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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

First Case Of New Coronavirus Identified In France

“France has identified its first case of a new strain of coronavirus emerging from the Middle East in a person recently returned from the United Arab Emirates, the health ministry said on Wednesday,” Reuters reports (Bremer, 5/8). “France’s health minister, Marisol Touraine, said ‘this is an isolated case’ in France but said authorities are ‘fully mobilized’ to prevent it from spreading,” according to the Associated Press/Washington Post, which also writes, “Since September 2012, the [WHO] has been informed of 30 confirmed cases of the virus, and 18 of the patients have died. Cases have been emerged in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE, Qatar, Britain and Germany, and health officials have said the virus has likely already spread between people in some circumstances” (5/8).

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Africa, Asia Most Difficult Places To Be A Mother, Save The Children Report Finds

“A new report [released on Tuesday] by Save the Children gauges and ranks the conditions for mothers in almost every country in the world,” the Washington Post reports (Fisher, 5/8). “This year, the index calls attention to child survival in addition to maternal health,” Humanosphere notes (Murphy, 5/7). “Nearly three million babies die within the first month of life — more than one million on the same day they are born — largely from preventable causes,” according to the report, GlobalPost writes, adding the report “noted that reducing newborn deaths will be critical to moving towards the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) that aims to cut child deaths by two-thirds by 2015.” The news service notes, “The highest newborn mortality rates were in sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of newborns who died each year slightly increased in that time period” (Miley, 5/7). According to the report, “Eight of the 10 worst nations in which to be a mother are in West and Central Africa,” the Thomson Reuters Foundation adds.

“In East Asia and the Pacific, the region’s impressive economic growth has yet to translate into better wellbeing for all mothers and their children, the report said,” Reuters notes (Hussain, 5/7). “In terms of absolute numbers, the most first-day [newborn] deaths occur in India — more than 300,000 per year, the report said,” according to the Associated Press (Straziuso, 5/7). “India also records the highest number of global newborn deaths,” Devex notes, adding, “These figures highlight the challenges that persist in India and many other parts of the world in ensuring children live beyond the age of five, like inequality in health service delivery, shortage of health workers, rapid urbanization and policies that prohibit the use of effective interventions such as Kangaroo Mother Care, says Save the Children India CEO Tom Chandy” (Ravelo, 5/7). “Overall, the report cites four interventions that could really make a difference in newborn death rates,” including using chlorhexidine to cleanse umbilical cords, steroid injections for women undergoing preterm labor, resuscitation devices, and injectable antibiotics to treat newborn sepsis and pneumonia, Time’s “Healthland” blog states (Sifferlin, 5/7).

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India Food Bill Debate Stalled In Parliament

“The government [of India] may soon pass the National Food Security Bill to give millions more people cheap food, fulfilling an election promise of the ruling Congress party that could cost about $23 billion a year and take a third of annual grain production,” Reuters reports. “The bill, which aims to feed 70 percent of the population, could widen the already swollen budget deficit next year, increasing the risk to its coveted investment-grade status,” the news service writes (Winterbottom, 5/8). The bill, “first introduced in Parliament in December 2011 to address India’s crippling levels of malnutrition in a comprehensive manner …, was referred to Parliament’s standing committee for further discussion, and then put to debate again in the Lok Sabha by K. V. Thomas, minister of food and consumers affairs, on Monday,” according to the New York Times’ “India Ink” blog, which notes, “only four speakers could speak briefly about the food bill” as India’s lower house of Parliament “descended into a shouting match” before adjourning (Kumar, 5/7).

The “government’s hopes of pushing [the] ambitious food security law through Parliament were snuffed out for the second day [on Tuesday] by protests from opposition parties calling for the resignation of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar,” the Wall Street Journal writes (Mukherji/Chaturvedi, 5/7). “A brief debate followed amid ruckus, with members from the Left parties and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) denouncing the ‘dictatorial ways’ of the government to push through the legislation when Parliament was paralyzed over various scams,” Business Standard adds (5/7). “The government will likely try to pass the food security law again Wednesday. Unless approved by Parliament before the weekend, the end of this budget session, the passage of the law will likely be delayed until the next session, which begins in the third week of July,” the Wall Street Journal notes (5/7). In its “India Real Time” blog, the news service interviews P. K. Joshi, South Asia director of the International Food Policy Research Institute, about the bill (Sugden, 5/8).

