KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Melinda Gates Endorses Global Action To End Newborn Deaths At World Health Assembly

News outlets report on Melinda Gates’ keynote address on newborn health to the World Health Assembly on Tuesday.

Devex: Melinda Gates to WHA: We need your support on newborn health
“…‘The world is saving newborns at a much slower rate than older children,’ Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said on Tuesday at the World Health Assembly in Geneva. … In her speech, Melinda Gates stressed the need to elevate improving newborn health within the broader context of reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health — known as RMNCH — and gave five examples of simple, inexpensive interventions that are already available and cited in a recent study by The Lancet that would save hundreds of thousands of newborns each year…” (Santamaria, 5/20).

TIME: Saving 3 Million Babies Is Easier Than You Think
“The news on the childhood mortality front is both very good and very bad. Millions have been saved, but millions are still dying. Melinda Gates, in an address to the World Health Assembly, offers some smart solutions…” (Kluger, 5/20).

VOA News: Melinda Gates Pushes to Curb Newborn Deaths
“Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, urged delegates to endorse the first global action plan to end newborn deaths in a keynote address to the World Health Assembly…” (Schlein, 5/20).

World Health Organization: World Health Assembly guest speakers focus on gender-based violence and newborn health
“Dr. Christine Kaseba-Sata, First Lady of Zambia (WHO Goodwill Ambassador against gender-based violence), and Melinda Gates, co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, addressed delegates at the World Health Assembly [Tuesday] afternoon. Dr. Kaseba-Sata deplored the prevalence of violence against women and girls and the extent to which cases of violence remain hidden and unrecognized. … Ms. Gates then highlighted ways to improve the health of mothers and newborn babies…” (5/20).

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Disaster Relief Begins After Balkans Flooding

Media outlets report on the response to recent flooding in the Balkans.

Associated Press: Recovery from Balkans floods will take billions
“Floodwaters receded Wednesday in Bosnia and Serbia, just enough to reveal the next shock: recovery from the historic flood will cost billions of euros that neither of the countries has. … Both countries say they will need international help, and international experts will be touring the devastated areas as soon as the water goes down, to estimate the damage…” (Cerkez/Gec, 5/21).

Associated Press: Tons of drowned livestock a new Balkan threat
“A new calamity emerged Tuesday in the flood-hit Balkans as rescue workers battled overflowing rivers — and were confronted by wastelands of drowned livestock…” (Emric, 5/20).

Bloomberg News: Foreign Aid Arrives as Serbia, Bosnia Struggle With Floods
“International aid from the Baltics to the Bosporus began flowing to Serbia and Bosnia after the worst flooding on record swamped towns and farms, leaving 37 dead and thousands homeless…” (Filipovic, 5/19).

U.N. News Centre: Ban expresses concern for flood-hit Balkans as U.N. scales up disaster response
“As the United Nations and its humanitarian partners ramp up disaster response in the Balkans, where heavy rains have led to massive floods and devastating mudslides, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern for affected populations in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia desperate for fresh water, medicines, and other basic necessities…” (5/20).

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News Coverage Continues On CIA's Decision To No Longer Use Fake Vaccination Programs

News outlets continue to report on a White House official’s confirmation that the CIA will no longer use vaccination programs for covert operations.

Bloomberg Businessweek: The CIA Stops Fake Vaccinations as Real Polio Rebounds
“The White House confirmed this week that the Central Intelligence Agency will no longer use vaccination campaigns in its operations, reviving the debate over a surprise comeback of the polio virus. The CIA famously used fake vaccinations during its hunt for Osama bin Laden, which ended in his killing at a Pakistan hideout in 2011. The operation spawned a backlash against vaccination workers that hampered efforts to eradicate the disease there…” (Robison, 5/21).

Fox News: White House says CIA will stop using vaccination programs as cover for operations
“…[President Obama’s top homeland security adviser] Lisa Monaco announced the policy change last week in a letter to the deans of 13 schools of public health. … The educators had written to Obama last year protesting the use of immunization programs as a front for espionage…” (5/20).

The Guardian: CIA will not use vaccination schemes for spying, says White House official
“A top White House official has promised that the Central Intelligence Agency will never again use vaccination programs as a cover for spying, three years after the agency set up a fake immunization program in Pakistan in its hunt for Osama bin Laden…” (Gambino, 5/20).

VOA News: CIA: Vaccination Programs Won’t be Used for Spying
“The White House has pledged that the CIA will no longer use vaccination programs as a cover for spying operations, three years after the agency used the ruse in Pakistan before the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden…” (5/20).

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U.N. Discusses Levy On Oil From Africa To Fund Health Efforts

News outlets report on the U.N.’s proposed funding mechanism to use a levy on oil to fight disease in developing countries.

Agence France-Presse: U.N. eyes Africa oil levy to fight disease
“The United Nations has begun talks with African leaders over a levy on oil that could rake in huge sums to fight disease in developing countries, a top official said Tuesday…” (Fowler, 5/20).

Reuters: After air fares and share sales, U.N. seeks aid money from oil
“The United Nations is talking to oil-producing African countries about levying 10 cents on every barrel produced to provide funds to help the poorest nations improve public health, a senior U.N. official said on Tuesday…” (Miles, 5/20).

