KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Ebola Epidemic Reveals Food System Vulnerabilities In West Africa; More Than 1M People Could Face Hunger By March, U.N. Warns

New York Times: Agencies Warn of Hunger in Ebola Zone
“The Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa could double the number of people facing hunger in the three worst-affected countries to more than one million by March, two United Nations agencies warned Wednesday. In a joint announcement, the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization said food shortages caused by crop losses in the three countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, had been exacerbated by border closings, quarantines, hunting bans, and other restrictions…” (Gladstone, 12/17).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: U.N. warns 1 million people could be hungry by March due to Ebola
“… ‘The outbreak has revealed the vulnerability of current food production systems and value chains in the worst Ebola-affected countries,’ Bukar Tijani, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) representative for Africa said in a statement…” (Arsenault, 12/17).

Wall Street Journal: People Affected by Hunger in West African Ebola Nations Could Double
“…[The number of people threatened by hunger in West Africa] could double over the next three months as workers continue to stay away from farmlands and food markets for fear of spreading the virus, the agencies said. … The agencies called for an urgent re-establishment of farming systems in the three countries to address the labor shortages…” (Bariyo, 12/17).

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WHO, Donor Nations Face Criticism From U.K. Parliamentary Committee For Slow Ebola Response

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Donors and WHO responded too slowly to West Africa Ebola outbreak: report
“The World Health Organization (WHO) and the nations that fund it failed to respond quickly and effectively to the deadly West Africa Ebola outbreak despite repeated warnings by aid agencies, a U.K. parliamentary committee said on Thursday. … The U.K.’s Department for International Development (DfID) also came in for criticism from the parliamentary committee…” (Hussain, 12/17).

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Sierra Leone's Ebola Clinics Overflow As Efforts Ramp Up To Stop Disease; WHO Says Total Deaths Nearing 7K

Reuters: Ebola centers overflow as Sierra Leone steps up fight
“Ebola centers in Sierra Leone overflowed on Wednesday as health workers combed the streets of the capital Freetown for patients, after the government launched a major operation to contain the epidemic in West Africa’s worst-hit country…” (Farge et al., 12/17).

Nature: Inside the cultural struggle to stamp out Ebola
“…As difficult as it is, public health officials say, changing behavior is the key to stopping the Ebola outbreak that has ravaged West Africa for a year. … But that is difficult when officials are asking people to restrict their lives so drastically for reasons that can be hard to understand…” (Hayden, 12/17).

Reuters: Ebola toll nears 7,000; rate of spread slows in Sierra Leone: WHO
“The death toll in the Ebola epidemic has risen to 6,915 out of 18,603 cases as of Dec. 14, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday. There are signs that the increase in incidence in Sierra Leone has slowed…” (Nebehay, 12/17).

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Ebola Prompts Changes To U.S. Health Systems, Hospitals To Prepare For Future Disease Outbreaks

Bloomberg News: U.S. Ebola Panic Vanishes Just as Money Is About to Flow
“…While the disease is still ravaging Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, last week Congress allocated more than $800 million to prepare and compensate states for readying for Ebola in the U.S., more than a month after the last case was diagnosed in the country…” (Bloomfield, 12/16).

Reuters: Ebola fears speed changes in U.S. hospital record systems
“…[T]he first diagnosis of an Ebola case on U.S. soil in late September has prompted improvements in some areas of electronic record-keeping, particularly when it comes to alerting doctors about patients most vulnerable to a disease outbreak…” (Kelly, 12/17).

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Health Experts, Officials Discuss Lessons Learned From 2014 Ebola Outbreak

The Atlantic: Lessons From an Outbreak: How Ebola Shaped 2014
“This was the year of the biggest Ebola outbreak of all time. … I asked several experts — health care workers, journalists, and officials — what they’ve taken away from watching the Ebola outbreak unfold this year, and what lessons we, as a society, should learn to better deal with this outbreak, and future ones. Their responses have been edited and condensed for clarity…” (Beck, 12/17).

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Global Life Expectancy Up More Than 6 Years From 1990; Southern Africa Still Facing Declines Due To HIV/AIDS, Study Shows

News outlets report on a new study, led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and published in The Lancet, showing a global increase in life expectancy.

