KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Notre Dame Receives $23M From Gates For Malaria, Dengue Research

News outlets report on the $23 million award that Notre Dame received from the Gates Foundation for research on malaria and dengue fever prevention.

Reuters: Gates Foundation awards Notre Dame $23 million for malaria, dengue studies
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $23 million for research being led by University of Notre Dame biologists to prevent malaria and dengue fever, the school said…” (Simpson, 3/14).

Associated Press/Kansas City Star: Notre Dame researchers get $23M for malaria fight
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $23 million for research being led by a pair of University of Notre Dame biologists that seeks to prevent malaria and dengue fever. The university says it is the second largest award to a single grant proposal in school history…” (3/14).

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Rare Case Of Female-To-Female HIV Transmission Reported

News outlets report on a new CDC report regarding a case of female-to-female HIV transmission.

CNN: CDC: Rare female-to-female HIV transmission
“A Texas woman apparently contracted HIV through sexual contact with another woman, the Centers for Disease Control reported Thursday, a rare female-to-female transmission of the virus. Testing confirmed the 46-year-old woman with newly diagnosed HIV ‘had a virus virtually identical to that of her female partner, who was diagnosed previously with HIV and who had stopped receiving antiretroviral treatment in 2010,’ according to the CDC’s Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report…” (Hayes, 3/13).

Los Angeles Times: Women can get HIV from other women during sex, CDC reports
“The first confirmed case of a woman contracting HIV from another woman during sex was reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week. Although there have been reports of women transmitting the human immunodeficiency virus to other women via sexual activity in the past, they have been difficult to prove…” (Netburn, 3/13).

New York Times: In Rare Case, Woman With HIV Infects Female Sex Partner, CDC Says
“The first confirmed case of lesbian transmission of HIV was reported on Thursday by federal health officials, who said the event was exceedingly rare but nonetheless advised lesbian couples in which one partner is infected to take precautions…” (McNeil, 3/14).

NPR: HIV Can Spread Through Sexual Contact Between Women
“A woman in Texas likely infected her female partner with HIV through sexual contact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday. The case offers the strongest evidence to date that HIV transmission between women, although rare, is possible…” (Doucleff, 3/13).

TIME: CDC Reports Rare Case of Woman-to-Woman HIV Transmission
“The CDC reported Thursday what is suspected to be a rare case of HIV transmission between women. Female-to-female HIV transmission is extremely uncommon, but can be passed through fluids. …’HIV-discordant couples should receive counseling regarding safer sex practices, and HIV-infected partners should be linked to and retained in medical care,’ the CDC says” (Sifferlin, 3/13).

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U.N., Aid Officials Call For Cross-Border Humanitarian Access In Syria

Reuters: Aid officials call for swift cross-border access in Syria
“United Nations and independent aid officials called on Saturday for swift agreement to allow supplies from Turkey into northeastern Syria, a move that would mark a small step towards implementing a U.N. demand for cross-border humanitarian access…” (Evans, 3/15).

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UNHCR Increases Aid To CAR Refugees In Cameroon

U.N. News Centre: Cameroon: U.N. steps up measures to address alarming health situation of Central African refugees
“The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and its partners said [Friday] that they are stepping up efforts to help the growing numbers of Central African refugees arriving ill in Cameroon due to hunger and exhaustion during their arduous flight from the war-torn country…” (3/14).

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Gender Equality Necessary For Food Security

IRIN: How equal rights boost food security
“Eliminating the gender gap in agriculture is widely seen as crucial to alleviating poverty and improving food security, and the effects of inequality are likely to be further compounded by climate change. ‘For global development to be sustainable, the issues of climate change, gender equality, and food security must all go hand-in-hand,’ said Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and head of the Mary Robinson Foundation…” (3/14).

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Campaigners Urge For Access To Hepatitis C Drugs In Poor Countries

The Guardian: New hepatitis C drugs must be affordable worldwide, say campaigners
“There are 185 million people in the world chronically infected with hepatitis C virus, which attacks the liver and can cause liver cancer and cirrhosis. … But with most of the sufferers in middle-income countries and prices being set at very high levels for these new drugs, those who watched the delay in getting HIV treatment to poor countries think it is time to start agitating for access to these medicines in countries that will not find them easily affordable. Médecins du Monde, in a new report, says we must learn the lessons from HIV. ‘New Treatments for Hepatitis C virus: Strategies for Achieving Universal Access’ looks at the need and what companies like Gilead say they will do about it…” (Boseley, 3/17).

