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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

President's Proposed FY15 Budget Falls Short On HIV Efforts, AIDS Groups Say

Media outlets discuss comments made on Tuesday at a press briefing examining President Barack Obama’s FY 2015 budget proposal and its potential impact on HIV/AIDS efforts.

Healio: President’s proposed budget falls short in commitment to ending AIDS
“HIV/AIDS activists and physicians are expressing their concern over the 2015 budget proposed by President Barack Obama, which has only modest increases to fund HIV/AIDS research at the NIH and flat funding for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR…” (3/11).

MedPage Today: AIDS Groups Urge Congress to Restore Funding
“…The budget ‘flat-funds’ the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) but that leaves the program some $600 million short of the [bilateral] financing it had in 2011, according to experts speaking on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), and the Health GAP Coalition, among others…” (Smith, 3/11).

Science Speaks: HIV response leaders: Restore PEPFAR funding to reap gains that treatment, research offer now
“… As it is, [Matthew] Kavanagh [of Health GAP], who with amfAR’s Chris Collins recently penned a Health Affairs blog post delineating the impact of flat funding on HIV treatment provision, [said] the pace that has brought success will be impossible to maintain without adequate funding…” (Barton, 3/11).

Additional information about global health spending proposed in the FY15 budget request is available from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Policy Tracker” (3/4).

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Reports Highlight Damage To Children, Health Care System In Syria

News outlets report on two recently released reports on how the Syrian conflict is affecting children and health care in the country. Save the Children published “A Devastating Toll” (.pdf), and UNICEF published “Under Siege.”

Agence France-Presse: Syria conflict affects 5.5 million children: U.N.
“The number of children affected by Syria’s war doubled in the past year to 5.5 million, the U.N. said Tuesday, a heartrending picture of an entire generation on the verge of being lost…” (3/10).

Al Jazeera America: Report: More than 4.3M Syrian children need humanitarian aid
“Syria’s civil war has left the country’s health system so severely crippled that some patients are ‘opting to be knocked out with metal bars for lack of anesthesia,’ according to a new report by international charity Save the Children…” (3/10).

BBC News: Syria crisis: Number of children in need doubles to 5.5 million
“The number of Syrian children in need has more than doubled in the past year to 5.5 million, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says. Up to a million are living under siege and in areas that the agency and other humanitarian organizations cannot access, according to a new report…” (3/11).

BBC News: Syria refugees ‘needs support from international community’
“As Syria’s civil war rages on, residents have poured out of the country into Lebanon and Jordan, creating a refugee crisis. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres says that an estimated three million are refugees, six-and-half-million are displaced within the country and three million more are in need of humanitarian help…” (3/11).

Foreign Policy: UNICEF: Syria One of the Most Dangerous Places for Children
“UNICEF said Monday that Syria was now among the most dangerous places on Earth to be a child, pointing to high child casualty rates, brutalizing and traumatic violence, deteriorated access to education, and health concerns…” (Kerr, 3/11).

The Guardian: Syria: fears of a lost generation as U.N. and World Vision highlight cost of war
“The future of 5.5 million children living in Syria and neighboring countries hangs in the balance as violence, collapsing health and education services, severe psychological distress and impoverishment combine to scar a generation, a U.N. report has warned…” (Tran, 3/11).

VOA News: Syrian War Takes Devastating Toll on Children
“The United Nations Children’s Fund is calling attention to the affect that three years of conflict has had on Syria’s young people, saying the crisis is the ‘most damaging conflict for children in the region’s recent history’…” (Schlein, 3/11).

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New Class-Action Lawsuit Seeks Compensation From U.N. For Haitian Cholera Victims

News outlets report on a class-action lawsuit filed on Tuesday in a U.S. federal court on behalf of Haitian cholera victims. The lawsuit is asking for compensation from the U.N., which is allegedly responsible for the outbreak.

Agence France-Presse: Haiti cholera victims file new lawsuit against U.N.
“Victims of Haiti’s deadly post-earthquake cholera epidemic filed a new lawsuit Tuesday against the United Nations in U.S. federal court, demanding compensation over the organization’s alleged responsibility for the outbreak…” (3/11).

Associated Press: Haitians sue U.N. over cholera epidemic
“Nearly 1,500 Haitians filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking compensation from the United Nations for victims of a cholera outbreak that health officials say has killed more than 8,000 people and sickened over 600,000 in the impoverished Caribbean nation…” (Lederer, 3/11).

New York Times: Suit Filed in Haiti Cholera Epidemic
“A class-action lawsuit claiming to represent cholera victims in Haiti and their relatives in the United States was filed against the United Nations on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Brooklyn…” (Sengupta, 3/12).

