KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

German Chancellor Merkel, WHO Director-General Chan Open WHA, Speak About WHO Reform, Health Emergency Preparedness, Drug Resistance

News outlets report on the opening of the World Health Assembly, taking place this week in Geneva.

Agence France-Presse: World must step up fight against antibiotic resistance: Merkel
“…In an address in Geneva, [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel stressed the interconnectedness of global health systems, insisting all nations must work together to root out the problem of antimicrobial resistance — when bugs become immune to existing drugs…” (5/18).

Associated Press: Merkel: Global catastrophe plan needed after Ebola crisis
“The Ebola crisis in western Africa showed the world in a painful way that a global catastrophe plan is needed to deal with future epidemics, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday…” (Grieshaber, 5/18).

The Guardian: Plan to reform WHO after Ebola to be unveiled by Angela Merkel
“…There are two urgent issues that must be addressed in the interest of all nations, she believes — the response to the event of a pandemic and the fading powers of antibiotic drugs because of global overuse. She intends to push forward on both issues at the G7, which Germany chairs, in the summer…” (Boseley, 5/18).

Intellectual Property Watch: World Health Assembly Opens: Time Of Change At WHO; G7 Involved
“‘The Ebola outbreak shook this organization to its core,’ World Health Organization Director General Margaret Chan said in opening the WHO’s annual assembly [Monday]. And the need to better construct the world’s emergency response systems has the biggest economies on the podium, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking as chair of the Group of 7…” (New, 5/18).

New York Times: WHO Leader Outlines Changes in Response to Ebola Epidemic
“…As expected, Dr. Chan proposed an overhaul of the organization’s emergency response system, intended to make it faster and more effective. The measures would create a dedicated health emergency work force reporting to the director, with a $100 million contingency fund, and would streamline the organization’s procedures for hiring staff, purchasing supplies, and moving them swiftly to where they are needed…” (Cumming-Bruce, 5/18).

Reuters: WHO boss Chan launches $100 million health emergency fund
“…Admitting that the WHO had been ‘overwhelmed’ by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, Chan also told its annual meeting that she was creating a new program for health emergencies linking its three levels — country, regional, and Geneva headquarters…” (Nebehay, 5/18).

U.N. News Centre: Citing ‘defining moment’ sparked by Ebola outbreak, U.N. health agency chief pledges key reforms
“…Dr. Chan said she is establishing a global health emergency workforce, strengthening WHO’s core and surge capacity of trained emergency response staff, developing new business processes to facilitate a rapid and effective response, proposed options for a new $100 million contingency fund, and setting clear performance metrics for the program, built on partnerships with other responders…” (5/18).

VOA News: WHO to Create New Program for Health Emergencies
“… ‘The buck stops with me,’ [Chan] said. ‘As a responsible leader, you need to learn the lesson and make the right changes … I am committed to build an organization that has the culture, the systems, and the resources to lead the response to outbreaks and other health emergencies’…” (Schlein, 5/18).

Wall Street Journal: WHO to Improve Disease-Outbreak Response by Year-End
“…The contingency fund will help the WHO avoid having to wait weeks or even month for donors to respond to appeals it puts out to help get responders and experts out into the field. But it is also dependent on donors. The fund will be financed by ‘flexible voluntary contributions,’ Dr. Chan said Monday…” (McKay, 5/18).

Washington Post: ‘Mega-disasters’ and other reasons why WHO director’s speech should scare you
“…One of the points [Chan] made was the apparent inverse correlation between the economy and health in recent years. ‘This is a unique time in history where economic progress is actually increasing threats to health instead of reducing them,’ Chan said. … To turn things around, Chan said, she urged countries to learn from lessons from the world’s ill-prepared response to Ebola and to move forward with developing an ambitious plan for health care development during United Nations talks later this year to develop a post-2015 agenda…” (Cha, 5/18).

