KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Urges Stronger Action Against Zika As Thailand Reports Cases of Linked Microcephaly; Thailand Weighs Testing Pregnant Women

Reuters: Thailand considers Zika tests for all pregnant women
“Thailand is considering testing all pregnant women for Zika, the health ministry said on Monday, following confirmation last week of its first known cases of microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size, linked to the Zika virus…” (Lefevre/Thepgumpanat, 10/3).

Reuters: Thailand reports first two cases of Zika birth defects
“Thailand has reported the first confirmed cases in South-East Asia of microcephaly linked to mosquito-borne Zika, prompting the World Health Organisation (WHO) to urge action against the virus across the region. The confirmation of two case[s] of microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size, came a day after U.S. health officials recommended that pregnant women postpone non-essential travel to 11 South-East Asian countries because of the risk of Zika…” (9/30).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency calls for stronger measures against Zika as Thailand confirms disease-related cases
“The United Nations health agency [Friday] urged countries across the South-East Asia region to continue to take decisive action to prevent, detect, and respond to Zika virus, following news that Thailand has confirmed two cases of Zika-related microcephaly…” (9/30).

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CDC Updates Recommendations For Couples Trying To Conceive Following Zika Exposure

The Hill: Couples with Zika risk told to wait much longer to become pregnant
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is stepping up its warnings about the Zika virus for couples trying to become pregnant. CDC officials said Friday that women should wait at least six months before trying to get pregnant if their partner has possible Zika exposure. The previous recommendation had been eight weeks…” (Ferris, 9/30).

NPR: CDC Tells Men At Risk Of Zika To Put Off Procreation For 6 Months
“Men who may have been exposed to the Zika virus should wait at least six months before trying to conceive a child with a partner, regardless of whether they ever had any symptoms, federal health officials are recommending. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had previously recommended that only men with Zika symptoms had to wait that long. Those who may have been exposed to Zika but never developed any symptoms were told to hold off on trying to conceive for just eight weeks. But on Friday the agency published revised recommendations based on new evidence indicating the Zika virus can remain in semen longer than had been thought and can be spread by men even if they don’t have symptoms…” (Stein, 9/30).

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New York Times Examines Venezuela's Mental Health System

New York Times: Inside Venezuela’s Crumbling Mental Hospitals
“The state-run psychiatric hospital here in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, has long been a forgotten place, filled with forgotten people. But with Venezuela suffering from a severe economic crisis, this mental institution has almost no drugs to control the afflictions tormenting its patients. At the invitation of doctors, reporters from The New York Times visited six psychiatric wards across the country. All reported shortages of medicine, even food…” (Kohut/Casey, 10/1).

New York Times: At a Loss for Meds, Venezuela’s Mentally Ill Spiral Downward
“…Venezuela’s economic collapse has already decimated its health system, leaving hospitals without antibiotics, surgeons without gloves, and patients dying on emergency room tables. Now, thousands of mental health patients — many of whom had been living relatively normal lives under medication — are drifting into despair and psychosis because the country has run out of the vast majority of psychiatric medicines, leaving families and doctors powerless to help them, medical experts say…” (Casey, 10/1)

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Questions Surround Report Of Maternal Mortality Spike In China

New York Times: Reported Spike in Maternal Deaths Spurs Questions in China
“Did China’s maternal mortality rate surge by nearly one-third in the first half of 2016, as a top health official reportedly said this week? An anxious, skeptical debate has broken out over the drastically higher figure, announced by Ma Xiaowei, deputy director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, at a meeting on Tuesday on improving maternal health, in reports carried widely in the Chinese news media…” (Tatlow, 9/30).

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Pregnant Refugees From South Sudan Face Numerous Health Challenges

IRIN: Pregnant and homeless: South Sudan’s women refugees
“Josephine Maziku arrived at Uganda’s Nyumanzi Transit Centre in June this year six months pregnant and with only the dress she was wearing. … Like many other expectant mothers who fled South Sudan’s violence, she had little time to think of anything but escape. When she got to the border, she was brought to this overcrowded settlement in Uganda’s northern Adjumani district…” (Nyakanyanga, 9/30).

