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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Development Aid Spending Reached Record Level In 2013, OECD Report Says

News outlets note that official development aid spending rose to a record high in 2013, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Devex: Foreign aid spending by OECD-DAC donors rises to all-time high in 2013
“Spending on official development aid rose by 6.1 percent in 2013 to reach $134.8 billion, the highest level ever recorded by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and despite the fact that many donors are still suffering setbacks stemming from the 2008 global financial crisis…” (Santamaria, 4/9).

EurActiv: Overseas aid ‘rebounds’ to record high, says OECD
“Overseas development aid (ODA) jumped 6.1 percent last year to reach a record $134.8 (€97.8) billion, according to new figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), marking a ‘rebound’ after two years of falling donations…” (Neslen, 4/10).

The Guardian: Foreign aid reaches record high
“Foreign aid for development in poorer countries hit a record high last year, with large spending increases recorded by the U.K., Iceland, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates…” (Provost, 4/8).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Development aid rebounds to new record high in 2013 — OECD
“…The OECD said the increase came despite ongoing pressure on the budgets of donor governments since the global economic crisis. The OECD total is for aid given by the 28 member states of its development assistance committee (DAC)…” (Rowling, 4/8).

Wall Street Journal: OECD: Aid Budgets Hit Record Level
“…However, the OECD warned that aid flows to the world’s poorest countries — most of which are in Africa — fell again last year, with much of the increased aid going to middle-income countries such as India, Pakistan and Brazil — which, despite recent strong economic growth, continue to have large populations living in poverty…” (Hannon, 4/8).

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Global Health Spending Hits Record High As Donor Sources Shift, Analysis Shows

Media sources examine a new analysis from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showing global health funding hit a record high in 2013.

Health Affairs Blog: Health Affairs Web First: Global Health Funding In 2013 Five Times Greater Than 1990
“…A new study, being released today as a Web First by Health Affairs, tracked the flow of development assistance for health and estimated that in 2013 it reached $31.3 billion. Looking at past growth patterns of these international transfers of funds for health, [the] authors … identified a steady 6.5 percent annualized growth rate between 1990 and 2000, which nearly doubled to 11.3 percent between 2001 and 2010 with the burgeoning of many public-private partnerships. Since 2011, however, annualized growth has dramatically dropped, to 1.1 percent, due, in part, to the effect of the global economic crisis…” (Gnadinger, 4/8).

Humanosphere: Study shows global health funding steady, not always focused on biggest burdens
“…[Global health] funding has leveled off over the past few years, due to the global economic crisis and perhaps also to a re-thinking of the international anti-poverty agenda. A new report on Financing Global Health from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation documents this transition (subtitle: Transition in an Age of Austerity) and includes some great visual illustrations of what’s going on…” (Paulson, 4/8).

Medical Daily: Global Health Funding Hits New High Of $31B And Still Rising Since 1990
“Poor countries spent about one percent of the total rich countries spent on their own health systems, researchers at the University of Washington say in a report published Tuesday in the journal Health Affairs…” (Mientka, 4/8).

NPR: Global Aid For Health Hits Record High As Funding Sources Shift
“International development aid has hit an all-time high, despite some nations dramatically slashing their foreign assistance budgets. As patterns of international assistance shift, an increasing amount of money is being invested in improving health in the developing world…” (Beaubien, 4/8).

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Defense Secretary Hagel Urges Better International Humanitarian Aid Coordination During Asian Tour

Omaha World-Herald: During Southeast Asia trip, Chuck Hagel stresses humanitarian aid coordination
“…During his ongoing trip through the [Asian] region, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has made a priority of pushing for better international coordination in the face of natural disasters and other crises, such as the disappearance of the Malaysian airliner. In part, the need is expected to increase as climate change and other environmental challenges produce more crises. But Hagel also stressed how working together in response to disasters can help deepen ties among nations…” (Morton, 4/7).

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Ebola Outbreak In West Africa Is 'Challenging,' Expected To Last Months, WHO Says

News outlets report on the spread of an Ebola outbreak that continues to claim lives in West Africa.

Agence France-Presse: West Africa Ebola outbreak among ‘most challenging’ ever: WHO
“West Africa’s Ebola unprecedented outbreak is among the ‘most challenging’ for health workers since the deadly disease emerged elsewhere in Africa four decades ago as the suspected death toll topped 100, the WHO said Tuesday…” (Fowler, 4/8).

Associated Press: Ebola-linked deaths in West Africa rise over 100
“Officials say more than 100 people have died in an outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, where the disease may have infected as many as 175 people. The outbreak of Ebola, which causes internal and external bleeding and is almost always fatal, began last month…” (4/8).

Associated Press: Officials say Ebola outbreak could last months
“Ebola could continue to spread in West Africa for months in one of the most challenging outbreaks of the disease the international community has ever faced, health experts said Tuesday…” (Diallo/DiLorenzo, 4/8).

