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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Gavi To Provide $5M In Support Of Merck's Ebola Vaccine Development, With Goal Of Regulatory Approval By End-2017

Associated Press: Global Vaccine promises $5 million to develop Ebola vaccine
“The global vaccine alliance Gavi says it will donate $5 million toward developing the leading Ebola vaccine, hoping that it will be approved by a regulator by the end of 2017…” (1/20).

BBC News: Ebola: $5m vaccine deal announced
“…The deal commits pharmaceutical company Merck to keeping 300,000 vaccines ready for emergency use or further clinical trials…” (Gallagher, 1/20).

Bloomberg Business: Merck to Submit Ebola Vaccine for Approval by End of 2017
“Merck & Co. has signed an agreement with Gavi, the world’s biggest funder of vaccines for developing countries, to submit its experimental Ebola vaccine for regulatory approval by the end of 2017…” (Kitamura, 1/20).

Nature: Unusual deal ensures Ebola vaccine supply
“…The deal marks the first time that the public health organization has moved to purchase a vaccine before it has been licensed…” (Hayden, 1/20).

Reuters: Vaccines alliance signs $5 million advance deal for Merck’s Ebola shot
“…If approved, Merck’s so-called VSV-ZEBOV live attenuated Ebola Zaire vaccine would become one of the world’s first licensed Ebola shots and Gavi would be able to start buying it to create a stockpile for future outbreaks, it said in a statement issued at the World Economic Forum in Davos…” (Hirschler/Kelland, 1/20).

ScienceInsider: Money donated to stockpile leading Ebola vaccine
“…Manica Balasegaram of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said the deal was encouraging, but that MSF still needed clarification on some important details, like how the price for the vaccine will be set in the long-term…” (Kupferschmidt, 1/20).

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Half Of 2.6M Stillbirths Worldwide Preventable, Lancet Series Suggests

News outlets continue to report on findings from The Lancet Ending Preventable Stillbirths series.

Agence France-Presse: More than 7,000 babies stillborn every day
“About 7,200 babies are stillborn every day — some 2.6 million per year — and half of these deaths occur during delivery, according to a quintet of studies published by The Lancet on Tuesday…” (Le Roux, 1/18).

BBC News: Most of 2.6 million stillbirths are ‘preventable’
“…Two-thirds of last year’s 2.6 million stillbirths were in Africa. Half of stillbirths happen during labor as a result of preventable conditions, notably syphilis and malaria, they add. The studies argue stillbirths are preventable through high-quality antenatal care…” (1/19).

Wall Street Journal: Why Pakistan and India Have Such High Stillbirth Rates
“…Pakistan has the worst rate — 43 out of 1,000 pregnancies end in stillbirths — according to studies published in British health journal, The Lancet. In India, the rate was 22 in every 1,000 pregnancies in 2015 but because of its huge population, the country recorded the highest number of stillbirths around the world that year…” (Bhattacharya, 1/19).

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Hundreds Of Thousands Remain In Need Of Food, Medical Aid In Besieged Syrian Locations, U.N. Reports

New York Times: Airdrops Called Too Risky a Way to Help Starving Syrians
“Civilians in besieged Syrian cities are still starving. Though two humanitarian convoys reached Madaya on Thursday, for example, they were the first to do so in months, and the United Nations says five more people there have died from starvation in the past week. That raises the question: If supplies cannot get through on the ground, couldn’t the American-led coalition simply airdrop food into the besieged towns? The answer, according to American officials, is that it is a lot harder than it sounds…” (Goldman, 1/19).

NPR: Beyond Madaya, 1 in 3 Syrians Doesn’t Have Adequate Access To Food
“…Supply disruptions are driving up prices in many places. For example, rice was reportedly selling for $93 per pound in Madaya before aid arrived. By comparison, the latest World Food Programme report said rice was selling for 31 cents per pound in Syria’s capital, Damascus…” (Kennedy, 1/19).

U.N. News Centre: Overnight aid deliveries reach four Syrian towns while situation in east ‘extremely grave’ — U.N.
“…U.N. human rights expert Hilal Elver [Tuesday] warned that some 400,000 people living in 15 besieged locations throughout Syria are trapped in desperate circumstances and in urgent need of emergency assistance. ‘An immediate and unconditional humanitarian pause in hostilities must be put in place to allow humanitarian aid and food to reach everyone in Syria,’ Ms. Elver said…” (1/19).

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Zika Virus Spreads To Haiti, Bolivia, Health Officials Report

Agence France-Presse: Haiti hit with Zika virus outbreak: official
“Haiti’s health ministry said Friday the country has been hit by an outbreak of the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne ailment similar to dengue fever that is rapidly spreading through the Caribbean. Health Minister Florence Duperval Guillaume confirmed the outbreak at a press conference, saying that she too, was recovering from a bout of the illness…” (1/15).

