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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.N. Secretary-General Releases Report Outlining Goals, Vision For Post-2015 Development Agenda

“Ahead of an upcoming special General Assembly event next month on efforts by United Nations Member States to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to define a new universal development agenda, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has released a report [.pdf], ‘A Life of Dignity for All,’ containing his updates on the goals and vision for the road ahead,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The new report was released on August 14 to government delegates ahead of the September 25 General Assembly Special Event on the MDGs and post-2015 development agenda, during a week of several high-level events that will be under way next month at U.N. Headquarters in New York,” the news service writes, noting, “The new report takes stock of the progress that has been made and of the steps that are needed to go forward.”

“Responding to a changing world where new economic powers have emerged and new technologies are reshaping lives, the report finds that the ‘new era demands a new vision and a responsive global framework,'” according to the news service, which adds, “With less than 1,000 days to the 2015 target date, bold action is needed in many areas.” The news service writes, “In the report, the U.N. chief also outlines his vision for a new and responsive sustainable development framework to meet the needs of both people and planet …, call[ing] for a new, broader set of targets beyond 2015 which reflects new global realities and challenges.” The news service notes, “Contributing to the report were the views of more than a million people who were asked about their main concerns through a series of worldwide consultations in an effort unprecedented for the U.N.” (8/21).

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Montevideo Conference Attendees Urge Regional Governments To Modify Abortion Laws

“Representatives of 38 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean meeting this week in the Uruguayan capital urged governments in the region to consider modifying their laws on abortion, which are among the most restrictive in the world,” Inter Press Service reports. “The Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development calls on ‘States to consider amending their laws, regulations, strategies and public policies relating to the voluntary termination of pregnancy in order to protect the lives and health of women and adolescent girls, to improve their quality of life and to reduce the number of abortions,'” according to IPS, which notes “[t]he document was adopted at the end of the first session of the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean,” which ended last week.

“The Montevideo Consensus also urges the governments to ‘Ensure, in those cases where abortion is legal or decriminalized under the relevant national legislation, the availability of safe, good-quality abortion services for women with unwanted and unaccepted pregnancies,'” the news service continues. “The document contains over 120 measures concerning the eight priority areas to follow up the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994,” IPS writes, noting, “The recommendations will be the input of Latin America and the Caribbean to the meetings of the U.N. Commission on Population and Development and the General Assembly, to be held in New York in April and September 2014, respectively.” The news service quotes several meeting participants and outlines additional commitments made at the event (Pierri, 8/16).

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U.N. Officials Discuss Agriculture, Food Security, Climate Change At Conferences

Speaking at the second Sub-Saharan and Argentinean Agriculture Ministers Meeting in Buenos Aires, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva “stressed the importance of South-South cooperation to advance agricultural development in developing countries, adding that this collaboration can also help end hunger in the African continent,” the U.N. News Centre reports. Da Silva, one of the meeting co-chairs, “noted that cooperation between Latin America and Africa could be mutually beneficial for the regions as they share similar challenges as well as geographic, climate and social characteristics,” the news service writes (8/21). At another meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, which ended on Wednesday, “U.N. Climate Change Coordinator for Africa Richard Munang said there was a need to increase food production to feed the population without exerting pressure on the continent’s ecosystem,” VOA News reports. “The event organizers and participants have called for joint efforts from the international community, governments and farmers to work together to increase food production and also integrate food security and sustainable agriculture into continental and international policies,” the news service notes (Yusuf, 8/21).

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Researchers Discover MERS Virus In Bat In Saudi Arabia

“The virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has been found in [one bat] in Saudi Arabia, suggesting a potential origin for the disease, according to a new study” published Wednesday in the CDC’s “Emerging Infectious Diseases” journal, Live Science reports (Rettner, 8/21). “An international research team said the bat virus is an exact match to the first known human case of Middle East respiratory syndrome,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes, noting “[t]he sample was collected from within a few miles of that patient’s home” (8/21). “Led by a team of investigators from the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, EcoHealth Alliance, and the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the study is the first to search for an animal reservoir for MERS in Saudi Arabia,” according to a Mailman School press release (8/21). “It’s the first time the virus — or a piece of it — has been found in an animal,” NPR’s “Shots” blog states (Doucleff, 8/21).

