KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Reporting Continues On Maternal, Child Mortality Issues

News coverage on maternal and child mortality continues, following the release of several reports this week.

Devex: Niger’s persistent problem
“Niger, a poor landlocked country in sub-Saharan Africa, has ranked a total of nine times at the bottom of Save the Children’s annual Mothers’ Index since the launch of the survey in 2000. This year is a bit different, though there’s still not much to celebrate…” (Ravelo, 5/6).

GlobalPost: How humanitarian crises impact maternal and child health
“It’s not often that you see the United States grouped together with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, and the Philippines — particularly when it comes to health care. But in the 2014 Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers report, published Monday, those four countries were the featured subjects of an in-depth look at how humanitarian crises are negatively impacting maternal and child health…” (Miley, 5/6).

PBS NewsHour: Maternal deaths down in Afghanistan with help from community workers
“One of the bright spots in Save the Children’s 15th annual ranking of the best and worst countries to be a mother, released Monday, is the progress Afghanistan has made in the area of maternal health…” (Epatko, 5/6).

Reuters: U.S. backslides in maternal deaths, bucking global trend
“American women are more likely to die in childbirth than they were two decades ago, making the United States one of the few countries where the risks from childbirth have risen in the past generation, World Health Organization data showed on Tuesday…” (Miles, 5/6).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Ethiopia most successful in Africa at cutting maternal deaths — NGO
“Pregnancy-related deaths in Ethiopia have fallen by nearly two-thirds, making it the African country that has most successfully lowered its maternal mortality rate thanks to its lifesaving investment in female health workers and girls’ education, Save the Children said on Tuesday…” (Migiro, 5/6).

U.N. News Centre: Maternal death rates fall but chronic diseases increase pregnancy risk — U.N. agency
“Rates of maternal deaths are down, according to United Nations figures released today, but pre-existing medical conditions heighten the risk of death for pregnant women and require continued investment in quality care during pregnancy and childbirth…” (5/6).

VOA News: WHO Study Reports Fewer Childbirth Deaths
“A new World Health Organization study finds maternal deaths due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth have been cut nearly in half over the past 24 years. But WHO says most countries will not meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal deaths by two-thirds…” (Schlein, 5/6).

Wall Street Journal: Disasters Could Dent Progress for Moms, Babies in the Philippines
“Frequent and increasingly severe natural disasters are testing the Philippines’ ability to improve conditions for mothers and children and could erode recent gains in maternal health, says a report by international charity Save the Children…” (Schonhardt, 5/6).

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Global Development Lab Aims To Foster Innovative Solutions To End Poverty

IRIN: Can innovation end global poverty?
“Can the seemingly intractable problems of global poverty be addressed by the latest wonders of science and technology? … [With the launch of the Global Development Lab,] USAID is attempting to ‘foster science- and technology-based solutions to help end extreme poverty by 2030’…” (5/7).

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Rights Groups Protest Lack Of Reference To Human Right To Water In SDG Agenda

Inter Press Service: U.N.’s Post-2015 Agenda Skips the Right to Water and Sanitation
“A U.N. working group mandated to formulate a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the post-2015 development agenda is being accused of bypassing water and sanitation as a basic human right: a right long affirmed in a General Assembly resolution adopted back in July 2010. … [A] protest is being led and coordinated by the Mining Working Group, a coalition of NGOs which promotes human and environmental rights worldwide…” (Deen, 5/6).

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U.N. Official Urges Continued Support For Afghanistan's Vulnerable Communities

U.N. News Centre: Afghanistan: U.N. official urges long-term support for vulnerable communities
“In the wake of last week’s massive landslide in north-eastern Afghanistan, a senior United Nations relief official today voiced deep concern about the impact of conflict and natural disasters in the country, and urged the world to step up support to vulnerable communities…” (5/6).

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Saudi Hospital Head Fired After MERS Infected Several HCWs; New Death, Research Reported

News outlets continue to cover issues surrounding the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak.

