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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

AP Examines Successes, Future Of PEPFAR

The Associated Press examines the history of PEPFAR, its successes, funding, and prospects for its future, writing PEPFAR “has come to represent what Washington can do when it puts politics aside — and what America can do to make the world a better place.” Noting that former President George W. Bush formed the program in partnership with the Congressional Black Caucus in 2003, the AP says PEPFAR “is running up against an era of economic recovery and harsh budget cuts” as it “is also trying to find a balance between its goals of reaching more people with its prevention and treatment programs and turning over more responsibility to the host nations where it operates.” PEPFAR is “the largest commitment ever by a nation to combat a single disease internationally,” the news agency notes.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), “who played major roles both in passing the original 2003 act and its 2008 renewal that significantly increased funding for AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis treatment in Africa and other areas of the developing world,” said, “I’m worried that with any type of level-funding or cuts we’ll go backward,” according to the AP, which notes the program is up for reauthorization. At a recent forum sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ Global Health Policy Center, Chris Collins, director of public policy at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, “warned of potential repercussions as the AIDS program shifts from being an emergency response to the AIDS epidemic to a more supportive role for country-based health programs,” the AP writes. Jen Kates, vice president and director of HIV and global health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, “said that while there’s still bipartisan support for the AIDS program in Congress, ‘the big question is will the financing be there to reach the goals’ of treating more people and advancing toward that AIDS-free generation,” according to the AP (Abrams, 5/21).

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Public Health Important Focus 'In These Troubled Times,' WHO's Chan Says At World Health Assembly Opening

“At a time when the world is dealing with myriad challenges, from climate change to food insecurity, it is more important than ever to ensure that public health receives both the attention and resources it deserves to ensure the well-being of millions, a senior United Nations official said” on Monday, the U.N. News Centre reports. During her opening remarks at the World Health Assembly (WHA), the governing body of the WHO, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said, “In these troubled times, public health looks more and more like a refuge, a safe harbor of hope that allows, and inspires, all countries to work together for the good of humanity,” according to the news service. “She added that nothing reflects this spirit better than the growing commitment to universal health coverage,” and she “also stressed the need to ensure that health occupies a high place on the global development agenda beyond 2015, the deadline for achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” the news service writes (5/20).

In addition, Chan “highlighted several issues that relate to intellectual property rights and innovation — such as non-communicable diseases (NCDs), pandemics, and research and development for neglected tropical diseases,” and she “also had strong words to say about the conditions that health workers face, especially in countries of conflict,” Intellectual Property Watch reports (New/Ngo, 5/20). Chan discussed “two new disease threats, H7N9 and the novel coronavirus, or Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV),” and “[s]he praised China’s quick response and its transparency in sharing clinical investigation and virus information with the global health community,” CIDRAP writes (Schnirring, 5/20). “In a message sent to the opening of the Assembly, [U.N.] Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that the MDGs have ‘undoubtedly been good’ for global health,” according to the U.N. News Centre (5/20). About 3,000 delegates attend the annual WHA and will “decide on issues such as disease prevention, monitoring of health improvement markers, polio eradication, and the WHO’s budget,” according to CIDRAP (5/20). The U.N. News Centre notes “the Assembly will be considering three draft global action plans — for non-communicable diseases, mental health, and the prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment” (5/20).

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Rising Temperatures, Poor Sanitation Increasing Health Risks For Syrian Refugees, Oxfam Says

“Aid organization Oxfam warned on Monday that the warmer weather will increase health-related risks for hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, and appealed for urgent funds,” Agence France-Presse reports (5/20). “Oxfam said a combination of rising summer temperatures and poor sanitation posed increased health risks for the refugees,” BBC News notes (5/20). “Increased cases of public health-related diseases such as diarrhea and skin infections have already been recorded in host communities and temporary settlements where an increasing number of refugees now live,” Oxfam said, according to AFP. The organization “is aiming to raise $53.4 million (41.6 million euros) over the next year,” the news agency notes, adding, “So far Oxfam’s appeal is only 23 percent funded, the statement said” (5/20).

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Security Officer Protecting Pakistani Polio Team Killed In Attack

“Gunmen attacked a polio vaccination team in one of Pakistan’s restive tribal regions on Monday, killing a policeman who was providing security, officials said,” Agence France-Presse reports (5/20). “Local government administrator Faramosh Khan [said] the gunmen attacked the team on Monday in the town of Mamound in the Bajur tribal area, just as it had started a vaccination drive,” and “[n]o one has claimed responsibility for the shooting, but suspicion will likely fall on Islamic militants suspected in similar attacks,” the Associated Press writes. “It’s unclear whether the campaign will continue after Monday’s attack,” the news agency notes (Khan, 5/20). “Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only countries where polio is endemic,” AFP notes, adding, “Polio cases in Pakistan hit 198 in 2011, the highest figure for more than a decade and the most of any country in the world, according to the U.N.” (5/20).

