KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

After 15-Year Vaccination Campaign, Rubella Eliminated From The Americas, Global Health Authorities Announce

Agence France-Presse: Rubella is gone from the Americas: global health authorities
“Improved vaccine campaigns have led to the elimination of rubella — an infectious disease that can cause birth defects — from North, Central, and South America, global health authorities said Wednesday…” (4/29).

Associated Press: German measles officially eliminated in North, South America
“…Vaccines against German measles were first licensed in 1969, and were included in mass vaccination campaigns. It is now part of childhood shots…” (Stobbe, 4/29).

Deutsche Welle: German measles eradicated from Americas
“…It is the third infectious disease after polio and smallpox to be eliminated from the two continents…” (4/30).

Forbes: Rubella Eliminated from the Americas, Thanks to MMR Vaccine
“…After 15 years of a widespread vaccination campaign with the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization announced [Wednesday] that rubella no longer circulates in the Americas. The only way a person could catch it is if they are visiting another country or if it is imported into a North, Central, or South American country…” (Haelle, 4/30).

New York Times: Rubella Has Been Eliminated From the Americas, Health Officials Say
“… ‘Although it has taken some 15 years, the fight against rubella has paid off,’ said Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, which made the announcement in conjunction with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, and the United Nations Foundation…” (McNeil, 4/29).

TIME: Americas Region Becomes World’s First to Eliminate Rubella
“…Rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) are now the third and fourth vaccine-preventable diseases to be eliminated in the Americas, following smallpox in 1971 and polio in 1994, and experts say it also speaks to the success of a 15-year initiative to provide widespread vaccination against mumps and rubella (MMR) in the area…” (Sifferlin, 4/29).

UPI: WHO: Americas the first to eliminate rubella
“… ‘The elimination of rubella from the Americas is a historic achievement that reflects the collective will of our region’s countries to work together to achieve ambitious public health milestones,’ said PAHO/WHO Director Carissa F. Etienne…” (Haynes, 4/29).

U.S. News & World Report: Amid Concerns About Vaccine Adherence, Rubella Declared Eliminated
“…Before vaccination efforts, up to 20,000 children were born with congenital rubella syndrome each year in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the U.S., 20,000 infants were born with congenital rubella syndrome during the last outbreak, which occurred from 1964 to 1965…” (Leonard, 4/29).

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U.N., Partners Launch $415M Appeal For Nepal Earthquake Aid; Thousands In Need Of Food, Water As Help Begins Reaching Remote Areas

International Business Times: Nepal Earthquake 2015: Relief Workers Aim To Stave Off Cholera, Other Diseases, Amid Camps And Poor Sanitation
“…As rescuers in the country focus their efforts on pressing needs like food and water, and medical emergencies like crushed bones, they are also trying to stave off another potential crisis: cholera. The disease is endemic to Nepal, and aid workers say that clean water and sanitation are crucial in preventing an outbreak in the aftermath of the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that hit Saturday…” (Whitman, 4/29).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. and partners launch $415 million appeal to aid quake-stricken Nepal
“The United Nations [Wednesday] launched a $415 million emergency appeal to provide vital relief to people affected by the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the densely populated Kathmandu Valley in Nepal on Saturday, killing at least 5,000, injuring at least 10,000 more…” (4/29).

USA TODAY: In tent city in Kathmandu, people scavenge for food and water
“…The first supplies of food aid began reaching some remote, earthquake-shattered mountain villages in Nepal on Wednesday, but the recovery is slow. Basic supplies are growing scarce. In this camp in the nation’s capital, no one has received any food or water since the quake…” (Schreiber, 4/29).

Wall Street Journal: Nepal Earthquake Response Challenges Logistics Experts
“… ‘Logistically, this particular disaster — because of the geography and the mountainous terrain and poor roads — is probably the most difficult response I have ever had to implement,’ said Alex Marianelli, senior logistics officer for Asia at the United Nations World Food Programme and one of the directors of the effort that is bringing medicine, food, and other supplies to the battered, impoverished nation…” (Page, 4/29).

WHO: WHO coordinating the health response to Nepal earthquake; working to prevent spread of disease
“Amid ongoing search and rescue operations being carried out in Nepal after Saturday’s devastating earthquake, WHO has taken leadership in coordinating medical relief for affected communities. According to Dr. Roderico Ofrin, WHO’s emergency health response manager, the organization is working closely with Nepal’s government to ensure that medical aid is delivered effectively…” (4/29).

Yahoo! Health: 6 Health Challenges Nepal Earthquake Survivors Now Face
“… ‘For a country with around 27 million people to suddenly need to have the capacity to respond to a surge of 50,000 or 60,000 people needing urgent care, it’s simply overwhelming,’ [Gerard Finnigan, regional health adviser for Asia-Pacific at World Vision,] tells Yahoo Health. ‘All organizations need to work in close collaboration with the local ministry of health and the health system to understand how we can best support them’…” (Birch, 4/28).

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International Community Must Do More To Combat Drug-Resistant Microbes, WHO Report Says

News outlets continue to report on a new survey from the WHO on antibiotic resistance.