Agence France-Presse: Saudi hospital head sacked over MERS panic
“Saudi Arabia’s acting health minister has announced the sacking of the head of a Jeddah hospital where a spike in MERS infections among medical staff sparked panic among the public…” (5/7).

Agence France-Presse: Jordanian dies of MERS virus
“A man has died in Jordan after being infected with the MERS virus, a media report said Tuesday, in the kingdom’s second fatality from the disease this year and fourth since 2012…” (5/7).

HealthDay News: MERS Can Be Transmitted From Camel to Human, Study Confirms
“New research has confirmed that camels can transmit the deadly MERS virus to people. Virologists at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, found that the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome viruses in camels and people in the same geographical region are almost genetically identical, according to the study…” (Preidt, 5/6).

ScienceInsider: MERS: A Virologist’s View From Saudi Arabia
ScienceInsider interviews Christian Drosten, “a virologist at the University of Bonn in Germany, [who] is among those leading the effort to understand Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and [working to] contain the disease…” (5/6).

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Pakistan Works To Contain Polio, Issues Travel Restrictions

News outlets report on the spread of polio in Pakistan and the country’s efforts to contain the disease.

Al Jazeera: Vaccination workers under fire
“Anti-Western sentiment threatens to reverse progress made in polio vaccination roll-outs in Karachi…” (Crilly, 5/7).

New York Times: Pakistan: Province Bars Entry to Those Not Vaccinated for Polio
“In the wake of World Health Organization travel restrictions imposed on Pakistan to stop it from spreading polio abroad, one Pakistani province said Tuesday that citizens from anywhere else in the country would not be able to enter it without proof that they had been vaccinated…” (McNeil, 5/6).

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Malaria Makes Comeback In Venezuela, Spreading To Urban Centers

The Guardian: Venezuela’s mosquitoes bite back as malaria returns after half a century
“Malaria is making a comeback in Venezuela. For the first time in 50 years, the disease, which is disseminated by mosquitoes, is spreading from jungle communities to bustling urban centers. Its revival, experts say, could take at least two years to reverse…” (Lopez, 5/6).

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Mosquito-Borne Chikungunya Virus Confirmed In Haiti

Associated Press: Haiti confirms 14 cases of mosquito-borne virus
“A mosquito-borne virus that has spread rapidly through the Caribbean since it was documented in the region for the first time in December has been confirmed in Haiti, a government official said Tuesday. Authorities have confirmed 14 cases of the chikungunya virus in Haiti, Health Minister Florence Guillaume Duperval said…” (5/6).

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Kenyan Women On Average Have Five Children Despite Decades Of Family Planning Programs

Daily Nation: Five children per woman: How Kenya lost family planning battle
“…If the trajectory carved by the [family planning] campaign from independence had continued in its path, Kenyan women would today be having between two and three children on average, but they are still stuck at five. This has planners a bit uneasy because family planning is an essential component of achieving development goals for health, poverty reduction, gender equality, and environmental sustainability…” (Oketch, 5/6).

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Editorials and Opinions

'Vigorous Vaccination Efforts' Needed To Stop Polio's Spread

New York Times: The Global Polio Threat, Back Again
“…Only two infectious diseases have ever been eradicated — smallpox and rinderpest, a viral cattle disease — but there were expectations that polio would soon join them. That hope dimmed this year when three countries where the polio virus was thought to be bottled up allowed the virus to be carried beyond their borders. … [E]xperts are concerned that the virus could now spread to a large number of polio-free nations that are torn by conflicts or have very fragile public health systems. In the meantime, vigorous vaccination efforts, backed by public and private donors, are clearly required in any nation with polio cases” (5/6).

