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In The News

U.S. Senate Holds Hearing On Syrian Refugees; U.N. Appeals For Aid For Syrian Children

News outlets recap a U.S. Senate hearing held on Tuesday to examine the refugee crisis in Syria, as well as report on a U.N. appeal for aid to Syrian children and the delivery of medical supplies in the country.

VOA News: U.S. Aid for Syrian Refugees Examined, Criticized by Lawmakers
“U.S. officials say the Syrian refugee crisis is deepening and overwhelming the ability of aid providers to respond to a humanitarian disaster of horrific proportions. On Tuesday, U.S. lawmakers heard a sobering assessment from America’s top refugee and humanitarian aid officials and responded with impatient calls for more to be done…” (Bowman, 1/7).

The Hill’s Global Affairs Blog: Support grows for more Syrian refugees
“A Senate hearing on Tuesday revealed growing bipartisan support for allowing more Syrian refugees into the U.S. Lawmakers on the Judiciary human-rights panel pressed the Obama administration to relax standards that reject applicants who have supported armed factions, even ones the U.S. government itself supports. Members of both parties also urged passage of provisions of the stalled immigration reform bill that could help Syrians…” (Pecquet, 1/7).

C-SPAN Video: Syrian Refugees
“Diplomatic and security officials testified on the Syrian refugee crisis in which 2.3 million Syrians have fled the country since the outbreak of the civil war…” (1/7).

U.N. News Centre: U.N., partners seek $1 billion to save Syria’s children from becoming ‘lost generation’
“The United Nations and its humanitarian partners today appealed for $1 billion to save millions of Syrian children from becoming a ‘lost generation,’ doomed by the civil war in their country to a life of despair, diminished opportunities and broken futures…” (1/7).

WHO: WHO delivers more than 125 tons of medical supplies in Aleppo
“Over the past two weeks WHO delivered two shipments with more than 125 tons of medical equipment and medicines to health providers in Aleppo, Syrian Arab Republic — in both government-controlled and in opposition-controlled areas. All shipments contained surgical materials, medicines to treat chronic and infectious diseases, infant incubators, ventilators and intensive care unit (ICU) beds…” (1/7).

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U.K. MPs Criticize Timing Of DfID's Decision To End Aid To India, South Africa

The Guardian: U.K. MPs censure DfID over decision to end aid to India and South Africa
“The U.K.’s decision to end bilateral aid to India and South Africa by 2015 was ‘neither methodical nor transparent, but related to short-term political pressures,’ a group of MPs has said. … The committee accepted the rationale for sending aid to some middle-income countries and not others, but expressed concerns about the timing of the decisions on India and South Africa” (Tran, 1/7).

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Half Of CAR's Population Left Homeless, In Need Of Aid

News outlets report on the continuing strife in Central African Republic (CAR). The U.N. has resumed delivery of food aid to camps and aid organizations have begun a measles emergency response vaccination campaign.

Al Jazeera: U.N. warns CAR on brink of catastrophe
“U.N. officials are warning the Security Council that Central African Republic is on the brink of a catastrophe, with half the population made homeless since ethnic warfare broke out. U.N. political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman told the council on Monday that about 2.2 million people throughout the country need assistance, about half the total population…” (1/7).

Voice of America: U.N.: Half of CAR in Need of Aid
“The U.N. political affairs chief said the humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic is deteriorating at an alarming rate following a wave of sectarian violence. Jerry Feltman told the U.N. Security Council Monday that more than 935,000 people are now sleeping outside or in temporary spaces…” (1/7).

Reuters: Aid workers get food to airport camp in Central African Republic
“Aid workers in the Central African Republic finally delivered supplies on Tuesday to more than 100,000 people who have sought refuge at the airport outside the capital to escape religious violence that has gripped the country. … The initial delivery was for 2,400 families, or around 12,000 people, and there are plans to increase aid to cater for everyone at the camp. Aid workers said the food aid should last for two weeks, but inhabitants believed it would be enough to cover less than half that time” (Braun/Bigg, 1/7).

U.N. News Centre: Central African Republic: U.N. resumes food aid after machete attacks forced three-week halt
“The United Nations today resumed food aid for some 100,000 displaced people in Bangui, capital of the strife-torn Central African Republic (CAR), for the first time in nearly three weeks since deliveries were suspended when machete-wielding men stormed the distribution site and food was stolen…” (1/7).

