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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Malaria Maps Reveal High Risk Of Malaria In Africa

News outlets report on the findings of a study recently published in The Lancet on malarial infections in Africa.

Agence France-Presse: Malaria: High risk focused in 10 African countries
“Gains in fighting malaria in sub-Saharan Africa have left the highest risk for the disease concentrated in 10 countries, according to a study published on Wednesday by The Lancet medical journal. Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Guinea, and Togo together account for 87 percent of areas that have the highest prevalence of malaria, it said…” (2/19).

BBC News: ‘Keep focus’ on fighting malaria in Africa, doctors say
“Tackling malaria in Africa has had ‘great successes’ but the world must ‘not take the foot off the gas,’ doctors warn. Their detailed analysis of the disease, published in The Lancet, shows 184 million people still live in areas where more than half of children show signs of malarial infection…” (Gallagher, 2/19).

Wellcome Trust: Malaria maps reveal that 184 million Africans still live in extremely high-risk areas despite decade of control efforts
“Forty African countries showed reductions in malaria transmission between 2000-2010, but despite this progress, more than half (57 percent) of the population in countries endemic for malaria continue to live in areas of moderate to intense transmission, with infection rates over 10 percent. The findings are based on a series of prevalence maps for malaria published this week in The Lancet…” (Senthilingam, 2/19).

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USAID Launches Program In Zimbabwe To Strengthen Agricultural Sector

VOA News: USAID Targets Zimbabwe Food Shortages, Malnutrition
“The U.S. government has launched a five-year, $100 million program to assist more than a half-million hungry Zimbabweans. At the launch of the new program, which is aimed at strengthening Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton said Washington remained committed to the welfare of Zimbabweans…” (Mhofu, 2/19).

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Health Agencies Urge Nations To Implement Tobacco Control Measures

News outlets report on international health agencies’ efforts encouraging countries to implement tobacco control measures.

Caribbean360: Caribbean must adopt laws to control tobacco epidemic — PAHO
“The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is urging Caribbean countries to speed up the adaption of laws to control the tobacco ‘epidemic,’ saying that, despite progress in the countries of the Americas, the epidemic continues to grow. In a new report, PAHO, the regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO), said applying at least six measures could help prevent one million deaths annually…” (2/19).

Medical News Today: By 2050, WHO smoking controls could prevent 13 million deaths in China
“A report in the BMJ finds that if China implements World Health Organization guidelines on smoking, then almost 13 million smoking-related deaths will be avoided by 2050. China is the most populated nation in the world and accounts for about a third of the world’s smokers — more than half of all Chinese men smoke. China’s largely government-owned tobacco industry is also the world’s biggest producer of tobacco…” (McNamee, 2/19).

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Global Community Increasing Efforts To Stop Spread Of Drug-Resistant Malaria In SE Asia

IRIN: Stepping up the fight against drug-resistant malaria in SE Asia
“Efforts are being scaled up to stem a further spread of drug-resistant malaria in Southeast Asia. ‘The emergence of resistance … threatens worldwide malaria control and treatment since there is no alternative to [artemisinin] if its efficacy decreases further and the resistance spreads outside the region,’ wrote the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is providing some US$150 million for malaria prevention and elimination programs in the Greater Mekong sub-region within the next two years…” (2/20).

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News Outlets Continue Coverage Of Study Showing Meningitis Vaccine Needs No Refrigeration

News outlets continue coverage of a new study showing a meningitis vaccine remains stable and effective without refrigeration.

IRIN: Meningitis vaccine out of the cold
“A pilot meningitis A immunization campaign targeting more than 155,000 people in Benin with a vaccine that does not require constant refrigeration has demonstrated clear benefits, enabling wider reach, more efficient administration and potential cost reduction, researchers say…” (2/20).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Benin trial shows vaccine need not be kept cold, can cost less
“Research has shown that a meningitis A vaccine can survive high temperatures for up to four days, and could therefore reach more people in remote areas across the African continent and cost half as much as it does now, a paper in the scientific journal Vaccine reported on Wednesday…” (Hussain, 2/19).