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Editorials and Opinions

Global Community Should Renew Commitment To End AIDS, TB, Malaria

Huffington Post: Launching Renewed Determination to End the Major Infectious Disease Killers
Chris Collins, president of Friends of the Global Fight

“…The success of [the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s Fifth] Replenishment is particularly welcome given the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) report this summer showing a decrease in donor financing of the global AIDS response. … [B]ut today that global effort is underfinanced. The $13 billion for the Global Fund, combined with hoped-for major increases in spending by implementing governments and sustained funding from donors, represents only 80 percent of what is required to end the AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria epidemics. We are in striking distance, but not yet on track. … The new Administration and Congress, working with … partners globally, can make sure increased funding and strategic approaches are in place to realize the potential we have to end the epidemics. Implementing governments and other donor countries must do more. And part of that collective effort will be increased U.S. investments in the Global Fund as well as our bilateral programs, including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), and USAID’s TB program. … Given that more people support increased funding for global health when they learn what a small percentage of the budget it represents, there is a real opportunity to communicate more widely and effectively with Americans about the benefits of these investments. … The end of the AIDS, TB, and malaria epidemics is on the launching pad. Now the global community needs to seize the opportunity and commit the resources necessary to end these epidemics for good” (9/30).

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World Bank's IDA18 Should Serve As Opportunity To Expand Global Investment In Pandemic Preparedness

The Lancet Global Health: Opportunities to finance pandemic preparedness
Rebecca Katz, co-director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University, and Richard Seifman, consultant

“…Every three years, the World Bank undergoes a process to replenish the International Development Association (IDA), with the current effort known as IDA18. … IDA is one of the best, if not the very best, significant multilateral funding mechanism to address critical pandemic challenges on a sustained basis in low-income countries … [T]he current IDA18 proposal is modest, with an expressed goal of supporting between 15 and 25 IDA countries in (i) developing pandemic preparedness plans, and (ii) supporting the development of frameworks for multisectoral pandemic preparedness, response, and recovery. … With the amount of money currently being considered for IDA18, IDA could go well beyond supporting even 25 countries in pandemic preparedness. … Before the World Bank Group annual meeting in October 2016, donor countries and low-income countries can review their positions on what is absolutely critical for development and what can be done over the next three years to enhance pandemic preparedness and population health, and request modifications to the IDA18 guidance. For our collective health security, we need to marshal sustained technical and financial support for pandemic preparedness in low-income countries. IDA18 is the right instrument to encourage the poorest nations of the world to expand public health investment” (9/28).

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Child Stunting Is Humanitarian, Economic Issue

The Guardian: The Guardian view on stunting: malnutrition is holding millions of children back
Editorial Board

“…Though stunting is a physical measure, and is associated with the increased risk of some chronic diseases such as diabetes in [the] future, it is also an important indicator that [children’s] mental development may have been affected. … Malnourished children also have little energy, further diminishing their ability to learn and escape poverty. Research suggests they are less likely to be enrolled in school, and learn less when they are there. … Jim Yong Kim, [president of the World Bank and] a former doctor, says that stunting is not only the outcome of the unfair distribution of resources: it drives such imbalances, too … The problem is not only humanitarian, but economic. And it is in the interest of governments to act … because they cannot compete if large portions of their workforces are stunted. … Swift action can bring immense benefits to a generation. … When we talk of children growing to their full potential, we speak more literally than we realize” (9/30).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

USAID, Partners Announce $6B Over Next 5 Years To Address NTDs Globally

USAID: USAID & Partners Announce $6 Billion To Expand Fight Against Neglected Tropical Diseases
“The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) [Friday] announced new partnerships to help countries eliminate and control neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Over the next five years new and expanded partnerships will provide 1.3 billion treatments, leverage $6 billion in donated drugs, and prevent more than 585 million people from needing treatment for NTDs…” (9/30).

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Data Reveal 'Unprecedented' 979M People Treated Globally For At Least 1 NTD In 2015

WHO: Neglected tropical diseases: unprecedented 979 million people treated in 2015 alone
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has released data for 2015 showing that a record 979 million people benefited from large-scale treatment of at least one neglected tropical disease in 2015 alone. This unprecedented achievement may be the first time that so many people have been treated globally as part of a public health intervention in one single year…” (9/30).

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October 2016 Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

WHO: Bulletin of the World Health Organization
The October 2016 WHO Bulletin includes editorials, news, and research and policy articles on various topics including articles on training health workers to provide mental health care in the eastern Mediterranean, the impact of adding maternal and child health interventions to India’s mass measles vaccination campaign, and scaling up antiretroviral therapy in Malawi (October 2016).

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