KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Death Toll From New DRC Ebola Outbreak Estimated At 33 With 43 Total Confirmed, Probable Cases; Vaccination To Begin This Week

Agence France-Presse: Ebola outbreak in DR Congo believed to have killed 33: health ministry
“A new outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo is believed to have killed 33 people in the east of the country, the health ministry said Saturday. Thirteen Ebola cases have been confirmed since the fresh outbreak was declared on August 1 in North Kivu province. While just three of the fatalities have been among the 13 confirmed cases, the death toll is believed to have risen to 33, the health authorities said in a bulletin Saturday…” (8/4).

Al Jazeera: DRC: New Ebola deaths confirmed, dozens believed infected
“…Thirteen cases of the virus were confirmed across northeastern North Kivu province and neighboring Ituri province, DRC’s health minister said in a statement on Saturday, with another 30 ‘probable’ cases registered…” (8/5).

The Hill: Health authorities face fight against Ebola ‘in a war zone’
“…[C]ontaining a viral outbreak in North Kivu presents health care workers with an unprecedented challenge because of the threat of violence between warring ethnic groups. The health care workers who flood into North Kivu will find themselves ‘in a war zone,’ said Peter Salama, the World Health Organization’s deputy director general of emergency preparedness and response…” (Wilson, 8/4).

Reuters: Ebola vaccinations in eastern Congo due to begin on Wednesday
“Vaccinations against a new outbreak of Ebola virus in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are due to begin on Wednesday, a senior official at the health ministry said on Sunday. … More than 3,000 doses [of an experimental vaccine made by Merck] remain in stock in the capital Kinshasa, allowing authorities to quickly deploy it to the affected areas near the Ugandan border…” (Mahamba/Ross, 8/5).

U.N. News: Conflict in new Ebola zone of DR Congo exacerbates complexity of response: WHO emergency response chief
“…The death toll from the current Kivu episode is likely to rise, the WHO official said, adding that the alert was raised on 25 July after a woman and many members of her immediate family died after exhibiting symptoms consistent with Ebola…” (8/3).

Xinhua News: A.U. stresses coordinated efforts to control new Ebola outbreak in DRC
“The Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Saturday stressed the need to establish comprehensive and well-coordinated response strategy to eradicate the new Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). … The A.U. — through the Africa CDC — also revealed that it ‘will continue to support the efforts of the DRC government during this outbreak as well as neighboring countries’…” (8/4).

Additional coverage of this story is available from the Associated Press, Bloomberg, CNN, New York Times, Reuters, VOA News, and Xinhua News.

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Pakistan Begins New Polio Vaccination Campaign In Effort To Eliminate Disease

ABC News: Inside Pakistan’s fight for zero polio cases, where women are on the frontlines
“…Poor public infrastructure, hard-to-reach communities, high population movement, cultural barriers, and armed conflict have made it difficult for Pakistan to eliminate the potentially fatal virus, according to health experts. But Pakistan has undertaken nationwide, government-backed anti-polio campaigns that have steadily decreased the number of new cases in recent years and have brought the country agonizingly close to zero…” (Windsor et al., 8/5).

Associated Press: Pakistan’s new vaccination drive, ‘final push’ against polio
“A Pakistani health official says authorities have launched a week-long anti-polio campaign touted as a ‘final push’ against the crippling disease. Its aim is to vaccinate millions of children under five years of age…” (8/6).

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Brazil's Supreme Court Continues Hearing On Nation's Abortion Laws

New York Times: Brazil’s Supreme Court Considers Decriminalizing Abortion
“…[T]he high stakes of the fight over reproductive rights … is playing out before Brazil’s Supreme Court during a rare two-day public hearing that started Friday. The court will consider whether Brazil’s abortion laws — which forbid terminating pregnancies with few exceptions, including cases of rape and instances in which the mother’s life is in peril — are at odds with constitutional protections. The hearing, which will continue Monday, is unlikely to lead to the imminent legalization of abortion. But women’s rights activists hope the public hearing will set off a high-profile debate on the issue, draw attention to the risks hundreds of thousands of women take each year as they resort to clandestine abortions, and ultimately pave the way to overhauling the existing law…” (Andreoni/Londoño, 8/3).

