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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Africa Marks 1 Year Without Recorded Polio Case; Experts Warn Resurgence Possible Without Sustained Immunization Campaigns

Agence France-Presse: Africa celebrates one year without polio: U.N.
“Africa has marked one year since the last case of recorded polio, with the United Nations celebrating Wednesday a key step towards eradicating the disease. The last recorded case on the continent was in Somalia on August 11, 2014, although health officials must wait two more years before declaring the continent free from the highly infectious, crippling virus…” (8/12).

The Guardian: Africa’s year free of polio is giant step towards eradication
“…But both Somalia and Nigeria, which also saw its last polio case in 2014, are battling Islamist militant groups — al-Shabaab and Boko Haram respectively — raising fears that vaccines will not reach children displaced by conflict…” (Smith, 8/11).

Huffington Post: It’s Been 1 Year Since Africa Has Had Any New Polio Cases
“…Volunteers, religious leaders, health workers, and government agencies have banded together to bring vaccines to rural areas and to dispel myths associated with getting the shots…” (Goldberg, 8/11).

New York Times: A Milestone in Africa: No Polio Cases in a Year
“…Africa has never gone so long without a case of polio. But in an indication of how nervous experts still are that the disease may resurge, even the announcement from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was tentatively headlined ‘Is Africa Polio-Free?’…” (McNeil, 8/11).

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WHO DG, MSF Head Call For Sustained, Greater Efforts To End Ebola; Sierra Leone Lifts Remaining Quarantine, Reports 2 Confirmed Cases

Agence France-Presse: Ebola could be defeated by year’s end: WHO
“…World Health Organization Director Margaret Chan cautioned there could be setbacks in the coming months but said Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone could begin 2016 completely Ebola-free. ‘If the current intensity of case detection and contact tracing is sustained, the virus could be soundly defeated by the end of this year,’ Chan told the United Nations Security Council…” (8/13).

Agence France-Presse: ‘Finish the fight against Ebola,’ MSF head urges
“… ‘The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is far from under control,’ according to Joanne Liu, who heads the aid body known as MSF, after its French name Médecins Sans Frontières. Cases are still reported weekly, new communities are being infected, and bodies are still being buried in secret — a major problem for a disease transmitted though direct contact with body fluids, she wrote in a comment published in the science journal Nature…” (8/5).

Reuters: Sierra Leone lifts last major Ebola quarantine as cases recede
“Sierra Leone lifted its last major Ebola quarantine on Friday as President Ernest Bai Koroma expressed confidence that the country would soon be free of the virus. … Sierra Leone now has just two confirmed Ebola patients, he added…” (Fofana, 8/14).

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Experimental Ebola Vaccine Appears Effective In Clinical Trial Conducted In Guinea

News outlets discuss the findings of a clinical trial testing an experimental Ebola vaccine in Guinea published in The Lancet on July 31.

Associated Press: Experimental Ebola vaccine could stop virus in West Africa
“An experimental Ebola vaccine tested on thousands of people in Guinea seems to work and might help shut down the waning epidemic in West Africa, according to interim results from a study published [July 31]…” (Cheng, 7/31).

PBS NewsHour: First-ever Ebola vaccine shows ‘promise’ — now what?
“…The new vaccine, called VSV-EBOV, was first discovered by the public health agency of Canada. Drug manufacturer Merck has acquired the rights to develop it. … The vaccine appears to be so effective that WHO is going to stop delaying the vaccinations, as it was doing in the control groups, and will start vaccinating children and young adults in light of the new data, [Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO assistant director-general for health systems and innovation,] said…” (Epatko, 7/31).

Scientific American: Does This Ebola Vaccine Herald the End of the Virus?
“…Scientific American spoke with Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, to find out more about what this promising new finding will mean for thwarting Ebola in the future. Fauci was not involved with the trial…” (Maron, 8/4).

WIRED: What ‘100 Percent Effective’ Means for That Ebola Vaccine
“…What the statisticians do have to work with — that 100 percent efficacy — isn’t as mind-blowing as you might assume. Of the immediately-vaccinated people, none displayed symptoms 10 or more days after vaccination, compared to 16 infections in the group of 2,380 that was assigned to get vaccines three weeks late. … Those 16 infections in the delayed vaccination group are what makes the 100 percent efficacy statement a little less awesome…” (Palmer, 8/4).

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15 Southern African Country Leaders Gather At Annual Meeting As Region Faces Serious Food Shortages

Agence France-Presse: Southern African leaders meet as region faces food crisis
“Leaders of 15 southern African countries will gather for an annual summit on Monday as the region grapples with serious food shortages that have left a record number of people needing aid. … An estimated 27.4 million people out of the region’s combined population of 292 million — or nearly one in 10 people — will be depending on food handouts by the end of the year…” (Njanji, 8/16).

