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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Obama Lauds Congress For Emergency Ebola Funding, Warns West African Epidemic Must End To Avoid Spread To U.S.

The Hill: Obama: ‘A lot more work to do’ on Ebola
“President Obama on Friday applauded Congress for setting aside $5.4 million in emergency funding to fight Ebola, which he said is crucial in case the disease resurfaces in the United States. ‘Until we have snuffed out the last case of Ebola in West Africa there’s always the prospect, and in fact, likelihood that it spreads and it could end up coming back to the United States,’ Obama said after a meeting with more than two dozen high-level health and security officials…” (Ferris, 12/12).

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Global Community Must Help Ebola-Affected West African Countries Strengthen Health Systems, U.N. Meeting Declares

U.N. News Centre: U.N. meeting urges critical improvements to health systems of Ebola-affected countries
“The international community must help Ebola-affected countries reboot their health systems so that they emerge from the current crisis more resilient and more focused on prevention efforts than ever before, a high-level meeting coordinated by the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva heard [Friday]…” (12/12).

WHO: Health partners unite to build stronger systems for health in Ebola-affected countries
“… Participants of the meeting discussed the need to integrate all health services from clinical care to surveillance, health promotion, disease prevention and management, and palliative care. Given the movement of people across borders of the Ebola-affected countries, it will also be important to coordinate national health plans across borders and align surveillance systems…” (12/12).

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Ebola Toll In Three Worst-Hit West African Countries Reaches 6,583 Deaths, 18,188 Cases, WHO Reports

Reuters: Ebola toll in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia reaches 6,583: WHO
“The death toll from the Ebola outbreak in the three worst-hit countries in West Africa reached 6,583 as of Dec. 10, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. Updated figures on the WHO website showed that 18,188 cases have been recorded in the three nations in the worst outbreak of the disease on record…” (Felix, 12/12).

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Sierra Leone Bans Public Christmas, New Year's Celebrations To Stem Ebola Spread; U.N. Officials Call For Stronger Response

Los Angeles Times: Sierra Leone bans Christmas celebrations in bid to halt Ebola virus
“Authorities in Sierra Leone have banned public Christmas and New Year’s celebrations in a bid to halt the spread of Ebola, according to local news reports…” (Zavis, 12/12).

Reuters: Sierra Leone to ban Xmas parties, plans “surge” to curb Ebola spread
“Sierra Leone plans to ban parties and other festivities over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and to launch a ‘surge’ to cut the risk of Ebola spreading further in the West African country now with the most infections, officials said on Friday…” (Felix/Fofana, 12/12).

Reuters: Shock treatment: what’s missing from Sierra Leone’s Ebola response
“…Bruce Aylward, the head of Ebola response at the World Health Organization, said Sierra Leone was well placed to contain the disease — its worst outbreak on record — with infrastructure, organization, and aid. The problem is that its people have yet to be shocked out of behavior that is helping the disease to spread, still keeping infected loved ones close and touching the bodies of the dead…” (Miles, 12/15).

U.N. News Centre: Ebola: U.N. envoy calls for “big surge” in efforts to reduce transmission rates in Sierra Leone
“… ‘We need to put in place a big surge to get those case numbers down [in Sierra Leone], and we’ve been working on implementing that surge in the last week,’ Anthony Banbury, head of the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), said in a press release following his two-day visit to the country’s capital, Freetown, from 11 to 12 December…” (12/13).

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USAID's 'Grand Challenges' To Test Potential Ebola Innovations

New York Times: Contest Seeks Novel Tools for the Fight Against Ebola
“The well-prepared Ebola fighter in West Africa may soon have some new options: protective gear that zips off like a wet suit, ice-cold underwear to make life inside the sweltering suits more bearable, or lotions that go on like bug spray and kill or repel the lethal virus. Those ideas are among the contenders to win the Ebola ‘Grand Challenges’ contest announced in October by the United States Agency for International Development, or among those being considered by the agency without having formally entered the contest…” (McNeil, 12/12).

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U.S. Embargo Delays WHO Payments To Cuban Ebola Doctors In Sierra Leone

Associated Press: U.S. embargo stalled payment to Cuban Ebola doctors
“Cuba had to cover food and lodging expenses for dozens of its doctors fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone after the U.S. embargo delayed payments from the World Health Organization, an official at the U.N. agency said. … The embargo issue did not affect the state salaries, which are paid to banks inside Cuba, only the extra payments from WHO…” (Rodriguez, 12/12).

