KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

HHS Secretary Burwell Discusses U.S. Zika Response, Funding At Forum; Kaiser Health News Examines How Funding Will Help Address Epidemic In U.S., Abroad

The Atlantic: What Happened While America Waited for Zika Funding
“… ‘Did [the Zika funding] delay cause harm? Did that set you back?’ Jonathan Karl, ABC News’s chief White House correspondent, asked the secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, on Thursday at the Washington Ideas Forum, an event produced by The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic. ‘In a number of things, it did,’ Burwell said. ‘We had to make decisions that were not what I would like…’ ‘I think most people don’t realize that in the U.S., including our territories, Puerto Rico mainly: 23,000 cases of Zika already,’ Burwell said…” (Beck, 9/29).

Kaiser Health News: Congress Finally Approves Funding To Fight Zika — But What Does This Mean?
“After months of bickering, Congress agreed Wednesday to allocate $1.1 billion toward curbing the spread of the Zika virus, a primarily mosquito-borne disease that has raised public health alarms. … So what exactly has Congress done? And, from a public health standpoint, how much will it help? Here is a breakdown of what you need to know…” (Luthra, 9/29).

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U.S. Issues Travel Advisory For SE Asia As Thailand Reports First Cases Of Zika-Linked Microcephaly; U.S. Health Official Says Zika-Related Birth Defects Likely Will Be Higher Than Anticipated

Agence France-Presse: First Thai babies diagnosed with Zika-linked microcephaly
“Thai health authorities on Friday said microcephaly in two babies was caused by the Zika virus, in what is believed to be Southeast Asia’s first confirmed case of a link between the sickness and the birth defect…” (9/30).

Associated Press: Thailand confirms SE Asia’s first Zika-linked birth defects
“…Dr. Prasert Thongcharoen, a senior health ministry official, said in a statement Friday that the linkage to Zika was confirmed by laboratory tests in two of three cases of babies afflicted with microcephaly. The results were inconclusive in the third case…” (9/30).

Associated Press: Zika travel advisory issued for 11 Southeast Asia countries
“U.S. health officials are advising pregnant women to postpone travel to 11 countries in Southeast Asia because of Zika outbreaks in the region. The advisory issued Thursday targets travel to Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam…” (9/29).

Reuters: CDC issues Zika travel advisory for 11 Southeast Asian countries
“…The CDC said ‘travel notices,’ like those issued for Zika-struck countries like Brazil and Singapore, have not been issued for these destinations, but such warnings would be considered if the number of cases rises to the level of an outbreak…” (Jain et al., 9/29).

Reuters: Zika-related birth defects likely higher than anticipated: panel
“The risk posed by the Zika virus to developing fetuses is likely far greater than current estimates suggest, a top U.S. health official said on Thursday. … ‘If you’re talking about any congenital defect I think it’s going to be much higher than 13 percent,’ [NIAID Director Anthony Fauci] said. ‘I think we’re going to see something very disturbing.’ The panel was presented by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in collaboration with Reuters…” (Berkrot, 9/29).

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No One Arrested, Jailed For Attacks On Aid Workers, Health Facilities, Despite Becoming More Common

NPR: Why Is No One Punished For Attacks On Aid Workers?
“…[T]he rules are simple: Don’t target medical facilities. Don’t harm doctors and medical workers. Don’t harm civilians, including aid workers. They’re outlined in a raft of domestic and international laws. This includes the Geneva Conventions … In the past few years, almost no one has been arrested or jailed for these atrocities or prosecuted at the International Criminal Court or ad hoc U.N. tribunals. The message to violators is that they can act with impunity, says Patricia McIlreavy, vice president of humanitarian policy at InterAction, a coalition of global NGOs. ‘I don’t know of any punishments that have been meted out,’ she says…” (Gharib, 9/29).

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Kaiser Health News/NPR Examine U.S. FDA's Priority Review Voucher Program

Kaiser Health News/NPR: Are Golden Tickets That Speed Drugs Through FDA Worthwhile?
“…Members of Congress, the pharmaceutical industry, and rare disease advocates have passionately supported [priority review] vouchers as a way to spur development of drugs for rare and neglected diseases. But skeptics, including FDA officials and some academics, have questioned whether the program is paying off…” (Tribble, 9/29).

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World Bank President Pledges To Call Out Nations Not Addressing Childhood Stunting; Peru Reverses Stunting Trend

The Guardian: World Bank to name and shame countries that fail to prevent stunting in children
“The president of the World Bank has warned he will name and shame countries that fail to tackle the malnourishment and poor growth of their children, as part of a mission to rid the world of stunting. Jim Yong Kim, the former physician who heads the bank, told The Guardian he would take to the podium at the World Economic Forum in Davos every year to point the finger at governments who failed to live up to promises to tackle a scourge affecting tens of millions of children…” (Boseley, 9/30).

