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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Humanitarian Efforts Continue In Typhoon-Stricken Philippines

“Nearly one month after Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines, displacing more than four million people, health experts are trying to lower the rising risk of malnutrition among 1.5 million children under five, and help hundreds of thousands of women continue breastfeeding,” IRIN reports. “‘What is easily seen in the aftermath of the typhoon is the destruction [of facilities and] injuries that require emergency care… malnutrition is a silent threat, as people often do not recognize the symptoms and it is left untreated,’ said Katrien Ghoos, the World Food Programme’s (WFP) nutrition officer for the Asia-Pacific,” the news service writes (12/5).

In related news, Forbes contributor Rahim Kanani interviews USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah about the humanitarian response in the Philippines. According to the interview transcript, Shah examines “the most urgent needs on the ground right now in the Philippines,” discusses USAID’s activities in the country, and reflects on how lessons learned from past disasters are applicable, among other topics (12/4). Talk Radio News reports on “a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, [during which] witnesses praised the U.S. government’s immediate response to Typhoon Haiyan and focused on future reconstruction efforts” (Higdon, 12/4).

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Food Security Becomes Divisive Issue At WTO Ministerial Meeting

“The World Trade Organization’s [WTO] ninth ministerial meeting at Bali, Indonesia, has morphed into a fierce battle between the countries seeking social safety nets for hundreds of millions of poor people and those insisting on having advanced import-facilitation programs in the developing countries on par with the industrialized nations,” Inter Press Service reports (Devarakonda, 12/4). “Food security has been an obstacle to reaching an 11th-hour agreement at the WTO’s 159-country summit in Bali,” BBC News notes. Officials from member states held talks in Geneva prior to the Bali meeting to discuss “agriculture and the sustainability of food security programs, such as the one being run by the Indian government,” the news service writes (11/4). “India along with a group of countries including Bolivia, Cuba, Kenya, South Africa, Venezuela and Zimbabwe pressed hard for improved rules to ensure that their public stockholding programs for food security are not undermined by flawed trade rules,” IPS writes.

“India’s trade minister Anand Sharma said at the plenary meeting that ‘Food security is essential for four billion people and is an important goal of the Millennium Development Goals,'” according to IPS (12/4). “The U.S. trade representative, Michael Froman, asked the WTO’s member economies to work past their differences in order to help finalize the deal during the Bali summit,” BBC notes. “Leaving Bali this week without an agreement would deal a debilitating blow to the WTO as a forum for multilateral negotiations. … If that happens, the unfortunate truth is that the loss will be felt most heavily by those members who can least afford it,” Froman said, the news service writes (12/4).

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Devex Highlights 10 'Buzz Topics' In Global Fund Replenishment Conversation

Devex highlights “10 buzz topics to watch out for” as advocates and policymakers gathered in Washington this week to “champion their achievements and lock down billions for the fourth replenishment” of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The topics discussed include historic new pledges to the fund, the integration of health and development initiatives, “[h]ow to maintain focus on vulnerable populations,” the importance of “getting smart on [the] procurement” of health commodities, “prevention [strategies] and the challenges of fostering effective behavior change when it comes to HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria,” the emergence of a new strain of HIV in West Africa, TB and HIV in Eastern Europe, rising TB rates in Nigeria, a debate over the most effective tactics to fight malaria, and the need for an increased focus on women and girls in the HIV epidemic (Igoe, 12/4).

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WHO Emergency Committee On MERS Says Situation Not An Emergency

“After discussing the latest developments, the [WHO's] emergency committee on the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) decided today that the MERS situation still does not amount to an international public health emergency,” CIDRAP News reports. However, “the panel felt that the situation is still of concern in view of ongoing cases and new information about the presence of the virus in camels, [a] statement [from the WHO] said,” the news service notes (12/4). “Although it still does not consider the events to constitute a [Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)], the committee reinforced its previous advice for consideration by WHO and Member States,” which includes strengthening surveillance, “continuing to increase awareness and effective risk communication,” “supporting countries that are particularly vulnerable,” “increasing relevant diagnostic testing capacities,” “continuing with investigative work” about the source of the virus and relevant exposure, and “timely sharing of information,” according to the WHO statement (12/4).

