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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Women Deliver Conference Wraps Up With Call For Continued Investments In Girls, Women

“Women Deliver 2013 concluded [Thursday] with a call for continued investments in girls and women,” a Global Health Strategies press release/AllAfrica.com reports. “The final day of Women Deliver 2013 focused on the critical need to prioritize girls and women in the lead-up to the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline and beyond,” the press release states, noting, “The appeal for action came one day before the United Nations’ High-Level Panel is expected to announce its recommendations for the post-2015 development framework” (5/30). “Investing in the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls will help accelerate the achievement of the [MDGs] and the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, United Nations senior officials said” at the conference Thursday, the U.N. News Centre writes.

“We need — in governments, legislatures, and public administrations – more people who will lead on these issues,” U.N. Development Program (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark, said in her remarks, the news service adds (5/30). “The [UNFPA] and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) on Thursday said they aim to improve health infrastructure, boost the quality of health care workers, develop efficient distribution systems and ensure affordable supplies in [several] countries,” Thomson Reuters Foundation notes, adding, “The work will target Bolivia, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Kenya, Liberia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, and the Pacific Islands” (Win, 5/30).

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U.N. High-Level Panel Releases Final Report On Post-2015 Development Agenda, Calls For Ending Extreme Poverty By 2030

“The world should set itself the ambitious goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030, a U.N. panel co-chaired by [U.K. Prime Minister] David Cameron and the presidents of Indonesia and Liberia said on Thursday in a report [.pdf] proposing new development goals,” The Guardian reports. “The report said the world had to go beyond the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as they did not focus enough on reaching the very poorest and most excluded people,” the newspaper writes (Tran, 5/30). Titled “A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development,” the report “sets out a universal agenda to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 and deliver on the promise of sustainable development,” according to the U.N. News Centre, which adds, “It also emphasizes that the new development agenda must be universal — applying to countries in the global North and South alike — and be infused with a spirit of partnership” (5/30). The report “form[s] the basis for two years’ negotiation on the agenda to replace the MDGs,” BBC News notes (Plett, 5/30).

The report “proposes 12 measurable goals and 54 targets for the international community to rally around to tackle the most pressing problems facing the world today,” Devex notes, adding, “Goals include ending extreme poverty for good, making sure everyone has access to food and water, promoting good government, and boosting jobs and growth” (Morden, 5/30). Front Page Africa provides a written statement from Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, co-chair of the panel, on the post-2015 agenda (5/30). “Just hours after the 27-member U.N. High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda unveiled its recommendations to replace the MDGs in New York, the thousands of stakeholders involved in the process began to analyze how the framework will affect international cooperation and the delivery of foreign aid until 2030,” Devex notes in a separate article and discusses the reactions of several stakeholders (Morden, 5/31).

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WHO Calls For Ban On Tobacco Advertising On World No Tobacco Day

In recognition of World No Tobacco Day on May 31, the WHO “is calling on countries to ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, saying such [a] marketing blackout could reduce tobacco use and save lives,” VOA News reports. “According to WHO data, tobacco use kills nearly six million people annually; by 2030 that number is expected to rise to more than eight million, with four out of five deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries,” the news agency writes (Schlein, 5/29). Douglas Bettcher, head of the WHO’s non-communicable disease division, said, “Banning tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship is one of the best ways to protect young people from starting smoking as well as reducing tobacco consumption across the entire population,” according to Agence France-Presse. “Bettcher noted that as of 2011, 19 nations had introduced total bans — and seen a seven-percent reduction in tobacco use — while one-third of countries had minimal or no restrictions,” the news agency writes (5/30).

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Regional Human Rights Court Says El Salvador Must Allow Doctors To Perform Abortion On Woman Facing Life-Threatening Pregnancy

“The regional human rights court for the Americas on Thursday told El Salvador it must let doctors perform an abortion on a woman carrying a seriously deformed fetus that has put her life at risk, but the Central American nation was not bound by the move,” Reuters reports (Cota, 5/30). “Doctors say that the woman, known only as Beatriz, is carrying a fetus with a severe birth defect and almost no chance of surviving, and that she faces serious health risks if her pregnancy continues because she has lupus and related complications,” the New York Times writes (Zabludovsky, 5/30). “The Inter-American Court of Human Rights took the action after El Salvador’s Supreme Court issued a ruling on Wednesday rejecting an appeal brought by the 22-year-old woman at the center of the case,” Reuters writes.