The Guardian: The country that cracked its stunting crisis
“…In the seven years between 2007 and 2014 stunting among children under five dropped from 29 percent to 14 percent, according to Peru’s National Statistics Institute. It is one of the most successful achievements in reducing child malnourishment in the world. What is remarkable about the achievement was the coordination between government ministries, regional governments, health professionals, and NGOs to focus on specific goals and targeted policy efforts to convert Peru’s impressive economic growth into a reduction in child stunting caused by chronic undernutrition…” (Collyns, 9/30).

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Discussions Underway On U.N. Aid Package To Address Cholera In Haiti, U.N. Official Says

Agence France-Presse: U.N. rolls out aid package for cholera-hit Haiti
“The United Nations will mobilize $181 million to shore up the emergency response to the cholera epidemic in Haiti and at least an equal amount for the victims and their families, a senior U.N. official says. The financial package follows the United Nations’ admission that it had a moral responsibility to help Haiti deal with the epidemic that broke out near a U.N. peacekeepers’ base. … Discussions are under way with the Haitian government on the details of the aid package, which U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to announce at the end of October…” (Viollaz, 9/29).

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Devex Speaks To Experts About Chan Zuckerberg Initiative's $3B Pledge To End Disease

Devex: How should Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan spend $3B to end disease?
“…For now, details on the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which was launched in December are still limited. But its ambitions from education to global health have launched new conversations about where funds are most needed. Chan Zuckerberg Science will take a unique approach by committing significant financial resources to basic science research over the next decade. … Experts who spoke with Devex welcomed the ambition of Chan Zuckerberg Science and outlined how they hope to see the money spent…” (Cheney, 9/29).

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Sierra Leone Officials Not Enforcing FGM Ban, The Guardian Reports

The Guardian: Captured and cut: FGM returns to Sierra Leone despite official ban
“…FGM has been banned in the country since emergency health measures were introduced after the Ebola outbreak in 2014. But despite the continued ban, the practice has returned through all-female secret societies … and condemnation by the authorities has become increasingly absent…” (Fofana, 9/29).

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Russia's Resistance To Effective HIV Policies Contributing To Increase In Cases, The Economist Reports

The Economist: HIV in Russia: Immune to reason
“…In most of the world the threat of HIV/AIDS has receded. The exceptions are eastern Europe and Central Asia. In Russia, which accounts for more than 80 percent of new infections in the region, 51,000 people were diagnosed in the first five months of this year. In January registered HIV cases there topped one million. … Bad policies and neglect have fed the epidemic. Russia has eschewed the kind of sex education and drug policies that have been shown to work elsewhere…” (10/1).

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Rice University Bioengineer Receives MacArthur Award For Work On Innovation In Medical Equipment Design, Improving Health Care Access

Washington Post: Ask a MacArthur genius: Just how cheap can cancer diagnosis get?
“What’s the best way to bring cutting-edge health care to the world’s poorest places? It can be tempting to export money and equipment to solve the problem. … Could there be a better way? [Bioengineer Rebecca] Richards-Kortum thinks so — and her efforts to bring affordable, adaptable technology to the world’s poorest places earned her a spot in this year’s class of MacArthur fellows. Richards-Kortum, who heads up Rice University’s Institute for Global Health, uses the latest advances in nanotechnology, fabrication, and molecular imaging to help invent equipment that’s rugged enough to stand up to the most challenging clinical conditions and cheap enough to make sense for communities that usually lack access to health care…” (Blakemore, 9/28).

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Editorials and Opinions

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative's $3B Pledge To 'End All Illness,' Other Philanthropic Money Helps Fill Gaps In Government Funding

Science: The boldness of philanthropists
David Baltimore, Nobel Prize winner, president emeritus of and professor at the California Institute of Technology

“Last week, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg announced their new philanthropic initiative with the goal of ‘curing, preventing, and managing all diseases by the end of the century.’ … Although private funding cannot match the scale of government funding … it can help fill gaps. Most importantly, it can initiate research thrusts into unproven directions, which generally do not draw government funding. … Big-profile gifts raise concerns for some, such as downplaying the need to increase federal dollars for basic research. But these gifts are certainly broadcasting a common message — philanthropists recognize that a long view of progress is worth investing in” (9/30).