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New York Times Examines 'Quiet Revolution' In Childhood Diarrhea Diagnosis, Treatment

New York Times: A Quiet Revolution in the Treatment of Childhood Diarrhea
“Far from the world’s fears about Ebola and MERS, a quiet revolution is taking place in the diagnosis of a disease much more prosaic but far more threatening: childhood diarrhea. After pneumonia, diarrhea is the deadliest threat to infants worldwide, killing about 700,000 every year…” (McNeil, 8/10).

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South Korean President Dismisses Health Minister Over Handling Of MERS Outbreak

Reuters: South Korea replaces health minister criticized over MERS outbreak
“South Korean President Park Geun-hye removed her minister of health [on August 4] after criticism over the handling of an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which killed 36 people as it spread through hospitals. Minister of Health and Welfare Moon Hyung-pyo, an economist and expert on welfare policy, was criticized for a decision to withhold the names of hospitals that had handled MERS patients in the early stage of the outbreak, fueling confusion and fear…” (Kim, 8/4).

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At Least 20K People Infected, 315 Dead In DRC Measles Outbreak, U.N. Reports

Reuters: At least 20,000 infected in southeast Congo measles outbreak: U.N.
“A measles outbreak in the copper-mining Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed 315 people and infected at least 20,000, the United Nations said on Wednesday. Hundreds more deaths have likely not been documented due to difficulties accessing remote areas, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a draft report on the province’s worst outbreak of the disease since 2010-11…” (8/12).

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Haiti Making Strides To Lower Maternal Mortality Through Improved Education, Access To Health Services

The Lancet: Haiti’s push for safe motherhood
“Haiti has the highest maternal mortality rate in the Americas, but it is hopeful that several recent initiatives [– including midwife training and improved access to birth clinics and birth control –] will begin to change the situation…” (Huber, 8/15).

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Editorials and Opinions

PEPFAR Must Establish New Targets To Maintain Momentum Toward AIDS-Free Generation

Devex: Right things, right places, right targets — right now
Catherine Connor of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; Erin Hohlfelder of the ONE Campaign; Christine Lubinski of the Infectious Diseases Society of America Education & Research Foundation; Greg Millett of amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research; and Kevin Fisher of AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention

“…[PEPFAR] has been without targets since December 2013, when the most recent set of targets expired. This is not to say the program has ceased its important work on the ground. Indeed, under current Ambassador Debbi Birx’s leadership, PEPFAR has continued to deliver services and save more lives, even in the absence of targets. So why then do targets matter? Quite simply, targets drive action. … It is time for PEPFAR and the White House to establish new treatment and prevention targets to guide the years ahead. These targets should be announced ahead of September’s U.N. meetings, so that PEPFAR’s vision can be included in and help shape the global dialogue [surrounding the Sustainable Development Goals]. Every week and every month that goes by, we risk losing momentum. And in the fight against AIDS, we have no time to lose” (8/3).

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Independent Global Health Risk Framework Aims To Improve Responses To Global Health Threats

New England Journal of Medicine: Creating a Global Health Risk Framework
Victor J. Dzau, chair, and Judith Rodin, vice-chair of the International Oversight Group of the Global Health Risk Framework

“…The Global Health Risk Framework (GHRF) initiative will build on lessons from the current Ebola outbreak and other major outbreaks to develop a comprehensive framework for improving our response to future global public health threats. The Commission will rigorously analyze options for improving governance, finance, health system resilience, and research and development for global health security. To foster trust internationally with various levels of government, civil society, academia, and industry, the Commission intends to keep the framework from being influenced by politics or the interests of any one country or organization. … The plan is to feature the Commission’s work at major events of the U.N., the World Health Assembly, and the G7 and G20 groups of countries, aiming for effect well beyond the health sphere. Ultimately, world leaders’ actions will determine international preparedness for future pandemics and medical disasters. This GHRF initiative should provide sound, evidence-based guidance for their decisions…” (8/5).

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World Humanitarian Day Highlights 'Humanitarian Heroes'

The Lancet: Working towards better health in humanitarian crises
Editorial Board

“…Since 2006, [August 19th] has marked World Humanitarian Day to commemorate … all the people who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and to celebrate those presently working in crisis and disaster settings around the world. This year, the day is shining a spotlight on ‘humanitarian heroes.’ … A new Lancet Series on humanitarian crises and health, due to be published next year, will review the evidence base for public health interventions in emergencies, assess public health information sources, and examine health and data in the ongoing Syrian crisis among other topics. We hope the Series will feed into the global conversation about the future of humanitarian action and improve the use of science to protect people living, and working, in crises” (8/15).

