KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

GAO Report Examines U.S. Zika Response, Recommends USAID Improve Tracking Funds, Planning Responses, Building Partnerships

Bloomberg Law: U.S. Zika Response Held Up by Agency Missteps, Lack of Planning
Federal review of international Zika response finds USAID lacked important partnerships…” (Kay, 5/15).

Homeland Preparedness News: GAO recommends USAID improve fund tracking, response planning
“Though efforts by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have helped many countries hit by the Zika virus since its emergence in 2015, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) determined that its efforts could do with improvement, particularly when tracking funds and planning responses…” (Galford, 5/15).

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Global Health NOW Examines Issues To Watch At Upcoming World Health Assembly

Global Health NOW: 7 Things to Watch at the 2019 World Health Assembly — #WHA72
“…Each year in May, delegates from 194 member states convene to set WHO’s priorities. They’ll have plenty to discuss. Since last year, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has advocated for universal health coverage, restructured WHO, proposed a new budget, and tackled other major objectives. His efforts as well as the organization’s current and future work will be scrutinized and discussed (and maybe cussed) in a frenetic 9-day sprint in Geneva. Here are 7 things to watch at #WHA72…” (Simpson, 5/15).

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ONE Campaign Urges U.K. Health Minister To Show Leadership On Global Fund Replenishment At G7 Meeting

The Telegraph: U.K. urged to show leadership in fight against three big infectious killers
“Health secretary Matt Hancock is being urged to ensure the fight against the world’s three biggest infectious disease killers remains a global focus in a meeting with international counterparts this week. Mr. Hancock is attending this week’s G7 meeting of health ministers in Paris where the elimination of AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis will be one of just three items on the agenda. … Advocacy group the ONE Campaign has urged Mr. Hancock to show strong support to the fund, highlighting its vital contribution since it was first established…” (Gulland, 5/15).

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DRC Ebola Outbreak Continues To Grow, As U.N., South Sudan Prepare For Disease's Potential Spread Across Border

Bloomberg: U.N. Steps Up Measures to Combat Ebola at South Sudan-Congo Border
“…The U.N., the World Health Organization, and South Sudan’s Health Ministry are training medical staff and have moved equipment to centers near the border to screen people, U.N. head of mission David Shearer told reporters Wednesday in the capital, Juba…” (Francis, 5/15).

CIDRAP News: Ebola outbreak grows by 19 as WHO notes ‘stop and go’ response
“The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) ministry of health recorded 19 new cases of Ebola [Wednesday] in the ongoing outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces. Eleven new deaths were also recorded. … In a situation update published [Tuesday], the World Health Organization (WHO) described the recent spike in cases as part of a ‘stop and go’ pattern that’s come to define this outbreak…” (Soucheray, 5/15).

Devex: The challenges facing MSF in supporting DRC Ebola response
“The response to an epidemic starts within the community, according to Dr. Joanne Liu, international president of Médecins Sans Frontières. But with the current Ebola outbreak facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liu told Devex communities have been left behind, creating a failure in the response. … A keynote speaker at the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine’s Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine held in Brisbane, Australia, from May 7-10, Liu cited the Ebola crisis in discussing the future of emergency response. The growing security mindset in responding to humanitarian crises, she said, risked distorting the response and management and creating greater division with communities in need of support…” (Cornish, 5/16).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak, response, and research efforts is available from Healio and HuffPost.

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1 In 7 Infants Worldwide Born With Low Birthweight, Study Shows; Authors Call For International Action To Address Causes Of Underweight Birth

CBS News: New report is “a wake-up call” on leading risk to newborn babies: low birthweight
“A startling new report by U.N. agencies and public health experts sheds light on one of the greatest threats to newborn babies worldwide: being born with low birthweight. The report, published [Wednesday] in the British medical journal The Lancet Global Health, says that 80% of the 2.5 million newborns who die worldwide every year are low birthweight — a terrible trend that researchers believe can be changed…” (Falk, 5/15).

CNN: 1 in 7 babies is born underweight, with dire consequences for their health, global study says
“…Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization analyzed data from government databases and surveys in 148 countries between 2000 and 2015. Globally, 20.5 million — 14.6% — babies born in 2015 had low birthweight, defined as less than 2,500 grams or about 5.5 pounds. That’s a slight decrease from the 22.9 million — 17.5% — babies with low birthweight in 2000, according to the findings, published Wednesday in the journal The Lancet Global Health…” (Bracho-Sanchez, 5/15).

