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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Says 'Accumulating Evidence' Zika Associated With Microcephaly, GBS; Virus's Effect On Future Pregnancies Unknown

Reuters: WHO convenes experts amid ‘accumulating evidence’ of Zika link to disorders
“There is ‘accumulating evidence’ of a link between the Zika virus and two neurological disorders, microcephaly, and Guillain-Barré syndrome, the World Health Organization said on Friday. The WHO’s Emergency Committee will meet next week to review ‘evolving information’ and its recommendations on travel and trade in what is thought to be high season for transmission of the mosquito-borne virus in the southern hemisphere, it said…” (Nebehay, 3/4).

Reuters: Questions grow about Zika’s risk to future pregnancy
“…More than a dozen disease experts, in interviews with Reuters, said there is no evidence at this point of long-term risk for future pregnancies. But, given the surprises seen with the virus so far, they said people should remain cautious until studies give scientists a better picture of how the virus works. … Public health agencies have urged pregnant women to avoid travel to Zika outbreak areas but have given little guidance for couples planning to start a family…” (Beasley, 3/4).

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White House, CDC To Meet With State, Local Officials To Discuss U.S. Zika Prevention, Treatment

Reuters: White House and states to craft Zika attack plan at summit
“The White House and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will gather state and local officials next month to urgently craft a plan to attack the hard-to-control mosquito that spreads the Zika virus. By June or July, federal health officials expect the first locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus in the continental United States…” (Rampton, 3/4).

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U.N. Denying Haitian Cholera Victims Right To Justice, U.N. Human Rights Special Rapporteurs Say In Letter To Ban Ki-Moon

The Guardian: U.N.’s own experts chastise Ban Ki-moon over handling of Haiti cholera outbreak
“…In a withering letter to the U.N. chief, the five special rapporteurs say that his refusal to allow cholera victims any effective remedy for their suffering has stripped thousands of Haitians of their fundamental right to justice. The letter is believed to be the first time that the U.N.’s guardians of human rights have turned their spotlight onto the U.N. hierarchy itself, as opposed to individual nation states that are the usual target of their criticism…” (Pilkington, 3/3).

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The Lancet Examines Potential Public Health Implications Of TPP

The Lancet: TPP: trade-offs for health behind closed doors
“…[T]he final language [of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)] has complex implications for domestic policies in the participant countries, including for public health. As legislators consider ratifying the agreement, close observers question how future negotiations could be made to yield a more representative, more legitimate outcome…” (Alcorn, 3/5).

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Nearly 16M People In Southern Africa Risk Hunger Because Of Drought, WFP Says

Reuters: WFP says 16 mln face hunger in southern Africa, emergency looms
“Almost 16 million people face hunger in Southern Africa because of a drought exacerbated by an El Nino weather pattern and that number could climb to almost 50 million, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday…” (Stoddard, 3/4).

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USAID Sends Disaster Assistance Team To Ethiopia To Coordinate Drought Response

Thomson Reuters Foundation: U.S. sends elite disaster experts to respond to Ethiopia drought
“… Around a dozen members of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) have arrived in Ethiopia to coordinate the U.S. response to the drought. They will be joined by DART logistics, nutrition, and water, sanitation and hygiene experts in the next few days…” (Migiro, 3/3).

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Boko Haram Plunders Abandoned Villages For Food After Farmers, Herdsmen Flee To Avoid Group's Violence

New York Times: Boko Haram Falls Victim to a Food Crisis It Created
“…After rampaging across the region for years, forcing more than two million people to flee their homes and farms, Boko Haram appears to be falling victim to a major food crisis of its own creation. Farmers have fled, leaving behind fallow fields. Herdsmen have rerouted cattle drives to avoid the violence. … The hunt for food appears to be part of what is pushing Boko Haram deeper into Cameroon, according to an American State Department review of attacks in the first few weeks of this year…” (Searcey, 3/4).

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Humanitarian, Medical Aid Agreement With Syrian Regime Close, U.N. Officials Say

Wall Street Journal: U.N. Says Deal Is Near With Syria on Aid
“United Nations officials said they were on the verge of an agreement with the Syrian regime to get humanitarian relief flowing and to lift a ban on medical supplies to opposition-held areas, as Western powers raced to deliver aid while a shaky truce was still holding…” (Dagher/Fassihi, 3/4).

