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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Indian PM, U.S. President Call For Expansion Of Their Collaborations To Fight Poverty, Disease

“India and the U.S. should expand their collaborations at a global level and work jointly together to address range of issues like poverty, child deaths, food security, conservation of natural resources and international peace,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and U.S. President Barack Obama said in a joint statement following an hour-long meeting at the White House and a luncheon last week, the Press Trust of India/Business Standard reports. “Building on ongoing consultations between India and the U.S. on East, Central and West Asia, and the trilateral dialogue mechanisms with Afghanistan and Japan respectively, Obama and Singh agreed to expand their consultations to include a dialogue on the Indian Ocean region, to deepen coordination on cross-cutting issues including maritime security and conservation of natural resources, the joint statement said,” according to the news service, which notes, “The two leaders resolved to work together to end extreme poverty, including through expanding efforts to end preventable child deaths through the ‘Child Survival Call to Action.’” The news service adds, “According to the statement, Singh and Obama recognized that increased cooperation in these areas will strengthen the U.S.-India strategic partnership, highlighting shared democratic values and the capabilities the two countries have to work together across Asia and around the globe” (9/28).

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Donor Funding For HIV/AIDS 'Essentially Remained Flat Since 2008,' Devex Reports

“[A] joint report from UNAIDS and the Kaiser Family Foundation reveals donor contributions to HIV and AIDS have essentially remained flat since 2008,” Devex reports. “The report also notes that total HIV and AIDS commitments among major donor countries decreased in 2012 — governments pledged to provide $8.8 billion in funding to the sector in 2011 and $8.3 billion last year — which could portend the start of a downward trend in contributions,” the news service continues. “[D]ecreased funding could slow down the progress made toward reducing new incidences of HIV and increasing access to information systems, treatment and care,” Devex writes, noting “[a] UNAIDS report released a day ahead of the general debates at the U.N. General Assembly … [shows n]ew HIV infections among children and adults have fallen 33 percent since 2001, while increased access to antiretroviral treatment has resulted in a 30 percent drop in AIDS-related deaths since 2005.” Currently, “growing domestic spending on HIV and AIDS is helping to bridge the funding gap for the sector,” the news service continues, adding, “Total funding for HIV and AIDS in 2012 reached $18.9 billion, 53 percent of which came from domestic resources. Annual funding to meet [the Millennium Development Goal on HIV/AIDS] is estimated to be between $22 billion and $24 billion” (Ocampo, 9/30).

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USAID Issues Statement Addressing Prospect Of Government Shutdown

USAID “has reassured contractors and grantees that a possible government shutdown on Monday is unlikely to impact their programming,” Devex reports. “In a statement issued Friday, [USAID Senior Procurement Executive Aman Djahanbani] suggested that ‘the majority’ of the agency’s grants and contracts ‘are not dependent on additional appropriations,’” the news service writes, adding, “For implementing partners that might be affected by a possible government shutdown, Djahanbani said that the appropriate USAID contracting or agreement officer would be in touch to provide additional details.” The agency published a more comprehensive “lapse plan” (.pdf) on its website on Friday (Piccio, 9/27).

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Awareness Campaign Working To Reduce HIV/AIDS Stigma In Somalia

Al Jazeera examines the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in Somalia and how an “aggressive awareness campaign” is helping people living with the disease seek treatment. The South Central Relief Network (SCRN), which launched the campaign, operates an HIV/AIDS clinic in Mogadishu’s Banadir Hospital and currently “provides free treatment to 132 patients who are HIV-positive,” the news service notes. “In Somalia, HIV/AIDS is associated with promiscuity and in conservative Muslim society, it’s proving difficult to convince many to come out and seek treatment,” Al Jazeera writes, adding, “Despite such [campaigns] by the government and local organizations, it may be a long time before the stigma and fear associated with HIV/AIDS in Somalia is overcome” (Mohamed, 9/29).

