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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

USAID Launches U.S. Global Development Lab

Media sources report on USAID’s launch of its new U.S. Global Development Lab.

Devex: USAID, Hillary Clinton launch Global Development Lab for game-changing innovations
“The day is finally here. After four years in the works, multiple name changes, and numerous launch delays, the U.S. Agency for International Development is finally unveiling the Global Development Lab, which it hopes will bring greater innovation to meeting the goal of ending extreme poverty and ‘take game-changing solutions to more than 200 million people’…” (Igoe, 4/3).

The Guardian: U.S. seeks to foster development innovation with $1bn-a-year lab
“Inspired by such epochal breakthroughs as the ‘green revolution,’ not to mention the advent of humbler technologies including the cow manure-powered fridge, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is to sink almost $1 billion (£602 million) a year into a new global development laboratory. The scheme will bring together scientists, corporations, universities and charities in a collective that will dream up and test new tools to fight poverty…” (Jones, 4/3).

SciDev.Net: U.S. innovation partnership aims to end extreme poverty
“The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is further ‘ramping up’ its commitment to placing science and technology at the heart of development with the launch today of a major innovation partnership. Bringing together a wide range of actors, including businesses, universities, and NGOs, the U.S. Global Development Lab (GDL) will help create and spread science-based solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges, says Lona Stoll, a senior adviser to USAID’s administrator…” (4/3).

USAID IMPACTblog: USAID launches Global Development Lab
“[Thursday] in New York, we launched our Global Development Lab, the new arm of our agency that will foster science and technology-based solutions to help end extreme poverty by 2030…” (4/3).

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WHO Calls For Renewed Focus On Vector-Borne Diseases

Media sources report on WHO’s call for renewed focus on vector-borne disease control for World Health Day 2014, recognized on April 7.

VOA News: Global Threat of Vector-borne Diseases Grows
“The United Nations and international agencies are warning more than half the world’s population is at risk from the growing threat of vector-borne diseases. In advance of World Health Day, the agencies are urging nations to act to contain these often fatal, debilitating diseases…” (Schlein, 4/4).

World Health Organization: World Health Day 2014: Preventing vector-borne diseases
“… Every year, more than one billion people are infected and more than one million die from vector-borne diseases. This World Health Day — 7 April — WHO is highlighting the serious and increasing threat of vector-borne diseases, with the slogan ‘Small bite, big threat’. … WHO is calling for a renewed focus on vector control and better provision of safe water, sanitation, and hygiene — key strategies outlined in WHO’s 2011 Roadmap for the control, elimination, and eradication of neglected tropical diseases, which sets targets for the period 2012-2020” (4/2).

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U.K. Government Reaches Aid Pledge Threshold As Watchdog Group Criticizes Spending Transparency

The Guardian reports that the U.K. government has met a development aid pledge, as an aid watchdog group releases a report criticizing the government for a lack of transparency in its development spending.

The Guardian: Shh, don’t tell anyone, but U.K. government meets foreign aid target
“Governments are rarely shy about trumpeting their achievements, so it was notable that there was barely more than a passing mention in a tweet from the deputy prime minister on Wednesday that Britain had finally met its pledge to spend 0.7 percent of its gross national income (GNI) as aid to poorer nations…” (Provost/Jones, 4/3).

The Guardian: Aid watchdog bites: be more honest and listen to the poor, U.K. told
“The U.K. aid watchdog has accused the Department for International Development (DfID) of a ‘clearly unacceptable’ tendency to use evidence selectively, criticized its failure to capitalize on the £1.2 billion it spends on research and told it to listen properly to those it is meant to be helping overseas…” (Jones, 4/3).

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Ban Urges African Leaders To Fund Malaria Eradication Efforts

U.N. News Centre: U.N. chief, in Brussels, urges scaled-up investment in fight against malaria
“Highlighting the critical importance of keeping investments in health high on the international development agenda, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon encouraged African decision-makers today to fund programs for the eradication of malaria…” (4/3).

