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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Senate Passes $1.1B Measure To Fund Zika Response

The Hill: Zika funding overcomes key Senate hurdle
“…Senators voted 68-29 to move forward with $1.1 billion in Zika funding, with 60 votes needed to overcome Tuesday’s procedural hurdle. The Obama administration’s original emergency spending request was for $1.9 billion to combat the mosquito-borne virus…” (Carney, 5/17).

Kaiser Health News: A Primer: How The Fight Against Zika Might Be Funded
“…[The Senate’s] plan will not likely be the last word on the subject. What is proposed so far, though, would be added to the $590 million the White House has allocated for Zika prevention. Most of those funds have been pulled from the budget to fight Ebola…” (Luthra, 5/17).

NBC News: Senate Approves Zika Funding Compromise — as White House Threatens Veto
“The Senate voted 68 to 29 in favor of a bipartisan measure worked out last week by Missouri Republican Roy Blunt and Washington Democrat Patty Murray that would allocate $1.1 billion of the $1.9 billion President Barack Obama has asked for…” (Fox, 5/17).

New York Times: Senate Votes to Advance Emergency Funding to Fight Zika Virus
“…The action in the Senate was a sign that even in a bitterly contentious election year, compromise is still possible, at least in that chamber. A proposal to grant the full White House request failed, as did a proposal that would have appropriated the money, but with offsetting spending cuts. The vote on the compromise plan was 68 to 29, with 22 Republicans joining Democrats in favor and no Democrats opposed…” (Herszenhorn, 5/17).

POLITICO: Senate OKs $1.1 billion to fight Zika; House wants half that
“…The Senate advanced the $1.1 billion in funding on a procedural vote and nixed two related measures — one to fully fund the administration’s $1.9 billion request and another smaller package that would have been paid for by cutting Obamacare…” (Haberkorn, 5/17).

STAT: Senate endorses $1.1b Zika funding. Next up, the House
“…The vote will build pressure on the House to pass its own Zika bill later this week. But the Senate bill is significantly smaller than the $1.9 billion the administration asked for, and it’s now the biggest offer on the table in Congress, given that the House version is even smaller. That means the administration and its allies in Congress will have to fight to get a final package that’s even as big as the Senate bill — let alone the full amount federal health officials say they need to prepare for the likely spread of the Zika virus this summer…” (Nather, 5/17).

USA TODAY: Senate advances compromise bill to provide $1.1 billion to combat Zika
“…Senators voted 68-29 to advance an amendment by Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., to provide the emergency funding, which would be used for mosquito control, public education, and the development of a vaccine…” (Kelly, 5/18).

VOA News: Zika Funding Clears U.S. Senate
“…The Senate-approved Zika measure faces an uncertain fate in the House of Representatives, where majority-Republicans are considering a proposal to redirect $622 million previously appropriated to fight Ebola. Those funds would be merged with more than $500 million the Obama administration is already siphoning from Ebola programs…” (Bowman, 5/17).

Wall Street Journal: Senate Approves $1.1 Billion in Emergency Zika Funding
“…The measure from Sens. Blunt and Murray, the top lawmakers on a Senate Appropriations panel responsible for health funding, is considered emergency funding and isn’t paid for by cuts to the budget elsewhere…” (Peterson/Armour, 5/17).

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White House Calls House Republican $622M Proposal For Zika Response 'Woefully Inadequate'

The Hill: White House rejects House GOP’s funding package for Zika
“The White House on Tuesday threatened a veto on the House GOP’s funding bill to fight the Zika virus, which provides just one-third of the money the administration says is needed…” (Ferris, 5/17).

Reuters: White House opposes House Zika bill, calls funding inadequate
“…The Obama administration has urged Congress to pass legislation that would direct $1.9 billion to fighting the Zika virus that is linked to birth defects including microcephaly…” (Gardner, 5/17).

Roll Call: White House: GOP Zika Bill ‘Woefully Inadequate’
“…[Press Secretary Josh] Earnest’s blunt assessment came shortly after the Obama administration threatened to veto the House measure. On Tuesday, the Senate approved a $1.1 billion emergency spending version negotiated by Missouri GOP Sen. Roy Blunt and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington. … White House officials have stopped short of fully embracing the Senate bill, but Earnest said ‘fortunately’ it was poised to pass that chamber soon. Earnest criticized the House Republicans’ Zika bill because it proposes offsets from anti-Ebola programs. Those funds should remain in existing accounts, he said, because Congress has recently struggled to quickly address public health crises and pass spending bills…” (Bennett, 5/17).

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Uncertainty Surrounds Zika Spending, Even As U.S. Senate, House Move To Approve Funding Measures

The Atlantic: The Still Uncertain Future of Zika Funding
“U.S. senators approved a compromise amendment Tuesday to finance anti-Zika efforts, one of a handful of funding proposals introduced in Congress in recent days. The House could vote on a bill of its own later this week. But despite these ostensible signs of progress, the future of Zika funding still looks uncertain…” (Kelly, 5/18).

