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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.N. Urges Women, Youth, Civil Society Be Included In Post-2015 Development Agenda

U.N. News Centre: U.N. Assembly spotlights key role of women, youth, civil society in development agenda
“Equality, inclusiveness and participation must guide the framing of the world agenda for sustainable development, the president of the General Assembly said today, urging member states to ensure that women, young people and civil society participate fully…” (3/6).

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Sweden Suspends Some Aid To Uganda Over Anti-Gay Law; Official Defends Law At U.N.

News outlets continue to cover reaction to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Law, signed last month by President Yoweri Museveni.

Devex: Aid freeze deepens after Uganda’s anti-gay bill
“The government of Sweden announced on Wednesday it will withhold all bilateral financial assistance to Uganda in response to the passing last week of a bill that criminalizes homosexuality…” (Santamaria, 3/6).

Reuters: Sweden suspends some aid to Uganda over anti-gay law
“Sweden has suspended some of its financial aid to Uganda over a law that toughened punishment for gays, becoming the fourth donor to do so…” (Croome, 3/6).

Reuters: Uganda defends anti-gay law at main U.N. rights forum
“Uganda, under fire from Western nations, defended its toughened law on gays on Thursday as being aimed at ‘protecting’ youth from homosexuality and discouraging public displays of gay love. … Ambassador Christopher Onyanga Aparr told the United Nations Human Rights Council that sexual orientation was ‘not a fundamental human right’ as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a landmark 1948 treaty…” (Nebehay, 3/6).

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Climate Change Could Allow More Malaria Cases In Higher Regions Of Africa, South America

Media outlets discuss the results of a study that show climate change could spur an increase in the number of malaria cases in Africa and South America.

Reuters: Climate change could mean more malaria in Africa, South America
“Future global warming could lead to a significant increase in malaria cases in densely populated regions of Africa and South America unless disease monitoring and control efforts are increased, researchers said on Thursday…” (Kelland, 3/6).

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine: Warmer temperatures push malaria to higher elevations
“Researchers have debated for more than two decades the likely impacts, if any, of global warming on the worldwide incidence of malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that infects more than 300 million people each year. Now, researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University of Michigan, with colleagues, are reporting the first hard evidence that malaria does — as had long been predicted — creep to higher elevations during warmer years and back down to lower altitudes when temperatures cool…” (3/7).

Howard Hughes Medical Institute: Warmer Temperatures Fuel Spread of Malaria Into Higher Elevations
“In the tropical highlands of South America and East Africa, cool temperatures have historically kept mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria, at bay. New research by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) scientists shows that as annual temperatures rise in these areas, malaria can spread to populations in higher elevations that had historically not been at as much risk of being infected by malaria parasites…” (3/6).

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More Support Needed For Water, Sanitation Efforts In Haiti, U.N. Official Says

The Guardian: Cholera epidemic in Haiti ‘poses major threat to Latin America and Caribbean’
“Haiti needs a ‘Marshall plan’ for water and sanitation to quell a cholera epidemic which poses a major threat to the Caribbean and Latin America, according to the U.N. assistant secretary general. Pedro Medrano Rojas, who is coordinating the response in Haiti, is visiting European capitals this week to drum up support for the faltering effort to deal with an epidemic that has killed 8,540 since 2010 and infected almost 700,000 people…” (Tran, 3/7).

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Health Crisis In Conflict-Torn CAR Continues To Deteriorate

The Lancet: Aid groups warn of ‘catastrophic’ health crisis in CAR
“With clashes still continuing in the Central African Republic [CAR], aid groups say the health and humanitarian situation looks set to deteriorate even further. … Aid groups are warning that without greater efforts to bring the fighting under control and scale up the humanitarian response, an already-abysmal situation will deteriorate even further. And already the U.N. estimates more than half the population of 4.6 million people are in need of assistance…” (Green, 3/8).

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Prevalence Of Violence Among Pregnant African Women High; HIV Infection Is Risk Factor

Inter Press Service: Dangerous Combo: Violence in Pregnancy and HIV in South Africa
“…An estimated one in four South African women experience intimate partner violence in the 12 months leading up to childbirth. Violence in pregnancy is associated with pregnancy loss, miscarriage and neonatal death, higher rates of postpartum depression and poor health gains for infants. In a systematic review of the literature, Dr. Simukai Shamu, a Medical Research Council expert on violence, found that prevalence of violence among pregnant women in Africa is among the highest reported globally, and that a major risk factor for violence is HIV infection…” (Hatfield, 3/7).

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WHO Contraception Guidance Released Ahead Of International Women's Day

News outlets report on the WHO’s release of new guidance on access to contraception and family planning services.

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency issues guidance on access to contraceptive information, services
“With preparations under way to mark International Women’s Day this Saturday, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) [Thursday] released a set of recommendations for countries to ensure that women, girls and couples have access to the tools needed to avoid unwanted pregnancies, thereby improving health and allowing for better family planning…” (3/6).

VOA News: WHO Issues New Contraception Guidelines
“The World Health Organization says human rights must be respected and protected when women seek contraception services. The WHO has issued new guidelines for policymakers and health care providers in conjunction with International Women’s Day on March 8…” (DeCapua, 3/6).