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UNICEF Expands Ebola Appeal To $500M, Says Only 24% Of Funding Secured

Agence France-Presse: UNICEF ups Ebola fight, needs $500mn for next six months
“The U.N. children’s agency said Friday it was scaling up efforts to fight Ebola, including to help thousands of children in West Africa orphaned by the deadly virus…” (12/12).

UNICEF: To boost fight against Ebola and strengthen community-based services for the future, UNICEF raises appeal to US$500 million
“UNICEF [Friday] announced an expanded fight against the Ebola virus in West Africa over the next six months, costing a total of US$500 million — of which just 24 percent ($125.7 million) has been secured…” (12/12).

VOA News: UNICEF Expanding Fight Against Ebola
“…Funds from the appeal would be used to promote life-saving behaviors and train 60,000 community volunteers, [UNICEF’s crisis communications chief Sarah] Crowe said. … Crowe said the appeal also will be used to provide child-protection services, since about 10,000 children across all three countries have lost one or both parents to Ebola…” (Schlein, 12/12).

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UNFPA Humanitarian Response Head Speaks About Gender Bias In Ebola Epidemic

Ebola Deeply: Ebola’s Gender Bias: The Triple Threat Facing Women
“Directly or indirectly, women and girls are statistically more likely to be affected by Ebola than men. Ebola Deeply spoke with Ugochi Daniels, who heads UNFPA’s Humanitarian Response, about Ebola’s gender bias. … ‘If you’re a woman in an Ebola-affected country right now, you face a triple threat: You could die from Ebola, you could die during pregnancy, or you could die during childbirth’…” (Thomas, 12/12).

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Up To 10,000 Ebola Orphans Face Stigma In West Africa

New York Times: An Ebola Orphan’s Plea in Africa: ‘Do You Want Me?’
“…Ebola has been wretched for children. More than 3,500 have been infected and at least 1,200 have died, United Nations officials estimate. … The United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, says that across the region there may be 10,000 [children orphaned by Ebola]. Many are stigmatized and shunned by their own communities…” (Gettleman, 12/13).

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WASH Improvements In Developing Countries Would Reduce Maternal, Newborn Mortality, Report Says

News outlets discuss a report on water, sanitation, and hygiene and maternal and newborn mortality published in PLOS Medicine.

BBC News: Poor water and hygiene ‘kills mothers and newborns’
“Many mothers and newborns are dying because of a lack of sanitation, safe water, and hygiene while giving birth, leading health experts have warned…” (Mundasad, 12/13).

Bloomberg News: Lack of Water in Developing World Hospitals Kills: Report
“…With an estimated 289,000 women dead from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth last year, about 38 percent of health care facilities in 54 low-income countries don’t have an improved water source, a forthcoming survey by the World Health Organization shows…” (Hackley, 12/12).

Reuters: Improve water and sanitation in clinics to reduce maternal deaths: research
“…Poor access to water and sanitation is associated with higher levels of maternal mortality, therefore improving access in those facilities would rapidly reduce the number of women dying in childbirth, researchers wrote in their paper…” (Mis, 12/12).

VOA News: Report: 300,000 Die Worldwide in 2013 Childbirths
“…The article, written by a team of researchers from organizations including WaterAid, the World Health Organization, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UNICEF, and the United Nations Population Fund, estimates that 289,000 would-be mothers died from unsanitary conditions, either at home or in health care facilities…” (Berman, 12/12).

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Global Progress Made Toward Ending Extreme Poverty, World Bank Data Show

New York Times: A Global Gauge Finds Progress Against Poverty
“…In just over two decades, the number of people living in extreme poverty has been almost halved. … At current growth rates, the World Bank predicts that in 15 or so years, the income of a vast majority of the world’s destitute people will rise above the extreme-poverty threshold…” (Bernasek, 12/13).

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African Men Need To Be Greater Focus Of HIV Treatment, Prevention Strategies, IPS Reports

Inter Press Service: AIDS Response Is Leaving African Men Behind
“Mention gender inequality in AIDS and the fact that more women than men live with HIV pops up. But another, rarely spoken about gendered difference is proving lethal to men with HIV. Research reveals that, across Africa, men have lower rates of HIV testing, enrollment on antiretroviral treatment, adherence, viral load suppression, and survival than women…” (Gathigah, 12/12).

