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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Vice President Biden Urges Congress To Act On Zika Funding, Other Issues

The Hill: Biden storms Capitol to lambaste GOP for inaction
“Vice President Biden stormed Capitol Hill on Thursday to amplify the Democrats’ long-held charge that Republican ‘dysfunction’ has paralyzed Congress at the expense of the country. Appearing on the steps of the Capitol on a sweltering day in Washington, the vice president accused the Republicans of undermining the judiciary system by blocking President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee; threatening public health by stonewalling legislation to address the spread of the Zika virus; and endangering public safety by ignoring proposals to rein in gun violence…” (Lillis, 9/8).

Reuters: Biden asks U.S. Congress to allow unencumbered Zika funding vote
“Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday called on the Republican-led U.S. Congress to allow an up-or-down vote on funding to combat the Zika virus without other provisions attached, calling the health threat posed by the pathogen a national emergency. … ‘Give us an up-or-down vote, straight, on Zika,’ Biden said at an event on Capitol Hill with fellow Democrats from the Senate and House of Representatives. ‘I understand attaching controversial issues to important legislation … but this is a national emergency,’ Biden added. ‘People’s health, the well-being of unborn children, the health of the country at large, is at stake. Act’…” (Morgan, 9/8).

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U.S. House Speaker Ryan Takes Firm Stance Against Including Planned Parenthood Funding In Zika, Continuing Resolution Bills

CQ News: Fight Over Planned Parenthood Tangles Both Zika Funding and CR
“Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Thursday took a hard stance against including money for Planned Parenthood in legislation to combat the Zika virus, a partisan standoff that is shaping up to be the key sticking point as Congress attempts to wrap up appropriations work for the year. … The language in question means funding in the bill is limited to services from public health departments and hospitals, or reimbursable through public health plans. It does not include family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood’s affiliate [in Puerto Rico,] Profamilia…” (McCrimmon, 9/8).

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U.S. House Minority Leader Pelosi Proposes 'FEMA-Like' Emergency Fund For Disease Outbreaks

The Hill: Pelosi calls for new emergency fund to tackle Zika-like crises
“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is calling for the creation of a new federal fund designed specifically to address unforeseen crises like the Zika virus outbreak. Pelosi said the partisan standoff over funding to combat Zika that has continued for most of the year is evidence enough that Congress needs to devise a new ‘FEMA-like’ system that can respond to similar emergencies more quickly…” (Lillis, 9/8).

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Vox Examines Reasons For U.S. Congressional Inaction On Zika, Proposals For Improved Disease Outbreak Preparedness

Vox: We’re screwed on outbreaks like Zika as long as we have to rely on Congress for money
“…On the surface, the reason lawmakers have failed to fund the Zika bill had to do with partisan politics. … But there are more systemic reasons why much-needed public health money can get lost in political infighting, even in the face of a dangerous virus that’s spreading close to home. These have to do with how fragmented the public health system is. … The states take many different approaches to handling public health, but one thing they have in common is that they’re chronically underfunded. … That means states and local governments are often left scrambling for a boost of federal dollars anytime there’s an emergency, like Zika…” (Belluz, 9/8).

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GSK Proposes Creating Unit Dedicated To Vaccine Development For Disease Outbreaks

Bloomberg News: Glaxo Proposes Biopreparedness Unit for Outbreaks Like Zika
“As the Zika virus spreads and concern grows about the world’s preparedness for outbreaks, GlaxoSmithKline is proposing the creation of a unit dedicated to developing vaccines for diseases in markets offering little potential profit. The London-based company is ready to provide a facility, staff, and technology, and would welcome funding from the U.S., the U.K., the World Health Organization, and other public entities, Ripley Ballou, Glaxo’s vice president of vaccines, said in a phone interview…” (Chen, 9/8).

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Brazil's Attorney General Asks High Court To Allow Abortion Among Women With Zika; Disease Doubled Neurological Birth Defects In Nation Since 2008, Researchers Say

CNN: Zika doubled devastating birth defects in Brazil
“…The rate of birth defects involving the nervous system nearly doubled across Brazil after Zika arrived. This stark statistical reality was discovered by a team of researchers from Brazil’s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, which analyzed hospital records across Brazil from 2008, well before Zika arrived, until the end of February 2016…” (LaMotte, 9/8).

Wall Street Journal: Brazil’s Attorney General Asks High Court to Allow Abortions for Women With Zika
“Brazil’s attorney general is urging the nation’s Supreme Court to permit abortions for pregnant women infected with the Zika virus. Although there is no timeline yet for the high court to take up the matter, the proposal by Attorney General Rodrigo Janot has sparked objections from religious leaders and some legal authorities in socially conservative Brazil…” (Jelmayer/Johnson, 9/8).

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Health Experts Warn Of Under-Reporting Of Zika Cases In Haiti

Reuters: Doctors say Haiti ripe for large Zika outbreak, virus under-reported
“Posters warning of the dangers of Zika only reached Haiti’s health ministry in August, six months after the country reported an outbreak, in one example of delayed prevention efforts that have health experts worried a ‘large epidemic’ is looming…” (Brice, 9/8).

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Some Trained Medical Professionals Provide Safe But Illegal Abortion In Myanmar

PRI: Providing safe illegal abortions in Myanmar is a ‘karmic balance,’ says one doctor
“…[S]tudies suggest an estimated 250,000 Burmese women get illegal abortions each year. It’s a leading cause of maternal death in Myanmar. While contraceptives are available, they can be difficult to obtain, particularly for poor women and women living in rural areas. Women with enough money and the right connections can get safe — though illegal — abortions from trained medical practitioners…” (Shealy, 9/8).

