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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Food Aid Convoys Reach Besieged Syrian Town Of Madaya; U.N. Officials Call For Additional Medical Assistance

Al Jazeera America: Desperate Syrians await food as aid convoys reach besieged Madaya
“Aid convoys arranged by local and international organizations have reached the besieged Syrian town of Madaya, where thousands of residents are trapped and people have already begun to die of starvation…” (1/11).

The Guardian: Madaya hospital patients must be evacuated, says U.N.
“The United Nations humanitarian affairs chief has called for the evacuation of about 400 people from Madaya hospital after aid trucks reached the Syrian town which has been cut off for months by fighting. After briefing the U.N. Security Council, Stephen O’Brien told reporters the patients needed treatment for medical complications, severe malnourishment, and starvation…” (Shaheen, 1/12).

New York Times: Convoys Enter Besieged Syrian Towns to Deliver Food and Medical Aid
“…The delivery of food packages, which included rice, lentils, and oil, came amid a growing international outcry over the increasing number of deaths from malnutrition in Madaya, which along with neighboring Zabadani, is besieged by pro-government forces, including the Lebanese militia group Hezbollah…” (Barnard et al., 1/11).

PBS NewsHour: News Wrap: Aid arrives in starved Syrian town (Woodruff, 1/11).

Reuters: Mobile clinics, medical teams needed in Madaya — WHO official tells Reuters (Nebehay, 1/12).

U.N. News Centre: Syria: U.N. and partners get relief convoy into besieged town of Madaya (1/11).

Wall Street Journal: U.N. Aid Convoy Reaches Besieged Syrian Town of Madaya (Abdulrahim, 1/11).

Washington Post: Food aid reaches starving Syrian town under siege (Naylor/Haidamous, 1/11).

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SIGAR Raises Concerns Over USAID-Funded Health Clinics In Afghanistan

United Press International: U.S. has wrong coordinates for several Afghanistan medical facilities, inspector says
“…The special inspector general responsible for the oversight of rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan has determined that geographic coordinates given by U.S. officials for a handful of medical facilities there are inaccurate — in some cases by miles. The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction [SIGAR] said six of the 32 Kabul area facilities funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Afghanistan are more than six miles away from where the agency says they are…” (Ware, 1/11).

VICE News: The U.S. Spent Millions on Afghanistan Clinics — but Many Are Falling Apart and Hard to Find
“… ‘GPS coordinates are not the first line in monitoring a health facility,’ said Larry Sampler, an assistant in USAID’s Afghanistan and Pakistan affairs department, in a public statement. … Tamra Halmrast-Sanchez, the acting mission director of USAID in Afghanistan, said she ‘welcomed the feedback,’ and that the maintenance concerns will be brought to the Afghan Ministry of Health and the World Bank…” (Asher-Schapiro, 1/11).

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Many Children In Conflict Zones Cannot Access Education, Increasing Risk Of Abuse, Exploitation, UNICEF Report Says

News outlets discuss findings from a UNICEF report on how conflict prevents many children from attending school.

New York Times: Conflicts Keep 24 Million Children Out of School, UNICEF Report Finds
“Nearly 24 million children living in 22 countries affected by conflict are not in school, the United Nations said Monday. A report released by UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, said that of roughly 109 million children of primary and secondary school age in these countries, almost one in four are not getting an education…” (Gladstone, 1/11).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: One in four children in conflict zones ‘risk losing their future’ — UNICEF
“…South Sudan has the largest proportion of children out of school, 51 percent, followed by 47 percent in Niger, 41 percent in Sudan, and 40 percent in Afghanistan. ‘When children are not in school, they are at an increased danger of abuse, exploitation, and recruitment into armed groups,’ said UNICEF’s head of education, Jo Bourne…” (Whiting, 1/12).

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World Humanitarian Summit Secretariat Speaks About Aid Funding, Strategies

The Guardian: People hit by disaster want us to do much better, says humanitarian chief
“If 2015 was all about the world drafting a blueprint to build a fairer, safer, and more prosperous future, this year will be about picking the best tools for the job, with the World Humanitarian Summit bringing aid workers together to make those critical decisions. As head of the summit’s secretariat, Antoine Gérard is the man charged with making sure the May meeting in Istanbul delivers on hopes expressed during years of consultations with humanitarians around the world. … Gérard, who previously worked at the U.N.’s Office for Coordinating Humanitarian Affairs, says he hopes to see clear ideas on how best to use the money that does come in, with emphasis on multi-year funding and longer-term strategies…” (Chonghaile, 1/12).

