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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Meningitis A Nearly Eliminated In 26 African Nations But Countries Must Make Vaccines Routine To Prevent Future Epidemic, Studies Show

News outlets report on a collection of articles and studies published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases noting progress in efforts by the Meningitis Vaccine Project to eliminate meningitis A in Africa.

BBC News: Meningitis jab in Africa a ‘stunning success’
“A mass vaccination program against meningitis A in Africa has been a ‘stunning success,’ say experts. More than 220 million people were immunized across 16 countries in the continent’s meningitis belt. In 2013 there were just four cases across the entire region, which once faced thousands of deaths each year…” (Gallagher, 11/10).

The Guardian: Huge gains on meningitis A in Africa could be under threat, warns WHO
“The ‘dramatic gains’ made by a vaccination campaign that has almost rid 26 African countries of meningitis A could be undermined if the pioneering vaccine used is not included in routine childhood immunization rounds, health experts have warned…” (Jones, 11/10).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Deadly meningitis strain virtually eliminated in much of Africa — study
“…[Marie-Pierre Preziosi, director of the Meningitis Vaccine Project,] said the next step was for governments to include the vaccine, known as MenAfriVac, in their childhood immunization programs. ‘Should we not introduce the vaccine into routine immunizations, in about 15 years from now, there will be a massive epidemic,’ said Preziosi, citing research published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal…” (Migiro, 11/10).

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Dual Treatment Among Cattle For Sleeping Sickness Parasites, Flies Cut Disease Cases Among People By 90%, Research Shows

New York Times: New Treatment Slows an Epidemic of Sleeping Sickness
“Cases of human sleeping sickness have fallen greatly in parts of rural Uganda where cattle were given an experimental dual treatment that killed both the parasites that cause the disease and the flies that carry them, researchers in Scotland said Monday…” (McNeil, 11/9).

SciDev.Net: Cattle trial cuts human sleeping sickness
“…A research project run by the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom [in collaboration with Makerere University in Uganda and the Ugandan government] reduced cases of acute sleeping sickness among people living in the target area by 90 percent. … On 9 November the team announced that it plans to roll out the treatment across Uganda, which would cover about 2.7 million cattle…” (Vesper, 11/9).

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Cholera Vaccine Campaign Reaches 230K People In Iraq

Agence France-Presse: Over 230,000 vaccinated in Iraq anti-cholera campaign
“More than 230,000 people received a first dose of cholera vaccine in a massive campaign to combat an outbreak of the disease in Iraq, the World Health Organization said Monday…” (11/9).

NPR: Cholera Crisis: A Neglected Disease Is Back In The Headlines
“…[NPR’s] Goats and Soda spoke with [Dominique Legros, a medical epidemiologist with the WHO], who is part of WHO’s cholera response team and has been on the ground in Iraq…” (Kritz, 11/6).

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WHO Coordinating Program To Phase Out Oral Polio Vaccine To Help Prevent Vaccine-Derived Cases

NPR: The Oral Polio Vaccine Can Go ‘Feral,’ But WHO Vows to Tame It
“…The number of vaccine-derived polio cases relative to the hundreds of millions of doses of oral polio vaccine administered each year is incredibly low. In 2014, there were 56 vaccine-derived cases reported globally. But 56 starts to sound like a lot when the number of regular polio cases has fallen to just a couple dozen a year. So last month the World Health Organization announced the beginning of a program to phase out oral polio vaccine and eventually switch to the injectable version, which contains no live virus…” (Beaubien, 11/10).

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NPR Interviews Co-Author Of Amnesty International Report Examining Sierra Leone Law Preventing Pregnant Girls From Attending School

NPR: For Some Teen Girls, Surviving A Rape Can Mean Losing An Education
“Last spring, with the Ebola outbreak under control, students in Sierra Leone returned to school after a months-long hiatus … [but a] law that went into effect in April bars ‘visibly pregnant’ students from school. … [Esther Major, who researches economic, social, and cultural rights at Amnesty International,] co-authored a report Amnesty published Friday titled ‘Shamed and Blamed: Pregnant girls’ rights at risk in Sierra Leone.’ We asked her to tell us more about the law and its effects…” (Cole, 11/9).

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Food Insecurity, Disease Risk High Among Civilians Affected By South Sudan Conflict, U.N. Warns

U.N. News Centre: South Sudan: U.N. relief wing warns of 80 percent increase in food insecurity over past year
“South Sudan remains engulfed in a spiral of violence — with clashes in southern and central Unity state having ‘intensified with grave consequences for civilians’ — leaving at-risk populations food insecure and vulnerable to diseases, the United Nations humanitarian wing has warned, announcing that relief organizations on the ground are boosting efforts there despite access challenges and lagging funding…” (11/9).

