KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Pakistan, Afghanistan Must Improve Traveler Screenings, Other Efforts To Eradicate Polio, WHO Says

Reuters: Pakistan, Afghanistan must step up fight against polio — WHO
“Pakistan and Afghanistan must intensify efforts to halt [the] spread of the crippling poliovirus, including better screening of travelers heading abroad, the World Health Organization said on Monday. The WHO emergency committee of experts warned in a statement that vaccinations of international air travelers in Afghanistan are not being tracked ‘and no exit screening and restriction of unvaccinated travelers has been implemented at international airports’…” (Nebehay, 8/17).

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Sierra Leone Records No New Ebola Cases Last Week, WHO Announces

Agence France-Presse: Sierra Leone records no new Ebola cases in a week: WHO
“Sierra Leone has not recorded a new case of Ebola in the last week, a first since the outbreak reached the country in March last year, the World Health Organization said Monday…” (8/17).

BBC News: Sierra Leone records zero new Ebola infections
“…At the height of the outbreak Sierra Leone was reporting more than 500 new cases a week. Last week, for the first time since May last year, there were zero new cases. But authorities are warning against complacency…” (Mazumdar, 8/17).

TIME: Sierra Leone Has First Week of No New Ebola Cases
“…On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the Ebola response has moved into ‘phase 3,’ which means responders are working to ensure that the last known cases of Ebola in the country have not spread…” (Sifferlin, 8/17).

U.N. News Centre: No new Ebola cases reported in Sierra Leone in past week for first time since outbreak — U.N.
“…WHO said effectively tracking chains of transmission means finding every person who has been in contact with someone proven to be infected with Ebola, monitoring them closely for symptoms for 21 days and rapidly moving them to a treatment center if they develop symptoms of potential Ebola…” (8/17).

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Researchers Call For Strengthening Global Outbreak Response Systems While Keeping Risks In Perspective

Nature: How to beat the next Ebola
“…The Ebola epidemic has spurred researchers and public-health experts to call for a major overhaul of the world’s approach to epidemic threats. … At the same time, the risks need to be kept in perspective, say researchers…” (Butler, 8/5).

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International Health Organizations Appeal To Drug Companies To Fill Gap In Meningitis C Vaccine Shortage

The Guardian: Meningitis C vaccine shortage prompts fears of major outbreak in Africa
“A shortage of meningitis C vaccine is threatening to jeopardize the ability to cope with a potential outbreak of the disease in Africa, international public health organizations, including the World Health Organization, have warned. … [M]embers of the International Coordinating Group for Vaccine Provision for Epidemic Meningitis Control, which also comprises the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), are appealing to pharmaceutical companies to help them by plugging the gap…” (Siddique, 8/18).

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Syrian Conflict Shows 'Total Disrespect' For Civilians, Threatens Regional Stability, U.N. Official Says

U.N. News Centre: ‘Horrified’ by immense human suffering in Syria, U.N. relief chief urges all parties to protect civilians
“Horrified by the ‘total disrespect’ for civilian life in Syria, as evidenced by [Sunday’s] airstrikes on a market in Douma, the top United Nations humanitarian official [Monday] warned that the protracted conflict in the country not only severely affects the lives of millions of people, but also threatens the stability of the entire region and beyond…” (8/17).

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Gilead Focuses On Researching HIV, Hepatitis B Treatments After Success Finding HCV Cure

Bloomberg Business: After Curing Hepatitis C, Gilead Works to Vanquish More Viruses
“Gilead Sciences Inc., basking in the success of its cure for hepatitis C, is setting ambitious goals to vanquish two other major viral scourges: HIV and hepatitis B. Even with some promising signs in early trials, the biggest biotechnology firm in the world faces long odds in finding a way to rid humanity of the diseases…” (Chen, 8/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

WHO-Led Fund Could Boost Vaccine Development For Potential Epidemic Diseases

New York Times: The Ebola Vaccine We Needed
Editorial Board

“…[T]he world needs a better mechanism for vaccine development. … Last month, the New England Journal of Medicine published a bold proposal by three doctors for an international vaccine fund with an initial capitalization of $2 billion. … The fund would be a boon to the biotechnology companies and university research centers that are already working on vaccines but don’t have the resources to get drugs approved and manufactured. And it would save lives. The World Health Organization, which sponsored the trials of the Ebola vaccine in Guinea, could act as an umbrella organization for the fund, with financing contributed by drug companies and private foundations, as it was for the new Ebola vaccine. The WHO should set up the new fund immediately and urge its member states to contribute generously. The time to act is now — before a new epidemic takes off” (8/14).

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U.N. Should Take Responsibility For Haiti's Cholera Epidemic, Lead Effort To Alleviate Epidemic

CNN: U.N. should take responsibility for Haiti’s deadly cholera epidemic
Martin O’Malley, candidate for the Democratic nomination for U.S. president

“…The ongoing crisis in Haiti, where cholera continues to infect hundreds of people each month, is not getting the attention it deserves. … First, the United Nations should acknowledge its role in this tragedy. … Second, while resources are tight, as always, the United Nations should endeavor to broaden its campaign to combat the ongoing epidemic. … Third, the United States must assume a greater leadership role in our own hemisphere. … As president, I would embrace a new national security approach focused on proactive, long-term threat reduction and reinvigorated regional alliances. I would begin by improving our relationships with our closest neighbors, guided by the principles of transparency and accountability. The United Nations, which has done so much to alleviate human suffering in the world, should pursue a similar approach. Some disasters, like earthquakes, are acts of God. But when they are made worse by human error, those responsible should acknowledge and correct their mistakes” (8/17).

