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Most Say Health Workers Shouldn’t Refuse Care on Moral Grounds: Poll

THURSDAY, Feb. 8, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Most Americans are not on board with President Donald Trum..

THURSDAY, Feb. 8, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Most Americans are not on board with President Donald Trump's recent decision to further protect health care workers who refuse to treat patients on religious or moral grounds, the latest HealthDay/Harris Poll shows.

More than eight of 10 surveyed do not believe doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care providers should be allowed to use their conscience or beliefs to refuse care.

Majorities agreed that health providers should not be able to refuse to treat a patient based on religious objections to their sexual orientation (69 percent) or to refuse to perform surgical procedures because they have a religious objection to them (59 percent).

"In reply to all of the questions, regardless of which services were being provided, or which patients were being treated, only relatively small minorities of the public believe that providers should be allowed to refuse to provide care," said Deana Percassi, managing director, public relations research practice for The Harris Poll.

The online poll included more than 2,000 U.S. adults and was conducted in late January.

The Trump administration announced last month that medical professionals who feel their rights have been violated can now file a complaint with a new conscience and religious freedom division of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Conservative groups applauded the move.

"For more than 40 years, federal law has protected the conscience rights of all Americans in the context of health care," the Heritage Foundation said in a statement. "These protections have allowed for a diversity of values in health care and ensured that individuals can work and live according to their moral and religious beliefs."

However, the new poll found only a minority of both Republicans (22 percent) and Democrats (8 percent) support the notion that health care providers should be allowed to refuse services that conflict with their conscience or beliefs.

"What we're seeing here is that the American public understands the danger of allowing individual bias to impact the ability of health providers to do their job," said Frederick Isasi, executive director of Families USA, a health care consumer advocacy group.

The partisan divide grew more pronounced when the survey questions became more specific:

  • About 23 percent of Republicans said health care providers should be allowed to refuse to treat patients because they have religious objections to their sexual orientation, compared with 9 percent of Democrats and 10 percent of Independents.
  • By the same token, 40 percent of Republicans said doctors should be allowed to refuse to perform surgical procedures about which they have a religious objection, compared with 14 percent of Democrats and 24 percent of Independents.

Dr. Robert Truog, director of the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School, said that "rules like these are often focused more on scoring political points than on solving actual real-world problems."

Truog said, "Nobody wants to force people to do things that that they feel morally opposed to. There's general agreement in the medical profession that if a patient has a legal right to a treatment, those with conscientious objections have an obligation to refer the patient to somebody who would be willing to provide that treatment."

He added, "I think the vast majority of time we can work these things out so that people aren't forced to do something they don't want to do, and patients will still get the treatments that they need and deserve."

Isasi agreed that conflicts between a patient's needs and a doctor's beliefs are rare, so much so that he questions the need for the new rule.

"The administration is very hard-pressed to point to any real robust provider group that is arguing their ability to perform their duties ethically is being violated. It's not like this is a huge problem," Isasi said.

However, Isasi is concerned that the rule itself will have a chilling effect on people seeking help from a doctor.

Concerns about touchy subjects like gender, reproductive options or sexual orientation might never be raised with a doctor, for fear that the professional could demean the patient or lash out at them, Isasi suggested.

"These are very sensitive personal issues, and a little bit of bias can create an enormous barrier for patients to receive care," Isasi said. "The way this regulation reads, it feels like it's trying to provide a basis for a provider to not have to shield their bias, and to inject their bias into those very personal moments with patients."

Other findings from the poll:

  • One-quarter of the adults surveyed believe health care providers should be allowed to refuse to provide medical treatments to transgender patients as part of their transition to make their body more in line with their gender identity.
  • About one in five believe that doctors should be allowed to refuse to prescribe birth control.
  • Relatively small minorities believe that health care providers should be allowed to refuse to treat transgender patients (14 percent), to treat patients who have had abortions (13 percent), or to treat patients who are gay or lesbian (12 percent).

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For more on the new regulation, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Burkina Faso: Growing Violence Threatens Health Care

Away from the worlds attention, Burkina Faso has been slipping into violence. In less than a year, t..

