KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Stronger Surveillance Needed To Maintain Progress Against Malaria, U.N. Says

In light of World Malaria Day, observed on April 25 each year, news outlets report on progress made and challenges around efforts to eliminate the disease.

Huffington Post: Malaria Is The ‘Greatest Success Story In Global Health’: Nonprofit
“A decade ago, up to 45 percent of all hospital admissions in Africa were caused by malaria, according to USAID. Today, the continent is in a dramatically better place regarding the mosquito-transmitted disease. About 3.3 million lives have been saved because of international malaria control interventions, the World Health Organization reports, and malaria mortality rates in African children have dropped by about 54 percent. … But there’s still significant work to be done…” (Couch, 4/25).

U.N. News Centre: On World Malaria Day, U.N. officials push for near zero preventable deaths
“The tide has turned on malaria, with mortality rates for children in Africa down by half, but a stronger surveillance system is urgently needed to prevent new outbreaks and resurgences, United Nations officials today warned, marking the sixth annual World Malaria Day…” (4/25).

UPI: World Malaria Day observed April 25
“The World Health Organization established April 25 as World Malaria Day in 2007 to raise awareness about the disease and to promote investment in funding prevention and control initiatives…” (Finley, 4/25).

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WHO Observes World Vaccination Week

Media outlets discuss World Immunization Week, which takes place from April 24-30 this year.

U.N. News Centre: Kicking off annual global immunization campaign, U.N. asks: ‘Are you up to date?’
“While some 80 percent of children around the world, or 110 million infants, are receiving life-saving vaccinations each year, ‘one in five — more than 22 million children — not being vaccinated is too much for us,’ according to the World Health Organization at the start of World Immunization Week 2014…” (4/24).

VOA News: Success of Immunizations Becomes Its Weakness
“The World Health Organization is urging adults to get their children immunized against deadly and debilitating diseases, and to make sure their own immunizations are up to date…” (Pearson, 4/25).

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U.N. Report Urges Greater Action To Combat Sexual Violence In Conflict Countries

News outlets report on a new U.N. report urging greater action to combat sexual violence in conflict countries.

Associated Press: U.N. names 21 countries with rape in conflict
“A new U.N. report names 21 countries where rape and other sexual violence has been committed in current and recent conflicts, from Afghanistan and Central African Republic to Myanmar and Syria…” (Lederer, 4/24).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. urges greater action to combat sexual violence in 21 conflict countries
“Despite unprecedented political momentum to fight rape in war zones, sexual violence remains a global crime affecting women, men and children in more than 20 countries, a senior United Nations official announced today urging greater action at the regional and national levels…” (4/24).

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U.N.-Backed Summit Commits To Improving World's Oceans, Food Security

U.N. News Centre: Participants at U.N.-backed summit commit to improve ocean health, secure food security
“A United Nations-backed summit wrapped up in the Netherlands today with a set of concrete actions to turn around the health of the world’s oceans and food security for millions by tackling key threats such as climate change, overfishing, habitat loss and pollution…” (4/25).

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MERS Death Toll Rises; Egypt Reports First Case

News outlets report on the growing epidemic of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Agence France-Presse: Two Saudis die of MERS, taking toll to 94
“Two Saudi nationals have died from MERS, taking the death toll from the coronavirus in the worst-hit country to 94, the health ministry said…” (4/27).

Associated Press: Saudi Arabia reports 8 more deaths from MERS virus
“Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry said Sunday that eight more people have died after contracting a lethal Middle East virus related to SARS as the kingdom grapples with a rising number of infections…” (Al-Shihri, 4/27).

Los Angeles Times: Egypt reports its first case of MERS virus
“With the appearance of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, in the Arab world’s most populous country, health officials face a tough new challenge in confronting the often lethal virus…” (King, 4/26).

Reuters: Egypt discovers first case of potentially deadly MERS virus
“Egypt has discovered its first case of the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in an Egyptian citizen who had recently returned from Saudi Arabia, Egypt’s Ministry of Health said on Saturday…” (Saleh/Mourad, 4/28).

Reuters: Saudi Arabia has 26 more cases of MERS virus, 10 dead
“Saudi Arabia confirmed 26 more cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which has killed nearly a third of sufferers, and said 10 more people have died from the disease…” (McDowell, 4/28).

