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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Global Obesity Among Children, Teens Up 10-Fold Since 1975; Over-, Underweight Rates Vary Widely Among Regions, Study Shows

Associated Press: Children’s obesity rates in rich countries may have peaked
“While the obesity rate among children in rich countries may have peaked, kids in developing countries are increasingly putting on unhealthy pounds, according to research released Tuesday. Globally, more children are still underweight rather than obese although the researchers think that will change by 2022 if trends continue…” (Cheng, 10/11).

CNN: Ten times more children and teens obese today than 40 years ago
“The number of obese children and adolescents rose to 124 million in 2016 — more than 10 times higher than the 11 million classified as obese 40 years ago, in 1975. A further 213 million children and adolescents were overweight in 2016, finds a new study published Tuesday in the Lancet…” (Senthilingam, 10/10).

Deutsche Welle: Obesity in kids and teenagers rises tenfold in last 40 years — WHO study
“According to the most comprehensive study on childhood and adolescent obesity to date, published on World Obesity Day by the WHO and Imperial College in London, obesity rates in children and teenagers rose from one percent in 1975 to nearly six percent in girls and eight percent in boys worldwide…” (Goebel, 10/11).

Financial Times: Global childhood obesity rises 10-fold in 40 years
“…The study, led by Imperial College London and the World Health Organization, used data on 31.5m children and adolescents worldwide to estimate trends in body mass index (BMI) from 1975 to 2016. The results are published in the Lancet. Over this period the number of obese girls, aged 5 to 19, rose from 5m to 50m, while the total for boys increased from 6m to 74m…” (Cookson, 10/10).

The Guardian: Shocking figures show there are now 124 million obese children worldwide
“…Alongside the report, and also Monday’s story in the Guardian revealing that the global cost of obesity will be $1.2tn by 2025, the World Health Organization is calling for every country to act, taking on Big Food to avoid the mounting human and economic costs of obesity-related ill-health in years to come…” (Boseley, 10/10).

Reuters: Child and teen obesity soars tenfold worldwide in 40 years: WHO report
“…The researchers called for better nutrition at home and at school, and more physical exercise to prevent a generation from becoming adults at greater risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancers due to excessive weight. Clear food labels on salt, sugar, and fat content are needed to help consumers make ‘healthy choices,’ the study said. Taxation and tough restrictions on marketing of junk food should be considered, it said…” (Nebehay, 10/10).

TIME: Childhood Obesity Has Risen 10 Times Worldwide
“…The study also documented rates of under-nutrition and under-weight around the world, and found that prevalence of under-weight decreased from 9.2 percent in 1975 to 8.4 percent in 2016 among girls, and from 14.8 percent to 12.4 percent among boys. Still, the number of children affected by under-weight outnumbers those who are obese…” (Park, 10/10).

Washington Post: New maps show big divide between the world’s overweight and underweight children
“…[Harry Rutter, a researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,] and the WHO’s Fiona Bull, another co-author, said on a call with reporters that the solution lies in not only targeting individual behavior — including the quantity and quality of meals and physical exercise — but in looking more broadly at agricultural policies as well as the marketing, packaging, pricing, and availability of food…” (Cha, 10/10).

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Financial Times Features Series Of Articles On Investing In Girls, Gender Equality

Financial Times: Girls: The Path to Gender Equality
“Investing in girls and narrowing the gender gap brings a ‘triple benefit’ to society,” the series summary says. Highlights from the series include the following articles, among others:

Financial Times: Why invest in teenage girls?
“The economic argument is compelling: adolescence is the moment to secure a triple benefit for society…” (Gordon, 10/10).

Financial Times: Tanzania’s enemies of the state: pregnant young women
“The country’s president has condemned teenage girls who become pregnant as ‘immoral,’ banning them from ever returning to school…” (Aglionby, 10/10).

Financial Times: Nepali women on their period sent out in the cold
“‘Chhaupadi,’ the practice of banishing menstruating girls, is divisive and potentially dangerous…” (Parajuli, 10/10).

