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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

4K Doses Of Experimental Ebola Vaccine Arrive In Congo As Number Of Possible Cases Rises To 41

CIDRAP News: DRC Ebola total grows by 2; use of new antiviral weighed
“…[I]nitial talks are under way about possibly using experimental antivirals for treating sick patients, and new information about the initial outbreak cluster and the tough conditions responders face were revealed in a situation report [Monday] from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). … Peter Salama, MBBS, MPH, WHO deputy director general for emergency preparedness and response, said two more probable cases have been reported in the outbreak, raising the overall total to 41, which includes two confirmed cases, along with 22 probable and 17 suspected infections…” (Schnirring, 5/15).

CNBC: The world is more galvanized to tackle this Ebola outbreak, FDA chief says
“Health officials are in a different position to respond to the current Ebola outbreak than they were during the last one, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’ on Tuesday…” (LaVito, 5/15).

NPR: Can The New Ebola Vaccine Stop The Latest Outbreak?
“…In hopes of curbing the spread, global health officials are launching a vaccination campaign. Four thousand doses of [an experimental] vaccine have been shipped to the DRC — with another 4,000 to follow soon. The World Health Organization is coordinating the vaccination effort…” (Aizenman, 5/15).

Reuters: Congo receives first doses of Ebola vaccine amid outbreak
“…The vaccine, developed by Merck and sent from Europe by the World Health Organization, is still not licensed but proved effective during limited trials in West Africa in the biggest-ever outbreak of Ebola, which killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone from 2014-2016. Health officials hope they can use it to contain the latest outbreak in northwest Democratic Republic of Congo which the WHO believes has so far killed 20 people since April…” (Mwarabu et al., 5/16).

Science: Hoping to head off an epidemic, Congo turns to experimental Ebola vaccine
“…MSF will sponsor the trial in collaboration with investigators from the DRC’s health ministry. The team will follow vaccinated people for 84 days to assess whether any develop Ebola and to evaluate side effects. The vaccine is but one of many tools being wielded to stop the outbreak as quickly as possible. All told, Gavi, WHO, the United Nations, and the Wellcome Trust have committed about $8 million to the DRC response…” (Cohen, 5/15).

STAT: As Ebola flares once again, a rapid global response invites cautious hope
“… ‘I think the response so far has been impressive,’ said Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health. … Ron Klain, who served as President Obama’s Ebola czar during the West African outbreak and who has been critical of the WHO, is among those urging a wait-and-see approach…” (Branswell, 5/15).

Wall Street Journal: Ebola Vaccine Headed to Congo to Help Contain Outbreak
“…GlaxoSmithKline PLC, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and Johnson & Johnson are among other entities developing other Ebola vaccines. A J&J spokeswoman said the company is maintaining a stockpile of two million dosing regimens of its experimental Ebola vaccine, and is ready to provide them whenever needed. A spokesman for GSK, which co-developed a vaccine with the NIH, said it has stockpiled doses and is closely monitoring the situation…” (Loftus et al., 5/15).

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WHO Releases Essential Diagnostics List To Help Ensure Use Of Correct Treatments, Effective Disease Monitoring

Healio: WHO releases first ‘Essential Diagnostics List’
“WHO published its first-ever list of essential diagnostic tests [Tuesday] to address the prevalence of late or incorrect diagnoses and improve treatment outcomes globally…” (Ghizzone, 5/15).

Intellectual Property Watch: WHO Issues First-Ever List Of Essential Diagnostic Tests
“… ‘For each category of test, the Essential Diagnostics List specifies the type of test and intended use, format, and if appropriate for primary health care or for health facilities with laboratories,’ WHO said in a release. ‘The list also provides links to WHO Guidelines or publications and, when available, to prequalified products’…” (5/15).

U.N. News: U.N. health agency launches new diagnostic tool to ensure effective treatment
“…The list contains more than 100 products involving 58 tests for detecting and diagnosing a wide range of common conditions; and providing an essential package for screening and managing patient care. Other tests are designed to detect, diagnose, and monitor ‘priority’ diseases, such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis B and C, human papillomavirus, and syphilis…” (5/15).

Xinhua News: 1st WHO list of diagnostic tests unveiled to boost diagnosis accuracy
“…Similar to the WHO Essential Medicines List, which has been in use for four decades, the Essential Diagnostics List is intended to serve as a reference for countries to update or develop their own list of essential diagnostics…” (5/16).

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WFP Director Says Optimism High In N. Korea, No Signs Of Starvation But Food Aid Needed

New York Times: Aid Agency Chief Reports ‘Tremendous Sense of Optimism’ in North Korea
“North Korean officials have a ‘tremendous sense of optimism’ about their country’s recent turn toward diplomacy and have promised to work more openly with humanitarian aid groups, according to the head of the World Food Programme, who visited the country last week. David Beasley, the executive director of the United Nations agency, also said that while malnutrition continued to be a problem in the impoverished North, he saw no evidence during his four-day trip of the kind of extreme food shortages that killed more than two million people there in the 1990s…” (Choe, 5/15).