“The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in Costa Rica, said El Salvador needs to take urgent action to protect the life of Beatriz. That means performing an abortion, a spokeswoman for the court said,” Reuters adds and notes the court “has asked El Salvador’s government to comply with its nonbinding resolution before June 8” (5/30). El Salvador Minister of Health María Isabel Rodríguez on Thursday “said the woman could be induced to have either an abdominal or vaginal birth ‘because the important thing is saving Beatriz’s life,'” according to the New York Times. “At this point, the interruption of the pregnancy is no longer an abortion. … It is an induced birth,” Rodríguez said, the newspaper notes  (5/30).

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Partnerships Under Recently Launched GHIT Fund Will Search For Neglected Disease Treatments

“Five top Japanese drug companies are to open their ‘libraries’ of experimental compounds to scrutiny by scientists hunting new treatments for malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases affecting the world’s poor,” Reuters reports (Hirschler, 5/30). The public-private Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund) “was set up in April and brings together Japan’s foreign affairs and health and welfare ministries, a consortium of five pharmaceutical companies, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” according to Science Insider. The GHIT Fund is “working with established nonprofits — the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) — to help develop candidate drugs,” the news service notes (Normile, 5/30).

“The move marks an important shift for Japan’s drug companies, which have traditionally been less focused on emerging markets or involved like their western counterparts in partnerships to develop medicines for the poor,” the Financial Times writes (Jack, 5/27). BT Slingsby, executive director of the fund, said the series of agreements being announced at the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development “are just the first of what we expect will be many global health partnerships facilitated and funded by the GHIT Fund that tap into Japan’s enormous capacity for innovation and technology,” according to a GHIT Fund press release (5/30).

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Legislation In Some Asia-Pacific Countries Aimed At Protecting People Living With HIV Not Enforced, UNDP Report Says

“Several countries in Asia-Pacific have successfully enacted laws to protect people living with HIV, but in most cases the legislation lacks teeth, according to a new report [.pdf] by the U.N. Development Program,” Devex reports. “Cambodia, China, Fiji, Laos, Micronesia, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Vietnam have laws that provide legal protections for people living with HIV,” the news service writes, adding, “However, the study notes there are serious gaps between ‘laws on the book’ and ‘laws in the streets’: Although laws are there, people living with HIV cannot access justice.” The news service states, “In many countries, according to the UNDP paper, people living with the virus fear mounting a legal challenge that would result in disclosure of their identity, and even if they do have the courage to go to court, lack of money and access to public justice systems hinder them from claiming their legal rights.” The study’s findings will be discussed at an HIV conference in Thailand on June 2-4, Devex notes (Morales, 5/30).

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Pakistan Health Officials Respond To Measles Outbreak Responsible For At Least 120 Child Deaths

“Health officials in Pakistan have confirmed that at least 120 children have been killed by an outbreak of measles since January,” and “[c]lose to 14,000 cases of measles have occurred since January 15,” IB Times reports (Turner, 5/30). However, BBC News writes, “The epidemic has spread rapidly with thousands of cases nationwide and 239 deaths between January and April 2013, according to Pakistan’s national measles coordinator.” Tanvir Ahmed, director-general of heath services for Punjab province, blamed low vaccination coverage rates, according to the news service. “While doctors here say families need to take more responsibility for ensuring their children are vaccinated, they accept the official vaccination programs have often been badly managed, leading to people missing out,” BBC writes. An emergency measles vaccination campaign has reached 2.6 million children in Lahore, Pakistan, in recent weeks, and another 11 million children are scheduled to be immunized in other parts of Punjab province in June, the news agency notes (Galpin, 5/30).

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Malaria No More To Employ Social Media In Upcoming Fundraising Campaign

The Financial Times profiles how Malaria No More is utilizing social media in its Power of One fundraising campaign to be launched later this year. The campaign will ask donors to contribute $1, the cost of a malaria diagnostic test and a pediatric course of treatment, according to the newspaper. “By tapping into the growing use of the mobile internet and drawing on web applications developed in politics and commerce, the organization hopes to influence a younger and web-savvy generation motivated by social causes,” the newspaper writes. “We’ve got a significant global funding gap to fill of $3.6 billion. Malaria is one of the best humanitarian investments we can make in the world. We want to create a $1 opportunity that is as ubiquitous and as frictionless as possible,” Malaria No More CEO Martin Edlund said, the newspaper notes (Jack, 5/30).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Must Maintain Investments In Foreign Aid, International Development