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Donors Pledge More Aid To S. Sudan As Country Faces Cholera Outbreak, Threat Of Starvation

News outlets continue coverage on South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis as donors pledge more aid.

Reuters: U.N. warns of South Sudan famine as donors pledge more aid
“More than a third of South Sudan’s population, or 4 million people, will be on the brink of starvation by the end of 2014 as fighting rages in the world’s newest country, U.N. officials said on Tuesday…” (Fouche, 5/21).

Sudan Tribune: South Sudan: UNICEF Calls for U.S.$10 Million to Stop Cholera Outbreak in S. Sudan
“The U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Monday that cholera is rapidly spreading in the South Sudan and called for $10 million to stop the outbreak…” (5/19).

U.N. News Centre: Donors pledge $600 million to bolster U.N.-led aid response to South Sudan crisis
“International donors [Tuesday] pledged more than $600 million dollars in aid to South Sudan at a conference hosted by Norway and the United Nations aimed at preventing famine and upholding human rights in the world’s newest country which has been ravaged by months of fighting…” (5/20).

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Report: Lebanon Offers Insufficient Health Care To Syrian Refugees

Associated Press: Watchdog: Syrians lack medical care in Lebanon
“Syrian refugees in Lebanon lack access to specialized medical care such as dialysis and cancer treatment, forcing some to risk their lives to return to their war-ravaged country for health care, according to a report by Amnesty International released Wednesday…” (Surk, 5/21).

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Better Records, Quality Of Care Could Improve Newborn Health

Media outlets continue to report on The Lancet’s maternal and newborn health series.

New York Times: Lancet Study Calls for Action to Prevent Millions of Newborn Deaths
“…Around the world, nearly three million newborns die each year and an additional 2.6 million are stillborn. The Lancet report finds that progress in reducing these mortality rates is lagging even though simple interventions can be enormously effective. … Most newborn deaths are preventable, the report said…” (Vyawahare, 5/20).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Fatalistic outlook on ‘invisible’ newborn deaths obstructs fight against infant mortality
“Every day, 15,000 babies enter and leave the world with no record of their ever having existed, while one in three newborns — more than 45 million babies — do not have a birth certificate by their first birthday, undermining the fight against infant mortality, experts say. … This week the World Health Organization’s annual decision-making assembly convenes to review the Every Newborn action plan, which is based on the Lancet findings and aims to end preventable deaths for newborns and stillbirths by 2035…” (Hussain, 5/21).

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Ugandan Nurse Jailed For Alleged Attempt To Spread HIV

News outlets report on the sentencing of a Ugandan nurse to three years in prison for allegedly attempting to spread HIV.

Associated Press: Uganda nurse is jailed in HIV transmission case
“A Ugandan court on Monday sentenced a nurse to three years in jail after finding her guilty of criminal negligence for allegedly trying to infect her patient with HIV. The conviction came despite the work of international activist groups that had rallied in support of Rosemary Namubiru, who is 64 and HIV positive. Many Ugandans, however, see her case as a shocking example of malice or negligence by a trusted medical worker…” (Muhumuza, 5/19).

BBC News: Uganda HIV nurse Rosemary Namubiru jailed by Kampala court
“A Ugandan court has sentenced a nurse to three years in prison for negligence over the potential infection of a two-year-old boy with HIV. Rosemary Namubiru, who is HIV-positive, was criminally negligent by using an intravenous needle, that she had accidentally pricked her finger with, on the child, the court ruled…” (5/19).

TIME: Ugandan Nurse Jailed for Attempting to Spread HIV
“Rosemary Namubiru, who is HIV positive, claims she accidentally used a needle that she had pricked herself with on a baby, whose tests have not yet shown an infection as a result, but authorities accused her of malice and sentenced her to three years in jail…” (Tasch, 5/19).

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U.N. Official Pleas For $60M In Aid To Somalia As Country Faces Starvation

Associated Press/Detroit Free Press: With Somalia on brink of mass starvation, United Nations pleads for aid
“…The United Nation’s top humanitarian official for Somalia is pleading for more money. Philippe Lazzarini appealed for international donors to find $60 million so aid groups can continue feeding the malnourished children, and so aid can be transported into less accessible areas [in Somalia], a reference to territory controlled by al-Shabab rebels…” (Guled/Straziuso, 5/21).

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Editorials and Opinions

Denial Of Access To Maternal Care In Myanmar 'Is A Human Rights Violation'

New York Times: The Waiting Game
Nicole Sganga, contributor

“…Myanmar confines many of the Rohingya Muslim minority to closed camps and largely denies them adequate medical care. … Being denied access to proper maternal care is a human rights violation that deserves notice — and redress. … If we’re going to fix problems of maternal mortality in less developed nations, then we need to overcome the fear and stigma behind visiting a hospital or emergency clinic. We need to increase public access to trusted medical personnel in remote areas. Most importantly, we need to stop waiting” (5/20).

