KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Second Person With HIV Appears To Be In Remission Following Bone Marrow Stem Cell Transplant From Person Genetically Resistant To Virus

New York Times: HIV Is Reported Cured in a Second Patient, a Milestone in the Global AIDS Epidemic
“For just the second time since the global epidemic began, a patient appears to have been cured of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The news comes nearly 12 years to the day after the first patient known to be cured, a feat that researchers have long tried, and failed, to duplicate. The surprise success now confirms that a cure for HIV infection is possible, if difficult, researchers said…” (Mandavilli, 3/4).

STAT: Ten years after the ‘Berlin patient,’ doctors announce a second person has been effectively ‘cured’ of HIV
“For the second time, doctors appear to have put HIV into ‘sustained remission’ with a stem cell transplant — effectively curing the recipient. Their work, which was published in Nature and will be presented at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle on Tuesday, may encourage scientists working on new gene therapies based on similar principles and give hope to those living with the infection…” (Sheridan, 3/4).

Wall Street Journal: Second HIV Patient May Be Cured After Stem-Cell Transplant
“…Nearly three years after the man received a stem-cell transplant from a donor who was genetically resistant to HIV, extensive testing shows he has no detectable amounts of the virus, according to the research, published in the journal Nature. He has been off antiretroviral drugs for about 18 months. Those drugs keep HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in check. ‘He’s doing well,’ said Ravindra Gupta, HIV researcher at University College London who led the study…” (McKay, 3/4).

Washington Post: A decade after the first person was cured of HIV, a second patient is in long-term remission
“…The anonymous case, referred to as the ‘London patient’ by researchers, was cautiously reported … as still too ‘premature’ to be declared a cure … The advance was hailed by infectious disease specialists and even President Trump as a major advance, who called it ‘such great news for so many’ on Twitter. But physicians cautioned that while the new case should inject new energy and funding into efforts to develop treatments that use lessons from the two cases to put the disease in long-term remission, such stem cell transplants — which are not readily available and carry severe side effects in comparison to standard HIV treatments — would not become the standard of care for people infected with the virus…” (Johnson, 3/5).

Additional coverage of the “London patient” is available from Agence France-Presse, Al Jazeera, Associated Press, CNN, Deutsche Welle, The Economist, Fox News, The Guardian, The Hill, Nature, Reuters, Science, The Telegraph, TIME, and Vox.

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Some Vaccines Help Recipients Stave Off Other Infections; Measles Vaccine Does Not Cause Autism, Large Study Shows

NPR: The Unintended Benefits Of Vaccines
“A new study shows that vaccination with a weakened strain of salmonella not only protects against typhoid fever but also seems to rev up the immune system to fight off other problems, like influenza and yeast infection. … For decades, scientists have observed an extraordinarily positive side effect among children who receive the measles vaccine: Deaths from measles plummet among vaccinated children, and so do deaths from unrelated diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea. The same result has been found as a consequence of live polio vaccine and bacille Calmette-Guerin, or BCG, vaccine for tuberculosis. When those vaccines are introduced to poor areas of the world, studies have shown, deaths from many other causes, not just the vaccine-targeted disease, go down…” (Brink, 3/4).

STAT: It’s old news that vaccines don’t cause autism. But a major new study aims to refute skeptics again
“A massive new study from Denmark found no association between being vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella and developing autism. In science and public health circles, that issue has long since been considered settled … But the size of this study — involving 657,461 Danish children born between 1999 and 2010 — should, in theory, bolster the argument that doctors and public health professionals still find themselves forced to make in the face of entrenched and growing resistance to vaccination in some quarters…” (Branswell, 3/4).

Additional coverage of these studies is available from The Guardian, National Geographic, Quartz, and Washington Post.

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Hundreds Of Medical Professionals Sign Letter Urging U.S. Congress To Increase Global Fund Contribution

Homeland Preparedness News: Hundreds of physicians urge Congress to raise funding for global AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria efforts
“In a letter released [last] week, more than 400 physicians and scientists called on Congress to increase the nation’s funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The United States is the largest contributor to the fund to date, comprising a third of total funding. However, medical professionals are urging Congress to push those funds higher still, to $1.56 billion for fiscal year 2020 and $4.8 billion over the next three years…” (Galford, 3/4).