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WHO Official Discusses Food Fortification Challenges In Devex Interview

Devex: Equity, cost, and a comprehensive approach to nutrition and fortification
“More than half of the world’s countries recognize the benefits of food fortification, a process that adds essential vitamins and minerals to foods. But while it has gained momentum, Francesco Branca, director for health and development at the World Health Organization, admits [in this video interview] that the quality of fortification remains variable and the vulnerable groups — for which these programs have been designed — are not always reached…” (Jimeno, 11/9).

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Editorials and Opinions

PEPFAR Serves As Example Of Well-Executed Bipartisan Global Health Initiative

Huffington Post: The Benefits of Bipartisanship
Deborah L. Birx, ambassador-at-large and coordinator of U.S. government activities to combat HIV/AIDS

“…Last Friday, former U.S. Senators Tom Daschle and Bill Frist launched a landmark [Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC)] report entitled: ‘The Case for Strategic Health Diplomacy: A Study of PEPFAR.’ In it, they argue that ‘There is no better example of the power of a well-executed global health initiative than the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.’ … [T]he report asserts that PEPFAR is not only the right thing to do — it’s also the smart, strategic, and secure thing. … PEPFAR is firmly focused on preventing new HIV infections, saving lives, and partnering with countries to control their epidemics and, ultimately, achieve an AIDS-free generation. And as Senators Daschle and Frist affirm, ‘Healthier populations build more prosperous societies, more competent institutions, and more stable governments.’ I couldn’t agree more” (11/9).

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No Government Should Interfere With Women's Reproductive Rights; U.S. Should Continue To Invest In Family Planning, Reproductive Health Programs

TIME: The End of China’s One-Child Policy Isn’t Enough
Latanya Mapp Frett, executive director of Planned Parenthood Global

“…Until China promotes a fully rights-based, voluntary family planning program, it is supporting the continued oppression of Chinese families through coercive reproductive policies. No government and no politician should interfere with the deeply personal decisions women make about whether or when to have children — period. … Coercion, violence, forced abortion, sterilization, and other violations of basic human rights in limiting births can wreak havoc and harm on communities. The U.S. must remain a strong supporter and leader within the global community in order to best promote women’s rights and the freedom of every woman to make personal decisions about her health and her future. We must continue to invest in the international family planning and reproductive health programs, including a contribution to UNFPA, that we know advance women’s rights over their own bodies…” (11/9).

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Constrained By Politics, Lack Of Funding, WHO Ill-Equipped To Respond To Cholera Outbreak In Syria

Foreign Affairs: The Next Cholera Epidemic
Sonia Shah, science journalist and author

“A cholera outbreak that began in Iraq in mid-September has spread into war-torn Syria. … This outbreak was predictable. … Millions of people are internally displaced in Syria, and supplies to disinfect drinking water have been cut off outside government-controlled areas. … The trouble with the WHO is that it is politically constrained; it must obtain governments’ permission to work in their territory … [which] limits the WHO’s activities to government-controlled territories. The WHO is also financially dependent on donors. … These constraints slow down and politicize the WHO’s work. … Recent failures to contain the Ebola virus and cholera continue to exact heavy tolls; both Haiti and Guinea in West Africa are still struggling to control these newly arrived pathogens. As cholera wends its way through the battered alleys and tattered refugee tents of northern Syria, a similarly unprecedented epidemic is poised to unfold in the Middle East. The difference is that averting it is still possible. But the time to act is now” (11/10).

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'Optimizing' Africa's Agro-Sector Essential To Inclusive Growth, Healthy People, Environment

International Policy Digest: Optimizing Africa’s Food Systems
Richard Munang, program coordinator, and Robert Mgendi, ecosystem-based adaptation program officer,  both with the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Regional Office for Africa Climate Change Programme

“…With the right approaches that work with nature, efforts to optimize the agro-value chain in Africa can result in not only food security but also cross-cutting benefits, including a healthy environment, healthy people, and poverty reduction. … A number of enablers to this optimization, including policies, institutions, investments, and markets have to be addressed to unleash this latent potential in the agro-sector. … [I]nvestments to optimize the agro-value chain means better health care in Africa. Building on these areas will go a long way in ensuring agriculture not only feeds Africa but promotes inclusive growth and a healthy people in a healthy environment. Though this sounds like a dream come true, it is an imperative that, we all must commit ourselves to it [at] all levels of policy, institutional, regulatory, and financing…” (11/8).