Away from the worlds attention, Burkina Faso has been slipping into violence. In less than a year, the number of displaced has increased fivefold, from 50,000 last December, to 270,000 in August. As ever, the most vulnerable suffer most: the very young, and the very old.

When Alidou Sawadogos elderly mother fell ill, he faced a long and dangerous journey to get treatment for her.

“When she collapsed, a friend called me,” he explains. “By the time I arrived she was already unconscious. I decided to take her to the health center and luckily someone who had a motorcycle helped me. Because of the violence many people who are sick wait at home and die. Everyone is afraid of taking the road to the health center in Barsalogho.”

Across Burkina Faso, the rising insecurity has forced over a hundred health centers to close, or to limit their work. Half a million people now have little or no access to health care. Dedicated health workers, among them Dr Bertrand Dibli in Barsalogho, are struggling to meet the needs, and to stay safe themselves.

“This is one of the few health centers that isnt closed,” he says. “We dont have enough equipment. And the insecurity has caused huge anxiety among health workers. Even coming here to Barsalogho is a huge challenge because the route is so dangerous.”

The ICRC has been working to support Burkina Fasos health professionals, with medical kits, and vaccination campaigns. During his visit to the country, ICRC President Peter Maurer expressed his concern at the multiple challenges facing Burkina Fasos people.

“We are very concerned,” he said. “Very worried about the upsurge in violence, its a vicious circle that is trapping the civilian population between armed groups.”

“We also see,” Mr Maurer added, “that it is not only the violence that is affecting the country, it is also under development, and climate change. Together with the violence that is obstructing the health services, its an accumulation of factors.”

And so the ICRC – jointly with the Burkinabé Red Cross – is also delivering food to the displaced, and helping to improve access to water supplies. All of this, says nurse Jeanette Kientega, is desperately needed by a population uprooted by conflict, and denied access to basic health care.

“By the time they are able to get here, it is often too late” she says. “Sometimes we can help, but if they have already been ill a long time, it is difficult. We try to do what we can.” (more…)

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World Bank and WHO Statement on Partnership & Deployment of Financing to WHO for Ebola Response in DRC

WASHINGTON, August 23, 2019—The World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), along with the G..

WASHINGTON, August 23, 2019—The World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), along with the Government and other key partners, are working in close partnership on the Ebola Crisis Response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Central to this partnership is the assessment of the financing needs, and deployment of resources, with the goal to put an end to the current deadly outbreak.

The World Bank is today announcing that US$50 million in funding is to be released to WHO for its lifesaving operational work on the frontlines of the outbreak. The WHO is announcing that this US$50 million in funds will close the financing gap for its emergency health response in DRC through to the end of September 2019, and is calling on other partners to mirror this generous support in order to fund the response through to December.

The funding comprises US$30 million from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) and US$20 million from the World Bank. The US$50 million in grant funding is part of the larger financial package of approximately US$300 million that the World Bank announced last month to support the fourth Strategic Response Plan for the DRC Ebola outbreak.

“WHO is very grateful for the World Banks support, which fills a critical gap in our immediate needs for Ebola response efforts in DRC, and will enable the heroic workers on the frontlines of this fight to continue their lifesaving work,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization. “We keenly await further funding from other partners to sustain the response through to the end of the year.”

The DRC government, working in collaboration with the World Bank, WHO, and other key partners, has finalized the Fourth Strategic Response Plan (SRP4), which outlines the total resources needed for the DRC Ebola Crisis Response from July to December 2019. The financing announced today is part of the World Banks previously announced financial package of up to US$300 million and covers over half of SRP4s needs, with the remainder requiring additional funding from other donors and partners.

“The World Bank is working closely with WHO, the Government of DRC, and all partners to do everything we can to put an end to the latest Ebola outbreak,” said Annette Dixon, Vice President, Human Development at the World Bank. “The partnership between our organizations and the Government is critical for responding to the emergency as well as rebuilding systems for delivery of basic services and to restoring the trust of communities.”

