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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

1M Children Worldwide Contract TB Annually, According To Study

News outlets report on a new study that says one million children worldwide become infected with tuberculosis (TB) annually and 32,000 of those children have drug-resistant strains of TB.

Agence France-Presse: A million children a year develop tuberculosis: study
“About a million children, double the previous estimate, fall ill with tuberculosis every year, said a study Monday that also gave the first tally of drug-resistant TB among the young…” (3/24).

Times of India: Tuberculosis affects 1 million children annually: Study
“Harvard researchers believe that over one million children suffer from tuberculosis annually — twice the number previously thought to have TB…” (Iyer, 3/24).

Reuters: As many as 32,000 kids infected with drug-resistant TB: report
“As many as 32,000 children worldwide become sick each year with a drug-resistant ‘superbug’ strain of tuberculosis, according to new estimates by U.S. researchers that for the first time quantify rates of this difficult-to-treat form of TB…” (Steenhuysen, 3/23).

VOA News: One Million Children Infected with Tuberculosis Yearly: Study
“On World TB Day, March 24, there’s some sobering news about children and tuberculosis. A new study estimates that every year, 1 million children worldwide become infected with TB. That’s twice previous World Health Organization estimates and three times the number of youngsters who are reported, diagnosed and treated for the disease annually. More concerning still is news that 32,000 children are sick with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, which is extremely difficult to treat…” (Berman, 3/23).

Wall Street Journal: Tuberculosis Affects Children More Than Previously Thought
“About one million children world-wide under 15 years old contract tuberculosis every year, twice as many as previously thought, according to a new study from researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. About 32,000 of those children have drug-resistant strains of the airborne disease, according to the study, published Sunday night in The Lancet journal…” (McKay, 3/23).

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News Outlets Highlight World TB Day

In recognition of World TB Day, which takes place annually on March 24, news outlets report on the progress and challenges surrounding the disease.

Al Jazeera: Tuberculosis makes a comeback
“… TB kills 1.3 million people per year — more than any other infectious disease apart from HIV/AIDS. It’s caught by breathing in Mycobacteria tuberculosis, and is usually treated with a six-month course of antibiotics. But for many people, these decades-old drugs have simply stopped working. … The highest levels of resistance are concentrated in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where in some countries more than 20 percent of new cases and 50 percent of previously treated cases are multi-drug resistant (MDR)…” (Rowley, 3/24).

New York Times: China Cuts Tuberculosis Cases by More Than Half Since 1990
“China has cut the prevalence of tuberculosis by more than half since 1990 thanks to the widespread implementation of a World Health Organization-backed control strategy, according to a new research paper. The findings, which were published this week in The Lancet medical journal, found that the prevalence of tuberculosis had dropped to 59 cases per 100,000 in 2010 from 170 cases per 100,000 in 1990…” (Ramzy, 3/21).

Prensa Latina: Tuberculosis, a Major Cause of Death in L.Am and Caribbean
“Tuberculosis is still a major cause of death in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a report from the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)…” (3/23).

Reuters: Poor diagnosis driving global multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, WHO warns
“Half a million people fell sick with dangerous superbug strains of tuberculosis (TB) in 2012, but fewer than one in four were diagnosed, putting the rest at risk of dying due to the wrong medicines or no treatment at all…” (3/20).

VOA News: TB is Number One Killer in South Africa
“As the world observes World TB Day on March 24 to raise awareness of the fight against tuberculosis, South Africa is struggling to conquer its top killer. Activists say more focus is needed on poor communities as drug resistant strains take hold and wreak havoc. With 80 percent of the country’s young adults already infected with TB, health experts say there is no time to lose…” (Khumalo, 3/21).

VOA News: TB Treatment Sees Progress, Setbacks
“There’s good news and bad news to report for World TB Day, March 24. The good news: there are new drugs, new tests and a promising vaccine being developed. The sobering news: drug resistance is common and health officials are calling a multi-drug resistant variety of TB ‘a global threat.’…”(Pearson, 3/24).

