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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.N. SG Urges Aid Delivery In Syria Without Government Consent; Challenges Persist

News outlets discuss a new report from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urging humanitarian aid delivery in Syria without the government’s consent, as well as challenges to delivering such aid.

Al Jazeera: Measles and malnourishment: Syria is getting worse, not better
“Three months after the United Nations Security Council managed the rare feat of agreeing on a resolution about Syria, conditions in the war-torn country have deteriorated even further, according to a report released on Thursday by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon…” (Hill, 5/23).

The Guardian: Aid group Mercy Corps forced to close Damascus operations
“One of the largest aid providers in Syria, Mercy Corps, has been forced to close its operations in Damascus because Syrian officials said it could not work in opposition-held areas of the country…” (Chulov/Beals, 5/23).

New York Times: U.N. Chief Urges Aid Delivery Without Syria’s Consent
“The Syrian government is ‘failing in its responsibility to look after its own people,’ the secretary general of the United Nations has said in a confidential report to the Security Council, in which he urged it to authorize the delivery of food and medicine to Syria without the government’s consent…” (Sengupta, 5/23).

U.N. News Centre: Syria: U.N. humanitarian chief condemns attack on warehouse during aid distribution
“The United Nations humanitarian chief today expressed outrage at a deliberate attack on a humanitarian warehouse in the Damascus province of Syria, which occurred as aid workers were preparing to distribute urgently needed supplies to hundreds of families in the besieged city…” (5/25).

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Refugees Denied Cancer Treatments Due To Steep Medical Costs, Study Says

News outlets report on a study published in Lancet Oncology on access to cancer treatments for Iraqi and Syrian refugees.

Agence France-Presse: Syria refugees denied cancer treatment, says UNHCR
“Lack of funds is forcing aid workers to deny Syrian war victims and other refugees with cancer the care they need, the U.N. refugee agency’s top medical expert warned on Monday. … In a new study published in the journal The Lancet Oncology, [UNHCR’s medical chief, Paul] Spiegel, documented hundreds of refugees in Jordan and Syria [who were] denied cancer treatment due to limited funds, and called for urgent new steps to tackle cancer in humanitarian crises…” (Fowler, 5/25).

Agence France-Presse: Steep medical bill for hosts of Iraqi, Syrian refugees
“Middle Eastern countries that host refugees from conflict-torn Iraq and Syria are having to deal with a steep health care bill from expensive-to-treat chronic diseases like cancer, a study said Monday…” (5/25).

BBC News: Refugees ‘struggle for cancer care’
“There is a ‘high demand’ for cancer treatment from refugees, which is often difficult to meet, experts say. Infectious diseases and malnutrition have understandably been the focus of refugee health work. But in Lancet Oncology, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says cancer is a major issue that host countries often struggle to deal with…” (5/25).

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Canada Keeps Focus On Maternal, Child Health

The Globe and Mail features two stories discussing Canadian efforts to improve maternal and child health, including the upcoming Saving Every Woman Every Child summit.

Globe and Mail: Canada keeps its funding promises for world maternal and child health
“…Ottawa is on track to spend some $2.85 billion [US$2.6 billion] on maternal and child health initiatives around the world. The investment will be on display next week when the government convenes a group of global leaders for a summit in Toronto, including the Queen of Jordan, the Aga Khan, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon…” (Mackrael, 5/24).

Globe and Mail: Maternal and child health innovators are developing lifesaving tools
“…Canadian-led projects are helping to add much-needed iron to people’s diets in Cambodia and developing new tests to determine whether a baby has pneumonia at clinics that don’t have access to X-rays…” (Mackrael, 5/24).

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USAID Launches Program To Reduce Child Stunting By 2M Over 5 Years

Inter Press Service: U.S. Pledges to Reduce Child Stunting by Two Million Globally
“The U.S. government has pledged to reduce the number of chronically malnourished children around the world by at least two million over the next half decade, receiving an initial positive response from the development community…” (Tullo, 5/23).

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Guinea, Sierra Leone Report New Ebola Cases, Signaling Virus' Spread

News outlets report on Ebola in West Africa, including new cases in areas previously unaffected.

Al Jazeera: Ebola spreads to Sierra Leone; five reported dead
“At least five people have died in Sierra Leone’s first confirmed outbreak of the Ebola virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday…” (5/26).

