KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Report Urges Greater Protection Of HCWs, Patients, Health Facilities, As Attacks Documented In 17 Countries

New York Times: Health Workers and Patients Under Threat in 17 Countries, Report Finds
“Health workers, patients, and medical facilities have come under attack in 17 countries since the start of 2014, a coalition of 24 nongovernmental organizations said in a report released Wednesday that urged a greater international effort to protect health services. The report was released jointly by Human Rights Watch and the Safeguarding Health in Conflict coalition as health ministers met in Geneva for the World Health Assembly, the World Health Organization’s decision-making body…” (Cumming-Bruce, 5/20).

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Gates Foundation To Increase Nutrition Investments To Boost Other Development Sectors

Devex: Gates Foundation ‘more than doubling down’ on nutrition
“Speaking Tuesday on Capitol Hill, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-chair Melinda Gates said her foundation — the world’s largest private foundation — will be ‘more than doubling down’ on nutrition investments in the lead-up to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Gates addressed members of Congress and global development professionals in Washington, D.C., stressing that investment in nutrition is required for success in other sectors of development…” (Tyson, 5/21).

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U.S. Group Challenges Gilead's Hepatitis C Drug Patents In 5 Countries

Reuters: Gilead patents on costly hepatitis C drug challenged in five countries
“A U.S. group is trying to block patents in five countries for Gilead Sciences Inc.’s costly hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, in a bid to give almost 60 million afflicted people access to cheaper generic versions. In Argentina, Brazil, China, Russia, and Ukraine, challenges have been filed against Gilead’s patents or patent applications, the New York-based Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge, or I-MAK, said on Wednesday…” (Pierson, 5/20).

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WHO Sends Ebola Response Team To Guinea-Bissau Border Neighboring Recent Cluster In Guinea District

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency responds to Ebola spike by deploying team on border of Guinea and Guinea-Bissau
“The World Health Organization (WHO) [Wednesday] reported ‘a substantial increase’ in the weekly total of new Ebola cases in Guinea and Sierra Leone and deployed a response team to the border with Guinea-Bissau because of its proximity to a recent cluster of cases in a neighboring Guinean prefecture…” (5/20).

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Despite Global Successes In Malaria Eradication Efforts, Challenges To Prevention, Treatment Remain

The Guardian: Malaria: can we eradicate one of the world’s deadliest diseases?
“…[I]n recent years genuine progress has been made in pushing back against this disease, with an estimated 4.3 million lives saved from malaria since 2001, thanks to a colossal global push. … So how can this be sustained? The places where the disease continues to be endemic, where people don’t have preventative measures such as nets or treatment, are the hardest to reach. And the fear is that if global funding and attention turns to something else there will be a lethal resurgence of the disease…” (Leach, 5/20).

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WHO Must Play Larger Role In Protecting People From Pollution, U.N. Independent Expert Says

U.N. News Centre: Expert urges U.N. health agency to do more to protect people from toxic substances
“The U.N. independent expert on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes today urged the World Health Organization to ‘play a much larger, more active role’ in protecting people from the negative impacts of toxic pollution…” (5/20).

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Child Marriage Sanctions Sexual Violence, Must Be Ended, A.U. Goodwill Ambassador Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Child marriage a form of slavery: African Union goodwill ambassador
“Child marriage should be seen as a form of modern slavery and is tantamount to sanctioning child rape, the African Union’s goodwill ambassador said at a conference on ending the practice. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda said child marriage inflicted life-long trauma on many girls and far more must be done to address its psychosocial impact…” (Batha, 5/20).

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South Korea's Second MERS Case Confirmed In Woman Who Nursed Infected Husband, Health Ministry Says

Reuters: South Korea confirms second case of MERS virus; third case possible
“South Korean health officials have confirmed the country’s second case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in a patient who nursed her infected husband before he was diagnosed with the disease after a trip to Bahrain…” (Cho, 5/20).

