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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trained Midwives Critical To Achieving Maternal, Child Health Goals, U.N. Says On International Day

U.N. News Centre: On International Day, U.N. spotlights role of midwives in achieving development targets
“Every year, some 300,000 women still die during pregnancy and childbirth and almost three million babies do not survive their first four weeks of life, yet a majority of these deaths could be averted by trained midwives, the United Nations said [Thursday] as it marked the International Day of the Midwife with a call for strengthened skills and investments in midwifery…” (5/5).

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At D.C. Event, HHS Secretary Burwell Discusses Lessons Learned During Ebola Epidemic

Fortune: U.S. Secretary of HHS: What The Ebola Crisis Can Teach Us About Zika and Flint
“Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, knows a little something about handling a crisis. Speaking at Fortune’s ‘Most Powerful Women Evening With…’ dinner in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday night, she walked the crowd through the onslaught of emergencies that her office has faced since she was appointed in 2014. … Burwell noted that while you can’t plan for every possibility, there’s always something to be learned. The Ebola crisis, for one, taught her three lessons that have important implications for two of the challenges the HHS is still wrestling with today — the Zika virus and lead-contaminated water in Flint, Mich…” (Bellstrom, 5/5).

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PolitiFact Evaluates U.S. Vice President Biden's Statements On Cervical Cancer Prevention In Africa

PolitiFact: Joe Biden says cervical cancer ‘totally preventable’ in Africa
“…[At the Vatican, Vice President Joe] Biden said cervical cancer in Africa is ‘fully preventable with basic education, screening, and vaccines.’ The experience of the developed countries shows that nearly all deaths from cervical cancer could be eliminated with widespread screening and vaccination programs. Neither currently exist in Africa, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. We rate the claim Mostly True” (Greenberg, 5/5).

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Nations Ponder Financial Incentives To Spur New Antibiotic Research, Development

The Lancet: Countries mull over incentives for developing antibiotics
“The prospect of slipping into a deadly, post-antibiotic era is prompting countries across the world to work out when and what they are willing to pay drug companies to develop desperately needed antibiotics. Governments have commissioned academics, economists, business analysts, and global health experts to scour the world for different financial incentive models…” (Anderson, 5/7).

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Major Tobacco Firms Lobbied For HIV/AIDS Funding, Initiatives In Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa To Distract From Tobacco Regulations, Paper Says

SciDev.Net: Tobacco firms pushed AIDS agenda to protect profits
“…Big tobacco companies lobbied for funding and initiatives to combat AIDS to distract from the health problems caused by smoking and prevent regulations restricting tobacco use, a paper says. ‘In both Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, Philip Morris and British American Tobacco championed the AIDS response in order to delegitimize efforts to develop the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,’ says the paper published in the Journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS on 29 March. The convention was eventually adopted in 2003…” (Rabesandratana, 5/6).

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Angola Faces Yellow Fever Outbreak Amid Global Vaccine Shortage

VOA News: What is Behind the Global Shortage in Yellow Fever Vaccine?
“Angola is battling a yellow fever outbreak amid a global shortage of the vaccine. … Mass immunization is the only way to stop yellow fever, but producing more of the vaccine is not easy. The Institut Pasteur de Dakar is one of four places in the world that make the yellow fever vaccine. … It can take up to six months to produce a batch of usable vaccine. Globally, around 80 million doses of yellow fever vaccine are made each year. The Institut Pasteur can produce up to 10 million doses…” (Lazuta, 5/5).

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Health Organizations Working To Supply Birth Control Options To Refugees In Greece, Turkey

Quartz: At refugee camps, birth control is crucial and in short supply
“…Currently, birth control options are scarce for refugees both in Turkey and Greece. … DKT Turkey, an arm of DKT International, a social marketing organization focused on providing affordable condoms and other forms of birth control, is trying to help…” (Merelli, 5/5).

