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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Senate Passes Empty 'Shell Bill' Aimed At Advancing Talks On Government Funding, Including Zika Response Spending

POLITICO: Is Zika deal finally here?
“…The tentative funding on Zika virus is tucked within the larger continuing resolution that Congress is still hammering out. That short-term spending measure must pass in order to keep the government running until December 9. … Language in the emerging deal does not specify which providers are eligible or ineligible for funding, skirting a political landmine that has delayed Zika aid for months. Lawmakers are still hashing out how to pay for the $1.1 billion Zika aid package…” (Diamond, 9/20).

USA TODAY: Senate votes to advance empty bill to keep government funding on track
“Senators voted Tuesday evening to advance a bill to prevent an Oct. 1 government shutdown and combat the Zika virus, but the ‘shell bill’ provides no actual details of the agreement, which still must be written. The bill will serve as a vehicle for a deal that senators are continuing to negotiate. Senators voted 89-7 to approve the procedural move, which leaders hope will speed up the process for a final agreement…” (Kelly, 9/20).

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U.N. General Assembly Expected To Adopt Declaration To Combat Antimicrobial Resistance; Pharmaceutical Firms Sign Voluntary Code Of Conduct To Address Issue

Al Jazeera: Superbugs reach apex of global health worries
“…On September 21, superbugs get elevated to the top of the global agenda, with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, GlaxoSmithKline drug firm boss Sir Andrew Witty, and others meeting at the United Nations to keep antibiotics and other drugs working for future generations. … Envoys will raise the profile of the threat and launch a coordinating body to help countries act and report back on progress in 2018. Samantha Power, Washington’s U.N. envoy, said the meeting reflected a ‘newfound sense of urgency’ on superbugs. She outlined tough talks with drug firms to come. Telling Al Jazeera that a meeting alone, however, will not create a solution to the problem…” (Reinl, 9/20).

Financial Times: Big pharma targets drug-resistant superbugs
“Big pharmaceutical companies have signed an agreement to tackle the spread of superbugs as the U.N. prepares to discuss antimicrobial resistance. Drugmakers including Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca said the world faced a ‘staggering threat’ from drug-resistant superbugs and agreed to abide by a voluntary code of conduct designed to address the problem…” (Crow, 9/20).

The Guardian: U.N. agrees to fight ‘the biggest threat to modern medicine’: antibiotic resistance
“All 193 United Nations member states are set to sign a declaration agreeing to combat ‘the biggest threat to modern medicine’ in Wednesday’s high-level meeting on antibiotic resistance. The agreement was reached just before the General Assembly convened to discuss the threat of antibiotic resistance, which is only the fourth health issue to trigger a General Assembly meeting…” (Holpuch, 9/21).

Quartz: The Goldman Sachs economist who coined the term BRIC is helping tackle the antimicrobial resistance crisis
“…Many people have worked hard to bring attention to the threat, but Jim O’Neill may have have been one of the most influential. … In 2014, O’Neill took charge of leading the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. Over two years, it produced a series of comprehensive reports that have been instrumental in shaping the dialogue about what could become the next global health crisis. Quartz met O’Neill after the final report from the review was published earlier this year. Following is our conversation…” (Rathi, 9/20).

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U.N. SG Ban Expresses 'Tremendous Regret' Over Haitian Cholera Outbreak In Opening Remarks At U.N. General Assembly

Miami Herald: U.N. chief feels ‘regret and sorrow’ over Haiti cholera outbreak
“United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday expressed ‘tremendous regret’ over the cholera outbreak in Haiti as part of his opening address to the U.N. General Assembly. ‘I feel tremendous regret and sorrow at the profound suffering of Haitians affected by cholera,’ he said, speaking in French. ‘The time has come for a new approach to ease the plight and better their lives. This is our firm and enduring moral responsibility’…” (Charles, 9/20).

Reuters: U.N. chief Ban regrets peacekeeper abuse, Haiti cholera
“…In Haiti, Ban is working on a new response to an outbreak of cholera. The country was free of cholera until 2010, when U.N. peacekeepers dumped infected sewage into a river. … Since then, more than 9,000 people have died of the disease that causes uncontrollable diarrhea and 800,000 people have fallen ill, mostly in the first two years of the outbreak…” (Nichols, 9/20).

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U.N. Official, World Leaders Support Sustainable Development Goals, Health Promotion In UNGA Opening Remarks

U.N. News Centre: Global Goals ‘simple answer’ to delivering results world so desperately needs — U.N. Assembly President
“While it is evident the 2030 Agenda is being increasingly used as the framework for improved national development plans around the world, ‘we are far from where we need to be,’ the president of the United Nations General Assembly said [Tuesday], opening the 193-member body’s annual general debate with a strong call to do more to end conflict, erase poverty, and bolster human rights for all…” (9/20).

