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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

World Health Assembly Opens; WHO DG Launches Commission On Childhood Obesity

News outlets report on the opening of the World Health Assembly and the launch of a new WHO initiative focused on childhood obesity.

Devex: Will NCDs gain traction at the World Health Assembly?
“The 67th World Health Assembly is happening this week in Geneva, and one of the key issues on the agenda is noncommunicable diseases…” (Ocampo, 5/19).

Intellectual Property Watch: WHO Director Chan Stresses Polio, Inequity, Climate, Junk Food, Supremacy Of Health Over Economic Interests
“World Health Organization Director General Margaret Chan opened the annual World Health Assembly today with strong calls to address a wide range of top health concerns across the world. This included a call for the global health community to work to assert the primacy of health concerns over economic interests where necessary…” (New, 5/19).

MercoPress: WHO’s Dr. Chan targets childhood obesity: ‘our children are getting fatter’
“World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan voiced deep concern about the increase worldwide of childhood obesity, with numbers climbing fastest in developing countries. … To gather the best possible advice on dealing with this crisis, Dr. Chan announced that she has established a high-level Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity…” (5/19).

U.N. News Centre: Future global development agenda must include targets for improved health — U.N. official
“Health must be a part of any future global development agenda, a senior United Nations official underscored today as she outlined a host of issues afflicting millions around the world and which impact on efforts to reduce poverty and advance overall well-being…” (5/19).

VOA News: WHO: Conflict, Inequality, and Economic Exclusion Threaten Health Gains
“The Director-General of the World Health Organization warns conflict, social inequality and economic exclusion are threatening important gains made in health…” (Schlein, 5/19).

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Feed The Future Initiative Delivering Results, USAID Progress Report Shows

Media outlets highlight a new report from Feed the Future showing the U.S. global food security initiative is making progress against hunger.

Devex: Focusing on success, Feed the Future eyes lasting political support
“Champions of Feed the Future highlighted the initiative’s successes on Monday at the start of a three-day forum examining the U.S.-led effort to tackle food security, during which participants raised the issue of obtaining continued support in light of a challenging domestic political situation…” (Saldinger, 5/20).

Devex: Dupont, Cargill ‘most supportive’ Feed the Future partners
“…Bangladesh, Senegal and Honduras have shown the strongest results, according to a USAID spokesperson, and the 2013 progress report leans heavily on examples of success from those three countries. The spokesperson added that among participating U.S. companies DuPont and Cargill have been the ‘most supportive’ of the initiative, while Texas A&M, Kansas State, UC Davis, Tufts and Penn State have taken the lead among supporting universities…” (Igoe, 5/19).

New York Times: U.S. Initiative on Hunger Aids Millions, Report Finds
“An Obama administration program set up to reduce chronic hunger and poverty has contributed to rising incomes for farmers around the world and has helped save millions of people from starvation, according to a report released Monday by the United States Agency for International Development…” (Nixon, 5/19).

USAID: Feed the Future Initiative Reduces Hunger and Poverty for Millions, Boosts Incomes and Nutrition around the World
“U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah announced today that President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative has reached nearly seven million smallholder farmers and helped to save 12.5 million children from the threat of hunger, poverty, and malnutrition in just the last year alone…” (5/19).

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CIA No Longer Will Use Fake Vaccination Programs As Covers, White House Official Says

News outlets report that in a written response to a group of public health school deans, President Obama’s top homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, states the CIA no longer will use vaccination programs for covert operations, as was done in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Associated Press/Minneapolis Star Tribune: After polio outbreaks, CIA promises never again to use vaccination programs as cover to spy
“A top White House official has pledged that the CIA will no longer use vaccination programs as cover for spying operations. The agency used the ruse in targeting Osama bin Laden before the U.S. raid that killed him in 2011…” (Braun, 5/20).

CNN: CIA policy: Won’t use vaccination programs as part of operations
“A newly disclosed CIA policy mandates that it won’t use vaccination programs as part of its operations, according to the Obama administration. The directive by CIA Director John Brennan, made nine months ago but only coming to light now, followed concerns raised by leaders of a dozen U.S. public health schools in a letter to President Barack Obama…” (Bentz, 5/20).

Reuters: White House vows CIA will not use vaccine programs for covert ops
“…Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said Obama homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco had assured … that CIA policy as of August 2013 makes clear ‘the CIA will make no operational use of vaccination programs, which includes vaccination workers’…” (Holland, 5/19).

Yahoo News: After bin Laden backlash, CIA promises: No more vaccination campaigns for spying
“Amid a deadly backlash again vaccinations and a resurgence of polio in Pakistan, the White House has promised that the CIA will never again use an immunization campaign as a tool of spycraft…” (Knox, 5/19).