Xinhua: 30 pct TB cases undiagnosed annually: WHO
“Some 30 percent or three million of the nine million people who develop tuberculosis (TB) every year in the world are ‘missed’, the World Health Organization (WHO) in Western Pacific Region said here Saturday…” (3/22).

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Financial Times Publishes Special Report On TB

The Financial Times published a special report (.pdf) titled “Combating Tuberculosis” in recognition of World TB Day, March 24.

Financial Times: TB, disease of the poor, now threatens the rich
“…[T]oday, even though it kills 1.3 million people a year, TB is the poor relation of global diseases, struggling to match the resources attracted by more high-profile causes such as HIV…” (Ward, 3/24).

Financial Times: Stubborn new TB strains threaten to reverse progress
“…In some countries, up to 20 percent of new cases are resistant to at least two of the four drugs contained in the standard combination treatment for TB — the definition of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB)…” (Ward, 3/24).

Financial Times: South African health minister: strong alliances needed to end TB
“…Nearly nine million people fell ill with tuberculosis in 2012 around the world. More than one million died. We are not reaching the vast majority of people who are at risk. … Poor countries with high rates of drug-resistant TB cannot tackle it alone. The human and economic costs of not doing enough to combat TB is simply too grave to accept” (Motsoaledi, 3/24).

Financial Times: Linezolid, a potential new TB cure, is trapped in a Catch-22
“It is expensive, inaccessible, poorly tested and potentially toxic with side effects including intense pain. But linezolid offers rare hope in the desperate search for treatments to tackle the worst cases of TB…” (Jack, 3/24).

Financial Times: TB reappears in developed world
“…The infection is often thought to have been purged from the developed world. But London is western Europe’s TB capital. Some boroughs have incidence rates comparable with those of Nigeria, Mali, Brazil, and Iraq…” (Jacobs, 3/24).

Financial Times: Genetics offers route to cure TB
“Around the world, laboratories are working to make up for time lost during the late 20th century, when tuberculosis was ignored or seen as a health problem that had gone away…” (Cookson, 3/24).

Financial Times: Big pharma balks at investment in TB
“For an industry so often on the back foot over ethical issues, the approval last year of the first tuberculosis drug in 40 years was a chance to trumpet Big Pharma’s positive role in tackling global health problems…” (Ward, 3/24).

Financial Times: Mining companies must step up fight against TB
“Seven years ago, the picture of tuberculosis infection among workers at Anglo American’s coal mines was relatively grim: the incidence rate stood at about 900 people per 100,000 — above the rate for South Africa as a whole at the time, despite the countrywide rate having tripled in the previous decade…” (Jacobs, 3/24).

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U.N. Commission On Women Approves Declaration Promoting Gender Equality

News outlets report on the final declaration approved on Saturday by the 45-member Commission on the Status of Women.

Associated Press/Washington Post: U.N. document promotes equality for women
“After two weeks of heated debate, liberal and conservative countries early Saturday approved a U.N. document to promote equality for women that reaffirms the sexual and reproductive rights of all women and endorses sex education for adolescents…” (3/22).

The Guardian: Campaigners welcome ‘milestone’ agreement at U.N. gender equality talks
“U.N. Member states have agreed that gender equality and women’s rights must be prioritized in future discussions on what should be included in the next set of sustainable development goals…” (Ford, 3/23).

U.N. News Centre: Senior U.N. official hails outcome of forum devoted to empowering women and girls
“The head of the United Nations office focusing on the world’s women has welcomed the outcome of a two-week meeting in New York that she says represents a ‘milestone’ towards a transformative global development agenda that puts the empowerment of women and girls at its center…” (3/22).

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Syrian Government, Rebels Block Aid Delivery In Violation Of U.N. Resolution, Ban Says

News outlets discuss aid delivery in Syria, including a U.N. report from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saying the Syrian government and rebels possibly violated a Security Council resolution by blocking assistance.

Bloomberg News: Warring Syrian Parties Block Aid Against U.N. Resolution, Ban Says
“Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and the armed rebel groups seeking to topple him continue to block aid, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, signaling a possible violation of the Security Council resolution that threatens punitive measures in event of non-compliance…” (Yoon, 3/24).

