(Compiled by Amanda Blazek and Edited for blog by Margaret Walker)
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General Global Health and Law
Heritage Proposes Obamacare Replacement for 2019
Morning Consult, 11/22/16
In a report released Tuesday, Heritage’s Nina Owcharenko and Ed Haislmaier write that the incoming Trump administration and Congress should take steps to stabilize the marketplace in 2018 and pass a replacement plan for 2019. They also back lawmakers passing a fiscal 2017 budget early next year, creating two opportunities for lawmakers to pass reconciliation bills in 2017.
Where Marijuana Is the Doctor’s Orders, Will Insurers Pay?
The New York Times, 11/22/16
For businesses and insurers, a string of ballot victories this month for marijuana advocates are adding to an intensifying conundrum about the drug and issues such as insurance coverage, employee drug testing and workplace safety. Voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada approved initiatives legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, while voters in Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota passed proposals for its medical use. In total, 28 states now permit or will soon permit medical use of marijuana while eight states have approved recreational use.
Is America ready for a major Medicare overhaul?
Modern Healthcare, 11/22/16
During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly promised not to touch Medicare and blasted other Republicans for proposing to restructure the popular program. But soon after his surprise victory Nov. 8, the president-elect and congressional Republican leaders signaled they will move rapidly to turn the giant government-run health insurance program into a “premium-support” system that pays private plans and the traditional fee-for-service program a fixed amount per beneficiary.
Microcephaly Found in Babies of Zika-Infected Mothers Months After Birth
The New York Times, 11/22/16
It is the news that doctors and families in the heart of Zika territory had feared: Some babies not born with the unusually small heads that are the most severe hallmark of brain damage as a result of the virus have developed the condition, called microcephaly, as they have grown older. The findings were reported in a study of 13 babies in Brazil that was published Tuesday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. At birth, none of the babies had heads small enough to receive a diagnosis of microcephaly, but months later, 11 of them did.
Drug side effects have led to increased ER visits in older Americans
Side effects from medication are causing more older Americans to visit emergency rooms and leading to more hospitalizations, according to an analysis of ER data from 2005-2006 and 2013-2014. And across all age groups, the drugs most often causing side effects that sent people to an ER were the same ones identified a decade ago —anticoagulants, antibiotics, diabetes agents, and opioid analgesics.
Lilly Alzheimer’s Drug Can Save Dismal Year for Pharma
The Wall Street Journal, 11/22/16
After a year of drama for the health-care industry, ranging from the EpiPen pricing scandal to the collapse of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, it is easy to forget that the business of drug companies is actually to discover new drugs. That will change in the next two weeks, when Eli Lilly unveils late-stage data for its Alzheimer’s disease drug. The results will be the most important drug discovery event of the year, and will have major implications for several big pharmaceutical companies and their stocks.
Diabetes drugmakers have suffered the most under a new drug-price paradigm, in which pharmacy benefit managers and insurers prod older medicines in competitive classes into costly price wars. Sanofi and Novo Nordisk A/S hope their new two-drug diabetes combinations Soliqua and Xultophy, both approved by the FDA Monday afternoon, will help reverse this price crunch to some extent. But while these medicines will likely help in a dismal environment, they’re not going to be saviors.
Female Genital Cutting
Group condemns rising cases of female genital mutilation
The Guardian, 11/24/16
A Non-Governmental organization One Voice Initiative for Women Empowerment in Africa, has expressed concern over the continued rise in female genital mutilation in the South West zone of the continent despite sustained public outcry against the primitive act.
Kenya: Two Charged in Court Over Circumcision of Teenage Girls
All Africa, 11/22/16
Two women from Ngaya village in Meru have been charged with involvement in the circumcision of two teenage girls. Sabina Kanini, the mother of the girls aged 13 and 15, and Nancy Kananu, their aunt, appeared before Senior Resident Magistrate Andrew Munene on Monday. The two denied practicing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and aiding the procedure in their house on November 13.
FGM will be ended ‘very soon’ in Georgia, says acting justice minister
Democracy and Freedom Watch, 11/23/16
A government spokesperson says she had never imagined that female genital mutilation was being practiced in Georgia, and that the practice will be ended very soon. Three villages in the eastern Kakheti region are maintaining the practice which is considered inhuman and subject to international efforts to end its continued use. Villagers told a reporter for IWPR about their traditions, a story also carried by DFWatch, and the revelation sparked intense interest and debate in Georgia.