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Pakistan Cross Border Movements Threaten Polio Eradication Efforts In Afghanistan

IRIN: Cross border movements threaten Afghan polio eradication efforts
“For health care workers, Torkham border crossing connecting eastern Afghanistan to neighboring Pakistan straddles one of the most important regions in the world: Close to the border are some of the world’s few remaining reservoirs where the polio virus is endemic…” (3/6).

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Inexpensive Cervical Cancer Test Could Help Reduce Female Mortality In Africa

VOA News: Simple Technique Could Mean End of Cervical Cancer
“Most people think of malaria, AIDS and childbirth as leading causes of death for women in sub-Saharan Africa. But there’s another killer: Cervical cancer. There is a simple test and technology that can save the lives of women in developing countries…” (Pearson, 3/6).

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Community Care Effective For Mental Illness In Developing Countries, Study Shows

VOA News: Community Care Boosts Treatment of Mentally Ill in Developing Countries
“Experts say less than 10 percent of people with mental illness in low-income countries receive treatment. A new study shows community-based care is an effective strategy for treating individuals with schizophrenia. Researchers found the most successful way to treat people with mental illness in resource poor countries is for the care to come to them…” (Berman, 3/6).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Should Support Haiti Cholera Victims In Lawsuit With U.N.

Al Jazeera: The U.N. is not above the law
Lauren Carasik, clinical professor of law and director of the International Human Rights Clinic at Western New England University School of Law

“Few people dispute that the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym, MINUSTAH, is culpable for introducing the devastating cholera epidemic to that country. Yet the U.N. continues to evade responsibility. The U.S. government must decide Friday whether to support the victims’ right to their day in court or bolster the U.N.’s impunity. … If the U.N. wants to bolster rather than undermine its legitimacy as a global leader on human rights, justice and the rule of law, it must take responsibility for the suffering it has caused in Haiti. The U.S. should stand with the cholera victims and support their right to access the courts. The victims of U.N. negligence deserve nothing less than a full and fair resolution of their claims” (3/6).

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Humanitarian Aid 'The Best Opportunity' To Help Those Affected By Syria's Civil War

Christian Science Monitor: Humanitarian aid is the best, and only, solution for Syria
Tara Sonenshine, distinguished fellow at George Washington University and an adviser to the Berlin-based Institute for Cultural Diplomacy

“…Unlike revolutions in neighboring Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, Syria’s revolution has dragged on in a horrific way: 100,000 dead, 2.5 million refugees, 6.5 million internally displaced within Syria. Today there is little food, little hope, and few choices for the international community to help stop the bloodshed. Strategic, coordinated humanitarian assistance remains the best opportunity for meeting the urgent needs of Syria’s people but also resolving the conflict. … The United States and international community have run out of other options for addressing Syria’s bloody civil war. … If the goal is a peaceful, stable, secure Syria, the U.S. and international community have to address the wounds of today so that building that future does not become harder and more expensive, and take longer” (3/5).

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Hepatitis C Drugs Should Be More Accessible For World's Poorest

The Guardian: Hepatitis C medicines must be made accessible faster than HIV drugs were
Philippe Douste-Blazy, chair of UNITAID and special adviser to the U.N. secretary general on innovative financing

“… Until recently, the only cure for hepatitis C involved an expensive combination of injections and tablets that lasted a year. In addition to having limited efficacy, this regimen caused serious side effects that deterred patients from finishing the full course. Now, new drugs are poised to enter the market that work more quickly, are more effective, and may not require weekly injections. … Governments, pharmaceuticals, and civil society must work together. We need to learn from our experience with HIV and AIDS and negotiate better prices from all manufacturers. Generic competition should be encouraged to bring prices down…” (3/7).

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NEJM Perspective Piece Examines Global Shortage Of Health Professionals

New England Journal of Medicine: Global Supply of Health Professionals
Nigel Crisp of the U.K. House of Lords and Lincoln Chen of the China Medical Board

“There is a global crisis of severe shortages and marked maldistribution of health professionals that is exacerbated by three great global transitions — demographic changes, epidemiologic shifts, and redistribution of the disability burden. … The pressing health issues — access, quality, and costs — must all be tackled by health professionals with these wider perspectives in their hearts and minds. … Educators of health professionals must grasp the opportunity to produce transformative leaders who have the motivation and capability to shape the future — or themselves be shaped by it” (3/6).

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Opinion Pieces, Editorial Address Issues Surrounding International Women's Day

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

Huffington Post: The Three Common Needs Of Every Woman (No Matter Where She’s From)
Sharon D’Agostino, vice president of Corporate Citizenship at Johnson & Johnson, and Musimbi Kanyoro, president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women

The “Global Fund for Women (GFW) defends and expands hard won gains in women’s rights by focusing on three critical areas: zero violence, economic and political empowerment, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. I interviewed Musimbi in commemoration of International Women’s Day. Check out our interview below, where we discuss backlash against empowered women, the 2015 U.N. agenda, and, of course, the courage to keep going…” (3/7).

