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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Releases First Global Report On Hepatitis, Calls For 'Urgent Response' To Prevent, Treat Viruses That Killed 1.34M People In 2015

BBC News: Global plan to wipe out hepatitis
“Countries must work together to wipe out viral hepatitis — a disease that is killing as many people globally as HIV and TB, says the World Health Organization (WHO). The death toll in 2015 was 1.34 million people, a new report reveals. An estimated 325 million people are living with chronic hepatitis caused by B or C virus infection…” (4/21).

Reuters: WHO urges action over growing hepatitis epidemic
“…In its first global report on the infection, the WHO said that with millions at risk of a slow progression to chronic liver disease, cancer, and premature death, swift action on testing and treatment was needed. ‘Viral hepatitis is now a major public health challenge that requires an urgent response,’ the WHO’s Director-General Margaret Chan said in a statement…” (Kelland, 4/21).

ScienceInsider: New report halves the number of people infected with hepatitis C worldwide
“…WHO’s Global Hepatitis Report estimates that 71 million people in 2015 were living with HCV, down from an earlier estimate of 130 million to 150 million. As the report explains, the dramatic drop occurred primarily because of tests that measured HCV’s genetic material, RNA, in people. Previous epidemiological surveys tested whether people had antibodies against the virus, which is less precise. The report estimates that 257 million people are infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV), a number very close to previous estimates. … Together, the viruses killed 1.34 million people in 2015, which the report notes is comparable to deaths from tuberculosis and higher than those from HIV/AIDS…” (Cohen, 4/21).

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World Bank President Kim, Aid Groups Warn U.K. Prime Minister About Cutting Nation's Aid Budget

The Guardian: World Bank chief echoes Bill Gates’s warning to Theresa May on aid
“The president of the World Bank has told Theresa May that cutting the U.K.’s aid budget could lead to an increase in conflict, terrorism, and migration and would damage Britain’s international reputation. In a strongly worded response to reports that the government was considering dropping its commitment to devote 0.7 percent of national income to aid each year, Jim Yong Kim said the money the U.K. provided was vital not just for developing countries but for the future of the world…” (Elliot/McVeigh, 4/20).

The Guardian: Cutting aid while leaving E.U. will make Britain more insular, May warned
“The U.K. risks becoming increasingly inward-looking if Brexit is combined with reduced overseas spending, aid groups have warned. Since calling the election on Tuesday, Theresa May, the prime minister, has refused to recommit to a legal requirement to spend 0.7 percent of gross national income (GNI) on aid, fueling fears that it may be dropped in the Tory party’s election manifesto…” (McVeigh, 4/20).

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IHME's Joseph Dieleman Discusses Lancet Studies On History, Future Of Global Health Financing

NPR: What Country Spends The Most (And Least) On Health Care Per Person?
“The United States spends the most on health care per person — $9,237 — according to two new papers published in the journal The Lancet. Somalia spends the least — just $33 per person. The data covering 184 countries was collected and analyzed by the Global Burden of Disease Health Financing Collaborator Network, a network of investigators from around the world with expertise in various aspects of health care. … For more insights, we spoke to Dr. Joseph Dieleman, assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. He authored the two papers, one looking at health financing from 1995 to 2014, and the other estimating future health financing to 2040…” (Brink, 4/20).

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Devex Examines Potential Impacts Of Reduced Aid Transparency Under Trump Administration

Devex: What will happen to aid transparency under Trump?
“…For aid programs, openness, transparency, and accountability are important terms that are associated with building public confidence in the program. But it goes further than that. Open data, an important component of an open government, can increase the effectiveness of aid by helping administrators to understand where work has been conducted, interventions that have been successful, and where gaps lie. Combined with international data or data from other donors, aid data paints an important picture of the globe’s ability to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. What impact could a lessening of [U.S. government] transparency have on aid programs and the ability to support monitoring and evaluation of the SDGs globally?…” (Cornish, 4/20).

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U.S. Temporary Protected Status Program Ending Next Month For Refugees From Ebola-Affected Nations

STAT: Amnesty for refugees from Ebola-affected countries expires next month
“Thousands of immigrants allowed entry to the U.S. to escape from West Africa’s recent Ebola outbreak now face deportation, as the program that allowed them residence is ending. An estimated 5,900 immigrants from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone arrived in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program between 2014 and 2016. However the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services confirmed this week that the program will expire May 21…” (Samuel, 4/21).

