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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

USAID Launches TB Control Program In Jakarta

Jakarta Post: U.S. expands TB control program to Jakarta
“U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Kristen Bauer and the Jakarta administration on Monday launched the Community Empowerment of People against Tuberculosis (CEPAT) health program in Jakarta. The program supports community-based outreach and care for tuberculosis (TB) via the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)…” (1/28).

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Congressional Conference Reaches Deal On Farm Bill

News outlets report on the release of a compromise Farm Bill in Congress.

Bloomberg: Deep Cuts in Food Stamps Said Averted in Farm-Bill Deal
“House and Senate negotiators agreed today on a much-delayed agriculture bill that averts deeper cuts to U.S. food-stamp spending sought by House Republicans…” (Bjerga, 1/27).

CQ News: Farm Bill Deal Sealed, House Members Move Toward a Wednesday Vote
“Top farm bill negotiators unveiled a sweeping, bipartisan five-year farm bill Monday filled with trade-offs and an estimated savings of nearly $23 billion…” (Brasher/Ferguson, 1/27).

National Journal: Farm Bill Conferees Reach Bipartisan Agreement
“House and Senate leaders on Monday night announced a conference committee had reached bipartisan agreement on a five-year farm-bill conference report, and the House Rules Committee was moving in the evening to set up a floor vote on Wednesday. As described in an announcement from House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the measure — which costs more than $900 billion over 10 years — contains a number of major reforms…” (House, 1/27).

United Press International: $1 trillion U.S. farm bill to include $9 billion in food stamp cuts
“Congressional negotiators have a deal on a $1 trillion U.S. farm bill stalled in Congress for two years, a key senator said Monday…” (1/27).

Washington Post: Negotiators unveil new Farm Bill; vote expected this week
“Negotiators agreed Monday evening on a new five-year Farm Bill that slashes about $23 billion in federal spending by ending direct payments to farmers, consolidating dozens of Agriculture Department programs and by cutting about $8 billion in food stamp assistance…” (O’Keefe, 1/27).

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U.S. Strengthens Environmental, Human Rights Policies Surrounding Development Aid

Inter Press Service: U.S. Tightens Development Safeguards
“Development activists and rights watchdogs are applauding a surprise strengthening of environmental and human rights policies governing U.S. development funding and overseas financial assistance. Under the new provisions, the United States will be required to vote against multilateral funding for large-scale hydroelectric projects in developing countries, as well as push for redress of rights violations resulting from development initiatives by international financial institutions…” (Biron, 1/28).

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Sharp Divide In Support Of South Africa's Intellectual Property Reforms

Times of India: Access to medicines issue splits the world, developing vs developed
“The recently concluded meeting of the World Health Organization’s executive board saw a sharp divide between developing and developed countries on the issue of South Africa’s reforms of its intellectual property laws to enable affordable access to medicines. While several developing countries including India and Brazil came together to express support for the reforms, not a single delegate from the developed world expressed a word of solidarity for South Africa on the issue…” (Nagarajan, 1/28).

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Financial Times Reports On Controversy Over Cost Of New HCV Medication

Financial Times: Hepatitis C: Treated — at a price
“…The launch in recent weeks of sofosbuvir, the first of a series of new drugs for hepatitis C virus (HCV) set for regulatory approval, raises the prospect of curing and potentially eliminating a disease that levies a heavy global burden. … Yet in one of many parallels between HCV and HIV, sofosbuvir has sparked controversy over its high price…” (Jack, 1/27).

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Asia Emphasizes Need For 'Meaningful Youth Participation' In Reproductive Health

Xinhua: Asia needs to invest in youth’s reproductive health
“Investing in the youth’s sexual and reproductive health is the key to stemming some of developing Asia’s major health challenges [such as] increasing HIV infections and maternal deaths. … This is the consensus among the over 3,000 participants in 7th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health Rights (APCRSHR). The biennial conference, which was convened by the Philippine NGO Council on Population Health and Welfare, Inc. (PNGOC), was held last week in Manila and gathered lawmakers, youth leaders, health providers and members of civil society from Asia and the Pacific…” (Sarmiento, 1/28).

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Indonesia Revives Birth Control Program As Population Grows

Bloomberg Businessweek: Indonesia Population Approaching U.S. Revives Birth Control
“Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono wants families to stop at two children to prevent a burgeoning population overwhelming schools and services. … As Indonesia’s growth slows, the world’s fourth-most-populous nation isn’t generating enough quality jobs to keep up with the population, the International Labour Organization said. That prospect has brought the revival of a birth control program begun 46 years ago by former President Suharto, who managed to halve the fertility rate to about 2.6, where it’s been stuck ever since…” (Adam et al., 1/28).

