KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.N.'s Ban Begins West Africa Visit, Urges Communities To Follow Health Regulations

Associated Press: U.N. chief visits Ebola-ravaged West African nations
“United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Liberia on its efforts to combat Ebola on Friday during his second visit here since the start of the outbreak that now has killed more than 6,900 people in West Africa. … Concern has grown about the situation in neighboring Sierra Leone, where the Ebola is now spreading the fastest in the region…” (12/19).

Reuters: U.N. chief, visiting Ebola countries, urges respect for health rules
“U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, starting a visit to Ebola-hit countries in West Africa, urged local communities to strictly follow health regulations in the face of signs that traditional funerals are still spreading the disease…” (Mpoke Bigg, 12/19).

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11th Sierra Leonean Doctor Dies Of Ebola; HCWs Demand Better Care When Infected

Associated Press: Ebola: 11th Sierra Leone doctor dies; fire destroys supplies
“One of Sierra Leone’s most senior physicians died Thursday from Ebola, the 11th doctor in the country to succumb to the disease, a health official said…” (Roy-Macaulay/Diallo, 12/18).

Reuters: Sierra Leone’s leading doctor dies of Ebola
“…His death brings to 12 the number of Sierra Leone doctors to have contracted the virus. Eleven have died. In all, 142 health workers have been infected with the disease in the West African country and 109 have died, according to World Health Organization figures…” (Fofana/Farge, 12/18).

The Lancet: Sierra Leone doctors call for better Ebola care for colleagues
“…Sierra Leone already has an Ebola treatment unit designated for health care workers, which opened last month, but local doctors are blocked from accessing it. Staffed by British Army medics, at the British-built Ebola treatment complex in Kerry Town, the 12-bed health care workers’ unit only accepts local health care workers from U.K.-funded Ebola treatment facilities…” (Schuchman, 12/17).

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Ebola Cooperation Helped Thaw Relations Between Cuba, U.S.

Business Insider: The Global Health Threat That Brought The U.S. And Cuba Back Together
“…The antiquated conflict between [Cuba and the U.S.] pales in comparison to the global necessity to band together during a crisis and work collaboratively wherever help is needed most…” (Brodwin, 12/18).

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Liberia's Senate Elections To Be Held Saturday After Delays Because Of Ebola

New York Times: Liberia Will Proceed With Senate Vote Delayed by Ebola
“Senate elections that were repeatedly delayed because of the Ebola epidemic and legal challenges, and further complicated by a presidential ban on large political gatherings in the capital, will finally be held in Liberia on Saturday. Whether they will be fair, peaceful, and safe is unclear…” (MacDougall, 12/18).

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News Outlets Report On Various Aspects Of Ebola Vaccine Research

CIDRAP: Data request slows timetable for Ebola vaccine trial (Roos, 12/18).
Nature: How do you test an Ebola vaccine? (Callaway, 12/18).
Reuters: China approves experimental Ebola vaccine for clinical trials (Jourdan, 12/18).
Reuters: GSK Ebola vaccine trial seen moving to wider phase in February (Miles, 12/19).

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U.N. Launches $8.4B Humanitarian, Development Appeal For Syria

New York Times: U.N. Seeks $8.4 Billion for Syrians
“The United Nations said Thursday that it was seeking $8.4 billion, more than the annual economic output of dozens of small countries, to help nearly 18 million victims of Syria’s conflict during 2015…” (Gladstone, 12/18).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: U.N. launches 2015 Syria appeal, focuses on helping refugees’ host nations
“…As well as calling for cash for essential humanitarian aid for millions of Syrians inside and outside their homeland, the annual appeal included for the first time development plans to help neighboring countries hosting Syrian refugees…” (Mis, 12/18).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. launches appeal for life-saving aid to millions of Syrians, support to host communities
“…The Syria Strategic Response Plan 2015 (SRP) which requires $2.9 billion in funding to address acute humanitarian needs inside Syria, aims to provide 12.2 million people with protection, life-saving assistance, and livelihood support. Meanwhile, the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) represents a strategic shift in the approach to delivering aid for the region. It brings together emergency humanitarian operations and host community support with longer-term programs aimed at boosting resilience…” (12/18).

