KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Secretary Kerry Praises Ethiopian-U.S. Efforts To Combat HIV, Visits S. Sudan To Urge Peace

News outlets report on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to Africa, where he has visited Ethiopia and South Sudan.

IIP Digital: Ethiopia’s Fight Against AIDS an Example to World, Kerry Says
“During his May 1 visit to Gandhi Memorial Hospital, the secretary praised the effectiveness of the Ethiopian-U.S. partnership committed to ‘investing in a healthy future together’ and joining forces to combat HIV/AIDS…” (5/1).

IIP Digital: Kerry at Gandhi Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The news service provides a transcript of Kerry’s remarks delivered Thursday at Gandhi Hospital in Ethiopia (5/1).

NPR: USAID: War Puts South Sudan Closer To Humanitarian Disaster
“Secretary of State Kerry is in South Sudan as part of a U.S.-led effort to end its civil war. [In an audio report,] Steve Inskeep talks to Raj Shah, administrator for USAID, about America’s efforts to prevent famine there…” (5/2).

Reuters: Kerry in South Sudan in U.S. push to halt conflict
“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew into South Sudan on Friday to push for a halt to more than four months of fighting in Africa’s newest nation, a message he was expected to deliver in talks with President Salva Kiir…” (Stewart, 5/2).

Reuters: U.S. warns of South Sudan genocide risk, raises hope of new forces
“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned on Thursday that South Sudan’s conflict could descend into genocide, as he renewed threats of sanctions and raised hope that more peacekeeping forces could be deployed swiftly to halt the bloodshed…” (Stewart/Maasho, 5/2).

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U.N. Calls For Accountability Mechanism To Assess Post-2015 Development Goals

U.N. News Centre: Accountability key to ensuring development progress beyond 2015 — U.N. officials
“As Member States continue work on a new post-2015 development agenda, United Nations officials today stressed the need for a robust yet flexible accountability framework to assess progress and achieve results, as well as ensure that all actors honor their commitments…” (5/1).

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U.S. Officials Urge Postponement Of Smallpox Virus Stockpile Destruction

Associated Press/ABC News: Scientists Urge Delay in Destroying Last Smallpox
“More than three decades after the eradication of smallpox, U.S. officials say it’s still not time to destroy the last known stockpiles of the virus behind one of history’s deadliest diseases…” (Neergaard, 5/2).

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5M Children Projected To Face Acute Malnutrition In Sahel

Agence France-Presse: 5 million children in Africa’s Sahel face acute malnutrition
“Aid operations need urgent funding in north Africa’s Sahel region where five million children face the prospect of acute malnutrition, U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA said…” (4/30).

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Haiti Sees Gains In Cholera Fight As Dry Season Ends, U.N. Official Says

U.N. News Centre: As dry season ends in Haiti, significant gains seen in fight against cholera, U.N. official says
“Significant gains in the fight against the cholera epidemic in Haiti have been recorded as the dry season ends and the United Nations continues to support the government’s comprehensive strategy of monitoring, rapid response, and planning for long-term solutions, a top U.N. official in the impoverished country says…” (5/1).

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New Software Tool Speeds Ebola Disease Detection

IIP Digital: New Software Tool Helps Track Exposures in Ebola Outbreak
“African nations fighting outbreaks of Ebola hemorrhagic fever are getting help from U.S. disease detectives and a new software tool to quickly find people exposed to the deadly virus…” (4/30).

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Jordan Identifies 2 New MERS Cases, Saudi Arabia Announces 26 More

News outlets report on the latest developments in the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak.

Agence France-Presse: Jordan records two new MERS infections
“Two new infections from MERS coronavirus have been detected in Jordan, the health ministry said Thursday, one a Saudi man and the other a Jordanian medic who was treating him…” (5/1).

Reuters: Saudi Arabia finds 26 more cases of deadly MERS
“Saudi Arabia said on Thursday the total number of cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), an often deadly new disease, had nearly doubled in the kingdom in April with 26 further infections reported on Tuesday and Wednesday…” (5/1).

