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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Leaders At U.N. Urge Continued Action To Meet MDGs

“With the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) looming, United Nations officials [on Tuesday] called on countries to accelerate action to meet the global targets that have spurred the fastest reduction of poverty in human history,” the U.N. News Centre reports. Leaders, including U.N. Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, spoke at a high-level panel held in conjunction with the 68th session of the General Assembly, the news service notes, adding, “The panel also hosted heads of state from Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Ghana, Tanzania and Tonga, as well Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and nine-time Olympic gold medalist and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Carl Lewis.” At a different event on Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “appealed to innovators to use their creativity, ideas and inspiration to achieve the MDGs,” according to the news service (9/24).

Ban “said Tuesday that the world is lagging badly in some of the [MDGs] it has set for itself,” the IANS/Business Standard reports. “‘A new development agenda must be as inspiring as the MDGs, but it must go further,’ Ban declared, calling for a universal framework with ending poverty as a top priority, sustainable development at its core and governance as its glue,” the news service writes, adding, “Moreover, the rights of women and girls must be at the heart of all such efforts, he continued, calling for the 21st century to be the century of women” (9/24). “The 2013 progress report [.pdf] on the MDGs, published in July, pointed out that progress had been uneven among regions, countries and within countries,” The Guardian notes (Ford, 9/23). In his address to the General Assembly on Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama said, “These are extraordinary times, with extraordinary opportunities. Thanks to human progress, a child born anywhere on Earth today can do things today that 60 years ago would have been out of reach for the mass of humanity. I saw this in Africa, where nations moving beyond conflict are now poised to take off. And America is with them, partnering to feed the hungry and care for the sick, and to bring power to places off the grid” (9/24).

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U.N., Partners Launch New Comprehensive Malaria Approach

“The United Nations and a coalition of partners [on Tuesday] launched a comprehensive approach to fighting malaria, a disease which — despite tremendous advances — still kills an estimated 660,000 people each year and poses a major challenge to development,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “With the participation of world leaders gathered in New York for the 68th General Assembly, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) and the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) launched the Multisectoral Action Framework for Malaria [.pdf], which calls for greater coordinated action among different development sectors to tackle the disease,” the news service writes. “The framework identifies actions to address the social and environmental determinants of malaria, and calls for current malaria strategies to be complemented by a broader development approach, according to a UNDP news release,” the news service states (9/24).

“According to [UNDP Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan]: ‘Stronger global health partnerships and greater funding in recent years have already resulted in unprecedented progress, with a 25 percent decrease in global malaria deaths,’” according to PANA/Afrique Jet. “‘Factors that increase vulnerability to malaria infection, however, often lie outside the health sector, involving housing, education, urban planning, agriculture, transportation and other areas,’ she added,” the news service notes (9/25). In similar news, Malaria No More on Monday announced a new public awareness and fundraising campaign, titled “Power of One (Po1), where a one dollar donation provides a life-saving test and treatment for a child in Africa,” Malaria No More/RYOT.org reports (9/23).

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U.N. Holds First-Ever High-Level General Assembly Session On Disability And Development

“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a historic U.N. meeting of world leaders Monday ‘to break barriers and open doors’ for the more than one billion disabled people around the world,” the Associated Press/Huffington Post reports, noting, “The goal of the first-ever high-level General Assembly meeting was to spur international action to ensure that the disabled can contribute to the global economy” (Lederer, 9/23). “The rights of persons with disabilities must be directly addressed by the post-2015 development agenda, United Nations officials [urged at the] high-level meeting of the General Assembly, where world leaders pledged to work together on national and international policies that enhance and promote disability-inclusive development,” the U.N. News Centre writes.

“Reaffirming the international community’s resolve in advancing the rights of all persons with disabilities, the Assembly’s High-level Meeting on Disability and Development adopted an agreed outcome stressing the need to ensure accessibility for and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of development and of giving them due consideration in the emerging post-2015 U.N. development agenda,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Among other things, the outcome document, ‘The way forward, a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond,’ underlined the need for ‘urgent action’ by all relevant stakeholders towards adoption and implementation of more ambitious disability-inclusive national development strategies with disability-targeted actions, backed by increased international cooperation and support,” the news service adds (9/23). The WHO “is already scaling up efforts in line with the outcome document by preparing a seven-year global action plan, ‘Better health for persons with disabilities,’” the agency notes in a press release (9/20).

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Congress Shows Bipartisan Support For Curbing Antibiotic Resistance

“A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is adding urgency to an issue lawmakers from both parties say they want to address: the rise of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics,” CQ Roll Call reports in an article examining the report and congressional action on the issue. According to Roll Call, “[t]he Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee … [held] a hearing on health care-associated infections on Tuesday” (Attias, 9/23). A video archive of the hearing is available online (9/24).

