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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Zika Funding Delay, Shortfall Will Hurt Cancer, Other Disease Research Efforts, U.S. Health Officials Say

CNN: Zika funding falls short but will be well spent, health officials say
“…The [$1.1] billion dollars Congress just gave the fight on Zika will be well spent, even if it’s not enough and much too late. That’s the message from Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and key public health officials Monday…” (LaMotte, 10/3).

CQ News: More Zika Funds in CR, but Still Not Enough, HHS Officials Say
“…The administration’s original request was for $1.9 billion. Without the extra $800 million, the Food and Drug Administration, for instance, won’t get additional support as it prepares to approve new diagnostic tests. And money originally allocated for research priorities such as Ebola and cancer won’t be repaid…” (Siddons, 10/3).

The Guardian: U.S. Zika funding shortfall will impede cancer research, health officials say
“…Officials with the federal Health and Human Services Administration called on Congress to consider an emergency health fund for future emerging diseases, similar to the way natural disasters are funded…” (Glenza, 10/3).

Reuters: Zika funding delay hurt effort to fight virus: U.S. health officials
“…Health officials on a conference call with reporters also said money they had redirected from other efforts, such as for Ebola and cancer research, was unlikely to be reimbursed. … Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell promised that the new funds would be allocated quickly. But she said critical time and energy were spent on working to get the funding instead of working to use it…” (Berkrot, 10/3).

ScienceInsider: U.S. officials welcome new Zika funding, but say delays hurt
“…CDC Director Tom Frieden in Atlanta said the new money will allow his staff to continue helping states implement mosquito control and infection detection programs, as well as conduct more intensive studies about the impact Zika virus has on pregnancy and on infants born with Zika congenital syndrome, which includes microcephaly…” (Cohen, 10/3).

U.S. News: With Funding From Congress, Health Officials Outline Zika Response
“…[U.S. health officials] expressed concerns over the long-term damage that could be ahead with Zika and with other public health efforts, given that they waited seven months for money from Congress…” (Leonard, 10/3).

Washington Times: HHS outlines plans for new Zika money
“…The Department of Health and Human Services will receive the lion’s share of the new Zika funding … and split most of it between mosquito surveillance and vaccine development through the National Institutes of Health and a research authority known as BARDA, which is supporting several private-sector trials…” (Howell, 10/3).

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Zika-Related Neurological Damage In Newborns Goes Beyond Microcephaly, Research Shows

Reuters Health: More evidence for Zika virus link to damage beyond microcephaly
“…Researchers studied 11 babies diagnosed with Zika and found they had a range of neurological impairments including small skulls and brains as well as an underdeveloped cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for motor skills, and an absence of normal folds in the cerebral cortex, the gray matter that handles memory, language, social skills, and problem solving…” (Rapaport, 10/3).

TIME: Zika Virus Birth Defects Don’t Stop at Microcephaly
“…Among the 11 babies studied, in whom Zika virus was confirmed in amniotic fluid and cord blood, three died within 48 hours after birth. Nine showed microcephaly, but two showed normal or even enlarged head circumference. All of the babies did, however, show signs of neurological abnormalities, including calcium lesions in parts of the brain, restricted growth and underdevelopment of the brain stem and cerebellum, which coordinates muscle movements…” (Park, 10/3).

Wall Street Journal: Zika Virus Causes Damage to Infants Beyond Microcephaly, Study Finds
“…A summary of the study and its conclusions is being published online by JAMA Neurology, a monthly peer-reviewed journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Amilcar Tanuri, a co-author of the study, said the new research exposes a constellation of maladies, collectively known as ‘congenital Zika syndrome,’ that show the Zika virus to be unique among congenital viral diseases in its range of damaging effects…” (Johnson/Jelmayer, 10/3).

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Profit Potential Pushing Private Sector Research Into Zika Vaccine

Reuters: Zika vaccine race spurred by crisis and profit potential
“The race to find protection against the Zika virus is fueled by something often missing from tropical disease research: the potential for big profit. The prospect of a blockbuster vaccine against a mosquito-borne virus has accelerated the pace of development and attracted the interest of big drugmakers, including Sanofi SA, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals…” (Berkrot, 10/4).

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Women In Poland Protest Legislative Proposal For Total Ban On Abortion

Associated Press: Women in Poland strike to protest proposal for abortion ban
“Polish women donned black, waved black flags, and took to Poland’s streets in large numbers on Monday, boycotting jobs and classes as part of a nationwide strike to protest a legislative proposal for a total ban on abortion…” (10/3).

Financial Times: Polish women stage strike over plans for total ban on abortion
“…Legislation working its way through Poland’s parliament would outlaw all terminations, even in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s health, tightening what are already some of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws…” (Huber/Foy, 10/3).

The Guardian: Polish women strike over planned abortion ban
“…Women were wearing black in a sign of mourning for the feared loss of reproductive rights; they have also warned that some women will die if the proposal passes as it stands now…” (Davies, 10/3).

Los Angeles Times: Polish women protest proposal to ban abortions in almost all cases
“…Monday’s protest in Poland, where 60 cities were reported to have participated in the action, garnered support from around the world — from England and Ireland to Taiwan, France, and Russia…” (Simmons, 10/3).

