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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Senate Approves $1.1B In Emergency Zika Spending; Negotiators Must Reconcile With House's $622M Zika Funds

CQ HealthBeat: Senate Passes Spending Bill With Funds to Fight Zika
“The Senate on a 89-8 vote passed a fiscal 2017 two-bill spending measure that includes funding to fight the Zika virus. The measure (HR 2577) is made up of the Transportation-HUD (S 2844) and Military Construction-VA (S 2806) spending bills. Those are the second and third regular appropriations bills to gain floor passage this year…” (Mejdrich, 5/19).

Deutsche Welle: Congress, Obama wrangle over anti-Zika spending
“…Obama had in February asked for $1.9 billion (1.7 billion euros) to fight Zika’s spread via mosquitoes and sexual contact. Severe defects in newborns have already dominated headlines in South America, especially Brazil…” (5/19).

The Hill: Senate approves Zika funds
“…The vote comes less than a day after the House approved $622 million in Zika funds, despite opposition from House Democrats, senators, and the White House…” (Carney, 5/19).

The Hill: Overnight Healthcare: House, Senate struggle to bridge Zika divide
“… ‘Now that both houses have acted on their respective Zika packages, we will work expeditiously to reconcile them,’ Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), wrote to The Hill on Thursday…” (Sullivan, 5/19).

Reuters: U.S. Senate approves $1.1 billion to fight Zika virus
“…Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington State urged Congress to act quickly, saying, ‘This is a public health emergency and Congress should treat it like one’…” (Cowan, 5/19).

USA TODAY: Senate approves $1.1 billion to fight Zika virus
“…The Senate version is a bipartisan measure that would provide funding through September 2017. … The White House earlier this week threatened to veto the House version, calling it ‘woefully inadequate.’ The administration did not threaten the same fate for the Senate legislation…” (Slack, 5/19).

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Zika Circulating In Cape Verde Same As Viral Strain In Americas, WHO Announces, Warns Of Further Spread

Associated Press: WHO: Zika virus off coast of Africa came from Americas
“Health officials say they have confirmed that the Zika virus in Cape Verde island off the western coast of Africa is the same one infecting people in the Americas. The World Health Organization announced Friday that the development is worrisome because ‘it is further proof that the outbreak is spreading beyond South America and is on the doorstep of Africa’…” (5/20).

Reuters: Brazil-type Zika confirmed in Africa for first time — WHO
“…As of May 8, there had been 7,557 suspected cases in Cape Verde … Cape Verde has reported three cases of microcephaly, and a mother thought to have caught Zika there later delivered a microcephalic baby in the United States. Cape Verde has not reported any cases of Guillain-Barre, WHO said” (Miles, 5/20).

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Yellow Fever Outbreak 'Serious' But Does Not Qualify As Emergency, WHO Committee Says, Calls For Action

Associated Press: U.N.: Yellow fever outbreak is “serious” but not an emergency
“The World Health Organization says the ongoing outbreak of yellow fever in central Africa is ‘serious and of great concern’ but does not warrant being declared a global emergency…” (5/19).

CNN: WHO: Yellow fever outbreak is ‘serious and of great concern’
“…The WHO held an emergency meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on Thursday to review the latest information about the outbreak that began in December. The committee said the outbreak does not constitute a public health emergency…” (Goldschmidt, 5/19).

NBC News: Yellow Fever in Africa Not Quite an Emergency, WHO Says
“…Most cases are in Angola, where 2,257 suspected cases are reported. But the virus has been carried by migrant workers to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Kenya, and 11 travelers have carried it to China…” (Fox, 5/19).

New York Times: WHO Calls Yellow Fever in Africa ‘Serious Concern’
“…In April, the WHO warned that its emergency stock of yellow fever vaccine was close to exhaustion. But increased manufacturing capacity by the four companies making the vaccine and diversion of doses away from routine vaccination to Africa has brought the stockpile back to its normal level of six million doses, which could triple within a few months, said Dr. Bruce Aylward, the agency’s executive director for outbreaks and health emergencies…” (McNeil, 5/19).

Reuters: Yellow fever outbreaks in Africa need action, mass vaccination: WHO
“… ‘The big push really is around surveillance and laboratory diagnostics capacity so that if people start turning yellow and dying, you get diagnostics rapidly and vaccination,’ Aylward told Reuters…” (Nebehay, 5/19).

Science: Yellow fever threat is ‘serious’ but not an ’emergency,’ WHO says
“…The chair of the WHO emergency committee, Nigerian virologist Oyewale Tomori, said that the affected countries need to make absolutely sure that visitors are vaccinated against the virus. He added that surveillance needs to be intensified, mass vaccinations organized, and risk communication improved…” (Kupferschmidt, 5/19).

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Nations Must Invest More In Women's, Girls' Health To Compete In Digital Future, World Bank President Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Invest in girls’ health to compete in the digital future: World Bank head
“Countries which fail to invest in young women’s health will be left behind because the underdeveloped brains of their children will not be equipped to compete in an increasingly complex, digital world, the head of the World Bank said on Wednesday. Jim Yong Kim said childhood stunting, which impairs cognitive ability, was a ‘great unrecognized disaster happening in the world right now’…” (Batha, 5/18).

