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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Google Working With UNICEF To Map Zika Virus, Provides $1M Grant For Prevention Efforts

Reuters: Google says its engineers working with UNICEF to map Zika
“Alphabet Inc.’s Google said on Thursday that its engineers were working with U.N. child agency UNICEF to analyze data in an effort to map and anticipate the spread of the Zika virus, linked to birth defects among children in Brazil…” (Bentley, 3/3).

USA TODAY: Google gives $1M grant, engineers to fight Zika virus
“…The Internet giant’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, is giving a $1 million grant to UNICEF. The grant is earmarked to raise awareness of the mosquito-borne virus, reduce mosquito populations, develop diagnostics and vaccines, and work with communities and governments to prevent disease transmission. Google also has launched a matching campaign for Google employees with the goal of providing an additional $500,000 to UNICEF and the Pan American Health Organization…” (Guynn, 3/3).

WIRED: Google is Donating $1 Million to UNICEF to Fight Zika
“…[A]ccording to the company, the volunteer team is working on building an open source platform to process data from various sources, including weather and travel patterns, to help visualize potential outbreaks. The aim is to have governments and NGOs use Google.org’s tech to decide where their resources would be best spent…” (Alba, 3/3).

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Brazil Records More Cases Of Dengue, Microcephaly Believed To Be Linked To Zika

Wall Street Journal: Brazil Confirms More Microcephaly Births, Dengue Cases Rise
“Disease spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito continues to spread in Brazil, as the country reported higher numbers of cases of dengue and a further rise in suspected cases of a birth defect believed to be linked to the mosquito-borne Zika virus…” (Jelmayer/Johnson, 3/2).

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Climate Change's Impacts On Global Food Production Could Cause 500K Deaths By 2050, Study Shows

News outlets discuss findings from a study published in The Lancet examining the health effects of climate change on food production.

SciDev.Net: Climate change to force deadly diet shift
“…Changes in temperature and precipitation ‘are expected to reduce global crop productivity’ and drive people to eat less red meat and less water-intensive fruit and vegetables, says the study published [Wednesday] in The Lancet. This would counteract ongoing efforts to improve nutrition among the world’s poorest people…” (Rabesandratana, 3/3).

Washington Post: Food scarcity caused by climate change could cause 500,000 deaths by 2050, study suggests
“…The food-related deaths would be caused by two major factors: people not getting the right type of nutrition, and people simply being underweight. The majority of all the predicted deaths were found to be caused by the nutrition factors, mostly by people being forced to eat fewer fruits and vegetables. However, the effects were somewhat variable in different regions of the world…” (Harvey, 3/2).

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Global Fund Audit Shows Ugandan Government Failed To Spend Grants On HIV Treatment

The Guardian: Uganda’s failure to spend Global Fund grants denies thousands HIV treatment
“The lives of hundreds of thousands of people are being put at risk by Uganda’s poor management of health spending, a report finds. An audit by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, published on Friday, said millions of dollars remained unspent even though drug shortages were common in health centers. For a country often pleading limited resources for providing decent health care, the findings suggest that a big part of the problem could be paucity of smart governance…” (Kavuma, 3/2).

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Cholera Continues To Sicken Thousands, Kill Dozens Each Month In Haiti, AP Reports

Associated Press: Cholera quietly still kills dozens a month in Haiti
“…Cholera, which arrived in Haiti in October 2010, has sickened more than 770,000 people, or about seven percent of the population, and killed more than 9,200. So far this year, it has sickened more than 6,000 and is killing an average of 37 people a month. The persistence of the preventable disease has alarmed public health experts who fear that attention and resources have been diverted by newer challenges, including the regional spread of the Zika virus and the political crisis that recently halted Haiti’s elections…” (McFadden, 3/3).

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2.5M People Food Insecure In CAR; U.N. Agencies Appeal For Assistance

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Hunger soars in CAR as nearly 2.5 million face food shortages
“Half the population in Central African Republic are going hungry every day, double the number a year ago, U.N. officials said as they called for help to prevent the ‘dire’ food situation deteriorating further…” (Batha, 3/2).

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Despite International Praise For Relief Efforts, Ethiopians Remain Food Insecure

The Guardian: ‘We’re waiting to die’: Ethiopians pray even as drought response praised
“…In contrast with other humanitarian crises, such as the one in neighboring South Sudan, where aid is delivered through international organizations, the government is the main channel for relief efforts in Ethiopia. … But despite praise by international organizations and the government’s assurances that relief efforts are on track, signs of the operation’s limitations are visible on the ground…” (Foltyn, 3/3).

