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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Gates Foundation, World Bank, Other Donors Commit $240M To NTDs

News outlets discuss new funding efforts to tackle neglected tropical diseases, as well as a new report on access to treatments.

Agence France-Presse: Hundreds of millions with tropical diseases lack treatment
“At least 1.4 billion people worldwide require treatment for a group of ‘neglected’ tropical diseases and almost two-thirds are going without adequate medical care, eradication campaigners said on Wednesday…” (4/2).

The Guardian: Bill Gates: world must step up fight against neglected tropical diseases
“Bill Gates believes the world can and must step up the fight against a group of little-known and long-neglected tropical diseases, that collectively do as much damage as HIV, malaria, or tuberculosis. In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, the founder and former boss of Microsoft said the money has to be found, even in the current difficult economic climate, for highly effective programs, including the mass delivery of drugs that can prevent diseases such as schistosomiasis and trachoma…” (Boseley, 4/3).

Reuters: Donors commit $240 million to fight neglected tropical diseases
“Bill Gates, the World Bank, and other donors are stepping up efforts to fight neglected tropical diseases in Africa and other low-income regions with a $240 million injection of new funding…” (Hirschler, 4/2).

Wall Street Journal: Neglected Diseases: Healing the Sick Where the Market Fears to Tread
“New funding worth $240 million to treat neglected tropical diseases [was announced] Wednesday at a meeting of drug companies, governments, and charities in Paris…” (Plumridge, 4/2).

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Senate Appropriators Committed To Biomedical Research Investment But Unsure Of Funding Source

CQ News: Appropriators Want to Boost NIH Funding, But No Source Apparent Yet
“Top Senate appropriators said Wednesday that they are committed to investing in biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, but the source for any additional funding for the agency remained elusive…” (Attias, 4/2).

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Aid Cuts To Uganda Will Disrupt Country's Health Care, Officials, Activists Say

IRIN: Briefing: Punitive aid cuts disrupt healthcare in Uganda
“Since the enactment of a draconian anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda just over a month ago, donors have been slashing or suspending aid to the country in protest. Health officials, activists, and NGOs warn that this could have a major impact on health care services, particularly for HIV/AIDS patients…” (4/2).

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Gates, Tahir Foundations, Others To Form Indonesia Health Fund

News outlets report on the planned establishment of the Indonesia Health Fund, aimed at helping to expand health care access in the country.

Jakarta Globe: Bill Gates to Visit Jakarta for New Health Fund
“Microsoft founder Bill Gates will visit Jakarta on April 5 to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Indonesian government to launch the Indonesia Health Fund, a five-year charitable pool to which philanthropists can contribute in order to expand health care access to some of the country’s poorest people…” (Manafe, 4/3).

Jakarta Post: Bill Gates to donate to Indonesian health care
“…[Coordinating People's Welfare Minister Agung Laksono] revealed that Gates was scheduled to visit Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 5, to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the program with Dato Sri Tahir, founder of the Tahir Foundation, and eight other conglomerates. During his stay in Jakarta, Gates will also visit public health centers (Pukesmas) and meet business people, government officials and media leaders…” (4/3).

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Foreign Mining Firms In Guinea Lock Down Operations As Ebola Deaths Rise To 84

Reuters: Miners in lock-down in Guinea as Ebola death toll hits 84
“Foreign mining firms have locked down operations in Guinea and pulled out some international staff, executives said on Wednesday, as the death toll from suspected cases of Ebola there hit 84…” (Samb/Nebehay, 4/3).

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Devex Interviews Leader In Campaign To End FGM

Devex: ‘Nothing can stop’ fight against female genital mutilation — advocacy group
“More than 125 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation worldwide, and another 30 million are at risk of being cut over the next decade — yet few interventions have focused on stopping the practice, and previous United Nations targets and pledges to end FGM within a generation have failed. ‘Unlike other campaigns of similar magnitude, FGM prevention has not received massive investments from the international community,’ Efua Dorkenoo, program director at the End FGM Social Change Campaign, said in an exclusive interview with Devex…” (Patton, 4/2).

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SciDev.Net Interviews Malaria Vaccine Initiative, Global Health Innovative Technology Fund Officials

SciDev.Net: Q&A: A partnership to eradicate malaria
“…SciDev.Net speaks to Ashley Birkett, director of the Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), a project of the international non-profit organization Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), and B.T. Slingsby, chief executive officer of the Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund. The GHIT Fund recently invested more than US$12 million in the global fight against infectious diseases, including a US$600,000 grant to a partnership involving MVI…” (Kaufman, 4/3).

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Editorials and Opinions

World Health Day 2014 Focuses On Vector-Borne Diseases

Huffington Post: World Health Day
Peter Hotez, president of Sabin Vaccine Institute, Texas Children’s Hospital endowed chair in tropical pediatrics, and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine

“This year on World Health Day — Monday, April 7 — the World Health Organization (WHO) is emphasizing the prevention and control of vector-borne diseases. Vector-borne diseases mostly refer to malaria and other neglected tropical diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes, sandflies, and other insects, as well as schistosomiasis, which is transmitted by snails. … The WHO is recommending we use this World Health Day to remember the devastating impact of vector-borne diseases, especially on the world’s poor. The good news is that there is cause for optimism that through new technologies we might one day dramatically improve global health through disease control and elimination” (4/2).