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Devex Examines Impact Of Bolivian President's Decision To Expel USAID On Implementing Partners

“USAID implementing partners in Bolivia are bracing for tough times, as illustrated by the case of a two-year grant financed by [USAID] in the country that came too late,” Devex’s “Development Newswire” blog reports. “Days before President Evo Morales announced that USAID was no longer welcome in Bolivia, the agency had notified local partner Fundacion Valles that its $2 million cooperative agreement would be signed in the ‘next few weeks,'” but the future of the grant is unclear, according to the blog, which adds, “Fundacion Valles’ case highlights how Bolivia’s shocking political decision will affect USAID’s nine implementing partners working in the country to improve the health system, protect the environment and help the economy grow” (Morales, 5/7). In a related story, the Los Angeles Times reports on the expulsion of USAID from Bolivia as well as the agency’s challenges in other countries (Richter, 5/6).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Address Post-2015 Development Agenda

The following is a summary of two opinion pieces addressing the post-2015 development agenda.

  • John Podesta and Casey Dunning, The Guardian’s “Comment is Free”: “‘Ending extreme poverty in all its forms’ is no longer a platitude or a dream for development experts — it’s the guiding vision of the United Nations High Level Panel [UNHLP], as well as an achievement that’s closer to being realized than ever before, thanks to the millennium development goals,” Podesta, president of the Centre for American Progress and a member of the UNHLP, and Dunning, a senior policy analyst for the Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative at American Progress, write. “[F]or us, it’s clear that the increased, global scope of social safety nets will make the most vulnerable of populations more resilient. We need these to end extreme poverty,” they continue, adding, “These transfers can come from the state, donors, [non-governmental organizations (NGOs)], or the private sector, and they run the gamut, including cash, food, and fee waivers for healthcare or schooling” (5/7).
  • Olav Kjørven, The Guardian’s “Media Network” blog: “For the first time in history, the United Nations is engaging hundreds of thousands of people around the world in shaping an important global agenda: the next generation of anti-poverty goals,” Kjørven, the U.N. assistant secretary-general and director of bureau for development policy at U.N. development program, writes. “We are breaking new ground by not only holding simultaneous conferences in almost 100 countries, but by using digital media and mobile phone technology to include as many individuals as possible in the debate on future global targets,” he continues, adding, “I encourage you to be part of this historic project and help the U.N. member states include your priorities in the future global development targets by voting at www.MyWorld2015.org” (5/7).

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Editorial, Opinion Pieces Address 'State Of The World's Mothers' Report

Save the Children on Tuesday released its annual “State of the World’s Mothers” report. The following is a summary of an editorial and an opinion piece addressing the report.

  • Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog: “This year’s edition focuses on the staggering number of newborn deaths that occur in a baby’s earliest days — and the opportunity to reduce this universal tragedy,” the editorial notes. “The focus of this year’s edition is highlighted by a breathtaking statistic: More than one million babies around the world die on the day they are born each year. Nearly three million die within the first month,” the editorial writes, adding, “Even more heartbreaking is the fact that many of those deaths can be prevented by the implementation of simple and straightforward health practices” (5/7).
  • Natalie Hanman, The Guardian’s “Comment is Free”: “The report, which looks at 176 countries, assesses mothers’ wellbeing against the same five indicators: lifetime risk of maternal death, under-five mortality rate, expected number of years of formal schooling, gross national income per capita and the participation of women in national government,” Hanman, editor of the blog, writes. “But do these five indicators fully capture the experience of mothering?” she asks, adding, “In your experience, what is it that makes a country a good, or bad, place to be a mother?” (5/7).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

USAID Blog Calls For Improved TB Diagnosis, Treatment

During the month of May, USAID’s “IMPACTblog” “will be highlighting USAID’s work in global health,” the blog notes, adding, “From May 1-10, we will be featuring the role that science, technology and innovation plays in global health.” In the most recent post in the series, USAID Senior Tuberculosis Media Advisor Ya Diul Mukadi discusses existing diagnostic tools and treatments for tuberculosis (TB), including new developments, and writes, “Despite these promising new tools, we need additional point of care TB diagnosis tools and shorter, less toxic regimens to reduce the treatment time even further and with fewer side effects, which can be debilitating for those on treatment for drug-resistant TB.” He concludes, “The U.S. government will continue working with global leaders, national TB programs, civil society and at community level to support this critical work in the fight against TB” (5/7).

