KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Expresses Concern Over MERS, Does Not Declare Global Health Emergency

News outlets report on the findings of a WHO panel that concluded the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) does not yet constitute a global health emergency, as well as other developments in the outbreak.

Associated Press: WHO: MERS virus isn’t an emergency — yet
“The spread of a puzzling respiratory virus in the Middle East and beyond doesn’t yet constitute a global health emergency despite a recent spike in cases, the World Health Organization said Wednesday…” (Cheng, 5/14).

HealthDay News: MERS Not Yet a Public Health Emergency: WHO
“…That’s because there’s ‘no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission’ of the mysterious virus that first surfaced in the Middle East two years ago, the WHO said in a news release issued Tuesday…” (Reinberg/Thompson, 5/14).

Reuters: WHO says deadly MERS virus does not constitute global emergency
“Concern about the deadly new Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus has ‘significantly increased’ but the disease does not yet constitute a global public health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday…” (Kelland, 5/14).

Reuters: Saudi Arabia reports 10 more deaths from MERS virus, 20 other cases
“Saudi Arabia said that 10 more people infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) had died over the last two days and identified 20 new cases of the virus, pushing the total number of infections in the country to 511…” (Bakr, 5/14).

Reuters: Man returning from Saudi Arabia is first Dutch patient of MERS virus
“A man returning to the Netherlands from Saudi Arabia has been admitted to hospital with the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, a Dutch health official said…” (Deutsch, 5/14).

Reuters: Two sick U.S. hospital workers test negative for MERS virus
“Two U.S. hospital workers who fell ill after contact with a patient suffering from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have tested negative for the often-deadly virus, a Florida health official said on Wednesday…” (Liston, 5/14).

ScienceInsider: MERS Situation More Serious but Not an Emergency Yet, WHO Panel Says
“An international committee advising the World Health Organization (WHO) today called on countries on the Arabian Peninsula to improve their hospital hygiene and help in carrying out much-needed studies on how the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus spreads. But the panel stopped short of declaring the deadly new disease, which emerged 2 years ago, a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)…” (Kupferschmidt, 5/14).

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World Sees Large Gains In Life Expectancy, WHO Report Says

Media outlets discuss the WHO’s “World Health Statistics 2014” report, which was released on Thursday.

Bloomberg Businessweek: People Live Longer as Child Mortality Falls, Treatments Improve
“Life expectancy around the world surged in the past two decades as the rate of child mortality declined in Africa and wealthier countries improved monitoring and treatment of chronic diseases such as stroke and cancer…” (Wainer, 5/15).

Xinhua News: WHO reports increases for global life expectancy
“The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday said the global life expectancy witnesses ‘large’ gain for children born in 2012 than that born in 1990…” (5/15).

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Human Rights Organizations Condemn Ugandan Law, Bill Criminalizing Homosexuality, HIV Transmission

News outlets report on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Law, enacted in February, and a bill passed earlier this week by the country’s parliament that would criminalize HIV transmission.

BBC News: Uganda’s HIV-prevention law ‘flawed’
“A bill passed by MPs in Uganda which criminalizes the transmission of HIV has been criticized by the campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW). … The government says the legislation, which President Yoweri Museveni must now sign into law within the next three months, will prevent AIDS from spreading. But in a report HRW said the bill, passed by parliamentarians on Tuesday, was a ‘step backward in the fight against AIDS’…” (5/14).

Bloomberg News: Uganda Anti-Gay Law Spurring Abuses, Rights Defenders Say
“A Ugandan law toughening punishments for gay sex has subjected homosexuals to ‘violence and harassment’ and spurred people to go into hiding or flee the country to avoid arrest, according to two human rights groups…” (Gridneff, 5/15).

Key Correspondents: Fear for HIV response as Uganda set to criminalize virus transmission
“…The legislation opposed by activists and health experts obliges a person suspected of the sexual offense to be subjected to HIV testing, mandatory testing for pregnant women and their partners, as well as allowing health workers to disclose a patient’s HIV status to those considered at-risk…” (Okiror, 5/14).

Key Correspondents: Uganda: HIV organizations feel the bite of anti-homosexuality legislation
“Barely three months after Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act was signed into law it has started to bite, with civil society organizations under investigation for ‘promoting homosexuality’…” (Okiror, 5/13).

Reuters: Uganda makes ‘intentional transmission’ of HIV a crime
“The law was passed on Tuesday, a parliamentary spokeswoman said, in response to a resurgence in HIV infections in a country that was once hailed as a success in the global fight against AIDS. Those convicted face up 10 years in prison…” (Biryabarema, 5/14).

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33.3M People Displaced By War In 2013, U.N. Reports

News outlets discuss a U.N.-backed report that reveals that 33.3 million people were displaced by war in 2013.

Associated Press: U.N.: Wars internally displace 33.3 million in 2013
“A record 33.3 million people worldwide were displaced by conflict and violence inside their own nations in 2013, U.N. and Norwegian officials said Wednesday…” (Heilprin, 5/14).

U.N. News Centre: U.N.-backed report reveals record 33.3 million people displaced by war last year
“Conflict and violence uprooted a record 33.3 million people within their countries last year, according to a new United Nations-backed report released today, which adds that 63 percent of them are in five countries — Syria, Colombia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Sudan…” (5/14).