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Some Experts Raise Concerns Over How U.N. Grouping Together African, Middle East Food Crises Could Impact Fundraising, Responses

Devex: Amid funding shortfall, doubts over why U.N. links 4 food crises together
“Senior United Nations officials have reiterated a call to action for the four food insecurity and famine situations in Africa and the Middle East that have been labeled together as the worst humanitarian crisis in the U.N.’s history. U.N. Emergency Coordinator Stephen O’Brien noted in a briefing to the General Assembly that the protracted ‘complex’ food insecurity and health crises were deteriorating in Yemen, Northern Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan. … However, aside from all experiencing conflict, each of the four countries have different histories, challenges, and needs. Some development and humanitarian relief experts are wondering why they are being grouped together in the U.N.’s broad, public funding appeal. Some believe this overall joint messaging impacts the ability to fundraise effectively for the individual situations and to draw enough sustained attention to these populations’ needs…” (Lieberman, 4/20).

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Africa Could Be Experiencing Underreported, Overlooked Zika Epidemic

The Lancet: Zika in Africa — the invisible epidemic?
“A growing body of evidence suggests that in Africa a Zika epidemic could be undetected and overlooked. … To date, at least 30 laboratory-based studies have suggested that African strains of Zika are capable of causing the same, or worse, damage to cells in the [central nervous system (CNS)], and reproductive and immune systems as the so-called Asian lineage strains circulating in the Americas…” (Nutt/Adams, 4/22).

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India's Government Blocks Public Health Foundation From Receiving Foreign Funds, Including Financing From Gates Foundation

New York Times: India’s Ban on Foreign Money for Health Group Hits Gates Foundation
“The Indian government has blocked one of the country’s largest nonprofit public health organizations from accepting money from foreign donors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The cancellation of the [Public Health Foundation of India’s] license to accept international financing is the latest move in an aggressive government crackdown on nongovernmental organizations that receive money from outside India…” (Najar, 4/20).

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Bill Gates Remains Enthusiastic About Improving Global Health 20 Years Into Foundation's Existence

Scientific American: Bill Gates Enthusiastic about Disease-Fighting Progress
“It has been 20 years since Bill and Melinda Gates first started using their fortune to address global health issues. By focusing on the diseases that hit the poorest parts of the world the hardest, their foundation has since saved countless lives and prevented untold suffering. ‘My enthusiasm and belief that this is the right way for this money to be spent is as strong as it was then,’ Bill Gates said in a telephone interview with Scientific American before attending a major international health meeting this week in Geneva. But he acknowledged that making progress has not been as simple a process as he at first assumed…” (Gorman, 4/20).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Should Invest In, Prioritize Foreign Aid

CNN: Melinda Gates: The best investment America can make
Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…The money we spend on foreign aid is a long-term investment in Americans themselves. … When the United States invests in strengthening health systems abroad, it also makes deadly epidemics less likely to land on our shores. … What’s more, by helping countries lift themselves out of poverty, we also create markets for U.S. products. … If the United States goes forward with … cuts to foreign aid, it will leave a gap in the world’s moral leadership and reduce our country’s standing among nations. It will mean that millions of people — including millions of children — will die preventable deaths on our watch. More men and women will be driven by desperation toward dangerous extremism, and more people in the world’s poorest places will live and die trapped in poverty. For all these reasons, I will spend my time in D.C. this week making the case that if we care about keeping America healthy, safe, and prosperous, then we must prioritize foreign aid. The cost of these cuts is far too great for our country — or our conscience — to bear” (4/20).

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U.K. Should Demonstrate Leadership In Foreign Aid Spending

The Guardian: The Guardian view on the aid target: it’s the fraction that counts
Editorial Board

“…U.K. aid spending has played a significant role in halving the number of people living in extreme poverty and delivering the great improvements in global health and education that have been achieved over the past decade. … Yet … the Conservative right wants the [0.7 percent of GNI spending] target dropped. … [Britain’s] current secretary of state, Priti Patel, often appears proudly skeptical of an idea that is now routinely belittled in principle and denigrated in practice. She fails to rebut claims of waste, and success stories are scarce. … The MPs recommended that rather than spend less, DfID should simply continue to strive to spend it better. But good aid needs transparency. Ms. Patel’s enthusiasm for using public money to incentivize private investment is not necessarily wrong, but it does make it much harder to assess how well money is spent. In the same way, aid delivered through departments other than DfID is harder to track. Development is difficult; understanding the complexities of doing it well will always be a work in progress. But doing it is both a moral imperative and an exercise in the U.K.’s national interest” (4/20).

