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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Senate Leaders Hold Talks Aimed At Compromise Over Zika Response Funding, Stopgap Spending Measure

CNN: Senate leaders report progress in talks over Zika and government funding
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is anxious to both head off the threat of a government shutdown and preserve his Republican majority, announced Wednesday he is in talks with Senate Democrats and the White House to extend funding for federal agencies until December 9. He also said they are negotiating a bill to combat the Zika virus and is ‘hopeful and optimistic’ a deal can be reached soon and that floor debate could begin next week…” (Barrett/Walsh, 9/7).

PBS NewsHour: Senate leaders see path forward on funding Zika virus
“…Zika has been the central issue Congress confronts as it returns from a seven-week recess. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it will run out of money to fight Zika by the end of this month. President Obama in February asked Congress to approve $1.9 billion in emergency Zika money. So far, zero has been approved…” (Bowman, 9/7).

Reuters: U.S. lawmakers seek compromise on Zika virus funding
“…Republicans and Democrats huddled separately in closed meetings in both the Senate and House to see if they could reach a compromise during a 19-day work session this month, before lawmakers break for a recess in the weeks before the Nov. 8 U.S. election. Lawmakers returned to work this week after a seven-week summer recess…” (Cowan/Cornwell, 9/8).

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Zika Likely Spreading Undetected In Haiti, Experts Say

NPR: Why The Low Zika Numbers In Haiti Might Be Wrong
“The Dominican Republic has identified nearly 1,000 pregnant women suspected of being infected with the Zika virus. Haiti, which shares the same island, has identified only 22. … Doctors at public, private, and religious hospitals say they’re seeing an increase in babies born with microcephaly — a condition that the World Health Organization has linked to Zika — as well as a spike in Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition that can spring from Zika. Haiti has few services for people with disabilities so it’s unclear how the country will be able to cope with a surge in severely disabled children…” (Beaubien, 9/7).

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Cancer Experts Release 10 Recommendations For U.S. Cancer Moonshot Initiative

CQ News: Cancer Panel Approves ‘Moonshot’ Recommendations
“Advisers to the National Cancer Institute approved recommendations Wednesday from scientists working with President Barack Obama’s cancer moonshot initiative that suggest harnessing the genomic information of cancer patients to create a national clinical trial network…” (Williams, 9/7).

Nature: Cancer experts unveil wishlist for U.S. government ‘moonshot’
“Advisers to the U.S. Cancer Moonshot Initiative have produced a wide-ranging laundry list of research targets for the project — even as its funding remains uncertain. The 10 recommendations released on 7 September include the launch of a national clinical trial network specifically targeted at therapies that harness the immune system, and the creation of a 3D cancer atlas to catalogue how a tumor interacts with neighboring normal cells…” (Ledford, 9/7).

Science: Blue ribbon report urges U.S. cancer moonshot to invest in 10 promising areas
“…[U.S. Vice President Joe] Biden first proposed a moonshot to cure cancer last year after his son Beau died of brain cancer. President Barack Obama embraced the idea in his January State of the Union address, with Biden vowing to make a decade’s worth of advances in five years. To help guide the effort, a 28-member blue ribbon panel of NCI’s National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) then consulted with more than 150 experts and reviewed more than 1,600 suggestions from researchers and the public…” (Kaiser, 9/7).

Washington Post: Cancer ‘moonshot’ panel names top 10 ways to speed progress against the disease
“…The panel’s report comes at a time of uncertainty. Federal officials are well aware that there is still skepticism about the moonshot effort in many parts of the science community. Moreover, many of the ideas highlighted Wednesday would require millions — if not hundreds of millions — of dollars in additional funding, but Congress has not yet approved any extra spending specifically for the moonshot…” (McGinley, 9/7).

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WHO Calls For Coordinated, Multi-Sectoral Approach To Address Malnutrition In Southeast Asia

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency calls for multi-sectoral approach to deal with ‘double burden’ of malnutrition in Southeast Asia
“While announcing a strategic action plan to deal with the issue, the United Nations health agency [Wednesday] called for a whole-of-society approach to address the double burden of malnutrition which affects populations across Southeast Asia, particularly women and girls…” (9/7).

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PolitiFact Examines Statistics On HIV Among Young African Women Included In Letter By Canadian PM Trudeau

PolitiFact: Do girls make up the majority of new HIV infections among African youth?
“…Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently penned a letter decrying the impact of poverty and disease on young girls in Africa, a group he says make up a disproportionate amount of new HIV infections among young people. … Included in Trudeau’s message was a claim that young women ‘account for a shocking 74 percent of all new HIV infections among adolescents in Africa.’ … The data from UNAIDS and UNICEF closely matches his numbers, though Trudeau would have been more precise if he said sub-Saharan Africa. Evidence there shows that young girls between the ages of 10 and 19 are significantly more vulnerable to HIV infection than their male peers due to a wide variety of economic and gender-related issues. Trudeau’s claim is accurate with the small caveat about his use of Africa and not sub-Saharan Africa. We rate his claim Mostly True” (Cariz, 9/7).

