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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Secretary Kerry Announces Additional U.S. Aid To Typhoon-Hit Philippines

“After touring miles of roofless homes and shattered shantytowns destroyed by one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday announced that additional American humanitarian aid would be sent to the Philippines and described the giant typhoon as a warning of future extreme weather in a warming world,” the New York Times reports. “Saying that Tacloban still looked like a war zone despite nearly six weeks of recovery efforts, Mr. Kerry announced that Washington would donate $24.6 million immediately for typhoon relief on top of the $62 million in aid already supplied by the United States,” the newspaper notes (Bradsher, 12/18). “Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest ever to hit land, wiped out almost everything in its path when it crossed the central Philippines last month, killing at least 6,069 people, and leaving nearly 1,800 missing and four million with partially or totally damaged homes,” according to Reuters (Francisco/Wroughton, 12/18).

“In the days after the typhoon, Tacloban was critically short of water, food and fuel — basic needs that have since been restored,” the Washington Post reports, adding, “The United States sent search-and-rescue teams, humanitarian workers, more than 50 aircraft and sea vessels, and 1,000 soldiers and Marines” (Harlan, 12/18). “President Benigno Aquino announced an $8.1 billion government plan Wednesday to rebuild storm-ravaged communities. He also issued a new appeal for international aid to help with the reconstruction,” VOA News writes (12/18). “‘The task immediately before us lies in ensuring that the communities that rise again do so stronger, better and more resilient than before,’ [Aquino] told foreign diplomats and aid officials in Manila,” Agence France-Presse reports (Directo, 12/18).

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NPR Examines History, Future Of PEPFAR

NPR’s “All Things Considered” on Tuesday profiled the history of PEPFAR, including its creation, successes, and evolution. The program includes comments about the state of the AIDS epidemic before PEPFAR’s creation from Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Laura Guay, vice president of research at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; and David Wilson, the World Bank’s Global AIDS Program director. In addition, NPR correspondent Melissa Block interviewed Francois Venter of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute “about PEPFAR’s impact in South Africa, which has received more money from the initiative than any other country.” NPR’s “Shots” blog also includes a summary of the report (12/17).

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Science Regaining Influence Within USAID, Official Says

“Science is now more influential within [USAD] than it has been for the last two decades, in part catalyzed by the creation of the chief scientist role three years ago, says an agency official following … last week’s news that Alex Dehgan, the agency’s chief scientist since 2010, has stepped down, leaving the position empty until a suitable successor is found,” SciDev.Net reports. “This rise in importance is representative of a broader shift within the development community, as practitioners have come to accept that science must be integral to any activities, says Susan Reichle, counselor to USAID, who works in the administrator’s office,” the news service writes. “Under the leadership of Dehgan and Rajiv Shah, the USAID administrator, the agency has reinstated scientific expertise at the heart of its work, she says,” SciDev.Net continues. “The wide range of science-related initiatives and organizations established since 2010 are testament to this effort, she adds,” the news service writes, and highlights some of these initiatives. The news service also quotes John Daly, a former USAID official, and Linda Staheli, a senior staff associate from CRDF Global (Piotrowski, 12/17).

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World Bank Announces Record Commitments For International Development Association

“Rich and emerging-market nations agreed to commit a record $52 billion over three years to a World Bank fund to aid the world’s poorest countries, the bank said on Tuesday,” Reuters/Huffington Post reports. “The figure marks an increase of about five percent from the last time the International Development Association, or IDA, was topped up in 2010,” the news agency writes, noting, “[F]or the first time, some of the money will be given in the form of low-interest loans, not grants, totaling just over $4 billion” (Yukhananov, 12/17). “We are committed to making the most of every scarce development dollar to create new opportunities and bring about transformational change in the lives of poor people,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement (12/17).

