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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

At Senate Subcommittee Hearing, Elton John Tells Congress To Continue Funding For Global HIV/AIDS Programs

News outlets report on Senate State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on global health programs held on Wednesday.

Agence France-Presse: U.S. must lead on AIDS funding: Elton John
“Elton John forecast Wednesday the end of AIDS in his lifetime — but only if the United States keeps leading the world in bankrolling its eradication. The British pop music icon and AIDS activist was the star turn at a Senate hearing on future funding for the United States’ core global AIDS initiative…” (MacPherson, 5/7).

Bloomberg Politics: Elton John Wows Congress with Pitch To Protect Global Anti-AIDS Funding
“… ‘Congress’s leadership has been transformational,’ said John, a prominent anti-AIDS activist. … ‘Because of the actions of this Congress, the course of the AIDS epidemic was altered for all of humanity,’ John, one of Queen Elizabeth’s Knights Bachelor, told representatives of the former colonies…” (Kapur, 5/6).

The Guardian: Elton John tells U.S. Congress it has the power to end AIDS
“…He went on to describe a ‘window of opportunity’ to bring about the end of AIDS in his lifetime, and urged the subcommittee to use its power — namely, its financial heft — to make sure that window would not close due to a lack of attention…” (Mokoena, 5/7).

The Hill: Elton John: Congress can end AIDS
“…John was invited to testify at a hearing held by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) — both of whom also held a reception for the singer on Tuesday night…” (Ferris, 5/6).

USA TODAY: Elton John to Congress on AIDS: Do more
“…He also decried the ‘stigma’ against people who have HIV or AIDS, especially in some African countries where laws against being gay hamper efforts to treat people who are sick…” (Puente, 5/6).

Washington Post: Cause Celeb: Elton John on AIDS funding
“…The pop singer/songwriter wasn’t the only recognizable name lined up to speak — he was seated next to megachurch pastor Rick Warren, whose flock is engaged in public health initiatives around the globe…” (Heil, 5/6).

Washington Times: Elton John to Congress: Stigma is greatest threat to stopping AIDS for good
“…Mr. Graham said [U.S. global health funding] is a great use of federal dollars but is under threat by so-called sequester caps on spending…” (Howell, 5/6).

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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Criticizes Proposed E.U. Policies On Genetically Modified Crops, Says Could Threaten Global Food Security, Trade Talks

Financial Times: U.S. accuses E.U. of undermining global food security
“The U.S. has accused the E.U. of undermining efforts to improve global food security by proposing new rules that would allow any of its 28 member states to opt out of decisions by Brussels to open the door to genetically modified crops. In an interview with the Financial Times, Tom Vilsack, the U.S. agriculture secretary, said the move also raised ‘serious issues’ about the future of transatlantic trade talks…” (Donnan, 5/7).

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Kerry Says Humanitarian Situation In Yemen Deteriorating; Saudi Arabia Considers Pause In Bombing Campaign For Supply Deliveries

IRIN: Fuel shortage leads to Yemen hospital shutdowns
“…Doctors are operating in the dark, while vital medical supplies are lacking … On Monday, the Saudi government said it was considering backing humanitarian pauses, but it was also announced that Senegal would send over 2,000 troops to support a much-threatened ground invasion. The result of the bombing campaign and trade blockages has been a growing humanitarian crisis…” (Mojalli, 5/5).

New York Times: Aid Needs in Yemen Are Dire, Kerry Says
“Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that a humanitarian crisis in Yemen was growing ‘more dire by the day’ and that he would discuss plans with officials in Saudi Arabia to halt the Saudi-led bombing campaign in order to allow the delivery of food, medicine, and other aid…” (Fahim, 5/6).

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Critics Of USAID Administrator Nominee Smith Speak Out About Her Tenure Under Clinton, Obama Administrations

Foreign Policy: Critics Riled by USAID Nominee’s Tenure Under Bill Clinton
“Former President Bill Clinton is casting a long shadow over Gayle Smith, who has been tapped by President Barack Obama to head the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Smith, currently the National Security Council’s senior director for development, served in the Clinton White House as an adviser on Africa and USAID. In the days since her nomination was announced last week, critics of her work for Clinton are surfacing…” (Francis, 5/6).

Quartz: Obama’s nomination of Gayle Smith for USAID is rankling Africa watchers
“President Obama’s decision to tap top White House aide Gayle Smith to take over the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has drawn plaudits, but also serious concerns from some long-time Africa watchers about the role of American assistance in abetting repression on the continent…” (Keita, 5/4).

