KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Global Efforts To Reduce Mortality From Cancer, Heart Disease, Other NCDs Off Track, Analysis Shows

CNN: Globally, losing the fight against cancer and other chronic diseases
“More than half of all U.N. countries will fail to honor their commitment to reduce premature deaths from cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes by 2030, a new analysis predicts. … Published Thursday in the medical journal The Lancet, it is the result of a collaboration led by The Lancet, the World Health Organization, Imperial College London and the Non-Communicable Disease Alliance, a nongovernmental organization based in Switzerland…” (Scutti, 9/21).

The Guardian: Global push to cut deaths from cancer and heart disease wildly off course
“…The study, entitled NCD countdown 2030 and published ahead of a high-level U.N. meeting on the subject in New York next week, found that although mortality due to chronic disease is going down, the rate of decline varies significantly, even among countries in the same region. The authors, who believe this may be due to a lack of improvement in risk factors such as smoking, alcohol, and obesity, have called on policymakers to act. The measures they have suggested include the introduction of restrictions, taxation, and advertising bans to reduce the use of alcohol and tobacco. They also called for earlier diagnosis and treatment of chronic disease…” (Boateng, 9/21).

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Devex Previews Issues To Be Discussed At U.N. General Assembly, Global Goals Week, Features Interview With SG Guterres

Devex: 5 stories to watch during the U.N. General Assembly in New York
“The 73rd United Nations General Assembly is officially underway, and Global Goals Week is just around the corner. … Devex will be on the scene throughout the week, breaking down the biggest stories from the United Nations, to Bloomberg’s Global Business Forum, to the World Economic Forum, Concordia’s Annual Summit — and a wide array of side events tackling everything from universal health care to Secretary-General António Guterres’ U.N. reform agenda. And of course Donald Trump. Here are just a few of the stories we’ll be watching as Global Goals Week kicks off…” (Igoe, 9/20).

Devex: As UNGA kicks off, Guterres calls for urgency
“To kick off Devex’s United Nations General Assembly coverage, I spoke Wednesday with … U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. … For Guterres, who ascended to one of the world’s most influential leadership roles in a precarious time, a big part of his own legacy will center on how much — or how little — progress is made on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate agenda during his tenure. Guterres told me, ‘we are not doing enough’ on either count. We are slipping behind due to a lack of ‘political will,’ he said…” (Kumar, 9/21).

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Devex Report Examines Impact Of NCDs With Focus On 3 Countries

Devex: Ripple Effect: The Expansive Impact of NCDs
“Noncommunicable diseases are the leading cause of mortality worldwide, responsible for a staggering 70 percent of global deaths. The vast majority of those deaths, about 80 percent, occur in low- and middle-income countries, making the prevention and treatment of NCDs one of the most urgent health concerns in developing countries. While combating NCDs is a global task, regional contexts and social factors cause unique challenges. Ripple Effect seeks to explain just a few of these challenges through the perspective of health care workers and individuals living with NCDs in three different countries. … Ripple Effect is a part of #TakingThePulse, a content series created by Devex in partnership with the Asian Development Bank, Cancer Research U.K., NCD Alliance, Novartis, Novo-Nordisk, and Philips…” (Bardeletti/Espinosa, 9/20).

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Experts, Study Discuss TB Diagnosis, Prevention, Treatment Efforts Ahead Of U.N. High-Level Meeting

The Guardian: Fighting the world’s deadliest infectious disease: how to tackle TB
“It is the world’s deadliest infectious disease, killing almost two million people a year — more than HIV and malaria combined — but the fight against tuberculosis (TB) is still severely underfunded and neglected by politicians and decision-makers, experts warn. … This month, the United Nations General Assembly will hold the first high-level meeting on the TB crisis, putting a spotlight on the disease 25 years after it was declared a global emergency. Ahead of the event, The Guardian held a roundtable discussion with experts in the field, chaired by Health Editor Sarah Boseley and supported by the Stop TB Partnership, to discuss the barriers to fighting the disease…” (Larsson, 9/21).

