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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Health Officials, Researchers Work To Understand Zika; Congressional Stalemate Over Funding Continues

Bloomberg News: Zika Is Here, And America Has No Plan to Fight It
“There have been more than 18,000 cases of Zika in the U.S. and its territories. Congress, however, still hasn’t allocated one penny of funding to fight the disease. Researchers are using what resources they have to better understand both the virus — how it enters the body, how it behaves, and how it’s passed to other people — and the mosquitoes that carry it. While there are many paths to conquering the growing threat, one thing experts agree on is a need for more public education on how to avoid infection…” (Shanker, 9/15).

Wired: No One Knows Who Is Blocking U.S. Funding For Zika Treatment
“…So why the stall on the funding? Republicans added a rider to the bill that would make the Puerto Rican division of Planned Parenthood, Profamilias, ineligible to get the money. Democrats see that language as a poison pill, just as Republicans knew they would. Cue the legislative deadlock. On the bright side, that means that there’s someone to blame for this mess: whoever added the rider to the bill. No one in Congress will say who that person is. … In a way, it might not matter. Zika emergency response provisions will probably end up attached to a continuing resolution that Congress must pass by the end of the month to avoid a government shutdown. So the money might yet come, albeit belatedly — and at great cost to those people already infected. It’d be nice to know where to send the bill” (Ellis, 9/15).

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U.N. FAO Releases Action Plan Addressing Antimicrobial Resistance In Food Supply Chains

U.N. News Centre: U.N. agency launches action plan to tackle threat of ‘superbugs’
“The United Nations agricultural agency [Wednesday] released a new action plan to help countries combat the spread of antimicrobial resistance in their food supply chains and to counter the growing threat of medicine-resistant ‘superbugs.’ ‘Antimicrobial medicines play a critical role in the treatment of diseases of farm animals and plants. Their use is essential to food security, to our well-being, and to animal welfare,’ said the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in a news release…” (9/14).

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New U.N. Exhibit Encourages Better Data Collection On Children To Achieve SDGs

U.N. News Centre: New U.N. exhibit highlights need to fill in ‘blank spaces’ for child-related data
“Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [Wednesday] joined the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in launching a ‘Time Machine’ that will use data storytelling to highlight the lack of availability of statistics on children and particularly those related to child-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators. ‘[The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development] pledged to leave no one behind. That means focusing on the most vulnerable — those who are furthest behind,’ Mr. Ban said at the Back To Present: Launch of a Time Machine event [Wednesday] at U.N. Headquarters in New York…” (9/14).

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NGOs Raise Concerns Over U.K. DfID's Potential New Approach To Foreign Aid Under New Head

Devex: A fitful start for Priti Patel’s DfID
“Priti Patel, the new head of the U.K. Department for International Development, rose to prominence as a vocal champion for Brexit. But she isn’t sounding the call to break with European Union aid institutions just yet. In her first parliamentary hearing as the new head of DfID, Patel addressed questions and concerns about what she plans to do with DfID’s 12 billion pound ($15.9 billion) aid budget, and what kind of relationship Britain will have with European Union development institutions as the country negotiates its exit from the E.U…” (Anders, 9/14).

The Guardian: U.K. NGOs raise concerns about Priti Patel’s new approach to foreign aid
“Concerns that British aid funding will be diverted away from supporting the world’s poorest people towards facilitating trade have been raised by NGOs. … [Aaron Oxley, executive director of campaign group Results U.K.,] added that proof of Patel’s commitment to development will become apparent later this week as a conference to announce the replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is happening in Montreal. ‘The U.K. has historically been a big donor to the Global Fund precisely because it gets results and is constantly working to improve its impact,’ he said. ‘We look forward to seeing a strong pledge from the U.K. that will directly contribute to saving millions of lives and help end these epidemics for good.’ France has pledged $1.08bn (£0.82bn), but the U.K. is yet to donate…” (Leach/Purvis, 9/14).

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In Report, British Lawmakers Say Failure Of Authorities To Successfully Prosecute FGM Case In More Than 30 Years Constitutes 'National Scandal'

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Britain’s failure to tackle female genital mutilation a ‘national disgrace’: lawmakers
“The failure of British authorities to bring one successful prosecution for female genital mutilation in more than 30 years is a ‘national scandal,’ lawmakers said on Thursday calling for greater action against professionals not reporting the practice. … British parliamentarians said in a report that they were ‘alarmed’ by the lack of prosecutions and to learn that some clinicians were ignoring the legal duty to report cases to the police with some seeming to regard the duty as ‘optional’…” (Gardner, 9/14).