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Cooperative Efforts To Eliminate Malaria May Catalyze Political, Social Dialogue In Myanmar

Roll Call: Malaria as a Catalyst for Change in Myanmar | Commentary
Myaing Myaing Nyunt and Christopher Plowe, president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and both public health scientists at the Institute for Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine

“In Washington, D.C., recently, more than a dozen senior officials and politicians from Myanmar, some from groups with histories of deep mutual distrust, joined together in an extraordinary effort: to eliminate malaria from their deeply fragmented country. … For Myanmar, this meeting is truly historic, a model for how to use science and medicine not only to solve important health problems, but also as a way to foster wider social and political change. … Eliminating drug-resistant malaria is … an important U.S. interest that should be protected from shifting political priorities … U.S. technical and financial support for malaria elimination in Myanmar and the Greater Mekong Subregion … should be strengthened and sustained, irrespective of the pace of peace negotiations, human rights improvements, and election outcomes in Myanmar. No one is predicting that Myanmar’s new coalition against malaria will produce a breakthrough in peace talks or a fully fair election. But there is no question that this alliance has the potential to become a catalyst for more dialogue, reconciliation, and social change — in Myanmar now, and perhaps in other troubled places in the future” (8/18).

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Health Worker Task Shifting, Sharing Can Help Address Abortion Care Shortage, Along With Other Strategies

The Lancet: Preventing unsafe abortions through task shifting and sharing
Editorial Board

“…To address [the] shortage in abortion care, WHO launched [“Health worker roles in providing safe abortion care and post-abortion contraception”] on July 29 — its first guideline to give evidence-based recommendations on the safety, effectiveness, feasibility, and acceptability of involving a range of health workers in the delivery of effective interventions. … Consistent evidence has shown many of the interventions for safe abortion and contraception can be provided in primary care settings, and task shifting and sharing is an important public health strategy. However, such an approach will need substantial investment, standardized training, supportive supervision, and certification and assessment. Furthermore, task shifting and sharing alone will not resolve the health workforce crisis in preventing unsafe abortions, and should be implemented alongside other strategies designed to reduce unintended pregnancy through contraception education and increase the total numbers of health workers in all cadres” (8/8).

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Microfinance Has Potential To Increase Funding For Sanitation In Developing Countries

The Guardian: Can microfinance help boost sanitation coverage?
Sophie Trémolet, water and sanitation economist, and Goufrane Mansour, water and sanitation specialist, both at Trémolet Consulting

“…While microfinance is usually associated with income generation, rather than taps and toilets, growing evidence shows that it could be a solution for funding sanitation facilities in developing countries. … As experience with sanitation microfinance continues to grow, research should continue, particularly to understand the impact of such loans on consumers. … Microfinance cannot be the only answer to increasing finance for sanitation and there are still many questions as to how and where it should be used. But it is a plausible solution to help households in developing countries; provided that the factors influencing demand are better understood” (8/17).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

amfAR Database Features Information On PEPFAR Country, Regional Operational Plans, Funding

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: New site details how PEPFAR funding is spent
Rabita Aziz, policy research coordinator for the Center for Global Health Policy, highlights a new database from amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, which “featur[es] a navigable database of PEPFAR country and regional operational plans [and] lays out how $29 billion in planned funding has been spent on HIV/AIDS activities from 2007 to 2014…” (8/17).

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USAID Works To Improve Young People's Access To Reproductive Health, Family Planning Services

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Empowering Youth: Expanding Access to Reproductive Health
Ellen Starbird, director of the Office of Population and Reproductive Health at USAID, discusses the agency’s efforts to improve youth’s access to family planning and reproductive health services. “…When we support young people’s aspirations and engage them in the global conversation on family planning, they better understand the importance of delaying the age when they have their first child and spacing pregnancies. This not only will improve health outcomes, but will enable girls to remain in school, get jobs, and meaningfully participate within their communities…” (8/11).

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Young Women Need Better Access To Sexual, Reproductive Health Information, Services, Report Says

Guttmacher Institute: Adolescent Women Need Improved Sexual And Reproductive Health Services
“Throughout developing regions, many adolescent women struggle to get the sexual and reproductive health information and services they need, according to a new Guttmacher report that analyzes national health surveys and published research findings from 70 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean,” this press release states (8/12).

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Blog Post Reviews Current R&D On Vaccines, Drugs For MERS

Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs”: The latest in MERS R&D: Do we have the tools needed to prevent the next outbreak?
Kat Kelley, GHTC’s senior program assistant, reviews research and development efforts on vaccines and drugs for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. She writes, “…Researchers and public health advocates alike are wondering: will we learn from the Ebola outbreak and invest in R&D to create the tools needed to respond to a MERS pandemic, or will we wait until it’s too late?” (8/12).

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