U.N. News Centre: Non-communicable diseases ‘make poverty even worse,’ Uruguay President warns U.N. Assembly
“Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Uruguay’s president [Tuesday] warned against non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular ailments, cancer, diabetes, and chronic pulmonary pathologies, which he said are the main causes of death particularly in low- and middle-income countries. ‘These diseases, to a great extent, result from four risk factors directly related to supposedly typical behaviors of modern lifestyle: smoking, alcoholism, unhealthy diet, and sedentary lifestyle,’ said President Tabaré Vázquez, who came into the political circle from the medical profession…” (9/20).

U.N. News Centre: At U.N., Southern African leaders underline importance of regional efforts for sustainable development
“In their respective addresses to the United Nations General Assembly [Tuesday], Southern African leaders stressed the importance of regional efforts, such as within the African continent through the African Union (A.U.) to realize a better and sustainable future for all…” (9/20).

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Devex Examines Successes Of Global Fund Replenishment Conference, Challenges For Future Fundraising

Devex: Global Fund sees new donors, persistent gaps
“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria hit its funding goal at the fifth replenishment conference in Montreal, Canada, on Sept 16-17. But advocates warn that those funds may still fall short of what’s needed to reach the most vulnerable communities. The reasons include persistent human rights challenges and access to affordable drugs — both of which require new financing and better policy, advocates said. … Despite the strong pledges, the Global Fund still needs an additional $20 billion to meet its overall needs over the next three years…” (Halais, 9/20).

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5M Somalis Food Insecure, Response Needs Additional Funding, U.N. Says

Agence France-Presse: Five million Somalis now going hungry
“Five million Somalis, or more than two out of five people in the country, do not have enough to eat, the United Nations said Tuesday, calling for extra funds for food aid. The latest figures represent an increase of 300,000 food insecure people since February, said the U.N.’s humanitarian affairs office, OCHA…” (9/20).

TIME: Five Million People in Somalia Do Not Have Enough Food, the U.N. Says
“…The East African nation has long been wracked by violent conflict that has displaced over a million people, and its malnutrition problem has been exacerbated this year by drought conditions that have reportedly lowered crop production by half. In addition, a Somalian Humanitarian Response Plan has only received 32 percent of its desired funding, Peter de Clercq, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said in a statement…” (Iyengar, 9/20).

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Boko Haram Conflict In Northeast Nigeria Causing Food Shortages For Millions

Agence France-Presse: Starving to death: Boko Haram’s food crisis in Nigeria
“…There have been repeated warnings about the effects of food shortages caused by the Boko Haram conflict, which has killed at least 20,000 people and left 2.6 million homeless since 2009. But despite the huge numbers involved, the situation has received little attention compared with other humanitarian crises around the world — even within Nigeria. … Last month, the [U.N.] said 4.5 million people in three northeast states needed immediate food aid — double the number in March…” (Hazlewood/Abubakar, 9/21).

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Editorials and Opinions

Congressional Inaction To Fund Zika Puts Americans At Risk

The Hill: Playing politics with Zika funding puts Americans at risk
Brent Wilkes, executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

“…Unless Congress takes action, the Zika threat will continue to be real and imminent. … With each passing day of inaction, safety measures that could stop the virus from spreading are not taken and more Americans are being put at unnecessary risk. The sad irony is that many of those playing politics with Zika funding are the same congressional leaders who purport to care for the health of the unborn. If ever there was a time to put safety before politics — it is now. LULAC urges Congress to do the job that the American people elected them do and vote on legislation that will fund measures to protect vulnerable Americans from Zika threats” (9/20).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Antimicrobial Resistance, Including Expected U.N. Political Declaration

Huffington Post: Drug-Resistant TB Should Figure Prominently In The Global AMR Response
Madhukar Pai, professor and director of global health at McGill University

“…[I]t may be more impactful for [drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB)] control to be seen as one component of a comprehensive strategy to address [antimicrobial resistance (AMR)]. While TB gets little attention, AMR is increasingly seen as a global health emergency and a security threat. Policymakers and donor agencies have prioritized AMR as a key issue for the global health security agenda, and the upcoming U.N. meeting is one component of this global response. … [T]he door is wide open for the TB community to leverage this interest, and advocate for a well-funded, comprehensive AMR initiative that includes DR-TB as a key component. In fact, DR-TB could well be a pathfinder for successfully tackling AMR in low- and middle-income countries, and help make the case for greater investments. It is time for the TB community to advocate for including TB in the broader agenda to tackle AMR globally, and make sure DR-TB receives adequate funding and support” (9/20).