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IPS Examines Spread Of Fraudulent Medicine In Pacific Island Nations

“Reports of fraudulent medicines in the southwest Pacific island states of Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea have drawn attention to the need for more public awareness of the lethal trade and its tragic consequences,” Inter Press Service reports. “The extent of fraudulent pharmaceuticals in the Melanesian islands is unknown, but the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has reported that 47 percent of anti-malarial medicines tested more widely in the South East Asian region are fake,” the news service writes, adding, “The human cost of the illegal trade can include treatment failure, death and increased drug resistance to critical diseases.” IPS examines the response to the problem in several of the region’s countries (Wilson, 9/30).

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Editorials and Opinions

Rep. Lee Reflects On Her Attendance At U.N. General Assembly

In a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) reflects on her attendance at the 68th session of the U.N. General Assembly. “Every year since the early days of the United Nations, two representatives have been sent from Congress to participate in the U.N. General Assembly,” she notes, adding, “As a longtime advocate for global peace and security, diplomacy and development, I was truly honored by President Obama’s nomination and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s recommendation, as well as her tremendous support and leadership.” She writes, “My goal is to help foster stronger ties, deeper bonds, and increase the United States’ commitment to the vision of the United Nations: a better world for all.”

“At the General Assembly, I’ve focused on three areas: supporting Millennium Development Goals and the formulation of new development goals beyond 2015; supporting the Global Fund in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria; and strengthening the United States’ commitment to engaging the international community,” Lee continues. “This means the integration of economic growth, social justice, environmental protection and development,” she states, adding, “A comprehensive solution will be the only pathway forward, and an important role for the United States is to support the Global Fund with a $5 billion pledge during the next replenishment conference, which will be held in the United States.” She writes, “The promise of an AIDS-free generation is within our grasp, but the world must come together to achieve it” (9/29).

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More Can Be Accomplished In Reducing Maternal Mortality, Morbidity

Noting much has been achieved in reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at improving access to antiretroviral treatment and safe drinking water, and reducing poverty, Joy Phumaphi, chair of the Aspen Institute Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, writes in a Thomson Reuters Foundation opinion piece, “But on women’s health, progress lags shamefully behind. … We cannot wait for death to claim our women, newborns and children when the tools and interventions required to save them are affordable and easy to deliver.” She notes, “Sub-Saharan Africa still has the highest proportion of unmet need for contraception, the highest maternal mortality ratio, and the highest number of deaths from unsafe abortion.”

Last week at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “and leaders from around the world restated their commitment to maternal and reproductive health,” Phumaphi writes. “This high-level support is necessary and must be accompanied by a robust accountability mechanism at the country level,” she says, adding, “This comprehensive, transparent mechanism must have monitoring, review and response/action processes engaging all stakeholders at every level.” She continues, “This means that the village elders, mothers and fathers and in-laws, aunts and uncles, husbands and brothers are fully engaged with the health system as partners in the health of their women. In the end success will be a product of our own effort and commitment” (9/27).

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Progress Against Extreme Poverty, Disease Should Be Celebrated

In a post in his “On the Ground” blog, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof highlights his Sunday column in which he reflects on “something that has been happening over time so that we haven’t given it the attention it deserves — even though it may be the most important thing going on in history right now” — the decline of extreme poverty. Noting “we will still face immense problems — the U.S. is a good example of how even a rich country can have a severe problem with an impoverished underclass — and some kinds of poverty will be with us for decades or centuries to come,” he writes, “But the kind [of poverty] I’ve reported on in so many places, where illiterate parents have eight children who die young and are always on the edge of famine or disability, that kind of extreme poverty may be on its way out, along with river blindness, malaria, trachoma and other ailments” (9/28).

“New approaches are saving millions of children’s lives each year,” Kristof writes in the column, adding, “Illiteracy is retreating and technology is spreading. More people worldwide now have cellphones than toilets.” He continues, “Ancient diseases are on the way out,” noting, “Guinea worm and polio are likely to be eradicated in the coming years”; “[m]alaria has been brought under control in many countries, and a vaccine may reduce its toll even further”; and “AIDS is also receding.” He concludes, “So let’s acknowledge that there’s plenty of work remaining — and that cycles of poverty in America must be a top priority at home — yet also celebrate a triumph for humanity. The world of extreme poverty and disease that characterized life for most people throughout history may now finally be on its way out” (9/28).