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International Community Must Provide More Funding, Effort To Stop Boko Haram In Nigeria

New York Times: Savaged by Boko Haram
Editorial Board

“…[I]t is good that the singer Bono and the United Nations are seeking to draw attention to the havoc still being spread by Boko Haram, the Islamist group that has been savaging northeastern Nigeria for seven years. … Reports from Bono’s organization, the ONE campaign, and other aid agencies depict a region in terrible straits. … Yet the United Nations office that coordinates humanitarian affairs said that by mid-September it had collected only a quarter of the $739 million it needs for the region. … [The] fight will not be won unless the misery that Boko Haram generates, and on which it feeds, is also alleviated. [Nigeria] President Buhari must do far more to combat graft and provide jobs and services in the afflicted regions. And it is critical that countries open their wallets, and that this terrible suffering not be forgotten” (9/30).

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Better Diagnostics, Implementation Of Mosquito Prevention Needed To Control Zika's Spread In Puerto Rico, U.S.

The Hill: Stopping Puerto Rico’s Zika crisis
Ranu S. Dhillon, adviser to the president of Guinea and the country’s National Ebola Coordination Cell; Javier Ortiz, executive director of the Puerto Rico Economic Recovery Initiative and partner at Falcon Cyber Investments; Devabhaktuni Srikrishna, founder of Patient Knowhow; and David Beier, a managing director of Bay City Capital

“…We need to act now to fight the epidemic in Puerto Rico and prevent it from becoming a similar crisis on the mainland. … [W]e — the national and international community working together — need should remember fundamental steps. These include research on the biology of the disease, short-term treatment options, and research and development of safe and effective vaccines. Additionally, the development of accurate and readily accessible diagnostic tools for early detection to reduce transmission and guide treatment is required. In an era of rapid mobility of people and goods we simply need to create a permanent rapid response plan and team to guard against the next few epidemics and beyond because our national security depends on it. … Two of us advised the president of Guinea, one of the poorest countries in the world, on reining in its Ebola epidemic — all in the absence of a vaccine — by focusing on two principles. First, we must identify a sufficient fraction of those who are infected, and providing them whatever resources are needed to prevent them from infecting others. Secondly, we must encourage communities to adopt practices that sufficiently prevent further transmission…” (9/29).

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Youth Engagement In Family Planning Programs, Advocacy Essential To Reach FP2020 Goal

Global Health NOW: Family Planning, Future Planning
Jose G. “Oying” Rimon II, director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health and senior scientist in the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

“Engaging young people in family planning programs and advocacy is essential to achieving the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) goal of enabling 120 million more women and girls to have voluntary access to contraceptives by 2020. … Why is it so important to engage youth? For one thing, the world’s population of young people (between the ages of 10 and 24) is at a historic high, with the majority — nearly 90 percent — living in the developing world. We know that approximately 16 million adolescent girls ([between] 15 and 19 years old), mostly in low- and middle-income countries, give birth each year; complications during pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death for girls in this age range. … There has been concern that as the older cohort is aging out of the field, there may not be a critical mass of up-and-coming leaders to take over. 120 Under 40 [a competition that the Gates Institute launched last year to shine a spotlight on young family planning champions worldwide] gives us a way to draw attention to these young leaders driving the field forward, and to provide them with a platform for their voice and a grant of $1,000 to continue their work…” (9/28).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

WHO Recognizes International Day Of Older Persons, Urges Better Attitudes Toward, Treatment Of Older People

WHO: Discrimination and negative attitudes about aging are bad for your health
“New analysis by WHO shows that negative or ageist attitudes towards older people are widespread. They also negatively affect older people’s physical and mental health. Fully 60 percent of respondents in the WHO ‘World Values Survey’ reported that older people are not respected. More than 83,000 people in 57 countries took part in the survey which assessed attitudes to older people across all age groups. The lowest levels of respect were reported in high-income countries. … The International Day of Older Persons, celebrated on 1 October, highlights the important contributions that older people make to society and raises awareness of the issues and challenges of aging in today’s world. The theme for 2016, Take a Stand Against Ageism, urges everyone to consider ageism and the detrimental impact it has on older people” (9/29).

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WHO Official Says Polio Will Be Eradicated Despite Setback In Nigeria

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Polio will be eradicated
Michael Zaffran, director of polio eradication for the World Health Organization, writes that Nigeria’s recently reported cases of poliovirus are “a setback in the global effort to eradicate polio once and for all. But as Nigeria is again classified as polio endemic, I am confident that we will come back from this. … If anything, this global network’s ability to rally and consolidate support so quickly in the wake of this outbreak has given me even more reason to believe that global eradication remains a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if'” (9/28).

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