KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Haiti's Death Toll From Hurricane Matthew Surpasses 1K; Aid Workers Warn Of Widespread Cholera Outbreak As U.S., U.N. Offer Assistance

Al Jazeera: Haiti death toll from Hurricane Matthew passes 1,000
“The number of people killed in Haiti by Hurricane Matthew has hit 1,000 as the country battles new deaths from a cholera outbreak and buries bodies in mass graves…” (10/10).

The Guardian: Cholera outbreaks in Haiti follow devastation of Hurricane Matthew
“…Outbreaks of cholera led to the deaths of several people, because of flood water mixing with sewage, and fears were growing that the disease could spread…” (Luscombe/Townsend, 10/8).

Los Angeles Times: How much more must Haiti endure?
“…The storm hammered the Caribbean nation’s poor and densely populated southern coast, damaging up to 80 percent of homes and leaving at least 350,000 people in need of immediate aid…” (Simmons, 10/7).

New York Times: Seeing ‘Nothing to Live For’ as Haiti Seeks a Body Count After Hurricane Matthew
“…For now, though, there is no way to know the precise toll of the storm. There are still 500,000 people stranded in the south alone, officials said, because of extensive damage to an already feeble infrastructure…” (Ahmed, 10/8).

Reuters: U.S. sends military, USAID to help Haiti after hurricane
“The United States has sent teams of military and U.S. Agency for International Development personnel to help Haiti after Hurricane Matthew killed hundreds of people and destroyed infrastructure in the Caribbean nation, the White House said on Friday…” (Rascoe et al., 10/7).

Reuters: ‘Like a nuclear bomb,’ cholera and destruction after hurricane in Haiti
“…Reuters visited the Port-a-Piment hospital early on Sunday morning, the first day southwestern Haiti’s main coastal road had become semi-navigable by car. At that time, there were 39 cases of cholera, according to Missole Antoine, the hospital’s medical director. By the early afternoon, there were nearly 60, and four people had died of the waterborne illness…” (Stargardter, 10/10).

Reuters: Hurricane Matthew toll in Haiti rises to 1,000, dead buried in mass graves
“Haiti started burying some of its dead in mass graves in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, a government official said on Sunday, as cholera spread in the devastated southwest and the death toll from the storm rose to 1,000 people…” (Delva/Murray, 10/10).

U.N. News Centre: Haiti: U.N. emergency fund allocates $5 million to kick-start assistance in wake of Hurricane Matthew
“…[T]he U.N. announced $5 million in emergency funds to kick-start assistance in the wake of the deadly storm, which has affected some 350,000 people on the tiny island. Along with a grant of $5 million to address the most life-saving needs, the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) earlier this week released a loan of $8 million dollars to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to scale up response to the worsening cholera epidemic in Haiti…” (10/7).

Wall Street Journal: Hurricane Matthew: Food, Water Shortages Threaten Haiti Victims
“…Health officials are worried about an increase in cholera cases due to the lack of clean drinking water. In the past six years, around 10,000 Haitians have died from the disease, and there have been about 27,000 cases already this year…” (Whelan, 10/9).

Washington Post: In the wake of Matthew, Haitian towns struggle with cholera
“…Cholera was introduced to Haiti in 2010 by Nepalese peacekeepers, stationed at a United Nations base, whose latrine drained into one of Haiti’s major rivers. Since then, government officials estimate that more than 800,000 people have contracted cholera and that 10,000 people have died. Aid workers had feared that the waterborne disease would spike after the hurricane, when access to clean water is limited. That now has begun…” (Partlow, 10/9).

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WHO Warns Number Of Zika Cases Expected To Continue Rising In Asia-Pacific Region

Associated Press: WHO sees further rise of Zika cases in Asia-Pacific region
“Zika infections are expected to continue rising in the Asia-Pacific region, where authorities are increasing surveillance, preparing responses to complications, and collaborating on information about the disease, the World Health Organization said Monday…” (10/10).

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Doctors, Researchers Beginning To Take Action On Mental Health Of Migrants, Refugees Entering Europe

Nature: The mental health crisis among migrants
“…Europe is experiencing the largest movement of people since the Second World War. … Most came from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Many have experienced war, shock, upheaval, and terrible journeys, and they often have poor physical health. … What hasn’t been widely discussed is the enormous burden of mental health disorders in migrants and refugees. … Doctors and researchers are starting to take action…” (Abbott, 10/10).

