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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Early HIV Treatment Might Have Prompted Remission In Second Infant, Researchers Report At CROI

Media sources report on findings reported this week at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, taking place this week in Boston. Researchers reported on another case of possible HIV remission in an infant and several other study findings.

Associated Press: Doctors hope for cure in a 2nd baby born with HIV
“A second baby born with the AIDS virus may have had her infection put into remission and possibly cured by very early treatment — in this instance, four hours after birth…” (Marchione, 3/5).

New York Times: Early Treatment Is Found to Clear HIV in a 2nd Baby
“When scientists made the stunning announcement last year that a baby born with HIV had apparently been cured through aggressive drug treatment just 30 hours after birth, there was immediate skepticism that the child had been infected in the first place. But on Wednesday, the existence of a second such baby was revealed at an AIDS conference here, leaving little doubt that the treatment works. A leading researcher said there might be five more such cases in Canada and three in South Africa…” (McNeil, 3/5).

Reuters: Nine-month-old baby may have been cured of HIV, U.S. scientists say
“…That child is still receiving a three-drug cocktail of anti-AIDS treatments, while the child born in Mississippi, now 3-1/2 years old, ceased receiving antiretroviral treatments two years ago…” (Malone, 3/5).

Science Speaks: CROI 2014: With ‘Mississippi Baby’ update, news of another infant, case for early intensive HIV treatment progresses
“…Trials in which newborns will receive intensive treatment within the first 48 hours of life will follow, [Deborah Persaud, a pediatrics specialist with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine,] said, through the IMPAACT (International Maternal, Pediatric, Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials) Network” (Barton, 3/5).

Bloomberg News: Glaxo Preparing With J&J to Test Once-a-Month AIDS Drugs
“GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) are preparing to test the first monthly injections of experimental AIDS drugs in a study that may transform the treatment of the deadly disease…” (Bennett, 3/5).

The Guardian: HIV’s efficiency makes it a formidable foe
Guardian Health Editor Sarah Boseley summarizes the challenges researchers face in searching for an HIV cure, as well as findings from several studies presented at CROI (3/5).

Science Speaks: CROI 2014: GeneXpert real world study yields mixed results, highlights SA health system challenges
“Gavin Churchyard and Katherine Fielding presented results this morning from the XPert for TB: Evaluating a New Diagnostic Trial (EXTEND) on the question of whether Xpert MTB/RIF diagnostic test reduces early mortality in adults with suspected TB, facilitates earlier initiation of TB treatment and antiretroviral therapy and reduces the number of patients lost to follow up compared to sputum microscopy…” (Lubinski, 3/5).

Science Speaks: CROI 2014: HIV patient deaths, treatment interruptions highlight need to integrate care, strengthen data collection
“A discussion launched by findings from researchers working in Africa and India Tuesday focused on the quest to keep people living with HIV in care, and on measures to improve their outcomes…” (Lubinski, 3/5).

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Gene Therapy For HIV Is Safe, Shows Promise, Study Shows

News outlets report on a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine showing gene therapy for HIV infection is safe and possibly effective.

Associated Press: Gene therapy seems safe, may help control HIV
“Scientists have modified genes in the blood cells of HIV patients to help them resist the AIDS virus, and say the treatment seems safe and promising. The results give hope that this approach might one day free at least some people from needing medicines to keep HIV under control, a form of cure…” (Marchione, 3/5).

New York Times: Study Gives Hope of Altering Genes to Repel HIV
“The idea of genetically altering people’s cells to make them resist the virus that causes AIDS may seem like a pipe dream, but a new report suggests it can be done. The research involves the first use in humans of ‘gene editing,’ a treatment that zeros in on a particular gene and disables it…” (Grady, 3/5).

Reuters: Gene therapy may offer ‘functional’ cure for HIV
“A strategy to genetically modify cells from people infected with HIV could become a way to control the virus that causes AIDS without using antiviral drugs, according to results from an early-stage trial that were published on Wednesday…” (Beasley, 3/5).