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First 1,000 Days Of Life Critical To Healthy Childhood Development

The Atlantic: 1,000 Days: The Period That Decides the Health and Wealth of the World
“For years, ensuring good nutrition during the first 1,000 days was largely absent from national and global development priorities. … But a growing body of research shows that success in primary school depends on good nutrition fueling cognitive development during the 1,000 days. In fact, addressing the malnutrition of the mother or child during this period — whether from a lack of food, micro-nutrient deficiencies, parasites, or illness — trumps most development and poverty-reduction efforts…” (Thurow, 5/1).

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Southern Africa Makes Progress In HIV Care, But West, Central Africa Lagging

VOA News: MSF: West, Central Africa Lagging in HIV Care
“Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says only 20 percent of people living with HIV in French-speaking west and central Africa are receiving the antiretroviral drug treatment they need. This is despite ‘enormous progress’ made in the fight against HIV/AIDS in southern Africa, where the disease is more prevalent…” (Lazuta, 3/1).

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South Africa Making Headway In Confronting HIV/AIDS Epidemic

The Lancet: South Africa’s battle against HIV/AIDS gains momentum
“South Africa has come a long way in its war against HIV. In the 1990s, its attempts to stem the escalating death toll of the epidemic against a background of political and social unrest were often ineffectual or misguided. Today sees a country confronting the epidemic head on and making substantial inroads against the enemy…” (Maurice, 5/3).

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New Smallpox-Related Virus Discovered In Republic Of Georgia

NPR: New Virus Related To Smallpox Is Found In Republic Of Georgia
“Two herdsmen in the country of Georgia have been infected with a brand-new virus, scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. The newly identified virus is a second cousin to smallpox…” (Doucleff, 5/1).

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Editorials and Opinions

House Measure Would Bring Food Aid Reform 'A Step Backward'

Washington Post: The House would leave starving people abroad hungrier
“…[T]he House of Representatives [recently] approved a measure that would actually take [U.S. food aid reform] a step backward. Specifically, the House passed an appropriations bill for the Coast Guard with a provision that would require 75 percent of all U.S. food aid to travel on U.S.-flagged vessels, up from 50 percent under current law. … [T]he Obama administration and nongovernmental organizations that support reform are urging the Senate to delete the House provision from its version of the Coast Guard funding bill. Senators should not only follow that advice but also look for ways to rekindle the reform effort that fell short in the farm bill debate” (5/1).

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Saudi Health Officials Must Provide More Transparency, Information In MERS Outbreak

An opinion piece and editorial discuss the importance of transparency in Saudi Arabia’s handling of the MERS outbreak.

Foreign Policy: Stay Away from Camel Milk and Egyptian Tomb Bats
Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations

“…The question now is: Will the [Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)] virus go global? MERS is at least three times more lethal than SARS. About 31 percent of MERS patients have eventually succumbed versus eight percent of SARS cases. … The specter of a SARS-like, 31-nation, 8,500-patient MERS pandemic is three times more horrible, due to the greater virulence of the virus. Without knowing the relative roles date palm farming, Egyptian tomb bats, camels, hospitals, and other possible factors play in the spread of MERS in Saudi Arabia, it is extremely difficult to predict the pandemic potential of this disease. Clearly, spread inside hospitals is transpiring and must be stopped before the world can possibly breathe a sigh of relief. This will require a great deal more than face masks and the scanty patient information released to date by Saudi authorities…” (4/30).

The Lancet: Political commitment to MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia
“…For all countries facing emerging infectious diseases, there needs to be clear, honest, and timely communication between the government and its health departments and the public. For Saudi Arabia, the government can allay fears by explaining the reasons for [former Health Minister Abdullah Al Rabeeah’s] transfer [to adviser at the Royal Court], and any implications for ongoing management of MERS-CoV. The challenges of public health security in Saudi Arabia, particularly mass gatherings like the Hajj, demand the attention of a full-time Health Minister” (5/3).