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Gates Foundation Appoints New CEO

“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has tapped Susan Desmond-Hellmann, chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, as the next chief executive of the giant charitable organization,” the New York Times reports (Ivory, 12/17). “She will take up the post from May 1, after the departure of the previous CEO Jeff Raikes, a former Microsoft Corp. executive who announced his plan to retire in September,” Reuters writes (12/17). “An oncologist by training, Desmond-Hellmann is a recognized leader on issues of higher education, public health, drug development, regulatory innovation and health policy,” according to a Gates Foundation press release (12/17). “Desmond-Hellmann joined UCSF in August 2009, after more than a decade leading drug development at Genentech, focused primarily in guiding cancer drugs through the discovery and approval processes,” the San Francisco Chronicle notes (Allday, 12/17).

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China Reports First Human Case Of H10N8 Bird Flu

“Chinese authorities said Wednesday that a 73-year-old Chinese woman died after being infected with a bird flu strain that had sickened a human for the first time, a development that the [WHO] called ‘worrisome,’” the Associated Press reports (Wong, 12/17). “The [H10N8] virus has been detected in birds since 1965 in at least seven countries including China, the WHO said,” according to Reuters (Wee/Patton, 12/18). “The woman, whose immune system was compromised, had an underlying illness and had visited a live-poultry market, [Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP)] reported in a statement,” CIDRAP News writes (Wappes, 12/17).

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Mosquito-Transmitted Chikungunya Virus Detected For First Time In Caribbean

“A nasty virus first detected in Africa that is spread to people by the bite of infected mosquitoes is being locally transmitted in the Americas for the first time on the tiny French Caribbean dependency of St. Martin, health officials said Tuesday,” the Associated Press reports. “Epidemiologists have so far confirmed about a dozen cases of locally acquired chikungunya virus in St. Martin,” but “[t]here are dozens more suspected cases,” the news agency writes. “On Tuesday, the [CDC] sent out a health advisory to doctors in the United States to consider chikungunya infection in patients with acute onset of fever and joint pain, ‘especially those who have recently traveled to the Caribbean,’” the AP notes. “Health officials on … the island are responding to the outbreak by reducing mosquito breeding sites, enhancing epidemiological surveillance and enlisting the help of the public to clear out stagnant water,” the news agency states (McFadden, 12/17).

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Media Outlets Examine Food Security In Urban Areas

“According to the United Nations human settlements program, U.N. Habitat, … [b]y 2050, 60 percent of all Africans will be living in cities,” The Guardian reports in an article examining urban poverty and a program by the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) to address urban food security issues (Van Ark, 12/17). In related news, IRIN examines some of the lessons learned so far in urban food response programs. “An increasing number of tools and innovations are becoming available to help with this effort, but humanitarians have yet to undertake the shift required for large-scale systematic urban response, say aid experts,” the news service writes (12/17).

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IPS Profiles Advocacy Group For Sexual Minorities With HIV In Uganda

Inter Press Service profiles the “Come Out Post-Test Club,” which was established earlier this year as “a safe space and advocacy group for trans women sex workers living with HIV” in Kampala, Uganda. “The club’s executive secretary, Bad Black, says it is helping to fill a desperately needed gap in support services,” IPS writes, adding, “According to Black, many trans women have died in Uganda because of discrimination in the public health service.” The news service also quotes Beyonce Karungi Tushabe, the executive director of Transgender Equality Uganda, an NGO working for the rights of transgender people; Flavia Kyomukama, a member of the Global Coalition of Women Against AIDS; and Moses Kimbugwe, an activist with Spectrum, an NGO providing HIV/AIDS education and prevention for men who have sex with men (MSM) in and around Kampala, about challenges faced by sexual minorities seeking HIV/AIDS treatment in the country (Michael, 12/16).

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Women Lack Access To Female Condoms In Gulu, Uganda, UPI Reports

“The fight against AIDS has been waged for more than three decades, with more people becoming infected each day, yet preventive measures such as female condoms are not being embraced in some areas of Gulu, a post-conflict region in northern Uganda, said the district’s planner, John Luwa,” United Press International reports. “He said Gulu has some of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the country but accessibility to female condoms is still difficult for women,” the news agency writes (Layoo, 12/17).