Agence France-Presse: World failing in fight against antibiotic resistance: WHO
“The world is doing far too little to combat the misuse of antibiotics which is fueling drug resistance and allowing long-treatable diseases to become killers, the World Health Organization said Wednesday…” (Larson, 4/29).

CIDRAP News: Survey finds weak global response to antimicrobial resistance
“…Conducted in 2013 and 2014, the survey showed ‘that while much activity is underway and many governments are committed to addressing the problem, there are major gaps in actions needed across all six WHO regions to prevent the misuse of antibiotics and reduce spread of antimicrobial resistance,’ the WHO reported in a statement…” (Roos, 4/29).

International Business Times: Antibiotic Resistance: Combating Deadly ‘Superbugs’ Weak In Most Countries, World Health Organization Report Says
“…The new report surveyed 133 countries in 2013 and 2014, asking governments about their efforts to combat resistance, which builds as medicines are used improperly, whether in the wrong dosages or for the wrong length of time, or if the wrong medicine is used. Only 34 countries responded that they had a comprehensive plan to monitor and control how antibiotics are used…” (Whitman, 4/29).

U.N. News Centre: Systems to combat antibiotic resistance lacking globally, U.N. health agency warns
“…WHO also noted that the sales of antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines without prescription remain widespread, with many countries lacking standard treatment guidelines, which increases the potential for overuse of antimicrobial medicines by the public and medical professionals…” (4/29).

VOA News: WHO: Global Threat From Antibiotic Resistance Growing
“…The survey also finds public awareness of the issue remains generally low and many people believe antibiotics are effective against viral infections…” (Schlein, 4/29).

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West African Nations Begin Ebola Recovery, But Disease Persists In Some Areas

Deseret News: As Sierra Leone emerges from Ebola crisis, new innovations are helping poor villages
“…While [Ebola] has not been completely eradicated, the number of new cases has slowed to a trickle, and when the country’s president, Ernest Bai Koroma, visited Washington this week, he said it was time to turn the focus beyond Ebola. That means rebuilding the economy of what was already one of the poorest nations in the world, and encouraging farmers afraid to get out because of Ebola to return to their fields…” (Curtis, 4/29).

IRIN: Vaccination teams defeat ‘Ebola effect’ in Guinea
“…[T]hanks to an exhaustive door-to-door effort, promoting the benefits of the [measles] vaccine and dispelling myths about Ebola, nearly 100,000 children between the ages of six months and 10 years in Guinea’s southeastern Gueckedou region are now protected against the highly contagious measles virus…” (Lazuta, 4/29).

U.N. News Centre: New U.N. special envoy on Ebola response makes first visit to Sierra Leone
“The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) [Wednesday] said that surveillance and community engagement still require improvement in some areas of Guinea and Sierra Leone where new cases continued to surface, a day after the new Special Representative for U.N. Ebola Response, Peter Graff, was informed of a continued transmission epicenter on the border between those two countries…” (4/29).

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Organization Representing 1M Medical Students Urges Wellcome Trust, Gates Foundation To Drop Fossil Fuel Investments

The Guardian: Fossil fuels are the new tobacco when it comes to health risk
In an open letter to the Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, medical students urge the foundations to divest from fossil fuel companies (4/29).

The Guardian: Group representing 1m medical students backs fossil fuel divestment
“The fossil fuel industry is a bigger threat to global health than tobacco and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust have a moral obligation to divest from it, an international organization that represents one million medical students has said. A letter to the charities from the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) called on the charities to drop their fossil fuel company interests, which amount to almost £1.5bn…” (Mathiesen/Bates, 4/30).

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Global Women Leaders Call For Focus On Ending Poor Sanitation, Hygiene In Developing Countries

VOA News: Women Leaders Target Need for Sanitation and Hygiene
“Over 50 female leaders from around the world recently published a declaration calling for the end of poor sanitation and hygiene in the developing world. Among those leaders are the first ladies of Madagascar and Malawi, both of whom announced the declaration in Washington, D.C…” (Lewis, 4/29).

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Investment In Public Toilets Could Reduce Number Of Sexual Assaults In South Africa, Experts Say

Thomson Reuters Foundation: South Africa should invest in public toilets to combat sexual assault: experts
“Investing in public toilets could reduce the number of sexual assaults in South African townships by almost a third and lower the economic cost of the crime on society, public health experts said on Wednesday. Many women in South Africa must walk long distances from their homes to public toilets, leaving them vulnerable to sexual assault, according to a study by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health and School of Management…” (Guilbert, 4/30).

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Chinese Women In Final Stages Of Pregnancy During Low Air Pollution Period Had Heavier Infants, Study Shows

Associated Press: Chinese babies born during pollution-light Olympics heavier
“Women in the Chinese capital in the final stage of pregnancy during the 2008 Beijing Olympics — when officials strictly controlled air pollution — gave birth to heavier babies than in years when the city was smoggier, a study said Wednesday…” (4/29).

