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In The News

U.N. Humanitarian Resolution On Syria Threatened After Russia, China Fail To Show Up

News outlets report on talks surrounding a U.N. humanitarian resolution on Syria, which threaten to unravel after Russian and Chinese representatives failed to show up on Monday.

Agence France-Presse: U.N. to press Russia on Syria humanitarian resolution
“U.N. diplomats resumed the task of trying to persuade Russia to back a new humanitarian resolution on Syria on Monday, after earlier efforts met with a firm refusal…” (2/10).

New York Times: Russia and China Skip Security Council Meeting on Humanitarian Aid to Syria
“The morning after an aid convoy came under fire when it tried to reach a besieged Syrian city, a meeting here on a draft resolution that would force all parties in the bloody conflict to allow access for humanitarian organizations fell apart when representatives from Russia and China failed to show up, United Nations Security Council diplomats said…” (Sengupta, 2/10).

Reuters: Russia, China snub U.N. talks on draft Syria aid access resolution
“Russia and China on Monday rebuffed the United States, France and Britain and other states by failing to attend negotiations on a draft U.N. Security Council resolution to boost aid access in Syria, diplomats said. Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan on Thursday presented their draft to the five veto-wielding council powers and were due to meet with them on Monday, but Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, and Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi did not attend…” (Nichols/Charbonneau, 2/11).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Syria war turns the clock back 30 years — Egeland
“The war in Syria has undone 30 years of progress in humanitarian work and has sent a dangerous message that mass murder can be carried out with impunity, said former humanitarian chief Jan Egeland…” (Migiro, 2/10).

Wall Street Journal: Homs Siege Sets Grim Tone for Peace Talks
“Hundreds of the sick and starving trapped here by civil war were rescued this weekend after a United Nations convoy rolled through mortar shells and sniper bullets into this besieged city, setting a grim tone as peace talks resumed in Geneva on Monday…” (Dagher, 2/9).

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USAID Continues To Pursue Country Strategies Under Reform Agenda

Devex: USAID continues country strategy rollout, pushes deadline to end of 2014
“In line with its USAID Forward reform agenda, which aims to transform the way the largest U.S. aid agency does business, the U.S. Agency for International Development continues to prepare five-year country development cooperation strategies for the 64 countries where it operates…” (Troilo, 2/10).

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USAID Administrator Shah Says New Farm Law Will Feed More Abroad

Associated Press/Washington Post: USAID says new farm law to boost food aid abroad
“U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah says changes to the way the United States distributes food aid could help feed 800,000 more people abroad, many of them Syrian refugees. The changes come in a wide-ranging farm law signed by President Barack Obama last week. A recent bipartisan budget agreement would also help pay for the aid…” (2/11).

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Afghan Capital Kabul Sees First Polio Case Since 2001

News outlets report on the first polio case detected in the Afghan capital of Kabul since 2001.

Associated Press: Afghan capital sees 1st polio case since 2001
“Afghan officials have launched a polio vaccination campaign after a young girl from Kabul was diagnosed with the disease — the capital’s first case since the fall of the Taliban in 2001…” (2/10).

BBC News: Afghanistan polio: First case in Kabul since 2001
“An Afghan girl has been diagnosed with polio in Kabul — the capital’s first case since the Taliban’s fall in 2001. The health ministry ordered a vaccination campaign across the capital after the three-year-old was diagnosed…” (Lyon, 2/10).

Reuters: First case of polio discovered in Kabul since 2001
“A three-year-old girl has been diagnosed with the first case of polio since 2001 in the Afghan capital Kabul, the Ministry of Public Health said on Tuesday…” (Donati/Harooni, 2/11).

The Telegraph: Kabul records first polio case since 2001
“A three-year-old girl has been diagnosed with polio in Kabul, sparking a city-wide vaccination effort by the authorities…” (Malkin, 2/11).

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Security Fears Might Force Tightening Of Aid Efforts Following U.S. Troop Drawdown In Afghanistan

Associated Press: Troop departure weighs on U.S. aid in Afghanistan
“Uncertainty over how many U.S. troops might remain in Afghanistan beyond this year has trickled down to American diplomats and aid workers, whose efforts to develop the still mostly primitive country face a drawdown of their own because of security fears…” (Jakes, 2/11).

