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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Doctors, Officials In Philippines Brace For Potential Health Threats In Wake Of Typhoon

“The aftermath of the Philippines typhoon is now threatening the country with outbreaks of debilitating and potentially fatal diseases, including some thought to have been nearly eradicated, because of a collapse in sanitation, shortages of fresh water and the inability of emergency health teams to respond quickly in the week since the storm struck, doctors and medical officials said Thursday,” the New York Times reports. “Nearly 4,000 people are known to have been injured in the storm, the Philippines government said Thursday on its typhoon disaster website, which puts them at immediate risk of infections and contagion,” the newspaper writes (Gladstone, 11/14). “President Benigno Aquino has faced mounting pressure to speed up the distribution of supplies and stoked debate over the extent of casualties from Typhoon Haiyan,” according to Reuters (Grudgings, 11/14).

The Guardian examines relief efforts, noting, “The painfully slow pace of relief efforts after the typhoon in the Philippines has let people down, the United Nations aid chief has said, admitting that teams have yet to reach areas with people in desperate need” (Branigan/Hodal, 11/14). In a video report from PBS Newshour, John Sparks and Mark Austin of Independent Television News report on supply shortages from Tacloban (11/14). Audie Cornish of NPR’s “All Things Considered” interviews Angelito Umali, maternal health officer for UNFPA Philippines, about addressing maternal health concerns in the wake of the typhoon (11/14). Wired examines myths and realities in disaster situations (Sterling, 11/15).

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Congress Considers Changes To Food Bill, Food For Peace Program

“As typhoon relief efforts ramp up in the Philippines, critics say the United States needs more flexibility in how it delivers food aid,” VOA News reports, noting “[t]he crisis hits as Congress is … considering changes that would allow up to 20 percent of the Food for Peace budget to be spent on [local or regional purchase (LRP)] or other uses” (Baragona, 11/14). “Those opposed to the Senate farm bill’s major revisions of the U.S. food aid model — used in the Food for Peace and Food for Progress — say U.S. jobs and military readiness would be affected if proposed changes are included in the new farm bill,” according to Delta Farm Press, which adds, “Meanwhile, proponents of change point out the savings would mean reaching at least four million additional hungry people annually — and would do it quicker than is currently possible” (Bennett, 11/13).

“The need for food aid reform has never been clearer than in the constraints on our ability to respond to the recent typhoon in the Philippines, which has claimed at least several thousand lives and left millions homeless, hungry and in great need,” the ONE blog states, adding,”[R]eform to expand resources available for [LPR] would allow rice and other essential food supplies to be purchased closer to the Philippines from neighboring countries like Thailand and Indonesia, and then shipped directly to the devastated areas” (Brennan, 11/14).

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WHO, Partners Launch Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap

“The [WHO] and its partners Thursday announced a new goal to license vaccines by 2030 that would sharply reduce malaria cases and eventually eliminate the disease,” VOA News reports (DeCapua, 11/14). The updated 2013 Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap “comes in addition to the original 2006 roadmap’s goal of having a licensed vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum malaria, the most deadly form of the disease, for children under five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa by 2015,” a press release from the WHO states (11/14). “[T]he new [roadmap] raises the bar by setting two strategic goals: having vaccines in place by 2030 that can help achieve malaria elimination in multiple settings and having vaccines that are highly effective against the disease,” CIDRAP News writes (Schnirring, 11/14). “To meet the goals, the document sets out a number of priority areas to be addressed, including ensuring results of funded clinical trials are publicly-available within 12 months, and establishing a systematic approach for [prioritizing] vaccine candidates,” SciDevNet adds (Winston, 11/14).

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Global Fund Suspends Contracts With 2 Mosquito Net Suppliers After Financial Wrongdoing

“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced Thursday it had suspended contracts with two international suppliers of mosquito nets after uncovering serious financial wrongdoing in Cambodia,” Agence France-Presse reports. “The move followed a probe by Global Fund inspectors into claims of corruption at the suppliers, Swiss-based Vestergaard Frandsen and the Singapore unit of Japanese firm Sumitomo Chemical,” AFP writes, adding, “The investigation found that between 2006 and 2011, staff from the two companies paid a total of $410,000 (305,000 euros) to two Cambodian officials in return for awarding contracts for insecticide-treated bed nets that help prevent the spread of malaria” (11/14). “The nets were found to have been provided on time,” BBC News reports, noting, “The Fund’s executive director, Mark Dybul, said: ‘We cannot tolerate unethical conduct anywhere. Although this case had no direct impact on Cambodia’s fight against malaria, taking commissions in exchange for contracts violates our mission of public service. We remain fully committed to pursuing fraud and taking action when we find it'” (Dreaper, 11/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Address Challenges, Progress In Fight Against Pneumonia

The following is a summary of two opinion pieces addressing pneumonia.World Pneumonia Day was observed on Tuesday.