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Women Should Play Leading Role In South Sudan Peace Talks, U.N. Official Says

VOA News: Women Bear Brunt of South Sudan Conflict, U.N. Official Says
“The head of the U.N. agency that fights for gender equality and the empowerment of women said Wednesday that women and children have borne the brunt of the conflict in South Sudan, and called for women to play a leading role at peace talks under way in Addis Ababa…” (Doki, 2/19).

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Syrian Refugee Women Need More Reproductive, Mental Health Services, Study Says

The Guardian: Female refugees from Syria ‘blighted by gynecological illness and stress’
“Syrian women who have fled to Lebanon are suffering severe stress and health problems including a high rate of preterm births and complications among those who are pregnant, according to a study. … Some of their health problems are linked to conflict-related stress, which also manifests itself in outbreaks of domestic violence. Some women reported being hit by their husbands and also lashing out themselves at their children, which they afterwards bitterly regretted…” (Boseley, 2/19).

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FGM Slowly Declining In Somaliland

Agence France-Presse: Extreme genital mutilation on retreat in Somaliland
“It is a ritual supposed to keep women ‘pure,’ but an increased understanding of the severe health risks of extreme forms of female genital mutilation appears to be slowly rolling back its prevalence in Somalia’s northwest…” (Vesperini, 2/20).

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Nepal Should Recognize Uterine Prolapse As Human Rights Issue, Amnesty Says

Reuters: Nepal must toughen fight on women’s ‘fallen womb’ crisis — Amnesty
“…Uterine prolapse — a medical condition in which the uterus is displaced from its normal position into the vagina — affects women worldwide but is more common in Nepal, where one in 10 is affected, rights group Amnesty International said on Thursday. Sometimes called ‘fallen womb’, the problem is a direct result of gender discrimination that deprives women of sexual and reproductive rights, Amnesty said in a report…” (Sharma, 2/20).

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Food Insecurity Widespread In Somalia, U.N. Says

Huffington Post: Somalia Hunger Crisis ‘Very Ominous’ As More Than 850,000 People Face Starvation: U.N.
“More than 850,000 people in Somalia are in desperate need of food and are grappling with ‘crisis and emergency conditions,’ the United Nations announced on Tuesday. Though Somalia doesn’t face the famine conditions that claimed 260,000 lives three years ago — and the country has made stability gains since then — other factors have exacerbated the current hunger crisis…” (Goldberg, 2/19).

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Child Malnutrition Continues To Challenge Rwanda, Despite Economic Gains

Xinhua: Child malnutrition remains serious challenge for Rwanda
“Chronic malnutrition among children remains a significant public health problem in Rwanda despite the remarkable economic progress the country has made over the past few years, said a report released here Wednesday. Three out of 10 children are suffering from malnutrition in Rwanda, said Fidele Ngabo, nutrition specialist and the maternal and child health director at the Ministry of Health…” (2/19).

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Survey Shows Gaps In Workplace Safety For S. African Health Care Workers

News sources highlight survey data presented recently showing gaps in workplace safety for South African health care workers.

Vaccine News Daily: South African health care workers at greater risk for HIV, TB
“South African health care workers have major gaps in workplace protection against HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis, according to a survey presented on Friday at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science…” (Tinder, 2/19).

University of British Columbia: South African health care workers face greater risk for TB, HIV
“A large-scale survey of South African health care workers has revealed major gaps in workplace protection against tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis, according to a University of British Columbia health researcher. Presenting findings today at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Dr. Annalee Yassi says issues such as confidentiality, stigma, technological capacity and staff training need to be addressed while improving hospital resources and protocols…” (2/14).

