KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

GHTC Releases Report On Role Of U.S. Leadership In Global Health R&D

Media outlets discuss a new report released by the Global Health Technologies Coalition on the role of U.S. leadership in global health research and development (R&D).

VOA News: Report: U.S. Essential for Global Health
“A new report says while big budget battles in Washington may be over for now, adequate funding to fight HIV, TB, malaria and other diseases may still be at risk. The Global Health Technologies Coalition has released its annual report, which focuses on U.S. leadership in research and development…” (DeCapua, 3/27).

Global Health Technologies Coalition: Congressional Budget Pact is Good News for Global Health, But Cuts to Key Research Agency Loom as Serious Threat to U.S. Leadership and Life-Saving Innovations
“While a ceasefire in Washington’s budget wars has restored funding for a range of programs targeting global health threats like AIDS and tuberculosis (TB), the simultaneous underfunding of the world’s biggest sponsor of global health research and development (R&D) puts future progress at risk, warns a new report from a coalition of nonprofit groups focused on advancing innovation to save lives. The Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) released their annual policy report today at a Capitol Hill briefing…” (3/27).

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WHO Officially Declares India Polio-Free

News outlets report on the WHO’s announcement on Thursday of India’s polio-free status.

Associated Press: India is polio-free after 3 years with no new case
“…The World Health Organization formally declared India polio-free on Thursday, after three years with no new cases. It said the milestone means the entire Southeast Asian region, home to a quarter of the world’s population, is considered free of the disease…” (Banerjee, 3/27).

BBC News: World now 80% polio free, World Health Organization says
“The World Health Organization has declared its South East Asia region polio-free. The certification is being hailed a ‘historic milestone’ in the global fight to eradicate the deadly virus. It comes after India officially recorded three years without a new case of polio…” (Mazumdar, 3/27).

Reuters: India declared polio-free, but global risks persist
“The World Health Organization declared India free of the crippling polio virus on Thursday, making the country’s almost two-decade-long, multi-billion-dollar effort one of the biggest public health achievements in recent times…” (Bhalla, 3/27).

U.N. News Centre: On path to global eradication, U.N. health agency certifies 11 Asian nations free of polio
“The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today certified as polio-free 11 countries in Asia that together are home to a quarter of the global population. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste constitute WHO’s South-east Asia Region…” (3/27).

Wall Street Journal: Q&A: India Eliminates Polio
“At 2:31 p.m. Thursday, India was officially declared free of polio, a victory over a disease that once infected hundreds of Indian children a day. This is one of the biggest recent public health achievements worldwide. … Rotary International has been a key player in India’s elimination of polio, contributing some 300,000 volunteers in the past three years to deliver vaccines, monitor areas of outbreaks, and publicize countrywide immunization dates…” (Lalwani, 3/27).

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U.N. Deems Surge Of Polio In Syria As 'Most Challenging In History'

The Guardian: U.N. brands polio outbreak in Syria and Iraq ‘most challenging in history’
“A U.N. agency has described the eruption of polio in Syria as perhaps ‘the most challenging outbreak in the history of polio eradication’ after the number of cases in the war-ravaged country reached 38 and the first case was confirmed in neighboring Iraq…” (Jones, 3/28).

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Southern African Leaders Agree To Framework To Address TB Among Miners

GlobalPost: Southern African countries commit to address mineworkers’ TB
“…To mark World TB Day, ministers from southern Africa met in Johannesburg on Tuesday to develop a regional strategy for reducing TB among mineworkers. Leaders from South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland — the four countries home to the largest share of new infections in the region — agreed to a framework that will help track patients across borders and set common treatment standards. Other regional heads committed to exploring options for collaboration…” (Savchuk, 3/27).

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Doctors, Advocates Urge U.N. To Take Health-Based Approach To Drug Control Policies

The Lancet: Doctors criticize U.N.’s approach to global drugs control
“Growing numbers of doctors are calling for a health-based approach to be adopted as a cornerstone of global drugs policy as a high-level U.N. conference highlights what critics say are continued failings in international bodies’ strategies for dealing with global drug problems…” (Holt, 3/29).

