KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Declares Polio A World Health Emergency

News outlets report on the WHO’s announcement on Monday that the spread of polio is now a world health emergency.

Associated Press: U.N.: Spread of polio now a world health emergency
“The World Health Organization says the spread of polio is an international public health emergency that threatens to infect other countries with the crippling disease. In an announcement Monday, the agency described the ongoing polio outbreaks in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East as an ‘extraordinary’ situation requiring a coordinated international response…” (5/5).

BBC News: World facing polio health emergency
“…It says Pakistan, Cameroon, and Syria ‘pose the greatest risk of further wild poliovirus exportations in 2014’…” (5/5).

Bloomberg Businessweek: Polio Declared Emergency as Conflicts Fuel Virus Spread
“The spread of polio to countries previously considered free of the crippling disease is a global health emergency, the World Health Organization said, as the virus once driven to the brink of extinction mounts a comeback…” (Bennett, 5/5).

New York Times: Polio Spreading at Alarming Rates, World Health Organization Declares
“Alarmed by the spread of polio from conflict zones in three continents, the World Health Organization on Monday declared the spread of the disease an international health emergency…” (Gladstone, 5/5).

TIME: WHO Declares Health Emergency on Polio
“The World Health Organization declared polio an international health emergency on Monday as the rise in cases threatens eradication efforts and singled out the conflict zones of Syria, Cameroon, and Pakistan as worrisome sources of its spread…” (Park, 5/5).

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CDC Confirms First Case Of MERS In U.S.; Death Toll In Saudi Arabia Rises To 111

News outlets discuss the latest developments in the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak, including the first reported case of the coronavirus in the U.S.

Associated Press: CDC confirms first case of MERS virus in American
“Health officials confirmed the first case of an American infected with a mysterious virus that has sickened hundreds in the Middle East…” (Stobbe, 5/3).

Associated Press: Indiana health officials: MERS patient improving
“…The man fell ill with Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, after flying to the U.S. late last week from Saudi Arabia, where he was a health care worker…” (Coyne, 5/3).

CNN: MERS makes first U.S. appearance, in Indiana
“…The CDC and the Indiana State Department of Health are conducting a joint investigation into the case, according to a CDC statement. The CDC confirmed Indiana test results on Friday…” (Landau, 5/3).

The Hill: Deadly MERS virus comes to America
“…According to the World Health Organization, the exact means by which humans are infected is unknown, though camels are suspected as a primary source of the virus. Person-to-person infection is possible as well…” (Neff, 5/2).

New York Times: First U.S. Case of MERS Virus Is Found in Indiana Man Who Visited Mideast
“…A single American case of the virus … is ‘a very low risk,’ Dr. [Anne Schuchat, director of respiratory diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,] said. The CDC is not recommending that anyone change travel plans to the Middle East…” (McNeil, 5/2).

Reuters: Exclusive: Specter of SARS weighs on CDC as MERS virus lands in U.S.
“…In addition to disease prevention experts, the CDC has sent a team of virologists to the hospital to study the MERS virus, which is still poorly understood. Although the virus first surfaced in 2012, its presence in the United States will give U.S. scientists the opportunity to study it up close…” (Steenhuysen, 5/4).

Agence France-Presse: MERS virus death toll in Saudi reaches 111
“Saudi health authorities announced Saturday two new deaths from the MERS coronavirus, raising to 111 the number of fatalities since the disease appeared in the kingdom in September 2012…” (5/3).

Reuters: Egypt investigates suspected MERS coronavirus death
“Egyptian authorities are investigating whether a 60-year-old woman who has died in the city of Port Said had the SARS-like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). If confirmed, it would be Egypt’s first death from the virus…” (5/5).

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Maternal, Child Mortality Improves Globally But Not In U.S., U.K.

News outlets report on two new studies by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and published in The Lancet that report a decline in overall maternal and child mortality globally, but show that the U.S. and U.K. have surprisingly negative trends.

Consumer Affairs: More women dying in childbirth in the U.S. than almost anywhere else
“…A new study released by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and published in the latest issue of The Lancet finds that there are only eight countries in the world where maternal mortality rates have risen since 2003, including Afghanistan, countries in Africa and Central America — and the United States…” (Abel, 5/2).

The Guardian: U.K. child death rate: a scandal with a clear link to poverty
“…In their paper, published in The Lancet, they show that children under five in the U.K. are more likely to die than in any other western European country except Malta. Nearly five babies of every 1,000 born in the U.K. will not live to their fifth birthday…” (Boseley, 5/2).