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1M Syrians Wounded, Many At Risk Of Disease Due To Falling Vaccination Rates, Lack Of Clean Water, WHO Official Says

Reuters: One million people wounded, diseases spreading in Syria: WHO
“One million people have been wounded during Syria’s civil war and diseases are spreading as regular supplies of medicine fail to reach patients, the World Health Organization’s Syria representative said. A plunge in vaccination rates from 90 percent before the war to 52 percent this year and contaminated water have added to the woes, allowing typhoid and hepatitis to advance, Elizabeth Hoff said in an interview late on Thursday…” (Holmes, 12/19).

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Chikungunya Spreads Throughout Americas

CNN: The debilitating outbreak sweeping the Americas
“…This was the first outbreak of the debilitating disease [chikungunya] in the Western Hemisphere, health officials said. All countries in Central America have now reported local transmission of chikungunya (pronounced chik-un-GOON-ya), and the United States had 11 confirmed cases of local infection this year as of December 12, all in Florida…” (Senthilingam, 12/18).

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Cambodian Prime Minister Launches Investigation Into Cause Of Mass HIV Infections In Rural Village

CNN: Cambodia orders probe into ‘HIV village’ as more than 100 test positive
“Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen has called for an inquiry into a suspected mass HIV infection in a remote village in northwestern Battambang province. The infected cases have surpassed 100 and [the virus] is believed to have been spread by contaminated needles used by an unlicensed doctor, reported local media…” (Ng, 12/19).

VOA News: 110 Test Positive for HIV in Cambodian Village
“…The Cambodia country director for UNAIDS (the lead United Nations organization combating AIDS), Marie-Odile Edmond, said those residing in Roka commune in Battambang province are not in a high-risk category. … Edmond, the UNAIDS country director, said it is premature to draw any conclusions as to how the virus spread…” (Herman, 12/19).

Wall Street Journal: HIV Infections Surge in Cambodian Village
“…Health officials urged people not to panic. The health crisis in Roka has transfixed the nation in recent days, partly because Cambodian authorities, with the help of foreign health organizations, had been successful in halting the rapid spread of the virus in the 1990s…” (Narin/Hookway, 12/19).

Washington Post: Cambodian villagers want to kill medical practitioner who allegedly spread HIV with infected needles
“Cambodian authorities have put into protective custody an unlicensed health worker who villagers are threatening to kill, believing he used contaminated needles that spread HIV to more than 100 people. … But authorities are still grappling with the accuracy of the results. Even after calling for an investigation on Thursday, the prime minister expressed doubt about testing equipment…” (Bever, 12/19).

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Many U.S. States Unprepared For Infectious Disease Outbreaks Like Ebola, Report Says

The Hill: Report: U.S. unprepared for disease outbreaks despite billions spent
“Major gaps exist in the country’s capacity to handle public health crises like Ebola despite massive government spending over the last decade, according to a new report. Inadequate funding, weak leadership, and uneven standards are all putting Americans at risk for infectious diseases, according to an extensive 112-page report by the Trust for America’s Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation…” (Ferris, 12/18).

Washington Post: Map: How prepared are states for infectious disease outbreaks?
“…The states that scored highest — 8 points each — were Maryland, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. Half the states scored a six, seven or eight. Arkansas alone scored two. D.C. earned a score of five…” (Chokshi, 12/18).

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Disaster-Induced Deaths Rise Threefold In Asia-Pacific Over Last Decade

U.N. News Centre: Asia-Pacific report: World’s most disaster prone region experiences three-fold rise in deaths
“…Published by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the annual report showed that disaster-induced deaths in the Asia-Pacific region rose more than three-fold between in the past decade, largely due to a handful of extreme disasters…” (12/18).

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Yemen Facing High Malnutrition Rates Among Children

New York Times: Malnutrition Hits Millions of Children in Yemen
“…Yemen is the most impoverished country in the Middle East, and among its grim distinctions is having one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world. Political turmoil since the 2011 uprising against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh has left an already feeble government even less able to care for its indigent citizens. Chronic challenges have become emergencies as the state’s presence in much of Yemen has started to dissolve…” (Fahim, 12/18).

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Pakistan Overcomes Geographical Challenges, Terror Threats To Vaccinate Children

NPR: Pakistan Keeps On Vaccinating Despite Tough Terrain And Terror Threat
“…In 2013, the country saw between 60 and 85 percent immunization coverage against diseases like measles, tuberculosis, polio, and meningitis. In 1980, the rate was almost zero…” (Beaubien, 12/18).