Financial Times: Dutch minister Lilianne Ploumen: Why I stood up for adolescent girls
“America’s regressive policies on abortion are a calamity for girls’ and women’s rights that the rest of the world must counter…” (Ploumen, 10/10).

Financial Times: Nigerian women face their fears and start using contraception
“As the country’s population soars, health care workers are fighting resistance from religious groups…” (Findlay, 10/10).

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Advocates Seek 3rd U.N. High-Level Meeting On NCDs To Create New Financing Mechanisms; WHO Announces NCD Commission To Identify Prevention, Treatment Strategies

Devex: Advocates seek noncommunicable disease funding mechanisms
“Advocates are pushing for the third U.N. high-level meeting on noncommunicable diseases next September to create new financing mechanisms, experts have told Devex. At a media briefing in Mexico City last week, experts from the NCD Alliance expressed concern with the lack of progress on tackling NCDs, which kill 40 million people every year, three-quarters of which occur in low- and middle-income countries. At the first U.N. high-level meeting, countries set nine global NCD targets, including reducing premature mortality from NCDs by 2025…” (Cousins, 10/11).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency establishes high-level commission to tackle noncommunicable diseases
“The United Nations health agency [Tuesday] announced the establishment of a high-level global commission on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) to identify innovative ways to curb the world’s biggest causes of death and extend life expectancy for millions of people…” (10/10).

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Puerto Rico's Health Care Workers, System Struggles To Treat Patients Amid Power Outages, Communications Challenges Following Hurricane Maria

New York Times: Puerto Rico’s Health Care Is in Dire Condition, Three Weeks After Maria
“…Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, many sick people across the island remain in mortal peril. The government’s announcements each morning about the recovery effort are often upbeat, but beyond them are hidden emergencies. … Hospitals are running low on medicine and high on patients, as they take in the infirm from medical centers where generators failed. … [M]edical workers and patients say that an intense medical crisis persists and that communications and electrical difficulties have obscured the true number of fatalities directly related to the hurricane. The official count rose on Tuesday to 43…” (Robles et al., 10/10).

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Negotiations In Yemen's War Must Continue To Adequately Address Food Insecurity, Cholera Outbreak, U.N. Envoy Says

NPR: Despite Stalemate In Yemen, People Face Famine And Cholera Outbreak
“A civil war in Yemen appears to be at a stalemate, but the U.N. is warning it has created a disastrous humanitarian situation which is only getting worse. Yemen was already one of the poorest countries among its neighbors. Now a third of its population faces famine while a massive cholera outbreak continues. This has become a grim routine for the U.N. special envoy on Yemen. Ould Cheikh Ahmed was back at the U.N. Security Council today, saying he’s still trying to get the warring sides to sit down and talk…” (Kelemen, 10/10).

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World Mental Health Day Spotlights Mental Wellbeing At Work, Creating Healthy Workplaces

U.N. News Centre: Creating a healthy workplace improves mental wellbeing and productivity — U.N.
“People spend a large proportion of time at work, where experiences there factor into their overall wellbeing, the United Nations said on World Mental Health Day, noting that depression and anxiety disorders are common mental disorders that have an impact on our ability to work, and to work productively…” (10/10).

U.S. News & World Report: World Mental Health Day Focuses on Feeling Good at Work
“…[The WHO] estimates that more than 300 million people suffer from depression worldwide. Another 260 million are living with anxiety disorders, and many live with both. Such disorders make a very real impact on the economy. In fact, a WHO-led study estimated that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy about $1 million each year in lost productivity…” (Trimble, 10/10).

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Multiple Donors Step Forward To Help Fill Gap Left By Mexico City Policy Reinstatement

Inside Philanthropy: Plugging the Gap: What Are Funders Doing to Respond to the Global Gag Rule?
“…In March 2017, nearly 60 nations along with private funders and philanthropists from around the world attended what is being widely described as a ‘hastily convened’ one-day She Decides family planning conference in Brussels, Belgium. She Decides is a global family planning initiative launched by Dutch minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, in response to the [global gag rule (GGR)] reinstatement. The goal of the campaign is to fill the nearly $600 million funding gap that will likely be caused by the GGR…” (Moses, 10/10).