Agence France-Presse: Zika spreads to Bolivia, infecting pregnant woman
“…Health officials in the South American country had previously detected three people who arrived from other countries with the disease, but the woman — who is eight weeks pregnant — is the first person to be infected in Bolivia, they said…” (1/19).

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New Ebola Case In Sierra Leone Highlights Continuing Challenges For Health Officials, Community Members

Al Jazeera America: New Ebola case in Sierra Leone underscores lingering challenges
“…[Sidie Yahya Tunis, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Sanitation,] said that the biggest challenge in the crisis was persuading people to change these behaviors and that community engagement, which involved getting authorities such as religious leaders in local communities to understand Ebola and explain it to others, was one of the leading factors in tamping down the epidemic. Tunis warned that even though the country is Ebola-free, that doesn’t mean the virus is gone forever. He said that even now, there needs to be a push for more community engagement…” (Devries, 1/19).

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Sudan Struggles To Import Medical, Science Research Supplies Under U.S. Sanctions, Foreign Policy Reports

Foreign Policy: Sudan Sanctions Deprive ‘Whole Nation’ of Health Care
“…Ever since the United States designated Sudan a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ in 1993 and imposed comprehensive sanctions on the country, doctors and scientists in Khartoum say they have struggled to import supplies and conduct research that could eventually save lives. These sanctions have become increasingly complex and difficult to navigate over the years, making it tough to import equipment, even such basic items as sutures…” (Maxmen, 1/14).

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South Sudan Needs $1.3B In Humanitarian Funding, U.N. Says

Reuters: U.N. seeks $1.3 billion in humanitarian funding for South Sudan
“The United Nations is seeking $1.3 billion in humanitarian aid for South Sudan, where two in 10 of the population have been driven from their homes during two years of conflict…” (Jorgic, 1/20).

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The Guardian Features Responses To Expert Q&A On Improving Mental Health Care In Developing Countries

The Guardian: Live Q&A: How can we improve mental health support in developing countries?
“…What are the barriers to understanding and treating mental health in poorer countries? How can attitudes to mental health be changed? And with resources dealing with health issues already so stretched, how can we make mental health a priority?…” The full conversation is located in the comments section (Clarke, 1/7).

The Guardian: Mental health support: ‘We need to help people come out of the shadows’
“How can we better understand and treat mental health in developing countries? Our panel of experts share their thoughts…” The newspaper summarizes comments by leading experts (Larsson, 1/19).

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New Committee On World Food Security Chair Speaks To IPS About Nutrition, Sustainable Agriculture

Inter Press Service: Q&A: Ensuring Food Security for All
“As the Ambassador of the Republic of the Sudan to Italy and Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Sudan to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome, Amira Daoud Hassan Gornass takes up her role as chair of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), [and] she shares her vision for the future of food security…” (Mackenzie, 1/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Should Expand Budget For, Support 'Consolidated And Integrated Approach To Global Health'

Global Health NOW: Two Problems with the U.S. Global Health Budget
Derek Yach, chief health officer at the Vitality Group

“…In addition to expanding the scope of federal support for global health, there is a need for a more visible lead institution for global health that is tasked with maximizing the use of the best programs positively impacting health in the U.S. across the public and private sector and better integrating global health actions. The NIH’s Fogarty International Center, the leader for decades in building capacity for health science and policy globally, continues to be starved of funds … No doubt there are many institutes … that do have large global health research programs. If these efforts were better coordinated and integrated, the NIH as a whole could have a far more substantial impact on global health research than it does today. … There is a clear need for a consolidated and integrated approach to global health embedded in the federal budget that covers all agency budgets and lets global health experts in academia, research, NGOs, and industry easily understand the criteria (in terms of risks, diseases, and countries) used to define spending priorities” (1/18).

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Militaries Must Not Bomb Hospitals; U.K. Government Should Reaffirm Commitment To International Humanitarian Law

The Guardian: Bombing hospitals and schools cannot become the new normal
Vickie Hawkins, executive director of MSF U.K.

“…Today, as you read this, sophisticated military weapons are being — purposely or mistakenly — aimed at hospitals and clinics. With total impunity, essential medical services are being destroyed as a military strategy, both by national armies and by international coalitions, in Afghanistan, in Syria, and in Yemen. And ultimately the people that this hurts the most are patients who no longer have access to health care. … This cannot become the new normal. … Please join us in our indignation and ask your leaders to stop bombing hospitals. For armies, too, the protection of civilians should be a high priority, not just to avoid legal prosecution, but because no one should be indifferent to the loss of human life. MSF formally calls on the U.K. government to reaffirm its unequivocal commitment to international humanitarian law and to uphold it in any coalition it supports. We also call on the U.K. government to support investigations into possible breaches of international humanitarian law in Yemen and beyond and to make the results of such investigations public” (1/19).

