KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. House Approves Conference For Zika Funding Negotiations But Adjourns For Memorial Day Break Without Further Action

CNN: Democrats blast GOP for leaving D.C. without passing Zika funds
“Democrats on Thursday blasted Republicans for departing Washington for the Memorial Day recess — the traditional start of summer — without approving funds to respond to the mosquito-borne Zika virus and other pressing needs…” (Barrett, 5/26).

CQ News: Contentious Conference on Zika Response Looms After House Vote
“The House on Thursday agreed to go to conference with the Senate to work out major differences in each chamber’s proposal to combat the Zika virus, a step toward high-stakes talks as Democrats push hard for fast action on the mosquito-borne virus that has been linked to birth defects in newborns…” (McCrimmon, 5/26).

The Hill: House takes first step to merge Zika bills
“…Members of the conference committee face an increasingly difficult task when it comes to Zika: The bills passed by the House and Senate last week are different in terms of size, timing, and how they offset their costs. One is broadly bipartisan; the other faces a veto threat from the White House…” (5/26).

The Hill: Dems to GOP: Cancel Memorial Day break
“… ‘The Republican Congress is about to leave for an almost two-week recess. Republicans are leaving Washington without having completed any of the urgent business before Congress,’ House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said Thursday on steps outside the Capitol…” (Carney, 5/26).

Washington Post: Congress leaves town with no Zika resolution, lengthy negotiations ahead
“…Republican leaders insist a deal can be struck soon to provide the money federal health officials say is needed to develop a vaccine. They also downplayed the risk of waiting a little longer, arguing existing money is available for the initial steps needed to help contain the virus while lawmakers resolve the larger funding fight…” (Kane/DeBonis, 5/27).

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Sufficient, Quick Funding Critical To Provide Effective Zika Response, CDC Director Says

CQ HealthBeat: CDC Director Outlines Zika Funding Challenges
“As the House and Senate on Thursday moved closer to negotiations over funding to combat the Zika virus, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continued the administration’s criticism of congressional inaction. … As the agency waits for supplemental funding to coordinate a Zika response, [Tom] Frieden said that research and development for improved diagnostic tests has been stalled, and $50 million was diverted for Zika from an account used for emergency preparedness in the states for natural disasters…” (Siddons, 5/26).

The Hill: CDC director: ‘We’re losing time with Zika’
“… ‘We have a narrow window of opportunity to scale up effective Zika prevention measures, and that window of opportunity is closing,’ Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said during a speech at the National Press Club. The CDC director spoke to a crowd of public health advocates just minutes after the House and Senate began talks to merge their two funding bills for Zika. Both fall short of President Obama’s $1.9 billion funding request to fight Zika in U.S. states and territories and abroad…” (Ferris, 5/26).

POLITICO: Frieden: CDC will lose Zika fight without funding
“…No new Zika funds means far fewer tools, tests, and protections for pregnant women and children at risk of a virus causing severe birth defects and neurological diseases. And when fighting an outbreak, every dollar counts — and so does every day that passes, Frieden stressed…” (Diamond, 5/26).

Reuters: U.S. health official says Zika not a reason to cancel Olympics
“… ‘There is no public health reason to cancel or delay the Olympics,’ Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington. A controversial paper by a Canadian professor published earlier this month in the Harvard Public Health Review called for the Games to be canceled or moved because it said they would likely speed up the spread of Zika throughout the world…” (Berkrot, 5/26).

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British PM Cameron Urges G7 Leaders To Take Action On Drug Resistance, Establish R&D Reward Fund

Financial Times: Cameron pushes for action on ‘superbugs’
“David Cameron will on Friday urge world leaders to set up a global fund worth $1.6bn a year to reward pharmaceutical companies that develop drugs to fight ‘superbugs.’ The prime minister will present to the Group of Seven summit a report on antimicrobial resistance by Lord Jim O’Neill, the former Goldman Sachs chief economist, who has proposed a global drug development fund worth $16bn over 10 years…” (Parker/Ward, 5/27).

Reuters: G7 told to act on antibiotics as dreaded superbug hits U.S.
“Britain told the G7 industrial powers on Friday to do more to fight killer superbugs as the United States reported the first case in the country of a patient with bacteria resistant to a last-resort antibiotic. … In Japan, British Prime Minister David Cameron said leading countries needed to tackle resistance by reducing the use of antibiotics and rewarding drug companies for developing new medicines…” (MacClellan/Hirschler, 5/27).