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Trump Administration's Cuts To Palestinian Aid Impacting Treatment Access For Women With Breast Cancer

BuzzFeed News: Trump’s Cuts To Aid For Palestinians Have Totally Disrupted Women’s Breast Cancer Treatments
“Women confronting breast cancer are being hit hard after the Trump administration stopped USAID programs benefiting Palestinians, say aid groups, doctors, health care workers, and patients. The U.S. effectively stopped government aid programs benefiting Palestinians in February, and humanitarian aid groups and hospital administrators in Gaza and Jerusalem say aid cuts are doing serious harm to vulnerable patients at a time when health care systems used by Palestinians are already heavily strained…” (Rajagopalan/Bashir, 3/4).

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Innovative Solutions For Health Financing Needed To Mitigate Threat To Global Economy, G20 Coalition Report Says

Financial Times: G20 report warns of diseases threat to global economy
“Disease and antimicrobial resistance pose as great a threat to the global economy as climate change and will not be contained unless G20 governments make them a priority for finance as well as health ministers, a report warns. The G20 Health and Development Partnership — a coalition of business, academic, and non-governmental organizations — said in a report on Tuesday that health ministers alone could not tackle the crisis and that governments and finance ministers needed to ‘take ownership’ of the problem, as they had with global warming…” (Dodd, 3/4).

The Telegraph: New funding models for health urgently needed, experts warn
“…[The report] calls for innovative solutions to funding health, arguing that ill health could cost the world billions in treatment and lost productivity, with estimates suggesting that the global cost of a moderately severe or severe pandemic would be US $570 billion, or 0.7 percent of global income. The report recommends new models to overcome the so-called ’10-90’ gap, where less than 10 percent of world health resources benefit developing countries, which experience more than 90 percent of infectious diseases…” (Newey, 3/4).

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Nigeria's Premium Times Examines Global Fund's 2018 Audits And Investigations Report

Premium Times: Global Fund for Health: How seven African countries squandered millions of foreign aid
“…Despite the billions in aid money from Global Fund for over a decade, Africa, however, is still dogged by disturbing health statistics. This is partly because corrupt and incompetent officials undercut progress in health management in the continent. … Premium Times reviewed a Global Fund audit report that covered the period between January 7 and December 17. The report revealed how aid money disappeared in the hands of corrupt officials in some African countries. Seven countries top the list of nine indicted of fraud and incompetence in the 2018 ‘audits and investigations’ from the Office of the Inspector-General (OIG), an independent arm of Global Fund. The top seven are Mozambique, Guinea, Zambia, Kenya, Central African Republic, Nigeria, and the Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)…” (Onyeji, 3/4).

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Ebola Treatment Center In DRC's Butembo Reopens Under Ministry Of Health, U.N. Agencies; Violence Threatens To Worsen Outbreak

The BMJ: MSF suspends Congo Ebola effort after deadly clinic attacks
“The charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will suspend operations in two towns at the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, after unidentified groups launched two violent attacks on its clinics in the same week…” (Dyer, 3/4).

CIDRAP News: Ebola treatment center reopens after arson as cases near 900
“The Ebola treatment center (ETC) in Butembo reopened Mar 2, just days after rebel forces set fire to the building, the ministry of health from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) said in a statement [Sunday]. … Without Doctors Without Borders, who staffed the ETC before the attack, the center is being run by workers from the ministry of health, the Word Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF…” (Soucheray, 3/4).

CNN: Ebola treatment center in Congo reopens after attack, but without Doctors Without Borders
“…Despite suspending its activities in Butembo and Katwa, in North Kivu province, Doctors Without Borders said Thursday that it will continue Ebola-related activities in the towns of Goma, Kayna, and Lubéru, also in North Kivu, and in Bwanasura and Bunia in neighboring Ituri province. The two provinces are among the most populous in the nation and border Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan…” (Scutti, 3/4).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Unknown attackers threaten to worsen Ebola epidemic in Congo
“Aid workers at the epicenter of the worst Ebola epidemic in the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo say they are facing a spike in attacks and threats, slowing their work and potentially triggering a surge of new cases…” (Lazareva, 3/4).

