KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

At WHA, WHO Member States Agree To Health Emergency Response Program, Hear Importance Of Addressing Climate Change

Agence France-Presse: WHO to better respond to emergencies
“Member states of the World Health Organization have agreed a long-awaited reform of the agency so that it responds more quickly and effectively to emergency situations…” (5/26).

Devex: Can WHO bring speed and predictability to emergency work?
“…Health experts and humanitarian organizations, Médecins Sans Frontières being among the most vocal, heavily criticized the pace of WHO’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and the ensuing panels and committees all arrived at the conclusion that change was needed at the U.N.’s health agency…” (Ravelo, 5/24).

Global Health NOW: The Urgency of Climate Change Response
“The global health community must use its unique position to translate and advocate for the importance of meeting the climate change challenge, U.N. climate change leader Christiana Figueres told the World Health Assembly yesterday…” (Simpson, 5/25).

NPR: WHO Aims To Reform Itself But Health Experts Aren’t Yet Impressed
“…WHO is creating a team devoted exclusively to handling health emergencies, such as Zika in Latin America or yellow fever in Angola. In the past, the agency has had to rebuild this team from scratch every time an epidemic cropped up…” (Doucleff, 5/25).

Xinhua News: World Health Assembly agrees new Health Emergencies Programme
“…The new program is designed to deliver rapid, predictable, and comprehensive support to countries and communities as they prepare for, face, or recover from emergencies caused by any type of hazard to human health, whether disease outbreaks, natural or man-made disasters, or conflicts…” (5/25).

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Growing Consensus In Congress Around Potential Need For Public Health Emergency Fund

CQ News: Zika Debate Leads to Calls for Public Health Emergency Fund
“…[M]embers of both parties agree that Zika won’t be the last infectious disease threat that forces Congress into action. There is a growing sense in both parties that in the future this [funding] debate could be avoided by supporting a dedicated fund that the administration can access for public health emergencies…” (Siddons, 5/25).

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Up To 13% Risk Of Microcephaly Among Infants Of Zika-Infected Pregnancies, Study Shows

USA TODAY: CDC: 1% to 13% of Zika-infected babies could have microcephaly
“A fetus infected with the Zika virus during the first three months of pregnancy has about a one percent to 13 percent risk of developing microcephaly, an abnormally small head usually caused by incomplete brain development, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…” (Szabo, 5/25).

Washington Post: For Zika-infected pregnancies, microcephaly risk may be as high as 13 percent
“…Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health identified the sharply higher risk after analyzing data from one of the hardest hit areas in Brazil, the epicenter of the rapidly evolving Zika outbreak. Typically, microcephaly occurs in .02 percent to .12 percent of all U.S. births…” (Sun, 5/25).

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Attacks On Medical Facilities Worldwide Killed Nearly 960 People In 2014-15, WHO Report Says

Associated Press: WHO: Nearly 960 killed in attacks on hospitals in 2 years
“Nearly 960 people have been killed worldwide in attacks on medical facilities in conflicts over the past two years, the World Health Organization said in a report Thursday that highlighted an alarming disrespect for the protection of health care in war by both governments and armed groups…” (5/26).

Reuters: Nearly 1,000 killed in attacks on health workers in 2014-15 — WHO
“…The United Nations agency documented 594 attacks resulting in 959 deaths and 1,561 injuries in 19 countries with emergencies between January 2014 and December 2015. Syria, torn by civil war since 2011, had the most attacks on hospitals, ambulances, patients, and medical workers, accounting for 352 deaths. The Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank, as well as Iraq, Pakistan, and Libya, followed…” (Nebehay, 5/26).

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Gaps In Immunization Access Persist For New, Old Vaccines

Inter Press Service: New and Old Vaccines Still Out of Reach for Many
“While long-awaited new vaccines for malaria and dengue may finally be within reach, many of the world’s existing vaccines have remained unreachable for many of the people who need them most. The recent outbreak of yellow fever in Angola shows how deadly infectious diseases can return when gaps in vaccination programs grow…” (Rowlands, 5/26).

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PAHO/WHO, UNICEF Supporting Haitian Government's Cholera Immunization Campaign

U.N. News Centre: Haiti: U.N. agencies support government in vaccination campaign against cholera
“Two United Nations agencies said [Wednesday] they are supporting the government of Haiti in a vaccination campaign against cholera that aims to reach 400,000 people in 2016. In a press release, the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) said the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population is being supported by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), as well as by the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF)…” (5/25).