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More Polio Cases Reported In Cameroon

Global Dispatch: Polio Transmission Continues In Cameroon
“The transmission of polio continues into 2014 in the west Central African country of Cameroon, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) Wednesday. Two new wild poliovirus 1 (WPV1) cases were reported in the past week, with onset of paralysis on 6 and 25 January…” (Herriman, 3/14).

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Family Planning Program In Senegal Encounters Resistance With Religious Leaders

Washington Post: Family planning program in Senegal drawn into conflict with religious leaders
In Senegal, “a government program to increase contraceptive use and reduce family sizes … is part of a global campaign that aims to give 120 million more women around the world access to contraception by 2020. For supporters of the program, the benefits of contraception are clear: better health for women and children, economic benefits and smaller families. This last justification, smaller families — and so smaller populations — has drawn the women’s health program into conflict with religious leaders and rekindled suspicions about the motivations for international aid…” (Gaestel, 3/15).

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Pakistan, Afghanistan Partner On Polio Eradication Strategy

The News International: Pakistan, Afghanistan agree on joint anti-polio strategy
“Pakistan and Afghanistan on Friday agreed to formulate a joint strategy on polio eradication in the region. … The participants reviewed the current polio situation in the Pak-Afghan border areas and discussed ways to scale up coordination and collaboration on polio eradication and improve the cross-border routine immunization coverage…” (3/15).

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Use Of Antiseptic Gel In Rural Nepal Can Reduce Risk Of Death Among Newborns

PRI’s “The World”: An ointment could save up to half a million newborns a year­ – and it costs 20 cents
“Many babies [in rural Nepal] are born in unhygienic conditions, outside the hospital. This makes them susceptible to dangerous infections. ‘About 20,000 newborns die every year in Nepal,’ says Asha Pun, a maternal and newborn health specialist with UNICEF. She says many of those deaths are due to infections, so the challenge is to prevent infections at the time of birth. Several years ago, public health experts suggested one way to do that — by using an antiseptic gel called chlorhexidine. … Studies show that a single application of chlorhexidine can reduce the risk of death among newborns by about 25 percent…” (Narang, 3/16).

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Insecurity Hinders Humanitarian Response In Northern Nigera

IRIN: Humanitarian response gap grows in northern Nigeria
“Humanitarian needs are mounting in northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram attacks have displaced 350,000 people since 2013, 290,000 of them internally; the rest are sheltering in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. But the national response is inadequate and the international response minimal due to access hurdles and political sensitivities. … Displaced Nigerians stressed food, water, and sanitation as their priority concerns according to a rapid assessment mission by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)…” (3/14).

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Zimbabwe Government To End Food Aid Program

CAJ News: Zimbabwe: Zim Plans to Discontinue Food Relief Scheme
“The Zimbabwean government will soon scrap the drought relief food aid to thousands of villagers in Masvingo in anticipation of bumper harvests. Government officials said following good rains forecasts had indicated that nearly all households would have enough food by the end of next month. … However, villagers in parts of Chiredzi and Chivi, which were ravaged by heavy floods, have expressed their disappointment over the plans to discontinue the relief program. They argued this will worsen their plight as rains had destroyed their crops…” (Pepukai, 3/13).

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Globalization Partly To Blame For 30-Fold Increase In Dengue Cases In Mexico

The Global Dispatch: Mexico says dengue has increased 30-fold in past five decades, fast-food garbage partially to blame
“The incidence of dengue fever in Mexico has increased by 30-fold in the past 50 years and the increases in garbage is attributing to this increase, says one infectious disease specialist as reported on the Spanish-language news source, La Prensa Friday…” (Herriman, 3/16).

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Gold Mining Farmers In Northern Nigeria Choose Lead Poisoning Over Poverty

The Guardian: Nigerian gold mining: farmers choose death by lead poisoning over poverty
“… Villagers who make 10 times as much money mining as they do from farming have told [environmental scientist, Simba] Tirima they would rather die of lead poisoning than poverty. ‘They are not going to stop. I saw a woman who had lost eight kids, but she is still mining,” said mines minister Musa Sada… “The only way around it is to invest in getting better methods for mining, provide modern equipment and get a more structured industry for these people to work in.’…” (Mark, 3/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

Action Is Needed To Prevent The Spread Of TB

The Independent: The return of the plague: We need to act now to prevent tuberculosis from wreaking more havoc
Jezza Neumann, filmmaker

“…[T]uberculosis (TB) is already hovering in the background of people’s everyday lives. One in three people around the world is carrying the disease… I would love to see a proper, coordinated, response to DR-TB globally. I’d love to see a way that new drugs could be developed, that support could be given to reducing the length of toxic treatments currently available…” (3/17).

