KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

2B Children Worldwide Breathe Polluted Air, UNICEF Report Shows; Agency Urges Immediate Steps To Improve, Track Air Quality

Associated Press: 2 billion children breathe toxic air worldwide, UNICEF says
“…A new report from UNICEF says about a third of the two billion children in the world who are breathing toxic air live in northern India and neighboring countries, risking serious health effects including damage to their lungs, brains, and other organs…” (10/31).

CNN: UNICEF: Air pollution kills 600,000 children yearly
“…Around 600,000 children under age five die every year from diseases caused by or exacerbated by outdoor and indoor air pollution, especially in poor nations, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in the introduction to a report titled ‘Clear the Air for Children’…” (Ellis, 10/30).

The Guardian: 300 million children live in areas with extreme air pollution, data reveal
“…The study, using satellite data, is the first to make a global estimate of exposure and indicates that almost 90 percent of the world’s children — two billion — live in places where outdoor air pollution exceeds World Health Organization (WHO) limits…” (Carrington, 10/30).

International Business Times: UNICEF Air Pollution Report: 600,000 Children Under 5 Die From Related Causes
“…The report links one of every eight deaths, including adults, around the world in 2012 to air pollution, which amounts to seven million people dying due to unclean air. But it highlights the increased impact that [particulate matter (PM)] can and does have on children, who are vulnerable to its effects even before they are born…” (Goenka, 10/31).

New York Times: 300 Million Children Breathe Highly Toxic Air, UNICEF Reports
“…Among the most dangerous pollutants are air particles known as PM2.5, which are a small fraction of the width of a human hair. They can be released from fossil fuel combustion and industry, and include natural sources like dust. The ultrafine particles enter the bloodstream through the lungs, worsening cardiac disease and increasing the risk of stroke and heart failure, in addition to causing severe respiratory problems, like asthma and pneumonia…” (Anand, 10/30).

Reuters: One in seven children suffer high air pollution — UNICEF
“…UNICEF called on almost 200 governments, which will meet in Morocco from Nov. 7-18 for talks on global warming, to restrict use of fossil fuels to give twin benefits of improved health and slower climate change…” (Doyle, 10/31).

VOA News: UNICEF: 1 in 7 of World’s Children Exposed to Toxic Air Pollution
“…UNICEF says it will ask the countries attending the climate change conference to take ‘four urgent steps’ to protect children from air pollution: Those steps are: 1. adopt measures to reduce pollution; 2. increase children’s access to health care; 3. minimize children’s exposure to pollution; and 4. establish better monitoring of air pollution…” (10/31).

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Global Health NOW Interviews Global Health Security Experts About Preparedness, Health Diplomacy

Global Health NOW: Health and Diplomacy: Q&A with Rebecca Katz and Julie Fischer
“Health-preparedness experts Rebecca Katz and Julie Fischer have bridged health and diplomacy for more than a decade, helping nearly two dozen countries work across borders to prepare for and prevent potential disease outbreaks and pandemics. The two researchers recently joined Georgetown University Medical Center as directors of its new Center for Global Health Science and Security. We asked them about health diplomacy in action, a holistic approach to disease surveillance, and the benefits of being at a Washington medical center…” (10/27).

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About 1.5M Children Malnourished, 370K Face Severe Malnutrition In War-Torn Yemen, U.N. Agencies Say

Thomson Reuters Foundation: More than one million children starve as Yemen war rages: U.N. agencies
“Around 1.5 million children in Yemen are malnourished and half the population lives in hunger, United Nations aid agencies said on Friday, three days after pictures of an emaciated Yemeni teenager sparked headlines around the world. Yemen’s 18-month war has left 370,000 children at risk of severe malnutrition — a condition which needs urgent treatment to prevent a child from dying — the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said at a press briefing in Geneva on Friday…” (Taylor, 10/28).

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WHO, Haitian Government To Launch Cholera Vaccination Campaign; Health Advocates Say More Sanitation Efforts Needed

PBS NewsHour: In Haiti, are 1 million doses of cholera vaccine enough to stop an outbreak?
“…The Haitian Ministry of Health requested and received approval from the World Health Organization for one million doses of oral vaccine against cholera. And with the help of the WHO and Pan American Health Organization, the ministry will launch the vaccination campaign on Nov. 8, the groups announced [last] week. Health advocates praised the move, but said more action was needed…” (Epatko, 10/28).

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First Zika-Linked Microcephaly Cases Reported In Puerto Rico, Vietnam

New York Times: First Baby in Puerto Rico With Zika-Related Microcephaly Born
“The first child in Puerto Rico with Zika-related microcephaly has been born, the territory’s secretary of health announced Friday…” (McNeil, 10/28).

Reuters: Vietnam reports first microcephaly case likely linked to Zika — government agency
“Vietnam’s health ministry on Sunday reported a microcephaly case that it says is likely to be the country’s first linked to the mosquito-borne Zika virus…” (Pham, 10/30).

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Editorials and Opinions

Smart, Coordinated Efforts Can Help Stimulate Innovation, Improve Global Health

STAT: Smart strategies and collaboration can help improve global health
Natalie Revelle, deputy director of program-related investments at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…[S]mart, coordinated efforts by governments, international organizations, and impact investors can engage the private sector to better serve the poorest populations. … Guarantees [for a certain volume of vaccine sales for several years in exchange for the supplier’s commitment to produce that much vaccine and to reduce prices for developing countries] give suppliers the certainty they need to invest in innovation and expanded production, which lowers per-unit costs. That, in turn, helps expand public health interventions around the world. As the demand for the vaccine rises, more suppliers may enter the market, stimulating further innovation, ensuring a reliable supply, and strengthening price competition. The end result is a healthier and more sustainable market. … [C]oncerted efforts and smart strategies, based on an understanding of economics, can sometimes catalyze sustainable solutions to market failures in global health and beyond” (10/27).

