KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Devex Interviews U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Birx On PEPFAR's Future

Devex: The HIV ‘emergency’ isn’t over, says PEPFAR chief
“…Devex spoke with Ambassador Deborah Birx, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator who directs PEPFAR … While the global development community transitions towards a post-2015 agenda, PEPFAR is itself undergoing a transition — toward greater focus on country ownership, data-driven priorities, and integrated HIV and AIDS treatment and prevention programs. Birx offered her view on how those transitions continue to play out within the signature U.S. health initiative…” (Igoe, 5/28).

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WHO Begins Process Of Implementing Reforms, Decisions Made At WHA

Devex: WHO begins race to meet WHA commitments
“The 68th World Health Assembly closed Tuesday with a number of decisions under its belt. Member states approved a global technical strategy for malaria, for one, and a global action plan to combat antimicrobial resistance was adopted as well. But there was no doubt that Ebola took center stage at the just-concluded annual event. … Chan has committed to a tight timeline for all the changes: end of 2015…” (Ravelo, 5/27).

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Successes In Developing Countries Responsible For Drop In World's Hungry Population, Report Shows

Media outlets discuss the U.N.’s recently released State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 report.

Agence France-Presse: U.N. targets zero hunger in a generation as numbers fall
“The number of hungry people around the world has dropped below 800 million for the first time since the U.N. started counting, the Food and Agriculture Organization said in an annual report on Wednesday…” (MacKinnon, 5/27).

The Guardian: Social protection schemes hold key to beating world hunger, says U.N.
“If targets to end world hunger by 2030 are to be met, governments and donors in developing countries must spend more on cash transfers to poor farmers, school meals, and other social protection schemes, a U.N. report has said…” (Anderson, 5/27).

U.N. News Centre: Joint U.N. report says rate of world hunger dropping amid wider eradication efforts
“…The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 (SOFI) report, which was jointly published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Programme (WFP), reveals that the number of hungry declined to 795 million — 216 million fewer than in the 1990-1992 biennium and nearly 100 million fewer than in 2012. This, the agencies said in a press release, is due in large part to successes in the world’s developing regions…” (5/27).

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Despite Ebola Epidemic's Lessons, Disease Outbreaks Remain Largest Health Threat To Humans

Vox: The most predictable disaster in the history of the human race
“…No one can say we weren’t warned. And warned. And warned. A pandemic disease is the most predictable catastrophe in the history of the human race, if only because it has happened to the human race so many, many times before…” (Klein, 5/27).

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Illicit Tobacco Trade Poses Global Health Concerns, WHO Says

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency devotes World No Tobacco Day 2015 to combating illegal tobacco trade
“One in every 10 cigarettes consumed is illicit, making them cheaper and more accessible to people from low-income groups, as well as to children, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned ahead of this year’s World No Tobacco Day, devoted to combating the illegal tobacco trade…” (5/27).

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People Diagnosed With HIV Should Begin Treatment Immediately, Study Shows

News outlets report on findings from the START trial, which show early treatment following HIV diagnosis provides greater benefits than postponing therapy.

CQ Roll Call: Fauci Urges Early Start for HIV Treatment Based on New Study Findings
“Results from a global study reinforce a United States policy of urging people infected with HIV to start taking antiretroviral pills soon after their diagnosis, and not to wait for a slip in the production of a key class of infection-fighting cells in their bodies, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease said Wednesday…” (Young, 5/27).

The Guardian: Drugs to keep people with HIV alive should be given without delay, trial finds
“…The START (Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment) trial was stopped because of overwhelming evidence that people with HIV did better if they were put on antiretroviral treatment when their CD4 count (a measure of how well their immune system is functioning) was above 500 rather than 350, as guidelines currently advise in the U.K. and many other countries…” (Boseley, 5/27).

New York Times: HIV Treatment Should Start at Diagnosis, U.S. Health Officials Say
“…Fewer than 14 million of the estimated 35 million people infected with HIV around the world are on treatment now, according to UNAIDS, the United Nations AIDS-fighting agency…” (McNeil, 5/27).