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BBC Examines SDGs On First Anniversary Of Adoption

BBC World Service: The Sustainable Development Goals — are there just too many?
“It’s now a year since the U.N. set its new Sustainable Development Goals to try to make the world a better place. They include 17 goals and a massive 169 targets on subjects like disease, education, and governance. But some people like Bjørn Lomborg are saying that there’s just too many and they are too broad, and left like that will never achieve anything. Is he right — and is there a better way to make the world better and stop some countries lagging behind? Wesley Stephenson and Charlotte McDonald find out [in this radio broadcast]” (10/10).

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Researchers On Alert After Isolated Case Of Mayaro Virus Found In Haiti

NPR: Why Scientists Are Keeping An Eye On A Little-Known Virus
“…[T]he new finding [of an isolated case of mosquito-borne Mayaro virus in Haiti], reported in the November issue of a CDC journal, suggests the need for vigilance — along with more research into why viral epidemics seem to be happening with increasing frequency, says Glenn Morris, director of the Emerging Pathogen Institute at the University of Florida in Gainesville…” (Sohn, 10/8).

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Venezuela's Economic Crisis Causing Severe Food Insecurity

Al Jazeera: The face of hunger and malnutrition in Venezuela
“Venezuela is in the midst of a severe economic crisis. The country, though one of the richest in natural resources, has been called the worst economy of 2016 by the International Monetary Fund, and its inflation rate could reach 700 percent by the end of the year. Today, the biggest concern for Venezuelans is the food shortage, together with rampant crime and the lack of medicine…” (Falco, 10/10).

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Drones Undergo Testing In Africa To Deliver Vaccines, Other Medical Supplies

Associated Press: Drones carrying medicines, blood face top challenge: Africa
“…As drones quickly pick up momentum around the world in everything from military strikes to pizza delivery, Africa, the continent with some of the most entrenched humanitarian crises, hopes the technology will bring progress. … Those trying out drones for humanitarian uses in Africa warn that the technology is no quick fix, but several new projects are exploring what can be achieved…” (10/9).

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Investment Firm Looks To Build Network Of Private Hospitals In Developing Countries

New York Times: An Investor’s Plan to Transplant Private Health Care in Africa
“…[The Abraaj Group, an investment firm based in Dubai that specializes in developing markets,] is trying to do something that hasn’t been tried before: build a global network of hospitals across cultures and in some of the poorest parts of the world — including India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and here in Kenya. [Investor Khawar] Mann’s new fund has just bought a fast-growing hospital in India and is now trying to export its business model to Africa…” (Thomas, 10/8).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Global Response To Hurricane Matthew, Cholera In Haiti

New York Times: Haiti’s New Catastrophe
Editorial Board

“…The pressing needs now [in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew], before the rebuilding, are clean water, food, and health care. … The man who is expected to take over as United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, will inherit a special obligation to develop and fully fund a plan to bring clean water and sanitation to Haiti, and to revive a languishing effort to eradicate, not just contain, cholera. The organization’s member nations, meanwhile, need to answer the urgent appeal for relief aid, and then deliver on their promises. The United States government has another responsibility, beyond humanitarian relief: The Department of Homeland Security should immediately reinstitute temporary protected status for Haitians in the United States, and suspend efforts to deport unauthorized immigrants back to the disaster zone. People who are moved to help should temper generosity with caution, and consult guides to effective, reputable charities…” (10/7).

New York Times: A Plea for Haiti
Anita Zaidi, physician and director of the enteric and diarrheal diseases program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…Hurricane Matthew will worsen longstanding challenges in Haiti and … the humanitarian response needs to be better than the 2010 earthquake response. But we are also at risk of repeating the same costly mistake when it comes to cholera: delayed vaccine rollout. … The World Health Organization has stockpiled a vaccine that could be used as soon as next week in known cholera hot spots. If we don’t want to repeat past mistakes, we need to jump-start our response today. The United Nations — acknowledging its role in bringing cholera to Haiti — is working on a plan to address the cholera emergency with the Haitian Ministry of Health. But we need to do more than plan, given this natural disaster. We must act urgently so that we do not fail Haiti again” (10/7).

