KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

New York Times Examines Foreign Policy, Diplomacy Surrounding Gay Rights

New York Times: Antigay Laws Gain Global Attention; Countering Them Remains Challenge
“…The issue of gay rights has catapulted up the diplomatic agenda in recent years, as international organizations have extended rights protections to gays and lesbians and donor nations have faced new challenges in dealing with governments that discriminate…” (Sengupta, 3/1).

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Aid Cuts To Uganda Will Not Affect Maternal, Child Health Program, Official Says

News outlets continue to report on reaction to and implications of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Law.

Associated Press/Washington Post: Aid cuts, delays hit Uganda’s poor health sector
“The health project in Uganda for which the World Bank is delaying a loan does not face an immediate shortage of money, an official said Friday, allaying concerns that work to improve maternal and child health services could stall because of the country’s new anti-gay law…” (2/28).

Deutsche Welle: Ugandan maternal health project hit by World Bank loan postponement to continue
“In an unusual move, the World Bank postponed a $90 million loan to Uganda over its anti-gay law. But the maternal health project for which the funding was intended is not at risk…” (Caldwell, 2/28).

Reuters: Uganda anti-gay bill author says aid cuts small price to pay
“The author of Uganda’s new anti-gay bill that imposes tough jail terms for homosexual acts said aid cuts imposed by disapproving Western donors were a price worth paying to protect the east African nation’s moral values…” (Jorgic/Croome, 3/3).

Science Speaks: Uganda anti-homosexuality law silence prompts call for U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa to step down
The blog summarizes a call from AIDS-Free World Co-Directors Stephen Lewis and Paula Donovan for the removal of U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe “because her ability to speak to the issues affecting the epidemic has been compromised by her government ties…” (Barton, 3/3).

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Confusion Surrounds Myanmar Government's Expulsion Of, Then Reversal On MSF Operations

The government of Myanmar on Thursday called on Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, to cease its health care operations in the country, but then allowed the group to continue its activities except in Rakhine state, where a majority of a Muslim minority group live.

Agence France-Presse: Myanmar orders MSF to ‘cease all activities’ in the country
“Medical aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Friday said the Myanmar government had ordered it to suspend all its activities in the country, halting vital health care to thousands of people…” (3/1).

Associated Press: Doctors Without Borders expelled from Myanmar
“Doctors Without Borders said Friday it has been expelled from Myanmar and that tens of thousands of lives are at risk. The decision came after the humanitarian group reported it treated nearly two dozen Rohingya Muslim victims of communal violence in Rakhine state, which the government has denied…” (Mason, 2/28).

BBC News: Médecins Sans Frontières’ shock at Myanmar suspension
“The aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières has expressed its shock at the order to cease operations in Myanmar. It said it was deeply concerned about the tens of thousands of people it was treating, particularly for HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB…” (2/28).

Devex: Biased aid? MSF negotiating full access in Myanmar
“…In a baffling government U-turn, Medecins Sans Frontieres was first ordered to cease operations in Myanmar and then allowed to resume their work — although not in Rakhine state, home to the vast majority of the Rohingya people, a Muslim ethnic minority which the country’s Buddhist rulers refuse to grant full rights…” (Ravelo, 3/3).

IRIN: Myanmar still talking tough over MSF expulsion from Rakhine
“Authorities in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State say they are ready to take over the health programs Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)-Holland has been implementing in the conflict-hit state for the past 20 years, after the government ordered their closure…” (3/3).

Médecins Sans Frontières: Myanmar: MSF to resume HIV/AIDS and all other activities in Kachin, Shan and Yangon but concerns remain
“On February 27, Médecins Sans Frontières Holland (MSF) received a written order from the Union Government of Myanmar to cease all operations in the country, which led to a full closure of all MSF Holland clinics on February 28. This act left patients confused and desperately concerned across the whole country…” (3/1).

VOA News: Aid Group Told to Halt Operations in Burma After Rohingya Controversy
“The international aid group Doctors Without Borders says it has been ordered to halt all operations in Burma, also known as Myanmar, following a controversy involving Rohingya Muslims…” (2/28).

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Aid Chief Says Myanmar Can’t Stall on Reforms
“The U.S. government’s chief aid officer has warned that assistance to Myanmar depends on continued reform and that the country needs to stop restricting humanitarian access to communities hit by sectarian violence. In an interview at the conclusion of a two-day trip to the country, Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said that Washington has spent $186 million in foreign aid in Myanmar on a variety of programs in health care, agriculture and technology…” (3/2).

