KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Critics Express Frustration Over Canadian PM's MCH Initiatives

News outlets report on criticism expressed over Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s maternal and child health initiatives, as the country prepares to host the Saving Every Woman Every Child summit.

Canadian Press/Huffington Post Canada: Harper’s Maternal Health Pledge For Poor Countries Polarizes At Home
“One polarizing question will hover over the prime minister Wednesday when he opens his international conference on helping dying kids and mothers in poor countries: does Stephen Harper truly care, or is it just another cynical political ploy?…” (Blanchfield, 5/27).

CBC News: Maternal health spending data plentiful, but not the whole picture
“When it comes to the Muskoka Initiative — Canada’s much-lauded effort to push global action on maternal and child health — the Conservative government has endeavored to be more accountable and transparent than usual, according to a data analyst who’s been keeping his eye on foreign aid spending…” (Do, 5/27).

CTV News: Maternal health: Should Harper focus on First Nations first?
“On the eve of a high-level international summit on maternal and child health being held in Toronto, questions have been raised about Canada’s own infant-health issues on First Nations reserves…” (5/27).

Toronto Star: Critics slam Stephen Harper ahead of maternal health summit
“…In 2010, Canada pledged $2.85 billion which, according to the summit’s website, is being invested in maternal and child health centers in Bangladesh, HIV testing in Ethiopia, and nutrition education in Mali and Mozambique. But there’s no shortage of critics of that spending, for which there is no publicly available accounting and which runs out in 2015…” (Zerbisias, 5/27).

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200K Children Risk Starvation In Somalia Because Of Funding Shortfall, UNICEF Warns

News outlets report on warnings from UNICEF that hundreds of thousands of women and children in Somalia are at risk of starvation and losing health care services if a funding shortfall is not reversed.

Agence France-Presse: 200,000 kids may starve in Somalia as aid runs dry, UNICEF says
“The United Nation’s children’s agency said Tuesday that 200,000 children may die of starvation this year in war-ravaged Somalia if it does not raise enough funds to provide vital aid…” (5/27).

Reuters: Up to 200,000 Somali children could die from malnutrition: U.N.
“…Only $15 million has been received in the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) $150 million appeal to donor states to provide vital health services to more than three million women and children in the Horn of Africa nation this year, the agency said…” (Nebehay, 5/27).

U.N. News Centre: Funding shortfall threatens vital health services for millions of Somalis, UNICEF warns
“…More than 70 percent of health care in Somalia is provided by UNICEF and its partners, including supplies of medicines, all vaccines, the wages of employees, training of health workers, fuel for generators of water and medical equipment. UNICEF’s spokesperson in Geneva, Christophe Boulierac, told reporters that the suspension of health services would represent an enormous difficulty, in particular for children…” (5/27).

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Global Fund-WHO Partnership Aims To Fill Gap In Technical Assistance

Devex: How the new Global Fund-WHO partnership will work
“Soon, World Health Organization experts will be providing technical assistance to country teams and civil society groups looking to secure grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Global Fund last year launched a new funding model under which countries vying for funding are more likely to need help designing their strategic plans and concept notes. So in August, the fund began discussions with WHO on how they may collaborate to ensure developing countries have the assistance they need to succeed…” (Ravelo, 5/27).

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Flooding Caused By Militants Leave Iraqi Villages At High Risk Of Disease

IRIN: Threat of disease in Iraq villages flooded by militants
“Flooding caused by the forced closure of a major dam on the Euphrates river has destroyed villages and farms across a 200sqkm area west of Baghdad, leaving tens of thousands homeless and at high risk of waterborne diseases like cholera…” (5/27).

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Reconstructive Surgery Offers FGM Victims Chance At Physical Recovery

The Atlantic: Trying to Rebuild Women’s Bodies After Female ‘Circumcision’
“A small number of surgeons are performing clitoral reconstruction procedures in the United States for victims of female genital mutilation, offering a chance at physical recovery…” (Khan, 5/27).

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Hong Kong Reports Record Number Of New HIV Cases In First Quarter

Xinhua/Global Post: Hong Kong’s HIV cases hit three-month high
“The Center for Health Protection (CHP) of Hong Kong on Tuesday reported a record of 154 HIV infections in the first quarter of 2014, bringing the cumulative total of reported HIV infections to 6,496 since 1984…” (5/27).

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Ebola Threatens To Spread Further In West Africa

News outlets report on a resurgence of Ebola cases in West Africa.

