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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.N. Appeals For Scale Up Of Health Funding In CAR

U.N. News Centre: Central African Republic: U.N. agency appeals for funding to scale up health response
“With about half of the health facilities in strife-torn Central African Republic (CAR) having been looted, the United Nations today appealed for immediate additional resources to scale up efforts to meet the country’s significant health needs…” (3/18).

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WHO To Certify SE Asia Region As Polio-Free

LiveMint: WHO to certify South-East Asia as polio free next week
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) will certify the South-East Asia region that comprises of 11 countries including India as polio free on 27 March. … South-East Asia will be the fourth geographical zone to join the polio free region of WHO after the Americas (1994), the Western Pacific (2000) and European region (2002)…” (Unnikrishnan, 3/18).

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WFP Airdrops Food Assistance To Remote Areas Of South Sudan

World Food Programme: WFP Airdrops Food In South Sudan
The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) announced in a press release that it “has started a series of urgently needed airdrops of food assistance to remote areas of South Sudan that are unreachable because of insecurity and other obstacles. WFP launched the operation to feed people affected by conflict and to resupply isolated refugee camps where food stocks have dwindled…” (3/18).

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WHO TB Elimination Strategy In China Helps To Reduce TB Prevalence

VOA News: China Cuts Number of TB Cases in Half
“Over the past 20 years, China has slashed its tuberculosis rate by more than 50 percent by broadly applying the World Health Organization’s strategy for TB elimination. Experts say the outcome is proof tuberculosis can be vanquished through an aggressive treatment program…” (Berman, 3/17).

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Closing Gender Gap Can 'Bolster Food Security' In Africa

The Guardian: Mind the gap: closing gender divide in African agriculture could reduce hunger
“Investing in childcare and adult education, and giving women farmers the same access as men to fertilizer and training, could significantly increase food production and improve their lives and that of their families, according to a report that highlights the deep-rooted gender gaps in Africa’s agricultural sector…” (Ford, 3/19).

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African Countries Aim To Educate People About Tobacco's Harmful Effects

Phys.org: Six African Countries Gather to Improve Tobacco Counter Marketing
“Health Ministry Representatives from Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda [Tuesday] joined a regional workshop to improve warnings on cigarette packs and anti-tobacco public education campaigns. … Every country represented at the workshop is a party to WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), but each needs to improve their implementation of tobacco control measures in order to achieve best practice, according to World Health Organisation’s Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2013…” (3/18).

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Gates Foundation To Accelerate Support To Nigeria For Primary Health Care, Agriculture

ThisDay Live/ allAfrica: Nigeria: Gates Foundation to Boost Health Care, Agriculture in North-east
“The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has agreed to boost primary health care and agriculture in Borno State and other states in the North-east area of [Nigeria], it was revealed Monday…” (Olugbode, 3/18).

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Multidrug-Resistant TB Poses Threat To Europe

Reuters: Europe failing to tackle drug-resistant tuberculosis
“Cases of tuberculosis are falling in Europe but a failure to properly diagnose and treat dangerous drug-resistant strains of the contagious disease means it is far from under control, health experts said on Tuesday. Every day, almost 1,000 people across the 53 countries of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) European region fall sick with TB, and multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB pose a serious risk to the goal of eliminating it by 2050, the experts said…” (Kelland, 3/18).

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Syria's Yarmuk Refugee Camp Gets U.N. Aid After Two-Week Halt

Agence France-Presse/The Daily Star: Syria’s besieged Yarmuk gets U.N. aid after two-week halt
“The U.N. Palestinian refugee agency on Tuesday resumed food distribution in the besieged Yarmuk camp in Damascus after a two-week halt. UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] spokesman Chris Gunness said aid workers distributed 465 food parcels in addition to bread and jam, as well as 2,000 doses of polio vaccines and 800 small cartons of baby formula…” (3/18).

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MSF Vaccinates More Than 50,000 Against Cholera In South Sudan

Sudan Tribune: S. Sudan: MSF vaccinates over 50,000 against cholera
“Over 50,000 internally displaced people, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said, were vaccinated against cholera during a week-long campaign it carried out in collaboration with South Sudan’s health ministry, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF)…” (3/18).

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Tanzania Anticipates Reduced HIV/AIDS Assistance To Have Negative Impact

Tanzania Daily News: Tanzania: Reduced AIDS Funding Worrisome
“Reduced funding on HIV/AIDS programs in the country, over the years, is feared to have bad effects on the epidemic as its response is highly dependent on foreign assistance. ‘About 95 percent of the funding for HIV and AIDS programs comes from foreign donors,’ the Arusha District Commissioner, Mr. John Mongella, said. He added that the move will hinder a planned treatment expansion and care services in Tanzania…” (Nkwame, 3/18).

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Local Research Should Be Applied To NTD Efforts In Indonesia, Scientists Say

SciDev.net: Diseases could stymie Indonesia’s future growth
“Now among the world’s twenty largest economies, Indonesia may encounter threats to its future growth owing to currently high rates of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) afflicting its citizens, a journal article warns…” (Rochmyaningsih, 3/18).

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Vision Impairment In India Is Preventable, But Treatment Not Always Accessible

GlobalPost: A common cause of blindness in India is preventable, but treatment is not always accessible
“… 8 million people are blind due to what’s called ‘refractive error,’ when the eye cannot clearly focus images, a condition that usually crops up in childhood. … Uncorrected refractive error is one of the most common causes of reversible blindness in India. [Although the WHO] imposes a mandate to correct refractive errors, there are inadequate infrastructure and human resources available to follow through on it in many developing countries…” (Boparai, 3/18).

