KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Coverage Continues On U.N. Panel's Endorsement To Use Untested Ebola Drugs

News outlets continue coverage on the U.N.’s endorsement of and ethics around the use of untested Ebola drugs.

Associated Press/Washington Post: U.N.: OK to use untested Ebola drugs in outbreak
“The World Health Organization declared it’s ethical to use untested drugs and vaccines in the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa, although the tiny supply of one experimental treatment has been depleted and it could be many months until more is available…” (Cheng et al., 8/12).

The Hill: More Ebola drugs may be months away
“It will take months to produce even a small batch of a promising new drug to counter Ebola, according to U.S. health officials…” (Al-Faruque, 8/12).

The Hill: WHO endorses use of untested Ebola drugs
“The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said it has endorsed the use of experimental drugs to help treat victims of the Ebola virus, which more than 1,800 people have contracted in several countries in Africa…” (Shabad, 8/12).

Science Magazine: The other Ebola debate: What about existing drugs?
“An ethical panel convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) broke new ground [Tuesday] when it said that using experimental, unapproved drugs or vaccines in the current Ebola outbreak is ethical– assuming a set of criteria is met. There is a big problem, however: None of the experimental therapies and vaccines appears to be available in quantities large enough to treat the thousands in need. One of the issues that needs to be debated is how to fairly distribute the scant resources, the panel said in a statement…” (Enserink, 8/12).

Science Magazine: Using experimental drugs and vaccines against Ebola is ethical, WHO panel says
“An ethics panel at the World Health Organization (WHO) has given a green light to treating Ebola patients with experimental drugs for the deadly virus…” (Kupferschmidt, 8/12).

Scientific American: U.N. Panel Says It Is Ethical to Dole Out Experimental Ebola Drugs
“Even as the Ebola crisis rages onward in West Africa, a World Health Organization panel concluded on August 11 that offering patients promising experimental Ebola drugs with unknown side effects and efficacy would be ethical…” (Maron, 8/12).

VOA News: WHO Endorses Use of Experimental Ebola Drugs
“The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental drugs for people who have Ebola, a deadly virus that already has claimed more than 1,000 lives in West Africa…” (Pearson, 8/12).

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Canada To Donate Quantity Of Experimental Ebola Vaccine To WHO For Use In Africa

Reuters: Exclusive: Canada to donate its own Ebola vaccine to WHO for use in Africa
“Canada will donate a small quantity of an experimental Ebola vaccine developed in its government lab to the World Health Organization for use in Africa, the country’s health minister said on Tuesday…” (Nickel/Begley, 8/12).

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Sierra Leone, Liberia Struggle To Respond To Ebola Outbreak

News outlets report on the challenges surrounding the response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Agence France-Presse: Sierra Leone appeals for $18m to plug Ebola funding gap
“Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma appealed to the international community on Tuesday for help filling an $18 million (13 million euro) shortfall in funding to battle the Ebola epidemic devastating the country…” (8/12).

Agence France-Presse: Sierra Leone seeks experimental Ebola drug: govt
“Sierra Leone said on Tuesday it would seek a shipment of a controversial experimental drug to fight an Ebola outbreak which has killed 315 in the impoverished West African nation. The ministry of health told AFP it had prepared a letter to send to the American manufacturer of ZMapp, an unlicensed serum being made available in neighboring Liberia…” (Johnson, 8/12).

IRIN: Ebola response up but huge gaps remain
“While Ebola treatment and containment efforts are gradually gaining pace in Sierra Leone and Liberia, there are still far too few health workers, contact tracers, and community monitors on the ground to keep up with the disease’s spread, particularly in urban areas, say Health Ministry staff and aid workers…” (8/12).

The Telegraph: Ebola outbreak is overwhelming health services, warns top U.S. medic
“The scale of the West African Ebola outbreak in Liberia is completely overwhelming the capacity of specialist isolation units that treat victims, a senior U.S. health official assessing the crisis has warned…” (Freeman, 8/12).

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Nigeria Races To Contain Spread Of Ebola

News outlets report on the response to the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria.

