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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Positive Impact Of China-Africa Health Cooperation Discussed At Forum

Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong on Friday met with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, Xinhua reports (8/16). Speaking at the Ministerial Forum of China-Africa Health Development, “Sidibé emphasized the enormous positive impact of stronger China-Africa cooperation for health,” UNAIDS notes in an article on its webpage (8/16). “‘China and Africa have a long history of cooperation on health, and this year marks the 50th anniversary of Chinese medical teams being sent to Africa,’ [Sidibé said],” Xinhua writes in a separate article, adding, “The UNAIDS chief lauded China’s experience, technical know-how and competitiveness in the health sector, saying it could boost progress in Africa. China could work with Africa to develop simple, low-cost and easy-to-use tools and medical equipment, and promote the African pharmaceutical industry, he said” (Wu/Chen, 8/16).

“Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday that China will continue to promote cooperation with African countries on health and development,” the news service states in another article. “China will continue to send medical teams and cataract surgeons to Africa and will deepen cooperation and health personnel training in maternal and child health care, Xi said,” the news service continues (8/16). China Daily reports, “China will also help train 3,000 African doctors, nurses, public health workers and health care managers through a plan to nurture African professionals in the industry” (Wang/Li, 8/17). In a China Daily opinion piece, Sidibé writes, “The commitment by Chinese leaders, and more than 30 ministers of health from African countries, representatives of businesses, civil society and academics, demonstrates that working together to ensure universal access to health care sets a new stage for South-South cooperation” (8/16). In related news, Xinhua examines a roundtable discussion at the event, hosted by the GAVI Alliance, which highlighted the lessons that can be learned from China’s hepatitis B vaccination program (Tian, 8/17).

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U.N. Secretary General Expresses Concern Over Drop In Official Development Assistance

“There is an urgent need to reverse the fall in official development assistance (ODA), [U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said] as he set out key elements for a development agenda beyond 2015” in a progress report (.pdf) to the U.N. general assembly on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), The Guardian reports. “Ban expressed concern at the drop in ODA — which comes under MDG 8, the global partnership — over the past two years,” the newspaper writes, noting “ODA fell by four percent in real terms last year, following a two percent dip in 2011, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),” which “attributed the drop in aid for the second year in a row to the economic crisis in Europe, but predicted a moderate recovery next year.”

“The report says ODA will remain crucial to leverage other finance, particularly for the least developed countries and those emerging from conflicts and disasters,” The Guardian notes. “It will be critical, it adds, for donors to establish a timetable for meeting ODA targets and enhancing the principles on development effectiveness, as set out in Busan, South Korea, where ownership of development strategy by aid recipients was emphasized,” the newspaper writes, adding, “Looking beyond 2015, when the MDGs expire, Ban said the key elements of a future development agenda should include: universality, to mobilize all developed and developing countries and leave no one behind; sustainable development, to tackle interlinked challenges, including a clear focus on ending extreme poverty in all its forms; and inclusive economic transformations, ensuring decent jobs, backed by sustainable technologies” (Tran, 8/16).

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PBS NewsHour Examines Unlikely Partnership In Tanzania Helping To Reduce Disease Among Drug Users

PBS NewsHour features a multimedia report on HIV and tuberculosis (TB) prevention among drug users in Tanzania, highlighting the partnership between two women, “one selling heroin and cocaine to her neighbors, the other trying to save them from addiction” by providing clean needles and counseling. “Specifically targeting drug users with this kind of information is a growing priority for the global health community,” the NewsHour writes, adding, “Along with sex workers, prisoners and men who have sex with men, drug users, especially those who inject drugs, represent a disproportionate share of the population living with HIV and a ‘high risk’ group for contracting tuberculosis.” The news service continues, “Recent analysis from the Global Commission on Drug Policy found that the same countries employing the most aggressive drug war strategies — including arresting and incarcerating drug users for drug or needle possession — saw increases of more than 25 percent in new HIV infections” because “such practices drive drug users so far underground that they’re almost guaranteed to share and reuse dirty needles,” according to health workers.

However, “[o]thers worry that needle exchanges and general harm reduction interventions could lead to a societal perception that the government encourages drug use, or even pave the way for legalization,” the NewsHour writes. “But that’s missing the point, said Mauro Guarinieri, a senior adviser with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” the news service notes. Guarinieri said, “We are not for legalizing drug use. … We’re talking about having a rational approach to drug use which is not incarcerating people or pushing people underground — because that doesn’t make sense from a public health perspective,” according to the news service. The NewsHour also profiles Rehema Mpili, an HIV-positive former sex worker and drug user who now works with addicts as a nurse and counselor (Kane, 8/14).

