KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Ebola Threat Waning But Epidemic Remains International Health Emergency, WHO Says

News outlets report on the WHO’s fifth meeting of its Emergency Committee on the Ebola epidemic.

Agence France-Presse: ‘Progress’ in Ebola fight, but ‘substantial risks’ remain: WHO
“Real progress is being made in the fight against Ebola, but the deadly outbreak in West Africa remains a major international health emergency, the World Health Organization said Friday…” (4/10).

Associated Press: U.N.: Ebola still global emergency despite big drop in cases
“…Last August, the U.N. health agency declared the epidemic of the lethal virus to be a global emergency after the deaths of nearly 1,000 people, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia…” (Cheng, 4/10).

CIDRAP News: As global Ebola threat ebbs, WHO extends health emergency
“…In a related development, the health official leading the WHO’s Ebola response said today at a media briefing that signs of recent progress by all three outbreak countries appear to be real and that each is on track with goals to curb disease activity ahead of the rainy season, which begins over the next several weeks…” (Schnirring, 4/10).

Reuters: Risk of Ebola spreading to other countries appears to be falling: WHO
“…In a statement, the Committee said that due to better prevention and control activities across West Africa, ‘the overall risk of international spread appears to have further reduced since January with a decline in case incidence and geographic distribution in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.’ But there was ‘no place for complacency’ and the goal remained eliminating the deadly hemorrhagic fever…” (Nebehay, 4/10).

U.N. News Centre: Ebola outbreak still a global emergency despite significant drop in cases — U.N. health agency
“…The rapid interruption of transmission remained the primary goal of the Committee, which expressed continued concern over recent health care worker infections and reaffirmed the importance of rigorously applying appropriate prevention and control measures…” (4/10).

Xinhua News: Ebola still a global public health emergency: WHO
“…The committee concluded that the outbreak, which claimed over 10,000 lives and infected more than 25,000 cases, … recommended that all previous temporary recommendations be extended. Additional health measures, such as quarantine of returning travelers, refusal of entry, cancellation of flights, and border closures, significantly interfere with international travel and transport and negatively impact both the response and recovery efforts, the committee added” (4/11).

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With Many U.S.-Built Ebola Treatment Units Empty, Health Officials Draw Lessons From Epidemic Response

New York Times: Empty Ebola Clinics in Liberia Are Seen as Misstep in U.S. Relief Effort
“…The [U.S. military’s] emphasis on constructing [Ebola] treatment centers — so widely championed last year — ended up having much less impact than the inexpensive, nimble measures taken by residents to halt the outbreak, many officials say. Liberia could be declared free of Ebola as early as next month. But with health officials warning that it is only a matter of time before another outbreak erupts in this region, they are drawing important lessons from the successes and shortcomings of the response by international and West African leaders…” (Onishi, 4/11).

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Partners In Health Staff Members Cite Safety Deficiencies At Government-Run Ebola Facilities In Sierra Leone, NYT Reports

New York Times: Pattern of Safety Lapses Where Group Worked to Battle Ebola Outbreak
“Partners in Health, a Boston-based charity dedicated to improving health care for people in poor countries, signed on to the Ebola fight last fall with high ambitions. … Now, a previously undisclosed inquiry by international health officials and interviews with employees and managers of the aid group describe a pattern of safety lapses at a government-run treatment center in Port Loko, Sierra Leone, where Partners in Health worked. Staff members at the charity also cited a confusing leadership structure at the site…” (Fink, 4/12).

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Guinea Ebola Vaccine Clinical Trial Holds Best Hope For Useful Data Amid Shrinking Epidemic, WHO Says

Reuters: Completing Ebola vaccine trials ‘a challenge’ as epidemic wanes
“Falling Ebola cases in West Africa make completing big clinical trials on experimental vaccines a challenge, with the best hope resting on a study in Guinea, the World Health Organization said on Friday. While the waning epidemic is good news for long-suffering populations in the region, it makes it harder for health care experts and drug companies to see if vaccines can protect people against the deadly fever…” (Nebehay, 4/10).

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News Outlets Highlight 60th Anniversary Of Salk Polio Vaccine, Report On Microneedle Patch Vaccine Delivery System

CNN: 60 years after a vaccine, new technology may finally eradicate polio
“Over the last few years, we’ve been close to eradicating worldwide polio without full success. However, a new medical technology, an easily applied microneedle patch, could be the key to that goal. The biggest challenge standing in the way of eradicating polio has involved the operational logistics of getting the vaccine to people who need it, especially in difficult areas plagued by violence or poverty…” (Strickland/Landau, 4/10).

