Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report
In The News
- Ebola Outbreak Identified In DRC; Health Minister Says Strain Unrelated To West African Outbreak
News outlets report on an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is said to be unrelated to the outbreak in West Africa.
BBC News: Ebola outbreak confirmed by DR Congo
“The Democratic Republic of Congo has confirmed that an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever in the north of the country has been identified as Ebola…” (8/24).
Bloomberg News: Ebola Kills 13 in Congo Outbreak Separate From W. Africa
“The Democratic Republic of Congo said as many as 13 people have died of Ebola in a separate outbreak from the one raging in three West African nations. It is the sixth reported outbreak in that country since 1976…” (Wild/Pettypiece, 8/25).
CNN: Ebola cases appear in DR Congo; doctor given promising drug dies in Liberia
“…The central African nation said its test showed that the [Ebola] strain is different from the one that has killed nearly 1,500 people in the West African nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria…” (Karimi, 8/25).
Deutsche Welle: DRC confirms first Ebola cases, making it fifth African nation affected by outbreak
“The Democratic Republic of Congo has confirmed its first cases of Ebola in an epidemic that has hit four other African nations. Seventy people have died in DRC in the past 10 days of a previously unidentified fever…” (8/24).
NPR: Ebola Outbreak Reportedly Spreads To Central Africa
“Two Ebola-related deaths have emerged in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country’s health ministry says. If confirmed, it would be the first time in the present outbreak that the disease has killed outside of a handful of West African nations…” (Neuman, 8/24).
Reuters: Congo declares Ebola outbreak in northern Equateur province
“Democratic Republic of Congo declared an Ebola outbreak in its northern Equateur province on Sunday after two out of eight cases tested came back positive for the deadly virus, Health Minister Felix Kabange Numbi said…” (Bakyumanya, 8/24).
- 2 New Ebola Cases In Nigeria Arise From Secondhand Contact; 14 Total Cases In Country
News outlets report on two new Ebola cases in Nigeria that arose from secondhand contact with the original patient.
New York Times: Two New Cases of Ebola Stem From Secondhand Contact
“Two new cases of Ebola were reported in Nigeria on Friday, both in spouses of health workers who died after caring for the Liberian-American who brought the disease there last month…” (Nossiter/McNeil, 8/22).
Reuters: Nigeria confirms two new cases of Ebola, 14 in total
“Nigeria confirmed two new cases of Ebola, both in patients who caught the disease from people who were primary contacts of the Liberian[-American] man who first brought it to Lagos, the health minister said on Friday. The total number of recorded cases in the country is now 14, Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu told a news conference” (Camillus, 8/22).
- U.S., U.N. Efforts To Contain Ebola Outbreak Continue
News outlets report on efforts undertaken by the U.S. and U.N. to combat the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Africa.
ABC News: Ebola Outbreak Enters Sixth Month With No End in Sight
“Though two American aid workers have recovered from Ebola, the outbreak continues to spread in West Africa with no end in sight…” (Lupkin/Mohney, 8/22).
Agence France-Presse: U.S. sends medical equipment to fight Ebola in Liberia
“Sixteen tons of medical equipment donated by the U.S. government arrived on Sunday in Liberia, which has tallied the highest death toll in the West African epidemic…” (8/24).
U.N. News Centre: U.N. vows to radically scale up Ebola fight as ‘invisible’ caseloads are escaping detection
“Dr. David Nabarro, senior United Nations system coordinator for Ebola who was appointed by the Secretary-General to establish how best the U.N. can support affected communities, was wrapping up the first leg of a visit to all Ebola-effected countries in West Africa. In the Liberian capital, Monrovia, [Friday] afternoon, he told reporters at the end of his two-day visit that more health workers will be brought to the country to deal with the outbreak, saying, ‘The United Nations is looking at ways to radically scale up support to fight Ebola’…” (8/22).
U.N. News Centre: ‘Basic health care cannot be Ebola’s next casualty,’ says UNICEF, ramping up support to Liberia
“As part of the overall United Nations push to assist West Africa in battling the worst outbreak of Ebola in history, a cargo plane carrying 68 metric tons of supplies from the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) landed today in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, bringing urgently needed items to shore up the country’s weakened health care system…” (8/23).
- Nations Worldwide Take Actions To Prevent, Prepare For Ebola
News outlets report on actions undertaken in countries worldwide to prevent or prepare for Ebola.
Agence France-Presse: Benin postpones Africa health meet over Ebola
“A meeting of African health ministers scheduled for early September in Benin has been postponed because of the Ebola epidemic, an official said Sunday…” (8/24).
