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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

IPS Series Examines Omission Of Disabilities From International Development Guidelines

Inter Press Service has published a two-part series “exploring disability’s place in international development guidelines.” In part one, the news service examines the repercussions of omitting disability from the international development agenda, particularly the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and discusses challenges faced in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti as an example (Oakford, 10/1). In part two, the news service asks whether “the lack of attention [was] simply an oversight or due in part to the complex nature of disability,” writing, “Activists say the lack of attention at the international level is not simply an oversight but a product of a confused conception of disability and the unique experiences of different groups of disabled people” (Oakford, 10/2).

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IRIN Examines Controversy Over Definition Of Counterfeit Medicines

IRIN examines controversy over what should be defined as counterfeit drugs, writing, “There is no dispute over the dangers that fake medicines pose,” but “international agreement over how to deal with fake medicines has been elusive, with discussions getting bogged down over exactly what kinds of drugs should be targeted.” The news service notes, “One of the biggest hurdles to stemming the global tide of counterfeit medicines is disagreement over the term itself, which drug companies are accused of hijacking for commercial rather than public health reasons.” While the WHO “defines a counterfeit drug as ‘a medicine, which is deliberately and fraudulently mislabeled with respect to identity and/or source,’ … pharmaceutical companies consider even safe, efficacious drugs ‘counterfeit’ when their expensively developed and patented formulas are copied without their permission, or even when their own drugs, licensed and packaged for sale in one country, are diverted, repackaged and sold elsewhere at a higher price.”

“Despite efforts to harmonize copyright and intellectual property laws by countries like the U.S. and Japan, which are home to many pharmaceutical companies, these laws vary greatly around the world,” IRIN writes, adding, “The result has been bitter opposition to attempts to reach an international agreement on combating counterfeit medicines.” The news service highlights a meeting set to take place next month at WHO, which “will try to nail down more firmly what international control measures should cover and, just as importantly, what they should not.” According to IRIN, “[t]he Meeting of the Member State Mechanism on Substandard/spurious/falsified/falsely labeled/counterfeit medical products will focus not on drafting a treaty — such an ambition has been abandoned for the time being — but rather on developing a ‘program of work’ to curb the sale of such products” (10/2).

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Laos Begins Pneumococcal, HPV Vaccine Projects With GAVI Support

“Laos became the first South East Asian nation to introduce pneumococcal vaccine and began a demonstration project for HPV vaccine at a ceremony in the nation’s capital Vientiane Wednesday,” Xinhua reports. “About 180,000 infants will receive the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and 13,000 girls will receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine over the next year,” the news agency notes (Bi, 10/2). The GAVI Alliance is supporting the vaccination campaigns, VOA News adds. “Vaccination is perhaps the best investment a country can make in their children’s health. Healthy children are able to take the benefit of education, they grow up to be adults, productive adults, so its poverty reduction, its social economic development investment,” GAVI Deputy CEO Helen Evans said, according to the news service (Corben, 10/2).

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U.N., Malawi Government, Partners Pledge To Help Those In Need Of Food Assistance

“With nearly one and a half million people in need of food assistance in Malawi, the United Nations, the government and other partners have launched a relief operation to meet growing needs owing to bad weather and high food prices,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “It is widely believed that this figure could increase significantly during coming months, the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a news release,” the news service notes (10/2). “While addressing this year’s U.N. General Assembly in New York, Malawi’s President Joyce Banda said her country may not be able to attain the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on hunger and poverty reduction,” Deutsche Welle writes, adding, “She cited continuing drought as an impediment to achieving the goal of halving the number of those going hungry.” The news agency writes, “Malawi’s government has said the country does not have enough maize in its silos,” and notes the price of a bag of maize has doubled since May 2013 (Mhango, 10/1).

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Experts Meet At First Global Food Security Conference

“Food experts from around the world gathered for the first Global Food Security Conference in the Dutch town of Noordwijkerhout this week to discuss solutions for feeding a hungry planet,” Deutsche Welle reports. “With the world population set to reach nine billion by 2050, delegates exchanged ideas about how to ensure everyone has access to safe and nutritious food,” the news agency writes, adding, “Most concluded that climate change, growing competition for resources and the overexploitation of both fisheries and food-producing land present major challenges in a time of unprecedented population growth.” The news service notes, “While farming and agriculture were the focus of most discussions, farmers and food politics were absent from the program. Much of the conference examined food systems in developing nations, but the large majority of delegates were from European and North American countries” (Coelho, 10/2).

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Guardian Global Development Podcast Examines MDGs As Deadline Approaches

Noting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015, a Guardian “Global Development Podcast” asks, “What have they achieved? And what are the key issues moving forward?” Participating in the podcast are Hugh Muir, editor at The Guardian; Alex Cobham, research fellow at the Center for Global Development in Europe; ‎ Barbara Crowther, director of policy and public affairs at Fairtrade Foundation; Musimbi Kanyoro, president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women; and Liz Ford, deputy editor of The Guardian’s Global Development website (10/2).

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Editorials and Opinions

Missouri's Members Of Congress Should Support Food Aid Reform

Recalling her childhood in rural Missouri, Caroline Rouse, a junior at Yale University and a USAID intern, writes in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch opinion piece, “[O]ne document inextricably links American farmers to international policy: Public Law 480,” which “regulates the United States’ international food aid program Food for Peace” and is a component of the Farm Bill that expired on Monday. She says the U.S. “is the only major donor country that still insists on” food aid shipments coming from American farms, whereas “[m]ost countries, including Canada, Japan and members of the European Union, have moved away from physical shipments of food.” She notes, “Instead, they use aid budgets to purchase commodities in local and regional markets, closer to a recipient country. Untying aid shortens delivery times, reduces transportation costs, and encourages agricultural production in developing regions.”