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U.S., GE, Nigerian Government Partner To Improve Quality Of, Access To Maternal, Child Health Services

Daily Post: Nigeria’s primary health care paints a dismal picture for many children — U.S.
“The United States’ Ambassador to Nigeria, James F. Entwistle, has observed that the state of primary health care in Nigeria paints a dismal picture for the future of many children. … Speaking at the launch of the Healthymagination Mother and Child Initiative on Thursday in Abuja, Entwistle said U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has as a result partnered with General Electric (GE) and the Government of Nigeria to bring quality health services to millions of women and children in Nigeria…” (Odunsi, 3/4).

The News: U.S., Nigeria, General Electric launch $20m maternal health scheme
“…Entwistle said that there were 40,000 maternal deaths per year in Nigeria, adding that many pregnant women delayed seeking care until potential life-threatening condition arose. He said that no mother should die from preventable causes. According to him, the tripartite partnership between Nigeria, U.S., and GE would identify at-risk pregnancies early and refer women to higher level of care…” (3/4).

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Sierra Leone Bill To Expand Abortion Access Expected To Be Approved, Despite Religious Groups' Opposition

Agence France-Presse: Sierra Leone religious groups believe abortion law a lost battle
“As the president of Sierra Leone equivocates over signing a bill to extend abortion provision in a country with sky-high maternal mortality rates, its powerful religious authorities believe the battle against it is already lost. … For reasons that are the subject of rampant speculation and few concrete facts, he has yet to give his assent, but the coalition of Catholics, Christian evangelicals, and Muslim groups that united in stringent opposition to the bill believe the game may be up…” (Johnson/O’Mahony, 3/3).

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Global Health Corps CEO Barbara Bush Tells Students Field Needs 'Diversity' In Skills

Devex: Barbara Bush: Global health needs ‘systems thinkers’
“Speaking to a group of students on Capitol Hill Tuesday, co-founder and CEO of Global Health Corps Barbara Bush said the field of global health needs leaders from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise, including technology, engineering, architecture, and even retail. ‘We need diversity at the table when we’re thinking about problem solving,’ Bush said during the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ END7 Student Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C…” (Tyson, 3/3).

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Editorials and Opinions

Focus On Health Systems Strengthening, Not Disease-Specific Initiatives, Will Help Control HIV, Other Fatal Diseases

The Lancet: PEPFAR: is 90-90-90 magical thinking?
Scott Barnhart, professor of global health at the University of Washington

“The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) 3.0 has embarked on an important refocusing to achieve epidemic control through 90-90-90 (90 percent of HIV-positive individuals knowing their status, 90 percent of those receiving antiretroviral therapy, and 90 percent of those achieving viral suppression). Despite good intentions, the implementation is creating health system disruption. … The proposed investment in 90-90-90 underscores the inherent flaw of disease-specific initiatives — they ignore the needs of other worldwide fatal diseases. … For HIV to be controlled without a shift to a more cost-effective health-system strengthening model is magical thinking. … The world is too complicated for disease-specific approaches to health, as the ravages of Ebola in weak health systems have shown. A health-system strengthening approach will ensure that, especially in times of austerity, there are local institutions and infrastructure in place to provide care for all” (3/5).

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Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility 'Will Help Save Lives And Money'

Devex: From crisis to clarity: Getting a handle on global pandemics
Keith Hansen, vice president for human development at the World Bank Group

“…[O]ne thing that both Ebola and now Zika have made clear is that the world has to get serious about pandemic preparedness and response. … That’s why in the past decade we at the WBG have stepped up our focus on the threat of global pandemics. … Together with the World Health Organization and many other partners, and with the support of the Group of Seven, we are developing a new Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility. … The PEF aims to fill a gap in the current pandemic response financing architecture, which is too dependent on ‘pass the hat,’ donor-by-donor financing that varies in scale and often comes in too late for a fast-moving, deadly outbreak. In so doing it will help save lives and money, speed up response times, and bring more predictability, discipline, and rigor to country and global pandemic response…” (3/4).

