KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO's Chan Urges Global Action To Drive Tobacco Industry 'Out Of Business'

Agence France-Presse: WHO chief wants tobacco firms pushed ‘out of business’
“World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan urged global action Wednesday to drive tobacco companies ‘out of business’ and hailed progress in tackling smoking in many countries. Speaking at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi, she welcomed steps taken by several countries, led by Australia, to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes…” (Al-Nahhas, 3/18).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency: ‘Push back hard’ against tobacco industry to protect public health
“The head of the United Nations health agency [Wednesday] welcomed new data showing that non-smoking is becoming the new norm but urged global action to ‘push back hard’ against the tobacco industry, saying: ‘We do not have the riches of the tobacco industry, but we are right and we are resolved’…” (3/18).

VOA News: WHO Chief Wants to Put Tobacco Industry ‘Out of Business’
“…[Margaret] Chan said cigarette companies use all kinds of tactics to try to undermine anti-tobacco laws around the world, including funding political parties and giving money directly to politicians. ‘Governments wishing to protect their citizens through larger pictorial warnings on cigarette packs or by introducing plainer packaging are being intimidated by industry’s threats of lengthy and costly litigation,’ she said…(3/18).

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Bloomberg, Gates Launch $4M Fund To Help Countries Defend Efforts To Curb Smoking

BBC News: New global fund to help countries defend tobacco control
“A new global fund is being launched to help developing countries fend off challenges to tobacco control measures by cigarette makers…” (Dreaper, 3/18).

The Guardian: Bloomberg and Gates launch legal fund to help countries fight big tobacco
“A $4m (£2.7m) fighting fund to help governments around the world in legal battles against the tobacco industry has been announced by Bloomberg Philanthropies, seeking to assist countries which are making slow progress curbing smoking…” (Boseley, 3/18).

New York Times: New Global Fund to Help Countries Defend Smoking Laws
“… ‘The fact that there is a fund dedicated to taking on the tobacco companies in court sends a message that they are not going to get a free ride,’ [Michael] Bloomberg said. … The fund was set up to counter what health experts say has been a strategy by tobacco companies to block smoking laws in poorer countries through legal means…” (Tavernise, 3/18).

Reuters: Gates and Bloomberg create $4 million fund to fight Big Tobacco
“…Announcing the creation of the anti-tobacco trade litigation fund on Wednesday, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said countries with limited resources should not be bullied into making bad health policy choices. … The tobacco industry’s use of international trade agreements to threaten and prevent countries from passing tobacco control laws was unacceptable, Bloomberg said…” (Kelland, 3/18).

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World Conference On Disaster Risk Reduction Adopts 15-Year Framework; Some Dismayed By Lack Of Funding Details For Poorer Nations

IRIN: What you need to know about DRR
“…The World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction agreed [to] a framework for the next 15 years that outlines seven global targets, including a ‘substantial reduction in global disaster mortality, a substantial reduction in numbers of affected people, and a reduction in economic losses in relation to global [Gross Domestic Product].’ It however avoided numerical targets and lacks the concrete financial commitments that activists had hoped for…” (Anyadike, 3/18).

Reuters: New global disaster plan sets targets to curb risk, losses
“Governments set targets to substantially reduce deaths and economic losses from disasters at a U.N. conference in Japan on Wednesday, but critics were disappointed by the lack of a firm goal to ramp up financial support for poor countries. The non-binding agreement adopted after a marathon negotiating session, includes seven targets to measure progress on protecting people and assets that experts described as a leap forward…” (Rowling, 3/18).

U.N. News Centre: Sendai: U.N. conference adopts new, people-centered disaster risk reduction strategy
“…Adopting the Sendai Declaration and Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 after days of discussions and a final 30-hour negotiating session, 187 U.N. Member States attending the conference approved seven targets, four priorities, and a set of guiding principles, underscoring that substantial reduction of disaster risk requires perseverance and persistence, ‘with a more explicit focus on people and their health and livelihoods, and regular follow up’…” (3/18).

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In 2 Op-Eds And TED Talk, Bill Gates Outlines Steps For Improving Global Preparedness For Disease Outbreaks

News outlets discuss two opinion pieces published Wednesday, one in the New England Journal of Medicine and another in the New York Times, and a TED conference talk given Wednesday by Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who highlights steps for the world to better prepare for disease outbreaks.

Agence France-Presse: Bill Gates calls for ‘germ games’ instead of war games
“Bill Gates opened a mock Ebola field hospital at the prestigious TED Conference as part of a call to be battle-ready for a deadly global epidemic. The Microsoft software mogul and philanthropist called for ‘germ games not war games’ to train response forces and reveal holes in defenses. ‘The Ebola epidemic was a wake-up call to get ready,’ Gates said during an on-stage presentation at TED in Vancouver…” (Chapman, 3/18).