Writing in an opinion piece in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” Jeremy Kadden, the senior legislative manager at InterAction, discusses 302(b) allocations, which are spending caps for individual appropriations bills. He says the House Appropriations Committee recently approved a cap for the “State, Foreign Operations bill (SFOPs), which covers nearly all foreign aid spending (minus some food aid programs located in the Agriculture bill).” He continues, “Estimates vary, but it would be 15 to 20 percent less than current funding levels.” He writes, “Sure, we must balance our books, but we can’t do it by cutting such a small, critical fraction of our budget. We have to go where the money is, and foreign aid isn’t it.” Kadden concludes, “If the United States is going to continue to be a global leader, we must continue to make the kinds of investments in foreign aid and international development that help people out of poverty and demonstrate our commitment and engagement in world affairs” (5/29).

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Recognizing Japan's Contribution To African Health, Development

“As we gather in Yokohama this week for the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, I’d like to take a moment and reflect on how far we have come,” Mark Dybul, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. “Just 10 years ago, the African continent was plagued by a terrifying spread of HIV and AIDS, at the same time that malaria was still killing millions of children under the age of five, and tuberculosis was threatening as well,” he states, discussing interventions. “Today, we have those scientific tools and that implementation experience, and it gives us an historic opportunity to completely control these three major killers,” he writes, adding, “Japan needs to play a critical role, if we are to succeed in defeating AIDS, TB and malaria. Only with global support, and with Japan’s leadership, can this cause succeed.”

“Japan has consistently contributed to the development of Africa” and “was instrumental in the creation of the Global Fund, with the summit of G8 nations in Okinawa in 2000 that called for the creation of this global financing organization, strong technical support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, tireless participation on the Global Fund Board and consistently strong financial support,” Dybul notes. “The Global Fund’s modern, 21st century approach to partnership — which Japan played a key role in creating — engages partners from every sector, involves partners in the decision-making process, and shares the success of our common cause,” he continues, and states, “We are immensely grateful to the Japanese people allowing us to play a role in saving and dramatically improving the lives of millions of people, their families, communities and countries” (5/30).

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International Community Must Be Alert To New Smoking Trends, Put Forth Robust Efforts Against Tobacco Use

“As a global community, we know how detrimental smoking is to health. Why can’t we stem the growing trend of smoking among youth and in emerging markets?” Jeffrey Sturchio, senior partner at global health strategy firm Rabin Martin, and Derek Yach, senior vice president of the Vitality Group where he leads the Vitality Institute for Health Promotion, ask in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. Though anti-smoking efforts have shown success, “progress toward ending tobacco has stalled,” they write, adding, “Equally alarming is the increasing trend of tobacco use in developing and middle-income countries, where 80 percent of smokers now live.”

“Economists predict a sustained growth in tobacco use in emerging markets in years to come,” Sturchio and Yach continue, adding, “Left unchecked, there will be an estimated eight million tobacco-related deaths per year by 2030 (up from the current six million).” They ask, “What can be done?” and write, “A big part of the solution is embodied in the theme of this year’s World No Tobacco Day — ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.” They state, “By putting forth robust efforts against tobacco use today, countries can drastically reduce long-term health costs that result from lung cancer, heart disease, upper respiratory infections and other tobacco-related illnesses,” concluding, “Today we need to reach out to all tobacco users with a few simple messages. Tobacco kills. Don’t start. If you smoke — quit. Your country can’t afford your habit” (5/30).

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Opinion Pieces, Blog Posts Respond To Final Report Of HLP On Post-2015 Development Agenda

The High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda on Thursday released its final report (.pdf), which “sets out a universal agenda to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 and deliver on the promise of sustainable development,” according to the U.N. News Centre (5/30). The following is a summary of opinion pieces and blog posts discussing the final report and the post-2015 development agenda.

