KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Obama To Speak On Ebola Vaccine Progress, Urge Congress To Approve Emergency Funding Request

The Hill: Obama to tout progress on Ebola vaccine at NIH
“President Obama will speak at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Tuesday to tout progress on a much-needed Ebola vaccine that has shown promise in early trials. Obama will travel to Bethesda, MD, to applaud the work of NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, as well as ‘discuss progress on other fronts on the fight against Ebola,’ according to the White House…” (Ferris, 12/1).

The Hill: White House predicts Ebola funding support
“White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that President Obama expects Republicans to back his $6.2 billion funding package to fight Ebola. … Obama will speak at the National Institutes of Health on Tuesday to draw attention to his emergency funding request as members of Congress look to complete next year’s appropriations bill before Dec. 11…” (Ferris, 12/1).

Reuters: Obama to urge Congress to loosen purse strings for Ebola fight
“President Barack Obama on Tuesday will press Congress to approve $6.18 billion in emergency funding to help fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and prepare U.S. hospitals to handle future cases…” (Rampton, 12/2).

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WHO Says Ebola Goals Largely Met In Liberia, Guinea; Sierra Leone Needs Additional Isolation Beds; Contact Tracing Critical Moving Forward

BBC News: Ebola crisis: WHO upbeat on targets
“The World Health Organization (WHO) says the 60-day goals it set itself for tackling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa have largely been met…” (12/1).

CNN: WHO confident it can catch up with Ebola
“There are 16,911 cases of Ebola worldwide and despite missing its own target on burials, the World Health Organization is confident it can still catch up with the virus, even on such a large scale…” (Capelouto, 12/1).

Deutsche Welle: Ebola goals met in Guinea, Liberia; Sierra Leone close
“…Dr. Bruce Aylward, the assistant director general of the World Health Organization, told reporters in Geneva that the WHO’s ambitious plan to stop the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa has shown it possible to quickly reduce the ‘yawning gap’ between disease levels and the capacity to respond…” (12/1).

New York Times: 2014 Goals for Ebola Treatment May Not Be Met, U.N. Health Officials Say
“…Among the biggest challenges now, the agency’s top official for the Ebola response said, is to track down every person potentially exposed. To do this, the organization plans to nearly double the number of its experts on the ground to assist 20,000 community health workers…” (Fink/Sengupta, 12/1).

U.N. News Centre: ‘Nimble and flexible’ approach needed to bring new Ebola cases to zero – U.N.
“Exceptional efforts to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa are starting to show results, but a more ‘nimble and flexible’ approach will be needed as the outbreak evolves in order to stay ahead of the disease and bring it down to zero, top officials charged with the United Nations response said [Monday]…” (12/1).

Wall Street Journal: Liberia, Guinea Reach Ebola Targets Set by World Health Organization
“Liberia and Guinea have isolated more than 70 percent of patients suffering from Ebola, the World Health Organization said Monday, part of a goal to help blunt the spread of the deadly disease. … A third West African country, Sierra Leone, hadn’t reached the 70 percent isolation mark…” (Kenny, 12/1).

Washington Post: West African countries not likely to meet Jan. 1 targets on Ebola, WHO official says
“…Two months ago, the United Nations set a target of having 70 percent of Ebola victims buried safely and 70 percent of Ebola patients treated in isolation beds within 60 days. All three countries have met the Dec. 1 target for safe burials, but only Liberia and Guinea have met that Dec. 1 target of having 70 percent of patients treated in isolation beds, Aylward said…” (Sun, 12/1).

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Wall Street Journal Examines Ebola In Liberia; In Interview, President Johnson Sirleaf Says 'We Are Going To Beat Ebola'

Wall Street Journal: New Challenges Emerge as Liberia Makes Gains Against Ebola
“…[E]radicating Ebola is proving more difficult, raising the prospect of the disease becoming a permanent fixture here. To keep that from happening, [President Ellen] Johnson Sirleaf and her international partners are mounting a high-stakes mission to pursue the hemorrhagic fever deep into the rain forest…” (McGroarty, 12/1).