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Devex Examines Issues To Be Discussed At 69th World Health Assembly

Devex: 5 WHO reforms at the 69th World Health Assembly
“…[T]he Zika virus is only one part of the agenda at the upcoming 69th World Health Assembly, which [Director-General Margaret] Chan described as ‘record-breaking’ for the number of agenda items and resolutions member states will need to discuss and agree on at the May 23-28 event, from the operational plan to implement the Global Strategy on Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ health, draft global strategy on health workforce, to discussions on access to essential medicines worldwide. There is however another theme emerging from the annual event: internal reforms and initiatives taking place at WHO that will also be on the assembly’s agenda…” (Ravelo, 5/19).

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World Humanitarian Summit Attendees Expected To Discuss Funding, Coordination, Measures

Devex: The World Humanitarian Summit: What to expect
“Some 5,000 representatives from nongovernmental organizations, foundations, aid agencies, and dozens of United Nations member states will gather for the first World Humanitarian Summit next week. … At issue are a host of thorny debates about how to fund, organize, coordinate, and account for humanitarian aid. Discussions are expected to focus on how to make limited resources stretch further, for longer, and in situations that show no signs of resolving soon…” (Dickinson/Saldinger, 5/19).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: FACTBOX — Humanitarian aid rises to record $28 bln in 2015
“International humanitarian assistance given last year totaled a record $28 billion, new figures show in the run-up to the first World Humanitarian Summit in Turkey next week. Independent U.K.-based research organization Development Initiatives, which released the data on Thursday, said 2015 saw the third consecutive annual rise in funding…” (Rowling, 5/19).

U.N. News Centre: FEATURE: U.N. aid chief calls on leaders to ‘make commitments for the future’ at World Humanitarian Summit
“Commitments to strengthening the humanitarian system so that preparedness and resilience are taken more seriously, with local response at the heart of the efforts, are the focus of next week’s World Humanitarian Summit according to the United Nations aid chief. ‘The Summit is a way of saying let’s come together, let’s really understand how we can work better, let’s make commitments for the future,’ Stephen O’Brien, the under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, told the U.N. News Centre ahead of the first-ever gathering of its kind, which will take place in Turkey on 23 and 24 May…” (5/19).

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Global Life Expectancy Up 5 Years To 71.4 Years Since 2000, WHO Says

The Guardian: Global life expectancy increases to 71.4 years
“Life expectancy across the globe has increased by five years since 2000, the fastest rise in lifespans since the 1960s, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Babies born in 2015 can expect to live to 71.4 years (73.8 years for females; 69.1 years for males)…” (Boseley, 5/19).

U.N. News Centre: Global life expectancy up five years since 2000, but gains uneven — U.N. health agency
“…According to this year’s World Health Statistics: Monitoring Health for the SDGs, life expectancy increased by five years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s. Those gains reverse declines during the 1990s, when life expectancy fell in Africa because of the AIDS epidemic and in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union, WHO noted in a press release…” (5/19).

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Political Leadership Needed To Address Drug Resistance, The Economist Reports

The Economist: When the drugs don’t work
“…Resistance to antimicrobial medicines, such as antibiotics and antimalarials, is caused by the survival of the fittest. Unfortunately, fit microbes mean unfit human beings. … Combining policies to accomplish many things at once demands political leadership, but recent global campaigns against HIV/AIDS and malaria show that it is possible. Enough time has been wasted issuing warnings about antibiotic resistance. The moment has come to do something about it” (5/21).

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Maverick Collective Helps Link Funders To Projects To Improve Women's Health Worldwide

NPR: New Charity Invites Female Millionaires To Donate — And Get Involved
“…According to a 2014 report from the United Nations Population Fund, ‘less than two cents [of] every international development dollar is spent on an adolescent girl.’ The Maverick Collective hopes to change that breakdown. It’s a philanthropic organization that was publicly launched this week at the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen. Its 14 members, all women, have each contributed at least $1 million to fund a specific project in the developing world that tackles a women’s health issue: domestic violence, maternal health, cervical cancer. The goal is to come up with projects that get good results, then build them up to a bigger scale…” (Chhabra, 5/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. House Must View Zika As 'Real Threat,' Provide Appropriate Funding Without 'Stealing' From Ebola Money

New York Times: Stealing From Ebola to Fight Zika
Editorial Board

“Nobody should be surprised when the present House of Representatives, dominated by penurious reactionaries, produces a stingy response to a danger that calls for compassionate largess. … The salient feature is that in providing money to fight one health menace, it steals from other funds meant to fight an even more dangerous threat — the Ebola virus. … [T]he House insisted that [the approved $622 million] be offset by cuts to other programs, including those aimed at Ebola. That makes no sense. It would shortchange critical efforts to strengthen public health systems in Africa in order to prevent a resurgence of Ebola … and other diseases. The money in the House bill would be available only until the end of September … Cutting off funds that early would … severely hamper the effort to create a Zika vaccine … The House seems incapable of seeing that Zika is a real threat, not a device to satisfy its anti-regulatory zeal” (5/19).

