KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Must Better Prepare To Respond To Global Epidemics, DG Chan Says

News outlets report on a speech by WHO Director-General Margaret Chan calling for the health agency to transform the way it responds to disease outbreaks.

Agence France-Presse: WHO calls for urgent transformation of global epidemic response
“The World Health Organization chief acknowledged Monday that the response to the West African Ebola outbreak fell far short, calling for an urgent overhaul of the international response to epidemics. ‘We need to put in place corrective strategies just as quickly as possible,’ WHO Director-General Margaret Chan told a committee created to review why existing international health regulations failed to prevent the deadly Ebola outbreak…” (8/24).

U.N. News Centre: Ebola aftermath is ‘best chance’ to transform future epidemic response — U.N. health agency
“…The review takes place at a time of nearly universal agreement that the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was inadequate. … Stating managing the global regime for controlling the international spread of disease is a central and historical responsibility of the WHO, Dr. Chan said ‘our challenge now is to look for improvements that leave the world better prepared for the next inevitable outbreak’…” (8/24).

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Sierra Leone's Last Known Ebola Patient Released; Country Begins 42-Day Countdown To Being Declared Ebola-Free

Agence France-Presse: Sierra Leone releases its last known Ebola patient
“Health authorities in Sierra Leone released the country’s last known Ebola patient from a hospital on Monday, a milestone that allows the nation to begin a 42-day countdown to being declared free of the virus that has killed nearly 4,000 people here…” (Roy-Macaulay, 8/24).

BBC News: Sierra Leone discharges last Ebola patient
“35-year-old Adama Sankoh was discharged from a treatment center in the northern Bombali district on Monday morning. The country hasn’t reported a new infection for more than two weeks, according the the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC)…” (Mazumdar, 8/24).

The Guardian: Joy as Sierra Leone’s last Ebola patient ends treatment but grief and fear remain
“…Health workers in masks and full protective clothing danced and cheered as they escorted Sankoh from the high risk zone of the [Ebola treatment center], through the chlorinated shower, and on to a red carpet…” (O’Carroll, 8/24).

Los Angeles Times: Sierra Leone’s last known Ebola patient is discharged singing and dancing
“…President Ernest Bai Koroma was among a joyful throng waiting to receive Adama Sankoh on the outskirts of the north-central city of Makeni. He presented her with a discharge certificate, as staff from the International Medical Corps facility clapped and beat drums…” (Zavis, 8/24).

Reuters: Sierra Leone releases last known Ebola patient from hospital
“…Sierra Leone confirmed its first case in May 2014 and has since recorded the highest number of cases in the region, although neighboring Liberia has suffered more fatalities…” (Fofana/Farge, 8/24).

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IRIN Examines Public Opinion, Aid Impact Of Technical Term 'Famine'

IRIN: Do we still care about the F word?
“…Technically, famine has a clear definition, occurring only when certain measures are met. They are: at least 20 percent of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope; acute malnutrition rates exceed 30 percent; and the death rate exceeds two persons per day per 10,000 persons. But the word is also used by the humanitarian system to galvanize global attention. … Precisely because it has the power to be so influential on public opinion, use of the phrase is carefully guarded to have maximum impact…” (Dyke, 8/24).

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Indian Women Work In Teams To Uncover, Report National Medical System Failings Through Text Messaging

The Guardian: Meet the women fighting corruption and saving mothers’ lives in India
“…As part of a team of 40 volunteers, [21-year-old Monika Singh] routinely visits a cluster of villages to interview expecting and new mothers and their families. The aim is to unearth failings in the medical system and report them by text message using specially allocated codes…” (Carroll, 8/24).

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Silicone Bracelets Help Remind Parents Of Childhood Vaccination Schedules

New York Times: Vaccinations Bring Hope, Bracelets Deliver Reminders
“…[V]accine schedules are increasingly complex, and young mothers often forget to take children in for shots on time. … [The company] Alma Sana makes flexible silicon bracelets [… that] fit around a newborn’s ankle, and serve as tiny calendars…” (McNeil, 8/22).

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Philippines Delivers Aid To Families Stranded By Typhoon Goni

Reuters: Philippines flies aid to thousands of marooned as typhoon toll rises
“Philippine army helicopters on Monday airlifted food, water, and relief supplies to thousands of families who fled their homes during [Typhoon Goni] as more bodies were pulled out from under landslides, disaster officials said…” (Mogato, 8/24).

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Ethiopia Needs Additional $230M To Provide Aid For 4.5M People, U.N. Agencies Say

Reuters: Number of Ethiopians needing food aid surges to 4.5 million after failed rains
“…Ethiopia needs an extra $230 million from donors to secure aid for a total of 4.5 million people now projected to require assistance this year, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said in a statement…” (8/24).