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Nutrition Momentum In 2013 Must Translate To Measurable Impact In 2014

The Guardian: 2014: the year we defeat child hunger?
Stuart Gillespie, senior research fellow with the International Food Policy Research Institute and chief executive of the Transform Nutrition consortium

“2013 was a golden year for nutrition, with ramped up political attention and massive financial pledges. But 2014 has to be the year when this momentum is translated into measurable impact and child stunting dramatically reduces across the world. … With a new set of international development goals on the horizon, we should look back on this year as the watershed for nutrition — when the grand words and pledges of past high-level summits get turned into large-scale action, millions of children get healthy fulfilling lives” (3/14).

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Founder Of Maternal Health NGO In Africa Discusses Women's Empowerment

Huffington Post: A Life-Saving Tip, From One Mother to Another
Toyin Ojora-Saraki, founder-president of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa

“… WBFA (The Wellbeing Foundation Africa) works through building advocacy/awareness, charitable funding, and community mobilization to empower mothers and families and provide them with the tools and life-skills they need to make sure no woman or child dies from complications with pregnancy or childbirth. By making these tools and practices available, such as capturing the health information of both mother and child, from the mother’s first ante-natal visit until the child turns 5 years old; and the Safe Delivery Kit that provides all the essential commodities for attending a clean birth in one bag, WBFA gives people across Africa the ability to seek better lives for themselves and for their communities and ensure that mothers can continue to change lives, every day” (3/17).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

UHC In Africa Post-2015 Is Possible

A blog from the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium, “International Health Policies,” reports from the Africa Health Economics and Policy Association (AfHEA) conference that took place last week in Nairobi. Discussing the opportunities and challenges of universal health coverage (UHC) in Africa in post-2015, the blog notes, “…UHC is a possibility in our lifetime. A number of African countries are on the move in the right direction towards UHC. Dr. Agnes Soucat of the African Development Bank (and one of the Lancet CIH Commissioners) noted, while presenting on the Global Health Convergence Agenda at the pre-conference, that ‘Universal health coverage is increasingly a major political issue in Africa.’ The pressing issues facing African countries’ pathways to UHC require [that] we utilize state of the art analytic tools that are alive to the realities of both the economics and politics of UHC. This way, the transition to UHC can be assured…” (Birungi, 3/14).

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Blog Notes Impact Of Fossil-Fuel Industry On U.N. Climate Negotiations

Alicia Pawluk, a medical student at the University of Manchester, argues in the PLOS “Speaking of Medicine” blog that fossil-fuel producers have too much influence over U.N. climate negotiations. “Rising sea levels, warmer global temperatures, and extreme weather events will all have a widespread global effect. International governmental measures must be taken to minimize the damage caused by these phenomena, and to mitigate future health disasters. The United Nations is striving towards global climate solutions but significant intrusions at international climate negotiations have hindered any progress…” (3/14).

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Humanosphere Blog Examines Depression In Women

Writing in Humanosphere, Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, examines global data on mental illness in women. “Mental health problems have a profound impact on men and women worldwide, but the toll of these diseases weighs most heavily on women. Worldwide, depression is responsible for more healthy years lost than HIV/AIDS or malaria in women of all ages…” (3/14).

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U.S. Plans For Improved Disease Response; Advocates Question Proposed Cuts To TB Funding

Despite U.S. involvement in improving global disease response through the Global Health Security Agenda, advocates question proposed cuts to TB funding,the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog writes. The blog reports on discussion during a meeting to plan the next steps of the Global Health Security Agenda about tuberculosis (TB) program funding cuts in the President’s FY 2015 budget request, noting, “‘TB is a major global health public health emergency,’ said Gerald Friedland, MD, of Yale University. ‘Although preventable and curable, it remains among the world’s major killers of young adults, threatens HIV and antiretroviral rollout programs, and saps strength and productivity from nations critical to improved global health and U.S. security,’ he said. ‘To propose cuts in the global TB program is shortsighted and reckless.’…” (Aziz, 3/17).

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