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Cholera Death Toll Rises To 65 In Kenya, Cases Increase In Nairobi, Health Officials Say

Agence France-Presse: Kenya cholera death toll rises to 65
“At least 65 people are confirmed to have died in a nearly five-month-old cholera outbreak in Kenya, with infections also continuing to rise in the capital Nairobi, health officials said Wednesday…” (5/20).

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NCDs Represent Neglected Health Crisis Among Syrian Refugees, MSF Worker Says

SciDev.Net: New ways to treat the diseases killing Syrian refugees
“…[Jon Gunnarsson of Médecins Sans Frontières], who works with refugees in Jordan, says that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) represent one of the most urgent yet underfunded health crises facing Syrian refugees displaced by the country’s civil war. There are 600,000 Syrian refugees registered in Jordan, 84 percent of them living outside of refugee camps. Many are afflicted by NCDs such as hypertension, heart disease, asthma, smoking-related illnesses, and diabetes — indeed the Middle East and North Africa region has the highest prevalence of diabetes in the world, Gunnarsson says…” (Mathers, 5/20).

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About 20% Of South Sudanese Refugee Children Malnourished, Relief Workers Say

VOA News: Malnutrition Remains Serious Problem for South Sudanese Refugees
“…For many … children at the Rhino Refugee Settlement in Uganda’s Arua district, malnourishment remains a serious problem. The camp holds about 90,000 refugees. Relief workers like Joseph Mbabazi, say about 20 percent of the children are malnourished…” (Roosblad, 5/20).

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Editorials and Opinions

Reforming Food For Peace Program Would Allow U.S. To Feed More People, Improve National Security

Al Jazeera America: Time to #FixFoodAid
Kedar Mankad, policy officer for agriculture and inclusive growth at the ONE Campaign

“…The Food for Peace program, which has fed more than three billion people in 150 countries, enjoys bipartisan congressional support even without lobbying from the shipping industry. And paying nearly three times the market rate for transporting emergency food assistance is neither economical nor morally acceptable. Besides, recent reports show a clear link between food insecurity and political instability. Instead of subsidizing the shipping industry with critical taxpayer money that is earmarked for fighting hunger, getting emergency food aid to those in need efficiently and in a timely manner is in the United States’ long-term national security interest” (5/21).

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Ebola Outbreak Serves As 'Wake-Up Call' To Boost R&D, Prepare For Next Outbreak

Scientific American: After Ebola, a Blueprint Emerges to Jump-Start R&D
Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO assistant director general for health systems and innovation

“…The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has been called a wake-up call for so many reasons. … From where I sit in Geneva, the response by the global health and R&D communities awakens hope. There are many diseases with the potential to trigger chaos and human suffering, but we have learned how to jumpstart research and development to address epidemics as they occur and stem the tide of suffering from these diseases. We have also learned that we must take some critical research steps proactively before another wake-up call. We are now in a position to design a framework for how to prepare for and respond in the most challenging public health crises. That framework needs fine tuning, and the support of the international community so that next time we are prepared to move forward more quickly, and halt the epidemic before it becomes the next dire crisis” (5/20).

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World Governments Should Set Smart Development Targets, Focus On Key Priorities

Project Syndicate: Smart Development Targets
Bjørn Lomborg, adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School, and founder and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center

“…[T]he U.N. is currently poised to consider an impossibly inclusive 169 targets [for the post-2015 development agenda]. … In truth, having 169 priorities is like having none at all. That is why my think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus, asked 82 of the world’s top economists, 44 sector experts, and U.N. organizations and NGOs to evaluate which targets would do the most good for every dollar, euro, or peso spent. … This list of smart targets will not solve all of the world’s problems; no realistic list, however ambitious, can. But the 19 targets identified by the Copenhagen Consensus can help the world’s governments to concentrate on key priorities. These targets will do more than four times as much good per dollar spent as spending across all 169 targets would do. Governments should stop promising everything to everyone and start focusing on delivering the most possible” (5/20).