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U.S. Military Researchers Report First American Case Of Infection Resistant To All Antibiotics

New York Times: Infection Raises Specter of Superbugs Resistant to All Antibiotics
“American military researchers have identified the first patient in the United States to be infected with bacteria that are resistant to an antibiotic that was the last resort against drug-resistant germs…” (Tavernise/Grady, 5/26).

Reuters: U.S. sees first case of bacteria resistant to all antibiotics
“…The infection was reported Thursday in a study appearing in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. It said the superbug itself had first been infected with a tiny piece of DNA called a plasmid, which passed along a gene called mcr-1 that confers resistance to colistin…” (Pierson/Berkrot, 5/26).

USA TODAY: Woman found to harbor infection resistant to antibiotic of last resort
“…In the past six months or so, scientists have found bacteria that are resistant to colistin in more than two dozen countries, said study co-author Patrick McGann, a senior microbiologist at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Given the danger of colistin-resistant bacteria, doctors at Walter Reed decided to begin testing samples from the U.S…” (Szabo, 5/26).

Washington Post: The superbug that doctors have been dreading just reached the U.S.
“…Colistin is the antibiotic of last resort for particularly dangerous types of superbugs, including a family of bacteria known as CRE, which health officials have dubbed ‘nightmare bacteria.’ In some instances, these superbugs kill up to 50 percent of patients who become infected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called CRE among the country’s most urgent public health threats…” (Sun/Dennis, 5/27).

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Media Sources Discuss Issues Addressed, Agreed Upon At 69th World Health Assembly

Devex: A make-or-break moment for the first viral hepatitis strategy
“Six years ago, … [m]ember states at the World Health Assembly adopted resolution WHA63.18, which allows the organization to draw global attention to the disease on a specific day of each year — July 28. This was followed with another resolution in 2014 that called on the World Health Organization to examine the feasibility of viral hepatitis’ elimination, which led to the development of a strategy that’s now before member states at the 69th World Health Assembly. The question is: Will advocates’ winning streak continue?…” (Ravelo, 5/26).

Global Health NOW: Working with the “SDG Generation”
“…Global health experts and heavy hitters from WHO Director-General Margaret Chan to UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin focused attention Wednesday on what needs to be done to not only help adolescents survive but thrive and build prosperous healthy futures…” (Simpson, 5/26).

Global Health NOW: Babatunde Osotimehin: Seek Enormous Returns
“It’s been a busy 10 days for UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin. … Wednesday evening found him in Salle VIII at the Palais des Nations for a World Health Assembly side event on adolescent health. Before rushing off to another event, Osotimehin made time for a few questions from Global Health NOW editor-in-chief Brian W. Simpson…” (Simpson, 5/26).

WHO: World Health Assembly agrees resolutions on women, children, and adolescents, and healthy aging
“Delegates at the World Health Assembly [Thursday] agreed to implement two new health strategies that are closely aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. One relates to women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health; the other to healthy aging…” (5/26).

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IRIN Examines Outcomes Of First World Humanitarian Summit

IRIN: The World Humanitarian Summit: winners and losers
“Staffers were still counting when U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that more than 1,500 commitments had emerged from the bewildering series of closed-door roundtables, panel discussions, and impromptu announcements that constituted this week’s World Humanitarian Summit. … As the dust settles, here’s our summary of what was — and wasn’t — agreed…” (Aly, 5/26).

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India's PM Asks Physicians To Provide Free Maternal Care 12 Days Per Year

Agence France-Presse: India PM asks doctors to treat pregnant women for free
“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on doctors Thursday to give up 12 days a year to treating poor, pregnant women free of charge, in a speech to mark the anniversary of his government’s second year in power…” (5/26).

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TRF Examines Women's Challenges To Obtaining Legal Abortion In Colombia

Thomson Reuters Foundation: In Colombia, abortion is legal but denied to many women, advocates say
“…Colombia, a nation of 48 million people, allows abortion in cases of rape, incest, fetal malformation, if the fetus is at risk, and if the health, both physical and mental, of the mother is at risk. … Yet despite the partial decriminalization of its total ban on abortion a decade ago, millions of women have sought illegal abortions rather than legal procedures, according to one estimate. Obstacles to a legal abortion are placed in their way, campaigners say…” (Moloney, 5/25).

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SciDev.Net Interviews IRC Technical Adviser About Menstrual Hygiene Research Ahead Of World Day

SciDev.Net: Periods are the next frontier of humanitarian response
“…The third ever Menstrual Hygiene Day, celebrated [May 28], is a sign that these issues are gaining wider recognition. It is also encouraging to find menstrual hygiene research beginning to shape the agendas of international relief organizations. … I rang Nicole Klaesener-Metzner, an [International Rescue Committee (IRC)] technical adviser on environmental health, to find out more…” (Mathers, 5/27).

