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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Role Of Women, Health And Communications Systems Discussed At Disaster Risk Reduction Conference

U.N. News Centre: Sendai: Critical role of women in building disaster resilience focus of event at U.N. conference
“Spotlighting the positive actions of women in planning and decision-making to make their communities safer before, during, and after disasters strike, senior United Nations, government, and civil society representatives [Saturday] emphasized that risk reduction efforts can never be fully effective or sustainable if the needs and voices of women are ignored…” (3/14).

U.N. News Centre: ‘Health at very center of disaster risk reduction,’ say U.N. agency officials in Sendai
“The Ebola outbreak in West Africa, powerful storms in the Asia-Pacific region, and ongoing conflicts in Syria and elsewhere are all stark reminders that health and stronger health system capacities must be central to the new framework for managing disaster risk currently being discussed in Sendai, Japan, senior United Nations health agency officials emphasized [Sunday]…” (3/15).

U.N. News Centre: Sendai: Early warning saves lives, but communities need targeted, useful information
“When disaster strikes, the surest way to save more lives is to get targeted, practical information quickly out to communities, United Nations experts told delegations gathered in Sendai, Japan, but stressed that even the most technically impressive systems ‘are useless’ if people are not reached or do not understand the warning…” (3/16).

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Response To Epidemics, Health Emergencies Must Involve Financial, Private Sectors, World Bank President Says

ScienceInsider: Financial sector has key role in pandemic planning, World Bank president says
“Investing in the world’s capacity to respond to epidemics ‘is really investing in the resilience of the global economic system,’ World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said here [Friday] in advance of an international meeting in Japan. … Planning for a major health emergency should involve financial and business players from both the private and public sectors, he noted, as epidemics can wreak havoc with economic activity…” (Normile, 3/13).

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Damage Assessments, Humanitarian Aid Begin After Cyclone Pam Hits Vanuatu

The Atlantic: A Cyclone Destroys a Nation
“Torrential rains and winds up to 185 miles per hour lashed the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu on Saturday, downing power lines and flattening buildings throughout the country. The official death toll of the storm, called Tropical Cyclone Pam, is eight, but the final figure is likely to be considerably higher…” (Schiavenza, 3/15).

CNN: Aid workers scramble to help Cyclone Pam victims in Vanuatu
“…Aid workers described scenes of extensive devastation in the capital, Port Vila, and expressed fears of even more destruction farther afield. Thousands were in need of shelter, food and water, the Red Cross said Sunday…” (Mullen/Almasy, 3/16).

The Guardian: Cyclone Pam: Vanuatu’s president blames climate change for extreme weather
“The president of Vanuatu says climate change is contributing to more extreme weather conditions and cyclone seasons, after cyclone Pam ripped through the island nation…” (Farrell, 3/16).

Inter Press Service: Cyclone Pam Prompts Action for Vanuatu at Sendai Conference
“Cyclone Pam has not only caused unprecedented damages to the Pacific island of Vanuatu but also lent urgency to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s plea that disaster risk reduction is in ‘everybody’s interest’…” (Baruah/Katsuhiro, 3/16).

IRIN: Vanuatu reeling from impact of cyclone Pam
“The closure of the main airport in Vanuatu is hampering the humanitarian response to cyclone Pam, which tore through the Pacific island archipelago yesterday, causing colossal damage…” (3/14).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. relief agencies ramp up support to cyclone-hit Vanuatu as country’s President appeals for assistance
“Amid reports that powerful Cyclone Pam has impacted at least half the population of Vanuatu, the country’s president, attending a United Nations conference under way in Japan aiming to reduce disaster risk, appealed for international support in anticipation of large-scale needs…” (3/15).

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U.N. Special Envoy On Ebola David Nabarro Speaks To IRIN About Challenges Of Getting To Zero Cases

IRIN: ‘Let’s finish the job’: U.N. Ebola envoy
“At the height of the Ebola outbreak in September, the United Nations appointed public health expert Dr. David Nabarro as its special envoy on Ebola. He was tasked with working with local and international partners and governments to better coordinate and implement Ebola response measures. Six months into his term, Nabarro spoke to IRIN from New York about ongoing challenges and lessons learned…” (Lazuta, 3/16).

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Mistrust, Lack Of Ebola Cases Pose Challenges To Vaccine Trials, Prevention Efforts

New York Times: Vaccines Face Same Mistrust That Fed Ebola
“…[T]he United States is helping to lead a large study of two vaccines against Ebola. But as researchers try to compress a clinical process that can take a decade into a fraction of the time, they are confronting the same volatile mix of skepticism, fear, false rumor, and understandable mistrust that helped spread Ebola in the first place. … The trial’s scale alone has posed tough ethical and practical questions. … And there is an added layer of mistrust directed at one of the most important partners in the trial: the Liberian government…” (Onishi/Fink, 3/13).

