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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Billions Lack Access To WASH, Inequalities Persist, U.N. Report Says

News outlets discuss a report released by the WHO and UNICEF highlighting inequalities in access to clean drinking water and sanitation.

IRIN: WASH gains mask growing inequalities
“Inequalities in access to clean drinking water and sanitation persist and in some cases are getting worse, although close to two billion people globally have gained access to clean drinking water and sanitation since 1990, according to new data from the World Health Organization and the U.N. Children’s Fund…” (5/8).

Reuters: One billion people still defecate in public despite health risks — U.N.
“One billion people worldwide still practice ‘open defecation’ and they need to be told that this leads to the spread of fatal diseases, U.N. experts said on Thursday at the launch of a study on drinking water and sanitation…” (Miles, 5/8).

U.N. News Centre: Too many people still lack basic drinking water and sanitation — U.N. report
“Despite a narrowing disparity in access to cleaner water and better sanitation between rural and urban areas, sharp inequalities still persist around the world, says a new United Nations report…” (5/8).

VOA News: Billions Still Lack Access to Safe Drinking Water, Sanitation
“Two leading U.N. agencies are calling for greater action to provide safe drinking water and basic sanitation to more than three billion people. A joint report by the World Health Organization and U.N. Children’s Fund says more must be done to close the gap between the billions who have access to improved water and sanitation and those who do not…” (Schlein, 5/8).

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Number Of MERS Cases In Saudi Arabia Reaches 463; First Case Reported In Lebanon

News outlets report on the growing number of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) cases identified in the region.

Agence France-Presse: Saudi MERS death toll rises to 126
“Saudi Arabia’s death toll from MERS has risen by five to 126 fatalities since the mystery respiratory virus first appeared in the kingdom in 2012, the health ministry said Friday…” (5/9).

Associated Press: Saudi Arabia reports 5 more deaths from MERS
“Five more people have died in Saudi Arabia after contracting an often fatal Middle East respiratory virus as the number of new infections in the kingdom climbs higher, health officials confirmed Thursday…” (Schreck, 5/8).

Reuters: Saudi Arabia finds another 32 MERS cases as disease spreads
“Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it had identified 32 new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), pushing the total number of infections in the country so far to 463…” (McDowall, 5/8).

Reuters: First case of MERS reported in Lebanon — health ministry
“The first case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus has been reported in Lebanon, the health ministry said on Thursday…” (Dziadosz, 5/8).

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Global Misuse Of Antibiotics Leads To Drug Resistance

GlobalPost: Across the globe, getting antibiotics is barely harder than buying Pepsi
“…[T]he more [antibiotics] are used — and the more they are misused, for the wrong ailments or without completing an entire course — the less effective they become. Humanity is fast approaching a ‘post-antibiotic era,’ according to the World Health Organization. If unchecked, superbugs could reset the clock to a time when pneumonia, dog bites, and urinary tract infections were life-threatening afflictions, even in the healthiest countries…” (Winn, 5/9).

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HIV Prevention Campaign Promoting Male Circumcision Reaches 6M In Africa

NPR: Snip Decision: Africa’s Campaign To Circumcise Its Men
“…This week researchers announced that [an unprecedented campaign in Africa over the past several years to promote circumcision as a way to prevent HIV] has reached a remarkable milestone: Six million men and teenagers were convinced…” (Aizenman, 5/7).

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Cause Of Deadly Disease In Nicaragua Remains Mystery

New York Times: Deadly Illness in Nicaragua Baffles Experts
“Across Central America, a painful disease that affects the kidneys has killed at least 20,000 people over the past decade and has become the leading cause of deaths in hospitals among men in El Salvador. But the illness, often called Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown causes, or CKDu, is so poorly understood that it still does not have a universally agreed upon name…” (Murphy, 5/8).

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Climate Change, Population Movement Could Facilitate Spread Of Visceral Leishmaniasis

IRIN: Could climate change spread kala-azar?
“Climate change and increased population movements could see the spread of kala-azar (also known as visceral leishmaniasis or black fever) to hitherto unaffected locations, scientists warn…” (5/8).

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Hepatitis B Persists In Senegal Due To Untimely Vaccinations, Treatment Costs, Lack Of Screening

IRIN: Hepatitis B — a silent emergency in Senegal
“More than two million people in Senegal, or some 15 percent of the population, including 350,000 chronic carriers, have hepatitis B as a result of untimely vaccinations, prohibitive treatment costs, and lack of universal screening to curb transmissions…” (5/8).

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Progress Against Leprosy In Myanmar Inconsistent, Experts Warn

IRIN: Slow progress in Myanmar’s leprosy fight
“More than a decade after Myanmar achieved an important public health benchmark by declaring leprosy ‘eliminated,’ progress in the fight against the disease and the disabilities it causes is patchy, experts warn…” (5/9).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces, Editorials Address Polio As Global Health Emergency

The following opinion pieces and editorials address the WHO’s declaration of polio as a global health emergency and efforts to eradicate the disease.