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NIH Operations Would Be Impacted Under Current Budget Request

CQ HealthBeat: Flat NIH Funding Plan Shows Sequester’s Impact on Even a Popular Federal Program
“Once a contender for the title of most popular federal agency, the National Institutes of Health may be facing another bleak fiscal year after lawmakers opted to leave largely in place spending restrictions set by the 2011 budget accord (PL 112-25). NIH would get $30.4 billion in fresh funding for fiscal 2015 under President Barack Obama’s budget request, an increase of less than a percent…” (Young, 3/5).

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U.S. Not Alone In Balancing Reproductive Rights With Religious Freedom

GlobalPost: With birth control, U.S. not alone grappling with reproductive rights and religious freedom
“…[T]he U.S. is not alone in attempting to strike a balance between offering reproductive health care services and respecting religious organization’s rights. In recent months, Ireland, Argentina, and Israel — three countries with deep-seated religious ties — all have tried to better navigate this thorny space as well. The United Nations has declared access to contraception a ‘human right’ but religion and reproductive health remain a contentious issue across the globe, where an estimated 200 million women worldwide do not have access to birth control…” (Brigida, 3/5).

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U.S. Expresses Concern Over India's Proposal To Allow More Generic Drug Production

Reuters: U.S. fears for patents on next-generation drugs in India
“The United States on Thursday voiced concern over protection of patents on safer and more effective next-generation medicines in India amid fears that authorities are considering allowing more Indian firms to make new varieties of cheap generic drugs still on patent…” (Busvine/Siddiqui, 3/6).

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Private Sector Engages In Women's Empowerment As International Women's Day Nears

Media outlets report on events around International Women’s Day, which is recognized on March 8.

Devex: Live from the U.N.: Private sector engagement in women’s empowerment
“The private sector can best empower women globally and help tackle key development goals especially as they relate to women through key partnerships, greater collection and sharing of data, and increased access to and use of technology. These key themes and others were the focus of Tuesday’s sessions at the International Women’s Day Forum hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Corporate Citizenship Center and the United Nations Office of Partnerships…” (Saldinger, 3/5).

UNAIDS: Stand together on International Women’s Day
“…Every hour, 50 young women are newly infected with HIV. Half of all people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries are women — and new HIV infections among women are on the rise in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Women must be free to make decisions about their health, lives and futures. On this International Women’s Day, let’s all stand up for women, together we can make it happen” (3/8).

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WHO Says Sugar Should Be 5% Of Daily Caloric Intake

Media outlets report on the WHO’s recommendation that daily sugar intake should be five percent of total calories consumed. The WHO has launched a public consultation on its draft sugar guidelines.

Associated Press: WHO: 5 percent of calories should be from sugar
“…The World Health Organization says your daily sugar intake should be just five percent of your total calories — half of what the agency previously recommended, according to new draft guidelines published Wednesday…” (Cheng, 3/5).

Reuters: WHO cuts sugar intake advice to 5 percent of daily energy
“Sugar should account for less than 5.0 percent of what people eat each day if they are to avoid health risks such as weight gain and tooth decay linked to excessively sugary diets, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday…” (Kelland, 3/5).

WHO: WHO opens public consultation on draft sugars guideline
“WHO is launching a public consultation on its draft guideline on sugars intake. When finalized, the guideline will provide countries with recommendations on limiting the consumption of sugars to reduce public health problems like obesity and dental caries (commonly referred to as tooth decay)…” (3/5).

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Haitian-American Officials Ask State Department Not To Intervene In Cholera Lawsuit

Miami Herald: Haitian-American officials to State Department: Don’t intervene in cholera lawsuit
“Haitian-American elected officials are asking the U.S. State Department not to side with the United Nations in a legal battle over a deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti that has killed more than 8,000 and sickened more than 700,000 Haitians…” (Charles, 3/5).

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U.S.-Funded Hospital In Afghanistan Fails To Open

Reuters: Ambitious U.S. hospital project in Afghanistan faces failure
“An ambitious U.S.-funded project to build hospitals in Afghanistan has run into the ground, with the largest hospital ever planned in the country unlikely to open in full, U.S. and Afghan officials said…” (Donati/Harooni, 3/5).