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New Zealand, South Korea Become First Countries In Western Pacific Region To Eliminate Measles, Rubella, WHO Announces

Devex: WHO announces new milestones in battle against measles and rubella
“Health programs targeting measles and rubella in the Western Pacific have demonstrated major milestones, with New Zealand and the Republic of Korea becoming the first countries in the region certified to have eliminated both measles and rubella. The announcement was made at the 68th session of the World Health Organization Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, held in Brisbane from October 9 to 13…” (Cornish, 10/11).

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Editorials and Opinions

In Latin America, Abortion Rights, Women's Rights, Democracy Are Linked

The Conversation: In Latin America, is there a link between abortion rights and democracy?
Larissa Arroyo Navarrete, professor of human rights at the University of Costa Rica

“…Central America [is] home to three of the eight countries in the world with total abortion bans. … Why does this region so studiously avoid recognizing women as full individuals entitled to their own human rights? In my view, there’s a clear link in Latin America between the state of a country’s democracy and the reproductive rights of its female citizens. … [A]cross Central America the connection between the lack of rule of law and women’s restricted reproductive rights is noteworthy. That’s because denying women the ability to make decisions about their own bodies means that a woman’s life matters only to the extent that she is the custodian of a potential future life, rather than as a life worthy of protection. … What’s at risk in the Latin American regimes where abortion is still forbidden, then, are not only women’s lives but also the political systems of Central American society itself. Can democracy exist in places that don’t recognize women as people?” (10/10).

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Global Community, Governments Should Fully Implement Roadmap To End Cholera

Project Syndicate: A Roadmap to End Cholera
Dominique Legros, Cholera Team lead at the WHO

“…[T]he saddest fact about cholera’s recent toll on human lives is that every single death was preventable. The world already has the knowledge and tools to control cholera effectively, but existing resources are not being aligned with the necessary global commitments. That is why the new global strategy developed by the Global Task Force on Cholera Control … is so vital. Ending Cholera — A Global Roadmap to 2030 emphasizes a shift to proactive approaches, and aims to reduce cholera deaths by 90 percent over the next decade. With full implementation, the plan could also help as many as 20 countries eliminate disease transmission in the same timeframe. … [E]mbracing the strategy is also the right thing to do for the international community. Governments have a moral obligation to ensure that no one succumbs to a preventable death. … We have the tools needed to beat cholera. Now, with a plan in place, there can no longer be any excuse not to put them to use” (10/10).

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Lawmakers, Private Sector Should Work Together To Stem Chronic Disease Risks From Fast Food

New York Times: Letter to the Editor: Fast Food in Ghana
Susan Levin, director of nutrition education at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

“…[C]ountries need regulations to intervene against Big Food. … It’s natural for companies like KFC to think of profits as they sell packaged foods and fried chicken, but we know how this story unfolds. … Moderation rarely works in the face of fried chicken, milkshakes, french fries, and soda, especially if these products are viewed as luxury commodities and infiltrated into mainstream food culture. I tell patients to avoid them. We need thoughtful lawmakers in countries like Ghana to do the same” (10/10).

Fortune: KFC Needs to Take Responsibility for Africa’s Obesity Crisis
Sania Nishtar, former co-chair of the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity

“…Year after year, new data reconfirms the growing scale of the obesity crisis in every country of the world, and yet political action has been muted. It is easy to blame the private sector for this, but should the public health community be exonerated? … Fixing the obesity epidemic means harnessing the strength of all stakeholders to address the problem. … This means the government must work with the private sector to encourage more locally sourced, healthy, and nutritious products. … [A] new independent agency should be established to help make markets in low- and middle-income countries more encouraging for healthy foods and medical treatments. … Ghana is a bellwether for the health problems all low- and middle-income countries have to tackle. Oct. 11 marks World Obesity Day, an opportune time to reflect on the stark choice the world must make: reform quickly or prepare for a public health crisis that decimates already fragile health systems” (10/11).