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Wall Street Journal Profiles Melinda Gates

Wall Street Journal: A Day in the Life of Melinda Gates
“…In recent years, [Melinda Gates has] made it her personal mission to improve the welfare of women in developing countries through the use of contraceptives and the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality. Her work sees her shuttling at often surrealistic speed between famine-struck African villages and international halls of wealth and power, hobnobbing with Warren Buffett and Bono at Davos or Bilderberg conferences…” (Ross, 4/29).

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Editorials and Opinions

Individuals Can Help Improve Global Health Along With Governments

Quartz: Bill Gates: You can help the world save 34 million lives
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“If I told you that we could save the lives of, say, 10 million people, mainly by doing things we already know how to do, that would get your attention, right? … [W]hile it’s the world’s governments that will shape the SDGs, individuals like you can make a real difference in improving global health and fighting extreme disease. In our annual letter this year, my wife Melinda and I encouraged readers to join Global Citizen, a highly effective worldwide campaign to address these issues and help ensure a more sustainable future for humanity. I ask that you take a moment to sign up…” (4/29).

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Strong Patent Protections Under TPP Would Allow Increased Drug Access In LMICs

Forbes: Intellectual Property Rights For Global Health
John R. Graham, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis and the Independent Institute

“…Unfortunately, attacking patents is a misguided way to improve access to medicines in low- and middle-income [countries]. Although it is a counter-intuitive conclusion, strong patent rights are a better way to achieve this goal. In an international environment of strong patent rights, innovative drug makers would have every incentive to lower prices voluntarily to poor countries. … [T]he best way for poor countries to improve access to safe and innovative medicines is by adopting policies that allow them to create wealth. That includes strong patent protection. Giving [President Obama] Fast Track authority to negotiate a [Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)] with poor patent protection would harm both American innovators and patients in low- and middle-income countries” (4/29).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Post Calls On Congress To Codify U.S. International Food Assistance Program, Applauds Current Efforts

Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food For Thought”: Global Food Security Act of 2015: What It Is and Why It Matters
Grace Burton and Louise Iverson, research associates at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, discuss the House Global Food Security Act of 2015 (H.R. 1567), which “is an effort to ensure the future of programmatic funding for food security efforts. While this bill authorizes the Obama administration’s Feed the Future Initiative through September 2016, supporters of food security efforts hope that the legislation would ultimately secure Feed the Future beyond the 2016 elections by passing into law a whole-of-government food security strategy, rather than allowing it to remain an executive initiative…” (4/29).

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Blog Posts Discuss Humanitarian Response Following Earthquake In Nepal

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Our Response to the Earthquake in Nepal
Amanda Lanzarone, associate program officer on the emergency response team in the foundation’s global development program, discusses the foundation’s announcement of two grants totaling $1 million to Oxfam America and Lutheran World Relief for humanitarian relief efforts in Nepal (4/29).

Humanosphere: From remote Nepal, a warning against ahistorical disaster relief
In a guest post, David Citrin, an affiliate instructor of anthropology and global health at the University of Washington currently working in a remote region of Nepal, discusses “some guiding principles” and “thoughts on ways to channel efforts and resources” in the post-earthquake recovery (4/29).

USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: USAID Arrives in Nepal, Earthquake Response Efforts Begin
Chuck Setchell, the response manager for the USAID Nepal Earthquake Response Management Team, writes, “On Tuesday, USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) — comprising nearly 130 humanitarian experts and urban search and rescue personnel — landed in Nepal with 90,000 pounds of equipment to coordinate the U.S. government’s earthquake response efforts…” (4/29).

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Gates Foundation Responds To Humanosphere's Report On Experimental Malaria Vaccine

Humanosphere: Gates Foundation critiques our report on malaria vaccine
Bryan Callahan, senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes a letter to the editor in response to Humanosphere’s recent article on the “clinical results of the latest … test of an experimental malaria vaccine championed by [the foundation],” saying that the story mischaracterized the foundation’s approach to vaccines (4/29).

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Public Health Agencies Must Respond To Co-Epidemics Of Diabetes, TB

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s “Global Health NOW”: Curbing Diabetes Vital to Controlling TB
Sarabjit S. Chadha, project director at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (The Union), Sharath B.N., faculty at ESI-Post Graduate Institute of Medical Science and Research in Bangalore, and Sachi Satapathy, technical officer at The Union, discuss how diabetes is a risk factor for tuberculosis, complicating diagnosis and treatment. “…A strategy to enhance accessibility to affordable health care, diagnosis, clinical care and management — measures to prevent and protect the diseases in masses — needs to be fairly adopted…” (4/29).

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Doctor Discusses Successes, Challenges Of Cervical Cancer Detection, Treatment In Zambia

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: HIV response in Zambia calls attention to cancer’s toll
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” highlights the comments of Kennedy Lishimpi, executive director of the Cancer Diseases Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, at the Center for Strategic & International Studies on April 24, where he discussed the successes and challenges of cervical cancer detection and treatment in the country (4/29).

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Measuring Impact Essential In Expressing Success Of Global Health Innovations

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: How Do We Measure The Impact of Grand Challenges
Steven Buchsbaum, deputy director of discovery & translational sciences in the global health program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses the importance and challenges of measuring the impact of public health innovations (4/28).

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