KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Senate, House Making Progress On Zika Emergency Funding, According To Congress Members; NIH's Fauci Says Money Needed Now For Containment Research

Bloomberg: Feeling Heat on Zika, Senate Republicans to Approve Funds
“…Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, the Republican who chairs the spending subcommittee that oversees health funding, said he wants to add $1.1 billion in emergency funding to a package of spending bills coming to the Senate floor this week. That figure falls short of the White House’s request for $1.9 billion to combat the virus, which is believed to cause serious birth defects. It could also trigger a fight with House Republicans, who are demanding offsetting spending cuts…” (Dennis/Wasson, 5/11).

CQ News: Zika Aid Might Be Added to Senate’s Two-Bill Spending Package
“Zika aid could find a place in the two-bill appropriations package heading to the floor after the chamber wraps up work on the Energy-Water spending bill, Republican and Democratic senators said Wednesday. But Democrats say there’s no final dollar amount determined yet…” (Mejdrich, 5/11).

CQ News: House Appropriations Chairman Sees Zika Funding Progress
“House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers is indicating some progress has been made on a spending package to combat the Zika virus, after months of negotiations have so far failed to resolve disputes over funding levels or offsets…” (McCrimmon, 5/11).

The Hill: GOP senator: Zika funding could move this week
“…The White House is still pushing for its full $1.9 billion request. … [P]ressure is rising as the weather warms and the virus transmission is expected to ramp up, and some Republicans, notably Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have backed the full White House funding request…” (Sullivan, 5/11).

Los Angeles Times: Zika’s coming, and there’s not enough money for another health emergency
“Less than two years after the Ebola epidemic set off a scramble for money to contain that deadly virus, state and local health officials around the country are rushing to prepare for Zika outbreaks this spring and summer. … Now, with the second threat of a major disease outbreak in three years, America’s public health agencies — and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — are again begging for aid…” (Levey, 5/11).

Reuters: Senate negotiators zero in on Zika virus funding
” U.S. Senate negotiators on Wednesday tried to reach a deal to provide more than $1 billion to battle the Zika virus that is feared will creep north into the United States with the onset of warmer weather, which breeds mosquitoes that could carry the disease…” (Cowan, 5/12).

USA TODAY: Florida Gov. Rick Scott urges Congress to act quickly on Zika
“Florida Gov. Rick Scott, whose state is grappling with a rising number of Zika cases, on Wednesday urged fellow Republicans in Congress to move quickly on a plan to combat the fast-spreading disease…” (King, 5/11).

USA TODAY: Top NIH doctor Fauci: Stalled funds in Congress raise Zika threat
“The nation’s top expert on infectious diseases warns that a funding stalemate between the White House and Congress threatens to slow efforts to contain the Zika virus ‘to a dangerous level’ even as the risks of an outbreak along the Gulf Coast and elsewhere are rising…” (Page, 5/11).

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Amid Zika Outbreak, Rio's Olympic Games 'Must Not Proceed,' Public Health Professor Says

NPR: Public Health Professor: Because Of Zika, Rio Olympics ‘Must Not Proceed’
“Amir Attaran, a professor in the School of Public Health and the School of Law at the University of Ottawa … has written a commentary for the Harvard Public Health Review, published this week, with the headline, ‘Why Public Health Concerns for Global Spread of Zika Virus Means that Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Olympic Games Must Not Proceed.’ The World Health Organization is soon expected to release a statement with guidance on travel to the Olympics. NPR’s Robert Siegel spoke to Attaran about his controversial position…” (5/11).

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Abortion Rate Down Since 1990 In Developed Nations But Steady In Developing Countries, Study Shows

Associated Press: Abortion rate steady in poor nations, plunging in rich ones
“The rate of abortions in the developed world has dropped to an all-time low while remaining steady in poorer regions, where nearly 90 percent of the abortions worldwide occur, researchers say in a new study published Wednesday in the journal Lancet…” (Cheng, 5/11).

The Guardian: Criminalizing abortion does not cut number of terminations, says study
“One in four pregnancies ends in abortion worldwide — about 56 million a year — according to new global data which shows that criminalizing abortion does not make it any less frequent…” (Boseley, 5/11).

New York Times: Abortion Rates in Developed Countries Have Fallen Since 1990
“…The study, published Wednesday in The Lancet, found that the worldwide abortion rate dropped slightly from 1990 to 2014, to 35 from 40 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age. The decline is largely due to developed countries, where abortion rates dropped from 46 to 27 per 1,000. The United States has among the lowest rate, about 17 per 1,000. In developing countries, the rate has changed little, to 37 per 1,000, from 39…” (Belluck, 5/11).

