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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Hearing Addresses Fight Against Malaria

“Leading global health experts told Capitol Hill lawmakers [Friday] that the fight against malaria is at a turning point, during a hearing on the U.S. role in combating malaria globally,” held by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog reports. “Ambassador Mark Dybul, the executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said in a briefing that because of a concerted and effective effort over the last 10 years to control malaria, the disease could be eradicated as soon as 20 years from now,” the blog writes, adding “[t]he Global Fund … provides around 50 percent of malaria funding worldwide, according to the multilateral organization’s U.S. advocate, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” and the U.S. is the fund’s largest supporter.

The blog also notes the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), established in 2005 and “largely heralded as a significant bipartisan global health success.” Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, who leads PMI, said during the hearing that the program “is a tremendous success story and yet is incomplete. … The gains are fragile and could be reversed without continued support,” the blog writes. “[I]n the still uncertain face of sequestration and negotiations over the fiscal year 2014 budget, experts said that any move to cut the program could roll back progress,” “Global Pulse” adds. The blog notes Colonel Peter Weina, deputy commander of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, also testified at the hearing and includes comments from subcommittee Chair Chris Smith (R-N.J.) (Miley, 5/17). According to VOA News, the WHO “says that in the last 10 years, 20 countries have brought the disease under control.” The news service includes comments from Dybul, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, and Guowu Bian, a malaria researcher at Michigan State University (Pearson, 5/17).

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Draft House, Senate Farm Bills Do Not Propose Major Changes To Food Aid Program, New York Times Reports

“In response to the Obama administration’s plans to overhaul the nation’s international food aid program, which provides food to disaster-stricken regions, Congress this week began laying the groundwork for its own changes,” the New York Times reports. “Farm bills passed this week by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees do not go as far as the Obama administration’s proposal, which would move the $1.4 billion program from the budget of the Agriculture Department to the foreign affairs budget in an effort to speed delivery and cut costs,” the newspaper writes, noting, “The bills reauthorized the food aid program and left it largely intact, in the agriculture budget.” According to the New York Times, “[t]he Senate bill would extend a pilot program that lets [USAID] use some money to buy food locally,” and both the Senate and House bills address the issue of “monetization,” the practice in which non-governmental organizations sell American relief food in local markets in order to fund some of their non-food programs.

“Several antihunger charities, which have long supported major changes to the food aid program, said they were disappointed by the Senate and House farm bills, but not surprised by them,” the New York Times writes, adding, “Supporters of the current food aid program, like shippers, agriculture trade groups and some antihunger charities, said they were pleased that the Agriculture Committees kept it in the farm bill.” According to the newspaper, “[t]he House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday introduced its own bill to overhaul the food aid program,” and “[t]he House and Senate Appropriations Committees are also expected to take up food aid overhauls, but no timetable has been given” (Nixon, 5/17).

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AIDS Healthcare Foundation Lobbying Congress To Reauthorize PEPFAR

“Many AIDS policy analysts assume that Congress may not have time to reauthorize major global HIV/AIDS programs this year,” but the “AIDS Healthcare Foundation [AHF], which runs treatment clinics around the globe, is bringing in patients and providers from Haiti, South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria and Vietnam to press lawmakers of both parties to renew [PEPFAR],” CQ HealthBeat reports. Though some “federal officials have expressed some doubts about whether lawmakers will pass a reauthorization this year,” the group “sees an opportunity for shifting PEPFAR funds to the areas that they are involved in — testing and treating patients,” the news service writes, noting AHF is “asking appropriators to include report language that would urge the Department of State ‘to seek to devote 75 percent of PEPFAR dollars to antiretroviral drug and medical treatment and HIV testing.'” AHF’s suggested provision “assumes that appropriators would provide $7.73 billion for PEPFAR, which is higher than President Barack Obama’s budget request,” the news service notes. AHF General Counsel Tom Myers said, “Hopefully we can persuade people to take the time to reauthorize the program and tailor the law to make a great program better,” according to CQ HealthBeat (Adams, 5/17).

