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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Donors Pledge $2.4B In Humanitarian Aid For Syrians; U.N. Says $6.5B Needed

News outlets report on the outcome of a one-day donor pledging conference for humanitarian relief efforts in Syria and neighboring countries.

Agence France-Presse/Khaleej Times: Donors pledge nearly $1.3 billion at Syria meeting
“Donors meeting in Kuwait on Wednesday [by midday] pledged nearly $1.3 billion in humanitarian aid for victims of the Syrian war, which the U.N. chief said had left half the population in need of urgent help. The meeting comes just a week before the so-called ‘Geneva II’ peace meeting aimed at finding a political solution to the 34-month conflict that has claimed 130,000 lives…” (1/15).

New York Times: Donors Offer $2.4 Billion to Aid Syrian Civilians, but U.N. Says More Is Needed
“Western nations, Arab states and others pledged more than $2.4 billion on Wednesday to help civilians who are suffering because of the civil war in Syria. The pledges came as Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, told a donors conference here that $6.5 billion was needed to provide medical care, food, water and shelter for Syrian refugees and civilians inside the country this year…” (Gordon, 1/15).

U.N. News Centre: Heeding U.N. call for funds, donors pledge $2.4 billion to assist Syrians in need
“…An estimated 9.3 million people in Syria, many of them stranded in hard-to-reach and besieged areas, urgently need help, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Nearly half of them are children, who do not have adequate access to health care or education…” (1/15).

VOA News: Donors to Increase Humanitarian Aid for Syria
“…U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced $380 million in additional assistance, bringing Washington’s humanitarian total since the crisis began to more than $1.7 billion for displaced civilians inside Syria as well as for refugees and host communities in neighboring countries…” (Stearns, 1/15).

The Guardian’s DataBlog: Aid to Syria: the 5 big questions
“…As the crisis enters its third year, donors are growing tired and the humanitarian situation is deteriorating. Ahead of a conference in Kuwait City on Wednesday that aim’s to raise £4 billion for Syria’s nine million displaced, we ask five questions about donations that reveal the trends in aid…” (Chalabi, 1/15).

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Human Rights Agencies Fear Nigeria's Anti-Gay Law Will Fuel Violence, Risk Blocking HIV Reponse

Two articles report on Nigeria’s anti-gay law and the impact it may have on health and human rights in the country.

Reuters: U.N. chief Ban fears Nigeria anti-gay law will fuel violence
“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep concern on Wednesday at a new Nigerian law that criminalizes same-sex relationships, which he fears could fuel prejudice and violence and risks obstructing an effective HIV/AIDS response. … As in much of sub-Saharan Africa, anti-gay sentiment and persecution of homosexuals is rife in Nigeria, so the new legislation is likely to be popular. Many African countries are seeking to tighten laws against homosexuality…” (Nichols, 1/15).

Science Speaks: Nigeria anti-gay law: community calls for support, advocates call for action
“With reports that police are arresting suspected ‘gay organization’ members in Nigeria following the President Goodluck Jonathan’s signing last week of the country’s ‘Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2013,’ the impacts of the new law are just beginning, according to agencies and organizations addressing health and human rights…” (Barton, 1/15).

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Better Funding Needed For WHO Prequalification Of Medicines Program, Experts Say

The Guardian: Better funding call for vital drug approval program
In her Global Health Blog for The Guardian, Sarah Boseley discusses a recently published article examining “[t]he prequalification of medicines program (PQP) of the WHO, launched in 2001, [which] was set up to assess the quality of the generic medicines for HIV and other diseases made by companies in India, China and elsewhere. … But, say four respected experts in the Journal of Public Health Policy, the program is endangered by its insecure funding…” (1/15).