Reuters: Guinea’s first Ebola survivors return to family, stigma remains
“…Eight people have now recovered from the Ebola virus, according to medical tests. The virulent Zaire strain of the disease in Guinea has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent. … The [Médecins Sans Frontières] team has been helping to educate people on how the disease spreads and how it can be prevented. The team is starting to reintegrate patients who have survived the virus…” (Hussain, 4/8).

Reuters: WHO says West African Ebola outbreak to last 2-4 months
“A ‘challenging’ outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa is expected to take from two to four months to contain, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday…” (Nebehay, 4/8).

Scientific American: Could RNA Drugs Defeat Ebola Virus?
“…Some [Ebola] outbreaks, primarily in Central and West Africa, have killed up to 90 percent of infected individuals. That terrifying prognosis may be about to change. Using so-called small interfering RNA, or siRNA, Thomas W. Geisbert, now at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and his many collaborators have devised a highly promising treatment that has saved the lives of six monkeys infected with the virus. As reported this past January, the treatment has also passed its first safety test in an uninfected human volunteer…” (Jabr, 4/8).

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Saudi Arabia Reports 2 Deaths Among 11 Cases Of MERS

News outlets report on the rising number of MERS cases in Saudi Arabia.

Agence France-Presse: MERS fears prompt ER closure at Saudi hospital
“The main public hospital in the Saudi city of Jeddah has closed its emergency room after a rise in cases of the MERS virus among medical staff, the health ministry said Tuesday. A Jeddah paramedic was among two more people Saudi health authorities reported on Sunday had died from the SARS-like disease, bringing the nationwide death toll to 66…” (4/8).

Associated Press: Saudi Arabia reports 2 more deaths from MERS
“Health authorities in Saudi Arabia have reported two more deaths from the MERS virus, from among 11 new recorded cases in the western city of Jeddah…” (4/9).

Reuters: Saudi records 11 cases of MERS virus in Jeddah
“Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it had recorded 11 cases infected with the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in Jeddah, including hospital staff. Two of the patients died, six have recovered, while three are undergoing treatment, the official Saudi Press Agency reported quoting the Jeddah health authority…” (El Dahan, 4/9).

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Sub-Saharan Africa Will Not Meet MDG For Sanitation, Study Says

VOA News: Sub-Saharan African Countries to Miss U.N. Sanitation Goal — Study
“A new study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine finds that no sub-Saharan African country will meet the U.N. Millennium Development Goal for sanitation, and that many are lagging behind achieving the target for clean drinking water as well…” (Berman, 4/8).

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U.N. Report Warns Drought In Syria Further Threatens Food Security

Media outlets discuss a new U.N. report (.pdf) warning that drought could worsen an already fragile food security situation in Syria.

Al Jazeera: U.N.: Syria drought to deepen food crisis
“The United Nations has warned that a looming drought in Syria could push millions more people into hunger and exacerbate a refugee crisis caused by the three-year conflict…” (4/9).

BBC News: U.N. warns of Syria food shortage due to looming drought
“…The World Food Programme (WFP) said rainfall since September has been less than half the long-term average. At the same time, WFP food aid has been cut by a fifth due to a lack of funds from international donors…” (4/8).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. agency assists record number of Syrians amidst rising fears of drought impact
“While noting that the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) provided assistance to a record four million Syrians in March, a new report out today highlights that, with only one month left in the rainy season, a potential drought may strain the country’s already fragile food security situation…” (4/8).

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Officials Urge Burmese Government To Allow Aid Into Rakhine

VOA News: U.N., U.K. Call for Burma to Allow Humanitarian Aid into Rakhine
“The U.N.’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights to Burma is urging the government to allow foreign aid workers to return to Rakhine state. The workers were evacuated last month because of ethnic unrest, but the U.N. warns their departure has led to severe consequences for at least 140,000 displaced people living in temporary camps. … On Monday, a senior member of the British Foreign Office, Hugo Swire, met Burma’s ambassador in London to raise concerns about humanitarian aid…” (Paluch, 4/8).

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Efforts Underway To Lower Cost Of New Hepatitis C Drug

Two Reuters articles discuss efforts to lower the cost of a new hepatitis C treatment.

Reuters: Gilead aims to license hepatitis C drug to 3-4 Indian firms
“Gilead Sciences aims to license its new hepatitis C drug Sovaldi to three or four Indian generic manufacturers to allow sales of the medicine at lower prices in some 60 developing nations…” (Hirschler, 4/8).

Reuters: WHO joins clamor to make new hepatitis C pills affordable
“The World Health Organization wants a ‘concerted effort’ to drive down the cost of new hepatitis C drugs that offer a cure for the liver-destroying virus but are unaffordable for most infected people worldwide…” (Hirschler, 4/9).