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Amnesty International's Annual Report Shows Right To Health 'Must Be Addressed By The Global Community'

The Lancet: Health — an explicit human right
Editorial Board

“Set against the backdrop of unprecedented and worldwide migration, recurring themes [of Amnesty International’s annual report for 2015] include access to health services, the effects of conflict on health, women and children’s health, sexual rights, and the denial of health care in prisons. In this comprehensive review of human rights in 160 countries, health is an explicit and constant underlying thread. … [A]s Salil Shetty states in the report foreword, ‘…protecting and strengthening systems of human rights and civilian protection cannot be seen as optional. It is literally a matter of life and death.’ In reviewing the state of the world’s human rights in 2015, it is clear that denial of the fundamental right to health is an urgent and recurring theme that must be addressed by the global community” (3/5).

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Food Insecurity In Africa Should Be Addressed Through Economics, 'Context Of The Wider Food System'

The Conversation: What’s driving sub-Saharan Africa’s malnutrition problem?
Jane Battersby, researcher in urban food security at the University of Cape Town

“Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest level of food insecurity in the world. An estimated 220 million people lack adequate nutrition. … Current policy focuses on alleviating undernutrition through increased production and access to food. It does not focus on the systemic issues that inform the food choices people make. This may result in worsening food insecurity in the region. … Food insecurity is driven by the economics and the geographies of the food system. … In the region, 33 percent of adults are overweight and a further 11 percent are obese. … The poor eat badly because it makes economic sense for them to do so. … Food insecurity in Africa needs to be understood in the context of the wider food system, as well as in the way that food connects to economic and other practices. There needs to be a radical reconfiguration of food security policy that moves away from focusing on production and household poverty alleviation to consider the nature and dynamics of the food system…” (3/2).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Post Examines MCC's 5-Year Strategic Plan To Reduce Poverty Through Economic Growth

U.S. Global Leadership Coalition: Strengthening MCC for the Future
John Glenn, policy director of the USGLC, discusses the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) five-year strategic plan, which “highlights the ‘single mission’ that inspired its creation: reducing poverty through economic growth.” He writes that the plan “reinforces its core tenets that have garnered so much support on Capitol Hill and across administrations: selectivity based on countries’ good governance, freedom, and investment in people; partnering with countries that make policy reforms and ‘own’ the implementation of the compact; and data-driven monitoring and evaluation, alongside rigorous transparency…” (3/3).

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Zika Focuses Attention On Latin American Women's Reproductive Rights

Humanosphere: Zika started a conversation about women’s health we should have already had
Lisa Nikolau, a Seattle-based journalist and Humanosphere contributor, discusses how the suspected link between Zika virus and microcephaly has focused attention on women’s reproductive health and rights, including access to abortion, in Latin America. She includes comments from Diane Bushley, global program manager at Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, and Latanya Mapp Frett, executive director of Planned Parenthood Global, and she cites a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation and a 2012 study from the Guttmacher Institute (3/3).

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Nations Should Improve Congenital Anomalies Surveillance Systems, PAHO/WHO Says On World Birth Defects Day

Pan American Health Organization/WHO: PAHO/WHO calls on countries to strengthen surveillance of birth defects, including microcephaly
“Strengthening surveillance for birth defects will help countries obtain more accurate estimates of the prevalence of microcephaly and other congenital anomalies in newborns, say experts from the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). PAHO/WHO is urging countries to invest resources in strengthening such surveillance systems in light of the recent surge of cases of microcephaly reported by Brazil and on the observance of World Birth Defects Day on March 3…” (3/3).

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CSIS Report Examines Adolescent Pregnancy, Maternal Mortality In Nicaragua

Center for Strategic & International Studies: Addressing Adolescent Pregnancy and Maternal Mortality in Nicaragua
In this report, Katherine Bliss, senior associate (non-resident) with the CSIS Global Health Policy Center and Americas Program, writes about her “recent trip to examine Nicaragua’s immunization programs in the context of support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. … But as she sought to situate what she learned about immunization programs within the broader context of maternal and child health in Nicaragua, the author was struck by the number of adolescent girls who become pregnant at a very young age and considered what implications this may have for the health outlook of Nicaragua’s newest families” (3/3).

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