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Groups Appeal To G8/G20 To Address Family Planning, Reproductive Health During Meetings

“The All Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health and the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development last week gathered over 50 parliamentarians from across the world to show a united voice in making sure the [G8 and G20] countries talk about family planning during their meetings next month,” Devex reports. “‘We demand that G8/G20 leaders place family planning in the context of sexual and reproductive health and rights at the core of the post-2015 development agenda,’ they said in an appeal to the leaders,” the news service notes. “[O]bservers within the aid community told Devex that flagging momentum for accelerating progress in maternal and child health was evident in recent G8 meetings,” the news service writes, adding, “InterAction, an alliance of U.S.-based non-governmental organizations, earlier asked rich countries to make good on their promise to increase funding for newborn, child and maternal health, although this year policy talks at the G8 Summit revolve around food and nutrition.” According to Devex, InterAction stated in a recent policy paper (.pdf), “If the G8 is serious about ending preventable child deaths in a generation, the time to invest is now” (Alliage Morales, 5/17).

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Washington Post Blog Interviews Bill Gates On Global Health, Polio Eradication

In the Washington Post’s “Wonkblog,” columnist Ezra Klein interviews Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, about his focus on improving global health and efforts to eradicate polio. According to the interview transcript, Gates discusses challenges in public health data collection, replicating successful health programs in different settings, the logistics involved in immunizing all children against polio, and the costs associated with some health care innovations (5/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

Women, Girls Must Be Central To Post-2015 Development Agenda

“[W]hen we invest in women, they invest in their children’s education, their health, their families and their businesses, helping to propel whole nations forward. Women are delivering for their communities, but they’re still waiting for the world to deliver for them. Now, we have an opportunity to make good on our end of the bargain,” Jill Sheffield, founder and president of Women Deliver, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. She notes ongoing discussions to determine the post-2015 development agenda, and she states, “If we are to continue making global progress for years to come, this post-2015 agenda must call for renewed and increased commitments to girls and women.”

Sheffield notes the upcoming Women Deliver 2013 conference to be held in Malaysia will be “a critical moment to galvanize the global community to reaffirm women’s rights as human rights and change the world.” “Investing in the health of girls and women is a solution to every development problem,” she states, concluding, “Focusing on this key issue will alleviate poverty, stabilize societies, spur economies and advance the well-being of families, communities, and ultimately, our world overall. Now is the time to secure a central place for girls and women on the global agenda” (5/16).

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With More Focus, G20 Could Help Reduce Incidence Of NTDs Worldwide

“This past weekend, the Sherpas for the Group of 20 nations met for the third time in St. Petersburg to lay the ground work for the G20 Leaders Summit in September,” but “[a]bsent from any public disclosures of these meetings and the proposed fall agenda, so far, have been a newly revealed underbelly of disease and poverty in the G20 countries resulting from a group of chronic and debilitating infections known as the neglected tropical diseases or ‘NTDs,'” Peter Hotez, a fellow at Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, writes in a GlobalPost opinion piece. “They are the most common infections of poor people, rendering them too sick for work or productive activities and with the ability to reduce child intellect and future wage earning,” and they “disproportionately affect girls and women,” he states.

“If the G20 countries would take ownership of their NTD problem and aggressively implement programs of treatment and prevention, I estimate that the world could see a reduction in up to three-quarters of the world’s most fearsome NTDs,” Hotez continues. “The fact that NTD treatments and preventions are mostly inexpensive and are easily afforded by the G20 governments makes one wonder why these diseases and their global control and elimination efforts remain neglected,” he states, concluding, “I believe it is the fact that the NTDs only affect the profoundly poor — marginalized people with no voice and largely hidden from view. The NTDs and the people affected by them are currently out of sight and out of mind from the global policymakers” (5/17).

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World Health Assembly Delegates Should Focus On U.N. Commission Recommendations For Life-Saving Commodities

“As part of Every Woman Every Child, the women and child health initiative launched in 2010 by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, technical experts got together to define [a] list of overlooked life-saving medicines and health supplies and to identify barriers preventing their access and use,” Nicole Schiegg, a consultant and former USAID adviser, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “The 13 identified medicines, medical devices, and health supplies, if more widely accessed and properly used, could significantly reduce preventable deaths among women and children and improve their health from before potential pregnancy, to delivery, during the immediate post-delivery period, and childbirth,” she writes, noting, “Experts estimate we can save six million lives.”