CIDRAP News: Ebola resurges with cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone
“After leveling off over the past few weeks, Ebola virus activity in West Africa sparked up again on two fronts, in a newly affected area of Guinea and in Sierra Leone, which had not had a previous outbreak case, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest updates…” (Schnirring, 5/27).

New York Times: Sierra Leone: Ebola Virus Spreads From Guinea
“West Africa’s Ebola outbreak appears to have spread to Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said Monday. One death in a village near the border with Guinea has been confirmed by a laboratory as Ebola, and four other deaths are considered suspect…” (McNeil, 5/27).

Reuters: Sierra Leone Ebola patient’s family remove her from local health center
“Relatives of an Ebola patient in Sierra Leone took her home from a community health center despite protests from medical staff, risking spreading the deadly and highly infectious disease, a senior health official said on Tuesday…” (Bigg/Nebehay, 5/27).

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MERS Spreads To Iran While Pace Of New Infections Slows In Saudi Arabia

News outlets report on Iran’s first cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), while the pace of new infections slows in Saudi Arabia.

Agence France-Presse: Iran reports first MERS cases weeks before Ramadan
“Iran has recorded its first two cases of the deadly MERS virus, both among patients who had been in hospital with a pilgrim returning from Saudi Arabia, reports said Wednesday…” (5/28).

Reuters: Pace of new MERS infections in Saudi Arabia slows to four a day
“The rate of infection of a deadly virus in Saudi Arabia has slowed since mid May and Monday was the first day free of new cases in six weeks, figures released by the kingdom’s Health Ministry showed…” (McDowall, 5/27).

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Debate Continues On Whether To Destroy Smallpox Virus Samples

PRI: Should the last samples of smallpox virus be saved?
“…Live samples of the [smallpox] virus still exist, however, stored in highly secure labs in the U.S. and Russia. World health experts are scheduled to meet this week to discuss, once again, whether or not it’s time to destroy these samples and remove them from the earth…” (Wernick, 5/27).

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Bill Gates Slows Pace Of His Giving To Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

New York Times: As His Foundation Has Grown, Gates Has Slowed His Donations
“Bill Gates, who as the richest American has become one of the foremost advocates of philanthropy, has reduced the pace of his own giving to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the last decade…” (Smith, 5/26).

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Editorials and Opinions

Canada Must Keep Commitment To MCH, Urge Other Nations To Step Up Donations

Toronto Star: Efforts to improve child and maternal health must reach the most vulnerable
Dave Toycen, president and CEO of World Vision Canada

“…Canadian funds committed through the Muskoka Initiative have proved that it’s possible to reach women … and their children, even in the most remote contexts. But those funds exist only until 2015. The work is going well, but we can’t abandon those who still need our help the most. Canada must commit to keeping children and women central in our own development work. We must increase our financial commitment and rally other world leaders to do the same…” (5/27).

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Empowering Community HCWs Can Reduce Maternal, Child Mortality

Huffington Post: Community Health Workers Are a Key Part of a Strong Health System
Marion Roche, technical adviser at the Micronutrient Initiative

“…[Community] health workers play a critical role in their communities and yet there is a shortage of skilled and supported health workers. … There are many complicated problems that we do not know how to fix affordably, problems that people are busy studying and trying to find solutions for but there are many problems that we do know how to fix. … Many of these life-saving interventions, such as zinc and ORS, will travel the last mile in a health worker’s satchel, to be hand delivered to caregivers in some of the most vulnerable and isolated communities. … What comes out of the [Saving Every Woman Every Child] summit will be felt around the world and hopefully support and recognition will be generated for by the health care workers delivering basic health care to the very people the summit wants to reach” (5/27).

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Supporting Immunization Programs Is 'Proven Investment In Future Generations'

Huffington Post: Expanding Impact, Replenishing Hope
Orin Levine, director of vaccine delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…At the World Health Assembly, the world’s health ministers recognized four decades of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), and in Brussels the GAVI Alliance kicked off its ambitious plan for its fourth phase, 2016-2020. Together, the EPI and GAVI have saved the lives of millions of children, and their potential for impact has never been greater. … In this, the Decade of Vaccines, this week marks an opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments and double down on our next phase by helping the GAVI Alliance raise the $7.5 billion it needs to save six million lives. … In the lead-up to 2020, it’s time to pair cooperation and commitment to make a proven investment in future generations. It’s time to vaccelerate” (5/27).

