KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Declares Ebola An International Health Emergency; Stops Short Of Recommending General Travel Ban

News outlets report on the WHO’s declaration of Ebola as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

Agence France-Presse: WHO declares Ebola epidemic a global health emergency
“The World Health Organization on Friday declared the killer Ebola epidemic ravaging parts of west Africa an international health emergency and appealed for global aid to help afflicted countries. The decision came after a rare, two-day closed-door session of the U.N. health body’s emergency committee, which urged exit screening of all people flying out of affected countries, where nearly 1,000 people have died…” (Larson, 8/8).

Associated Press: WHO: Ebola outbreak is a public health emergency
“The World Health Organization on Friday declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to be an international public health emergency that requires an extraordinary response to stop its spread…” (Cheng, 8/8).

Financial Times: World Health Organization declares Ebola international emergency
“The World Health Organization has declared the largest Ebola outbreak on record an international emergency but did not recommend a general ban on travel to or trade with affected countries. The statement follows a two-day teleconference of the body’s emergency committee, including the representatives of the west African states of Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the deadly haemorrhagic fever has infected at least 1,779 people and killed 961…” (Wilson/Cookson, 8/8).

New York Times: W.H.O. Declares Ebola in West Africa a Health Emergency
“Facing the worst known outbreak of the Ebola virus, with almost 1,000 fatalities in West Africa, the World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency on Friday, demanding an ‘extraordinary’ response — only the third such declaration of its kind since regulations permitting such alarms were adopted in 2007. The organization stopped short of saying there should be general international travel or trade bans, but acknowledged that the outbreak, already in its sixth month, was far from being contained…” (Cowell, 8/8).

Reuters: WHO declares Ebola epidemic an international health emergency
“West Africa’s Ebola epidemic is an ‘extraordinary event’ and now constitutes an international health risk, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. The Geneva-based U.N. health agency said the possible consequences of a further international spread of the outbreak, which has killed almost 1,000 people in four West African countries, were ‘particularly serious’ in view of the virulence of the virus…” (Kelland, 8/8).

SciDev.Net: WHO declares Ebola an international health emergency
“The director-general of the WHO has proclaimed the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, triggering an urgent international step-up in the response to the crisis, which it now sees as a serious threat to other countries, too. The ‘extraordinary’ situation presents a public health risk to other nations, with ‘serious’ potential consequences if it continues to spread, the first meeting on Ebola of the WHO’s Emergency Committee reported today. The director-general accepted its assessment…” (Tatalović, 8/8).

Science Magazine: WHO declares escalating Ebola outbreak an international emergency
“With cases rapidly mounting in four West African countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) today declared the Ebola outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), a designation that allows the agency to issue recommendations for travel restrictions but also sends a strong message that more resources need to be mobilized to bring the viral disease under control…” (Enserink, 8/8).

Link to individual story

Experimental Ebola Drugs Raise Ethical Questions; U.S. Working Group To Explore Policies Related To Experimental Ebola Treatment

News outlets explore the debates surrounding experimental Ebola drugs and report on the forming of a U.S. working group aimed at setting policies related to Ebola treatment.

Associated Press: Africans face long wait for unproven Ebola drug
“Africans seeking a drug to help contain the Ebola virus will have to wait months before a potentially life-saving experimental treatment used on two infected Americans is produced even in small amounts, officials said…” (Paye-Layleh, 8/7).

The Hill: Report: Working group to wade into debate over Ebola drug access
“A new federal working group will take an initial step toward considering whether to allow the use of experimental anti-Ebola drugs on African patients, according to a report. The Obama administration is setting up the group to weigh broad ‘principles of decision-making’ for potentially expanding access to the drugs, Reuters reported…” (Viebeck, 8/7).

The Independent: Ebola virus: British experts urge U.S. and WHO to ‘give Africans cure’
“Three of Britain’s leading Ebola specialists have said experimental treatments for the deadly Ebola virus must be offered to the people of West Africa, after two U.S. aid workers were administered with the ‘cure’ in Liberia…” (Withnall, 8/6).

New York Times: In Ebola Outbreak, Who Should Get Experimental Drug?
“Some have said it is wrong that with hundreds of Africans dying from the outbreak of Ebola, extremely scarce supplies of an experimental drug went to two white American aid workers. But what if the first doses of the drug — which had never been used in people and had not even finished the typical animal safety testing — had been given to African patients instead?…” (Pollack, 8/8).

New York Times: Second Drug Is Allowed for Treatment of Ebola
“The Food and Drug Administration helped clear the way on Thursday for a second experimental drug to be tried by people in Africa stricken with the Ebola virus. The drug, being developed by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals of British Columbia, was in the initial phase of human testing, which is on healthy volunteers, when the FDA last month halted the trial because side effects were observed…” (Pollack, 8/7).