Reuters: Experts cast doubt on Saudi push for Middle East virus vaccine
“Official talk in Saudi Arabia of racing to develop a vaccine against a deadly new virus may be a way to reassure a fearful population, but it is scientifically wide of the mark and makes little sense in public health terms…” (Kelland, 4/25).

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USAID Brings Food To Sudan, Helps Feed Displaced

Agence France-Presse: Ship brings U.S.-donated food to help Sudan’s displaced
“A ship loaded with U.S.-donated food that arrived in Sudan on Sunday will help to feed about 300,000 people uprooted by fighting this year in the Darfur region, the U.N. said…” (4/27).

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Attack On CAR Hospital Kills At Least 22, Including MSF Staff Members

Agence France-Presse: 22 killed in attack on C. Africa MSF hospital: peacekeepers
“At least 22 people including three staff members of medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières were killed during a weekend attack by gunmen on a Central African hospital, an officer from the MISCA peacekeeping force told AFP on Monday…” (4/28).

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More Children Threatened By Malnutrition Than Violence In CAR, U.N. Says

U.N. News Centre: In Central African Republic, ‘more children will die from malnutrition than bullets’ — U.N. agency
“The number of children being treated for severe acute malnutrition in the Central African Republic’s war-torn capital, Bangui, has tripled since the beginning of 2014, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) confirmed today, predicting that more children are likely to suffer in the coming months…” (4/25).

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MSF Says Keeping Vaccines Cold Is Unnecessary 'Nightmare'

BBC News: Call to end vaccine ‘nightmare’
“Getting vaccines to children in remote parts of developing countries can be a logistical nightmare, not least because of the requirement to keep them cold. But the charity Médecins Sans Frontières says this is an unnecessary ‘nightmare’ and is calling on pharmaceutical companies and the World Health Organization to ease a blanket recommendation to keep vaccines cold…” (Mazumdar, 4/25).

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Chilean Parliament To Reconsider National Abortion Ban

The Guardian: Chile to reconsider abortion ban
“Chile is one of six countries that bans abortion even if a woman’s life is in danger. In July, however, the country’s MPs [members of Parliament] are expected to consider legalizing it in certain circumstances…” (Ford, 4/25).

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Restrictions On International Aid In West Myanmar Exacerbates Growing Health Crisis

Reuters: Rohingya health crisis in west Myanmar after aid groups forced out
“…In February, Myanmar’s government expelled the main aid group providing health to more than half a million Rohingya in Rakhine State — Médecins Sans Frontières-Holland (MSF-H) … The government had pledged to allow most NGOs to return to full operation after the end of Buddhist New Year celebrations this month. But so far only food distribution by the World Food Programme has returned to normal, and Rakhine community leaders in the state government’s Emergency Coordination Center have imposed conditions on others wanting to go back…” (Bedford, 4/28).

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New CEO Begins At Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Lancet: New CEO takes the reins at the Gates Foundation
“…[Susan] Desmond-Hellmann is the third CEO in the foundation’s history and the first to have a track record in global health. While she is at pains to dampen any speculation that her appointment signals any strategic shift in the direction of the foundation, there is an expectation that Desmond-Hellmann will have more direct input into the foundation’s major global health and global development programs, led by Trevor Mundel and Chris Elias respectively, than has previously been the case…” (Holmes, 4/26).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Food Aid Must 'Prioritize Population Needs Over Industry Pressure'

Lancet Global Health: ‘From the American People’: the U.S. Farm Bill and the reform of emergency food aid
James Smith of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne

“…With the support of several international non-governmental organizations, the current U.S. administration recently proposed substantial changes, which would largely delink food aid from domestic agricultural and shipping industries through the transfer of an additional $1.1 billion to the International Disaster Assistance fund. … Despite the urgent need for operational flexibility and responsiveness in times of humanitarian crisis, the administration’s changes failed to muster enough cross-party support. … Another five years will now pass before the House and Senate must reconvene to modify and reauthorize the provisions outlined in the latest Farm Bill. To reach communities affected by crisis in a timely and efficient manner, it is imperative that legislators take further steps to prioritize population needs over industry pressure” (May 2014).

