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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

World Bank Announces $200M For New Sahel Project To Improve Maternal, Reproductive Health

“Responding to Niger’s ‘Call to Action’ for improvements in women’s reproductive health and girls’ education, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim pledged [Wednesday] to strongly support the initiative and to invest $200 million in a new regional project aimed at improving the regional response to maternal and reproductive health and adolescent girls’ issues,” a World Bank press release reports (11/6). “During a historic trip to the region by leaders from five international organizations — the United Nations, the World Bank, the African Union, the African Development Bank, and the European Union — Dr. Kim announced the $200 million Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographics Project,” the U.N. News Centre writes. “The initiative, which builds on the bank’s existing $150 million in commitments over the next two years for maternal and child health programs in the Sahel, will work across the region to improve the availability and affordability of reproductive health commodities, strengthen specialized training centers for rural-based midwifery/nursing services, and to pilot and share knowledge on adolescent girls’ initiatives,” the news service adds (11/6).

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Global Fund Announces New Procurement Strategy For Mosquito Nets, Medicines, Other Products

“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is changing the way it does procurement, another step for the institution that has undergone major restructuring in the past year,” Devex reports. “The organization announced on Tuesday a new framework that allows it to pool orders from countries purchasing life-saving tools to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” the news service writes, adding, “Under the new framework, supplier contracts will have a two-year framework, allowing the fund to monitor supplier performance in terms of pricing, delivery lead time, ownership of facilities, innovation, product quality and value proposition,” Devex notes (Ravelo, 11/6). “In a first step, the Global Fund will sign contracts with seven manufacturers for the largest-ever bulk purchase of mosquito nets treated with insecticide, with immediate costs savings of  $51.2 million, and projected overall savings of $140 million for the Global Fund over two years,” according to a press release from the fund. “By using large-scale purchasing power, the new framework provides tremendous value for money. It is expected to lead to greater savings for all partners, and that can translate into even greater impact against malaria,” the press release adds (11/5).

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WHO Doubles Number Needing Polio Vaccination In Middle East; Aid Groups Continue To Report Access, Supply Issues In Syria

“Escalating its emergency battle to stop the spread of a polio revival in Syria, the [WHO] has doubled the number of children it says should be urgently vaccinated to more than 20 million throughout the Middle East, the organization’s top official in charge of eradicating the highly contagious and crippling disease said Wednesday,” the New York Times reports. “The official, Dr. Bruce Aylward, also said the organization’s projection of a two-month vaccination campaign — envisaged just a few weeks ago for 10 million Middle East children — would now take six to eight months, require at least 50 million doses of vaccine for repeated treatments and might require the diversion of vaccine originally intended to be used elsewhere,” the newspaper writes (Gladstone, 11/6).

Discussing getting aid into the country, Iman Bahnasi, head of health for UNICEF Syria said, “[T]he real problem we’re facing is we don’t have access to all the high-risk areas,” according to BBC News, which notes, “[T]he government and the opposition accuse each other of blocking medical aid and food as a weapon of war which ends up hurting civilians most of all” (Doucet, 11/5). However, Khaled Erksoussi, the head of operations for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, told Al Jazeera, “It’s not difficult to get the aid in the country. The main challenge we are facing on the ground is the aid from outside, through our partners, is not enough for the need on the ground,” the news service writes (11/6). In related news, “The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), in a report released [Monday], says the war in Syria continues to devastate food production,” Examiner.com states (Lambers, 11/5).

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WHO Reports 2 New Confirmed Cases Of H7N9 In China

“The [WHO] said Wednesday that China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission has notified it of two new laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A (H7N9) virus,” RTT News reports. “The U.N. health agency said in a statement that one of the new patients was a three-year-old boy from Guangdong Province who had contact with live poultry,” the news service writes, adding, “The second patient is a 64-year-old woman farmer from Zhejiang Province” who also had contact with live poultry (11/6). “In an article in the medical journal Lancet published last week, Hong Kong and mainland researchers suggested a complete closure of live poultry markets to eliminate the risk of human infection from H7N9, should the deadly bird flu strain spread again in the cold winter months,” South China Morning Post notes (Boehler, 11/6).