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SE Asian Militaries Play Important Role In Malaria Control But Also Act As Transmission Reservoirs, Study Says

SciDev.Net: Military forces play a dual role in malaria control
“Military organizations of South-East Asian countries can help in the fight against malaria, a new study reports, but they are also ‘under-recognized’ transmission reservoirs of malaria infections…” (Ives, 12/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

Making Progress Toward UHC 'Will Bolster Weak Health Systems'

Huffington Post: Universal Health Coverage: A Smart Investment
Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, and Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group

“…[Friday marked] the second anniversary of the United Nations’ declaration in support of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), so that no one should fall into poverty to pay for the health care they need. A global coalition of more than 500 organizations, including the World Bank Group and the Rockefeller Foundation, are engaging citizens around the world in support of this goal as both a human right and a smart investment. This mobilization toward UHC defies a one-size-fits-all approach, recognizing that diverse contexts will drive country-specific paths. Whatever the path taken, it’s indisputable that progress towards UHC will bolster weak health systems…” (12/12).

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Devex Publishes Opinion Pieces Discussing UHC Goal

Devex: Health for all is an achievable goal
Tanya Barron, CEO of Plan U.K.

Devex: 3 ways to fast-track UHC in the developing world
Karl Hofmann, president and CEO of Population Services International, and Simon Cooke, CEO of Marie Stopes International

Devex: Partnering to make UHC a reality
Jonathan Jay, attorney, bioethicist, and senior writer for Management Sciences for Health

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Lessons From Ebola, Path Forward To Eliminate Epidemic

Roll Call: Containing Epidemics Like Ebola: Lessons From Nigeria’s Success
Bobby Kapur, associate chief of emergency medicine at Baylor College of Medicine

“…In addition to helping West African countries contain the epidemic, the [U.S. Ebola] funding will build capacity in the U.S. to respond to Ebola and future epidemics. Moreover, combating contagions abroad offers lessons that can be applied here at home. … Now is the time for America to implement a plan for public health security that will standardize care, prevent confusion and, ultimately, keep citizens safe. Passing the President’s funding to combat Ebola is one step in the right direction” (12/12).

New York Times: The Path to Zero Ebola Cases
Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group

“…[W]e are not yet on the path to end the [Ebola] epidemic. These three [West African] countries and the world must now shift the focus of their strategy with one goal in mind: zero Ebola cases. While each country faces different challenges in reaching this destination, there are common principles that can guide them. … First, we must find the resources required, no matter the cost, to get to zero cases as soon as possible. … Second, it is time to multiply the number of trained people to hunt down the virus. … Third, response coordination and support mechanisms must move down to the district level … Fourth, national response strategies must be nimble and adapt to local conditions … Finally, we must empower the strong leaders in the region who head the response to extinguish the virus wherever it exists…” (12/11).

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Malaria Funding From All Sources Must Be Doubled

New York Times: Fragile Gains Against Malaria
Editorial Board

“The global battle against malaria, a mosquito-borne infectious disease, continues to yield impressive gains, but it is encountering new obstacles that threaten future progress. It is imperative that funding from all sources be doubled to solidify the achievements and move toward the elimination of malaria from as many countries as possible…” (12/13).

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More Nations Must Accept Syrian Refugees To Alleviate Crisis

New York Times: Still Failing Syria’s Refugees
Editorial Board

“The international community is expected to offer shelter and support to more than 100,000 additional Syrian refugees, who have been forced from their homes by their country’s bloody civil war. That is progress — but it is not nearly enough when measured against the enormous need and the fact that some of the world’s wealthiest countries are still turning their backs on this humanitarian disaster. … World leaders should listen to their pleas” (12/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Achieving UHC Goal Will Help End Extreme Poverty

USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: Ending Extreme Poverty in Asia through Universal Health Coverage
Kristina Yarrow, a senior health technical specialist in the Asia Bureau, and Caroline Ly, a health economist in the Bureau for Global Health’s Office of Health Systems, write, “By financing policies that focus on increasing equity and access to quality essential health services — the aim of universal health coverage — countries will be taking concrete steps towards the bold vision of ending extreme poverty” (12/12).

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U.S. Fellowship Program Alumnus Helping To Educate Sierra Leoneans About Ebola

U.S. State Department’s “DipNote”: ‘Join Hands To Drive Out Ebola’
Darin McAnelly, regional alumni coordinator for Africa, and Phoenix Ricks, alumni outreach coordinator, both in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, profile 2010 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program alumnus Joe Bangura, head of corporate affairs at Africell, Sierra Leone’s biggest mobile phone company, and a national radio personality who is working to help educate the public about Ebola in Sierra Leone (12/12).

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Blog Post Examines Recent Congressional Hearing On Ebola

Center for Global Development’s “Rethinking U.S. Development Policy”: What You Did (and Didn’t) Hear at the Congressional Ebola Hearing
Beth Schwanke, senior policy counsel at CGD, summarizes remarks and requests made at a December 10 congressional hearing on Ebola, and discusses related issues she hopes will be addressed at future hearings (12/11).

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