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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

PAHO Begins Expert Meeting To Discuss Public Health Research Agenda For Zika

CIDRAP News: Meeting gets under way to set Zika research priorities
“A two-day meeting of health researchers began [Tuesday] at Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) headquarters in Washington, D.C., with a goal of fleshing out a public health research agenda to address Zika virus issues…” (Schnirring, 3/1).

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Lack Of Record-Keeping, Poor Prenatal Care Complicate Research On Possible Associations Between Zika, Birth Defects

Washington Post: Zika epidemic uncovers Brazil’s hidden birth-defect problem
“…Many doctors, though, say that the jump [in Brazil’s reports of microcephaly cases] is largely illusory — based on massive underreporting of microcephaly and other birth defects in Brazil. What’s more, this poor record-keeping reflects much larger public health problems here: poor prenatal care and woefully inadequate services for children with disabilities. Until the Zika epidemic, these issues were mostly swept under the rug…” (Cuadros, 3/1).

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Lessons From International Response To Ebola Informing Public Health Agencies' Quicker Efforts To Address Zika

Nature: Specter of Ebola haunts Zika response
“Public health workers are still struggling to stamp out the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. But the lessons learned from that outbreak — which exposed major flaws in the global public health system — are shaping the escalating international response to the spread of Zika virus in the Americas…” (Hayden, 3/2).

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Lawyers For Haitian Cholera Outbreak Victims Argue Case Against U.N. Before U.S. Federal Appeals Panel

New York Times: Court Hears Suit Against U.N. on Haiti Cholera Outbreak
“A legal battle by the Haitian victims of a cholera epidemic against the United Nations reached its highest level in an American court on Tuesday, as lawyers for the plaintiffs were permitted to argue before a federal appeals panel why they believe the United Nations is not entitled to immunity…” (Gladstone, 3/1).

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U.N. Marks Zero Discrimination Day By Calling For World To 'Stand Out And Stand Together'

U.N. News Centre: ‘Stand out and stand together,’ says U.N. on Zero Discrimination Day
“The United Nations agency leading the world’s HIV/AIDS response [Tuesday] called on the international community to celebrate individuality, as it observed Zero Discrimination Day, stressing that embracing diversity brings valuable benefits to all societies around the world…” (3/1).

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Cultural Stigma Complicates Care For Many Living With HIV In South Korea, Activists Say

Christian Science Monitor: South Korea struggles to overcome cultural stigma of AIDS
“…Many [people living with HIV] risk being ostracized by family and friends, saddled with a stigma that has its roots in Confucian beliefs that still thrive alongside the country’s advanced economy and pop culture juggernaut. Kim Jae-cheon, an HIV/AIDS activist, says that many Koreans believe people with the illness are simply bad and that they bring shame upon their community. In a society dominated by conservative views of sex, HIV/AIDS is also often associated with the LGBT community and prostitutes, both of which are viewed negatively here…” (Power, 3/1).

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Some Women Incarcerated In Afghanistan Subjected To Forced Gynecological Exams, Report Shows

News outlets discuss findings from a December 2015 report on forced gynecological exams on incarcerated women in Afghanistan, which was discussed Monday in a Human Rights Watch blog post.

New York Times: Jailed Afghan Women Are Often Subjected to Virginity Tests, Report Says
“Women and girls in Afghan jails are frequently subjected to forced virginity tests, advocates from Afghanistan’s human rights commission said on Tuesday, calling for an end to a discredited practice that is both invasive and degrading…” (Mashal, 3/1).

Reuters: Afghan women, girls face invasive virginity tests, says rights report
“…Of 53 woman and girls interviewed in a dozen provinces across Afghanistan, 48 said they had been subject to compulsory gynecological exams by government officials after being accused of adultery or escaping from home, investigators for Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission found in a study conducted last year. The study’s findings were publicized by Human Rights Watch on Monday…” (Smith, 3/1).

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Up To 2.4M Zimbabweans Need Food Aid, Many With HIV; President Mugabe Rejects Aid Tied To Requirements To Accept LGBTQ Rights

Inter Press Service: Antiretrovirals but No Food
“…Up to 2.4 million people in the country are food insecure this year, according to figures released by the government in February this year. The Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS coordinator for Manicaland province, Lloyd Dembure said the current drought had affected a large number of people living with HIV. He elaborated that though many people living HIV had access to free antiretroviral drugs many where going for days without a proper meal…” (Mambondiyani, 3/1).

Ventures Africa: Mugabe would rather Zimbabweans go hungry than accept “rotten and filthy” foreign aid
“…Early this year, Zimbabwe applied for $1.6 billion in food aid to combat starvation, but during his lavish birthday party on Saturday, [President Robert] Mugabe declared, ‘We don’t want it.’ According to him, if aid is to be given on the basis that the country accepts the principle of gay marriages, ‘then let that aid stay where it is,’ adding that aid given under such a condition is ‘rotten and filthy’…” (Egbedi, 3/2).

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India Begins To Accept Midwives In Efforts To Lower Maternal, Infant Mortality Ratios

Quartz: Shunned for years, can trained midwives fix India’s maternity mess?
“…[T]here is growing evidence that trained midwives are as good as doctors in taking care of pregnant women and in overseeing uncomplicated births. … In India, … two health centers in Hyderabad, Healthy Mother and Fernandez Hospital, have proven that maternity centers with well-trained midwives can run efficiently and be accepted by the community…” (Kumbhar, 3/2).