Global Health NOW: 3 Key Steps After the U.N. Political Declaration on AMR
Anthony D. So, director of ReAct — Action on Antibiotic Resistance Strategic Policy Program and of the new Innovation + Design for Enabling Access (IDEA) Initiative in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Reshma Ramachandran, assistant scientist in the ReAct Strategic Policy Program and the Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School

“…We believe the following three steps are essential for the [expected U.N. Political Declaration] to succeed in stemming the tide of AMR: 1. Implementing the Political Declaration should ensure that resources are targeted upstream in the [research and development (R&D)] pipeline to transform the ecosystem for innovation, not just by giving incentives to one company or one drug at a time. … 2. Financing should not only be mobilized for innovation of new technologies, but also for innovation of practice. … 3. To inform both global and national policies to effectively address AMR, transparent monitoring of antimicrobial use, sales, prescriptions, trade, resistance, as well as access is needed. … Only with effective implementation will the U.N. General Assembly’s Political Declaration take us a step closer to a future free from the fear of untreatable infections” (9/20).

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U.K. Leadership, Investments In Global Fund Continue To Drive Progress Against Malaria

Huffington Post: Globally United To #EndItForGood
James Whiting, executive director of Malaria No More U.K.

“…We are delighted by Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel’s announcement of the U.K.’s commitment of £1.1billion to the Global Fund, which she described as ‘one of the world’s most effective aid instruments.’ … U.K. leadership and investment has been a critical driver of progress against malaria to date and will be central to determining the future trajectory of this disease. … With the increased funding pledged over the weekend, the Global Fund can build sustainable programs for the treatment and prevention of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The alternative is clear — we know from history that, if we allow it, malaria will always fight back. … At Malaria No More U.K., we know the importance of sustaining this momentum. We will continue to inspire the public, protect those most at risk, and build partnerships with people and organizations who share our vision of a malaria-free world…” (9/20).

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Global Health Impact Index Could Incentivize Pharmaceutical Companies To Ensure Access To Essential Medicines

The Conversation: How can we get pharma companies to do more for global health? Try ranking them
Nicole Hassoun, associate professor at the State University of New York’s Binghamton University

“…[Pharmaceutical] companies have a moral and legal obligation to ensure access to essential medicines. … When companies set high prices, lobby to extend patent protections on important medicines, and do not develop enough new drugs for neglected diseases, they fail to live up to these obligations. … [T]he Global Health Organization … produces an index assessing the impact of drugs that treat some of the world’s most devastating diseases. As I argue in a recently published article in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, this could create an incentive for companies to live up to their obligations. … The hope is that consumers in developed countries will prefer to purchase everyday medicines from companies with better rankings on the Global Health Impact Index. … Millions of people suffer from devastating diseases in developing countries. By using data about what companies are doing for global health, we all might be able to push them to live up their obligations” (9/20).

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NIAID Director Anthony Fauci Discusses U.S. Zika Funding, HIV/AIDS Efforts In Washington Post Podcast

Washington Post: Anthony Fauci: Forced to rob cancer research to pay for Zika vaccine push
Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer

” ‘Hold up. Wait, wait, wait a minute.’ That was my response when Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told me that the ongoing congressional battle over Zika funding forced the federal government to take money from other diseases to finance the hunt for a vaccine. … President Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion to address the Zika crisis back in February. But as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told me in last week’s [Cape UP podcast] episode, renewed fights in Congress over Planned Parenthood have tripped up Zika funding bills. Fauci said that if the battles aren’t resolved by the start of the new fiscal year (Oct. 1), ‘We’re going to have to stop what we’re doing.’ The consequences of such an action are huge. … And you can’t have a conversation with Fauci without talking about his work on HIV/AIDS. … Listen to the podcast to find out what Fauci thinks the level of HIV infections needs to be to make HIV/AIDS ‘much, much, much less of a public health threat’…” (9/20).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.N. Commission Calls For Investments In Global Health Workforce To Attain SDGs

WHO/ILO/OECD: U.N. Commission: New investments in global health workforce will create jobs and drive economic growth
“The presidents of France and South Africa [Tuesday] called for urgent investments globally to create new jobs in the health sector in order to prevent a projected shortfall of 18 million health workers primarily in low- and lower-middle-income countries, and help countries to maximize the social and economic benefits of increased health employment. … The commission made 10 recommendations for realizing [gains in health, global security, and inclusive economic growth], through appropriate investments in health employment that can power economies, move countries closer to universal health coverage, and act as a bulwark against outbreaks…” (9/20).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, published Issue 296 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter features articles on various topics, including the outcomes of the Global Fund’s fifth replenishment conference and whether ending AIDS by 2030 is a realistic goal, as well as a commentary on Georgia’s current drug policies and their implications for HIV prevention (9/21).

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