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Editorials and Opinions

G7 Leaders Should Invest In Pandemic Response, Commit To Preventing Epidemics

Huffington Post: G7, We Can Prevent Pandemics
Jonathan D. Quick, president of Management Sciences for Health, faculty member at Harvard Medical School, and author

“…The G7 has taken important steps to invest in pandemic response, including reaching out to over 70 countries, offering to help them implement the International Health Regulations (IHR) … But only about 1/3 of the countries in the world currently have the ability to assess, detect, and respond to public health emergencies, leaving massive gaps in our defenses against pathogens. Investing in pandemic response is vital to safeguard people in every nation. … The G7 has endorsed the Global Health Security Agenda, a critical global effort to strengthen public health systems around the world. I invite the G7 to also come on board with the No More Epidemics Campaign … [which] brings together governments, donors, multilateral institutions, civil society, and the business community to ensure everyone is protected from epidemics — including by avoiding them in the first place…” (5/26).

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U.S. Should Support WHA Resolution On Breastfeeding

The Hill: It’s time to support breastfeeding
Asma Lateef, director of the Bread for the World Institute

“…A resolution being drafted at the World Health Assembly this week would go far in protecting mothers from inappropriate promotion of breastmilk substitutes and other foods marketed as suitable for children younger than three years old. The resolution endorses the World Health Organization (WHO) Guidance on Ending the Inappropriate Promotion of Foods for Infants and Young Children. … But there is very strong opposition to the resolution, including here in the United States. Industry lobbyists are working hard behind the scenes to make sure that the resolution is blocked. … The U.S. government should support the resolution. … The United States has long championed efforts both to end preventable child and maternal deaths and to ensure that babies not only survive but thrive. It is to the interest of the U.S. government and all governments to see that children get off to a strong start in their lives…” (5/26).

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Corporations Could Play Critical Role In Response To Zika, Other Infectious Diseases

Fortune: How Businesses Should Respond to the Zika Virus
Charles Perrings, Carlos Castillo-Chavez, and Bertram Jacobs, all professors at Arizona State University

“…Corporations operating in countries affected by infectious diseases have a narrow, short-term interest in the financial consequences if customers defer or cancel trade and travel plans. … They [also] have a broad, longer-term interest in the disease risks of international engagement, and the scope for direct action to mitigate those risks. Increasingly, corporations are taking responsibility for the international environmental consequences of their activities … For the general problem of infectious zoonotic disease risks, targeted direct intervention by businesses in support of vaccine development, urban planning, vector control, and other preventive measures, has the potential both to serve the bottom line and to reduce the risks to all” (5/26).

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Ending Hunger, Malnutrition Requires Partnerships, Cooperation, Gender Equality

Huffington Post: Ending Hunger for Good
Åsa Skogström Feldt, president and CEO of the Hunger Project

“On May 28, groups around the world will come together to honor World Hunger Day … Experts agree that tackling malnutrition is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes economic sense. … So what can we do reduce hunger and malnutrition? We need to focus on bottom-up solutions that partner with communities who, with the right tools and training, lead the charge. … 2. We need to reduce gender inequality which perpetuates the cycle of malnutrition. … 3. We need to work across sectors. … When we focus on people, when we work together, when we let communities lead, we can sustainably end hunger, for good” (5/26).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Engaged In Efforts To Protect Women, Girls' Health, Rights

U.S. State Department’s “DipNote”: World Humanitarian Summit: Coming Together to Protect Women and Girls
Anne C. Richard, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration at the U.S. Department of State, discusses U.S. efforts to protect women and girls, including “empowering women and girls as leaders and agents of change, ensuring that aid operations respond to their specific needs, improving access to sexual and reproductive health care and rights, coordinating [gender based violence (GBV)] prevention and response across the globe, and ensuring that governments and other organizations fully comply with gender equality norms and international standards” (5/26).

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Gates Foundation Announces Phase I Winners Of 16th Grand Challenges Explorations Initiative

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Bold Ideas to Tackle Big Problems in Global Health and Development: Grand Challenges Explorations Round 16
Steven Buchsbaum, deputy director, and Rebekah Neal, program officer, both for discovery & translational sciences in the Global Health Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, describe projects from some of the Phase I winners of the foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) initiative, which seeks to pursue innovative solutions to global health and development challenges (5/25).

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