Huffington Post: Girls and Young Women Inspiring Change
Victoria Dunning, executive vice president of the Global Fund for Children

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, Inspiring Change, is appropriate at a time when the role and influence and future of women are changing rapidly. From Cairo to Kiev, from Washington to Juba, women have been at the forefront of changing history. … Across the globe, we have seen the power of education, mentoring, sports, the arts, leadership and job training to elevate the status and well-being of girls. … As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, let’s resolve to elevate girls as they sow the seeds of greatness” (3/6).

Huffington Post: International Women’s Day — How Empowering One Impacts Many
Vicki Escarra, CEO of Opportunity International

“…Women are the world’s greatest untapped resource. That is why we must work to remove those road blocks in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia, to help women launch and expand businesses to transform their lives, strengthen their families and improve their communities. … International Women’s Day reminds us that by investing in one woman, we give her the power to ignite change around the world” (3/6).

Huffington Post: Empowering Communities in India to Overcome Poverty — One Woman at a Time
Loren Hyatt, emergency response and communications officer with Lutheran World Relief

“Women have the power to pull communities out of poverty. During the past year, I have met countless women who are defying the odds to provide for their families and are slowly but surely changing their destiny and giving their children a brighter future. There is no better example of the power of women as change agents than those living in India’s Bihar State…” (3/6).

The Lancet: An inspired change — stopping sexual violence against women
“International Women’s Day, this year themed Inspiring Change, falls on March 8. For more than a century, this event has marked women’s achievements in a world where the sexes are far from equal in many countries. In promoting the education, health, and success of women, the day has addressed the distressing but key topic of violence against women more than once. … Ongoing development of culturally apt methods to study sexual violence will provide foundations for the deep-seated changes in culture, policy, and law needed to protect women’s lives and health in all countries” (3/8).

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Recent Releases

Blogs, Organizations Express Concern Over FY15 Budget Request

The Global Health Technologies Coalition “Breakthroughs” blog discusses President Barack Obama’s FY 2015 budget request’s possible impact on global health research and development (Bennett, 3/6). In a press release, amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, warns that though the Global Fund and major domestic AIDS programs are protected in the budget proposal, PEPFAR funding remains flat and could “undermine the strong gains against HIV/AIDS that U.S. leadership has helped foster around the world” (3/5). An Oxfam America press release expresses the organization’s concern over cuts to disaster and humanitarian programs (3/5).

Additional information about global health spending proposed in the FY15 budget request is available from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Policy Tracker” (3/5).

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UCSF Releases Malaria Elimination Policy Paper Series

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Global Health Group this week released its Malaria Elimination Policy Paper Series, “designed to make evidence-based recommendations on program management, surveillance, importation and mass drug administration in malaria eliminating countries. Together, these papers offer topic specific information on how to eliminate malaria, bringing together evidence from multiple spheres to inform strategy, practice, and policy” (3/5).

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Arogya World Announces New Global Survey On Women, NCDs

“Arogya World, with partner organizations from multiple sectors, announced [Friday], in advance of International Women’s Day, the start of a global quantitative survey to gather the perspectives of 10,000 women in 10 countries on non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Arogya World and its partners Novartis, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, American Cancer Society, UNICEF, Population Services International, Abt SRBI, and Jana, have come together to begin work on a Commitment to Action they made at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting. This important public health collaborative effort aims to highlight the impact of NCDs on women and their families, and to use women’s voices to move governments to action…” (3/6).

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Blogs Summarize Issues Discussed At CROI

The AIDS.gov blog highlights several issues discussed at the recent 2014 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI). In one post, Ronald Valdiserri, deputy assistant secretary for health for infectious diseases and director of the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy at HHS examines pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV (3/6). In another post, Carl Dieffenbach of NIH talks with Valdiserri about some of the scientific highlights presented at the conference (Gomez, 3/6). The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog also summarizes several conference highlights. “On the day that brought an update on the Mississippi baby … and another baby who tests HIV-negative while continuing early aggressive treatment, CROI presentations also highlighted the challenges HIV presents to birth and survival for mothers and their infants,” one blog post states (Barton, 3/6). In a second post, the blog summarizes the plenary session of the conference’s last day (Barton, 3/6).

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Blog Posts Address Issues Surrounding International Women's Day

Several blog posts discuss different issues surrounding International Women’s Day. Tane Luna Ramirez, a women’s health adviser for MSF based in the Medical Unit Sydney, writes in the BMJ Group blog, “…So on International Women’s Day, as on any other day, my thoughts are with the millions of women displaced from their homes and facing an uncertain future. And especially with those who are pregnant and hope to have a safe birth and a healthy baby…” (3/7). Writing in the Center for American Progress blog, Sally Steenland, director of the center’s Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative, interviews Courtney Fowler, the conference lay leader for the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church, about maternal health in the U.S. and South Africa (3/6). Janet Fleischman, senior associate at the Global Health Policy Center of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, writes in the “Smart Global Health” blog about the 2014 International Women of Courage awards ceremony at the State Department on March 4 (3/6). And on a post on its website, the World Food Programme says it “is celebrating how empowering women can boost global efforts to end hunger…” (3/5).

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