The Government of DRC requested US$30 million from the PEF Cash Window to be paid directly to WHO. The PEF Steering Body approved the request bringing the PEFs total contribution to fighting Ebola in DRC to US$61.4 million. The PEF is a financing mechanism housed at the World Bank; its Steering Body is co-chaired by the World Bank and WHO, and comprises donor country members from Japan, Germany and Australia. The quick and flexible financing it provides saves lives, by enabling governments and international responders to concentrate on fighting Ebola—not fundraising.

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Borno State launches first Malaria Operational Plan, reawakens fight against malaria

Maiduguri, 13 August 2019 – Following recommendations from malaria interventions in Borno State Nige..

Maiduguri, 13 August 2019 – Following recommendations from malaria interventions in Borno State Nigeria, the Malaria Annual Operational Plan (MAOP) was developed and launched on 08 August 2019 with technical support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners. Aligned to the National Malaria Strategic Plan (2014 -2020), MAOP was developed through a broad-based stakeholders workshop involving malaria stakeholders, reviewed on different thematic areas and endorsed by the Commissioner for Health and Permanent Secretary, Borno State Ministry of Health.

Speaking during the launch, the Borno state Malaria Programme Manager, Mr Mala Waziri described the MAOP as the first to be endorsed and disseminated in Borno State. “WHO has made us proud by supporting the first ever Malaria Operational Plan right from development, review, printing to dissemination.”

Dr Ibrahim Kida, the Ministerial Secretary Borno State Ministry of Health and Incident Manager of the state, described the launch as “an historic event as stakeholders across the health sector made commitments to use the document as an implementation guide for all malaria programs”. The plan was also described as an advocacy tool for planning domestic funds mobilization.

The MAOP has seven objectives among which are: provide at least 50% of targeted population with appropriate preventive measures by 2020; ensure that all persons with suspected malaria who seek care are tested with Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) or microscopy by 2020 and all persons with confirmed malaria seen in private or public health facilities receive prompt treatment with an effective anti-malarial drug by 2020.

The MAOP will further ensure that at least 50% of the population practice appropriate malaria prevention and management by 2020, ensuring timely availability of appropriate anti-malarial medicines and commodities required for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria in Borno State by 2020.

In addition, it seeks to ensure that all health facilities report on key malaria indicators routinely by 2020 and finally strengthen governance and coordination of all stakeholders for effective program implementation towards an A rating by 2020 on a standardized scorecard. These strategic objectives have specific targets and the MAOP takes into account the humanitarian response.

“Malaria remains a leading cause of poor health in Nigeria. According to the 2018 WHO Malaria Report, 53million cases are recorded annually in Nigeria, roughly 1 in 4 persons is infected with malaria contributing 25% of the global burden,” says Dr Nglass Ini Abasi, WHO Malaria Consultant for the North East.

“Furthermore, 81,640 deaths are recorded annually (9 deaths every hour), which accounts for 19% of global malaria deaths (1 in 5 global malaria deaths) and 45% malaria deaths in West Africa. The Nigeria Malaria Strategic Plan (NMSP) 2014-2020 has a goal to reduce malaria burden to pre-elimination levels and bring malaria-related mortality to zero and WHO is working assiduously with Government to ensure the burden is reduced accordingly.”

Results from WHO’s Early Warning, Alert and Response System (EWARS) week 30 report from 223 sites, (including 32 IDP camps) show that malaria was the leading cause of morbidity and mortality accounting for 35% of cases and 46% of reported deaths. In addition, results from the Nigeria Humanitarian Response Strategy (NHRS 2019-2021) indicate 7.1million people are in dire need of healthcare and 6.2million are targeted for immediate attention.

Despite recent improvements, insecurity remains a challenge limiting access to the functional health facilities. Easily preventable and treatable diseases such as malaria, acute respiratory infection and diarrheal diseases account for the greatest proportion of morbidity and mortality among the vulnerable population. Furthermore, Malaria is endemic in North East Nigeria and the transmission is perennial with a marked seasonal peak from July to November every year. (more…)

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