Associated Press: 2 new Ebola deaths confirmed in West Africa
“Two new deaths from the deadly Ebola disease were announced Monday by health authorities in Guinea and Sierra Leone, raising fears that the first outbreak in West Africa is not yet under control. The new fatalities are far from where the outbreak began…” (Diallo/Roy-Macaulay, 5/26).

Reuters: Guinea announces two new cases of Ebola in previously unaffected area
“Guinean health officials announced two new confirmed cases of Ebola on Friday in an area previously untouched by the virus, which has killed more than 100 people in West Africa but which Guinea’s government has said is now under control…” (Hussain/Samb, 5/23).

Reuters: Five dead as Sierra Leone records first Ebola outbreak
“Five people have died in Sierra Leone’s first confirmed outbreak of Ebola virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, signaling a new expansion of the disease which regional officials said had been brought under control…” (Bavier, 5/26).

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Iran Confirms 2 MERS Cases; FAO Urges More Monitoring, Investigation Of Virus

News outlets report on the continuing outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Reuters: Iran confirms first two cases of MERS
“Iranian officials say they have confirmed the country’s first two cases of MERS, a deadly virus first reported two years ago in Saudi Arabia, its neighbor on the western side of the Gulf…” (Moghtader, 5/27).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. agriculture agency urges more research into role of animals in spreading MERS virus
“Health experts and veterinarians called for stepped-up monitoring, investigations and immediate reporting of cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) during a meeting convened by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Oman…” (5/23).

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Saudi Officials, Global Health Experts Outline Plan To Prevent Disease During Hajj

New York Times: Guarding Against Disease Among Pilgrims to Mecca
“…Preventing outbreaks during the hajj is a major focus of the new field of ‘mass gathering medicine,’ and last week in The Lancet, Saudi and European scientists affiliated with the new Global Center for Mass Gathering Medicine, based in the Saudi health ministry, outlined the protective steps the kingdom will take…” (McNeil, 5/26).

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El Nino Weather Pattern May Increase Vector-Borne Diseases, Threaten Food Security

News outlets report on the threat of the El Nino weather pattern, which may increase vector-borne diseases and impact food security in Asia.

Bernama: El Nino May Increase Risk Of Dengue, Malaria — Health Minister
“The El Nino phenomenon, expected to hit the country from June to December this year, may increase the risk of vector-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria, said Health Minister [of Malaysia] Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam…” (5/23).

Reuters: Asia readies food security defenses against El Nino threat
“Asia’s governments are scrambling to head off the potential impact of a weather phenomenon that in the past has driven food prices to levels that sparked social unrest. … They are aiming to reduce the impact of the so-called El Nino, a weather pattern that can bring drought to Australia, Southeast Asia, and India…” (Supriatna et al., 5/27).

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Step Up Efforts To Protect HCWs In Conflict Situations, Experts Urge

IRIN: More protection for health care workers needed
“Experts are calling for increased protection for health care workers and patients in crisis situations in the face of growing attacks on health facilities, which challenge notions of their neutrality…” (5/23).

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Kenya Receives $2M Donation For Obstetric Fistula Treatment; U.N. Calls For End To Injury

Media outlets report on Kenya’s receipt of a $2 million donation to treat obstetric fistula and the U.N.’s call to eradicate the injury.

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Kenya gets ‘game changing’ record donation for fistula treatment
“A ‘game changing’ $2 million donation will help Kenyan surgeons to give 1,200 women life-transforming surgery to cure incontinence caused by fistula, a hole in the birth canal, and will train more specialists to perform the operation…” (Migiro, 5/23).

U.N. News Centre: On International Day, U.N. urges end to ‘global social injustice’ of obstetric fistula
“United Nations officials today called for eradicating the global social injustice of obstetric fistula, a consequence of childbirth that affects an estimated two million women and girls in developing countries but is entirely preventable with access to quality medical care…” (5/23).

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Anti-Gay Law, New Bill Threaten AIDS Response In Uganda

Devex: After anti-gay law, new bill threatens fight against HIV in Uganda
“Three months after it was signed by President Yoweri Museveni, the real implications of Uganda’s controversial anti-gay law are starting to be truly felt by the international aid community. … [N]ow another bill threatens to criminalize intentional transmission of HIV. The legislative proposal had been sitting in parliament since 2010, but with HIV and AIDS infection rates rising and Uganda starting to lose the battle against the disease despite being touted as a model for its anti-HIV strategy just a few years ago, the government seems to think the new bill — or rather parts of it — can bring the numbers down…” (Ravelo, 5/23).