ScienceInsider: Begin HIV treatment immediately says major study, ending long debate
“…As NIAID Director Anthony Fauci explained, evidence suggested that early treatment benefited people but no randomized, controlled clinical trial had ever proven it until now…” (Cohen, 5/27).

Wall Street Journal: HIV Drug Therapy Should Be Started as Soon as Possible, Study Shows
“…Guidelines from the World Health Organization call for infected individuals to be put on drugs only when their CD4 cell count falls to 500 per cubic millimeter of blood or below. … A WHO committee is due to meet next week to begin revising those guidelines, which are expected to be released at the end of this year…” (McKay, 5/27).

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U.S. Sends Food Aid Shipment To Sudan; WFP Warns 40% Of South Sudanese At Risk Of Acute Hunger

Agence France-Presse: U.S. sends huge food aid shipment to Sudan for conflict areas
“Nearly 50,000 tonnes of U.S. food aid bound for areas of Sudan affected by conflict arrived in the country on Tuesday, the U.N. World Food Programme said…” (5/26).

Bloomberg Business: South Sudan Faces Worst Hunger Level in Four Years, WFP Says
“South Sudan is facing the highest levels of food insecurity in the nation’s four-year history, with 4.6 million people, or 40 percent of the population, facing acute hunger in the next three months and needing urgent aid, the World Food Programme said…” (Mohamme/Francis, 5/27).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: South Sudan hunger at its worst since independence in 2011 — experts
“…The number has almost doubled since the start of the year, and those facing hunger in the northeast African nation include 874,000 children under five, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis showed…” (Migiro, 5/28).

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Humanitarian, Medical Situation Becoming Increasingly Dire In Yemen, Aid Agencies Say

New York Times: Medical Need Climbs Alongside Death Toll in Yemen
“Airstrikes by a Saudi-led military coalition were said to have killed at least 80 people in Yemen on Wednesday, and the World Health Organization warned that roughly one-third of the country’s population was in urgent need of medical care…” (Kalfood/Fahim, 5/27).

Reuters: Yemen faces catastrophe without vital supplies: Red Cross
“Yemen faces a humanitarian catastrophe unless the Saudi-led coalition allows it to import and distribute vital food, fuel, and medicines, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday…” (Nebehay, 5/27).

U.N. News Centre: Some 8.6 million people in urgent need of medical help in Yemen, says U.N. agency
“The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) [Wednesday] warned that the ‘unnecessary loss of innocent lives cannot go on’ and spotlighted the increasingly dire medical situation in Yemen, where it says the health and lives of millions of people are at risk, and health facilities, staff, and patients are under attack in widespread violations of international humanitarian law…” (5/27).

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Number Of South Korea MERS Cases Rises To 7

Reuters: South Korea’s tally of MERS cases at seven; one suspected patient heads to China
“South Korea’s tally of patients of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) rose to seven on Thursday, with authorities saying one suspected victim skipped out of voluntary home quarantine to take a trip to China…” (Kim/Seungyun, 5/28).

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Ukraine Activists Warn Of Impending HIV Treatment Shortages

Agence France-Presse: Ukraine faces looming HIV treatment shortage
“A group of Ukrainians infected with HIV warned on Wednesday that thousands could soon perish because the war-torn country was running out of treatment for the virus responsible for AIDS. … Activists link the problem to a law adopted last year allowing drug suppliers to receive full prepayment for medication they would not be required to deliver for up to six months…” (Shylenko, 5/27).

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Peruvian Congress Rejects Proposal To Allow Pregnant Rape Victims Access To Legal Abortion

Reuters: Peru lawmakers reject bill to allow pregnant rape victims an abortion
“Peruvian rape victims who have become pregnant have no legal option but to keep an unwanted pregnancy after Congress voted against a bill to legalize abortion in such cases, an issue that has divided ordinary Peruvians. The vote, late on Tuesday, meant the Latin American nation kept in place a stringent law that permits abortion only if the mother’s life or health is at risk…” (Moloney, 5/27).

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The Guardian Features Analysis Of MDGs 4, 5

The Guardian published several pieces on Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, which focus on maternal and child health.