Reuters: Obama administration setting up group on experimental Ebola drugs
“The Obama administration is forming a special Ebola working group to consider setting policy for the potential use of experimental drugs to help the hundreds infected by the deadly disease in Africa, an official said on Thursday. The group will include scientists and other officials from such government health agencies as the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)…” (Morgan/Begley, 8/7).

Science Magazine: How two U.S. patients changed the debate about using untested Ebola drugs
“‘Experts: Ebola Vaccine At Least 50 White People Away,’ The Onion reported on 30 July. As so often before, the satirical story turned out to be prophetic. Until last week, there appeared to be little hope that any experimental drugs or vaccines might be used in the worst Ebola outbreak ever… But the cases of two U.S. Ebola patients who were treated with an experimental antibody cocktail have suddenly upset that international consensus…” (Enserink, 8/7).

Link to individual story

News Outlets Report On Emergency U.S. Congressional Hearing On Ebola, U.S. Response To Ebola Outbreak

News outlets report on various aspects of the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, including the proceedings of an emergency congressional hearing on Ebola on Thursday.

Associated Press/Seattle Times: CDC director: Scale of Ebola crisis unprecedented
“The current Ebola crisis in West Africa is on pace to sicken more people than all other previous outbreaks of the disease combined, the health official leading the U.S. response said Thursday. The next few weeks will be critical, said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is sending more workers into the affected countries to help…” (Neergaard, 8/8).

The Hill: CDC confident it can prevent major Ebola outbreak from hitting U.S.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday said it is confident the United States would not experience an Ebola outbreak. At an emergency congressional hearing, CDC Director Thomas Frieden assured lawmakers that the nation has the healthcare infrastructure to prevent the spread of the deadly disease that, in a new outbreak, has killed more than 900 people in West Africa…” (Al-Faruque, 8/7).

The Hill: Three lawmakers show up for Ebola hearing
“Only three lawmakers put their recess on hold Thursday to attend an emergency hearing to talk about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which is already considered the worst in history…” (Al-Faruque, 8/7).

New York Times: U.S. and Global Efforts to Contain Ebola Draw Criticism at Congressional Hearing
“Members of Congress questioned Thursday whether the American response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa had been effective, and a spokesman for a group battling the virus went further, saying no country had done enough…” (Siddons, 8/7).

Politico: CDC chief: U.S. trying to help stop Ebola crisis
“The nation’s top public health expert told Congress Thursday that the Obama administration is doing everything possible to stop the unprecedented Ebola epidemic in West Africa and pledged that the U.S. health care system is prepared to stop an outbreak on American soil. CDC Director Tom Frieden told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that the Ebola virus constitutes a ‘crisis’ of ‘unprecedented’ levels and warned that an infected person could travel to the United States and then be diagnosed with symptoms. Five people have already been tested here; none were found to have the virus…” (Haberkorn, 8/8).

Reuters: U.S. ratchets up Ebola response, officials on high alert
“The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told lawmakers on Thursday he has activated the agency’s emergency operation center at the highest response level to fight the worst Ebola outbreak in history…” (Zengerle/Steenhuysen, 8/8).

Reuters: Exclusive: U.S. cuts resources for project involved in Ebola battle in Sierra Leone
“The U.S. government will not renew funding for a major research project into Lassa fever, a decision that will, in turn, cut resources for a facility in Sierra Leone that is at the forefront of the current battle against the Ebola virus…” (Clarke, 8/7).

Reuters: U.S. orders diplomats’ families to leave Liberia as Ebola spreads
“The United States on Thursday ordered families of its diplomats in Liberia to leave and warned against non-essential travel to the West African country because of the growing Ebola outbreak. A State Department statement said U.S. staff would remain on active duty at the embassy and additional staff were being sent to help the government tackle the outbreak of the deadly virus…” (Storey, 8/7).

Link to individual story

News Outlets Cover Latest Ebola-Related Developments On The Ground In West Africa

News outlets report on the impact of and responses to the Ebola outbreak on the ground in West Africa.

New York Times: ‘Don’t Touch the Walls’: Ebola Fears Infect an African Hospital
“So many patients, nurses, and health workers have died in the government hospital that many people in this city, a center of the world’s worst Ebola epidemic, see it as a death trap. Now, the wards are empty in the principal institution fighting the disease…” (Nossiter, 8/7).

Reuters: Exclusive: Liberia health system collapsing as Ebola spreads
“The health care system in Liberia is collapsing, hospitals closing down, and medical workers fleeing from the Ebola epidemic, which is poised to worsen, Liberia’s foreign minister said on Thursday…” (Dawson, 8/7).