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Bomb Targets Pakistan Polio Team, Kills At Least 11

News outlets report on the latest series of attacks on polio workers in Pakistan.

Agence France-Presse: Three bomb blasts targeting Pakistan polio team kill 12
“Twelve people were killed and 11 injured when three roadside bombs targeting a polio vaccination team in Pakistan’s restive northwest exploded Saturday, officials said, in the latest attack on efforts to combat the crippling disease…” (3/1).

BBC News: Pakistan polio team hit by deadly attack
“A bomb attack on a polio vaccination team in northwest Pakistan has killed at least 11 people, officials say. A roadside bomb went off as the police-guarded convoy drove through a village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province near the Afghan border. The attack is the latest in a series targeting polio teams in the country…” (3/1).

International Business Times: Bomb Attack on Pakistan Polio Vaccine Team Kills 11
“At least 11 people have been killed and several more injured in a bomb attack on a polio vaccination team in northwest Pakistan…” (Akinyemi, 3/1).

Reuters/Washington Post: Pakistani police killed protecting the fight against polio
“A mass funeral is held for six members of a security escort who, while protecting a polio vaccination team, were killed by Taliban militants in northwest Pakistan…” (3/1).

Firstpost: Pak: Military strikes eliminate militants who attacked polio workers
“Military helicopter gunships carried out strikes on Sunday in Khyber region in northwest Pakistan, targeting militants involved in the attack on the polio team and, killed five suspected terrorists…” (3/2).

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Malaria Cases Decline But Many Still At Risk

News outlets report on continued efforts to eliminate malaria in Asia and Africa. While the number of deaths due to malaria declines, many are still at risk of the disease.

IRIN: Malaria fight sees decade of progress, with pitfalls ahead
“A lot can change in a decade … the field looks very different, in large part because ample funding is now available, from the Global Fund, the President’s Malaria Initiative (a U.S. government program) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. … But there has been one serious change for the worse. ACTs — which have underpinned this success — have stopped working in areas around the Thailand-Cambodia border, an area where drug resistance often first appears…” (Blunt, 3/3).

SciDev.Net: Africa malaria cases ‘decline but more still at risk’
“Despite substantial decline in transmission rates of malaria in endemic African countries from 2000 to 2010, the continent is still saddled with millions of people at risk of the disease, a modelling study says…” (Kathure, 2/28).

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Most Southern African Countries Will Miss MDG Targets For Water, Sanitation, Report Says

News outlets highlight a new report (.pdf) from WaterAid examining Southern African countries’ progress on water and sanitation goals.

The Guardian: Southern African leaders fail to prioritize water and sanitation
“The majority of Southern Africans are living in an ‘unrelenting struggle against sanitation and water poverty,’ according to a new report that accuses governments in the region of failing to prioritize their plight. In ‘From Promise to Reality,’ the international NGO WaterAid says Southern African leaders have fallen behind on their promises to boost public spending on basic services, with the poorest and most vulnerable people hardest hit…” (Provost, 3/3).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Most Southern African countries to miss 2015 MDG water and sanitation targets, only two on track — report
“More than 40 million people in Southern Africa who should have received access to safe drinking water by 2015 will miss out, and 73 million will go without basic sanitation due to investment shortfalls, according to a report released on Monday…” (Mis, 3/3).

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U.N. Expert Calls For Compensation For Haiti Cholera Victims

BBC News: Senior U.N. expert calls for Haiti cholera compensation
“A U.N.-appointed expert has publicly disagreed with the world body and called for ‘full compensation’ for the victims of a cholera epidemic in Haiti…” (3/2).

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Food Crisis Set To Worsen In CAR, U.N. Official Warns

News outlets discuss the challenges that U.N. agencies face in delivering food to conflict-torn Central African Republic.

Agence France-Presse: Food crisis looms in strife-torn Central Africa: U.N.
“A food crisis is looming in the Central African Republic after nearly a year of inter-religious violence, a U.N. humanitarian official warned Sunday…” (Jourdain, 3/2).

Al Jazeera: U.N. warns of food crisis in CAR
“…Funds pledged to help the crisis in January have not materialized, Abdou Dieng, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator said, with only one-fifth of the $500 million promised at a donor conference in Brussels coming in to the country…” (3/2).

