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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Improving WASH For Better Health

In advance of World Water Day on Saturday, March 22, news outlets discuss WASH.

The Guardian: The water-energy-food nexus: experts tackle the complexities
“The triple challenge of energy supplies, water stress, and food security is becoming increasingly important at a global level. In a recent live chat on the water-energy-food nexus, experts shared positive, practical examples of policy and on-the-ground projects happening now and commented on what the future holds…” (LaBrecque, 3/19).

The Lancet: Breaking the cycle: drought and hunger in Kenya
“Aid to Kenya responds to the country’s recurrent food crises but it fails to address the underlying infrastructure problems that could prevent such emergencies. … [D]espite repeated promises by international donors that they want to address the underlying conditions that lead to yearly malnutrition in so much of sub-Saharan Africa, the basic lack of infrastructure — water, sanitation, and roads — at the root of these chronic emergencies remains unaddressed…” (Loewenberg, 3/19).

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Poor Diagnosis Aids In Spread Of Drug Resistant TB

Reuters: Poor diagnosis driving global multidrug-resistant TB, WHO warns
“… Latest data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which says drug-resistant TB is a ‘global health security risk’, showed a third of the estimated 9 million people who contract TB in any form each year do not get the care they need…” (Kelland, 3/20).

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CDC Report Marks TB Progress In U.S.

News outlets report on a new report from the CDC on tuberculosis in the U.S.

NPR: Screening Immigrants For TB Pays Dividends In U.S.
“Hundreds of people with tuberculosis wishing to come to the U.S. have been stopped before they reached U.S. borders, says a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physicians overseas picked up more than 1,100 cases in prospective immigrants and refugees prior to their arrival in the U.S. The cases include 14 people with multidrug-resistant TB, the CDC says…” (Neel, 3/20).

HealthDay: Tuberculosis in U.S. Hits Record Low: CDC
“Rates of tuberculosis in the United States are falling, with cases at a historic low, health officials reported Thursday…” (Reinberg, 3/20).

Science Speaks: TB successes and challenges in U.S. reflect those abroad
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recognizing next week’s World TB Day with a report documenting continued progress against tuberculosis … in the United States, along with [a] troubling trend. … [T]he proportion of the impact of tuberculosis on people born outside of the United States is increasing, with their rate of the disease about thirteen times that of people born here…” (Barton, 3/20).

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Intra-Regional Trade In West Africa Can Improve Food Security

IRIN: Trading away West Africa’s hunger
“Severe food shortages in the Sahel and West Africa are often the result of droughts and poor harvests. But inefficient intra-regional trade also places significant strain on food availability, exacerbating hunger. Poor roads and railways, high transaction costs, lack of sufficient market information, incoherent trade policies by governments, and bureaucratic hurdles are among limitations to free trade in West Africa…” (Bakano, 3/20).

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WFP Distributes Food In Drought-Stricken Haiti

Associated Press: U.N. agency in Haiti distributes food amid drought
“Aid workers in Haiti have begun distributing food to help some of the Caribbean nation’s poorest people cope with a severe drought, an official with a United Nations agency said Thursday. The World Food Program on Wednesday began handing out cereal, vegetable oil, and iodized salt to 10,000 people in towns in the northwestern peninsula of Haiti, WFP program chief Antoine Renard said…” (Daniel, 3/20).

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For First Time, U.N. Convoy From Turkey Carries Aid To Syria

U.N. News Centre: First U.N. humanitarian aid convoy from Turkey sets out for Syria
“A United Nations convoy carrying vital humanitarian supplies for hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need in northern Syria is leaving today from Turkey, the first time in the three years of the conflict that aid is being transported via this route…” (3/20).

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Fighting Polio In Syrian Child Refugees

Science Magazine: A War Within a War
Syrian refugee children “have witnessed horrors in the course of the war, which has killed an estimated 140,000 people and displaced 8 million or 9 million. … And now they face the threat of polio, which erupted in Syria last October after a 15-year absence and has already paralyzed at least 37 kids—exact numbers are contentious — mostly in the opposition-held north. ‘It’s an emergency within an emergency,’ says Australian polio expert Chris Maher — not just for Syria, where millions of kids are at risk, but for surrounding countries as well, including Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq, as refugees pour across their borders…” (Roberts, 3/21).

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GOP Leaders In House Aim To Boost Philippines Typhoon Recovery Efforts

The Hill: House looks to boost Philippines typhoon recovery efforts
“Republican leaders in the House next week are expected to call up legislation aimed at increasing monetary donations to the Philippines, which last year suffered one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded in that region of the world. GOP leaders will call up the Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act, H.R. 3771, under a suspension of House rules. The legislation would let people make tax-deductible donations through April 15 of this year to help the Philippines recover from Typhoon Haiyan and still deduct those donations from their 2013 tax bill…” (Kasperowicz, 3/20).

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Mental Health Issues Result From Liberia's 14-Year Civil War

GlobalPost: The lingering wounds of Liberia’s 14-year civil war
“In Nimba County, northeastern Liberia, the most visible signs of the country’s 14-year civil war are finally fading. … But the deepest wounds of the conflict are difficult to see and slower to heal. They are the psychological scars of war, and even after a decade of peace they are crippling people [of] this small African nation. … According to the World Health Organization, as many as 85 percent of people with serious mental illness in the developing world have no access to treatment. And by 2030, the WHO predicts that depression will be the leading cause of death and disability worldwide…” (Raskin, 3/20).