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Gender Equality Should Be Fully Integrated Into Post-2015 Agenda, U.N. Official Says

U.N. News Centre: Gender equality must be enshrined in all post-2015 development goals — U.N. rights chief
“The United Nations committee mandated to ensure compliance with the global treaty to end all forms of discrimination against women opened a new session today with a call for gender equality to be fully integrated into the post-2015 agenda…” (2/10).

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Aid Groups Face Challenges To Food Aid Delivery In South Sudan

VOA News: Aid Groups Tackle ‘Mammoth Challenge’ of Feeding South Sudan
“Aid agencies are battling against time and danger to their staff on the ground in South Sudan to deliver emergency food aid to millions of people in need around the young country as it struggles to recover from weeks of violence, officials said Monday…” (Green, 2/10).

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Developing Nations Ask For Affordable Hepatitis C Drug

New York Times: Poor Nations Seek New Hepatitis C Drug
“Now that wealthy nations have a simple pill regimen that can cure hepatitis C, calls are mounting from representatives of poor nations for the same drugs…” (McNeil, 2/10).

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Number Of H7N9 Cases In China Will Continue To Rise, Officials Say

News outlets report on the continuing outbreak of H7N9 avian influenza on mainland China, where officials say the number of cases will continue to grow.

Global Dispatch: Chinese officials predict more human H7N9 avian flu cases
“With a large spurt of new human H7N9 avian influenza cases reported so far in 2014, at least 120 news cases since Jan. 1, Chinese health officials predict that reports of the novel virus will continue on the mainland, according to a Xinhua report today…” (2/10).

Naharnet: Govt: January Worst Month in China’s Human H7N9 Outbreak
“A total of 31 people died from H7N9 bird flu in mainland China in January, the government announced Monday, making it by far the worst month in the outbreak. There were a total of 127 confirmed human H7N9 cases in January, according to a statement by the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC)…” (2/10).

Radio Free Asia: Bird Flu Cases Up in China But No Human-to-Human Spread Seen
“As the number of newly reported bird flu cases rose sharply in China, experts and officials say there is still no sign that the recent strain of avian influenza is being transmitted between people…” (2/10).

WHO: Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus — update
“The National Health and Family Planning Commission of China has notified WHO of seven additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus, including one death…” (2/11).

Xinhua: China predicts more H7N9 infections
“Health experts predicted more H7N9 cases in the near future after east China’s Anhui Province reported a new death from the virus on Monday, according to health authorities…” (2/10).

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Number Of Winter-Related Illnesses Rising In Northwest Pakistan, Doctors Report

Reuters: Doctors say health crisis growing in Pakistan’s remote northwest
“Already enduring frequent attacks on militants by U.S. drone aircraft, a Taliban insurgency, sectarian violence and poverty, Pakistanis in the remote northwest face a new enemy: an unusually bitter winter. A growing number of cases of pneumonia, hypothermia and other winter illnesses are stretching the few health facilities, says medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)…” (Zahra-Malik, 2/11).

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Pregnant Mexican Women Turned Away From Hospitals Highlight Shortfalls In Country's Health Policies

Miami Herald: Turned away, Mexican women giving birth outside hospitals
“…Seven times since mid-2013, women have given birth on the lawns or steps of hospitals or health clinics in the states of Oaxaca and Puebla. … The cases almost always involve darker-skinned women — mostly indigenous, as Mexico’s native groups are known — and they’ve laid bare the discrimination that some patients say underlies Mexico’s health care system. … But the cases also expose shortcomings in policies that have swamped hospitals with routine pregnancies that could be cared for in health clinics or even at home with the help of midwives…” (Johnson, 2/10).

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PBS NewsHour Examines HIV Cure Research Efforts

PBS NewsHour: In search of a cure, scientists look for where HIV hides
“While scientists and doctors have hopes of helping the 34 million people infected with HIV live disease-free, some basic questions remain about the virus, like where it hides in the human body. Special correspondent Spencer Michels reports on the latest steps in the search for an AIDS cure and renewed support from the government…” (2/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S., French Presidents Note Shared African Development Goals In Washington Post Commentary

Washington Post: Obama and Hollande: France and the U.S. enjoy a renewed alliance
U.S. President Barack Obama and French Republic President François Hollande

“…Perhaps nowhere is our new partnership on more vivid display than in Africa. … Across the continent, from Senegal to Somalia, we are helping train and equip local forces so they can take responsibility for their own security. We are partnering with governments and citizens who want to strengthen democratic institutions, improve agriculture and alleviate hunger, expand access to electricity and deliver the treatment that saves lives from infectious diseases. Our two countries were the earliest and are among the strongest champions of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. … For more than two centuries, our two peoples have stood together for our mutual freedom. Now we are meeting our responsibilities not just to each other — but to a world that is more secure because our enduring alliance is being made new again” (2/10).