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Saudi Arabia Must Embrace Transparency, Cooperation In MERS Outbreak

Washington Post: Saudi Arabia’s MERS virus outbreak demands transparency
“…Major uncertainties about the MERS virus persist, including how it spreads, whether it has efficiently begun human-to-human transmission and whether its genetic makeup has evolved. The Saudis must throw open their doors to international scientific inquiry. … For everyone’s safety and well-being, there must be a move to clarity, cooperation and transparency. Even if MERS does not reach pandemic scale, it must be confronted as if it could” (4/24).

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Opinion Pieces Highlight World Malaria Day, Efforts To Eliminate Disease

The following is a summary of three opinion pieces addressing World Malaria Day 2014.

Huffington Post: Top 10 Reasons to Believe Malaria Can Be Defeated in Our Lifetime
Ray Chambers, U.N. special envoy for health financing

“In 2008, the malaria community came together to celebrate the first World Malaria Day and redouble global efforts to fight one of the world’s oldest diseases, which at that time killed one million children a year. The progress made in the six years since has not only saved millions of lives (child deaths this year are below 500,000 for the first time in history), but given us reason to believe, this World Malaria Day, we can defeat malaria in our lifetime…” Chambers discusses 10 reasons why this is the case (4/25).

Huffington Post: New Focus on Housing Improvements May Be Key to Reducing the Global Burden of Malaria
Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International

“We believe that adequate housing can improve the lives and health of millions of people. We have enough positive indicators to urge that housing improvements be examined carefully as another valuable tool in reducing the incidences of malaria. We need to bring together experts from diverse fields to develop a large-scale research agenda that makes a clear connection between improved homes and malaria reduction. This may be one of the most cost-effective methods for reducing the global burden of malaria — and for bringing hope to millions of families worldwide” (4/25).

The Lancet: Time to contain artemisinin resistance
“The theme of this year’s World Malaria Day (April 25) is elimination: invest in the future and defeat malaria. Good progress has been made towards controlling malaria and reducing disease incidence. … This success can be attributed, in part, to the use of artemisinin-based combination therapy in malaria-endemic countries. But does resistance to artemisinins in the Greater Mekong Subregion threaten a global health catastrophe? … This year’s World Malaria Day should refocus commitment to address the danger of artemisinin resistance with effective mobilization of resources in the field, research, and above all leadership” (4/26).

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World Must 'Get Serious About Tackling' Water, Sanitation

New York Times: Cholera and Clean Water
Lisa Schectman, director of policy and advocacy at WaterAid

“Drawing attention to the continuing catastrophe of cholera in Haiti is critical to bringing an end to the preventable suffering and death that stem from the true root cause: poor access to safe drinking water, sanitation and healthy hygiene practices like hand washing. … What is happening in Haiti is a very real crisis. Yet it need never be repeated if we get serious about tackling the lack of access to safe water and toilets worldwide” (4/27).

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Climate Change Is A Food Security Issue

Al Jazeera: Climate change and the food security dimension
Hilal Elver, research professor in global studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and co-director of the Climate Change Project

“The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report made clear that climate change will be harmful for all of us — and not only for a few remote island states or polar bears — by affecting the world’s food supply. … If climate change is re-framed as primarily a food security issue, is it possible some climate skeptics will lose their influence, especially the members of the U.S. Congress who have taken them so seriously? The prospects are not encouraging … unless a massive grassroots movement takes hold and changes the political climate in the United States and elsewhere…” (4/25).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Secretary Kerry Swears In Deborah Birx As U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on the April 25 formal swearing in of Deborah Birx as U.S. global AIDS coordinator by Secretary of State John Kerry (Aziz, 4/25). A transcript of remarks from the ceremony is available online from the State Department (4/25).

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Blogs Feature Posts Recognizing World Malaria Day

Several blogs discuss World Malaria Day, which takes place on April 25 each year. Katie Leach-Kemon of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation examines the impact of malaria using visualizations in Humanosphere (4/25). In the PLOS “Speaking of Medicine” blog, Estrella Lasry of Médecins Sans Frontières discusses surveillance measures taken by the organization to prevent malaria outbreaks in emergency situations (4/25). Ashley Chang of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition writes in the group’s blog about cooperation and progress in the fight against malaria (4/25). Lesley Reed of PATH writes in the organization’s blog about PATH’s vaccine portfolio and malaria efforts (4/25). PSI’s “Impact” blog features a post on the group’s efforts to control malaria vectors (4/25). And the ONE blog publishes a guest post by Alan Magill, director of the malaria program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (4/25).

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