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Access To Health Care Becoming Increasingly Difficult In War-Torn Yemen, WHO Warns

U.N. News Centre: Civilian needs mount in Yemen as medical supplies dwindle — U.N. health agency
“Life-saving medicines, trauma kits, and blood bank supplies are urgently needed in war-ravaged Yemen, where nearly half the country’s health facilities have shut down, leaving thousands of injured civilians with fewer and fewer places to seek emergency assistance, according to the U.N. health agency…” (8/24).

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Devex Examines Humanitarian Operations Where Conflict Threatens

Devex: Development under conflict: How to react to a crisis
“…Some development organizations withdraw their staff and suspend their programs at the slightest hint their operations may be in danger, while other aid groups prefer to wait and see how the situation plays out. In political crises, it’s up to the donor if the money for the project comes from official development assistance, said Todd Moss, chief operating officer and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development…” (Santamaria, 8/24).

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Editorials and Opinions

TPP Could Decrease Availability Of Generic Medicines To Patients Worldwide

JAMA: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and Implications for Access to Essential Medicines
Jing Luo and Aaron S. Kesselheim of the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School

“…[I]n its current form, the [Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)] could lower the bar for the patenting of pharmaceutical innovations and make it substantially more difficult for generic manufacturers to enter the market in TPP member countries. … The overall effect of the TPP could be to extend the effective patent life of drugs and to decrease the availability of generic drugs or biosimilar medicines available to patients around the world. … If the United States continues down the path exposed in the leaked draft and expects other TPP countries to accept new standards for pharmaceutical intellectual property protections, it should also allow concessions that would encourage low-cost and high-quality generic drugs competition once market exclusivity ends. … [M]eaningful technology transfer could be incorporated to promote local pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity. An innovative financing instrument … could also be created to help less-wealthy, signatory countries procure medicines that will inevitably be made more expensive by the agreement” (8/20).

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Liberia Needs Resilient Health System, Economy To Strengthen Nation Post-Ebola

Huffington Post: Bringing Resiliency and Normalcy to Ebola-Free Liberia
Jolene Mullins, Liberia country representative for Project Concern International (PCI)

“…Even with the significant achievements made to date, Liberia needs more health workers, supplies, resources, and infrastructure to protect against future outbreaks. Chaos has ended but rebuilding a country’s structure takes time, patience, and support. Surveillance, rapid response, and a referral system must be in place for an effective transition, as well as an Ebola isolation, care, and treatment system. … That requires not only a resilient health system, but a resilient economy. … Two months ago through USAID, PCI began distributing $50 per month in cash to the most vulnerable households impacted by Ebola. … This temporary ‘hand up’ can change a family’s future and the direction of a country. I’m seeing it first-hand. Liberians are resilient people, and our investment in them will lead to a strengthened nation and region…” (8/24).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

WHO Should Implement Incremental, Politically Feasible Changes To Better Respond To Disease Outbreaks

Health Affairs Blog: Getting The WHO To Take The Reins In Global Pandemics
Michael Bluman Schroeder of the American University School of International Service discusses findings from the Ebola Interim Assessment Panel, arguing, “…[T]he establishment of a $100 million contingency fund and changes to the [WHO’s] organizational culture should be prioritized ahead of the creation of an independent center for emergency response…” (8/24).

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Uganda's Health Information System, Use Of Data Helps Prevent Mother-To-Child HIV Transmission

ONE Blog: Data is helping Uganda eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission
Betty Kagoro, communications specialist, and Erik Friedly, associate director for communication, both at the CDC-Uganda, discuss the importance of data in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Uganda, writing, “Preventing Uganda’s children from acquiring HIV at birth is achievable, but requires an organized, accessible, and well-functioning information system as a key component of the nation’s overall health system” (8/24).

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USAID-Supported Initiatives Provide Clean Water, Sanitation To Central Sudan

USAID’s “Impact”: Providing Clean Water to Families Fleeing Violence in Central Darfur
Amani Osman, communications officer for the International Organization for Migration in Sudan, discusses how the organization, along with Triangle Generation Humanitaire, are bringing clean water and sanitation practices to people fleeing violence in Central Darfur through USAID-supported rapid response funds (8/24).

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Humanosphere Podcast Discusses Water's Role In Global Development, Other Public Health Issues

Humanosphere: Water’s critical role in the fight against poverty: Peter Gleick
In this podcast, Gabe Spitzer of KPLU speaks to Peter Gleick, director and co-founder of the Pacific Institute, about how water is “critical to making progress against poverty, for economic justice, human development, and … environmental sustainability.” Also during the podcast, Spitzer and Humanosphere founder Tom Paulson discuss the worldwide refugee crisis, the emergence of Haiti’s cholera epidemic as an issue in the U.S. presidential campaign, and the “poor showing” of breastfeeding in the U.S. (8/24).

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