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Mexico Records Nearly 1K H1N1 Swine Flu Cases, 68 Deaths, Compared With Only 4 Total Cases In 2015

Reuters: Mexico sees spike in H1N1 swine flu cases, 68 people dead
“Mexico has seen a sharp jump in cases of the virus H1N1, popularly known as swine flu, killing 68 people so far this flu season, according to health ministry data. The overall number of flu cases and deaths has also risen, but the H1N1 statistics are striking. The Mexican government has detected 945 cases of H1N1 this season, compared with just four cases and no deaths last season…” (Bernstein, 3/2).

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Editorials and Opinions

Using Ebola Funds To Pay For Zika Response Would Damage Global Health Security

U.S. News & World Report: Don’t Use Ebola Funds to Fight Zika
Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health, and Gabriella Meltzer, research associate for global health, both at the Council on Foreign Relations

“…[U.S. President Barack] Obama, who requested $1.9 billion in anti-Zika emergency supplemental funds last week, has asked to use some of the leftover Ebola funds but will rightly not divert all of it, as Republicans have suggested. Using Ebola-designated funds to combat Zika would devastate health care reconstruction in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea and severely damage the United States’ reputation as a leader in advancing the global health agenda. … Obama did not take from the AIDS relief program created by former President George W. Bush to pay for swine flu responses in 2009. Nor did Bush deprive any other health program to finance the emergency AIDS relief fund. Effective global health and catastrophic responses are not built by robbing Peter to pay Paul. Promises must be kept, or the foundations of health security will crumble. And a crumbling health security network is ultimately a threat to all” (3/1).

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Integrating Meningitis A Vaccine Into Routine Immunization Programs Important Next Step For African Leaders

Project Syndicate: Defeating Meningitis in Africa
Chris Elias, president of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…Sixteen years ago, African health ministers, the international health NGO PATH, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Serum Institute of India, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and dozens of other partners formed the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP). The mission was simple: to develop an affordable vaccine to fight meningitis A in Africa. The project was successful. In less than 10 years, the MenAfriVac vaccine was launched and has produced an immediate and dramatic break in the cycle of meningitis A epidemics. … The MVP stands as a powerful example of what is possible when African leaders and experts from across the spectrum of global health work together. Strong, temporary partnerships, with a focused goal, can have truly catalytic effects. But the work is far from over. Last year, the WHO approved MenAfriVac for use in regular vaccine schedules, making it possible for millions more to be protected. … The task before African leaders is to ensure a smooth and full transition from mass vaccination campaigns to routine immunization…” (3/2).

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Global Community Must Do More To Implement Comprehensive Disaster Risk Reduction Plans

The Guardian: Climate change is a potent element in the deadly brew of disaster risk
Helen Clark, head of the U.N. Development Programme and former prime minister of New Zealand, and Robert Glasser, head of the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the secretary general’s special representative for disaster risk reduction

“…The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters and major insurance companies agree that, in 2015, figures for deaths, numbers of people affected, and economic losses from disasters were below the 10-year average. But are we getting better at managing disasters, or are we actually reducing disaster risk? … Mortality is declining in many places because of better disaster management and more effective use of early warning systems. But more needs to be done to reduce risk comprehensively, including by tackling the compounding factors of poverty and inequality, rapid and unplanned urbanization, damage to ecosystems, and poor risk governance. … [The Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction] was the first major development-related new agenda to be adopted in a year that also brought the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Addis Ababa action agenda on financing for development, and the Paris agreement. There is a golden opportunity now to ensure coherence between these agreements so that climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction work together to strengthen resilience across the full range of environmental, technological, and biological hazards” (3/3).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

European Commission Announces Increase In Global Fund Contribution Over Next 3 Years

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s “Voices”: With Increased Commitment, Europe Demonstrates Leadership in Global Health
Mark Dybul, executive director of the Global Fund, writes, “With [Thursday’s] announcement that it is supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria with a €470 million [$512 million] contribution for the next three years — an increase of 27 percent — the European Commission is strengthening a partnership that is saving millions of lives and transforming communities…” (3/3).

