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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

GlobalPost Publishes Additional Articles In 'Step By Step' Special Report On Child Mortality

GlobalPost on Thursday published a number of new articles as part of its special report titled “Step by Step,” in which the news service examines global efforts to reduce child mortality. One article looks at the global campaign “A Promise Renewed,” which aims “to accelerate reductions in child mortality across the globe” (Miley, 9/5). A “Pulse” blog post examines methodologies to measure progress in global child health (Stuart, 9/5). A second “Pulse” blog post highlights the connection between water and sanitation issues and child health in Sierra Leone (Chavez, 9/5). A third blog post reports on malaria among children in Zambia and other “deadly climate zones” (Stanmeyer, 9/5).

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U.K. Development Official Discusses Efforts To End FGM

The Guardian features a video interview with U.K. Under-Secretary of State for International Development Lynne Featherstone, who discusses how ending female genital mutilation (FGM) is a priority for the U.K. government. She talks about the importance of reporting cases of FGM, which is illegal in the U.K.; collecting information and data on what works in ending the practice; and “galvanizing the world movement” to end FGM. Featherstone, who also discusses her actions within government to raise the issue’s profile, says ending FGM in a generation is possible (O’Kane et al., 9/6).

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Economist Examines Emergence Of Konzo, Nodding Syndrome Among Children In Africa

The Economist examines the emergence of two childhood illnesses in Africa, Konzo and nodding syndrome, “two particularly nasty … neglected illnesses [that] cause suffering and death, and more subtly, when they affect children, eat away at a country’s potential by reducing the human capital of its rising generation.” The magazine writes, “Nodding syndrome, which affects between 5,000 and 10,000 children in South Sudan and Uganda, was first noticed in the early 2000s, though something similar has been known from southern Tanzania since the 1960s.” The magazine continues, “Konzo is older. It was identified in 1938 in what was then the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). It has since been found to occur sporadically over a wide area of central Africa.” The magazine notes, “Both diseases create muscle-control and cognitive problems.” The Economist examines potential causes of the diseases (9/7).

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Namibian Government Taking Action Against Country's Worst Drought In 30 Years

Think Africa Press reports on a drought in Namibia, the worst the country has seen in 30 years, writing, “In the Kunene region in the north, rain has not fallen for two years, and the U.N. recently estimated that 778,000 people — approximately one-third of the population — are either moderately or severely food insecure.” The news service notes, “To tackle these problems, the Namibian government has pledged $20 million in relief for the worst-affected households, and UNICEF is trying to raise $7.4 million to reach the 109,000 children under-five who are at risk of severe malnutrition.” To date, “the government’s relief efforts have encountered various problems, which it has promised to iron out,” but “even if the current crisis is overcome in the short-term, Namibia will remain vulnerable to such environmental crises unless concerted long-term efforts are also pursued effectively.”

Climate change is “[o]ne factor that could make Namibia increasingly prone to drought and extreme weather patterns,” the news service writes, adding “there are many things the Namibian government needs to do to prepare the country for environmental change.” However, “there are indications that the Namibian government seems to recognize this,” such as its engagement “with the U.N.-backed Global Environmental Facility, a body set up to help countries with lower resources tackle problems associated with climate change” (Farrell, 9/5). In a related Q&A with Al Jazeera, Alexander Matheou, regional representative for southern Africa with the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), speaks “about the impact of the drought in Namibia and why the world ought to take notice before the effects spiral out of control” (Essa, 9/6).

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Dominican Republic Reports 59 Deaths In Dengue Outbreak

“The death toll from dengue fever in the Dominican Republic, where some 8,704 cases of the disease have been registered, has risen to 59 so far this year, according to a Health Ministry report released Thursday,” Xinhua reports. “In the past week alone, the health sector reported three deaths and 602 cases of infection,” the news agency writes, noting, “At the beginning of October 2012, the Dominican government declared a nationwide dengue fever outbreak that had at that point infected 5,800 people and led to 12 deaths” (Hou, 9/5).

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Editorials and Opinions

To Advance Food Security, Farmers Need Strong Property Rights

“Under U.S. President Barack Obama’s Feed the Future initiative, we have made incredible strides in increasing crop yields, agricultural surpluses and farmers’ incomes,” Eric Postel, assistant administrator of USAID, and Tjada McKenna, Feed the Future’s deputy coordinator for development, write in a Devex opinion piece. “We have supported training, the implementation of new technologies and climate-smart management techniques to facilitate economic growth, increase security for the world’s most vulnerable populations, and improve child nutrition and life expectancy,” they note, adding, “We have targeted assistance to women smallholder farmers, who contribute the great majority of smallholder agricultural labor, resulting in greater investments in children’s health and education.”

But “[i]n order to continue this momentum and make hunger, undernutrition and extreme poverty permanently a thing of our past, we must do more,” Postel and McKenna continue, writing, “This includes working with governments around the world to help them develop secure property rights for farmers — both large and small-scale.” They state, “When property rights are clear and secure, all farmers are empowered to make better economic decisions, including whether to sell or lease their land, expand their production, recruit non-family labor, and plant long-term crops for local consumption and for the market.” They continue, “The global community has recognized the critical role that property rights play in achieving food security for all and has recently increased its support for strengthening property rights,” and they highlight three ways to address property rights issues within the context of development work. The authors conclude, “The impact of our food security strategy and efforts to reduce extreme poverty can only be fully realized once we secure land rights across the developing world” (9/4).