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Scientists To Use Climate Factors To Forecast Disease Outbreaks In Sahel

Reuters: Wind and dust can predict Sahel meningitis outbreaks — scientists
“Scientists may soon be able to forecast disease outbreaks in sub-Saharan African’s ‘meningitis belt’ using weather data — and use that to plan early vaccination drives to prevent or limit casualties…” (Mintz, 3/20).

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New Virus In China May Be Cause Of Death Of 3 Mine Workers

Science News: A New Killer Virus in China?
“In June 2012, three men removing slag from a derelict copper mine in southwestern China fell ill with severe pneumonia and died. Six months later, researchers went spelunking in the mine—an artificial cave hewn from a hillside—in search of pathogens. After taking anal swabs from bats, rats, and musk shrews living in the cave, the team has discovered what it says is a new virus that may have felled the workers…” (Stone, 3/20).

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Editorials and Opinions

Global Hunger Is Solvable If U.S. Invests In Women

Roll Call: Women Key to Ending Global Hunger
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Ritu Sharma, co-founder and president of Women Thrive Worldwide

“… The Global Food Security Act promotes sustainable, lasting solutions to hunger and poverty. And it does so by targeting our efforts to where they will have the biggest impact: empowering women and local communities. Hunger is a solvable problem. The U.S. has a unique opportunity to partner with women around the world to create long-term food security for all. We must seize this opportunity to invest in women, improve the health of millions of people, and promote stability and security around the world” (3/21).

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Better Aid Needed To Prevent Starvation In CAR

Huffington Post: Act Now to Stop Mass Starvation in Central African Republic
William Lambers, author and member of the Feeding America Blogger Council

“Ertharin Cousin, director of the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), is urging the world to help the starving people of the Central African Republic. … For what Cousin and her staff are witnessing is a humanitarian tragedy. They know it will get much worse unless the world listens to the cries for help. WFP, which relies on voluntary funding, has received so little in donations that it has not been able to preposition food for the rainy season. This is the time of year when roads are washed out and food supplies cannot move. The U.N. food agency is taking on a dangerous hunger relief mission…” (3/20).

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Recent Releases

Kaiser Family Foundation Releases Analysis Of FY15 Budget Request

The Kaiser Family Foundation on Thursday released a new budget analysis that reviews the President’s fiscal year 2015 budget request. The analysis “finds that if Congress approves the President’s fiscal year 2015 budget request, global health funding would be impacted more than other areas of the budget when compared to broader budgetary trends,” according to an email alert from the foundation. “The budget request specifies $9.4 billion in total known funding for global health programs, $350 million less than the amount Congress authorized for the current fiscal year. Within the largest global health account (covering $8.1 billion of the total), malaria and family planning and reproductive health are the only two program areas that would receive increases. Bilateral HIV funding through PEPFAR is flat, while all other program areas would face decreases…” (Kates/Wexler, 3/20).

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UNICEF Marks World Water Day

In a press release observing World Water Day, which takes place every year on March 22, UNICEF notes, “The MDG target for drinking water was met and passed in 2010, when 89 per cent of the global population had access to improved sources of drinking water — such as piped supplies, boreholes fitted with pumps, and protected wells. Also in 2010, the UN General Assembly recognized safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right, meaning every person should have access to safe water and basic sanitation. However, this basic right continues to be denied to the poorest people across the world…” (3/21).

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Blogs, Publications Mark World TB Day

Publications and blogs highlight issues related to the spread of tuberculosis (TB) in advance of World TB Day on Monday, March 24. The Lancet discusses progress made in controlling TB since the the WHO declared it a global health emergency in 1993 (Herbert et al., 3/22). In a post in the BMJ Group Blog, Goodman Makhanda, who lives in South Africa and was diagnosed with XDR-TB last year, and Jennifer Hughes, a medical officer working for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on TB in South Africa, discuss drug-resistant TB and treatment (3/20). Stacie C. Stender, an infectious disease expert at Jhpiego and vice chair of the Coordinating Committee of Scientific Activities of the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease, examines efforts and challenges in the response to TB in a post on Jhpiego (3/20).

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'Science Speaks' Blog Reports On New GHIT Grants

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports that the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT) announced a $5.65 million grant to develop a vaccine for tuberculosis, along with other grants to develop drugs for neglected diseases (Barton, 3/20).

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Financing The MDGs Continues To Prove Challenging

Seton Hall University’s “Global Health Governance” blog examines progress made on the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and points out how “funding continues to be a major challenge in attaining the MDG targets…” (Page/Huang, 3/20).

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CGD Blog Questions Whether Health Aid Actually Reaches Poor

The Center for Global Development examines a new report (.pdf) by the World Health Organization (WHO) that “argues that the poor should be prioritized under universal health coverage (UHC).” The blog questions WHO’s suggestions and states, “missing from all three points [of the report] is perhaps the most central challenge of achieving universal health coverage, which can undoubtedly help target the poor better: expansion towards UHC necessarily requires selectivity. Countries have to choose who benefits and for what, first. In other words, countries have to set priorities, and those priorities can include the poor or those at highest risk…” (Fan, 3/20)

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Sexual Violence In Kenya Continues

The Coalition on Violence Against Women writes in The Star that “[s]exual violence in Kenya is commonplace, and the government is derelict in its responsibilities to protect victims, punish perpetrators, and provide redress to victims. … The government repeatedly asserts that its domestic justice system can address these crimes and has taken steps to establish an International Crimes Division in the High Court of Kenya. But even if judges are positioned to hear cases, there have still been very few investigations and prosecutions, and none of high-level perpetrators. … The rare cases where perpetrators of sexual violence are prosecuted stand as exceptions rather than the norm” (3/21).

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