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U.N. Appeals For More Aid To S. Sudan As Food Crisis Worsens

News outlets report on South Sudan’s worsening food crisis.

Agence France-Presse: South Sudan on verge of Africa’s worst famine since 1980s: U.N.
“War-torn South Sudan could become the scene of the worst famine catastrophe in Africa in decades without more aid and a ceasefire to let farmers reach their fields, the U.N. warned Thursday…” (4/3).

New York Times: South Sudan Urgently Needs Help to Stave Off Famine, U.N. Warns
“South Sudan needs $230 million in international aid in the next 60 days or it will face the worst starvation in Africa since the 1980s, when hundreds of thousands of people died in Ethiopia’s famine, the United Nations official coordinating humanitarian aid in South Sudan warned on Thursday…” (Cumming-Bruce, 4/3).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. officials cite ‘race against time’ to prevent humanitarian catastrophe in South Sudan
“With no political solution to the conflict that has torn South Sudan apart in sight, senior United Nations officials working in the country stressed today that they are in a ‘race against time’ ahead of the rainy season to help prevent a health and hunger catastrophe…” (4/3).

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Ebola Continues To Spread In West Africa, With Mali Reporting Suspected Case

Media outlets continue to report on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Associated Press: Ebola patients await death in Guinea wards
“Ebola is so virulent that those who do test positive can only wait to die in a special ward where they are treated by medical personnel wearing protective suits and gear. The Zaire strain detected in Guinea kills up to 90 percent of its victims, and with no cure all that can be done is to make patients comfortable as their organs begin failing…” (Diallo, 4/3).

CNN: Ebola toll tops 80 in West Africa
“The death toll from an Ebola outbreak in coastal West Africa has risen to 84, with dozens more ill, aid workers reported Thursday. The deaths are among the 131 cases reported by the World Health Organization, which said the outbreak has ‘rapidly evolved’ since originating in the forests of southeastern Guinea…” (Smith, 4/4).

Reuters: France alerts doctors for any signs of Ebola from West Africa
“French health authorities on Thursday put doctors and hospitals on alert to report any signs that an Ebola virus outbreak affecting West Africa had infected patients in France, though no symptoms had yet been detected…” (Labbe/Vinocur, 4/3).

Reuters: Mali suspects first Ebola cases as regional death toll tops 90
“Mali said it had identified its first possible cases of Ebola since the start of an outbreak in neighboring Guinea, adding to fears that the deadly virus was spreading across West Africa…” (Diarra/Samb, 4/4).

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Progress Made In Filipino Health Care System 5 Months Since Typhoon, But Challenges Remain

The Lancet: Typhoon Haiyan recovery: progress and challenges
“On November 8, 2013, the Philippines experienced its most devastating catastrophe in 20 years — Super Typhoon Haiyan. The typhoon, with sustained wind speeds of around 150 mph, was cataclysmic and resulted in the deaths of more than 6,200 people and the displacement of four million. In total, the lives of some 14 million Filipinos were affected by the destruction. Despite the initial international attention, nearly five months on, the country is still grappling with pressing health needs…” (Barmania, 4/5).

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Programs To End Child Marriage Must Include Families, Communities

Devex: Ann Warner: Include families, communities in programs to end child marriage
“Child marriage affects girls — but the solution to end the practice needs more than focusing on the victims. Effective programs to end child marriage should also include the families of the girls and members of the communities where they live as these are the ones that often make the decisions on the girls’ behalf, according to Ann Warner, senior gender and youth specialist at the International Center for Research on Women…” (Santamaria, 4/3).

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Guardian Expert Panel Suggests Ways To End Preventable Child Deaths

The Guardian: Seven ways to end preventable child deaths
“Diarrhea and pneumonia kill some two million children a year. Our expert panel recommends ways to end the loss of life…” (Leach, 4/3).

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Editorials and Opinions

Rwanda's Health Sector Progress Since Genocide Provides Hope For Nation's Future

The Lancet features a public health paper and an editorial on Rwanda’s health sector progress since the genocide 20 years ago.