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Blogs Address Maternal, Newborn Health Issues

In recognition of Mother’s Day, celebrated Sunday, as well as the release of Save the Children’s annual “State of the World’s Mothers” report, the following is a summary of blog posts addressing maternal and newborn health issues.

  • Gary Darmstadt, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog: “We have the opportunity to save millions of lives if the global community comes together on behalf of mothers and newborns,” Darmstadt, head of the Family Health Division of the foundation, writes. “This report gives us hope that it is possible to give a newborn a better chance of survival,” he states, adding, “The release of this report and this information is monumental, considering that a decade ago we barely understood the causes of newborn mortality and were intimidated by what was perceived to be a need for highly specialized care for a newborn” (5/7).
  • Kathleen Donnelly, USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: “At PATH, we’re dedicated to developing simple, affordable technology to make sure becoming a mother is a time of joy the world over,” Donnelly, head of communications at PATH, writes. She interviews Elizabeth Abu-Haydar, public health specialist with the technology solutions program at PATH “about some of the technologies that hold promise for making childbirth safer” (5/7).
  • Eleni Tsigas, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog: “Preeclampsia is — depending on the country — either the first, second, or third leading complication of pregnancy that causes death — either to the mother or baby,” Tsigas, executive director of the Preeclampsia Foundation, notes. “I frequently talk about the Preeclampsia Foundation’s mission running on two parallel tracks: One track must be focused on what we know today — what must we do better with what we already know?” she writes. “The other track, however has our headlights aimed far ahead, investing in research and envisioning a future where preeclampsia is prevented or at the very least effectively treated with something other than delivery of a preterm baby,” she continues, adding, “We call upon the international community — policymakers, researchers, clinicians and funding organizations — to not settle for incremental solutions” (5/3).

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New PLOS Collection Examines Measurement Of Maternal, Newborn, Child Health Intervention Coverage

PLOS on Tuesday published a new collection, titled, “Measuring Coverage in Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health,” “which presents innovative assessments of the validity of measuring population coverage for interventions in this field,” according to the collection’s table of contents, which adds, “This collection of original research articles and reviews shows that while some indicators can be measured accurately, others may not provide valid results and therefore need further investigation and development” (5/7). In an editorial accompanying the collection, Jennifer Bryce, who assisted in preparing the collection, “explains why measuring coverage of maternal, newborn, and child health interventions matters and what we can learn from the new PLOS collection” (5/7). “Rigorous measurement of the proportion of women and children in need of life-saving interventions who actually receive them remains a challenge, which is why the new collection … from PLOS Medicine is so timely,” Mariam Claeson and Wendy Prosser of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, write in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog (5/7).

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Blogs Examine Issue Of Female Genital Schistosomiasis

Writing in the PLOS “Speaking of Medicine” blog, PLOS NTDs Editor-In-Chief Peter Hotez highlights the subject of Female Genital Schistosomiasis [FGS] in Africa that continues to affect women there heavily, yet receives disproportionally little attention.” He discusses a number of articles “emphasiz[ing] the disproportionate impact of S. haematobium infection on girls and women,” and writes, “As we look past the Millennium Development Goals starting in 2015, it will be essential to renew a global commitment to the treatment and prevention of FGS, and spotlight attention to this ancient scourge of girls and women” (5/6). In a related post in the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog, Gregory Simon, senior technical officer for the network, examines the need for combined schistosomiasis and HIV control programs, noting, “Several studies conducted in Tanzania and Zimbabwe demonstrated that girls and women with FGS had three to four times greater relative risk of contracting HIV” (5/7).

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