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Drug Users Petition European Human Rights Court Seeking Judgment Against Russia's Legal Prohibition Of Opioid Substitution Therapy

The Guardian: How three drug users took on the might of the Russian state
“The Russian government has a notoriously punitive attitude towards drugs. Substitution treatments are banned and the only option for recovering addicts is to go cold turkey. But three drug users who have struggled for years with their addiction and have become life-threateningly ill as a result, claim that this policy is an abuse of their human rights, and are taking the Russian state to court. … After four years of [domestic] litigation and evidence collection, they have submitted their applications to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, seeking a judgment against the legal prohibition of [opioid substitution therapy (OST)] in Russia…” (Larsson, 9/14).

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Indonesia Making Progress To Improve Mental Health Care Services, U.S. News Reports

U.S. News & World Report: The Prison of Mental Illness in Indonesia
“…Lacking psychiatrists is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to under-developed mental health systems. Without trained professionals leading the effort it’s difficult to design the entire infrastructure of a mental health system, from primary care providers up to psychiatric hospitals. Experts also say developing countries don’t see mental health care as a priority, and so don’t fund it sufficiently. … In Indonesia, however, there are signs of progress. Indonesia passed a landmark mental health bill in 2014 that will provide a blueprint for developing the country’s mental health infrastructure. The country is now on its way to establishing the first national center for mental health research…” (Emont, 9/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorials Discuss Congressional Inaction To Fund Zika Response; Opinion Piece Discusses Role Of Planned Parenthood During Epidemic

Tampa Bay Times: Editorial: Congress should approve Zika funding
Editorial Board

“A tentative deal that finally would provide federal funding to fight the Zika virus offers a glimmer of hope — and sanity — that leaders in Washington will put words into action to combat this spreading public health threat. … The deal now on the table includes $1.1 billion for Zika in a short-term spending bill that keeps the federal government running into December. It’s considered ‘must-pass’ legislation, because without it federal agencies would have to shut down. … The deal in the works now will not make up for months of lawmakers’ willful inaction, but it will provide the crucial ingredient for fighting Zika: money. Lawmakers must get it done” (9/14).

Washington Post: Memo to Congress: Bickering won’t cure Zika
Editorial Board

“…The president said Monday after meeting bipartisan congressional leaders that he is optimistic there will be some action [to fund a Zika response]. We hope he is right, because so far Congress has done little to justify optimism on this score. … In recent days, the nation’s top public health officials have warned that the money is running out. Moreover, this is no way to run a railroad. Vaccine development is a long-term project requiring difficult clinical trials, and to starve it for funds now will postpone the day when an effective vaccine will be ready. This is a political season, and after Congress goes home again in a few weeks, voters will be asked to render a verdict on its performance. So far, the record is abysmal. Let’s hope members raise their gaze before heading for the exits” (9/14).

The Hill: The importance of Planned Parenthood in the Zika epidemic
Amy Faith Ho, emergency physician

“…Defunding Planned Parenthood in the face of Zika is like defunding firefighters in the face of a forest fire. All the other efforts of government agencies are focused on prevention. Planned Parenthood offers an essential right to choose for women. … Abortion aside, Planned Parenthood offers a highly effective way of limiting spread of Zika without spraying chemicals into the air: condoms and birth control. While hundreds continue to protest as spraying of mosquitoes commences despite CDC assurance that it is safe for humans, even the Pope has already stated condoms are acceptable in the face of Zika virus. Congress needs to put aside political theater and realize that while vaccines, testing, and diagnostics will be limited by the natural speed and expense of scientific research, the magic bullet is already here: Planned Parenthood. Fight fire with firefighters, not Smokey the Bear. Fund Planned Parenthood” (9/14).

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World Leaders Must Take 'Decisive Action' Against Antimicrobial Resistance

World Post: Superbugs: Why We Need Action Now
Monique Eloit, director general of the World Organization for Animal Health; Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO; and José Graziano da Silva, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization

“…In September the United Nations General Assembly will debate how best to tackle [antimicrobial resistance (AMR)], only the fourth health issue ever to be considered by the U.N., after HIV, noncommunicable diseases, and Ebola. Heads of state will be asked to make serious commitments to combat AMR and to mandate action across many government sectors, including human and animal health, food, agriculture, trade, and foreign affairs. Policymakers, health workers and patients, farmers, veterinarians, and food producers need to work closely together to use antimicrobial drugs more responsibly. But the September meeting will be an empty gesture if it is not accompanied by decisive action. Real change requires effective public policies, legislation, multisectoral collaboration, and new drug development. AMR is a global health emergency that must be stopped now” (9/14).