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Sri Lanka's Efforts To Eliminate Malaria Could Be Model For Other Asian Nations

CNN: Can Sri Lanka show the world how to to end malaria?
“…Sri Lanka’s status of ridding itself of [malaria] was against the odds according to some experts, due to the country having had high burdens of the disease, its status as a low to middle-income country, regular movement of people between the island and India, and more than 20 years of civil conflict that only recently came to an end. But they managed to do it — and set a precedent for malaria control in other parts of the tropics. … The challenge now is keeping the parasite away and maintaining this status…” (Senthilingam, 9/7).

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Human Rights Groups Criticize Nepal's Government For Lack Of Efforts To End Child Marriage

Associated Press: Nepal criticized for not stopping child marriages
“Traditional practices, poverty, last year’s massive earthquake, and Nepal’s ongoing political instability mean child marriages remain a serious problem in the country, where 10 percent of the girls marry before they are 15, even though the government says it is making progress to combat the problem, rights groups say. … A report released by Human Rights Watch on Thursday said the government has not done enough to end the practice of child marriage, adding there was little evidence of the government working effectively to try to prevent child marriage or mitigate the harm that married children experience…” (9/8).

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India Begins 'Aggressive' Campaign To 'Shame' People Into Using Toilets, Washington Post Reports

Washington Post: India’s government is now shaming people into using toilets
“India’s government has been on a public toilet building boom. Now, it’s trying to shame people into using them. An aggressive new campaign has now begun ridiculing those who are no longer poor but continue to defecate in the open — a practice that remains common in rural India despite its growing wealth and trappings of modern life…” (Lakshmi, 9/8).

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Al Jazeera Reports On Agricultural Improvements In Africa, Helping To Reduce Malnutrition, Poverty

Al Jazeera: How can food security in Africa be achieved?
“The Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA) says that agricultural productivity over the past 10 years has improved lives in Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Burkina Faso. AGRA says agriculture is more effective at cutting poverty than other sectors. … Malnutrition and poverty levels are falling in some of the highest risk countries where people do not have enough to eat. Farming is a main source of income for more than 60 percent of the work force in Africa. … But is the success sustainable?…” (Zeidan, 9/8).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorials, Opinion Pieces Discuss Congressional Stalemate On U.S. Zika Response

Bloomberg View: Why Congress Needs to Vote Again on Zika
Editorial Board

“…[P]rogress [against Zika] on all fronts — not just drug development but mosquito eradication, diagnostic testing, and research to understand all of Zika’s effects — will be delayed without adequate federal funding. The money that the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have lifted from other parts of their budgets will run out this month. The legislation that failed Tuesday was voted down by Democrats for good reason: It contained deal-killing partisan provisions, including one that would forbid any funding for women’s health from going to Planned Parenthood. Anything that could jeopardize passage of this legislation needs to be stripped from the bill. Zika is too serious, and too dangerous, for politics as usual” (9/7).

Chicago Sun-Times: Stop the games, Congress, and fight Zika
Editorial Board

“…Congress does not have time for political games. … The Centers for Disease Control has shifted millions of dollars from other areas … for its public health response to Zika. But CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said the agency will run out of money … for Zika efforts unless Congress steps up to the plate. Is this really the best one of the world’s richest nations can do when it’s confronted by a public health threat? Although most of the U.S. is at minimal risk for Zika, it is a terrifying disease — and it’s moving in. So why has Congress yet to allocate its first dollar to stop it? Congress will be in session for the next three weeks before everyone heads home for the final campaign push before Election Day. Lawmakers should summon up a much-needed sense of urgency and get Zika funding passed before they go” (9/7).

Los Angeles Times: Congress: What I didn’t do this summer — fund Zika
Editorial Board

“…While you were out campaigning, fundraising, or barbecuing, … the number of Zika cases in the U.S. more than doubled to 2,700, and people infected with the virus have turned up in every state. … [Public health] agencies have done an admirable job keeping the anti-Zika work going despite receiving no extra dollars, borrowing from the funds intended for fighting cancer and Ebola. But they are down to the last few millions, and this shell game can’t last. It’s up to [you, Congress,] now to put aside the reproductive-rights politics and free up money for Zika research and prevention. Congress is expected to take up a measure soon that would be the perfect vehicle: a stop-gap spending bill to prevent a government shutdown. If that bill fails, you will not only endanger unborn babies but also real-live voters” (9/7).