Wall Street Journal: Liberian President on Ebola Fight: ‘Capacity Is Always an Issue’
“Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf spoke with The Wall Street Journal on Nov. 26 about the evolving response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. This transcript of the interview has been edited for brevity. … ‘We are going to beat Ebola. What is our challenge is to get the economy functioning again’…” (12/1).

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About 1,000 Liberian Deaths Wrongly Cited As Ebola-Related To Be Removed From Tally, WHO Says

Reuters: WHO says Liberia wrongly added 1,000 deaths to Ebola toll
“A surge in Ebola deaths reported by the World Health Organization at the weekend was due to about 1,000 Liberian deaths wrongly ascribed to the disease that would be removed, WHO Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward said on Monday…” (12/1).

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Epidemiologists, Gene Researchers Hunt For Clues On Ebola's Spread

IRIN: Ebola: Where next and how bad?
“In the past few months huge amounts of time and energy have been spent trying to second-guess the progress of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Where will the next hotspot be? … Predictions so far have been off the mark, so better ways of modeling are clearly needed. Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC), a U.K. funding body, is now financing two Ebola-related projects aimed at improving epidemiological prognosis…” (12/1).

New York Times: The Virus Detectives
“…The [Broad Institute’s] research is emblematic of a new direction in public health, which uses powerful genetic methods and applies them to entire populations. The aim is to get a detailed picture of disease epidemiology, as the disease is happening. Armed with such data, doctors should be better able to stop epidemics and researchers can get clues to treating and preventing infections…” (Kolata, 12/1).

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Merck/NewLink Ebola Vaccine Safety Trial Shows No Serious Side Effects, Researchers Report

Reuters: No serious side effects in Merck/NewLink Ebola vaccine test
“The first people vaccinated with an experimental Ebola shot being developed by Merck and NewLink have had no serious side effects so far, but a few experienced mild fever, Swiss researchers said on Tuesday…” (Kelland, 12/2).

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Lacking Money, WFP Suspends Food Vouchers For 1.7M Syrian Refugees; Christian Science Monitor Examines Funding For Food Aid Programs

New York Times: U.N. Cuts Food Aid to Refugees From Syria
“Facing what it described as a severe cash shortfall, the United Nations food aid organization said on Monday that it had been forced to suspend a voucher program that was helping to feed 1.7 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries…” (Cumming-Bruce/Gladstone, 12/1).

Reuters: WFP suspends food aid for 1.7 mln Syrian refugees
“…Suspension of the assistance program comes as many vulnerable Syrian families enter their fourth bleak winter in difficult living conditions after fleeing a homeland racked by conflict since March 2011…” (Miles, 12/1).

U.N. News Centre: Syria: U.N. forced to suspend food aid, warns of ‘disastrous’ impact as winter nears
“…Under this program, destitute Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt have been using WFP vouchers to buy food in local shops. Without these vouchers, many families will simply go hungry…” (12/1).

Wall Street Journal: United Nations’ Food Program Halts Aid to Syrian Refugees
“…In a statement on their website, the WFP said the consequences of the decision will be ‘devastating’ for the refugees and their host countries. ‘A suspension of WFP food assistance will endanger the health and safety of these refugees and will potentially cause further tensions, instability, and insecurity in the neighboring host countries,’ WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said in the statement…” (Ballout, 12/1).

Washington Post: Lack of money at World Food Program leaves 1.7 million Syrians without aid
“…The program, which provides electronic vouchers for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt to buy food at local stores, faces a $64 million shortfall, the agency said, attributing the problem to ‘unfulfilled’ donor commitments…” (Naylor, 12/1).

Christian Science Monitor: Why are the world’s food aid programs running short of money?
“Monday’s announcement from the United Nations’ main emergency food assistance agency was alarming enough: A shortage of funding has forced the World Food Programme to suspend its food aid to more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees. But behind the dire news for displaced Syrians already facing the challenge of a harsh winter is an equally worrisome global picture for food aid programs as a whole, as crises across the Middle East and Africa overwhelm international capacity and donor largesse…” (LaFranchi, 12/1).