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On International Day Of The Girl Child, PEPFAR Reaffirms Commitment To Preventing HIV Among Girls

HuffPost: International Day of the Girl Child: Helping Girls Pursue Their Dreams
Deborah Birx, U.S. global AIDS coordinator and U.S. special representative for Global Health Diplomacy

“On the International Day of the Girl Child — and every day — the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) celebrates the extraordinary power and potential of girls around the world, and we reaffirm our commitment to helping them pursue their dreams. Empowering, supporting, and protecting girls is critical to controlling and ultimately ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Unless we deliver for girls, we will not succeed. This means understanding the unique challenges faced by girls and developing creative solutions to address them. … We have made important gains for girls, but we must continue to follow the data and build on the lessons we have learned to do more and do it better, including through implementation of the new PEPFAR Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control. … Preventing HIV among adolescent girls and young women is our ultimate goal, and that means walking with them every step along the way, pursuing the equality and respect that every girl around the world deserves” (10/10).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

New Issue Of 'Global Fund News Flash' Available Online

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Global Fund News Flash
The latest issue of the Global Fund News Flash contains a video on the importance of educating girls to preventing new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women (10/11).

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UNAIDS, UNFPA, Partners Launch Roadmap To Reduce New HIV Infections By 75% By 2020

UNAIDS: UNAIDS and UNFPA launch road map to stop new HIV infections
“As part of global efforts to end AIDS as a public health threat, UNAIDS, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and partners have launched a new road map to reduce new HIV infections. The HIV prevention 2020 road map was launched at the first meeting of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition. The coalition is chaired by the executive directors of UNAIDS and UNFPA and brings together United Nations member states, civil society, international organizations and other partners as part of efforts to reduce new HIV infections by 75 percent by 2020…” (10/10).

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CGD Launches New Book On Designing Health Benefits Package For UHC

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog”: Defining Benefits for Universal Health Care — How Governments Can Get the Most Bang for Their Health Care Buck
Amanda Glassman, chief operating officer and senior fellow at CGD, and Rebecca Forman, program coordinator for the Global Health Policy team at CGD, discuss the launch of and key takeaways from a new book on designing benefits for universal health coverage. The book “shows how a defined list of services that will be funded with public monies … can help bridge the gap between the aspirational rhetoric of universal health care and the real budgetary limitations that many countries face” (10/10).

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Brookings Podcast Discusses Challenges Facing U.S. Foreign Assistance

Brookings Institution’s “Brookings Cafeteria Podcast”: Voices on U.S. foreign assistance under challenge, part 1: U.S. leadership, fragile states, and ideas for reform
In this podcast, Fred Dews, managing editor for New Digital Products at Brookings, speaks with George Ingram, senior fellow in the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings, and other experts on challenges facing U.S. foreign assistance. During the podcast, “The experts address the role of U.S. leadership in an increasingly multipolar world, what Americans think of foreign assistance programs, ideas to reform the U.S. foreign aid architecture, and more” (10/6).

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From the U.S. Government

CDC Working With National Governments To Eliminate Measles, Rubella Worldwide

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: Looking Ahead to a Measles and Rubella Free World
Robert Linkins, chair of the Measles & Rubella Initiative, and chief of the Accelerated Disease Control and Surveillance Branch at the CDC Global Immunization Division, discusses efforts to eliminate measles, rubella, and the associated congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), which can cause birth defects. Linkins writes, “[N]ot only CAN we eliminate measles and rubella, but we have done so — ridding 68 countries of measles and 59 countries of rubella — all with a $2 vaccine! … Together with national governments, we’re working to strengthen health systems, provide other health-promoting and life-saving interventions, and build strong surveillance and outbreak response systems…” (10/6).

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