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U.S. Military Helping African Militaries Confront HIV/AIDS Epidemic

“U.S. Africa Command [Africom] is making headway in helping militaries across Africa confront the HIV/AIDS epidemic through a program focused on prevention, care and treatment, a senior command official reported [Wednesday],” the American Forces Press Service reports. Mike Hrshchyshn, chief of humanitarian and health activities for Africom’s Security Cooperation Programs directorate, spoke at “a web chat commemorating World AIDS Day earlier this week,” the news service notes. “The office oversees the strategic direction of the Defense Department’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Program in Africa,” the news service writes, adding, “Of more than 70 nations that participate in the DOD program, 45 are in Africom’s area of operations, Hrshchyshn reported.” According to AFPS, “The effort has reached nearly a half-million troops and their family members with educational programs about prevention and treatment, provided about 4,000 health care workers trained in HIV/AIDS care and treatment, and provided support to about 75,000 people living with the disease” (Miles, 12/4).

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New Development Goals Must Address Poverty In MICs, OECD Report Says

“New development goals need to address the increasingly large numbers of poor people living in middle-income countries, including the rising economies of India and China, and should focus on empowering people, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says in a report on Thursday,” The Guardian reports. “The ‘Development Co-operation Report 2013: Ending Poverty’ is the latest addition to the growing literature on what should follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after 2015,” the newspaper notes. Presented as a collection of essays from experts, the report “says the world needs to adapt to new challenges and move beyond the focus on economic growth, which — while crucial — is insufficient by itself to take 1.2 billion people out of poverty,” The Guardian writes, adding, “The report contains several examples of successful poverty reduction strategies, including a shift from programs that target poverty to more universal approaches based on concepts of human rights, typically social protection policies such as national health insurance and pensions” (Tran, 12/5).

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IPS Examines International Efforts To Create SDGs

Inter Press Service examines international efforts to formulate new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that expire in 2015. “[C]ivil society activists and U.N. officials agree their success will hinge on policies that address the nexus of poverty, hunger and environmental degradation,” the news service writes. “A U.N. high-level panel, co-chaired by heads of government from Indonesia, Liberia and U.K., provided a roadmap last May aimed at eradicating poverty and hunger — possibly by 2030,” IPS states, adding, “How that target can be achieved will be left in the hands of an Open Working Group, comprising some 30 U.N. member states, which is expected to formulate its recommendations for SDGs next year.” The article includes comments from Danielle Nierenberg, co-founder of Food Tank; Jomo Kwame Sundaram, assistant director general and coordinator for economic and social development at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization; and Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute (Deen, 12/5).

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U.N. Women Official Says Renewed Efforts Needed For Women's Empowerment

“Despite significant progress in meeting international development goals for women’s empowerment, gaps in key areas remain, which require a renewed effort from all partners to better integrate gender issues into the overall quest for sustainable development, a United Nations gender equality official said today,” the U.N. News Centre reports. On Wednesday, Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of the U.N. Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (U.N. Women) “opened a high-level forum at U.N. Headquarters in New York” that is “looking at challenges and achievements in meeting the targets for women’s and girls’ progress in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” the news service notes. Though there has been “significant progress” in some areas, “[t]here were also stark gaps within and between countries, she said,” according to the news service. “In regard to the development framework beyond 2015, [Puri] called for a new, stand-alone goal with three core concerns: ending violence against women; equal access to resources and opportunities; and equal participation in all sectors of society,” the U.N. News Centre writes (12/4).

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Many Governments Unprepared For Potential Dementia Epidemic, Report Says

“Many governments are woefully unprepared for an epidemic of dementia currently affecting 44 million people worldwide and set to more than treble to 135 million people by 2050, health experts and campaigners said on Thursday,” Reuters reports. “Fresh estimates from the advocacy group Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) showed a 17 percent increase in the number of people with the … condition compared with 2010, and warned that by 2050 more than 70 percent of dementia sufferers will be living in poorer countries,” the news service writes. “Leaders from the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries are due to meet in London next week for a special summit on dementia — a condition that includes Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), fronto-temporal dementia and many other causes of cognitive decline,” the news service notes (Kelland, 12/4).