The Telegraph: Countries face a “wake-up” call as 20 million babies are born underweight every year
“…High income countries — including the U.K. — have made virtually no progress. In North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, low birthweight rates have remained constant, at an average of seven per 100 newborns. ‘For policymakers, I think the results of this research open eyes to the magnitude of the problem,’ said Dr. Mercedes De Onis, coordinator in the department of nutrition at the WHO. ‘Reducing low birthweight requires understanding of the underlying causes in any given country’…” (Newey, 5/15).

U.N. News: Countries must up their game to reduce low birth weights, warns U.N.-backed report
“…In 2012, WHO’s 195 member States committed to reduce its prevalence by 30 percent, by 2025. However, estimates found only a 1.2 percent decrease worldwide — from 22.9 million low birthweight live births in 2000 to 20.5 million in 2015 — indicating that if the rate did not pick up, the world would fall well short of the annual 2.7 percent reduction required to meet the 2012 target. … The study’s authors have called for international action to ensure that all babies are weighed at birth, to improve clinical care, and to promote public health inquiry into the causes of low birthweight, to reduce death and disability…” (5/15).

Additional coverage of the study is available from NPR and SciDev.Net.

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U.K. Institute Launches Effort To Prevent Cancer From Becoming Drug-Resistant, Aimed At Long-Term Patient Survival

Financial Times: U.K. cancer program to target treatment resistance
“The Institute of Cancer Research in London has launched a £75m ‘anti-evolutionary’ drive that it says is the world’s first drug discovery program aimed specifically at tackling cancer’s lethal ability to evolve resistance to treatment. The ICR, part of the University of London, is investing in a new Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery on its campus in Sutton, Surrey, where scientists will pursue a variety of approaches to overcome or redirect the process of cancer evolution…” (Cookson, 5/15).

The Guardian: New war on cancer aims at longterm survival, not cure
“…The ICR wants to refocus its work, aiming not just to kill cancer cells but to destroy their ability to evolve. The aim is to take the lethality out of cancer and turn it into a disease that — if a cure is not possible — will no longer shorten or ruin lives, in the same way that HIV is controlled for millions of people on antiretroviral drugs…” (Boseley, 5/15).

Reuters: Scientists in new push to control cancer before curing it
“… ‘Cancer’s ability to adapt, evolve, and become drug-resistant is the cause of the vast majority of deaths from the disease and the biggest challenge we face in overcoming it,’ said Paul Workman, chief executive of Britain’s Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)…” (Kelland, 5/15).

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Wellcome Trust To Support Efforts To Find New Treatments For Snakebite With $102M In Funding

Reuters: ‘Hidden health crisis’ of snakebites gets $100 million funding injection
“A global health trust is to inject 80 million pounds ($102 million) into finding more modern and effective treatments for snakebites — a ‘hidden health crisis’ that kills 120,000 people a year and maims thousands more. The project, launched by Britain’s Wellcome Trust global health charity on Thursday, aims both to improve the world’s supply of antivenoms — the only current treatment for snakebites — and to develop new and more effective drugs for the future…” (Kelland, 5/15).

Additional coverage of global efforts to find more modern treatments for snakebite is available from The Telegraph and Science.

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More News In Global Health

Al Jazeera: ‘They’re coming by dozens’: HIV outbreak sparks panic in Pakistan (5/16).

Deutsche Welle: World in Progress: Stopping the spread (Muller, 5/15).

Devex: Health tech solutions for low-resource areas emerge from MIT Solve (Lieberman, 5/16).

Global Press Journal: One Man’s Quest to Bust Vasectomy Myths in Zambia (Phiri, 5/15).

New York Times: In North Korea, Worst Drought in Decades Adds to Food Crisis (Sang-Hun, 5/15).

NPR: New HIV Map Offers Most Detailed Look Yet At The Epidemic (McDonnell, 5/15).

Reuters: ‘People are dying’: U.N official urges aid access for Myanmar’s Rakhine state (McPherson, 5/15).

U.N. News: Yemen war ‘a test of our humanity,’ and we’re ‘badly failing,’ warns U.N. Children’s Fund chief (5/15).

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Editorials and Opinions

Restoring Trust, Quelling Fear Critical To Addressing Ebola In DRC

Christian Science Monitor: The calm for Congo’s Ebola storm
Editorial Board

“…[O]fficials have pinpointed a key reason for the lack of progress against [Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)]: fear itself. … In a study of Congo’s crisis published in March, scholars discovered that fewer people sought medical care as fear of the disease rose. The fear has stayed one step ahead of the facts. … Some global experts have called for the European Union to send a ‘white-helmeted security battalion’ to the area. … Yet militarizing the Ebola-hit area with foreign forces may not be the answer. In fact it may only add to a deeper cause of the outbreak: a general mistrust of outsiders bred by a vacuum of governance in eastern Congo after decades of conflict. Restoring trust is now essential to quell the fear. Biodefense first requires a buy-in by local communities. That means greater transparency and consistency in delivering humanitarian aid as well as better communication about goals and methods. Medicine alone is not sufficient. What’s needed immediately is a cease-fire in the area, perhaps brokered by international leaders and Congolese officials. This would create a comfort and a calm that might allow health workers to operate safely. Only by loosening the grip of fear can Congo conquer the grip of Ebola” (5/15).