Reuters: Third person dies of Ebola fever in Nigeria
“A member of the West African regional body Ecowas has become the third person in Nigeria to die of Ebola fever, Ecowas said on Wednesday…” (Eboh/Onuah, 8/13).

Reuters: Nigeria races to halt Ebola spread in overcrowded Lagos
“…As Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria has a better health system than the other West African countries which are among the poorest in the world, and Ebola doesn’t spread through the air or water supply as with many other epidemic diseases. But health experts — who are trying to overcome superstition and public ignorance about Ebola as well as the disease itself — say there is now only a short opportunity to find and lock down other infected people before the outbreak in the city of 21 million gets out of hand…” (Cocks, 8/13).

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West African Countries Use Cordon To Contain Ebola Outbreak

New York Times: Using a Tactic Unseen in a Century, Countries Cordon Off Ebola-Racked Areas
“The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is so out of control that governments there have revived a disease-fighting tactic not used in nearly a century: the ‘cordon sanitaire,’ in which a line is drawn around the infected area and no one is allowed out…” (McNeil, 8/12).

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Ethical Questions On Use, Distribution Of Ebola Drugs Remain

New York Times: Opting Against Ebola Drug for Ill African Doctor
“The doctor who had been leading Sierra Leone’s battle against the Ebola outbreak was now fighting for his own life, and his international colleagues faced a fateful decision: whether to give him a drug that had never before been tested on people. … The provision of ZMapp, which is in extremely limited supply, to foreign aid workers has raised broad ethical questions about the disparities in treatment between white outsiders and the Africans who form the overwhelming majority of victims in the epidemic…” (Pollack, 8/12).

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Uganda National Academy Of Sciences President Speaks About Anti-Gay Law

Science Magazine: Ugandan academy president speaks out on anti-gay law
“…In the days before [Uganda President Yoweri] Museveni signed the [anti-gay] bill, the Uganda National Academy of Sciences (UNAS) avoided being drawn into the controversy by declining a request from the government to conduct a rushed review of the scientific evidence about the causes of homosexuality. Instead, it will team up with the Academy of Science of South Africa for an in-depth study expected to be completed next year, says UNAS President Nelson Sewankambo. … Sewankambo, an internal medicine specialist and head of Makerere University College of Health Sciences who has spent years strengthening science capacity in Africa, spoke with ScienceInsider on the sidelines of a U.S. National Academy of Sciences meeting…” (Stone, 8/12).

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The Guardian Examines Challenges Of Providing Humanitarian Aid In Syria

The Guardian: Permits, politics and patience: the reality of getting aid into Syria
“Humanitarian workers are being frustrated by violence, bureaucracy, and an obstinate government as they try to diminish the impact of the war on civilians…” (Black, 8/12).

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Africa's Child Population To Grow Significantly

BBC: Africa’s young to swell to 1bn by 2050, says UNICEF
“Africa’s under-18 population will swell by two-thirds to reach almost a billion by 2050, a new U.N. report says. The findings show a ‘massive shift in the world’s child population towards Africa,’ it says. Its projections indicate that by 2050, about 40% of all children will be in Africa, up from around 10% in 1950…” (8/12).

The Globe and Mail: Population boom: 40% of all humans will be African by end of century
“A seismic shift in demographic trends is transforming the world into an increasingly African place, creating huge economic opportunities, as well as new risks for political instability and extreme poverty, a United Nations agency says…” (York, 8/12).

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U.N. Stresses Importance Of Mental Health Among Youth, Commemorates International Youth Day

News outlets report on the U.N.’s call for more efforts to address mental health among youth as the body commemorated International Youth Day on Tuesday.

U.N. News Centre: Celebrating Youth Day, U.N. stresses importance of good mental health
“Each year 20 per cent of the world’s young people experience a mental health condition, the United Nations reported in a new publication launched to coincide with International Youth Day which this year shines a spotlight on the importance of mental health…” (8/12).