The Atlantic: How to Prevent the Next Ebola
“In a pair of editorials, Bill Gates lays out a plan to fight outbreaks on a global scale. … In NEJM, Gates calls for a kind of global SWAT team for outbreaks. He envisions an operations center that’s manned by ‘experts in epidemiology, surveillance, outbreak response, social anthropology, and other areas who can provide surge capacity for the response’…” (Khazan, 3/18).

BBC News: TED 2015: Bill Gates warns on future disease epidemic
“The world needs to prepare for the next major health crisis, Bill Gates has told delegates at the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference. While Ebola seems to be being kept under control currently, next time ‘we may not be so lucky,’ the Microsoft co-founder warned. He said that there were plenty of technology tools that could be used to contain the spread of a virus. And, he added, governments should learn from how nations prepare for war…” (Wakefield, 3/19).

The Hill: Bill Gates: World needs global response system for outbreaks
“…Gates laid out a blueprint for the global response system Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. His plan focuses on creating a central international institution and building up the basic health systems in poor countries — an ambitious and costly plan that he says would take years of work…” (Ferris, 3/18).

The Verge: Bill Gates: Time to make a ‘war game’ for infectious disease
“…Gates also writes that the global health community should increase its investment in developing new tools for diagnosis and treatment, as well as improving the global health warning system. Also, the global community should establish a NATO-like force of trained people and run preparedness drills to help identify any weak links, he says…” (Lopatto, 3/18).

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U.K. Establishes $289.5M Fund To Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Infections Worldwide

Financial Times: Budget 2015: Fleming Fund to fight drug-resistant infections
“[British Chancellor of the Exchequer] George Osborne announced the creation of a £195m [$289.5 million] fund to fight drug-resistant infections worldwide, with contributions from the government, the Wellcome Trust, and other international charities. The Fleming Fund is being set up in response to the initial recommendations of the U.K. Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, led by the economist Jim O’Neill, which is looking at the economic measures needed to tackle drug-resistant pathogens…” (Cookson, 3/18).

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WHO Warns Funding Shortfall Might Affect Health Care Aid In War-Torn Syria, Where Death Toll Continues To Rise

Agence France-Presse: WHO warns of ‘very worrying’ Syria health situation
“The World Health Organization said Tuesday the situation in war-ravaged Syria is ‘very worrying,’ and warned its aid program could be disrupted because of a shortage of donor funds. … The WHO last month appealed for $1.0 billion in additional funds to help provide life-saving health services to millions in need in Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic. and South Sudan. More than half of the requested funds — $687 million — is needed for Syria alone…” (3/17).

Reuters: Death toll climbed sharply in major 2014 conflicts — study
“The death toll in the world’s most brutal conflicts climbed by more than 28 percent last year from 2013 with bloodshed in Syria worse than all others for the second year running, according to a study released on Wednesday…” (3/17).

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Nearly Half Of World's Hungry Live In Middle-Income Countries, Report Shows

Inter Press Service: Middle-Income Nations Home to Half the World’s Hungry
“Nearly half of the world’s hungry, amounting to about 363 million people, live in some of the rising middle-income countries, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico, according to a new report released Wednesday by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)…” (Deen, 3/18).

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Fresh Water Supply Threatened As Global Population Continues To Grow, Study Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Global population growth threatens to outstrip fresh water supply: study
“Global demand for fresh water is set to outstrip supply as a result of population growth by the middle of this century if current levels of consumption continue, a study said. … The paper, published in the journal WIREs Water, analyzed historical information on water consumption and demographics with the help of mathematical models to chart changes over time…” (Arsenault, 3/18).

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Violence Against Women Rises, Access To Reproductive Health Services Falls In Ebola-Hit Nations, West African Ministers Say

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Violence against women rises in Ebola-hit nations — ministers
“The Ebola epidemic in West Africa exacerbated violence against women and rolled back access to reproductive health care in the region, ministers from Guinea and Liberia said on Wednesday…” (Caspani, 3/18).

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MSF Accuses Gilead Of Restricting Hepatitis C Drug Access In Developing Countries

Reuters: Charity attacks Gilead over hepatitis C drug restrictions
“Charity Médecins Sans Frontières has accused U.S. drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc. of restricting access to its breakthrough hepatitis C drug Sovaldi in developing countries as it tries to protect profit margin in wealthier nations. MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, said Gilead’s restrictions aimed to stop discounted supplies of Sovaldi being diverted to patients from rich countries, but that the effort had resulted in ‘multiple restrictions and demands’ on people receiving treatment in poor countries…” (Siddiqui/Berkrot, 3/18).