Custom of Cutting
BBC News, 11/22/16
More than 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation, or cutting. FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. The head of the UNFPA recently described it as child abuse. The BBC’s Global Health correspondent Tulip Mazumdar travelled to East and West Africa to investigate efforts to end the practice and ask why this extremely harmful tradition is proving so difficult to stamp out.
Why female genital mutilation still exists in modern Singapore
BBC News, 11/21/16
Female genital mutilation is carried out by communities around the world. But though it is not commonly associated with modern, cosmopolitan Singapore, it is quietly happening all the time.
Tanzania: Will the New Constitution Protect Women’s Rights in Tanzania?
All Africa, 11/15/16
Tanzania’s current legal framework has failed to address women’s rights and gender equality due to the prolonged and continued existence of forced child marriages, killings of elderly women, female genital mutilation and limited access to reproductive health services. Is the proposed new constitution likely to do a better job at protecting and promoting women’s rights in Tanzania?
Challenges of Nigeria’s malaria elimination programme
Nigeria Today, 11/24/16
The recent report of Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey has underscored some challenges of the nation’s malaria elimination programme, pointing out that overall outcomes of the programme indicated in the report fell short of expectation. The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who launched the survey report, admitted that no other disease has affected Nigeria like malaria, given that malaria is responsible for 11 per cent of maternal mortality, 25 per cent of infant mortality and 35 per cent of under-five mortality.
Nigeria: Only 36 Percent Nigerians Have Access to Improved Sanitation
All Africa, 11/23/16
The Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril, has said access to improved sanitation is still very poor at 36 per cent for majority of the Nigerian populace. Jibril spoke on Monday at an event to mark the World Toilet Day 2016 in Abuja. He cited the National Demographic and Health Survey, noting that absence of adequate sanitary facilities in schools constituted a great threat to school enrollment, particularly for the female children.
South Sudan: Nigeria Offers to Help South Sudan’s Health Sector
All Africa, 11/19/16
Nigeria has promised to help improve South Sudan’s health sector. Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, made the promise in Abuja Thursday at a meeting with a delegation from South Sudan on a ministerial study visit to Nigeria. Mr. Adewole told the delegation that Nigeria would deploy human and capital resources to assist in addressing challenges besieging the South Sudan health sector.
Nigeria fights myths, fear in polio vaccine drive
Thomson Reuters Foundation, 11/18/16
Nigeria was stunned in August when two cases of children being struck by polio were reported in Borno state – Boko Haram’s former stronghold – after two years in which the country, and the continent, had appeared free of the disease. Two more cases have since been recorded by the Nigerian government, but health officials fear many more could come to light. Experts estimate that for every case of polio that paralyses its victim, 200 silent infections go undetected.
Syrian refugees: Between war and crackdown in Lebanon
Al Jazeera, 11/4/16
More than 1.5 million Syrian refugees have made Lebanon their temporary home, but now, newly elected President Michel Aoun is vowing to send them back to their country, still in the throes of a civil war with no end in sight.
Lebanon freezes plan for Ain al-Hilweh’s ‘racist wall’
Al Jazeera, 11/23/16
The Lebanese army has paused construction of a controversial security wall being built around the country’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, Ain al-Hilweh, near the southern port city of Sidon. While it is unclear whether construction will continue, a military spokesman told Al Jazeera that the army would release a statement in the coming days to clarify the reasons behind the decision to build the wall.
Dominican Republic: Health
DREAM helps coordinate Relief efforts in Dominican Republic’s north coast
The Dominican Today, 11/20/16
The Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring (DREAM) Project is coordinating relief efforts at their DREAM Education Center in the community of Colonia Nueva, housing more than 150 displaced community members, providing healthy meals with the support of local businesses, and coordinating supply donations.
Tourist left with gastric illness following trip to the Dominican Republic wins ‘five-figure’ settlement from First Choice
Daily Mail, 11/18/16
A man who continues to suffer health problems related to a serious gastric illness he suffered during a holiday has received a five-figure settlement from the tour operator. Stephen Robson, 52, and his wife Susan, 42, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, stayed at the Dreams Resort in the Dominican Republic in 2012, booked through First Choice, a subsidiary of TUI.
Dominican Republic – Heavy rainfall
Relief Web, 11/15/16
Heavy rains continue to affect the country, causing flooding in several provinces already affected by the rains of last week. 17 provinces are on alert, six of which on red alert. Evacuations are taking place and the Ministry of Education suspended classes in these provinces.
Deadly synthetic opioids are worsening an epidemic and causing medical mysteries
Business Insider, 11/22/16
The opioid epidemic has grabbed attention as a problem that demands responses from both public health and law enforcement officials. But these scientific puzzles, while being solved quietly in county morgues and city crime labs, are crucial if authorities are going to stem the crisis. If health officials know what drugs are ravaging communities, they can develop better prevention and treatment strategies. Identifying the drugs can also help law enforcement track the source.