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Scientists To Resume MERS Research Previously Halted By NIH

NPR: NIH Allows Restart Of MERS Research That Had Been Questioned
“Some researchers who study the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome got an early Christmas present: permission to resume experiments that the federal government abruptly halted in October…” (Greenfieldboyce, 12/18).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S., Other Donors Should Fully Fund Gavi

Washington Post: A global conspiracy of health
Michael Gerson, opinion writer

“…[O]ne little-known global institution based in Geneva — Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — supports vaccination for nearly 60 percent of the world’s children. It is a global conspiracy of health. … The Obama administration and other governments are in the process of determining their commitments to Gavi. America is generally hesitant to make large, multiyear development pledges. This should be a big, bipartisan exception” (12/18).

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Editorial, Opinion Piece Discuss Impacts Of Ebola Epidemic

The Lancet: Ebola: protection of health care workers
Editorial Board

“…Prevention of Ebola in health-care workers is crucial to improve the health response to all causes of morbidity and mortality in affected countries” (12/27).

The Lancet: Offline: Can Ebola be a route to nation-building?
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet

“…Ebola has encouraged countries to tell the truth about failed neoliberal theories of human development, the malign interference of old (and new) colonial ‘partners,’ the paternalism of the international community, the lack of coordination among donors, the breakdown of trust between communities and their governments, and the total absence of accountability for the plethora of promises made. Can this truth-telling be harnessed to turn a humanitarian crisis into an unexpected societal dividend? The next six months will tell” (12/27).

The Hill: What we learned from ‘Ebolanoia’
David Seres, associate professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center

“…The Ebola outbreak rages on in Africa and there is no easing of our own outbreak of ‘Ebolanoia,’ the unfounded hysteria over Ebola caused by fear mongering that is far more dangerous than the virus could ever be. There is no vaccine against Ebolanoia, except factual and scientific information…” (12/18).

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Yemen's Successful NTD Control Efforts Provide Lessons For Disease Control In Areas Of Instability, Poverty

PLOS “Neglected Tropical Diseases”: Yemen: Fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases against All Odds
Elisa Baring, program directorat the END Fund, and Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and chair of the END Fund technical advisory board

“…Today, Yemen has some of the highest concentrations of NTDs in the Middle East. … Yemen’s MoPHP [Yemen Ministry of Public Health and Population] and NTD partners are now exploring how the successful schistosomiasis and intestinal worm control program can be extended to also include other NTDs, such as onchocerciasis and trachoma. … The success of Yemen’s NTD control efforts provides important lessons for conducting disease control activities in the face of civil unrest, extreme instability, and poverty” (12/18).

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Coalition Partners Working To Eliminate Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Huffington Post: Uniting to Stop the Worms
David Addiss, director of Children Without Worms

“…At the second anniversary of the London Declaration on NTDs in April 2014, nine partners added pledges of over US$120 million toward [soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH)] control and prevention and helped establish the STH Coalition — now grown to 32 diverse partners committed to improving the health of children and communities through effective STH control. … The STH Coalition, working closely with the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance and other global alliances, will overcome barriers, determine where and how best to leverage resources, and establish metrics and measures of progress. 2015 will be a year of concerted action — a year in which we are truly uniting to stop the worms” (12/18).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

$100M For NTDs Included In FY15 Spending Bill

Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End The Neglect”: Congress Approves $100 Million for NTD Funding!
Alex Gordon, communications associate for the Global Network and the Sabin Vaccine Institute, writes, “…We were very happy to hear that Congress approved $100 million for NTD funding in fiscal year (FY) 2015 and the president signed the budget this week! … This victory underscores a growing bipartisan effort to prioritize global health and NTD spending within the U.S budget, and a growing awareness that treating NTDs is critical to ending extreme poverty…” (12/18).

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Regional Disease Surveillance Networks Can Improve Health Outcomes

World Bank’s “Investing in Health”: Regional Disease Surveillance in a Globalized World
Patricio Marquez, lead health specialist and public health focal point for health, nutrition, and population global practice at the World Bank, discusses the importance of early detection and response to disease outbreaks, and the benefits of establishing regional disease surveillance networks (12/17).

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