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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Agricultural Sector Hit Hard By Natural Disasters, Receives Small Percentage Of Resulting Aid, FAO Report Says

News outlets discuss a new report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization examining how natural disasters affect agriculture and food security.

BBC News: U.N. report: Agriculture bears brunt of natural disasters
“Farmers in developing nations bear the ‘major brunt’ of natural disasters yet only receive a small percentage of post-disaster aid, says a U.N. report…” (Kinver, 3/16).

The Guardian: Farming absorbs 22% of cost of disasters in developing countries
“Nearly a quarter of the damages caused by natural disasters in the developing world affect the agricultural sector, exacting a heavy cost on poor farmers who do not have insurance or the resources to rebuild their lives after floods, droughts, or other extreme events, the U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has said…” (Chonghaile, 3/16).

Reuters: Poor farmers bear heavy burden from increased natural disasters
“…Asia was the worst affected region with $28 billion in losses, followed by Africa’s $26 billion, said the study which analyzed data from 78 disasters in 48 developing countries. … Only 4.5 percent of post-disaster humanitarian aid between 2003 and 2013 targeted agriculture, the study said…” (Arsenault, 3/16).

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U.K., Drug Companies Announce $100M Venture Capital Fund For Dementia Research, As U.N. Opens First-Ever Dementia Conference

Financial Times: Dementia research boosted by $100m venture capital fund
“Research into dementia is to be boosted by a $100m venture capital fund backed by the U.K. government and several of the world’s biggest pharmaceuticals companies…” (Ward, 3/17).

Reuters: Dementia drug research aided by $100 million venture capital fund
“…The global Dementia Discovery Fund is unique in focusing on a single difficult to treat disorder and in bringing together industry and government. Drug companies involved include GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and Biogen Idec…” (Hirschler, 3/17).

U.N. News Centre: Countries urged to make dementia public health priority as U.N. conference opens in Geneva
“The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today opened the first-ever Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia by reminding health ministers from around the world, experts, and civil society representatives that every four seconds someone is diagnosed with the incurable disease…” (3/16).

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Improved WASH In Health Facilities Important Development Goal; Clean Water Could Prevent 1 In 5 Newborn Deaths, Reports Say

News outlets highlight findings from a report on WASH in health facilities from the WHO and UNICEF, as well as an accompanying paper from WaterAid.

Bloomberg Business: 1 in 5 Newborn Deaths Preventable With Clean Water
“One in five newborn deaths could be prevented with safe water and sanitation suitable for a modern world, the development organization WaterAid said Tuesday. … WaterAid’s paper accompanies a new World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund report showing that 38 percent of hospitals and clinics in 54 low- and middle-income countries lack access to any water source…” (Hackley, 3/17).

The Guardian: Lack of safe water, sanitation, and soap ‘an embarrassment,’ says WHO
“…The report is a first step towards a baseline study as NGOs and health organizations encourage governments, donors, and stakeholders to make water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in health contexts both a higher political priority and measurable as part of the new Sustainable Development Goals. Better data is crucial for WASH access to be included in indicators on heath, education, and gender goals…” (Lamble, 3/17).

Reuters: Half a million babies die each year in unhygienic hospitals
“…As well as killing young babies, the same unhygienic conditions also fuel major disease outbreaks such as cholera epidemics in Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Malawi, Tanzania, and South Sudan, the report found…” (Kelland, 3/17).

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Cyclone Death Toll In Vanuatu Rises To 24; U.N., Aid Agencies Step Up Emergency Response

New York Times: Vanuatu: Cyclone Toll Rises
“The cyclone that lashed the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu over the weekend killed at least 24 people, a United Nations office said, while on Tuesday relief workers said initial glimpses of the devastation on remoter islands indicated the death toll could rise, perhaps sharply…” (Buckley, 3/16).

U.N. News Centre: As U.N. steps up aid efforts, Ban promises ‘necessary action’ to assist cyclone-hit Vanuatu
“With United Nations relief agencies stepping up their response in Vanuatu after the country was hit by Cyclone Pam, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said [Monday] that the event ‘tragically underscored’ the importance of global efforts on disaster risk reduction…” (3/16).

Wall Street Journal: Cyclone Pam Vanuatu Death Toll Rises to 24
“…The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said 24 had been confirmed dead since the storm slammed into the small South Pacific country over the weekend, but authorities and aid agencies still haven’t been able to communicate with the many of the islands outside of Efate, where the capital, Port Vila, is located…” (Craymer, 3/16).

WHO Western Pacific Region: WHO responds to health needs caused by Cyclone Pam
“… ‘We are working closely with our partners to get the people of Vanuatu what they need as quickly as possible to respond to this devastating cyclone,’ said Dr. Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. ‘We have activated our emergency operations center and put a support team in place to assess needs and deploy critical resources to help in the response’…” (3/16).

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India Swine Flu Deaths Surpass 1,700 Out Of 30,000 Cases This Season

International Business Times: India Swine Flu 2015: 1,731 Dead Out Of 30,000 Documented Cases
“The death toll in India’s latest swine flu outbreak has risen to 1,731, out of nearly 30,000 people stricken with the virus, health officials said Monday, with 21 new deaths reported in the past day alone…” (Whitman, 3/16).

PTI/Huffington Post India: Over 1,700 Dead In India Due To Swine Flu
“…The death toll was highest in Gujarat where 382 people have perished to the disease while the number of affected people has breached the 6,000-mark and stands at 6,099…” (3/16).