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More Investment, Innovation Needed To Address HIV/AIDS In Asia, U.N. Official Says

“Though the number of new HIV infections has been dropping for several years, Thailand and other Asia-Pacific countries need to invest more in developing innovations to fight the spread of [HIV], according to [UNAIDS],” The Nation reports. “[S]peaking at a press conference on the upcoming 11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP11), to be held at Bangkok’s Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre from November 18-22,” UNAIDS Deputy Regional Director Pradeep Kakkattil said, “[We must] end the stigma and discrimination so we can get people to prevent HIV and to seek treatment,” according to the newspaper, which also quotes other officials (Sarnsamak, 11/7).

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Ethiopia To Host International Conference On Family Planning

This year’s International Conference on Family Planning, the theme of which is “Full Access, Full Choice,” is set to take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from November 12-15, VOA News reports. “A new resource will be unveiled at the conference called ‘Programming Strategies for Postpartum Family Planning’ …, a joint effort by the [WHO], USAID, the U.N. Population Fund and ministries of health from many countries” that will serve as “a ‘roadmap’ for designing effective postpartum family planning programs at both the local and national levels,” VOA writes. “This year’s [conference] is co-hosted by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,” the news agency notes (DeCapua, 11/6).

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IRIN Examines Issues To Be Discussed At AidEx Conference

“Next week, humanitarian and development experts from around the world will convene in Brussels for the annual AidEx conference to discuss resilience and sustainability and even debate whether the aid system is a new form of colonialism,” IRIN reports. The news agency, “a media partner of this year’s AidEx conference,” examines several issues to be discussed at the November 13-14 meeting, including integration, decentralization, and sustainability (11/5).

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OECD Committee Considering Changes To Official Development Assistance Definition

“The international rules that define what spending rich countries can count as foreign aid — and which developing countries are eligible to receive aid — are up for grabs for the first time in decades, with potential fault lines being drawn over whether donors should be able spend more aid money on support for private companies overseas,” The Guardian reports. The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) “is considering ideas on whether, and how, to change the official [Official Development Assistance (ODA)] definition, with the aim of setting concrete proposals by late 2014,” the newspaper writes, adding, “The last time the ODA definition of aid was changed, in the 1970s, it was broadened to allow spending on refugees in donor countries, and the estimated costs of hosting students from developing countries” (Provost, 11/6).

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New Report Urges Shift In Focus For FAO; Official Rejects Report's Conclusions

“A report by leading academics calls for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to change the way it operates and shift to a greater focus on ‘global public goods’ such as data and analysis, though some of its findings are rejected by a senior FAO official,” IRIN reports. “The report [.pdf], titled ‘Time for FAO to Shift into a Higher Gear,’ has emerged from a Center for Global Development (CGD) working group of 21 academics and experts on food security,” the news agency writes, adding, “It argues that FAO has the potential for greater, wider-reaching impact if it moves away from a focus on local, short-term projects.” However, FAO Office for Corporate Communications Chief Enrique Yeves “cautioned that the organization’s main goal of eradicating poverty ‘cannot be achieved solely by producing public goods in isolation,’ noting that ‘FAO is not a research agency,’” according to IRIN (11/6).

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PATH Report Highlights Innovations To Help Reach Health-Related MDGs

SciDev.Net examines a report from PATH highlighting “10 innovations that could save the lives of 1.2 million children and mothers by the end of 2015 and help achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals.” According to the news service, “PATH worked with public and private institutions to produce a shortlist of promising low-cost health innovations and then used a modeling tool to estimate how many lives could be saved if they were implemented in developing nations.” The article discusses several of the listed innovations (Malhotra, 11/6).

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Editorials and Opinions

Promote Women's Rights, Punish Perpetrators To End Sexual Violence

“The story of sexual violence in conflict is as old as war itself. It knows no boundaries — location, ethnicity, religion, or age,” U.N. Under-Secretary-General and UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin and Zainab Bangura, a U.N. under-secretary-general and the special representative of the U.N. secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict, write in an Inter Press Service opinion piece. They discuss sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), writing, “The roots of such widespread and rampant violence — specifically women’s inequality and the abuse of power — have been there for centuries. … Conflict brings violence, insecurity and an environment of impunity, which in turn exacerbates the prevalence of sexual violence.”