Humanosphere: Most nations, except U.S., making progress against maternal & child deaths
“Two studies published [Friday] in The Lancet, both of them led by researchers at the University of Washington, report a sharp decline in maternal mortality and child deaths worldwide since 1990. The United States … joins Afghanistan and El Salvador as one of eight nations where these positive trends don’t apply…” (Paulson, 5/2).

USA Today: U.S. one of few countries with rise in maternal deaths
“…While U.S. maternal mortality rates remain lower than those in many poor countries, they are much higher than those in developed countries ranging from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia, says the report…” (Painter, 5/2).

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NPR Examines Efforts To Prevent Newborn Deaths

NPR: Saving The World’s Babies Simply Starts Before Birth
“Every day, all over the world, newborns die when they don’t have to. … Many of these deaths are not inevitable, doctors say, but innovations aimed at preventing them are just beginning to be deployed…” (Farrington, 5/4).

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More Research Needed On Early HIV Treatment Newborns, Canadian Researchers Say

Canadian Press/Global Post: Too soon to call early HIV treatment in babies a ‘cure’: Canadian researchers
“Four HIV-infected children treated right after birth show no detectable virus but its resurgence in a fifth who stopped medication means it’s too soon to talk of a ‘cure,’ say Canadian researchers…” (5/4).

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Deaths Rise As Aid Cuts Affect Health Care Access For Myanmar's Rohingya

New York Times: Death Stalks Muslims as Myanmar Cuts Off Aid
“…The crisis began with the government’s expulsion of Doctors Without Borders, one of the world’s premier humanitarian aid groups and the lifeline to health care for more than a million Rohingya increasingly denied those services by their own government. But the situation has grown more dire in recent weeks, as local Buddhist officials began severely restricting other humanitarian aid to the camps and the rest of Rakhine State, where tuberculosis, waterborne illnesses and malnutrition are endemic…” (Perlez, 5/2).

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European Commission Launches Global Aid Data Website

SciDev.Net: European website offers easy access to global aid data
“The European Commission has unveiled a website designed to offer easy and transparent access to global data on development and humanitarian aid. The developers of the E.U. Aid Explorer say their site will, for the first time, bring together data from several major aid databases…” (5/5).

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West African Leaders Meet At Regional Summit, Discuss Ebola Outbreak

Agence France-Presse: In west Africa, Mano River summit focuses on Ebola fight
“The countries of west Africa’s Mano River Union — Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone — kicked off a summit meeting on Sunday with the region’s Ebola outbreak high on the agenda. Presidents Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone were in Conakry for the closed-door talks with their Guinean counterpart Alpha Conde, joined by Ivory Coast Foreign Minister Charles Diby Koffi…” (5/4).

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Forbes Examines Innovative Financing, UNITAID

Forbes: Meet The Man With A Simple, Workable Solution To World Poverty: Innovative Financing
The magazine interviews Philippe Douste-Blazy about innovative financing and UNITAID. “…[R]eferred to by former U.S. President Bill Clinton as ‘France’s gift to the world,’ [UNITAID] is one of the first major initiatives to be largely funded by innovative financing, a concept based around raising money by levying minuscule sums on the activities that have benefited most from globalization…” (Lacey, 5/2).

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Editorials and Opinions

Africans, Leaders Can Create 'Better Future' For African Continent

Washington Post: Africa is on the rise, and we need to help make sure it continues
John Kerry, U.S. secretary of state

“The best untold story of the last decade may be the story of Africa. … HIV infections are down nearly 40 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and malaria deaths among children have declined 50 percent. Child mortality rates are falling, and life expectancy is increasing. This is a moment of great opportunity for Africans. It is also a moment of decision. … Africa can be a beacon for the world: Dramatic transformations are possible, prosperity can replace poverty, cooperation can triumph over conflict. This is tough work, and it requires sober commitment, regional cooperation and a clear vision of a better future. The goal of a prosperous, healthy and stable continent is within reach if Africans and their leaders make the right decisions” (5/2).

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U.S. Should Invest More In African AIDS Efforts

The Nation: The Campaign Against AIDS in Africa Is Saving Lives — So Why Isn’t the U.S. Investing More In It?
James North, reporter for The Nation on Africa, Asia, and Latin America

“…The campaign against AIDS in Africa has already set two world records. It is the most effective foreign aid program since the Marshall Plan helped rebuild Europe after World War II. It is also the largest single medical intervention ever. … Yet this victorious program, which spans an entire continent, is hardly getting any publicity at all. What’s worse, instead of building on this success, the Obama administration is flat-lining its budget request for next year … although even more Africans will need the life-saving drugs. … The Obama administration’s hesitance to ask for more money is a moral failure…” (5/2).