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PLOS Collection Examines Global Health 'Grand Convergence'

PLOS Collections: Grand Convergence: Aligning Technologies & Realities in Global Health
“In this PLOS Collection, global health leaders chart the path to a dramatic reduction in the global burden of disease by 2035. This ambitious convergence in global health will require strategic investments in research and development as well as an aggressive scale-up of health care delivery systems to ensure that existing health tools and services reach those who need them. ‘Grand Convergence: Aligning Technologies and Realities in Global Health’ describes how to reduce avertable infectious, maternal, and child deaths down to universally low levels within a generation by aggressively scaling up health tools and continuing to invest in the tools of tomorrow” (3/2).

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CSIS Report Examines U.S., Global Prioritization Of Antimicrobial Resistance

Center for Strategic & International Studies: Combating Antimicrobial Resistance in 2015
This report by Audrey Jackson, senior fellow with the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, examines U.S. and global prioritization of antimicrobial resistance. The summary states, “Despite recent progress, however, the United States still needs to formulate and articulate an overarching policy on economic incentives and business models that will stimulate research and development of new antibiotics while encouraging conservation and appropriate access globally” (2/29).

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Baker Institute Reports Examine Ethical Considerations Of NTD Policies, Efforts In U.S., Mexico

Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy: Ethical considerations for the creation a national NTD Policy
This report — written by Ana Iltis, professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Bioethics, Health and Society at Wake Forest University and scholar at the Baker Institute, and Kirstin R.W. Matthews, fellow in science and technology policy — “highlights some of the central ethical issues pertaining to policy development for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and argues that ethical considerations should be included in the policy development process” (2/29).

Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy: Addressing NTDs in the U.S. & Mexico
Peter Hotez, fellow in disease and poverty; Kirstin R.W. Matthews, fellow in science and technology policy; and Jennifer Herricks, postdoctoral fellow in disease and poverty, all with the Baker Institute, “summariz[e] the key findings of the Baker Institute conference ‘The United States and Mexico: Addressing a Shared Legacy of Neglected Tropical Diseases and Poverty.’ This report reviews the impact and prevalence of NTDs in the United States and Mexico and addresses key policy challenges and make recommendations for reducing NTDs in these two countries” (2/15).

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World Birth Defects Day Aims To Raise Awareness, Reduce Stigma, Increase Prevention

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: World Birth Defects Day Raises Global Awareness of Birth Defects
Pamela Costa of the CDC Division of Congenital and Developmental Disorders writes, “On March 3, 2015, 34 countries on five continents joined together to support the inaugural World Birth Defects Day. With the goal to raise global awareness about the prevalence and severity of birth defects worldwide, participants reached nearly 3.4 million people via social media platforms … The goals for World Birth Defects Day 2016 (March 3, 2016) are to raise awareness about birth defects, reduce stigma, and increase opportunities for prevention…” (3/1).

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New CSIS Reports Examine Public Health, TB Efforts In Ethiopia

Center for Strategic & International Studies: Sustaining Improvements to Public Health in Ethiopia
In this report, Richard Downie, deputy director and fellow in the CSIS Africa Program, discusses Ethiopia’s success at providing basic health care and its efforts to improve quality and access. The summary notes, “In order to sustain the progress, the Ethiopian government — urged on by its most important external donor partner, the United States — must reconsider its authoritarian, rigid approach to governance” (3/2).

Center for Strategic & International Studies: As Ethiopia Moves toward Tuberculosis Elimination, Success Requires Higher Investment
In this report, Randall Reves, chair of Stop TB USA; Sahil Angelo, program manager and research associate for the CSIS Global Health Policy Center; and Phillip Nieburg, senior associate with the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, discuss the CSIS team’s visit to Ethiopia and how the Stop TB Partnership/WHO’s new 2016-2020 End TB Strategy informs the country’s efforts to control and treat the disease (3/2).

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John Snow, Inc. Working To Develop Innovative Community Program For Childhood Vaccinations

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Working toward Universal Immunization: John Snow, Inc (JSI)
Molly Abbruzzese, a senior program officer on the vaccine delivery team at the Gates Foundation, discusses efforts by “John Snow, Inc. (JSI), which for the past four years has worked to develop an innovative, sustainable model — Universal Immunization Through Improving Family Health Services (UI-FHS) — that empowers health workers and communities to solve problems locally to reach every child with vaccines…” (3/2).

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