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American Voters Say U.S. Support For WHO Important, Poll Shows

“Nine in 10 U.S. voters say it’s important for the United States to support the global health efforts of the U.N.’s World Health Organization, according to a United Nations Foundation/Better World Campaign poll [.pdf] released Thursday,” The Hill’s “Global Affairs” blog reports. “The poll comes as lawmakers debate significant cuts to federal spending, including cuts to global health funding and foreign aid,” the blog notes (Pecquet, 5/3).

Copenhagen Consensus Report Argues For Expanding Family Planning Programs In ‘High-Fertility’ Countries

As part of a series of Slate articles highlighting issues being examined by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, Bjorn Lomborg, director of the center, examines the implications of population growth on development indicators. In a research paper released on Thursday “for Copenhagen Consensus 2012, Hans-Peter Kohler of the University of Pennsylvania looks at sub-Saharan African nations that, among high-fertility countries, make the dominant contribution to world population growth,” he notes, adding, “‘High-fertility’ countries today account for about 38 percent of the 78 million people that are added annually to the world population, despite the fact that they are home to only 18 percent of the population.”

Sierra Leone Has Made Progress In Improving Maternal, Child Health Care, But ‘Much More To Do’

“Just two years ago, our country had one of the worst maternal and infant death rates in the world,” Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma writes in a Huffington Post U.K. “Impact” blog post, adding, “We knew something had to be done.” So in September 2009, the government announced “that all health user fees would be removed for pregnant and lactating women and children under the age of five” and “introduced the Free Health Care Initiative [FHCI] in April 2010, which would give around 460,000 women and a million children a much better chance of having a longer and happier life,” Koroma writes. In one year, the FHCI facilitated a “214 percent increase in the number of children attending outpatient units” and a 61 percent reduction in “the number of women dying from pregnancy complications at facilities,” and “increased the number of health workers and ensured they were given big salary rises to reflect the importance of their positions,” he notes.

Dengue Fever Costs Puerto Rico Nearly $38M A Year, Study Shows

“The costs of treating and coping with dengue fever in Puerto Rico total nearly $38 million a year, a new study,” published Wednesday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, finds, according to U.S. News & World Report. “It also said that every $1 spent on surveillance and prevention of the mosquito-borne disease could save $5 in illness-related costs,” the news service reports (5/2). “A team of researchers from Brandeis University says households in the U.S. territory pay almost half of that cost, with the government and insurance companies splitting the rest,” the Associated Press/Seattle Times notes (5/2).

MSF Official Discusses WHO Working Group Final Report On R&D

The Results for Development Institute’s Center for Global Health R&D Policy Assessment blog features an interview with Judit Rius Sanjuan, U.S. manager of the Access Campaign of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), who discusses the final report of the WHO Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination (CEWG). Sanjuan addresses “the origins, significance, and likely impact of the CEWG’s work,” according to the blog (Ghoshal, 5/2).

E.U. Pledges 40M Euros To Address Food Security In Kenya

“During his visit to Kenya, E.U. Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs announced new support to address food security in Kenya, which is often affected by recurrent drought,” an E.U. press release states. “Up to 40 million euros [approximately $52.5 million] will be dedicated to nutrition, water supply, and livelihood support,” and “mothers and children will be in particular focus of this initiative, as they are the first victims of drought and hunger,” the press release notes, adding, “The funding comes as a part of the new 250 million euro E.U. initiative, called ‘Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience (SHARE),’ to support the people in the Horn of Africa to recover from the recent drought and to strengthen the population and regional economy to better withstand future crises” (5/2).

HIV/AIDS Funding Does Not Undermine Efforts To Fight Other Diseases, Study Suggests

“While the battle against HIV/AIDS attracts more donor funding globally than all other diseases combined, it has not diverted attention from fighting unrelated afflictions — such as malaria, measles and malnutrition — and may be improving health services overall in targeted countries, according to a study on Rwanda published” Wednesday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, an American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) press release reports. “A six-year investigation of health clinics in Rwanda by researchers at Brandeis University infuses fresh evidence into a long-standing debate about whether the intensive focus on HIV/AIDS, which in 2010 alone killed 1.8 million people, is undermining other health services, particularly in African countries that are at the epicenter of the pandemic,” the press release states (5/2).

Chagas Disease Especially Harmful For Expectant Mothers; New, Better Treatments Needed

“Chagas disease — a parasitic infection transmitted through an insect commonly known as the ‘kissing bug’ — is one of the most common infections among pregnant women in the Western Hemisphere,” Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and director of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “It can be found all over Latin America, from Mexico and Central America to Paraguay and Argentina,” he writes, adding, “For expectant mothers, what makes Chagas disease especially harmful is that it can be passed to their unborn children, causing highly lethal congenital infections.”

Without Funding, Thousands Of Malnourished Somali Children At Risk Of Death, UNICEF Warns

UNICEF on Wednesday “warned that thousands of acutely malnourished children in Somalia are at risk of death because little money is available to help them,” VOA News writes, adding, “UNICEF said it has received only 12 percent of its $289 million emergency appeal for humanitarian operations this year.” “The famine declared in southern Somalia last year is over,” but “Somalia remains the world’s most complex humanitarian situation,” the news service writes, noting that UNICEF “reported that almost one-third of Somalis are unable to meet their essential food and non-food needs.”

At Least 1M Children At Risk Of Death In Sahel Drought Crisis; European Commission Donates Over $20M To UNICEF Appeal

“At least one million children are at risk of dying of malnutrition in the central-western part of Africa’s Sahel region due to a drought crisis, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said [Wednesday], adding that more resources are urgently needed to help those in need,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “There are currently 15 million people facing food insecurity in the Sahel, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea,” the news service writes, adding, “The nutrition crisis is affecting people throughout Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and the northern regions of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal.”