New York Times: ‘Latent’ Tuberculosis? It’s Not That Common, Experts Find
“Although experts frequently assert that nearly 1.7 billion people carry dormant tuberculosis worldwide, that figure may be a ‘gross exaggeration’ of the real threat, a recent study concludes. The study, published last month in the journal BMJ, found that nearly everyone who falls seriously ill with TB does so within two years of getting infected. So-called latent infections only rarely become active, even in old age. … The challenge to conventional wisdom comes at an opportune time. On Sept. 18, the World Health Organization issued its annual TB report, and on Sept. 26, the United Nations General Assembly will hold its first high-level meeting on the disease…” (McNeil, 9/20).

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WHO Releases Draft Roadmap Report On Access To Medicines, Vaccines, Including Comments From Stakeholders

Intellectual Property Watch: WHO Releases Draft Roadmap For Access To Medicines; Comments Show Polarized Views
“…The World Health Organization was tasked at its last annual assembly in May to draft a roadmap for access for the next five years. A preliminary draft of the roadmap was discussed last week with member states and stakeholders. The roadmap includes 10 priority activity areas, and a number of deliverables. … On 10 September, the WHO organized an informal discussion with stakeholders, who provided a range of comments to the draft. … A revised draft roadmap is expected to be delivered in December, and will be submitted to the WHO Executive Board meeting in January, and to the WHA in May…” (Saez, 9/20).

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Tanzania Suspends Radio, TV Family Planning Ads Part Of U.S.-Supported Program

Reuters: Tanzania suspends U.S.-funded family planning ads on radio, television
“Tanzania has suspended broadcasting of family planning advertisements by a U.S.-funded project, a health ministry letter showed, a fortnight after President John Magufuli said family planning was for those ‘too lazy to take care of their children.’ The letter written by a senior official in the ministry covering health and gender issues asked the head of FHI 360, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization, to immediately stop airing advertisements under a project called Tulonge Afya (Let’s speak health). … Officials from FHI 360 and [the] USAID Tanzania office did not immediately respond when Reuters sought comment…” (Dausen, 9/20).

Xinhua News: Tanzania suspends family planning ads
“…The letter, dated Sept. 19, 2018, ordered the organizations to stop airing all content on family planning until it is revised by the government. ‘The ministry intends to revise the contents of all your ongoing radio and TV spots for family planning, thus I request you to stop with immediate effect airing and publishing any family planning contents in any media channels until further notice,’ [Mpoki Ulisubisya, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Health,] said in the letter. … ‘We want to come up with a standard message to the public on family planning,’ Ulisubisya told Xinhua over the phone…” (9/20).

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Rumors, Misunderstandings, Conflict Hinder Ebola Response In Congo, But Officials Say Progress Being Made

Associated Press: Rumors, conflict challenge Ebola response in eastern Congo
“The latest Ebola outbreak in Congo presents complex challenges as the virus spreads for the first time in an area where long-running conflict is hampering aid efforts, the regional Africa chief for the International Federation of the Red Cross said Wednesday…” (Keaten, 9/20).

Becker’s Hospital Review: Ebola containment efforts in Congo prove effective, health officials say
“Health officials overseeing the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo said efforts to halt the disease from spreading are proving successful, according to STAT’s Morning Rounds e-newsletter released Sept. 20…” (Cook, 9/20).

Additional coverage of the Ebola outbreak in Congo is available from Reuters and Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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More News In Global Health

Associated Press: Survey of 104 countries says 1.3 billion live in poverty (9/20).

BMJ: Pandemrix vaccine: why was the public not told of early warning signs? (Doshi, 9/20).

City Press: How the mining industry is dealing with the fight against TB (Sangqu, 9/21).

Devex: How Colombia battled big tobacco and won (Politzer, 9/20).

The Guardian: ‘Medieval’ cholera outbreak exposes huge challenges in Zimbabwe (Burke, 9/20).

Inter Press Service: Recognizing the Debilitating Nature Conflict Has on Food Security (Bafana, 9/21).