  • Kolleen Bouchane, Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog: “[F]or all the beautiful things a child’s lungs can do, they also provide a breeding ground for many of the deadliest diseases affecting children: tuberculosis (TB), asthma, and pneumonia,” Kolleen Bouchane, director of ACTION, writes. She notes that “at the Union World Conference on Lung Health … only one session gathered experts across these three diseases, and only a handful of panels discussed pneumonia despite its status as the number one killer of children worldwide.” Bouchane states, “We need public and political will to ensure leaders at global and national levels work together to fight pneumonia in tandem with related child health threats” (11/13).
  • Orin Levine, Huffington Post’s “World” blog: “As World Pneumonia Day 2013 is celebrated around the world today, I’m struck by the difference a decade has made in the control and prevention of pneumonia — particularly how far we’ve come in expanding access to pneumonia vaccines,” Levine, director of vaccine delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes. He highlights “the PneumoADIP project to accelerate access to pneumococcal vaccines — which prevent pneumococcal disease, the leading cause of bacterial pneumonia in children — in developing countries,” and states, “[W]ith the move this year to focus efforts on control and prevention of not one but two leading killers of children — pneumonia and diarrhea — I’m confident that we’ll make great strides in the next decade — so long as we all dedicate ourselves to the goal, even when the skeptics might tell us it can’t be done” (11/12).

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Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention Faces Obstacles But Is Best Option For Some

“Last year, the [WHO] finally recommended the preventative approach, called seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC), in African regions where malaria is common and strictly seasonal,” Brooklyn-based science journalist Amy Maxmen writes in a post in Scientific American’s “Guest Blog” examining the “public health debate and the future of this potentially historical intervention.” She states, “These authorities changed their tune because of several clinical trials suggesting that the costs of chemoprevention were worth the benefits of chemoprevention.” However, “SMC meets obstacles as it unfurls in Mali, Togo, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal,” she notes, adding, “The problems mainly stem from a lack of money, human resources and organization — all the expected challenges in some of the poorest nations in the world.”

Maxmen examines some of these challenges — including problems reaching people in rural areas, difficulties getting children to swallow the pills, and the threat of drug resistance — and continues, “[I]n the short-term, SMC is undoubtedly the best hope for thousands of parents who want their children to live and prosper.” She writes, “Alternative drugs might also help nations like Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo where SP and amodiaquine no longer cure the disease,” and adds, “Another decade may pass before novel drugs or a highly effective malaria vaccine comes along, so in the interim, experts are pushing against all the obstacles in their path to reach 21 million children who could benefit from the intervention” (11/14).

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Recent Releases

Blog Posts Address Family Planning As International Conference On Family Continues

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

  • Kelsey Holt, Maternal Health Task Force blog: “The speeches given during the opening session of the conference Tuesday on sustained political commitment emphasized family planning as a tool to reduce maternal mortality and protect women’s rights,” Holt, of the Harvard School of Public Health, writes. “Against [a] backdrop of political commitments and acknowledgement of the importance of family planning to women’s health and equality, the many subsequent conference sessions about quality of care hold much promise for real progress and action towards these goals,” she states, adding, “Moving beyond access to quality [care] and a focus on respectful care and informed choice seems particularly critical in the context of new approaches reported on at the conference to increase contraceptive uptake through financial incentives to women, health workers, and health facilities, or goals for uptake of a certain volume of long-acting methods” (11/13).
  • Emma Saloranta, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog: “For millions of women, lack of access [to family planning] starts with simply not having family planning services and information available,” Saloranta, editor and blogger for Girls’ Globe, writes. “However, other barriers related to culture, social norms, women’s and girls’ status and gender inequality also remain as severe obstacles to full access and full choice,” she states, adding, “This is why efforts to improve access must be embedded in larger initiatives that not only look at the availability of family planning services, but also build and promote an enabling environment that allows women and girls to truly utilize those services and take control over their reproductive decisions” (11/14).

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USAID Contributes Food, Cash Valued At $18.2M To WFP For Malawi

“USAID has contributed food and cash valued at $18.2 million (MK 6.1 billion) to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to assist Malawians facing food shortages due to a combination of bad weather during the growing season as well as high food prices,” the WFP reports in an article on its webpage. “The contribution from USAID’s Office of Food for Peace — the U.S. Government’s largest provider of overseas food assistance — will help WFP meet the food needs of some 1.5 million people identified as food insecure by the July bulletin of the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC),” the article states (11/14).

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Examining Need For Investment In Global Health Workforce

Noting the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health took place this week in Recife, Brazil, “where countries and organizations presented their commitments to strengthening the health workforce,” Sarah Dwyer, communications manager at IntraHealth International, examines in the organization’s blog the need to invest in the global health workforce. She states, “Health workforce investments do not typically show results overnight, and in today’s world of instant gratification, advocating for long-term investments can be a challenge,” and highlights a new book called “Transforming the Global Health Workforce” (11/14).

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