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Group Of Women With HIV File Complaint With South African Gender Commission Regarding Alleged Coerced, Forced Sterilizations

Independent Online: Forced sterilization: complaint lodged
“A group of HIV-positive women, who were coerced or forced into being sterilized, are seeking redress for what happened to them and are asking that the law be changed to stop the discrimination. Her Rights Initiative (HRI) and Oxfam lodged a formal complaint on Wednesday with the South African Commission on Gender Equality regarding the sterilizations…” (Serrao, 3/19).

Mail & Guardian: ‘Forced’ sterilization of HIV women violates rights
“…The complaint is based on 48 documented cases where HIV-positive women were sterilized without their consent or coerced into signing consent form for sterilization. These cases reportedly took place in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal between 1986 and 2014…” (Koka, 3/19).

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Malaria-Related Brain Swelling Causes Death In Some Children, Study Shows

News outlets report on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showing how brain swelling contributes to some malaria deaths in children.

New York Times: Brain Swelling Tied to Deaths From Malaria
“When children die from a severe form of malaria, swelling of the brain is often what kills them, a new study finds. This insight will not change medical practice immediately, but it may lead to improved treatments, researchers said…” (Grady, 3/18).

NPR: How Malaria In The Brain Kills: Doctors Solve A Medical Mystery
“…[Dr. Terrie Taylor of Michigan State University] and her team imaged the brains of about 170 children. The ones who died were much more likely to have massive brain swelling that brought pressure on the brain stem. She and her team published the study Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine…” (Doucleff, 3/18).

Xinhua: Cerebral malaria-related death caused by brain swelling: study
“…The researchers found the brain of the deceased becomes so swollen it is forced out through the bottom of the skull and compresses the brain stem, which controls breathing. They believed that it’s this pressure that causes the children to stop breathing and die. They were also quick to point out that brain swelling is transient and not inevitably fatal…” (3/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

President Obama Should Take Action To Allow U.S. Foreign Aid Funding For Abortion Services

Huffington Post: Save Women’s Lives — End the Helms Overreach
Nancy K. Kaufman, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women

“…To be clear: U.S. policy should not deny any woman anywhere the comprehensive reproductive health care she seeks for any reason. All bans on abortion coverage should be ended. … Eighty organizations, including the National Council of Jewish Women, wrote [President Obama] a letter to this effect last August. Calling on the president as a ‘champion for women’s health and human rights,’ the organizations urged ‘immediate action to correct the unduly restrictive implementation of the Helms Amendment’ — specifically that the president direct U.S. aid programs and the State Department to allow abortion services for women who are the victims of rape, incest, or whose life is endangered by an untenable pregnancy. So far, President Obama has not acted. Continued failure to act means millions of women in developing countries risk injury and death year in and year out — women whose lives could be saved if the U.S. simply applied the law as it is written” (3/18).

Inter Press Service: Rape in Conflict: Speaking Out for What’s Right
Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)

“…Last week, the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) hosted a panel at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) where panelists from Human Rights Watch, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and Dandelion Kenya spoke about the brutal sexual violence and rapes that women face, and the absence of comprehensive post rape care for these women and girls, especially when it comes to abortion access. … The status quo — that no U.S. foreign aid should support safe abortion access — is causing too much suffering in this world and it must end. … The time is now for [President Obama] to stand with women and girls and take executive action to support abortion access for women and girls in the cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment. The time is now for the president to answer the call to action echoed by advocates from around the world…” (3/18).

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Governments, Donors Should Invest In Vaccine Development Despite Economic Risks

Nature: Share the risks of Ebola vaccine development
Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

“…Vaccine development is driven not by the risk that a pathogen poses to people, but by the economic pay-off. … That helps to explain why, more than a year on from the first confirmed cases of the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa, no vaccine is available, even though work started towards one more than a decade ago. … Governments and donors need to invest in public health capability, and they need to take on more of the risk of investing in vaccine development. We must view vaccines as the ultimate deterrent: make sure they are there, and pray that we never have to use them” (3/18).

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International Community Must Hold Angola's President Accountable For Nation's Poor Child Health

New York Times: Deadliest Country For Kids
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist

“[Angola] is a country laden with oil, diamonds, Porsche-driving millionaires, and toddlers starving to death. New UNICEF figures show this well-off but corrupt African nation is ranked No. 1 in the world in the rate at which children die before the age of five. … Angola is a nation of infuriating contradictions. … Under the corrupt and autocratic president, José Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled for 35 years, billions of dollars flow to a small elite — as kids starve. … It may get worse. With falling oil prices, the government has proposed a one-third cut in the health budget this year. … As a result, 150,000 Angolan children die annually. Let’s hold dos Santos accountable and recognize that extreme corruption and negligence can be something close to a mass atrocity” (3/19).