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Argentine Senate To Vote On Measure To Loosen Abortion Laws

Reuters: Argentine abortion bill loses momentum after senator pulls support
“Prospects faded over the weekend for a bill that would legalize abortion in Argentina, when an opposition senator said she had changed her mind and would vote against the measure when it is brought to the floor on Wednesday. … The about-face by Senator Silvina García Larraburu brought to 37 the number of expected no votes, amounting to a majority in Argentina’s 72-member Senate…” (Bronstein, 8/6).

Wall Street Journal: In Key Moment, Argentina to Vote on Loosening Strict Abortion Laws
“…On Wednesday, the Senate is expected to vote on a bill that, if approved, would allow women to end a pregnancy in the first 14 weeks. The current law only permits abortions in cases of rape or when a woman’s health is at risk. The vote is expected to be tight following a contentious debate. If approved, President Mauricio Macri says he will sign the bill into law…” (Dube/Frydlewsky, 8/5).

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Attacks On Hodeidah Threaten To Exacerbate Humanitarian Disaster, Increase Risk Of New Cholera Outbreak In Yemen, U.N. Officials Warn

CNN: Yemen at risk of third cholera epidemic, health officials warn
“War-ravaged Yemen is teetering on the brink of a third cholera epidemic, the World Health Organization warned Friday. Cholera cases are increasing near the capital, Sanaa, and the major port city of Hodeidah, where recent conflict has hindered WHO’s efforts to prevent the disease…” (Smith-Spark, 8/3).

U.N. News: Fresh Yemen hospital attack raises risk of new cholera epidemic
“A deadly attack on one of the last functioning hospitals in Yemen in the key port city of Hudaydah has put hundreds of thousands of people at risk and damaged efforts to prevent a third cholera epidemic in the war-torn country, top U.N. officials warned on Friday…” (8/3).

VOA News: U.N.: Attacks on Yemen’s Port of Hodeidah Would Be Catastrophic
“United Nations aid agencies are renewing appeals to Yemen’s warring parties to spare the Port of Hodeidah, warning attacks against the vital lifeline would be catastrophic. … Around 80 percent of Yemen’s food and medicine is imported through the Port of Hodeidah. Jens Laerke is spokesman for the U.N. Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs or OCHA. He said fuel and other essential humanitarian relief also arrive via the port…” (Schlein, 8/5).

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More News In Global Health

Agence France-Presse: How blogger helped bring breastfeeding back to Serbia (Subasic, 8/4).

Borgen Magazine: Helping Farmers Fight Food Insecurity in Haiti (Eppenauer, 8/4).

The Guardian: Flame fades for Rohingya families amid mud and monsoons in Bangladesh (Ahmed, 8/6).

NPR: It’s ‘Shark Tank’ For Global Health Inventions (Hallett, 8/4).

U.N. News: Ethiopia: humanitarians scale up life-saving aid to over 1 million forcibly displaced by violence in the south-west (8/3).

Washington Post: With sweltering heat but little AC, North Korea proclaims ‘an unprecedented natural disaster’ (Taylor, 8/3).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Congress Should Protect Millennium Challenge Corporation

Washington Post: Letters to the Editor: We must protect the Millennium Challenge Corporation
Stahis Panagides, resident country director for the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Cape Verde from 2005 to 2011

“I was saddened to read … about the politicization of the Millennium Challenge Corporation by the Trump administration. … Millennium Challenge Corporation specialists’ support in such areas as financial accountability, monitoring and evaluation, procurement, environmental and social assessment, infrastructure, agriculture, and private sector development was decisive in the success of our assistance. I hope The Post’s exposing the Trump administration interference at the Millennium Challenge Corporation can provoke Congress to protect one of our finest public service agencies” (8/5).

