KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Marie Stopes International Forced To Cut Back Family Planning Services In Madagascar Due To Reinstated Mexico City Policy

NPR: U.S. Slashes Funds For Family Planning In Madagascar
“…One of the first acts of the Trump administration in January was to reinstate an abortion-related litmus test for foreign aid known as the ‘Mexico City policy.’ … In Madagascar the change is forcing dramatic cutbacks by the largest provider of long-term contraception in the country, the British nonprofit Marie Stopes International. Nearly half of Marie Stopes funding in Madagascar, millions of dollars a year, had been coming from USAID…” (Beaubien, 10/14).

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NIH Official Discusses Need To Issue Exclusive License To Drug Company For Zika Vaccine Development With U.S. House, Senate Staff

CQ HealthBeat: NIH Tries to Ease Concerns About Zika Vaccine Deal
“The federal government is considering granting a pharmaceutical company an exclusive license to further develop a taxpayer-funded vaccine for the Zika virus, just weeks after a similar arrangement was scuttled following blowback from health groups and lawmakers. … In a pair of conference calls with House and Senate staff members, [NIAID Director Anthony] Fauci made a case for why the government needs industry partners to get a Zika vaccine to market…” (Siddons, 10/16).

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News Outlets Examine Recent Violations Of LGBT Rights Worldwide

Associated Press: In Africa, LGBT rights activists worry about Trump impact
“…Defending LGBT rights can be dangerous in Africa, where many countries have laws against homosexuality. But in recent years activists have stepped out of the shadows, empowered by the support of the Obama administration and the international community. Now many fear the Trump administration will undermine those gains, and that their exposure could make them more vulnerable if support fades…” (Petesch, 10/16).

New York Times: U.N. Officials Condemn Arrests of Gays in Azerbaijan, Egypt, and Indonesia
“United Nations officials on Friday condemned the recent mass arrests of gay and transgender people in Azerbaijan, Egypt, and Indonesia, saying that the authorities in those countries had violated international law by detaining, mistreating, and torturing them. The roundups — of about 80 people in Azerbaijan, 50 in Egypt, and 50 in Indonesia over the past few weeks — do not appear to be connected, but United Nations officials said they exposed patterns of discrimination and abuse that also damage broad development goals…” (Cumming-Bruce, 10/13).

PRI: Brazil is accused of stripping away LGBT rights
“A recent court ruling has opened a fierce debate in Brazil about the use of controversial practices to make people become heterosexual. Last month, a Brazilian federal judge decided psychologists could perform ‘conversion therapy,’ a widely discredited practice meant to change a person’s sexual orientation. The so-called therapy has also caused controversy in the U.S., where a growing number of states are outlawing the practice. But while the U.S. has never taken a federal stance on it, Brazil’s Federal Council of Psychology banned the practice back in 1999…” (Long, 10/13).

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Wellcome Trust, Partners Launch Global Burden Of Disease AMR To Take Action On Antimicrobial Resistance

CIDRAP News: Global antibiotic resistance tracking project launched
“Global charitable foundation Wellcome Trust [Friday] announced a new research project to track and document the burden of disease associated with antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The Global Burden of Disease AMR project will be collecting data from all over the world to create a map of disease and deaths caused by drug-resistant infections, according to a news release from U.K.-based Wellcome, which announced that it will be investing £2.4 million ($3.2 million U.S.) in the project as part of its efforts to address the AMR threat. The U.K. government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are providing additional funding…” (Dall, 10/13).

CNBC: Project to tackle potential ‘post-antibiotic apocalypse’ launched with $3.2 million pledge
“…The problem is a serious one, with Wellcome saying that drug-resistant infections already kill 700,000 people each year. The launch comes after Sally Davies, England’s chief medical officer, told the Press Association that the world was facing a ‘dreadful post-antibiotic apocalypse’ if action was not taken immediately…” (Frangoul, 10/13).

Press Association/The Guardian: Antibiotic resistance could spell end of modern medicine, says chief medic
“…Prof Dame Sally Davies said that if antibiotics lose their effectiveness it would spell ‘the end of modern medicine.’ Without the drugs used to fight infections, common medical interventions such as caesarean sections, cancer treatments, and hip replacements would become incredibly risky and transplant medicine would be a thing of the past, she said. ‘We really are facing — if we don’t take action now — a dreadful post-antibiotic apocalypse. I don’t want to say to my children that I didn’t do my best to protect them and their children,’ Davies said…” (10/13).

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Lima Ranks As Worst Of 19 Megacities For Women's Health Care Access, TRF Poll Finds

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Exclusive — Teen pregnancy, backstreet abortions make Lima worst megacity for women’s health — poll
“Teenage pregnancies and backstreet abortions helped push Peru’s capital to the bottom of a global poll on Monday when Lima was named as the world’s worst megacity for women to get health care. The Thomson Reuters Foundation asked 380 experts in women’s issues about access to health care and maternal health, as well as about sexual violence, harmful cultural practices, and access to finance in 19 megacities worldwide…” (Moloney, 10/16).