Financial Times: A British pledge on aid will send a message to the world
Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator at the Financial Times

“Britain’s forthcoming general election is an opportunity to clarify the country’s role in the world. … One thing should not change, indeed should be reinforced: the U.K.’s relatively generous stance as a donor of development assistance. … Indeed, continuing its aid commitment is an important way to show that Brexit does not mean isolationism, a stance as disgraceful as it would be futile. Furthermore, only if the U.K. does continue to spend the money will it have the authority to persuade others, not least the U.S., that it is in its interests too, and a moral obligation, to help the world’s poorest people. Can the U.K. afford this? Of course. The aid budget is two percent of public spending: nearly all U.K. spending goes on its own citizens, with a sliver going to the world’s poorest. This aid certainly brings benefits to the recipients. It also adds to the U.K.’s moral authority. Above all, Britain should reinforce its pledge on aid, because that is the right thing for a rich country to do. The prime minister has spoken of a future in which Britain embraces the world. The U.K. should continue to demonstrate that this embrace includes the poorest” (4/20).

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World Bank's Global Financing Facility Offers 'Different Way Of Investing In Health, Development'

The Lancet: The Global Financing Facility — towards a new way of financing for development
Mariam Claeson, director of the Global Financing Facility for Every Women Every Child at the World Bank

“…To respond to the tide of global change and prepare for the new development era, the U.N., in partnership with the World Bank Group, launched the Global Financing Facility (GFF) … The success of the GFF will be measured in changes over time in coverage of [reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition (RMNCAH-N)] high-impact interventions and monitoring of trends in health outcomes towards the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)] … and in the shorter term by changes in efficiency, domestic resource mobilization, and donor alignment. Work is underway among GFF partners to better measure these changes in financing, to strengthen monitoring, evaluation, and accountability, and to build quality assurance capacity in countries. GFF partners … are also developing an implementation research agenda to ensure that the GFF process focuses on the most impactful and equitable approaches. In line with the GFF’s emphasis on national ownership, countries will develop their own approaches to independent evaluation. The GFF Trust Fund will also be independently evaluated at the global level. These investments in women, children, and adolescents will pay dividends in health, nutrition, and across the development spectrum that countries, their people, and economies will reap for generations to come. With the GFF, we can go further, maybe faster, and finance healthy futures at a time of great global uncertainty” (4/22).

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China Should Help Fill Gap In Global Family Planning Funding Left By U.S.

The Conversation: As the U.S. stops funding reproductive health services, China should step in
Tamara Nair, research fellow in non-traditional security studies at the Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS)

“On April 4, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump decided to not fund the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in [2017] because of the body’s alleged support for coercive abortions and forced sterilization in China. … This is a human rights issue and can have great impact on global health security and women’s health. … Within this context we need like-minded countries to address this shortfall of US$32.5 million for the UNFPA in the upcoming budget year. On January 23, Donald Trump signed an executive order reinstating the ‘global gag rule’ … It prompted countries … to pledge financial assistance to make up for the shortfall [in global family planning/reproductive health funding]. … Unfortunately, the crisis is too large and the resources too few to have the gap easily filled, especially in light of the recent cuts to UNFPA funds. But this might be an opportunity for China to help address the global shortage, especially in regions it has close historical and contemporary ties. Despite continuing human rights problems both domestically and internationally, China has been trying to step up as a responsible global citizen…” (4/19).