Deutsche Welle: Central African Republic in worsening food crisis
“Fighting and the lack of infrastructure are making it almost impossible to get aid into the Central African Republic. After several weeks delay, a food convoy has just arrived in Bangui. Many more are needed…” (Schlindwein, 2/28).

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WFP Forced To Scale Back Food Rations In DRC

U.N. News Centre: DR Congo: funding gap forces U.N. agency to scale back food rations
“The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced [Friday] that a major funding gap is forcing the agency to scale back geographical coverage of its work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and to instead focus on what it describes as ‘acutely-insecure, conflict-affected areas’ in the vast country…” (2/28).

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10M Children In Middle East To Receive Polio Vaccination, U.N. Says

Agence France-Presse: 10 million children in Mideast to get polio vaccine: U.N.
“Millions of children in the Middle East will be vaccinated against polio this month after the crippling disease resurfaced in conflict-hit Syria, the United Nations said Sunday…” (3/2).

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WHO Activates New Cholera Vaccine Stockpile In South Sudan

Reuters: Q&A with WHO: Cholera vaccine stockpile — a new tool to avoid needless suffering
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has activated for the first time a new cholera vaccine emergency stockpile to protect hundreds of thousands displaced by conflict in South Sudan and living in temporary camps. Although there is currently no outbreak of cholera — an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water — the risk is high due to poor sanitary conditions and overcrowding, the WHO said….” (Tang, 3/3).

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UNICEF Educates Somaliland Communities About Harms Of FGM

Associated Press: Somaliland leaders want female genitals to be cut
“…UNICEF is weaving a delicate campaign to educate communities in Somaliland about the harms of female genital mutilation and to get leaders, who are meeting there this month to debate the practice, to denounce it. Child rights advocates in nearly 30 countries are fighting to reduce the number of girls subjected to the cutting of their genitalia, a practice that goes back thousands of years and that Somali practitioners often link to Islamic requirements…” (Straziuso, 3/1).

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WHO Calls On Governments To Invest In Hearing Care

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency calls on countries to invest in prevention and care for hearing loss
“The United Nations health agency is calling on governments to invest in hearing care, as a new survey finds that many countries lack the capacity to prevent and care for hearing loss, which affects 360 million people worldwide…” (2/28).

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UNFPA Official Promotes Development Focus On Adolescent Girls In Interview

Inter Press Service: Q&A: The Face of the Future is an Adolescent Girl
“‘The future is today aged 10 and it’s an adolescent girl,’ Kate Gilmore, deputy executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said in an interview with IPS in Johannesburg. Gilmore discussed the impact on African youth of the last two decades of action on sexual and reproductive health and equal access to education for girls, which are assessed in the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Beyond 2014 Global Report…” (Bikitsha, 2/28).

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Health Officials Face Challenges Promoting Voluntary Circumcision In Western Zambia

Inter Press Service: Defying Elders and Changing Zambian Tradition
Health officials face challenges in Western Zambia, “where the national campaign to promote voluntary male circumcision has not been welcome…” (Mwanangombe, 3/3).

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IRIN Investigates Food Security Situation In Zimbabwe

IRIN: Unraveling Zimbabwe’s ‘food crisis’
“Is there a food crisis in Zimbabwe? The U.N. says 2.2 million people will be in need of food assistance until the end of March, based on a 2013 government-led joint survey by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC). But the government is now questioning those findings…” (3/4).

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WFP Official Urges Inclusionary Policies For Food Security

Devex: Not just beneficiaries: Make the poor partners in fighting hunger
“How can you feed a billion people and lift them out of poverty while making sure their development progress is sustainable? For a senior official at the U.N. World Food Programme, we can by making them active agents in their own progress. That way, they will not only ‘own’ the development programs targeted at them, but also make food security an issue for the government in countries like the Philippines — not just international aid groups and NGOs…” (Santos, 3/3).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Must Address International Violence Against Women

Arizona Daily Star: Plight of world’s women must be addressed
Ritu Sharma, co-founder and president of Women Thrive Worldwide

“Saturday is International Women’s Day, a 105-year-old annual call to action for women’s equality. But for many women and girls around the world, its most basic promise of freedom remains unfulfilled. More than one-third of the women and girls on this planet will experience physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives, according to a 2013 World Health Organization report … What can we do as Americans sitting so far away? A lot. In November, the International Violence Against Women Act was reintroduced into the U.S. House of Representatives. Senate introduction of the bill is expected any day. This legislation — at no additional cost to Arizona’s taxpayers — would make violence against women and girls a top U.S. foreign policy priority…” (3/3).

