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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Private Sector Involvement In International Development Is Key

New Security Beat: A New Model of Development? The Role of Public-Private Partnerships in International Aid
“USAID funding is ‘far outstripped’ by private investment and business relationships in ‘nearly every country’ in which it works — and that’s a good thing, according to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah [at a Wilson Center panel event]. …This ‘new model of development,’ as Shah put it, ‘requires us to do things differently — to be more nimble and more flexible, to reach out to private sector partners at home and abroad, and to bring more engagement to tackle the kinds of problems we want to solve.’…” (Achenbach, 3/19).

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New Room-Temperature Vaccine Can Be 'Game-Changer' In Developing Countries

VOA News: Room-Temperature Vaccine Could Be Boon to Developing Countries
“Scientists have developed a revolutionary vaccine that does not require refrigeration or booster shots, making the so-called nanovaccine a potential ‘game-changer’ in curbing disease in the developing world…” (Berman, 3/19).

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Food Security, Malnutrition Worsen In CAR, U.N. Agencies Warn

Media outlets report on the worsening humanitarian crisis in Central African Republic (CAR).

U.N. News Centre: Urgent action needed to tackle food crisis in strife-torn Central African Republic – U.N.
“A senior United Nations relief official [Wednesday] stressed the need to act quickly to assist people suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition in the Central African Republic (CAR), after witnessing the alarming situation first-hand during a visit to the strife-torn nation…” (3/19).

World Food Programme: Central African Republic On Brink Of Catastrophe
“The Central African Republic is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe as violence forces more and more people to flee their homes and the national economy edges towards collapse. With local food systems breaking down, WFP and its partners are seeing cases of malnutrition multiply…” (Pompey, 3/19).

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Funding Shortage Causes WFP To Cut Programs In DRC

VOA News: WFP Cuts Food Rations for Millions in DR Congo
“The World Food Program says it will fall far short of its goal of feeding four million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo this year because of a severe funding shortage. It also warns it will have to drastically cut its current programs unless international donors respond to its appeal…” (Schlein, 3/18).

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Rwandan Health Drive Aims To Address Childhood Malnutrition

The New Times Rwanda: Two Million Children to Be Screened for Malnutrition
“The ongoing screening for malnutrition targets over 1.9 million children under the age of five. The drive, that started last Tuesday and is expected to end on April 4, is part of efforts to eliminate malnutrition-related ailments. It is being conducted at about 450 health centers countrywide. … ‘The screening will not only help us identify people who need treatment, but will also help look out for the most affected regions so that necessary intervention can be made,'” said Leopold Kazungu, the head of community-based nutrition programs at the Ministry of Health (Ngoboka, 3/19).

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Increasing Number Of Female Diplomats Shifting Policy Discussions To Include Women's Issues

Bloomberg News: U.N. Women Rise to Power; No Longer Mistaken for Prostitute
“… While women diplomats are still far from a majority at the U.N., they have reached a critical mass. … More female diplomats at the negotiating table could introduce a perspective their male counterparts may not share, especially when ‘grappling with policies having to do with war and peace that affect women…'” (Yoon, 3/19).

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Research Looks At Role Of Overpopulation In Global Health

Healthline News: Overpopulation: An Overlooked Factor in Global Health
“New research suggests that population growth is driving numerous global health crises, yet it’s rarely factored into the equation. The world’s population currently stands at 7.15 billion people and has the potential to double in the next 50 years. In the U.S., there’s one birth every eight seconds and one death every 12 seconds. With an ever-growing population on a finite earth, the issue of overpopulation should be a major concern when evaluating how we’ll be able to feed and care for the masses…” (Krans, 3/19).

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Falling Fertility Rates In Developing Countries Is Worrisome

Wall Street Journal: Slumping Fertility Rates in Developing Countries Spark Labor Worries
“Slumping fertility rates aren’t just a problem for wealthy countries anymore. … Thailand’s fertility rate has fallen to an average of just 1.6 children per woman, from seven in the 1970s, disrupting centuries of tradition in which children care for their parents. That is forcing political leaders to look for new sources of economic growth and community leaders to search for ways to make the elderly more self-sufficient…” (Hookway, 3/19).