Forbes: Polio Vaccine Found “Safe and Effective” 60 Years Ago: What Would Salk Think Today?
“It was 60 years ago [Saturday] that the nation heaved an enormous collective sigh of relief. The largest clinical trial for a vaccine in history had concluded, the data had been collected and analyzed, and the results were announced on April 12, 1955, coincidentally the ten-year anniversary of polio sufferer Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death: Jonas Salk’s inactivated polio vaccine was ‘safe, effective, and potent’…” (Haelle, 4/13).

International Business Times: World Would Be Polio-Free In 3 Years
“A microneedle patch applied to the skin could help eradicate polio within three years. The small round adhesive bandage is applied on the skin by anyone, there is no need for a highly trained professional to do it. The introduction of the patch comes exactly 60 years ago when Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was declared safe and effective…” (Hernandez, 4/13).

NPR: Jonas Salk’s Polio Vaccine Makes A Comeback
“The injectable polio vaccine marks its 60th birthday today. For many people, it seems like a relic — isn’t the oral version, not the injectable, the vaccine that’s supposed to end polio within a few years? But after being eclipsed by the oral polio vaccine, the injectable version has made a quiet comeback in some developed countries, including the U.S. And now the vaccine introduced by physician Jonas Salk in 1955 is re-emerging on the global level. Health experts believe it is key to eliminating the disease in the developing world…” (Silberner, 4/12).

VOA News: Only Three Countries Left With Polio
“Sixty years ago on April 12, Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was declared safe and effective. In just three years, the entire world could be polio free…” (Pearson, 4/9).

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Successful Palestinian Bid To Join WHO Could Affect U.N. Agency's U.S. Funding

Daily Beast: Could a Pro-Israel Congress Cripple the World Health Organization?
“The ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians could soon claim a new, unexpected victim: the global fight against Ebola and other pandemics. A looming international controversy — created, in part, by American laws — threatens to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars to the World Health Organization, already reeling from the effects of the recent Ebola pandemic. … The World Health Assembly meets next month, and if the Palestinians make a successful bid for membership, the United States would have no choice but to withdraw funding for the global health initiatives it currently funds…” (Mak, 4/12).

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WHO Seeks Input On 3 Global Health Strategies; Among Them, Viral Hepatitis Receives Least Attention

Devex: As WHO drafts its global health strategies, a need to reconsider viral hepatitis response
“The World Health Organization recently announced that it was seeking input on the three global health sector strategies — HIV and AIDS, viral hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infection — it was drafting until April 30. … Among the three health issues, viral hepatitis has arguably received the least attention. … It is a toll comparable to that of HIV and tuberculosis, and yet funding to combat viral hepatitis has significantly paled…” (Valerio, 4/10).

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Gilead Receives Criticism For Efforts To Keep Generic HCV Drug From Being Diverted To Developed Countries

Financial Times: Pharma combats diversion of cheap drugs
“…[A]s the first Indian-made generics [of Gilead’s hepatitis C drug Solvadi] start to roll off the production lines, Gilead is coming in for heavy criticism. Médecins Sans Frontières, the medical charity, is accusing the U.S. group of promoting overly-intrusive patient surveillance to stop the generic, called sofosbuvir, being diverted to patients in developed countries where the drug is more costly and tightly rationed by strained public health systems…” (Kazman, 4/12).

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U.S. Scientist Plans To Establish Vaccine Labs To Prevent Disease Outbreaks In Conflict Zones

VOA News: U.S. Scientist Works to Prevent Disease in Conflict Zones
“As bad as things are for people in conflict zones of the Middle East and North Africa, a U.S. health expert says things could get much worse. The breakdown in health infrastructure could open the way to catastrophic epidemics. … [Peter Hotez, who directs vaccine development at the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and serves as a U.S. science envoy,] is developing a plan to establish vaccine-producing laboratories, much like the one he operates in Houston, in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Morocco, all of which he said fit the right profile…” (Flakus, 4/10).