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Aid To Middle-Income Countries 'Can Be Transformational'

The Guardian: Europe’s aid experience shows the value of supporting middle-income countries
Jonathan Glennie, research associate at the Overseas Development Institute and the Centro De Pensamiento Estratégico Internacional (Cepei), and Gail Hurley, development finance policy specialist at UNDP

“How long should countries continue to receive international aid? With the majority of developing countries now described as middle income, this debate is dominating discussions about the future of development cooperation. … The overall experience [of Europe] shows that aid at higher levels of income is not only useful but can be transformational. Rather than reducing assistance to poorer countries elsewhere in the world, the E.U. and other donors should be continuing and increasing aid…” (5/7).

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Yemen Should Approve Child Rights Act Banning Child Marriage, FGM

The Guardian: Yemen law on child brides and FGM offers hope of wider progress
Suad Abu-Dayyeh, Middle East and North African consultant with Equality Now

“Yemen is poised to vote on a comprehensive Child Rights Act over the coming months, which would ban child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). … It is hoped that in Yemen, the authorities will seize the opportunity to make major advances not only for the female population, but for the entire country. We hope that, on this occasion, traditional and religious leaders will ensure the law is passed by the sharia committee. This would be a big step towards a brighter future for Yemen, one where the rights of girls are firmly at the forefront” (5/6).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

PLOS Collection Examines Issues Surrounding VMMC

“With new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa occurring at a rate of 2.3 million each year, this new collection, featuring research published in PLOS Medicine and PLOS ONE, presents interim results from a large public health intervention of voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) performed by health care practitioners in low-resource settings to prevent new infections. The collection examines lessons learned from the scaled-up VMMC program since 2008. Research papers focus on programs in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho, identifying strengths and challenges in key program areas, including demand creation, the quality of surgical services, operational efficiencies, data collection, and cost controls,” according to the VMMC collection homepage (5/6).

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Blog Examines Country-Level Income, Qualifications For Health Aid

In a post on the Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog,” Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a senior fellow at CGD, examines new estimates on purchasing power parity and how countries qualify to receive health aid. “…Disease burden is concentrated in countries now classified as middle-income. Because of this income classification, these countries are less likely to be eligible for health aid. … If disease prevention and control is the goal of donors, then they should allocate where disease burden and coverage gaps are located and where their money can be spent most cost-effectively…” (5/5).

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Polio Emergency Declaration Should Foster More Collaboration To End Disease

Noting the WHO’s declaration of polio as a global health emergency, Jay Wenger, director of the polio program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, “…This isn’t to say that the last mile [to polio eradication] is going to be easy. It hasn’t been and it will continue to be tough. At the same time we’re celebrating progress we haven’t seen before, we’re also dealing with challenges we haven’t seen before. … The sounding of an emergency often is seen as a sign of distress, and news of this announcement certainly communicated that. But what this alarm really signals is that working in close coordination we can do — and are doing — what it takes to end this disease as quickly as possible” (5/6).

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UNITAID Approves $160M For Investments In Hepatitis C, TB, Malaria

UNITAID has committed $160 million in new grants for investments in hepatitis C, drug-resistant tuberculosis, and malaria chemoprevention. According to a press release, “These innovative investments will reduce prices, overcome market barriers to access for patients, and generate crucial data on new products to speed up their introduction for those most in need.” Grants approved by UNITAID’s executive board this week include grants to Médecins Sans Frontières, Partners in Health, the Malaria Consortium, and Northwestern Global Health Foundation (5/6).

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Ukraine HIV/AIDS Response Scenarios Project Cost-Effective Approaches To Disease Efforts

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines an analysis on Ukraine’s 2014-2018 National HIV/AIDS Program goals. The blog notes, “[T]he analysis … used existing data and mathematical modeling to look at the outcomes of three possible response scenarios involving the country’s 2014-2018 National AIDS Program goals, against the then current level of response. … [W]hile using realities specific to Ukraine’s epidemic, the analysis reaches conclusions applicable to other countries…” (Barton, 5/6).

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