KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Medical Experts Call For Global Decriminalization Of Drug Use, Emphasize Public Health-Centered Approach

News outlets highlight conclusions from a report of the Johns Hopkins-Lancet Commission on Drug Policy and Health, published online in The Lancet.

The Guardian: Medical experts call for global drug decriminalization
“An international commission of medical experts is calling for global drug decriminalization, arguing that current policies lead to violence, deaths, and the spread of disease, harming health and human rights. The commission, set up by the Lancet medical journal and Johns Hopkins University in the United States, finds that tough drugs laws have caused misery, failed to curb drug use, fueled violent crime, and spread the epidemics of HIV and hepatitis C through unsafe injecting…” (Boseley/Glenza, 3/24).

Reuters: ‘War on drugs’ has failed public health, medics say
“Governments around the world should decriminalize minor drug offenses because the standard strategy of prohibition is harming public health, leading medics said on Thursday. A report by the medical journal the Lancet and Johns Hopkins University said countries such as Portugal and the Czech Republic had shown that decriminalizing non-violent offenses such as possession and petty sale produced compelling health benefits…” (Hirschler, 3/24).

Washington Post: Top medical experts say we should decriminalize all drugs and maybe go even further
“…Their report comes ahead of a special U.N. General Assembly Session on drugs to be held next month, where the world’s countries will re-evaluate the past half-century of drug policy and, in the hope of many experts, chart a more public health-centered approach going forward…” (Ingraham, 3/24).

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Disagreements Surface Over Gender Equality Funding Commitments In Outcome Document Of Commission On The Status Of Women, The Guardian Reports

The Guardian: World leaders accused of backtracking on gender equality commitments
“Claims that world leaders are backtracking on their commitment to end gender inequality have emerged on the final day of negotiations at the Commission on the Status of Women. Several countries are reportedly trying to water down the progressive language on financing for gender equality and sexual and reproductive health rights contained in the draft text of the outcome document…” (Ford, 3/24).

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Cutting Aid To Newly Classified Middle-Income Countries Hinders HIV/AIDS Efforts, U.K. Group Says

The Guardian: Slashing aid to emerging economies undercuts HIV fight, activists warn
“The abrupt withdrawal of international aid money from countries that graduate to middle-income status is hindering the fight against HIV and AIDS, leaving already marginalized groups even more vulnerable, and could undermine the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals, campaigners have warned. … STOPAIDS, an umbrella group of more than 80 U.K. agencies, held a symposium in London on Thursday to discuss the issue of economic reclassification…” (Jones, 3/24).

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Guttmacher Institute Study Examines Contraceptive Failure Rates In Developing Countries

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Handful of nations see many unintended pregnancies despite sex with contraception
“Nations from Brazil to Egypt and Turkey are among developing countries with the highest rates of contraceptive failure, according to research released on Thursday on unintended pregnancies. Some 74 million unintended pregnancies occur each year in developing nations, a third of which are due to failed contraception, said the New York-based Guttmacher Institute which studied 43 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean…” (Malo, 3/24).

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News Outlets Report On TB-Related Stories To Recognize World Day

The Guardian: New drugs could ease Myanmar’s crippling tuberculosis burden
“…Now, there is new hope for patients. This month, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the National TB Programme (NTP) will start treating people with bedaquiline and delamanid. These are the first new TB drugs for half a century and it is hoped they will be effective in treating patients who have developed resistance to existing drugs or cannot handle the side-effects…” (Arnold, 3/24).

Huffington Post: He Looks At Tuberculosis Death Toll And Wonders Why You’re Not Worried
“Aaron Motsoaledi is tired of delivering the same spiel over and over again. No matter how many times the charismatic health minister of South Africa speaks out, people don’t seem to grasp the threat presented by tuberculosis, now the No. 1 infectious killer in the world…” (Weber, 3/24).

U.N. News Centre: Fight against tuberculosis only ‘half-won,’ U.N. chief says on World Day
“Observing World Tuberculosis Day, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for united global efforts to end the deadly disease by 2030 as it would claim the lives of 1.5 million people this year alone…” (3/24).

VOA News: WHO: Tuberculosis Can Be Ended by 2030
“…Director of WHO’s Global TB Program, Mario Raviglione, says several of the 30 countries with the highest TB burden are implementing newer TB strategies with some success. One such country is India, home to more people ill with TB and multidrug-resistant TB than any other country in the world…” (Schlein, 3/22).

Wall Street Journal: Tuberculosis Cases in U.S. Rise for First Time in 23 Years
“Tuberculosis is no longer on the decline in the U.S., after nearly a quarter century of steady reductions in cases of the deadly airborne disease, according to federal data released Thursday…” (McKay, 3/24).

Washington Post: TB cases increase in U.S. for first time in 23 years
“… ‘After two decades of declining incidence, progress toward TB elimination in the United States appears to have stalled,’ the CDC report said. The causes are unclear, it said, and the data need further evaluation if the reasons behind the trend are to be identified. One contributing factor is likely to be reduced or stagnant funding for prevention efforts nationwide…” (Sun, 3/24).

