KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Director-General Chan Cites Disease Control Policy Failures, 'Manmade Disasters' As Challenges To Human Health In WHA Speech

Agence France-Presse: Zika crisis fueled by ‘massive policy failure’: WHO chief
“The spiraling crisis surrounding the Zika virus is due to decades of policy failures on mosquito control and poor access to family planning services, the World Health Organization said Monday. ‘The spread of Zika … (is) the price being paid for a massive policy failure that dropped the ball on mosquito control in the 1970s,’ WHO chief Margaret Chan told the opening of the U.N. health agency’s annual assembly…” (5/23).

CNN: WHO boss: Zika result of ‘massive’ mosquito control failures
“…Chan also said that family planning and sex education failures illustrated an ‘extreme consequence’ of the disease, as causal links between the mosquito-borne virus and microcephaly, a condition which results in babies being born with severe brain abnormalities, become scientific consensus…” (McKirdy, 5/24).

Global Health NOW: Margaret Chan’s 3 Slo-Mo Disasters
“Three ‘slow-motion disasters’ are threatening recent global health gains, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said Monday in her address to delegates attending the 69th World Health Assembly. Chan cited the threats posed by climate change, the failure of antimicrobials because of resistance, and the rise of noncommunicable diseases. ‘These are not natural disasters. They are manmade disasters created by policies that place economic interests above concerns about the well-being of human lives and the planet that sustains them,’ Chan said…” (Simpson, 5/23).

Inter Press Service: Economic Interests Harming Global Health: WHO Chief
“…During her speech Chan also acknowledged the world’s many recent public health successes, however overall she argued that advances in health services and systems could not keep up with the global changes which mean health threats are increasingly traversing borders…” (Rowlands, 5/24).

NPR: WHO’s Stern Warning: The World ‘Is Not Prepared To Cope’ With Pandemics
“…[Chan] said the world must take action to prepare for outbreaks of diseases that haven’t even been discovered yet. She also spoke of a new program for WHO representing ‘a fundamental change’ by adding to its agenda the capacity ‘needed to respond to outbreaks and humanitarian emergencies’…” (Beaubien, 5/23).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency spotlights role of health in sustainable development as governing body begins session
“Health holds a prominent and central role that benefits the entire sustainable development agenda, because the ultimate objective of all development activities is to sustain human lives in good health, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said [Monday], calling for greater efforts to combat the major challenges of antimicrobial resistance, the world drug problem, and the high costs of non-communicable diseases on the road to strengthening health systems…” (5/23).

VOA News: World Unprepared To Cope With Emerging Infectious Diseases
“…World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan told a gathering of health ministers and providers that countries could no longer work in isolation to contain infectious diseases and overcome other health threats…” (Schlein, 5/23).

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U.S. Congressional Negotiations Over Zika Funding Likely Will Continue Into June, The Hill Reports

The Hill: GOP mired in Zika dispute
“The House and Senate have both passed funding to combat the Zika virus, but there appears to be little chance Republicans will reach a deal before the Memorial Day recess. … The task of merging the bills would be difficult even on a slow legislative week. But with the House and Senate this week trying to muscle through massive energy appropriation and defense authorization bills, respectively, it appears the effort will slip into June…” (Ferris, 4/24).

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Haiti Sees Increase In Guillain-Barré Cases, Possibly Linked With Zika; Private Funding Helping Puerto Rico Address Virus

Associated Press: Concern in Haiti over emerging condition linked to Zika
“…Even after the worst cholera epidemic in recent history, Haiti’s severely under-resourced health sector still does not have routine data collection systems that would allow experts to track and document disease outbreaks across one of the world’s poorest countries. Frontline physicians in Haiti say the assumption is that the uptick of Guillain-Barré cases is due to Zika because it coincides with the spreading epidemic. The WHO says Guillain-Barré reports have increased in 13 countries or territories where Zika is circulating…” (5/23).

New York Times: Private Sector Is Helping Puerto Rico Fight Zika
“As Congress and the Obama administration argue over funds for fighting the Zika virus, private donations — in cash, condoms and mosquito repellent, for example — are helping fill the gap in Puerto Rico. Officials there say they are losing precious time and the donations have helped residents, although the amounts are tiny compared with the need…” (McNeil, 5/23).

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Scientific American Examines Research Into What Caused Widespread Zika Outbreak

Scientific American: How Zika Spiraled Out of Control
“…Virologists now need to figure out which of two potential causes is responsible for the Zika explosion. One possibility is that genetic changes within the virus supercharged its ability to infect people and cause disease. The second scenario is that the change happened outside the virus: After decades of relative isolation it reached dense population areas, providing more fertile ground for its spread. … If the outbreaks are just the result of environmental changes, perhaps Zika was always capable of causing serious effects, but they were rare in small populations and only became obvious when the virus hit a lot of people…” (Maron, 5/24).

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Health Facilities Attacked In 19 Countries During 2015, 2016, Report Says

Associated Press: New report says health facilities attacked in 19 countries
“Deliberate or indiscriminate attacks have decimated health facilities, killed medical workers and patients, and deprived countless civilians of care in 19 countries during 2015 and the first three months of 2016, a coalition of more than 30 health and humanitarian organizations said in a new report released Monday. The Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition said the attacks took place from Colombia across Africa and the Middle East to Asia, including Pakistan, Myanmar, and Thailand…” (Lederer, 5/23).

