KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Media Outlets Examine Challenges To Ebola Response In DRC

National Geographic: The world’s second-biggest Ebola outbreak is still raging. Here’s why.
“…Now, teams trying to track the spread of the disease are finding fresh cases with no obvious connection to previous patients, leading some health specialists to worry that the end of this epidemic is nowhere in sight. Efforts to contain the virus also have been hindered by the path of the outbreak, which is spreading through areas marked by a deep distrust of foreigners, and therefore more hesitance to seek treatment. As well, ongoing political strife and violence are tearing through the region — including assaults aimed specifically at Ebola responders — and making it difficult for aid workers to corral the spread of the outbreak…” (Drake, 4/19).

NBC News: Congo’s Ebola response threatened by conspiracy theories, rumors
“…In addition to combating a lethal virus, health workers are having to dispel rumors that the disease is manufactured and that the millions of dollars spent on the response are part of a money-making scheme derisively referred to as the ‘Ebola business.’ ‘We have lost the trust of the community,’ Tariq Riebl of the nonprofit International Rescue Committee told NBC News from Goma…” (Joselow/Givetash, 4/20).

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WHO Epidemiologist Killed In 1 Of 2 Attacks On Ebola Treatment Centers In DRC; ISIS Militants Move Into Area Affected By Outbreak

Associated Press: New attack on Ebola center in Congo; 1 militia member killed
“Militia members attacked an Ebola treatment center hours after another attack killed a staffer with the World Health Organization, a Congolese official said Saturday. … Such violence has deeply complicated efforts to contain what has become the second-deadliest Ebola virus outbreak in history, with the number of new cases jumping each time treatment and prevention work is disrupted…” (Maliro, 4/20).

New York Times: ISIS Claims First Attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo
“The Islamic State has claimed its first attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo, planting a flag in a region already troubled by violence and an outbreak of the Ebola virus. … The attack came in an area near the border of Uganda that is already beset with an outbreak of Ebola that health workers have struggled to contain because of a range of reasons, including violent attacks on treatment centers. A doctor who worked for the World Health Organization was killed on Friday in an attack on a hospital in Butembo, according to the organization and the town’s mayor, Sylvain Mbusa Kanyamanda…” (Wembi/Goldstein, 4/19).

Reuters: Militiamen kill senior WHO official in attack on Congo Ebola center
“…The outbreak is now spreading at its fastest rate since being declared last August, due largely to a spate of attacks by militiamen and others distrustful of the international response. … The series of attacks since February against Ebola treatment centers has hastened the spread of the virus and led some first responders to pull out of the area…” (Mahamba et al., 4/19).

Washington Times: Attackers kill Ebola worker in Democratic Republic of Congo: WHO
“…WHO said Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, who is from Cameroon, died and two additional persons were injured at Butembo University Hospital. ‘We are outraged by this attack — health workers and health facilities must never be targets,’ said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus. WHO said it is still gathering information on the nature of the attack, the latest in a series of violent incidents in the part of DRC that is battling the second-worst Ebola outbreak on record…” (Howell, 4/19).

Additional coverage of the attacks on Ebola treatment centers is available from Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Axios, CIDRAP News, Deutsche Welle, U.N. News, and VOA News.

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Cyclone-Hit Mozambique Needs Humanitarian Assistance, U.N. Says; IMF Approves $118.2M In Assistance To Help Country Rebuild

New York Times: Mozambique Cyclone Wiped Out the Nation’s Food. Now Aid is in Short Supply.
“…The tropical cyclone known as Idai, which barreled through southern Africa last month, ravaged one of the poorest corners of the planet. In Mozambique, which bore its brunt, it leveled 110,000 homes, inundated entire towns, and left a vast swath of rich farmland waterlogged or smeared in mud. … The cyclone wiped out the main source of food in a country where nearly half the population already lived below the poverty line. … In the weeks since the cyclone, a vast international aid campaign has swung into action. … But the outpouring of support has only nipped at the short-term needs. Cyclone Idai cost Mozambique as much as $773 million in direct economic losses, as estimated by the World Bank. … As of Saturday, $74 million had been raised toward the U.N.’s goal for Mozambique…” (Walsh, 4/20).

Reuters: IMF gives Mozambique $118 million for Cyclone Idai rebuilding
“The International Monetary Fund will grant Mozambique a $118.2 million credit facility to help it rebuild infrastructure after a devastating cyclone that killed hundreds of people and flattened whole villages, the lender said on Friday…” (Toyana, 4/19).