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WFP Executive Director Calls For Humanitarian Action In CAR

VOA News: WFP Chief Calls for Humanitarian Intervention in CAR
“The executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) urges the international community to address the disaster in the Central African Republic (CAR) where hundreds of thousands have fled violence and instability to neighboring Cameroon, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo…” (Lewis, 3/27).

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Canadian PM Harper Makes Maternal, Child Health a Priority

Canadian Press/GlobalPost: Expert says Harper’s kids and moms priority a good one
“[Canadian] Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to host international talks later this spring on child and maternal health is a crucial step towards eradicating preventable diseases that still kill children, says an international health group…” (3/27).

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PRI's 'The World' Reports On Impacts Of Obstetric Fistula

PRI’s “The World”: Scarred by childbirth, mothers are finding help to heal and start over
“…Obstetric fistula affects hundreds of thousands of women in sub-Saharan Africa. For many, it is far more than a physical ailment. It can turn them into outcasts…” (Kelto, 3/24).

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Economic Growth Not Strongly Associated With Improved Child Nutrition, Study Shows

News outlets report on a study published in the Lancet Global Health examining the association between economic growth and child undernutrition.

NPR: A Booming Economy Doesn’t Save Children From Malnutrition
“Lack of food is the leading cause of child death worldwide, killing 3.1 million children each year and accounting for 45 percent of all child mortality. Undernourished children who survive still face a daunting future, including reduced intellectual capacity and a higher risk of disease and disability. And while economic growth is presumed to get more children fed, a booming economy alone doesn’t fix the problem, researchers say…” (Poon, 3/27).

VOA News: Rising Wealth Not Enough to Raise Child Health
“Getting wealthier does not automatically make a nation healthier, according to new research. The study questions whether promoting economic growth is the best way to improve child nutrition in low- and middle-income countries…” (Baragona, 3/26).

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Lancet Examines Possible Impacts Of Annexation On Crimean Harm Reduction Programs

The Lancet: Fears over future of opioid substitution therapy in Crimea
“Russia’s annexation of Crimea is threatening to force hundreds of people who use drugs back into addiction or turn them into refugees as opioid substitution treatment (OST) programs in the region seem set to end…” (Holt, 3/29).

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Health Officials Try To Contain Panic Over Ebola In West Africa As Disease Spreads To Guinean Capital

News services discuss the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa, where health officials say the disease has spread into Conakry, the capital of Guinea.

Devex: Don’t panic: Health groups working to contain Ebola epidemic in Guinea
“Global health organizations are busy not just containing the Ebola outbreak currently gripping the West African nation of Guinea, but also the panic that is spilling over into neighboring countries…” (Ravelo, 3/27).

Reuters: Deadly Ebola virus spreads from rural Guinea to capital
“A deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus suspected of killing at least 63 people has spread from rural Guinea to the capital Conakry, authorities said on Thursday, after West African nations branded the virus a serious threat to regional security…” (Samb, 3/28).

Reuters: Scant funds, rare outbreaks leave Ebola drug pipeline slim
“Almost 40 years after the Ebola virus was identified in humans by scientists in a microbiology laboratory in Belgium, pharmaceutical researchers have yet to develop an effective drug or vaccine to fight it…” (Kelland, 3/27).

Reuters: Beware of bats: Guinea issues bushmeat warning after Ebola outbreak
“Bushmeat — from bats to antelopes, squirrels, porcupines and monkeys — has long held pride of place on family menus in West and Central Africa, whether stewed, smoked or roasted. … But an outbreak of the deadly Ebola fever in Guinea has rekindled concerns about the health risks of age-old African hunting and eating traditions that bring humans into close contact with wild forest animals…” (Samb/Toweh, 3/27).

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Myanmar Remains Potential 'Gateway' for Spread Of Drug-Resistant Malaria, Experts Warn

IRIN: Curbing Myanmar’s spread of drug-resistant malaria
“Efforts to halt the spread of drug-resistant malaria in Myanmar have delivered encouraging results through the private health sector, but health experts warn the [fight against the] disease cannot be won outside the public health system — and that the country is still a potential ‘gateway’ for the spread of drug resistance…” (3/28).