Reuters: U.N. slapped with another class action lawsuit over Haiti cholera
“Lawyers filed a federal class action lawsuit against the United Nations on Tuesday to seek compensation for almost 1,500 Haitian victims of a cholera epidemic blamed on U.N. peacekeepers. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York’s Eastern District also seeks to force the U.N. to bring sanitation and clean water to the Haitian communities in areas affected by the outbreak which started in October 2010…” (Adams, 3/11).

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Ugandan Activists Petition Anti-Gay Law In Court

News outlets report on the continued controversy surrounding Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Law.

Reuters: Ugandans petition court over controversial anti-homosexuality law
“Ugandans opposed to a new anti-homosexuality law that punishes gay sex with long jail sentences have filed a constitutional petition alleging that the law violates fundamental rights. The Anti-Homosexuality Act metes out jail terms of up to life for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ while ‘aiding and abetting homosexuality’ is punishable by seven-year prison sentences. Some Western donors have cut aid to Uganda in protest…” (Biryabarema, 3/11).

Associated Press: Ugandan activists challenge anti-gay law in court
“Rights activists on Tuesday petitioned Uganda’s Constitutional Court to challenge the validity of an anti-gay measure that allows severe penalties against homosexuality…” (Muhumuza, 3/11).

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Rohingya Struggle To Access Health Care After MSF Forced To Halt Myanmar Operations

News outlets report on the condition of Myanmar’s health system in its Rakhine state after Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, was forced to stop its operations there.

Associated Press: Rohingya dying from lack of health care in Myanmar
“…Living conditions in The Chaung village and surrounding camps of Myanmar’s northwestern state of Rakhine are desperate for the healthiest residents. For those who are sick, they are unbearable. The situation became even worse two weeks ago, when the aid group Doctors Without Borders was forced to stop working in Rakhine, where most Rohingya live…” (Mason, 3/12).

VOA News: Activists: Burma’s Foreign Aid Group Ban Puts Thousands at Risk
“In western Burma’s Rakhine state, authorities asked international aid group Doctors Without Borders (known by its French name Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF) to cease operations after accusations of aid bias. Activists say the ban will leave nearly 700,000 people without access to much needed medical care in the country’s second-most impoverished region…” (Paluch, 3/10).

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Vaccine Campaigns Miss 22M Children, WHO's Chan Says

Vaccine News Daily: Vaccine campaigns continue to miss 22 million children
“Some 22 million children are being missed by vaccine campaigns and another one million lives could be saved annually if the children are reached, the director-general of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday…” (Cohen, 3/11).

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Pakistan PM States Commitment To Efforts Aimed At Eradicating Polio

News outlets report on the Pakistan prime minister’s stated commitment to eradicating polio in the country.

Associated Press of Pakistan: Pakistan committed to eradicating polio: Prime Minister
Pakistan “Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday expressed his government’s commitment to strengthen national efforts to eradicate polio and said the government would maintain highest momentum for the drive till complete eradication of the disease. The Prime Minister expressed these views in a meeting with a delegation of the World Health Organization (WHO), headed by Dr. Margret Chan, here at the PM House…” (3/12).

Pakistan Today: PM reiterates commitment to eradicate polio
“Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday reiterated commitment of its government to protect the children of Pakistan from polio and eventually eradicating the disease from the country…” (3/12).

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Rising, Staying Out Of Poverty Requires Support During Economic Hardship, Report Says

VOA News: One Billion at Risk of Extreme Poverty
“Climbing out of extreme poverty — and staying there — can be very difficult. A new report warns up to one billion people are at risk of extreme poverty by 2030 unless more is done to support them in hard times. … The Overseas Development Institute and the Chronic Poverty Advisory Network have released the Third Chronic Poverty Report. Network Director Andrew Shepard — the lead author — warns of poverty’s ‘revolving door’…” (DeCapua, 3/10).

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Drug-Resistant TB Becoming More Widespread In S. Africa

Inter Press Service: South Africa Battles Drug-Resistant TB
“Despite an increase in diagnosis times, South Africa is facing a growing drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) burden as nationally there remains a large gap between the number of patients diagnosed with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and those who start treatment…” (Bosworth, 3/12).