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Addressing Global Challenge Of Antibiotic Resistance Requires Both Scientific, Economic Solutions

The Conversation: Scientists alone can’t solve the antibiotic resistance crisis — we need economists too
Laurence Roope, senior researcher for health economics at the University of Oxford; Richard Smith, professor of health economics and deputy pro vice chancellor at the University of Exeter; and Sarah Wordsworth, associate professor of health economics at the University of Oxford

“…[S]cience alone cannot solve the antibiotic resistance crisis. … [D]eveloping new antibiotics is not just a scientific problem. Without the right incentives, pharmaceutical companies will not try to develop the new drugs that we need. A range of economic measures can help tackle the unnecessary use of antibiotics while stimulating the development of new antibiotics. … Balancing the need to reduce antibiotic use with expanding essential access is difficult but important. If the cost of antibiotics increases, through taxation or quotas, it will be vital to develop ways to reduce the risk that these drugs will only be taken by people who can afford them” (5/15).

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South Korea, FAO Partnership Could Help Advance Global Progress Toward 'Zero Hunger' World

Korea Herald: [Jose Graziano Da Silva] Leveraging Korean know-how and partnerships for ‘Zero Hunger’ world
Jose Graziano Da Silva, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

“…[South Korea] has made remarkable progress in recent decades — in both nutritional and economic development. It’s scientific and technological advancements are second to none and the country is now considered a leading global player in technological innovation. It has been a great partner for FAO, particularly by providing resources to fund development work abroad and by offering highly skilled human resources to help create and secure environmentally sustainable food systems, improved value chains, and innovations in information and communications technologies in agriculture. Making this Korean know-how available to family farmers in the Asia-Pacific region will prove to be a great advancement along the road to a Zero Hunger world. This month, FAO and the Korean government are opening an FAO Partnership and Liaison Office in Seoul. The new office will formally establish FAO’s presence in the country and help both the organization and the government work more closely in advancing our joint work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals across the Asia-Pacific region…” (5/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Fund Support Linked To Better Governance In LMICs, Study Shows

Georgetown Law’s O’Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law: Georgetown study shows aid from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria linked to reducing corruption, better governance
“International aid from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria is linked to better governance in low- and middle-income countries, including improved control of corruption, rule of law, and overall development. A study published by Georgetown University researchers challenges critiques of international aid as ‘dead’ and claim short-term benefits are outweighed by harm to governance. The study ‘Governance and Health Aid from the Global Fund: Effects Beyond Fighting Disease’ shows countries receiving more aid from the Global Fund displayed better governance, even after controlling for other factors…” (5/14).

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UNAIDS Calls For Decriminalization, Protection Of LGBTI People

UNAIDS: UNAIDS calls on countries to remove discriminatory laws and enact laws that protect people from discrimination
“Ahead of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), on 17 May, UNAIDS is calling on all countries to remove discriminatory laws against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people. Stigma towards key populations — gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, people who inject drugs, and prisoners and other incarcerated people — is reinforced by criminal laws. These in turn fuel violence, exploitation, and a climate of fear, hindering efforts to make HIV services available to the people who need them. … UNAIDS joins with the United Nations Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in calling for the decriminalization of LGBTI people and for LGBTI people to be protected from violence and discrimination and to have full access to health and other social services…” (5/16).

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FAO Calls For Strengthened Partnerships, Sustainable Investments To End Hunger, Malnutrition

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Strengthened global partnerships needed to end hunger and malnutrition
“Eradicating hunger and malnutrition and achieving sustainable development requires strengthened global partnerships and sustainable investments to drive economic growth, FAO Deputy Director-General for Programmes Daniel Gustafson said [Wednesday at the opening ceremony in Rome of EXCO2019, an international development cooperation fair]…” (5/15).

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From the U.S. Government

Nepal Could Serve As Model To Other Countries For Hypertension Control Efforts

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: Confronting the Silent Killer in Nepal
Bethany Hall, scientific health communications fellow at CDC, discusses Nepal’s 2019 May Measurement Month campaign, which aims to increase access to blood pressure screening in an effort to prevent deaths and disability from noncommunicable diseases, and examines CDC’s and other partners’ efforts to reduce heart attacks and strokes worldwide. Hall writes, “With the current speed of progress, Nepal could soon become a role model for hypertension control for many low- and middle-income countries” (5/15).

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