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Opinion Piece Highlights Relationships Among Meat Consumption, Health Risks, Global Warming In Advance Of Paris Climate Summit

Wall Street Journal: The Climate Agenda Behind the Bacon Scare
Julie Kelly, cooking instructor and food writer, and Jeff Stier, leader of the risk analysis division at the National Center for Public Policy Research

“…With United Nations climate talks beginning in a few weeks in Paris, the cancer warning [linked to processed and red meats] seems particularly well timed. Environmental activists have long sought to tie food to the fight against global warming. Now the doomsayers who want to take on modern agriculture, a considerable source of greenhouse-gas emissions, can employ an additional scare tactic: Meat production sickens the planet; meat consumption sickens people. … In advance of the Paris climate talks, the World Health Organization released a lengthy report about climate pollutants and global health risks. The section on agriculture discusses the need to direct consumers away from foods whose production emits high levels of greenhouse gases [GHG]: ‘A key action with large potential climate and health benefits is to facilitate a shift away from high-GHG foods — many of which are of animal origin — and towards healthy, low-GHG (often plant-based) alternatives.’ … Now climate busybodies can shout that meat causes cancer and is as bad for the person eating it as it is for the planet. In other words, meat is a double threat that governments should contain. Hang on to your T-bones and sausages, folks” (11/9).

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China, South Korea's Insistence On Tariffs For Medical Device Industries Could Prevent Global Access To Life-Saving Technologies

Wall Street Journal: How Lower Tariffs Can Save Lives
Nilanjan Banik, professor of economics at Mahindra Ecole Centrale and fellow at CUTS International, and Philip Stevens, director of the Geneva Network

“…Negotiators are meeting in Geneva this week to bring lifesaving medical devices into [the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Information Technology Agreement]. This would drive down costs for health systems and improve care for patients globally. But the deal is being held up by China and South Korea, which want to continue protecting their medical-device industries behind tariff walls. … International alliances are essential, but they are hindered by barriers to trade such as tariffs, which prevent ‘protected’ companies from integrating into global supply chains. The majority of the Asian members of the Information Technology Agreement — Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore — recognize the limits of technological autarky and the harm cost-inflating tariffs cause patients. That China and South Korea are misguidedly pushing for protection is bad for patients, the multilateral trading system, and even their own companies” (11/9).

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Proper Communication With MSM, Key Populations Vital To Providing Comprehensive Sexual, Reproductive Health Services

The Conversation: Why men who have sex with men have problems with health care in Africa
Adamson S. Muula, professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Malawi

“…[I]n many African countries, knowledge to guide HIV programming for men who have sex with men is only just developing. And when there are guidelines, the services are not always available. This means that many people in these key populations do not get the services they need. … Several studies on men who have sex with men have been done in Malawi and Tanzania. … Many of the studies … show that stigma and discrimination are common. … Although health workers said they provided services to everyone without regard of sexual orientation, the men interviewed in our study said they experienced constrained access to services. … Our experience as a medical school testifies that our graduates may not be ready to take down the sexual history of their patients in a nonjudgmental way. This clearly will have an impact on their ability to provide sexual reproductive and health services…” (11/8).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

UNAIDS Capitol Hill Event Speakers Note Progress Toward Ending AIDS

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: HIV fighters look ahead to “Heartbreak Hill” and reclaimed dreams
Antigone Barton, senior writer and editor of “Science Speaks,” summarizes comments made Thursday by HIV experts, including NIAID Director Anthony Fauci; Deborah Birx, ambassador-at-large and coordinator of U.S. government activities to combat HIV/AIDS; and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, at a Capitol Hill event sponsored by UNAIDS (11/9).

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WHO's Budget Needs More Balance Between Earmarked, Flexible Funding, Oxfam Adviser Says

BMJ Blogs: The WHO financing dialogue: global health leadership needs to be paid for
Mohga Kamal-Yanni, a senior health policy adviser to Oxfam, discusses how earmarked funding for the WHO is inhibiting the agency’s work, writing, “Member states, global funds, foundations, and others must cooperate in their own interests to restore an acceptable balance between the flexible and specified elements of WHO’s budget, as used to be the case 10 years ago. As confidence builds the overall budget should increase to enable WHO to truly meet its constitutional mandate as ‘the directing and coordinating authority on international health work'” (11/9).

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