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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Syrian Government Agrees To Allow Food Aid Into City Of Madaya, Where Starvation Deaths Reported

Al Jazeera America: Besieged town awaits aid after starving Syrians eat pets, grass to survive
“Images of starving children and emaciated residents of a besieged Syrian village have drawn fresh attention to the civilian toll of the country’s civil war, as the government in Damascus finally agreed to allow in international aid…” (1/7).

BBC News: Syrian government ‘to let aid into besieged Madaya’
“The Syrian government has agreed to allow aid into the besieged rebel-held village of Madaya, the U.N. says, amid reports of residents starving to death…” (1/7).

Christian Science Monitor: Syria to allow aid to starving residents after release of graphic images (+video)
“…Tens of thousands of people in the Syrian city of Madaya have been largely cut off from food and medicine for close to six months, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a British-affiliated group that, along with several other international human rights organizations, issued an urgent plea for action this week…” (Regan, 1/7).

The Guardian: Syrian regime to allow aid into besieged, starving town
“… ‘The U.N. welcomes today’s approval from the government of Syria to access Madaya, Fua, and Kefraya and is preparing to deliver humanitarian assistance in the coming days,’ the office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs said in a statement on Thursday…” (Shaheen et al., 1/7).

New York Times: As Rebel-Held Town of Madaya Starves, Syria Agrees to Food Aid, U.N. Says
“…But no firm date was set, and senior United Nations officials said that while they welcomed the government’s decision to allow the aid to enter, 42,000 people in Madaya remained ‘at risk of further hunger and starvation,’ citing ‘credible reports of people dying from starvation and being killed while trying to leave’…” (Barnard/Saad, 1/7).

NPR: Syrian Regime Allows Aid To Besieged Villages After Outcry Over Starvations
“…Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF, said that since Dec. 1, 23 people have died of starvation at an MSF-supported facility in Madaya. ‘Madaya is now effectively an open-air prison,’ Brice de le Vingne, MSF director of operations, said in a statement…” (Domonoske, 1/7).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. calls for humanitarian access to besieged areas in Syria, welcomes new approvals from government
“…While the U.N. prepares to deliver humanitarian assistance in the coming days, it is recalling that international humanitarian law prohibits the targeting of civilians and their starvation as a tactic of war, and reiterates its call for immediate humanitarian access and for the facilitation of safe evacuation of civilians” (1/7).

VICE News: Celebratory Gunfire as Syria Allows U.N. to Bring Food Into the Starving Town of Madaya
“…The humanitarian situation within [Madaya] has deteriorated precipitously. The U.N.’s World Food Programme says that it has been unable to deliver aid since October 17, and food stores inside the town have long since run out…” (Asher-Schapiro, 1/7).

Washington Post: 23 starve to death in besieged Syrian town, medical charity says
“…According to Hassan Abu Shadi, a rescue worker in Madaya, one or two people have been dying daily of hunger over the past week, since snow fell on the mountain town and blanketed the last remaining vegetation…” (Sly/Haidamous, 1/7).

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Resistance To First-Line Malaria Treatment Detected In Cambodia, Study Shows

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Malaria treatment fails in Cambodia because of drug resistance: researchers
“Malaria-carrying parasites in parts of Cambodia have developed resistance to a major drug used to treat the disease in Southeast Asia, according to research published on Thursday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal. The drug piperaquine, used in combination with the drug artemisinin, has been the main form of malaria treatment in Cambodia since 2008…” (Whiting, 1/7).

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Pakistan, Afghanistan Working Together On Polio Vaccination Campaigns

Pak Tribune: Pakistan and Afghanistan will synchronize their polio campaigns together
“Pakistan and Afghanistan will synchronize their polio campaigns and a three-member delegation from the Afghan national polio team will arrive in Pakistan on Jan. 10 to monitor the campaign beginning in Pakistan on Jan. 11 following Pakistan’s decision to support Afghanistan in establishing an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC)…” (1/8).

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WHO Global Strategy Aims To Improve Health Among Older People

The Lancet: WHO puts healthy aging on the front burner
“…[In] an office in WHO’s Geneva headquarters, … John Beard and his colleagues are mulling over the draft of a strategy — A Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Aging and Health — aimed at giving older people throughout the world a chance to live as full and healthy a life as [possible]. Beard, who heads WHO’s Department of Aging and Life Course, explains: ‘We are developing a strategy to ensure that older people in all countries of the world can experience both long and healthy lives’…” (Maurice, 1/9).

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3rd WHO-Approved Cholera Vaccine Producer Will Supply 3M Doses This Year

Reuters: WHO approves third cholera vaccine producer
“A third producer of oral cholera vaccine has been approved that is expected to provide three million doses in 2016, the World Health Organization said on Friday, doubling the world’s stockpile against a disease that can kill within hours…” (Nebehay, 1/8).

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South Sudan Records 5 Guinea Worm Cases In 2015, 90% Drop Over 2014

Agence France-Presse: Flesh-burrowing worm nearly ‘eradicated from South Sudan’
“… ‘South Sudan is on the verge of eliminating guinea worm disease,’ South Sudan Minister of Health Riek Gai Kok said in a statement, after workers recorded just five cases last year, a more than 90 percent drop from 2014, when 70 cases were recorded — the highest number globally…” (1/8).

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Sugary Beverage Sales Drop Up To 12% Following Mexico's Implementation Of Soda Tax

New York Times: Mexican Soda Tax Followed by Drop in Sugary Drink Sales
“A tax on sugary drinks implemented in 2014 in Mexico appears to have had a significant impact: After one year, sales of sugary beverages in the country fell as much as 12 percent while bottled water purchases rose four percent, a new study found. Public health authorities hailed the findings as the first hard evidence that a nationwide tax could spur behavioral changes that might help to chip away at high obesity rates…” (O’Connor, 1/6).