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GlobalPost Examines MSF's Decision To Leave Somalia

GlobalPost examines Médecins Sans Frontières’ (MSF) “decision to pull out of Somalia [last] week after 22 years of medical humanitarian work,” noting, “The international group … is withdrawing from the country in response to repeated violent attacks on staff members.” The news service writes, “It’s too soon to predict exactly how the move will affect children in Somalia, but the sheer volume of child-centered programs that MSF is shutting down leaves little doubt that they will suffer,” as MSF operated “the capital city’s only pediatric hospital.” GlobalPost continues, “In addition to providing mobile health care, the [non-governmental organization (NGO)] supported a maternity hospital in Jowhar and offered mother and child health care, including nutrition and vaccinations, in a number of clinics across the country.”

“‘We are certain that our withdrawal will lead to huge gaps in the places where we were working until today,’ said Dr. Unni Karunakara, MSF’s international president, during a press conference this week,” the news service notes, adding, “Research also suggests children bear the brunt of the burden when humanitarian aid providers flee.” GlobalPost continues, “Already, Somalia has the second highest child mortality rate in the world. Nearly 20 percent of children die before they reach the age of five.” The news service writes, “Somalia struggles to improve child health, in part, for the same reason MSF is leaving the country: conflict. … The country leans heavily on international NGOs to provide health care, but at the same time, foreign health workers often find themselves caught in the middle of the fight” (Stuart, 8/16).

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Southeast Asia Experiencing Serious Dengue Outbreak

“Southeast Asia is scrambling to combat a deadly outbreak of dengue fever, the tropical illness transmitted by mosquitoes, which has hit parts of the region especially hard,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Health experts suspect that an unusually early rainy season that brought mosquitoes out in April, months ahead of what is expected, contributed to the seriousness of the dengue challenge,” the newspaper writes, adding, “Meanwhile, dengue is thought to be mutating as a result of immunity that has built up in the region.” As of Wednesday, Thailand had recorded 99,358 dengue cases, “triple what they were at this point last year,” the newspaper notes, discussing the number of cases in several other countries in the region. “Southeast Asian countries report heightened efforts this year to control” the mosquitoes that carry the virus, the Wall Street Journal adds (Chaichalearmmongkol/Cuneta, 8/16).

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Guardian Examines China's Family Planning Policy

China’s “one-child policy, which actually allows a third of couples to have another baby, was supposed to be a transitional measure, but more than 30 years later it endures, despite warnings of its punitive effects on China’s development and families,” The Guardian reports. “Repeated attempts to overturn the policy have led to marginal changes,” the newspaper states. Instead, the policy “has been enforced at huge human cost — forced late-term abortions, a worsening gender gap, increased trauma and economic stress for parents who lose their only child, and punitive fines for families,” the newspaper writes. “Officials say the birth controls have been vital to China’s development and reduced the strain on the environment, preventing 400 million extra births in a country which, even so, has a population of more than 1.3 billion,” The Guardian states, adding, “But critics say the birth rate had fallen steeply before the ‘one child’ rule was introduced. Even those who agree it was necessary say it is no longer needed” (Branigan/Huang, 8/16).

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Guardian Interviews Malaria Consortium Technical Officer About Antibiotics Research For Pneumonia

“Malaria Consortium has been conducting research in Zambia to understand how antibiotics are being used at community level to treat pneumonia, a major killer of children under the age of five in Africa,” The Guardian reports in a post in its “Global Development Professionals Network Partner Zone.” According to the newspaper, “[t]he study is being carried out under Comdis-HSD, a UKAid funded research partnership between academic institutions and [non-governmental organizations (NGOs)], and findings from the study will be used to inform programs working to improve child health, through the integrated community case management (ICCM) of common childhood diseases.” The Guardian interviews Malaria Consortium technical officer Kirstie Graham about the research. According to the transcript, Graham discusses the motivations behind the study, examines the concept of “rational use of antibiotics,” and describes what she hopes “will be the outcome of this study” (8/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Piece Address U.N.'s Role In Haiti's Cholera Outbreak

The following editorial and opinion piece address the U.N.’s role in the Haitian cholera outbreak and aftermath.