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Philippines To Use New Freezer For Vaccination Programs

Wall Street Journal’s “Southeast Asia Real Time”: Philippines Works to Freeze Spread of Childhood Diseases
“…On Wednesday the Philippine government’s Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, or RITM, will get [a] new walk-in freezer, which will be used to store vaccines for various viruses, measles included. The institute, located south of Manila, has been undertaking research on infectious and tropical diseases and producing vaccines since its establishment in 1981. The nearly $90,000 freezer was bought using a grant from Japan and will be used to store vaccines developed by RITM as well as vaccines needed for both the Manila vaccination program and a national immunization program for measles and polio run by the Department of Health…” (Larano, 1/28).

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U.N. Convoys Waiting To Enter Syrian City Of Homs

Reuters features two articles describing how U.N. convoys are waiting to enter the conflict-ridden Syrian city of Homs.

Reuters: U.N. convoy awaiting green light to deliver food to Homs
“The United Nations is ready to deliver a month of rations to the Old City of Homs in Syria for 2,500 people once it gets a green light from all sides, a World Food Programme (WFP) spokeswoman said on Tuesday…” (Nebehay/Holmes, 1/28).

Reuters: UNICEF says awaiting Syrian government nod to deliver medical supplies to Homs
“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has submitted a list of medical supplies to the Syrian government which it wants to deliver to civilians trapped in the Old City of Homs, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday…” (Nebehay, 1/28).

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Conflict Contributing To Disease Outbreaks, Humanitarian Crisis In South Sudan

News outlets report on how ongoing conflict in South Sudan is contributing to the humanitarian crisis and disease outbreaks.

IRIN: Growing disease burden in South Sudan conflict
“Disease burden is growing among people who fled their homes following the outbreak of conflict in South Sudan. The mid-December eruption of fighting between army forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those supporting former vice president Riek Machar has adversely impacted the already weak health system…” (1/27).

Standard Digital News: Dire humanitarian crisis emerging in South Sudan, says UNICEF
“In the wake of the ceasefire signed on Thursday 23rd January 2014, UNICEF is warning of a humanitarian crisis unfolding outside Bor town in Jonglei state and other towns in South Sudan…” (1/27).

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Food Aid Delivered To CAR Capital Bangui

News outlets report on the delivery of food aid in the Central African Republic capital of Bangui.

Associated Press/USA Today: U.N. food aid arrives in Central African Republic capital
“Dozens of vehicles carrying emergency aid from the U.N. World Food Programme are making their way under French military escort to the capital of Central African Republic…” (1/27).

VOA News: Some Food Aid Arrives in Bangui
“Ten trucks carrying 300 tons of emergency food aid have arrived in the Central African Republic capital of Bangui. The World Food Programme says, however, the amount is only a fraction of what’s needed to feed many thousands of displaced people…” (DeCapua, 1/27).

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3M Displaced Persons In DRC In Need Of Humanitarian Aid, U.N. Says

U.N. News Centre: DR Congo still needs humanitarian aid despite advances towards peace in east — U.N.
“Despite significant progress towards peace in the strife-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the international community must keep humanitarian aid flowing into a country where nearly three million people, half of them children, are currently displaced, according to the United Nations…” (1/27).

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Guinea Works To Contain Measles Outbreak

IRIN: Guinea rushes to curb measles outbreak
“Health authorities in Guinea are scrambling to contain a measles outbreak that has killed one child, infected 37 others, and spread to half of the country’s 33 districts…” (1/27).

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Editorials and Opinions

Obama Administration, Congress Must Fund PEPFAR To 'Accelerate The End Of AIDS'

Health Affairs Blog: Don’t Put The Brakes On Ending AIDS
Chris Collins, vice president and director of public policy at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, and Matthew Kavanagh, a senior policy analyst for Health Global Access Project, Mumford Doctoral Fellow in Politics at the University of Pennsylvania, and fellow at the Center for Public Health Initiatives

“Our estimates suggest that if President Obama and Congress can work together to reverse the PEPFAR cuts over the next two years — increasing the PEPFAR bilateral budget by $400 million in 2015 and again in 2016 — we can stay on our current trajectory [of treatment scale-up]. This moves us toward achieving the United Nations target of 15 million people with HIV on treatment by the end of 2015, and it also means reaching an end to the AIDS epidemic sooner. Sustaining this course, however, requires that the State Department free some money for HIV treatment in the current fiscal year, and continue to push for modest reductions in the PEPFAR cost of treatment. Without new treatment funding in fiscal year 2014, the pace of scale-up will slow markedly this year. … Congress and the Administration must find the resources to keep PEPFAR on track to accelerate the end of AIDS” (1/27).

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Global Community Must Heed Women's Health, Stop Gender-Based Violence In Syria

Huffington Post: Stop Sexual Assaults and Violence Against Syrian Women and Girls
Tewodros Melesse, director-general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation

“The humanitarian situation in Syria has sharply deteriorated and though media interest in the conflict has ebbed and flowed the crisis affecting Syrians has steadily grown. Breaches of human rights by both sides and, as bombardment and shooting has continued so has another war — a war of sexual assault and violence against women and girls. … In recent months, President Obama has announced large new aid packages aimed at Syrian refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). However, it is imperative that while we welcome this new American aid, and similar efforts initiated from within the region, we fight to ensure that women’s health and gender-based violence services are not overlooked. Safe, educated, and healthy women and children are critical to ensuring a more stable future for Syria and the region…” (1/27).