Associated Press: Hospitals a deadly target in Middle East conflicts
“…Facilities have been struck in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and South Sudan. The attacks have turned the universally recognized symbol of the Red Cross, which is supposed to offer protection and safety, into a deadly target and have exposed the failure of the international community to prevent and punish such crimes…” (El Deeb/Danilova, 5/23).

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Improve Access To Quality Maternal Care To End Obstetric Fistula, U.N.'s Ban Says On International Day To End Condition

U.N. News Centre: On International Day, U.N. urges end of obstetric fistula ‘within a generation’
“Obstetric fistula is a preventable and treatable condition causing added suffering and isolation to at least two million poor and marginalized women and girls worldwide, the United Nations spotlighted on the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. ‘The persistence of fistula in some countries and regions is an indicator of very poor access to quality maternal health services,’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message on the day, marked annually on 23 May…” (5/23).

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Mental Health Care Spending Accounts For Less Than 1% Of All Aid Funding In Developing Nations, ODI Report Shows

Thomson Reuters Foundation: More money spent on Halloween pet costumes than mental health in developing nations
“More money is spent on Halloween pet costumes and takeaway coffee than on mental health in developing countries, a new report has found, with the amount accounting for less than one percent of all aid funding. Although mental health problems affect one in four people globally, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) report found that only about $133.57 million is spent per year on mental health services across 148 developing countries…” (Taylor, 5/20).

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Editorials and Opinions

International Community Should Reform Approach To Humanitarian Aid

Devex: The World Humanitarian Summit is an opportunity to enact reform and deliver better, evidence-based aid
David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee

“…We need a change of approach [for humanitarian aid], not just a change of policy. Better aid means moving from being a sector to a high-performing, dynamic system of comprehensive service provision. … We [at the International Rescue Committee] have three priorities for reform. 1. We need for renewed focus on outcomes and targets. … 2. We need a transformational culture shift in the way we fund, prioritize, and apply evidence. … 3. Success or failure will be decided by our funders and their willingness to back reform. … If [major donors] remain too fragmented, focused on inputs not outcomes, and siloed in their thinking, then the sector will remain so. Overcome this inheritance, harmonize their and our efforts, put people at the center, and the extraordinary commitment of all the players could build a humanitarian system worthy of its name” (5/20).

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Breastfeeding Critical For Child Survival In Humanitarian Emergencies

Devex: Breastfeeding in emergencies: A question of survival
Francesco Branca, director of nutrition for health and development at the WHO, and Werner Schultink, associate director in the program division of UNICEF in New York and chief of nutrition

“…Breastfeeding becomes … critical for survival in humanitarian emergencies, where young children are among the most vulnerable. They face risks from diarrheal diseases, pneumonia, and undernutrition. Overcrowding, food insecurity, unsafe water, poor sanitation, and overburdened health systems all contribute to a more dangerous situation for infants and children. Failure to fully protect breastfeeding in these circumstances dramatically worsens the situation. … At [this] week’s first [World Humanitarian Summit (WHS)] in Istanbul, we must make sure that breastfeeding is considered in funding, planning, and implementing emergency responses. … Promoting and supporting breastfeeding is a perfect example of something that countries can do to, not only save lives in emergencies, but to give children who are having such a difficult start in life a much better chance for a brighter future” (5/20).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Development Forum Panelists Discuss U.S. Response To Zika Virus

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: “Zika is a test to see if we’ve learned anything from Ebola” — Emergency funding not enough to deal with emerging infections, panelists say
Rabita Aziz, policy research coordinator for the Center for Global Health Policy, reports on a panel discussion from last week’s Global Development Forum, which took place at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The panelists, including Amy Pope of the White House, Daniel Dulitzky of the World Bank, Marcos Espinal of the Pan-American Health Organization, Patrick Kachur of the CDC, and J. Stephen Morrison of CSIS, discussed the U.S. response to the Zika virus (5/23).

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CDC, WHO, Vietnamese Health Authorities Work Together To Detect, Respond To Locally Transmitted Zika Cases

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: Vietnam: Increased Surveillance Leads to Detection of Zika Virus
Tu Anh Tran, Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) fellow, discusses the WHO’s and CDC’s work in Vietnam in response to the Zika virus, writing, “In addition to increased surveillance for priority infectious diseases, CDC’s Global Health Security Program in Vietnam has ramped up support to enhance Vietnam’s emergency management and outbreak response systems. … [T]he government of Vietnam is diligently implementing all necessary precautions to increase Zika surveillance and prevention efforts” (5/23).

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Guttmacher Institute Analysis Examines Women's Reproductive Rights, Health In Light Of Zika

Guttmacher Institute: In Countering Zika, Women’s Right to Self-Determination Must Be Central
Rebecca Wind, senior communications associate and divisional budget manager at the Guttmacher Institute, discusses findings from a new analysis examining women’s reproductive rights and health in light of the Zika epidemic, writing, “In Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as in the United States, the Zika epidemic has exposed the often hostile policy, programmatic, and legal environment women face on issues surrounding pregnancy, argues a new analysis in the Guttmacher Policy Review. This long-standing failure by policymakers to prioritize women’s health and autonomy has left women — especially those who are poor — more vulnerable to the potential consequences of Zika than they would otherwise be” (5/23).

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Laurie Garrett Examines Election Process For New WHO Director General

Humanosphere: Secret vote on WHO bodes ill for future of global health
In a guest blog post, Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, discusses the WHO’s new process for electing a director general, as well as the candidates so far; the upcoming election of a new U.N. secretary general; and the challenges of financing the Sustainable Development Goals (5/23).

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