Vaccine News Daily: WHO, partners begin measles campaign in CAR
“The World Health Organization, UNICEF and Médecins Sans Frontières contributed to an emergency response immunization campaign to control a measles epidemic that began on Friday in Central African Republic. … There were three cases confirmed near the Bangui airport and five cases at the Don Bosco Centre in Damala…” (Tinder, 1/7).

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Obesity Levels Rise In Developing World, Report Says

News outlets examine the recently released Overseas Development Institute (ODI) report on rising obesity levels in the developing world. The report urges governments to take action.

BBC News: Obesity quadruples to nearly one billion in developing world
“The number of overweight and obese adults in the developing world has almost quadrupled to around one billion since 1980, says a report from a U.K. think tank. The Overseas Development Institute said one in three people worldwide was now overweight and urged governments to do more to influence diets…” (1/2).

The Guardian: Obesity soars to ‘alarming’ levels in developing countries
“The extent of the world’s obesity epidemic has been thrown into stark relief as a report from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) puts the number of overweight and obese adults in developing countries at more than 900 million. … The report warns that governments are not doing enough to tackle the growing crisis, partly due to politicians’ reluctance to interfere at the dinner table, the powerful influence of farming and food lobbies and a large gap in public awareness of what constitutes a healthy diet…” (Tran, 1/2).

Xinhua: Overweight, obese population in developing world triples since 1980: report
“The overweight and obese adult population in developing nations has more than tripled since 1980, according to a report released Friday by the British Overseas Development Institute. … The figure has for the first time overtaken that in rich countries…” (Qui, 1/3).

NPR: Overweight People In Developing World Outnumber Those In Rich Countries
“…One-third of adults globally are now overweight compared with fewer than 23 percent in 1980, the report found. And the number of overweight and obese people in the developing world now far overshadows the number in rich countries…” (Beaubien, 1/3).

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Cost Of New Hepatitis C Drug Out Of Reach For Developing Countries

IRIN: Life-saving hepatitis C drug approved, but cost is high
“Following approvals in the U.S. and Europe this month of a new drug to treat hepatitis C, activists are pushing for the medication to be made available in poor countries, a development reminiscent of the activism that forced down HIV/AIDS drug prices a decade ago in Brazil, South Africa and Thailand…” (12/23).

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Taiwan's CDC Reports New H7N9 Case

News outlets report on the most recent case of avian influenza A(H7N9) virus reported in Taiwan in an elderly Chinese man.

RTT News: WHO: One Confirmed Case Of Human H7N9 Infection Reported In Taiwan
“The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that Taipei Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had notified it of a laboratory-confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) late last month…” (1/7).

TheJournal.ie: Chinese man in hospital with confirmed case of bird flu
“The World Health Organization has confirmed that an elderly Chinese man has been infected with avian flu. The 86-year-old man from Jiangsu on the eastern coast of China started to feel unwell while on a trip to Taiwan on 19 December…” (1/7).

WHO: Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus — update
“…The patient is an 86 year-old man from Jiangsu, China who travelled to Taiwan, Province of China, with a tourist group from 17-24 December. He felt uncomfortable on 19 December, and was admitted to a hospital on 24 December after being diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. … So far, there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission…” (1/7).

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Wellcome Trust Director Warns Against Antibiotic Resistance

The Guardian: Disease resistance to antibiotics at tipping point, expert warns
“The director of the Wellcome Trust has warned that resistance of disease to antibiotics has reached a tipping point at which it could creep into the U.K. almost without notice. Professor Jeremy Farrar said the effects would be gradual and would be seen not just in resistant new infections but in everyday medical practice and the treatment of everything from diabetes to minor wounds at risk of turning septic. … He called for more imaginative ways to incentivize the pharmaceutical industry, for example through changes to patents, and for regulation around clinical trials to be eased. He said access to antibiotics needed to be regulated as they were available over the counter at low cost in many countries…” (Siddique, 1/8).

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Philippines Sets Goal To Be Measles-Free By 2017

Filipino news outlets describe efforts against measles in the Philippines and a current outbreak in the capital of Manila.