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SciDev.Net Features Podcast On HIV Treatment As Prevention In Africa

SciDev.Net: HIV treatment as prevention in Africa
“Ever since HIV emerged, public health teams have been trying different techniques to control it, from condoms and male circumcision to patient empowerment. But now a team from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom is testing a radical new approach in Southern Africa — one that focuses on treatment rather than prevention. Meera Senthilingam sent this report…” (Senthilingam, 2/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

WHO Pilot Projects On Neglected Diseases 'Should Be Stopped'

Nature: WHO plans for neglected diseases are wrong
Mary Moran, executive director of Policy Cures in Sydney, Australia

“After more than a decade of trying to find a way to fund research on diseases that affect the developing world, the World Health Organization (WHO) made a decisive move last month when it announced its first pilot projects. … The WHO is taking giant strides, but they are in the wrong direction. The projects are based on flawed logic and will waste time and money. Worse, this initiative could actively damage existing projects to develop such medicines. The WHO pilot should be stopped…” (2/19).

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Technical Director Reflects On Malaria Consortium's Decade Of Disease Control

The Guardian: Malaria Consortium reflects on a decade in disease control
Sylvia Meek, technical director of Malaria Consortium

“…We didn’t want to start up an organization just to duplicate what others were doing, but instead to fill a gap we had found. We felt impatient sometimes at what we felt were often over-theoretical debates: the debate, for example, over the merits of investing in malaria control versus health systems strengthening. We saw the importance of staying practical and continuously testing and improving service delivery. Malaria control needs strong health systems, and health systems need to serve a purpose. The weakest points in health systems are often where two elements collide and we aimed to bridge these points between research and implementation, facility and community, public and private…” (2/19).

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Recent Releases

Devex Reporters Discuss Public-Private Partnerships In U.S. Foreign Aid

Devex features a YouTube video with commentary from Michael Igoe, global development reporter at Devex, and Adva Saldinger, Devex Impact reporter, regarding a recent panel at the Wilson Center discussing the value of public-private partnerships for U.S. foreign aid. They highlight comments from USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, who said the majority of USAID’s partnerships are with local companies and actors (2/18).

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Ethiopian Government Working To Spread Benefits Of Family Planning

“…The Ethiopian Government’s leadership on family planning has been impressive, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Ethiopia is a culturally, religiously, and geographically diverse country. This diversity contributes to the complexity of expanding access to family planning and further complicates many of the challenges…,” Alisha Kramer, program manager and research assistant at the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ Global Health Policy Center, writes in the center’s “Smart Global Health” blog. Kramer is “in Ethiopia to examine the importance of family planning for women’s health and well-being, as well as the key role family planning plays in helping Ethiopia achieve broader health and development goals,” she notes (2/19).

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Integrating TB, HIV Programs Will Lead To Efficiency In Life-Saving Treatments

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog discusses findings of a “four-year South Africa study of co-infected patients [that] showed starting treatment for HIV during the course of anti-tuberculosis treatment, rather than waiting until TB treatment was completed, improved survival rates among those whose tuberculosis was responsive to first-line treatment.” Now, “[u]nder the funding model of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria this year, countries with high TB-HIV co-infection rates will be required to submit joint TB-HIV concept notes which present integrated and joint programming for the two diseases…” (Aziz, 2/19).

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PATH Blog Reports On MenAfriVac Study Results

Kathleen Donnelly, content manager for PATH, writes in the organization’s blog about “[t]he first mass vaccination campaign conducted in Africa with a vaccine that doesn’t require constant refrigeration … The MenAfriVac vaccine was developed through the Meningitis Vaccine Project, a partnership between PATH and the World Health Organization. It used a unique vaccine development model that aimed at providing an effective, affordable, and long-term solution to epidemic meningitis in the African meningitis belt, a large area that stretches across the continent from Senegal to Ethiopia…” (2/18).

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amfAR Announces More Than $2M In Cure-Focused HIV Research Grants

In a press release, amfAR announces a new round of research grants. “Shortly after launching the ‘Countdown to a Cure for HIV/AIDS,’ a research initiative aimed at finding a broadly applicable cure for HIV by 2020, amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, on Wednesday announced that it has awarded 12 grants to researchers in the United States and around the world to pursue cure-focused HIV research. The new grants total more than $2.15 million, the largest sum disbursed by amfAR focused on HIV cure research. This round of grants was supported by a donation of $720,000 from the Foundation for AIDS and Immune Research (FAIR)…” (Casas, 2/19).

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