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Nigeria's Polio Success Gives Hope To Global Polio Eradication Efforts

Project Syndicate: Polio’s Last Stand
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and Muhammad Pate, professor at Duke University’s Global Health Institute

“…Nigeria’s success [of achieving a year without a new case of wild polio] shows that it is possible to bring the miracles of modern medicine to the world’s most marginalized and hard-to-reach children. … Nigeria’s success in reaching these children is the result of the efforts of thousands of dedicated local volunteers, some of whom lost their lives in the process. Since 2012, there has been nearly a fivefold increase in the number of volunteers involved in mobilizing communities during immunization campaigns. … So far, in 2015, only 34 cases of polio have been documented worldwide — the majority of them in Pakistan. There is now a very real prospect that we could see the last ever case of wild polio — a disease that once threatened millions of people — before the end of 2016. To eradicate the disease, however, we will have to build on successes like Nigeria’s and strengthen routine immunization efforts…” (7/31).

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Break Taboos, Talk Openly To Bring Menstruation Into Global Health, Development Realm

The Conversation: Menstruation is a global health problem — and we need to talk about it
Marni Sommer, associate professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University

“…[T]he ongoing taboo around talking about periods makes it hard to find solutions to the challenges girls in low-income countries face. It also hinders the global efforts to address these challenges and bring menstruation into the realm of global health and development. … Although many efforts have been made to include sexual and reproductive health curricula in schools over the last decade, the topic of puberty and menstrual hygiene management in particular has often not been included. … The key is to start talking openly about this issue. … Menstruation is, after all, totally normal. So let’s break the taboo and not wait for the next time a celebrity starts bloviating to talk about menstruation again…” (8/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

USG Blog Posts Discuss Responses To, Lessons Learned From Ebola Outbreak

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Using Public-Private Partnerships to Combat Ebola Globally
Andrew O’Brien, the special representative for global partnerships at the State Department, discusses the importance of public-private partnerships in responding to infectious disease outbreaks, highlighting the work of the State Department with the Paul G. Allen Ebola Program (8/13).

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Moving Beyond Ebola, Preventing Future Health Epidemics
Denise Rollins, senior coordinator of the Africa Ebola Unit at USAID, writes about “the International Ebola Recovery Conference held at the United Nations on July 9th and 10th … The conference drew attention to the necessary recovery phase that must take place to strengthen [affected West African] countries. … Moving forward, we must continue to target key weaknesses in global health security…” (8/10).

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CGD Blog Post Clarifies, Discusses Recommendations On U.S. Global Health Program Reform

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog”: You Ask, We Answer: What Would U.S. Global Health Reform Really Look Like?
Amanda Glassman, vice president for programs, director of global health policy, and senior fellow at CGD, and Rachel Silverman, senior policy analyst at CGD, discuss and clarify three recommendations on how the U.S. can restructure its global health programs: “appoint a White House global health coordinator who has the mandate, political support, and budget authority to meaningfully guide policy and enforce interagency collaboration … harmonize the approach to multilateral organizations to ensure consistency of priorities and objectives … [and] establish an office of Global Health Knowledge Exchange, Trade, and Economics” (8/3).

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Lancet Commentary Endorses Vancouver Consensus, Calls For Universal HIV Treatment Access

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Leaders, advocates, researchers, clinicians call for universal immediate HIV treatment access
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” discusses an August 7 commentary published in The Lancet endorsing “the Vancouver Consensus, which emerged at the 2015 International AIDS Society conference last month and called on national leaders, policymakers, donors, and civil society efforts to maximize the potential of treatment for HIV to save lives, protect health, and end the pandemic demonstrated by scientific findings during the last half decade” (8/7).

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Kaiser Family Foundation Updates Fact Sheet Examining Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Kaiser Family Foundation: The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic
This updated fact sheet examines the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, highlighting the latest global estimates from UNAIDS, strategies for treatment and prevention, and U.S. government and global responses (7/31).

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Blog Posts Highlight Efforts On TB Prevention, Treatment, R&D

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Senators call on White House for bold TB Action Plan
Rabita Aziz, policy research coordinator for the Center for Global Health Policy, notes, “With the deadline for submitting a national action plan to combat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis quickly approaching, a group of Senators has sent a letter to the White House applauding the Obama administration on taking steps to combat the disease that kills more than 4,000 people every day…” (8/13).

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Tuberculosis R&D “grossly insufficient,” according to new report
Rabita Aziz, policy research coordinator for the Center for Global Health Policy, discusses a new report from the Treatment Action Group showing TB research and development funding, at $255 million annually, “is currently just one-third of the annual target set by the Global Plan to Stop TB 2011-2015…” (8/11).

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Organizations Sign Open Letter Affirming Importance Of Deworming Practices In Children

Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect”: An Open Letter: The Case for Deworming Children
The blog highlights an open letter signed by the Global Network and more than 20 other organizations, affirming deworming as “one of the most cost-effective ways to provide infected children with greater quality of life and better health and education outcomes” (8/6).

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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 discusses the malaria candidate vaccine RTS,S, risk reduction and treatment programs for drug users in Senegal and Thailand, and a TB center in Somalia (8/6).

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August 2015 Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

WHO: Bulletin of the World Health Organization
The August 2015 WHO Bulletin includes news, research, and policy articles on various topics, as well as an editorial on Bhutan’s use of gross national happiness as a measure of development (August 2015).

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