Agence France-Presse: Global life expectancy rises: study
“People around the world lived on average to a ripe old age of 71.5 in 2013, up from 65.3 in 1990, a study said Thursday, noting the gains came despite big increases in liver cancer and chronic kidney deaths…” (12/17).

Bloomberg News: It’s the Best Time to Be Born as Life Expectancy Tops 70
“…Much of the gain has come from poor countries, where better health infrastructure has helped people live dramatically longer lives, according to a paper published today in the journal Lancet. In rich countries, new drugs and other advances are stretching lifetimes, the study’s authors said…” (Bloomfield, 12/17).

Reuters: Global population living six years longer than in 1990: study
“…In an analysis from the 2013 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, health researchers said, however, that while life expectancy is rising almost everywhere in the world, one notable exception is southern sub-Saharan Africa, where deaths from HIV/AIDS have erased some five years of life expectancy since 1990…” (Kelland, 12/18).

TIME: This Is Now the Average Life Expectancy Worldwide
“…Importantly, medical funding for fighting infectious diseases has grown since 1990 and helped drive the improvement, according to [Christopher Murray, a University of Washington professor]…” (Worland, 12/17).

Wall Street Journal: Global Life Expectancy Increases by About Six Years
“…But there are worrying signs, too. While global deaths from infectious disease dropped by about 25 percent over the past two decades, the number of deaths linked to noncommunicable diseases has jumped by about 40 percent. Noncommunicable maladies, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, tend to be chronic in nature and often more expensive to treat…” (Naik, 12/17).

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U.N. General Assembly Resolution Calls For Increased Protection Of HCWs From Violence

NPR: Medical Workers In Conflict Zones Have Never Faced Greater Risks
“…Since 2012, there have been 2,300 incidents of violence or threats of violence reported to the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), though the IFRC suspects that many more go unreported. This week, the United Nations passed a resolution that recognizes this danger and strengthens existing international laws that protect health care workers in conflict zones…” (Klibanoff, 12/16).

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U.N. Emergency Response Fund Receives Nearly $420M In Pledges, Falls Short Of $450M Request

U.N. News Centre: Donors pledge over $400 million for 2015 U.N. rapid humanitarian response fund
“International donors have pledged $418.6 million for a United Nations fund aimed at enabling the speedy delivery of humanitarian aid into the epicenters of crisis zones around the world, falling short of a broader appeal made by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the organization’s top relief official…” (12/17).

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Sex Worker-Led Organizations Need More Development Funding, Report Says

The Guardian: Sex workers missing out on development funds
“Organizations led by sex workers that support sex-worker rights need more funding to eliminate violence against women, halt the spread of HIV, and end discrimination on the grounds of gender, according to a report published on Wednesday … by the Open Society Foundations, Mama Cash, and the Red Umbrella Fund…” (Ford, 12/17).

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Chinese Locals Sign Petition To Expel 8-Year-Old HIV-Positive Boy From Village, Highlighting Stigma

Agence France-Presse: Shame in China as village votes to expel HIV-positive boy
“The plight of an eight-year-old Chinese boy with HIV, reportedly ordered to leave his village by 200 petitioners, sparked intense online soul-searching Thursday in a country where discrimination against sufferers remains rife…” (Connor, 12/18).

CNN: Chinese villagers sign petition to banish HIV-positive boy
“…People living with HIV or AIDS in China face widespread discrimination and stigma, especially in rural areas where there is a lack of education about the disease…” (Ng, 12/18).

The Guardian: Chinese villagers sign letter demanding HIV-positive boy be removed
“…The villagers’ letter to the authorities asks that Kun Kun be taken away from the village and given medical treatment in isolation. The report said no school had dared accept the boy because other families would refuse to let their children study with him and that no one was allowed to play with him. One father described him as a ‘timebomb’…” (Branigan, 12/17).

Reuters: Chinese villagers seek to banish HIV-infected boy – state media
“…Kun Kun, an eight-year-old boy from a village in the southwestern province of Sichuan contracted the virus from his mother, the People’s Daily newspaper said on its website. … But in response to his treatment, the village mayor was quoted by the newspaper as saying Kun Kun enjoyed equal rights and ‘the township government will conduct ideological work on the villagers’…” (12/17).