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Parental Resistance To Polio Vaccine Complicating Eradication Efforts In Pakistan

Washington Post: Pakistan, on verge of eradicating polio virus, faces human hurdles
“…[T]hough the virus is tantalizingly close to eradication in Pakistan, it has recently reappeared in drain and sewer samples from eight urban areas, and four new cases of paralyzed children have been confirmed since Jan. 1. The reason for this stunning setback, officials say, is not medical, financial, or environmental, although fetid streams and ravines of garbage mar some poor urban communities where the virus keeps being found. With international support, Pakistan has enough vaccine to immunize every child a dozen times over. In January alone, it inoculated 39 million. The reason is mistrust, born of ignorance and rumor-mongering. Although it is illegal for a parent to refuse the vaccine, thousands of families do so. Their fear is fanned by cultural taboos, religious propaganda, and tales of foreign plots…” (Constable/Khan, 3/5).

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Philippines President Duterte Approves Implementation Plan For National Family Planning Program

GMA News: Duterte, Cabinet approve national family planning program
“President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet have approved the implementation plan for the national program on family planning, Malacañang said Tuesday. … Panelo said the ‘key strategy’ was the use of effective modern contraceptives, which 11.3 million women would be given access to over the next four years. The aim is to increase the rate of contraceptive use from 40 percent to 65 percent in order to prevent four million unintended pregnancies and two million cases of abortion over the period…” (Lopez, 3/5).

Inquirer: Duterte OKs all-out family planning program implementation
“… ‘The approval of the aforesaid plan is expected to reduce poverty incidence in the country, which currently has the highest fertility rate and fastest growing population in the ASEAN region, from the current 20% to 14% in 2022,’ [Panelo] said in a statement. Aside from poverty reduction, Panelo said ‘the plan equally aims to promote better health and socioeconomic development among Filipinos’…” (Corrales, 3/5).

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Lebanon Withdraws Nomination Of Ziah Hayek As World Bank President

Devex: Lebanon withdraws World Bank nominee under pressure
“Lebanon has withdrawn its nomination of Ziad Hayek to be the next World Bank president. Hayek told Devex on Monday the Lebanese government made its decision because of ‘pressure’ from other governments. ‘I received some bad news today that the Lebanese government has withdrawn my nomination, but I’m continuing to fight on, still hoping that another party might nominate me instead,’ Hayek told Devex. ‘There was pressure on the Lebanese government from other governments to withdraw my nomination,’ he said…” (Igoe, 3/4).

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More News In Global Health

CIDRAP: Oman reports second MERS cluster, 8 new cases, 2 deaths (Schnirring, 3/4).

IRIN: Briefing: Months after a massacre in Congo, little aid but plenty of fear (Dennison, 3/4).

New York Times: Diagnoses by Horn, Payment in Goats: An African Healer at Work (McNeil, 3/4).

New York Times: On Dakar’s Streets, Working Out Is a Way of Life. Pollution Is Spoiling the Rush (Searcey/Barry, 3/5).

Quartz: Luke Perry’s death reminds us stroke is a leading killer (Staley, 3/4).

SciDev.Net: Mass drug administration against malaria seen effective (3/4).

Science: A prescription for Madagascar’s broken health system: data and a focus on details (Roberts, 2/28).

The Telegraph: Testing everyone for HIV leads to drop in infection by a third (Gulland, 3/5).

U.N. News: Air pollution, the ‘silent killer’ that claims seven million lives a year: rights council hears (3/4).

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Editorials and Opinions

Tobacco Companies Should Not Be Counted On To Promote Sustainable Development

Devex: Opinion: Tobacco companies will not bring about sustainable development
Jeffrey Drope, vice president of Economic and Health Policy Research at the American Cancer Society and professor in residence of global public health at Marquette University, and colleagues

“Tobacco companies … are typically highly profitable and create strong supply chains. This has led to some in the development community viewing them as potential partners in promoting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. … Based on existing conditions and persistent business practices, we are deeply skeptical that this is a viable proposition. … We strongly support the development of alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers, extending to the creation of supply chains and value-adding capacities for alternative crops. However, we see no role for tobacco companies to assist in this process, despite their knowledge, skills, and global supply chains. The political and economic legacies of the tobacco industry are not ones that encourage trust in the likelihood of fair or healthy outcomes compatible with the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)]. … Rather, this is a role for government agencies, potentially with the support of international organizations, civil society, or other private companies involved in non-tobacco agricultural development. The empirical research strongly supports this position and should underpin efforts to promote viable alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers going forward” (3/5).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Fund, U.S. Bilateral Programs Essential Partners, Continue To Make Progress With Congressional Support

Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: U.S. Bilateral Programs and the Global Fund: Partnering to Amplify Impact
“America’s continued leadership in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria has helped save millions of lives. Thanks to bipartisan support for both the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) and U.S. bilateral programs — including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) TB Program — American investments are driving progress on the path to end these epidemics, as well [as] encouraging contributions from other donors and affected countries. … The U.S. bilateral programs and the Global Fund are essential catalysts in the global fight against AIDS, TB, and malaria — both necessary, coordinated, and reinforcing. The dynamic nature of their close partnership model allows them to adapt as the disease landscape changes from country to country. With continued congressional support, PEPFAR, PMI, the USAID TB program, and the Global Fund are enhancing each other’s work and saving millions of lives worldwide” (3/4).

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MEASURE Evaluation Examines Impact Of Ebola On Delivery, Utilization Of Maternal Health Services In Guinea

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: Guinea study finds drops in facility-based births during West Africa Ebola crisis
In a guest post, Janine Barden O’Fallon of MEASURE Evaluation discusses results from a study in Guinea aimed at understanding “how the delivery and utilization of routine maternal, newborn, and child health services may have been affected by the strain Ebola placed on the health system and its clients.” O’Fallon notes, “We found some dramatic declines in service utilization in some of the Ebola-affected areas. … The decline was due to lack of service uptake during the outbreak. … Our review concluded that community-level factors were important to Guinea’s inability to contain Ebola, and that patients need to be central to health care systems in order to maintain high levels of service uptake during stressful times. As investments are building the capabilities and responsiveness of Guinea’s health system, the expectation is that communities will gain trust in these systems and utilize available services” (3/4).

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Blog Posts Discuss Ebola Situation In DRC

MIR Online: Congo’s Ebola Problem: More Than Just the Disease
Nathan Manhas, U1 student currently pursuing a degree in international development studies and history at McGill University, discusses the toll of the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), writing, “The circumstances in the DRC are particularly troubling due to the country’s high population density, mass displacement, and ongoing violence. … While there is potential for improvement, this crisis will continue to demand huge investment and coordination among the various parties involved. Due to the possible powder-keg of internal structural issues, the outbreak has the ability to create a prolonged period of endemic [Ebola virus disease (EVD)] and heightened hostility between civilian combatants, government forces, and a general public in distress” (3/4).

World Bank: DRC: A trip to the front lines of the fight against Ebola
This post discusses Ebola in the DRC and highlights the World Bank Group’s role in responding to the outbreak. “The World Bank is supporting the government’s effort to contain the outbreak, which has infected more than 900 people and claimed more than 500 lives in DRC since August and could spread to neighboring countries…” (3/4).

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Government Of Sudan 'Systematically' Attacking Country's Health Care Sector

Safeguarding Health in Conflict: Systematic Attack on Health Care in Sudan
Carrie Lyons, senior research program coordinator for the Key Populations Program in the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Leonard Rubenstein, founder and chair of the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, examine the humanitarian situation in Sudan, particularly attacks on the health care sector, noting, “The government [of Sudan] has systematically attacked health care, including violent raids on health facilities, as well as arrests, detainment, and killing of health workers. … The international community has the responsibility to call attention to citizens in need — including health workers — and under systematic attack before this crisis escalates” (3/1).

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MSF Examines Prevalence, Impact Of Unsafe Abortions

Médecins Sans Frontières: Unsafe abortion: a forgotten emergency
In this project update, MSF examines the prevalence and impact of unsafe abortions, highlighting stories of individuals affected by the lack of access to safe abortions and health care providers working in areas with limited access to comprehensive reproductive health services. The post notes, “Unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion have a serious medical impact on women and girls in the many low-resource and conflict-affected countries in which [MSF works]. The consequences are also felt by their families and friends, caregivers — including [MSF] staff — and their wider community. And, as a medical and humanitarian organization, MSF remains committed to providing safe abortion care to reduce this avoidable — and often overlooked — suffering” (3/4).

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