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Philippines Population Growth Slower Following Law Allowing Government-Funded Contraceptives

Associated Press: Philippine population growth slows as contraceptives spread
“The Philippines’ annual population growth rate has slowed as more people in the predominantly Roman Catholic country use contraception. … A national law that provides government funding for contraceptives was passed in 2012 despite strong opposition from Catholic church leaders. The law took effect after the Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that it was constitutional except for a few provisions…” (Cerojano, 5/25).

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Access To Safe, Legal Abortion Limited In Brazil Because Of Strict Laws, TRF Reports

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Faced with strict laws, Brazilian women keep abortions secret
“…Roughly one million women each year seek abortions to end unwanted pregnancies in Brazil, where abortion is illegal except in cases of rape or incest or if the life of the mother is in danger. Brazil has raided and closed down hundreds of secret abortion clinics across the country over the last decade…” (Davies, 5/25).

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Taiwanese Health Minister Signals Desire To Work With China On Public Health Issues

Associated Press: Taiwan minister hopes to work with China on health issues
“Taiwan hopes to work with China to help improve the health of people ‘on both sides of the Taiwan Strait’ and is engaging more with the world to fight viruses like Zika, MERS, Ebola, and dengue, the Taiwanese health minister said in an interview Wednesday. Amid new questions about the future of China-Taiwan relations, Lin Tzou-yien said he shook hands with his Chinese counterpart, Li Bin, a day earlier at an annual World Health Organization meeting…” (5/25).

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NYT Magazine Profiles Guinean Doctor Who Trains Health Care Workers In Ebola Control Practices

New York Times Magazine: He Survived Ebola. Now He’s Fighting to Keep It From Spreading.
“…Dr. Sadou Diallo is a slight man, trim and compact with a high forehead above wire-rimmed glasses. He is the director of obstetrics and gynecology at the Matam Community Medical Center, in Conakry, Guinea’s capital. … [W]hen Diallo was not at the medical center, he was conducting [Infection Prevention and Control (IPC)] trainings around the country as a Jhpiego instructor…” (Benko, 5/26).

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Editorials and Opinions

Congress Must No Longer Delay Investments In Zika Response

Los Angeles Times: Congress exploits Zika to loosen pesticide regulations (but won’t pay for an anti-Zika program)
Michael Hiltzik, columnist at the Los Angeles Times

“…The House and Senate haven’t been utterly idle on the Zika front. Their actions have been merely inadequate and cynical. … The consequences of inaction will be stark. Babies born to infected women have a high rate of microcephaly, a physical and neurological condition with lifelong implications. … Cheeseparing budget cutters on Capitol Hill should also contemplate the fiscal implications of a Zika outbreak. … Zika’s medical complications are likely to fall most heavily on the public health programs — read Medicaid — of Southern states. … It’s more likely that the Zika crisis will be a reminder of the old saw that delaying investments now only lead to greater expenses down the line. Will the lesson take?” (5/25).

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Partnerships Critical For Delivering Digital Payments To HCWs In Emergency Response Situations

Devex: The importance of partnerships in humanitarian response
Momodu L. Kargbo, Sierra Leone’s minister of finance and economic development

“…Building partnerships with the private sector and development organizations is key for us to succeed [in delivering digital payments to health care workers (HCWs) in emergency response situations]. … It is critical to start building resilient response measures now; therefore, we must put in place the policy frameworks, infrastructure, and public education initiatives necessary for a digital payments solution. By working collaboratively and proactively, digital payments can help build resilience in the face of challenges such as those we encountered in the Ebola crisis, can contribute to greater financial inclusion of citizens, and can drive economic opportunities throughout the country in the aftermath” (5/25).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Fund, Canada Announce New Online Marketplace Offering Better Access To, Competitive Prices For Health Products

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Wambo.org: Better Access, Lower Prices and More Transparency
“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Government of Canada announced a new online marketplace [Wednesday] that is projected to save at least U.S. $250 million in the coming four years by offering health implementers competitive prices for medicines and health commodities. Simple and accessible, wambo.org provides up-to-date information on available products, prices, expected delivery time, and tracking. … It will be available to serve countries and partners in global health into the future, with a simplified and sustainable tool, owned by all those who use it as a ‘global public good'” (5/25).

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New Report Examines Drug Resistance Broadly, Specifically To TB

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Addressing development of tuberculosis diagnostics and drugs is critical to global antimicrobial resistance response, review finds
Antigone Barton, senior writer and editor of “Science Speaks,” discusses findings and recommendations from the final report of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. The report also specifically examines the challenges posed by drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis (5/25).

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