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STAT Profiles Wellcome Trust Director Jeremy Farrar

STAT: With billions in the bank, a ‘visionary’ doctor tries to change the world
“…At a time when government funding for public health research is shrinking across much of the world, and epidemics wreak havoc with what seems like increasing frequency, [Wellcome Trust Director Jeremy] Farrar stands to make a very big difference not only in the scientific community but, really, in the world. … The Wellcome Trust’s mission — to improve health — is advanced through grants issued from an endowment valued at about $26.5 billion…” (Branswell, 5/6).

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Editorials and Opinions

Access To Midwives Advances Global Health, Gender Equality

TIME: Midwives Are Essential to Global Health
Jerker Liljestrand, senior program officer of maternal, newborn, and child health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…If … countries hope to reduce their maternal and newborn mortality rates …, they should prioritize deploying midwives and scaling up midwifery practices in their national health plans. It is also a smart economic decision. Investing in midwifery education and training programs and working to ensure midwives are reaching the communities most in need has the potential to yield a 16-fold return on investment in terms of lives saved and costs of non-emergency cesarean sections avoided. … Midwives will have a crucial role to play in ensuring that women and babies are supported during the natural birthing process and have access to the high-quality, patient-centered care they deserve. So today, on International Day of the Midwife, let’s recognize the incredible work of midwives and call on countries to invest in their potential” (5/5).

The Guardian: Access to the life-saving services of a midwife is a gender rights issue
Isabella Lövin, Sweden’s minister of international development cooperation

“…To help spread the word about the major part played by midwives in sexual and reproductive health, the Swedish foreign ministry teamed up with the International Confederation of Midwives to launch the Midwives4All initiative. Our aim is to strengthen women’s human rights, improve access to health services and resources for women, and increase female representation. … Access to a midwife is a big and important step in achieving sexual and reproductive health and rights for all. These rights are crucial for gender equality and are not merely a health issue. … Through the ambitious goals of the 2030 agenda, two of which explicitly relate to sexual and reproductive health and rights, world leaders have already agreed to invest in gender equality. … This pays off: if every country matched the most gender-equal country in its region in terms of access to the labor market, the global GDP would increase by 11 percent. Gender equality can truly be the key to ending poverty” (5/5).

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Faith Leaders Have Opportunity To Advance Women's Health, Rights

Inter Press Service: Religious Leaders Can End Harmful Cultural Practices & Advance Women’s Empowerment
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and Siddharth Chatterjee, UNFPA representative to Kenya

“…Passion and compassion for those who suffer are key pillars of most faiths, and this is why leaders of religion are well-placed to accelerate the quest for gender equality and empowerment. Giving girls and women the wherewithal to play their full part in a country’s development is not just a moral imperative, but the only sustainable approach. … A juxtaposition of culture and misplaced religious biases has for eons given men absolute control over women’s bodies. … The consequences do not just affect women, but entire nations. … Religious organizations have not only been moral pillars in the community, but they have also led in providing access to education and health for the marginalized. Now is the time for them to lead the drive towards demolishing harmful, man-made traditions and cultures” (5/5).

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'Collective Action' To Lower Vaccine Prices Can Help Create Equitable, Sustained Immunization Access In Africa

Project Syndicate: Africa’s Vaccination Test
Folake Olayinka, New Voices fellow at the Aspen Institute

“…Without eligibility for the lower [vaccine] prices obtained by Gavi, many … countries may not be able to afford newer vaccines. In order to cope with this challenge, African political leaders have committed to invest in the continent’s capacity to develop and produce its own vaccines. But this is a long-term strategy that will require coordinated regional investment planning, market development, and stronger regulatory capabilities. … While Africa can and should do more to improve vaccination, the global community also has a responsibility to make a concerted effort to bring down vaccine costs. The recently announced reduction in the price of pneumococcal vaccine is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough. Without collective action, equitable and sustained access to immunization in Africa will remain a major problem — and children’s lives will continue to be lost” (5/5).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Through PMI, U.S. Leads Efforts To Address Malaria, Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases

U.S. Global Leadership Coalition: Mosquitos. Are. The. Worst. But we’re beating them.
David Stein, policy associate at USGLC, highlights the successes of the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), writing, “[T]hanks to strong American leadership, the world has made remarkable progress in the battle against mosquito-borne diseases. … The work PMI does to strengthen the overall health systems of countries not only helps to combat malaria, but also Zika and other disease threats.” Stein also discusses some U.S. efforts to respond to Zika virus (5/5).

