KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

NPR Examines How Pakistan Is Using Smartphones To Prevent Dengue

NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Shots” blog examine how a mobile phone app has helped health officials in Lahore, Pakistan, track and prevent dengue fever. “Two years ago, an estimated 20,000 people in and around the city of Lahore contracted the deadly tropical disease. This year, the region has recorded just a few dozen cases,” NPR’s “Shots” blog reports. “Fortuitous weather patterns may have helped to keep the mosquito population low. But many leaders also credit a mobile phone app — and the public health campaign that uses it,” the blog continues. In 2012, “[t]here were 67,000 different prevention activities [that] were performed and were photo-logged by the smartphones,” according to Umar Saif, a computer scientist who developed the app, “Shots” writes. Saif “built a Google map that correlates the locations of dengue cases and hot spots for mosquito larvae,” the blog reports, adding, “With these visuals, Saif and his team could zero in on problem regions in the province and predict future outbreaks” (Ahmed, 9/16).

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The Atlantic Examines Risk Of HIV Through Marital Sex For Women In Chiapas, Mexico

“[F]or women living in rural Mexico, marital sex represents the single greatest risk for HIV infection,” The Atlantic reports in an article examining the situation in the Mexican state of Chiapas, the poorest in the country. “For married women in Chiapas, abstinence is nearly impossible and condoms are difficult to introduce into relationships where the power balance is stacked against them. In short, men don’t want to wear condoms and women, economically and culturally dependent on their husbands, can’t afford to lose them,” the magazine writes. The Atlantic profiles several HIV-positive women living “in La Reforma, a small refinery town in the northeastern corner of Chiapas,” who attended a support group meeting for the first time (Hershaw, 9/16).

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Despite Obesity Problems, Many In Mexico Are Food Insecure

“Despite talk of Mexico’s emerging middle class, 45.5 percent of this nation’s more than 118 million people remain mired in poverty,” GlobalPost reports, adding, “Though Mexico this year became the fattest of the world’s most populous countries, according to [the U.N.] Food and Agriculture Organization, millions still don’t get enough to eat.” The news agency examines an anti-hunger campaign relaunched this summer by President Enrique Peña Nieto, “touted as one of his government’s key social efforts.” However, “[c]ritics dismissed the campaign as a politically motivated scheme that ties aid to votes,” GlobalPost writes and discusses the program’s actions in several Mexican states (Althaus, 9/16).

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Scores Of Children Sickened In India After Being Given Wrong Vaccine

“A government committee in the Indian state of West Bengal will submit its report Tuesday on a medical error that saw the wrong vaccine administered to more than a hundred children under the age of five,” TIME reports. “More than half of the children — who were vaccinated at a camp being held at a primary school about 50 miles from Kolkata — fell ill when they were wrongly [given] hepatitis B vaccine instead of being given polio drops,” the magazine writes (Bhowmick, 9/17). “The children started vomiting and sweating after they were orally given hepatitis B vaccine, which is normally injected,” Agence France-Presse states. “Some 120 children in total swallowed the medication at the clinics, set up to administer polio vaccine drops as part of a campaign to eradicate the disease, before health workers discovered the mistake, said Biswaranjan Satpathy, director of West Bengal Health Services,” AFP writes (9/16). “‘Such goof-ups cannot be tolerated,’ [Satpathy] said, ordering a probe into the incident and suspending four health workers,” TIME reports, adding, “Systemic failures in large government schemes are already under the spotlight in the wake of July’s tragic food poisoning in Bihar, in which 23 children died after eating a contaminated school lunch” (9/17).

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Simian Version Of HIV Vaccine Shows Success; Human Version To Be Developed, Tested

The New York Times reports on the study of a vaccine tested in monkeys infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a close relative of HIV, which showed nine of the 16 monkeys given the vaccine “slowly ‘cleared’ the virus and now appear to be cured.” SIV vaccines often are used as models for HIV vaccines, but “[n]ever before has one eliminated an existing infection,” the newspaper notes. Louis Picker, a vaccine researcher at Oregon Health & Science University who led the study published last week in Nature, said a human version of the vaccine should take up to three years to prepare, according to the newspaper (McNeil, 9/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Community Health Workers Key To Reaching Zero New HIV Infections Among Children

“During the upcoming meeting of leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, the world’s governments, [non-governmental organizations (NGOs)] and the private sector should take an important step toward reaching the goal of zero new HIV infections among children,” because after decades of work, this goal can be reached “within the short time remaining until the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] are concluded at the end of 2015,” Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and a special adviser to the U.N. on the MDGs, and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé write in a CNN opinion piece. “This can be achieved by deploying a new generation of community health workers (CHWs) who will not only help to fight AIDS but also bring other kinds of health care to the communities they are serving,” they state.