Foreign Policy: Exclusive: Syria’s U.N. Aid Jam
“Brushing aside vague threats from the United Nations Security Council, the Syrian government continued over the past month to lay siege to more than 220,000 of its own civilians, block the delivery of life-saving medicines to opposition areas, and maintain bureaucratic restrictions making it extremely difficult for U.N. relief workers to reach hundreds of thousands of needy Syrians, according to an unpublished March 22 report by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon…” (Lynch, 3/23).

New York Times: U.N. Report Faults Syria and Rebels for Blocking Relief Supplies
“A month after the Security Council ordered warring parties in Syria to let aid workers into besieged areas and stop indiscriminate attacks on civilians, the office of the United Nations secretary general says that the Syrian government continues to delay or ignore requests for access and that relentless fighting among opposition groups has also kept many areas of the country inaccessible…” (Sengupta, 3/23).

New York Times: Complexity of Conflict Leaves Donors Wary of Aiding Syrians
“When an earthquake killed 150,000 people in Haiti in 2010, private individuals donated $20 million to the international aid group Mercy Corps to help victims, most of it within weeks of the disaster. During three years of turmoil in Syria that have produced a similar death toll, the organization has collected just $2 million for Syrians…” (Barnard, 3/22).

Reuters: Despite U.N. resolution, Syria’s war foes hinder aid access: Ban
“The United Nations accused Syria’s government and rebels of hindering aid access, suggesting both sides could be violating U.N. Security Council demands that emergency relief reach civilians caught in the crossfire of the three-year civil war…” (Nichols, 3/24).

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U.S. Issues Memo On Aid Projects In Response To Uganda's Anti-Gay Law

BuzzFeed: U.S. Adds New Review To Ugandan Aid Projects In Response To Anti-Gay Law
“The U.S. Agency for International Development has sent a signal to grant recipients in Uganda that it will consider delaying major initiatives in response to the Anti-Homosexuality Act…” (Feder, 3/21).

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UNAIDS Envoy Expresses Concern For Crimean Drug Users After Russian Annexation

Agence France-Presse/China Post: UNAIDS envoy worried for Crimean drug users
“The U.N.’s AIDS envoy for Eastern Europe voiced fears Thursday for injecting drug users in Crimea who risk being cut off from a lifeline treatment prohibited in Russia. Michel Kazatchkine said he was worried that heroin replacement programs called opioid substitution therapy (OST) would end for these individuals, stripping them of a major benefit in the fight against HIV…” (Le Roux, 3/22).

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Report Details Potential Damaging Effects Of Climate Change

News outlets discuss a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change detailing the potentially devastating consequences of global warming.

Agence France-Presse: Weather extremes ‘consistent’ with man-made climate change: U.N.
“The Philippines’ devastating Typhoon Haiyan and drought in Australia are among recent weather extremes consistent with man-made climate change, the U.N.’s weather agency said Monday…” (Fowler, 3/24).

Associated Press: Big climate report: Warming is big risk for people
“If you think of climate change as a hazard for some far-off polar bears years from now, you’re mistaken. That’s the message from top climate scientists gathering in Japan this week to assess the impact of global warming…” (Borenstein, 3/23).

The Guardian: Global warming to hit Asia hardest, warns new report on climate change
“People in coastal regions of Asia, particularly those living in cities, could face some of the worst effects of global warming, climate experts will warn this week. Hundreds of millions of people are likely to lose their homes as flooding, famine and rising sea levels sweep the region, one of the most vulnerable on Earth to the impact of global warming, the U.N. states…” (McKie, 3/22).

Reuters: Climate change to disrupt food supplies, brake growth: U.N. draft
“Global warming will disrupt food supplies, slow world economic growth and may already be causing irreversible damage to nature, according to a U.N. report due this week that will put pressure on governments to act…” (Doyle, 3/23).

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Guinea Confirms Hemorrhagic Fever Outbreak Is Ebola; More Than 50 Dead

News outlets report on an Ebola outbreak in Guinea.

Associated Press: Ebola detected in Guinea victims, 50 dead
“Samples from victims of a viral hemorrhagic fever that has killed more than 50 people in Guinea have tested positive for the Ebola virus, government officials said Sunday, marking the first time an outbreak among humans has been detected in this West African nation…” (Diallo, 3/23).