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Gates Foundation Announces $75M To Form Child Health And Mortality Prevention Surveillance Network In Africa, Asia

The Atlantic: Bill Gates’s Quest to Determine Why Children Are Dying
“…In order to better understand the drivers of mortality for all children, on Wednesday, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it’s investing $75 million in a series of surveillance sites that will gather data ‘about how, where, and why children are getting sick and dying,’ according to the release. This Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance Network, or CHAMPS, will be spread initially throughout six locations in Africa and South Asia. It will rely on field workers to take biopsies of children who have perished and on beefed-up laboratories that will perform medical testing…” (Khazan, 5/6).

Financial Times: Gates Foundation vows $75m to probe emerging world child deaths
“…This would help the global health officials match resources with needs in the long-term battle against childhood mortality while also improving monitoring and the ability to respond to emergencies such as the Ebola epidemic. ‘The world needs better, more timely public health data,’ said Mr. Gates, pointing to the absence of laboratories in West Africa as one of the reasons why the international response to Ebola was so slow…” (Ward, 5/7).

New York Times: Gates Foundation Plans Teams to Determine Causes of Child Mortality
“…Although the effort will be modest at first — a $75 million donation to start small teams in six countries — the foundation hopes to expand to as many as 25 Asian and African countries, with dozens of members on each team. The network will include the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Emory University’s Global Health Institute…” (McNeil, 5/6).

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Bill Gates Keeping Disease Outbreak Preparedness On Agenda Through Public Appearances, Opinion Pieces

POLITICO Europe: Gates: Don’t forget Ebola
“Bill Gates keeps talking about Ebola. The West’s short-term memory on the recent epidemic — which has killed more than 10,000 people, mostly in sub-Saharan African but with a smattering in richer countries — worries the billionaire philanthropist. … Gates is making the rounds — in a recent TED talk, a New York Times op-ed, and in the New England Journal of Medicine — to prevent the crisis from falling off the radar…” (Dixon, 5/7).

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38M IDPs Worldwide In 2014, Increase Of 4.7M Over 2013, Report Shows

News outlets highlight the findings of an annual report on internally displaced people (IDPs) worldwide.

The Guardian: Number of internally displaced people highest ‘in a generation’
“The threat of violence from new and ongoing conflicts displaced 11 million people inside their own countries in 2014, bringing the total number of internally displaced people (IDPs) worldwide to 38 million, a report has said…” (Anderson/Galatsidas, 5/6).

U.N. News Centre: World’s forcibly displaced hit record 38 million, prompting U.N. appeal for ‘all-out effort’ for peace
“…The report, compiled by the [Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the] Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), revealed that 38 million people have been internally displaced by conflict or violence, the equivalent of the total populations of London, New York, and Beijing combined, representing a 4.7 million increase compared to 2013…” (5/6).

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Forests Play Complementary Role In Global Food Security, Nutrition, Report Says

News outlets discuss a report highlighting the importance of forests in global food security and nutrition.

BBC News: Forests are ‘key feature’ of food security landscape
“Forests can play a vital role in supplementing global food and nutrition security but this role is currently being overlooked, a report suggests. The study says that tree-based farming provides resilience against extreme weather events, which can wipe out traditional food crops. It warns that policies focusing on traditional agriculture often overlook the role forest farming could play…” (Kinver, 5/6).

U.N. News Centre: New U.N.-backed report emphasizes possible contribution of forests to ending hunger
“…Launched [Wednesday] at U.N. Headquarters in New York, where the 11th session of the U.N. Forum on Forests, the Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition report outlines the potential of forests to improve food security and nutrition, and to ensure the livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people. … [The report says] conventional agriculture would remain the major source of people’s nutrition needs but underlined the complementary role that forests and tree-based systems would also play in feeding the world…” (5/6).

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International Community Forgetting Chad, Niger As Humanitarian Issues Go Unfunded, U.N. Official Says

Agence France-Presse: Chad, Niger forgotten by aid donors: U.N.
“Two of the world’s poorest countries, Chad and Niger, are getting little attention from donors as they struggle to cope with refugees, a food crisis, and grinding poverty, a U.N. official said Tuesday. Only 17 percent of the $527 million appeal for Chad has been pledged while donors have come up with only 25 percent of the $375 million needed for Niger…” (5/5).

U.N. News Centre: Senior U.N. relief official urges international assistance as Niger and Chad shoulder regional crisis
“…Briefing reporters at U.N. Headquarters in New York after his return from the two countries, OCHA Operations Director John Ging noted that between them, Chad and Niger host more than 850,000 refugees and returnees from neighboring countries…” (5/5).

