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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

World Health Assembly Greenlights Outbreak Preparedness Plan, Malaria Eradication Targets, Antimicrobial Resistance Goals, Among Other Issues

News outlets report on discussions at the World Health Assembly, as the WHO decision-making body prepares to wrap up its annual meeting.

Agence France-Presse: Some 30 nations have dangerously weak health systems: WHO
“About 30 countries have health systems that are as dangerously weak as the ones that allowed Ebola to ravage Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization warned Thursday…” (5/21).

Agence France-Presse: Countries vow to all but eradicate malaria by 2030: WHO
“…Diplomats gathered in Geneva for the U.N. health body’s annual decision-making assembly agreed late Wednesday to a plan to cut malaria cases by 40 percent by 2020 and by 90 percent by 2030, WHO said…” (5/21).

Associated Press: Countries approve plan for $100M health emergency fund
“…Delegates from the WHO’s 194 member states, meeting in Geneva, approved the fund Saturday as part of an overhaul of the agency’s emergency work. The money will come from voluntary member contributions and is meant to allow WHO to fund field operations for up to three months…” (5/23).

International Business Times: Combating Deadly Superbugs: Governments Must Devise Plan To Address Antibiotic Resistance By May 2017, After World Health Assembly Endorses New Plan
“A new global action plan endorsed by the World Health Assembly in Geneva Monday urges all governments to have national strategies in place by May 2017 to combat antimicrobial resistance, a global phenomenon that facilitates the rise of deadly superbugs. Most countries do not have nationwide plans to address climbing rates of antibiotic resistance…” (Whitman, 5/25).

New York Times: WHO Plan Aims to Combat Resistance to Antibiotic Drugs
“…The plan is due to be adopted Tuesday at a plenary session of the World Health Organization’s decision-making body, but its endorsement is a formality after member states meeting Monday in committee gave it unanimous support. The plan emphasizes the need to develop surveillance of resistance; act more fully to prevent infections; better control the use of existing antibiotics; and develop mechanisms to support investment in new antibiotic drugs…” (Cumming-Bruce, 5/25).

NPR: World Health Organization Considers Measures To Quicken Outbreak Response
“The consensus is that the World Health Organization’s performance on Ebola was miserable. At the agency’s annual meeting, the WHO is set to adopt reforms to make sure what happened with Ebola doesn’t happen again…” (Doucleff, 5/25).

Reuters: West Africa’s health systems need rebuilding post-Ebola: WHO
“Health care systems in West Africa that collapsed during the Ebola epidemic must be rebuilt urgently to provide basic services and confront other killer diseases, the World Health Organization said on Thursday…” (Nebehay, 5/21).

WHO: World Health Assembly gives WHO green light to reform emergency and response program
“…Delegates at the 68th World Health Assembly welcomed WHO’s commitment to deep reforms of its emergency work, in particular by setting out clear and effective command and control mechanisms across all three levels of the organization — headquarters, regional, and country offices…” (5/23).

WHO: World Health Assembly addresses antimicrobial resistance, immunization gaps, and malnutrition
“The World Health Assembly [Monday] agreed resolutions to tackle antimicrobial resistance; improve access to affordable vaccines, and address over- and under-nutrition…” (5/25).

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Poorest Nations Receive Less Than One-Third Of Global Development Aid, ONE Report Shows

News outlets discuss findings from the ONE Campaign’s 2015 DATA Report.

Agence France-Presse: Poorest countries neglected by foreign aid donors: report
“The world’s poorest nations, the bulk of which are in sub-Saharan Africa, are receiving less than a third of development aid, and this support is waning, a non-governmental organization founded by U2 frontman Bono said Tuesday…” (5/26).

Financial Times: Rich nations told they are failing world’s poorest
“…Nearly half of the population in the world’s least developed countries (LDCs), such as Liberia and Haiti, live in conditions of extreme poverty. However, the proportion of total development aid going to these states has fallen from more than 31 percent to 30.3 percent, ONE, an advocacy group, shows in its annual DATA report…” (Giugliano, 5/26).

Reuters: Poorest nations, not just richest, must act to end extreme poverty — campaigners
“…Increasing that share of the aid to 50 percent would have made an extra $26.5 billion available last year for the world’s poorest people, the report found. ONE also urged the [OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC)] countries to meet the United Nations target of spending 0.7 percent of their national wealth on ODA by 2020. Only Britain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Luxembourg have met the target to date, according to the DAC…” (Guilbert, 5/26).