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Zika Virus Likely Arrived In Americas In 2013, According To Study

News outlets report on a study published in Science showing the Zika virus likely was carried by a traveler to the Americas during the latter part of 2013.

BBC News: Zika ‘World Cup theory’ dismissed
“The Zika virus arrived in South America a year before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, say British and Brazilian scientists…” (Gallagher, 3/24).

The Guardian: Zika outbreak in Americas could be down to one plane passenger
“…Published in the journal Science, the study reveals that the team took samples from seven individuals in Brazil infected with the Zika virus during the recent outbreak — including a newborn baby, diagnosed with microcephaly, who had died. They then carried out next-generation sequencing to generate the Zika virus genomes and compared these genomes to each other, as well as to other Zika virus genomes from across the Americas…” (Davis, 3/24).

Los Angeles Times: Genetic sleuths uncover Zika’s viral secrets
“…[T]he study reveals that the Zika virus probably made landfall in the Americas by hitching a ride on an airplane between May and December 2013. That period coincides with outbreaks of Zika in a number of Pacific islands, and it overlaps with the convergence on Brazil of an unusual number of flights from countries in which the Zika virus was already circulating widely…” (Healy, 3/24).

NBC News: Zika Has Been in Brazil Longer Than Anyone Thought: Study
“…The Zika now spreading explosively across Brazil, the rest of the Americas and the Caribbean very closely matches a strain that circulated in French Polynesia in 2013, the team reports in the journal Science…” (Fox, 3/24).

New York Times: One Traveler May Have Brought Zika to the Americas in 2013
“…Experts were divided in their opinions of the new study, published Thursday in the journal Science. Some praised the work, while others said it was too limited to draw such a specific conclusion…” (McNeil, 3/24).

NPR: Zika Lurked In South America Months Before Cases Reported
“…The patterns in the Zika genes suggest the virus entered the Americas only once…” (Doucleff, 3/24).

USA TODAY: Study: Zika virus may have arrived in Brazil in 2013
“…Although Brazilian health officials noticed a cluster of illnesses marked by fever and rash in late 2014, they didn’t officially diagnosed these patients with the little-known Zika virus until May 2015…” (Szabo, 3/24).

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Famine Threatens Nearly Half Of War-Torn Yemen; 13M People Need Food Aid, WFP Says

Reuters: Famine threatens half of Yemen: WFP
“Nearly half of Yemen’s 22 provinces on the verge of famine as result of the war there and more than 13 million people need food aid, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) says…” (Al-Ansi, 3/23).

U.N. News Centre: ‘Terrible year’ in war-torn Yemen leaves majority of country’s people in need of aid — U.N.
“One year on into the conflict in Yemen, tens of thousands of Yemenis have been killed or injured, one in 10 are displaced and nearly the entire population is in urgent need of aid, the top United Nations humanitarian official in the country said…” (3/22).

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NTDs Affect Mainly Poor People In Wealthy Countries, Expert Peter Hotez Says

Devex: Time to draw a new map for NTDs?
“During his nearly 30 year career in medicine, Dr. Peter Hotez has earned a reputation as a relentless researcher and advocate in the fight against neglected tropical diseases. … Earlier this month Hotez spoke to college students on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. … ‘We now find that most of the world’s neglected diseases are actually … in wealthy countries. They’re in G20 countries,’ Hotez said. … And he added, ‘We’re drawing a new map of global health’…” (Tyson, 3/24).

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India Must Print Larger Cigarette Pack Health Warnings, WHO Urges

Reuters: WHO urges India to implement larger health warnings on cigarette packs
“India must implement rules on printing larger health warnings on cigarette and other tobacco packs, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, days after a parliamentary panel called for reduction in the proposed warnings size to protect the industry…” (Kalra, 3/23).

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Editorials and Opinions

On World TB Day, Opinion Pieces Discuss Steps To End Epidemic

Devex: 5 ways to bring about a TB resistance ‘paradigm shift’
José Luis Castro, executive director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease

“…[O]ur [TB] response must dramatically change. TB programs must do a much better job treating MDR-TB and providing the quality care that prevents TB from becoming drug-resistant in the first place. … There are things that we can begin doing better now, with the current tools at our disposal, to confront TB resistance. … 1. Implement a comprehensive patient-centered approach to MDR-TB treatment as the standard of care. … 2. Cultivate the next generation of clinicians and researchers. … 3. Enroll new political leaders. … 4. Improve outreach to faith leaders and communities of faith. … 5. Educate and mobilize the public…” (3/24).

Huffington Post: NIH Statement on World Tuberculosis Day
Anthony S. Fauci, director of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID); Richard Hafner, chief of the TB Clinical Research Branch in the NIAID Division of AIDS; and Christine F. Sizemore, chief of the Tuberculosis and Other Mycobacterial Diseases Section in the NIAID Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

“On World Tuberculosis (TB) Day 2016, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), reaffirms its commitment to researching ways to better understand, prevent, diagnose, and treat TB. … New diagnostic tools are in development to detect early [Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb)] infection more accurately and to identify and track drug-resistant strains. … These data will aid the development of TB diagnostics and rapid drug susceptibility tests for MDR-TB and XDR-TB…” (3/24).

