KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Officials Detect Asymptomatic MERS Case U.S.; Patient Was Exposed To Country's First Case

News outlets report on the ongoing outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the Middle East and U.S.

Associated Press: CDC: MERS virus spread in U.S., but 2nd man not sick
“Health officials reported Saturday what appears to be the first time that a mysterious Middle East virus has spread from one person to another in the United States…” (Stobbe, 5/17).

HealthDay News: Third U.S. Man Tests Positive for MERS Virus, CDC Reports
“A third U.S. man — from Illinois — has tested positive for the MERS virus but shows no signs of the illness, federal health officials reported Saturday…” (Reinberg/Thompson, 5/18).

The Hill: CDC finds third MERS case in United States
“…The unidentified man is a work associate of the first U.S. patient to have been diagnosed with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement. The first patient lives in Indiana…” (Cama, 5/17).

The Hill: CDC reopens SARS playbook from 2003
“The Centers for Disease Control is using its playbook from the 2003 SARS virus scare to handle a new pandemic that has killed 173 people in the Middle East…” (Al-Faruque, 5/18).

Reuters: Illinois man tests positive for MERS virus without falling ill
“…The Illinois resident’s lack of symptoms may shed light on milder forms of the deadly virus, which emerged in the Middle East in 2012 and has infected more than 500 patients in Saudi Arabia alone. It kills about 30 percent of those who are infected…” (Carey, 5/17).

Reuters: Silently among us: Scientists worry about milder cases of MERS
“…[CDC officials] plan to test the family members of people with mild MERS, even if these relatives don’t have any symptoms, to help determine whether the virus can spread within a household…” (Steenhuysen, 5/17).

Reuters: Foreign doctors, nurses in Saudi Arabia could take MERS global
“The biggest risk that Middle East Respiratory Syndrome will become a global epidemic, ironically, may lie with globe-trotting healthcare workers…” (Begley, 5/18).

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FDA Vouchers Encourage Drug Companies To Focus On NTDs

NPR: FDA Dangles Golden Ticket To Spur Drugs For Neglected Diseases
“…[T]he approval of the leishmaniasis drug, Impavido, came with a coupon that the company [that produces the drug] can redeem to have any drug it likes moved toward the front of FDA’s line for review. It’s only the fourth time that a drugmaker has won one of these, and it could become the first to be auctioned off. The vouchers were created as an incentive to encourage drug companies to work on medicines for neglected diseases, such as leishmaniasis…” (Hensley, 5/16).

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Melinda Gates Works To Improve Newborn Survival With Low-Tech Approaches

Wall Street Journal: Melinda Gates Works to Curb Newborn Deaths
“…[Melinda Gates,] the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is promoting some low-tech approaches as part of a push to improve the survival of newborns, a problem she said has been neglected. In a speech Tuesday at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, she plans to urge global health officials as well as national governments to implement practices that will make deliveries safer and keep newborns alive…” (McKay, 5/18).

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U.N. Moves Food Aid Into North-East Syria, Seeks To Distribute Aid To Other Parts Of Country

News outlets continue to report on the U.N.’s aid efforts in Syria.

U.N. News Centre: Amid ongoing access constraints, U.N. convoy moves vital food aid into north-east Syria
“The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today it has started moving more food supplies from Turkey into north-east Syria to assist displaced families, while noting continued challenges with humanitarian access to those in need inside the war-torn nation…” (5/16).

New York Times: U.N. Seeking More Ways to Distribute Aid in Syria
“The United Nations is under pressure to ratchet up aid to nongovernmental organizations that can operate in the vast sections of Syria under opposition control, as most of the humanitarian relief sponsored by the organization ends up in the western slice of the country held by President Bashar al-Assad…” (Sengupta, 5/17).

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Crisis In South Sudan Needs Immediate Attention, U.N. Official Says

The Guardian: South Sudan crisis among gravest in history, says U.N.
“The crisis engulfing South Sudan is greater than those endured by Darfur or the Central African Republic, according to a senior U.N. diplomat who says the world urgently needs to donate at least another $500m (£298m) if the country’s slide into humanitarian disaster and famine is to be halted…” (Jones, 5/16).

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Initiative In India Aims To Keep Country Polio-Free

BBC News: Eradicating polio one step at a time
“A few years ago, India accounted for half the world’s cases of polio. Today it is officially clear of the disease. This remarkable feat is largely [due] to an army of women who, one step at a time, have crisscrossed the country on foot to give the under-fives polio vaccines…” (Pandey, 5/17).

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Guatemala Faces Growing Number Of HIV Cases, Al Jazeera Reports

Al Jazeera: HIV on the rise in Guatemala
“Guatemala is facing a growing HIV epidemic. And towns bordering Mexico are transmission hot spots for the virus. Human trafficking, sexual abuse, prostitution and drug use in these towns create the kind of high-risk behavior that leads to HIV transmission…” Al Jazeera correspondent Dave Mercer reports in a video segment (5/16).

