KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

New Global Disaster Risk Reduction Plan To More Prominently Address Health

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Health a fresh priority in disaster plan, talks snagged on aid
“A new global plan to reduce the risk of disasters, due to be adopted at a U.N. conference in Japan on Wednesday, will give more prominence to health issues as the world struggles to stamp out the Ebola outbreak in West Africa…” (Rowling, 3/17).

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Governments Adopt Call To Action At WHO-Hosted Ministerial Conference On Dementia

U.N. News Centre: Eighty countries adopt call to action at first U.N. conference on dementia
“A two-day ministerial conference on dementia hosted by the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) ended in Geneva [Tuesday] with 80 countries calling for action to address ‘a tidal wave’ of new cases of the disease projected to cost the world $1.2 trillion by 2050…” (3/17).

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Women's Rights Activists, U.N. Official Call For Greater Leadership, More Progress On Gender Equality

The Guardian: Women’s rights activists call for U.N. to protect them in their work
“…At an event on Monday, hosted at this year’s Commission on the Status of Women, in New York … three women [activists] called on the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, to show leadership on defending the rights of female activists, and on member states to act on the resolution passed in 2013 to ensure they are protected in their work…” (Ford, 3/18).

U.N. News Centre: Citing insufficient progress, U.N. official urges more rapid change for gender equality
“A senior United Nations official today stressed the need for more rapid advancements on gender equality, saying the pace of change since the 1995 World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, on many issues has not been sufficient and major disparities between genders remain…” (3/17).

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Relief Assessments, Efforts Ramp Up On Cyclone-Hit Vanuatu As U.N. Begins Measles Immunization Campaign

Associated Press: Relief groups rush aid to Vanuatu’s cyclone-stricken islands
“Relief workers rushed to deliver desperately needed food and water Wednesday to survivors living on Vanuatu’s outer islands, after a monstrous cyclone wiped out entire villages and flattened vast swathes of the South Pacific nation’s landscape…” (Perry, 3/17).

International Business Times: Vanuatu Cyclone Pam: Measles Vaccination Campaign Begins Amid Concerns Over Outbreak
“A measles vaccination campaign for children is underway in Vanuatu, the Pacific island nation hit Friday by Tropical Cyclone Pam, a Category 5 cyclone that left about 260,000 homeless and ravaged the country’s infrastructure. The campaign began Wednesday morning and is being carried out by Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health, aided by the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization…” (Whitman, 3/17).

New York Times: Vanuatu Death Toll Is Likely to Rise as Glimpses of Cyclone’s Fury Emerge
“…The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report that it had confirmed 11 fatalities, revising an earlier estimate of 24. But the count did not include more isolated islands where fierce winds of 160 miles an hour and higher leveled many homes as the cyclone struck Vanuatu starting late Friday, and relief workers were concerned that the toll could rise…” (Buckley et al., 3/17).

Reuters: Food concerns mount in Vanuatu after cyclone Pam
“…The U.N.’s World Food Programme said it was working with aid agencies on the ground to help distribute food and other aid after banana, coconut, and other crops were destroyed, livestock was killed, and boats and fishing canoes wrecked…” (Coates, 3/17).

U.N. News Centre: Amid logistical challenges, U.N. focuses on priority needs for cyclone-hit Vanuatu
“In spite of logistical challenges facing the humanitarian response in Vanuatu, a nation that comprises over 80 islands, United Nations agencies continue to scale up their efforts to assist with priority needs including the provision of food, water, and health care in the wake of the devastating cyclone that battered the country over the weekend…” (3/17).

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Gunmen Kill 2 Polio Workers, 1 Guard In Pakistan

The Nation: Two polio vaccinators, cop shot dead in Mansehra
“Two female polio vaccinators and a policeman were shot dead in broad daylight in Mansehra on Tuesday…” (3/18).

New York Times: Gunmen Kill Health Workers From Pakistan Polio Drive
“…There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Pakistani Taliban have repeatedly targeted health workers on anti-polio drives, accusing them of being spies. The violence has seriously hindered the immunization campaign in Pakistan, one of three countries where polio remains endemic. Successive governments have vowed to ensure health workers’ safety, but such efforts have been unsuccessful…” (3/17).

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Ebola Case Numbers Rise In Guinea, With 3 Doctors Infected; Liberia Maintains Zero Cases, While U.S. Treats Aid Worker

Reuters: Guinea Ebola cases rise, three doctors infected
“Guinea has suffered a setback in its fight against Ebola with a rash of new cases, including three doctors infected by the virus, with officials blaming weak surveillance and a failure to follow safety procedures. … A government health report from the weekend showed there were 21 new cases in a single day, a spike from the recent daily average of eight…” (Samb/Farge, 3/17).

Washington Post: The surprising new Ebola case scorecard: U.S. 1, Liberia 0
“With one patient being treated for Ebola at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., this week, the United States today has more current Ebola cases than Liberia, the West African country that was once the outbreak’s epicenter. … At the same time, Ebola remains a major problem in Liberia’s neighbor nations of Sierra Leone and Guinea…” (Frankel, 3/17).

