News outlets report on a study published Tuesday in The Lancet showing the risk of microcephaly among infants born during a Zika outbreak in French Polynesia.

New York Times: Study of Zika Outbreak Estimates 1 in 100 Risk of Microcephaly
“During a recent outbreak of the Zika virus in French Polynesia, roughly one in 100 women infected in the first trimester of pregnancy developed a fetus with an abnormally small head and brain damage, researchers reported on Tuesday. The study is among the first to reliably estimate the rate of this birth defect, called microcephaly, in a population widely infected with Zika…” (Saint Louis, 3/15).

Reuters: Study strengthens Zika-microcephaly link, women and babies at risk
“…While more research is needed to understand the biological mechanisms by which Zika might cause microcephaly, the researchers said, these findings suggest the World Health Organization’s (WHO) advice that pregnant women should protect themselves from mosquitoes is a sound precaution. ‘Our analysis strongly supports the hypothesis that Zika virus infection during the first trimester of pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of microcephaly,’ said Simon Cauchemez, an infectious disease mathematical modeling expert at France’s Institute Pasteur who co-led the study…” (Kelland, 3/16).

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WFP Needs $220M For Zimbabwe; 36M People Across Africa At Risk Of Hunger Due To El Niño

Bloomberg Business: U.N. Food Agency Seeks $220 Million for Zimbabweans Hit by Drought
“The World Food Programme said it’s seeking $220 million to help feed Zimbabweans affected by the southern African country’s worst drought in two decades…” (Latham, 3/16).

The Guardian: Drought and rising temperatures ‘leaves 36m people across Africa facing hunger’
“More than 36 million people face hunger across southern and eastern Africa, the United Nations has warned, as swaths of the continent grapple with the worst drought in decades at a time of record high temperatures. The immediate cause of the drought which has crippled countries from Ethiopia to Zimbabwe is one of the strongest El Niño events ever recorded…” (Lamble/Graham-Harrison, 3/16).

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Some Health Workers In Asia Refusing Care For People Living With HIV, Report Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: People with HIV in Asia ejected from hospitals, women sterilized — study
“Some health workers in Asia are refusing to perform surgery and provide services for people living with HIV, and are even expelling patients from hospitals and forcing women to undergo sterilization, according to grassroots organizations. In China and Vietnam, discrimination took the form of changing the recommended option for treatment from surgery to topical or oral medication, said the four-country study supported by Asia Catalyst, which provides management training for community-based health organizations…” (Tang, 3/15).

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Ukraine's Polio Outbreak Could Widen Due To Delays In Vaccine Licensing, WHO Warns

The Guardian: Ukraine risks polio spreading as it delays licensing new vaccine
“Ukraine could be a month away from becoming the only country in the world without protection from polio because of delays in licensing a new vaccine, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Health workers in Ukraine, which is currently battling a polio outbreak, will be unable to continue inoculating with an older type of vaccine from April, when batches of the older version must be discontinued and destroyed…” (Tucker, 3/16).

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In Open Letter, More Than 100 Humanitarian Organizations Ask For Access To Beseiged Areas Of Syria

Huffington Post: 100 Humanitarian Groups Ask To Simply Be Allowed To Help In Syria
“On the fifth anniversary of the Syrian conflict, 102 humanitarian agencies implored those involved in the conflict to simply allow them do their jobs. Global nonprofits, from UNICEF to Plan International, wrote an open letter to all involved parties, saying they need to be allowed full access to regions in need of life-saving assistance…” (Grossman, 3/16).

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Malnutrition Contributing To Infant Deaths In Pakistan's Arid Tharparker Region

VOA News: Infants Continue to Die in Pakistan’s Drought-hit Region
“Over 200 infants have died this year alone in Pakistan’s desert-like region of Tharparker. The deaths are mostly blamed on malnutrition caused by severe drought. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem traveled to the area and has filed this report…” (Tanzeem, 3/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Ending Global AIDS Pandemic Requires Commitment From Next U.S. President

Huffington Post: The Next President Has a Narrow Window to End Global AIDS: The Plan All Candidates Must Address
Hilary McQuie, director of U.S. Government Policy and Grassroots Mobilization at Health GAP (Global Access Project)

“…The U.S. plays the most crucial role in funding the response to the global [AIDS] pandemic, and with current available treatments, the next president of the United States has a historic opportunity to be the one who ends the AIDS pandemic. … What will it take to scale-up access to HIV treatment and care to [stop new infections by 2030]? For starters, it will take leadership from the United States. The U.S. is by far the largest donor to global AIDS programs. …[A]n increase in funding from donor countries is necessary to achieve the end of this crisis. … [W]e need visionary leadership in the White House that is committed to ending AIDS. … Right now, Senator Sanders is the only candidate who has offered any sort of vision for ending AIDS in the form of solid campaign commitments. Although Hillary Clinton has a record on global AIDS programs, it is time for her to … present her plan for the future. And it is long overdue for the Republican candidates to do the same” (3/16).

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Targeted Investments In Health Systems Would Lead To Greater Global Health Gains

Project Syndicate: The Right Targets for Global Health Investment
Bjørn Lomborg, visiting professor at the Copenhagen Business School and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center

“…[T]rying to improve health systems uniformly, across the board, shouldn’t be our absolute top priority. But strengthening developing countries’ capacity to identify and manage known national and global health risks — the true global killers, like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS — is an excellent investment. Improving health systems’ responsiveness to these big killers would likely lead to advances that could help in other areas. … Above all, we should ensure that health policy decisions are based on sound evidence, so that we truly do the most with every dollar spent. In practice, this would not mean ignoring the latest virus in the news; but it would almost certainly mean recognizing that most of our resources should go elsewhere” (3/17).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Integrating Hospital Services Into Health Systems Strengthening Critical To Achieving SDGs

Health Affairs Blog: The MDG To SDG Transition: Implications For Health Care Systems
Arian Hatefi, assistant professor at the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues discuss various levels of hospital care, highlighting five areas for integration of primary and hospital services: maternal and child health, noncommunicable diseases, surgical care, universal health coverage, and infectious diseases. They also highlight four areas in which the international community can provide support for hospital care, including rebuilding hospital infrastructure, developing a qualified health care managerial workforce, offering technical guidance and resources to share best practices for managing diseases, and engaging in policy discussions (3/16).

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Chicago Council Fellow Discusses Women's Roles In Ending Global Hunger

Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food for Thought”: How Empowering Women Can Solve World Hunger
In a short video, “Catherine Bertini, distinguished fellow of Global Food and Agriculture, spoke to Newsy about how we can feed the world by educating and empowering women” (3/14).

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India's Bihar Looks To Eliminate Visceral Leishmaniasis

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Kala Azar elimination — within our reach
William Starbuck, senior program officer for Visceral Leishmaniasis (Kala azar) at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) India, and Usha Kiran Tarigopula, deputy director for Bihar Programs at BMGF India, discuss progress and challenges toward eliminating Visceral Leishmaniasis in Bihar, India (3/16).

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