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Labor Strikes In Kenya Threaten Roll Out Of HIV Treatment

Inter Press Service: Divided Opinions on Feasibility of Kenya’s Option B+ Roll Out
“Kenya’s health sector has been facing significant challenges, ranging from a shortage of health care providers to a series of labor strikes. The problems have not only disrupted health services, but have HIV experts divided on whether to roll out Option B+ nationwide or just to pilot it in high volume facilities such as major referral hospitals. Option B+ is the latest treatment option recommended by the World Health Organization for HIV-positive mothers…” (Gathigah, 5/26).

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Pakistan Warns New Polio Vaccination Drive Will Miss 370K Children Because Of Security Concerns

Agence France Presse/Al Jazeera: Security issues hamper Pakistan polio drive
“Pakistan has launched a fresh polio vaccination drive in its restive tribal belt, but officials warned that nearly 370,000 children are likely to miss out because of security problems…” (5/26).

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Afghanistan Public Health Minister Discusses Country's Maternal, Child Mortality

SciDev.Net: Q&A: A brighter future for Afghanistan’s newborn babies
“In the past two years, Afghanistan has seen a significant reduction in maternal and child mortality. To achieve this, the government took measures such as the development of better health care infrastructure in rural areas, and better education and training for health care workers.” SciDev.Net interviews Afghanistan Minister of Public Health Suraya Dalil about the country’s improvements (Adams, 5/27).

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Mass Vaccination Begins In Flood-Hit Solomon Islands To Prevent Disease Outbreaks

Radio New Zealand International: Mass vaccination campaign rolls out in Solomons
“About 24,000 children in parts of Solomon Islands hit by flash floods are being vaccinated in a bid to prevent disease outbreaks…” (5/24).

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U.N. Agencies Warn About Disease, Landslides Following Flooding In Balkans

U.N. News Centre: Landslides, disease pose threats in wake of epic flooding in Balkans — U.N.
“United Nations humanitarian agencies today raised concerns about landslides and possible water-borne diseases from the worst flooding in Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina in more than a century, which may have disturbed minefields from the Bosnian war…” (5/23).

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Protests Surround Firing Of HIV Expert At Jamaican University

Associated Press/Washington Post: Protest over Jamaica university firing AIDS doctor
“Religious activists, students, and colleagues gathered outside Jamaica’s biggest university Monday to protest the firing of an HIV expert who testified on behalf of church groups defending an anti-sodomy law…” (McFadden, 5/26).

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Editorials and Opinions

Canada Leading Efforts To Lower Preventable Deaths Among Women, Children

Opinion pieces address Canada’s work to prevent maternal and child deaths, including the upcoming Saving Every Woman Every Child summit.

National Post: Saving women and children in Tanzania, and around the world
Laurie Hawn, member of parliament for Edmonton Centre, and Hermengild Mayunga, a senior consultant for the Tanzania Parliamentary Committee Against Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases

“Globally, 6.6 million children die each year from preventable and curable diseases, such as pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and measles, and 287,000 mothers die during pregnancy and delivery. It is possible to prevent most of these deaths through cost-effective solutions, such as national immunization and child-health programs, which is why Canada has chosen to send a clear message to the world: We are not giving up on saving the lives of mothers and children. … As world leaders gather in Toronto later this month, we ask for continued support for life-saving health initiatives, from Canada and our G8 partners…” (5/22).

Ottawa Citizen: Canada must continue to lead on maternal health
Dorothy Shaw, chair of the Canadian Network for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (CAN-MNCH) and vice president of medical affairs at BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre

“…Summit participants are meeting at a pivotal moment in the history of maternal, newborn and child health. Tremendous progress has been realized over the past few years, but the landmark Muskoka Initiative that catalyzed this momentum is now entering its fifth and last year. … Over the coming days, we will be hearing a lot about the hope for the future and the progress that we have achieved to help the world’s mothers and their children. Canadian ingenuity and perseverance is leading this effort. We are in the final push to end preventable deaths within a generation” (5/26).

