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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

USAID, U.N. Introduce Humanitarian Development Plans In Sahel Region

News outlets report on USAID’s new humanitarian initiative, Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced (RISE), as well as the U.N.’s announcement of a three-year response plan in the region.

IIP Digital: USAID Commits New Funds to Help Sahel Nations Build Resilience
“The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has allocated $130 million to help the Sahel nations of Burkina Faso and Niger build resilience to repeated shocks and stay on their development paths. The combined humanitarian aid and development commitment is for the first two years of a five-year effort to help families and communities ‘get ahead of the next shock,’ said USAID Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg in introducing the Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced (RISE) initiative February 3 at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome…” (McConnell, 2/4).

Devex: A new approach to resilience in the Sahel
“The Sahel is not as much of a hot-button issue as it used to be for the aid community, but the African region continues to be severely affected by conflict, poverty and especially malnutrition — with up to 20 million food insecure expected this year. … On Monday, the United Nations and its partners launched at the Food and Agriculture Organization’s headquarters in Rome the next three-year response strategy with about $2 billion in funds. … At the same venue, the United States also unveiled Resilience In the Sahel Enhanced, its new initiative to support resilience in the region…” (Pasquini, 2/4).

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U.N. Appeals For $1.27B In Humanitarian Aid For South Sudan

News outlets report on the U.N.’s appeal for $1.27 billion to help relief agencies deliver aid in South Sudan.

VOA News: In South Sudan, U.N., Aid Agencies Race Against Clock
“Aid agencies in South Sudan are racing against the clock to get food and other assistance to millions of people suffering from the ‘devastating consequences’ of the conflict that has raked the young country since December, a top United Nations official said Tuesday. The United Nations appealed for $1.27 billion to help its agencies and NGOs to strategically position aid supplies for delivery before the rainy season begins; to protect the rights of vulnerable people, including the tens of thousands who sought refuge at U.N. compounds during the fighting; and to transport aid workers and supplies to the camps housing the displaced…” (Doki, 2/4).

U.N. News Centre: South Sudan: U.N., partners appeal for $1.27 billion as humanitarian crisis deepens
“United Nations agencies and their humanitarian partners in South Sudan launched a revised appeal today, calling for $1.27 billion to help more than three million people who continue to suffer the consequences of the conflict in the strife-torn country…” (2/4).

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New Bird Flu Strain Related To Older Strains; Number Of H7N9 Cases Rising

News outlets report on several strains of avian influenza, including a study published in The Lancet showing a recently identified strain is related to two older flu strains.

Al Jazeera: Fatal new bird flu strain worries scientists
“A new strain of the bird flu virus has proven fatal for the first time after it jumped from birds to humans and is worrying scientists. The latest strain, previously unknown in humans, called H10N8, killed a 73-year-old Chinese woman in December and Chinese authorities last week confirmed a second human case of the new strain of a second woman, who remains critically ill in a hospital…” (2/5).

BBC News: New bird flu: How bad is H10N8?
“…So far there have been two people in China infected and one of them has died. As yet, there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted from person to person. This means the risk of rapid spread is still low. But we could see more human cases of H10N8, particularly among people who have close contact to poultry carrying the infection…” (Roberts, 2/4).

Bloomberg Businessweek: Deadly New Bird Flu Strain Spawned by Same Virus That Gave H5N1
“The new bird flu that’s infected two people in China, killing one, was spawned by the same pathogen that produced two other deadly flu strains, a study found. The H10N8 strain, which hasn’t previously been reported in humans, contains six out of eight genes from the H9N2 virus that also provided the genetic foundation for the H5N1 virus that’s killed 386 people since 2003, and the H7N9 strain that led to at least 70 fatalities, Chinese researchers wrote in The Lancet medical journal today…” (Bennett, 2/4).

New York Times: Cases of New Deadly Bird Flu Surge in China, Experts Say
“Cases of the new H7N9 avian influenza in China are surging alarmingly, flu experts warned this week. There are now about 300 confirmed cases, with more appearing every day. Roughly a quarter of the victims have died. … At the same time, an even newer avian flu in China has killed its first human victim…” (McNeil, 2/4).

Reuters: New China Bird Flu a Reminder of Mutant Virus Risk
“The death of a woman in China from a strain of bird flu previously unknown in humans is a reminder of the ever-present potential pandemic threat from mutating animal viruses, scientists said on Wednesday…” (Kelland, 2/4).

Wall Street Journal “China Real Time”: Scientists Warn on Another Bird-Flu Strain
“Even as authorities cautiously watch one strain of avian flu making its way through China, scientists are warning that another can now infect humans and requires close scrutiny…” (Tejada, 2/5).

