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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.N. Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution Calling For Protection Of Health Facilities, Workers In War Zones, As Hospital Bombed In Government-Held Aleppo

The Guardian: U.N. demands protection for war zone hospitals after ‘epidemic of attacks’
“The U.N. Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution intended to protect hospitals, medical professionals, and patients from ‘an epidemic of attacks’ on health facilities in war zones…” (Jones, 5/3).

New York Times: U.N. Security Council Condemns Attacks on Health Workers in War Zones
“…The rules of war, enshrined for decades, require hospitals to be treated as sanctuaries from war — and for health workers to be left alone to do their jobs. … On Tuesday, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to remind warring parties everywhere of the rules, demanding protection for those who provide health care, and accountability for violators. The measure urged member states to conduct independent investigations and prosecute those found responsible for violations ‘in accordance with domestic and international law’…” (Sengupta, 5/3).

New York Times: Another Aleppo Hospital Is Hit, This Time on Government-Held Side
“Insurgent shelling hit a maternity hospital in the government-held section of the Syrian city of Aleppo on Tuesday, according to state media and footage from the scene, underscoring what rights groups are calling a growing disregard for the rules of war. It was the sixth assault on a medical facility in the divided city in less than a week…” (Barnard, 5/3).

U.N. News Centre: Security Council demands protection for hospitals and health workers in conflict zones
“…Speaking to the 15-member body, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated that denying people access to essential health care is a serious violation of international humanitarian law. ‘All too often, attacks on health facilities and medical workers are not just isolated or incidental battlefield fallout, but rather the intended objective of the combatants. This is shameful and inexcusable,’ Mr. Ban told Council members…” (5/3).

VOA News: U.N. Calls for Medical Protections in War Zones
“… ‘Today, almost half of all medical facilities in Syria are now closed or only partially functioning. Millions of Syrians lack life-saving health care,’ Ban said on Tuesday during a briefing in New York on health care in armed conflict. He added that a similar pattern of systematic destruction of health facilities is evident in Yemen…” (5/3).

Wall Street Journal: U.N., Condemning Hospital Attacks, Asks for Adherence to International Law
“…[L]eading world powers also faced an unsettling view of their dual role. The Security Council is supposed to enforce world peace, but most of its permanent members — the U.S., U.K., Russia, and France — are engaged in active warfare and have been accused of disregarding the Geneva conventions…” (Fassihi, 5/3).

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News Outlets Continue To Report On Health Affairs Study Showing U.S. Funding For Abstinence Programs Not Associated With HIV Risk Reduction In Africa

Newsweek: Unsurprisingly, Study Shows Promoting Abstinence Doesn’t Prevent HIV Transmission
“…A study published May 2 in Health Affairs provides ample evidence that [abstinence promotion] programs are not effective for changing sexual behavior or reducing rates of HIV transmission and unwanted pregnancies. This study is based on data for 500,000 people in 22 different countries, some with PEPFAR abstinence programs in place between 1998 and 2013, and others without. All of the study participants were younger than age 30…” (Firger, 5/3).

NPR: U.S. Spent $1.4 Billion To Stop HIV By Promoting Abstinence. Did It Work?
“…Many health officials consider PEPFAR a succes. It is credited with giving lifesaving HIV drugs to more than five million people and preventing nearly one million babies from getting HIV from their mothers. But a study, published Monday in Health Affairs, finds the abstinence programs have been a failure…” (Doucleff, 5/3).

Reuters Health: U.S.-funded abstinence programs not working in Africa
“…In a statement emailed to Reuters Health, a PEPFAR spokesperson said the initiative’s approach and investments have continuously evolved based on scientific evidence. ‘Current prevention science demonstrates that a combination package of evidence-based behavioral, biomedical, and structural prevention interventions, tailored to the populations and geographic areas with the greatest burden, is most effective in addressing the epidemic,’ said the spokesperson…” (Seaman, 5/3).

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All 155 Countries Make Successful Polio Vaccine Switch, WHO Official Says

STAT: One step closer to a polio-free world
“A two-week campaign to phase out a polio vaccine that is now considered harmful to the effort to eradicate the disease appears to have been completed, polio program leaders at the World Health Organization said Monday. There had been worries that a few countries — China and Russia among them — might not be able to get the job done by May 1. But all 155 nations involved in the unprecedented operation known as ‘the switch’ have complied, director Michel Zaffran told STAT in an interview from Geneva…” (Branswell, 5/2).

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Hunger, Malnutrition-Related Deaths To Increase In Eastern Ethiopia Through September, FEWSNET Report Says

Bloomberg: Ethiopia Faces Severe Hunger in East Until October, FEWSNET Says
“Some eastern areas of Ethiopia will suffer severe hunger and increased deaths through at least September after a drought last year resulted in two harvests being missed, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network said…” (Davison, 5/3).