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Ebola Treatment Varies For Aid Workers From U.S., Sierra Leone

New York Times: Care Differs for American and African With Ebola
“The latest American aid worker to contract Ebola overseas, last week in Sierra Leone, was swiftly evacuated to a specialized treatment center for infected health workers run by the British Defense Ministry in the country’s capital, Freetown, then on to the National Institutes of Health clinical center in Bethesda, Md. … For a Sierra Leonean colleague who developed Ebola within days of the American, the course of care has been markedly different. … The paths taken by the Americans and their Sierra Leonean colleague have raised questions about whether [Partners In Health] has been acting in concert with its stated values…” (Fink, 3/16).

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Ebola Preparations Helped Benin Stop Lassa Fever Outbreak In 2014

New York Times: Preparing for Ebola, but Stopping Lassa Fever
“…The international Ebola-preparedness effort helped Benin extinguish the Lassa outbreak. Since late November, no new cases have emerged” (Belluck, 3/16).

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Tuberculosis Cases In Europe Drop 6% In 2013, Continue To Decline, WHO Says

Associated Press: WHO: Tuberculosis Is Still Declining in Europe
“Health officials say the number of tuberculosis cases in Europe is continuing to decline, dropping six percent in 2013 to about 360,000…” (3/17).

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Violence In CAR Complicating HIV Treatment, Prevention Efforts, Experts Say

Bloomberg Business: Central African Republic Doctors Say War Boosting HIV Prevalence
“A conflict in the Central African Republic that has led to the collapse of the country’s health care system is threatening to accelerate the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, according to doctors and medical workers in the country…” (Gridneff, 3/16).

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India Aims To Improve Maternal, Child Health Through Mobile Messaging Initiative

Reuters: India bets on mobiles in battle on maternal, child deaths
“India is betting on cheap mobile phones to cut some of the world’s highest rates of maternal and child deaths, as it rolls out a campaign of voice messages delivering health advice to pregnant women and mothers…” (Kalra, 3/17).

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Longer Life Expectancy, Population Growth Worry Some Global Health, Development Experts

The Guardian: 2015 challenges: demographic shifts
“U.N. predictions put the world population at eight billion in 2025. That’s an extra five billion people on the planet in less than a lifetime (the global population was three billion in 1960). The dramatic growth is driven by more people surviving beyond childhood and having children of their own, so it should be a cause for celebration of development, right? Not everyone believes so, fearing that too many people will put unsustainable strain on resources…” (Leach, 3/16).

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The Guardian Profiles Gates Foundation's History, Work In Global Health

The Guardian: What is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation?
“…The foundation’s trust endowment of $43.5bn (£29.5bn) makes grant payments in excess of $3bn every year ($3.9bn in 2014). Its focus has been on bridging the enormous health deficit between rich and poor countries and on fights it sees as vast, but ultimately winnable…” (Mathiesen, 3/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Global Community Should Support International Initiative To Educate Girls

Wall Street Journal: Let’s Ensure That Every Girl Can Learn
First Lady of the United States Michele Obama

“This week I will travel to Tokyo to join Akie Abe, the wife of Japan’s prime minister, as the United States and Japan announce a new partnership to educate girls across the globe. As part of this effort, the U.S. government has launched an international initiative, called ‘Let Girls Learn,’ to help girls in developing countries go to school and stay in school. … The research is unequivocal: Girls who attend secondary school marry and have children later, and they have lower maternal and infant-mortality rates and lower rates of HIV/AIDS. … [T]he global community should be able to summon the resources to help [girls] fulfill their promise and the promise of their families, communities, and countries” (3/15).

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Equitable Health Systems Financing Essential To Reducing Morbidity, Mortality

Slate: Who Lives and Who Dies?
Paul Farmer, the Kolokotrones University professor at Harvard University and co-founder of Partners In Health

“…Who lives and who dies depends on what sort of health care system is available. And who recovers, if recovery is possible, depends on the way emergency care and hospitals are financed. … Finding equitable ways to finance health care, including the treatment of catastrophic illness, is the main challenge for both medicine and public health, along with weaving, or restitching, the safety nets that might protect families from death or disability and the financial ruin that accompanies serious illness…” (3/15).

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Gender Inequality Prevents Women, Girls From Contributing To Social, Economic, Political Life

Inter Press Service: Opinion: Gender Equality, the Last Big Poverty Challenge
Preethi Sundaram, policy officer at the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and Fiona Salter, writer at the International Planned Parenthood Federation

“…[A] new report to be launched by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) Mar. 16 in New York examines the links between [sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)] and three core aspects of gender equality: social development, economic participation, and participation in political and public life. … Women and girls should have the right and ability to make decisions about their reproductive lives and sexuality, free from violence, coercion, and discrimination. That’s what equality is all about” (3/16).

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International Community Must 'Break Its Silence On Menstruation'

Huffington Post: Tackling the Taboo of Menstruation
Chris W. Williams, executive director of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council

“…One of the least discussed, yet most pervasive stigmas in gender equality is female menstruation. In every country, the veil of silence around menstruation contributes to sexism that can hold women back in their personal lives and professional careers. … It is time for the global community to break its silence on menstruation so that women and girls can discuss the topic without fear, and get the information they need about their natural physical cycle…” (3/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

New Technology Converts Waste To Clean Drinking Water, But Public Remains Skeptical

Humanosphere: Nobody wants to drink toilet water, except Bill Gates
Tom Murphy, reporter for Humanopshere, discusses a new technology called the OmniProcessor, which converts human waste to clean drinking water, as well as findings from a study that surveyed American acceptance of the innovation (3/16).

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