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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Ebola Confirmed In DRC Port City Of More Than 1M People, Increasing Risk Of Disease's Rapid Spread

Associated Press: Ebola spreads to city, entering 3 health zones in Congo
“Congo’s Ebola outbreak has spread to a city, the capital of the northwestern Equateur province, a worrying shift as the risk of infection is more easily passed on in densely populated urban areas. Two suspected cases of hemorrhagic fever were reported in the Wangata health zones, which includes Mbandaka, a city of nearly 1.2 million people about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Bikoro, the rural area where the outbreak was announced last week, said Congo Health Minister Oly Ilunga…” (Mwanamilongo/Petesch, 5/17).

CNN: Ebola outbreak in DRC enters ‘new phase’ as it spreads to large city
“…The new case of Ebola virus disease (EVD) has been confirmed in Wangata, one of the three health zones of Mbandaka, a city of nearly 1.2 million people in Equateur Province in northwestern DRC, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed Thursday. … A total of 44 cases of hemorrhagic fever have now been reported, including 23 deaths, according to the health ministry. Three cases have been confirmed with laboratory tests…” (McKirdy/Senthilingam, 5/17).

Reuters: Congo warns of “new phase” in Ebola outbreak after first urban case
“…So far, … Congo’s latest Ebola outbreak had been detected in more isolated areas, giving authorities a better chance of ring-fencing the virus. The first urban case to be announced threatens to change that. The World Health Organization, which on Wednesday deployed the first experimental vaccines in the vast central African country, had expressed concern about the disease reaching Mbandaka, which would make the outbreak far harder to tackle…” (Mwarabu et al., 5/16).

Vox: We finally have an Ebola vaccine. We’re about to use it in an outbreak.
“…This time, health officials also have a vaccine ready to use early on in an outbreak. (To date, the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine’s clinical trials only involved people in outbreaks that had already been simmering for some time.) … If the experimental vaccine works to prevent Ebola from spreading, it could mean major outbreaks involving Ebola’s Zaire strain, like the one we saw in West Africa a few years ago, will be a thing of the past…” (Belluz, 5/17).

Washington Post: First confirmed urban Ebola case is a ‘game changer’ in Congo outbreak
“…With the confirmed arrival of the outbreak in a major city, the number of people who are likely to have interacted with infected individuals increases exponentially. Both the fact that Mbandaka is densely populated and that it is a bustling port heighten the risk of rapid spread” (Bearak, 5/17).

Additional coverage of this story is available from Bloomberg, CIDRAP News, Deutsche Welle, and Huffington Post.

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Trump Administration Rejects WFP Appeal For Food Aid Funding For North Korea

Foreign Policy: White House Rebuffs U.N. Appeal to Expand North Korea Food Aid
“David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), is seeking to exploit a diplomatic thaw between Pyongyang and Washington to potentially secure hundreds of millions of dollars from donor countries to dramatically expand U.N. relief operations in North Korea. But the former Republican governor from South Carolina has encountered resistance from the White House, even as President Donald Trump prepares to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore next month. According to two diplomatic sources, White House officials rebuffed Beasley’s appeal for funds in a meeting in late April. … If the United States commits funds to food aid, U.N. officials say, other countries, including Japan and South Korea, are likely to give more generously…” (Lynch, 5/15).

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DFID Must Increase Efforts On Disability Inclusion, Independent Aid Watchdog Says

Devex: DFID has ‘considerable distance to go’ on disability inclusion, says watchdog
“The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development has a ‘considerable distance to go’ if it is to make good on its pledge to center disability in its work, a U.K. aid watchdog has warned. DFID has made disability and inclusion a key focus for U.K. aid, with Secretary of State Penny Mordaunt — a former disabilities minister — saying in her maiden speech in November that, ‘as a department, we will put disability at the heart of everything that we do’…” (Edwards, 5/17).

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New Zealand Increases Foreign Aid Budget For South Pacific Region In Bid To Counter Chinese Influence

Financial Times: New Zealand boosts aid to counter China’s influence in South Pacific
“New Zealand is boosting its foreign aid budget by almost a third as part of a ‘Pacific Reset’ strategy aimed at bolstering its engagement in a region where western powers are wary about growing Chinese influence. The announcement of an extra NZ$714m ($493m) in aid funding over four years was made in the first budget delivered on Thursday by the government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, which prioritized spending on health, education, and tackling homelessness…” (Smyth, 5/17).