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U.N. Voices Support For Sri Lankan Top Court's Ruling Prohibiting HIV Discrimination In Education

Thomson Reuters Foundation: U.N. hails landmark ruling by Sri Lanka’s top court to outlaw HIV discrimination
“The United Nations has welcomed a landmark ruling by Sri Lanka’s highest court prohibiting the discrimination of people living with HIV in education, saying the judgment would set a precedent and help victims seek justice for other forms of prejudice. … The court also reminded the government of its obligation to take steps to protect, promote, and respect the human rights of people living with HIV…” (Bhalla, 5/3).

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CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Director Speaks With NPR

NPR: What’s On This Year’s Agenda The “Disease Detectives?”
“The Epidemic Intelligence Service, the ‘disease detectives’ of the Centers for Disease Control holds their annual meeting this week. Rachel Martin asks EIS director Josh Mott how they do their work…” (5/1).

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USDA To Provide $6M For Research Into Antimicrobial Resistance

CIDRAP News: USDA offers $6 million for antimicrobial resistance research
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) [Monday] announced the availability of $6 million for research on antimicrobial resistance in agriculture, including how resistance develops and spreads and how to combat it…” (Roos, 5/3).

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Editorials and Opinions

In Syria, U.S. Should Encourage Allies To Respect International Humanitarian Law, Protect Hospitals, Health Personnel

New York Times: In Aleppo, We Are Running Out of Coffins
Osama Abo El Ezz, general surgeon and Aleppo coordinator for the Syrian American Medical Society

“…The United States should pressure the Syrian government and Russia to immediately halt airstrikes on civilian areas and hospitals and remove their aircraft from the area, which strike fear in the hearts of Aleppo’s children every day. Routes into the city must remain open so that food and fuel for ambulances and hospitals can reach us. We cannot endure a siege. The United States and Russia say they are committed to the cessation of hostilities … But we need more than hollow statements. We need them to push their allies to respect international humanitarian and human rights law. Hospitals cannot be targets. Everyone should be outraged by these systematic war crimes and do whatever they can to make them stop. The destruction of Aleppo is happening under the world’s watch. We pray for it to stop. For Aleppo, for our patients, and for ourselves” (5/4).

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Investing In, Improving Local Data Critical To Achieving SDGs

The Guardian: Tracking the global goals: four steps to make data matter
Dustin Homer, director of engagement and partnerships, and Paige Kirby, engagement and partnerships associate, both at Development Gateway

“…While international efforts are important, the quality, usefulness, and availability of local data will have the biggest impact on the world’s most vulnerable; local people make decisions about the budgets and services that will affect those we do not wish to leave behind. But local data needs are often overlooked. … As we look ahead to 2030 and the data investments needed to get us there, we must think locally about data quality, resources, and the use of data in meeting the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)]. Investments in data should focus on more than increasing supply. We should build skills, reward those who use data well, create more operational links between results and resources, and focus on creating local-friendly environments for data use in development. The supply of data is only one half of being ‘data-driven.’ Over the next 15 years, we must prioritize demand” (5/4).

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As India Continues To Face Drought, Water Must Be At Center Of Country's Development Agenda

New York Times: India’s Water Crisis
Editorial Board

“Some 330 million people — about one quarter of India’s population — are reeling from a drought that has turned vast areas of the subcontinent into a dust bowl, withering crops, and forcing farmers from their lands. … [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi’s most urgent task is to help those suffering from the drought. He must also place water at the center of his development agenda. A growing population means that India’s water needs will only increase, even as climate change will most likely make water scarcer” (5/3).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CDC, WHO Release Reports On Zika

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: As Senate breaks without writing a ‘blank check’ for Zika responses, CDC and WHO itemize some of the shopping list
Antigone Barton, senior writer and editor of “Science Speaks,” discusses the CDC’s MMWR update on Zika in Puerto Rico, as well as a WHO situation report “on the global impact of Zika [that] lists the current eight countries, territories, and areas where children have been born with stunted heads and brains or other central nervous system birth defects associated with Zika infection” (5/3).

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Blog Post Explores Factors Influencing Family Reproductive Decisions In Sub-Saharan Africa

World Bank’s “Investing in Health”: The complex factors involved in family fertility decisions
Anne Bakilana, senior economist for health, and Rifat Hasan, health specialist, both at the World Bank, discuss various factors that influence family reproductive decisions in sub-Saharan Africa, including personal desire and social norms, child mortality rates, knowledge about available family planning options, and access to those services. The authors also discuss several successful strategies to address women’s reproductive needs (5/2).

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