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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Obama's U.N. Speech Could Be 'Turning Point' In Fight Against Human Trafficking

“When President Obama made a landmark speech against modern slavery on Tuesday, many of us in the news media shrugged,” but women survivors of human trafficking “noticed,” Nicholas Kristof writes in his New York Times column. “[T]he world often scorns the victims and sees them as criminals: these girls are the lepers of the 21st century,” he says, adding, “So bravo to the president for giving a major speech on human trafficking and, crucially, for promising greater resources to fight pimps and support those who escape the streets. Until recently, the Obama White House hasn’t shown strong leadership on human trafficking, but this could be a breakthrough. The test will be whether Obama continues to press the issue.”

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Education Key To Ending AIDS

“When we talk about HIV prevention, we tend to frame it as a medical challenge and of course it is one,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “To accelerate the progress in the AIDS response we must reduce transmission and people’s exposure to the virus,” but “ending AIDS is as much a social challenge as a clinical one,” he continues. “One of the clearest lessons of the past three decades is that illiteracy and poverty fuel the spread of HIV and that education can slow it,” he states, adding, “Education — not just sex education but literacy, numeracy, critical-thinking and global citizenship — is the social equivalent of a vaccine, and it’s already available for clinical use.”

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

U.N. Presents Plan To Improve Access To Contraception, Releases Report On Maternal, Child Health

The U.N. on Wednesday “presented a plan to make life-saving health supplies more accessible, while a new report found that, despite impressive reductions in maternal and child mortality in the past decade in some countries, millions of women and children still die every year from preventable causes,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “With its new plan, the U.N. Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children aims to improve access and use of essential medicines, medical devices and health supplies that effectively address causes of death during pregnancy, childbirth and into childhood,” the news service writes (9/26). “Prices for long-acting contraception will be halved for 27 million women in the developing world through [the] new partnership, former President Bill Clinton and other world leaders announced” on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, the Associated Press writes. “The deal will help avoid almost 30 million unwanted pregnancies and save an estimated $250 million in health costs, the partnership said,” according to the AP (DePasquale, 9/26).

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Large Donors Dictating Direction Of Global Health Research, Financing, Essay Says

“When it comes to getting aid right, an all-too-familiar problem seems to be balancing the priorities of rich governments with what communities actually want,” AlertNet reports in an article examining an essay written by Oxford University researcher Devi Sridhar and published in PLOS Medicine. The essay “assesses the system of financing for health research,” according to the news service (Nguyen, 9/26). “Sridhar argues that since the priorities of funding bodies largely dictate what health issues and diseases are studied, a major challenge in the governance of global health research funding is agenda-setting, which in turn is a consequence of a larger phenomenon — ‘multi-bi financing,'” according to a PLOS press release (9/25). “Multi-bi financing refers to the practice of donors choosing to route non-core funding — earmarked for specific sectors, themes, countries, or regions — through multilateral agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank and to the emergence of new multi-stakeholder initiatives such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the GAVI Alliance,” she writes.

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

U.N. General Assembly Focuses On Women, Children

“Women and children shared the spotlight at the 27th session of the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday,” Devex’s “Development Newswire” reports (Ravelo, 9/26). At the high-level event at the U.N. in New York, “U.N. Women, the United Nations body for female empowerment and gender equality, called for stronger action from world leaders to prevent and punish sexual violence in conflict,” Inter Press Service writes (Bergdahl, 9/26). “Representatives from Member States, U.N. agencies and more than 30 non-governmental organizations took part in the discussion, which also drew the participation of women Nobel Peace Laureates Shirin Ebadi from Iran, Leymah Gbowee from Liberia, and Jody Williams from the United States,” the U.N. News Centre notes (9/25).

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

WHO Urges Health Workers To Be Alert For Patients Exhibiting Symptoms Of New SARS-Like Virus

“The World Health Organization on Wednesday urged health workers around the world to report any patient with acute respiratory infection who may have traveled to Saudi Arabia or Qatar and been exposed to a new SARS-like virus confirmed in two people so far,” Reuters reports. “Its clinical guidance to 194 member states said health care workers should be alert to anyone with acute respiratory syndrome that may include fever (above 38°C or 100.4°F) and cough, requiring hospitalization, who had been in the area where the virus was found or in contact with a suspect or confirmed case within the previous 10 days,” the news service notes.

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Examining Universal Health Coverage As Post-2015 Development Goal

In the BMJ Groups blog, Amanda Glassman, director of the global health policy program at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and her colleagues at CGD examine “whether [universal health coverage (UHC)] as a post-2015 development goal is a good idea.” They write, “While we support the notion and concept of UHC, it may not be a useful banner for the global health community to rally around in pushing for a post 2015 development goal.” The authors describe four reasons for this opinion, saying, for example, that “the concept of UHC is not easily understood or defined” and “there is still limited empirical evidence connecting general health care utilization and/or financial risk protection to health impact.” They conclude, “Universal health coverage is important for all countries to pursue, but it is not yet a universally agreed analytical concept that will be useful as a post 2015 development goal” (9/25).

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

World Working Together To End Polio

In a post on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates writes about traveling to New York this week to deliver a speech to the U.N. on polio eradication, one of the top five global health priorities as described by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “New polio cases are the lowest they’ve ever been and there are currently just three countries, down from 125 in 1988, where polio is still endemic: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan,” Gates notes. He adds, “[T]he world is coming together with the financial resources, the political commitment, and the innovation necessary to do something absolutely extraordinary, to protect every child everywhere from this preventable disease” (9/25).

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Progress On Women's, Children's Health Provides Optimism For Further Success

Noting successes achieved under the Every Woman Every Child campaign and the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog that leaders “have stepped up and stood strong for critical issues on the women’s and children’s health agenda to advance the health Millennium Development Goals and ensure the sustainability of results beyond 2015.” He adds, “Most of all, they have engaged in a radical paradigm shift that places the notion of global solidarity at the core of our work.” With the estimated number of children newly infected with HIV dropping and more women undergoing HIV testing and receiving antiretroviral medications, “[t]hese achievements deserve global attention,” Sidibe says.

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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Scaling Up Access To Maternal, Child Health Care Would Prevent Most Deaths During Pregnancy, Childbirth

“Every day, 800 women lose their lives giving birth — 287,000 each year — and the vast majority of these deaths occurs in developing countries. … These deaths are unacceptable, particularly because they are preventable,” the heads of the Health 4+ (UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, U.N. Women, the WHO, and the World Bank, known as H4+) write in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. They continue, “Every woman giving birth should be able to turn to a skilled health worker, and be given the life-saving — and cost-effective — medicines so critical to her and her baby.” They note the group is meeting “[o]n 24 September — during the 67th session of the U.N. General Assembly, … to advocate at the highest levels for the health of women and children globally” and “bolster joint efforts towards meeting the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly in countries that are lagging the furthest behind.”

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