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Study In India Finds That Home Treatment For Schizophrenia More Effective Than Institutionalization

New York Times: Schizophrenics and Home Care
“Home treatment for schizophrenics overseen by local health workers is more effective than institutionalization, a recent large study in India has found. …The study, underwritten by the Wellcome Trust and published this month in The Lancet, said it was the first of its kind, and an accompanying editorial called it a ‘milestone’…” (McNeil, 3/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.N. Women Works For Gender Equality

Huffington Post: Equality for Women Is Progress for All
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, U.N. Women

“…I am taking the lessons I learned from our struggle to end apartheid and establish democracy in South Africa to advance equality for the world’s girls and women as the head of U.N. Women. We are fortified by evidence that equality for women is progress for all. Countries with higher levels of gender equality perform better in education, health, and economic growth. Companies with more women managers have higher returns for shareholders. Peace agreements and national institutions that include women’s voices and concerns are more durable and democratic. In fact, the U.N. General Assembly has now acknowledged that alleviating poverty and disadvantage, securing peace, and achieving progress on all of the Millennium Development Goals depends upon the promotion of gender equality…” (3/18).

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Malawi President Joyce Banda Leads Campaign Against Sexual Violence

New York Times: Can One of Africa’s Most Powerful Women Stop Sexual Violence?
Patrick Adams, freelance journalist

“What hope is there for girls in Africa if, in the country led by one of the most powerful women on the continent, rape is repeated with ‘terrifying regularity’? That’s how UNICEF has described the situation in Malawi, where the low status of girls, limited access to the justice system and a taboo around talking about sex has given way to an epidemic of abuse and high rates of child marriage. … Few leaders could offer more hope to the girls and women of their country than the president of Malawi, Joyce Banda. … As president, Banda has made it a priority to improve women’s health, most notably through a new initiative to reduce maternal mortality…” (3/18).

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Global Health Innovation Should Strike Balance Between Health Systems, Interventions

Huffington Post: The Best Buys in Global Health: Striking the Effective Balance
Karl Hoffman, president and CEO of PSI

“A ‘best buy’ in global health is an idea that can easily lead us to focus on a single intervention, a silver bullet in the fight to improve health outcomes around the world. … Innovation in both the development of new technologies and better delivery methods is critical. But here’s where it gets more complex: An intervention must be designed from the perspective of the health consumer, and it must be affordable and have an effective delivery system. There must be political will and the right policies must be in place. And yes, there must be adequate and flexible funding available. To achieve this, we’re tasked with being good advocates, fundraisers, inventors and systems thinkers…” (3/18).

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Recent Releases

MSF Releases Briefing Paper On Drug-Resistant TB

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) released a new briefing paper on Monday which “outlines why the alarming spread of deadly strains of drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) is one of the biggest global health threats we face today. [The paper] calls on governments, pharmaceutical companies, and researchers to mobilize urgently to save more lives and find new treatments to stem the virulent disease…” (3/17).

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UNAIDS Releases Brief On Harm Reduction To Reduce HIV Transmission

In a feature story on its site, UNAIDS writes, “Injecting drug use continues to drive the HIV epidemic in many countries around the world. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2013 it was estimated that between 11 million and 22 million people inject drugs globally and that 1.6 million (1.2 million–3.9 million) were living with HIV. … Addressing participants at the High-Level Segment of the 57th U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé emphasized the urgent need to provide effective services. … As part of its continuing work to demonstrate the benefits of actively scaling up quality programs that are based on human rights and public health needs, UNAIDS released an advocacy brief… [which] gives examples from around the world on the importance of investing in HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programs for people who use drugs; the need to engage people who use drugs in program development; and the importance of implementing strong and effective harm reduction programs” (3/18).

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Blogs Discuss WASH In Recognition Of World Water Day

Courtney McGuire with the Children Without Worms and the International Trachoma Initiative writes in the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog, “Saturday, March 22 is World Water Day—an important occasion not just for the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector, but for the neglected tropical disease (NTD) sector as well. Without WASH, we won’t be able to defeat NTDs such as soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, and Guinea worm. Now, efforts to better coordinate the work of both sectors have new support with resources such as the WASH/NTD toolkit…” (3/18). The PLOS “Speaking of Medicine” blog notes, “This coming Saturday marks the 22nd year that the United Nations General Assembly has recognized March 22 as World Water Day. In observation of this special day, we would like to take a look back at a few of the articles PLOS Medicine, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, and PLOS Pathogens have published on the importance of clean water to human health…” (3/18).

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New Dollar-A-Dose Rotavirus Vaccine Attains Clinical Success In India

Stanford Medicine’s “Scope” blog discusses results of a study recently published in The Lancet on the efficacy of a rotavirus vaccine in India. The vaccine was spearheaded by an Indian biotechnology company, Bharat Biotech, and “has leaped the safety and efficacy thresholds of a late-stage clinical trial, in which more than 6,500 Indian infants were inoculated, and will likely become available in that country for less than a dollar a dose. … [T]he effort to capitalize on this promising episode of serendipity drew financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and technical assistance from the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology, the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Stanford, among others. This international team of collaborators then spent more than 15 years turning the promise into a reality” (Goldman, 3/17).

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Universal Access To Hepatitis C Treatment Is Possible, Blog Says

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog discusses a report from international humanitarian nonprofit Médecins du Monde on strategies for achieving universal access to Hepatitis C treatments. The report “calls 2014 a ‘turning point’ in the history of the pandemic disease… [and]… focuses on a familiar obstacle… the costs of the new treatments put them almost universally out of reach.” The blog also comments on an article in Clinical Infectious Diseases that “breaks down the cost of manufacturing the drugs and concurs that the ‘situation of HCV [Hepatitis C Virus] treatment today is reminiscent of treatment for HIV/AIDS in the year 2000’…” (Barton, 3/18).

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