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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Reports 136 Cases, 58 Deaths From MERS; Health Officials Prepare For Hajj Pilgrimage In Saudi Arabia

“The [WHO on Friday] announced six more Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases in Saudi Arabia, raising the agency’s global count to 136 cases with 58 deaths,” CIDRAP News reports (Roos, 10/4). “The latest cases, the WHO said in a statement, afflicted three men and three women, all from the Riyadh region,” according to the New York Times (Gladstone, 10/4). The patients’ ages ranged from 14 to 79 years, and “[t]hree patients had contact with previously confirmed MERS-CoV case-patients,” CIDRAP notes, adding, “The WHO said one of the patients has mild symptoms and the rest are hospitalized.” The news service adds, “In other developments, a Saudi [Ministry of Health] official advised religious pilgrims in Saudi Arabia for the hajj to wear masks in crowded places, according to an Arab News report” (10/4). IRIN reports on how Saudi health officials and “[h]ealth authorities around the Middle East, many of whom already send large health support teams to the hajj, will … be raising awareness of the virus among pilgrims, with a focus on reminding people what they should do if they return from Saudi Arabia and feel unwell” (10/7).

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Bomb Targeting Polio Workers Kills 2 In Pakistan

“Two people were killed and 13 wounded Monday in a bombing that targeted polio workers in northwest Pakistan, police said,” CNN reports (10/7). “The attack took place on the third and last day of a U.N.-backed vaccination campaign in a suburb of the city of Peshawar, police said, adding that a policeman was among the two dead,” Agence France-Presse writes (10/7). “During these vaccination campaigns, teams of polio workers often accompanied by police escorts go door to door in villages and towns to administer the vaccinations,” according to the Associated Press/Fox News. “The campaign targeted Monday had originally been scheduled for September, but was delayed over security concerns, said a health official,” the news agency adds (10/7). “Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic, due in part to militant resistance to polio mass vaccination campaigns,” BBC News notes (10/7). “Eight new cases of polio were reported in Pakistan last week, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative,” Reuters reports (Houreld, 10/7).

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Aid Agencies Must Do More To Address Girls' Needs In Disaster Response, Report Says

A new report from Plan U.K., titled “In Double Jeopardy: Adolescent Girls and Disasters,” “finds that during disasters and emergencies girls become even more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation, early pregnancy, violence and disease, but that charities and NGOs aren’t meeting their needs, preferring a ‘one size fits all’ response,” The Observer/Guardian reports. “The report — part of the charity’s Because I Am a Girl campaign — is to be published this week ahead of U.N. International Day of the Girl Child on Friday,” the newspaper writes, adding, “It includes conversations with children in developing countries and with humanitarian workers across the world, and finds that measures to combat sexual- and gender-based violence in refugee camps — such as separate toilets for men and women — are being applied inconsistently.” The newspaper adds, “Plan U.K. is calling on aid agencies to train and recruit more female workers and to consult girls in all stages of disaster response,” as well as provide “more targeted services for girls in education and sexual and reproductive health — and more funding to help protect them” (McVeigh, 10/5).

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Laurie Garrett Discusses Global Health Threats In Atlantic Interview

“In an interview with Atlantic senior editor Corby Kummer at The Atlantic Meets the Pacific on Friday, [Laurie Garrett, a journalist and senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations,] calmly outlined several very real threats facing the global population,” The Atlantic reports. In the interview summary, Garrett discusses the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, vaccination campaigns, bird flu research, and the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases, among other issues (Green, 10/5).

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Editorials and Opinions

International Cooperation Needed To Ensure Food Security

After “a sharp rise in maize prices, triggered by the worst drought in the last 50 years in the U.S. Midwest, [one year ago] sent shock waves through the international food markets raising fears that food prices would spiral out of control,” “[t]he outlook for international food markets finally looks brighter today, at least for consumers,” U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva writes in the Huffington Post’s “World” blog. He discusses positive FAO predictions regarding cereal production and market resiliency. “It is also important to recognize the role of global governance in this positive development, by increasing transparency, market information and helping control factors that had led to price spikes before,” noting the actions of the Agricultural Market Information System, the U.N. Secretary-General’s High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security, and the Committee on World Food Security.

