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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Most Cities Fail To Meet WHO Air Quality Standards, New Data Show

News outlets report on new data from the WHO showing deteriorating air quality worldwide.

BBC News: Air pollution ‘too high’ in most of world’s cities
“The World Health Organization says air pollution in many of the world’s cities is breaching its guidelines. Its survey of 1,600 cities in 91 countries revealed that nearly 90 percent of people in urban centers breathe air that fails to meet levels deemed safe…” (Morelle, 5/7).

U.N. News Centre: ‘Enveloped in dirty air,’ most cities fail to meet U.N. agency’s new pollution guidelines
“Many of the world’s cities are ‘enveloped in dirty air’ that is dangerous [to] breathe, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today, warning that urban dwellers are being exposed to excessive air pollution and are at a risk of respiratory diseases and other long-term health problems…” (5/7).

United Press International: Most cities fail air pollution guidelines, U.N. says
“…About half of the urban populations in the cities in question are exposed to air pollution at least 2.5 times higher than the guidelines suggest…” (Adamczyk, 5/7).

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Aid Agencies Warn Somalia Showing Warning Signs Of Famine

Media sources report on a warning from aid agencies that Somalia faces a looming hunger crisis.

Agence France-Presse: Spectre of Somalia hunger crisis returns, aid agencies say
“War-torn Somalia risks sliding back into acute crisis less than three years since a devastating famine, aid agencies warned Wednesday, amid failing rains, escalating conflict, and aid funding shortfalls…” (Martell, 5/7).

IRIN: Somalia at ‘risk of relapse’
“Three years after a famine claimed 260,000 lives in Somalia, 2.9 million people there are still affected by a multifaceted but desperately underfunded humanitarian crisis, and communities are just ‘one shock away from disaster,’ a host of aid agencies have warned in a joint campaign entitled ‘Risk of relapse’…” (Parrin, 5/7).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Somalia risks ‘catastrophe’ as warning signs echo 2011 famine — agencies
“Somalia risks sliding towards a catastrophic hunger crisis similar to the 2011 famine with some 50,000 children already at ‘death’s door,’ 22 aid agencies warned on Wednesday…” (Migiro, 5/7).

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Saudi Arabia Reports 4 New MERS Deaths, 18 New Cases

News outlets cover issues surrounding the continuing outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Agence France-Presse: Saudi confirms four new MERS deaths, 18 more infections
“Saudi Arabia has announced four more deaths from the MERS coronavirus and 18 new infections, as it battles to contain the mystery disease which has now killed 121 people in the kingdom…” (5/8).

Reuters: Saudi Arabia finds another 18 MERS cases as disease spreads
“Saudi Arabia has identified 18 new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), it said late on Wednesday, pushing the total number of infections in the country so far to 449…” (McDowall, 5/8).

Reuters: Head of Jeddah hospital replaced as Saudi fights MERS virus
“Saudi Arabia replaced the head of Jeddah’s King Fahd Hospital on Tuesday as it struggled with mounting deaths from the SARS-like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome ahead of an influx of Muslim pilgrims in July…” (El Gamal, 5/7).

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Devex Discusses World Bank's Goal Of Achieving UHC By 2030 With Bank Official

Devex: How Tim Evans will lead World Bank efforts toward UHC
“World Bank President Jim Kim has been building support to achieve universal health care by 2030, and wants the bank to play a major role in helping low-income countries achieve that goal. His right hand man in that effort is Tim Evans, who Kim brought on board last June as director of health, nutrition and population…” (Stephens, 5/7).

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HIV Researchers On Alert Following Anti-Gay Raids On Ugandan Project

Nature: HIV researchers on edge after anti-gay raids across Africa
“A police raid on an established research program in Uganda has left scientists worried that their projects may be targeted by authorities granted sweeping powers under the country’s harsh new anti-homosexuality law…” (Shuchman, 5/7).

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U.N. Urges Continued International Support For Post-Typhoon Rebuilding In Philippines

U.N. News Centre: Philippines: Six months after typhoon, U.N. working with communities to rebuild lives
“Six months after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, while signs of recovery are starting to emerge, progress remains fragile, the United Nations today said urging continued international support for the 14 million people affected…” (5/7).

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News Outlets Examine HIV/AIDS Among Key Populations In Caribbean

News outlets report on HIV prevention efforts among key populations in the Caribbean.

Associated Press: New effort to halt spread of HIV in the Caribbean
“…[R]eaching out to men who have sex with men is practically revolutionary in parts of the English-speaking Caribbean, where homophobia and laws criminalizing gay sex have long driven people underground — turning them into the toughest group to reach with HIV prevention programs and fueling a regional epidemic. Now, there’s a growing momentum to turn the tide in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, and eight other countries that criminalize sex between adults of the same gender…” (McFadden, 5/7).

Inter Press Service: HIV/AIDS Highlights Gender Inequalities in Cuba
“…There is concern [in Cuba] that the [HIV] epidemic will increasingly take on a female face, like it has in the rest of the Caribbean region, where women are 53 percent of the HIV-seropositive adult population…” (González, 5/7).

