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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

MSF Pulls Out Of Somalia After 22 Years Due To Attacks On Staff

“Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is pulling out of Somalia after 22 years because of attacks on its staff, cutting off hundreds of thousands of people from vital treatment,” The Guardian reports. “MSF — also known as Doctors Without Borders — said its hand was forced by ‘extreme attacks on its staff in an environment where armed groups and civilian leaders increasingly support, tolerate, or condone the killing, assaulting, and abducting of humanitarian aid workers,'” the newspaper writes, adding, “The aid group, which has 1,500 people working in the horn of Africa country, described it as ‘one of the hardest decisions MSF has had to make in its history'” (Smith, 8/14). “Sixteen MSF staff members have been killed in Somalia since 1991 when civil war erupted, but the charity stayed on, negotiating with militant groups and resorting to hiring armed guards, something it does not do in any other country,” Reuters notes, adding, “The pullout came a month after two female Spanish MSF workers were freed by their Somali kidnappers after almost two years in captivity” (Jorgic/Ahmed, 8/14).

“The situation on the ground was so extreme that the organization decided to just pack up and go, without a transition process,” Devex writes, noting, “That means that practically overnight, patients will no longer be able to receive pediatric intensive care in Mogadishu or any type of medical attention in most suburbs and towns around the country. The closure will also put an end to free primary health care, malnutrition treatment, maternal health, surgery, epidemic response, immunization campaigns, water and relief supplies” (Ravelo, 8/14). “Last year in Somalia, the group provided outpatient treatment to 624,200 people, admitted an additional 41,100 to hospitals and performed 2,750 surgeries,” according to the New York Times, which adds, “The Somali government will discuss the departure of Doctors Without Borders in a cabinet meeting on Thursday, a spokesman said, but declined to comment otherwise” (Kulish, 8/14).

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Chair, VP Of Global Fund Board Offers Advice On Key Focus Areas In Letter To Board Members

“The chair and vice chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria wrote to Board members on Friday to offer advice on key areas of focus during the next two years,” Vaccine News Daily reports. “The message, which was written by Nafsiah Mboi, the Board chair, and Mireille Guigaz, the vice chair, set out suggested principles that should underlie the work of the Board in the next two years,” the news service notes (Cohen, 8/14). “The priorities are set around the core functions of the Board leadership: setting strategic direction; enhancing effective governance and oversight; committing and managing financial resources; assessing organizational performance; risk management; and mobilizing resources and strengthening partnerships,” a Global Fund press release states, adding, “‘An urgent priority for the Board in 2013 is sharing responsibility to lead the Fund’s replenishment campaign to ensure appropriate resourcing of the Fund across the 2014-2016 period,’ the message adds” (8/9). In related news, Forbes contributor Devin Thorpe interviews Christoph Benn, director of external relations for the Global Fund, about the fund (8/14).

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The Guardian Examines Global Partnership On Effective Development Cooperation

The Guardian reports on the Global Partnership on Effective Development Cooperation, “the only forum for aid donors and recipients, emerging economies, civil society, the private sector and foundations to focus on the quality of development assistance.” Nearly two years after its unveiling at the 2011 Fourth High-Level Forum (HLF4) in Busan, South Korea, “the global partnership is at risk of fading away because of a shortage of funding, reflecting a lack of high-level political interest,” the newspaper writes. “The global partnership sounds very grand, but the legwork is being done by a secretariat consisting of officials from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP),” and “voluntary contributions to the secretariat have been slow in coming and there is a shortfall of $4.5 million (£2.9 million) across the two organizations, with the shortfall particularly acute for UNDP,” The Guardian continues and describes how the partnership is meant to function as a forum for discussion over aid.

“Yet, despite its potential value to poor countries, the global partnership suffers from its links to the OECD, still viewed by many in the G77 group of developing countries as a club for the rich,” The Guardian writes, adding, “For those in the OECD, this misses the point that the global partnership is a practical coalition focused on learning and improving development practice.” The newspaper continues, “Considering its teething problems it is hard to say whether the global partnership’s travails are embryonic or terminal.” Clare Coffey, a policy adviser at ActionAid, said, “To get the partnership back on track may require the role of the support function [OECD and UNDP] to be revisited, as well as strengthening participation of civil society,” according to the newspaper (Tran, 8/15).