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France To Host Next Global Fund Replenishment Conference In 2019, President Macron Announces

Xinhua News: France to host 6th conference for global fund to fight AIDS, TB, malaria
“French President Emmanuel Macron has decided France will host the sixth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2019, the French presidency announced Wednesday in a statement. The conference is held to reap new funds and mobilize resources to better prevent and eradicate these pandemics…” (5/16).

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Increased Focus On Preventing NCDs Could Save 8M Lives, Improve Economies, WHO Report Says

PTI/Financial Express: Investment in NCD control leads to improvement in health, economy, says WHO report
“A new WHO report shows that the world’s poorest countries can gain $350 billion by 2030 by scaling up investments in preventing and treating chronic diseases like cancer and heart ailments, which will save more than eight million lives. The report, titled ‘Saving lives, Spending Less: a Strategic Response to NCDs,’ which was released [Wednesday], reveals for the first time the needs and returns on investment of WHO’s cost-effective and feasible ‘best buy’ policies to protect people from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the leading causes of ill health and death…” (5/17).

Xinhua News: Over 8 mln lives could be saved by noncommunicable disease control: WHO
“…The report indicated that taking effective measures to prevent and control NCDs costs just an additional $1.27 per person per year in low- and lower-middle-income countries. The health gains from this investment will, in turn, generate 350 billion dollars through averted health costs and increased productivity by 2030, and save 8.2 million lives during the same period. … [T]he WHO suggests increasing taxes on tobacco and alcohol, reducing salt intake through the reformulation of food products, administering drug therapy and counseling for people who have had a heart attack or stroke, vaccinating girls aged nine to 13 years against human papillomavirus, and screening women aged 30 to 49 years for cervical cancer…” (5/17).

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Newspapers Examine Ireland's Upcoming Abortion Referendum

The Guardian: Urban v rural: can cities protect reproductive rights?
“The run-up to Ireland’s abortion vote has revealed a divide already at the fore in the U.S., Italy, and Poland — where urban policymakers are standing up against state conservatism. … On 25 May, Ireland will vote on whether to repeal the eighth amendment to its constitution — a clause that protects the right to life of the unborn — and clear a path to legalizing abortion in the country. The question challenges the Irish state’s conservative, patriarchal foundations, from which many people in Ireland — its urban dwellers in particular — feel increasingly disconnected…” (Agnew, 5/16).

Washington Post: How an Irish-American woman’s legal case helped spur Ireland’s abortion referendum
“…In June 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Committee found that by compelling [Amanda Mellet] to carry a dying fetus to term or travel abroad for an abortion, Ireland subjected her to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, while also violating her right to privacy. The U.N. decision required Ireland, for the first time, to compensate a woman for the expenses and emotional distress tied to an abortion. And it called on Ireland to amend its laws criminalizing abortion, including its constitution, if necessary…” (Stanley-Becker, 5/17).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: Better mortality data can have big payoffs, say public health experts (Lieberman, 5/17).

Financial Times: Oxfam chief executive quits after aid scandal (Mance, 5/16).

News Deeply: The Cutting Edge of Malnutrition Research in India is Inside the Gut (Jain, 5/16).

Reuters: In Bangladesh, some 60 babies a day born in Rohingya camps: U.N. (Nichols, 5/16).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Education and roads key to withstanding food crises — U.N. (Win, 5/15).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: ‘Vicious cycle’ as conflict uproots millions in Africa (Peyton, 5/16).

U.N. News: Obese people more likely to smoke, says new gene research: WHO (5/16).

U.N. News: UNICEF delivers medical supplies to Gaza in wake of deadly protests (5/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Right To Family Planning Must Become Reality For All Women Worldwide

Devex: Opinion: Half a century on, let’s make family planning a reality for all
Natalia Kanem, UNFPA executive director

“…It has been 50 years since world leaders proclaimed family planning a basic human right. … [H]owever, millions of women around the world are still denied the means and information to exercise this right. … As a result, more than 200 million women around the world who want to avoid pregnancy lack modern contraceptives, and more than 800 women die daily from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. This must stop. … Family planning saves lives. … The United Nations Population Fund is committed to ending the unmet need for family planning by 2030 and is already the world’s largest public provider of contraceptives for developing countries. … Half a century later, we must redouble our efforts to defend this right and turn it into a reality for every woman and adolescent girl, everywhere. All women deserve the basic freedom to decide whether, when, and how often to bear children. It is their right” (5/17).