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Researchers Making Progress In Developing Universal, H7N9 Influenza Vaccines

Researchers this week reported in the journal Nature Medicine that they are closer to producing a universal vaccine for influenza, “a constantly shifting target” necessitating new seasonal flu vaccines each year, BBC News reports. Ajit Lalvani of Imperial College London, “who led the study, told the BBC: ‘It’s a blueprint for a vaccine. … In truth, in this case it is about five years (away from a vaccine). We have the know-how, we know what needs to be in the vaccine and we can just get on and do it,’” according to the news service (Gallagher, 9/23). In related news, researchers at NIH recently “announced what appear to be the first human tests of a vaccine to protect against a particular strain of flu virus that public health experts worry could cause a massive loss of life worldwide,” CQ HealthBeat reports, noting the strain is the H7N9 influenza recognized for the first time in humans earlier this year in China. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Prevention at the University of Minnesota, “said in an interview Tuesday that the U.S. and the world remain a long way from having an effective vaccine against H7N9,” the news service writes, noting “a vaccine wouldn’t be available in sizeable quantities until 2015, Osterholm said when interviewed Tuesday” (Reichard, 9/24).

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Editorials and Opinions

Development Partners Should Follow U.K.'s Lead, Commit More To Global Fund

“The United Kingdom showed extraordinary leadership in global health this week by announcing an unequivocal commitment to fighting three of the world’s most infectious diseases,” Mark Dybul, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Big Push” blog. “The U.K. has displayed remarkable long-term vision with this commitment,” he states, adding, “Its contribution of £1 billion [$1.6 billion] to the Global Fund for 2014-2016 can allow people in many countries — from presidents to community organizations to health workers — to transform their countries by fighting HIV, TB, and malaria.” He notes, “We are at a critical moment with these deadly diseases and every dollar, and pound, now counts.”

“The U.K.’s Department for International Development (DfID) is a well-established champion in the global effort to end extreme poverty, working directly in 28 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East,” Dybul continues, and discusses some of these efforts. “By pooling resources we will be better positioned to be more effective,” he states, adding, “The U.K. contribution encourages others to contribute more to the fight.” He writes, “Our common goal — to get these three deadly diseases under control — is within reach if we continue working together,” adding, “We are immensely grateful to the British people for allowing us to play a role in saving and dramatically improving the lives of millions of people, their families, communities and countries.” He concludes, “We are strongly encouraging all partners to follow the example of the United Kingdom and to commit more to the Global Fund as we raise funds for our next three-year period. Let’s seize the moment” (9/24).

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Sexual, Reproductive Health Rights Must Be Recognized In Post-2015 Development Framework

“[T]here’s a truth that needs to be spoken as discussions over the next generation of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — the so-called post-2015 framework — have gotten underway this week,” Tewodros Melesse, director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, writes in a CNN opinion piece. “Sexual and reproductive health and rights were initially missing from the MDG framework, and that meant that amid all the goodwill and the good intentions money was wasted because a fundamental building brick of development was missing,” he states. Noting “the target of universal access to reproductive health by 2015” was added to the MDGs in 2007, he adds, “The Millennium Development Goals relating to reproductive health — including access to contraceptives and adolescent fertility rates — [have] made the least progress.”

“As long as women experience discrimination, inequality and violence, their human rights will not be realized and they will be prevented from participating meaningfully in the life of their communities and countries,” Melesse states, adding, “Development objectives cannot, and will not, be met if we continue at this pace.” He writes, “Unless the link between sexual and reproductive health and rights, social inequalities and gender inequality is recognized, the new framework will not tackle the root causes of poverty and we will not live in a world truly free from it,” concluding, “So we challenge [U.N.] member states to do their bit — by standing up and demanding they take action to capitalize on this momentum as we renew the commitment to secure a world of justice, choice and well-being for all” (9/24).

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Youth Can Transform Conversation, Action Surrounding Reproductive Health Access

Young people under age 25 worldwide have “an indispensable role to play in achieving international development goals, driving economic and social development, and shaping the course of history … [y]et around the world, young people are all too often unable to make critical choices that impact their futures,” Jill Sheffield, founder and president of Women Deliver, and Remmy Shawa of the Sonke Gender Justice Network and one of the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders write in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “Unmet need for contraception is greatest for women under the age of 20 and, in the world’s poorest countries, one in three women has a child before the age of 18,” they state, adding, “Consequently, pregnancy and childbirth-related complications remain the leading killer of teenage girls in the developing world.”

“First, we need developing country governments and donors to prioritize and scale up youth sexual and reproductive health programs,” Sheffield and Shawa write. “Second, we need to reduce the stigma associated with youth sexuality,” they state, adding, “Third, we need to encourage and empower young people to be their own advocates and agents for change.” They continue, “And, finally, we must involve boys and men in the process.” Noting September 26 is World Contraception Day, they write, “By enacting supportive policies, bringing new voices into the conversation, and implementing effective, age and culturally-appropriate family planning programs, we can make a real and lasting impact on the lives of young people everywhere and help ignite a virtuous cycle of development” (9/23).