CNN: Congress’ cynical Zika game threatens all Americans
Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations

“…Wednesday night as members of Congress held press conferences, denouncing one another for failing to pass a $1.1 billion plan to fund Zika virus control and research, the city of New York tested the two beams of light that arise dramatically from Ground Zero every September 11, symbolizing the destroyed World Trade Center towers. There is an instructive connection between a nerve cell-assaulting virus and al Qaeda’s attacks on 9/11: They both represent trust, or the lack thereof, with violation of duty to the American people. … Scientists have been forced to muddle through, searching for a vaccine, treatments, diagnostic tools, and basic comprehension of the mysterious virus — all by robbing other disease-research budgets, in hopes of congressional passage of [research funding], which would have been included in this failed bill. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has hit the point where juggling money from one disease-fighting budget to Zika won’t work anymore … [The American public’s trust of the government] has been violated, repeatedly. And Wednesday it was violated yet again…” (9/7).

TIME: How to Fight Zika and Cure Our Nation’s Ailing Public Health System
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)

“There is an excellent model that demonstrates how the U.S. should reform the current reactive model of public health emergency management — it is the solution found to address disasters established by the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. … [T]he Stafford Act … authorizes the President of the United States, when disaster strikes, to deploy the coordinated efforts and resources of the federal government to save lives and property, and restore communities hit hard by a calamity. … The legislative process has proven itself not to respond in a timely manner to public health threats. The U.S. … needs to have in place mechanisms designed to respond systemically to federally declared public health emergencies and deliver assistance to support state and local governments in carrying out their responsibility to protect the public health. … A Public Health Relief and Emergency Assistance Law is overdue — I urge the leadership of the House and the Senate to work in a bipartisan fashion to put on the desk of the President of the United States a law that will be the cure for the weaknesses in our nation’s public health system when it is faced with public health emergencies” (9/7).

Fox News: Sen. Thom Tillis: We need to fight Zika now. Democrats must stop playing games
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)

“…While President Obama berates Congress to ‘do its job’ and pass Zika funding that his own party is filibustering, the reality is that right now his administration is sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars that can immediately be used to fight Zika. The only rationale behind the president’s refusal to make use of those funds is to … place blame on congressional Republicans. This is a dangerous game to play. While we may have close to sufficient funds to combat the Zika virus for the rest of the year, the long-term consequences of continued Democratic obstructionism of Zika funding will be severe…” (9/7).

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U.N. Should Continue To Rectify Haitian Cholera Crisis

New York Times: The U.N.’s Responsibility in Haiti’s Cholera Crisis
Renaud Piarroux, epidemiologist, professor at Aix Marseille University and head of the parasitology and mycology laboratory at La Timone Hospital

“…[The U.N.] has a second chance to clean up its own mess. To rid Haiti of cholera, the United Nations needs to help reduce the vulnerability of the populations where the disease is rooted. In these areas, priority should be given to projects aimed specifically at improving access to clean drinking water. … The United Nations must also help Haiti strengthen its ability to detect and control outbreaks. Field teams must respond immediately to cholera alerts, investigate the cause of the outbreak, educate the affected people, and secure clean drinking water through chlorination. … By admitting that it was involved in the outbreak, the United Nations made only a first and timid step toward a full assessment of its responsibility. The United Nations must continue to open up about what happened in Haiti, rectify the damage, and establish policies that prevent such disasters in the future. Its credibility is still on the line” (9/7).

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Ending Global Hunger Requires Political Will, Partnerships, Country Ownership, Financing

allAfrica: Africa: We Can End Global Hunger — Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan, chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation

“…[The African Green Revolution Forum] is an opportunity not only to celebrate collective progress but also to commit ourselves to step up the battle against hunger and malnutrition. … There are four main keys to tipping the scales and relegating global hunger to history. The first is the continued political will to place and keep the issue high on domestic and international agendas … Second is partnerships. … Thirdly, we must retain and strengthen country ownership. … Finally we need to recognize the critical importance of financing. … Developing country leaders, private sector companies, donors, NGOs, and others now have the chance to achieve something incredible within our lifetimes. … I challenge my colleagues working in global development, especially heads of state and private sector leaders, to prioritize this issue. Working together — across sectors and disciplines — we can make hunger history” (9/7).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Wellcome Trust Releases Report To Inform U.N. General Assembly's High-Level Meeting On Antimicrobial Resistance

Nature: Wellcome Trust: Report released on antibiotic resistance
In this correspondence, Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, and Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, announce the release of “a report to inform the United Nations General Assembly’s High-level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance later this month. … It identifies three areas for immediate action to alleviate the current and future impact of drug-resistant infections on the number of deaths and on national economies…” They conclude, “Continued support for scientific research and innovation is essential to shape future responses, but the need for further research must not be an excuse for delaying urgent interventions” (9/8).

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Global Dispatches Podcast Discusses Global Burden Of NTDs With Peter Hotez

Global Dispatches Podcast: Episode 123: Dr. Peter Hotez
Mark Leon Goldberg, editor of U.N. Dispatch and host of the Global Dispatches Podcast, speaks with Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, about his “new book called Blue Marble Health that offers evidence to support a provocative thesis that most of the global burden of these neglected tropical diseases can actually be found in the world’s wealthiest countries, including the United States” (9/5).

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