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Financial Disclosures Of One-Child Policy Violation Fines Might Help End Chinese Policy

Bloomberg View: The Real End of China’s One-Child Policy
Adam Minter, a writer and author based in Asia

“…On Thursday, a court in Guangzhou ruled that the Family Planning Commission of Guangdong Province — China’s most populous — must disclose the specifics of its own [one-child policy violation fine] data within 15 days. … In some regions, local authorities allow officials who collect the fees to keep a certain percentage of them. The situation — whereby officials are incentivized to hunt down children for their revenue-generating potential — is both untenable and perverse. … The need is pressing: Three decades of population control has left China with a rapidly aging population and not enough young workers to support them. Under such circumstances, it’s counter-productive (as well as deeply unpopular) to allow thousands of bureaucrats to roam China in search of family planning violations. … Still, in contemporary China, nothing signals the end of a government career — even a powerful one — quite like a full public accounting of one’s finances. After operating for decades in the darkness, China’s family-planning agencies are about to learn how much harder it is to work out in the open” (4/2).

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Recent Releases

Senate Confirms Deborah Birx As New U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator

“The Senate [on Wednesday] confirmed the nomination of Dr. Deborah Birx, filling the post to lead the world’s largest health program with a career physician researcher who has headed two previous international AIDS programs. Dr. Deborah Birx comes to the post from CDC’s Global AIDS Program and previously led the United States Military HIV Research Program,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. Birx will head PEPFAR as the first woman to fill the role of U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, the blog notes (Barton, 4/2).

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USAID-Backed Text Messaging Service Improves Maternal Health In Timor-Leste

“In Timor-Leste, a tiny country just north of Australia, progress against maternal deaths has been slow. … USAID has been working with Timor-Leste’s Health Ministry since 2004 to help find solutions to this terrible problem. In 2011, U.S.-based NGO Health Alliance International (HAI) won a USAID Child Survival and Health Grant to try a new approach,” Mary Anne Mercer, senior maternal and child health adviser for HAI, writes in USAID’s “IMPACTblog.” She discusses the resulting SMS text messaging service that connects midwives with expecting or new mothers. “Nearly 600 women have completed their pregnancies and received the special postpartum SMS messages to help them give their babies a healthy start in life,” she says, noting “Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will extend the program in 2015 when USAID’s grant ends” (4/2).

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Political Commitment, Global Support Can Bring NTD Treatments To Those In Need

In a post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Richard Hatzfeld, communications director at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, discusses a Kenyan family affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and “captured in a short video from END7, a campaign of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases.” He continues, “More than half the population of Kenya is at risk for one or more of these diseases. But there is cause for optimism. With support from END7, Kenya’s National Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (NPELF) delivered pills to treat both lymphatic filariasis as well as the intestinal worm diseases threatening Neema, Fatuma, Alice, Khasirimi and the rest of their community. … With increased political commitment and global support, we can ensure that families like Fatuma’s have access to essential medication every year until NTDs no longer pose a public health threat, a goal that is achievable by the end of this decade” (4/2).

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Blogs Discuss Challenges, Progress Made In NTD Efforts

The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End The Neglect” blog highlights an event that took place in Paris on Wednesday where global leaders convened to discuss progress made in NTD efforts. The event “coincided with the release of a new report highlighting gains over the past two years … [and] signals the fact that controlling and eliminating NTDs is embraced by a global community of national leaders, policy makers, and donors. In addition, there is broad recognition that addressing NTDs is a crucial component of eliminating poverty and achieving development goals” (Gordon, 4/2). In The Lancet’s “Global Health Blog,” Julien Potet of Médecins Sans Frontières “examine[s] the challenges for access to medicines for three other high-burden neglected tropical diseases: human African trypanosomiasis, visceral leishmaniasis, and snakebites” and asserts that “[t]he stakeholders of the London Declaration need to think beyond donations by large pharmaceutical companies for a limited range of diseases and pursue new types of market-shaping partnerships with the pharmaceutical sector, including with smaller entities and companies from emerging economies” (4/1).

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Oxfam Report On Foreign Aid Is Informative But 'Glosses Over' Military Aid, Blog Says

In Humanosphere, development blogger Tom Paulson discusses a report released by Oxfam America on foreign aid. Paulson writes that the report “does a pretty good job of translating the fuzzy and sometimes absurd lingo used by the aid and development community. … [However, what] Oxfam glosses over in its effort to make the case for aid is that our government counts military aid — and some other forms of economic assistance that have little to do with fighting poverty and inequity — as ‘aid’…” (4/2).

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Support For Locally Led Initiatives Improves Maternal Health In Malawi

Writing in a guest post in Oxfam’s “Politics of Poverty” blog, Dorothy Ngoma, principal secretary and national coordinator of Malawi’s Presidential Initiative for Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood, discusses several of the projects under the initiative, stating, “As a result of this initiative, in two years we have managed to reduce maternal mortality rates significantly, from 675 per 100,000 live births to 460.” She continues, “In cases like these, unless you are part of the community and have their trust, it is very difficult to intervene. International organizations have brilliant ideas. They have money and technical know-how, but these issues are very intimate and success lies at the local level. That is why international organizations must have strong partnerships with us if programs like these are to take root and be effective. … The support of the American public as Malawi works to improve health care and access across our country is also essential. Partner with us. Support locally led efforts. We are on our way” (4/2).

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