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Social Costs Of Diseases Must Be Considered When Debating Costs Of Drug R&D

U.S. News & World Report: The True Cost of Costly Drug Development
Paul Howard, senior fellow and director of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Medical Progress, and Yevgeniy Feyman, a fellow and deputy director of the Center for Medical Progress

“…Focusing on the development costs, or even drug prices, without understanding the full social costs of disease can make drugs seem much more expensive than they really are. … So when we debate drug development costs and drug pricing, we need to consider the burden of the disease as well. That includes the loss in productivity from afflicted patients, the labor costs (including physicians, nurses, and family members), and other associated treatment and diagnostic costs. Innovation is an expensive business, and we should do all we can to make drug development more efficient and predictable. More treatments and more cures would also lead to more competition based on price and value. But we need to keep our eyes focused on the costs of disease, not the short costs associated with making and selling drugs” (5/20).

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Clean Cooking Technologies Can Improve Women's Health, 'Create Community Change'

Nature: Sustainability: Clean cooking empowers women
Laura S. Brown, program coordinator, and William F. Lankford, founder and president of the Central American Solar Energy Project (CASEP)

“…For nearly 25 years, [the Central American Solar Energy Project (CASEP)] has provided financial and technical assistance to thousands of poor, rural women for the construction of solar ovens in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. CASEP weaves into its programs opportunities for women to break gender barriers and receive education on health, human rights, leadership, and community engagement. … Leaders in public policy, sustainable technologies, emerging energy markets, and international development should focus on encouraging women to adopt clean cooking practices. Conversion efforts towards cleaner stoves that leverage savings in women’s time and resources for the common good will amplify the benefits and create community change” (5/20).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. State Department Expresses Concern Over Burma's Passage Of Health Care For Population Control Bill

U.S. Department of State: Concerns About Burma’s Health Care for Population Control Bill
In a statement, Jeff Rathke, director of the Office of Press Relations, notes, “The United States is deeply concerned about legislative passage of the Health Care for Population Control Bill in Burma, paving the way for it to be enacted into law. This bill and the three other draft bills to purportedly ‘protect race and religion,’ which address religious conversion, interfaith marriage, and monogamy, contain provisions that could be enforced in a manner that would undermine respect for reproductive rights, women’s rights, and religious freedom…” (5/19).

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At Senate Hearing, Advocates, Senators Underscore Critical Role Of U.S. Government In Advancing Global Health, Including NTD Efforts

Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases: Powerful Testimonies Urge Action on Neglected Tropical Diseases
Selma Melkich, policy coordinator for the Global Network, discusses a recent Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs hearing on global health programs. “…The testimonies from this panel of experts underscore the critical role the U.S. government plays in combating global health issues. Because we have made such enormous strides in the fight against many infectious diseases, including NTDs, we cannot risk reversing the results we have achieved so far. Those living in extreme poverty around the world are counting on our help” (5/20).

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WHO Governing Body Agrees To Global Malaria Strategy, Budget For 2016-17

WHO: World Health Assembly agrees Global Malaria Strategy and Program Budget 2016-17
“…The strategy aims to reduce the global disease burden by 40 percent by 2020, and by at least 90 percent by 2030. It also aims to eliminate malaria in at least 35 new countries by 2030. Between 2000 and 2013, the global malaria mortality rate dropped by 47 percent…” (5/20).

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New Report Highlights Problem Of Attacks On Health Care Workers In Conflict-Afflicted Countries

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s “Global Health NOW”: Fast-Track Protection for Health Workers
Leonard Rubenstein, chair of the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition and director of the Program on Human Rights, Health and Conflict at the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, discusses findings from a new “report by Human Rights Watch and the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition showing that at least 20 countries undergoing conflict and civil unrest since January 2014 have experienced such attacks [on health workers, medical facilities, and patients]” (5/20).

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