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Editorials and Opinions

Global Community Must Maintain Pressure On Leaders To Eradicate Polio

The Guardian: India may be free of polio — but the disease hasn’t been eradicated yet
Archie Panjabi, actor and polio eradication ambassador for Rotary International

“This week a regional certification commission is expected to declare the World Health Organization south-east Asia region polio-free. I could not be prouder about this historic achievement. … With India now free of the disease, only three countries remain polio-endemic: Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We must ramp up our efforts in the endemic countries, because from them polio can re-emerge to infect children in places where it had been stopped, such as we saw last year in Syria and the Horn of Africa. … That means we must keep the pressure on our political, business and philanthropic leaders to generate the resources to finish the job…” (3/27).

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Proper Nutrition In First 1,000 Days Is Critical To Our Future

Huffington Post: The 1,000 Day Investment for Our Future
Ambassador Tony Hall, executive director emeritus of the Alliance to End Hunger

“…Hunger and malnutrition can stake their claim in the lives of the next generation before they ever take their first breaths. Without proper foods and nourishment, a mother may barely have sufficient nutrients to fulfill her own dietary needs, let alone that of the growing child she holds in utero. Furthermore, this lack of nutrition already begins to wreak havoc on the child during the prenatal stage. If the deficit of proper nutrition continues through the vital early-development stages of a child’s life the effects are devastating and, in many cases, irreversible. … But the consequences of ignoring the importance of nutrition in the 1,000-day window are not confined to the developing world. … In both national and international contexts, acting upon the knowledge of the importance of adequate nutrition in the first 1,000 days is truly an investment in the future; and it is simply too costly to ignore” (3/27).

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Faith-Based Organizations Can Play Larger Role In Preventing, Treating TB Worldwide

Huffington Post: TB: Out From the Shadows
Katherine Marshall, senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University

“…The Global Stop TB Partnership brings together more than a thousand organizations to fight the disease. It is one of the most effective global partnerships today, a successful example of bringing public and private, national and international, together. … But there is a potential partner in this global effort whose work is rarely acknowledged and whose potential is barely recognized: the vast network of faith communities. TB is a prime case of where these communities can and should be key partners. … There are inspiring examples of work on TB by faith communities and by faith-inspired development organizations … But neglecting the real potential for faith engagement in the effort is a mistake…” (3/27).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Capitol Hill Briefing On TB Highlights Need For Continued Progress

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports from a Capitol Hill briefing that took place on Wednesday examining the progress and challenges surrounding TB efforts. Speakers at the event recounted stories “of how illness as well as responses around the world are interconnected, when effective treatments for the airborne disease are compromised by stagnant funding.” At the event was documentary filmmaker Jezza Neumann, whose documentary “TB Silent Killer” aired Tuesday on FRONTLINE (Barton, 3/27).

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African Parliamentarians Commit To Advancing AIDS Response Now, Beyond 2015

Earlier this week, parliamentarians met during a roundtable at the Pan-African Parliament in South Africa to discuss advancing the AIDS response now and post-2015. According to a UNAIDS press release, “[t]he aim of the dialogue was to create awareness and build the capacity of parliamentarians on the agreed 2013 Abuja actions toward the elimination of AIDS, TB and malaria in Africa by 2030, the Roadmap on shared responsibility and global solidarity for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, and the A.U. Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA) including the African medicine regulatory harmonization (AMRH) initiative…” (3/27).

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'Impatient Optimists' Publishes Posts Recognizing Successes Against Polio

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog published two posts recognizing the WHO’s certification of India as polio-free. In one post, Ananda Bandyopadhyay, a senior program officer for the polio program at the foundation, writes, “In order to protect the historic progress in the battle against polio, we must remain committed to improving routine immunization and maintaining sensitive surveillance in these areas…” (3/26). A second post features an interview with Ramesh Ferris, a polio survivor, a Rotarian, and author. Ferris says, “As a polio survivor from India, who only learned to walk after multiple surgeries, I can personally attest to the significance of wiping polio out of the region. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the most important global health achievements of all time…” (3/27).

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