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Global Community Should Focus On 'Continuous Surveillance,' Prevention Of Infectious Diseases

NPR: Has The World Learned The Wrong Lessons From The Ebola Outbreak?
Nahid Bhadelia, infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center and director of infection control at the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory

“…[W]e need continuous surveillance for threatening infectious diseases that are both known and yet to be discovered. We need to move from a culture of outbreak response to one that focuses on prevention. Small clusters of infectious disease cases are inevitable, but outbreaks and epidemics are preventable. … WHO has a difficult balance to strike between celebrating the hard work of stopping Ebola and continuing to urge a need for vigilance. … The best way to keep new cases of infectious diseases from causing epidemics is to expect them and to invest in public health and research during ‘peace time’ as much as we do during an outbreak” (1/19).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kaiser Family Foundation Survey, Report, Analysis Examine U.S. Government Global Health Engagement, Budget

Kaiser Family Foundation: New Survey, Analysis Suggest a Growing Partisan Split About U.S. Government Engagement on Global Health
The Kaiser Family Foundation on Wednesday released several resources in conjunction with a Kaiser Family Foundation-sponsored event on the future of U.S. global health policy and programs. A new survey of the American public’s views on the U.S. role in global health and a separate report that summarizes the views of global health and foreign policy leaders on the U.S. role in global health “suggest a growing partisan divide, as the country gears up for the 2016 election.” In addition, an analysis of global health spending “finds funding for most global health programs remained essentially flat in the FY 2016 omnibus spending bill signed into law in December” (1/20).

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Birx Reiterates U.S. Government Efforts To Focus HIV/AIDS Spending On High-Burden Areas In NIH Lecture

NIH Fogarty International Center’s “Global Health Matters”: Global coordinator pushes for stronger, more focused anti-HIV efforts
Cathy Kristiansen, editor and writer with the NIH Fogarty International Center, summarizes comments made by U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Deborah Birx “during an NIH lecture honoring Dr. Joseph J. Kinyoun, who founded the one-room lab in 1887 that has evolved into 27 Institutes and Centers now comprising the agency. “It’s important, she suggested, to focus on the ‘right things, right places, right now.’ This means urgently directing resources to areas with the highest burden and scaling up interventions in a strategic and targeted way, along with collecting data to evaluate if efforts are working as intended, she said. ‘We’re spending our time focusing, focusing, focusing on the results we’re expecting to achieve and ensuring that all of our results predict those outcomes and are in alignment’…” (January/February 2016).

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Blog Posts Discuss Lancet Ending Preventable Stillbirths Series

USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: USAID Delivers: Quality Care for Expectant Moms Results in Fewer Stillbirths
Katie Taylor, deputy child and maternal survival coordinator at USAID and deputy assistant administrator for the Bureau for Global Health, discusses USAID’s commitment “to saving the lives of mothers and children,” including the agency’s involvement in The Lancet’s Ending Preventable Stillbirths series (1/19).

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Ending Preventable Stillbirths
Mariam Claeson, director, and Jerker Liljestrand and Janna Patterson, both senior program officers, all of the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health team at the Gates Foundation, discuss The Lancet series, outlining five priority actions “[t]o save lives and help families — and countries — avoid the underappreciated costs of preventable stillbirths…” (1/19).

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'Groundbreaking' Global Agreements Made In 2015 Offer Optimism For Addressing Climate Change, Development, Finance Reform

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: A Trifecta of Hope: Addressing Climate Change, Global Finance Reform, and Sustainable Development
Heather Higginbottom, deputy secretary of state for management and resources at the State Department, writes, “Despite the daunting challenges facing the world today, groundbreaking agreements reached by the nations of the world in 2015 are cause for optimism.” She discusses the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and the Addis Ababa Agenda for Action, concluding, “As 2016 unfolds, we now turn our attention to the hard work of implementation, leveraging U.S. global leadership to ensure our new, bold commitments better the lives of millions of global citizens” (1/19).

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New Issue Of 'Global Fund News Flash' Available Online

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Global Fund News Flash
The latest issue of the Global Fund News Flash includes an article on a new agreement between the Global Fund and 10 mosquito net suppliers to cut prices and an infographic describing the Global Fund’s Innovation Hub (1/19).

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