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Ethiopian leads race to be next leader of UN health agency

Tue, 23 May 2017 16:28:25 UT

The election now moves to a third round of voting; Tedros must win two-thirds of the votes to be named to succeed China's Dr. Margaret Chan, who is ending a 10-year tenure at the U.N. health agency. Of the U.N. health agency's 194 member states, 185 were eligible to cast ballots; nine others were either in arrears on their dues or not represented at the gathering. Frieden wrote a letter published in the New York Times last week that commended Tedros for his creation of a network of 40,000 female health workers that implemented programs to save people from dying of diarrhea and other causes.

The Latest: Ethiopian candidate leads vote for new WHO chief

Tue, 23 May 2017 16:20:09 UT

Delegates, health ministers and other high-level envoys were deciding Tuesday between Tedros and Britain's Dr. David Nabarro, a U.N. veteran, to be the U.N. health agency's next director-general. The two remaining candidates are Britain's Dr. David Nabarro, a U.N. veteran who has led past responses to pandemic flu and Ebola and Ethiopia's Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former health minister. Pakistan's candidate to be the next director-general of the World Health Organization, cardiologist Dr. Sania Nishtar, said she decided to go into public health after being told the hospital where she worked would start using recycled catheters for patients who couldn't pay. In her remarks Tuesday to the World Health Assembly, who will soon vote to choose the U.N. health agency's next leader, Nishtar cited her past experience leading non-governmental organizations, saying that would help her bridge the numerous polarizing situations in public health. Like the other two candidates, Nishtar promised to make WHO accountable, saying she was credited for bringing transparency to public health when she was a minister in Pakistan. The president of this year's World Health Assembly opened this afternoon's proceedings by calling for a minute of silence to remember the victims of the Manchester bombing attack. First to speak was Ethiopia's candidate to lead the World Health Organization, former minister of health Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Man dies after being sickened in apparent botulism outbreak

Tue, 23 May 2017 16:09:39 UT

(AP) — A botulism outbreak linked to contaminated nacho-cheese dip sold at a Northern California gas station has killed one man and left at least nine other people hospitalized, health officials said. On Monday, Matt Conens, a spokesman for the California Department of Public Health, declined to release further information on the death, the condition of the other victims, or the status and extent of the investigation into the weeks-old outbreak. Wisconsin-based food distributor Gehl Foods said in a statement that it had been notified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that the company's nacho cheese was among the products that inspectors seized at the gas station.

AP Exclusive: Outgoing WHO head practiced art of appeasement

Tue, 23 May 2017 09:45:00 UT

LONDON (AP) — As the World Health Organization struggled to coordinate vaccine production during the 2009 swine flu pandemic, its director-general met with Vladimir Putin, then Russia's prime minister, during an official visit to Moscow. The job of directing WHO carries exceptional power, from declaring when a health crisis has evolved into a global emergency to signing off on medical recommendations that affect billions of people. In juggling competing demands from constituents — including member countries, agency staffers, other U.N. heads and private partners — the job requires political savvy as much as medical expertise. Chan's multiple visits to authoritarian countries have raised some eyebrows, since no obvious health crises prompted the trips and spending time with leaders with patchy human rights records might have compromised the agency's integrity. After applauding the government's "notable public health achievements," including its "excellent" tuberculosis treatment and "good immunization coverage," Chan opened the telemedicine facilities at the Kimanyu hospital that WHO helped support. Three years later, WHO's representative to North Korea, Yonas Tegegn, confirmed in an email that WHO would be giving the country another $400,000 worth of telemedicine equipment and support, as well as considering a request to help fund a documentary promoting the project. A UNICEF report in 2014 found that child death rates were high in Turkmenistan and noted a worrying rise of vitamin A deficiency in children. Piot described numerous uncomfortable situations he faced at the height of the AIDS epidemic while discussing homosexuality with African leaders such as Zimbabwe's notoriously anti-gay Robert Mugabe. After Chan's visit to Moscow in 2009, it was reported that Russian vaccine makers started making swine flu shots.

Uncertainty grows as Trump delays a health care decision

Tue, 23 May 2017 06:50:12 UT

The administration and House Republicans have asked a federal appeals court for a 90-day extension in a case that involves federal payments to reduce deductibles and copayments for people with modest incomes who buy their own policies. In requesting the extension, lawyers for the Trump administration and the House said the parties are continuing to work on measures, "including potential legislative action," to resolve the issue. —Continued protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions and sustained federal funding to offset the cost of care for the sickest patients. —Preserving ACA consumer safeguards including no lifetime caps on benefits, no higher premium for women based on gender, and a requirement that insurers spend a minimum of 80 cents of every premium dollar on medical care. About 20 million Americans purchase individual health insurance policies, with more than half using the ACA's markets, which offer income-based subsidies for premiums and out-of-pocket costs. "In merely delaying their suit, Republicans cynically continue to sow uncertainty in the health coverage of millions of Americans," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said in a statement. The case is on appeal after a lower court ruled that the government lacks constitutional authority to make the payments because Congress failed to specifically approve them in the Obama-era health overhaul legislation.

The Latest: US 'disappointed' Taiwan not at WHO assembly

Mon, 22 May 2017 16:02:06 UT

Devi Sridhar, a professor in global public health at the University of Edinburgh, has described the yearly $200 million travel costs of the World Health Organization as documented by the Associated Press as "extremely high." Compared with the considerably lesser amount that the U.N. health agency spends on major diseases including AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, Sridhar said that "budgets reveal priorities" and warned that donors not happy with WHO's spending habits could simply go elsewhere. "People know these U.N. jobs can be cushy and come with perks, that you get to travel business class and stay at nice hotels," she said. While Sridhar said that banning business class travel and five-star hotels might enrage WHO staffers, the agency's next director-general, who will be elected Tuesday, shouldn't shy away from making such radical changes. During her speech to the representatives of WHO's 194 member states, Chan said the world was fortunate other new diseases like Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome and bird flu are not spreading easily between people, but they have the potential to do so. Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung spoke Monday to reporters in Geneva moments before the start of the 10-day World Health Assembly, insisting that Taiwan had contributions to offer and accusing Beijing of playing politics with health.

Diagnostic equipment thieves hit 3 more hospitals in Greece

Mon, 22 May 2017 15:48:40 UT

Greece's state health system has been hit hard by deep spending cuts imposed under the country's international bailout program. In exchange for the rescue loans, successive governments since 2010 have slashed spending across the board, hiked taxes and implemented cutting market reforms.