Reuters: Abortion rates fall to historic low in wealthy countries, little changed elsewhere
“…The study — by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Guttmacher Institute — also found that imposing restrictive laws does little to lower abortion rates, but is more likely to force people into having unsafe terminations…” (Kelland, 5/12).

SciDev.Net: Abortion rates highest in nations that ban practice
“…The evidence indicates that access to good health care and modern contraception are the most important factors in reducing abortion rates, says Gilda Sedgh, the study’s lead author and a researcher at the Guttmacher Institute, a U.S. organization that aims to advance sexual and reproductive rights…” (Vesper, 5/12).

Washington Post: The world’s abortion divide: Plummeting rates, but only in developed countries
“…Among the other major findings are that three-fourths of abortions took place among married women, challenging the popular notion that most abortions are sought by unwed teens…” (Cha, 5/11).

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New WHO Guidelines Recommend Shorter Treatment Regimen For Drug-Resistant TB

BBC News: Shorter treatment ‘will help tackle’ drug-resistant TB
“New international guidelines aim to halve the cost and time for treating multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). The advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) should reduce treatment to around nine months…” (Dreaper, 5/12).

The Guardian: WHO recommends shorter drug regimen for multi-drug resistant TB
“…The existing course of combined heavy-duty antibiotics used against MDR-TB lasts up to two years and there are toxic side effects to some of the drugs, causing deafness and other problems. About half of those put on the treatment give up, raising the risk that their disease will return and spread to other people…” (Boseley, 5/12).

Wall Street Journal: World Health Organization Recommends New Treatment for Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
“…The shorter regimen also costs far less: under $1,000 per patient in developing countries, compared with up to $3,000 for the current treatment, the WHO said…” (McKay, 5/12).

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Rising Air Pollution Levels In Many Cities Increase Residents' Risks Of Stroke, Heart Disease, Lung Cancer, WHO Report Says

Bloomberg: Air Pollution Rises in Poorest Cities as Health Risks Climb
“Increasing air pollution in many of the world’s poorest cities is driving up the risk of stroke, heart disease, and lung cancer in some of the most-vulnerable populations, according to a report Thursday from the World Health Organization…” (Ryan/Upadhyay, 5/12).

CNN: WHO: 4 in 5 city dwellers live in overpolluted urban areas
“…New research released Thursday found that air quality levels exceed WHO limits for 80 percent of those living in urban areas that track air pollution, putting people more at risk for respiratory diseases, stroke, heart disease, and lung cancer. Global air pollution also rose eight percent from 2008 to 2013…” (Berlinger, 5/12).

The Guardian: Air pollution health timebomb poses a major threat to development
“…The WHO data show that there is now little or no escape from the plague of poisoned air; people in 98 percent of cities in low- and middle-income countries with more than 100,000 inhabitants are breathing air with pollution levels that exceed WHO minimum safety guidelines. That figure is almost halved in high-income countries, where the figure is 56 percent…” (Vidal, 5/12).

New York Times: Europe Trails U.S. in Cutting Air Pollution, WHO Says
“…Lower levels of pollution were far more prevalent in North America and higher-income European countries than in most other places, especially countries like India, Pakistan, and China. But in Europe, a higher percentage of cities exceeded the limits set by the WHO than in North America…” (Goode, 5/12).

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Los Angeles Times Profiles Female Polio Vaccine Teams Working To Immunize Children In Pakistan

Los Angeles Times: Meet the women trying to rid Pakistan — and the world — of polio
“…[H]ealth officials and international experts think Pakistan could finally stop the spread of the disease this year. One of their reasons for optimism is people like [19-year-old health worker Saira Nizamuddin], who is part of a new strategy to employ local women to administer the vaccine and make regular house visits in some of the highest risk areas…” (Bengali, 5/11).

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Some Of China's One-Child Policy Enforcement Workers Now Educate Parents About Childrearing

Wall Street Journal: In Rural China, One-Child Policy Enforcers Push a New Message
“For 30 years, Yu Huajian visited villages in rural China to remind couples to have just one child, to abide by the law and help the economy. He also pursued violators of the much-hated policy and oversaw abortions. Since the one-child policy was abandoned in October, Mr. Yu and some of the half a million other family-planning workers have knocked on rural doors with a different message: How to play with children, read to them, and raise them with better skills…” (Burkitt, 5/12).