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Escalation Of Violence Worsening Humanitarian Challenge In CAR

“An escalation of violence in the Central African Republic [CAR] is causing thousands to flee their homes into the wilderness, posing a humanitarian challenge in a country that has suffered from destabilization for years,” PBS NewsHour reports. “An estimated one in three people in the country of about five million need food, protection, health care, water sanitation and shelter, said U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on November 25,” the news service notes. “The United Nations estimates about 400,000 people have left their homes since the spring and are seeking refuge in crowded dirty camps,” the news service writes, adding, “[Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)] has been dispatching mobile units to help those who can’t reach their clinics.” The news service describes the ongoing conflict in the country and notes Albert Carames, a humanitarian affairs officer with MSF, “said although more attention is given to CAR these days in response to the recent violence, the international community is still ‘doing much less than what the civilian population needs. For years we have denounced the neglect of this country'” (Epatko, 12/4).

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Nature Examines India's Million Death Study

Nature examines the Million Death Study (MDS), which includes “surveys of more than one million households across India,” covering “the period from 1997 to the end of 2013, and will document roughly one million deaths.” According to the news service, Prabhat Jha, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, and his colleagues “have coded about 450,000 so far, and have deciphered several compelling trends that are starting to lead to policy changes, such as stronger warning labels on tobacco.” The news service notes, “Public health experts need mortality figures to monitor disease and assess interventions, but quality mortality data are scarce in most developing countries.” Nature provides a series of infographics depicting data from the study (Westly, 12/4).

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IRIN Examines Lower Profile Of Pakistan's Polio Immunization Campaigns

“Attacks on vaccination teams, militant threats and the abduction of teachers facilitating [a polio immunization] campaign in November 2013 have handicapped efforts and led to a new strategy” for conducting vaccinations in Pakistan, IRIN reports. “It means an end to the kind of campaigns seen in the past, often headed by high-profile national celebrities such as cricketer Shahid Afridi. … The ‘new look’ vaccination campaigns will be far more low-key,” the news service writes. “The change of direction in anti-polio campaigns is not only about security — some health officials were also concerned that the national drives were losing their impact,” IRIN notes (12/4).

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Editorials and Opinions

World Leaders' Failure To Pledge $5B Per Year To Global Fund 'Absurd'

“The world as a whole didn’t come up with a measly $5 billion a year for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. $5 billion was a bare minimum needed to maintain momentum in the fight against these diseases,” Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, writes in the Huffington Post “World” blog, adding, “The world has told the poor and dying to drop dead.” “They came up with $4 billion instead, $1 billion short,” and “the powers that be are calling the outcome just great,” he writes. “Yet anybody in finance, macroeconomics, corporate or national budgets, or just about any big business knows how absurd it is that the world as a whole can’t manage to find the $5 billion,” Sachs says, adding, “It’s not that anybody claimed that the Global Fund isn’t doing its job, saving millions of lives each year. It’s not that anybody claimed that the money is just not needed. They just claimed that it’s not a convenient time, tight budgets and all the rest.” He outlines “some of the things that that extra $1 billion represents,” such as “roughly 14 hours of Pentagon spending” or “five percent of the Christmas bonuses on Wall Street,” among others (12/4).

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Proposed Changes To U.S. International Food Aid Program Must Address Complex Issues

Noting the Obama administration earlier this year proposed changes to the U.S. international food aid program, Food for Peace, Hannah Laufer-Rottman, founder and executive director of the Palms for Life Fund, writes in the Huffington Post’s “World” blog that “in order to succeed, the new U.S. food aid policy must address a number of complex issues.” She writes, “In the developing world and in countries that are food-insecure and rely on imports to feed their people, in case of emergency international food aid is the only answer,” adding, “But the new food aid policy should also take into account situations where there is food in a country neighboring the one where an emergency occurs.” She continues, “In addition, U.S. policy should also include guidelines for developing countries which produce enough staple foods to feed their own poor, but that don’t take responsibility for distributing the food.” She concludes, “U.S. policy might require these countries to redistribute the food to their people; in another case, lack of local infrastructure — markets, warehouses, and especially roads — would indicate that the U.S. should assist in food shipment and distribution” (12/4).

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Opinion Pieces Address Global Development Agenda

The following is a summary of two opinion pieces addressing the global development agenda.

