KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Foreign Affairs Examines Past, Current Efforts To Improve Access To Medicines

Foreign Affairs: A Bitter Pill: Can the Access to Medicines Movement Score Another Victory?
“…[I]t is clear that this broader coalition [of the group Fix the Patent Laws] cannot simply mimic [South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign’s] successful struggle for access to AIDS medicines. … Privately, organizers worry that it will be hard to recreate the clear moral consensus around all medicines. And there is this: although sharply discounting the price of AIDS medicines was not welcomed by the pharmaceutical industry, their eventual concessions amounted to a small slice of their profit margins. The Fix the Patent Laws’ broader challenge to the drug patent system is a frontal attack on the industry’s entire business model…” (Quigley, 10/18).

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UNODC Briefing Paper On Drug Decriminalization, HIV Prevention Never Approved By Executive Director, U.N. Drugs Agency Says

News outlets report on a leaked briefing paper from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which outlines how the decriminalization of drug use and possession for personal use is a key element of the HIV response, and an UNODC statement noting the briefing paper is not final nor to be considered policy.

BBC News: U.N. attempt to decriminalize drugs foiled
“An attempt by U.N. officials to get countries to decriminalize the possession and use of all drugs has been foiled, the BBC can reveal. A paper from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has been withdrawn after pressure from at least one country. … Sources within the UNODC have told the BBC the document was never sanctioned by the organization as policy. One senior figure within the agency described [the author] as ‘a middle-ranking official’ who was offering a professional viewpoint…” (Easton, 10/19).

New York Times: U.N. Report Did Not Endorse Legalization of Drugs, Agency Says
“The United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime said Monday that an ‘unfortunate misunderstanding’ had led to the impression that it would advocate the legalization of all drugs for personal use. A briefing paper to be presented at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by the head of the agency’s HIV division was sent last week to a few journalists by conference organizers and misrepresented as a major policy change. But the paper had never been cleared by the agency’s executive director, the agency said, and was meant to describe only how legalization was permitted under existing international drug-control treaties and how it would benefit the fight against AIDS…” (McNeil, 10/19).

VICE News: Richard Branson Just Leaked This U.N. Document Calling for Drug Decriminalization
“…The text, authored by Dr. Monica Beg, head of UNODC’s HIV/AIDS office at its headquarters in Vienna, was expected to be unveiled on Sunday, coinciding with the convening of the 24th International Harm Reduction Conference in Kuala Lumpur, which she is attending. The paper was never released, however. … On Monday, Virgin CEO and drug policy reform advocate Richard Branson leaked the text on his personal blog while applauding it as ‘a refreshing shift that could go a long way to finally end the needless criminalization of millions of drug users around the world’…” (Oakford, 10/19).

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NYT, Boston Globe Examine Work Of Clinton Foundation, Clinton Health Access Initiative In Rwanda

New York Times: Rwanda Aid Shows Reach and Limits of Clinton Foundation
The newspaper profiles the Clinton Foundation, highlighting the successes of and challenges faced by its programs in Rwanda. The piece also explores the relationship between the foundation and Rwandan leadership; the criticisms of the organization’s fundraising practices in light of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign; and “the potential for conflicts of interest and associations with foreign leaders that run up against United States policy” (Sack/Fink, 10/18).

Boston Globe: State Dept. aided Clinton-backed Rwanda effort
The newspaper discusses the Clinton Health Access Initiative’s efforts to improve Rwanda’s health care system, including working with the ELMA Foundation, the Rwandan government, and the U.S. government to bolster the nation’s human resources for health (Linskey, 10/17).

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U.S., Saudi Arabia Officials Discuss MERS Vaccine Development, WHO's Chan Says

Reuters: World health chief says U.S., Saudi discussing MERS vaccine
“The United States and Saudi Arabia may prepare a vaccine for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) to try and head off the next outbreak of the disease, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday. Margaret Chan said Saudi Health Minister Khaled al-Falih was discussing this with U.S. public health officials…” (Miles, 10/20).

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Cambodian Government's Dispute Over Global Fund Expense Payments Holding Up Malaria Grant, Guardian Reports

The Guardian: Cambodia’s battle against malaria put at risk as expenses row holds up funds
“Cambodia’s fight against malaria is at risk of being derailed because of a dispute over expenses payments between the Cambodian government and the Global Fund, the biggest donor to the country’s malaria program. … According to a source close to the Global Fund in Cambodia, the Cambodian government is refusing to sign a funding agreement for a $12m grant, which could have been put to use since 1 July, because it objects to a requirement to account for travel and accommodation costs…” (Elliot, 10/19).