Solar News: DOH sets measles-free PH by 2017
“…The Department of Health (DOH) sees a measles-free Philippines by 2017. … Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag says the World Health Organization could declare the Philippines measles free if no more than 100 measles cases are recorded in a year. A massive vaccination is set for September this year to help attain this target…” (Bonalos, 1/7).

Philippine Star: DOH exec: Measles cases in Metro Manila to rise further
“A Department of Health (DOH) official said the agency is expecting the number of measles cases in Metro Manila to increase further. Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said for every case of measles, up to 18 other individuals can get the virus…” (Bacani, 1/7).

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Azerbaijan Reports No Cases Of Malaria In 2013 For First Time

Azerbaijan Press Agency: For the first time in 2013 no one infected with malaria in Azerbaijan
“For the first time in 2013 no one was infected with malaria in Azerbaijan, APA reports. Deputy director of Republic Hygiene and Epidemiology Center Vagif Abdullayev said epidemiological stability regarding malaria has been recently achieved in the country thanks to the large-scale measures…” (Kamilgizi, 1/7).

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Health Experts, NGOs Encourage Use Of Midwives To Help Reduce India's Maternal Mortality

New York Times India Ink: To Lower Maternal Deaths, India Urged to Reconsider Role of Midwives
“… With more than 55,000 women in India dying from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications each year, health experts and non-governmental organizations are now pushing the government to re-incorporate midwives into the strained health care system by training them in modern childbirth practices and equipping them to handle complications … According to government figures released last month, India’s maternal mortality ratio, or the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, has fallen from 212 in 2007-09 to 178 in 2010-12. But it remains among the highest in the world and still significantly higher than the Millennium Development Goal target of 109, to be achieved by 2015…” (Vyawahare, 1/8).

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Exclusive Breastfeeding Is Best, But Challenges Remain In Swaziland

Inter Press Service: Breast Is Best, But Not in Swaziland
“…Exclusive breastfeeding — giving the baby nothing but breast milk — for six months is recommended by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), by [the Swaziland Infant Nutrition Action Network (SINAN)] and by the Ministry of Health. … Yet many women living with HIV are skeptical about breastfeeding in this impoverished southern African country. Only 17 percent of children aged four to five months are exclusively breastfed, says the most recent Demographic Health Survey…” (Phakathi, 1/7).

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Former U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby Rejoins Faculty At UCSF

SFGate: AIDS pioneer returns to S.F. with global expertise
“Dr. Eric Goosby started his medical career just as the AIDS epidemic was emerging in San Francisco. … Now he’s come home, a doctor and a diplomat defined both by his earliest exposures to the devastation of AIDS, and by the hard-fought campaigns he’s championed on a global scale. … [Goosby is] taking a faculty position on UCSF’s Global Health Sciences team. Goosby is starting a program focused on the scientific study of improving health care efficiency…” (Allday, 12/25).

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Editorials and Opinions

Efforts Against HIV/AIDS Must Address 'Stigma, Discrimination And Quality Of Care'

New York Times: The Missing Piece in the War on AIDS
Ellie Feinglass, a health and human rights consultant in sub-Saharan Africa

“Our strategy [against HIV/AIDS], if it is to be successful, must recognize that achieving universal access to care and treatment necessarily means addressing human rights barriers to health services. This will require confronting not only the challenges of physical distance and availability of diagnostics and drugs, but also of stigma, discrimination and quality of care. … As we push forward in the struggle to achieve the universal right to health care, we must call on governments, donors, and the NGO community to place real investment in the legal empowerment of the poor and to recognize this piece not as an add-on, but instead as vital as the medicine itself” (1/7).

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Violence In South Sudan Affecting NTD Efforts

Epoch Times: South Sudan Crisis Threatens to Derail Tropical Disease Efforts
James Smith and Pete Kingsley of the University of Edinburgh

“…South Sudan — after half a century of intermittent conflict and underdevelopment — is unique in suffering from virtually all of the World Health Organization’s list of [neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)] that are endemic to Africa, and in the highest concentrations. … Alongside the emergent crisis, a hub of instability has long persisted in bordering regions of northern Uganda, South Sudan and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Renewed violence in South Sudan, as well as in the neighboring Central African Republic (with the potential for more than a million people displaced between them) will undoubtedly degrade already limited disease control and the capability of the state and international organizations to treat people…” (1/7).