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Malaria Threatens To Spread Beyond Korea's Demilitarized Zone

Deutsche Welle: Korea’s demilitarized zone: a malaria battlefield
“…As American entomologist Terry Klein makes his way to the border between North and South Korea, he doesn’t think twice about the thousands of landmines or soldiers patrolling the demilitarized zone, or DMZ. The researcher is studying the effects of mosquitoes carrying malaria and Japanese Encephalitis. … While South Korea is technically considered malaria-free today, there is an exception. The border region separating the two Koreas is a battlefield for malaria carrying mosquitoes…” (Kollenberg, 3/2).

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Spring Rains Bring Some Hope To Ethiopia As More Children Diagnosed With Severe Malnutrition

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Ethiopian mothers struggle to feed sick children as food aid runs out
“…Following two failed rains, the number of children [public health officer Mulugeta] Kassaw admitted for severe acute malnutrition with complications — such as being unable to eat or suffering dehydration — more than quadrupled to 25 in January compared with December. Africa’s second most populous nation of 95 million people is in the grip of its worst drought in 50 years…” (Migiro, 3/1).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Factbox: Spring rains bring some relief to Ethiopia’s hunger crisis
“…The March to May rains, or Belg, have begun. ‘We are so optimistic,’ said Mitiku Kassa, head of Ethiopia’s National Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Committee. ‘The meteorological forecast indicates that the coming belg will be promising.’ These rains will help herders in the worst-hit eastern Afar and Somali regions, whose livestock has been decimated…” (Migiro, 3/1).

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Editorials and Opinions

Focus On Human Rights, Development, Gender Equality Integral To Countering Sexual Violence In Conflict Settings

The Guardian: Sexual violence is​ a tool of war, but we have the weapons to end that
Zainab Hawa Bangura, U.N. special representative of the secretary general on sexual violence in conflict, and Melanne Verveer, executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security

“…Addressing sexual violence is a necessity to protect human rights and ensure peace and security. … Here are some steps we believe should be taken immediately to address conflict-related sexual violence. First, the international community must place a high priority on ensuring the full implementation of the existing laws and commitments that advance women’s protection and empowerment. … Second, it is critical to dismantle the culture of impunity surrounding conflict-related sexual violence, with a strong focus on bringing those responsible to justice. … Third, holistic services for survivors and their families — including psychological services, physical care, and psychosocial treatment — must be prioritized and made available in any coordinated humanitarian response. … Finally, we must place a premium on protecting human rights and ensuring full and meaningful participation in peace-building, security operations, the economy, and decision-making…” (3/2).

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Addressing Zika Virus Requires Using All Forms Of Innovative Technology

The Hill: Using all technologies in the fight against Zika
Steve Parkinson, CEO of Lakewood-Amedex

“…Congress should encourage the highly professional and hardworking scientists, technicians, and engineers at the FDA and the CDC to work with the ingenuity and innovation of private sector companies with alternative platforms to consider other approaches such as gene-silencing and antisense technologies that can attack the [Zika] virus at the genetic level and stop viral replication. There are a number of small biopharmaceutical companies developing these technologies that have the potential to move from design to therapy in as few as six months. … We in the private sector applaud [the president’s supplemental budget request to Congress for the Zika response] and ask our elected leaders to cover the waterfront of medical technology when addressing the Zika virus, and not just settle for the standard default remedy of a vaccine” (3/1).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Fund's New E-Marketplace Initiative Aims To Streamline Procurement, Supply Chain Systems In Public Health

Friends of the Global Fight Blog: Webinar with the Global Fund: A Look at Wambo.org and the Future of Procurement
John McMannis, communications manager at Friends of the Global Fight, discusses the Global Fund’s new e-marketplace initiative, Wambo.org, which “has been designed to increase the Global Fund’s impact and value for money by streamlining procurement operations, optimizing costs, and supporting countries that are transitioning out of Global Fund financing by facilitating continued access [to] affordable prices for commodities to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.” The blog post also contains a webinar in which Friends of the Global Fight discusses this new initiative with Global Fund senior manager Anna Van Nieuwenhuizen (2/25).

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Blog Post Highlights CGD Podcast On Results-Based Development's Impact On Global Health Foreign Assistance

Friends of the Global Fight Blog: Gerson and Shah: What Results-Based Development Can Do For Global Health
Katie Broendel, senior communications manager at Friends of the Global Fight, highlights a podcast recently hosted by the Center for Global Development, during which CGD discussed “the future of U.S. foreign assistance with Dr. Raj Shah, former administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and Michael Gerson, Washington Post columnist, policy fellow with the ONE campaign, and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush. … Shah and Gerson focus on results-based development as the way to move U.S. foreign assistance forward” (3/1).

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Addressing HIV-Related Stigma Requires Efforts At Individual, Structural, Policy Levels

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Zero Discrimination Day: Breaking down HIV stigma with individual, structural, and health facility policy interventions
In a guest post, Health Policy Project’s Molly Fitzgerald discusses the importance of addressing and ending HIV-related stigma in health facilities, writing, “[I]nterventions in health service provision aimed at mitigating stigma and discrimination must focus on the individual, environmental, and policy levels. By working at all three of these levels we can achieve long-lasting benefits for health workers, vulnerable populations in need of HIV education and testing, and HIV-positive patients” (3/1).

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Disease Response Must Be Proactive, Focus On Improving Local Health Systems, Vaccine Research, Distribution

World Policy Blog: Are We Fighting New Diseases All Wrong?
Freelance journalist TL Andrews discusses the interconnectedness of public health systems in developed and developing countries, writing, “According to leading epidemiologists, becoming more proactive in fighting new diseases will require changes in two key areas: the way we approach public health in developing countries and the way we create and distribute vaccines. … The lesson to be learned from new diseases is that the world is far more connected than we thought…” (3/1).

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