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Editorials and Opinions

Development Of Salk Polio Vaccine Holds Relevant Lessons For Tackling Disease On Global Scale

Newsweek: Let’s Celebrate the Man Who Conquered Polio
Sue Desmond-Hellman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“April 12 marks the 60th anniversary of the polio vaccine. The incredible story of Jonas Salk’s historic breakthrough deserves to be remembered — and it holds very relevant lessons for the world today. … Tackling diseases on a global scale — let alone eliminating them outright — is an audacious goal, and immensely complex in execution. … It requires developing a very effective treatment or cure, finding a way to get it to every person on the planet who needs it and, perhaps most difficult of all, navigating such issues as mistrust in novel medicines, cultural barriers, government instability, and funding gaps. … Working through problems of this scale can feel overwhelming. It requires a lot of patience and humility. But make no mistake — we are better prepared to do this now than at any other time in history thanks to the brilliant and creative minds getting involved. … Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a health worker, a student, a volunteer, an advocate — we all must play a part if we want to change history…” (4/11).

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Funding, Monitoring Of SDGs Need Equal Attention To Wording Of Goals

The Guardian: Sustainable development won’t happen without the means to implement it
Jonathan Glennie, director of policy and research at Save the Children

“…If poor countries have to come to the U.N. every year and report on progress on education, health, and so on, then their richer counterparts should follow suit. They should come and report on how they have implemented their financing promises — from aid to tax evasion, climate finance to unfair debts and private sector regulation — because one without the other will no longer wash. Instead of spending all their precious time fine-tuning the precise wording of the various documents to be presented to the world this year, negotiators — and those in civil society who seek to influence them — need to spend just as much time working on how they will be monitored. … The world doesn’t need another round of unkept financial promises…” (4/13)

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Local Communities, International Organizations Must Continue Cooperation To End Ebola, Improve Health Systems In West Africa

Huffington Post: Ebola: The Fight to Reach Zero and the Road to Recovery
Lindsay Coates, executive vice president of InterAction

“…With the impeding rainy season, it is imperative that partners continue to address Ebola outbreaks in remote areas while constructing strong health care systems to prevent future outbreaks. While the priority is getting to zero cases, host national and local governments, NGOs, and international institutions should remain well-coordinated and respect, understand, and support the existing assets that local communities have to combat disease in varying contexts. Through collaborative, integrated efforts, we can rid the disease while building a road to sustainable recovery…” (4/10).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

USAID Official Discusses Sexual, Reproductive Health, Rights And SDGs In Wilson Center Podcast

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: Ellen Starbird: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Undergird Success of SDGs
Schuyler Null, editor of New Security Beat and a writer/editor for the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program and Maternal Health Initiative, writes, “‘Advancing reproductive health and family planning can positively influence and advance a number of sustainable development priorities,’ says Director of USAID’s Office of Population and Reproductive Health Ellen Starbird in this week’s podcast…” (4/10).

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USAID-Supported Journalist Team In Guinea Works To Spread Ebola Information

USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: How Guinea’s Journalists Are Fighting To Win the War Against Ebola
Carol Han, the strategic communications team leader with USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, discusses the efforts of a team of journalists to produce “Ebola Chrono,” a radio show meant to spread awareness and information about Ebola in Guinea and supported by USAID (4/10).

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Guttmacher Fact Sheet Examines U.S. International Family Planning Assistance

Guttmacher Institute: Just the Numbers: The Impact of U.S. International Family Planning Assistance
This fact sheet examines the benefits of U.S. international family planning assistance and the potential consequences of cutting such aid (4/10).

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CUGH Conference Sessions Address Innovative Financing In Global Health

Center for Strategic & International Studies’s “Smart Global Health”: Innovative Financing and its Role in Global Health
Sahil Angelo, program coordinator and research assistant for the Global Health Policy Center at CSIS, reports from the March 2015 Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) Conference, where panelists discussed challenges and innovations in financing global health (4/10).

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Brief Examines 10 Reasons To Decriminalize Sex Work

Open Society Foundations: Ten Reasons to Decriminalize Sex Work
“…This document provides ten reasons why decriminalizing sex work is the best policy for promoting health and human rights of sex workers, their families, and communities. Removing criminal prosecution of sex work goes hand-in-hand with recognizing sex work as work and protecting the rights of sex workers through workplace health and safety standards. Decriminalizing sex work means sex workers are more likely to live without stigma, social exclusion, and fear of violence” (4/10).

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IHME Data Visualizations Illustrate Zambia's Progress In Breastfeeding

Humanosphere: Visualizing Zambia’s success with breastfeeding
Katie Leach-Kemon and Nancy Fullman, policy translation specialists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, use data visualizations to illustrate progress to increase breastfeeding rates in Zambia (4/10).

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