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Women In Syrian Refugee Camps Face Lack Of Basic Resources, Loss of Structured Community

The Atlantic: Working at a Women’s Clinic in a Syrian Refugee Camp
Hannah Myrick Anderson, medical student at the University of Kansas

“…While continued aid is needed to sustain the [Syrian] refugees in the Zaatari camp, it seemed to me that many of the troubles that the women in the camp faced were less about a lack of resources and more about a lack of a structured community. Girls got married and pregnant at younger and younger ages not because there was nothing else for them to do in the camp (there are schools), but because their normal protective environment had been shattered. Women were sick with UTI’s not because they didn’t have access to water or bathrooms, but because they didn’t feel safe around the people sharing their restrooms. Women like Fatima bore a heavy burden raising large families not just because they now had fewer possessions, but also because they no longer had a network of extended family helping out with the children…” (1/24).

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International Focus On Dementia Research Provides Promise For New Treatments

Huffington Post: Global Dementia Research: New Treatments on the Horizon
Rita Altman, vice president of Memory Care and Programming for Sunrise Senior Living

“…Dementia was actually the focus this time at the first-ever G8 Dementia Summit held last month in London, where leaders committed to finding a treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s disease by 2025. … These international and national initiatives indicate strong momentum with scientists making progress in the fight to end Alzheimer’s. Promising research is underway in the following areas, which gives us hope that new treatments may be on the horizon…” (1/27).

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Recent Releases

GAVI Matching Fund Raises $152 Million With Private Sector Support

A GAVI Alliance press release reports that the GAVI Matching Fund “has secured more than $150 million in just 30 months, it was announced [Friday] at a CEO Breakfast organized by the GAVI Alliance during the World Economic Forum. … Since the GAVI Matching Fund was established in June 2011, 12 private sector partners have donated $76 million, an amount matched by the U.K. Government or the Gates Foundation” (1/24).

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Liberia, Malawi, Other Countries Overcoming Challenges To Reduce Child Mortality

NiiAmah Stephens, a program officer for Africa on the Global Policy and Advocacy Team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, “MDG success in Malawi and Liberia is far from complete — both countries are expected to miss at least five out of the eight goals, with varying progress on specific targets and indicators. And even though their MDG 4 targets may have been reached, Liberia and Malawi (as well as Ethiopia and Tanzania for that matter) still have child mortality rates that are high compared to the global average. All four of these countries are among the 176 governments that have pledged to recommit to improving child survival as part of A Promise Renewed. Some of these pledgers still have a long way to go in their efforts, but if Liberia and Malawi can overcome myriad challenges to join Ethiopia and Tanzania as child survival success stories, there’s hope that the progress we are seeing elsewhere in Africa can and will continue” (1/24).

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TB Treatment Advocacy Groups Discuss TB Test's Cost In Letter To Manufacturer

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog discusses an open letter to Cepheid Chief Executive Officer John Bishop from the Treatment Action Group and the Global TB Advisory Board regarding the cost of the company’s GeneXpert MTB/RTF rapid TB diagnostic test. “…Cepheid hasn’t responded to requests for comments from Science Speaks, but in comments following a GHDonline discussion Cepheid marketing representative Martin Colla wrote that he would reply to the letter in the ‘near future,’” the blog notes (Barton, 1/27).

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Viral Load Monitoring Can Be Successfully Used In Sub-Saharan Africa

Writing in the PLOS “Speaking of Medicine” blog, “Helen Bygrave of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) considers the challenges of making HIV viral load testing an effective reality in sub-Saharan Africa.” She concludes, “In summary, sorting out the technical issues seems, dare I say it, to be the easy part. It would be a huge mistake for the HIV world to financially invest at scale in a test that is not properly implemented. The aim should be to not just retain patients on [antiretroviral therapy (ART)] but to retain them with an undetectable viral load. If the introduction of viral load monitoring is to be a success, laboratory and ART program managers and patients need to work together to achieve this goal” (1/27).

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Romania Must Do More To Prevent HIV

Valentin Simionov, executive director of the Romanian Harm Reduction Network, writes in Open Society Foundations’ “Voices” blog, “Romania is currently experiencing a spike in HIV rates that hits hardest among the most vulnerable populations, such as people who use drugs. Meanwhile, Romanians find themselves caught between a lack of clear national commitments to HIV prevention, and diminishing funds for HIV responses in the context of European and global austerity. … There is no cure yet for AIDS, but there are demonstrated ways to prevent HIV transmission. Romania must provide the necessary funds for these, and so help cure the other crisis in our country — indifference…” (1/24).

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