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Better Data On Women Could Help Close Gender Gap

Medium: To Close the Gender Gap, We Have to Close the Data Gap
Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…The hard reality is that in too many areas, data doesn’t exist. What’s more  —  even where it does exist, it’s often sexist. It misses women and girls entirely, or undercounts and undervalues their economic and social contributions to their families, communities, and countries. These knowledge gaps and biases have two effects. First, they hamper our ability to advance the cause of gender equality. … Second, these gaps and biases reinforce the harmful stereotypes and practices that are grounded in the attitude that women and girls simply don’t matter. With a better understanding of the way women live their lives, and the specific inequalities, indignities, and injustices that hold them back every day, we can see what needs fixing, whether solutions are working, and what progress is being made. That’s because gathering and analyzing data makes the invisible, visible. Closing the gender gap, requires closing the data gap…” (5/17).

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Skilled Health Workforce Critical To Global Health Security

The Lancet: No health workforce, no global health security
Editorial Board

“…[W]hat is the most important determinant of individual health security? In one word, people. Or, more programmatically, skilled health professionals. … Global health security depends on many factors — robust disease surveillance systems, reliable health information, prevention, diagnostic, and treatment services, financing, and strong political commitment. But without skilled health professionals, who should be valued and protected everywhere, to act as the first line of defense of individual health security, other efforts will be in vain. That is why we endorse the Workforce 2030 strategy and hope that WHO’s member states will too. There can be no health security without a skilled health workforce…” (5/21).

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International Efforts To Improve Disease Outbreak Responses Require Innovative, Fast Financing

Financial Times: Responding to pandemics: new ways of raising finance, and fast
Prashant Yadav, senior fellow at the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan, and Akash Goel, physician and journalist and a World Economic Forum Global Shaper

“…As the threat of pandemics is becoming more real, it is paramount to create robust systems at the international, national, and local levels to cope with such outbreaks. … We propose a few innovative ways to encourage both pandemic financing and rapid disbursement of funds. … [Returns on investments in health systems] would accrue not only from population health improvements over time but more directly from decreased cost of borrowing and greater [foreign direct investment (FDI)] flows. For rapid disbursement of funding, new models based on parametric pandemic insurance could fill the need for early financing of pandemics. Countries could insure themselves against pandemic risk in much the same way as they insure themselves against hurricanes and other natural disasters. … The combination of new and emerging infections, increasing drug resistance, population density, and transnational travel all add to the challenge of responding to pandemics in the 21st century…” (5/19).

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Drug Companies Should Be Incentivized To Develop New Antibiotics

Financial Times: Pull together to prevent a superbug apocalypse
Editorial Board

“…Although [the final report of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance] is full of excellent proposals, early comments have targeted one of its most eye-catching and least well-thought-out ideas: a ‘play or pay’ scheme. Pharmaceutical companies would either pay a levy into a pooled global fund to support antibiotic research and development or demonstrate that they are investing an equivalent amount or more in R&D. While the global pharma industry bears some responsibility for the current crisis — most companies cut back hard on antibiotic development because they foresaw a poor potential return on these new drugs — the best way to refill the pipeline is through offering better incentives at all stages, from early research through clinical trials to regulatory approval. … ‘Play or pay’ is potentially divisive and threatens to alienate the industry whose wholehearted cooperation will be essential if the world is indeed to defeat superbugs. … Action along the lines recommended by Lord [Jim] O’Neill is urgent and should not be deflected by arguments over a ‘play or pay’ levy. Antibiotic resistance must be high on the agenda at key global meetings this year…” (5/19).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Working Group Proposes Recommendations For G7 To Enhance Global Health Security

The Lancet: Protecting human security: proposals for the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in Japan
Members of the Japan Global Health Working Group discuss areas for global health security action by the G7 countries at their meeting in Japan in May 2016, writing, “Rather than creating new funding or organizations, global leaders should reorganize current financing structures and institutions so that they work more effectively and efficiently. By making smart investments, countries will improve their capacity to monitor, track, review, and assess health system performance and accountability, and thereby be better prepared for future global health shocks” (5/21).

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Global Health Security Requires Strengthened National Health Systems, Global Governance, R&D Capacities

PLOS Medicine: Toward a Common Secure Future: Four Global Commissions in the Wake of Ebola
Lawrence O. Gostin, professor and director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University and director of the WHO Collaborating Center on Public Health and Human Rights, and colleagues discuss global health preparedness, pulling recommendations from four commissions that reviewed the Ebola outbreak response. The authors write, “To make the world safer, we need robust health systems; an empowered WHO, with strengthened response capacities; a well-funded and planned research and development strategy; and system-wide accountability” (5/19).

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Funding Cuts To UNFPA Threaten Progress To Achieve FP2020, SDGs

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog”: Failing to Deliver on Family Planning? Funding in Crisis
Amanda Glassman, vice president for programs, director of global health policy, and senior fellow at CGD, discusses the impact of funding cuts to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), noting, “[O]n the current trajectory, achieving the [Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) or Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets] looks entirely off the table” (5/19).

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