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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Middle East Nations Sign Joint Resolution Declaring Polio Eradication An Emergency Priority

“Some 21 nations in the Middle East and nearby regions have jointly made the eradication of polio an emergency priority and recognized that Pakistan is a key part of the problem, the [WHO] said Wednesday,” the Associated Press reports (11/13). “Pakistan approved the resolution, which the WHO says includes Afghanistan, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the UAE, and Yemen,” Al Jazeera adds (11/13). “The countries also called for support in negotiating and establishing access to those children who are currently unreached with polio vaccination,” United Press International writes (11/14). “Seven countries and territories are holding mass polio vaccination campaigns with further extensive campaigns planned for December targeting 22 million children,” a press release from the WHO notes (11/13). “It will be an expensive and arduous undertaking, with no guarantees that vaccination teams will reach the most vulnerable children before the virus does,” according to TIME (Baker, 11/13). “The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) is working to help address polio vaccination needs inside Syria’s hard-to-reach zones in close coordination with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent as the two relief agencies,” a UNHCR press release states (11/13). UNICEF examines vaccination efforts in Lebanon (11/13).

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U.N., Partners Intensify Humanitarian Aid Efforts In Philippines Amid Logistical Challenges

“As the magnitude of the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan unfolds in the Philippines, the United Nations and its partners are mounting a massive humanitarian operation, battling heavy rains, blocked roads and damaged airstrips and seaports to reach millions across the region desperate for food, water and other basic necessities,” the U.N. News Centre reports (11/12). “Offering a sobering snapshot of the situation on the ground, Bernard Kerblat, U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) representative in the Philippines told U.N. Radio [that] because at least eight regions are logistically cut-off, information is trickling in ‘piecemeal’ and hampering aid,” the news service notes in a separate article (11/13). “Relief operations in typhoon-devastated parts of the Philippines picked up pace Wednesday, but still only minimal amounts of water, food and medical supplies were making it to increasingly desperate survivors in the hardest-hit places,” Al Jazeera America writes (11/12). “Medical teams, aid workers and soldiers crammed onto flights to Tacloban city in central Philippines as survivors told of desperation over the trickle of supplies to the area six days after Typhoon Haiyan caused massive destruction,” according to Bloomberg (Guinto/Yap/Lee, 11/14).

“After days of logistical challenges that kept thousands of Tacloban City’s desperate storm survivors cut off from food, water and medical supplies, air and overland routes are starting to open, senior administration officials [with the U.S. Air Force] familiar with the relief effort said [Wednesday],” the American Forces Press Service states (Pellerin, 11/13). “The first signs of a concerted aid effort appeared in typhoon-ravaged Tacloban on Wednesday as U.S. military planes delivered 25 tons of biscuits to starving survivors on the same day the city’s mayor implored residents to leave town in order to survive,” The Guardian notes (Hodal, 11/12). “The number of American troops helping the relief effort in the typhoon-hit Philippines could triple to more than 1,000 by the end of the week, U.S. officials said Wednesday,” the Associated Press adds (Pennington, 11/13). In addition, “the U.S. said it would send two ships from Japan — the USS Ashland and USS Germantown — to pick up marines in Okinawa and then sail to the Philippines to join the other U.S. navy ships that are already en route,” Financial Times writes (Sevastopulo/Landingin, 11/13). “President Obama on Wednesday announced a new White House website linking to charitable and relief organizations working to aid the victims of Typhoon Haiyan,” The Hill’s “Briefing Room” blog reports (Sink, 11/13). Devex provides statistics regarding the international aid response so far (Santamaria, 11/13).

Additional coverage is available from the Associated Press/Washington Post, BBC News, Devex, The Hill’s “DEFCON Hill” blog, the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies press release, NBC News’ “World News” blog, Reuters, the Washington Post, UNICEF, and a WHO press release.

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Taiwan Reports First Human Case Of New Bird Flu Strain; Researchers Report Encouraging Results From H7N9 Vaccine Trial

“A woman in Taiwan has become the first person in the world with a confirmed case of a new strain of bird flu, adding to a growing body of evidence of the potential threat from animal viruses that mutate to be able to infect people,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 11/13). “The latest version is called H6N1, and represents the first time that this strain of bird flu has jumped from birds to people,” TIME notes (Park, 11/13). “The patient recovered and no other cases have been detected,” but “the Lancet Respiratory Medicine report said ‘intensive’ monitoring of bird flu was needed,” according to BBC News (Gallagher, 11/14).

“On a more hopeful front, two pharmaceuticals separately reported encouraging results from human tests of a possible vaccine against [H7N9,] a different type of bird flu that has been spreading in China since first being identified last spring, which is feared to have pandemic potential,” the Associated Press writes (Cheng, 11/14). “The encouraging results in the early stage trial from Novavax, a biopharmaceutical company based in Rockville, Maryland, were published online in the New England Journal of Medicine,” Reuters notes in a separate article, and describes the trial (Begley, 11/13).

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International Diabetes Federation Estimates 382M Living With Diabetes

“The world is losing the battle against diabetes as the number of people estimated to be living with the disease soars to a new record of 382 million this year, medical experts said on Thursday,” Reuters reports. “The vast majority have type 2 diabetes — the kind linked to obesity and lack of exercise — and the epidemic is spreading as more people in the developing world adopt Western, urban lifestyles,” the news service writes, noting, “The latest estimate from the International Diabetes Federation is equivalent to a global prevalence rate of 8.4 percent of the adult population and compares to 371 million cases in 2012.” Reuters adds, “By 2035, the organization predicts the number of cases will have soared by 55 percent to 592 million.” David Whiting, an epidemiologist and public health specialist at the International Diabetes Federation, “said that a strategy involving all parts of society was needed to improve diets and promote healthier lifestyles,” according to the news service (Hirschler, 11/13).