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Reports Outline Importance Of Addressing Cancer Burden Through Health Systems Change, Trade Rules

New York Times: The Global Cancer Burden
“Cancer is on the rise around the world and poses a particular threat in many low- and middle-income countries. … The findings [of a recent International Agency for Research on Cancer report] underscore the importance of strengthening the health care systems of low-income countries that are battling a host of disease problems. … The American Cancer Society issued a report last month that focused on Africa as a likely future epicenter of a tobacco epidemic. … If nothing is done to reduce smoking, the report estimates that adult smokers in Africa will soar to 572 million by 2100, up from 77 million today. That makes it imperative that international trade agreements uphold the ability of individual countries to regulate the sale and marketing of tobacco products within their borders…” (12/24).

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Shift Donor Funding, Encourage Trade To Improve African Food Security

SciDev.Net: African agriculture needs trade not aid
David Bennett, a senior member of St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge, U.K. and co-leader of the Biosciences for Farming in Africa program

“…[F]or any solution to food security to be truly sustainable, people have to move from depending on aid to depending on trade. That is the elephant in the room when it comes to Africa — clearly evident but all too frequently hidden away and not spoken about. … Top-down funding and hand-out donations are short-term solutions with consequences including an inability to establish longer-term planning. … Donors need to fund initiatives that really support people in achieving independence and self-reliance. … Donor funding should also be channeled into business advice and capital to help small businesses and ‘spin-out’ firms from universities and research institutions…” (12/31).

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Group In Cameroon Advocates Against Breast Ironing

The Guardian: Empowering girls to speak out against breast ironing
Gabriella Jozwiak, a freelance journalist and the Africa programs support volunteer at Y Care International

Jozwiak writes about “Came women and girls development organization (Came W&G), which encourages girls to advocate against the practice of breast ironing in Cameroon. … Came W&G focuses on empowering girls to break their silence. [Members] organize community meetings in the capital Yaoundé, where they share their physical and mental traumas. The group lobbies traditional leaders and government representatives for change, and carries out door-knocking to persuade mothers and young victims…” (1/7).

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Recent Releases

USAID Announces Award To Address Obstetric Fistula

“Taking one more step toward improving maternal health globally, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announces the award of the Fistula Care Plus Project to EngenderHealth and its institutional partner, the Population Council. … Fistula Care Plus is a five-year cooperative agreement with a ceiling of $74.49M. The overall objective of the project is to strengthen health system capacity for fistula prevention, detection, treatment and reintegration in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Activities will begin immediately in Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Niger, Nigeria, and Uganda,” according to a USAID press release (1/6).

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Essay Discusses Origins, Successes, Challenges Of PEPFAR

Harold Varmus, director of the National Cancer Institute, authors an essay, titled “Making PEPFAR: A Triumph of Medical Diplomacy,” in Science & Diplomacy that discusses the origins of PEPFAR, as well as the program’s challenges and successes. “A second essay to be published [in 2014] in Science & Diplomacy will cover … the Malaria Research and Training Center in Mali and the Uganda Cancer Institute…” (December 2013).

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Blog Reviews Recent IOM Report On Drug-Resistant TB

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reviews “the Institute of Medicine’s recent report on the global crisis of drug-resistant TB, itself a summary of a joint workshop hosted by the IOM and the Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing earlier [in 2013]. At the workshop, participants discussed the opportunities for emerging leadership in drug-resistant TB control from the BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — and discussed innovative strategies to advance efforts to address drug-resistant TB…” (Aziz, 12/23).

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Transparency Critical To Understanding Success Of Aid To Haiti

Writing in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Development: Views from the Center” blog, CGD Senior Fellow Vijaya Ramachandran and CGD Research Assistant Sneha Raghavan examine transparency in the disbursement of aid to Haiti over the four years since a devastating earthquake. “It is an outrage that four years after the quake in Haiti, we have almost no idea of where all the money has gone. Without data on procurement, expenditures, and outcomes, we cannot know what works and what does not…” (1/7).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has published Issue 234 of its “Global Fund Observer.” The issue includes an article on the approval of up to $253.8 million for the renewal of 16 grants for 13 applicants; a news story on the 2013 International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa; and a commentary on why the private sector should contribute more to the Global Fund, among other articles (1/8).

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