Xinhua News/GlobalPost: U.N. chief urges efforts to support youth with mental health conditions
“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Tuesday called for wide-ranging efforts to raise awareness about the importance of investing in and supporting young people with mental health conditions…” (8/12).

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Gaza's Health System Heavily Damaged, Needs Donor Support

U.N. News Centre: Gaza hospitals, health facilities need urgent donor support: U.N. agency
“Hospitals and health facilities in Gaza are in dire need of support from the international donor community, a senior representative of the United Nations health agency today said following a visit to the Gaza Strip and Ramallah to survey the infrastructure there…” (8/12).

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U.N. Threatens S. Sudan Leaders With Sanctions Amid Looming Famine; U.S. To Give Emergency Food Aid

News outlets report on growing concerns over the South Sudan famine and the U.S. and U.N. responses.

Agence France-Presse: U.N. threatens S. Sudan leaders with sanctions
“U.N. Security Council envoys warned South Sudan’s warring leaders they would face sanctions if a civil war that has pushed the young nation to the brink of famine does not stop…” (Wudu, 8/12).

Reuters: Concerns over South Sudan arms reports as famine looms: U.N.
“There are reports that South Sudan’s warring factions are arming themselves for another bout of fighting, a delegation from the U.N. Security Council said on Tuesday, threatening both sides with sanctions amid growing fears of a man-made famine…” (Odera/Jorgic, 8/13).

VOA News: U.S. to Give S. Sudan $180 Million for Food
“The United States will give South Sudan approximately $180 million in emergency food aid to help avert famine, the White House said. National Security Adviser Susan Rice announced the funding Tuesday, saying South Sudan is facing ‘the worst food security situation in the world’…” (8/12).

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Huffington Post Profiles Child Survivor Of Ebola

Huffington Post: Why This ‘Miracle’ Boy Who Beat Ebola Symbolizes Hope For Sierra Leone
“While the unprecedented spread of Ebola continues plaguing West Africa, an image of one boy has captured a wave of hope for the people of Sierra Leone. … Vandy, a 7-year-old who contracted the virus more than a month ago, is now Ebola-free after struggling through serious symptoms of the potentially fatal virus, according to UNICEF…” (Couch, 8/12).

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Editorials and Opinions

Reforming India's Food Aid Program Is Good Solution

Forbes: India’s Welcome Reform Of Its Ghastly Food Aid Program
Tim Worstall, fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London

“India is making essential changes to the way that it operates its food aid program for the poor. Essentially, instead of trying to provide food itself to poor people, [the government plans to] give them money so that they can purchase food. … There’s two different arguments here. The first is simply efficiency: government is not known for its great efficiency anywhere in the world. And the task of purchasing food, collecting it all, and then distributing it back out again to those deserving poor is done in India just about as well as you’d expect. And my word, there’s a vast amount of corruption and theft that happens in that system too. … This change isn’t going to be done overnight; nothing in India is ever that simple. … I never tire of pointing out [that] the problem of poverty is that poor people don’t have enough money. The obvious solution is therefore to give them money to alleviate their poverty. This does the job more effectively than any other possible system of aiding them” (8/12).

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Ebola Outbreak Draws Attention To Need For Better Health Care System

The Guardian: Ebola epidemic heightened by poor facilities and distrust of healthcare
Matthew Clark, director of The Welbodi Partnership

“In June and July approximately 5,000 women and children in Sierra Leone died of diseases. The vast majority of these deaths were avoidable. … The Ebola outbreak in the country killed 233 people during the same period, and the story made headlines around the world. Why do the relatively small number of people dying of Ebola occupy the world’s media while the thousands of women and children who die of other illnesses barely get mentioned? Is it an attempt to raise awareness, mobilize resources, and halt the epidemic? Or is sensationalism to blame? … Let us hope Sierra Leone never has to tackle another Ebola outbreak. But it would be foolish to assume that the future does not hold similar challenges, be those infectious disease epidemics or a surge in the burden of non-communicable diseases. There is one lesson we should learn from the Ebola outbreak: protecting the health of the poor requires an effective and accountable health care system” (8/13).