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Global Burden Of Melioidosis Greater Than Previously Thought; Disease Must Be Given Higher Priority, Researchers Say

News outlets report on a study published Monday in Nature Microbiology showing the global burden of Burkholderia pseudomallei, a highly pathogenic bacterium that causes melioidosis, is higher than previously believed.

Agence France-Presse: Deadly bacteria more prevalent than previously thought: study
“…Melioidosis, also known as Whitmore’s disease, has long been known to be endemic in parts of South and East Asia, the Pacific and northern Australia. But a new analysis by a team of international researchers suggests the disease is also present across swathes of South America and sub-Saharan Africa and likely present in parts of Central America, southern Africa, and the Middle East…” (1/11).

International Business Times: Melioidosis: 89,000 killed every year by little-known disease as deadly as measles
“…Reporting their findings in the journal Nature Microbiology, an international team of scientists led by Direk Limmathurotsakul of the University of Oxford mapped cases of melioidosis among humans and animals, along with environmental reports of Burkholderia pseudomallei, the pathogenic bacterium that causes the disease…” (Osborne, 1/11).

Reuters: After Ebola, two other tropical diseases pose new threats
“…Researchers in the journal Nature Microbiology called for a bacterial infection called meliodosis, which is resistant to a wide range of antibiotics, to be given a higher priority by international health organizations and policymakers. At the same time, scientists at Britain’s Oxford University warned that a virus known as Zika, which is carried by mosquitoes and has caused a major outbreak in Brazil, has ‘the potential of rapid spread to new areas’…” (Kelland, 1/11).

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Carter Center Continues Quest To Eradicate Guinea Worm

New York Times: Progress in Jimmy Carter’s Quest to End Guinea Worm Disease
“Only 22 cases of Guinea worm disease were reported in 2015, the Carter Center announced last week, a significant drop from the 126 cases reported in 2014. … When the campaign began, there were an estimated 3.5 million cases of Guinea worm infestation…” (McNeil, 1/11).

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Ebola Spread More Quickly Among Poorer Areas In Liberia, Showing Need For Better Outbreak Response, Health Care Access, Study Says

SciDev.Net: Speed of Ebola spread linked to poverty
“…A paper published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases at the end of 2015 showed that people in poorer parts of Montserrado county in Liberia — which contains the capital, Monrovia — were more likely to both catch Ebola and pass it on than those in wealthy neighborhoods. Residents in areas of extreme poverty need rapid and high-quality health care interventions during outbreaks to contain epidemics quickly, it concludes…” (Mehra, 1/11).

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7.5M In DRC Need Humanitarian Aid, Including Food, U.N. Says

Agence France-Presse: 7.5 million need humanitarian aid in DR Congo: U.N.
“Decades of successive crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo have left 7.5 million people — nine percent of the population — in need of humanitarian aid including food, the United Nations said Monday…” (1/11).

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UNICEF's Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas 2015 Examines Poverty's Negative Effects On Children's Mental Health

Inter Press Service: Zimbabwe: Poverty Stunting Minds and Growth
“…UNICEF early this month releas[ed] the Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas 2015 showing high poverty levels across the country that are affecting children’s mental health. At the launch of the report, UNICEF, the World Bank, and government officials said the poverty atlas is an attempt recognize that ‘Children are rarely recognized in poverty alleviation efforts and their needs are not properly addressed’…” (Banda, 1/12).

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Editorials and Opinions

'Immediate End' To Syria's Civil War Needed To Allow 'Unconditional' Movement Of Aid To Civilians

New York Times: Agony and Starvation in the Syrian War
Editorial Board

“After haunting pictures and stories of starving civilians showed up on international news sites and social media, food and other desperately needed aid were finally allowed into the Syrian town of Madaya on Monday. Yet this should not be a cause for celebration or complacency. The aid convoys and their supplies offer only a respite in the slow-motion agony that is destroying Syria and its people. What is needed, and has long been needed, is an immediate end to the civil war. The … news coverage … is putting a renewed focus on the failure of the major powers to at least move the conflict toward a cease-fire. … Using food as a weapon violates international law, and the United States, Europe, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, which all have influence with different proxy groups in Syria, have a responsibility to ensure that civilians have unconditional access to basic supplies. Much of what these powers are doing in Syria, including American and Russian airstrikes, has complicated the relief effort. If negotiations on January 25 to achieve a broad political settlement continue to falter, the outside powers should declare a cease-fire and find a way to impose it on their Syrian proxies” (1/12).