Reuters: Guinea confirms fever is Ebola, has killed up to 59
“Guinea has received confirmation that a mysterious disease that has killed up to 59 people in the West African country, and may have spread to neighboring Sierra Leone, is the hemorrhagic fever Ebola, the government said on Saturday…” (Samb, 3/22).

Reuters: Guinea dispatches equipment to contain outbreak of Ebola
“Health officials fighting an outbreak of Ebola in Guinea on Sunday dispatched specialized medical equipment, imposed restrictions on funerals and sought to contain panic to prevent the fever from spreading…” (Samb, 3/23).

United Press International: Ebola outbreak: At least 59 dead in Guinea
“At least 59 people have died from the deadly and quickly spreading Ebola virus in Guinea, UNICEF said…” (Haynes, 3/23).

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Cholera In Haiti Continues To Persist Despite Abundance Of Foreign Aid

NPR: Why Cholera Persists In Haiti Despite An Abundance Of Aid
“It’s been more than three years since cholera struck Haiti. And the epidemic continues today. The deadly bacteria have killed more than 8,500 people and infected hundreds of thousands. Why has the outbreak been so hard to stop, even with more than in foreign aid pledged to Haiti?…” (3/21).

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Water, Energy Play Key Development Roles, U.N. Says On World Water Day

U.N. News Centre: World Water Day: U.N. highlights water, energy links for sustainable development
“To mark World Water Day, the United Nations is highlighting the key role that water and energy play in economic development and the eradication of poverty worldwide, and calling for strong measures to ensure their efficient and equitable use…” (3/22).

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USAID Announces Partnership With GE To Support Kenyan Health Facilities

GlobalPost: USAID’s partnership with GE in Kenya will help health facilities buy high-tech equipment
“… Earlier this year, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a partnership with the industrial behemoth [General Electric] that will make up to $10 million in credit available for Kenyan health facilities to buy its medical products, including ultrasound, and MRI machines. It’s the first time the agency has partnered with a multinational company to extend credit guarantees that unlock local financing…” (Savchuk, 3/23).

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India To Be Declared Polio-Free At End of March

News outlets report on the WHO’s plan to declare India as polio-free at the end of the month.

CNN: India beats the odds, beats polio
“… On March 27, the World Health Organization will formally announce the end of polio in India and proclaim another one of its global regions — Southeast Asia — free of the disease. Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria are the only three countries that have not eradicated polio, leaving the Eastern Mediterranean and Africa the last two WHO regions with the disease…” (Basu, 3/22).

The Lancet: India after polio
“India has not seen a new case of poliomyelitis for three years, but can the lessons learned and infrastructure built for its eradication be co-opted for other health goals. … On Jan. 13, 2014, India marked three years since its last new case of poliomyelitis. WHO is expected to certify the entire southeast Asia region as polio-free by the end of March — a testament to India’s achievement…” (Burki, April 2014).

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WHO Declares Measles Eliminated In 4 Western Pacific Countries

Wall Street Journal: Measles Eliminated in Four Western Pacific Countries — WHO
“The World Health Organization has declared the elimination of measles in four of 37 areas it covers in the Western Pacific, a region that is home to more than 1.8 billion people and includes some of the world’s poorest countries…” (Larano, 3/22).

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WHO Announces 5 New MERS Cases Reported In 3 Countries

CIDRAP: Five new MERS cases reported in 3 countries
“Five new Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infections, two fatal, were reported today in three countries, including the first one in Kuwait since November and another illness with links to camels…” (3/20).

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Smartphone Apps Help Educate Pregnant Women, Mothers In India

Christian Science Monitor: Tackling Indian maternal deaths by smartphone
“Subhi Quraishi believes that the solution to the high maternal mortality rates that have dogged women in rural India starts with a mobile phone. Standing in his bustling New Delhi offices, Mr. Quraishi shows off the mobile ‘lifeline channel’ that his software firm has developed to send nuggets of information to rural users…” (Narayan, 3/23).