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Progress Made On WASH Standards, But Additional Commitments Needed, Report Says

“Political leadership and concrete action have led to good progress on creating universal and sustainable access to decent sanitation and drinking water, but additional efforts are needed to fulfill commitments by the 2014 deadline, a United Nations-backed partnership reported” on Wednesday, the U.N. News Centre reports. “The 15 developing countries that made specific commitments to tackle open defecation have made notable progress in scaling up community-based approaches to sanitation,” according to the 2013 Progress Update (.pdf) by the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership, the news service writes. Some countries “reported significant budget increases for sanitation,” some “have given the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector higher political visibility,” and others reported “creating stronger information systems from which important decisions can be made, as well as improved planning and coordination processes,” the news service notes. “The report showed that work remains to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of service delivery” and “more effort must also be made to include multiple stakeholders in the progress review process,” the U.N. News Centre writes (8/14).

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IPS Interviews Director Of IPPF Western Hemisphere Ahead Of LAC Population Conference

Inter Press Service correspondent Diana Cariboni interviews Carmen Barroso, director for the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region, ahead of the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, taking place Aug. 12-15 in Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital. “Latin America has long been in the vanguard in the promotion of women’s rights, and still is today, Barroso … tells IPS in this interview,” the news service writes, adding, “For that reason she does not believe there will be any backsliding at the first session of the [conference].” According to the interview transcript, Barroso highlights the issues that could potentially “stand in the way of a consensus” at the event, reflects on the evolution of the “civil society groups that have formed part of this process in the last two decades,” and examines the issue of teenage pregnancy, among other topics (8/14).

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Widespread Measles Outbreak Hits CAR

“A severe measles epidemic has affected the whole territory of the Central African Republic [CAR], which lacks any strong health infrastructure, Health Minister Aguid Sounouk has said,” Agence France-Presse/Al Jazeera reports. “The minister blamed the spread of the disease on ‘outbreaks of measles in several administrative districts of the country where no action was organized to contain the epidemic’ since December 2012,” when CAR “was undergoing an insurgency that led to the overthrow of president Francois Bozize in March and placed power in the hands of a rebel coalition, which has since joined with other forces to form an interim government,” the news agency writes. “A vaccination campaign took place in the capital Bangui in May this year and reached 122,000 children, but nothing has been done for about 1.5 million children who live in other parts of the country,” AFP notes (8/13).

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Editorials and Opinions

Global Community Must Help Haiti Recover From 'Double Tragedy' Of Earthquake, Cholera

The Washington Post’s August 12 editorial on Haiti “rightly drew attention to the heavy and tragic toll of the cholera epidemic and the continued need for more resources and support,” and the U.N. “shares The Post’s concern,” Martin Nesirky, spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, writes in a Washington Post letter to the editor. He describes the U.N.’s work to directly address the cholera epidemic, as well as “our longer-term efforts on improving water and sanitation infrastructure,” and he notes the U.N.’s “drive to support Haiti’s long-term plan to eliminate cholera and end the epidemic,” launched last year by Ban. “So far, only half of the $444 million needed for the next two years has been mobilized, and less than a quarter of the $40 million earmarked for humanitarian needs has been received,” Nesirky writes, concluding, “With sufficient support, we can assist the people of Haiti in recovering from the double tragedy of earthquake and cholera, combat poverty and lay the foundations for stability and prosperity. This is what the people of Haiti need. Our job is to help them” (8/14).