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Half Of All Children Under 5 In Afghanistan Suffer From Malnutrition

BBC News: Afghanistan: ‘Half of children’ suffering malnutrition
“Half of all children under five in Afghanistan are suffering from the effects of malnutrition, according to estimations. After 13 years of Western military intervention and billions of dollars spent on aid, the United Nations says the situation is critical, especially in Helmand province, where British forces are due to leave by the end of this year…” (Wyatt, 3/5).

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Global Fund Board Meets In Jakarta, Discusses New Funding Model

Jakarta Post: Global Fund to offer more flexible funding model
“International funding institution the Global Fund has developed a new funding model to maximize the global fight against AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria. … The Indonesian health minister hoped that the new funding model could help accelerate the achievement of AIDS, TB and malaria control targets in each beneficiary country so that in the next several years they would be no longer threats to public health…” (3/6).

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Chinese Health Minister Says Family Planning Policies Will Remain Intact Despite Recent Relaxations

Wall Street Journal: China to Maintain Population Controls
“China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission defended population policies, saying the government won’t announce a time frame for a complete end to population controls. China Health Minister Li Bin said Thursday at a health briefing that despite recent relaxation of the one-child policy, there will be no absolute end…” (Burkitt, 3/6).

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Family-Centered Farming Policies Critical To Achieving Food Security, U.N.'s Ban Says

U.N. News Centre: Pro-family farming policies key in anti-hunger fight, U.N. officials tell Budapest expo
“Financial and infrastructure support for small-scale family farmers is crucial to winning the fight against hunger around the world, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said [Wednesday], urging governments to create polices conducive for equitable and sustainable rural development…” (3/5).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Address International Women's Day

The following opinion pieces address International Women’s Day, recognized on March 8.

Huffington Post: International Women’s Day: Give Yourself the Chance to Be Extraordinary
Saundra Pelletier, CEO of WomanCare Global

“…As you are thinking about what International Women’s Day means to you, I encourage you to look for inspiration from the many successful females in leadership roles that are in front of us everyday as citizens of the world. I challenge women and girls to learn from example and have the courage to overcome mediocrity. Give yourself the chance to be extraordinary…” (3/5).

Huffington Post: March in March to End Violence Against Women
Muna Rihani Al-Nasser, chair of U.N. Women for Peace

“As we celebrate International Women’s Day this weekend, we have to remember to adhere to the moral commitment of fighting back and holding accountable the perpetrators of this massive crime and blatant violation of human rights. This is an issue that we cannot and should not ignore — because we are all aware of it” (3/5).

Huffington Post: Investing in Women
Noa Gafni, social media and audience development consultant

“With International Women’s Day only a few days away, it’s important to assess where we stand in terms of gender equality. How are women and girls faring globally? The statistics are striking; whilst the issues themselves vary from the least developed to most developed countries, it is clear that we are under-investing in women across the board. … On this International Women’s Day, let us invest more in the health, education, and economic empowerment of women worldwide…” (3/5).

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Progress On WASH Critical To Post-2015 Development

Devex: Turning the post-2015 trickle into a flood
Girish Menon, director of international operations for WaterAid U.K.

“…The debate around what will follow the MDGs has been long and complex. There are many issues on the table. But putting safe WASH front and center is not negotiable. Sanitation and hygiene are absolutely critical to human development and dignity and essential to human life. … In the coming weeks and months, as member states discuss and debate the shape of efforts to reduce poverty, let us keep in mind a staggering fact: In 2014, we still live in a world where one billion people have no choice but to defecate in the open. It’s not pleasant to think about. But without a toilet, their lives, their health, their education, their safety, and the lives of their children are at risk” (3/5).

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Op-Ed Examines Reasons Why India's Polio Effort Was Successful

New York Times: An End to Polio in India?
Esha Chhabra, freelance journalist

“…The success of India’s polio effort has turned it into a blueprint for large-scale health campaigns. Now India is using what it did with polio to boost rates of routine vaccinations. … The Indian government has pitched in over $2 billion to the campaign; other polio-endemic countries have not gotten this kind of financial support. But the government went beyond money. It collaborated in building an infrastructure that collected data at the smallest possible level, powered by the input of over 2.3 million health workers nationally…” (3/5).