Washington Post: People are struggling to bury the Ebola dead. Here’s why.
“Twenty-one bodies were awaiting burials when the excavator digging their graves got stuck in the mud. With armed Liberian soldiers standing guard, the highly infectious bodies — which had been transported from a morgue by truck amid the worst Ebola outbreak in history — were forced to wait in the open until a second digger could be hired and transported to the site. The burial site itself was controversial; officials transporting the bodies last week were met by protesters from a local village, who believed the site’s proximity to where they live put them at great risk for infection…” (Ohlheiser, 8/7).

Link to individual story

National Journal Examines Differences Between Current, Past Ebola Outbreaks

National Journal: Four Reasons Why This Ebola Outbreak Is Different
“There have been about 30 recorded outbreaks of the Ebola virus in the last four decades, but none have come close to this magnitude. ‘This is something we have not seen to this extent before,’ CDC Director Thomas Frieden told a House subcommittee Thursday. Frieden said this outbreak is set to infect more people than all the previous outbreaks combined. So why is this time so different? …” (Novack, 8/8).

Link to individual story

U.S. Agriculture Initiative 'Risks Prioritizing Profit Over People' In Africa, Civil Society Groups Say

The Guardian: U.S. criticized over increased private sector investment in Africa
“Civil society groups have criticized the U.S. government’s enthusiasm for private sector investment in Africa, as the head of the country’s development agency announced a controversial agriculture scheme had now attracted more than $10bn…” (Ford, 8/7).

Link to individual story

Global Food Prices Continue To Decline

U.N. News Centre: World food prices hit six-month low, U.N. agency reports
“Global food prices fell for a fourth consecutive month in July, a sharp decline for grains, oilseeds, and dairy products outweighing strong meat and sugar prices, the United Nations agriculture agency reported…” (8/7).

Link to individual story

Devex Interviews Tanzanian Minister Of Health On Partnership With USAID

Devex: How USAID’s health partnership with Tanzania is evolving
“… Devex caught up with Tanzanian Minister of Health and Social Welfare Dr. Seif Seleman Rashid on the sidelines of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit to learn how the high-level rhetoric around a new narrative of partnership with the continent means for a ministry that still relies heavily on foreign aid programs and assistance. Rashid shared his views on emerging health sectors where investment and innovation are the words of the day, discussed recent agreements with the U.S. Agency for International Development to upgrade Tanzania’s electronic health management systems, and talked about his own ambitions to leave behind a more ‘independent’ national health system…” (Igoe, 8/7).

Link to individual story

In Myanmar, Rohingya Children Malnourished

Associated Press/Washington Post: Rohingya children in Myanmar camps going hungry
“…Myanmar’s child malnutrition rate was already among the region’s highest, but it’s an increasingly familiar sight in the country’s westernmost state of Rakhine, which is home to almost all of the country’s 1.3 million Rohingya Muslims. More than 140,000 have been trapped in crowded, dirty camps since extremist Buddhist mobs began chasing them from their homes two years ago, killing up to 280 people. … Even before the violence, the European Community Humanitarian Office reported parts of the country’s second-poorest state had acute malnutrition rates hitting 23 percent — far beyond the 15 percent emergency level set by the World Health Organization…” (8/8).

Link to individual story

South Sudan Camp Conditions 'An Affront To Human Dignity,' MSF Says

Associated Press/New York Times: S. Sudan: Conditions ‘an Affront to Human Dignity’
“South Sudan residents residing in a U.N. camp are living in knee-deep, sewage-contaminated floodwater, forcing some families to sleep standing up so they can hold their children out of the water, an aid group said Friday…” (8/8).

Link to individual story

Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Reactions To Ebola Outbreak

The following two opinion pieces discuss reactions to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

New York Times: Fighting Ebola for Us All
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist

“…[T]his Ebola outbreak underscores why we have not only a humanitarian interest in addressing global health, but also a national interest in doing so. [Kent] Brantly and [Nancy] Writebol [the Americans infected with Ebola] are moral leaders in this effort and underscore the practical imperative of tackling global contagions early on. They deserve our gratitude and admiration because in Liberia they were protecting us as well as Liberians. … We sometimes forget that health workers can brave significant risks — of infection with HIV, with tuberculosis, or even with the Ebola virus. … Bravo to them, and to so many health workers in Africa and America who try to halt the spread of disease — because it’s where humanitarian interests and national interests coincide…” (8/6).