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No Singular Pathway To Achieve MDGs 4, 5

In an opinion piece published as part of the Skoll World Forum and Johnson & Johnson “Debate & Series,” which, according to the series summary, examines what “we must do differently or better to achieve [Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)] 4, 5 and/or 6 — all focused on improving public health — by the deadline,” Mariam Claeson, the interim director of the maternal, newborn, and child health program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, asks, “What can we change or improve that will ensure the greatest impact on maternal, newborn and child survival not only in the next 850 days but as we lay the foundation for sustained acceleration beyond 2015?” She writes, “The answer points to a series of improvements that we must undertake to improve the health and lives of women and children in the poorest countries in the world.”

“If we had to select only one solution for maternal and newborn survival it could be to rapidly increase the coverage of the effective use of contraception and family planning,” Claeson continues, adding, “If we had to select only one solution for closing the gap in child survival it could be to scale up integrated community case management of childhood illness in all rural areas where under-five mortality still remains the highest.” However, she states, “because we do not need to choose one solution above another to accelerate progress on selected MDGs, we can focus on critical methods that will help us achieve our goals across the continuum of reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health and nutrition.” She highlights the benefits of strategic and catalytic partnerships and concludes, “The question is not what can we do but how willing are we to do what it takes, to change the way we work together as we enter the last 850 days before the MDGs deadline, and to act on the evidence we have to save the lives of women and children?” (9/5).

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Regional Leadership Needed To Further Progress In Malaria-Eliminating Countries

Writing in a Lancet review, Chris Cotter of the Global Health Group at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues discuss progress in reducing malaria incidence and related mortality since 2000, noting, “WHO estimates that between 2000 and 2010, global malaria incidence decreased by 17 percent and malaria-specific mortality rates by 26 percent.” They focus on progress in the 34 malaria-eliminating countries, writing, “These successes have been driven by several factors, including increased funding, effective vector control, strengthening of health systems, improved case management with more effective treatment regimens, and improved case reporting and surveillance,” as well as increasing per capita gross domestic products. However, “[a] striking and common epidemiological shift in malaria-eliminating countries is the increasing proportions of adults and men among all malaria cases,” the authors note, adding that malaria transmission continues in hard-to-reach populations and imported cases also pose a threat.

“The epidemiological shift in the populations most at risk of malaria raises important technical, operational, and financial questions for malaria-eliminating countries and those reaching a state of controlled low-endemic malaria,” Cotter and colleagues write, adding, “Traditional control interventions are likely to be inadequate to effectively address these changes — novel strategies to tackle such trends need to be systematically explored.” The authors discuss surveillance, diagnostics, mass drug administration, and vector control strategies. “Regional and multi-country funding mechanisms need to be launched to support malaria elimination and encourage national investment in elimination efforts,” they write, concluding, “In the current climate these mechanisms are more likely to come from regional than global leadership” (9/7).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Fund Welcomes Pledge Of $750M From Nordic Countries

“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria strongly welcomed a pledge of $750 million by Nordic countries, a highly significant contribution to defeating these three infectious diseases,” a press release from the fund states, noting, “The announcement was made in Stockholm on September 4 in a joint statement by Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland and the United States, and coincided with meetings by their leaders with President Barack Obama, hosted by Sweden.” The press release adds, “Collectively, the pledge represents over $150 million in increased funds from the Nordic countries. The statement specified that the contribution would unlock an additional $375 million from the U.S., signaling the leverage of every pledge” (9/5).

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CSIS Report Examines Opportunities For U.S. To Support Water Sanitation Efforts In Haiti

The Center for Strategic & International Studies on Thursday released a new report [.pdf], titled “Water and Sanitation in the Time of Cholera,” which, according to the report summary, “considers opportunities for the United States to enhance its support for improving Haiti’s water supply and sanitation services and contributing to the elimination of the transmission of cholera and the reduction of diarrheal disease in the country” (Bliss/Fisher, 9/5).

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Blog Highlights Reports In Kaiser Family Foundation Global Health Aid Series

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog highlights two reports in a series of reports examining the geographic presence of global health donors by the Kaiser Family Foundation, titled “Mapping the Donor Landscape in Global Health.” In one post, the blog describes the first report in the series, which analyzes donor funding for HIV/AIDS. “Global HIV/AIDS attracts the greatest share of official development assistance of any global health program area,” the blog notes, adding, “The report outlines that 37 different donors, including 26 bilateral donors and 11 multilateral donors, provided an average of $7.6 billion in global HIV/AIDS assistance to 143 recipient countries between 2009 and 2011” (Aziz, 9/5). In a second post, the blog highlights another report in the series that discusses donor assistance for tuberculosis (TB). The blog writes that according to the report, “the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and direct U.S. financing constitute 81 percent of global TB assistance” (Lubinski, 9/5).

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Examining Disease Burden In Europe And Central Asia

In a guest post on Humanosphere, Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), discusses the recently released reports from IHME and the World Bank on regional disease burdens. “One of the six reports, ‘Global Burden of Disease: Generating Evidence, Guiding Policy — Europe and Central Asia Regional Edition,’ is focused on countries in Eastern Europe, where progress has been made but for some parts of the region [tuberculosis (TB)] and HIV rates have skyrocketed,” she writes, noting, “This portion of the report includes countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Serbia, and Turkey.” She includes charts and graphs examining causes of morbidity and mortality for different age groups, and she adds, “In addition to interventions designed to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS and improve eating habits, GBD data show that reducing alcohol use among men in Europe and Central Asia has the potential to address the disturbing increases in mortality the region is experiencing” (9/5).

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