TIME: Lack of Ebola Cases Shifts Vaccine Trials Away From Liberia
“The National Institutes of Health (NIH) may relocate its clinical trials of Ebola vaccines to Guinea, since there are no longer enough Ebola cases in Liberia for a proper efficacy trial…” (Sifferlin, 3/13).

VOA News: Resistance to Anti-Ebola Steps Persists in Guinea, Sierra Leone
“This week’s report that the death toll from West Africa’s Ebola epidemic has topped 10,000 is a reminder that many challenges remain to bring the number of cases down to zero, health experts say. … [I]n Guinea and Sierra Leone, continued pockets of resistance to recommended anti-Ebola measures have continued to push up the caseload and death toll…” (Collins/Camara, 3/13).

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Additional HCWs Possibly Exposed To Ebola In Sierra Leone Evacuated To U.S.

CNN: Americans exposed to Ebola return from Africa for monitoring
“Eight American aid workers who were exposed to Ebola in Sierra Leone have been flown back to the United States where health authorities will watch them closely for signs of the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three more exposed workers are due to arrive back in the United States on Monday…” (Cohen/Almasy, 3/15).

Deutsche Welle: Americans flown from Africa to U.S. for Ebola checks
“…The individuals had been transported in non-commercial aircraft and had been allotted — alongside Nebraska — to clinics in Maryland and Atlanta, the CDC said. The individuals would undergo monitoring over a 21-day period stipulated to establish whether the virus was not present or incubating…” (3/14).

The Hill: CDC: Other Americans possibly exposed to Ebola
“…The health workers, who are all volunteers helping to treat patients in West Africa, had been in close contact with another American health worker who was diagnosed with Ebola on Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)…” (Ferris, 3/13).

New York Times: Americans Evacuated From Sierra Leone After Possible Ebola Contact
“…Dr. Peter George, director of the Sierra Leone hospital where some of the workers were volunteering, said by phone on Saturday that an investigation was focusing on the possibility that the clinician had been exposed to Ebola while removing protective clothing on his way out of the high-risk zone at an Ebola treatment unit supported by Partners in Health near the hospital…” (Fink, 3/14).

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USAID Unveils Two Innovations Developed Through Grand Challenge To Help Treat Ebola Patients

Mashable: This smart ‘band-aid’ could help the world beat Ebola
“…On Saturday at SXSW, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) unveiled both a new biomedical suit and the MultiSense Memory wearable sensor: Two innovations that point to a new way of tackling the world’s poverty, health, and disaster response issues facing a 54-year-old agency…” (Ulanoff, 3/15).

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Governments Should Negotiate With Islamic State To Allow Humanitarian Aid Access, UNICEF Says

Reuters: Governments should talk to Islamic State to get aid access: UNICEF
“Countries should negotiate with Islamic State to persuade it to let U.N. children’s agency UNICEF into areas the militants control, the aid organization’s representative in Syria said on Friday…” (Miles, 3/13).

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Critics Question Effectiveness Of Medicines Patent Pool In Improving Access To Drugs

SciDev.Net: Merck’s HIV patent agreement ignites monopoly criticism
“Pharma giant Merck has become the latest drug company to share intellectual property rights with a U.N.-backed patent pool for HIV medicines, but critics have told SciDev.Net it is ‘a false solution to a real problem’…” (Kennedy, 3/16).

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Conference Examines Role Of Faith-Based Organizations In Global Health

Deseret News National: Can science and religion come together to improve global health?
“…[G]lobal health should be a meeting point for people of faith and scientists. And yet biases on both sides sometimes stand in the way of cooperation. These roadblocks were part of the inspiration behind Perceptions: Science and Religious Communities, a conference hosted in Washington, D.C., on March 13 by [the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion]…” (3/13).

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Global Maternal Mortality Rate Down 40% Since 1995

NPR: How Far Has The Health Of Moms Come Since 1995?
“Officials and activists from around the world gathered in New York this week to mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark 1995 World Conference on Women. Although there were a lot of depressing statistics discussed at the current meeting, there was one piece of good news that many kept citing as reason for hope: Since 1995 the rate of women worldwide who die in childbirth has dropped by more than 40 percent…” (Aizenman, 3/15).