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Plague Continues To Spread In Madagascar; U.N., IFRC Ramp Up Nation's Treatment Capacity

Associated Press: In Madagascar, plague outbreak now threatens largest cities
“As plague cases rose last week in Madagascar’s capital, many city dwellers panicked. They waited in long lines for antibiotics at pharmacies and reached through bus windows to buy masks from street vendors. Schools have been canceled, and public gatherings are banned. The plague outbreak has killed 63 people in the Indian Ocean island nation. For the first time, the disease long seen in the country’s remote areas is largely concentrated in its two largest cities, Antananarivo and Toamasina…” (Carver, 10/16).

Associated Press: Plague cases double in Madagascar as treatment center sent
“With dozens dead from a plague outbreak in Madagascar, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said Friday it is deploying its first-ever plague treatment center to the island nation. The World Health Organization said 561 cases have been reported so far, with another in the Seychelles…” (Keaten, 10/13).

NPR: Ask The Disease Specialist: Why Is It So Hard To Beat The Plague?
“…We checked in with Dr. Daniel Bausch, a virologist who was deeply involved in the response to the 2014 Ebola epidemic. Now, as director of the U.K. Public Health Rapid Support Team, he deploys health responders and epidemiologists to places experiencing bad outbreaks. In the last five months, he has sent teams to help tackle bouts of cholera in Ethiopia, meningitis in Nigeria, waterborne diseases in Sierra Leone after some terrible landslides, and now plague in Madagascar…” (Bichell, 10/12).

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Attack On Medical Facilities In Syria Sets Back Polio, Measles Immunization Efforts, WHO Says

Reuters: WHO says attack on Syria vaccine store leaves children at risk
“The World Health Organization said on Friday it had received reports of an attack on medical facilities in eastern Syria that had destroyed a store containing more than 130,000 vaccine doses against measles and polio. If confirmed, the WHO said, the attack would put thousands of children at risk of these serious infectious, viral diseases. Both can spread rapidly in areas of conflict…” (Kelland, 10/13).

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Carter Center Helps Eliminate Elephantiasis From 2 Nigerian States

VOA News: 2 Nigerian States Eliminate Elephantiasis, Carter Center Says
“The Carter Center, a nonprofit organization run by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, said Friday that it had helped eliminate elephantiasis, a disfiguring tropical disease, from two states in Nigeria where the problem was at its worst. … Dr. Gregory Noland of the Carter Center said health professionals have been working for years to eradicate the disease in Plateau and Nasarawa, through drug treatment and use of bed nets to ward off mosquitoes at night…” (10/13).

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War-Torn Yemen Continues To Suffer From Hunger, Cholera In 'Forgotten Conflict'

Deutsche Welle: Hunger and disease hit Yemen hard amid a ‘forgotten conflict’
“While the international community is focused on resolving crises in Syria and Iraq, the conflict in Yemen is not receiving much attention. The war-ravaged country will have a million cholera cases by the end of year…” (10/14).

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Studies Show Shorter, Less Toxic Drug Combinations Could Be Effective In Treating Drug-Resistant TB

Devex: 3 innovations that could transform TB diagnosis and care
“Ending global tuberculosis will require new diagnostic tools, new ways to support adherence to treatment, new drug regimens, and a vaccine, experts told Devex at the 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health. … Experts including those gathered in Guadalajara this week are working tirelessly to develop new tools that can transform the TB landscape, including technologies that target diagnosis, treatment, and delivery. Devex spoke with three TB researchers who presented new findings that they hope will transform efforts to combat the epidemic…” (Cousins, 10/16).

New York Times: In Early Results, Shorter Treatment for Tuberculosis Proves Effective
“Taking the right antibiotics for just nine months may be as effective against drug-resistant tuberculosis as taking them for two years, as is currently recommended, according to preliminary findings from an international study. Results from the trial, which is overseen by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease and UCL (formerly the University College London), were released at a conference in Mexico…” (McNeil, 10/13).

Wall Street Journal: New Treatments for Drug-Resistant TB Get a Boost
“New research released this week bolsters the case for more effective, less toxic, and shorter treatment regimens for drug-resistant tuberculosis, offering hope for patients suffering from a disease that is notoriously difficult to treat. The three separate studies are among several that TB researchers have under way to develop new drug combinations to replace current treatments that last as long as two years, involve up to 15,000 pills, and can cause deafness, renal failure, and other debilitating effects. Many patients are never cured…” (McKay, 10/13).

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Rapid Test To Diagnose Malaria Shows Shortcomings In Real-World Setting, Study Says

PRI: With quick and easy malaria tests, some unexpected drawbacks
“…The [rapid] test can diagnose malaria in 15 minutes with just the prick of a finger — making it easier to prescribe anti-malarial drugs only when they’re needed, and slowing the rise of drug-resistant malaria strains. But according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, there have been some unexpected drawbacks to the test, as well…” (Franz, 10/15).