  • Pascal Canfin et al., The Lancet: The authors, who make up the Foreign Policy and Global Health group, comprising the ministers of foreign affairs of Brazil, France, Indonesia, Norway, Senegal, South Africa, and Thailand, describe their vision for the inclusion of health in the post-2015 development agenda. “In exploring various options for health goals in the U.N. development agenda beyond 2015, we believe universal health coverage addresses many health concerns that jeopardize global development,” they write, adding, “We believe further global health advancement should rely not only on health-related development goals, but also on health indicators that could serve to measure our progress towards sustainable development in other sectors. We, therefore, call for a global mobilization in favor of strengthening health in the U.N. development agenda beyond 2015, with universal health coverage as an important element of the future we want” (5/28).
  • Charles Kenny, Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Development: Views from the Center” blog: Kenny, a senior fellow at CGD, lists his “first impressions” of the final report of the High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. He summarizes several of his opinions of the report, then writes, “People who have been following the post-2015 discussion will find that a lot of ’emerging consensus’ about what the next round of goals should look like has just become even more consensus-y.” He says that if “a group 27 people including three heads of state and numerous others with very close ties to or roles in different national governments … can agree [to] 12 ‘indicative’ goals that are reasonably coherent, somewhat selective, and involve a lot of targets that are important, compelling, time bound and measurable, maybe (maybe) the U.N. General Assembly can manage something similar” (5/30).
  • Claire Melamed, The Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog: “The good news: [the report is] clear, intellectually coherent, and moves on the debate about poverty and development without losing what’s good in the existing agenda. It offers a clear storyline and an indicative set of goals to provide an example of how this might all translate into a post-2015 agenda,” Melamed, head of the growth and equity program at the Overseas Development Institute, writes, adding, “What it doesn’t do is spell out the big changes needed to get us there.” She discusses what’s “in” in the report — ending poverty and sustainable development — and what’s “out” — inequality and an “improved” statement on global partnerships (5/30).
  • John Norris, Foreign Policy: “The report that emerged retains or expands key parts of the original MDGs — including efforts to end preventable childhood mortality, curb maternal mortality, and end hunger — but also commits to ending extreme poverty by 2030, with no one on the planet living on less than $1.25 per day,” Norris, executive director of the Sustainable Security program at the Center for American Progress and the senior advisor to former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, one of the HLP members, writes. He discusses major points of the report, including sections on individual autonomy, peace, and climate change. “There are probably more goals (12) and targets (54) than there should be, and there will need to be refinement in some of the new areas added to the agenda to ensure that targets can clearly be measured and tracked at the global level,” he writes, adding, “Nonetheless, the report reflects a renewed spirit of multilateral cooperation as well as a genuine appreciation that shared vision can produce historic change” (5/30).
  • John Podesta, Reuters’ “The Great Debate” blog: “Our post-2015 agenda first strives to build on the accomplishments of the Millennium agenda by finishing what was started: We seek a world in 2030 where no person must survive on less than $1.25 per day, and where no one goes hungry,” Podesta, former White House chief of staff and a member of the HLP, writes. “We know, too, that any progress can be easily offset by environmental degradation and climate change … [s]o the post-2015 agenda must move beyond the framework of the MDGs by fully integrating sustainability into the development agenda,” he adds. “The United Nations members plan to begin debating the post-2015 agenda at the General Assembly in September” and “[t]his dialogue will continue for many months,” Podesta notes, adding, “But if the experience of our high-level panel is any guide, the global conversation will be passionate, respectful and, above all, optimistic about the future we can build for — and with — one another” (5/30).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

PMI Increasing Global Response To Counterfeit Antimalarial Drugs

In an update from the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator Rear Adm. Tim Ziemer said PMI “is greatly concerned by the scourge of counterfeit and substandard drugs, and is increasing its financial and programmatic support to technical and regulatory capacities in partner countries. PMI is also urging greater international cooperation on the issue.” The statement continues, “PMI is committed to ensuring that all persons with malaria are promptly diagnosed and treated with a safe and efficacious antimalarial drug. PMI takes all reports of suspect counterfeits and illegal diversion seriously.” The update notes the publication this week of a Wall Street Journal investigation into counterfeit and substandard malaria drugs, and describes multiple ways PMI “is responding to this threat.” The update continues, “Despite these challenges, the unprecedented scale-up of malaria prevention and treatment interventions over the past 10 years in sub-Saharan Africa is having a major impact on malaria illnesses and deaths” and “PMI continues to see strong progress” (5/30).

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Blog Highlights Efforts To Increase Funding For TB Research

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on recent efforts to lobby Congress to maintain or restore funding for tuberculosis (TB) research. The blog also highlights “‘Exposed,’ a four-part series of short films on the global TB epidemic and efforts to develop the treatments and vaccine needed to stop it,” which was produced by Aeras (5/30).

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