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Center For Global Development Blog Post Examines Debate On Whether Health Is 'Fungible'

In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, David Roodman, a research fellow at CGD, writes about “the debate on whether health is ‘fungible,’ i.e., whether giving money to governments to spend on health leads them to cut their own funding for [the] same, thereby effectively siphoning health aid into other uses.” He writes, “Two years ago, a team of authors mostly affiliated with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle concluded in the Lancet (gated) that health aid has been highly fungible,” but “two physician-scholars at Stanford have reanalyzed IHME’s data in PLoS Medicine (quite ungated) and judged the Lancet findings to be spuriously generated by bad and/or extreme data points.” Roodman notes that he is continuing to analyze data from both studies and plans to “get to the bottom of the latest research on health aid fungibility” (5/14).

Cookstove Technology Needs More Research, Development To Be Effective In Real-World Settings

A recent randomized trial by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers looking at how well clean cookstoves worked in real-world settings found that while there was “a meaningful reduction in smoke inhalation in the first year after a stove was installed, … [o]ver a longer period … they saw no health benefits and no reduction in fuel use” because families did not maintain or repair broken stoves, a Bloomberg editorial notes, adding, “This doesn’t suggest the clean cookstove campaign should be abandoned so much as slowed down. It would be wise to test various designs in real-life settings, and, where necessary, take more time to human-proof models.”

Women's Rights To Family Planning Should Not Be Controversial

“There should be #NoControversy about a woman’s right to plan when and how many children to have, to have the opportunity to improve her own health and that of her children, to educate her children and to grow her family’s economic productivity,” Gary Darmstadt, head of the family health division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Wendy Prosser, a research analyst with the family health division, write in this post in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. The authors highlight a recent TEDxChange talk by Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation, in which “she addresses the issues surrounding birth control and how it is literally life-saving for millions of women and children around the world.” They continue, “But of course, any time politics, religion, and sex are intertwined, controversy tends to emerge,” and discuss several viewpoints that have emerged in media coverage of the issue (5/14).

With Limited Budget, Prioritizing Investments In Projects To Advance Human Welfare Is Critical

“If you had $75 billion to spend over the next four years and your goal was to advance human welfare, especially in the developing world, how could you get the most value for your money?” Bjorn Lomborg, an author and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, asks in this opinion piece in Slate Magazine’s “Copenhagen Consensus 2012” section. “That is the question that I posed to a panel of five top economists, including four Nobel laureates, in the Copenhagen Consensus 2012 project,” he writes, noting, “The panel members were chosen for their expertise in prioritization and their ability to use economic principles to compare policy choices.”

Copenhagen Consensus Report Argues For Addressing Chronic, NCDs In Developing Countries

In the second part of a series of Slate articles highlighting issues being examined by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, Bjorn Lomborg, director of the center, examines the global burden of non-communicable diseases, which “receiv[e] the smallest amount of donor assistance of all health conditions, having lost ground since 1990 relative to infectious diseases,” he writes. “In a research paper released today on chronic disease, Prabhat Jha and a team of researchers argue that chronic diseases already pose a substantial economic burden, and this burden will evolve into a staggering one over the next two decades,” according to Lomborg.

‘Mandatory Oversight’ Of Potentially Dangerous Biological Research Will Be Necessary

“In the sobering annals of disaster prevention, genetic manipulation of the H5N1 influenza virus is looming as a seminal case,” John Steinbruner, director of the Center for International Security Studies at the University of Maryland, writes in an opinion piece in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” noting that two “laboratory experiments have rendered the highly virulent avian strain transmissible among ferrets, strongly suggesting that it would be transmissible among humans as well.” He states, “If the virus could achieve efficient transmissibility while retaining anything like its current case fatality rate [of 50 percent], it could inflict global disaster of unprecedented proportions.” The actions of the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, initially recommending publication of redacted versions of the two studies then reversing that decision, “implicitly concedes that the U.S. alone cannot exercise comprehensive jurisdiction,” Steinbruner writes.

World Can Eliminate Preventable Child Death With Combination Of New Technologies, Capabilities

“Every child should have the opportunity to celebrate his or her fifth birthday,” but 7.6 million “kids die within the first five years of life,” a VOA editorial writes. “That is why [USAID] recently launched ‘Every Child Deserves A Fifth Birthday,’ an awareness-raising campaign leading up to the mid-June ‘Child Survival: Call to Action’ two-day conference,” the editorial states, adding, “This high-level forum, convened by the governments of the United States, India and Ethiopia, together with [UNICEF], will mobilize political, non-governmental and private actors to end preventable child deaths.”

Preventing Mother-To-Child Transmission Of HIV Is ‘Smart Investment’

“Each year, nearly 400,000 children are born with HIV globally, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) is a particular challenge in sub-Saharan Africa, an area characterized by weak health systems,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes in the State Department “DipNote” blog. “Last year PEPFAR and UNAIDS joined with other partners to launch the Global Plan, an initiative to eliminate new HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive,” Goosby writes and reflects on a two-day mission to Nigeria with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe last week. He concludes, “Preventing new HIV infections in children is a smart investment that saves lives, and the United States is proud to partner with Nigeria and other countries in this cause” (4/30).

CIA's Use Of Health Workers In Intelligence Operations Could Hurt 'Innocent People'

“The CIA’s vaccination gambit put at risk something very precious — the integrity of public health programs in Pakistan and around the globe” and has “also added to the dangers facing nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in a world that’s increasingly hostile to U.S. aid organizations,” opinion writer David Ignatius writes in a Washington Post opinion piece. Noting that attention in the U.S. has focused on a 33-year prison sentence given to Shakil Afridi, a doctor convicted of treason for helping the CIA track down Osama bin Laden through a vaccination program, Ignatius says, “Afridi and his handlers should reckon with the moral consequences of what they did. Here’s the painful truth: Some people may die because they don’t get vaccinations, suspecting that immunization is part of a CIA plot.”