  • Paul Callan and colleagues, Devex: “With about 750 days remaining until the Millennium Development Goals expire,” Callan, a global operating partner at Dalberg, and colleagues examine whether the MDGs can be considered successful. “Our analysis presents a mixed picture,” they state and discuss the “implications [of] the mixed effectiveness of the MDGs … for the ongoing debate on the post-2015 development agenda, and for foreign development assistance.” They write, “A better framework needs mechanisms to connect goals with decisions made and actions taken in capitals and communities around the world” (12/4).
  • Erik Solheim, The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog”: “There seems to be strong political will to do what is needed to end poverty once and for all. But what, concretely, do we need to do?” Solheim, chair of the OECD development assistance committee and former minister of the environment and international development in Norway, asks. “It is clearly not only a question of growth, although growth, of course, is essential,” he writes, adding, “There is more bang for every development buck when reducing poverty also improves health, environmental sustainability and gender equality.” He highlights cash transfer schemes, agricultural reforms, and microcredit programs as examples of effective strategies (12/5).

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Recent Releases

Former BMJ Editor Discusses Lancet Commission's 'Grand Convergence' Proposal

In a post in the BMJ Group Blogs, Richard Smith, former BMJ editor and director of the United Health Group’s chronic disease initiative, summarizes a recent report from the Lancet Commission on Investing in Health that proposes a “grand convergence” to bring the global health community together to prevent 10 million avoidable deaths per year by 2035. He highlights comments made by Larry Summers, co-chair of the commission, and others at a London meeting launching the report (12/5).

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To Achieve Universal Health Coverage, Strengthen Health Systems, Workforce

Noting the global health community is “moving beyond vertical programming, seeing more integrated services and a focus on strengthening health systems and the health workforce,” Pape Amadou Gaye, president and CEO of IntraHealth International, writes in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, “Though this isn’t happening systematically — or fast enough — it’s exactly what we will need to achieve universal health coverage. Communities around the globe cannot have access to any type of health service without health workers and the health systems that support them.” He states, “I believe we need a paradigm shift in partnership, collaboration, and cooperation, and that we must encourage the development of skills in three key areas: adaptation, innovation, and integration” (12/5).

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IntraHealth Project Official Discusses Health Workers, Systems

In a post in IntraHealth’s “Vital” blog, Carol Bales, communications officer at IntraHealth International, interviews Malik Jaffer, deputy director of human resources for health and health systems strengthening for the IntraHealth International-led CapacityPlus project, about training health workers, creating strong health systems, and collecting data (11/3).

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Blog Examines What Will Happen To 'Left Over' $1B U.S. Pledge For Global Fund

President Obama earlier this week “made a last minute appeal to donors to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria …, [o]ffering a U.S. pledge of $1 for every $2 pledged by other donors for a total U.S. pledge of up to $5 billion,” and “[d]onors to the Global Fund announced total pledges of $12 billion, suggesting a U.S. commitment of about $4 billion,” Scott Morris, a visiting policy fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), notes in the center’s “Rethinking U.S. Development Policy” blog. He examines what will happen to the “left over” $1 billion of U.S. funds if “other matching donors don’t come forward.” He writes, “Most likely, it will be subsumed in the PEPFAR budget, ensuring that U.S. foreign assistance continues to be largely bilateral and largely focused on global health issues,” and suggests that the money instead be used “to replenish the coffers of the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries” (12/4).

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New ONE Report Examines Global Commitments To Ending AIDS Pandemic

In a guest post in the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog, Anupama Dathan, a health research assistant for ONE, “writes about a new report that examines global commitments to ending the AIDS pandemic,” the second in a series of annual AIDS accountability reports released by ONE. “The good news in the report is that the world is making steady progress,” but “[d]espite a reduction in the number of new HIV infections, most of the progress stems from an annual acceleration in the number of people newly accessing treatment each year,” she states, adding, “Truly ending the AIDS epidemic will be next to impossible without also dramatically reducing new HIV infections, a feat that requires renewed attention to HIV prevention measures” (12/4).

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Blog Examines Study On Integrating Family Planning, HIV Services

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines a study conducted in Kenya by Daniel Grossman and Craig Cohen of the University of California, San Francisco, “to determine if integrating family planning services into HIV care and treatment improved the uptake of more effective contraceptive methods, which include oral and injectable hormonal contraceptives, IUDs, and sub-dermal implants. A secondary aim was to see if integration had an impact on pregnancy rates.” The study “showed that integrating family planning with HIV services is sustainable, as the program was handed off to the Ministry of Health after one year, yet a follow up study a year later showed progress was the same,” the blog writes and includes a video on service integration (Aziz, 12/4).

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