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As Health Development Aid Increased, WHO's Influence Shrank, Data Show

Vox: One chart that explains why the WHO is actually in crisis
“…Though funding for the WHO has leveled off in recent years, that only came after more than 20 years of massive increases. Overall funding for development assistance for health also increased dramatically in the period. What changed, however, is the WHO’s relative influence in the global health landscape. The organization’s slice of the funding pie has been dramatically reduced over the past two decades — while other health organizations and bodies showed up on the scene and grew…” (Belluz, 5/18).

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U.N.'s Ban Calls On All Parties In Conflict-Torn Yemen To Extend Humanitarian Pause

U.N. News Centre: Ban urges all sides in Yemen to renew commitment for extension of humanitarian pause
“Stressing that Yemenis have faced ‘tragic levels of suffering and violence’ in recent months, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on all sides in the conflict to refrain from any actions that undermine the safety and security of the country’s airports, seaports, and transportation infrastructure, and to join consultations without preconditions…” (5/18).

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Many Pregnant Immigrants Lack Access To Basic Health Care In Parts Of Europe, Aid Group Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Pregnant migrants in Europe lack basic health care — medical charity
“More than half of the pregnant immigrant women seen by a medical charity in European clinics lack access to basic health care and permission to reside, a charity said on Monday. Because of their illegal status, two thirds of the women restricted their movements for fear of arrest, hindering their access to antenatal care. Many were living in substandard temporary accommodation, heightening health risks. The charity Doctors of the World interviewed more than 300 pregnant women in clinics from Belgium to Turkey…” (5/18).

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Tanzanian Health Ministry Confirms Cholera Outbreak In Burundian Refugee Camp; U.N. Provides Assistance To Contain Spread

Reuters: Tanzania confirms cholera at Burundian refugee camp
“Tanzania confirmed a cholera outbreak on Monday at a refugee camp sheltering thousands of people who had fled political unrest in neighboring Burundi…” (Salaam, 5/18).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. provides assistance as diarrhea outbreak leaves seven Burundi refugees dead at Tanzania camp
“The United Nations refugee agency has announced [Monday] that it is taking urgent measures to contain the spread of a severe watery diarrhea outbreak among newly arrived Burundian refugees in Tanzania, as seven people have been reported dead since Wednesday…” (5/18).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Must Maintain Investments In HIV Vaccine, Prevention Research

The Hill: Choosing the worst time to scale back AIDS research
Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC

“…For the first time, we can honestly talk about how to end the AIDS epidemic — and we have not only researchers, advocates, and trial participants to thank, but also American taxpayers. But we don’t yet have all the tools we need. That’s why it is dismaying that some members of Congress have chosen this moment to call for scaling back the nation’s investments in HIV research. Instead, we should be looking for ways to make these investments even more impactful, to continue leading the world into a future without AIDS…” (5/18).

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U.S., Other Developed Nations Must Learn From Ebola's Lessons, Prepare For Next Outbreak

U.S. News & World Report: Unexpected Lessons From the Ebola Outbreak
Elaine Cox, medical director of infection prevention at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health

“…The [Ebola] outbreak and its aftermath in Africa are devastating. We should not add to the toll by ignoring critical lessons for health care systems in developed countries. … To ensure that each of these lessons is lived out to the fullest, our public health system must step up and help us prepare for medical, not just natural, emergencies. We need better reflexes so that we can respond early with set protocols for safety, faster diagnostic tests, better and more flexible facilities, and teams that work together in a true and total environment of safety. Perhaps we should take a cue from the Department of Defense and begin honing early warning systems for emerging health care threats, so we can be in the offensive — not defensive — position. We must have a plan for when the alarm sounds…” (5/18).

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Boosting Antibiotic Research, Development Pipeline Critical To Ending Drug Resistance

The Guardian: Antibiotic resistance is a growing menace — we must act before it’s too late
John McConnell, editor of The Lancet Infectious Diseases

“…Profligate use of antibiotics has provided the evolutionary driver for bacteria to develop resistance to the drugs. Introduction of every new class of antibiotics has been followed by bacteria becoming resistant. … Ways to boost the research and development pipeline for new antibiotics are the focus of the latest report, released last week, from the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), chaired by economist Jim O’Neill. … The latest paper suggests ways to revitalize the research and development pipeline to produce about 15 new licensed antibiotics every 10 years. … AMR will contribute to 10 million annual deaths worldwide by 2050, more even than cancer. By boosting the antibiotic pipeline — one of several measures needed to combat this crisis — we can start to take our fate into our own hands…” (5/18).