The Lancet: Rwanda 20 years on: investing in life
Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda’s minister of health, Paul Farmer of Harvard Medical School, et al.

“…The Rwandan Constitution of 2003 formalized the inalienable right to health; by contrast with the decades of violence culminating in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, the decision now was to invest in life. … During the past decade, the platforms designed to scale up HIV interventions have been used to strengthen primary care and to expand a growing package of health services across the country in an equitable way. … The results of such a health systems approach have been impressive in a country that only 20 years ago lay in ruins. … Investment in health has stimulated shared economic growth as citizens live longer and with greater capacity to pursue lives they value. The lesson of the post-genocide period for Rwanda — and for countries around the world hoping for recovery from social upheaval of many kinds — is that a nation’s most precious resource is its people” (4/5).

The Lancet: Rwanda: looking to the future
“Two decades ago, Rwanda lay in ruins following the brutal genocide against the Tutsis. The scars of the massacre seemed too deep to heal for some observers at the time. But, in what has been described as the Rwanda miracle, the country turned its situation around. … Several factors were crucial to the country’s success including governmental leadership, a national development plan that championed health equity, a constitution that formalized the right to health, a community-based national health insurance system, training of community health workers, increases in foreign and domestic spending on health, and successful collaboration with international development partners. … Rwanda has achieved great successes and can look forward, thanks to remarkable leadership, to continued rewards for the health of its people — its respect for democracy, human rights, and regional stability will be crucial to its future” (4/5).

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Ethiopia Challenges Assumption That Decline In Fertility Must Precede Economic Advancement

The Lancet: Scaling up of family planning in low-income countries: lessons from Ethiopia
Daniel Halperin of the Ponce School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Puerto Rico and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

“…[A]lthough there is widespread agreement that fertility decline is often associated with other aspects of socioeconomic development, skepticism remains in some quarters — for example, among some health economists — about whether the availability of family planning services can actually make a substantial difference towards reducing fertility rates in the lowest-income parts of the world, especially without the necessary contribution of distal factors such as education or increased wealth. Furthermore, although the London Summit underscored that there is clearly still a long way to go towards expanding service delivery in some key regions, we can learn much from successful experiences so far. Ethiopia offers an encouraging example, and one that seems to challenge the widely held assumption that a demographic transition towards reduced fertility must be preceded by broad socioeconomic advancement…” (4/5).

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Devex Publishes Opinion Pieces As Part Of 'She Builds' Campaign

Devex publishes two opinion pieces as part of the “She Builds” campaign.

Devex: A revolution without boundaries
Ashley Judd, actress, humanitarian, ambassador and board member for PSI

Judd outlines five goals, including ending child marriage and stopping gender-based violence, to help move gender equality forward. “…More than ever, women are stepping into high-profile leadership roles in government, corporate and nonprofit sectors. This revolution shouldn’t stop at the borders of wealthy nations. As women on the world stage, we must join together with trailblazers like Malawian President Joyce Banda and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to create a safer, healthier and more equal world for the next generation of women…” (4/2).

Devex: Better health for brighter futures
Michael Marine, CEO of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and a former U.S. ambassador to Vietnam

“Producing a devastating impact on school attendance, employment, worker productivity, community participation and quality of life, poor health stands out as one of the most significant problems disproportionately trapping girls and women in a cycle of poverty and preventing them from thriving as equal members of society. Many disadvantages associated with a lack of basic health care confront them right from birth, simply because they are girls. We must increase investments in the health of girls and women. Doing so will enable them to be empowered to pursue all professional, educational, social and political opportunities…” (3/27).