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CSIS Report Summarizes U.S. Congressional Trip To South Africa To Evaluate PEPFAR Strategy

Center for Strategic & International Studies: Energizing the Fight against HIV in South Africa
Richard Downie, deputy director and fellow in the CSIS Africa Program; Audrey Jackson, senior fellow at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center; and Sahil Angelo, program manager and research associate for the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, report on a February 2016 U.S. congressional staff visit to South Africa. The report summary states, “The visit came at a time of considerable economic and political turbulence in South Africa. These dynamics create a challenging environment for the United States to implement a new strategy for its flagship global health policy, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Despite this, positive progress was observed that provides a platform to reach ambitious targets for significantly reducing HIV prevalence. Continued progress will be contingent upon the completion of major reforms to South Africa’s health system” (5/5).

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Impact Evaluation Vital For Understanding Successes, Failures In Global Health Programs

BMJ Blogs: Amanda Glassman and Rachel Silverman: Evaluating what works in global health
Amanda Glassman, vice president for programs, director of global health policy, and senior fellow; Rachel Silverman, senior policy analyst, both at the Center for Global Development, discuss CGD’s book, Millions Saved: New Cases of Proven Success in Global Health, “which chronicles the global health revolution from the ground up, featuring 22 case studies from low- and middle-income countries around the world,” and the importance of “rigorous impact evaluation” of health programs. They conclude, “Evaluate your programs at scale, learn from your successes and failures, and help the whole world better understand what works in global health” (5/5).

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Donors Should Examine Current Models Of Foreign Aid Delivery, Ensure Effectiveness

Wilson Quarterly: Solving the Calculation Problem of Foreign Aid
Michael Chernin, intern in the Office of the Director, President, and CEO at the Wilson Center, discusses foreign aid delivery and the potential need for reform, writing, “There are national security, economic, and humanitarian arguments to be made for revamping how international aid is delivered and assessed. … Bridging the gap between policy and academia on issues of microeconomic incentives, security, and corruption would illuminate why decentralization is the key to effective aid. Before any progress is made, though, donors have to understand that although the ideals underlying foreign assistance are noble, so is a willingness to recognize when parts of a system are not working and adapt” (5/5).

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Supporting, Empowering Women, Girls Essential To Achieving SDGs

United Nations Foundation’s “Global Connections”: Giving Women a Stronger Voice in Global Health
As part of the blog’s series titled “Her Goals: Our Future,” Kim Cernak, deputy director of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, discusses the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the importance of ensuring women have equal access to health care, writing, “While it may be easy to dismiss women and girls as just one demographic in a complex development puzzle, they should instead be seen as key to unlocking better health for all — and the source of a win for SDG 3. Supporting and empowering them is how we will end epidemics and continue saving lives by 2030 and beyond” (5/5).

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Uniting To Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases Releases Progress Report On London Declaration

Global Network of Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect”: Fourth Progress Report on The London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases Released
The Global Network of NTDs discusses the release of the Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases’ scorecard and report on the London Declaration on NTDs, which “underscores the urgency and the opportunity before us to control and eliminate the most common NTDs.” According to the blog post, the report “finds that many [NTD target] deadlines have been missed. … Progress against NTDs over the last four years has accelerated, but not fast enough. As we approach the fifth anniversary of the London Declaration, the 2012 pledge to end NTDs by 2020, we must assist countries to scale up programs to ensure no one is left behind” (5/4).

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