“To effectively eradicate conflict-related sexual violence we must redouble our efforts to promote women’s rights as human rights and create viable systems that will end impunity for perpetrators and send a strong message that this most extreme and pervasive abuse of power will not be tolerated,” Osotimehin and Bangura state, adding, “We must be loud and clear: it will be prosecuted. It will be punished.” They discuss a joint mission in DRC, writing, “Together, our goal is to make sure that the commitments that have been made and the work that has been done by the government and the U.N. make a difference in the lives of the women, girls, boys and men who live in fear every day” (11/6).

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Global Community Must Embrace Family Planning As 'Development Solution' In Post-2015 Agenda

“We know that family planning improves the health and well-being of women and families around the world,” FHI 360 President Emeritus Ward Cates and Tricia Petruney, senior technical officer for global health, population, and nutrition at FHI 360, write in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. And as the development agenda moves from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to “expand the focus from social and human development to also include economic and environmental objectives, we should not underestimate the positive ripple effects of family planning across all three [health-related MDG] areas,” they write. In the new goals, it is important to recognize “the close linkages between challenges presented by lack of access to family planning, rapid population growth, food insecurity, environmental changes and stalled economic growth,” they state, concluding, “Through embracing integrated, multi-sectoral development solutions such as family planning, we can accelerate progress and fulfill our promises to the next generation” (11/6).

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Mass Drug Administration Works, But Programs Must Address Root Causes Of NTDs

In the New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog, Jason Silverstein, a PhD candidate in anthropology at Harvard University, writes about mass drug administration (MDA), a prevention strategy that “has all but eliminated river blindness in the Americas, a disease that had put half a million people at risk of going blind,” noting, “Researchers consider it a key strategy for eliminating other neglected tropical diseases [NTDs].” He discusses MDA’s success against lymphatic filariasis, how programs work, which drugs they choose, their expense, and the importance of community health workers and surveillance. “Despite the success stories, mass drug administration is not enough. If we want to eradicate the world’s neglected diseases, we’ll need to change the environment that allows them to thrive,” such as poor water and sanitation, he concludes (11/6).

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Recent Releases

Kaiser Family Foundation Survey Examines American Public's Knowledge, Opinions Of U.S. Global Health Efforts

The Kaiser Family Foundation on Thursday released a new survey that “examines the American public’s views, knowledge and opinions of U.S. efforts to improve health for people in developing countries,” according to an email alert from the foundation. “The fifth in a series that began in 2009, the survey explores the public’s views on global health spending and foreign aid, their priorities for the U.S. in world affairs, and the attention they pay to the issue of health in developing countries,” the alert states, and highlights several key findings from the survey (11/7).

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HHS Official Looks Forward To World AIDS Day

“In just a few weeks, we will commemorate the 25th annual observance of World AIDS Day,” Ronald Valdiserri, deputy assistant secretary for health and infectious diseases and director of the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy at HHS, writes in the AIDS.gov blog, noting this year’s theme is “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation.” He notes, “Marking the day provides an opportunity for public and private partners to spread awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage further progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment everywhere around the world” (11/5).

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IntraHealth Will Help Partners Meet Commitments On Health Workers

Discussing this week’s Third Global Forum for Human Resources for Health, Judith Winkler, senior adviser for strategy and planning at IntraHealth International, writes in the organization’s “Vital” blog, “[C]ountries from around the world will publicly declare what they will do to combat the global health worker shortage and increase access to health care for their citizens.” She continues, “Let’s make a commitment to health workers on the front lines of care, to the health workforce at all levels, and to the health of all people. Let’s promise to put skilled, motivated, and supported health workers within reach of everyone.” Winkler adds, “And when the forum comes to an end, [IntraHealth] will work with our country counterparts to help them to meet or exceed their commitments” (11/6).

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New Issue Of PSI's Impact Available Online

Issue 14 of PSI’s Impact magazine is now available online. “In this issue, Impact looks under the hood to see how [non-governmental organizations (NGOs)], donors, charity watchdogs and corporations measure impact and what role measurement plays in decision-making,” according to the magazine’s website. The issue includes a feature on how pricing affects malaria treatment, expert commentary from USAID’s Ellen Starbird, and a letter from PSI President & CEO Karl Hofmann, among other articles (November 2013).

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