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HIV/AIDS Action Plan Released By European Commission

Vaccine News Daily: EU releases updated Action Plan to fight HIV/AIDS in neighboring countries
“The European Commission released its Action Plan on HIV/AIDS on Friday that extends and builds on existing action established by the 2009-2013 Action Plan. The new plan puts greater focus on keeping HIV/AIDS as a priority on the political agenda, informing the public against HIV-related stigma and discrimination, as well as raising awareness against risk behavior. … The action plan also identifies at-risk populations that need additional support, such as prisoners and sex workers. The plan encourages improved cooperation with Eastern European Member States and addressing the relation of HIV/AIDS to tuberculosis and hepatitis…” (Clark, 3/19).

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Antiviral Drug 'Tamiflu' Found To Be Effective Against H1N1, Study Reports

News outlets report on a new study that finds the antiviral drug Tamiflu to be effective against H1N1 flu.

Reuters: Roche-backed study finds Tamiflu saved lives in flu pandemic
“Using Roche’s medicine Tamiflu saved lives during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic four years ago, according to a new scientific study published on Wednesday…” (Hirschler, 3/18).

OnMedica: Tamiflu reduced risk of death in H1N1 influenza pandemic
“Adults hospitalized with H1N1 influenza during the 2009-2010 pandemic were 25 per cent less likely to die from the disease if they were given antiviral drugs called neuraminidase inhibitors such as Tamiflu, according to a large meta-analysis published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal…” (Torjesen, 3/19).

HealthDay: Tamiflu Saved Lives During Swine Flu Pandemic, Study Confirms
“The antiviral drug Tamiflu reduced the risk of death by 25 percent among adults hospitalized during the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, according to a new review. Also, antiviral treatment within 48 hours of developing flu symptoms halved the risk of death compared with starting treatment later or receiving no treatment…” (Preidt, 3/19).

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Dengue 'Hot Spots' In Fiji Increase

The Fiji Times reports on a dengue fever outbreak in the country.

The Fiji Times: Dengue hot spots increase
“People living in the Western Division [of Fiji] are being urged to take the necessary precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus because cases are now being recorded outside identified high-risk areas. Fiji Red Cross Society resource development manager Dianne Masih-Reddy said feedback received from volunteers deployed across the division indicated that dengue cases were now being recorded in areas outside the designated ‘hot spots’…” (Chaudhary, 3/20).

The Fiji Times: Dengue still on the up
“There is yet no end in sight to the dengue fever outbreak afflicting the country [of Fiji] with the Health Ministry saying it cannot project an end until there is a steady decrease of cases every week…” (Tokalau, 3/20).

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Ending Child Marriage Sees Concerted International Push

Center for American Progress: Too Young: Helping Child Brides in the Developing World
“…The human implications of these almost medieval marriage practices around the globe are appalling. Such early marriage casts young girls into enormous peril, leaving them far more at risk of violence and abuse and often ending their hopes for education or better lives. For many young girls, child marriage is tantamount to life-threatening health risks, including exposure to HIV/AIDS. … And with child marriage comes child pregnancy – in no small part because young girls usually have the highest levels of unmet need for contraception. … [E]nding child marriage has become an increasingly high-profile advocacy effort around the world. … The concerted international push has led more countries to start changing their laws…” (Norris, 3/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

Ending Violence Against Women, Girls Is Key To Advancing Progress Toward MDGs

Huffington Post: Addressing Violence Against Women and Children Is Critical to Achieving an AIDS-Free Generation and the Millennium Development Goals
Catherine Russell, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues
Deborah von Zinkernagel, Acting U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator

“During this week’s 58th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the global community will come together to reflect on key achievements and challenges in advancing progress toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls. This provides an opportune moment to examine the impact of one such challenge: violence against women and girls. … The U.S. government and its partners are deeply committed to helping address violence against women and girls, including by supporting countries that want to tackle these issues head-on. This is critical not only to ensure that all individuals can participate fully and safely in their families and communities, but also can access HIV-related and other essential health services…” (3/19).

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Recent Releases

UNICEF Focuses On Children's Need For Safe Water

In anticipation of World Water Day on March 22, a UNICEF blog underlines the need to continue focusing on water and sanitation needs of children, and describes some of the programs taking place in the world’s poorest areas (Walker, 3/19).