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Millennium Villages Project 'Expanding Rapidly,' Sachs Says In Devex Interview

Devex: ‘In 23 countries in Africa and expanding rapidly’
Raj Kumar, president of Devex, writes about his conversation with Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and founder of the Millennium Villages Project (MVP). Sachs says, “[Y]ou’ve got to appreciate that [MVP] is in 23 countries in Africa and expanding rapidly, so it has found tremendous success and support by governments across the continent, and for a real reason, because it is bringing practical approaches to local development, especially in rural areas, and doing it in a way that is tapping into advances in technology. So I’m very gratified that not only has the concept proven its worth, but it is spreading very rapidly…” (Kumar, 1/13).

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Liberian President Launches Pneumonia Vaccination Campaign

Two news outlets report on the launch of Liberia’s pneumonia vaccination campaign, which aims to reduce the country’s infant mortality rate.

Deutsche Welle: Cutting child deaths from pneumonia in Liberia
“…The vaccination campaign was launched in Monrovia by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on January 9, 2014. Meanwhile health officials say they have deployed over 1,000 medical staff in 500 facilities across to administer the vaccine. … With this program, Liberia hopes to cut its infant mortality rate…” (Kanubah, 1/15).

Associated Press: Liberia to vaccinate 100,000 children
“Health officials in Liberia have launched a campaign to vaccinate some 100,000 children against pneumonia. UNICEF representative Sheldon Yett said Thursday that the pneumococcal vaccine could have prevented some 7,000 deaths last year in Liberia…” (1/9).

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Pakistan Looks To India For Strategies To Eliminate Polio

News outlets examine Pakistan’s efforts to eliminate polio, as India marks three years without a reported case of the disease.

The News: Pakistan wishes to learn from India’s victory against polio
“Congratulating India on achieving the milestone of being polio-free for three consecutive years, Pakistan has expressed the desire to benefit from the experience of its eastern neighbor to fight out the vaccine-preventable disease…” (Achakzai, 1/16).

PTI News/India.com: India is now ‘polio-free'; why is neighbour Pakistan still ‘polio-endemic’?
“Polio eradication in India has been possible only because of unwavering political will at the highest levels, adequate financial resources and technological innovations, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said after India completed three years without any polio case. … Now, Pakistan is the only polio-endemic country in the world that reported more cases of the crippling disease last year than in 2012…” (1/15).

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WHO Confirms Additional H7N9 Cases In China

News sources report that WHO confirms additional cases of H7N9 reported in China.

CIDRAP News: Four more Chinese H7N9 cases reported
“Three locations in eastern China reported a total of four more H7N9 influenza cases today, and the World Health Organization (WHO) fleshed out details on six previously reported patients, revealing that all of them had links to poultry…” (Schnirring, 1/15).

WHO: Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus — update
“On 13 January 2014, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China notified WHO of six additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus, and the death of a previously reported case…” (1/15).

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Editorials and Opinions

PEPFAR Should 'Become A Leader In Transparency'

Lancet Global Health: Governance and transparency at PEPFAR
Matthew Kavanagh of the University of Pennsylvania and Health GAP and Brook Baker of Northeastern University School of Law and Health GAP

“The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has been one of the most effective foreign aid programs in history. … However, transparency has declined rather than improved. A recent analysis in the Aid Transparency Index ranked PEPFAR as very poor — 50th of 67 aid agencies worldwide. … It is time for PEPFAR to become a leader in transparency, to share its data in the service of its mission to end the AIDS crisis, and to expand real country ownership. If published as soon as they are approved for the coming year, with details about the interventions funded, geographic areas of activity, and specific goals and targets, then Country Operational Plans could be important instruments for partner governments and civil society…” (January 2014).

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U.S. Can Help End Rape By Passing International Violence Against Women Act

New York Times: How Brave Girls Helped Crack a Taboo
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist

“…Rapes happen partly because women and girls are devalued and blamed. … Yet there is hope. Rape thrives when it is a taboo — considered too indelicate to discuss. Now more and more women and men are speaking out, from India to Kenya to America. … We need to erode the sense of male entitlement, build up female empowerment, end the taboos and, above all, end the impunity. One step that the United States could take would be for Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act…” (1/15).