Bloomberg News: Nigeria Draws on Polio Mistakes to Contain Ebola Outbreak
“…Drawing on the country’s battle to eradicate polio, which is endemic in the West African nation, a command center was set up in the densely packed Yaba district to coordinate efforts between state, federal, and international health officials. The mission: Contain Ebola’s spread after [Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian-American who brought Ebola to Lagos,] died in the coastal city of more than 20 million people…” (Ibukun/Kay, 8/25).
Reuters: Sierra Leone makes harboring Ebola victims a crime
“Sierra Leone’s parliament has made the harboring of Ebola victims a crime punishable by two years’ jail in an attempt to stop the spread of the deadly virus, the justice minister said on Saturday…” (Fofana/Bavier, 8/24).
Reuters: Philippines to repatriate workers from Ebola-hit West Africa
“The Philippines is pulling out almost 3,500 workers from three West African states due to the Ebola outbreak, the foreign ministry said on Sunday, a day after Filipino troops in Liberia were ordered to go home…” (8/24).
Reuters: Gaps remain in India’s Ebola preparedness, says WHO
“India has been pro-active in preparing for an outbreak of Ebola, but authorities need to improve the surveillance of travelers and raise public awareness about the deadly virus, the World Health Organization said on Friday…” (Bhalla, 8/22).
Reuters: U.S. hospitals overdo Ebola plans, posing new risks: researchers
“Fear of Ebola is causing U.S. hospitals to take precautions that, paradoxically, might backfire, increasing the risk to those caring for a patient with the deadly disease, researchers warned this week…” (Begley, 8/22).
- African Nations Implement Border Closings, Travel Restrictions To Prevent Ebola Spread
News outlets report on African nations’ efforts to prevent Ebola from crossing their borders.
CNN: Borders closing over Ebola fears
“The West African country of Senegal has closed its borders with Guinea over fears that the Ebola outbreak could spread, according to the Senegalese Interior Ministry. The closure includes any aircraft and ships traveling to Senegal from Guinea, Sierra Leone, or Liberia…” (Wilson, 8/22).
The Guardian: Ebola: airlines cancel more flights to affected countries
“Airlines have cancelled more than a third of international flights to three West African countries over fears that an outbreak of the Ebola virus could spread, as more African countries introduce measures to block visitors from affected areas…” (Anderson, 8/22).
Reuters: Senegal blocks Liberia aid flight, imposes Ebola travel curbs
“Regional humanitarian hub Senegal said on Friday it had blocked a regional U.N. aid plane from landing and was banning all further flights to and from countries affected by Ebola, potentially hampering the emergency response to the epidemic…” (Farge, 8/22).
Reuters: Ivory Coast closes western borders over Ebola threat
“Ivory Coast has closed its land borders with Ebola-affected West African neighbors Guinea and Liberia in an attempt to prevent the world’s deadliest outbreak of the virus from spreading onto its territory, the government announced…” (Bavier, 8/23).
Wall Street Journal: South Africa Issues Travel Bans for Countries Gripped by Ebola Virus
“South Africa has banned travelers from the three Ebola-hit West African nations, a government spokesman said on Thursday, after other countries adopted similar measures to prevent the deadly virus from breaching their borders…” (Stevis, 8/21).
- Health Workers Hit Hard By Ebola; Affected Countries Need Additional Aid Workers
News outlets report on how the Ebola outbreak in Africa is affecting health care and aid workers, as well as an acute shortage of workers in affected countries.
New York Times: Those Who Serve Ebola Victims Soldier On
“…At least 129 health workers have died fighting [Ebola], according to the World Health Organization. But while many workers have fled, leaving already shaky health systems in shambles, many new recruits have signed up willingly — often for little or no pay, and sometimes giving up their homes, communities and even families in the process…” (Nossiter/Solomon, 8/23).
NPR: Aid Workers In Short Supply As Ebola Grips Liberia
“…With the number of Ebola cases in Liberia now topping 1,000 and many more cases thought to be unreported, the need for international support has become acute. Liberian officials and aid groups say they desperately need health workers and experts in disease management…” (Aizenman, 8/24).
- British HCW Who Contracted Ebola In Sierra Leone Transported To London Hospital
News outlets report on a British health care worker who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone and was transported to a hospital in London.
Associated Press: Official: British Ebola patient to be evacuated
“The first British citizen confirmed to be infected with the deadly Ebola disease is being evacuated from Sierra Leone on a jet sent by the Royal Air Force, a Sierra Leone official said Sunday…” (Roy-Macaulay, 8/24).
Financial Times: London doctors prepare for Ebola patient as crisis worsens in West Africa
“Medics at a London hospital were preparing on Sunday to treat a British health care worker who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone in the first such case for the U.K. since the epidemic erupted in February…” (Ward, 8/24).