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China Launches Renewed Campaign Against Illegal Prenatal Gender Tests, Sex-Selective Abortion, State Media Reports

Reuters: China launches new campaign against sex-selective abortions
“China has begun a new campaign against illegal prenatal gender tests and sex-selective abortions to help address the country’s gender imbalance, state news agency Xinhua said on Wednesday…” (Blanchard, 5/6).

Wall Street Journal: China Tries to Fix Skewed Sex Ratios
“…The campaign, which runs from April to November, is targeting health centers and family planning clinics, as well as illegal fertility agencies and physicians, Xinhua said. The National Health and Family Planning Commission will also strengthen oversight on medical equipment and drugs used for gender testing and abortions, the agency added. … China prohibits gender tests on fetuses and sex-selective abortions, but the law hasn’t deterred many couples from finding ways to ensure they have sons — who can carry on the family line — instead of daughters…” (Wong, 5/6).

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Editorials and Opinions

Congress Needs To 'Continue Critical Funding For PEPFAR'

Huffington Post: Why I Met With President Obama and Testified Before the U.S. Congress
Elton John, founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation

“[Wednesday], I had the great honor of meeting with President Obama along with my husband and the Chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, David Furnish. And I had the honor of testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee to urge Congress to continue critical funding for PEPFAR, the President’s Plan for Emergency AIDS Relief. PEPFAR continues to be crucial in the fight against HIV/AIDS because it addresses the global need for access to life-saving HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention medications. It’s my hope that Congress holds steady in its commitment to PEPFAR, and ending this disease once and for all. Our work is not done. Below is what I told Congress earlier…” (5/6).

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Joint Cuba-U.S. Physician Training Program Could Help West Africa Solve Health Worker Shortage

Foreign Policy: How Castro’s Doctors Could Stop the Next Ebola Outbreak
Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations

“…A joint U.S.-Cuban physician-training effort would not only solve the human resources crisis in the Ebola-hit nations, but would further open the doors of diplomatic cooperation between Washington, and Havana. Through funding from USAID and perhaps private sources — from the likes of, say, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — the costs of travel, housing, and education for African nurses, as well as subsidies for educating their nursing replacements inside the West African countries, could allow rapid deployment of 200 or more nurses to [the Latin American Medical School (ELAM) in Cuba]. … Combining the money, logistics, and talent of the United States, Cuba, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia to rapidly train a team of new doctors for the West African nations offers the most cost-effective, swift, and appropriate means to solve the health systems crisis faced in the Ebola-hit countries…” (5/6).

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'Sustained International Commitment' To Nutrition During Pregnancy, First 1,000 Days Of Life Can Save Millions

Huffington Post: First Things First: The Case for Investing in Nutrition for Mothers and Children
Rick Leach, president and CEO of World Food Program USA, and Lucy Sullivan, executive director of 1,000 Days

“…We can save millions of lives by simply ensuring women are well-nourished before and during their pregnancies, that mothers can exclusively breastfeed their children for their first six months, and that they have the resources and the knowledge they need to give their young children the right foods at the right time to support healthy development. … We need sustained international commitment from U.S. policymakers, partner governments, civil society, and the private sector; for while there is no silver bullet to end malnutrition, there is one window — the first 1,000 days…” (5/6).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

WHO, IHME Collaborate To Improve Quality, Use Of Global Health Data

WHO: A commitment to improve global health information
The WHO announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation “…defining areas where they will work together to improve the quality and use of global health estimates to measure the world’s health challenges” (5/6).

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Blog Post Explores Private Entrepreneurship In Agriculture, Nutrition Innovation

Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food For Thought”: Healthy Food for a Healthy World: Accelerating Nutrition
This blog post, one in a series based on the findings of the Chicago Council’s “Healthy Food for a Healthy World: Leveraging Agriculture and Food to Improve Global Nutrition” report released in April, explores the role of private sector entrepreneurship in accelerating agriculture programs and nutrition innovations (5/6).

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Blog Post Outlines Takeaways From Post-2015 Development Agenda Discussion

Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs”: Seven takeaways on the post-2015 negotiations
Marissa Chmiola, GHTC’s communications officer, discusses her takeaways from a panel discussion convened by the GHTC on the post-2015 development agenda and the role of health innovation (5/6).

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Nepal Earthquake Aftermath Strains Already Fragile Health System

Humanosphere: Nepal’s progress on health violently set back by massive quake
In a guest post, Melody Schreiber, program manager at the International Reporting Project, reports from Nepal and discusses the impact of the recent earthquake on the country’s health system (5/6).

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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 265 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter features pieces on harm reduction and the Fund’s new platform for reporting human rights abuses in programs supported by the Fund, among others (5/6).

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