Foreign Policy: Fight Against Zika Virus Headed Toward Political Deadlock
“…Everyone agrees that Zika, which has been linked both to microcephaly in newborns and Guillain-Barré, a condition that causes paralysis in adults, is a looming problem. … However, there is political disagreement on how to confront the Zika threat…” (Francis, 5/17).

The Hill: Clash in GOP over Zika funding
“The House and Senate are on a collision course over funding to deal with the Zika virus. Republicans in both chambers are moving forward with legislation after months of Democratic pressure, but their proposals differ sharply. … ‘There’s a big gulf between where the Senate is and where the House is on this,’ said conservative Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.). ‘I think it becomes much more problematic for some of us to vote for a conference report that goes in the Senate direction rather than the House direction,’ Sanford added, referring to a possible measure that would be worked out between the two chambers…” (Sullivan, 5/18).

STAT: Saying Zika is no Ebola, House Republicans feel little urgency to act
“Zika is not Ebola. And that’s a big reason the House has so far stalled on the Obama administration’s request for $1.9 billion in funding for an emergency response to the Zika virus. Key Republicans say they’re just not hearing a lot of urgency from their constituents…” (Nather, 5/17).

Washington Post: Congress struggles to strike deal on Zika funds as concern about the virus grows
“…Although Republicans in both chambers are worried about the coming public health crisis and say they want to move the funding quickly, House GOP leaders are sticking with their long-held stance that the cost of emergency funding for health and weather disasters should be offset. They are being pressured by influential conservative groups, such as Heritage Action, to maintain this stance, especially after Senate leaders struck a deal with Democrats after determining that it isn’t worth being blamed for delaying Zika funds over a budget fight…” (Achenbach/Snell, 5/17).

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WHO Director General Says Agency Working With Brazil, International Olympic Committee On 'Targeted Approach' To Zika

ABC News: To Fight Zika at the Olympics, the World Health Organization Calls for ‘Targeted Approach’
“…WHO Director Margaret Chan spoke to reporters [Tuesday], ahead of the World Health Assembly next week. ‘You don’t want to bring a standstill to the world’s movement of people,’ Chan said [Tuesday] in the press briefing. Chan said the WHO is working directly with Brazil and indirectly with the International Olympic Committee in Rio on a ‘targeted approach’ to hopefully curb Zika infections, ahead of the August start of the games…” (Mohney, 5/17).

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WHO To Convene Emergency Meeting On Angolan Yellow Fever Outbreak

Agence France-Presse: WHO calls emergency meeting on yellow fever outbreak
“The World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting Thursday on the yellow fever outbreak that has hit hardest in Angola but risks spreading further if vaccinations are not ramped up…” (5/17).

Los Angeles Times: Health officials to weigh declaring global emergency as yellow fever strikes southwest Africa
“…Though the panel convened by the World Health Organization may not make the declaration — a move taken with Ebola and Zika outbreaks — the session to be held in Geneva on Thursday speaks to the seriousness of the disease’s spread in Angola. Yellow fever infections tied to Angola already have been reported in China…” (Simmons, 5/18).

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World Health Assembly To Address Flesh-Eating Disease Mycetoma

Global Health NOW: One More Chance for a Neglected Disease
“On May 21, Dr. Ahmed Fahal will fly anxiously from Khartoum, Sudan to Geneva, Switzerland for the annual World Health Assembly. Twice before, he has left the assembly broken-hearted. Representatives from 194 countries gather at the WHA every year to hash out top health priorities around the globe. This year, at the 69th meeting, a slight fraction of time will be devoted to an obscure flesh-eating disease called mycetoma, which burdens the poor in two dozen countries near the equator. The disease has been Fahal’s obsession for 30 years…” (Maxmen, 5/17).

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U.S., E.U. Ask U.N. To Reinstate Groups Barred From Upcoming AIDS Meeting

Agence France-Presse: U.S., E.U. protest U.N. decision to bar groups from AIDS meet
“The United States and the European Union are protesting a U.N. decision to bar at least 20 non-governmental groups from taking part in a major AIDS conference next month. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the NGOs taken off the list of participants ‘appear to have been chosen for their involvement in LGBTI, transgender, or youth advocacy.’ … The E.U. ambassador wrote in his letter sent last week that changes to an initial list of delegations were made without consulting member states. … The high-level meeting is aimed at fast-tracking measures to end the HIV epidemic by 2030” (5/17).

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At Women Deliver Conference, Experts Discuss Contraceptive Access, Options, Maternal Health

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Self-injectable contraceptives could be life-saver in Africa: health experts
“Self-injectable contraceptives, which are being trialed in Uganda and Senegal, could revolutionize women’s lives in rural Africa and dramatically cut maternal and newborn deaths, health experts said on Tuesday. The disposable $1 device consists of a small needle connected to a plastic bubble containing the contraceptive Depo-Provera which can be squeezed to inject a dose that lasts three months…” (Batha, 5/17).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Lives at risk as young mothers left invisible, fears Plan International head
“The lives of millions of girls giving birth under the age of 15 are at risk because they are slipping through the net of the system, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, the new head of child rights organization Plan International, said on Tuesday. … Albrectsen, in her first major initiative since taking over at Plan International last September, has joined forces with the United Nations Population Fund in the #childmothers campaign to prevent early motherhood and support young mothers…” (Goldsmith, 5/17).