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Devex Interviews David Nabarro, U.N. Secretary General's Special Adviser On 2030 Agenda, Climate

Devex: David Nabarro: ‘Every country is a developing country’
“…As the United Nations secretary general’s special adviser on the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and climate, [David] Nabarro is now tasked with helping ensure the early years of two of the most momentous international agreements in history, the SDGs and the Paris climate agreement, actually amount to something real. … ‘Unless action on climate is prompt, effective, and involves all concerned … then we’ll have virtually no chance of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,’ Nabarro told Devex Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar [in a video interview]…” (Igoe, 5/12).

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Editorials and Opinions

Congress Must No Longer Delay Zika Funding

Washington Post: The GOP Congress must stop hurting the Zika fight
Editorial Board

“…Now that Congress has returned from its recess, it is time to buckle down and approve the president’s request for about $1.9 billion in emergency funding, or something close to it. … The time to prepare for the onslaught of virus-carrying Aedes mosquitoes was yesterday — and yet Congress has stalled the president’s February funding request. … Warning the public, creating and scaling up diagnostics, and carrying out spraying and other prophylactic measures are all vital, and these take time to prepare, time that is being lost on Capitol Hill. … It is long past time for Congress to deliver the money needed to fight a virus that, if unchecked, could ruin thousands of young lives” (5/11).

New York Times: Congress to America: Drop Dead
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist

“…In February, [President] Obama urgently requested more than $1.8 billion to address Zika, and Congress since then has done nothing but talk. Republicans have protested that the administration doesn’t need the money, that they have questions that haven’t been answered, or that the request is vague. These objections are absurd. … It’s always more cost-effective and lifesaving to tackle an epidemic early. … The larger mistake is that budget cutters have systematically cut public health budgets that address Zika, Ebola, and other ailments. The best bargain in government may be public health, and Republicans have slashed funding for it while Democrats have shrugged…” (5/12).

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Investment In, Empowerment Of Women, Girls Critical To Ending Epidemics, Fighting Poverty

Devex: The big picture: Empowering, not just reaching, all women and girls
Heather Doyle, senior coordinator on gender at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

“…[I]t is imperative that we in the global health community demonstrate measurable progress in our work to target women and adolescent girls — two crucial populations in efforts to end HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria as epidemics by 2030. This will be accomplished through evidence-based investments in quality, comprehensive health and social services programming. Most importantly, women and girls need integrated services and programs, which will require strong collaboration among all partners. … Ultimately, our investments need to empower girls and women to make decisions about their own lives. Their health and well-being is the key to unlocking better health and well-being for everyone. That is how we are going to end epidemics, prevent diseases, fight poverty, and continue saving lives” (5/10).

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Eradicating Hunger, Achieving Food Security Will Help Prevent Conflicts

Inter Press Service: Hunger, a Matter of Global Security
Enrique Yeves, director of corporate communication at FAO

“…Eradicating hunger is … not only a moral obligation, but something vital to guarantee a future for all of us. Improving food security can help to construct a sustainable peace, and even prevent future conflicts. We know that action promoting food security can help to prevent crises, mitigate their impact, and foster post-conflict recovery. It is clear that for us to prevent conflicts we must address their root causes, and amongst these are hunger and food insecurity. … International efforts towards peace will be more effective if they include measures to build resilience in families and rural communities, since it is they and their livelihoods that conflicts harm most. However, to achieve all of this, hunger, at the heart of a great number of conflicts, should be considered a matter of world security” (5/11).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

USAID Continues To Prioritize Evidence-Based Decision-Making, Open Data

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Leveraging Data and Evidence to Drive Decision Making at USAID
Negar Akhavi, acting director of the Office of Learning, Evaluation, and Research in USAID’s Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning, and Brandon Pustejovsky, chief data officer at USAID, discuss the agency’s “progress in using evaluations and open data to effectively drive budget, policy, and management decisions.” USAID has been recognized by Results for America’s 2016 Federal Invest in What Works Index and the Office of Management and Budget’s Open Data Dashboard for its use of data to drive policy decisions and efforts to expand public access to data, respectively (5/11).

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Blog Post Examines Questions Over Long-Term Safety Of Dengue Fever Vaccine

Humanosphere: Questions hover over Asia’s first dengue vaccination program in Philippines
Humanosphere reporter Lisa Nikolau discusses the launch of a school-based immunization campaign in the Philippines to deliver the Dengvaxia vaccine to prevent dengue fever. She writes, “So far, the program appears to be running without difficulties, but some health professionals are concerned that the vaccine was released before researchers could ensure its long-term safety…” (5/11).

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