KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Reports Examine Problem Of Water Scarcity; World Day Focuses On Water's Link To Jobs, Economic Growth

News outlets report on World Water Day, recognized annually on March 22.

Deutsche Welle: A world with less water
“…Scarcity of water all over the world is becoming an increasing problem. And it’s only going to get worse, said Richard Connor, editor-in-chief of the United Nation’s World Water Development Report 2016 (WWDR), released this week…” (Osborne, 3/22).

The Guardian: Papua New Guinea has world’s worst access to clean water, says WaterAid
“…A report on the state of the world’s water showed Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Chad, and Mozambique joining Papua New Guinea in the bottom five of a table ranking countries according to the percentage of households with access to clean water. Globally, 650 million people are living without an ‘improved’ source of drinking water, which includes public taps, protected wells, rainwater, or water piped into households…” (Kweifio-Okai, 3/21).

Inter Press Service: Water Crisis in Zimbabwe
“…The El Niño phenomenon is caused by warming in the Pacific Ocean and according to experts this results in a 70 percent chance of a drought in Zimbabwe. This year’s El Niño condition has been severe, resulting in crippling drought in many countries in the Southern African region…” (Mambondiyani, 3/22).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: No water, no jobs: How water shortages threaten jobs and growth
“An estimated three out of four jobs globally are dependent on water, meaning that shortages and lack of access are likely to limit economic growth in the coming decades, the United Nations said on Tuesday. About 1.5 billion people — half the world’s workers — are employed in industries heavily dependent on water, most of them in farming, fisheries, and forestry, the U.N. World Water Development Report 2016 said…” (Zweynert, 3/22).

U.N. News Centre: #Climatechain: U.N. to launch campaign illustrating water-environment-climate change link
“As the global community marked World Water Day during a special event at United Nations Headquarters, the U.N. Children’s Fund reported that rapidly changing weather conditions are limiting access to safe drinking water for millions, and announced the launch of a new campaign on the link between water, the environment, and climate change…” (3/21).

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Zika Outbreak In U.S. Could Raise Issues Of Reproductive Rights, Climate Change, Immigration During Presidential Campaign Year

POLITICO: America’s summer threat: Zika virus
“…If the mosquito-borne virus linked to birth defects hits big — and that’s a big if — it could stir a panic like Ebola, set off an epidemic of finger-pointing, and create new fear and acrimony over reproductive rights, global warming, and immigration, all at the height of a presidential campaign…” (Allen, 3/19).

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Researchers Continue To Analyze Data On Zika, Microcephaly, Look For Answers In Ugandan Forest Where Disease First Discovered

Nature: Zika and birth defects: what we know and what we don’t
“…Researchers are piling up evidence at record speed. But much of the epidemiological data from Brazil is poor, largely because a problem was only suspected months after the virus had spread through large parts of the country, and the clinical data so far available are mostly preliminary. Here, Nature summarizes what is — and isn’t — known so far about the situation…” (Butler, 3/21).

Reuters: In Uganda’s Zika Forest, global health scare seems a world away
“…This may be the birthplace of Zika — the virus took its name from the forest after being found here nearly 70 years ago — but there is no record of it causing health problems in the area. Julius Lutwama, a Ugandan virologist who has researched mosquito-borne viruses, including Zika, for 31 years, believes Zika is unlikely to be a threat here because Africans appear to have resistance…” (Biryabarema, 3/22).

Wall Street Journal: Ugandan Forest Holds Clues to Zika’s Spread
“…Researchers are combing this forest for clues that might reveal how a normally mild mosquito-borne disease sparked a global public health emergency this year, blamed for a startling rise in birth defects and a neurological disorder. Across Africa, health officials are heightening surveillance for a virus that once attracted little notice but that many say may have caused similar, undetected complications in the past…” (Bariyo/McKay, 3/21).

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Guinea Monitors 816 Contacts Of New Ebola Cases; Liberia Closes Border With Guinea; MSF Specialist Urges Continued Precautions Among Health Workers

Reuters: Guinea monitoring 816 Ebola contacts following flare-up
“Guinea’s Ebola coordination unit has traced an estimated 816 people who may have come into contact with victims of the disease or their corpses during a recent flare-up in a village in the country’s southeast, a health official said on Monday…” (Samb/Bavier, 3/21).

Reuters: Liberia closes border with Ebola-hit Guinea
“Liberia closed its border with Guinea on Tuesday as a precaution against Ebola following at least four deaths from the virus in Guinea, Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nangbe said…” (Toweh/Bigg, 3/22).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: West Africa vulnerable to new major Ebola outbreak as vigilance fades
“…Ebola victims in recent flare-ups in Liberia and Sierra Leone were inspected by health workers who were not wearing protective clothing, while the corpse of one woman victim was washed by several people, contrary to best practice. Health facilities must reinforce infection prevention and control measures or risk widening the spread of new Ebola outbreaks, according to Armand Sprecher, public health specialist at medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)…” (Guilbert, 3/21).