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NGOs Continue To Push For End To 'War On Drugs'

Devex: Making a fundamental shift in drug policy and harm reduction
“…UNGA [recently] held another special session on drugs, which civil society had hoped would be an opportunity not only for their voices to be heard but an opportunity for real drug policy reform. But the latest special session was disappointing for many working in the field of harm reduction, public health, and human rights. The adopted declaration doesn’t call for an end to criminalization, incarceration, and capital punishment for drug-related offenses. Still, advocates say the declaration won’t stop the momentum that’s been building against the ‘war on drugs’…” (Cousins, 5/17).

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Gates Foundation Pledges $80M To Collect Data On Indicators Related To Gender Equality Goals

The Guardian: Gates Foundation commits $80m to plugging gender equality data gap
“…The money, announced on Tuesday and to be distributed over the next three years, will support national statistics offices to collect and refine reliable information on the contribution women and girls make to society and the barriers they face in fulfilling their potential. Specific areas that need more data include the amount of unpaid work women carry out in the home and gender-based violence, often regarded as too difficult to collect. The information will be used to shape programs and policies that will help meet the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in September…” (Ford, 5/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

Ensuring WASH In Health Care Settings 'Requires Action,' Will Help Improve Maternal Health

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Delivering maternal health requires water and sanitation
Anne Mutabaruka, head of programs at WaterAid Rwanda

“…Water and sanitation are essential to [the human rights, good health, and progress of women and girls]. Girls cannot grow up healthy if they do not have clean water to drink, a safe toilet to use, and the ability to wash with soap. They cannot complete their education and reach their potential if they are hiking miles to find water each day, or constantly ill from diarrhea, or unable to manage their periods in a hygienic way at school. And they cannot expect to have healthy, happy children themselves if the place where life begins is not itself clean and hygienic. It will take effort on a grander scale to resolve this crisis. Providing water, sanitation, and hygiene in health care is a cause that needs to be taken up on a global scale. When donors and civil society organizations call for it, national governments will follow suit. This injustice requires action” (5/18).

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Quality Data Essential To Eliminating Intestinal Worms

Devex: Using data to guide the way to eliminate intestinal worms
David Addiss, director of Children Without Worms

“…While usually not fatal, [soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH)] contributes to poor nutrition, stunting, anemia, impaired learning, and reduced lifetime earning potential — all of which keep people entrenched in a cycle of poverty. … Data will help us make crucial program decisions and inform us of progress toward our common goal [of controlling STH]. We need good data that allow all members of the public health community to see where [the] greatest risk of STH remains, which segments of the population still need to be treated, and how often these treatments are needed. There are three things we can do to help demand and generate good data: Clarify national-level goals, which can range from controlling diseases in school-age children to interrupting transmission of the parasites. Establish robust monitoring and reporting systems to assess progress toward national goals. Mobilize national-level coalitions and public-private partnerships to ensure coordinated data collection and reporting…” (5/17).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Collaborative Work To Eliminate Trachoma Continues In Mozambique

USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: Q&A: How We Are Working To Rid Mozambique of A Blinding Disease
In this Q&A, Sharone Backers, chief of party for ENVISION, a collaboration between Mozambique’s Ministry of Health, USAID, and other international partners, “discusses progress, challenges, partnerships, and what work is left” in eliminating trachoma in Mozambique by 2020. Backers notes, “Current trends tell us that active trachoma levels could fall significantly across the entire country by 2018. This means mass treatment will stop, and we will monitor districts for the next three years to evaluate whether further treatment is needed” (5/17).

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Meeting Adolescents' Contraceptive Needs Could Reduce Maternal Deaths, Unintended Pregnancies, Guttmacher Report Says

Guttmacher Institute: In Developing Regions, 23 Million Adolescents at Risk of Unintended Pregnancy, Not Using Modern Contraceptives
Rebecca Wind, senior communications associate and divisional budget manager at Guttmacher, discusses findings from a new report on improving adolescent sexual and reproductive health, writing, “The report, Adding It Up: Costs and Benefits of Meeting the Contraceptive Needs of Adolescents, by Jacqueline E. Darroch et al., released [Tuesday] by the Guttmacher Institute, finds that an estimated 38 million of the 252 million adolescent women aged 15-19 in developing regions are sexually active and want to avoid pregnancy. Yet 23 million of these adolescents have an unmet need for modern contraception…” (5/17).

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Wilson Center Event Discusses Potential Impact Of SDGs

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: The Future of the Sustainable Development Goals
Gracie Cook, intern with the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program, discusses panelists’ remarks at an April 13 event held at the Wilson Center on how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) “can build on the successes and failures of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) between now and 2030. The event was part of the ongoing ‘Managing Our Planet’ series developed by George Mason University and the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute and Environmental Change and Security Program, which is now in its fifth year” (5/18).

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