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Myanmar's Malaria Successes Highlight Need For Collaboration, Trust Building Among National, Local Governments, Other Partners

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Fight against malaria unites old foes in Myanmar
“…The need to collaborate is even more pressing now as progress in fighting malaria is threatened by parasite resistance to drugs used to treat the disease, which is spread by mosquitoes. … Aung Kyaw Htwe, the government’s health director of Kayin state, said that after decades of conflict all sides had to recognize that it would take time to build trust…” (Zweynert, 12/18).

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Climate Change May Increase Presence Of Cholera, But New Data Can Predict, Prevent Future Outbreaks, Study Says

International Business Times: Climate change will increase Cholera outbreaks in vulnerable regions
“Climate change will lead to more frequent cholera outbreaks in vulnerable regions, a study has found. However, a method using satellite data has been developed to anticipate an outbreak two to four months in advance. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland, used 40 years of hydrological and climatological data to look into patterns of cholera outbreaks…” (Jayalakshmi, 12/18).

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Experimental Blood Cell Transplants To Treat HIV Fail, Researchers Report

Associated Press: A fresh setback for efforts to cure HIV infection
“Researchers are reporting another disappointment for efforts to cure infection with the AIDS virus. Six patients given blood cell transplants similar to one that cured a man known as ‘the Berlin patient’ have failed, and all six patients died…” (Marchione, 12/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

Obama Should Sign Water For The World Act To 'Improve The Lives Of Millions'

The Hill: Mr. President, sign the Water for the World Act
Hugh Evans, chief executive officer of the Global Poverty Project, and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.)

“…Last week, this bipartisan bill passed unanimously in the House of Representatives. And on Monday, the Senate passed it by unanimous consent. Now, it’s up to President Obama to sign this critical piece of legislation into law. The Water for the World Act will improve the lives of millions of people by ensuring that funding for water programs gets to the communities with the greatest need. … By making significant strides in water and sanitation issues, the United States government is leading the creation of the world that we want: a world without extreme poverty” (12/17).

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U.S. Academic Medical Centers Must Strike Balance Between Risk Management, Duty To Serve In Allowing HCWs To Deploy To Ebola-Hit Nations

New England Journal of Medicine: License to Serve — U.S. Trainees and the Ebola Epidemic
Lisa Rosenbaum, NEJM national correspondent

“…While much attention has been paid to readying [U.S. academic medical centers (AMCs)] to care for Ebola patients in the United States, there has been little discussion about the role they should play in international relief efforts. Absent a uniform policy for responding to deployment requests, AMCs are taking varying approaches … In this setting, we need to strike a balance between being appropriately cautious and being scared. As Patricia Henwood, an emergency physician from the University of Pennsylvania who just returned from Liberia and will soon go back, told me, ‘I respect the virus, but I don’t fear it.’ Such a distinction is as relevant to our approach to those seeking to control the virus as it is to the virus itself…” (12/17).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.N. Needs $8.4B For 2015 Humanitarian Efforts In Syria

UNHCR: U.N. and partners seek $8.4 billion for new Syria program in 2015
“As Syria’s war heads towards a fifth year, the United Nations and partners today launched a major new humanitarian and development appeal, requesting more than U.S.$8.4 billion to help nearly 18 million people in Syria and across the region in 2015…” (12/18).

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Namibian Supreme Court Decision One Step In Continuing Efforts To Stop Forcible Sterlizations

Open Society Foundations: A Win for Victims of Forced Sterilization in Namibia
Nyasha Chingore-Munazvo, a lawyer with the Sexual and Reproductive Rights Program of the Southern Africa Litigation Center, a grantee of the Open Society Foundations, discusses a Namibian Supreme Court decision that sided with three HIV-positive women who were forcibly sterilized. She writes, “This ruling by the country’s highest court, while cause for celebration, is but a single victory in a continuing fight…” (12/17).

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amfAR Grants Will Support Research On HIV Service Delivery Among Key Populations In LMICs

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research: amfAR Announces New Grants to Support Implementation Science Research Among Key Affected Populations
“In an effort to address the unrelenting disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on gay men, other men who have sex with men (MSM), and transgender individuals — collectively known as ‘GMT’ — amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, has awarded substantial new research grants to study the impact of innovative HIV service delivery models for GMT in low- and middle-income countries…” (12/16).

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