Newsweek: Hurricane Matthew Has Exacerbated The Debt We Owe To Haiti
Michael Posner, Jerome Kohlberg professor of ethics and finance and co-director of the Center for Business and Human Rights at the NYU Stern School of Business

“…In the wake of Matthew, the challenge to the U.N. and the international community is now exponentially greater and more urgent. Many of Haiti’s 11 million people are now without safe drinking water, and further spread of cholera is all but certain. … There are three sets of obligations that the U.N. and key member states must now address. First are the immediate public health concerns. … The second set of obligations relate to a longer term need to eradicate cholera. … The third set of obligations for the U.N. and its member states relate to compensating the victims and their families. … [F]or any of these efforts to succeed, the U.N. and key governments, including the United States, need to link their development and human rights agendas more closely. We all must recognize that Haiti’s economic future and the health of its people are tied to meaningful democratic reform. If not now, when?” (10/7).

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Congress Must Stop 'Politicizing Women's Health,' Address Zika Virus

The Hill: Congress’s late and weak response to Zika
Ellen Liu, director of women’s health at the Ms. Foundation for Women

“…After eight months and [several] failed attempts to pass President Obama’s emergency funding request to combat Zika, conservative lawmakers seem to have relented in the fight to ban funding to a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Puerto Rico, where Zika cases are highest. A continuing resolution finally passed by the House and Senate … includes $1.1 billion for Zika — far short of the president’s requested $1.9 billion. To understand Congress’s late and feeble response to Zika, you don’t need to be an expert on mosquito-borne viruses, infectious diseases, or vector control. All you need to be familiar with is our country’s longstanding fight to control women’s bodies. … [H]istory has shown time and again that when women’s health is involved, politicians would rather engage in an ideological battle than enable solutions. As we watch our country’s leaders confront the Zika epidemic, we must insist that our politicians stop politicizing women’s health and address Zika for the public health crisis that it is, not the latest opportunity to control women’s bodies” (10/7).

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Global Health Innovations Will Only Reach Most Vulnerable Populations With Appropriate Political Action

The Guardian: Health care innovations won’t cure global health inequality — political action will
Ben Ramalingam, research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies

“…[T]he inequalities in tackling health problems are not because of a lack of innovation, but because of a lack of access to innovation. The binding constraints … are seldom technical but instead related to the political and economic choices, which determine how innovations get funded, resourced, and supported, by whom and for whom. What to do in the face of such a system? The answer is to fight the innovation and political battles at the same time. We have to identify the gaps, and to test and trial the best new ideas that can address longstanding challenges faced by the world’s most vulnerable people, and build the evidence base that these ideas really can make a difference. Political leaders need to ensure that the scaling of new solutions includes those people who need innovation most, and who are most likely to be excluded from its benefits. … The speakers and delegates at the World Health Summit should … ensure that any statement calling for more and better medical technologies is quickly followed by a statement recognizing that technology should at best be seen as a complement to, but never a substitute for, political action” (10/9).

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Supporting Health Workers With Technology Delivered Through Multilevel Partnerships Could Improve Maternal Health Care

Devex: Tackling the age-old problem of maternal mortality through modern technology
Anna Cecilia Frellsen, CEO of the Maternity Foundation

“…[T]he quality of care still remains one of the most pressing issues [in maternal health care], and many skilled birth attendants have little by way of up-to-date, easily understandable job aids to help them adhere to guidelines and cope with obstetric emergencies. Apps [and new technology] can give birth attendants the knowledge they need to prevent major causes of maternal and neonatal death, thus helping to solve at least one part of the problem. Now more than ever, it is crucial to support the empowerment of local communities. We must create multilevel partnerships within both the public and private sectors, from large tech companies and national governments to smaller health ministries and local NGOs, to reach more and more women with lifesaving technology. Together, we can implement simple technology solutions on a larger scale, ensuring access to adequate health care for women and families everywhere so that no woman dies giving life” (10/7).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Used To Treat Onchocerciasis, Ivermectin Could Play Role In Malaria Control, Elimination

Tropical Health Matters: Malaria, Onchocerciasis, and Ivermectin — Possibility of Eliminating Two Diseases
Bill Brieger, professor in the Department of International Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, discusses the potential synergies of using ivermectin to treat onchocerciasis and prevent malaria. “Because of the need to find new and complementary tools to eliminate malaria the Malaria Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC) of the World Health Organization’s Global Malaria Program considered at its recent meeting the role of ivermectin in the future of malaria control and elimination and the importance of further research,” Brieger notes (10/9).

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