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U.N.'s Ban Highlights Africa's Achievements, Future Challenges On Africa Day

U.N. News Centre: On Africa Day, U.N. chief spotlights continents’ achievements, reflects on challenges of 2015
“Each year, Africa Day is an opportunity to celebrate the continent’s achievements and to reflect on its challenges, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said [Monday], highlighting the courage and determination it took to make remarkable progress to end the Ebola outbreak and urging leaders to commit to ending violence against women and empower them…” (5/25).

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U.N. Secretary General Urges International Community To Commit To Ending Obstetric Fistula

U.N. News Centre: Marking International Day, U.N. urges world to seek end of obstetric fistula ‘in our lifetime’
“Obstetric fistula is a devastating yet completely preventable and, in many cases, treatable injury of childbirth, affecting at least two million women and girls worldwide and leaving them isolated from communities, the United Nations spotlighted ahead of the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. … ‘We have a moral obligation, as a global community, to complete the unfinished agenda of eradicating fistula,’ [Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said]…” (5/22).

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U.N. Agencies Ramp Up Aid To Nepal As Monsoon Season Approaches

U.N. News Centre: Nepal: U.N. underscores need to act now before monsoon rains risk further disaster
“As Nepalese communities devastated by two major earthquakes struggle to restore and rebuild, United Nations humanitarian workers and their partners are in a fierce race against time to reach survivors in the remote mountains before the monsoon rains hit and further complicate logistics…” (5/21).

U.N. News Centre: Nepal: U.N. health agency marks one month since devastating earthquake as it ramps up aid
“…Marking the somber milestone in a newsletter [Friday], the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that even though the initial tremors had subsided, the threat of disaster is far from over as monsoon season fast approaches…” (5/22).

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Myanmar President Approves Population Control Health Care Law Amid Concerns Over Potential Reproductive, Human Rights Violations

Associated Press: Myanmar president signs off on contested population law
“Myanmar’s president has signed off on a law requiring some mothers to space their children three years apart despite objections by a visiting senior U.S. diplomat and rights activists, who worry it could be used not only to repress women, but also religious and ethnic minorities. The Population Control Health Care Bill — drafted under pressure from hard-line Buddhist monks with a staunchly anti-Muslim agenda — was passed by parliamentarians last month…” (Win, 5/23).

Wall Street Journal: Myanmar’s New Family Planning Law Seen as Targeted at Rohingya
“…[R]ather than assuaging deep-seated concerns of the Rohingya about their future in Myanmar, the Population Control Health Care Act is raising questions among human rights activists about whether it will be used to limit population growth among Muslim communities — especially the Rohingya…” (Hookway/Mahtani, 5/23).

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U.N. Efforts To Stem Cholera Outbreak Among Burundian Refugees In Tanzania Showing Progress

Agence France-Presse: Cholera outbreak among Burundi refugees in Tanzania slowing: U.N.
“A cholera outbreak raging among Burundian refugees in Tanzania has slowed significantly with no new deaths reported in the past five days, the United Nations said Tuesday…” (5/26).

Reuters: Cholera epidemic hits 3,000 Burundi refugees in Tanzania: U.N.
“About 3,000 refugees fleeing political turmoil in Burundi have been infected in a cholera epidemic in neighboring Tanzania, the United Nations said on Friday, stoking fears of a growing humanitarian crisis in Africa’s Great Lakes…” (Nebehay/Tomasevic, 5/22).

U.N. News Centre: In Tanzania, UNICEF working to halt cholera outbreak among Burundian refugees
“…The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is rushing critical relief supplies to Tanzania’s north-western border with Burundi amid a devastating cholera outbreak affecting tens of thousands of refugees there. In a press release issued [Thursday], UNICEF confirmed it had dispatched cholera treatment supplies, as well as water, sanitation, health, and nutrition items to stem the spread of cholera among 50,000 Burundian refugees living rough along the shores of Lake Tanganyika…” (5/21).

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Russian AIDS Expert Says Country's Growing HIV Epidemic Due To Lack Of Funding, Family-Values-Based Prevention Approach

The Guardian: While Russia grapples with HIV epidemic, Moscow’s addicts share their filthy needles
“…Moscow is at the epicenter of a rising HIV epidemic: while the number of those infected in Russia pales in comparison with the numbers in sub-Saharan Africa, it is one of the few countries where rates are growing rather than declining. … According to [Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Federal AIDS Center in Moscow], the failure stems from a lack of funding and the Kremlin’s family-values-based approach to HIV prevention…” (Luhn, 5/23).