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Improved Access To Contraception Can 'Make A True Change For Women And Girls'

Noting the ongoing Clinton Global Initiative and U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York, WomanCare Global CEO Saundra Pelletier writes in the Huffington Post’s “Social Entrepreneurship” blog, “My hope is that it’s no coincidence that World Contraception Day falls in the middle of a week where leaders and innovators come together to talk about how to improve the world.” Recognized on September 26, World Contraception Day brings light to the fact “[t]here are more than 220 million women around the world who want modern contraception but cannot get it,” she says, adding, “We need to conclude this week in NY with significant commitments funded and a plan for implementation.” She adds, “WomanCare Global will be part of the global solution because we provide access to affordable, quality reproductive health products through a sustainable value chain in more than 100 countries. We look forward to working with partners to make a true change for women and girls” (9/24).

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Global Partnerships Must Be Defined In Post-2015 Development Agenda

“The record of the [Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)] is generally a good one. … [But o]ne of its weakest points was, however, MDG 8, on the global partnership for development,” José Antonio Ocampo, a professor at Columbia University and former finance minister of Colombia, writes in The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” He continues, “Although the engagement of civil society, the private sector, foundations and academia in the achievement of the global development goals should be most welcome, it can never be a substitute for the central role that intergovernmental cooperation has to play.” Therefore, “[t]he global partnership should … mobilize a set of dynamic, multi-stakeholder partnerships, but must have intergovernmental cooperation at the center,” Ocampo writes. “The post-2015 development agenda should define what the critical elements of such global partnerships are,” he states, adding, “An essential ingredient should be high-profile monitoring of commitments” (9/24).

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Recent Releases

USAID, DfID Event Highlights Involvement Of Girls, Women In Development

In a post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Alex Thier, assistant to the USAID administrator for policy, planning, and learning, writes about an event held in New York this week hosted by USAID and the U.K.’s Department for International Development, titled “MDG Countdown 2013: Girls and Women Transforming Societies.” He says, “Elevating the political, social, and economic status of women and girls is a central and indispensable element of global progress towards creating a more prosperous, peaceful, and equitable world, and ending extreme poverty within our lifetime.” Tuesday’s “event in New York City illustrates how women’s leadership in grassroots advocacy, local solutions and the power of technology can steer the global community on the path to meeting our MDG goals and advancing gender equality and female empowerment in the post-2015 framework,” he concludes (9/24).

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New Report Explores Equity And Universal Health Coverage

“Together with UNICEF, WHO, and Save the Children, the Rockefeller Foundation is formally launching ‘Universal Health Coverage: A Commitment to Close the Gap,’ a report [.pdf] that serves to reframe the focus of universal health coverage (UHC) so that equity is the lens through which all future efforts towards achieving UHC are viewed,” Jeanette Vega, managing director at the Rockefeller Foundation, writes in the organization’s blog (9/23). “The report focuses on how and why inequity should be prioritized as countries advance toward universal health coverage. It identifies policy options that governments and donors should consider when implementing reforms in this area and estimates the effect this could have on health outcomes, providing implications for the post-2015 development agenda,” according to a WHO press release posted on AllAfrica.com (9/24). According to the report summary on Save the Children U.K.’s site, “Research for this report includes: a structured literature review; key informant interviews; an econometric analysis of the impact of more equitable health financing on mortality rates; [and] a Lives Saved analysis of the impact of eliminating in-country wealth inequities on coverage of maternal and child health services” (September 2013).

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PATH, Partners Release Publication Examining 10 Maternal, Child Health Innovations

“PATH, along with partners including the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the MDG Health Alliance, and the United Nations Foundation, is releasing a publication [.pdf] called ‘Breakthrough Innovations That Can Save Women and Children Now,’” the PATH blog reports. “The publication introduces 10 innovations — from products to systems approaches — that could have immediate impact in saving lives,” the blog states, providing examples (Wilson, 9/23).

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'End the Neglect' Blog Reports On Panel Discussion At Social Good Summit

The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog reflects on a panel discussion that took place at the Social Good Summit (SGS) in New York City on Monday, noting “the Global Network had a phenomenal opportunity to join innovative and inspiring leaders in technology, media and policy from all over the world to discuss how we can accelerate progress on development issues such as poverty, education, equal rights, girls and women, and climate change by 2030.” The blog states, “We were honored to be part of that fascinating conversation hosted by the 92 Street Y, Mashable, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others, by speaking on a panel, ‘Is shock value a way to spur social good?’” The presenters “shared how our END7 ‘Celebrity Shocker’ video relied on raw emotion, celebrity engagement, social media — and of course shock value — to catapult awareness for NTDs and prompt thousands of people to take action,” the blog states and discusses the event in detail (Elson, 9/24).

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