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Washington Post Profiles CDC Medical Officer Who Worked On India's Polio Campaign

The Partnership for Public Service/Washington Post published a profile of Hamid Jafari, a medical officer with the CDC who worked with the WHO in India to manage the country’s program to eradicate polio. “He is now in Geneva, Switzerland, working on programs to eradicate polio in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria,” the newspaper notes (12/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

'Red Tape' In U.S. Food Aid Program Hindering Humanitarian Efforts In Philippines

“Like many others, I am thankful for the generosity of my fellow Americans, many of whom have already donated millions to the [Philippines typhoon] relief effort. But I could never have imagined that red tape and outdated rules written by the U.S. Congress in the 1950s could delay urgently needed relief from reaching the millions of people who desperately need humanitarian assistance in my native land,” Juanita Salvador-Burris, a community leader in the Filipino American community of Illinois, writes in a Guardian opinion piece. “These regulations require the vast majority of U.S. food aid to be shipped from preferred growers in the U.S. on preferred U.S. ships … more than 11,000 nautical miles across the ocean, even though there is ample food available much closer to the crisis, in unaffected areas of the Philippines and in countries like Thailand and Vietnam — at a lower price for taxpayers,” she notes.

“Delays in delivering food because of red tape doesn’t just cost tax dollars, it can cost lives,” Salvador-Burris continues. “Since I started a petition to exempt Typhoon relief from outdated regulations, tens of thousands of Americans signed on to let the U.S. Congress know they care about the issue,” she notes, adding, “Their message is loud and clear: fix the broken food aid system. Haiyan is a perfect example of why reform is so desperately needed, both now and for future disasters.” She concludes, “[I]f we achieve this small change in policy, we can be proud of helping to empower the Philippines to walk strong on the long road to recovery and rebuilding” (12/17).

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Global Health Challenges Best Addressed By Locally Driven Solutions

In a three-part series in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, Eric Silfen, senior vice president and chief medical officer of Philips Healthcare, proposes “that many of the ‘global’ health care challenges we face can best be addressed by developing affordable, accessible and cost-effective solutions that satisfy patients’ needs,” or in other words, “when it comes to improving people’s lives, all health care is local.” In Part 1 of the series, he looks at health care in Uganda, where “the non-governmental organization Imaging the World (ITW) is working to offer affordable, accessible and quality maternal medical services through a revolutionary concept that integrates technology, training and the community” (12/9). In Part 2, he examines the issue of indoor air pollution associated with unventilated cooking in Guatemala, highlighting Philips Philanthropy by Design’s original low-smoke Chulha stove initiative (12/11). In Part 3, he focuses on efforts “to end obstetric fistula and improve the lives of women and girls suffering with this devastating injury” in Tanzania (12/16).

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Faith Leaders 'Uniquely Positioned' To Help Eliminate HIV/AIDS Stigma

“[T]here has been tremendous progress in the medical and scientific aspects of HIV and AIDS. But there has been much less progress on the social aspects of the pandemic, especially the stigma associated with the disease,” David Barstow, president of EMPACT Africa, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Religion” blog. “Leaders of local faith communities have substantial influence over the attitudes and behavior of the members of their faith communities and indirectly over the attitudes and behavior of the wider communities of which they are a part,” he writes, adding, “Local faith leaders are uniquely positioned to eliminate stigma by taking action against it.” Barstow outlines several steps faith leaders can take to help reduce stigma, including educating members about HIV/AIDS and encouraging testing (12/16).