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U.S. Congress Should Increase Funding For International TB Programs, Drug Research

Cleveland.com: Funding for tuberculosis programs on chopping block
Joanne Carter, executive director of RESULTS Educational Fund

“A new drug regimen for tuberculosis — a global epidemic that kills about 1.3 million people each year — has the potential to cut treatment times and costs dramatically. … With U.S. government funding for TB on the chopping block, it’s up to Congress to ensure our continued support for this potential life-saving innovation. … The recent announcement of a promising new treatment regimen underscores the importance of protecting and actually expanding [international TB program] funding. … What Congress decides will determine if the United States stays at the forefront of the fight against TB — or if we risk letting this and other life-saving opportunities slip through our fingers” (5/1).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Health Security Meeting Begins In Helsinki

“When senior leaders from more than 30 countries and four international organizations converge on Helsinki on May 5th for two days of intensive discussion, the over-arching topic will be … aimed at improving our ability worldwide to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease outbreaks at a time when diseases of all types can travel greater distances in less time than ever before and potentially threaten a larger number of people no matter where they live,” Eric Kasowski, chief of the CDC Global Health Security Branch, writes in the CDC’s “Our Global Voices” blog. He discusses the Global Health Security initiative launched in February, concluding, “It will take a concentrated global public health effort to protect people from infectious disease threats. Every country has a role to play in preventing, detecting, and responding to these threats” (5/4).

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UNAIDS Executive Director Speaks At amfAR Capitol Hill Briefing

“Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, [last week] delivered a keynote speech at The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) Capitol Hill Conference ‘Making AIDS History: From Science to Solutions.’ The conference gathered leading government, research, policy, and advocacy experts in Washington, D.C. to build on the enormous progress seen in the response to HIV and chart a roadmap for ending the AIDS epidemic…,” according to a UNAIDS feature story (5/2).

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International Day Of The Midwife, Hand Hygiene Day Recognized On May 5

May 5 marks the International Day of the Midwife. “In 2014 the new subtheme ‘Midwives changing the world one family at a time’ sends a strong signal that midwives provide care that changes families, communities and the world by saving the lives of mothers and babies,” according to a statement from the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) (5/5). In a joint statement, UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin and ICM President Frances Day-Stirk note, “The world needs midwives now more than ever. Investments in midwives can help avert a significant number of the nearly 290,000 maternal deaths and three million newborn deaths that occur every year due to the lack of well-educated and regulated health workers and adequate facilities…” (5/5). In a statement, the WHO “recognizes the pivotal role that midwives play in the provision of quality maternal and newborn health services. However, to ensure high levels of coverage and quality care, an estimated 350,000 more midwives are still needed globally…” (5/5). In a separate statement, the WHO marks Hand Hygiene Day, also recognized on May 5 (5/2).

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CGD Analysts Examine New Data On Purchasing Power Parity

Sarah Dykstra, Charles Kenny, and Justin Sandefur of the Center for Global Development (CGD) examine the International Comparison Project’s recently released purchasing power parity numbers for the world’s economies in the CGD’s “Views from the Center” blog. “[T]he new numbers still suggest the size and distribution of world income looks considerably different than we previously thought.  The World Bank will produce new official estimates in the coming days, but our preliminary estimates suggest the share of people in the developing world living below the absolute poverty line of $1.25 per day in 2010 ‘fell’ by nearly half, from about 19.7 percent to 11.2 percent, thanks to the revisions…” (5/2). Tom Paulson of Humanosphere also discusses CGD’s assessment of the numbers (5/2).

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AIDS Funding 'Should Increasingly' Flow Through Multilateral Channels

Writing in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy Blog,” CGD Senior Fellow Mead Over examines the benefits and challenges of channeling development and health aid through bilateral and multilateral channels, and how foreign policy can influence the continuation or cessation of such funding. He concludes, “Aid that funds entitlements like AIDS treatment should increasingly be channeled through multilateral donors like the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria and the World Bank on the understanding that multilaterals will only rarely, and with the explicit consent of their boards of directors, curtail entitlement funding to any country for any reason” (5/2).

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Blog Discusses Various Topics On HIV/AIDS

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog discusses articles on various topics regarding HIV/AIDS, including synopses on a UNAIDS letter addressing Russia’s drug policies; health promotion by sex workers in Bangladesh; Zambia’s HIV efforts; and Uganda’s anti-gay law (Barton, 5/2).

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