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An Opportune Time to Strengthen Health Information Systems

Ensuring health information systems are standardized and well-coordinated is essential to improving health outcomes across a range of countries and realizing many of the health goals laid out by the international community. Indeed, timely and accurate data is required to build political will for domestic investments into health systems; make evidence-based decisions to respond to inequities in health; measure progress in achieving national and subnational goals; identify and prepare for potential health threats; and progressively realize universal health coverage and global health security.
Obama’s Kenya Trip Should Elevate Focus on Women and Girls

Obama’s Kenya Trip Should Elevate Focus on Women and Girls

The President could cement a lasting legacy by explicitly linking U.S. Africa policy to the health and empowerment of women and girls, arguably the continent’s most dynamic and underdeveloped resource and an indispensable component of any successful economic and security program.
What MERS Shows Us About Emerging Diseases

What MERS Shows Us About Emerging Diseases

For weeks South Korean health officials have been working to contain the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), an acute respiratory illness characterized by fever, cough, shortness of breath, and, in past outbreaks, a 30-40% fatality rate. The underlying virus, MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV), is relatively difficult to transmit, requiring close contact, although the precise mechanism is not well understood.
The Conflict in Yemen: A Humanitarian Catastrophe

The Conflict in Yemen: A Humanitarian Catastrophe

Where Yemen will rank in terms of all-time disasters will be a matter for debate. What is far less debatable, however, is whether Yemen is on the verge of becoming a humanitarian catastrophe.
Countries Forge Ahead with Complex Polio Vaccine Transition

Countries Forge Ahead with Complex Polio Vaccine Transition

Despite concerns about costs, vaccine supply, and tight deadlines, country health leaders have reaffirmed support for highly ambitious polio vaccine plans considered necessary to achieve full global polio eradication. Delegates to the 68th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva approved a resolution last month that urges member states to prepare for a worldwide transfer in 2016 from widely used trivalent oral polio vaccine (OPV) to a bivalent version that withdraws the type 2 component of the vaccine.
Polio Panel Warns Against Program Complacency

Polio Panel Warns Against Program Complacency

While polio eradication efforts currently are showing hopeful successes, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) warned in its May 2015 report that sufficient funding and attention should be guaranteed to guard against backsliding. The initiative has thought it was nearing the end before, only to be afflicted with disease outbreaks that set it back, sometimes for years.
South Africa’s Health Challenges: An Elephant in the Room

South Africa’s Health Challenges: An Elephant in the Room

The United States and South Africa have a longstanding relationship around health. As one of the countries most deeply impacted by the AIDS epidemic, South Africa has been a major recipient of U.S. financial and technical assistance through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR. HIV/AIDS remains a significant burden to the country, requiring ongoing attention and resources from the national government and its international partners.
The Arduous Path to Universal Health Coverage in South Africa

The Arduous Path to Universal Health Coverage in South Africa

Achieving universal health coverage is the Holy Grail for any national government serious about improving the health outcomes of its citizens. For South Africa, currently in the throes of devising a National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme, the potential rewards are enormous.
Angela Merkel, the G-7, and an Uncertain Moment for WHO

Angela Merkel, the G-7, and an Uncertain Moment for WHO

Opening the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reaffirmed the centrality of the World Health Organization (WHO) while calling for serious reform in the aftermath of the Ebola crisis. She emphasized that at the G-7 summit in the first week of June, which she will chair, three global health issues will receive serious attention: WHO reform; poverty-related tropical diseases; and antibiotic resistance.

WHO’s Chan Outlines New Response Capabilities

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan outlined Monday a series of measures aimed at improving the organization’s ability to respond to health emergencies. While WHO has been involved in a lengthy reform agenda over several years, the Ebola outbreak highlighted the organization’s shortfalls, particularly in the areas of rapid reaction, accountability, and communications, and at all levels.
Rubella and the Power of Vaccines

Rubella and the Power of Vaccines

In many cases, rubella is asymptomatic or produces a mild rash. When rubella is contracted by a pregnant woman, however, the developing fetus may suffer from congenital rubella syndrome (CRS)—often resulting in deafness, eye abnormalities, heart disease, or other conditions. According to PAHO (PDF), before elimination efforts began in the early 1990s, CRS each year affected more than 20,000 births in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Maternal Healthcare in South Asia as the MDGs Wind Down

Maternal Healthcare in South Asia as the MDGs Wind Down

Earlier this year Oxfam-India convened a two day workshop in Kathmandu to reflect on the status of maternal healthcare in the South Asia region as the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) wind down at the end of 2015. Participants included representatives from government agencies, NGOs, medical professions and universities.

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