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Conference Seeks To Address LGBT Issues In Global Health

Seattle Times: LGBT issues should be key part of global health conversation
Sarah Stuteville, multimedia journalist and co-founder of The Seattle Globalist

“…Seattle has distinguished itself as a champion of LGBT rights [over the past 20 years] — legalizing gay marriage and supplanting San Francisco as the city with the highest concentration of gay-couple households. During the same period, we’ve also become a hub for global health and development, headquartering powerhouses such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the nonprofit PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health) and a constellation of smaller organizations working internationally. But these two worlds — LGBT rights and global health — don’t intersect as often as you might expect…” Stuteville discusses the Western Regional International Health Conference, which “looks to help challenge the global health organizations here to include issues such as anti-LGBT violence, accessing rights for LGBT communities and providing health care for LGBT people (even if they aren’t in groups at high risk for HIV) to their agendas…” (4/3).

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Recent Releases

Advocacy Groups Welcome Birx Confirmation To Head U.S. Government's AIDS Efforts

“Advocates began lauding the long-awaited confirmation of Dr. Deborah Birx as the new global AIDS ambassador yesterday as soon as the Senate finished unanimously voting for the former head of the CDC’s Global AIDS Program to take over former Ambassador Eric Goosby’s position as the head of PEPFAR,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports and includes comments from Ken Mayer, co-chair of the Center for Global Health Policy’s Scientific Advisory Committee; AVAC; and Deborah Derrick, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Aziz, 4/3). UNAIDS “congratulates Dr. Deborah Birx on her confirmation as Ambassador at Large and Coordinator of U.S. Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS Globally, leading the U.S. Government’s international HIV efforts,” according to a statement from the organization (4/3).

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PEPFAR Helping Haiti Make Progress Toward AIDS-Free Generation

In a post on the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, Deputy U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Julia Martin discusses PEPFAR’s role in Haiti’s progress against HIV/AIDS. She writes, “This year, Haiti reached an historic milestone in its HIV/AIDS response by achieving universal access to treatment. This means that 80 percent of those estimated to need antiretroviral treatment (ART) are receiving it. This achievement is in addition to improvements in Haiti’s overall infrastructure, security, and access to health care and education. … A decrease in infection, a marked increase in access to health care for Haitians country-wide, and impressive results across PEPFAR’s projects are propelling Haiti towards the global goal of an AIDS-free generation…” (Martin, 4/3).

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Universal Health Coverage Is Key To Maternal Health Post-2015

The “New Security Beat” blog of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars’ Environmental Change and Security Program highlights a video from the Wilson Center discussing universal health coverage as a mechanism to continue eliminating preventable maternal deaths and morbidity post-2015. The blog cites a new PLOS Medicine Essay that “makes the case for universal health coverage as a means to prevent vulnerable and marginalized populations from slipping through the cracks.” The blog concludes, “As world leaders finalize the next global development framework, the maternal health agenda should maintain a top priority. Although maternal mortality rates have declined over the past two decades, the overwhelming need to create a framework that reduces persistent inequalities and improves life expectancy remains” (Braxton, 4/3).

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Blogs Discuss Impacts Of Anti-Gay Laws In Nigeria, Uganda

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog summarizes the impacts of anti-gay laws in Nigeria and Uganda, stating, “…[T]he impact of both laws have played out volubly and violently across their landscapes, while responses to the laws remain in limbo” (Barton, 4/3). In a post on Humanosphere, development blogger Tom Paulson highlights Stella Nyanzi, an anthropologist who studies gender and sexuality issues in Uganda, at Makerere University in Kampala, who will be speaking this week at the 11th annual Western Regional International Health Conference in Seattle (4/3).

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Blog Examines South African Report On HIV/AIDS Prevalence

John Campbell, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes in his “Africa in Transition” blog about the recently released report from South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) on HIV/AIDS in the country. “…The good news: over the past 10 years, mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS has declined from 70,000 babies per year to about 8,600 in 2012. There has been a decline in new infections among people in the demographic range of fifteen to twenty-four years of age. Blood samples indicate that about a third of those infected have received some antiretroviral treatment. The bad news is that 21.2 percent of South Africa’s population is infected, an increase of almost two percent since the 2008 survey. Condom use has fallen since 2008, down to less than 68 percent from 85 percent in 2008. And the age of sexual debut among young males has also dropped, from about 10 percent of boys before the age of fifteen to 16.7 percent…” (4/2).

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