Reuters: Plane carrying British Ebola victim leaves Sierra Leone for Britain
“A Royal Air Force plane carrying a British health care worker who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone — the first Briton to catch the deadly virus — took off from the capital Freetown on Sunday bound for Britain…” (8/24).
- Spotlight Is On Experimental Ebola Drugs; FDA Warns Public About Fake Treatments
News outlets report on efforts to dispel myths about Ebola, prevent fake treatments, and approve experimental therapies for use in the African outbreak.
The Hill: FDA seeks to dispel Ebola outbreak fears
“The Food and Drug Administration has posted a Web page with quick facts about the Ebola virus and the outbreak in West Africa in order to fight misconceptions about the disease permeating the general public. … The FDA plans to update the page with its ongoing assessments of the disease and has provided information for the public to report fake Ebola drugs and vaccines, which have been a major concern for the agency…” (Al-Faruque, 8/22).
The Lancet: Experimental Ebola drugs enter the limelight
“With the Ebola outbreak still raging in West Africa, WHO has okayed the use of experimental treatments. Two groups have already opened their drug cabinets to help out, and several others are considering following suit…” (Mullard, 8/21).
Agence France-Presse: Japan ready to offer trial Ebola drug
“Tokyo stands ready to offer an experimental drug developed by a Japanese company to help stem the global tide of the deadly Ebola virus, the top government spokesman said Monday…” (8/25).
Associated Press: Japan ready to offer flu drug for Ebola treatment
“Japan said Monday it is ready to provide a Japanese-developed anti-influenza drug as a possible treatment for the rapidly expanding Ebola outbreak…” (Yamaguchi, 8/25).
Reuters: Japan could offer unapproved Ebola drug
“…Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that Japan has received inquiries from some countries on the influenza drug favipiravir, or T-705 as it is known in the developmental code…” (Kaneko/Uetake, 8/25).
- Ethical Questions Raised In Treatment Of Sierra Leone's 'Hero' Doctor Who Died Of Ebola
Reuters: Sierra Leone ‘hero’ doctor’s death exposes slow Ebola response
“When two American aid workers recovered from Ebola after being treated with an experimental drug, the grieving family of Sierra Leone’s most famous doctor wondered why he had been denied the same treatment before he died from the deadly virus. … Staff agonized over the ethics of favoring one individual over hundreds of others and the risk of a popular backlash if the untried treatment was perceived as killing a national hero…” (Fofana/Flynn, 8/24).
- U.N. Humanitarian Chief Calls For Scale-Up Of Aid, Efforts In Ukraine
U.N. News Centre reports on the U.N.’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
U.N. News Centre: In Ukraine, U.N. relief chief pledges support for political, aid, rebuilding efforts
“The top United Nations relief official told reporters in Ukraine [on Saturday], that while the situation in Sloviansk has improved, the U.N. is still concerned about the ongoing impact of the crisis and plans to support the government’s efforts towards political talks, scaling up the humanitarian response, and ensuring long-term rehabilitation of infrastructure…” (8/23).
U.N. News Centre: Ukraine: Senior U.N. official calls for end to violence, urges scaling up aid ahead of winter
“United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos called again [Sunday] for an end to the violence in Ukraine as she continued her visit to areas of the country’s crisis-riven eastern regions to see for herself the impact of the continued fighting on millions of people…” (8/24).
- Botswana High Court Orders Government To Provide HIV Treatment To Foreign Prisoners
Agence France-Presse: Botswana told to pay for foreign prisoners’ HIV treatment
“Botswana’s High Court on Friday ordered the government to provide treatment to HIV-positive foreign prisoners at the state’s expense. Justice Bengbame Sechele ruled that the denial of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to foreign inmates violated their rights…” (8/22).
- Access To Contraception Controversial In Philippines Amid Growing Population
PBS NewsHour: Amid population explosion, birth control access roils the Philippines
“In the Philippines, amid a population explosion and staggering birth rate, caused partly by limited access to contraception or family planning advice, NewsHour Special Correspondent Mark Litke follows mothers and newborns from one of the busiest maternity wards in the world to the overcrowded slums where families live…” (8/24).
- Malaria Prevalent In Venezuela's Mining Regions
BBC News: The malaria mines of Venezuela
“Venezuela used to be a world leader in managing malaria, but is now the only country in Latin America where incidence of the disease is increasing. Around 75,000 people were infected last year, and according to government figures, 60 percent of cases were in Sifontes, a tiny region of the country where gold mining — where workers drill for gold in mosquito-friendly standing water — is booming, and health care is scarce…” (Pardo, 8/23).