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MSF Doctor Discusses Progress In TB Drug Development

As World TB Day approaches, Jennifer Hughes, a medical officer working for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)  on tuberculosis (TB) South Africa, discusses progress in developing drugs to treat TB. In an article on the organization’s website, she writes, “For the first time in fifty years, new drugs are being developed to treat TB. They represent great strides forward, but they can’t be used in isolation. TB is so powerful that you need a full cocktail of drugs to beat it. The only way to catch up to the new face of this old disease is to find new combinations of drugs that are simple, accessible and more tolerable than current treatment and can be implemented rapidly in countries where DR-TB is rife. … We need governments, donors, pharmaceutical firms and research organizations to walk the extra mile, to help deliver new, shorter and more effective treatment combinations — giving people a chance at a cure, a chance at a life…” (3/19).

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WHO Reports On Project That Quickly Diagnoses MDR-TB

A news release from the World Health Organization announces progress made by a new project that “helped to triple the number of MDR-TB [multidrug-resistant tuberculosis] cases diagnosed in participating countries. ‘Earlier and faster diagnosis of all forms of TB is vital,’ [said] Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. ‘It improves the chances of people getting the right treatment and being cured, and it helps stop spread of drug-resistant disease.’ … The project has delivered impressive results… Ministries of health are now working on securing domestic funding for the medium-term and working with partners to fill financing shortfalls for quality diagnostic tests and services” (3/20).

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'Science Speaks' Examines Impact Of Uganda's Anti-Gay Law On USAID Missions

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog discusses the implications of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law on USAID’s ability to carry out its programs in country, noting that “USAID Uganda Mission Director Leslie Reed sent a memo to the contractors, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies with which the mission works advising ‘that all external events, ribbon cuttings, workshops, launches and/or program close-outs now require USAID/Uganda pre-approval.’… ‘Now that the anti-homosexuality law has been enacted we’re continuing to look closely at the implications of the new law, and where appropriate, we have adjusted some activities and engagements while we are doing that,’ a U.S. State Department representative told reporters at a press briefing Tuesday…” (Barton, 3/19).

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Changes In Vaccine Distribution System Can Improve Health Of Children In Mozambique

In the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Bertur Alface, medical chief of Gaza Province in Mozambique, discusses changes in vaccine distribution and availability in the country. He notes, “It was not easy to convince policy makers in Gaza to change from a system that had been followed for more than 30 years to a new and innovative approach. I admit that initially there was some resistance, but, with time, good sense prevailed and with it came a readiness for higher quality of care to the community, particularly in rural areas at the last mile of service delivery. The evidence is there to justify the change. We have increased vaccine coverage and healthier children…” (3/17).

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Humanosphere Discusses Africa's Fertility Rate

In Humanosphere, development blogger Tom Murphy discusses the fertility rate in Africa, referencing a recent article by The Economist on the topic, as well as resulting responses. “Where everyone agrees is that contraceptives play an important role in reducing fertility. More importantly, is that they provide the opportunity for choice so that families can grow at a pace that is safest for the mother and child,” Murphy writes (3/18).

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Gates Blog Examines Cryptosporidium

Ibrahim Khalil, senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the Enteric & Diarrheal Diseases team, highlights Cryptosporidium in the Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “Cryptosporidium (Crypto) is an intracellular protozoan parasite that causes mild to severe infection known as cryptosporidiosis (crypto). Those infected with Crypto can develop persistent diarrhea and face risk of death from dehydration. … While Crypto presents many challenges, the Foundation is committed to reducing morbidity and mortality of children infected by this disease. Our goal is to accelerate development of new interventions, such as treatment or vaccines that will address the burden of this disease,” Khalil writes, listing three key goals to the Foundation’s approach (3/17).

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New Issue Of ‘Global Fund News Flash’ Available Online

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has published Issue 40 of its newsletter, the “Global Fund News Flash.” The issue features an article on the fund’s allocation methodology; an article highlighting a faith-based organization’s mission to defeat malaria; and an article featuring John Rae, a documentary and commercial photographer who works with the fund (3/20).

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