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UNAIDS Leader Should Be Held To Account, Resign For Reportedly Mishandling Issue Of Sexual Harassment Within Agency

Al Jazeera: It’s time for the head of UNAIDS to resign
Sisonke Msimang, author and political commentator

“On May 11, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres came out in support of Michel Sidibé, the head of UNAIDS, who many argue has mishandled the issue of sexual harassment within his agency. Unfortunately, as the momentum around #MeToo grows, the leadership of the U.N. seems stuck in the past. It is evident that beyond perpetrators, it is leaders who must now be held to account. … In order for the culture of impunity surrounding harassment and violence in the workplace to end, this needs to change and bigger heads need to roll. … The world is changing and if the U.N. wants to change with it, men like [Luiz Loures, former deputy director of UNAIDS who was accused of sexual harassment,] will need to face the consequences of their behavior. Men like Mr. Sidibé will also need to pay the price for institutional complicity” (5/17).

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Closing Diagnostic Gap Requires Investments In Health Systems Strengthening

The Conversation: Health care is an essential human right — and so is a proper diagnosis
Madhukar Pai, director of global health and professor at McGill University

“…How can we deliver quality primary health care, if we can’t even diagnose common and priority conditions? And how can we detect and control outbreaks, if we don’t know what we are dealing with? This week, WHO took a huge step in addressing this diagnostic gap, by publishing its first Essential Diagnostics List (EDL), a list of the tests needed to diagnose the most common conditions as well as a number of global priority diseases. … While the WHO EDL is a welcome development, the list, by itself, will not have an impact. To see a meaningful impact, countries will need to adopt and adapt the WHO list, and develop their own national lists. … In addition to developing national EDLs, countries must invest in strengthening their laboratory networks. … Universal health coverage requires essential diagnostics, and diagnostics cannot be delivered without investments in health systems” (5/16).

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Collaborative Action Vital To Preparing For Future Pandemics

Financial Times: Are we prepared for the next pandemic?
Gillian Tett, U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times

“…Our globalized world and love of travel makes it easy for pathogens to spread. But another significant problem is a dire lack of coordinated action. In theory, the U.S. has plenty of cutting-edge science and money to fight disease. However, the Trump administration has shown little interest in tackling this issue … Yes, the miracle of technology is what separates us from the 14th century, … but technology only works if we use our brains and collaborative spirit. And in that respect, we are not always so different from medieval Europe” (5/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Friends Of The Global Fight Highlights 6 Key Takeaways From Global Fund's 39th Board Meeting

Friends of the Global Fight: Key Takeaways: The Global Fund’s 39th Board Meeting
This post highlights six key takeaways from the Global Fund’s 39th Board meeting, which was held May 9-10. The takeaways include an announcement by France that the nation will host the sixth replenishment conference; opening remarks by Prime Minister of Macedonia Zoran Zaev and Global Fund Executive Director Peter Sands; discussion on strengthening country ownership and domestic financing for sustainability; continued progress on accountability; resource mobilization and planning for the sixth replenishment; and collaboration between the Global Fund and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (5/16).

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UNAIDS Calls For Strengthened Partnerships To Support LGBTI People, Families Affected By HIV

UNAIDS: UNAIDS calls for strengthened partnerships to leave no one behind
“On the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT), UNAIDS is calling for strengthened partnerships to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people and their families living with or affected by HIV or facing discrimination…” (5/16).

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FHI 360 Releases 2017 Annual Report

FHI 360: Catalyze: Annual Report 2017
In its 2017 annual report, FHI 360 discusses how the organization is working with partners “to unleash new ideas and opportunities and strengthen our collective capacity to effect change” (5/16).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Discusses PEPFAR's New HIV Treatment Results In Briefing

U.S. Department of State: Briefing on the Release of New HIV Treatment Results From the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief on its 15th Anniversary
In this teleconference briefing transcript, Deborah L. Birx, U.S. global AIDS coordinator and U.S. special representative for global health diplomacy, discusses the release of PEPFAR’s new HIV treatment results. Birx notes, “[T]oday we announce 14 million men, women, and children on treatment. … [I]n addition to the 14 million lives saved that are on life-saving treatment, we also prevented infections of over 2.2 million babies, and I think you know that we care for over six million — 6.4 million orphans and vulnerable children” (5/16).

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