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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

CDC Investigating Additional Zika Cases Among Pregnant Women, Sexual Partners Of Travelers To LAC Region

News outlets discuss findings from two CDC reports on Zika virus among travelers to Latin America and the Caribbean, including pregnant women and the sexual partners of those travelers.

ABC News: Zika Virus Infection Confirmed or Being Investigated in 19 Pregnant Women in U.S., CDC Says
“Zika virus infections have been either confirmed or are being investigated in 19 pregnant women in the U.S., the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said [Friday]…” (Mohney, 2/26).

HealthDay News: Zika Found in 9 U.S. Pregnancies, Outcomes Often Severe: CDC
“…Five of nine pregnancies among U.S. women who were infected with the Zika virus have resulted in tragic outcomes, federal health officials said Friday…” (Thompson, 2/27).

New York Times: Officials Report 9 New Cases of Zika Virus Among Pregnant Women Tested in U.S.
“…One of the women gave birth to a baby with microcephaly, a defect that has been associated with the virus, and at least one other had an abortion after severe brain atrophy was detected in the fetus. Of the other women, one also had an abortion, two miscarried, two delivered healthy babies, and two are still pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reported the nine cases…” (Tavernise, 2/26).

Reuters: U.S. study of nine pregnant travelers raises new worries about Zika
“…More information will be available in the future from a new CDC registry for U.S. pregnant women with confirmed Zika virus infection and their infants…” (Steenhuysen, 2/26).

Reuters: CDC says six confirmed and probable cases of Zika sexual transmission
“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday reported six confirmed and probable cases of sexual transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus from male travelers to female non-travelers…” (Grover/Banerjee, 2/26).

Wall Street Journal: Reports of Zika Cases Growing Quickly in U.S.
“…The CDC said it has received 147 reports of Zika illnesses to date. Of those cases, 107 were travelers who brought the disease home. Another 40 are cases involving people who were infected locally, mostly in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories…” (McKay, 2/26).

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Puerto Rico Takes Steps To Prevent Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes

NPR: Puerto Rico Races To Stop Zika’s Mosquitoes Before Rains Begin
“…As part of the public health emergency, Puerto Rico is asking all residents to check their homes and the homes of their neighbors for standing water and mosquitoes. A big problem in Puerto Rico is that most homes aren’t air conditioned and many lack screens, so residents are exposed to more mosquitoes. … The Obama administration has asked Congress for more than $200 million to help Puerto Rico protect residents…” (Allen/Arrieta, 2/29).

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Japan To Provide $1M To WHO, Other Organizations To Address Zika In Latin America

Xinhua News: Japan pledges 1 mln USD in aid to tackle Zika virus in Latin America
“The Japanese government on Friday pledged 1 million U.S. dollars in emergency aid to help Latin American countries tackle the Zika virus after a case was confirmed near Tokyo a day earlier. The financial aid will be provided to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international organizations, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said, while outlining Japan’s intentions to help stop the virus spreading…” (2/26).

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U.N. Agencies Work With Some Countries To Adapt Public Health Systems To Climate Change

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Climate information may be key weapon in fight against Zika spread
“…[Barbados] was one of seven to take part in the first global project on adapting public health systems to climate change, launched by the WHO and the U.N. Development Programme in 2010. Key aims of the work in Barbados were to improve water storage facilities to eliminate mosquitoes, give technical advice on building and maintaining water tanks, and raise public awareness about safe ways to harvest rainwater…” (Rowling, 2/29).

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28M People Threatened By El Niño, Drought In Southern Africa, SADC Says

Reuters: Poor rains, El Niño leave 28 million in southern Africa vulnerable: SADC
“The Southern African Development Community (SADC) said on Friday 28 million people in the region were rendered vulnerable and in urgent need of ‘food and non-food’ relief after last year’s poor rains were followed by an El Niño-triggered drought. That is double the 14 million people whom the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said faced hunger in late January…” (2/26).

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LDCs Present Complex Set Of Development Challenges, Experts Say

The Guardian: New deal, old mess? Making the global goals work for the most fragile countries
“…The case for addressing conflict is clear if all countries are to meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs). … What is also striking is that the vast majority (45 of 48 countries) of [least-developed countries (LDCs)] have had the label for more than 20 years — 22 of them since the category was formally endorsed in 1971. So the question on everyone’s lips should be: do the SDGs — with their ambition to end poverty, inequality, and climate change by 2030 — go far enough to acknowledge the complex set of challenges presented by LDCs, particularly those susceptible to violent conflict…” (Anyangwe, 2/29).

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Pollinators' Decline Threatens To Lower Agricultural Outputs, U.N. Science Body Says

Agence France-Presse: Decline of bees, other pollinators, threatens crop output: U.N. body
“Many species of bees, butterflies, and other creatures that are vital to agricultural pollination are threatened with extinction, posing risks to major world crops and global biodiversity, a U.N. body said Friday. … The problem facing policymakers is that scientists remain unsure exactly which factors are the biggest drivers…” (2/25).

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U.N. Human Rights Council Chief Says 'Thousands Of People May Have Starved To Death' In Syria

Deutsche Welle: U.N. says thousands dying of starvation in Syria
“Zaid Ra’ad al Hussein, the U.N. Human Rights Council’s head, told media on Monday that 480,000 people were currently trapped in Syria’s besieged towns. … ‘Thousands of people may have starved to death,’ al Hussein said, adding that prior to Saturday’s truce, human rights had been ‘violated shockingly’ in the country for the last five years…” (2/29).