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Governments Must Focus On Improving Nutrition To Reach UHC Goals

Devex: Opinion: Reaching universal health coverage means tackling malnutrition
Adelheid Onyango, adviser for nutrition at the WHO Regional Office for Africa, and Bibi Giyose, senior nutrition and food systems officer, and special advisor to the NEPAD CEO

“…UHC is ultimately about achieving health and wellbeing for all by 2030, a goal that is inextricably linked with that of ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition. … [M]ost of the diseases that entail catastrophic costs to individuals, households, and national health care systems in Africa could be avoided if everyone was living actively and consuming adequate, diverse, safe, and nutritious food. … To tackle malnutrition, achieve UHC, and ultimately reach the goal of health and well-being for all, governments need to put in place the right investments, policies, and incentives. As a starting point, governments need to assure the basic necessities of food security, clean water, and improved sanitation to prevent and reduce undernutrition among poor rural communities and urban slum populations in Africa. … A shortcut to achieving universal health coverage is to reduce the need for costly treatments. And there is no better way to do that than to ensure that everyone, everywhere, preserves their health and has access to safe and nutritious food: Let food be thy medicine” (8/6).

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Community Health Workers Play Critical Role In Targeting Primary Care To Improve Child Health Outcomes

Hindustan Times: To save lives of children, diagnose and treat their social vulnerability
Tracey Johnson, senior program officer for Integrated Delivery, User Experience and Innovation, and Nachiket Mor, director of the India Country Office, both at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…Recent research has identified that the greatest danger to children under five years is not acute illness, but prolonged, and as yet poorly described, forms of vulnerability that produce worse-than-anticipated outcomes, particularly when combined with other childhood illnesses. … In many countries, … community health workers play an important role in the delivery of primary health care. They often work for years in certain locations, and have an instinct about which children are more vulnerable than others. Using this instinct or social knowledge, it has been possible to co-design a social vulnerability identification tool which can help them quickly identify different family types according to the unique barriers they face (diagnosis), and to more sharply tailor their engagement with these families to target specific categories of vulnerability (treatment). … The key here is to offer groups of community health workers sufficient training and support so that they are able to create their own typologies and related heuristics, allowing them to respond rapidly with targeted guidance instead of taking a more generalized and uniform approach towards families under their care” (8/1).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

PEPFAR 'Testament To Bipartisan Cooperation On U.S. Leadership In Global Public Health,' Rep. Lee Says

Office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee: Congresswoman Lee: PEPFAR Reauthorization is “Testament to Bipartisan Cooperation”
On Friday, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), along with House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chair Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Ranking Member Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Ranking Member Karen Bass (D-Calif.), and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), “reintroduced the PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act, H.R. 6651. ‘For the last 15 years, PEPFAR has been a testament to the bipartisan cooperation on U.S. leadership in global public health. Thanks to PEPFAR, millions of lives have been saved through HIV/AIDS treatment, care, and education. But our work is far from over — we are at a tipping point and Congress must recommit to this fight,’ said Congresswoman Lee…” (8/3).

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Mwatana Organization For Human Rights Chair Discusses Yemen's Humanitarian Situation In OSF Interview

Open Society Foundations’ “Voices”: Q&A: Yemen’s Humanitarian Catastrophe Demands Action
Soheila Comninos, program officer with the Open Society Human Rights Initiative at the Open Society Foundations, interviews Radhya al-Mutawakel, chair of the Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, about the current state of Yemen’s humanitarian situation, as well as ways in which the U.S. and others can better approach the situation within the country (7/27).

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FT Health Discusses Impacts Of Climate Change On Health, Features Interview With E.U. Innovative Medicines Initiative Director

FT Health: Climate change is a public health problem
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter discusses the impacts of heatwaves and climate change on health and features an interview with Pierre Meulien, director of the E.U. Innovative Medicines Initiative, in which he discusses the initiative’s achievements and the work ahead. The newsletter also provides a round-up of global health-related news stories (Dodd/Jack, 8/3).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. State Department Blog Post Discusses How U.S., Other Countries Coordinate Humanitarian Assistance Efforts In Uganda

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Lending a Helping Hand: Assessing Humanitarian Assistance Efforts in Uganda
Zachary Blackburn, foreign affairs officer at the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs’ Office of Agriculture Policy, discusses U.S. humanitarian assistance efforts in Uganda and the U.S. government’s participation in the Foreign Assistance Convention (FAC), a group “of 16 donor countries that work together to improve global food security by coordinating emergency responses and sharing best-practices.” Blackburn notes, “Coordinating donor assistance is exactly the mission of the FAC and why the United States is at the table to ensure that the most vulnerable have a hand up” (8/3).

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