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Pope Francis Should Re-Evaluate Catholic Church’s Contraception Policy

New York Times: The Pope and the Birth Control Ban Editorial Board “…Expanding birth control access worldwide would have huge benefits. … The Catholic Church has considered lifting its ban on contraception in the past. In 1964, Pope Paul VI convened a commission on the issue. A majority of members,…

New MERS Case Numbers Down In Saudi Arabia At Start Of Hajj, Health Official Says

Reuters: Saudi minister says MERS cases are reducing before hajj “A recent surge in cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a sometimes deadly virus, in Saudi Arabia has ebbed in the run-up to Islam’s annual hajj pilgrimage, the kingdom’s Health Minister Khaled al-Falih said on Thursday…” (al-Mughrabi, 9/17).

Wired Examines Risk Of Disease Outbreaks At Large Gatherings Such As Hajj

Wired: Toppling Cranes Aren’t the Only Things Threatening Mecca “…Friday’s crane collapse at the Grand Mosque [in Mecca, Saudi Arabia], which killed over 100 people and injured more than 200 others, is a stark demonstration that disease isn’t the only health risk when you’ve got millions of people gathered in…

Islamist Militants Threaten Polio Immunization Campaign In Syria

IRIN: Will Islamic State allow polio drive? “In Syria’s brutal civil war, the announcement in late January that the country had effectively beaten polio again was a rare bright spot. … But even this small achievement is now threatened as the Islamist militants have cracked down on aid groups, and…

Fears Of MERS Outbreak During Hajj Pilgrimage ‘Probably Overblown’

Vox: Why worries about a MERS virus outbreak at the Hajj are probably overblown Julia Belluz, health reporter at Vox “…There are a few reasons fears about a deadly outbreak [of MERS] are overblown. … Heading up to this year’s Hajj, [a pilgrimage taken by millions to Saudi Arabia’s Mecca,]…

Strategies To Encourage Vaccination Must Be Tailored To Local Communities

Devex: Why we should not hesitate to vaccinate Philippe Duclos, executive secretary for the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization “…There is no ‘magic bullet’ or single intervention strategy that works for all instances of vaccine hesitancy. We need tailored strategies to improve vaccine acceptance, using effective communication to…