Fentanyl Billionaire Comes Under Fire as Death Toll Mounts From Prescription Opioids
The Wall Street Journal, 11/22/16
Before they were arrested last year, Alabama doctors John Couch and Xiulu Ruan were prized customers of Insys Therapeutics Inc., maker of a powerful and highly addictive type of synthetic opioid known as fentanyl. Overall, the pair wrote more than a quarter-million prescriptions for fentanyl, oxycodone and other controlled substances including Subsys over five years, some of which were abused by addicts or diverted to drug traffickers, the indictment alleges.
How do we decrease addiction to opioids but still treat millions with chronic pain?
The opioid epidemic has rapidly emerged from the shadows and is now recognized as a plague that affects hundreds of thousands of Americans regardless of age, race, or socioeconomic status. In its destructive potential, it can be compared to the AIDS and polio epidemics. But unlike AIDS and polio, the opioid epidemic continues to rage in large part because we, as a nation, have not yet resolved to attack it head on.
Surgeon General Report Cites Opioids As a Key Factor in Substance Abuse Problem
Anesthesiology News, 11/18/16
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, said substance use disorders are one of America’s most pressing public health problems in a speech to introduce a new Surgeon General’s report on alcohol, drugs and substance abuse.
Refugees and Health Access
Eritrean refugees in Israel sent to Uganda and Rwanda
Al Jazeera, 11/23/16
Human rights organizations have reported that over the past three years more than 3,000 Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers from Israel have been “voluntarily” resettled in Uganda and Rwanda. Often, those who were resettled dispute whether they truly had a choice.
After Trump’s Election, Uncertainty For Syrian Refugees In The U.S.
The Obama administration, after admitting around 2,000 Syrian refugees during the first few years of the war, brought in around 12,000 this year. Osama and his family have benefited so far from the generosity of Americans. His confusion over what’s ahead mirrors the concerns of many other refugee families amid post-election reports of hate crimes against minorities.
Spurned, hopeless and attacked, refugees’ drama goes on
Al Jazeera, 11/22/16
Twice last week, a lethal mix of Molotov bombs and massive stones rained down on a cluster of tents perched inside the overcrowded Souda refugee camp on the Greek island of Chios. It cracked skulls, burned belongings and spread panic. Scores of children, men and women, some pregnant, refused to go back, opting to sleep out in the winter cold rather than risk suffering another night of violence.
Early Marriage / Early Pregnancy
Turkey abandons child marriage bill following outrage
The Washington Post, 11/22/16
Turkey’s government on Tuesday scrapped a proposal that critics said would have allowed men accused of sexually abusing underage girls to go free if they were married to their victims. The proposal, which had provoked a public outcry, was scheduled to undergo a final vote in parliament Tuesday. It would have deferred sentencing or punishment for sexual assault of minors in some cases, including when the victim and the perpetrator were married.
Kyrgyzstan Ups Fight Against Child Marriage
Human Rights Watch, 11/21/16
On Friday, Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev took an important step in the fight against child marriage by signing a new law introducing criminal sanctions, including imprisonment, for people who conduct or facilitate religious marriages of children under 18. This is a crucial step, but one that addresses only one aspect of the problem. Abduction for forced marriage – so-called “bride kidnapping” – is an ongoing problem in Kyrgyzstan, putting both girls and adult women at risk.
Impoverished families flout Guatemala’s child marriage ban – experts
A year after Guatemala passed a law banning child marriage, poor families who regard girls as a financial burden are still marrying them off as prolonged drought plunges many into deeper poverty, campaigners say. Guatemala has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Latin America, long driven by poverty and cultural acceptance especially among the country’s Maya indigenous communities, with around one third of girls married by 18.
Families increasingly resort to child marriage as Yemen’s conflict grinds on
United Nations Population Fund, 11/16/16
Child marriage has long been a scourge in Yemen, one of the few countries in the region without a legal minimum age of marriage. In a 2013 survey, nearly 32 per cent of women, aged 20 to 24, said they were married before reaching 18, and more than 9 per cent were married younger than 15. Attempts to set 18 as the minimum marrying age collapsed with the outbreak of the conflict last year.
Desmond Tutu: Child marriage harms our human family
Financial Times, 11/16/16
Millions of girls are married as children. This fact harms our human family and reminds us how deeply biased our world still is against mothers, sisters and daughters. We now have a moral duty to end one of humankind’s most destructive traditions. Experts say it is feasible in one generation.