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Editorials and Opinions

Preventing Childhood Diseases In India Must Be Prioritized

“As India celebrates Children’s Day [on Thursday], the frightening UNICEF statistic that 1.4 million children under five die every year in this country, the vast majority of them from preventable diseases, should not be forgotten,” T. Jacob John, a retired professor of clinical virology at Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, writes in the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog. He highlights a report released by John Hopkins University on World Pneumonia Day, observed Tuesday, which “shows that globally, India has the highest number of children dying as a result of pneumonia and diarrhea, 436,000 every year, and little progress has been made in terms of prevention or treatment.”

“India has made some progress in the last year in terms of pneumonia prevention by introducing the pentavalent vaccine into the government’s immunization program in nine states,” John notes. “However, the pneumococcal vaccine, which protects against the most common cause of pneumonia, is not available in the government immunization program in India, despite its introduction in 88 countries, including our neighbor Pakistan,” he continues, adding, “We need to prioritize preventing childhood diseases to ensure that more children make it to their fifth birthdays and beyond, and to ensure that those who do aren’t burdened with life-long disabilities” (11/14).

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Let's Work Together To Help Children With Cerebral Palsy In Nigeria

Writing in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Freeman Osonuga, founder and executive director of Heal the World Foundation in Nigeria, examines the issue of cerebral palsy, “a disorder of posture and movement which is caused by a permanent and non-progressive insult to the developing brain,” in the country. “Cerebral palsy is in this part of the world [a] common … neurological disorder of childhood with significant medico-social implications,” he writes, noting “children with cerebral palsy are not able to achieve their developmental milestones — compared with other children of their age — and as a result they remain an ever-present burden to their parents, immediate family and the society at large.” He states, “Some of them get abandoned, abused, and neglected; their future remains in uncertainty because there is no nationally known platform or special institution dedicated to their special needs in Nigeria,” and concludes, “Heal the World Foundation Nigeria aims to help children and people with disabilities, orphans and the less privileged in Africa by supporting their education, welfare and health care. And we need you: Let’s help the helpless — together” (11/13).

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Recent Releases

Blogs Address Family Planning As International Conference Continues In Ethiopia

The following is a summary of three blog posts addressing family planning as the International Conference on Family Planning continues in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this week.

  • Janet Fleischman and Alisha Kramer, Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) blog: “Secretary of State John Kerry’s video message to the conference offers a unique opportunity for the United States to strategically reposition family planning as key to sustainable development, and to re-double U.S. commitment to national family planning programs,” Fleischman, a senior associate with the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, and Kramer, a research assistant and program coordinator with the center, write in the blog. They examine the role of family planning in global development, and state, “Despite the many challenges, Ethiopia exemplifies why access to family planning is inextricably intertwined with achieving broader health and development goals, and why this should be a strategic priority for the United States” (11/13).
  • Jennifer James, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog: “We read about the need for family planning services in the developing world all of the time, but hearing from women validates the numbers and puts a real face on those who desperately need the help of [non-governmental organizations (NGOs)] and local organizations that provide education and family planning to both men and women,” James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, writes in the blog (11/13).
  • Jenni Lee, United Nations Foundation blog:  Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) on Wednesday released a progress report on its work, Lee, a senior communications officer at the foundation, writes in the blog. She highlights some of the report’s key findings and adds, “Increasing access to voluntary family planning services and information benefits women, families, communities, and the world” (11/13).

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Gates Foundation Blog Examines Efforts To Scale Up Global Practice Of Kangaroo Mother Care

In the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Mariam Claeson, interim director, maternal, newborn, and child health on the family health team at the foundation; Gary Darmstadt, senior fellow for the foundation’s global development program; Cyril Engmann, senior program officer for neonatal health in the family health program; and Steve Wall, senior adviser for technical support with Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program, examine the practice of Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) for pre-term babies, which in hospitals “consists of continuous skin-to-skin contact, establishing breast feeding, early discharge, and close-follow-up.” They write, “KMC is widely recognized to promote physiological stability, facilitate breastfeeding, keep a baby warm, reduce the risk of serious infections and reduce the mortality of hospitalized, stable premature infants by about 50 percent,” but “some key challenges have prevented KMC from being adopted widely across the globe” (11/13).

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New Issue of ‘Global Fund News Flash’ Available Online

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has published Issue 30 of its newsletter, the “Global Fund News Flash.” The issue examines efforts to improve prevention, treatment and care for tuberculosis for poor garment workers in Bangladesh. “Bangladesh ranks within the top 10 of the 22 countries considered to be ‘high burden’ by the [WHO], with 340,000 new cases of TB per year,” the newsletter states, adding, “Because TB is generally transmitted in crowded indoor spaces, factory workers are considered a high-risk group, particularly in Bangladesh, a country of 150 million people” (11/13).

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'End The Neglect' Blog Examines Global Effort To Raise Awareness About Chagas Disease

The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog examines the global effort to raise awareness about Chagas disease, or American trypanosomiasis, which “is one of the 17 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) recognized by the [WHO].” The blog states, “Increased political attention is needed, particularly in Mexico and the United States, to put an end to this NTD,” and highlights the work of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and other partners to combat and draw attention to the disease (Corona-Parra, 11/13).

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