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Editorials and Opinions

Trans-Pacific Partnership Will Damage Global Health

Huffington Post: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is Terrible for Public Health
Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines Program

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is “a pending trade deal between the U.S. and 11 Asian trading partners. Despite the damage it would do to global health, U.S. officials are advancing special rules that expand drug giants’ power under TPP, blocking generic drug competition that could save the lives of people suffering from cancer, HIV and other diseases. … The TPP is a bad deal for taxpayers, for doctors, and for everyone who believes in corporate transparency. If rammed through Congress via fast-track trade authority, which doesn’t allow Congress to offer any amendments, it will lead to lost jobs and lost lives. The Constitution assigns Congress the responsibility to make trade policy. It’s time to take that responsibility seriously” (4/8).

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Action Now Can Prevent Worsening Hunger, Malnutrition

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Is more hunger and malnutrition inevitable? Not necessarily
Frank Rijsberman, CEO of CGIAR

“…Investment in agricultural innovation is key. And we need to do more of it — soon. Some of the most effective ways to deal with climate change, such as adapting crop varieties and livestock to the new conditions, take a full 20 years to develop. … The biodiversity in plants, livestock, trees and fish must also be protected. … Research is also looking into better farming practices. … Furthermore, we need to integrate how the agricultural, forestry and fisheries sectors work within the broader landscape in which they produce food. … And the way we govern will have to change as well. Innovation in policy and institutions are equally important. Prices of food and natural resources need to reflect the costs to the environment and climate. … Yes, climate change is already affecting food security, and we are all likely to be affected, both in our stomachs and in our pockets. But a nightmare scenario is not inescapable. We will be able to address demands for food in the face of climate change if we take this wake-up call as urgent and serious, and further invest in research for a smarter agriculture to drive development” (4/8).

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Investments In Health Workforce Capacity Critical To Tackle NCDs

Huffington Post: Tackling NCDs Effectively Will Require More Health Workers
Jeffrey Sturchio and Louis Galambos, co-authors of “Noncommunicable Diseases in the Developing World: Addressing Gaps in Global Policy and Research,” and Tina Flores, director at Rabin Martin

“… In recognition of World Health Worker Week, we call on everyone to support efforts to strengthen the human resource capacity needed to tackle chronic disease effectively and efficiently around the globe. Access to well-trained health workers when you need them should not be an accident of geography. … It will be impossible to make adequate gains toward reducing the burden of NCDs, much less achieve universal health coverage, without the right numbers of well-trained and well-resourced health workers where they are most needed. It is time to do more” (4/8).

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Health Sector Should Adopt Human-Rights Based Approach To Gender-Based Violence

Devex: Health workers can help break the silence around violence against women
Constance Newman, senior team leader for gender equality and health at IntraHealth International

“…Violence against women exists in epidemic proportions, but it is so normalized and accepted that people don’t recognize it as the large-scale health and human rights disaster that it is. Health sectors around the world can and should be helping to eliminate violence against women through multilevel, multisectoral interventions. At a minimum, health workers should be trained to screen their clients, identify survivors, and connect them to the variety of services and resources they need to heal and move forward with their lives. … Equipping health workers to effectively screen for and respond to the social roots of gender-based violence helps women who are suffering today, and sets the stage for meaningful health system engagement to prevent violence in generations to come” (3/27).

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Recent Releases

Makerere University Walter Reed Project Temporarily Suspends Operations In Uganda

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on the operating status of a Makerere University Walter Reed Project in Uganda that was temporarily suspended last week following the arrest of one of its workers by local authorities who say they were operating under the country’s new Anti-Homosexuality Law (Barton, 4/8).

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Health Workforce Must Grow For New Health Technologies To Succeed

In a guest blog post for “Humanosphere,” Julia Robinson, director of advocacy programs and deputy director for Cote d’Ivoire programs at Health Alliance International, discusses the “‘delivery bottleneck’ for new vaccines — a euphemistic way of describing the fact that Western innovations are piling up because the global south simply lacks the health care workforce and systems to deliver these new health technologies.” Noting April 7-12 is the WHO’s World Health Worker Week, Robinson asserts that “we need to make sure that along with creating Global Development Labs that grow the private sector, we are also channeling resources towards the public sector and the governments whose responsibility it is to provide health care for their most vulnerable populations. We need to make sure that along with shiny new gizmos and the billion dollar checks we’re writing to fund them, we are supporting national governments as they develop innovative strategies to help grow their health workforce” (4/8).

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IntraHealth-Led Projects Helping To Improve Health Care Workplaces

In a post on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Sarah Dwyer, communications manager for IntraHealth International, profiles Agnes Masagwayi, a senior clinical health officer in Mbale District, Uganda, and highlights efforts by two USAID-supported IntraHealth projects that are helping “to strengthen district-level health workforce leadership and management, use data to make evidence-based decisions, and advocate for increased funding for the health sector…” (4/3).

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