Media/Policy Watch [to 30 May 2015]

Media/Policy Watch
This section is intended to alert readers to substantive news, analysis and opinion from the general media on vaccines, immunization, global; public health and related themes. Media Watch is not intended to be exhaustive, but indicative of themes and issues CVEP is actively tracking. This section will grow from an initial base of newspapers, magazines and blog sources, and is segregated from Journal Watch above which scans the peer-reviewed journal ecology.

We acknowledge the Western/Northern bias in this initial selection of titles and invite suggestions for expanded coverage. We are conservative in our outlook in adding news sources which largely report on primary content we are already covering above. Many electronic media sources have tiered, fee-based subscription models for access. We will provide full-text where content is published without restriction, but most publications require registration and some subscription level.

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The Economist
http://www.economist.com/
Accessed 30 May 2015
Development aid
It’s not what you spend
How to make aid to poor countries work better
May 23rd 2015 The Economist | 30 May 2015
FOR decades rich countries have sought to foster global development with aid. But all too often there is little to show for their spending, now over $135 billion a year and rising. Success depends on political will in recipient countries, says Erik Solheim of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries that includes the biggest donors. And that may well be lacking.

What donors will pay for may not be what recipients deem a priority. So poor countries’ governments say what they must to get cash, and often fail to keep their side of the deal. Aid to build schools may be used to give fat contracts to allies, and the schools left empty. Ambulances bought by donors may rust on the kerb, waiting for spare parts.
Now donors are trying a new approach: handing over aid only if outcomes improve. “Cash on delivery” sees donors and recipients set targets, for example to cut child mortality rates or increase the number of girls who finish school, and agree on how much will be paid if they are met. Conventional approaches still account for the lion’s share of international aid. But several countries, including Britain and Norway, and big private donors, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are experimenting with cash-on-deliver…

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Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/
Accessed 30 May 2015
Can New Research Break The Anti-Vaccine Fever? Probably Not
Todd Essig, Contributor May 26, 2015
May has been a good month for health and well-being, at least for the science of preventing preventible illnesses. Here’s why: two new research studies appeared with powerful support for vaccines and two states made legislative progress towards ending so-called “philosophical exemptions” in which parents opt-out of vaccination programs on the basis of fear and misinformation. Unfortunately, the anti-vaccine fear-trepreneurs and celebrities, like Jenny McCarthy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., have fomented a movement impervious to data.

Both of the new studies shift the risk-reward calculation even more towards the benefits vaccines provide, a calculation already so heavily dominated by reward it should not be a question for otherwise healthy individuals…

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New Yorker
http://www.newyorker.com/
Accessed 30 May 2015
News Desk
May 29, 2015
Vermont Says No to the Anti-Vaccine Movement
By Michael Specter
Just a year after Vermont became the first state to require labels for products made with genetically modified organisms, Governor Peter Shumlin on Thursday signed an equally controversial but very different kind of legislation: the state has now become the first to remove philosophical exemptions from its vaccination law.

The two issues are both emotional and highly contested. But Vermont’s decisions could hardly be less alike: the G.M.O. bill, which has enormous popular support, has been widely criticized by scientists—largely because no credible evidence exists suggesting that G.M.O.s are dangerous. The vaccine law, however, opposed by many people, is the strongest possible endorsement of the data that shows that vaccines are the world’s most effective public-health tool.

Perhaps because the debate over removing the philosophical exemption has been rancorous and long, the governor first opposed the legislation. More recently, he suggested that he was neutral. On Thursday, possibly sensing the political peril involved in siding with the anti-vaccine movement, Shumlin signed the bill without much publicity. Rather than hold a news conference, as he did when signing the G.M.O. legislation last year, he simply released a statement.

“Vaccines work and parents should get their kids vaccinated,” he said. “I know there are strong feelings on both sides of this issue. I wish the legislation passed three years ago had worked to sufficiently increase vaccination rates. However we’re not where we need to be to protect our kids from dangerous diseases, and I hope this legislation will have the effect of increasing vaccination rates.”

The previous legislation, which required parents to review educational materials before claiming the exemption, was an attempt to balance individual rights with the need to protect children from childhood diseases. Nobody has yet figured out how to do that. During the current debate, the Vermont State Health department reported that fewer than eighty-eight per cent of children entering the state’s kindergartens were fully vaccinated. Like most states, Vermont currently offers parents an exemption for medical conditions and one for religious beliefs. It has been one of about twenty states that allow for philosophical exemptions, and the majority of exemptions in Vermont have been for philosophical reasons.

Meanwhile, outbreaks of measles, like the one earlier this year at Disneyland, as well as other childhood diseases, have been increasingly difficult for politicians to ignore. Public-health experts say that ninety-five per cent of a student population needs to be vaccinated to provide adequate protection against measles, the world’s most contagious disease. Measles remains one of the world’s leading causes of death among children under five, according to the World Health Organization. In 2013, the disease killed nearly a hundred and fifty thousand people; before vaccines became available, millions died.

“There is something deep in the core of my being,’’ Representative Warren Kitzmiller, of Montpelier, said during the debate over the philosophical objection. “And it simply will not allow me to vote to remove a parent’s right to make this serious decision on what is in the best interest of their child.”

That is a reasonable position, and many people hold it. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, only sixty-eight per cent of Americans believe that childhood vaccinations should be required. Among younger parents, the percentage who object is even higher.

Data and science are obviously not the only issues that matter in this debate. But it’s hard to see how all rights can be equal: if parents want their children to remain unprotected from vaccinations, perhaps they should have that right. But should those children then be allowed near other students, in public places like playgrounds, or anywhere else where they could infect people with weakened immune systems? By removing the philosophical objection, at least one state has begun to say no.

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New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/
Accessed 30 May 2015
U.S. Military Orders Review as Anthrax Mishap Widens
By REUTERSMAY 30, 2015, 1:34 A.M. E.D.T.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military said on Friday it discovered even more suspected shipments of live anthrax than previously thought, both in the United States and abroad, and ordered a sweeping review of practices meant to inactivate the bacteria…