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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Significant Global Gains Made Against Malaria, But Ebola Threatens Progress In West Africa, WHO Report Says

News outlets discuss the WHO’s World Malaria Report 2014, which was released on Tuesday.

BBC News: Halving of malaria deaths ‘tremendous achievement’
“Global efforts have halved the number of people dying from malaria — a tremendous achievement, the World Health Organization says. It says between 2001 and 2013, 4.3 million deaths were averted, 3.9 million of which were children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa…” (Roberts, 12/8).

Bloomberg News: Malaria 2014 Deaths May Top 20,000 in Ebola-Hit Nations
“…An estimated 6.6 million cases of malaria and 20,000 deaths from the disease affected Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in 2013, the Geneva-based WHO said in a report today. This year, as most clinics that aren’t treating Ebola patients remain closed and people fear contracting the disease at health facilities in general, malaria cases aren’t being treated and the situation there is worsening, according to Pedro Alonso, head of the WHO’s Global Malaria Program…” (Kitamura, 12/8).

Deutsche Welle: WHO: Malaria deaths halved since 2000
“…The dramatic fall in fatalities is due to more people being diagnosed, treated and getting bed nets, said the WHO. ‘These are truly unprecedented results and phenomenal news in terms of global health,’ said Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO’s global malaria program, who attributed the progress in large part to increasing financial and political commitment, in particular regional efforts to work together to eliminate the disease…” (12/9).

The Guardian: Malaria is in retreat despite fears of insecticide resistance
“…In its annual World Malaria Report, the World Health Organization (WHO) hails the gains but calls for a redoubling of efforts to fight the mosquito-borne illness, which infected 198 million people last year and killed an estimated 584,000…” (Jones, 12/8).

New York Times: Malaria Scourge Has Declined Globally, but Ebola May Affect Toll, WHO Says
“…In its World Malaria Report 2014, the WHO said the malaria mortality rate fell by 47 percent worldwide and by 54 percent in the Africa region between 2000 and 2013…” (Gladstone, 12/8).

Reuters: Malaria death rates fall, Ebola threatens W. Africa progress
“…WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a statement the data showed the fight against malaria could be won because ‘we have the right tools and our defenses are working’…” (Kelland, 12/8).

WHO: Scale-up in effective malaria control dramatically reduces deaths
“…Globally, an increasing number of countries are moving towards malaria elimination, and many regional groups are setting ambitious elimination targets, the most recent being a declaration at the East Asia Summit to eliminate malaria from the Asia-Pacific by 2030…” (12/9).

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Sierra Leone Surpasses Liberia In Ebola Case Numbers; Disease Still Spreading In Sierra Leone, Guinea; Liberia Must Remain Vigilant, Official Says

BBC News: Ebola crisis: Sierra Leone case number surpasses Liberia
“Sierra Leone has overtaken neighboring Liberia as the country with the highest number of Ebola cases, the latest World Health Organization figures suggest…” (12/8).

Reuters: Sierra Leone overtakes Liberia in number of Ebola cases: WHO
“…The cumulative number of cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone totalled 17,800, including 7,719 in Liberia and 7,798 in Sierra Leone, WHO said. On Friday, WHO put the three countries’ combined death toll at 6,187, out of 17,517 cases…” (Miles, 12/8).

NPR: Ebola Cases Are Down, So Should Liberians Stop Worrying?
“…Liberia still records 12 new cases each day, says Kevin De Cock, the doctor leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Ebola effort in Liberia. … ‘We cannot rest until Ebola is eliminated,’ De Cock says. … De Cock spoke with NPR about what still needs to be done…” (Quist-Arcton, 12/8).

Reuters: Ebola still spreading in western Sierra Leone, Guinea’s forest: U.N.
“Ebola is still spreading quickly in western Sierra Leone and deep in the forested interior of Guinea and more foreign health workers are needed to help tackle the epidemic, a senior U.N. official said on Tuesday…” (Nebehay, 12/9).

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Gaps In Ebola Data Present Challenges; Worst-Case Disease Models Not Panning Out

Associated Press: In Ebola outbreak, bad data adds another problem
“…Having accurate numbers about an outbreak is essential not only to provide a realistic picture of the epidemic, but to determine effective control strategies. Dr. Bruce Aylward, who is leading the World Health Organization’s Ebola response, said it’s crucial to track every single Ebola patient in West Africa to stop the outbreak and that serious gaps remain in their data…” (Cheng/DiLorenzo, 12/8).