Xinhua: No proof of human-to-human H7N9 transmission: health authority
“Chinese health authorities on Wednesday reassured that no proof has been found of the H7N9 virus spreading from human to human. Most human cases of H7N9 infection have been isolated so far, said a statement from the National Health and Family Planning Commission…” (2/5).

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DFID R&D Budget Shrinks Under Current U.K. Government

SciDev.Net: DFID’s R&D budget took a dip, but is on the rebound
“Research and development (R&D) spending by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) has fallen under the current government, despite the department’s drive for better evidence-based decision-making, an analysis has found. The department’s research budget in 2011-2012 was £11 million (around US$18 million) below the £237 million that was available in 2009-10, before the coalition government came to power, according to the unpublished study from the U.K.-based Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE)…” (Piotrowski, 2/5).

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U.N. Responds To Challenging Humanitarian Situation in Syria

News outlets report on the U.N.’s response to the challenging humanitarian situation in Syria.

U.N. News Centre: First U.N. report on children in Syria’s civil war paints picture of ‘unspeakable’ horrors
“Syrian children have been subjected to ‘unspeakable’ suffering in the nearly three years of civil war, with the government and allied militia responsible for countless killings, maiming and torture, and the opposition for recruiting youngsters for combat and using terror tactics in civilian areas, according to the first United Nations report on the issue. ‘Violations must come to an end now,’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in the report, which was released [Monday] to the Security Council. ‘I therefore urge all parties to the conflict to take, without delay, all measures to protect and uphold the rights of all children in Syria’…” (2/4).

U.N. News Centre: New U.N. airlift ships food from Iraq to 30,000 Syrians cut off on land by civil war
“The United Nations [Tuesday] began a new airlift from Iraq to feed nearly 30,000 displaced people in a conflict-torn region of northeast Syria where road access has been cut off for over six months and no significant relief deliveries have arrived overland since last May…” (2/4).

Wall Street Journal: West Wants U.N. to Press Syria on Allowing Aid Flow
“Western powers started a new push for the United Nations to compel Syria’s regime to allow humanitarian aid into besieged areas, but the top U.N. official in Damascus warned the effort might backfire…” (Dagher, 2/4).

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U.N. Continues Humanitarian Aid Efforts In CAR

News outlets report on continuing humanitarian aid efforts in conflict-ridden Central African Republic (CAR).

SAPA/Independent Online: U.N. to airlift food aid to CAR
“The U.N.’s World Food Programme said Tuesday it was running out of food aid to distribute in the conflict-ravaged Central African Republic and would begin flying in supplies from Cameroon…” (2/4).

U.N. News Centre: Central Africa Republic: U.N. scales up efforts to assist children impacted by conflict
“Amid continued fighting in the Central African Republic (CAR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and partners are setting up temporary classrooms for more than 20,000 children in the capital, Bangui, and in the north-west of the country, with more on the way…” (2/4).

VOA News: Emergency Food May Soon Arrive in CAR
“The World Food Programme says it plans to use both trucks and planes to bring emergency supplies to Central African Republic. Insecurity has reduced food deliveries in recent weeks, forcing the U.N. agency to cut rations to hundreds of thousands of people…” (DeCapua, 2/4).

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Ban Pledges U.N. Commitment To Women's Empowerment

U.N. News Centre: Ban pledges U.N. commitment to advancing gender equality, women’s empowerment
“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today pledged to root for women everywhere ahead of his departure for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, while stressing the need for the United Nations and its partners to lay the groundwork to enable all women to enjoy their rights and be empowered…” (2/4).

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Experts Examine Why Food Insecurity Continues To Drive Conflict In Arab World

Devex: Food security and conflict: No silver bullet for the Arab world
“Food insecurity contributes to instability anywhere, but in the Arab world it is truly the main driver of conflicts and a major threat to a peaceful transition to widespread democracy, according to a three-year study conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute…” (Pasquini, 2/5).

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Ugandan Troops Drive Public Health Efforts To Prevent HIV

Agence France-Presse: Ugandan army winning hearts, minds and foreskins
“Ugandan troops have been marking national army week celebrations with a public health drive that includes distributing condoms and circumcizing men as part of efforts to battle AIDS…” (2/4).

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HIV Testing Program Focuses On South African Truck Drivers

Health24: Putting the brakes on HIV
“A road safety and wellness campaign, by Adcock Ingram, Scania truck manufacturer, Swedish Workplace HIV/AIDS Programme (SWHAP) and Shell One Stop petrol stations focused on the health of truck drivers over December. HIV, cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and BMI testing were top of the agenda at Shell Petrol Stations in Midrand, Bloemfontein, Middelburg, Polokwane and Harrismith. … The hugely successful campaign, which tested 660 truck drivers over the month of December alone, is set to take place again during April” (2/5).