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Child Marriage Contributes To Uterine Prolapse Incidence In Nepal

The Guardian: Nepalese women suffer stigma and pain of fallen wombs
“…[H]undreds of thousands of Nepalese women suffe[r] from uterine prolapse, a condition where the womb drops into the vagina and, in severe cases, slides out of the body. The disorder is more common among older, post-menopausal women, but the U.N. estimates that in some regions of Nepal almost half of those with the condition develop it before they turn 30. A new generation risk developing uterine prolapse because many women marry and have children at a young age…” (Zelaya/Bickis, 5/7).

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Skepticism, Lack Of Clean Water Challenge Rotavirus Vaccine Efforts In Cameroon

Inter Press Service: Vaccinating Against Their Will
“The growing number of child deaths from diarrhea in Cameroon has necessitated the introduction of a new vaccine (RotaTeq) designed to protect babies under five against common types of rotaviruses that cause diarrhea. But growing skepticism over new vaccines, and lack of potable water and proper hygiene could thwart such public health efforts, experts say…” (Nfor, 5/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

'Strong, Continuous U.S. Leadership' Necessary To Achieve AIDS-Free Generation

CNN: How to find an AIDS cure for all
Kenneth Cole, CEO of Kenneth Cole Productions and chair of the board of amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé

“…While we now have the tools to begin to end the HIV epidemic, achieving an AIDS-free generation is threatened by a considerable gap between available resources and the amounts needed to scale up high-impact interventions. Investing now in these interventions will not only accelerate progress in reducing AIDS-related deaths and new HIV infections, but it will also lower the long-term cost of the HIV response. Strong, continuous U.S. leadership at this critical moment is key…” (5/7).

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USAID, PEPFAR Committed To Improving Health Systems To Deliver VMMC Services

Huffington Post: Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention Finds Success at Scale
Ariel Pablos-Mendez, assistant administrator for global health at USAID

Noting a new collection of studies on voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) “published by the PLOS Collection and funded by [PEPFAR] through [USAID] and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” Pablos-Mendez writes, “This program has the potential to prevent 3.4 million new HIV infections, according to estimates from PEPFAR and UNAIDS published in 2011. … Not to mention the $16 billion in medical treatment costs that would be averted over 15 years. Through its work under PEPFAR, USAID is committed to improving health systems that are able to deliver a high volume of VMMC services as well as services that are efficient, cost-effective, and in high demand…” (5/7).

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Debate Remains Over Whether SDGs Can 'Push Development Forward'

New York Times: At the U.N., a Free-for-All on Setting Global Goals
Eduardo Porter, New York Times columnist

“…[F]or all the good intentions, the breathtakingly ambitious enterprise [of international agreement on post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals] might have a hard time overcoming not just the narrower priorities of the world’s nation-states but also natural skepticism about the value of such development goals. … [D]ivergent views highlight an essential question: Can common targets actually push development forward?…” (5/6).

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Streamline Therapeutic Testing, Approval Process To Adequately Address Ebola, Other Outbreaks

New England Journal of Medicine: Ebola — A Growing Threat?
Heinz Feldmann of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

“…The latest outbreak of Zaire ebola virus in West Africa again has shown the limited ability of our public health systems to respond to rare, highly virulent communicable diseases. … If we are to practice cutting-edge medicine, rather than simply outbreak control, we need to advance leading approaches toward [therapeutic] approval and licensing. This gap should close over the next several years — if we can continue making progress before Ebola (or a related virus) strikes again” (5/7).

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Governments, NGOs Must Account For TB Funding, Measure Programmatic Impacts

Huffington Post: Where Has All the Money Gone for Fighting Tuberculosis?
Shelly Batra, founder and president of Operation ASHA

“…Huge amounts of funds have been poured into a bottomless pit [in the name of TB elimination]. … This funding should have led to better outcomes, i.e. improved case detection and decreased deaths. Unfortunately, this has not been so. Processes are documented, but not the results nor impact. … We have to clean up our act. Make everything accountable. Ensure transparency. Emphasize that reporting MUST include measured impact. Promote NGOs that provide the last mile, use funds wisely, and believe in outcomes…” (5/6).

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Recent Releases

VMMC 'Can Play Vital Role' In African HIV Prevention Programs

Writing in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Sema Sgaier, a program officer with the foundation, discusses a collection of research studies on the role of voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) in HIV prevention in sub-Saharan Africa published this week in PLOS ONE and PLOS Medicine. “…By itself, VMMC is not the answer to Africa’s HIV crisis. … Nonetheless, what has been achieved in just a few years is truly amazing, and it confirms that VMMC can play a vital role in changing the trajectory of HIV in Africa…” (5/7).

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UNITAID Grants Aim To Improve Health Therapy Access

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” discusses recent grants from UNITAID totaling $160 million aimed at improving access to treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), hepatitis C, and other therapies (Barton, 5/7).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has published Issue 243 of its “Global Fund Observer.” The issue includes articles on Global Fund reform, new grants, and supply chain challenges in Côte d’Ivoire, among others (5/7).

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