KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

More Than 1 Million People In Ebola 'Hot Zone,' Says U.N.; News Outlets Provide Updates On Cases, Deaths

According to the U.N., more than one million people are affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, residing in the “hot zone of disease transmission,” and there are now 1,975 cases and 1,069 deaths. News outlets report on this announcement and note a new case in Nigeria.

U.N. News Centre: Ebola: U.N. health agency says more than 1 million people affected by outbreak
“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today convened a United Nations system-wide coordination meeting in response to the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which is now affecting more than 1 million people in the so-called ‘hot zone of disease transmission’ on the borders of the three countries most impacted by the disease. According to the latest update issued today by the World Health Organization (WHO), between 10 and 11 August, 128 new cases of Ebola virus disease, as well as 56 deaths, were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, bringing the total number of cases to 1,975 and deaths to 1,069…” (8/13).

Agence France-Presse: Nigeria fears Ebola spread to east by infected nurse
“A nurse who contracted Ebola at a Lagos hospital travelled to the eastern part of Nigeria before falling sick, raising fears of new infections outside the city, officials said Wednesday…” (8/13).

CNN: WHO: Ebola cases near 2,000, with more than half dead
“The deadliest Ebola outbreak in recorded history has now infected nearly 2,000 people, with more than half of those killed by the disease, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. Ebola is believed to have infected 1,975 people in four West African countries since the outbreak began this year, and 1,069 of them have died, the WHO said. The numbers reflect the WHO’s count as of Monday…” (Hanna/Ly, 8/13).

The Hill: Ebola toll hits 1,069 in West Africa
“The world’s worst outbreak of the Ebola virus has killed 1,069 people in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported Wednesday. The update reflects 56 new deaths as cases of the disease worsen in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria. A total of 1,975 cases have been confirmed since March…” (Viebeck, 8/13).

Reuters: Nigeria reports one more Ebola case, 11 in total
“Nigeria has confirmed 11 cases of Ebola, after a doctor who treated the Liberian man who brought the disease to Lagos fell ill, the health minister said on Thursday…” (Eboh/Cocks, 8/14).

Reuters: WHO reports 128 new Ebola cases, 45 deaths in West Africa
“The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday reported 128 new Ebola cases and 56 deaths in West Africa in the two days to August 11, raising the death toll from the worst ever outbreak of the disease to 1,069…” (Nebehay, 8/13).

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Second Ebola Doctor In Sierra Leone Dies

New York Times: Sierra Leone Again Loses a Top Doctor to Ebola
“A second leading Sierra Leone doctor has succumbed to the Ebola epidemic sweeping across West Africa, dealing another blow to the country’s faltering efforts to stem the disease…” (Nossiter, 8/13).

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Experimental Ebola Drug Arrives In Liberia; Officials Decide How To Allocate Limited Supply

News outlets report on the arrival of an experimental Ebola drug in Liberia and discuss how the limited doses of the drug will be allocated.

Associated Press/New York Times: Liberia Gets Ebola Drug; Ponders Who Should Get It
“Liberian officials faced an excruciating choice Thursday: deciding which handful of Ebola patients will receive an experimental drug that could prove life-saving, ineffective or even harmful. ZMapp, the untested Ebola drug, arrived in the West African country late Wednesday. Assistant Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah said three or four people would begin getting it Thursday. The government had previously said two doctors would receive the treatment, but it was unclear who else would…” (8/14).

Reuters: Consignment of experimental Ebola drug arrives in Liberia
“A consignment of experimental Ebola drugs arrived by plane in Liberia on Wednesday to treat two doctors suffering from the virus, which has killed more than 1,000 people across four West African countries…” (MacDougall, 8/14).

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Companies, Governments Rush To Test Ebola Drugs, Vaccine; U.S. Government Funds Company To Advance Experimental Drug

News outlets report on the activities of drug companies and governments to speed up research and development on Ebola drugs and vaccines, including the U.S. government’s funding of a pharmaceutical company to further development on a particular experimental drug.

The Hill: Governments scramble to develop Ebola drugs
“Governments and drugmakers are scrambling to develop new treatments for the Ebola virus now that the World Health Organization (WHO) has eased restrictions on untested vaccines. The United States government is putting cash into experimental treatments, and on Tuesday, gave $4.1 million to the drugmaker BioCryst to advance its Ebola drug BCX4430, the company announced Wednesday…” (Al-Faruque, 8/13).