Scientific American: Ebola Infections Fewer Than Predicted by Disease Models
“…Modelers are forced to build some assumptions into their programs because of a lack of data. That’s especially true at the beginning of an epidemic when efforts to stop the outbreak take precedence over accurate data collection and communication. … Making projections far into the future can also introduce inaccuracies into disease models…” (Yasmin, 12/8).

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U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency Extending Ebola Capacity Into Sierra Leone, Mali

DoD News: DoD Threat Reduction Agency Builds Anti-Ebola Capacity
“The Defense Department agency whose mission is to reduce biological, chemical and other threats to troops worldwide began ramping up its response early in the Ebola outbreak and now, with many partners, is steadily building capabilities in Liberia as it extends capacity into Sierra Leone and Mali…” (Pellerin, 12/8).

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West Africa Can Create Stronger Health, Sanitation Programs After Ebola, Officials Say

Devex: Health not only priority for E.U.-funded programs after Ebola — Mimica
“…During an official visit to Guinea this weekend attended by Devex, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica announced a new 61 million euros ($74.8 million) financial assistance package to link health, sanitation, and environmental development programs…” (Jones, 12/8).

Reuters: Ebola gives W. Africa a chance to rebound stronger: UNICEF head
“West Africa’s Ebola epidemic may have a silver lining because public health in one of the world’s poorest regions can emerge stronger, the head of the U.N. children’s agency said in an interview on Monday…” (Miles, 12/8).

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Sierra Leone Doctors Strike, Demand Better Ebola Care For Health Workers

Associated Press: Sierra Leone doctors strike for better Ebola care
“Junior doctors in Sierra Leone went on strike Monday to demand better treatment for health workers infected with Ebola, a health official said…” (Roy-Macaulay, 12/8).

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Frontline Health Workers In West Africa Receive First Shipment Of Japanese PPE Donation

U.N. News Centre: Health workers on Ebola response frontlines get boost with donation of protective gear — U.N.
“The first of 700,000 sets of protective gear intended for health care workers battling on the frontlines of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa arrived today from Japan and were handed over the United Nations, as the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the crisis has left some five million children out of school…” (12/8).

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USAID's Shah Might Leave Position, Washington Post Reports

Washington Post: USAID head Raj Shah may step down
“Rajiv ‘Raj’ Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development who coordinated the United States’ international response to the Ebola crisis, is said to be leaving his post, and chatter has it that the announcement could come this week. … ‘These are nothing but rumors,’ a USAID spokesman said, when we asked him about Shah’s plans…” (Itkowitz, 12/8).

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UNICEF Declares 2014 'Devastating Year' For Children In Conflicts

New York Times: UNICEF Calls 2014 One of Worst Years for Children
“The year 2014 has been one of the worst on record for the world’s children, the United Nations said on Monday in a report that chronicled a litany of war, violence, atrocities, and disease, mostly in the Middle East and Africa. … The report was basically a summation of the well-documented afflictions that affected children in 2014. But taken in their entirety, they presented what UNICEF called a devastating picture…” (Gladstone, 12/8).

Reuters: U.N. declares 2014 a devastating year for millions of children
“…[A]s many as 15 million [children are] caught in conflicts in Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, and the Palestinian territories. UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said the high number of crises meant many of them were quickly forgotten or failed to capture global headlines, such as in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen…” (12/8).

U.N. News Centre: UNICEF declares 2014 ‘devastating year’ for millions of children trapped by conflict
“…The children’s agency went on to say that 2014 has also posed significant new threats to children’s health and well-being, most notably the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has left thousands of children orphaned and an estimated five million out of school…” (12/8).

UNICEF: With 15 million children caught up in major conflicts, UNICEF declares 2014 a devastating year for children
“…Despite the tremendous challenges children have faced in 2014, there has been hope for millions of children affected by conflict and crisis. In the face of access restrictions, insecurity, and funding challenges, humanitarian organizations including UNICEF have worked together to provide life-saving assistance and other critical services like education and emotional support to help children growing up in some of the most dangerous places in the world…” (12/8).

