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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Bill Aims To Tighten Brazil's Abortion Laws Amid Zika, Microcephaly Fears; Women On Web Temporarily Suspends Operations In Country

GlobalPost: A new bill aims to make Brazil’s abortion law even tougher
“…[T]he [Zika] crisis is spurring women’s rights activists to push for allowing abortion in cases of the birth defect called microcephaly, it’s also driven at least one Brazilian lawmaker in the opposite direction. A recent bill introduced by Anderson Ferreira, a conservative congressman from Brazil’s northeast, seeks to actually toughen the penalty for women who abort a fetus believed to have microcephaly or any other abnormality…” (Carless, 3/28).

Los Angeles Times: Brazil seizes abortion drugs sent to women living in fear of Zika
“…[T]he [Women on Web] group has temporarily suspended its operations in the country because Brazilian authorities have confiscated the drugs in the mail. Abortion is prohibited in most instances in Brazil, and the drugs are illegal. … Women on Web, a Canadian group that is based in the Netherlands and operates worldwide, said in February that it had sent ‘dozens of packages’ to women in Brazil but only two packages had arrived. The rest were apparently seized. The packages provided by Women on Web contained misoprostol and mifepristone, which can end a pregnancy…” (Simmons/Rigby, 3/27).

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Work Ongoing To Develop Zika Vaccine; Scientists Report Creation Of Mouse Model To Aid Research

Nature: The race is on to develop Zika vaccine
“Public health officials say that the first human trials of a Zika vaccine could begin this year. But they caution that it will take until at least next year, and possibly much longer, to determine whether a vaccine works…” (Hayden, 3/28).

New York Times: Zika Study Could Help Overcome an Obstacle to Vaccine Research
“The first new mouse model in which the Zika virus can be tested was described in a medical journal on Monday…” (McNeil, 3/28).

Reuters: U.S. scientists develop mouse model to test Zika vaccines, drugs
“…Normally, creating this kind of mouse model would take several months. But the urgency of the Zika outbreak called for rapid response, and the team put together the results in just three weeks, said Shannan Rossi, a UTMB virologist who led the study…” (Steenhuysen, 3/28).

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Washington Post Examines Path Of Zika From South Pacific To U.S.

Washington Post: Zika’s terrifying path
“…Crossing four continents since the first major outbreak nine years ago, Zika’s painful path now touches an Olympic runner in California, and before her a nurse from Indiana, pregnant women in Colombia, a misshapen infant in Brazil, immunologists in Bethesda, Md., all the way back to the owner of a souvenir shop on a tiny island in the South Pacific, 1,100 miles southeast of the Philippines. The hunt to understand Zika is a race to the very edge of science’s frontier, a race against the ticking clock of myriad pregnancies…” (Fisher et al., 3/25).

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Lack Of Funding Threatens Vietnam's Successful Campaign To Treat, Cure TB

New York Times: Vietnam’s Battle With Tuberculosis
“…Twenty-five years ago … Vietnam had nearly 600 cases of tuberculosis for every 100,000 residents. Today, it has less than 200. The country boasts a 90 percent cure rate for uncomplicated tuberculosis and cures 75 percent of its drug-resistant cases, easily beating the global average, 50 percent. Indeed, public health officials worldwide have made remarkable progress against tuberculosis. … There is no better example of how fragile this success may be than Vietnam. … [T]he biggest threat is that the money is close to running out…” (McNeil, 3/28).

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UNICEF, Malawi Government Test UAV In Rural Areas To Improve Child Health Care

The Guardian: Malawi turns to drones to bolster child health care in remote communities
“…Working with the government, UNICEF is considering using drones to transport medical tests and blood samples from rural clinics to laboratories, avoiding the rutted roads that make even short journeys uncomfortable and unpredictable, partly because of fuel costs and a lack of motorbike drivers…” (McNeish, 3/28).

Inter Press Service: Saving Children’s Lives Through Drones
“The first successful test flight of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone was an unhindered 10 km journey from a community health center to the Kamuzu central hospital laboratory in the capital Lilongwe. Local community members watched with excitement as the drone rose into the sky, after being launched by the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and government of Malawi at the area 25 health center…” (Phiri, 3/28).

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Discrimination Prevents MSM From Accessing HIV Treatment Services In Mozambique

The Guardian: Mozambique’s enduring discrimination leaves gay men untreated for HIV
“…Aside from being demoralizing, discrimination against men who have sex with men is jeopardizing government efforts to reduce the high incidence of HIV and AIDS. At 11.5 percent, Mozambique has one of the 10 highest HIV rates in the world…” (Green, 3/29).

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International NGO CMMB Pledges $500M To Achieving Maternal, Child Health SDGs

Inter Press Service: NGO Pledges $500 Million Towards Sustainable Development Goals
“CMMB — Healthier Lives Worldwide — a leading international nonprofit health non-governmental organization (NGO) — has pledged 500 million dollars to help implement the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — with a specific focus on maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health…” (Ieri, 3/25).

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Editorials and Opinions

Food Security 'Prominent' Component Of Sustainable Peace, Development

The Hill: Sow food security, harvest peace
Jose Graziano da Silva, director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization

“…Interventions to ensure food security and protect and rehabilitate the agricultural sector have a large and often unnoticed contribution to make, as beyond their obvious role in addressing hunger, they can also help mitigate and even prevent conflicts. Peace and food security are often mutually reinforcing. … Increasing evidence shows that timely and robust food security interventions can enable individuals and communities to build resilience to conflict and hasten their recovery from it. … Sustainable peace is intimately linked to sustainable and let me emphasize sustained development. This requires many ingredients. Food and its production are prominent among them” (3/29).