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Editorials and Opinions

Public Funds Majority Of Medicines R&D, Must Hold Drug Companies Accountable

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Equality, Big Pharma and lifesaving medicine
John Butler, a consultant and global public health expert, and Brian Wahl, a doctoral student studying epidemiology and disease control at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

“…Governments and civil society must again unite behind the simple idea that everyone has the right to health. That is, medicines must be affordable and accessible for all. With money for research and development coming largely from public sources, we must all hold pharmaceutical companies accountable and demand they serve people first…” (2/4).

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Retiring Rep. Waxman Is Champion Of Bringing Attention To HIV/AIDS

Politico: Henry Waxman, the Unsung Hero in the Fight Against AIDS
Timothy Westmoreland, a visiting professor of law and a senior scholar in health law at Georgetown University Law Center

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) “didn’t just hold hearings on the AIDS crisis; he pushed through legislation for public education, biomedical research and health-care delivery. … I cannot imagine how much worse the AIDS epidemic would have been (and would be now, because it is far from over) if it had not been for this smart, steady, quick study of a man who stayed for hours in the chair, assembling the record and hammering out bipartisan legislation. … We are lucky to have had him there and then. I’m sorry he’s retiring now. I pray that leaders with this clarity and compassion will be there when the country needs them next” (2/4).

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Young Farmers Critical To Ensuring Food Security

The Guardian: Is global food security jeopardized by an old age timebomb?
Rob Vos, coordinator of the strategic program on rural poverty reduction at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

FAO “estimates we need to increase global food production by 60 percent by 2050. Under current production patterns, much of the increase would need to come from smallholder family farmers in developing countries, including the poorest, who cultivate about 80 percent of arable land and produce most of the world’s food. Improving productivity and intensifying crop production among these farmers could therefore be key to global food security and ending hunger. … The development community should give priority to financing major investments in further developing ‘save and grow’ and other climate-smart technologies for a wide range of crops, and facilitate their local adaptation through partnerships with local communities and producer organizations. Improving rural infrastructure will be crucial to improving smallholders’ access to markets. But none of these efforts will be enough to ensure global food security, without also supporting programs promoting opportunities for young farmers” (2/4).

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Recent Releases

USAID's Pioneer Prizes Pay Tribute To Technological Advances In Creating AIDS-Free Generation

Writing in USAID’s “Impact” blog, David Stanton, director of the Office of HIV/AIDS, highlights the agency’s Pioneers Prize program, which “pays tribute to technological advances that offer innovative solutions to critical issues facing global development. … As a key implementer of PEPFAR, USAID’s work in HIV and AIDS was well-recognized with this year’s Pioneer Prizes. Awarded three grand prizes, the Office of HIV/AIDS, along with its partners, has been able to share the transformative nature of its work with the rest of the global health and development community” (2/4).

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Lawmakers 'Falling Short' In Improving Access To Medicines Worldwide

“In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama nominally reaffirmed his commitment to universal health care, citing the success of the Affordable Care Act. Despite his dedication to free and fair medical services for Americans, he failed to comment on the essential life-saving global medicine funding programs that heavily rely upon the support of the American government. Instead he touted upcoming trade deals, completely glossing over the fact that such deals could cut off access to generic medicines worldwide. … If our lawmakers won’t face facts, it is up to students and constituents across the U.S. to make it known that they are, in the most urgent matters of life and death, continually falling short,” Kirin Gupta writes in the Harvard Crimson (2/5).

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Blog Reports On Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on Uganda President Yoweri Museveni’s position on a bill that would criminalize homosexuality in the country. “…Even without Museveni’s signature, the bill already has an impact, according to service providers who have reported that some health workers are unwilling to provide services to men who have sex with men, for fear of penalty, [Asia Russell of Health GAP] writes…” (Barton, 2/4).

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Blog Examines Why PrEP For MSM Not More Widely Adopted

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines the use of daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to reduce the risk of HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM). “…Of all the recent advancements that have been shown to be effective in preventing HIV, daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has been shown to be the most efficacious prevention method for men who have sex with men, after condoms. The landmark iPrEx trial demonstrated 41 percent efficacy among men who have sex with men and transgender women with a regimen that includes Truvada…” However, “only the U.S. has approved the use of daily oral Truvada PrEP for men who have sex with men and others at risk, but no other country that participated in iPrEx, including Thailand, Peru, Brazil, and South Africa, has followed…” (2/4).

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