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Investments In Women's, Children's Health Yield Success; Youth Should Drive Post-2015 Agenda

Devex: Large returns from small investments in women’s, children’s health
Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the U.N. Population Fund

“…The Global Investment Framework for Women’s and Children’s Health — supported by the U.N. Population Fund, the World Health Organization and other partners — shows that small investments in women’s and children’s health will yield a large return. By making the additional investments needed for life-saving interventions, it would be possible to not only avoid unnecessary deaths, but also have healthier, more productive individuals, communities and countries. … UNFPA is calling for a youth goal to be included in the coming post-2015 development agenda. The scale of the opportunity for a more robust kind of engagement with adolescents is stupendous, and critically so because the dimensions of its personal, social and economic costs otherwise are great and yet avoidable. …We need to give adolescents the choices and tools to fully participate in development, to stay in a safe course from childhood to adulthood, realize their potential, and contribute to their societies…” (1/15).

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Canada Can Help Save A Generation Of Syrian Children

Huffington Post Canada: An Investment Today Could Save a Generation of Syrian Children
David Morley, president and CEO of UNICEF Canada; Patricia Erb, president and CEO of Save the Children Canada; and Dave Toycen, president of World Vision Canada

“Can the Government of Canada champion the children of Syria and save an entire generation from a horrific future no child deserves? We think it can. … As the conflict in Syria enters its fourth year, we need champions to commit to ensuring a better future for the children of Syria. They must speak out loudly and forcefully — calling for pledges to be honored, for additional support to be provided, for the safety and protection of children to be secured, and for greater effort to put an end to the needless suffering of children…” (1/15).

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Recent Releases

Kaiser Family Foundation Maps Donor Landscape In Family Planning, Reproductive Health

The Kaiser Family Foundation on Thursday released a new report that examines the donor landscape for family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) in countries around the globe. The fourth and final report in a series of analyses examining donor involvement in addressing different global health challenges finds that 147 countries received FP/RH assistance from 36 different donors between 2009-2011. The analysis also found that the U.S. was the largest donor, providing 29 percent of total assistance, followed by UNFPA (19 percent), and the U.K. (13 percent) (Kates et al., 1/16).

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Report Examines PEPFAR Transition In South Africa

Health GAP and its partners on Wednesday released a report that “looks at the PEPFAR ‘transition’ in [South Africa] — moving from ‘directly supporting’ over one million people on ARV treatment in South Africa in early 2011 to a near complete withdrawal from support for ‘direct services.’ … The report finds that the political transition — toward increased South African ownership and innovative models of shared governance for U.S. funds — is yielding important benefits … [and] recommends an urgent course correction for PEPFAR South Africa — tracing patients and health workers while considering a more measured approach in the country,” according to press release. The report accompanies an article forthcoming in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (1/15).

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UNAIDS, World Bank Endorse Four Areas Of Action To Address AIDS, Inequality, Poverty

“During a high-level meeting and discussions in Washington last week, UNAIDS and the World Bank Group endorsed four areas of action to accelerate efforts that address the interrelated challenges of AIDS, inequality and extreme poverty. UNAIDS and the World Bank Group have committed to work closely with UNDP and other international partners, to address the social and structural drivers of the HIV epidemic that put people at greater risk of HIV and deny them access to services. These social and structural drivers include gender inequality, stigma and discrimination, lack of access to education and unstable livelihoods…,” according to a UNAIDS press release (1/15).

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Researcher Discusses Need For USAID Support Of Microbicide R&D

In its fourth and final post in its series highlighting the impact of USAID’s commitment to global health research and development (R&D), the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog features an interview with Cynthia Gama, “a principal investigator with MatCH [who] works with the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) in South Africa. Based on her experiences, Cynthia [discusses] the need for USAID to support R&D for microbicides to protect women from HIV…” (Taylor, 1/15).

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