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USAID Names Former Google Executive Ann Mei Chang To Head Global Development Lab

National Journal: Former Google Exec Wants to Try Some ‘Crazy’ Ideas to Combat Global Poverty
“…The U.S. Agency for International Development has named Ann Mei Chang, a former Google executive, to head the new U.S. Global Development Lab. The mission of the lab, which launched earlier this year as part of USAID, is to develop breakthrough ideas to combat hunger, disease, and poverty. The lab aims to improve or save the lives of 200 million people in five years…” (Sasso, 12/1).

USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: A New Leader for the U.S. Global Development Lab
Lona Stoll and Andrew Sisson, who both served as acting executive directors of the Global Development Lab, write, “…Under Ann Mei’s leadership, the Global Development Lab will continue to focus the world’s brightest minds on our biggest shared challenges — lifting millions out of the tragic cycle of extreme poverty” (12/1).

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U.N.'s Ban Says Gaps In HIV Prevention, Treatment Must Be Closed To End AIDS Epidemic by 2030; Mayors Sign Paris Declaration

U.N. News Centre: World AIDS Day: U.N., urban leaders endorse ‘fast track’ to ending epidemic by 2030
“Ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 requires a comprehensive approach that includes social justice, the democratization of science, gender equity, and a people-centered approach to health, said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on World AIDS Day as he spotlighted the gaps in prevention and treatment that persist among regions and people. … Boosting that momentum, mayors from around the world came together in Paris [on Monday] to sign a declaration to eradicate AIDS in their cities and commit to the Fast-Track campaign. In signing the Paris Declaration, the mayors vowed to abide by a set of targets to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets by 2020…” (12/1).

UNAIDS: Mayors from around the world sign Paris Declaration to end the AIDS epidemic
“…At the World AIDS Day event in Paris, hosted by the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, the mayors joined the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC) in signing the Paris Declaration…” (12/1).

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HIV Evolving Into Less Virulent Form, Scientists Report

Al Jazeera: Study: HIV causing AIDS ‘weakening over time’
“The rapid evolution of HIV, a human immunodeficiency virus, is slowing its ability to cause AIDS, according to a study of more than 2,000 women in Africa…” (12/2).

BBC News: HIV evolving ‘into milder form’
“…The findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences also suggested antiretroviral drugs were forcing HIV to evolve into milder forms…” (Gallagher, 12/1).

Reuters: HIV’s ability to cause AIDS is weakening over time, study finds
“…Scientists said the research suggests a less virulent HIV could be one of several factors contributing to a turning of the deadly pandemic, eventually leading to the end of AIDS…” (Kelland, 12/1).

TIME: HIV May Be Evolving To Become Less Contagious And Deadly, Study Shows
“…The Oxford researchers came to this conclusion by comparing HIV infections in Botswana with those in South Africa, where the virus arrived 10 years later…” (Iyengar, 12/1).

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FAO Recognizes 13 Countries For Achieving MDG Hunger Target

U.N. News Centre: U.N. recognizes achievement of thirteen countries in eradicating hunger ahead of 2015 deadline
“To honor their outstanding progress in fighting hunger, 13 countries were commended [Monday] by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for achieving food security milestones ahead of the global 2015 deadline and were urged to continue momentum to end the suffering of 805 million people who still endure chronic undernourishment. Brazil, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Iran, Kiribati, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, the Philippines, and Uruguay are the latest in a growing list of countries to make great strides in combating undernourishment…” (12/1).

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GlaxoSmithKline Again Tops 'Access To Medicine Index'

New York Times: GlaxoSmithKline Leads In Getting Drugs to Poor
“For the fourth time, GlaxoSmithKline has led all other pharmaceutical companies on an influential list ranking companies by how effectively they help the world’s poor get needed medicines. The list, the Access to Medicine Index, has been published every other year since 2008 by a group in the Netherlands financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the British and Dutch governments…” (McNeil, 12/1).