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830M Women Lack Adequate Maternity Protection, ILO Report Says

Media outlets highlight a new report from the International Labour Organization (ILO), which reviews maternity and paternity law and practice in 185 countries and territories.

U.N. News Centre: Amid vast global gaps, maternity, paternity protections make headway, U.N. reports
“Despite progress in maternity benefits and a positive trend in supporting new fathers, at least 830 million women workers still do not have adequate protection, the United Nations labor agency [on Tuesday] reported…” (5/13).

VOA News: ILO: More Than 800 Million Women Lack Maternity Protection
“…ILO Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch Chief Shauna Olney says almost 80 percent of the 830 million women who lack maternity protection are in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia…” (Schlein, 5/13).

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U.N. Global Compact Publishes Food, Agriculture Business Principles

Eco-Business.com: U.N. Global Compact launches six principles for sustainable food industry
“The U.N. Global Compact on Tuesday unveiled a set of six Food and Agriculture Business (FAB) principles that will help food and agriculture businesses to operate in a more sustainable manner, embark on cross-sector collaborations, and develop more consistent and coherent sustainability reports…” (Shah, 5/15).

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Hillary Clinton Discusses Women's Rights, Urges Leaders To Help Their 'Countries' Daughters'

Politico: Hillary Clinton to leaders: Help all daughters
“Hillary Clinton returned Wednesday to one of her favorite subjects, calling for a broader conversation about empowering women and girls, and urging world leaders to think not just of their own daughters but also of their ‘countries’ daughters’…” (Glueck, 5/14).

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Proposed Controversial Law In Iraq Would Allow Men To Marry 9-Year-Old Girls

NPR: Iraq Debates Law That Would Allow Men To Marry 9-Year-Old Girls
“…[A] proposed law [in Iraq] … would rewrite the rules for matters such as marriage and inheritance according to Shiite Islamic law. Most controversially, the law, proposed by former Justice Minister Hassan al-Shammari and passed by the Cabinet, would consider girls adults and thus ready for marriage at nine years old…” (Fordham, 5/13).

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U.S. Recommends Daily Pill For Individuals At Risk Of HIV Infection

New York Times: Advocating Pill, U.S. Signals Shift to Prevent AIDS
“Federal health officials recommended Wednesday that hundreds of thousands of Americans at risk for AIDS take a daily pill that has been shown to prevent infection with the virus that causes it…” (McNeil, 5/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

Saudi Arabia Must Do More To Investigate MERS Transmission, Treatment

Washington Post: MERS is still a mystery virus
In a statement released Wednesday, “[t]he WHO called for speeding up critical investigations, including case-control, serological, environmental and animal studies [on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)]. [Saudi Arabia, which has reported the most cases,] must do everything it can to expedite this vital research. … The best defense today is a deeper understanding of the virus and its behavior — and the sooner, the better” (5/14).

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Cooperative Investment In Agriculture, Nutrition Will Improve Food Security

Devex: How to deliver on ‘Africa’s promise’
Marc Van Ameringen, executive director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition

“…Smart investments to leverage the agricultural system for nutrition make good business sense. A joined-up approach to business investment in agriculture and nutrition will simultaneously improve diets and food security, and achieve healthier, more productive workforces. ‘Delivering on Africa’s promise’ is an admirable and achievable goal. Yet, the sectors of agriculture, nutrition, and health have to be much better integrated for positive outcomes…” (5/14).

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Panel At CUGH Meeting Discusses Global Health News Reporting

GlobalPost: How do journalists and policy analysts choose what to cover in global health?
Marissa Miley, deputy editor of global health for special reports at GlobalPost

Miley summarizes a panel discussion called “How the Media Chooses Global Health Stories” held on Monday at the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) meeting. Miley was joined on the panel by Don McNeil, New York Times global health correspondent; Joe Neel, NPR senior health editor; and Jen Kates, director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation (5/14).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

President Obama Reaffirms U.S. Commitment To Global Health In Video Address

Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH): President Barack Obama Welcomes the 2014 CUGH Conference to Washington, D.C.
In a video welcome, “[t]he president and his administration support and acknowledge the work being done around the world by CUGH and its members, and affirm CUGH’s partnership with the U.S. government” (5/14). The Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Policy Tracker” also provides a summary of the video address (5/14).

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U.S. GAC, NGO React To Uganda's Passage Of Bill Criminalizing HIV Transmission

A statement from U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Deborah Birx and the International Community of Women Living with HIV react to Uganda’s passage of a bill criminalizing HIV transmission.

PEPFAR: Statement from Ambassador Deborah Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, on the Passage of the HIV Prevention and Control Act by the Ugandan Parliament
“…I join with the many health practitioners, HIV/AIDS and human rights activists, multilateral institutions, and individuals everywhere — in Uganda and around the world — in calling for the people and the Government of Uganda to reject this regressive bill…” (5/14). The Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Policy Tracker” also provides a summary of the statement (5/14).

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Ugandan women living with HIV urge Museveni not to sign bill that forces testing, criminalizes transmission, and breaches confidentiality
The blog summarizes a press release from the International Community of Women Living with HIV urging the Ugandan president to reject the bill (Barton, 5/14).

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