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Targeted Financial Assistance Offers Middle Ground Between Arguments For And Against Higher Development Spending

In this post on the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog,” Bjorn Lomborg, author and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, examines the issue of foreign aid in this time of austerity, writing, “Targeted financial assistance offers a middle path between the arguments for and against higher development spending.” He adds, “A different way of focusing this spending would be to examine where we could do the most good … Instead of focusing on the issues that have the most vocal proponents or the most heart-wrenching pictures, looking at costs and benefits puts the focus on solutions that will do the most good for the least money.”

Examining Implications Of Hiring Foreign-Born Health Workers On U.S., Global Health Care Systems

In this post in the IntraHealth “Global Health Blog,” Kate Tulenko, senior director of health systems innovation at IntraHealth, provides an excerpt of her recently published book, “Insourced: How Importing Jobs Impacts the Healthcare Crisis Here and Abroad,” in which she argues that the practice of “relying on foreign-born health workers to fill health care gaps, particularly in providing primary care … has dire economic and social consequences, threatening the quality of medical care in both source countries and the U.S.” (8/30). The blog also links to a recent interview by IntraHealth in which Tulenko discusses the issues raised in her book (8/29).

Reworking Of PEPFAR In South Africa Must Be Handled Carefully To Ensure Continuity Of Care

“Government assurances that the scaling back of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program in South Africa (SA) will be carefully managed to protect patients are welcome, but … [t]he reality is that the Department of Health is struggling to cope with severe medical staff shortages, financial resources that never seem to stretch far enough, inadequate infrastructure and maintenance programs, and administrative bottlenecks,” a Business Day editorial states. Though the reworking of PEPFAR funding will take place over five years “and does not entail the complete loss” of funding, “the shortfall will have to come from somewhere,” the editorial says, adding, “It will be tragic if, just as we are starting to see light at the end of the long, dark tunnel of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in SA, the gains of the past few years were to be reversed due to the loss of critical foreign funding and the government’s lack of capacity to plug the gap.”

CSIS Report Examines Reform In Liberia's Health System

The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) on Tuesday released a report titled “Road to Recovery: Rebuilding Liberia’s Health System,” the center’s “Smart Global Health” blog reports. “The process of rebuilding Liberia’s health system, shattered by 14 years of devastating conflict, is entering a crucial and potentially destabilizing phase,” the blog writes, adding, “This report focuses on specific things the United States can do to sustain the momentum on public health in Liberia” (Downie, 8/28).

Brazil Expanding National HIV Treatment Program To Include Patients With Higher CD4 Cell Counts

Brazil is expanding its national HIV/AIDS treatment program to include about 35,000 additional people, the Associated Press/Seattle Times reports. “Ronaldo Hallal of the [health] ministry’s Sexually Transmitted Disease Department said people with 500 or fewer CD4 cells per cubic millimeter will receive antiretroviral HIV treatment,” increasing the cutoff from 350 or less CD4 cells per cubic millimeter prior to the expansion, the news service writes. The Ministry of Health noted on its website that the expansion will require spending an additional 120 million reals, or $60,000, annually, according to the news service, which adds, “Hallal said Brazil already spends 1.2 billion reals ($600 million) each year in its free anti-AIDS program that is currently treating 223,000 people.” The AP notes Health Minister Alexandre Padilla said in a statement, “Brazil will be the only large country in the world to offer this kind of treatment that will reduce the risk of opportunistic infections like tuberculosis” (8/29).

Indian Government Plans To Launch National Urban Health Mission To Complement Rural Program

Building on its seven-year-old National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), India’s government plans to launch the National Urban Health Mission (NUHM), which “will focus on improving health care delivery and public health systems,” the Lancet reports. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently “expressed hope that the two programs together will in the future lead to a unified National Health Mission,” according to the journal. “Unplanned urbanization brings forth a whole set of new health problems. [The] urban poor are three times more likely to die before attaining the age of five years, 20 times more likely not to have any antenatal care, three times less likely to get primary immunization, and two and a half to three times more likely to be stunted and wasted than urban richest,” Chandrakant Pandav, head of the Centre for Community Medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, said, citing the third National Family Health Survey, the Lancet notes (Bhaumik, 8/11).

White House Issues First-Ever National Biosurveillance Strategy

In an article on the U.S. Department of Defense webpage, the American Forces Press Service reports on the first U.S. National Strategy for Biosurveillance, issued by the White House “to quickly detect a range of global health and security hazards.” According to the article, “the Defense Department has a running start in implementing the new plan, a senior defense official said,” and “many of the activities described in the strategy are ongoing at DOD.” “So much of what we’re doing is integrating the efforts and working hard on the overlap between global security and global health, in what [President Barack Obama] refers to as global health security,” said Andrew Weber, assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs, the news service writes (Pellerin, 8/22).

U.S. Announces Additional $12M In Humanitarian Aid To Syria

“The United States announced Thursday it would hike its humanitarian aid to Syria, adding another $12 million to provide food, water, medicine and other necessities for battered and displaced people” affected by violence in the Syrian conflict, the Los Angeles Times blog “World Now” reports. “The increase approved by the Obama administration brings American humanitarian assistance in Syria to more than $76 million, including $27.5 million to the World Food Programme [WFP], roughly $18 million for the United Nations refugee agency and the rest split among other U.N. funds and non-profit groups,” the blog writes (Alpert, 8/2).

Widespread Use Of Current Technologies 'Essential' To Improve Global Health

Noting that this week’s issue of the Lancet explores the theme of “[a]ccess to beneficial health technology, including essential medicines and medical devices, for those most in need,” a Lancet editorial states, “Maximizing use of current health technologies (drugs, devices, biological products, medical and surgical procedures, support systems, and organizational systems) is essential to improving global health.” Collaboration between the journal and Imperial College London has resulted in a new Commission on technologies for global health, which examines different ways to broaden the use of new technologies, from bringing down cost to making them more culturally acceptable, the editorial notes.

Study Finds 'Alarming Patterns' Of Tobacco Use In Developing Countries

“Two fifths of men in developing countries still smoke or use tobacco, and women are increasingly starting to smoke at younger ages, according to a large international study which found ‘alarming patterns’ of tobacco use,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 8/17). The study, published Friday in the Lancet, “covered enough representative samples to estimate tobacco use among three billion people” and “‘demonstrates an urgent need for policy change in low- and middle-income countries,’ said lead researcher Gary Giovino,” according to CNN (Levs, 8/17). “‘Although 1.1 billion people have been covered by the adoption of the most effective tobacco control policies since 2008, 83 percent of the world’s population are not covered by two or more of these policies,’ said [Giovino],” Reuters adds (8/17).