New York Times: As Ebola’s Toll Rises, Drug Makers Race to Test Medicines
“Because outbreaks are sporadic and mainly confined to Africa, the Ebola virus has not been a priority for profit-seeking pharmaceutical companies. But with the largest ever Ebola outbreak now having killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa, drug companies and doctors are scrambling to see whether any existing medicines or drugs under development can help stem the epidemic…” (Pollack, 8/13).

Reuters: U.S. government advances development of BioCryst’s potential Ebola drug
“BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. said the U.S. government exercised options to test the company’s antiviral drug in humans and non-primates as a treatment for hemorrhagic fever viruses such as Ebola. The biotechnology company’s shares rose as much as 4.4 percent in morning trade. BioCryst said it would receive $4.1 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to advance development of an intramuscular formulation of its drug, BCX4430…” (Grover, 8/13).

Bloomberg: First Use of Ebola Vaccine Is at Least a Month Away
“A vaccine that could help protect medical workers as they fight Ebola in West Africa, even just after contamination, may take at least a month to be available as global officials weigh its safety…” (Bennett/Langreth/Chen, 8/13).

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'Impossible Dilemma' Posed By Use Of Experimental Ebola Drug

Associated Press/Washington Post: Doctors: Ebola Drug Poses ‘Impossible Dilemma’
“Doctors treating a Sierra Leone physician with Ebola defended their decision not to give him an experimental drug, saying Wednesday they feared it was too risky. Calling it ‘an impossible dilemma,’ Doctors Without Borders explained in detail last month’s decision in response to a New York Times story on the case. It would have been the first time the experimental drug was tried in humans…” (Cheng et al., 8/13).

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Weakened Health Systems Due to Ebola Could Lead To More Deaths From Other Diseases

The Independent: Ebola outbreak: Deaths from malaria and other diseases could soar while Africa’s over-stretched health care systems fight the virus, expert warns
“The ‘collapse’ of health care systems in West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak could lead to thousands more people dying from malaria and other diseases, a leading expert has said, with the additional death toll from malaria and other diseases likely to exceed that of the outbreak itself…” (Cooper, 8/13).

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Numerous East, Central African Countries Facing 'Acute Food Insecurity'

IRIN: Food security alarm for east, central Africa
“Some 20 million people are facing acute food insecurity in Eastern and Central Africa, with most of them being at ‘crisis’ and ’emergency’ levels, according to aid agencies. This figure compares unfavorably with 15.8 million people in July 2013. The affected countries include Somalia, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Central Africa Republic (CAR), Sudan, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Tanzania…” (8/13).

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U.S. Government To Provide Emergency Food Aid To South Sudan

News outlets report on the announcement that the U.S. government will provide special funding to South Sudan to help address the country’s food crisis.

Devex: For first time since 2008, U.S. taps special funding pool to feed South Sudan
“South Sudan currently faces the ‘worst food security situation in the world,’ and since airdropping food aid in the conflict-battered country is too expensive for cash-strapped donors, the U.S. government has decided to tap into an emergency trust fund for the first time since the global food crisis six years ago…” (Igoe, 8/13).

Xinhua News/GlobalPost: U.S. to provide food aid to S. Sudan
“The United States will provide some 180 million U.S. dollars to South Sudan to alleviate the country’s food crisis, an aide to U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday…” (8/12).

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U.N. Officials Condemn Sexual Violence In Iraq

U.N. News Centre: ‘Barbaric’ sexual violence perpetrated by Islamic State militants in Iraq — U.N.
“Two senior United Nations officials today condemned in the strongest terms the ‘barbaric acts’ of sexual violence and ‘savage rapes’ the armed group Islamic State (IS) has perpetrated on minorities in areas under its control…” (8/13).

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Military Spending In African Countries 'Dwarfs' HIV/AIDS, Health Budgets

Inter Press Service: What’s More Important, the War on AIDS or Just War?
“They say there is a war on and its target is the deadly human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This war runs worldwide but its main battleground is sub-Saharan Africa … With many competing health problems, funding for AIDS is a growing concern. Yet a look at the defense of budgets of several countries plagued by HIV portrays a startling picture of governments’ priorities, with huge military expenditures belying the argument that the key obstacle to winning the war against AIDS is money…” (D’Almeida/Sayagues, 8/13).