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Editorials and Opinions

IPS Publishes Opinion Pieces Recognizing Efforts To Improve Nutrition, Agriculture On World Food Day

Inter Press Service: Food for Thoughtful Health
Doaa Abdel-Motaal, executive director of the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health at the Oxford Martin School

“…Without good food it is hard to maintain good health; without good food growing practices it is difficult to maintain a healthy planet. … This World Food Day, we have to acknowledge the multiple problems that exist within our food systems and that nutritional problems are escalating. It is becoming increasingly clear that food systems, and diets, are not sustainable. What is urgently needed is a holistic approach to address food and health as well as sustainability along the entire food chain. Awareness raising on what a healthy diet means is also key. … Over the next 18 months, the Economic Council — made up of world leaders from government, international organizations, civil society, business, finance and academia — will bridge knowledge gaps on the links between economic development, natural systems and human health to compel collaboration across disciplines and coordinated action to address the complex challenges of the 21st century…” (10/13).

Inter Press Service: Hunger in Africa, Land of Plenty
Anis Chowdhury, former professor of economics at the University of Western Sydney and former senior U.N. official; and Jomo Kwame Sundaram, former U.N. assistant secretary general for economic development

“…Observers typically blame higher population growth, natural calamities, and conflicts for hunger on the continent. And since Africa was transformed from a net food exporter into a net food importer in the 1980s despite its vast agricultural potential, international food price hikes have also contributed to African hunger. … Thus, African agricultural productivity has not only suffered, but also African agriculture remains less resilient to climate change and extreme weather conditions. … Despite its potential, vast tracts of arable land remain idle, due to decades of official neglect of agriculture. More recently, international financial institutions and many donors have been advocating large-scale foreign investment. … Land grabbing by foreign companies for commercial farming in Africa is threatening smallholder agricultural productivity, vital for reducing poverty and hunger on the continent. In the process, they have been marginalizing local communities, particularly ‘indigenous’ populations, and compromising food security” (10/14).

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International Community Must Take Action To Address Climate Change, Help Build Resilience In Poor Nations

Newsweek: Don’t Consign Poor Countries to Wild Storms and Flooding
Hugh Sealy, professor in the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at St. George’s University in Grenada

“…Climate change has made hurricanes like Maria more intense and destructive — and has exacerbated the public health crises that hurricanes can unleash. These crises, fueled by invisible killers, can be far deadlier than the physical destruction caused by extreme weather. … These extreme conditions threaten water supplies. Intense precipitation causes flooding that overwhelms sewage systems and contaminates sources of drinking water with sediment, animal waste, and pesticides. … Rich nations bear some of the blame for these climate-change-fueled crises. … Yet richer, higher-emitting countries are also fortunate enough not to bear the full consequences of climate change. … It is irresponsible and immoral to continue to emit such high levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Rich, developed countries need to acknowledge this — and take urgent action to correct their emitting ways…” (10/15).

Devex: Opinion: How to build flood resilience and avoid human tragedy
John Bonoh Sisay, Sierra Leonean businessman and public figure

“…[T]he series of tragedies we have seen this year [among countries falling within the tropics] must force us to look at what more can be done to protect often hugely vulnerable communities, in poor and often fragile states, against events that will clearly happen again. In my country, Sierra Leone, we have only just begun to fully recover from the devastation of Ebola. Yet now the floods and resulting mudslides witnessed in Freetown in August are estimated to have killed approximately 1,000 people, with new incidents continuing. … But the resilience of the people is not a solution to a problem we will face time and time again. The government, the private sector, and the international donor community need to collaborate and work out how best to protect cities such as Freetown and minimize the impact of inevitable future floods…” (10/12).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

World Bank/IMF Development Committee Releases Communiqué From Fall Meeting

World Bank: World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings 2017: Development Committee Communiqué
This press release contains the official communiqué of the World Bank/IMF Development Committee, which met October 14 in Washington, D.C. The document outlines the committee’s recognition of and recommendations on various issues, including health and development goals, gender equality, resilience, and climate change (10/14).

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ONE Blog Post Advocates E.U. Make Long-Term Investments In Development Goals

ONE Blog: 2018 E.U. Budget: a long-term investment or a short-term makeshift?
Stelios Stratinakis, a policy and advocacy intern with the ONE Campaign, discusses E.U. development spending, writing, “As negotiations continue, we are calling on the European Parliament as a whole and Member States to back the Budgets Committee’s proposals [to increase funding for health, education and nutrition]. In doing so, they will ensure the E.U. continues to take a long-term view, investing in tackling extreme poverty as a key driver of instability. Now is not the time to roll back on commitments. Now more than ever we need the E.U. to step up, not step back, from its global responsibilities…” (10/13).

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FT Health Discusses Tobacco Taxes, World Mental Health Day

FT Health: World Bank says ‘go big, go fast’ to stub out tobacco
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter discusses the World Bank’s recommendations for nations to use tobacco taxes to raise “costs as a disincentive to smokers while generating additional income from those who continue to smoke.” The newsletter also includes an interview with Poppy Jaman, CEO of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and the City Mental Health Alliance to mark World Mental Health Day, and features a roundup of other global health-related news stories (Jack/Dodd, 10/13).

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