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Legislators Must Address Public Health Concern Of Antibiotic Overuse In Agribusiness

The Hill: Congress must address the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture
Wayne Pacelle, executive vice president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, and Tom Colicchio, co-founder of Food Policy Action

“Food policy and animal welfare are rife with overlap, but nowhere is this intersection more urgent than the escalating public health crisis stemming from the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. … Right now agribusiness interests in some states are working overtime to effectively inoculate themselves from any kind of legislative or regulatory oversight, including efforts to address the antibiotics issue. … We must elect legislators at all levels of government who will work to address this issue before it is too late. … It’s time for a change. Antibiotics should be used to treat illness, not to compensate for unsanitary conditions; legislators should work for the health of their constituents, not for the interests of agribusiness” (10/31).

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FDA Classification Prevents Emergency Authorization For Potential Zika Prevention Technology

The Hill: FDA’s hostility blocks Zika-prevention technology
Henry I. Miller, physician, fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and founding director of the Office of Biotechnology at the FDA, and Drew L. Kershen, professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law

“…One promising unapproved ‘drug’ that could control the vector that spreads Zika, and whose progress has been stymied by regulators, is a genetically engineered Aedes aegypti mosquito product made by Oxitec … [T]he FDA can authorize the emergency use of an unapproved product in a situation that poses a public health emergency, such as an emerging disease like a new strain of pandemic influenza or a Zika outbreak. … However, the FDA has resisted [issuing an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)], on the grounds that the statutory language permits the emergency use only of human drugs but not animal drugs, and that because the agency has classified the Oxitec mosquito as an ‘animal drug’ … [the EUA] is not applicable. The FDA’s legal interpretation is not only incorrect but also fails the common sense test. … The available evidence suggests that the genetically engineered mosquitoes are a safe, effective, and environmentally friendly approach to reducing exposure to the several viral diseases spread by Aedes aegypti. The FDA’s unwillingness to issue an Emergency Use Authorization appears to reflect its years-long antagonism toward the Oxitec genetically engineered mosquitoes…” (10/28).

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Collaboration, Innovation Critical To Zika Efforts, Preventing Future Pandemics

The Hill: We need a dose of global collaboration to fight Zika
Nima Farzan, chief executive officer of PaxVax, Inc. and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) delegate on the board of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations

“…Today, the Zika virus represents a new, potentially devastating pandemic throughout Latin America and the southern U.S. (for now). Fortunately, we’ve had warning to prepare for Zika. Unfortunately, the U.S. is still unprepared to effectively fight it. … While the Obama administration has redirected funding from other health priorities as a temporary measure, and it’s not clear whether any work on a vaccine has been delayed, what we do know is that without a plan and resources, the numbers [of cases] will only continue to grow across the country and around the world. The response to Ebola and the current stalemate in Congress over Zika funding help illustrate how critical global-scale planning, collaboration, and funding are to preventing epidemics. … [T]here is a misalignment between how industry works to develop vaccines and what public health needs are. The solution to this dilemma begins with collaboration. We’ve seen that when working alone, industry players face barriers to vaccine development. … It’s time to … find innovative ways to be prepared before outbreaks become pandemics” (10/30).

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Environmental, Political, Cultural Factors Complicate Puerto Rico's Ability To Control Zika

The Conversation: Why Zika has infected so many people in Puerto Rico
Diana Rojas, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Epidemiolgy at the University of Florida

“…[W]hy is Zika so much worse in Puerto Rico than in the continental U.S.? Mosquito-borne diseases are complex. Environmental, social, political, and cultural factors can influence their transmission. And Puerto Rico, like other parts of the Caribbean and Latin America, has the perfect mix of conditions for a mosquito borne virus to spread widely. … Population growth and internal migration, particularly to unplanned urban areas with poor sanitary conditions, can move more people into areas where Ae. aegypti mosquitoes densities are higher. This is characteristic of Latin America and the Caribbean overall. In Puerto Rico, as in other tropical areas, window and door screens and air conditioning aren’t as common as they are in the continental U.S. … Puerto Rico’s ongoing economic crisis has weakened the island’s health sector, which can lead [to] late detection of outbreaks, delaying control strategies. … It’s possible to reduce mosquito-borne diseases, even in places where the conditions are ideal for mosquitoes like Ae. aegypti to flourish. Getting rid of standing water … eliminates places where female mosquitoes lay their eggs. Installing window screens and mosquito repellent can keep mosquitoes at bay” (10/27).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CDC, Global Experts Develop Prevention Framework To Stop Rising Number Of Strokes Worldwide

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: CDC Spotlights Stroke Prevention for World Stroke Day
Mary G. George, deputy associate director for science and senior medical officer in the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, and Jennifer L. Foltz, director of the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program and senior medical officer in the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, discuss the increasing number of strokes worldwide and highlight a global prevention framework defined in the report “Prevention of Stroke: A Strategic Global Imperative” (10/28).

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'Science Speaks' Reports On TB-Related Study Results Presented At 47th Union World Conference On Lung Health

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health: Regimen simplifies treatment for patients with tuberculosis — including drug-resistant disease, researchers say
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” reports on study results presented at the 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health showing an experimental combination of four drugs cured TB patients faster than standard treatment regimens (10/28).

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health: Early data indicates new regimen represents reprieve for patients with XDR-TB
Barton discusses study results presented at the conference showing an experimental drug regimen using three drugs was able to cure extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, or XDR-TB, among patients who completed the therapy (10/28).

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