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U.N. Official Calls For Unhindered Humanitarian Access To Civilians In South Sudan

U.N. News Centre: South Sudan: U.N. deputy humanitarian chief calls for end to civilian suffering
“The United Nations deputy humanitarian chief [Friday] called on all parties to the conflict in South Sudan to protect civilians and grant safe and unhindered humanitarian access as she wrapped up a two-day visit to the African country. Kyung-wha Kang, assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief coordinator, accompanied U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the visit to South Sudan, where they met government officials and visited communities affected by the conflict…” (2/26).

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Thailand's Number Of Dengue Cases So Far In 2016 More Than Double Over 2015

Bangkok Post: Dengue cases double from 2015 — health ministry
“The number of people who contracted dengue fever so far in 2016 more than doubled from the last year, Health Ministry permanent secretary Sophon Mekthon said Monday. … He said 8,651 people were confirmed infected with the virus in the first two months of this year, up from 4,263 cases in the same period last year…” (2/29).

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About 20K Displaced People Live In Poor Conditions Near CAR's M'Poko Airport, As Violence Continues In Capital

Washington Post: Despite harsh conditions, life continues inside the Central African Republic’s camp for the displaced
“As you descend through a mysterious thick cloud of dust into Central African Republic’s capital Bangui’s M’Poko International Airport, displaced people living adjacent to the airport wave to arriving passengers. … At its peak, M’poko held up to 70,000 people during the height of the crisis and holds around 20,000 today. … Despite the harsh conditions, life has continued within this camp of makeshift tents and structures, surrounded by dilapidated planes and unused hangars…” (Hahn, 2/27).

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Malawi Maternity Hospital With Communal Spaces Aims To Attract Rural Women For Care

Quartz: Designing a hospital like a village could solve one of Africa’s biggest health problems
“…The Maternity Waiting Village at the Kasungu district hospital in central Malawi emulates the communal spaces of traditional villages. The goal of the design is to attract expectant mothers from remote areas to the facility before giving birth. … The design and development of the village, which was completed last October, was done by MASS Design Group, with Gates Foundation, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Malawi’s health ministry…” (Kuo, 2/29).

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Editorials and Opinions

World Needs Strengthened Public Health Infrastructure, International Coordinating Agency, Vaccines To Defend Against Future Disease Outbreaks

The Guardian: A global defense system to fight virus threats is urgently needed
Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, and Trevor Mundel, president of the global health division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…The world needs … systems to protect against epidemic and pandemic diseases. We need a fit body — a basic infrastructure of public health. We need a nerve center for preparedness and response — an international organization to tackle threats. And we need an immune system — vaccines and drugs to prevent and treat disease. Today, all three global systems have such significant weaknesses that they are incapable of delivering an effective response as a whole. … With Ebola fresh in the mind, and Zika very current, world leaders must seize on will and momentum that may not exist again, and deliver this manifesto for health security” (2/27).

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Governments, Funders, Donors Must Invest In Prevention Efforts To Avoid Future Epidemics

BBC News: Zika and Ebola: A taste of things to come?
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

“…[W]hy does it take a global health emergency for us to even realize no vaccine [for a particular disease] exists in the first place? … Part of the problem is that for some serious diseases there is simply no profit in prevention, which means that if we want to avoid epidemics we cannot expect industry to provide the solution. Instead governments, public funders, and private donors need to share the costs, and they need to do so now, rather than waiting until the next epidemic. … What Zika and Ebola have both taught us is that we can’t assume pathogens will continue to behave the same way. We need to stop waiting until we see evidence of a disease becoming a global threat before we treat it like one” (2/26).

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Improving Food Systems, Addressing Micronutrient Deficiencies Critical To Ending Malnutrition

Inter Press Service: Tackle ‘Hidden Hunger’ by Improving Food Systems
Jomo Kwame Sundaram, coordinator for economic and social development at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization

“…Although the most severe problems of micronutrient malnutrition are found in developing countries, people of all population groups in all regions of the world are affected by some micronutrient deficiencies. … This is a serious impediment to socio-economic development, exacerbating the vicious cycle of malnutrition, underdevelopment, and poverty. … While there is no consensus on a plan to tackle all forms of malnutrition … across the world, the problems are better understood now, with options for addressing malnutrition increasingly known. Preferably, micronutrient requirements should be met through food intake. … There is need for sustained and coordinated international support, including through [the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2)] follow-up efforts, which offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to broaden and deepen political commitment and ensure appropriate, coherent, and sustained efforts against malnutrition in all its forms” (2/29).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Specialization Of Health Services Can 'Reduce Costs And Deliver Quality'

Health Affairs Blog: How Specialization Is Making Quality Care More Affordable Across The Globe
Chris McCahan, chief investment officer and global sector lead for health care investments and advisory services at International Finance Corporation (IFC), discusses how specialization of health services can “reduce costs and deliver quality care in a financially sustainable way,” highlighting cardiac care in India and eye care in Mexico and China (2/25).

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MSF Laments Lack Of Discussion Surrounding Drug, Vaccine Pricing At African Ministerial Conference

Humanosphere: Drug prices left off the agenda at African vaccine meeting
Humanosphere reporter Tom Murphy highlights concerns expressed by Médecins Sans Frontières that the high prices of vaccines and drugs were not discussed during the Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa (2/26).

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CROI 2016 Presentations Raise Questions Around HIV Treatment Services For Men

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: CROI 2016: HIV trial data raises the question of how to end an epidemic when men are ‘missing but in action…’
Antigone Barton, senior writer and editor of “Science Speaks,” discusses presentations made last week at the 2016 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016) that highlighted HIV treatment gaps among men (2/26).

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