VOA News: U.N. Prepares to Boost Food Aid to North Korea
“The head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday said the North Korean leadership is hopeful that following a possible denuclearization deal, the international community will increase humanitarian aid for millions of people in the country who are living in poverty and suffering from malnutrition. … Humanitarian assistance has been exempted from the economic sanctions, but Beasley said import restrictions have made it more complicated to bring in aid, and made potential donors reluctant to contribute for fear of inadvertently violating sanctions…” (Padden, 5/15).

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Global Emergency Aid Spending Fell By $1.56M In 2017, Preliminary U.N. Figures Show

IRIN: Emergency aid funding fell in 2017, even as Syria/Yemen wars drove needs higher
“The numbers are in: 2017 was another costly year for humanitarian aid donors, but despite huge needs in Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, and elsewhere, funding levels have stagnated. In 2017, preliminary U.N. figures show a drop in relief funding of $1.56 billion, or seven percent, against 2016, despite rising needs. Funding levels continue to be heavily reliant on the United States and the European Union, while an inner circle of 13 aid agencies commands two thirds of spending. Confirmed 2017 funding reported to the U.N.’s Financial Tracking Service (FTS) was $21.3 billion, down from $22.9 billion in 2016…” (Parker, 5/15).

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Global Health NOW Previews Top Issues At 71st World Health Assembly

Global Health NOW: 8 Things to Watch at This Year’s World Health Assembly — #WHA71
“When global health leaders convene in Geneva next week for the 71st World Health Assembly, they’ll gather under one banner: universal health coverage. … But there will be plenty of other pressing topics to be discussed and issues events to follow. Here are the top things to look for at WHA…” (Simpson, 5/14).

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More News In Global Health

CNN: Gender discrimination kills 239,000 girls in India each year, study finds (George, 5/15).

The Guardian: South Koreans more worried about air pollution than Kim’s nukes (Haas, 5/15).

The Guardian: ‘They were dying of hunger’: the doctor fighting for Ecuador’s poor — podcast (Lamble/Stephens, 5/16).

Mosaic Science: Wherever you are in the world, time is running out for treating gonorrhea (Cousins, 5/14).

News Deeply: Community Health Workers Can Reduce Acute Malnutrition: Researchers (Green, 5/15).

NPR: Random Tweet From Kanye West About The U.N. Baffles The World (Gharib, 5/15).

SciDev.Net: Vitamin D3 boost helps treat child malnutrition (Shaikh, 5/15).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Campaigners urge India to do more for sexual assault victims as new scheme approved (Banerji, 5/14).

U.N. News: Climate change: An ‘existential threat’ to humanity, U.N. chief warns global summit (5/15).

U.N. News: ‘Enough is enough; stop attacks on children’ underscores UNICEF (5/15).

VICE News: Inside Brazil’s struggle to treat thousands of kids born with a Zika-linked syndrome (Noriega, 5/15).

VOA News: Women Protest After Nairobi Restaurant ‘Shames’ Breastfeeding Mom (Ombuor, 5/15).

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Editorials and Opinions

Venezuelan Government Using Food, Health Care As 'Mechanisms Of Social And Political Control'

New York Times: Hostages of Hunger in Venezuela
Tamara Taraciuk Broner, senior Americas researcher at Human Rights Watch, and Rafael Uzcátegui, director of Provea (This article has been translated from Spanish to English by HRW.)

“…In Venezuela’s upcoming presidential elections, many voters will go to the polls hungry and sick because their country is wracked with shortages of food and medicine. More than 1.5 million Venezuelans have fled their country, and for many who remain, getting food and urgently needed medicines have become daily preoccupations. … Venezuelans with [government-issued] IDs can get … food boxes, and also some medical procedures, housing, school supplies, pensions, and special Christmas bonuses, among other benefits. And now, President Maduro wants to reward them for voting. … The government denies that the humanitarian crisis exists, but uses hunger and health as mechanisms of social and political control. … [G]overnments that have already expressed interest in addressing Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis should urgently convene a high-level meeting with representatives from the Americas and Europe, as well as from key international cooperation organizations, with the sole purpose of establishing an effective mechanism to open a humanitarian channel so there are no more hostages of hunger in Venezuela” (5/14).

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As Lawmakers Prepare To Vote On Legalizing Abortion In Argentina, Country Could Become 'Beacon For Choice,' Women's Rights In Region

New York Times: Misogyny, Femicide and an Unexpected Abortion Debate
Jordana Timerman, journalist and editor of the Latin American Daily Briefing

“…Lawmakers [in Argentina] are preparing to debate several bills that would legalize abortion within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The lower chamber of Congress is expected to vote on the issue next month. Passage would make Argentina the most populous country in Latin America to permit women to terminate pregnancies, in a region that skews toward absolute prohibition. That Argentina could suddenly become a regional beacon for choice is surprising. … Should Argentina legalize abortion, the country would become an anomaly in a region where conservative approaches dominate — and where violence against women remains rampant. … It’s not clear how the June vote will go. Estimates show a slight majority against legalization in the lower chamber and a larger majority against in the Senate, but undecided lawmakers could still swing the vote…” (5/15).