Quartz: Clad in black, Polish women refused to go to work to protest a proposed abortion ban
“…The proposed abortion ban is a citizen-sponsored legislation, signed by 400,000 people and pushed by a group of conservative lawyers, some of whom allegedly have ties to the powerful and secretive Catholic organization Opus Dei, according to Gazeta Wyborcza…” (Kozlowska, 10/3).

Washington Post: Polish women go on nationwide strike against proposed abortion ban
“…There were counter-demonstrations, as well, with antiabortion protesters marching in white clothes to distinguish themselves from their ideological opponents…” (Noack, 10/3).

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Cuban Scientists Make Progress In Various Health Research Areas Despite Multiple Challenges

Nature: Can Cuban science go global?
“…For a country whose entire gross domestic product (GDP) is just half of what the U.S. government spends on research, Cuba punches above its weight in some areas of science. Fueled by relatively generous government support, biomedical researchers have managed to excel at creating low-cost vaccines, developing cancer treatments, and screening infants for disorders. … The productivity and quality of some research in Cuba surprises those from other countries. … Yet the success stories don’t outweigh the profound challenges facing scientists in Cuba…” (Reardon, 9/28).

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Sanofi Pasteur's Dengue Vaccine Receives Market Approval In 11 Countries

Reuters: Sanofi’s dengue vaccine approved in 11 countries
“Sanofi Pasteur, Sanofi’s vaccines unit, said on Tuesday that its dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, had received market approval in eleven countries. To date the vaccine has been approved in Mexico, the Philippines, Brazil, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Guatemala, Peru, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore, the statement said…” (Vidalon, 10/4).

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Editorials and Opinions

International Community Must 'Think Outside U.N.-Branded Box' For Better, More Innovative Aid Solutions

IRIN: Editors’ take: The problem with aid convoys
Annie Slemrod, Middle East editor at IRIN, and Ben Parker, head of Enterprise Projects at IRIN

“…With hopes for an end to the war dashed time and again, much hope has been pinned on … U.N.-led aid ‘inter-agency’ convoys into mostly besieged and hard-to-reach areas, and the recent attack has brought them into further focus. But are these convoys … the best way to bring aid to a desperate population? Are they becoming more risky? Are they an overhyped symptom of a politicized aid system that has failed the people of Syria? Or perhaps all of the above? It’s time to ask some hard questions about how assistance is being delivered in Syria, and if it’s really helping that much at all. … [Aid convoys] are intended to build confidence, show common purpose among U.N. agencies and the Red Cross movement, and call the bluff of slippery negotiators. Their very deliberate visibility is intended, in theory, as a form of insurance against attack and to discourage the conflict parties from reneging on agreements. … The problem is that painting the convoys with what [one] analyst called ‘a desperate gloss’ may be distracting and preventing more inventive aid solutions. It’s time to think outside the U.N.-branded box” (10/3).

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U.S. Could Learn From Developing Countries, Should Prioritize Maternal, Newborn Health

Huffington Post: Prioritizing Maternal And Newborn Survival: Time To Look To The Developing World For Affordable Solutions
Susan M. Blaustein, executive director of WomenStrong International

“With America unique among developed and most developing countries in its rising maternal mortality, it’s especially encouraging to see significant progress in mothers’ and newborn survival in sites across the developing world. … [WomenStrong International’s] projects in Haiti, Ghana, India, and elsewhere illustrate the very real progress being made across the developing world, even as our own country falls far behind. … But here in America, it appears we don’t believe that public investment in the lives of women and babies is worth the trouble. … The United States as a whole was recently certified as second only to Mexico in having the highest maternal mortality rate among the 31 OECD-member countries, considered the world’s most developed. With such dubious recognition, one really has to ask, ‘What does it mean to be a “developed nation,” if we won’t prioritize the survival of our mothers and babies?’ Perhaps it’s time for us to redefine America as a ‘developing’ nation. At least then, some generous, far-sighted, and humane foreign government or NGO might step in, to help our own families, communities, states, and nation do what it takes to save our mothers’ and newborn lives” (10/3).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kaiser Family Foundation Releases New Poll Findings Examining American Public's Knowledge Of, Attitudes Toward Zika Virus

Kaiser Family Foundation: Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: September 2016
“As part of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s ongoing efforts to track the public’s knowledge of the Zika virus outbreak and attitudes towards Zika-related issues, the September Kaiser Health Tracking Poll examines whether the public has taken steps in order to protect themselves from getting Zika. … As seen in other recent Kaiser Health Tracking Polls, the Zika virus is one of the top health policy stories followed by the public, with nine in 10 Americans (92 percent) saying they have heard or read at least a little about the Zika virus and 61 percent of the public reporting that they were closely following news about the Zika virus outbreak…” (Kirzinger/Wu/Brodie, 9/29).

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Humanosphere Podcast Features Interview With Former President-CEO Of Task Force For Global Health

Humanosphere: Hilton Foundation honors most influential, invisible group in global health
In this Humanosphere podcast, founder and lead journalist Tom Paulson speaks with Mark Rosenberg, former president and CEO of the Task Force for Global Health, about the group’s work and its recent receipt of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s $2 million humanitarian award. Paulson also speaks with Imana Gunawan, Humanosphere’s podcast producer and social media manager, “about some of the top stories in the Humanosphere, including new data on big reductions in child and maternal mortality worldwide” (9/30).

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