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Proliferation Of High-Profile Conflicts Results In Overload For Aid Agencies, NGOs

The Guardian: Gaza, Ebola, Iraq … are we approaching disaster overload?
Sam Jones, reporter

“Reflecting on the responses to the number of man-made emergencies detonating or still smoldering around the world earlier this year, from Syria to Ukraine and from Nigeria and South Sudan to Central African Republic (CAR), Kofi Annan appeared uncharacteristically weary. … ‘You sometimes have a feeling that the global community — and even the big powers — can only focus on one crisis at a time,’ the former U.N. secretary general said. … That was three months ago: before Ebola; before Isis’s genocidal march through Iraq; before the downing of MH17, and before war erupted in Gaza. Add to that tally the food crisis likely to affect 14 million people in nine East African countries, and you wonder what Annan would say today. … [F]or some, the number, scale, and complexity of the crises now vying for political prominence and publicity are unheard of…” (8/13).

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First 1,000 Days Will Shape Child's Nutrition, Education, Future

Huffington Post: 1,000 Days
Ed Gragert, director of the Global Campaign for Education-US

“…The Global Campaign for Education-US (GCE-US) is committed to ensuring that all young people worldwide have access to a quality education. But, unless a young person enters school healthy and ready to learn, with both a preschool education and a nutritious first 1000 days, they will find themselves behind from the outset and may never catch up with their healthier peers. … As we join with A World At School and embark on the final 500 days of the current Millennium Development Goals, we know there are still 58 million primary-school aged children out of school and as the world strives to get them an education, many will have needs arising from deficiencies from their first 1000 days. But, surely, if all of us together have the strength of many 1000 li horses, we can accomplish much in 500 days if we work together and, remember, the picture of a healthy, educated child is worth a thousand words” (8/12).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Department of State Issues Fact Sheet On U.S. Response To Ebola

U.S. Department of State: Response to the Ebola Virus
The U.S. Department of State issued a fact sheet outlining the U.S. government’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa (8/12).

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Better Development Data Needed For Africa

Project Syndicate: Africa’s Necessary Data Revolution
Amanda Glassman, senior fellow and director of Global Health Policy at the Center for Global Development, writes about the lack of accurate data in Sub-Saharan Africa, the underlying political and systemic challenges that cause this lack of data, and suggests a potential strategy to achieve better data (8/12).

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'Science Speaks' Examines Discussions On WHO Ebola Drug Recommendations

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: As Ebola toll grows, WHO calls for experimental drug use, and ‘lessons of AIDS’ play out
Antigone Barton, writer and editor of “Science Speaks” and senior communications officer at the Center for Global Health Policy, examines discussions around the WHO’s recommendation for the use of Ebola drugs (8/12).

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Post-2015 Agenda Must Address Gender Equality, Empowering Women

Devex: We can’t put off to tomorrow what needs to be done today
John Hendra, deputy executive director for policy and program at U.N. Women, discusses progress toward MDG 3, what still remains to be achieved, and what should be addressed in the post-2015 development agenda (8/13).

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GHTC Highlights Global Health Innovation Takeaways From U.S.-Africa Summit

Global Health Technology Coalition’s “Breakthroughs”: Four key takeaways from the Africa Leaders Summit
Ashley Bennett, senior policy associate at the Global Health Technologies Coalition, discusses key takeaways from the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit around global health innovation (8/12).

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Improving Sexual, Reproductive Health In Kenya Will Have Positive Implications

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Improving sexual and reproductive health and rights for young adolescents in Kenya
Renate Baehr, executive director of DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung), discusses the importance of improving access and attitudes around sexual and reproductive health and rights in Kenya and highlights projects that address these issues (8/12).

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IntraHealth Calls For More Investment In Health Systems To Respond To Ebola

IntraHealth’s “Vital”: Ebola Outbreak Underscores Need for Stronger Frontline Health Workforce in West Africa
In a blog post, IntraHealth International commends health workers and agencies responding to the Ebola outbreak, calls on countries to embrace the WHO’s International Health Regulations, and calls on the U.S. government and NGOs to intensify support (8/11).

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