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Editorials and Opinions

Devex Publishes Opinion Pieces As Part Of 'Best Buys In Global Health' Campaign

As part of “Best Buys in Global Health,” a campaign by PSI, PATH, and Devex to highlight sound investments in global health, Devex published two opinion pieces.

Devex: Advancing global health through innovation
U.S. Reps. Ander Crenshaw and Adam Smith, co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance

“…As lawmakers and co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance, we have a fiscal responsibility to ensure that American dollars are being spent wisely and effectively. … Already, our dollars have made an enormous impact. … Congress can continue to help improve the lives of women, newborns and children in developing countries by maintaining our investments in cost-effective, high-impact solutions that have the power to end preventable deaths…” (3/24).

Devex: Strong health systems, the ‘secret ingredient’
Ariel Pablos-Mendez, assistant administrator for global health at USAID

“…Developing strong health systems should not be seen as a separate exercise from other technical areas, but rather as a philosophical shift in how we build those technical teams so we are thinking holistically about how to get the best value for money and, ultimately, save the greatest number of lives. Ongoing work should quantify and clearly make links between health systems strengthening investments and their impact on patients, families and society” (3/24).

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Family Planning Is 'Key To Other Global Health Goals'

TIME: Bill Frist: Contraception Is A Pro-Life Cause In Developing World
Bill Frist, former U.S. senator from Tennessee, and Jenny Eaton Dyer, executive director of Hope Through Healing Hands

“…With an increased focus on maternal, newborn, and child health over the past few years, the global community has seen real progress against daunting challenges. An underappreciated part of that story is healthy birth spacing and timing, or family planning, which has a profound effect on the survival and quality of life of both mothers and children. … Healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies, alongside an increase in births taking place in health centers with skilled care during delivery and postpartum care, offers a strikingly successful model to reduce maternal mortality and improve child survival. … [H]ealthy timing and spacing of pregnancies is also a key to other global health goals, like combating hunger and improving the status of women and girls. Family planning is a key, often hidden, engine for additional global health achievements…” (3/21).

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Crimea Should Continue Its Successful Drug Treatment Programs After Russian Annexation

Huffington Post: ReSovietizing Crimea? What the Vote Means for the Twin Epidemics of Drug Use and HIV
Richard Elovich, research scientist at Columbia University

“…In choosing affiliation with Russia, Crimea should not reject the needs of the socially vulnerable and some of the helpful responses emerging from within. HIV and drugs cross borders easily, affecting people of all ethnicities and political affiliations. State-run prevention and treatment services, though, are easily mired in politics. Crimea should choose a course that would sustain life-saving drug treatment programs, citizen participation and advances in the fight against drugs and HIV” (3/21).

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Recent Releases

'Impatient Optimists' Blog Publishes TB-Related Posts

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog published several posts on tuberculosis in recognition of World TB Day on March 24. In one, Mandy Slutsker, a senior project associate for ACTION, summarizes conversations with “advocates and experts from Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia on the challenges and opportunities surrounding efforts to find, treat, and cure everyone with TB and HIV” (3/23). In a second post, Shitong Huan, a senior program officer with the Gates Foundation’s China office, discusses progress against the disease in China (3/23). In a third post, Gilla Kaplan, director of the Gates Foundation’s tuberculosis program, talks about research and development of TB treatments and diagnostics (3/23). And in a fourth post, Deborah Derrick, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, talks about the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s efforts to support TB programs (3/23).

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Lancet Releases 'Tuberculosis 2014' Series

In recognition of World TB Day, The Lancet published Tuberculosis 2014, a series featuring papers from The Lancet Infectious Diseases and The Lancet Respiratory Medicine “discussing topics ranging from host-directed therapies and vaccines, extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis, and new anti-tuberculosis drugs, [and] highlighting not only past successes, but also the challenges that need to be met to win the battle against tuberculosis” (3/24).

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USAID Releases March Issue Of 'Global Waters'

USAID has released its March 2014 issue of Global Waters. “The magazine features in-depth articles exploring solutions to the ongoing water crisis, opinion pieces by top development professionals, and first-hand accounts from stakeholders and beneficiaries” (3/20).

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