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South African Health Minister Counters Media Reports On HIV Drug Supply Shortages

Mail & Guardian: Motsoaledi refutes claims S.A. faces drug shortages
“Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has hit back at media reports about drug shortages at public health facilities reaching crisis levels. Motsoaledi claimed there are ‘more than adequate’ antiretroviral medicines for HIV treatment in each facility and district. He said South Africa was at the mercy of the global pharmaceutical industry for many other drugs…” (Steyn, 5/25).

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The Guardian Profiles Africa Centre For Health And Population Studies

The Guardian: Africa’s health center at the frontline of HIV research
“The Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies sits in the HIV capital of the world. The sleek modern building, rising out of an otherwise rustic setting near Mtubatuba in South Africa, attracts world-class researchers looking to wage war against the resilient virus. ‘It’s the frontline,’ says Deenan Pillay, the center’s director, on secondment as professor of virology at University College London…” (Smith, 5/26).

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South African Workers In Mining Industry More Susceptible To TB, HIV, The Guardian Reports

The Guardian: Dust, TB, and HIV: the ugly face of mining in South Africa
“…[N]ature’s blessing of coal, diamonds, gold, and platinum has also been a curse over the past century and a half. Thousands of [South African] workers have died in accidents. Continual exposure to mineral dust in mine shafts has resulted in high rates of silicosis. That, and the proximity of mineworkers underground, contributes to the spread of TB. In South Africa’s mines the disease is up to six times more common than in the general population. Men in a mining area tend to attract commercial sex workers, leading to the spread of HIV…” (Smith/Carrington, 5/26).

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Melinda Gates Speaks At CSIS-Fortune Event About Gates Foundation's Efforts To Invest In Women, Girls

Fortune: Melinda Gates on Bill, ending poverty, and her plans to invest in women and girls
“…Melinda Gates appeared on stage with [Fortune’s Nina Easton] for a 90-minute interview [May 19] at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as part of [the] CSIS-Fortune ‘Smart Women Smart Power’ series. She unveiled steps the Gates Foundation is taking to realign its enormous resources to make investment in women and girls a top priority…” (5/21).

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Editorials and Opinions

Adoption, Implementation Of Global Action Plan To Combat Antimicrobial Resistance Can Help Bring Problem 'Under Control'

Devex: Time for decisive action on antimicrobial resistance
Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general for health security at the WHO

“…Despite the concern of clinicians and scientists over decades, and some progress in recent years, antimicrobial resistance has become one of the most serious global health threats of modern times. … In the face of this situation, sustained global and national leadership; commitment from all stakeholders, including the public and those in health, agriculture, business, and civil society; and coordination and collaboration across sectors — particularly between human and animal health and agriculture — are critical to ensure that actions are complementary rather than duplicative or conflicting. … There are no simple, quick-fix solutions. But with rising political attention and adoption of the global action plan [to combat antimicrobial resistance], the opportunity to finally bring antibiotic resistance under control is within reach” (5/26).

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New Global Malaria Strategy Sets Ambitious Target; Disease Can Be Eliminated With More Resources

Huffington Post: Looking Ahead for Global Health
Michael Møller, acting director general of the United Nations Office at Geneva

“…This week the World Health Assembly agreed on a new global malaria strategy that aims to reduce the disease by at least 90 percent and eliminate malaria altogether in at least 35 countries by 2030. Malaria can be prevented and treated, but more resources are needed. The Global Fund estimates that USD$5.1 billion are needed every year, but only half of that is made available. This is an ambitious target. Let’s make sure we don’t let 3.2 billion people down” (5/22).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Investment In HIV/AIDS Vaccine R&D Must Be Scaled Up

Global Health Technology Coalition’s “Breakthroughs”: Four reasons now is the time to ramp up investment in HIV/AIDS vaccine R&D
Kat Kelley, GHTC’s senior program assistant, reports from a recent briefing on Capitol Hill that “convened leaders in the field to discuss the state of HIV/AIDS vaccine research and development (R&D). … [T]he discussion illustrated four key reasons why now is the time to ramp up — rather than scale down — investment in HIV/AIDS vaccine R&D. … We are closer than ever to developing an HIV/AIDS vaccine … We cannot eradicate HIV/AIDS without a vaccine … Investments in HIV/AIDS vaccine R&D are producing broader impacts on global health … A vaccine for HIV/AIDS would have enormous financial benefits” (5/22).

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