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Clean Water, Sanitation, Disease Surveillance Would Help Reduce Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Project Syndicate: Back to Disease-Fighting Basics
Jim O’Neill, commercial secretary to the U.K. Treasury, honorary professor of Economics at Manchester University, visiting research fellow at Bruegel, and chair of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance

“…To tackle the problem [of antimicrobial resistance] permanently, the only option is to prevent infections from occurring in the first place — with improved hygiene, sanitation, and disease surveillance. Indeed, only by focusing on these areas will we lower the demand for new drugs over the long term. … Worryingly, as the latest paper from my Review on Antimicrobial Resistance warns, there is no globally coordinated system of surveillance to monitor the emergence and spread of superbugs around the world. Fundamental gaps remain in how data are gathered and shared, even in the world’s richest countries. … Today, inadequate access to safe water and sanitation is one of the leading causes of diarrheal illness … [Clean water and sanitation] infrastructure is costly, and all countries face tough budgetary choices. But it is one of the best value-for-money investments a middle-income country can make…” (3/28).

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Global Health Community, HIV Advocates Should Unite Around Ending TB, AIDS Epidemics

Huffington Post: HIV/AIDS Advocates Can ‘Unite to End TB’ for Common Goals
Jennifer Sherwood, policy associate at amfAR, and Christina Chandra, Allan Rosenfield public policy fellow at amfAR

“…By 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals set a target of ending the TB and AIDS epidemics altogether. The obstacles to achieving these goals are similar for both diseases: weak health systems, underlying social determinants, lack of effective tools, and unmet funding needs. To meet these challenges, diseases can no longer be viewed in silos. The world requires a systems approach to combating diseases as opposed to singular disease interventions. … As a global health community, we now have another opportunity to unite around global goals to build better health systems and eliminate the most dangerous infectious diseases of our time. Beyond World TB Day, HIV/AIDS advocates can show solidarity with the fight against TB by working together to achieve common goals for a healthier, disease-free world” (3/28).

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To Hold U.N. Accountable For Haitian Cholera Outbreak, 'Think Outside The Legal Box'

Washington Post: Thousands died when the U.N. brought cholera to Haiti. Here’s why it’s getting off scot-free.
Mara Pillinger and Michael N. Barnett of George Washington University, and Ian Hurd of Northwestern University

“Who pays the costs when United Nations operations go wrong? This hypothetical question became very real in October 2010 when U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal brought cholera to Haiti, as we describe in a new article for the journal Perspectives on Politics. … [T]he Haiti case demonstrates that U.N. immunity has shifted too far toward the organization at the expense of the people it is meant to serve. … Sometime we need to think outside the legal box. Responsibility and accountability are not only legal concepts — they are also political and moral ones. There are a range of non-legal ways to promote accountability, including political pressure, public shaming, and media scrutiny. … In Haiti, the U.N. is unable or unwilling to acknowledge the harm it has caused and the law doesn’t obligate it to. Civil society actors may ensure that law does not have the final word” (3/28).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CGD Blog Post Examines Application Of Economic Theories To Global Health Financing

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog”: How Could the Global Fund Get More Health for Its Money? Lessons from the Economics of Contract Theory
Mead Over, senior fellow at CGD, discusses two papers that were presented at a working group meeting on financing models in global health in April 2015. The two papers “apply the economic theories of regulation and incentives to the contracts between global health donors and service delivery organizations in recipient countries. … I see these two papers as contributions to the broader literature on results-based financing, including cash on delivery models. They offer new ideas about how to shift from cost-reimbursement, or input financing, to payments for verified outcomes to improve value for money,” Over writes (3/28).

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Data Show U.S. Trade Deals Not Spurring Increases In Drug Prices, Could Have Implications For TPP

Council on Foreign Relations: The Long Fight Over Trade and Medicines
In an online interactive, Thomas J. Bollyky, senior fellow for global health, economics, and development at CFR, examines new data suggesting U.S. trade deals are not be spurring a “discernable trend toward more expensive original or branded versions of medicines and away from cheap unbranded generic drugs, either as a matter of volume or spending. … An explanation of the potential reasons for the (as of yet) limited effects of recent U.S. trade deals on medicines and its implications for the TPP appears in Foreign Affairs…” (3/24).

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'Science Speaks' Summarizes Discussion At Capitol Hill World TB Day Event

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: As U.S. sees first rise in TB cases since early ’90s, World TB Day offers forum to count costs of missed opportunities
Antigone Barton, senior writer and editor of “Science Speaks,” discusses remarks made by speakers at a World TB Day briefing on Capitol Hill last week hosted by the American Thoracic Society, Aeras, RESULTS, and the National Tuberculosis Controllers Association. The speakers “discussed the new numbers, new plans, and old ways of confronting a modern public health crisis,” Barton writes (3/28).

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Mobile Phone Ownership Provides Women Multiple Economic, Health Benefits

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: A phone of her own: How mobile access can change women’s lives
Leora Klapper, a lead economist in the Finance and Private Sector Research Team of the Development Research Group at the World Bank, discusses the multiple benefits to women who own mobile phones. “Mobile phone ownership gives women the ability to open a mobile phone-based bank account … open a business in a remote village … more easily schedule a clinic appointment or register their children for school … [or] register their child’s birth,” Klapper notes (3/28).

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