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GAVI Issues Appeal For $7.5B In Funding

News outlets report on the GAVI Alliance’s appeal for increased funding for its vaccine and immunization programs.

Reuters: Vaccines group seeks $7.5 bln to protect 300 million children
“The GAVI global vaccines alliance issued a plea on Tuesday for $7.5 billion to help immunize another 300 million children against life-threatening diseases between 2016 and 2020 and save up to six million more lives…” (Kelland, 5/20).

EurActiv: E.U. more than doubles vaccine aid as GAVI launches appeal
“The E.U. has pledged an increase to its annual aid budget for vaccines and immunization programs from €10 million to €25 million in the 2014-2020 budgetary period, on the day that the GAVI Alliance launches a funding replenishment appeal…” (Nelson, 5/20).

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Better Care At Birth Can Save 3M Children, Lancet Series Says

Media outlets report on findings released in a series of papers published in The Lancet and supported by UNICEF on maternal and newborn health.

Agence France-Presse: Better care can save 3 mn babies, mothers per year
“The lives of three million women and babies can be saved every year by 2025 for an annual investment of about a dollar per head in better maternity care, researchers said Tuesday. About 8,000 newborn babies die and another 7,000 are stillborn every day — 2.9 million and 2.6 million per year respectively, according to a review of data from 195 countries published in The Lancet medical journal…” (5/19).

U.N. News Centre: Quality care at birth could save nearly 3 million children — U.N.-backed study
“The majority of the almost three million children who die before they turn one month old could be saved if they received quality care around the time of birth, according to the findings released today in a study supported by the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which is urging additional attention and resources for this group of children…” (5/19).

The Lancet: Worldwide nearly six million babies are born and die each year without birth or death certificates
“…Findings from the Every Newborn Series, published today in The Lancet, paint the clearest picture to date of a newborn’s chance of survival and the steps that must be taken to end preventable infant deaths. New analyses indicate that three million maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths can be prevented each year with proven interventions — including the promotion of breastfeeding, neonatal resuscitation, kangaroo mother care or preterm babies, antenatal corticosteroids, and the prevention and treatment of infections…” (5/19).

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MERS Death Toll Rises To 173 In Saudi Arabia; U.S. Patients Released From Hospital

News outlets report on the ongoing Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak.

Agence France-Presse: New MERS deaths take Saudi toll to 173
“Saudi health authorities reported Monday new deaths from the MERS coronavirus, taking to 173 the overall number of fatalities from the disease in the world’s worst-hit country…” (5/19).

Associated Press: MERS in America: Is spread of virus a worry?
“A respiratory virus that has sickened hundreds in the Middle East has spread for the first time from one person to another in the United States. The case has raised questions about how much contact is needed to transmit the germ…” (Stobbe, 5/19).

The Hill: Will budget cuts help spread deadly MERS virus in U.S.?
“Public health advocates are worried that budget cuts are hampering efforts to contain pandemics such as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)…” (Al-Faruque, 5/16).

Reuters: Illinois MERS patient ‘not infectious’; Florida patient released
“An Illinois man who had tested positive for antibodies to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus in his blood is no longer infectious, state health officials said on Monday. … Florida officials said separately the second patient infected with MERS has now been released from the hospital in Orlando…” (Steenhuysen, 5/19).

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U.S., Britain Pledge More Humanitarian Aid To S. Sudan As Country Faces Cholera Outbreak

Reuters reports on humanitarian aid funding to South Sudan, as well as cholera outbreak in the country.

Reuters: U.S. pledges up to $50 mln urgent aid for South Sudan
“The United States has authorized the use of up to $50 million from its emergency refugee fund to help with urgent humanitarian needs resulting from fighting in South Sudan, the White House said on Monday. … It brings the total of U.S. humanitarian assistance to about $434 million since the conflict began in December…” (5/20).

Reuters: Britain pledges $100 mln for South Sudan humanitarian aid
“Britain is pledging 60 million pounds ($100.97 million) to help alleviate a humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, the British government said on Tuesday, amid expectations conflict in the world’s youngest nation will worsen in the months ahead. … The new funding brings London’s support for South Sudan since the start of the crisis in December 2013 to around 93 million pounds…” (Fouche, 5/20).

Reuters: Nine dead in cholera outbreak in South Sudan capital — WHO
“Cholera has broken out in the capital of South Sudan where five months of civil war has left thousands homeless and disrupted food supplies and health services, according to the World Health Organization…” (Miles, 5/19).

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Syrian Health Workers Struggle With Ethics, Lack Of Facilities In War-Torn Country

Inter Press Service: Syrian Doctors Grapple With Medical Emergency and Ethics
“As once-eliminated diseases resurface and barrel bombs and alleged chlorine attacks target civilians, doctors in rebel-held areas and across the border struggle with issues of how best to serve their profession. Up to 70 percent of Syria’s health workers had fled the country as [of] June last year, according to the World Health Organization, and many of the country’s medical facilities have been destroyed or heavily damaged by regime air strikes…” (Kittleson, 5/19).