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To Address Malnutrition, Improve Global Access To Clean Water, Sanitation

“There have been so many attempts to fix the water quality crisis, the public seems to have grown tired of it, and its impacts — especially malnutrition — have been swept under the proverbial rug,” Amanda Sperber, a communications fellow at mWater, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Water” blog. “This means that when major international bodies discuss next steps in improving access to clean water, the socio-political implications that should be blazingly obvious also end up under the rug,” she states. “Malnutrition, a problem with a direct connection to water and sanitation, is one that’s completely solvable with the right technology,” she notes, adding, “Even more impactful than food shocks, the leading cause of malnutrition is diarrheal disease, which is brought about by a lack of access to safe water and sanitation.” She writes, “The solution to solving this crisis should be obvious — reduce exposure to unsafe water and increase opportunities for sanitary behaviors.”

“U.N. agencies and national stakeholders are currently debating the targets for the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs], the next global agenda for aid and development that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] in 2015,” Sperber continues, adding, “Under current debate is how water and sanitation should be measured, with some advocating that the western countries’ quality thresholds should be lowered in the global south to meet measurements of feasibility.” She states, “It’s also to say that there’s pressure for the SDGs related to water to succeed more than those of the MDGs, and a lower water sanitation requirement makes this easier to achieve.” She adds, “At this point, to frame malnutrition as a humanitarian issue, and to not acknowledge the socio-political and technological implications that cause it, is extremely short-sighted and totally unproductive” (8/14).

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Advanced Education For Health Care Workers Helps Save Children's Lives

While global under-five mortality rates have dropped significantly over the past 20 years, they “remain far too high,” especially when “it is possible to save children’s lives using simple, low-tech, low-cost, evidence-based care that relies on manpower more than technology: vaccines, antibiotics, nutritional supplements, better family care and breast feeding,” Louisdon Pierre, director of pediatric critical care at the Brooklyn Hospital Center and co-founder of the Pediatric Universal Life-Saving Effort (PULSE), writes in a Live Science opinion piece. “The goal of PULSE is to create pediatric health hubs in developing countries where physicians, nurses and other health care workers can learn simple, critical-care techniques to reduce pediatric mortality from infections, pneumonia and dehydration,” he writes, adding, “Once local physicians are trained, they can pass the knowledge along thorough local instructors and regional centers.” Pierre continues, “To date, PULSE has conducted several missions to Haiti, El Salvador, Kenya and Nepal,” and “has trained more than 400 health care workers in the nations we have visited.” He concludes, “Reducing pediatric mortality in developing countries has significant challenges. Advanced education and training for local physicians, nurses and health care workers can make a huge difference” (8/14).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Special Issue Of USAID's 'Frontlines' Examines Results Of Successful Development Projects

USAID’s “FrontLines” on Wednesday published “a special issue reviewing 20 projects the agency counts among its most successful,” USAID’s “IMPACTblog” reports. Among other results, the issue highlights U.S. efforts to promote resilience ahead of natural disasters in Ethiopia and Kenya, to address rapid population growth in Brazil, to make financial services available to microentrepreneurs in the Philippines, and to improve Afghanistan’s health system, the blog notes (Rucker, 8/14).

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WHO Releases Report Highlighting Link Between Health Research, Universal Coverage

“At the launch of the ‘World health report 2013: Research for universal health coverage’ [on Thursday, the WHO] called on countries to continue investing in local research in order to develop a system of universal health coverage tailored to each individual country’s situation,” the health agency reports in a news release. “The report shows how countries, when developing a system for universal health coverage, can use research to determine what health issues should be addressed, how a system should be structured and how to measure progress according to their specific health situation,” the news release notes, adding, “The report reveals that, on average, domestic investment in research in low- and middle-income countries has been growing five percent each year,” and “[c]ase studies from many countries demonstrate the importance of local and global research for improving health, ranging from the prevention and control of specific diseases to the better functioning of health systems” (8/15).

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World Vision Publishes Background Paper On Food Aid

On Thursday, World Vision published a background paper on food aid and development assistance, which “are key tools to fight hunger and the food insecurity that causes chronic or emergency shortages of nutrition around the world,” the paper states. The background paper examines factors contributing to rising food prices, the scale of the problem, its impact on children, and World Vision’s programs, policy priorities and calls for action (8/14).

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