Schiegg notes the U.N. Commission on Life-Saving Commodities, which compiled the list, also recommended 10 time-bound actions” that “focus on the need for improved global and local markets, innovative financing, quality strengthening, regulatory efficiency, improved national delivery of commodities, and better integration of private sector and consumer needs.” She continues, “Next week at the World Health Assembly, delegates will consider a resolution that promotes robust monitoring and evaluation on progress achieved towards the Commission’s recommendations at global and country-level,” and she states, “Delegates have an opportunity to accelerate implementation of the Commission’s recommendations by supporting this resolution” (5/17).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts, Opinion Piece Address HIV Vaccine Awareness Day

On May 18, the world recognized HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, which “commemorates the global effort to develop a safe and effective vaccine that will protect against HIV,” according to a USAID email alert. “While there have been some disappointing recent results in the HIV vaccine field, the stalwart march to discover this critical tool is evident in the over 40 clinical trials that are ongoing or planned to begin in 2013,” the alert states. The following bulletin, blog posts and opinion piece address HIV Vaccine Awareness Day and vaccine research efforts.

  • AIDS.gov: The AIDS.gov blog spoke to researcher Carl Dieffenbach at NIH, who said, “(On Vaccine Awareness Day) we can take a moment to acknowledge the study participants who have given their time, their energy, … to the study of HIV vaccines.” A video of the interview is available online (Gomez, 5/17).
  • NIH News: “Developing a safe and effective HIV vaccine has been a long and difficult process largely because HIV has proven to be an especially tough target,” this NIH bulletin states and summarizes multiple HIV vaccine research projects. “On this HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, NIAID thanks the thousands of men and women who have selflessly volunteered for clinical studies and the scientists and clinicians working to find an effective HIV vaccine. NIAID shares your commitment and will continue the important research needed to make a protective HIV vaccine a reality,” the bulletin concludes (5/17).
  • Margaret McGlynn, USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: Despite recent disappointing news in HIV vaccine research, “history has taught us that such setbacks are par for the course in vaccine development,” IAVI President and CEO McGlynn writes in a post on the USAID blog. “With the support of donors, especially USAID and [PEPFAR], IAVI and its partners are contributing to [research] efforts on several fronts, focusing primarily on vaccines against HIV subtypes that circulate in developing countries and emphasizing novel vaccine strategies,” she states, adding, “All the evidence today suggests that, if we persevere, it is just a matter of time before HIV vaccines become available” (5/17).
  • Colonel Nelson Michael, AIDS.gov: “Despite [recent] setbacks, the scientific basis for developing vaccines has never been better, and the current level of collaboration among scientists, private industry and research institutions is unprecedented,” Michael, director of the U.S. Military HIV Research Program, writes in the AIDS.gov blog. “We will need a broad array of prevention tools — many of which are available today — to overcome HIV,” he states, adding, “An effective vaccine remains a critical component of any long-term strategy. Now is not the time to give up, but to redouble our efforts” (5/17).
  • Mitchell Warren, Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog: “The road to an effective AIDS vaccine remains a long one, but we can reach that goal,” AVAC Director Warren writes, highlighting several HIV vaccine trials. “This year, in the midst of both disappointments and successes, we are reminded that the contribution of trial participants is the most essential element of HIV vaccine research and development,” he states, adding, “Their shared commitments and sacrifices demand that we continue working toward the breakthroughs that will ultimately bring the epidemic to an end” (5/16).

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CGD Blog Discusses New Global Fund Grant 'Portal'

“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria recently made it easier to find out where their money is going with the launch of a new, online grant portfolio portal,” Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Denizhan Duran, a research assistant with the global health policy team at the center, write in the organization’s blog. “This welcome and timely tool comes amid the Global Fund’s ambitious replenishment process that asks donors for $15 billion over the next three years to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria — a considerable amount that totals twice the fund’s average annual disbursements over the past decade,” they continue. They conclude, “Being able to track money benefits everyone as we strive to maximize impact, and it’s encouraging to see that the Global Fund is on the right track” (5/17).

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Charlie Rose Interviews ONE Co-Founder Bono

The ONE blog highlights a recent Charlie Rose interview with ONE co-founder Bono, lead singer of U2. According to the blog, “Bono discusses the impact of U.S. foreign assistance.” In the interview, Bono says, “The United States — it’s a heroic story. You are way out in front in the fight against AIDS. Of the eight million people that are on antiretroviral drugs, most of them are alive because of America — Do Americans know that?” The blog provides a link to a video of the interview (Gharib, 5/17).

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