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Editorials and Opinions

Disaster Risk Reduction Meeting To Address Health, Food Security, Intergovernmental Cooperation

Devex: Reducing disaster risk for better health
Rick Brennan, director of emergency risk management and humanitarian response at WHO

“…The [World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction] comes 10 years after governments adopted the Hyogo Framework for Action, which was a comprehensive guide to reducing disaster risk. On March 14, governments will come together again in Sendai, Japan, to adopt a new framework, in which the importance of safeguarding public health is given much more prominence. … WHO invites all stakeholders and organizations to commit to implementing the new framework’s health aspects. WHO will also keep supporting countries to strengthen their ability to manage the risks before, during and after disasters, increase action on climate and health, and implement the International Health Regulations. Above all, we urge all governments and stakeholders to support the implementation of the Safe Hospitals Initiative, which will make communities more resilient and protect people’s well-being and health from all types of disasters” (3/13).

Inter Press Service: Feeding a Warmer, Riskier World
José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization

“…[FAO’s] vision for ensuring that agriculture both benefits from and contributes to disaster risk reduction rests on four mutually reinforcing pillars that are applicable at the local, national, regional and global levels. First, we must manage risk. … Second, we have to watch to safeguard, establishing better information-gathering and early warning systems to identify threats. … Third, we need to reduce the underlying risk factors that make farmers, pastoralists, fishers, and foresters vulnerable. … Finally, maintaining a state of readiness to allow for rapid responses to the needs of the food production sector if disaster does hit is also key…” (3/13).

The Guardian: International collaboration vital in reducing impact of natural disasters
Lord Julian Hunt, visiting professor at Delft University, and Joy Pereira, professor at the Southeast Asia Disaster Prevention Research Initiative of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

“…One subject up for discussion will be regular intergovernmental assessments of scientific advances that can support the work of U.N. agencies dealing with natural disasters. The introduction of such a forum would be an important step forward: the enormous human and economic loss associated with natural disasters dwarfs the total loss associated with all other disasters, but it could be reduced through better science. … The U.N. meeting has potential not just to vet implementation of the Hyogo agenda, but also to set ambitious post-2015 frameworks for disaster risk reduction. One important development may be the creation of an inter-governmental platform” (3/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

State Department Report Highlights PPPs, Work On Global Challenges

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: What Global Challenges Could Best Be Addressed by Public-Private Partnerships?
“The U.S. Department of State, USAID, and Concordia International hosted Global Partnerships Week, March 9-15, 2015. … The 2015 State of Global Partnerships Report released this week outlines a number of important public-private partnerships that are tackling critical issues around the world” (3/13).

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USAID Works To Build Resilience, Respond To Natural Hazards

USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: New Steps in Disaster Risk Reduction
Sezin Tokar, a hydrometeorological hazards adviser with USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, discusses the goals of the Third U.N. World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and how USAID works to build resilience and respond to natural disasters (3/13).

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Oxfam America Report Examines Feed The Future Initiative

Oxfam America’s “Politics of Poverty”: Is Feed the Future leading to lasting improvements to global food security?
Emmanuel Tumusiime, a researcher on economic justice and agriculture at Oxfam America, discusses Oxfam America’s new report analyzing the impact of the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative. The “framework of analysis emphasized four key themes: inclusiveness, empowerment, aid effectiveness, and sustainability — key areas central to ending hunger and extreme poverty…” (3/13).

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Re-establishing Routine Immunizations In Ebola-Hit West Africa Vital To Disease Outbreak Prevention

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Measles: Preventing a Predictable Consequence of the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa
Matt Hanson, a senior program officer with the Vaccine Delivery Team at the Gates Foundation, and Orin Levine, director of the team, note a recent study published in Science estimating a measles outbreak in Ebola-hit West Africa could kill up to 16,000 additional children because of lapses in immunizations. They write, “Re-establishing routine immunization to levels preferably exceeding those seen pre-[Ebola virus disease] outbreak, providing catch-up vaccination opportunities, and strengthening surveillance are all essential to help these countries recover…” (3/14).

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Mobile Family Planning Services Reach Low-Income, Rural Populations In India

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Reaching the Unreached with Family Planning in India
David J. Olson of Olson Global Communication discusses the impact of mobile family planning services in India. The operation, run by Janani, brings family planning products and services to people who have limited access to them (3/13).

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Successful Rural Health Programs Need Service Integration

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Vaccine Heroes and the Work Ahead
Using a small Indian village as an example, Helen Matzger, senior program officer on the Vaccine Delivery Team at the Gates Foundation, discusses “the importance of working to ensure health services are integrated across vaccines, family planning, nutrition, and water and sanitation, in order for these villagers to live healthy lives” (3/12).

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Integrating MNCH Efforts Important For Post-2015 Agenda

Maternal Health Task Force’s “MHTF Blog”: Maintaining the focus on maternal, newborn and child health with innovation and the SDGs
Ana Langer, director of the Maternal Health Task Force, discusses barriers and challenges to the successful integration of maternal, newborn, and child health care; the importance of a continuum of care for mothers and children; lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals and existing partnerships; and how innovation can contribute to the post-2015 development approach to MNCH (3/13).

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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.