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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

USAID Administrator Outlines Agency's Commitment To End Extreme Poverty

“In a speech at the Brookings Institution on Thursday, [USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah] outlined USAID’s new three-part commitment to helping end extreme poverty,” Devex reports. “He said the agency will increasingly focus on public-private partnerships, country programs that demand mutual accountability, and disaster-prone, fragile areas and communities,” the news service writes, adding, “Shah wants USAID’s sharp focus on fragile areas to be better informed by knowledge of when the agency can be ‘hopeful,’ and when it needs to be more ‘cautious’ about what investing in fragile communities and states can achieve.” The news service continues, “‘It’s probably not possible to end extreme poverty, so long as the same low-income communities get hit with the same catastrophes over and over again,’ he said, adding that it remains to be seen ‘how far you can go’ with building resilience to help stave off the worst impacts of conflict and natural disasters, since this is still a relatively new focus for the U.S. donor agency” (Igoe, 11/22). The Brookings Institute’s “Now” blog summarizes Shah’s speech (Dews, 11/21).

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Humanitarian Response In Philippines Reignites Discussion Over U.S. Food Aid Reform

The New York Times examines how the humanitarian response in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan has reignited the debate over U.S. food aid reform. “The Obama administration and some lawmakers say the disaster in the Philippines underscores the need to revise the program and give the aid agency the flexibility to buy less expensive food closer to the areas where disasters occur,” the newspaper writes, adding, “But the proposed program has met stiff resistance from the agriculture and shipping industries that say it will hurt American farmers and cost jobs.” The newspaper notes, “The typhoon hit as lawmakers were meeting to finalize the farm bill, which will reauthorize agriculture and nutrition programs, including food aid. Lawmakers who have pushed for overhauling the program say they are stepping up their efforts to lobby fellow members of Congress to take another look at making changes to the program in light of the typhoon” (Nixon, 11/21).

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Positive Signs For Global Climate Change Treaty As China, U.S. Work Together, New York Times Reports

“[W]ith China having recently surpassed the United States as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the countries are finding that their interests increasingly overlap, climate experts and government officials say … [and t]he more productive relationship is raising hopes that the friction of recent years may be easing, paving the way for a new global climate change treaty in 2015,” the New York Times reports. “International delegates have been meeting in Warsaw to negotiate the provisions of that treaty. The conference is scheduled to end Friday,” the newspaper notes and describes the countries’ positions (Jolly/Buckley, 11/21).

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South Korea Uses Airline Tax To Raise Global Fund Contribution

“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced Thursday that it had received a major boost from South Korea thanks to a levy on airline tickets,” Agence France-Presse reports. “The Geneva-based body … said South Korea was to double its contribution over the next three years,” the news service writes, adding, “The ministry of health is to contribute $6 million to the Global Fund for 2014-2016, and the foreign ministry is to pay $10 million in five annual installments from 2013-2017, drawn from a levy on all passengers leaving South Korea on international flights.” The news service notes, “South Korea’s 1,000 won ($0.95) levy, known as the ‘Global Poverty Eradication Tax,’ was introduced in 2007, primarily to contribute financial resources to fight poverty and disease in impoverished countries” (11/21).

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WHO Confirms 2 Polio Cases In Cameroon

“The [WHO] confirmed two cases of wild poliovirus type 1 in Cameroon on Thursday, marking the first human cases there since 2009,” TIME reports (Katz, 11/21). “According to WHO, wild poliovirus was isolated from two acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases from Cameroon’s West Region,” RTT News writes (11/21). “An emergency outbreak response plan is being finalized, including at least three national immunization days (NIDs), the first of which was conducted [October 25-27],” according to a WHO press release. “Subnational immunization days (SNIDs) will be implemented in December 2013, followed by two subsequent national immunization days in January and February 2014,” the press release notes (11/21). “[T]he crippling, potentially deadly disease will remain a global threat as long as the poliovirus circulates anywhere in the world, scientists say,” Live Science writes, highlighting a recent “outbreak of polio in a previously polio-free region of China,” which researchers found “was caused by a poliovirus that originated in Pakistan” (Gholipour, 11/20).

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Philippines, WHO Launch Mass Vaccination Campaign For Children

“The Philippine government and the [WHO] on Friday launched a mass vaccination campaign for children to prevent measles and polio outbreaks among survivors of typhoon Haiyan,” Bernama reports (11/22). “The campaign targets children in areas hardest hit by the disaster — starting with the evacuation centers in the city of Tacloban and at receiving centers in Cebu, where evacuated families are finding temporary shelter,” a WHO press release states, adding, “Children under five years old are being vaccinated against polio and measles and given Vitamin A drops to boost their immune systems” (11/22).