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Booster Shot For Yellow Fever Unnecessary, WHO Announces

“One yellow fever shot confers lifetime protection and the customary ‘booster shot’ given at 10 years is no longer necessary, the [WHO] announced Friday,” the New York Times reports (McNeil, 5/17). “The Geneva-based body says only 12 known cases of yellow fever after vaccination have ever been identified,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes, noting, “Some 600 million doses have been dispensed since yellow fever vaccination began in the 1930s.” The AP notes, “There are an estimated 200,000 cases of yellow fever and up to 15,000 deaths worldwide each year” (5/17). “WHO Senior Health Adviser Philippe Duclos told a press conference that with this recommendation, the vaccine available can better be targeted where it is most needed and help increase the protection of the population versus revaccinating somebody who has already been protected,” Xinhua states (5/17). In a separate article, Xinhua notes the WHO “said on Friday that 30 countries in Africa with a total population of 508 million are considered to be at different levels of risk for yellow fever.” The news agency discusses Kenya’s launch of the Yellow Fever Risk Assessment Survey (5/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

African Governments Must Honor Previous Commitments To Women's Rights, Health

“Significant global and regional progress has been made to reduce the number of preventable maternal deaths: data released in 2012 by the United Nations shows that the number of women worldwide dying of pregnancy and childbirth-related complications has almost halved in the last 20 years,” but sub-Saharan Africa “bears a disproportionate burden of maternal mortality” and “the progress is still too slow and uneven,” Agnes Odhiambo and Gauri Van Gulik, researchers with the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, write in an Inter Press Service opinion piece. They discuss their research and interviews with young women “who knew too little about sexuality and family planning when they were forced into marriage and pregnancy,” and they write, “In addition to the unacceptably high numbers of women who die, African women also suffer disproportionately from childbirth injuries.”

“As the African Union (AU) celebrates 50 years of existence on May 25, it should put a spotlight on the human rights of African women and girls,” Odhiambo and Van Gulik write. They note the 2003 Maputo Protocol, which “calls on governments to protect the reproductive rights of women,” as well as “many other commitments and declarations, at least on paper, promoting maternal health in Africa.” They continue, “While these commitments are important, it is time African governments be held accountable for failing to meet them.” According to the authors, “While the AU recognizes that member states have not done enough to reduce maternal deaths, there is no effective monitoring and reporting mechanism at the regional level on what countries are doing to fulfill their promises, and where they are lacking. Establishing such a mechanism could enable countries to identify failings and needs, and to learn from each other’s best practices” (5/19).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Examines Department of Defense's Role In U.S. Global Health Programs

Noting her participation in a recent Kaiser Family Foundation briefing on the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) global health activities, Kate Almquist Knopf, a visiting policy fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), writes in a CGD blog post that a Kaiser Family Foundation report “identifies three major categories of DOD’s work in global health: 1) force health protection and readiness, 2) medical stability operations and partnership engagement, and 3) threat reduction.” She says, “Medical stability operations are generally the activities of the Geographic Combatant Commands to provide technical assistance and other health-related activities to build trust, prevent conflict, and increase the capacity of partner governments,” but she adds, “Ever the skeptic about DoD’s value-added in development, I see six problems with medical stability operations,” and goes on to discuss each of her points. She concludes, “If providing humanitarian aid and promoting development is in the United States’ national interest, then it should be done by those best-suited to do the job — civilian development experts. DoD should instead focus on its value added to development: promoting physical security so that civilians can do their jobs” (5/20).

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Global Health Community Should Address Gender Imbalance In Leadership Roles

In the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) blog, Victoria Fan, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Rachel Silverman, a research assistant for the global health team at CGD, examine the role of women in leadership positions in the global health field, writing, “From our own experience within the global health ecosystem, it’s hard not to notice the relative paucity of women at the top ranks of academia and global health institutions, despite obvious female majorities in global health student bodies and among junior researchers.” Fan and Silverman provide examples and statistics showing the imbalance, and write, “[T]he world of global health should take this issue head-on to determine what the root causes are behind this imbalance, and what needs to be changed within each individual institution.” They suggest “global health agencies along with universities, departments of global health, and associated consortia … consider commissioning a report to rigorously examine whether gender imbalances are occurring,” and they conclude, “[E]quitable and balanced global health leadership is itself a noble goal — one that is feasible within our lifetimes if key institutions demonstrate thoughtful and genuine leadership in this space” (5/20).

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Food Aid Reform Proposals Moving Forward But 'Meeting Resistance'

Writing in Humanosphere, development blogger Tom Murphy discusses changes to the U.S. food aid program proposed by the Obama administration, saying, “The changes are important to humanitarian response.” However, he continues, “What looked like positive momentum for reform is starting to slow down as both houses of Congress take a look at the Farm Bill and food aid reform both in and out of the United States.” Murphy notes, “The Bush Administration and his office learned its lessons and tried to reform food aid procurement rules, but lost time and time again to domestic interest groups like shippers and American farmers. Obama’s plan is a step forward, but not entirely new. It too is meeting resistance from the same interests in maintaining the status quo and they are reaching members of congress on both sides of the aisle.” Murphy includes quotes on the issue from former USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios, former President Bill Clinton, Kimberly Ann Elliott of the Center for the Global Development, and Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) (5/20).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.