VOA News: U.N.: Cyclone Survivors in Mozambique Need Urgent Humanitarian Aid
“The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) says it plans to scale up its emergency food and nutritional operation in Mozambique to reach 1.7 million people in four provinces hardest-hit by the recent Cyclone Idai…” (Schlein, 4/19).

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USAID Launches Effort To Clean Up Agent Orange Site In Vietnam

Agence France-Presse/VOA News: USAID Launches Latest Cleanup of Agent Orange Site
“The U.S. launched on Saturday a $183 million cleanup at a former Vietnam storage site for Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant used in the nations’ bitter war, which years later is still blamed for severe birth defects, cancers, and disabilities. … Hanoi says up to 3 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange, and that 1 million suffer grave health repercussions today — including at least 150,000 children with birth defects. … While U.S. officials have never admitted direct links between Agent Orange and birth defects, USAID on Saturday also issued a ‘memorandum of intent’ to work with government agencies to improve the lives of people with disabilities in seven Vietnamese provinces” (4/20).

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Group Launches Letter-Writing Campaign To WHO Calling For Taiwan's Participation At WHA

Focus Taiwan: ‘One person, one letter’ WHA campaign launched
“A group in Taiwan has launched a campaign to call for Taiwan’s participation in the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA) conference despite the likelihood that it will be shut out from the meeting under China’s pressure. … To support Taiwan’s bid to participate, private group LaiPhauTe (狸長辦公室) launched the ‘one person, one letter’ campaign on April 18 to get Taiwanese to bombard WHO headquarters with paper or electronic letters to push for Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHA…” (Ming-hsuan/Lim, 4/21).

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NPR Examines New Study Looking At Risks, Benefits Of HIV Treatment Linked To Possible Fatal Birth Defects

NPR: A Promising Anti-HIV Drug Poses A Dilemma
“…[A new study published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine] estimated what could happen if millions of poor HIV-positive African women of child-bearing age were given the new, more effective drug [that in a separate study was associated with an increased risk of fatal birth defects among babies born to women taking the drug when they conceived]. How many babies might be harmed? On the other hand, if the more effective drug were withheld, how many adult women would suffer health consequences? It has become a complicated equation, calling attention to a larger problem: How do very poor countries balance the health of women with the health of the babies they might bear? … What [the researchers] found were difficult trade-offs. The newer drug would save thousands of women’s lives and halt the spread of HIV to tens of thousands people — but at the cost of fatal brain defects in a few thousand infants…” (Brink, 4/19).

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More News In Global Health

Agence France-Presse: Yemen risks ‘massive resurgence’ of cholera: Oxfam (4/19).

Bloomberg: Cholera Hits Kenyan Capital on Shortage of Clean Water: Report (Doya, 4/20).

The Guardian: ‘The harder you look the more you find’: Nepal’s hidden leprosy (Ratcliffe, 4/22).

Health Policy Watch: DNDi: ‘Bench-To-Bedside’ Approach Needed For Drug & Vaccine Response To Global Health Crises (Fletcher, 4/18).

Homeland Preparedness News: New study suggests mass drug administrations to protect against malaria (Galford, 4/19).

New York Times: The Revolutionary Force Behind Sudan’s Protest Movement? Doctors (Goldstein, 4/20).

The Telegraph: No fly in the ointment: the lotion protecting women and children from malaria (Newey, 4/20).

VOA News: Measles Could Be Eradicated. Instead, It’s Making A Comeback (Pearson, 4/22).

VOA News: IRC Urges New Approach to Malnutrition in S. Sudan (Van Dam, 4/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Ambassador To U.N. Can Help Refocus Development Efforts To More Effectively Address SDGs

Boston Globe: U.N. ambassador can reset development agenda
Bjørn Lomborg, president and founder of the Copenhagen Consensus Center

“America’s new United Nations ambassador, Kelly Craft, has an opportunity to help refocus global development efforts, using U.S. clout to ensure every dollar spent does more to help people and the planet. Craft is taking her position at a pivotal time, four years after the ratification of the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs … With little more than one decade left, implementation desperately needs shaking up. … Craft should call on all nations to prioritize the most powerful targets — and the United States should lead by example. … The U.S. could help by pushing for more transparency on which targets will deliver the most benefit for every rupee, shilling, peso, or dollar spent. A starting point is the list of 19 best-buy targets identified by Nobel laureate economists for [the] Copenhagen Consensus. … The Nobel laureates found that investment in child nutrition has incredible results … Tuberculosis requires the world’s attention. … [F]ocusing on the elimination of violence against women and girls is vital for both moral and economic reasons. … Expanding contraception and family planning access is also important. … The development agenda needs an overhaul. The Nobel laureates found that money spent on the 19 most powerful targets would achieve the same as quadrupling global aid spending. That would be an incredibly powerful legacy for the new ambassador” (4/22).