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International Community Should Commit To Vaccinating All Children In Humanitarian Emergencies

Huffington Post: Vulnerable Kids Everywhere Need Their Health Shots
Flavia Bustreo, WHO assistant director general for family, women’s and children’s health, and vice chair of the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

“…[T]he struggle to maintain adequate levels of vaccination among children on the move is a challenge in many parts of the world. … The most vulnerable are the young children who have yet to receive any vaccinations because health care in their home countries has been interrupted by civil unrest and war. … It is vital for host countries to extend their routine immunization programs to refugees and migrants, irrespective of their legal status. … As an international community, we must also invest more and find smarter ways of financing stocks of vaccines to use during emergencies and outbreaks. … At next week’s U.N. Summit for Refugees and Migrants, countries should recommit to safeguarding the health of children in humanitarian emergencies — a task identified as a priority in the new Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health. In any setting, funding the supply and delivery of vaccines is a proven way to save lives. And with millions of children on the move, the stakes could not be higher” (9/14).

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Increased Political Attention, Focus On Excluded Groups Critical To Achieving SDGs

Huffington Post: The Sustainable Development Goals After One Year — Already In Need Of Course Correction
Michael Klosson, vice president for policy and humanitarian response at Save the Children

“…[The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)] will not be achieved without ending both poverty, but also discrimination against excluded groups of children. … [F]air finance, equal treatment, and accountability … could turbocharge SDG implementation by overcoming barriers of exclusion. The SDGs could be transformational but with 14 years still to go, they have yet to generate sufficient urgency. There are opportunities on the horizon to bring forward the magnitude of those goals so leaders feel the weight of their responsibilities to act now to fulfill them. We see the September 19 high-level meeting at the United Nations on refugees and migration and President Obama’s September 20 summit on refugees as two such moments to tackle an unprecedented crisis of forcible displacement … This crisis has to be resolved if SDG implementation is to get on track. … As new leaders take office in coming months in the U.S., at the U.N., and in other countries, we will work to promote increased political attention to SDG implementation, improved data and accountability, institutional changes, and a priority focus on excluded groups. The ambitious commitment ‘to leave no one behind’ cannot wait” (9/14).

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Developing Nations Must Work With Biopharma Industry To Improve Access To Medicines, Not Devalue Intellectual Property System

Fox News: U.N. panel blames capitalism, property rights for lack of access to medicines in poor nations
Tom Giovanetti, president of the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI)

“On Wednesday morning, a special United Nations High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines released its findings … The alleged purpose of the High-Level Panel was to find solutions to the problem of availability of medicines in poor and developing countries. … [But the panel’s] mandate — the culmination of years of campaigning by NGOs — literally assumes an inherent conflict between patents and access to medicines for public health. … [T]he intellectual property system, while not perfect, is the best system ever devised for incentivizing innovation, transferring knowledge to encourage further innovation, and distributing the fruits of that innovation. … The U.N. High-Level Panel is a tragically missed opportunity. There are ways to increase access to medicines for developing countries, but if poor countries are going to make extravagant guarantees of access to all of the latest and greatest medicines, their only hope of keeping those promises is working with the biopharma industry as a partner, not destroying its incentives and assaulting the global trading system. The High-Level Panel could have made a useful contribution along these lines, but its conveners took the easy way out” (9/14).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kaiser Family Foundation Fact Sheet Examines Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis And Malaria, U.S. Government's Role In Fund

Kaiser Family Foundation: The U.S. & The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
This updated fact sheet examines the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund), including donor pledges and contributions to the fund, its organizational structure, achieved results, and the U.S. government’s role in the fund’s governance, oversight, and financial support (9/14).

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Foreign Aid Must Focus On Effectiveness, Accountability, Oxfam Report Says

Humanosphere: Aid is not a ‘relic of the past,’ world needs a new vision, Oxfam argues
Humanosphere reporter Tom Murphy discusses a new report from Oxfam calling for a “new vision of aid” focused on effectiveness and accountability. “‘Some people are ready to write off aid as a relic of the past, but aid remains an indispensable resource for the poorest countries which can neither raise sufficient revenues domestically nor attract enough private investment for development. Public financing helps these countries to lead their own development path and absorb other forms of development finance,’ said Winnie Byanyima, head of Oxfam International, in a statement,” Murphy notes (9/14).

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