The Guardian: What are the Millennium Development Goals on child mortality and maternal health all about?
“MDG4 aims to reduce child mortality, while MDG5 is focused on improving maternal health…” (Kweifio-Okai/Galatsidas, 5/28).

The Guardian: Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5: 15 achievements on reducing child mortality and better maternal health
“Fewer children under five are dying from preventable causes than ever before, while maternal mortality has been almost halved since 1990…” (Kweifio-Okai, 5/28).

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Editorials and Opinions

Global Food Security Act Amendments Recognize WASH As Vital To Improving Nutrition, Health

The Hill: Way to go, Poe
Susan Barnett, founder of Faiths for Safe Water

“…When the U.S. invests in reducing hunger and increasing global health and development, it is vital that WASH (water/sanitation/hygiene) always be included in the plan. Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) understands this well. He recently inserted a few, very key words into important legislation currently proposed in Congress that will improve the efforts of developing countries to build resilience to food shortages caused by natural and manmade disasters. In addition to helping these countries create stable and secure food supplies, the bill would also help them improve child nutrition and health…”(5/27).

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Collective Action Among Governments Necessary To Address Transnational Global Health Threats

Vox: We already know how to save the world. Now we need a strategy to make it happen.
Steven Hoffman, assistant professor of law at the University of Ottawa with courtesy appointments at McMaster University and Harvard University

“…Global health has never before received so much money or such prominence on political agendas. The real underlying problem is that our international system of sovereign states and decentralized control makes it very difficult for us to take collective action against transnational threats and common challenges. … In other words, we know a lot about what we can do to improve global health, but we do not know how to organize ourselves across national borders to execute these needed actions. … A healthy future depends on this ability to effectively work together and collectively solve the many overwhelming challenges we will all inevitably face” (5/26).

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African Governments Must Better Fund Domestic Efforts To Improve Maternal, Child Health

The Guardian: Empty promises mean African mothers are dying of preventable diseases
Joachim Osur, head of reproductive and child health at Amref Health Africa

“…Africa has taken great strides in developing a favorable policy environment for reproductive and maternal health. But this positive environment has not translated into better health for African women, because it has not been supported by the funding required for implementation. … The lack of domestic resources devoted to health care is undermining the positive policy environment for maternal and reproductive health…” (5/28).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kaiser Family Foundation Fact Sheet Examines Millennium Challenge Corporation, Global Health Role

Kaiser Family Foundation: The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Global Health
This fact sheet examines the structure of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), “an independent U.S. foreign assistance agency that has the goal of reducing poverty in developing countries through supporting economic growth,” and its role in U.S. global health efforts (5/22).

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CSIS Blog Post Discusses Angela Merkel's Global Health Role At WHA, G7 Summit

Center for Strategic & International Studies’ “Smart Global Health”: Angela Merkel, the G7, and an Uncertain Moment for WHO
J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of the Global Health Policy Center at CSIS, and Seth Gannon, adjunct fellow with the center, discuss German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s keynote address at the World Health Assembly and examine her role in advancing the global health agenda at the G7 summit (5/27).

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USAID, Partners Provide Health Care Kits To Sierra Leoneans To Help Prevent Ebola Transmission

USAID’s “Impact”: In Sierra Leone, Care Kits Deliver Assistance and Hope to Families
Paloma Clohossey, an information officer with USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, writes, “…To ensure that no well-meaning caregiver falls victim to Ebola, USAID is collaborating with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Medair, and Lifeline to deliver life-saving interim care kits to families across Sierra Leone…” (5/27).

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South Africa Faces Challenges Implementing Universal Health Coverage

Center for Strategic & International Studies’ “Smart Global Health”: The Arduous Path to Universal Health Coverage in South Africa
Richard Downie, deputy director and fellow in the CSIS Africa Program, discusses South Africa’s efforts to implement a National Health Insurance (NHI) program and the challenges facing the country as it aims to achieve universal health coverage (5/27).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, published Issue 266 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter features news articles on the first partnership forum and the first meeting of the Global Fund Board’s Africa Bureau, among other issues, as well as commentaries on key population representatives and using Global Fund money to address issues among young people (5/28).

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