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Officials Worry About Dengue Fever Risk During Brazil World Cup

New York Times: With World Cup in Brazil, Risk of Spreading a Virus
“Public health authorities are worried about a confluence of events set to happen soon: Brazil is suffering the world’s worst epidemic of dengue fever, with 1.4 million cases last year. And the country is about to play host to the World Cup, which attracts tourists by the millions…” (McNeil, 5/19).

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Measles Outbreak In Chad Due To Weak Vaccine Coverage, Health Infrastructure

IRIN: Measles spreading in Chad amid weak vaccination coverage
“A measles outbreak that is spreading across sub-Saharan Africa is showing no sign of let-up as vaccine campaigners struggle to reach all at-risk children…” (5/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

Empowerment Of Women Can Be 'Global Game-Changer'

Inter Press Service: Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture It!
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of U.N. Women

“…A billion women will enter the world economy in the next decade. With equal opportunities, their impact on our future prosperity will be a global game-changer. We can and must turn this picture to reality. Right now, every country is working to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and to define a new global development plan. … Today we launch a Beijing+20 campaign that will focus on progress, highlighting champions and effective work being done for gender equality. … The campaign calls upon leaders and ordinary people alike to recommit and act to turn the vision of the Beijing platform into reality…” (5/19).

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European Parliament Needs Strong Development Committee To Deliver E.U. Policies

EurActiv: Sound development policies need a strong parliamentary committee
Matt Foster, director of strategy and program effectiveness for Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)

“…It is absolutely essential that the upcoming European Parliament elections on the 22-25th of May deliver a group of strong [members of the European Parliament (MEPs)] who, through their involvement in the Development Committee, can deliver on the [European] Union’s development policy. … VSO will be keeping a close eye on who gets elected to the new European Parliament and expect them to take their responsibilities seriously for the future shape of the E.U.’s role in international development is very much in their hands” (5/20).

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More Action Needed To Determine Vaccines' Heat Stability, Develop Better Cold Chains

The Guardian: Vaccine development: thinking out of the cold box
Kate Elder, vaccines policy adviser for Médecins Sans Frontières’ Access Campaign

“…[M]ore attention, and funds, need to be paid towards strengthening logistics and cold chain systems in these poorer countries, but we also need more action from the vaccine manufacturers to determine the true thermostability of vaccines, and a regulatory framework that acknowledges and expedites this reality. … In the long term, the next generation of vaccines should be developed with ambitious heat stability targets so that burdensome cold chain requirements can be avoided from the outset…” (5/19).

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EGPAF Forges Ahead To Prevent Mother-To-Child HIV Transmission

Huffington Post: Reaching Our 20 Millionth Woman
Chip Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

“…For the past decade, our programs have expanded to better address the PMTCT cascade. Our work must continue around strengthening and integrating health systems and building local capacity so that every child has the opportunity to grow up HIV-free. And we must continue our pursuit of lifelong treatment for infected individuals so that once a mother or child has been diagnosed with HIV, the mother can look forward to raising her healthy child and both can live a full and healthy life…” (5/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blogs Discuss CIA Policy Disallowing Fake Vaccination Programs

Blogs address a new CIA policy stating the agency no longer will use vaccination programs for covert operations, as was done in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Humanosphere: CIA promises not to do any more fake vaccination programs
Tom Paulson, founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere, discusses the Obama administration’s promise that the CIA would not use vaccination programs overseas as cover and suggests that these policy changes should also protect all aid workers (5/19).

Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Views from the Center”: White House Bans CIA Use of Vaccine Programs as Cover
Charles Kenny, senior fellow at CGD, discusses the White House’s policy change that the CIA may “make no operational use of vaccination programs” for intelligence gathering (5/19).

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World AIDS Vaccine Day Focuses Attention On Need For HIV Vaccine

Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs”: Celebrating progress on World AIDS Vaccine Day
“…May 18 marked the observance of World AIDS Vaccine Day­­ — an annual event to focus attention on the need for a vaccine to prevent HIV infection and AIDS,” the blog states, and includes an infographic from AVAC (5/19).

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Blog Discusses Theoretical Association Between Schistosomiasis, HIV Infections

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Schistosomiasis: how a theory brings HIV, a parasite, the price of pills and the demand for evidence together
Antigone Barton, writer and editor of “Science Speaks” and senior communications officer at the Center for Global Health Policy, writes about “[t]he idea that schistosomiasis, often picked up during childhood through a freshwater-borne parasite prevalent in some regions of Africa, can cause vaginal sores that could increase the likelihood of HIV exposure through sex…” (5/19).

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