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Cancer Survival Varies Widely Depending On Place Of Residence, Study Shows

NPR: Your Odds Of Surviving Cancer Depend Very Much On Where You Live
“In the United States, nine out of 10 kids diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia will live. In Jordan, the survival rate is 16 percent. And while cervical cancer patients have a five-year survival rate of over 70 percent in countries like Mauritius and Norway, the rate in Libya is under 40 percent. That’s the sobering news from the largest cancer study ever published. It surveyed more than 27 million patients and reveals a huge gulf in cancer survival worldwide…” (Kelto, 12/1).

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In South Africa, AIDS Group Says Poor Public Health System Damaging Treatment Gains; Young Women Face Higher HIV Incidence Than Male Peers

Associated Press: South African AIDS group says treatment stalling
“…The [Treatment Action Campaign], one of the country’s largest AIDS awareness groups, said it would not join a [World AIDS Day] celebration while South Africa’s over-burdened public health care system is eroding progress made in the last decade. … Speaking at the separate government-led festivity, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also chairman of the National AIDS Council, said South Africa had received $54 billion from the Global Fund to improve its health services…” (Chutel, 12/1).

Inter Press Service: HIV Prevention is Failing Young South African Women
“…South Africa has a perfect storm of early sexual debut, inter-generational sex, little HIV knowledge, violence, and gender and economic inequalities that lead young women aged between 15 and 24 to have a disproportionately high rate of HIV infection. … Despite decades of awareness campaigns, less than one-third of young women [in South Africa] know how to prevent HIV…” (Bikitsha, 12/1).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of HIV/AIDS In Recognition Of World AIDS Day

The Hill: Politics change but the battle against HIV continues
Adaora Adimora, chair of the HIV Medicine Association and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

MSNBC: United Nations: We can end AIDS by 2030
Simon Bland, director of the UNAIDS New York Office

Huffington Post: UNITAID holds a key for revolutionizing access to HIV medicines
Philippe Douste-Blazy, under secretary general of the United Nations and chair of UNITAID

Washington Post: Treatment of AIDS will require targeting the regions and populations most affected
Michael Gerson, opinion writer

The Hill: From the frontline: What we’ve learned from those most affected by AIDS
Ashley Judd, actor, author, advocate, and PSI ambassador, and Deborah Derrick, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Huffington Post: Great Concern for Adolescents and HIV/AIDS
Craig McClure, associate director of programs and chief of HIV/AIDS at UNICEF

EurActiv: Urgent action needed against ‘duo infernale’ of HIV and tuberculosis
Giovanni Battista Migliori and Stefano Alberti, secretary general and head of the Respiratory Infections Assembly of the European Respiratory Society (ERS), respectively

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New York Times 'Room For Debate' Features Several Opinion Pieces Examining Ethical Issues Of Testing Experimental Ebola Vaccines, Drugs

New York Times: Room for Debate: Experimental Drugs and the Ethics of Fighting Ebola
Multiple authors

“International medical teams this month could begin administering experimental Ebola drugs in West Africa, where the outbreak has killed more than 5,000 people. But is it ethical for the drugs to be given in randomized, controlled trials — considered the gold standard in methodology — since that would require some patients to take placebos? How can the development and testing of Ebola drugs and vaccines be accelerated while respecting ethical standards?” Multiple authors answer these questions and others in several opinion pieces published as part of this New York Times “Room for Debate” (12/1).