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Report Examines Contraceptive Access, Abortion In Uganda

“Uganda has one of the world’s highest unmet needs for contraception, leading almost 300,000 women to seek backstreet abortions each year — with many dying as a result, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) said in a new report released on Wednesday,” Thomson Reuters Foundation reports. “At the root of the problem is a lack of access to contraception … [but w]omen often face opposition from their husbands when they try to use contraception,” the news service writes (Migiro, 11/21). “The report … documents personal stories of women impacted by the widespread and false impression that abortion is illegal in all circumstances in Uganda,” a CRR press release states, adding, “In fact the country’s laws permit abortion for women not only to save a woman’s life but also on mental and physical health grounds.” The press release notes the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law collaborated on the report (11/20).

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Haitian Health Minister Says Donor Countries Failing To Deliver Cholera Aid

“Most donor countries have failed to deliver on their promise to help Haiti fight cholera, making it difficult to combat the disease, reports … quoted Haitian Health Minister Florence Duperval Guillaume as saying on Thursday,” Xinhua reports. “Some 238 million dollars in promised aid were never delivered, Guillaume said, adding she was also waiting to find out how much aid would be earmarked for Haiti by a new U.N. program that will also help the Dominican Republic, which shares the Island of Hispaniola with its embattled neighbor,” the news agency writes, adding, “‘The prime minister will appoint the representatives on Haiti’s behalf in coming days. But at this stage we have not received resources from the United Nations,’ said Guillaume” (11/21).

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Humanitarian Crisis Continues In Mali Nearly 1 Year After French Intervention

“Eleven months after French forces dislodged Islamist militants from northern Mali, the region’s humanitarian crisis is far from over,” IRIN reports, noting, “Hunger levels are higher this year than last, … [b]anditry is preventing herders throughout the north from accessing grazing land, and insecurity is barring some aid agencies from accessing remote populations in need.” The news service expands on each of these challenges and includes comments from representatives of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), UNICEF, Oxfam, and the International Committee for the Red Cross (11/21).

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UNAIDS Reports Improved Access To ARVs Helping More People With HIV Live Longer

“On Wednesday, in the run-up to World Aids Day on December 1, UNAIDS said an estimated 35.3 million people worldwide were living with HIV last year, a slight increase on previous years but a reflection of the higher number of people receiving antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs,” The Guardian reports. “Record numbers of people living in low- and middle-income countries are receiving antiretroviral treatment, and HIV infection rates among children have fallen sharply,” according to the report, the newspaper notes. However, “there were worrying signs that some countries were not on track to meet global targets and commitments, and more funding was required,” the report said, the newspaper adds. “A separate report published by UNAIDS on Wednesday called for better targeting of HIV services in areas with high prevalence rates, which would require better data collection to ensure more effective responses to the disease,” the newspaper writes (Ford, 11/20). IRIN presents highlights from the first report (11/21).

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TIME International Cover Story Examines China's One-Child Policy

In its international cover story, TIME examines China’s one-child policy, including recent changes to the regulations that will allow couples in which one partner is an only child to have two children, the news magazine reports. “Each year, one million parents may take the government up on its offer to expand their families, according to demographers’ projections,” TIME notes. The news magazine summarizes the story and presents an excerpt (Beech, 11/21).

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Guardian Publishes International Development Journalism Competition Articles

The Guardian’s “Global Development Professionals Network” on Friday published several articles written by “12 journalists who made the final of this year’s International Development Journalism Competition.” Among others, the topics of the articles include small-scale rice farming in Ghana, the clearing of human waste in India, drug-resistant malaria in Cambodia, and gender-based violence in Rwanda (11/22).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Military 'Should Prioritize' Issues Surrounding Humanitarian Response

“The scale of the U.S. military’s response to the disastrous Haiyan Typhoon in the Philippines has been impressive … But military-led disaster relief is not only a humanitarian imperative — it can also serve a larger strategic imperative as a part of U.S. foreign policy,” Erik Brattberg, a fellow at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, writes in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” He says “four key reasons” underline “the strategic importance of the U.S. military’s role in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.” “First, and most obviously, providing disaster relief helps boost U.S. soft power in the world”; “Second, disaster relief can help contain some of the negative consequences of major disasters from spreading elsewhere in the world”; “Third, disaster relief is also an opportunity for the U.S. military to forge stronger multilateral security relationships with other countries’ militaries”; “Finally, military-led disaster relief reinforces the view of America as an indispensable nation,” Brattberg writes. “Given the growing importance of disaster relief, the U.S. military should prioritize these issues even more in coming years,” he adds (11/21).

