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Opinion Pieces Published In Advance Of 'Child Survival Call To Action' Event To Take Place In Washington

The following are summaries of several opinion pieces published in anticipation of the Child Survival Call to Action event to be held on June 14-15 in Washington, D.C. Convened by the governments of the United States, Ethiopia and India, and organized in close collaboration with UNICEF, the event will focus on ending preventable child death through the survival of newborns, children and mothers and will convene 700 prominent leaders from government, the private sector, faith-based organizations and civil society to kick off a long-term, focused effort to save children’s lives.

Tackling Diarrhea, Pneumonia Could Save 2M Children, According To UNICEF Report

“Two million of the world’s poorest children could be saved by introducing routine vaccination programs against diarrhea and pneumonia,” according to a new report (.pdf) from UNICEF, BBC News reports (6/8). “Pneumonia and diarrhea account for nearly one-third of the deaths among children under five globally,” the Guardian writes, adding, “Nearly 90 percent of deaths from pneumonia and diarrhea occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia” (Tran, 6/8). The report “identifies a tremendous opportunity to narrow the child survival gap both among and within countries by increasing commitment, attention and funding,” according to a press release from UNICEF (6/8).

Dengue Fever Vaccine 'May Be In Sight,' Reuters Reports

Reuters reports on efforts to develop a vaccine for dengue fever, writing that “victory over … the intensely painful ‘breakbone fever’ … may be in sight.” Paris-based firm Sanofi “hopes for positive results in September from a key trial among children in Thailand that would set it on course to market a shot in 2015, which would prevent an estimated 100 million cases of dengue infection each year,” the news service writes, noting, “Of 20,000 annual deaths, many are of children.” According to Reuters, “Results from that clinical study, in what is known as the Phase IIb of the international standard three-stage process of assessment, are expected in the third quarter” and “will also be presented for scientific scrutiny at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta in November.”

Pakistan Looks To India For Guidance On Polio Eradication Efforts

“Impressed with India’s successful effort in polio eradication,” a nine-member Pakistani delegation on Thursday met India’s health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and senior officials of the Ministry to discuss the country’s polio eradication program, the Press Trust of India/Business Standard reports, noting that India achieved a polio-free status as of January (5/31). “‘The focus of our visit here was for us to learn firsthand from the government officials and partners exactly what it took for India to become polio free,’ leader of the Pakistan delegation, Shahnaz Wazir Ali, said,” the PTI/Times of India writes (5/31).

Bill Gates, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Discuss Collaborating On Health, Agriculture Programs

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on Wednesday “met Uttar Pradesh [UP] Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow,” India, where they “discussed health care programs in the state that Mr. Gates intends to take up through” the foundation, NDTV reports (Zanane, 5/30). The Gates Foundation will work with the state “on health and related developmental projects, particularly in the areas of maternal, neonatal, child health and telemedicine,” India Today writes (Srivastava, 5/30). According to NDTV, “A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be signed within two months between the UP government and the foundation, with the objective that the foundation shall provide technical, management and program design support in maternal, neonatal and child health, vaccination and other health- and agriculture-related programs” (5/30). “‘The foundation will also support the state in tackling health-related challenges by experimenting with new and innovative methods for effective behavioral changes, delivery of services and management of health systems,’ the UP CM said after meeting Gates,” the Daily Mail writes (Srivastava, 5/30).

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.”

Aeras, IDRI Partner To Develop Novel TB Vaccine

In a guest post on the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog, Jamie Elizabeth Rosen, media and communications manager at Aeras, interviews Steven Reed, founder, president, and chief scientific officer of the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), “a 120-person non-profit biotech committed to applying innovative science to the research and development of products to prevent, detect, and treat infectious diseases of poverty.” Aeras, “a non-profit biotech focused on developing vaccines against TB,” has partnered with IDRI to develop a novel tuberculosis (TB) vaccine candidate, Rosen notes and summarizes Reed’s responses to questions regarding TB vaccine development (Taylor, 5/29).

Implications Of Eradicating Polio, Or Failing To Do So, Go Beyond Public Health

In this Atlantic opinion piece, Rachel Hills, a freelance writer based in London, examines the WHO’s decision on May 25 to declare polio a public health emergency, “calling for the 194 member states to fully fund the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and fill the currently $945 million gap in its budget for 2012-13.” She writes, “Few people probably associate the phrase ‘global health emergency’ with polio, a disease that has been around for 5,000 years and is on a decades-long decline so steep that there are less than a thousand recorded cases left on Earth,” but “polio’s threat is still very real, and the mission to finally stamp it out forever is a crucial one for reasons even bigger than the disease itself.”

Al Jazeera Business Program Examines Fight Against Malaria

Al Jazeera’s “Counting the Cost” program on Saturday focused on the fight against malaria and the “business behind its treatment and prevention.” According to the program, progress against malaria “is being threatened in these tough economic times. There is a $3 billion shortfall in funding for malaria treatment and prevention.” The program reports on drug-resistant malaria strains in South-East Asia; examines a vaccine candidate under development by GlaxoSmithKline; speaks with Jo Lines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Christoph Benn of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria about the impact of the international financial crisis on the fight against the disease; and discusses a mobile phone app developed by a group of medical students that would help people receive a quicker diagnosis and treatment (Santamaria, 5/26).

Polio Eradication Must Not Fail

“[P]eople everywhere have a stake in eradicating polio, as we have stamped out smallpox,” a Bloomberg View editorial states, adding, “Immunizing the last unvaccinated children on the planet is an expensive and complex undertaking, and worth it in the long run.” The editorial notes, “If polio transmission could be stopped by 2015, the net benefit from reduced treatment costs and productivity gains through 2035 would be $40 billion to $50 billion, according to a 2010 study.”