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International Food Security 'Is Clearly In The U.S. National Interest'

Huffington Post: In the Field With CARE in Central America
Dan Glickman, senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center

“…[A]t its core, agriculture policy is about making sure that people, in the United States and abroad, can grow or afford enough nutritious food for themselves and their families. … Foreign assistance is much maligned in the U.S., especially in periods of fiscal constraint. It is a shame that foreign aid’s detractors do not understand that it is clearly in the U.S. national interest to improve economic conditions and reduce violence in countries like Guatemala and Honduras. If everyone could grasp the work being done by socially responsible corporations like Cargill investing in microenterprise, NGOs like CARE improving economic, education or health opportunities for women, or traditional USAID-style investments in development then they would understand it is an awe inspiring testament to the nation’s cherished values of hard work, betterment and compassion” (5/1).

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Individuals, Private Sector Should Donate More To Reduce Child Mortality

Huffington Post: The World’s 10 Deadliest Countries for Children and What You Can Do About It
Nick Pearson, founder of 1% for Humanity

Listing the top 10 countries with the highest child mortality levels as a percentage of their population, Pearson writes, “It can confidently be estimated that only a fraction of one percent of charitable giving by individuals in the United States supports work that fights extreme poverty, let alone child mortality. At 1% for Humanity, we want to help donors make a difference in the places where poverty and injustice are at their worst. … Addressing and alleviating child mortality in the world’s poorest communities is one of the most significant challenges and moral obligations we face as a global society. Instead of just waiting for governments to pledge more of their budgets to fight extreme poverty, individuals and businesses in the private sector should step up and support these efforts with more of their charitable giving…” (5/1).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

GPEI Strategic Plan Provides Keys To Polio Eradication, But 'Global Leaders Must Deliver'

Writing in The Lancet’s “Global Health” blog, Zulfiqar Bhutta, founding director of the Center of Excellence in Women and Child Health at Aga Khan University and co-director of research in global health at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, and Walter Orenstein, a professor and associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center at Emory University, discuss the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s (GPEI) strategic plan to end polio by 2018, noting the program’s encouraging track record and the challenges of eradicating the disease. “…The Strategic Plan contains the keys to bring vaccines to the remaining hotspots. But without action, the plan is just a plan, and to make eradication a reality, global leaders must deliver in several ways. … Failure to stop polio in these areas will be disastrous, and risks a fresh set of outbreaks across the globe that could unravel the progress already achieved…” (4/30).

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Survey Shows Widespread Support For Public Health Efforts In Africa

The Pew Research Global Attitudes Project blog reports on new survey data showing “[c]oncerns about public health are widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, and there is considerable support in the region for making public health challenges a top national priority. In particular, people want their governments to improve the quality of hospitals and other health care facilities and deal with the problem of HIV/AIDS…” The blog provides links to the full report (.pdf) and topline results (.pdf) (5/1).

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amfAR Capitol Hill Briefing Focuses On How To 'Make AIDS History'

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on a Capitol Hill briefing sponsored by amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, titled “Making AIDS History: From Science to Solutions.” In February, amfAR launched “Countdown to a Cure,” an initiative “with a target of finding a widely accessible cure for the virus that leads to AIDS in the next six years,” according to the blog (Barton, 5/1). Experts at the briefing focused on recent progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS; discussed the impact of human rights issues in the HIV response; and highlighted breakthroughs in HIV prevention, treatment, and cure research, according to an amfAR press release (4/29).

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NEJM Features Articles On Global Health Issues

The New England Journal of Medicine features several pieces on global health in its current issue. In an editorial, David Hunter of Harvard School of Public Health and Harvey Fineberg of the Institute of Medicine discuss “five major forces and trends suggesting that as the 21st century progresses, a global perspective on public health will be increasingly critical” (5/1). Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown University Law Center and the WHO Collaborating Center on Public Health Law and Human Rights and Devi Sridhar of the WHO Collaborating Center for Population Health Research and Training discuss global health and the law in a review article, writing, “Global health law, despite its limitations, remains vital to achieving global health with justice” (5/1). And in a perspective piece, Michael Merson of the Duke Global Health Institute writes about the role of universities in promoting global health (5/1).

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