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Unlicensed Medical Practitioner Who Infected More Than 100 Cambodians With HIV Goes On Trial

Associated Press: Cambodian on trial for infecting more than 100 with HIV
“An unlicensed medical practitioner who infected more than 100 villagers in northwestern Cambodia with HIV by reusing unclean needles went on trial Tuesday, facing three charges including murder, his lawyer said. Yem Chhrin faces up to life in prison if found guilty of murder, intentionally spreading HIV … and practicing medicine without a license, his lawyer, Em Sovann, said by telephone from Battambang town, where a provincial court is holding the five-day trial…” (Cheang, 10/20).

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Dengue Continues To Spread In Delhi; DW Examines Efforts To Develop Effective Vaccine

Associated Press: Indian capital struggles to control dengue fever outbreak
“…[E]fforts to stop mosquitoes from spreading dengue fever in New Delhi have failed to keep the city from its biggest outbreak in almost two decades: more than 10,190 registered cases, including 32 deaths. Experts say it didn’t need to be this way, and blame health officials for being slow on both prevention work and medical response…” (Daigle/Jain, 10/19).

Deutsche Welle: Dengue Fever in India
This audio report examines the dengue outbreak in India, prevention and treatment challenges, and efforts to develop an effective vaccine (Krishnan, 10/19).

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Nearly 30M People Facing Food Insecurity In Southern Africa, U.N. Food Agencies Warn

News outlets report on a press statement from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme on decreasing food security in southern African nations.

Associated Press: U.N. says food needs increasing in southern Africa
“Poor harvests across much of southern Africa mean that nearly 30 million people will struggle to get adequate nutrition in the months ahead, the United Nations said Monday…” (Torchia, 10/19).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. agencies expand operations in southern Africa as poor harvests deepen food insecurity
“…Lesotho and southern parts of Angola and Mozambique face food insecurity. Areas facing immediate threats are Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar, where severe crop failure due to extended dry spells, extensive flooding, and impactful tropical storms have resulted in increasing food insecurity…” (10/19).

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Political Will, Local Ownership Vital To Reaching Polio-Free Nigeria, Devex Reports

Devex: What we learned from Nigeria’s polio victory
“The recent confirmation that Nigeria has not registered a single new case of polio for a full year has been hailed as a huge milestone in the decades-long battle against the crippling disease, and cited as an example of public and private development partners truly working together to achieve a common global health goal, with full local ownership…” (Santamaria, 10/19).

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Budget Cuts Will Prevent India's Main Child Nutrition Program From Paying Health Workers Into 2016, Minister Says

Reuters: India’s budget cuts hurt fight against malnutrition: Gandhi
“India’s main program to fight child malnutrition has been hit by budget cuts that make it difficult to pay wages of millions of health workers, a cabinet minister said on Monday in a rare public criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies. … Maneka Gandhi, the women and child welfare minister who oversees a scheme to feed more than 100 million poor people, said the current budget was only enough to pay salaries of her 2.7 million health workers until January…” (Kalra/MacAskill, 10/19).

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Better Communication Among Groups, Across Borders Needed In Next Outbreak, Conference Hears

SciDev.Net: Communicate ‘across borders’ to beat epidemics
“In the 18 months since Guinea confirmed its first case of Ebola, those involved in emergency response have faced tough questions. … Now the dust has hopefully settled, it is fascinating to hear which criticisms remain at the forefront of discussions. [Last] week, at a pandemics conference at the Chatham House think-tank in London, United Kingdom, epidemiologists, aid workers, academics, and policymakers agreed that communication failures still top the list…” (Mathers, 10/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Congressional Approval Of Global Food Security Act Would Help Efforts To End Hunger, Extreme Poverty

Huffington Post: 5 Reasons to Pay Attention to the Global Food Security Act
Katie Lee, policy manager at InterAction

“…[H]ere in the United States, there is an opportunity for Congress to act in the fight against global hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty. Passing the Global Food Security Act (HR 1567, S 1252) is our chance. Here are five things you need to know about this important piece of legislation: 1. The GFSA codifies a whole-of-government strategy for U.S. global food and nutrition security. … 2. The GFSA codifies a comprehensive U.S. global food and nutrition security strategy. … 3. The GFSA establishes congressional oversight and reporting requirements. … 4. The GFSA promotes country ownership and sustainability. … 5. The GFSA does not include food aid reform…” (10/19).