- WFP Warns N. Korea Food Aid Program May Be Shut Down Due To Lack Of Funding
Associated Press: U.N. warns its food aid program in N. Korea at risk
“The World Food Programme may have to shut down its operations in North Korea by early next year unless it gets more funding from international donors by this autumn, the U.N. agency’s director for Asia said Friday…” (Pennington, 8/22).
- Researchers Looking For Effective MERS Treatment Model To Test Experimental Drugs
TIME: Remember MERS? Scientists Want Treatments to be Ready, Unlike Ebola
“…Right before MERS slipped off our collective radars only to be replaced by the deadly Ebola virus one continent over, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in July that it had received reports of 837 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV including at least 291 related deaths. So, why is no one talking about MERS right now?…” (Sifferlin, 8/21).
Editorials and Opinions
- Editorial, Opinion Pieces Address Issues Surrounding Ebola Outbreak
The following editorial and opinion pieces address issues surrounding the Ebola outbreak in Africa.
New York Times: New Thinking About Ebola Treatments
“A radical but promising proposal to help treat victims of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa appears to be gaining support among knowledgeable experts. … The new proposal would fill the gap by using drugs that have already been approved to treat other diseases and repurposing them to treat Ebola as well. … The World Health Organization is scheduled to hold a meeting in Geneva next week with more than 100 experts, including 20 from West Africa, to discuss potential therapies and vaccines for the Ebola virus and explore ways to expedite clinical trials and ramp up production of the most promising treatments. The meeting should be sure to consider the use of drugs that are already approved for other diseases and are readily available” (8/24).
The Atlantic: The Danger in Losing Sight of Ebola Victims’ Humanity
Raphael Frankfurter, executive director of Wellbody Alliance
“…[I]n a public health emergency of this scale and danger, patient communication and counseling can be brushed aside under the pretext of urgency. Ebola patients can be considered mere disease-carriers rather than complicated, emotional human beings — and while at the highest levels reducing transmission is the top priority, neglecting the humane aspects of care can gravely undermine the public health response…” (8/22).
Raleigh News & Observer: In ongoing Ebola crisis, emergency aid not enough
Pape Gaye, president and CEO of IntraHealth International
“When such a disaster [as Ebola] strikes, our first impulse is often to stop and see how we can immediately help. Can we send supplies? Should we send health workers or other experts? … This type of emergency aid is noble and necessary. But it is not enough. It is not sustainable. There is another vital component to international aid that is far less known — and many don’t realize that we’re on the leading edge of it here in [Research] Triangle. It’s called health systems strengthening. And it’s a very different kind of aid…” (8/24).
Bloomberg Businessweek: The Economic Case for Wiping Out Ebola
Charles Kenny, author and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development
“…Ebola helps illustrate the economic burden of infectious disease — particularly on countries in the developing world, but with affects felt worldwide. All of which suggests why increased support to fight infection in developing countries would have considerable global economic benefit. … Worldwide, infectious diseases still end about 15 million lives a year, and most of those deaths could be easily avoided. Beyond the incalculable benefits in terms of misery averted, the economic case for lowering that toll is overwhelming” (8/25).
- Country Coordinating Mechanisms Can Address Chronic Crises
Devex: Better systems to address chronic crises
Alexander Matheou, regional representative for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Southern Africa
“…For chronic crises, we should learn from the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, and set up government-led CCMs [(country coordinating mechanisms)] on resilience to disasters that compel all agencies to align behind a coherent, nationally owned plan, and be accountable for the aspects they are charged to implement. This is especially true for slow onset disasters and chronic crises in middle-income countries, where the conditions are stable enough to plan long-term, governments can take a rightful lead, and the little aid money remaining needs to be used for maximum, sustainable effect” (8/22).
From the Global Health Policy Community
- UNICEF Calls For Investment In African Children
Humanosphere: Booming African population leads UNICEF to call for more investments in children
Development blogger Tom Murphy discusses a report (.pdf) released by UNICEF that supports the prioritization of investing in children’s health, education, and protection to achieve economic benefits in Africa (8/22).
- Laws Banning Child Marriage Are 'Starting Point' For Change
Center for Global Development’s “Views From The Center”: Does Banning Child Marriage Really Work?
Matt Collin, a CGD postdoctoral fellow, and Theodore Talbot, a CGD research associate, examine data on marriage ages and argue that “a global ban [on child marriage] can only be the starting point of our collective push for change” to end the practice, which is linked to cultural and traditional practices (8/22).
- Blog Highlights Progress In Eliminating VL In India
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Working Together to Stop Kala-azar
Lance Gordon, director for neglected infectious diseases in the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program, discusses progress being made around eliminating visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar, in India (8/24).