Rouse discusses a failed amendment to the Farm Bill that would have allowed up to 45 percent of funds in the Food for Peace program to be used for aid other than U.S. commodities, saying no Missouri representative voted for reform. “For farmers, the reform will have little effect,” as “[f]ood aid accounts for less than 0.5 percent of our agricultural exports, and less than 0.2 percent of our total agricultural production,” she writes, adding, “The success of the American farmer, or the Missouri farmer, in particular, is by no means dependent on international aid programs.” She continues, “When it comes to food aid, the Farm Bill is not about farmers. It is not about big agribusinesses, which rely on aid contracts for miniscule fractions of their revenues,” but it “is about the people it feeds.” Rouse concludes, “As Congress begins to craft a new Farm Bill, Missouri needs to stand with California, Minnesota, Kansas, Indiana, and the other leading agricultural states whose congressmen have already expressed support for food aid reform. Then we can take pride in helping the world’s hungry, knowing our representatives will do the same” (10/3).

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To End Hunger, Policies Need To Ensure More Inclusive Economic Growth

“Every year, we take a snapshot of world progress in the fight against chronic hunger. This year, the picture is looking better, but it’s still not good enough,” Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Vice President Kanayo Nwanze, and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin write in an Inter Press Service opinion piece. They highlight a joint report from their agencies, released this week, which found “roughly one person in eight suffers from hunger.” They state, “One of the hard truths underscored by the report is that, despite overall progress made in hunger reduction, marked differences persist across regions, with many countries left far behind.”

“While food availability is important, it is equitable economic growth and access to employment for the poor that enhance access to nutritious food,” the authors continue, noting, “The report shows that transport, communication, safe water, sanitation, and appropriate health care and feeding practices are also crucial for reducing chronic hunger and undernutrition.” They highlight the importance of agriculture and economic growth, and state, “Greater efforts with a holistic approach are needed to combat malnutrition.” They add, “We urge governments, organizations and community leaders in every region to make economic growth more inclusive through policies that target family farmers and foster rural employment; strengthen social protection; scale up nutrition-enhancing interventions to improve dietary diversity and the health of the environment, especially for women and youth; and promote the sustainable management of natural resources and food systems” (10/2).

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Recent Releases

Blog Examines Impact Of Government Shutdown On Global Health R&D

In a guest post on the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s (GHTC) “Breakthroughs” blog, “Jenny Howell — senior policy and advocacy associate at PATH working with the GHTC — writes about how the government shutdown and budget negotiations in Congress will impact global health research and development (R&D) programs across the federal government,” the blog’s introduction states, adding, “She also provides an update on new legislation that would impact [PEPFAR].” Howell summarizes how the government shutdown is affecting different agencies, and she notes the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s passage of an amended PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act of 2013. She concludes, “While uncertainty about the impact of the shutdown remains high, the quicker that lawmakers can reach an agreement the less severe the negative effects will be across our nation and around the world. Whatever the outcome, we’ll continue to track the progress and its potential impact on global health R&D” (Lufkin, 10/2).

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Argentina's Incentive-Based Health Program Shows Positive Results

Writing in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a senior fellow at the CGD, and Kate McQueston, a program coordinator to the global health policy team, examine Argentina’s “innovative results-based financing program between its federal and provincial authorities called Plan Nacer,” which “uses small financial incentives — equivalent to less than one percent of total provincial spending on health — to reward those provinces that enroll poor, uninsured women and children in the program and improve related health outcomes.” They add, “Now, after almost a decade of implementation, the program’s preliminary evaluation results show that these modest incentives have had an impact.” Glassman and McQueston note a recent discussion among the program’s stakeholders and conclude, “These results provide important insight into how small incentives can enhance health outcomes and with hope will serve as a model for the scale up of similar programs in other countries with decentralized health systems” (10/2).

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Gates Foundation Announces New Partnership To Improve Sanitation In India

“October 2, 2013, is the 144th birthday of [Mahatma Gandhi] and what better way for the Bill & Melinda Gates [Foundation] to celebrate this profound and inspirational leader than to announce our new partnership with [the government of India] in joint funding the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) to launch the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge – India,” Girindre Beeharry, director of the foundation’s India country office, and Carl Hensman, a program officer in the water, sanitation, and hygiene program at the foundation, write in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. They discuss sanitation issues in India, writing, “Although around 275 million people gained access to improved sanitation between 1990 and 2011, 615 million still defecated in the open in 2011.” They add, “This is why we are investing in opportunities that extend affordable sanitation services to poor communities through innovations in business models, government policies and technologies that will develop a ‘next generation toilet’ that kills all pathogens, is self-contained, is affordable, and that people want to use” (10/2).

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Blog Examines 'Roadmap For Childhood TB'

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog highlights the “Roadmap for Childhood Tuberculosis” — released Tuesday by the WHO, Stop TB Partnership, Treatment Action Group, UNICEF, CDC, USAID, and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease — noting the document “lists 10 steps to address the special needs of children and to include them in proven interventions,” as well as “some of the reasons attention to childhood tuberculosis has lagged.” According to the blog, “The rough cost — at least $120 million a year — would include the approximately $40 million it would take to get antiretroviral treatment and preventive TB treatment to children who are co-infected with HIV and TB.” The blog lists several recommendations made in the report (Barton, 10/2).

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