“The bat, known as an Egyptian tomb bat, ends a year-long mystery to find the source of the [virus] after the first case emerged last summer from Saudi Arabia, not far from where the bat was found,” TIME Healthland notes, adding, “While other animals, including the camel, have been fingered as possible carriers, none of the viruses isolated from these animals were a complete match with those extracted from infected people” (Sifferlin, 8/22). The “international team of doctors blamed coronavirus in bats for the human outbreak, but said that many questions remained, in part because a perfect match for the virus was found in only a single insect-eating bat out of about 100 Saudi bats tested,” according to the New York Times. “And since such bats do not normally bite people, drool on fruit or do other things that might transmit the disease to people, it was still unclear how the virus leapt to humans,” the newspaper adds (McNeil, 8/21).

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Researchers Trace Evolution Of H7N9, Find Other Similar Viral Strains

“Researchers have traced the evolution of the [H7N9] avian flu currently spreading in China, and have found evidence that it developed in parallel with a similar bird flu, H7N7, which can infect mammals,” Nature reports. “Although there is no evidence that this H7N7 strain will infect humans, the authors of a study published today in Nature say that their finding reinforces the idea that H7 avian viruses are constantly mixing and exchanging genetic material — a process known as reassortment — in Asian poultry markets,” the journal writes (Mole, 8/21). However, “[l]ab tests showed H7N7 was able to cause severe pneumonia in ferrets, which are usually used as proxies for humans in flu research,” Xinhua notes (8/21).

H7N9 “evolved from migratory birds via waterfowl to poultry and into people,” Reuters notes, adding, “The study — an analysis of the evolutionary history of the H7N9 bird flu that has so far killed 44 people — identified several other H7 flu viruses circulating in birds that the researchers said ‘may pose threats beyond the current outbreak'” (Kelland, 8/21). “The current pandemic threat extends beyond the H7N9 virus,” the researchers wrote, adding, “To control H7N9 and related viruses ultimately, it is necessary to reconsider the management of LPMs (live poultry markets) in urban areas,” according to the Los Angeles Times’ “Science Now” blog (Kaplan, 8/21). In related news, Cambodia has reported 17 cases of H5N1 in humans so far this year, according to a joint statement by the WHO and Cambodian Health Ministry, another Xinhua article reports (8/21).

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Brazil's Health Ministry, PAHO To Bring 4K Doctors From Cuba

“The Brazilian Health Ministry signed an agreement Wednesday with the U.S.-based Pan American Health Organization, or PAHO, to bring 4,000 doctors from Cuba by the end of the year,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “They will participate in a program — known as Mais Medicos, or ‘more doctors’ — that the government launched in July amidst massive street demonstrations calling for better public services such as health care,” the newspaper writes, adding, “Under the program, Brazil’s federal government pays doctors a monthly salary of 10,000 Brazilian reais ($4,098) to work three years in urban slums and other needy areas such as rural towns, the Amazon River basin and impoverished northeastern states, where medics have long been scarce.” The newspaper notes, “The plan, which was initially announced in May, sparked a backlash from some Brazilian medical groups, which called into question the qualifications of their Cuban counterparts. It also drew comparisons with Venezuela, where the late President Hugo Chavez famously sent the Castro regime cheap oil in exchange for thousands of Cuban health care professionals” (Kiernan, 8/21).

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Philippine Health Workers Express Concern Over Disease Outbreaks After Widespread Flooding

“Philippine health officials have expressed concern over the risk of diarrhea and other waterborne diseases following days of extensive flooding — and at least 15 deaths — in the north of the country,” after monsoon rains made worse by Tropical Storm Trami (Maring) hit the country last week, IRIN reports. Speaking with the news service, “Philippine Health Secretary Enrique Ona … not[ed] that diarrhea and skin infections related to flooding were top concerns, along with fever, headaches, coughs and colds, and wounds.” According to IRIN, “Of particular concern is an outbreak of leptospirosis — a bacterial infection caused by contact with water contaminated by rat and other animal urine — similar to what happened in 2009 when tropical storm Ketsana struck.” The WHO said “there have been no reports of disease outbreaks, but the situation is being closely monitored and preventive measures are being implemented,” the news service notes (8/21).

