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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Human Rights Group, U.N. Official Denounce Syria For Blocking Aid To Warn-Torn Regions

Human Rights Watch and U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos on Friday denounced Syria for blocking the flow of humanitarian aid, news outlets report.

Al Jazeera America: Syrian government accused of blocking aid to war-ravaged areas
“A leading human rights group accused Syria’s government Friday of blocking aid to war-torn areas by denying permission to use rebel-held border crossings, as an U.N. agency warned of a historically challenging outbreak of polio in the country…” (3/28).

New York Times: U.N. Official Denounces Syria on Aid Access
“The United Nations chief of emergency relief was unusually forthright on Friday in criticizing the Syrian government’s blocking of humanitarian aid, pointing to its denials of access and continued use of barrel bombs — both blatant violations of international law…” (Sengupta, 3/28).

U.N. News Centre: Syria: U.N. official cites ‘bleak’ humanitarian situation, urges unhindered access to civilians
“The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator warned the Security Council today that as the Syrian civil war grinds on and millions of desperate people remain cut off from aid, ‘the humanitarian situation remains bleak, and will continue to be bleak, unless we are granted full and unhindered access, through the most efficient and direct means’…” (3/28).

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Ebola Outbreak Spreads In Guinea, Spills Over to Sierra Leone, Liberia

News outlets report on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Associated Press: Senegal closes border with Guinea over Ebola fears
“Senegal has closed its land border with neighboring Guinea to prevent the spread of the Ebola outbreak, which has killed at least 70 people…” (3/30).

Associated Press: 8 cases of Ebola turn up in Guinea’s capital
“Health officials in the West African nation of Guinea say they’re now treating eight cases of Ebola in the capital. Dr. Sakoba Keita, a spokesman for the health ministry, announced on national television the virus had reached the city of three million…” (3/28).

CNN: Guinea: Ebola death toll reaches 70
“At least 70 people are reported to have died from Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Guinea, according to a statement from the West African nation’s health ministry…” (Capelouto/Bah, 3/31).

Financial Times: Spread of deadly Ebola virus to West Africa puts health experts on alert
“It has been among the world’s most feared infectious diseases since its discovery in the jungles of central Africa in 1976. But never, until last month, had the Ebola virus been detected as far west on the continent as Guinea. The outbreak — it has so far caused 66 deaths out of 103 suspected cases, with further possible infections in neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia — has left authorities trying to prevent a regional epidemic for which they are woefully ill-prepared…” (Ward, 3/28).

Foreign Policy: Don’t Kiss the Cadaver
“Despite millions of dollars in research on vaccines and treatments, the deadly and frightening Ebola virus is best tackled today the same way it was during its first epidemic in 1976: With soap, clean water, protective gear, and quarantine…” (Garrett, 3/30).

Reuters: Liberian health authorities confirm two cases of Ebola: WHO
“The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday that Liberia has confirmed two cases of the deadly Ebola virus that is suspected to have killed at least 70 people in Guinea. The outbreak of the highly contagious Ebola, which in its more acute phase, causes vomiting, diarrhea, and external bleeding, has sent Guinea’s West African neighbors scrambling to contain the spread of the disease…” (Toweh, 3/30).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. agency urges vigilance amid Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia
“With a total of 103 suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola in Guinea, including 66 deaths, the outbreak must be watched very carefully, a spokesperson for the United Nations health agency said today, noting that there is no treatment or cure for the frequently fatal disease…” (3/28).

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Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline To Invest $216M In Factories, R&D In Africa

Reuters: Drugmaker GSK to invest $200 million in African factories, R&D
“Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline plans to invest up to 130 million pounds ($216 million) in Africa over the next five years as chronic diseases become more common among the continent’s swelling urban middle classes…” (Hirschler, 3/31).

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6 African Countries Set To Benefit From New U.N.-Backed Food Security Fund

U.N. News Centre: U.N. announces first countries set to benefit from African-led food security fund
“A unique, Africa-led United Nations-backed fund designed to improve food security across the continent has become a reality for the first six countries slated to benefit from the initiative. The Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, the Niger and South Sudan today signed agreements in Tunis, Tunisia, with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to receive $2 million each from the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund…” (3/28).

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Improved Pneumonia Vaccine, Health Monitoring Systems Could Reduce Child Deaths In Kenya

IRIN: Pneumonia vaccine shows promise in Kenya
“Better uptake of the new pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) in children under five alongside more robust health monitoring systems at community level could help stem pneumonia related-deaths in children in Kenya: 20 percent of deaths in children under five are attributable to the disease, according to the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation…” (3/28).

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Women's Rights Advocates Seek International Help Over Women Giving Birth In Mexico's Streets

Associated Press/Huffington Post: Why Activists Say Mexican Women Are Forced To Give Birth In The Street
“Women’s rights advocates sought international help Thursday in ending what they call a pattern of poor indigenous Mexican women being turned away from hospitals while in labor, forcing them to give birth on lawns, patios, or parking lots. Activists working in villages in southern Mexico say they have documented at least 20 recent cases of women giving birth outside hospitals whose staff claimed there was no room…” (Licon, 3/28).

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Health Workers Say Water Shortages Contribute To Rotavirus Infections In Cameroon

VOA News: Cameroon Medics Battle Rotavirus
“In the past 12 months, thousands of children in Cameroon have died of severe diarrhea caused by rotavirus, with thousands more said to be hospitalized. Although the United Nations has come in to help with a vaccine, local medics say the situation is difficult, given an acute shortage of potable water in major towns…” (Kindzeka, 3/28).