The Lancet: India launches Ayushman Bharat’s secondary care component (Chatterjee, 9/22).

Reuters: Malnutrition, child deaths plague India’s tribal people, says government (Srivastava, 9/20).

Reuters Health: Diabetes drugs less affordable, less available in lower income countries (Rapaport, 9/20).

SciDev.Net: Sri Lanka’s high non-communicable diseases toll (Shaikh, 9/20).

U.N. News: Conflicts and extreme climate change threatens access to food in 39 countries — U.N. agriculture report (9/20).

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Editorials and Opinions

The Lancet Publishes Editorials Discussing Global Efforts On NCDs, Including Cancer

The Lancet: NCD Countdown 2030: strengthening accountability
Editorial Board

“One of the most powerful forces to emerge from the MDG era has been the idea of accountability. … Governments prefer mutual accountability. But … [w]hat is needed is independent accountability … This week, The Lancet, in collaboration with public health scientists, civil society leaders, and WHO, launches a new independent accountability mechanism — NCD Countdown 2030 — to monitor and review progress towards preventing, treating, and controlling non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The Sustainable Development Goals, agreed by all nations of the world, promise to reduce by one-third premature mortality from NCDs by 2030. At present rates of progress, most countries will not meet their 2030 commitments. Accountability is partly about naming and shaming. But, more importantly, accountability is about identifying the specific measures countries must take to improve the likelihood of meeting their stated commitments. Today is therefore an important inflexion point in the history of attempts to prevent, treat, and control NCDs. The promises made by the international community must be delivered” (9/22).

The Lancet: GLOBOCAN 2018: counting the toll of cancer
Editorial Board

“…A heart-breaking truth is that many cancers could be prevented by stronger public health action … But not all cancers can be prevented, so timely and universal access to quality care, diagnostics, and affordable, proven treatments is also necessary. No community is untouched by cancer, but for those without a cancer registry, the burden remains unseen and unaddressed. The value of [GLOBOCAN, a recently published web-based platform that presents global cancer statistics,] is to aggregate findings in an accessible format that makes cancer burdens visible and unlocks the power of data to kindle ideas and actions. But the real test for GLOBOCAN is the extent to which resulting policies improve outcomes and narrow the shameful inequalities in survival between populations” (9/22).

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Upcoming Global Meetings Serve As Opportunity To Advance Action On Tobacco Control

Devex: Opinion: Tobacco is a huge health threat. So why aren’t we doing more about it?
Ryan Forrest, policy and advocacy officer at the Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control, and Francis Thompson, executive director at the FCA

“…This October, governments who are parties to the global tobacco control treaty will gather … at the eighth session of the [Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)] Conference of the Parties, where they will discuss and potentially endorse the world’s first Global Strategy to accelerate tobacco control and advance sustainable development. If endorsed, the strategy will be an important tool to improve multilateral cooperation to combat the tobacco epidemic. It calls upon global actors … to take action to support governments [in developing] their own comprehensive national tobacco control strategies, and to put a few key measures into place including raising taxes on tobacco products and putting health warnings on packages. We must also seize the opportunity that will be presented at the United Nations High-level Meeting on NCDs, taking place next week, to raise awareness of this forthcoming plan … and to highlight the potential it holds to serve as a roadmap to address a leading risk factor in the development of NCDs. If the world is going to meet the targets set under the 2030 SDG agenda, it needs to get serious about tobacco control…” (9/20).

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Crisis In Syria Shows U.N. Must Reform Its System For Providing Humanitarian Aid

Foreign Affairs: How U.N. Humanitarian Aid Has Propped Up Assad
Annie Sparrow, assistant professor of global health at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York

“…The Syrian government’s ability to hijack the most expensive humanitarian effort on record signals a need for the U.N. to reform its system for providing aid, which defers to sovereign states even when they have declared war on parts of their own population. … The best estimate is that only between two and 18 percent of U.N. aid actually reaches needy Syrians. … If ever there were a situation in which U.N. agencies should break with their traditional deference to sovereignty, it is in Syria. … If the Assad regime wants international assistance to rebuild the cities it has played a central role in destroying, it should have to do so on radically different terms, with international donors demanding sole authority to select local partners, flatly refusing to submit to the government’s methods of extracting aid money for its own purposes, and requesting an independent forensic audit to determine how the U.N. has spent its billion-dollar budget in Syria, following the model [of] the Global Fund … If the U.N. cannot radically improve the terms on which it operates in the country, it should get out, until Assad’s unspeakably brutal regime no longer imposes itself on the Syrian people” (9/20).