Huffington Post: The Goal of Ending TB is Within our Reach
Ariel Pablos-Mendez, assistant administrator for global health and child and maternal survival coordinator at USAID

“…The next five years are critical in the fight to end TB. … Despite significant progress in addressing the epidemic, we need to accelerate our efforts to eliminate TB as a global health threat. … In addition to successful partnerships, increased investments, and scaling up the use of new tools, we will need a sustained focus on research to effectively prevent, diagnose, and treat TB. … Over the past twenty years, the world has made some significant progress in combating TB. We need to build upon this remarkable progress and continue to innovate, invest, and collaborate to achieve ambitious goals, such as those outlined in the White House National Action Plan for Combating MDR-TB, and ultimately, end TB. Together, we can achieve this” (3/24).

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E.C. Can Improve R&D Investments For Poverty-Related, Neglected Diseases In 5 Ways

Devex: How the European Commission can boost its global health R&D investments
Sabine Campe, associate director at SEEK Development, and Nick Chapman, director of research at Policy Cures

“…[The European Commission] funds R&D for poverty-related and neglected diseases in much the same way as it funds R&D for other diseases. But the nonprofit nature of these diseases means that what is suitable for diseases with commercial markets can be problematic for R&D on poverty-related and neglected diseases. SEEK Development studied the commission’s funding mechanisms, and have five recommendations for how it can improve its investments: 1. Develop a clear funding strategy for global health R&D. … 2. Fund the entire research cycle. … 3. Relax eligibility requirements to support product developers with necessary expertise. … 4. Ensure new health tools will reach patients and achieve impact. … 5. Leverage the public-private partnership model of IMI…” (3/24).

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Preserving, Properly Transferring Crop Genetic Diversity Could Help Achieve Global Food Security

Inter Press Service: A New Roadmap to Meet Hunger Goals
Ruben Echeverría, director general of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture

“…[A]ccording to new research — the majority of crop wild relatives (that is, wild species related to our food crops that possess diverse traits such as disease and drought tolerance) are not easily available in genebanks. This means that we are limiting the options that our plant breeders have to secure our food supply. … Providing capacity support for conservation initiatives and for plant breeders, particularly those at national institutions in developing regions to collect and preserve the crops found in their region is going to be critical. … But this type of work is long-term, and requires reliable funding and to see it through. The conservation and agriculture communities … need to communicate with each other, to determine the bottlenecks that are hindering the transfer of vitally important crop genetic diversity across the globe and work together to solve them. … If we continue to work together and act fast to close these unnecessary gaps in our genebanks, we stand one step closer to coping with climate change” (3/24).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Birx, USAID Recognize World TB Day

PEPFAR: Statement From Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., on World Tuberculosis Day 2016
“On World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, we can commit to ending TB by rapidly adopting the 2015 World Health Organization (WHO) Guideline on When to Start Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) and on Pre-exposure Prophylaxis for HIV, more commonly known as ‘Test and START,’ and strengthening partnerships among countries, multilateral organizations, and civil society…” (3/24).

Center for Global Health and Diplomacy: USAID’S 2016 World TB Day Event
This blog post features a webcast from USAID’s 2016 World TB Day event, which took place March 17 and included global health experts and representatives from U.S. agencies (3/17).

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Blog Posts Discuss U.S., Global Efforts To End TB Epidemic

Health Affairs Blog: Funding Zika But Forgetting Tuberculosis
True Claycombe, policy manager at Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, discusses the global TB epidemic, including U.S. government and private sector responses, writing, “Without robust funding and political commitments by governments and the private sector worldwide, this preventable and treatable disease will continue to be one of the world’s leading infectious killers. We must advocate and hold policymakers accountable for health policies and budgets globally that give this disease the attention — and resources –it deserves” (3/24).

ONE Campaign: On World TB Day, Be Louder Than TB
Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the Stop TB Partnership, and colleagues discuss the Louder than TB campaign to end preventable deaths from TB. “Through this campaign, we are asking governments, decision makers, donors, and others for the following: Better awareness of TB at all levels of the health system … Integrated care … More innovation to develop improved diagnostic, treatment, and prevention tools … More resources…” (3/24).

PLOS “Speaking of Medicine”: Tackling tuberculosis: New models for an old disease
“On World TB Day, Lucy Bell from University College London explores the research which has driven forward our understanding of TB today, and how cutting-edge research techniques are suggesting new strategies for TB treatment…” (3/24).

PLOS “Speaking of Medicine”: Drug-resistant tuberculosis: Not just a precursor to the post-antibiotic apocalypse
“On World TB Day, Jay Achar[, infectious diseases specialist and research adviser within the Manson Unit of Médecins Sans Frontières,] highlights the threat of drug-resistant tuberculosis and calls for improved access to effective new drug regimens…” (3/24).

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