Washington Post: Ebola fever
Michael Gerson, columnist

“…[T]he United States and other countries with advanced health systems have very limited vulnerability to the Ebola virus. Ebola fever, however, continues to infect the U.S. media. … The Ebola outbreak has… revealed, in some quarters, a deep distrust of institutions, including those dealing with public health…. In this case, trust in public-health officials would be the only alternative to mass panic and self-destructive behavior. Significant public resistance to CDC plans during a communicable disease emergency could make all of us dramatically more vulnerable. We don’t often think of it, but our way of life depends on extremely effective and respected public health systems. That is the useful, universal lesson of the Ebola outbreak of 2014” (8/7).

Link to individual story

The Guardian Discusses How To End AIDS With Experts

The Guardian: How to create an AIDS-free world
Holly Young, content coordinator for the Guardian’s Global Development Professionals Network

The Guardian features thoughts on how to prevent HIV and end AIDS worldwide from James Matheka, program officer, Population Council; Anne Philpott, founder, The Pleasure Project; Ivy Shiue, epidemiologist and assistant professor, Heriot-Watt University; Enrique Restoy, senior adviser for human rights and HIV, International HIV/AIDS Alliance; and Jane Anderson, consultant physician, Public Health England (8/7).

Link to individual story

Addressing Breastfeeding For Mothers With HIV

Huffington Post: What World Breastfeeding Week Means for HIV Positive Mothers
Anna Coutsoudis, public health specialist

“The last 20 years or so have been very difficult years for HIV-infected mothers and health-care workers because of the huge dilemma around infant feeding. Mothers faced the situation of a chance of infecting their child if they breastfed. This fear drove international agencies and many countries to promote formula feeding and even distributed it for free, leading to many HIV-infected women opting for formula feeding. … I want to encourage communities to support mothers to be able to breastfeed confidently and to prevent the infant food companies from unscrupulously putting pressure on mothers (and health care workers) to give their babies formula milk and baby foods before the age of six months. Our children are our future and each of us — peers, health workers, legislators — has a responsibility in whatever way we can to allow these children to grow up healthy, as they were created to be” (8/7).

Link to individual story

U.N. Women Launches Campaign To Renew Commitment To Gender Equality

Huffington Post: Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity. Picture It!
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of U.N. Women

“Nearly 20 years ago, the world came together in Beijing for the Fourth World Conference on Women. There, 189 governments adopted a visionary roadmap for gender equality: the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. … While much progress has been made in the past two decades, no country can claim to have achieved equality between men and women. It is time for the world to come together again for women and girls and complete this journey. U.N. Women is launching a year-long campaign to re-energize the vision laid out at the Beijing Women’s Conference. Our goal is straightforward: renewed commitment, strengthened action and increased resources to realize gender equality, women’s empowerment, and human rights. We call it: ‘Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture It!’…” (8/7).

Link to individual story

MDGs, Post-2015 Discussions Need More Attention

Devex: MDGs: The U.N.’s best-kept secret
Diana Ohlbaum, senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Project on Prosperity and Development, co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network’s Accountability Working Group, and a principal of Turner4D

“… The United Nations is now engaged in discussions with governments and civil society on new goals for social and economic progress beyond 2015. Negotiations may prove difficult as stakeholders confront sensitive issues of conflict and security, democracy and corruption, inclusion and equality. However, regardless of the specific goals agreed upon, the world will be a better place with a common agenda and universal obligations for sustainable development. At a time when so much is going wrong in the world and with no clear answer in sight, the MDGs are a good news story begging to be told” (8/7).

Link to individual story

From the Global Health Policy Community

Vaccines Can Prevent Next Public Health Crisis

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: How to Prevent the Next Health Crisis
Utibe Effiong, research associate at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and an Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow, discusses the importance of vaccines and their role in preventing public health crises (8/7).

Link to individual story

Secondary Education Can Improve Women, Children's Health, Studies Find

Humanosphere: The remarkable impact of secondary education on women’s health
Development blogger Tom Murphy discusses findings from two recent studies that support the claim that “secondary education might be the best way to improve the health of both mothers and their children” (8/7).

Link to individual story

'Science Speaks' Reports On Announcement Of Pediatric HIV Treatment Program

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: PEPFAR Pediatric HIV treatment partnership targets antiretroviral access gap
Antigone Barton, writer and editor of “Science Speaks” and senior communications officer at the Center for Global Health Policy, reports on U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Deborah Birx’s comments on the announcement of Accelerating Children’s HIV/AIDS Treatment, a partnership initiative between PEPFAR and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation that “aims to double [the] number of children getting lifesaving medicine across 10 African countries in [the] next two years” (8/7).

Link to individual story

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270

www.kff.org | Email Alerts: kff.org/email | facebook.com/KFF | twitter.com/kff

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.