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Donor Countries Should Not Divert Aid Money For LDCs To Refugee Crisis

The Guardian: The world’s poor lose out as aid is diverted to the refugee crisis
Larry Elliott, The Guardian’s economics editor

“…Continued political support for aid is important because 2016 is going to be a tough year for many [least-developed countries (LDCs)]. … So what needs to be done? First, there has to be tougher action to prevent corruption. … Second, western countries need to recognize that prevention is better than cure. The lesson to be learned from Ebola is that it is better policy to have a plan for long-term economic development rather than to respond to crises when they arise. There should be a robust defense of aid where there is clear evidence that it has helped, as in the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria, but also a recognition of where it has been lacking. … If those two conditions are satisfied, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be, western donors need to stop short-changing the poor. Spending money that should be going to save lives and build futures in Africa on refugee camps in Europe is not just shabby, it is also an admission of failure” (1/10).

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Latest WHO-Approved Cholera Vaccine Shows Promise Of Partnerships In Innovation, Funding

Devex: Stocking up to defeat cholera
Anita Zaidi, director of the enteric and diarrheal diseases (EDD) program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…The latest [WHO-approved cholera vaccine], called Euvichol, produced by Eubiologics in South Korea, was developed in partnership with the International Vaccine Institute, also based in South Korea. It is the first vaccine produced in the country for global health purposes, a noteworthy contribution that demonstrates the unique power of diverse partnerships to successfully develop, manufacture, and distribute vaccines. The Euvichol financing represents an innovative collaboration among an international consortium of public, private, and nonprofit organizations. Structured by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Health Investment Fund is a private investment fund designed to finance late-stage technologies for diseases that disproportionately burden low-income populations. … It’s clear that vaccinations, along with improved hygiene and sanitation, will be vital to prevent future outbreaks. … [I]t will be essential for all partners involved to remain committed and follow through on their promises to protect vulnerable populations from cholera and ensure that communities can thrive without fear of a cholera outbreak” (1/12).

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Kerala Offers Model For Palliative Care In India

New York Times: In India, Dispensers of Balm Travel to Death’s Door
Ankita Rao, multimedia journalist

“…How can health systems offer the possibility of a dignified death to everyone? … [I]t took time for palliative care to become an official part of Kerala’s health system. That happened in 2008, when the state government declared such care a basic right. It allotted 10 percent of the state’s share of national health funding to that kind of care, mandating that each government hospital include a doctor and nurse trained in delivering it, and giving local panchayats, or groups of villages, control over their own programs. ‘Kerala’s model is now setting national standards,’ said Dr. Kamalakannan Ellangovan, the principal secretary of health for the state government. … Today, six million people in India need palliative care each year but only a tiny fraction — less than three percent — get it. … Sudhir Gupta, a director at the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in New Delhi, … said that only seven of India’s 36 states and union territories had been allocating funds for palliative care so far, but he expects that number to grow…” (1/12).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

TB Advocates Raise Questions On R&D Targets, Funding For National Action Plan

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: MDR-TB national action plan raises questions on targets and funding
Rabita Aziz, policy research coordinator for the Center for Global Health Policy, reports on a USAID event launching the White House’s National Action Plan for Combating Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis. At the event, Aziz notes TB advocates raised questions about the ambition of and funding for the plan, and event panelists discussed the plan’s lack of specific research and development targets, as well as the need to develop new drugs (1/11).

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Blog Post Provides Roundup Of Recent Global Health Research News

Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs”: Research Roundup: Ebola treatments, drug-resistant gonorrhea, and zoonotic tuberculosis
Kat Kelley, GHTC’s senior program assistant, highlights recent news in global health research, including findings from studies on Ebola treatments; news that some gonorrhea strains are becoming more drug resistant; and news that the bacteria that causes bovine TB is increasingly causing human TB (1/11).

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