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Editorials and Opinions

Engaging Social Networks In Communities Practicing FGM Key To Ending Practice

Writing in The Guardian’s “Adolescent Girls Hub,” published through the newspaper’s “Global Development Professionals Network,” Gannon Gillespie, director of strategic development at Tostan, examines community-based strategies against female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C), highlighting the efforts of Demba Diawara, a Senegalese village chief and imam, to end the practice in his community. “He applied this idea in 1997 and 1998, reaching out within his social network to end [FGM/C] by mobilizing 13 communities to make a public declaration to end FGM/C,” he writes, adding, “Demba’s is an exciting, expansive, yet challenging strategy. To change his community, he must change his entire extended family network, which in West Africa means a lot of people.”

“This process has now been replicated many times by others, leading thousands more to publicly abandon the practice,” Gillespie continues. He describes the program in greater detail and writes, “All of the above strategies rally the network towards a crucial moment — a public moment to mark the social shift. A moment after which it finally becomes acceptable to give up FGM/C. … This has become known as the public declaration or pledge.” He notes, “Earlier this year, and this is a testament to Demba’s theory in practice, there were four public declarations in four different countries in west Africa. Communities in Guinea, Mali, Senegal, and Gambia all stood up to declare abandonment of FGM/C and child/forced marriage after participation in Tostan’s three-year program.” He adds, “Working on a social norm like FGM/C requires working via social networks but we are finding that other issues — like education, child protection, and violence reduction — can also benefit from a similar strategy” (8/22).

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Honoring Humanitarian Workers By Improving Development Aid Solutions

Noting World Humanitarian Day was recognized on August 19, the anniversary of a bomb attack on Baghdad that killed more than 20 aid workers, Feike Sijbesma, CEO of Royal DSM, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Social Entrepreneurship” blog, “The humanitarian climate is changing under the influence of the economic troubles and growing skepticism about the effectiveness of development aid. It is perfectly acceptable, even necessary, to take a critical look at how we structure development aid and cooperation, but we cannot stand by idly when people are in danger of losing their lives and emergency aid is really needed. In such cases we must take our responsibility.” He discusses how DSM is working with the World Food Programme to improve humanitarian food aid, teaching local people, and addressing climate change. Sijbesma concludes, “Let us honor all these thousands of aid workers this week and show them that we appreciate their work and are ready to support it. But let us also not forget to take our responsibility on all other days of the year and jointly work towards an urgently needed ‘humanitarian climate change’ by supporting them and by developing structural solutions” (8/21).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CSIS Discussion Examines Ending Child Marriage, U.S. Foreign Policy Goals

In a post on the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) “Smart Global Health” blog, CSIS intern Paige Munger discusses child marriage — “[a] practice driven by endemic poverty, entrenched cultural traditions, and systematic discrimination and devaluation of women and girls” — and a July 31 event hosted by the CSIS Global Health Policy Center focusing on “how ending child marriage advances U.S. foreign policy.” The discussion, moderated by Janet Fleischman, senior associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, included Rachel Vogelstein, author of a recent report by the Council on Foreign Relations titled “Ending Child Marriage: How Elevating the Status of Girls Advances U.S. Foreign Policy Objectives,” and Caren Grown, USAID’s acting senior coordinator for gender equality and women’s empowerment, Munger notes. She summarizes the discussion and notes audio and video from the event are available online (8/20).

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Examining Efforts To Develop Rotavirus Vaccine For Newborns

In a post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Julie Bines, a pediatric gastroenterologist heading the Rotavirus Vaccine Program for RV3 at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), the University of Melbourne and Royal Children’s Hospital, reports on efforts to develop a rotavirus vaccine for newborns, writing, “Working together with the teams from the Universitas Gadjah Mada and Bio Farma, the Indonesian vaccine manufacturer, as part of the RV3 Rotavirus Vaccine Program, we are studying an innovative rotavirus vaccine that could save thousands.” Noting “[r]otavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea,” she describes efforts to control the spread of rotavirus globally, highlighting two existing vaccines, and continues, “The goal of the RV3 Rotavirus Vaccine Program is to develop a safe, effective, affordable vaccine aimed at preventing rotavirus diarrhea from birth” (8/21).

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Blog Features Interview With Pan American NTD Expert

The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ (NTDs) “End The Neglect” blog features an interview with Mirta Roses Periago, who recently served as the director of the Pan American Health Organization and currently serves as an NTD Special Envoy for the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, an initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. She discusses the importance of advocacy and education, communication, community ownership, and program sustainability, according to the blog. “There are many challenges but the end is possible and closer than ever before. My own experiences working with rural communities led me to believe that eliminating NTDs is possible,” she said, the blog notes (8/21).

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