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Indian Drug Supplier, European NGO Help Women Access Abortion Pills In Countries Where Procedure Outlawed

The Guardian: From Nagpur to Northern Ireland: pill pipeline helping women get round abortion laws
“…It’s all a long way, geographically and culturally, from [Nagpur, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, to] the streets of Belfast nearly 5,000 away. But the two cities are joined by a hidden thread, a pharma pipeline that is helping many hundreds of women in Northern Ireland to get around its stringent anti-abortion law…” (Jowit/Pallavi, 1/6).

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Editorials and Opinions

Efforts To Address MDR-TB, XDR-TB Require 'Full-Scale Global Response'

Fox News: CDC Chief Frieden: World must act now to stop drug-resistant TB
Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“With a half million new cases each year, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is spreading around the globe. The world must act decisively. There can be no delay. That is why on Dec. 22, 2015, President Obama announced the National Action Plan for Combating Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis. It is a strong, unambiguous call for doctors, nurses, scientists, and health and political leaders worldwide to take rapid, focused action. … Fighting TB — especially MDR-TB — is a high priority at CDC. Our Division of Tuberculosis Elimination and Division of Global HIV and TB work to find and cure all TB patients in the U.S. while improving international TB control efforts by strengthening laboratory and surveillance networks, building a public health workforce through training and mentorship, and developing new tools and approaches to address TB and MDR-TB in more than 25 countries. But we can’t do it alone. MDR-TB and [extensively drug-resistant (XDR-TB)] strains emerge and spread every day, and this global threat requires a full-scale global response. The clock is ticking” (1/7).

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Study On Militaries' Involvement In Global Health Pursuits Highlights Need For More Analysis Before Future Outbreaks

The Lancet: Civil-military cooperation in Ebola and beyond
Adam Kamradt-Scottemail and Frank Smith III of the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney; Sophie Harman of Queen Mary University of London; Clare Wenham, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

“…We studied the effect of civil-military cooperation during the Ebola outbreak … Based on this research, we outline just four key findings here that should be considered when thinking about the role of the military during global health crises. … [T]he involvement of military personnel in [global health] pursuits remains controversial and raises questions about their effects on humanitarian principles, personnel, and practices. Civil-military cooperation during the 2014 Ebola outbreak proved necessary and helped the affected countries to contain the virus sooner, ultimately saving lives. But more evidence, analysis, and guidelines are needed about the types of health activities that military personnel can undertake in humanitarian crises before we witness, and need to respond to, another major disease outbreak” (1/9).

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Journals Draw Attention To Global Threat Of Zika Virus In 2016

The Lancet: Zika virus: a new global threat for 2016
Editorial Board

“Concerns about the threat posed to global health security by Zika virus are escalating, with new outbreaks reported in Central and South America. … With an estimated 440,000-1,300,000 cases currently in Brazil alone, Zika virus could be following in the footsteps of dengue and chikungunya, which are also transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Given that an outbreak anywhere is potentially a threat everywhere, now is the time to step up all efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to Zika virus” (1/9).

PLOS “Speaking of Medicine”: Will Zika become the 2016 NTD of the Year?
Peter Hotez and Serap Aksoy, co-editors in chief of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

“…The transmission of Zika virus in the New World presents multiple challenges, especially in the prevention of maternal infection and congenital transmission. … There are also potentially momentous economic implications, including the prospect of taking care of a generation of neurodevastated children in northeastern Brazil and possibly elsewhere in the Americas, in addition to the possible derailment of the tourist industry in parts of the Caribbean, Mesoamerica, and South America. … [Furthermore, the] development of a Zika vaccine could be a game-changer. … For all those reasons, we are treating Zika virus with the utmost seriousness and launching a new PLOS Currents series and a PLOS NTDs collection…” (1/7).

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India To Publish National Plan, WHO To Discuss Global Plan To Mitigate Health Effects Of Air Pollution

The Lancet: India’s air pollution: a new government and global plan
Editorial

“…Early this month, the Indian government, in its first attempt to address air pollution in the capital, will publish a federal plan to target non-vehicular emissions … [In addition, a] draft road map to mitigate the global adverse health effects of air pollution … will be discussed at WHO’s Executive Board meeting at the end of January 2016. The revised and elaborated road map will be presented at the World Health Assembly in May. It has four categories: expansion of the knowledge base; monitoring and reporting of health trends associated with air pollution and its sources; global leadership and coordination; and building capacity in the health sector to analyze and influence policy and decision-making processes for joint action on air pollution and health. Hopefully, starting this year, this road map will help to clear the air” (1/9).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

USAID Partners With Pharmaceutical Companies Janssen, Cepheid To Address MDR-TB

USAID: Prominent Health Care Companies Partner with USAID to Combat Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
“The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced two new partnerships [Thursday] to add resources and cutting-edge technologies to fight drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB). Janssen, the pharmaceutical arm of Johnson & Johnson, announced a $15-20 million pledge as part of a new partnership with USAID to combat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). USAID will also partner with Cepheid, a maker of molecular systems and tests, to speed diagnosis of MDR-TB through increased access to rapid, accurate diagnostic tools…” (1/7).

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China Develops 2 Vaccines For More Severe Form Of Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations’ “Impatient Optimists”: Severe Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is now vaccine-preventable (at least in China)!
Melvin Sanicas, global health fellow and program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses China’s development of two vaccines for hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD), which “recently emerged in the Asia-Pacific region as the most severe epidemic disease affecting children.” Sanicas writes, “Having two vaccines against HFMD made in China is not only a milestone in the global vaccine field, but a testament to the hard work and innovation of the country’s scientific community and a boost to the local manufacturing sector” (1/8).

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