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India Looks To Eliminate Measles Following Success With Polio

NPR: After Ending Polio, India Turns To Stop Another Childhood Killer
“…On Thursday, health officials declared India — and the entire Southeast Asia region — free of polio. … It also means that India, for the first time, has the tools and infrastructure to tackle other childhood diseases. At the top of the list? Measles…” (Doucleff, 3/30).

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BBC News Explores Five Diseases Spread By Mosquitoes

BBC News: Humanity’s global battle with mosquitoes
“All over the world we cannot escape mosquito bites — and the diseases they carry. An epidemic of chikungunya — a viral disease carried by daytime-biting mosquitoes — is currently raging in the Caribbean. There are more than 5,900 suspected cases affecting almost half the islands, and even French Guiana on the mainland…” BBC explores five diseases spread by mosquitoes (Crouch/McGrath, 3/29).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.K. Aims To Advance Women's Human Rights By Eliminating FGM, Child Marriage

Devex: Girls and women transforming their future
Justine Greening, U.K. secretary of state for international development

“…In too many communities and countries, simply being born a girl is enough to define and limit what you can achieve in your life. If we are to give girls and women a chance to have their own future, we need to overcome the deep-rooted prejudices and social norms that hold them back. Since becoming the U.K.’s international development secretary, I have put girls and women firmly at the heart of everything my department does. … It is for this reason that Prime Minister David Cameron will host an international summit in London this July to galvanize global efforts to help eliminate these two neglected issues [of female genital mutilation and forced marriage]. … Helping girls and women have the chance to write their own futures is of critical importance not just to them but to their communities and their countries. No country can develop properly when it leaves half its population behind…” (3/27).

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Scientific Evidence Should Translate To International Resolutions, Policies

Huffington Post: We Have Consensus Houston
Michel Kazatchkine, U.N. secretary general’s special envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“One of the unreported key events in the mainstream media at the recently concluded 57th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna was the coming together of scientists from all over the world with clear consensus statements on what science tells us today on drugs and harm reduction. … We pay a high cost for not adapting scientific evidence in the language of international resolutions and national policies. We are, in effect, prohibiting a much-needed shift in direction in policies and in the allocation of resources where they can have a real impact for the people in need. As a result, millions of lives remain at stake” (3/28).

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Stereotyping, Misinformation Perpetuates Cycle Of HIV Infections

GlobalPost: When stereotypes get in the way of addressing HIV
Tracy Jarrett, a GlobalPost-Kaiser Family Foundation global health reporting fellow

“…[N]o one thought to test [my mom] for HIV, because she did not fit the stereotype [of a gay man in the early 1990s]. More than 30 years since the first case of HIV was reported in the United States, the same misinformation that prevented my mom from receiving an accurate diagnosis still runs rampant throughout the world. … Misinformation may lead people to believe they are not vulnerable to contracting the virus because they are white or have never been to Africa, Laura Bogart, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital said. … ‘Understanding what places you at risk and how to protect yourself is critical to combating the misconceptions that persist more than 30 years into this epidemic,’ CDC’s [Salina] Smith said. ‘It is important to know that if you are sexually active — you are at risk'” (3/28).

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Recent Releases

GHTC Briefing Highlights Importance Of U.S. Global Health R&D Funding

Writing in the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s (GHTC) “Breakthroughs” blog, Senior Program Assistant Nick Taylor discusses a recent “briefing — GHTC’s fifth annual where we launched our 2014 policy report — [that] brought together leading voices from the nonprofit, philanthropic, public, and private sectors to reinforce the importance of robust support for global health research and development (R&D)…” (3/28).

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Uncertainty Surrounds Timing Of Birx Confirmation To Head PEPFAR

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog discusses the status of the nomination of Deborah Birx to head PEPFAR as the next U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. “…Congress has until April 14, when spring break starts, to confirm Birx, who was named to fill the post in mid-January…” (Barton, 3/28).

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Blog Highlights USAID Report On TB-Related Foreign Aid

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog highlights USAID’s FY 2013 report, “Impact and Leadership, U.S. Government Report on International Foreign Assistance for Tuberculosis.” “…The work to reach a world free of TB stretches into an unknown future, the report notes, with a new strategy that will require continued research, development, leadership and investment. The report includes timelines, breakdowns of investments as well as of accomplishments, and progress reports from each of the 27 countries receiving direct USAID support…,” the blog notes (Barton, 3/28).

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USAID Launches Water Innovation Prizes In Recognition Of World Water Day

Writing in USAID’s “IMPACTblog” in recognition of World Water Day, USAID Global Water Coordinator and Deputy Assistant Christian Holmes discusses U.S. government efforts to invest in water. In particular, USAID is launching the Desal Prize, a prize “in partnership with the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of The Netherlands (MFA-NL) to identify small-scale, low-cost solutions to brackish water desalination,” among other prizes for water innovation (3/28).

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Bill Gates, Hans Rosling Debate Ending Extreme Poverty

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog highlights a video debate on the end of extreme poverty between Bill Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Hans Rosling, professor of international health and public educator at Gapminder Foundation. The debate took place on Monday at the Karolinska Institutet (3/30).

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PSI's Impact Magazine Examines Best Buys In Global Health

“The latest edition of Impact magazine seeks to uncover global health’s best investments, identify global health trends, and discuss barriers and solutions to scaling up promising interventions,” according to the magazine’s introduction from Editor-in-Chief Marshall Stowell and Editor Rolf Rosenkranz. “…Devex, Merck for Mothers and PATH joined PSI and a team of experts to uncover some of global health’s best investments. The answers were as complicated as they were interesting…,” they write. Other articles can be viewed online (3/27).

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