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Governments Must Offer Incentives, Find Creative Market Solutions For Antibiotic Development

Financial Times: We ignore the disaster in the antibiotics market at our peril
Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust

“…Decades of disinvestment have left perilously few companies active in antibiotic development. Those remaining are often dependent on support from philanthropic or public funders. … The tragedy is not that investors have lost their money. Rather, it is the signal that there is no viable route to market for new antibiotics, however valuable they may be to society. Capital-starved smaller companies will fold. Innovation will die on the vine. Money already invested by governments and charities will be squandered. Despite agreement about what is wrong, our political leaders have chosen not to address the problem. This is unacceptable. Governments must send an immediate signal to companies and investors that the future is not as bleak as the present. … If leaders are afraid to deliver … market incentives, we need to offer a plan B — finding creative new models to stabilize the antibiotics market and stimulate private sector innovation without exposing public funders to all the risk. If we do not act, the biggest losers will not be the investors, staff, and shareholders of companies …, but patients and the public” (4/21).

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Health Workers Should Ensure Planetary, Personal Health Addressed Together

Salon: The planet is the patient now: how doctors and nurses are the front-line solution to climate change
Kinari Webb, founder of Health In Harmony, and Courtney Howard, board member of the Global Climate and Health Alliance and emergency physician

“…Despite the hard-won public health gains of the past century, we are rapidly faced with the negative health impacts of degraded air quality, threatened food production, new infectious disease exposures, decreasing access to fresh water, and more frequent natural disasters. Humanity is, consequently, more and more susceptible to malnutrition, mental health illness, injury, and disease. In other words, the health of human civilization is at risk as humans dismantle the natural, ecological systems upon which our very civilization depends. In its timely call-to-action, published in The Lancet medical journal, the Planetary Health Alliance is calling on doctors of the world to act on planetary health, and be planetary healers. … This Earth Day, patients and doctors alike should be thinking about climate health in conjunction with their personal health. … They can advocate for healthy, low-carbon energy systems, and for the protection of urban green spaces, and can encourage patients to benefit from the healing effect of being in nature. By becoming planetary healers, health care providers globally stand on the frontlines of optimizing the health of not only this generation of patients — but of all those yet to come” (4/21).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

FPiF Piece Examines DRC Ebola Outbreak, Including Roles Of WHO, U.S.

Foreign Policy in Focus: The Next Ebola Epidemic
William Minter, editor of AfricaFocus Bulletin, examines the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), including the application of lessons learned from the West African Ebola outbreak that ended in 2016. Minter also addresses the response to the current DRC outbreak from the international community, including by the World Health Organization and the U.S., as well as the potential implications of the Trump administration’s FY 2020 budget proposal for global health more broadly (4/19).

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CFR Expert Discusses Success Of Experimental Ebola Vaccine In DRC

Council on Foreign Relations’ “Africa in Transition”: The Ebola Vaccine Is Highly Effective in Eastern Congo
John Campbell, Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa Policy Studies at CFR, discusses the success of an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by Merck & Co being used in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) outbreak. Campbell says the vaccine’s results are “unalloyed good news” (4/19).

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U.N. Dispatch Discusses New WHO Measles Data

U.N. Dispatch: There Has Been a 300% Increase in Measles Cases This Year
Mark Leon Goldberg, executive editor of U.N. Dispatch, discusses recent World Health Organization (WHO) data showing a significant increase in measles globally. Goldberg also quotes from a piece by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and writes, “It is not usual that the heads of UNICEF and the World Health Organization would team up to jointly warn the world about a fast spreading disease that stalks children. But a sudden surge in measles cases in the first three months of 2019 is also unprecedented” (4/19).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID Report Explores Need To Stimulate Private Capital For Global Health Innovation

USAID Center for Innovation and Impact: Unleashing Private Capital for Global Health Innovation
“This report, Unleashing Private Capital for Global Health Innovation, is our contribution to understanding both innovator challenges in successfully attracting private capital to scale their solutions and investor challenges to deploying more private capital. We consulted with over 60 innovators, investors, development partners, academics, and other ecosystem stakeholders in order to better understand the needs and opportunities in this space. We hope this report will serve to not only inform the global community about the complexities of innovating and investing in global health, but will also put research into action by enabling the creation of a facility aimed at innovators and investors in order to drive greater innovation, greater private investment, and ultimately greater social impact,” the report’s introduction states (4/19).

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