  • Washington Post: On Friday, the Washington Post responded to an August 14 letter from Martin Nesirky, a spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who addressed a Post editorial published on August 11. The Washington Post’s response said Nesirky “pointedly ignored the editorial’s central focus, which is that the United Nations’ responsibility derives not only from its mission as a major humanitarian relief organization, but also from the growing body of evidence that the cholera outbreak originated with U.N. peacekeepers deployed to Haiti in 2010 following a devastating earthquake,” the editorial states. “That is the conclusion of a range of experts, including a panel enlisted by the United Nations itself and, most recently,” a report from Yale Law School and the Yale School of Public Health, the editorial writes, adding, “[B]y refusing to acknowledge responsibility, the United Nations jeopardizes its standing and moral authority in Haiti and in other countries where its personnel are deployed.” The editorial concludes, “To its credit, the United Nations does seem to be pressing hard to help Haiti eradicate cholera and lessen the effect of the epidemic. … Yet without also speaking frankly about its own responsibility for introducing cholera to Haiti, the organization does a disservice to Haiti and Haitians, who deserve better” (8/16).
  • Celso Perez and Muneer Ahmad, The Atlantic: “As new cases [of cholera in Haiti] continue to emerge, and the U.N.’s legitimacy continues to erode, it is time for the organization to apologize and take responsibility for the consequences of its actions and its inaction,” Perez, a member of the Transnational Development Clinic and a fellow in the Global Health Justice Partnership at Yale Law School, and Ahmad, director of the Transnational Development Clinic and a professor at Yale Law School, write. Noting the Yale report, the authors state, “As we detail, international law … requires that the U.N. provide individuals affected by its peacekeeping operations with mechanisms for bringing claims against the organization. The failure to provide remedies in Haiti is part of a recent pattern of the U.N. neglecting its legal and moral responsibilities in peacekeeping operations worldwide. A continued refusal would further undermine the organization’s claim to promote the rule of law and human well-being in its missions.” They conclude, “Moreover, by failing to lead by example, the U.N. is undercutting its core aims of promoting international peace, law, and human rights. As the third anniversary of the Haitian epidemic approaches this October, it is time for the U.N. to live up to its mandate” (8/16).

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Improving Status Of Women Central To Achieving Sustainable Growth

“Improving the status of women is central to achieving sustainable growth,” Cherie Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, writes in the Huffington Post “World” blog, adding, “From ensuring families have proper health care, to making certain children receive an education; from contributing to economic growth to achieving good governance, women must be included if we are to make progress in global development efforts.” She notes “gender equality is confirmed as a major focus for development goals post-2015.” She quotes “the U.N. secretary general’s recently released report [.pdf], ‘A Life of Dignity for All,'” which states, “The new [post-2015] agenda must ensure the equal rights of women and girls, their full participation in the political, economic and public spheres and zero tolerance for violence against or exploitation of women and girls.”

“As the 68th Session of the U.N. General Assembly nears … [a]head of the U.N. General Assembly Special Event to Follow Up Efforts Made Towards Achieving the Millennium Development Goals, we must redouble our efforts to build on this momentum so that gender equality remains at the forefront of the post-2015 development agenda both as a stand-alone goal and integrated across the new framework,” Blair continues. “There are mothers, wives, businesswomen, leaders, mentors, caretakers, champions for environmental sustainability and many more, ready and willing to contribute towards a fair, peaceful and prosperous world for all. Together we can seize this historic opportunity to ensure equality of opportunity for women and further progress for everyone post-2015,” she concludes (8/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Examining Benefits Of Replacing Millennium Declaration For Post-2015 Development

“Recent thinking around the post-2015 development agenda has focused on the goals and targets of a follow-on set of Millennium Development Goals for the period 2010-2030,” but “another approach to the post-2015 agenda is to think about what would replace the Millennium Declaration itself,” Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), writes in the center’s “Global Development: Views from the Center” blog. “One big benefit of the approach of leading with the declaration is that the diplomats and world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly could spend their time considering the broad framework for progress over the 2010-2030 period rather than getting bogged down in technical issues of how to measure progress in specific, plausible, numerical, and time-bound indicators across all areas,” he continues and presents a “CGD Essay [as] a proposal for the draft text of such a declaration” (8/15).

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Tajikistan Working To Improve Maternal, Child Health

A blog post by the WHO’s Regional Office for Europe discusses efforts to improve maternal and child health in Tajikistan, writing, “During the last five years WHO has assisted Tajikistan in introducing ‘Beyond the numbers’ approaches that go beyond counting maternal deaths or severe morbidity cases to developing an understanding of why they happened and how they can be prevented.” The post describes a recent three-day meeting “organized by WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Tajikistan to discuss the progress, achievements and barriers as well as next steps” in analyzing maternal mortality and morbidity (8/16).

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U.K. Broadcaster, Ex-Paralympian Reflects On Life With Polio In Gates Foundation Blog Series

In the first of a four-part series in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, U.K. broadcaster and ex-Paralympian Ade Adepitan reflects on how he “contracted polio at the age of 15 months whilst living in Lagos, Nigeria.” According to the blog, Adepitan in January “flew to Lagos to make a documentary about polio in Nigeria for the U.K. broadcaster Channel 4” (8/18).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.