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Protecting Children, Communities Affected By Ebola In West Africa Critical To Reach Zero Cases, UNICEF Says

U.N. News Centre: New U.N. report highlights ‘terrifying’ impact of Ebola on nine million children
“Some nine million children have seen ‘death and suffering beyond their comprehension,’ and protecting them and their communities is critical in the fight against Ebola in West Africa, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a report released today…” (3/17).

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International Community Looks To Outline West Africa's Ebola Recovery Phase

Devex: Ebola: Moving from emergency to recovery
“As the death toll from Ebola now tops 10,000 in West Africa, donors and aid implementers are figuring out how to best transition from the emergency to the recovery phase of the crisis. Top E.U. and U.N. officials, leaders of Ebola-affected nations, and representatives from the African Union, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, and the scientific community met in Brussels, Belgium, earlier this month to make progress on this goal…” (Jones, 3/17).

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Despite Overall Decline In Cases, European Region Records 1,000 New TB Cases Daily, Report Shows

News outlets highlight findings of a joint WHO/Europe and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) report on tuberculosis in the region.

Agence France-Presse: Tuberculosis still raging in Eastern Europe
“About a thousand people still contract tuberculosis daily in Europe and Central Asia, despite an overall decline of the disease, a report by the Europe Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) revealed Tuesday…” (3/17).

Deutsche Welle: Health agencies say drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis remain a killer in Europe
“…The latest report — a collaboration between the WHO and European Center for Disease Prevention and Control — found infection rates falling in some high-priority countries, while the disease is fighting back in other low-incidence countries…” (3/17).

Reuters: Tuberculosis and superbug strains ‘ravaging’ Europe, WHO warns
“… ‘MDR-TB (multi-drug resistant TB) is still ravaging the European Region, making it the most affected area of the entire world,’ Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO’s regional director, said as the report was published…” (Kelland, 3/17).

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FAO Stepping Up Support For Middle East Countries Affected By Syria Crisis

U.N. News Centre: U.N. agency boosts food security efforts in countries affected by Syria crisis
“The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has announced a scale-up in its support to Jordan and other countries in the Middle East affected by the humanitarian crisis in Syria that has entered its fifth year…” (3/17).

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Chile Considering Bill To Ease Abortion Ban In Some Cases; Rights Group Says Measure Likely To Pass

Reuters: Chile considers bill to ease abortion ban, likely to pass: rights group
“Chile is considering a bill to ease a complete ban on abortion that would allow the potentially life-saving procedure under certain circumstances and has a high chance of being passed by lawmakers, a rights group said…” (Moloney, 3/17).

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Uganda Still Plans To Send HCWs Abroad Despite Belgium's Threat To Cut Aid

Agence France-Presse: Uganda hit by aid threat over medical ‘brain drain’ case
“Uganda on Monday stood by plans to send more than 240 of its health workers to the Caribbean despite a Belgian threat to cut 11 million euros in aid. … The Belgian minister said the expatriation of the health workers — branded by activists in Uganda as a state-sanctioned brain-drain — ‘would considerably weaken Uganda’s health system’…” (3/16).

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Anti-Dowry PSA Aims To Reduce Child Marriage In Nepal

PRI: South Asian leaders try new ways to reduce child marriage
“…[An] anti-dowry PSA is sponsored by the National Campaign to End Child Marriage in Nepal and is playing everywhere: On TV, on the radio, and even in movie theaters and on buses, especially in the Terai region where child marriage is common. It’s part of a nationwide plan to end child marriage in Nepal that began last spring, in partnership with UNICEF…” (Ayub Sambal/Shrestha, 3/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.N. Should 'Empower And Fund' Global Institution With Goal Of Stopping Next Epidemic

New York Times: How to Fight the Next Epidemic
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…In short, in a battle against a severe epidemic, we would be taking a knife to a bazooka fight. I believe that we can solve this problem, just as we’ve solved many others — with ingenuity and innovation. We need a global warning and response system for outbreaks. … We also need to invest in disease surveillance. … We need lists of trained personnel, from local leaders to global experts, prepared to deal with an epidemic immediately. We need trained military resources ready to respond, and a list of supplies to be stockpiled or commandeered in an emergency. Finally, we need to invest far more in research on drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic tests, and make it possible to accelerate the approval of new approaches in times of crisis. The United Nations should empower and fund a global institution to coordinate these efforts…” (3/18).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Coordinated International Response Necessary To Stop Spread Of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs”: Fighting for the future: Why we must come together to fight antibiotic resistance around the globe
“In this guest post, Beth P. Bell, MD MPH — director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — discusses the growing problem of antibiotic drug resistance and what we can do to address this challenge…” (Kelley, 3/17).

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CGD Blog Post Discusses Recommendations For India's Draft National Health Policy

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog”: India’s New Health Policy: A Work in Progress
Anit Mukherjee, IDRC fellow at the Center for Global Development, discusses India’s new draft National Health Policy and makes recommendations that would “help strengthen the plan across four key areas: financing and fiscal transfers, payment for performance, priority setting and benefits package, and data and information systems…” (3/16).

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Aspen Institute Panel Discusses Challenges Around Women's Health, Poverty In Zambia

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Zambia Gender Minister: Poverty slows march toward equity
Antigone Barton, writer and editor of “Science Speaks” and senior communications officer at the Center for Global Health Policy, reports on a discussion at the Aspen Institute on Friday around the challenges of women’s health and poverty in Zambia (3/17).

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