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Recent Releases

Blog Examines Food Aid Policy Changes Under 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act

“While perusing the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, we were disappointed to find six lines under the innocuous heading ‘transportation cost reimbursement’ that effectively reduces U.S. food aid by tens of millions of dollars,” Kimberly Ann Elliott, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Erin Collinson, a policy outreach associate at CGD, write in the center’s “Rethinking U.S. Development Policy” blog. They briefly summarize the legislation, discuss proposed changes to the U.S. food aid program, and state, “Overall, a budget deal that avoids a shutdown, and hopefully tempers the effects of sequestration-mandated spending cuts on foreign assistance, is better than no deal at all. But Congress could save more lives without spending a dime more by modernizing U.S. food aid” (12/16).

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Guttmacher Analysis Examines Faith-Based Groups' Roles In Family Planning Services

“Contrary to public perception, faith-based organizations from diverse religious backgrounds are key players in the provision of family planning services around the world, and those based in the United States advocate for increased U.S. assistance in this area to boost global health, according to a new Guttmacher Institute analysis,” a Guttmacher press release states. As part of the analysis, author Sneha Barot, a Guttmacher policy analyst, “provides examples of different USAID-supported faith-based initiatives or organizations and their value in promoting family planning in Liberia, Afghanistan, Nepal and Rwanda,” according to the press release (12/17).

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Director Of CDC-Malawi Reflects On Country's HIV Efforts

In a post in the CDC’s “Our Global Voices” blog, Sundeep Gupta, the director of CDC-Malawi, reflects on HIV efforts in the country. Noting the CDC’s partnership with the Malawi Ministry of Health — which is “ensuring quality in our programming, keeping our technical discussions grounded and practical, and helping ensure each of us is aware of the challenging realities faced by health workers and patients on a daily basis” — as well as support from PEPFAR, he writes, “Our work focuses on science, innovation and the scale-up of evidence-based biomedical interventions, while supporting the Government of Malawi’s leadership in the national fight against HIV” (12/16).

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Blog Examines Immunization Efforts In Ethiopia

In a post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, David Ferreira, managing director for innovative finance and head of the Washington, D.C., office of the GAVI Alliance, examines immunization efforts in Ethiopia. “Just a decade ago, Ethiopia’s immunization coverage rate was as low as 28 percent, by measure of the [WHO]/UNICEF, and no more than 51 percent by Ethiopia’s own estimate,” he writes, adding, “Today, Ethiopia has a health system that is on its way to becoming a model for others, transformed through a decentralized, robust approach led by the country’s Ministry of Health.” As a result, “Ethiopia has met — almost three years early — U.N. Millennium Development Goal 4, reducing child mortality by two-thirds,” he notes (12/17).

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E.U. Support Growing For TB Vaccine Development

In a guest post in the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog, Kari Stoever, vice president of external affairs at Aeras, “writes about European support for new vaccines against tuberculosis (TB).” She notes, “Europe is a major contributor to the development of vaccines globally, with as much as 75 percent of the global TB vaccine portfolio either originating in Europe or being developed in partnership with European public or private organizations.” She highlights a recent “€25 million (approximately $34 million) call for proposals to accelerate the development of new TB vaccines” by the E.U., which she says “comes as an important new collaboration between European funders and a global network of researchers is forming” (12/17).

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Online Conversation Addresses Treatment Access, Development For NTDs

The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End The Neglect” blog highlights an online conversation about neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) featured on the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) website. Neeraj Mistry, managing director for the Global Network, was a contributor (Cavino, 12/17). A complete list of contributors and their responses to a question on NTD treatment access and development is available from PhRMA (12/18).

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IAS Journal Publishes Supplement On HIV Stigma, Discrimination

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog summarizes a recent “event launching the new Journal of the International AIDS Society supplement, ‘Global Action to Reduce HIV Stigma and Discrimination,’ which examines HIV stigma in a variety of contexts and settings, and explores its impact on the global HIV response.” Journalist and consultant Regan Hofmann and Anne Stangl of the International Center for Research on Women spoke at the event, according to the blog (Aziz, 12/17).

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