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WHO Urges Greater Focus On Health Needs Of Migrant Populations In Southeast Asia

U.N. News Centre: As migration continues to accelerate in Southeast Asia, U.N. health agency calls for a focus on migrants’ health
“Noting greater vulnerability of the health of migrant populations, including heightened risks of infectious diseases, malnutrition, substance abuse, and maternal and neonatal mortality, the United Nations health agency has urged a regional meeting of health officials in Southeast Asia for an increased focus on their health needs…” (9/8).

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Bill Gates Discusses Global Health Efforts, Other Issues In 'Wide-Ranging Interview' With CTV News

CTV News: Bill Gates talks to Lisa LaFlamme about global health, Africa, and conquering AIDS
“In the ongoing fight against three of the world’s deadliest diseases — AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis — Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates says instability in Africa’s war-torn regions has made it difficult to deliver ‘the basics of health.’ In a wide-ranging interview with CTV National News Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme, Gates spoke about the challenges of achieving eradication, his efforts to encourage the world’s richest to help the world’s poorest, and his thoughts on Donald Trump…” (9/8).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorials Discuss Congressional Inaction On U.S. Zika Response

San Francisco Chronicle: Congress needs to fund the fight against the Zika virus
Editorial Board

“….The feuding [between congressional Democrats and Republicans] needs a compromise ending, not more delays … There’s reason to hope this impasse will fade. Elections are coming, and lawmakers don’t want to face voters fearful of the virus’s effects on pregnant women. … Health experts have tracked the virus, which can cause severe birth defects, but have run out of money to widen their efforts. To know both the cause and location of a health danger — and then do nothing — amounts to negligence. The inaction has real consequences that is widening the physical harm done by invading mosquitoes. Congress needs to fulfill its obligation to public health” (9/7).

Wall Street Journal: The Patrick Murphy Zika Filibuster
Editorial Board

“…On Tuesday Senate Democrats for the third time this year filibustered the Zika rescue legislation … Democrats [say] that the bill ‘bans’ Zika money from flowing to Planned Parenthood and its Profamilia affiliate in Puerto Rico. This is a transparent falsehood … The likelihood at this point is that Zika funding gets rolled into a short-term budget bill to keep the government funded after Sept. 30. Still, what a disgrace” (9/8).

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Vaccine Preparedness Critical To Responding To Emerging Infectious Diseases

Science: Ebola and Zika: Cautionary tales
Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota

“…When surveillance points to a possible emergence of a new infectious disease of potential public health importance, we need procedural and funding mechanisms that can quickly identify candidate vaccines and drive research and development toward licensure and production. … [The Ebola and Zika epidemics] demand better answers than our current vaccine research, development, manufacturing, and distribution system has provided. Based on observation, we could, and should, have anticipated that agents like Zika and Ebola virus would emerge as serious pathogens. … With the growth of megacities in the developing world and prevalence of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in many areas, this disease should not have come as a surprise — nor should the host of others yet to come that we would be foolish not to expect” (9/9).

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Eliminating Malaria In Africa Possible With New Innovations

Devex: Innovating for a malaria-free Africa
Joy Phumaphi, executive secretary of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance

“…The [African Union’s] adoption of the ‘Catalytic Framework to End AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030’ gives Africa a roadmap that could change the future of the continent. The framework … provides concrete financial and political commitments to eliminate malaria in Africa by 2030. This is a much-needed political step that will help Africa keep pace with recent technological innovations in the fight against malaria. … A new generation of innovations are needed to combat [the] evolving threat [of malaria]. … Initiatives such as the recently opened Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help us with the next steps, which include pushing for increased local manufacture of life-saving commodities and ensuring national regulatory and policy environments keep pace with innovations. For Africans it is hard to imagine the continent without malaria. We believe it is possible. With innovation, a malaria-free Africa is in sight” (9/9).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Pledges Up To $4.3B To Global Fund's 5th Replenishment; Global Fund, World Bank Announce Investments In UHC In Africa

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: U.S. pledges to Global Fund
Rabita Aziz, policy research coordinator for the Center for Global Health Policy, discusses the U.S. pledge of up to $4.3 billion to the Global Fund’s 2017-2019 funding cycle, as well as an announcement that the Global Fund and the World Bank will invest $24 billion toward implementing universal health coverage in Africa over the next five years (9/8).

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New Report Examines Delays In Adoption Of WHO's HIV Guidelines In Sub-Saharan Africa

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: WHO HIV guidelines adopted last where they would make the biggest difference, study finds
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” discusses findings from a new report on national policy responses to the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa and examines delays by many countries in the region to adopt WHO’s 2009, 2013, and 2015 HIV guidelines. She writes, “That lag reflects a trend that has slowed treatment access and progress against HIV in countries with the greatest numbers of people living with the virus … Although each change in WHO guidelines reflected an accumulated consensus of best practices that had been evaluated by experts and supported by evidence, adoption of the guidelines has been slow, authors [of the report] found” (9/8).

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Malaria Drug Could Reduce Strain On Health Care Facilities During Ebola Outbreaks

Humanosphere: Antimalarials could help in Ebola outbreaks, study shows
Humanosphere journalist Lisa Nikolau discusses findings from a study published in PLOS ONE that suggest standardizing the distribution of artesunate/amodiaquine (ASAQ), a drug that treats and prevents malaria, during future Ebola epidemics could reduce the strain on health care facilities (9/8).

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