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The promise and peril of universal health care

Science

Healthy populations translate into productive and stable nations. Universal health care (UHC) is a pragmatic and ethical ideal that, thanks to social and economic progress, seems almost achievable. However, UHC means different things in different contexts. The minimum ideal is that no individual or family should suffer financial hardship because of accessing good-quality medical assistance. Bloom et al. review health priorities around the world and what will be needed in terms of skills, funds, and technology to achieve health care access for all. The September 1978 Alma-Ata Declaration is a landmark event in the history of global health. The declaration raised awareness of "health for all" as a universal human right, whose fulfillment reduces human misery and suffering, advances equality, and safeguards human dignity. It also recognized economic and social development and international security as not only causes, but also consequences, of better health. In addition, it highlighted the power of primary health care and international cooperation to advance the protection and promotion of health in resource-constrained settings. Building on the achievement of Alma-Ata and gaining further traction from the Millenium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, universal health care (UHC) has emerged in recent years as a central imperative of the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations and most of its member states, and much of civil society. UHC characterizes national health systems in which all individuals can access quality health services without individual or familial financial hardship.


Wars, instability pose coronavirus vaccine challenges in poor nations

FOX News

Dr. Nicole Saphier discusses updated guidance, new coronavirus strain on'FOX & amp; Friends Weekend.' Arifullah Khan had just administered another polio vaccine when the gunfire blasted from the nearby hills. There was so much gunfire it felt like an explosion," he said, recalling details of the attack five years ago in Pakistan's Bajaur tribal region near the Afghan border. A bullet shattered his thigh and he fell to the ground. His childhood friend and partner in the vaccination campaign, Ruhollah, lay bleeding on the ground in front of him. FILE - In this July 13, 2019, file photo, health workers wearing protective suits tend to an Ebola victim kept in an isolation tent in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo. The task of vaccinating millions of people in poor and developing countries against COVID-19 faces monumental obstacles, and it's not just a problem of affording and obtaining doses. Rumors flew about the Ebola vaccines, including the idea they were meant to kill people, said ...


Pakistan resumes polio vaccinations after coronavirus hiatus

Al Jazeera

Quetta, Pakistan - Pakistan is resuming polio vaccination efforts in high-risk districts across the country after the coronavirus pandemic forced a four-month hiatus in one of the only two countries in the world where the debilitating virus remains endemic. Vaccinators will go door-to-door to vaccinate more than 800,000 children under the age of five in the districts of Karachi, Quetta, Faisalabad, Attock and South Waziristan on Monday, the government-run polio eradication campaign said in a statement. This year, at least 59 cases of polio - a neurodegenerative disease that can cause paralysis of the limbs in young children - have been registered in Pakistan, according to official data. The virus, buoyed by parents refusing to give their children the vaccine and incomplete immunisation campaign coverage, resurged in Pakistan last year, with 147 cases across the country, compared with just 12 the year before. This year, the government says it had planned on stepping up countrywide immunisation drives, but was stymied by the coronavirus pandemic, which made going door-to-door to reach more than 35 million children logistically difficult.


FT Health: Research pledge must go further

#artificialintelligence

Leading funders and researchers this week agreed that all their clinical trials for vaccines and devices would in future be publicly registered and the results published. The pledge -- made by nearly a dozen groups including the Wellcome Trust and the UK Medical Research Council -- is a boost for innovation and safety. Some estimates suggest that half of all trial findings, notably those that do not yield positive results, are not made public. This is a significant waste of research, burying information that could help to better direct future work, reduce dangers to patients and boost efficiency. In an era of big data and partnership between medical research and IT, there is considerable potential to improve number crunching and identify patterns in trial data.


Urgent Nigerian polio vaccination drive targets 25 million

The Japan Times

MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA – An emergency polio vaccination campaign aimed at reaching 25 million children this year has begun in parts of Nigeria newly freed from Boko Haram Islamic extremists, with fears that many more cases of the crippling disease will likely be found. Two toddlers discovered last month were Nigeria's first reported polio cases in more than two years, putting the world on alert just months after the African continent was declared free of the disease. One member of the Rotary Club's "End Polio Now" drive said he almost cried when he got the news. It was a major blow to global efforts to stamp out polio, which persists in only two other countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Associated Press joined the vaccination drive in northeastern Nigeria, a campaign going to extraordinary lengths to fight the disease in areas still threatened by Boko Haram extremists who violently oppose Western medicine.