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Number Of HIV Cases Rising Among MSM In Vietnam

Thomson Reuters Foundation: HIV rising among men having sex with men in Vietnam
“Long overshadowed by the government’s attention to other at-risk groups, Vietnam is failing to stem HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM), a group that is hidden due to social stigma…” (Kimmons, 5/16).

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Early Warning System Warns Of Dengue Risk In Brazil During World Cup

Reuters: Scientists warn of dengue fever risk during Brazil’s World Cup
“The risk of an outbreak of dengue fever during the upcoming soccer World Cup in Brazil is serious enough to warrant a high alert in three of the 12 host cities, according to an early warning system for the disease…” (Kelland, 5/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Accelerating Innovation Will Help End Extreme Poverty

Washington Post: What I learned from Bill Gates
Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group

“… Recently, I had the opportunity to have a long discussion with Bill Gates, and our conversation naturally turned to what inspires innovation. … Bill’s message was that we shouldn’t sit and wait for some revolutionary ideas to pop into our heads. Innovative ideas are all around us:  in the poorest countries, in the private sector, in international organizations, governments, academic institutions, and civil society groups. If we collaborate, dig into the details and persist, and focus on scale, we may very well find the great innovations that will lead to healthier, more equitable, and more productive societies” (5/18).

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Obama Administration Should Make Women's, Girls' Rights Central To Foreign Policy

CNN: Why it’s time to put women’s issues at center of foreign policy
Janet Fleischman, senior associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center

“The international outrage over Boko Haram’s abduction of schoolgirls in Nigeria has grown since the story first hit the news; mothers in Nigeria took action and celebrities from Angelina Jolie to First Lady Michelle Obama have made their voices heard on the issue. With mainstream attention finally focused on why the education, health, and empowerment of women and girls matters to Americans, it is time for the Obama administration to reinforce its commitment to these issues and elevate them as central to U.S. foreign policy…” (5/16).

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E.U. Nations Should 'Contribute Their Fair Share' To GAVI Alliance

EurActiv: E.U. must put its aid money where its mouth is on GAVI replenishment
Renate Baehr, executive director of Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung (DSW)

“…On May 20th, the European Commission will host the GAVI Alliance to discuss its future funding needs as the organization looks to expand its support for investment in vaccination and immunization under its next five year plan. During this important time, we need E.U. institutions to honor their international commitments, and their role as the world’s leading development assistance donor, and contribute their fair share to the fight for global health and against child mortality…” (5/19).

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CDC, WHO Vigilant Over MERS

CBS New York: The MERS Outbreak: Is The Government Doing Enough?
“…The CDC and WHO appear to be doing everything they can to prevent a full-blown MERS crisis, however many are still concerned about the virus’ fate, including the White House. … Only time will tell how the deadly MERS virus works out, but for now, the CDC and WHO say they are keeping a very close eye on the situation” (5/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Birx Says AIDS-Free Generation Is Possible

PEPFAR: Statement from Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, on PEPFAR’s Approach to Achieving an AIDS-free Generation
“…Looking forward, our vision is to achieve an AIDS-free generation through impact, accountability, transparency, shared responsibility, and a commitment to human rights. Together, with all hands on deck, I believe we can get there” (5/15).

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World Bank Report On Women 'Breaks New Ground'

Center for Foreign Relation’s “Development Channel”: World Bank Report on Women’s Empowerment Breaks New Ground
Isobel Coleman, CFR senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy and director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative, states the new World Bank report, titled “Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity,” “breaks new ground and gets at the heart of the challenge for women’s empowerment: in some regions, norms and traditions actively constrain opportunities for girls and women. Until norms evolve to allow greater agency for women and girls, cycles of poverty will not be broken…” (5/16).

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CSIS Report Examines Policy Implications Of Homophobia In Africa

CSIS: Revitalizing the Fight against Homophobia in Africa
In this report, Richard Downie, deputy director and fellow at the CSIS Africa Program, “examines the current situation and offers recommendations for U.S. policymakers to consider as they confront the dilemma of advocating respect for human rights while avoiding backlash from governments who argue that homosexuality is ‘un-African’ and reject ‘Western interference’ in African affairs” (5/12).

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Blog Examines Public Health Impacts Of Mental Health Disorders In Africa

Global Health Africa: Responding to the Needs of the Vulnerable: The State of Mental Health Care in Africa
Diana Kingsbury, an instructor at Kent State University and a blog contributor, discusses the impacts of mental health and substance use disorders on public health systems in Africa (5/18).

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UNAIDS Addresses HIV Vaccine Research, LGBTI Human Rights

In two press releases, UNAIDS addresses HIV vaccine research and LGBTI human rights in the context of HIV.

UNAIDS: On HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, UNAIDS calls for scaled-up action to find a vaccine for HIV
“On HIV Vaccine Awareness Day UNAIDS is urging for global efforts to be stepped up to find an effective HIV vaccine and accelerate progress towards ending the AIDS epidemic…” (5/18).

UNAIDS: UNAIDS consultation on HIV and the human rights of LGBTI people
UNAIDS convened a policy and strategy consultation to “develop strategies to respond to the various health and human rights challenges related to HIV faced by LGBTI people…” (5/16).

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