The Guardian: Polio: a case for real alarm
Sarah Boseley, Guardian health editor

“…The only real way to finish polio will eventually be to rid the endemic countries of the virus and that’s not impossible. If India managed it, so can the rest” (5/7).

Foreign Policy: A Clear-Eyed Look at Polio
Chris Elias, chair of the Polio Oversight Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and president of global development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…Setbacks are inevitable in the ambitious effort to rid the world of any infectious human disease — a feat that has been achieved only once before, with smallpox. But these challenges should all be viewed in context: In spite of the newest obstacles, a world free of polio is still on the horizon” (5/5).

Press of Atlantic City: Vaccine foes fuel return of polio, measles
Joshua Keating, staff writer at Slate

“…The WHO’s warning is a good reminder of the obvious fact that vaccines only work if you can get them into people. Considering the immense risks that health workers undergo to immunize children in some of the world’s most dangerous war zones, dictatorships and failed states, the fact that here in the United States, preventable diseases like measles are making a comeback — in part because parents are being scared away from immunizing their children by normally respectable media outlets — seems particularly galling” (5/9).

New York Times: The Battle Against Polio
David Oshinsky, director of the Division of Medical Humanities at NYU Langone Medical Center

“…The recent success of India in making that country polio-free is testament to the fact that eradication is possible under the most difficult circumstances when the will to do it is there, and when governments cooperate with global health forces in a positive way…” (5/8).

Virginian-Pilot: Polio rises amid the ruins
“…[T]he long-standing effort to eradicate polio by 2018 is likely to be delayed, which means more children will suffer the ravages of an entirely preventable illness. … That outcome is unacceptable in 2014, and one that governments and private organizations here and elsewhere must work harder to prevent” (5/9).

Washington Post: What’s behind the WHO’s emergency declaration on the spread of wild polio
“…The WHO has called for travel restrictions in Pakistan, Syria, Cameroon and elsewhere to stop the spread by those who fly or travel by land. It may be tempting for the affected nations to shrug and take half-steps, but the threat of polio spreading is very real and poses a danger not only for their own populations but also for peoples far beyond” (5/8).

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CDC Launches Initiative Targeting Neglected Parasitic Diseases In U.S.

Huffington Post: The CDC’s New Initiative on Parasitic Infections
Peter Hotez, founding dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine

“This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a new initiative that targets parasitic diseases in the United States. Coinciding with the publication of a series of articles in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (AJTMH), the new CDC initiative will prioritize five major parasitic diseases — Chagas disease, cysticercosis, toxocariasis, toxoplasmosis and trichomoniasis — which are considered neglected because they mainly impact Americans who live in extreme poverty, especially in the southern United States and in degraded urban areas of major U.S. cities…” (5/8).

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Recent Releases

USAID Celebrates Delivery Of 1B NTD Treatments

USAID on Thursday launched One Billion and Counting: Accelerating Action to Eliminate NTDs by 2020 to “celebrat[e] its support of the delivery of one billion neglected tropical disease (NTD) treatments that are helping more than 465 million people in 25 countries in some of the world’s poorest populations,” according to a USAID press release (5/8).

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State Department Official Highlights Progress On Transgender Rights In South Asia

Writing in the U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote” blog, Richard Hoagland, principal deputy assistant secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, discusses the “progress for the human rights of transgender persons throughout the South Asia region. … As people around the world prepare to celebrate International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17, we will continue to look with hope to the region for examples of progress on this issue” (5/8).

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Fauci Discusses Importance Of Federal Research Funding At Briefing

At a congressional briefing hosted Wednesday by the Coalition for Life Sciences, Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, discussed the importance of federal funding for research and development, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” notes (Aziz, 5/8).

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UNFPA, Gates Foundation MOU Aimed At Improving Contraceptive Access Through Innovation

“…Innovation is the key to improving access to family planning services and contraceptives. … That’s exactly what the partnership that UNFPA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently signed is all about. … UNFPA and the Gates Foundation will collaborate to develop and identify innovative approaches to allow for a wider choice of contraceptive methods and more availability in clinical and non-clinical settings…,” Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA executive director and U.N. under-secretary general, writes in the Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog (5/8).

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PSI Highlights VMMC Campaign In Zimbabwe

A post in PSI’s “Impact” blog discusses how “[n]ational celebrities, both male and female, are helping scale-up [voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC)] efforts in Zimbabwe by addressing key barriers men face when considering the procedure, including a lack of social support and myths and misconceptions around VMMC…” (5/8).

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