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Early Sexual Debut For Young Girls In Malawi Contributes To Country's HIV Prevalence

Inter Press Service: Tradition and Poverty Among Drivers of HIV in Malawi
“Malawi, which has a population of 14 million, has an HIV prevalence of 10 percent. Almost a third of the infected are aged below 30. This is in part the result of early sexual debut for young girls, a practice encouraged in parts of the country where girls participate in traditional initiation ceremonies. [In an audio report,] Pilirani Tambala looks at why young Malawian girls are engaging in sex too early and what is being done to discourage the practice” (Tambala, 3/11).

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Fiji Health Department Taking Steps To Address Dengue Fever Outbreak

ABC News Australia: 11 people confirmed dead, 10,000 infected in Fiji dengue fever outbreak
“Fiji’s Health Department has confirmed 11 people have died and over 10,000 others have been infected during an outbreak of dengue fever. The department’s launched a major campaign to get rid of possible breeding areas for mosquitoes which carry the disease…” (3/12).

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Editorials and Opinions

Europe's Harm Reduction Drug Policies Can Be Model For Other Regions, Nations

Huffington Post: Postcard From Vienna: Europe’s Stance on International Drug Policy
Michel Kazatchkine, U.N. special envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“… This year the annual U.N.-sponsored Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting [in Vienna] will feature a High Level Review of international drug policy to assess where we are ahead of the U.N. General Assembly Special Session on Drugs to take place in 2016. … Governments must approach the U.N. review process with an open mind, a spirit of shared responsibility, and a commitment to do drug policy better. Europe has been built on values of human rights and dignity. It has the experience and it has generated remarkable and valuable evidence in the field. It needs to play a leadership role and be a strong voice in the debate leading us to 2016. This is an opportunity that must not be lost” (3/10).

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Research Collaborations Can Improve Health Care, Policy In Africa

PLOS Medicine: Building Research Capacity in Africa: Equity and Global Health Collaborations
Kathryn Chu of Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Sudha Jayaraman of Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center; and Patrick Kyamanywa and Georges Ntakiyiruta of the University of Rwanda

“…Global health partnerships and international research collaborations have enormous potential to improve health care and policy in Africa. The growing field of global health brings a wealth of [high-income country (HIC)] research experience and funding to African countries. Power imbalances and inequity exist in these processes and for successful research partnerships to occur between HIC and African individuals and institutions, several steps need to be taken for relationships to be both equitable and long term. The transfer of research skills, from HIC collaborators to local partners, is a key objective in every collaboration, in order to build local capacity for investigators to define and coordinate their own research agendas. African countries must take control of their research agendas and coordinate HIC collaborators. Otherwise, African countries risk repeating history and becoming victims of ‘scientific colonialism'” (3/11).

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Recent Releases

GAVI Takes Steps Toward Improving Data Verification

“…[W]e’re encouraged by the GAVI Alliance’s new application guidelines, which outline strengthened requirements for data verification of the immunization outcomes used for performance payments as part of its Health System Strengthening (HSS) support,” Victoria Fan, a research fellow with the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Kate McQueston, a program coordinator to the global health policy team, write in the center’s “Global Health Policy Blog.” They continue, “However, much more work on data verification is still needed, both by GAVI and the global health aid community writ large…” (3/11).

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Opportunity To Harmonize Global Health Frameworks Lies In Post-2015 Development Agenda

“…Translating the continuum of care from theory into practice is an enormous challenge; however, recent consensus-building around the post-2015 global health agenda constitutes a tremendous opportunity to harmonize international frameworks, intervention packages and tools for measurement and evaluation,” Alison Chatfield and Annie Kearns, both project managers with the Women & Health Initiative, write in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. They discuss “the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP), a framework establishing global targets and priority actions for ending preventable newborn deaths,” and the WHO “working group on Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM) to build consensus on post-2015 maternal mortality goals…” (3/10).

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Blog Examines New Report On Poverty

In Humanosphere, development blogger Tom Murphy discusses findings from a new report (.pdf) released by the Chronic Poverty Advisory Network. In the report, “the authors recommend that the world invest in three things: social assistance, education, and economic growth that reaches the world’s poorest. Not doing so would represent a major slow down in anti-poverty progress that saw historic gains over the past two decades. … [A]s the authors write, ‘Such investment could create a virtuous circle of poverty reduction, national economic growth and expanded individual opportunity. … Put simply, it will not be possible to “get to zero” unless development policies put those living in chronic poverty front and center'” (3/11).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of ‘Global Fund Observer’

Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has published Issue 239 of its “Global Fund Observer.” The issue includes a list of decision points that were approved by the Global Fund’s board during its meeting held in Jakarta last week; an article on the board’s approval of an amended funding policy that aligns with the new funding model; and an article on the fund’s adoption of a new policy on grant extensions, among other articles (3/11).

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