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New York Times Publishes Editorial, Commentary On Humanitarian Efforts In Syria

The New York Times features an editorial and a commentary on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in conflict-ridden Syria.

New York Times: The Message From Homs
“In the last four days, at least 800 people — mostly women, children and the elderly — have been evacuated from Homs, one of Syria’s most embattled cities in what was an important, yet pathetically incomplete, humanitarian pause in the fighting. … Thousands more remain in Homs, and millions more around the country are under attack and being denied food, medicine and other necessities. Meanwhile, even with the truce, civilians and aid workers remain at serious risk. … Synchronizing all these moving parts [to find a solution] will not be easy, but the tragedy in Homs is just one more reason the effort should be made” (2/10).

New York Times: Use Force to Save Starving Syrians
Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi, the associate director and director, respectively, of the Center for Middle East Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver

“…Any armed group that prevents humanitarian access — whether the Syrian regime’s forces or rebel militias — should be subject to coercive measures. … An external, international force must be introduced to guarantee the safe passage of food and medicine to starving Syrian civilians. … Using force to prevent starvation will not immediately resolve the crisis in Syria. It will, however, make a qualitative difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians. It will also send a clear message to the Syrian regime and the extremist militias: The international community, after three years of watching this moral and humanitarian catastrophe unfold from the sidelines, is finally prepared to act” (2/10).

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'Grand Convergence,' Strategic Investments In Health Are Critical For SDGs

LiveMint: Towards a single health goal
K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India and a member of the Commission on Investing in Health

“…The commission believes that infectious diseases, maternal and child health — which constitute the grand convergence — together with some key elements of non-communicable diseases must constitute the bare essential package that every country must invest in. As resources progressively increase, they can expand the benefit package. The preferred pathway is a public-financed program of universal health care without levying user fee[s]. This is going to be pro-poor, not because they target the poor but because these conditions affect the poor the maximum” (2/11).

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Men Must Be Engaged In HIV Response

The Standard: Eliminating pediatric HIV, men should play a part
Moses Mugugunyeki, an editor at The Standard

“…Zimbabwe is making headway in achieving its Millennium Development Goal of reducing new HIV infections by half by the year 2015. … The role of men in society is unquestionable. It is for this reason that men should take their place in the HIV response, both for their own health as well as in support of women and children. … According to the research, there is lack of men participation in PMTCT and community leaders should take it upon themselves to ensure men’s engagement in preventing pediatric HIV” (2/9).

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Recent Releases

Free Health Care Does Not Equate To Better Health

“…Like insurance, removing user fees reduces the direct costs of health care. But reducing the direct costs of care generally hasn’t — on its own — improved health. Free care or insurance thus seems a necessary but not a sufficient condition for improving health outcomes. Here’s why…,” Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), writes in the center’s “Global Health Policy” blog (2/10).

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Health Workers Will Play 4 Key Roles In Post-2015 Era

In the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Rebecca Kohler, senior vice president of corporate strategy and development at IntraHealth International, “propose[s] a new vision for the essential roles that successful health workers will play in a post-2015 world. This is a vision of a fully empowered and engaged health worker, in control of her own career path and able to thrive in the 21st century.” These roles include: “the lifelong learner,” “the change agent,” “the technologist,” and “the networker” (2/7).

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Letter To Ugandan President Highlights Impact Anti-Gay Laws Have On Public Health

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog highlights a “letter from physicians, researchers and academics explaining the science of sexual orientation and the impact of laws criminalizing homosexuality.” The letter “appeared as a full page ad in a Uganda newspaper last week [and] went directly to Uganda President Yoweri Museveni … The bill, the letter says, ‘blatantly defies highly corroborated scientific evidence and it would have a harmful impact on public health [and] human rights’…” (Barton, 2/10).

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Blog Examines Debate Surrounding High Cost Of Hepatitis C Drug

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog summarizes ongoing debate surrounding the high cost of a newly approved and highly effective treatment for Hepatitis C. “…[T]he drug shortens treatment for chronic hepatitis C from 48 weeks to 12, and offers a 90 percent cure rate, at more than $80,000 for a course of treatment,” the blog notes (Barton, 2/10).

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