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Devex Covers 2014 World Health Assembly Meeting, Notes 3 Key Issues To Watch For

Devex: World Health Assembly 2014 — 3 things to look out for in Geneva
Cécile Vernant, head of E.U. advocacy at Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung

“This week, the World Health Assembly [WHA] in Geneva brings with it a packed agenda and a whole host of questions around a number of key issues for global health policy makers. In a critical period for the crafting of the post-2015 framework, this WHA will provide important signposts as to the likely focus and priorities ahead of September’s U.N. General Assembly in New York. … As we head toward an exciting week of discussion and debate, there are three key issues to watch out for.” They include “charting a course for reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health;” “a key role for SRHR [sexual and reproductive health and rights] in the post-2015 agenda;” and “the role of global health R&D” (5/19).

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Ensuring Care, Dignity For Women, Young Girls In S. Sudan Is Urgent

Inter Press Service: OP-ED: Violence Leaves Women, Girls, and Young People on the Edge in South Sudan
Julitta Onabanjo, regional director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) East and Southern Africa Region

“As with many conflicts and other humanitarian emergencies around the world, those who suffer the most are women, young girls, and children. The current terrible crisis in South Sudan is no exception. … The world cannot afford to ignore what is going [on] in South Sudan. It is a humanitarian tragedy unfolding right in front of our eyes. Our hope is that the upcoming meeting of donors in Oslo will be able to generate the necessary resources to address the care and dignity of South Sudanese women and girls. We also hope that constructive political dialogue among all actors will speedily return the country to a path of peace that is desperately needed RIGHT NOW. While the need to promote peace and security for overall development is urgent, ensuring care and dignity for each and every woman and young girl, those most affected in crisis situations, is equally urgent…” (5/19).

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World Donors Must Unite Behind S. Sudan, Provide Support As Country Rebuilds

Huffington Post: South Sudan: We Must Not Miss This Opportunity to Save Lives
Toby Lanzer, U.N. assistant secretary-general in Juba, South Sudan as deputy special representative and development and humanitarian coordinator

“…An end to the conflict [in South Sudan] would allow people to move around in greater safety, to sow in what remains of the planting season, and to take better care of themselves in the coming months. It would also allow for U.N. and humanitarian agencies to better deliver relief to people most in need wherever they are. The parties must live up to their promises, and the international community must hold them to those promises. At the same time, the world’s donors must unite behind the people of South Sudan, and provide the support they so desperately need to survive and eventually rebuild their lives and, ultimately, their nation. It is not too late to save this generation of South Sudanese” (5/20).

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Mobile Technology Can Transform, Improve Health Care

U.S. News & World Report: Cellphones Can Change Global Health for the Better
Lisa Chau, founder of Alpha Vert

“For two days this month, the United Nations Headquarters in New York hosted the invite-only Cavendish Global Impact Forum. Among the panel discussions was how to identify innovations with the potential for transformational impact on disease outcomes and ensure their successful integration into medical practice. … The next five to 10 years will see an explosive growth in disruptive technology in the field of health care. Starlight Children’s Foundation co-founder Peter Samuelson says, ‘As mobile technology further miniaturizes‎ and interfaces seamlessly with the human daily experience, it becomes one with the reality of our health, and our management of our health challenges.’…” (5/20).

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Talking More About Hepatitis B, HIV Can Alleviate Stigma

Huffington Post “Healthy Living”: Talking About Hepatitis B and HIV: Working to End the Stigma
Jeffrey Caballero, executive director at the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), and Isha Weerasinghe, hepatitis B policy fellow at AAPCHO

“…May 19 was both National Hepatitis Testing Day and National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Both hepatitis B and HIV have stigmatizing effects within Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, and both are often misunderstood. … We need to talk more about hepatitis B and HIV, within and outside of our families and communities, to help educate not only those populations at higher risk, but also the general population. Those who are at risk for hepatitis B, and for HIV, who are fearful or less trusting of the health system, need to feel comfortable enough to get tested, and to get into care. Talk to your friends and family about hepatitis B and HIV. Someone you know may be the one in 12 that has HBV” (5/20).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

USAID, InterAction Sign Agreement On Food Security And Nutrition Efforts

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food for Thought”: USAID and InterAction Sign Landmark Development Partnership – And Now the Work Starts
Samuel A. Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction, discusses an agreement signed by USAID and InterAction to “maximize the impact of USAID and U.S. NGOs’ global food security and nutrition efforts…” (5/20).

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'Science Speaks' Provides Update On Development Of An AIDS Vaccine

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: AIDS vaccine update: With Thai trial, broadly neutralizing antibodies, new technologies and monkeys that met the SIV challenge, ‘we’re closer than ever’
Antigone Barton, writer and editor of “Science Speaks” and senior communications officer at the Center for Global Health Policy, provides an update on the development of an AIDS vaccine (5/20).

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World Cup-Themed Report Draws Parallels Between World Cup, Global Health

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Saving 5 Million Lives: Better than a World Cup Victory?
Erin Hohlfelder, ONE’s policy director for global health, outlines “…a World Cup-themed report, designed to draw parallels between the shots, saves, and goals made on the field and the shots (vaccines) needed to save lives and help achieve GAVI’s big goals [of child immunization]…” (5/20).

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