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U.N. Special Rapporteur On Food Advocates For International Framework On Healthy Diets

New York Times: Food’s Big-Picture Guy
Mark Bittman, New York Times food columnist

“I wish Olivier de Schutter had the power to match the acuity of his analysis, but it’s great that we’ve had an advocate whose vision is as broad as that of the corporations who have for the last 50 years determined global food policy. Since 2008, the human rights lawyer has had the title of United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food. (His second three-year term ends this week.) … Despite a now-10-year-old official WHO strategy (not unlike Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign) on diet, exercise and health, the diet-related chronic disease epidemic continues unabated. Thus De Schutter believes ‘that WHO must convene a framework convention on healthy diets like the framework convention in 2003 for tobacco’…” (5/27).

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Syria Faces Mental Health Crisis Amid War

Foreign Policy: A Tidal Wave of Trauma
Lauren Wolfe, journalist and director of Women Under Siege

“…The World Health Organization estimates that three to four percent of people affected by an emergency (like the war in Syria) will develop severe mental health disorders, such as psychosis or severe depression. … Between the need to educate people about mental health treatment and figuring out how to reach so many sufferers with so few professionals, the challenges of this crisis are extraordinary…” (5/27).

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Setting SDG Bar Too High Might 'Kill The Spirit To Negotiate'

Al Jazeera America: U.N’s ambitious new development goals could fall flat
James Reinl, multimedia journalist

“…A failure to negotiate meaningful [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)] will mark another failure of nations to come together on the most important global issues. Not only would that kill a useful deal, but it could also kill the spirit to negotiate. … Countries with poor records on government corruption, accountability and political freedom are already raising objections to committing themselves to targets for cleaning up the political class. That leads to the root problem of the SDGs: They come in an era when multilateral talks tend to flounder. Whether it’s the World Trade Organization’s Doha trade negotiations or a new U.N. climate change treaty, when discussions get too big, complicated and expensive, they tend to collapse. … [S]etting another lofty target when world powers disagree on so much else — from Syria to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and next year’s climate treaty in Paris — could overload the diplomatic wagon” (5/28).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blogs Highlight Connections Between Climate Change, Sustainable Development

Blog posts address the connection between climate change and sustainable development, including health and food security.

Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food for Thought”: Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of a Changing Climate
“The Chicago Council on Global Affairs released a report (.pdf) urging the U.S. government to take action to curb the risks climate change poses to global food security…” (5/27).

National Resources Defense Council’s “Switchboard”: Integrating water and sanitation with climate solutions makes sense for our water and health
Elizabeth Shope of the NRDC writes, “Today, NRDC sent a letter (.pdf) to USAID, calling for measures to strengthen the integration of the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) portion of its global Water and Development Strategy with its work around climate resilience and freshwater conservation…” (5/27).

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U.S. Policy Prohibiting Health Campaigns For Covert Operations 'Is A Positive Move'

Center for Strategic & International Studies’ “Smart Global Health”: Fake CIA Vaccine Campaign: When the End Doesn’t Justify the Means
Todd Summers, senior adviser at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, and J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of the center, write about a new White House policy recently made public stating the CIA will no longer use fake health campaigns for covert operations. “…The new administration policy is a positive move, restoring the bright line that must separate our covert and humanitarian activities. It will also help restore the integrity of U.S. leadership on global health, which like so much in the world, depends on faith and trust” (5/27).

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CSIS Event Examines Transition To Local Response In HIV Care, Prevention

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: A PEPFAR transition that works? An international HIV responder supports its local replacements and sees promise, opportunities
Antigone Barton, writer and editor of “Science Speaks” and senior communications officer at the Center for Global Health Policy, reports from an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in which the panelists discussed the “transition from international and local control of HIV prevention” (5/27).

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Global Community Must Consider NTDs In MCH Initiatives

Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect”: Why NTDs Matter to Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
Noting the Saving Every Mother Every Child summit, NTD Special Envoy Mirta Roses Periago writes, “The Global Network is calling on the Canadian government, NGOs, research organizations and the private sector to include action against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) within their new [maternal, newborn, child health (MNCH)] framework and global health and development priorities…” (5/27).

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Blog Discusses Debate Around Potential Threat Of Population Growth On Poverty

Humanosphere: Visualizing the vicious-virtuous cycles of population growth and poverty reduction
Tom Paulson, founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere, discusses the debate around the potential threat of population growth and how it might affect future progress against poverty (5/27).

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Inaugural Menstrual Hygiene Day Recognized

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Menstrual Hygiene Day: A Milestone for Women and Girls Worldwide
Danielle Keiser, WASH United’s social media coordinator, writes, “This May 28th, more than 145 organizations from all over the world are coming together to celebrate the world’s first Menstrual Hygiene Day and help break the silence around menstrual hygiene management (MHM)…” (5/27).

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