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Asia-Pacific Region Must Prioritize Sexual, Reproductive Health To Make Health Coverage 'Truly Universal'

Project Syndicate: The Economic Imperative of Protecting Women’s Health
Anderson E. Stanciole, health economics adviser, and Federica Maurizio, health economics and SRHR analyst, both at the UNFPA Asia-Pacific Regional Office

“…As countries in the Asia-Pacific region develop economically, there will be new opportunities to create more sustainable financing schemes for universal health coverage, including more domestic financing. While ensuring full sexual and reproductive health coverage will depend on broad changes affecting gender dynamics and religious and cultural norms, governments can begin to drive progress by expanding access to health services and increasing financial protection. … Improving the health of half the global population, and building societies that are truly inclusive, requires rethinking how health care is offered to women and girls. … To make health coverage truly universal, we must make sexual and reproductive health a priority” (5/15).

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Global HIV Community Must Advocate For New Drugs To Treat Drug-Resistant HIV

SciDev.Net: World unprepared for a new HIV epidemic
Edsel Maurice Salvana, director of molecular biology and biotechnology at the Philippine National Institutes of Health

“…Progress in the treatment of HIV and AIDS has indeed been positive. … But concomitant to this success is an alarming jump in drug-resistant HIVs. … [F]irst-line [anti-retrovirals (ARVs)] as recommended by WHO may no longer be adequate to address the increasing trend of drug resistance and a push for newer and more potent agents is in order. … [I]t can no longer be ‘business as usual’ for WHO, UNAIDS, and other stakeholders in HIV. … [T]he virus is by no means defeated and continues to evolve. It continues to defeat efforts for a durable cure or a vaccine. … We need to rekindle the old flame of the early HIV activists who would not take no for an answer, and demand that we do what needs to be done to save lives…” (5/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

GHTC Welcomes WHO's First-Ever Essential Diagnostics List

Global Health Technologies Coalition: GHTC welcomes launch of first-ever WHO list of essential diagnostic tests
“The Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) welcomes the publication [Tuesday] by the World Health Organization (WHO) of its first Essential Diagnostics List (EDL), a critical new tool to help guide governments on the vital diagnostic tests that should be made available through health care systems. … This action by WHO follows a global advocacy campaign … urging WHO to establish an EDL to help address global gaps in access to diagnostic tools and guide countries in procuring diagnostics needed to enable safe and appropriate use of essential medicines…” (5/15).

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Haitian Vasectomy Campaign Draws Participation Of More Than 100 Men

UNFPA: Haiti vasectomy campaign draws over 300 percent anticipated turnout
This article discusses a vasectomy campaign in Haiti, noting, “The surgery was offered as part of an outreach event for men, supported by UNFPA and conducted by a health clinic run by the Association for the Promotion of the Haitian Family, also known as Profamil. The partnership hoped to reach 25 men. Organizers were stunned when over 100 people registered” (5/15).

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Podcast Discusses Study On Impacts Of Colonial Law Systems On Current HIV Rates Among African Women

U.N. Dispatch’s “Global Dispatches Podcast”: How Colonialism Explains Female HIV Rates in Africa
Mark Leon Goldberg, editor of U.N. Dispatch and host of the Global Dispatches Podcast, speaks with Siwan Anderson, author of a study that shows how colonial-era common law systems “contribut[e] to very high female HIV rates in former British colonies compared to that of the former colonies of continental Europe that used the civil law tradition.” U.N. Dispatch originally reported on this study here (5/15).

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From the U.S. Government

New PEPFAR Results Show Program Supports More Than 14M People On HIV Treatment Globally

PEPFAR: PEPFAR Now Reaches Over 14 Million People Globally with Lifesaving HIV Treatment
“Fifteen years ago, when the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was created, only 50,000 people in Africa were on lifesaving HIV treatment. New results released today show that the program now supports over 14 million men, women, and children on HIV treatment — more than twice as many as only four and a half years ago…” (5/16).

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U.S. Announces More Than $44M In Additional Humanitarian Assistance For Rohingya Refugees, Other Affected People In Bangladesh, Burma

USAID: The United States Announces Humanitarian Assistance for Rohingya and Other Vulnerable People in Burma and Bangladesh
“[Tuesday], the United States announced more than $44 million in additional humanitarian assistance to meet the urgent needs of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and people affected by violence and conflict in Burma. This funding brings the total U.S. humanitarian assistance for displaced people in and from Burma to more than $299 million since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2017…” (5/15).

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From the Kaiser Family Foundation

KFF Fact Sheet Examines Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis And Malaria, U.S. Government's Role In Fund

Kaiser Family Foundation: The U.S. & The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
This updated fact sheet examines the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund), including donor pledges and contributions to the fund, its funding model and organizational structure, achieved results, and the U.S. government’s role in the fund’s governance, oversight, and financial support (5/16).

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KFF Updates Mexico City Policy Explainer

Kaiser Family Foundation: The Mexico City Policy: An Explainer
This updated explainer from the Kaiser Family Foundation includes information on the Trump administration’s application of the Mexico City policy, as well as an overview of the policy, its history, and changes over time (5/15).

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