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Editorials and Opinions

Ebola Can Be Contained With Combination Of Strategies

Financial Times: Ebola is not an invincible superbug
Editorial Board

“The Ebola epidemic raging through West Africa has highlighted not only the terrible state of the region’s public health infrastructure but also the low priority given worldwide to developing treatments for tropical diseases. …[H]ealth authorities are only now beginning to evaluate the pipeline of medicines that might be available to treat or prevent infection. The most striking aspect of this pipeline is how many experimental candidates there are. … But the immediate issue is who should have access to the extremely limited supplies of experimental medicines likely to be available within the next few weeks. … While the present epidemic is the largest and most complex on record — and, lest we forget, by far the most devastating in its effect on affected communities — it too can be beaten through a combination of infection control, contact tracing, and local solidarity. Yes, a supply of safe and effective medicines would help enormously, and with sufficient political will we should have one in time for the next Ebola epidemic, but it is not the key to victory” (8/13).

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How To Encourage Drug Industry To Tackle 'Neglected' Diseases

Washington Post: Why the drug industry hasn’t come up with an Ebola cure
Jason Millman, Washington Post reporter

“The lack of an Ebola cure amid the deadliest outbreak in the disease’s history is highlighting a significant challenge in the public health world: developing life-saving cures to those who need them the most. In many cases, drug manufacturers don’t have strong enough economic incentives to devote resources to making drugs for populations that would have trouble affording them. … The problematic lack of effective cures isn’t just limited to just Ebola. There’s a whole category of ‘neglected diseases,’ which affect about 1 billion people in low-income countries, according to WHO estimates. The high cost of developing drugs, combined with an inability of the patient population to afford them, have left these diseases without treatments. … So the key question is how to encourage drugmakers to develop cures for these diseases, when the economic incentives don’t match up with the public health needs…” (8/13).

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Security, Public Health Objectives Should Remain Separate

The Guardian: Ebola, polio, HIV: it’s dangerous to mix health care and foreign policy
Sophie Harman, senior lecturer in international politics at Queen Mary University of London

“There are reasons to be fearful of the Ebola crisis gripping parts of West Africa: death, the risk of contagion, overburdened health infrastructure, and concern as neighboring countries worry about what the WHO now admits is an international health emergency. These difficulties are exacerbated by the population’s fear not just of the virus itself, but also of the health workers there to help. While this fear is primarily related to contagion, there are other, more deeply rooted factors at play. Mistrust of outsiders, particularly western health workers, is bound up in the history of Africa and colonial medicine. … The ability of western governments and agencies to act as emergency providers of health care, and as honest brokers, will be increasingly reduced unless we agree that the provision of health care should be sacrosanct and protected from motives best realized by other means. … We are drifting towards a dangerous convergence of health and security policy, one that makes populations less secure and crisis management immeasurably more difficult” (8/14).

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Five Myths On Ebola Debunked

Huffington Post: Stop Worrying About Ebola (And Start Worrying About What it Means)
Adam C. Levine, assistant professor of Emergency Medicine, Brown Medical School

“…Of course, we should care a great deal about the Ebola outbreak, but not for the reasons propagated by cable news and bloggers alike. We should care about Ebola not because of the threat it poses to us as Americans, but for what it says about the current state of the health care system in much of Africa and many other resource-limited settings around the globe. Sadly, the media has instead coalesced around the following five myths, while ignoring the larger public health context and incredible health disparities present in our world…” (8/13).

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Cooperation Can Accelerate MDG Progress

Devex: Teamwork crucial to accelerate progress on MDGs
Magdy Martínez-Solimán, U.N. Development Program’s deputy assistant administrator and director ad interim of the Bureau for Development Policy

“…While we expect gains to be significant, it is clear that the unfinished work of the MDGs will continue to be a major part of the new global development agenda that includes Sustainable Development Goals. …[B]y cooperating and directing our resources and knowledge to where they can have the biggest impact, we can do much to accelerate progress. We may not achieve every goal in every country by the deadline, but our continued progress lays a solid foundation for the post-2015 development agenda, and it is a promise of what can be done when we all work together” (8/13).