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Individuals Should Pledge To Address Antibiotic Resistance; Global Community Should Take 'One Health' Approach

The Guardian: It’s time we all pledged to stop over-using antibiotics
Diane Ashiru-Oredope, pharmacist lead for antimicrobial resistance and stewardship at Public Health England

“The stark impact of [antimicrobial resistance (AMR)] is all around us. … Although there is a lot of talk about antibiotic resistance in the future, it is important to realize that we are already seeing the impact of resistant infections in everyday life. … Our Antibiotic Guardian campaign allows everyone to sign up to a pledge, health professionals or members of the public. … In addition to ensuring we make appropriate use of antibiotics for human health, AMR has clear links to both animal health, farming, and the environment. The importance of tackling AMR using what we call a ‘one health’ approach is now widely recognized. … No new class of antibiotics has been discovered for a number of years. Even if we discover more, simply replacing old antibiotics with new ones is not the only answer as they could also become ineffective. It is therefore important that everyone does their part to tackle this issue” (4/20).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

AEI Scholar Roger Bate Expresses Concerns Over WHO's Malaria Efforts, Trump Administration's Funding For Agency

AEI’s “AEIdeas”: Global health spending and the Trump administration on World Malaria Day
Roger Bate, AEI visiting scholar, discusse WHO’s role in properly addressing global malaria, saying the organization’s “latest draft report misses the big story of the moment. The biggest risk of malaria resurgence is resistance to artemisinin drugs.” Bate continues, “One wonders if WHO is concerned that the Trump administration will lower funding for WHO if WHO shows that there are problems in addressing infectious diseases. I suspect the Trump team is more likely to withdraw funding to U.N. agencies that are either incompetent or self-serving, and as this latest WHO report shows, it is both” (4/20).

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WHO Releases 10-Year Review Report Chapters Focusing On Vaccines, Viral Hepatitis

WHO: The power of vaccines: still not fully utilized
This chapter of the WHO’s “Ten years in public health 2007-2017” report focuses on vaccines. “Vaccines have been one of the biggest success stories of modern medicine. WHO estimates that at least 10 million deaths were prevented between 2010 and 2015 thanks to vaccinations delivered around the world. Many millions more lives were protected from the suffering and disability associated with diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea, whooping cough, measles, and polio…” (April 2017).

WHO: Viral hepatitis: a hidden killer gains visibility
This chapter of the WHO’s “Ten years in public health 2007-2017” report focuses on viral hepatitis. “As huge gains were made in reducing the impact of HIV, another long-neglected epidemic became more visible: the devastating and complex health problems caused by viral hepatitis infections. … Whereas the HIV, TB, and malaria epidemics have peaked and are now in decline, morbidity and mortality from viral hepatitis are on the rise. … Unless more people with chronic infections are diagnosed and treated, the number of deaths caused by viral hepatitis will continue to increase…” (April 2017).

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SwitchPoint 2017 Conference To Highlight Global Health, Technology, Innovation, Frontline Health Workers

IntraHealth International: The Latest in Global Health, Tech, and Stories from the Front Lines of Health Care at SwitchPoint 2017
“Hundreds of global health experts, entrepreneurs, tech innovators, academics, artists, and frontline health workers from around the world will gather next week in Saxapahaw, North Carolina, to report on the latest in pioneering projects that improve lives, and to cultivate partnerships to further social good. SwitchPoint 2017 takes place April 27 and 28. … This year’s program brings frontline health workers to the main stage, where they will share what it’s really like on the front lines of care around the world — their struggles, their inspirations, and how their life-saving services are changing their communities…” (4/20).

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PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases Journal Marks 10th Anniversary With Article Collection

PLOS Collections: PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases: 10th Anniversary Collection
“Ten years ago, PLOS published the inaugural issue of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the first open access journal devoted to highlighting research and commentary on the forgotten diseases that affect the world’s most neglected people. The recently published 10th Anniversary Collection in PLOS NTDs marks the journal’s important milestone with retrospective pieces featuring over 20 NTDs. The articles in the collection reflect on significant lessons and successes in the field over the past decade as well as identify some of the remaining challenges…” (4/20).

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From the U.S. Government

Ahead Of World Malaria Day, CDC Recognizes U.S., Global Commitments To Eliminate Malaria

CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”: Announcement: World Malaria Day — April 25, 2017
“World Malaria Day is commemorated each year on April 25, the date in 2000 when leaders of 44 African nations met in Abuja, Nigeria, and committed their countries to reducing the number of malaria-related deaths. … This year, as in 2016, the theme of World Malaria Day is ‘End Malaria for Good,’ reflecting the increased interest in and commitment to eliminating malaria…” (4/21).

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