Sachs and Sidibé discuss the 1 Million Community Health Workers Campaign and how UNAIDS and the Millennium Villages Project are “building a network of health workers, supported with training, new technology, a supply chain of antiretrovirals and other key inputs, and professional supervision at the level of clinics and hospitals.” They continue, “On September 28, we will also join 60,000 people on the Great Lawn of New York’s Central Park for [the] Global Citizen Festival — along with many millions more watching from around the world — to issue a global appeal for these historic objectives. We believe that the world will rise to the occasion” (9/16).

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Countries Must Work Together To Defeat AIDS, TB And Malaria

“Liberia and Sweden might seem to be worlds apart. But in today’s interconnected world, the challenge of defeating poverty, gender inequality and infectious diseases is truly part of a single universal aspiration,” Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlson write in the Huffington Post’s “Big Push” blog. “Liberia is within reach of building a health sector where no child dies of malaria and every mother living with HIV can give birth to HIV-negative children while living a healthy life herself,” they write, adding, “As we look ahead at the challenges before us, we strongly believe in the importance of strengthening the role of women in society.” They continue, “As the world’s leading financial institution in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, the Global Fund understands the importance of focusing its efforts on the most vulnerable people. That means better prevention, treatment and care for women and girls to avoid the spread of these diseases.”

Johnson-Sirleaf and Carlson note the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria “has set a target of raising $15 billion at a pledging conference later this year so that it can effectively support countries in fighting these three infectious diseases in the 2014-2016 period,” and they write, “While African countries are still appealing for international support, we also recognize the paramount need to increase our own investments in our national health programs.” This investment “is essential in building country ownership and for the long-term sustainability of programs and health systems” and because “[i]t also demonstrates accountability and sends a strong message to partners such as Sweden that implementing countries are playing their part in global endeavors,” the authors write, concluding, “If we intensify our efforts we can turn these three pandemics into low-level epidemics, essentially controlling them and removing them as threats to public health” (9/16).

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Letters To Editor Respond To NYT Editorial On Global Health MDGs

The New York Times on Monday published two letters to the editor written in response to a September 11 New York Times editorial. The editorial stated, “International health programs have greatly reduced death and sickness worldwide over the past two decades but there is still a long way to go,” and it discussed efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on maternal and child health.

  • Babatunde Osotimehin: “[T]he leading causes of maternal death are largely preventable and treatable with inexpensive antibiotics and medicines that can stop postpartum bleeding and life-threatening hypertension and seizures,” Osotimehin, executive director of UNFPA, writes. “The tragedy is that these basic, inexpensive supplies — available everywhere and taken for granted in rich countries — are scarce or nonexistent in the poorest ones,” he states, adding, “Increasing access to basic medicines and clean supplies would save the lives of more than 180,000 women every year, and as many as a third of vulnerable lives could be rescued if women had access to contraception to plan their pregnancies; 222 million women still lack this” (9/16).
  • Huguette Labelle: “We agree … that more money and intensive effort are needed to achieve the goals that are lagging,” Labelle, chair of Transparency International, writes, adding, “However, a greater insistence on good governance and on a new governance goal is essential to achieve current and future development goals.” She continues, “Our research shows that where bribery is low and where there is transparency in how governments spend money, people have better access to education, health and basic services like clean water. Galvanizing governments around good governance can significantly help to meet the development goals at their halfway mark in 2015 and take us beyond to reach new goals for 2030” (9/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Report Examines Potential Implications Of Inadequate Global Fund Donations

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines a new report (.pdf) “developed by International Civil Society Support to support the Global Fund Advocates Network, in close consultation with the Global Fund Secretariat and its technical partners (UNAIDS, the STOP TB Partnership and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership).” The report examines the potential implications of inadequate investment in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Barton, 9/16).

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Recognizing Global Female Condom Day

Recognizing September 16 as Global Female Condom Day, Beth Skorochod, senior technical adviser at Population Services International (PSI), writes in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” “Female condoms are the only woman-initiated method available that offers dual protection from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.” She discusses the experience of one woman in Zimbabwe and states, “In the nearly 20 years since it started programming for female condoms, PSI has learned valuable lessons in supporting [female condoms’] uptake.” She adds, “As additional female condoms become commercially available, the prices will hopefully reduce, providing access to an even greater number of women” (9/16).

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Humanosphere Interviews World Bank President

Humanosphere features an interview with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, in which he discusses the organization’s goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and improving inclusive economic growth. He also talks about the “science of delivery,” saying, “I’m a [tuberculosis (TB)] doc, for goodness sake. We definitely need new tools to battle TB, especially drug-resistant TB. The problem is we don’t really invest as much time and energy into thinking about how to deliver these tools to the poor. We’re creating a stockpile of tools that never get to the poorest people. … I’m just asking that we bring the same kind of rigorous approach and scientific thinking to actually delivering these tools for health that we bring to creating them” (Paulson, 9/12).

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