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Strong Health Systems Critical To Success Of Ebola, All Vaccination Efforts

Devex: Ebola vaccine impact depends on a strong health system
Samuel Kargbo, director of health systems, policy, planning, and information at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone

“…[E]ven once [an Ebola] vaccine is approved for widespread use, it will be no silver bullet. The gaps in our health care system that allowed Ebola to advance so quickly must be filled if this new vaccine — or any vaccines — are to realize their life-saving potential. … In the aftermath of the Ebola crisis, we are rebuilding our health system — giving us the opportunity to do things better than before. This means taking stock of the weak points that still exist in our vaccine delivery and public health systems, and fixing them. … A commitment to childhood vaccination means, at its core, a commitment to rebuilding our health system with attention to both the big picture and the details that make quality health care available to every individual…” (10/19).

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SDGs Provide Universal, Integrated Development Framework

Huffington Post: We Have A Plan For Our Planet
Johan Rockström, director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, and Peter Bakker, CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development

“…The new development agenda has a truly universal framework that goes beyond the separatism of simply environmental, social, or economic sustainability. … The [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)] provide a new framework that is very different from the [Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)] (which focused on poverty eradication only) and very different from the old sustainable development agenda, which was about reducing environmental impacts as far as possible within nation states. … It is an agenda which recognizes that all 194 nations sit in the same boat. We need to collectively make the transition to a better and more sustainable development approach to stand any chance to prosper in the future. True sustainability is the only vehicle for growth, innovation, and development…” (10/19).

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Widespread Action, Support Needed To Once Again Bolster Contraceptive, Family Planning Services In Kenya

The Conversation: Kenya needs a new plan to make contraceptives accessible again
Chimaraoke Izugbara, head of population dynamics and reproductive health and director of research capacity strengthening at the African Population and Health Research Center

“…[F]rom the mid 1980s, support and funding for family planning in Kenya waned massively. This resulted in major reversals in strategic gains. Contraceptive and family planning services in Kenya have yet to fully recover from this hiatus. … Serving Kenyans who do not have access to contraception would prevent millions of unintended pregnancies, unplanned births, unsafe abortions, miscarriages, and maternal and infant deaths. And this is very doable. Bolstering contraceptive and family planning services in Kenya would require conscientious action from various sectors. This includes politicians, thought leaders, researchers, the media, health providers, educators, activists, and development agencies, among others. The task ahead of Kenya is attainable — but it demands that everybody, not just a section of the country, act” (10/19).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Saving Mothers, Giving Life's 2015 Mid-Initiative Report Shows Progress Made In Maternal, Child Health, Provides Model

USAID’s “Impact”: Saving Mothers, Giving Life
Claudia Morrissey Conlon, USAID’s senior maternal and newborn health adviser and the U.S. government lead for Saving Mothers, Giving Life, discusses the success of the Saving Mothers, Giving Life initiative and highlights the results of the 2015 Mid-Initiative Report, writing, “The organizing principles employed by Saving Mothers, Giving Life can serve as an example to countries across the globe, who can adapt the model for use in their own communities” (10/19).

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CDC Assisting Nations In Introducing Inactivated Polio Vaccine, Switching Types Of Oral Polio Vaccine

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: Two Vaccines for One Polio-free World
Ahead of World Polio Day, recognized annually on October 24, Lee Hampton, medical officer on the vaccine introduction team at the CDC’s Global Immunization Division, discusses the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and the oral polio vaccine (OPV), noting, “Based on the scientific evidence gathered over the years, both OPV and IPV are currently needed to end polio.” He highlights how CDC is assisting “one of the largest coordinated public health efforts in history,” to help more than 156 nations switch from 3-type to 2-type OPV and support the introduction of IPV (10/19).

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Melinda Gates Highlights Mexico's Progress In Improving Maternal, Child Health In Piece Featured Before Opening Of Global Conference

Crowd 360: Progress within a Generation
In an opinion piece originally published in Spanish in Mexico’s El Universal newspaper, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses the importance of investing in the health of women and children, highlighting the Mesoamerica Health Initiative, which “was created to reduce health inequities in Central America and the state of Chiapas in Mexico.” Crowd 360, a blog of FHI 360, features the opinion piece as part of its live coverage of the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference, which opened on Monday in Mexico City (10/17).

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'Science Speaks' Highlights Reports On TB Diagnostic Tools, Markets

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: TB diagnostic tool development and access remain first obstacles to finding and treating tuberculosis where it poses greatest threats
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” discusses two recently released UNITAID reports, the 2015 Tuberculosis Diagnostics Technology and Market Landscape and the TB Diagnostics Market in Select High-Burden Countries: Current Market and Future Opportunities for Novel Diagnostics, which examine TB tests in development, as well as the progress and challenges surrounding TB diagnostics (10/19).

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