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International Community Should Commit To Improving Access To Surgical Care

Global Health NOW: Do We Have a Right to Surgery? The Case for Access to All
Rolvix Patterson, medical and public health student at Tufts University School of Medicine and research associate at Harvard’s Program for Global Surgery and Social Change, and Jacquelyn Corley, neurological surgery resident at Duke University Medical Center, Paul Farmer research fellow at Harvard’s Program for Global Surgery and Social Change, and human rights journalist

“…Studies show that one third of the world’s burden of disease can be treated with surgery, and yet 70 percent of the global population lacks access to surgical care. … To protect the right to surgery and ensure that everybody has access, we need a concerted effort across all levels of global health, from individuals to international multilateral organizations. Donors and advocates need to support and promote organizations committed to building local surgical capacity in resource-poor settings. Large-scale international organizations like the WHO, World Bank, and universities need to support and facilitate national surgical planning by local governments and health ministries. … [M]omentum is gathering to change this paradigm, and everyone has a role to play in promoting better health across the world” (9/20).

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India's Supreme Court Lays Foundation For LGBT Rights In Country

New York Times: A Win for LGBT Rights in India
Editorial Board

“…[In India,] the recent groundbreaking, unanimous decision of the country’s top court to overturn a colonial-era ban on consensual gay sex was a welcome affirmation of human dignity. … [T]here is still much work to do, and one can assume a cultural backlash as gay people in India seek to exercise their newfound freedoms. … Given the court’s sweeping and principled assertion that fundamental rights apply to all Indians, regardless of sexual orientation, activists have made clear their intention to push for the other rights they are denied, including to marry, adopt children, be protected from hate speech, and inherit their partner’s wealth. … India’s Supreme Court laid that foundation, and has offered renewed hope in the power of democratic institutions to ensure that all people enjoy equal protection under the law” (9/20).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

FIGO, Partners Release Needs Assessment Reports On Abortion For Countries In Africa, Latin America

FIGO: Improving access to safe abortion
“…To thoroughly understand the differing national views on abortion, and the capacity of 10 FIGO national member societies, this year FIGO, with our partners KIT Royal Tropical Institute, have undertaken a comprehensive needs assessment. The aim was to learn as much as possible in order to develop a proposal to strengthen the capacity of each member society, in particular to raise their capacity to lead safe abortion advocacy efforts and bring change to their countries. The needs assessment involved literature reviews, online surveys, key informant interviews, and workshops in eight countries in Africa and two in Latin American. The result, incredibly comprehensive reports for each country, have already helped FIGO and other organizations understand the situation better and focus our work accordingly…” (9/20).

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Long-Term Data On Toilet Use Uptake, Abandonment Needed To Support Better Investments, Experts Write

Brookings Institution’s “Future Development”: What panel data tell us about toilets in India
Indermit Gill, director of the Duke Center for International Development at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, and Subhrendu K. Pattanayak, professor of public policy and environmental economics at Duke University and faculty director of the Sustainable Energy Transitions Initiative at the Duke Energy Access Project, discuss recent developments in sanitation and toilet usage in Bangladesh and India, noting some data from Bangladesh “point both to rapid adoption and abandonment of toilets.” The authors note, “In many ways, the findings echo the experience with other investments in new infrastructure. For the changes to persist long enough to permanently alter hardened habits, these investments have to be accompanied by durable arrangements for maintenance, and periodic reminders of the human and financial costs of reverting to the practices of old” (9/20).

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