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Angola Begins Sanitation Campaign To Prevent Yellow Fever, Other Diseases; Budget Cuts Possibly To Blame For Outbreak

Quartz: Angola cut spending for low oil prices and triggered a yellow fever health crisis
“…With the [Angolan government’s] budget for waste collection services in particular cut by almost 70 percent, there has been a sharp uptick in the rise of communicable diseases. A yellow fever outbreak with roots in Viana, a poor suburb in capital city Luanda, has now spread uncontrollably as the latest death toll, according to the World Health Organization, stands at 158. Hospitals have also reported cases of diarrhea, malaria, and cholera…” (Kazeem, 3/21).

Xinhua News: Angola launches campaign to combat yellow fever, malaria
“A 45-day sanitation campaign was launched in Luanda on Saturday to collect and remove dustbins from the city which is home to one third of the country’s 23 million population and to combat the spread of yellow fever, malaria, and other epidemic diseases…” (3/19).

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NPR Examines Cholera Epidemic In Haiti, Lawsuit Against U.N.

NPR: Why The U.N. Is Being Sued Over Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic
“…The lawsuit was brought by the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and a sister group in Haiti on behalf of 5,000 cholera victims. They want the U.N. to end cholera by installing a national water and sanitation system; pay reparations to cholera victims and their families; and publicly apologize for bringing cholera to Haiti. The plaintiffs contend the U.N. forfeited its legal immunity when it failed to launch an internal process to adjudicate the plaintiffs’ claims, as they say its own commitments require…” (Knox, 3/21).

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WHO Official Discusses Agency's Report On Environmental Effects On Health With The Guardian

The Guardian: Almost half the world cooking as if it were the stone age, WHO warns
“The good news is that more people have mosquito nets, and better access to clean water and toilets. The bad news, says Dr. Maria Neira, head of public health and the environment for the World Health Organization (WHO), is that populations have grown fast and little progress has been made in the past 10 years to prevent illness in developing countries. … The global disease figures, released last week in a major WHO report, are stark, says Neira. The environment now contributes to more than 100 of the most dangerous diseases and kills 12.6 million people a year — nearly one in four of all deaths… (Vidal, 3/21).

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Most MDR-TB Patients Cannot Access Latest Treatments Because Of High Prices, MSF Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: New lifesaving drugs too expensive for most drug-resistant TB patients: MSF
“Only two percent of people with the most severe cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) have access to the latest life-saving drugs because of their high price, the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said on Monday. The price of bedaquiline and delamanid, two new drugs for treating TB which are recommended by the World Health Organization, should be reduced, by up to 98 percent in the case of delamanid, to make them more accessible to 150,000 patients who need them, MSF said…” (Mis, 3/21).

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Global Shift Toward More Plant-Based Diets Could Have Positive Health, Climate Change Impacts, Study Shows

News outlets report on a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looking at the potential health and climate change impacts of more plant-based diets worldwide.

Thomson Reuters Foundation: A vegetarian world would be healthier, cooler, and richer: scientists
“By eating less meat and more fruit and vegetables, the world could avoid several million deaths per year by 2050, cut planet-warming emissions substantially, and save billions of dollars annually in health care costs and climate damage, researchers said…” (Rowling, 3/21).

Washington Post: The profound planetary consequences of eating less meat
“…The results, while theoretical in nature, certainly make a strong case for treating the food system, and animal agriculture in particular, as a key part of the climate change issue. Namely, the researchers find that shifting diets toward eating more plant-based foods on a global scale could reduce between six and 10 percent of mortality — saving millions of lives and billions of dollars — even as it also cuts out 29 to 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions linked to food by the year 2050…” (Mooney, 3/21).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S., International Community Should Invest In Global Water Access

Los Angeles Times: Will the world’s next wars be fought over water?
Peter Engelke, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Strategic Foresight Initiative

“…[W]ater can either contribute to peace and stability or, conversely, help destabilize vulnerable countries and regions around the world. … [W]hen water is not present in sufficient quantity and quality, … food cannot be grown, electricity cannot be produced, and so on. Under extreme conditions, society can begin to break down, and conflict becomes inevitable. … Despite outstanding work by American organizations of every type — public, private, nonprofit, and academic — the fact is that the United States has no coherent global water strategy. … As a world leader, the United States has much to gain from crafting and implementing a global water strategy, including a boost to its reputation and influence abroad. But more importantly, doing so would help ensure that water does what it is supposed to do, which is contribute to the resiliency, stability, and peacefulness of societies in far-flung corners of the world” (3/22).