However, “[i]nternational prices are still higher than their historical trend,” and “if high food prices are the new normal, then governments need to adapt to this situation by increasing resilience of the poorer populations and by strengthening social protection programs, including cash transfers,” Graziano da Silva writes. “The current period of relative calm on international markets gives an opportunity to reflect on a more considered assessment of how the international community can best respond to food price volatility and work together to make sure that food prices, higher or lower, do not have a negative impact on food security,” he writes, noting the FAO is meeting October 7 “to do just that” (10/5).

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Substandard, Fake Medicines Continue To Harm Patients Most In Need Of 'Cheap, Good Medicine'

“Over the past six years, my research group has sampled thousands of medicines used to treat tuberculosis, malaria, and major bacterial infections in emerging markets,” Roger Bate, author and adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece, noting “just over five percent of products failed quality-control tests.” He continues, “Given that probably over 100 million people around the world take Indian drugs every week, if one in 20 of those drugs doesn’t work, millions of patients are not taking the medicines they need.” Bate focuses on Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers and discusses a recent investigation into maternal health products sold in Ghana.

In one study, “[w]hen [medicines made by Indian manufacturers] were sold in India or in other wealthier emerging markets, five of 54 samples (nine percent) failed quality-control tests. But when the same products were sold by the same companies in Africa, 13 of 37 samples (35 percent) failed,” Bate writes. “Put simply, these companies, including ones certified by the WHO, are capable of making good products, at least most of the time,” he states, adding, “Yet the products they send to Africa are up to four times more likely to fail basic quality tests, putting the lives of patients across the continent at risk.” He concludes, “[W]ith insufficient resources to combat substandard drug manufacturing and little regulatory harmonization across borders, … companies will continue to sell bad drugs to the countries and their people who are most in need of cheap, good medicine — and most vulnerable when poor substitutes fail them” (10/4).

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Recent Releases

Kaiser Family Foundation Examines Intersection Between U.S. Global Health And Humanitarian Assistance Programs

The Kaiser Family Foundation today released an issue brief that examines the policy and financing landscape at the intersection of U.S. global health and international assistance programs, an email alert from the foundation states. The alert adds, “[The brief] concludes that even though discussions about coordinating and integrating these two sectors are not new, now may be a key time for building stronger connections.” The brief also “summarizes a recent roundtable discussion Kaiser hosted on the opportunities, challenges, and next steps for collaboration and coordination between these two types of programs” (10/7).

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NTDs Highlighted At PAHO Council Meeting

“[H]ealth officials from the [Latin American and Caribbean (LAC)] region met this week at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) headquarters in Washington, D.C., for its 52nd Directing Council,” the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ (NTDs) “End the Neglect” blog reports. “NTDs were highlighted throughout the week and they played an integral role in broader conversations on the post-2015 development agenda, the importance of water and sanitation service improvements, and the social determinants of health,” the blog states and summarizes a side event co-hosted by the Global Network. “We are beginning to see increased political will and commitment, and this makes us truly believe that we are closer to seeing the end of NTDs in the Americas!” the blog concludes (Corona-Parra, 10/4).

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Blog Features Updates From Two Conferences Focused On Infectious Disease Research

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog features “live-blogging” from two events, the ID Week 2013 meeting that took place last week in San Francisco and the AIDS Vaccine 2013 meeting this week in Barcelona, Spain. The blog highlights a presentation on HIV prevention and another on tuberculosis vaccines from ID Week (Aziz/Lubinski, 10/4). From the AIDS Vaccine meeting, the blog notes, “This will be the last conference dedicated solely to HIV vaccine research. The next conference for sharing such information will part of the HIV Research for Prevention 2014 Conference in Cape Town, South Africa.” The blog adds, “‘Science Speaks’ will be covering the research, releases, issues and plans as the conference unfolds, starting today” (Barton, 10/7).

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