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Youth Need To Be Involved With, Targeted In HIV Prevention, Care Activities

In a CNN opinion piece, published as part of a series on innovation in development in conjunction with the Skoll World Forum, Alicia Keys, Grammy award-winning musician and co-founder and global ambassador of Keep a Child Alive, and Cristina Jade Peña, a graduate student at University of California, Berkeley, and a Keep a Child Alive consultant who was born HIV-positive, highlight the stories of several youth helping to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. “In terms of rates of infection, vulnerability, impact and — most important to us — the enormous potential to turn this epidemic around, young people are at the center of the HIV epidemic,” they state, adding, “Despite this, most HIV treatment programs and policies are designed for children or adults, leaving young people caught in the middle of programs that fall short in meeting their special needs.” They discuss the “recently launched ’5MIL,’” a new initiative that seeks to address HIV-related issues for young people. They add, “We are calling for action from all young people around the world living with and affected by HIV and AIDS and the global community to join this movement” (9/28).

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Recent Releases

Rep. Clarke Introduces Global Sexual And Reproductive Health Act

“[T]he Obama administration has made up a lot of ground in boosting women’s health globally — both on policy and funding — that was lost during the previous administration. But our current foreign aid falls short of supporting a more comprehensive program for sexual and reproductive health,” Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) writes in a RH Reality Check blog post. “To that end, and to ensure the United States is a leader in advocating for women’s health and rights, I am proud to introduce the Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act of 2013 (HR 3206),” she writes, noting the bill was introduced on Friday. The legislation “outlines a progressive model for delivering sexual and reproductive health services under U.S. foreign assistance programs by bolstering the current family planning program”; “prioritizes the needs of young adults and adolescents, for instance by promoting access to evidence-based comprehensive sex education”; and “addresses U.S. policies on humanitarian assistance through provision of essential reproductive health services during natural disasters and conflicts, reduction of unsafe abortion, prevention of STIs, integration of voluntary family planning and HIV services, and training of health care professionals, among other important initiatives,” she notes (9/27).

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AVAC, amfAR Release Progress Report On Global Effort To End AIDS

AVAC and amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, on Friday released a new progress report (.pdf) following up on the release of the Action Agenda to End AIDS (.pdf), which was launched in July at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), amfAR writes on its webpage. “The Action Agenda outlined strategic steps needed in 2012-2016 to establish a strong, sustainable foundation to end AIDS,” amfAR notes, adding, “This new report assesses the world’s progress to date” (9/27).

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Benchmarks Of Global Health Program Success Should Include Impact Measurements

Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a research fellow with the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Yuna Sakuma, a research assistant at CGD, write in the center’s “Global Health Policy” blog about Glassman’s recent opinion piece in The Guardian and why she is “critical of using indicators like ‘bed nets distributed’ to convey anything about the impact of the program on disease.” They continue, “[C]ountry-specific data from the Malaria Indicator Surveys (MIS) and Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) shows that the number of bed nets distributed is not directly related to the share of women or children sleeping under a net, much less the number of malaria cases prevented which is a function of the appropriate use of the net and the cumulative effectiveness of other malaria control measures.” They add, “This is really the point of all our work on value for money: we should measure what matters for impact — like bed nets use, not distribution — and we should assess how we target our interventions so that the money goes as far as it can to improve health” (9/27).

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Experts Discuss Ways To Eliminate Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infections

Writing in the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog, communications officer Deborah Elson describes an event that took place last week on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York. Co-hosted by the Global Network, Johnson & Johnson, Children Without Worms, the Task Force for Global Health and the WHO, the conversation aimed “to identify innovative ways we can eliminate soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections — one of the key diseases undercutting many Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” she notes and summarizes the event. She concludes, “We look forward to seeing how cross-sectoral collaboration can make a difference in STH control and elimination in children” (9/27).

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