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Policymakers Must Acknowledge Climate Change, Storms, Food Security Connections

“While directly connecting climate change and specific storms has always been difficult, it is easy to see the impact of these super storms on food security,” Bruce Campbell, director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Copenhagen, writes in CNN’s “Global Public Square” blog, noting Typhoon Haiyan “devastated central Philippines, a mostly agricultural region.” “On a global scale, the accumulated potential impact of these storms on the world’s food supply is quite frightening,” he writes, adding, “Farmers, especially small-scale farmers, are struggling to cope with a climate that is both shifting — the crops they grow now may not bear fruit in future weather conditions — and increasingly unpredictable, with drought one year and too much rain the next.”

“But there is potential relief for even the world’s poorest farmers,” Campbell continues, adding, “With access to better seeds and fertilizer, better planting techniques and better technology to anticipate and plan for seasonal weather changes, they could survive.” He states, “Unfortunately, this looming agriculture crisis has not led to responsible action from climate diplomats,” adding, “Over the past few years, U.N. negotiations have sidestepped the question of how to fund climate change adaptation for agriculture in the least developed nations, passing the buck to whatever forum takes place next.” He concludes, “More and more developing nations are moving forward and addressing the climate crisis with whatever resources they can cobble together. If climate negotiators continue to drag their heels, the rest of the world may simply leave them behind” (11/21).

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Recent Releases

Congressional Hearing Highlights Progress In AIDS Vaccine Development

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on a congressional briefing titled “The Role of HIV Research in Ending AIDS: New Developments in HIV Vaccine and Prevention Science,” which took place in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Examining the question of how to measure progress in the development of an AIDS vaccine, the blog quotes several briefing participants and notes the event “was a collaborative effort from amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, AVAC, Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention, IAVI, and the IDSA Center for Global Health Policy, which produces this blog” (Barton, 11/21).

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Legislation Would Help Strengthen U.S. Foreign Aid

“In a time of tremendous budget uncertainty and rising calls to pull back from the world, the need for global engagement and leadership has never been more necessary,” Zach Silberman, policy manager at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), writes in the organization’s blog. He notes Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) “has joined Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) to co-sponsor bi-partisan legislation to ensure that U.S. assistance programs are effective in order to achieve the best return on investment for the American taxpayer.” Silberman continues, “With the threat of further budget cuts, this legislation is working to ensure that foreign assistance programs get the most bang for our buck. … And as we continue to see in the Philippines, the world is a better place when we bring our compassion and generosity to help those in need” (11/21).

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Conflict Should Not Impede Efforts To Vaccinate Children Against Polio In Sudan

“As polio spreads across the war zones of Syria and Somalia, and stalks the Horn of Africa, our great opportunity to rid the world of another debilitating disease since smallpox is being thwarted,” Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF’s representative to Sudan, writes in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. He examines a national campaign to vaccinate children in the conflict zones of Blue Nile and South Kordofan in southeastern Sudan, and writes, “We cannot let conflict stop us. We are ready with the vaccines, the equipment, the people and the resolve to reach each one of those children” (11/21).

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Blog Examines Health, Development Consequences Of Adolescent Pregnancies

In the Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) “Development Channel” blog, Lynn ElHarake, research associate for CFR’s Women and Foreign Policy Program, “discusses how motherhood in childhood undermines economic growth, health, gender equality, and development.” She discusses a report published by the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) last month that examines the “consequences of unplanned adolescent pregnancies around the world,” and writes, “As the UNFPA report mentions, governments and international actors have already made progress reducing adolescent pregnancies through programs that promote girls’ education, create economic opportunities for women, and reduce HIV/AIDS rates. But the report also calls for a ‘shift away from interventions targeted at girls,’ and instead toward more ‘broad-based approaches’ that aim to build girls’ human capital and empower them to make their own decisions, especially regarding family planning” (11/20).

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USAID Features 'Newsroom' Of Videos, Articles From Family Planning Conference

USAID presents a “Newsroom” with videos and articles from the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) that recently concluded in Ethiopia. The site features video of Secretary of State John Kerry’s opening remarks; Robert Clay, deputy assistant administrator in USAID’s Bureau for Global Health, discussing integrated approaches to family planning; and Ellen Starbird, director of USAID’s Office of Population and Reproductive Health, discussing women leaders in family planning, among other videos and articles (11/21).

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New Issue of 'Global Fund News Flash' Available Online

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has published Issue 31 of its newsletter, the “Global Fund News Flash.” The issue discusses the process for submitting regional applications under the new funding model, highlights a new Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey, notes “a Colombian health initiative supported by the Global Fund has won a top malaria prize in the Americas for its success in fighting the disease among vulnerable populations and for strengthening community health care,” and examines the fund’s work in Mongolia (11/21).

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New Issue Of The Lancet Available Online

A new issue of The Lancet is available online. Among other articles, the issue includes an editorial examining how lessons learned in past disasters are being applied to the humanitarian response in the Philippines, an editorial on the global spread of diabetes, and a commentary on health advancements in Bangladesh (11/21).

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