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Corporate, Consumer Responsibility Can Help Reduce Maternal, Child Deaths

TIME: Lessons From the Campaign That Vaccinated 100 Million Mothers
Rownak Khan of UNICEF and Matthew Price, vice president of P&G

“…Having already eliminated [maternal neonatal tetanus (MNT)] in 14 countries, we remain committed to continuing our efforts until we truly eradicate this fatal disease. Today, many companies are actively engaged in corporate social responsibility, but very few have been able to rival the success of 1 Pack = 1 Vaccine. A major reason for the success is the direct link between our consumers and those in need of help around the world…” (5/23).

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Cooperation, Partnership Needed To Reach WASH Goals

Devex: Why WASH matters as we tackle today’s water and sanitation crisis
Darren Saywell, head of the WASH program at Plan International USA

“…Recognizing that countries and organizations achieve more by working together, Sanitation and Water for All provides a transparent, accountable and results-oriented framework for action based on our common vision — universal access to safe water and adequate sanitation. … As 2015 approaches, and the international community lays out a framework for the eradication of poverty, such joint action has never been more important. Unless we work together, harnessing the power of partnerships to deliver results on the ground, we will never achieve sanitation and water for all. And without universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene, the eradication of extreme poverty is inconceivable” (5/26).

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Move Mental Health Up On Global Health, Development Agenda

Huffington Post: Global Health Must Include Mental Health
Craig and Marc Kielburger, co-founders of Free The Children

“…Mental health challenges are a significant barrier to economic and social development around the world. Resources and expertise are extremely limited, creating a huge gap between the need and the ability to treat. But with focused efforts using well-known, simple and cost-effective interventions, communities and countries can turn mental health into a source of strength and a way out of poverty…” (5/23).

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Funding, Political Resolution Critical To Addressing Cholera, Hunger In S. Sudan

New York Times: South Sudan’s Plight
Andrea Tamburini, director of operations at Action Against Hunger

In a letter to the editor, Tamburini notes a cholera outbreak and increasing food insecurity in South Sudan, stating, “…Emergency teams must swiftly address cases of cholera and prevent its fatal spread. Nutrition teams must be deployed across South Sudan’s 10 states. … For this to happen, humanitarians must have the funds to support their efforts, and they must have access to deliver aid to these communities with a modicum of security. Donors are critical to the first outcome, but a political resolution to the conflict will ultimately be the solution to the crisis itself” (5/26).

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HIV PrEP Faces Psychological, Financial Obstacles

New York Times: Are We Ready for HIV’s Sexual Revolution?
Donald McNeil, science and health reporter for the New York Times

“The FDA has taken a drug — Truvada — that was approved for HIV treatment in 2004, and approved it for prevention, a use called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. On May 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed PrEP, saying it could benefit up to 500,000 Americans. … Widespread use of the drugs could fight [HIV infections] — but two imposing obstacles loom. … The first is psychological. … The second is financial…” (5/23).

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Malaria Has Potential To Be Eliminated

Deseret News: Who cares about malaria?
John Hoffmire, director of the Impact Bond Fund at Saïd Business School at Oxford University

“…Innovative efforts to fight malaria focus on a variety of fronts. But one of the most interesting areas of research addresses hemoglobin C. It is a source of natural resistance that can reduce the risk of mortality by 80 percent. At no time in the history of humanity have we been as close as we are now to having the real capacity and means to eliminate this disease. Here’s to those who are doing the real work in addressing malaria” (5/26).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Birx Meets With Civil Society To Outline PEPFAR's Goals

UNAIDS: United States Global AIDS Coordinator presents PEPFAR’s vision to civil society
“On the side-lines of the sixty-seventh World Health Assembly, UNAIDS convened a meeting between European-based members of civil society with Ambassador Deborah Birx, the new United States Global AIDS Coordinator. … UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Luiz Loures acknowledged this was Ambassador Birx’s first meeting with civil society outside of the United States in her new role, and pledged continued collaboration…” (5/23).

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African Governments Working To Vaccinate Continent's Children

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Continental Shift
Ghana President John Dramani Mahama discusses the role of African governments in improving vaccine coverage on the continent in order to reduce child deaths, including their work with the GAVI Alliance (5/23).

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