News Scan for Jun 18, 2014

Polio vaccination in Syria
Preparedness and the ACA

Another WHO/UNICEF polio vaccine campaign begins in Syria

Syria's eighth vaccination campaign in as many months begins this week and hopes to reach 2.8 million children over 5 days, according to a news release yesterday from the World Health Organization's (WHO's) Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean. 

The campaign, supported by WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), aims to reach children even in contested and hard-to-reach areas of the war-torn country. Conditions there are preventing many families from accessing health services. The goal is for every child in the country to receive multiple doses of oral polio vaccine, the WHO says.

Elizabeth Hoff, the WHO's representative to Syria, said that immunizations are helping stem transmission. "We have not seen a case of polio in Syria since January this year, but we need to be extra vigilant during these summer months as this is the high season for transmission," she said.

Hoff also pointed out that a coordinated response is needed in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Turkey to ward off an epidemic. Some 25 million children in the region have received more than 100 million doses of vaccine to date, according to the agency. The WHO declared polio a public health emergency of international concern last month.
Jun 17 WHO news release
May 5 CIDRAP News
story on polio emergency


IOM report highlights potential readiness benefits of ACA

Participants at a workshop late last year said that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may provide important opportunities for public health preparedness for events like pandemics, such as better use of healthcare data and new opportunities for collaboration, according to a report released last week by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

"The implementation of the ACA provides an opportunity to consider how to better incorporate preparedness into all aspects of the evolving health care system and daily delivery of care," the IOM says in its summary of the report, which is based on an IOM Forum on Medical and Public Health Preparedness for Catastrophic Events held Nov 18-19, 2013.

Workshop participants said that public health needs to address the impact of coverage expansion on preparedness; how the changing reimbursement systems and incentives will affect preparedness activities; the use of data to help preparedness, response, and recovery; how existing resources can be used to improve both day-to-day operations and response during public health emergencies; workforce transformation and training needs; and opportunities for collaboration among healthcare delivery systems that might not have been involved in preparedness activities in the past.

Some of the themes the group identified included bridging healthcare and public health preparedness communities, fostering resilience through better healthcare access, focusing on the most vulnerable, leveraging telemedicine, and enhancing preparedness through public-private partnerships.
Jun 13 IOM report

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