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President Obama Should Honor Bipartisan Congressional Request To Fund Gavi

Houston Chronicle: Save lives
Editorial Board

“…Gavi, [the Vaccine Alliance,] has a goal of creating equal access to vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries. … The United States … is one of Gavi’s largest donors. Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, and Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, among others, have co-sponsored a draft congressional resolution and a letter to President Obama in support of funding [Gavi] again. President Obama should honor the bipartisan request by making a robust pledge. The Ebola outbreak is a reminder that we must seize every opportunity to stay ahead of diseases. Providing millions of children with access to life-saving vaccines is the right thing to do” (12/1).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Government Agencies, Blogs Recognize World AIDS Day; PEPFAR Announces Latest Results

White House Office of National AIDS Policy: Focus, Partner, Achieve: How the United States Is Helping to Lead the Fight Against AIDS
Tanya Somanader, deputy director of digital content in the White House Office of Digital Strategy, discusses U.S. HIV/AIDS activities through PEPFAR and other initiatives abroad and in the U.S. (12/1).

White House: FACT SHEET: Focus, Partner, Achieve — the U.S. Commitment to Addressing HIV/AIDS
This fact sheet discusses U.S. leadership in reaching an AIDS-free generation (12/1).

U.S. Department of State: New U.S. Government Initiatives Accelerate Efforts to End the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic PEPFAR Focuses on Strategic Partnerships and Smart Investments to Achieve an AIDS-free Generation
This media note states, “Today, PEPFAR announced new initiatives that will advance the global HIV/AIDS response, including those aimed at young women, adolescent girls, children, health systems, and data transparency…” (12/1).

U.S. Department of State: PEPFAR Announces Latest Results in U.S. Government’s Contribution to the HIV/AIDS Response
“…As of September 30, 2014, PEPFAR is supporting life-saving antiretroviral treatment for 7.7 million men, women, and children (of which, 4.5 million are receiving direct support and an additional 3.2 million are benefiting from essential technical support to partner countries). This is a four and a half-fold increase since the start of the Obama Administration…” (12/1).

U.S. Department of State: Remarks at a World AIDS Day Event
The agency presents a transcript of remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at a Washington, D.C., World AIDS Day event (12/1).

USAID: USAID Celebrates World AIDS Day 2014
“As the year draws to a close, we look back at the amazing impact that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and our implementing partners have had worldwide,” the page states and includes links to several resources (12/1).

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Working With Africans To Focus, Partner, Achieve an AIDS-Free Generation
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, discusses the Bureau of African Affairs’ work on HIV/AIDS, especially tackling stigma (12/1).

USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: Key Populations Essential to Realize AIDS-Free Generation
David Stanton, director of USAID’s Office of HIV/AIDS, writes about the importance of focusing on key populations in order to achieve an AIDS-free generation (12/1).

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NIAID Director, Global AIDS Coordinator Discuss U.S. Ebola Efforts With Diplomatic Corps

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Dr. Fauci Updates the Diplomatic Corps on the U.S. Response to the Ebola Virus Crisis
Sheila Weir, public affairs officer, and Stephen Murphy, policy adviser in the Office of Global Health Diplomacy, discuss remarks made by Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), on the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis at a November 24 event in the Office of Global Health Diplomacy Speaker Series. U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Deborah Birx moderated the discussion (12/1).

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World's Health Issues Span Wide Spectrum, Not Just Diseases

International Monetary Fund: Global Health Problems Span a Wide Spectrum
James Rowe of the IMF discusses the December issue of the IMF’s Finance and Development magazine, which “examines a panoply of global health concerns — among them the growing importance of regional and local governments in health care delivery, the need for more efficient delivery of health services and for better functioning health systems, and the increasing number of organizations involved in the provision or health services…” (12/1).

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CGD Analysis Examines Global Fund's Progress

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog”: Major Progress at the Global Fund: A One-Year ‘More Health for the Money’ Update for World AIDS Day
Rachel Silverman, a policy analyst with CGD, discusses a CGD report released last year on “how the Global Fund could get more health for its money” and “how much the Global Fund has changed for the better, particularly in how it does business…” (12/1).

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Blog Post Discusses Polio Eradication, Immunization Campaigns In Nigeria

Humanosphere: How the focus on polio eradication in Nigeria undermines itself
In this guest post, science writer Robert Fortner discusses polio eradication in Nigeria and the relationship between polio immunization campaigns and efforts to address other vaccine-preventable diseases in the country (11/26).

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