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Indigenous People Should Be At 'Center Of International Development Efforts'

The Guardian: Why are indigenous people left out of the sustainable development goals?
Jonathan Glennie, research associate at the Overseas Development Institute in London and at the Centro De Pensamiento Estratégico Internacional (Cepei) in Bogotá

“…The slow erosion of indigenous people is one of the world’s greatest ongoing tragedies, and for all the shifting paradigms evident in the new set of goals, the clash between so-called development and dignity for indigenous people appears to be very much here to stay. After centuries spent on the underside of history, indigenous people deserve a duty of care from the international community, and recognition of what they offer. Next month’s World Conference on Indigenous Peoples is a perfect opportunity to right this wrong and to put them at the center of international development efforts, rather than as an afterthought” (8/14).

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Food Aid Needs To Consider Local Economies

The Guardian: Fed on food aid: does emergency nutrition cripple local economies?
Matthew Jenkin, editor of Guardian Careers

“In July news broke that local micronutrient producers in Haiti were in danger of going out of business because of the actions of NGOs. The non-profit Meds & Food for Kids (MFK) came close to closure after the World Food Programme (WFP) said it wouldn’t be buying anything from the company for four years because they had a corn-soy blend from USAID — for free. Providing emergency nutrition in a way that undermines the capacity of local economies to respond to food insecurity and malnutrition themselves seems a clear violation of the ‘do-no-harm’ principle…” (8/13).

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Huffington Post Profiles Ethiopian Girl's Experience With Early Marriage

Huffington Post: ‘I Will Keep Very Strong’: An Ethiopian Girl Fights to Delay Marriage
U.N. Women

“…According to the 2011 Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey, the Afar Region has the second-highest child marriage prevalence in the country. Many parents insist their daughters marry early, fearing the girls might otherwise become pregnant before marriage, which is considered a disgrace to their families and communities. But child marriage often derails a girls’ education. … Child marriage also contributes to high rates of maternal mortality; adolescent pregnancies are higher-risk for both mothers and their babies…” (8/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Military Health System's Role In Global Health 'Under-Recognized'

U.S. Department of Defense: Military Health System Protects Global Health, Official Says
The U.S. Department of Defense issued an article describing the Military Health System’s role in global health (8/13).

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Fauci Discusses Ebola Outbreak, Response

New England Journal of Medicine: Ebola — Underscoring the Global Disparities in Health Care Resources
Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, discusses the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the attention paid to experimental treatments, and the public health effort, community engagement, and assistance that is needed to defeat it (8/13).

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Experimental Ebola Drug Raises Questions

ONE: Drugs for Ebola — but will they work?
Andrew Marshall, senior director for global digital content at ONE, discusses the practical and moral issues surrounding the use of the unlicensed Ebola drug ZMapp (8/13).

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Blog Addresses U.S. Government's Helms Amendment

BMJ Blogs: The BMJ Today: When the worst choice is no choice at all
Abi Rimmer, BMJ Careers news reporter, discusses the U.S. government’s Helms Amendment and its impact on funding for abortion (8/14).

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Lancet Series Shows Decriminalizing Sex Work Vital To Preventing Spread Of HIV

RH Reality Check: The Evidence Is In: Decriminalizing Sex Work Is Critical to Public Health
Anna Forbes, Washington, D.C.-based writer, policy analyst, organizer, and women’s health activist, and Sarah Patterson, executive director of Persist Health Project, discuss a recently released Lancet series of articles on HIV and decriminalizing sex work (8/13).

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Blog Provides 'Roundup' Of Global Health Issues, Related Politics

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: While Museveni mulls ‘harmonized’ homophobia, no news from Nigeria is bad news, Kenya considers death by stoning, and smiling faces hide ugly truths… We’re reading about politics over public health
Antigone Barton, writer and editor of “Science Speaks” and senior communications officer at the Center for Global Health Policy, provides a roundup of news on politics in global health (8/13).

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New Issue Of ‘Global Fund News Flash’ Available Online

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Issue 47 of the Global Fund News Flash includes an article on Zambian partnerships for malaria control, details on the Fund’s technical assistance to countries and NGOs, and an article on health systems in South Sudan (8/14).

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