Huffington Post: Water Turns the Tap on Human Potential
Catherine A. Novelli, U.S. under secretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment

“…Many of the water challenges around the world will be exacerbated by climate change and the growing interdependencies between water, energy, food, and the environment. Responding effectively to the nexus of all these factors will require new technologies and government policies that incentivize and support integrated planning and decision making. Coordination between sectors and a financial framework that encourages innovation and risk sharing will be critical. With proper management, water can be a unifying factor between peoples instead of a source of friction. … Water access and safety should never be taken for granted, but it’s difficult to comprehend water’s true value until clean water suddenly no longer flows from the tap. Water sustains life, unlocks opportunity, and is a necessary investment” (3/21).

The Guardian: If we want water for everyone, we’re going to have to pay for it
Kevin Rudd, president of the Asia Society Policy Institute and chair of the Global Partnership on Sanitation and Water for All

“…Access to clean water and basic sanitation is a human right and a public good. But those declarations alone do not solve the financing problem. Water and sanitation services must therefore be paid for, with tariffs adjusted according to the ability of local communities and individuals to pay. For the poorest of poor communities, this will mean zero tariffs or simple public water provision until social and economic conditions improve. … The social, economic, and business case for a quantum change in investment patterns in water, sanitation, and hygiene is clear. The World Health Organization calculates that every $1 invested in water and sanitation has a return of at least $4 in lower health costs, more productivity, and fewer premature deaths. Yet the sector has arguably been the slowest to adapt to the harsh new financial world in which we live, where the constraints of domestic public finance and foreign aid are becoming sharper each year” (3/22).

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U.S. Congress Should Fund Research Efforts To Manage Zika, Other Insect-Borne Diseases

Los Angeles Times: The Zika virus doesn’t respect borders. It’s time for immediate U.S. action
May Berenbaum, president of the Entomological Society of America

“…It should be obvious to lawmakers that it’s better — and cheaper — to manage Zika before the disease reaches crisis proportions in the U.S. … Emergency funding is unarguably necessary — but not sufficient. Stable, sustained financial support for research, including entomological research spanning mosquito genomics to ecology, is essential for anticipating and circumventing the next emerging or re-emerging mosquito-borne disease. … Congress should invest in research across the sciences, including entomology, to devise both immediate short-term and durable long-term solutions to this persistent challenge to human health” (3/21).

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Surveillance, Mortality Data Critical To Ending Preventable Child Deaths

Project Syndicate: How Autopsies Can Save Children’s Lives
Scott Dowell, deputy director for surveillance and epidemiology at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…As part of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the United Nations last September, the international community has pledged to end preventable deaths of children under the age of five by 2030. And yet, in the regions with the highest mortality rates, we lack the most basic information about why children die. … The [Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS)] program … will allow us to record causes of death more accurately and track progress as vaccination campaigns and other measures are introduced. … [E]ach site [in the program] will help build the capacity of partner countries’ public health systems, providing valuable data and technical support that will have an impact far beyond helping to reduce child mortality. For example, the surveillance centers will generate the data needed to tackle infectious diseases, provide early warning of epidemics, and generally improve global health. … By accurately tracking the causes of child mortality, we can target treatments more precisely and usher in a new era — one in which preventable child deaths really will be a thing of the past” (3/21).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

USAID-Supported Venture Aims To Improve Health Of Women, Mothers Globally

USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: Empowering Women Through a Simple Purse
Danielle Somers, communications analyst for the U.S. Global Development Lab’s Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN), and Emily Jablonski, virtual intern for HESN and student at the University of Michigan, profile Zubaida Bai, the co-founder of ayzh, a USAID-supported “organization providing women’s health resources to underserved women globally. The venture’s first product is a clean birthing kit that includes all the items recommended by the World Health Organization to prevent infection at birth…” (3/21).

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Existing Data Can Be Used To Assess Health Care Quality But Better Data Collection Needed

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog”: Leverage Existing Data to Tackle Quality of Health Care
Sebastian Bauhoff, research fellow at CGD, discusses leveraging existing data and improving future data collection to assess health care quality. He highlights key findings from a recent study in which he and colleagues used existing data from Service Provision Assessments (SPA) to measure health service quality in Kenya. Bauhoff writes, “The bottom line is that the level of quality is low, variation across facilities is large, and we urgently need better data and methods if we want to develop effective solutions to address these problems” (3/21).

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Government Authorities, U.N. Should Prioritize Efforts To Respond To HIV/AIDS, TB In Eastern Ukraine

BMJ Blogs: Michel Kazatchkine: Time to prioritize HIV/AIDS and MDR-TB in Eastern Ukraine as supplies run out
Michel Kazatchkine, U.N. special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, discusses HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, multidrug-resistant TB, as well as the challenges of delivering health care in Eastern Ukraine, writing, “The time has well and truly come for the Minsk negotiators to prioritize HIV/AIDS, TB, and MDR-TB as urgent issues on the regional agenda that the world must address in these territories. But it is also long overdue for the authorities in Kiev, Donetsk, and Luhansk to accept that HIV/AIDS, TB, and MDR-TB are regional and global concerns. The U.N. must also continue to play its part in fostering health and humanitarian diplomacy to avoid a European tragedy this year” (3/21).

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