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International Community Must Take Necessary Steps To Reach Every Child For Polio Immunization

Devex: What we’ve learned about reaching every last child
Hamid Jafari, director of global polio eradication operations and research at the WHO

“…The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a public-private partnership, has managed to reach and vaccinate almost every last child on earth in a bid to rid the globe of this disease. The lessons of this effort that has spanned two decades provide a blueprint to both eradicate the disease and reach the most vulnerable human beings in the world with health services. … What we need now is to fine-tune and continue to innovate as we apply these lessons to get us across the finish line and ensure no child ever again suffers from this crippling disease. … Continued government commitment and a focus on the communities where children are still being missed are keys to the improvements we need to make sure Afghanistan and Pakistan succeed in joining the polio-free world…” (5/19).

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Women From Philippines, CAR Share Motherhood Stories

Huffington Post: Stories of Motherhood from Central Africa to South East Asia
Maria Cristina H. Oñate, project coordinator at Save the Children

“…Maria Christina H. Oñate is from Metro Manila, Philippines. Holding the 105th spot out of 179 nations [in Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers report], the Philippines is a middle-of-the-road country for moms that has made great progress in recent years, especially in reducing the child mortality rate for the poorest children in cities. Rosalie Duma is from the Central African Republic, which at the 177th spot is the third worst place in the world to be a mom. Together, these two women represent two countries with very different realities for mothers and babies. Both women have dedicated their lives to helping some of the most vulnerable moms and children in their communities as part of their work with the international organization Save the Children. Here, they share their stories of motherhood, as well as their hopes and aspirations for all moms around the world…” (5/19).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Government Officials Recognize HIV Vaccine Awareness Day

AIDS.gov: Statement from Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator & U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, on HIV Vaccine Awareness Day
“With no current cure for HIV/AIDS, an HIV vaccine could be a game changer in our effort to control and end the HIV/AIDS pandemic. HIV Vaccine Awareness Day reminds us that the need for safe, effective, and affordable vaccines that can prevent HIV is urgent…” (5/15).

USAID’s “Impact”: Growing Children, Trees, and Science: The Work Towards an AIDS Vaccine
Margaret McCluskey, a senior technical adviser in USAID’s Office of HIV/AIDS, writes, “Sixteen years ago, on HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, a group of mothers, their children, and a few researchers gathered to plant a new maple tree on the median of Monument Street. … Now, the children and maple tree are grown, and we still don’t have an AIDS vaccine — not yet. But we will…” (5/18).

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Ending Disparity In Vaccine Coverage Will Save More Lives

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: We Must End Global Disparities for Mothers and Children
Dagfinn Høybråten, chair of the Board of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, discusses the importance of ending disparities in vaccine coverage and writes, “Gavi is now embarking on a goal to increase to 50 percent from five percent the number of children who receive all 11 vaccines recommended by World Health Organization. By doing so, we expect to save five million to six million more lives…” (5/18).

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Achieving SDGs Requires Integrated, Tri-Sector, Realistic Approach

Council on Foreign Relations’ “Development Channel”: Moving Beyond Utopia to What’s Possible for 2030: Setting Realistic Sustainable Development Goals
Deirdre White, chief executive officer of PYXERA Global, discusses the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how reframing them “into four lead focus areas: health, human rights, natural/human environment, and economic opportunity/employment” makes them easier to digest. She adds, “It is critical that the United Nations and proponents of the SDGs also emphasize a tri-sector approach. … Public, private, and social sectors all contribute unique strengths and tools. Each has a role to play in creating the systemic change needed to make sustainable and real progress on human development…” (5/18).

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