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Recent Releases

Groups Look Forward To Hearing On Birx Nomination To Head PEPFAR

“At 2 p.m. Eastern today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee takes up the nomination of Dr. Deborah Birx to be the next leader of one of the great successes in United States foreign assistance — the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). … [W]hile we frequently take time to appreciate how many lives have been changed by the program, we rarely focus on the frontline health workers responsible for testing and treating the millions of PEPFAR beneficiaries the U.S. so proudly supports,” Mandy Folse, director of Frontline Health Workers Coalition, writes in the group’s blog. “…As PEPFAR transitions from an emergency program to coordinated country-led responses, I look forward to hearing from Dr. Birx about PEPFAR’s plans to help countries build the health workforce we need to achieve an AIDS-free generation” (3/6). In a post on the ONE Blog, Global Health Policy Director Erin Hohlfelder offers “six key questions about the U.S.’ global AIDS efforts that we hope will be asked — and answered — today at Dr. Deborah Birx’s hearing…” (3/6).

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CGD Blog Post Asks If Electrify Africa Is Next Big Bipartisan Development Issue

In the Center for Global Development’s “Rethinking U.S. Development Policy” blog, CGD Senior Fellow Ben Leo examines the potential impact of the Electrify Africa Act recently passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He asserts that the bill does three things: “calls for a USG-wide strategy,” “strengthens OPIC,” and “adds accountability and pressure to deliver results.” “Next up is the Senate Foreign Relations Committee counterpart bill, which we expect to get dropped in the coming weeks. And I’m hearing that odd bedfellows are working closely together there as well. All of this suggests that Africa energy poverty might just be the new big, bipartisan development issue, much as PEPFAR has been for the last decade” (3/4).

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G20 Nations Should Address NTDs To Boost Global GDP

“The group of 20 (G20) finance ministers meeting in Australia has just announced an ambitious initiative to boost the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) by at least $2 trillion over the next five years. … So far there has been no mention of health as a means to promote economic development among the G20 nations, even though we learned more than a decade ago from the World Health Organization’s Report of the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health led by Jeffrey Sachs that diseases can actually cause poverty. Such findings provided the basis for which disease targets were added to the Millennium Development Goals,” Peter Hotez, co-editor in chief of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, writes in the PLOS “Speaking of Medicine” blog. “…NTD control and elimination won’t be an easy sell to the G20 finance ministers, but it is an important message to send ‘down under’ sometime before November of this year,” he concludes (3/4).

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Successful Child Development Just As Important As Child Survival

“Five million more children a year now survive to see their 5th birthday than was true 25 years ago. … While there is cause for celebration — five million more 5th birthdays worth of celebration! — we are failing to ensure that every one of these children is thriving, not just surviving,” Jeff Murray, interim deputy director of the Family Health Discovery and Translational Sciences Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Karlee Silver, vice president of Targeted Challenges for Grand Challenges Canada, write in the Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “…Since 2011, Grand Challenges Canada’s Saving Brains initiative has invested $28 million CAD in 44 projects and a platform testing innovative products, services, delivery models and policies to protect and nurture early brain and child development to increase the human capital in low- and middle-income countries. … Investing in the early years of life in an effective way can result in healthy and productive members of our future society. If we care about what we measure, it is essential we measure what we care about” (3/4).

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WHO Releases New Guidance On Family Planning, Reproductive Health

“In advance of International Women’s Day on 8 March 2014, WHO is launching new guidance to help countries ensure human rights are respected in providing more girls, women, and couples with the information and services they need to avoid unwanted pregnancies. … The guidance recommends that everyone who wants contraception should be able to obtain detailed and accurate information, and a variety of services, such as counseling as well as contraceptive products. It also underlines the need for no discrimination, coercion or violence, with special attention given to assuring access to those who are disadvantaged and marginalized…,” a WHO press release states (3/6).

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