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Gender Equality's Link To Peace Should Be Central To Post-2015 MDG Framework

The Guardian: Gender equality and peace are linked — the post-2015 agenda should reflect it
Hannah Wright, gender, peace and security adviser at Saferworld

“…As the debate on what to replace the MDGs with after 2015 gathers pace, there are continued calls for gender equality to be central to the framework. Gender and peace are closely linked: peace is vital to promote gender equality, while gender inequality can also undermine peace and drive conflict and violence. This is one of the key messages in a new briefing, ‘Gender, violence and peace: a post-2015 development agenda,’ published by Conciliation Resources and Saferworld…” (3/3).

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Long-Term Impact Of Food Vouchers 'Remains To Be Seen'

The Economist: Giving generously
“…Last year, the WFP helped to feed over 90 million people in 80 different countries. But the way it distributes food relief has been changing. … Economists now see the next great challenge for the international community as reducing the negative consequences of malnutrition rather than famine. … The WFP has already readjusted its policies to reflect this change in thinking. In 2008, the organization’s remit was changed from providing ‘food aid’ to ‘food assistance’ to broaden its mission. And last year, more than 4.4 million people were receiving aid from the WFP in terms of cash or vouchers instead of food handouts. … Although such policies are expected to be cheaper, but also eventually to boost development indicators such as life expectancy and infant mortality, the actual long-term impact of these changes remains to be seen…” (3/3).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Senate Hearing Scheduled For Global AIDS Coordinator Nominee Deborah Birx

“A U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on the nomination of Dr. Deborah Birx to be the next Ambassador at Large and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator has been scheduled for March 6, at 2 p.m.,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “…The hearing, which will take place in the Senate Dirksen Building, room 419 will be webcast live at this page. Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass) will preside over the hearing” (Barton, 2/28).

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USAID, P&G Launch Clean Drinking Water, Health Projects In Myanmar

USAID “Administrator Rajiv Shah [on Thursday] helped deliver the first liter of clean drinking water under the Global Development Alliance (GDA) between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Procter & Gamble (P&G) to improve health in [Myanmar]. … Over the next two years, USAID and P&G intend to make joint investments of at least $2 million on health projects aimed at providing clean drinking water through provision of P&G Purifier of Water packets; promoting better hygiene behaviors; and building capacity to deliver improved health services to mothers and children. Population Services International (PSI) will implement these projects in-country…,” a P&G press release states (2/28).

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CDC Blog Discusses Link Between HIV, Maternal Health In Africa

Writing in the CDC’s “Our Global Voices” blog, Isabella Danel of the CDC Division of Reproductive Health discusses progress in improving maternal health in Africa and the impact that HIV has on maternal mortality. “…The HIV epidemic is an important reason maternal mortality has not decreased much — or has even increased. That much is clear and it’s the reason CDC and other partners are re-doubling efforts to better understand and overcome the complex mix of medical, cultural, and institutional forces that will have to be addressed if pregnant women living with HIV are to survive…” (3/3).

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Near East, North Africa Governments Conclude FAO Regional Conference

“Governments from the Near East and North Africa [on Friday] wrapped up a five-day meeting on regional food security challenges pledging enhanced cooperation to tackle the critical issues of water management, food waste and building more resilient rural communities. In a final report, the 32nd FAO regional conference for the Near East and North Africa endorsed three key proposals tabled during the talks…,” a press release from the Food and Agriculture Organization reports (2/28).

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'Science Speaks' Blog Discusses WHO Consolidated Guidelines Supplement on HIV

The Center for Global Health Policy “Science Speaks” blog discusses the WHO launch of the March 2014 Supplement to the 2013 Consolidated Guidelines on the Use of Antiretroviral Drugs for Treating and Preventing HIV Infection. The supplement provides “responses to the guidelines to date … highlights trends to help countries forecast their procurement needs … [and] adds new information about strategies for diagnosing HIV infection among infants to expedite antiretroviral treatment initiation,” among other things (Lubinski, 3/3).

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