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World Must Keep Disease Outbreak Vigilance Despite Vaccine Successes

The Atlantic: Infectious Psychology
James Hamblin, a senior editor and health columnist at The Atlantic

“…[Wednesday] morning, at an Atlantic Live event…, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, and I sat and talked — about how [the Ebola epidemic] happened, and about the complex psychology inherent to preventing the spread of infectious diseases. … That’s where talking comes in, I suppose. Without being terrifying, keeping people apprised of the risks of complacency. It’s a balance that Fauci, after 31 years in his role, strikes well. ‘A lot of children used to die from measles and polio, things like that, which we don’t have right now. So we’re, in some respects, the victims of our own success,’ he said. ‘We have to continue to realize that the risk of a vaccine is infinitely lower than the risk of the disease itself.’ By all accounts, new outbreaks will come. They will come at costs that will be great, but less if the world is adequately prepared” (3/18).

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Supporting Women's Health, Family Planning Critical To Ending Modern Slavery

Huffington Post: One Way Forward in Ending Modern Slavery: Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancies
Jenny Eaton Dyer, executive director of Hope Through Healing Hands, and Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, assistant professor at the School of Public Policy at Central European University

“Last month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), held a hearing entitled, ‘Ending Modern Slavery: What is the Best Way Forward?’ We are at an opportune moment to look at the broad range of issues we must address in order to achieve the committee’s goal. Among them are the health needs of women and children worldwide, including the need for healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies. … With strong support from the U.S., family planning is one critical, yet overlooked, component to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty in developing nations worldwide. And by interrupting that cycle, America contributes toward the ambitious goal of ending modern slavery as well. Let’s recognize support for U.S. programs for global maternal, newborn, and child health and family planning today as an important step in combating slavery tomorrow” (3/18).

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Proper Hygiene, Access To Clean Water Essential To Prevent Maternal, Newborn Deaths

Huffington Post: A Healthy Start: Why Moms and Babies Everywhere Need Safe Water at Childbirth
Sarina Prabasi, chief executive of WaterAid America

“…[On Wednesday] WaterAid launche[d] Healthy Start — a new four-year campaign focusing on the devastating impact a lack of safe water, toilets, and proper hygiene practices have on the world’s poorest children. The ‘Healthy Start: the first month of life’ briefing released [Wednesday] highlights the fact that one in five newborn deaths in the developing world could be prevented with safe water, access to toilets, and clean hands. … WaterAid is calling for a dedicated goal to deliver water and sanitation to everyone, everywhere, including all health care facilities, by 2030. …We need to strengthen health systems in developing countries so that fundamental basics of clean water and toilets are met, and we all have the opportunity to have a healthy start in life…” (3/18).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

PEPFAR Releases 11th Annual Report To Congress

U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief: Eleventh Annual Report to Congress on PEPFAR (2015)
PEPFAR released its eleventh annual report to Congress, which discusses its impact on addressing HIV/AIDS. The summary states, “…PEPFAR’s impact far exceeds the reduction of suffering, death, and despair caused by one disease. PEPFAR has built infrastructure, strengthened local health systems, and provided invaluable les­sons and experience that will continue to in­form and improve responses to unforeseen health crises in the future” (March 2015).

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USAID, CDC Blog Posts Mark World Water Day

USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: Water for the World: Making Every Gallon Count
Christian Holmes, USAID’s global water coordinator and acting deputy assistant administrator in the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment, marks World Water Day, which takes place annually on March 22, and discusses the “important advance made this year towards improving water and sanitation in developing countries…” (3/18).

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: Water is Essential
Eric Mintz and Suzie Heitfield of the CDC mark World Water Day and discuss how “[t]he Ebola outbreak provides us with an opportunity to focus on improving access to improved water, sanitation, and hygiene. Reaching this goal would not only fight Ebola in West Africa, but also prevent outbreaks of other diseases that are spread by contaminated water and inadequate access to improved sanitation and hygiene practices such as handwashing…” (3/18).

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Letter Calls For Formation Of TB Partnership To Improve Treatment Access

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: TB advocates call on organizations, leaders to work together, speed access to existing treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis
Antigone Barton, writer and editor of “Science Speaks” and senior communications officer at the Center for Global Health Policy, discusses a letter sent last week by a group of 89 organizations “to agencies, leaders, and pharmaceutical companies involved in TB product dissemination … The letter calls on all of them to agree to and announce a partnership on [March 24], World TB Day, with the goal of accelerating access to TB treatments that few have access to now, and that for many represent their best hope of surviving the disease…” (3/18).

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