Washington Post: UNICEF: ‘Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality’
“… ‘Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality,’ UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in a statement. ‘Children have been killed while studying in the classroom and while sleeping in their beds; they have been orphaned, kidnapped, tortured, recruited, raped, and even sold as slaves’…” (Kirkpatrick, 12/9).

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U.N. Issues Record $16.4B Aid Appeal To Address Global Crises In 2015

News outlets report on the release of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) 2015 Global Humanitarian Appeal to support people affected by disaster and conflict.

Associated Press: U.N.: $16.4 billion needed to aid most vulnerable
“…More than 40 percent of the appeal — $7.2 billion — would go to help 18.2 million people suffering from the war in Syria. … [W]ith 80 percent of the needy living in conflict-ridden countries, the demands for aid are outstripping the ability to pay for them, [U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie] Amos said…” (Heilprin, 12/8).

The Guardian: Iraq and Syria crises force U.N. to appeal for record funds
“The U.N. has launched a record appeal for $16.4bn (£10.5bn) of aid donations to help almost 60 million people in 22 countries next year, warning that the proliferation of crises in Central African Republic (CAR), Iraq, South Sudan, and Syria is stretching humanitarian resources to their limits. … This year has seen a sharp rise in the number of people affected by conflict, with millions forced to flee their homes and left dependent on humanitarian aid…” (Jones, 12/8).

New York Times: U.N. Seeks $16.4 Billion to Address 2015 Crises
“Struggling to cope with record numbers of victims of conflict, the United Nations appealed on Monday for $16.4 billion to finance humanitarian assistance programs in 2015, warning that the gap between needs and available resources is widening…” (Cumming-Bruce, 12/8).

U.N. News Centre: As global humanitarian needs skyrocket, U.N. launches $16 billion appeal for aid funding
“…Spearheaded by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and spanning a broad swathe of conflict zones and refugee crises — from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Myanmar to Yemen and Ukraine — this latest appeal calls for $16.4 billion to help at least 57.5 million people who ‘have experienced unimaginable suffering’ with assistance in the coming year…” (12/8).

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India's Public Health System Under Scrutiny After Sterilization Deaths

Wall Street Journal: Sterilization Deaths Cast Light on India’s Ailing Public Health System
“…The deaths of Ms. Kumar and 12 other women after sterilization procedures in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh cast a harsh light on the multiple failings of India’s chronically underfunded public health system…” (Parussini/Seervai, 12/8).

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As Oil Prices Fall, Angola May Cut HIV Funding, Risking Success Of Country's HIV Prevention Efforts

Bloomberg News: Angola May Cut Funding for HIV Prevention as Oil Prices Fall
“Angola may spend less than half the money it did in 2013 to fight HIV next year as declining oil prices reduce revenue and donors scale back funding to Africa’s second-largest producer of the commodity…” (Soque/McClelland, 12/9).

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Bed Nets More Cost Effective Than Insecticide For Malaria Prevention, Study Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Choose bed nets over insecticide to tackle malaria: study
“Spraying insecticides indoors offers children no additional protection from malaria when bed nets are used, a study said on Tuesday, as malaria cases and deaths worldwide continue to fall. A [published in the] medical journal The Lancet said donors should invest their limited resources on additional bed nets as the most cost-effective solution to tackling malaria, costing an average of $2.20 per person compared to $6.70 for insecticide…” (Guilbert, 12/9).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Piece Discuss Antibiotic Resistance, Sanitation In India

New York Times: India and the Post-Antibiotic Era
Editorial Board

“…In the developing world, unregulated use of [antibiotic] drugs coupled with poor sanitation and health care are fueling the rise of resistant bacteria. In India, these factors have created the perfect breeding ground for so-called super bugs. … The Indian government is trying to address the factors creating this health crisis. … Until India significantly improves sanitation and health care services, more will die from infections antibiotics are powerless to treat” (12/8).

Huffington Post: The Road to Health Goes Through the Toilet
Sanjay Wijesekera, chief of water, sanitation, and hygiene, and associate director of programs at UNICEF

“An article in Thursday’s New York Times on the rise of so-called ‘superbugs’ — antibiotic-resistant infections — in India points again to the horrific side effects that poor water, hygiene, and sanitation can have on a country. … Apart from deaths from superbugs, India’s children suffer serious consequences due to the environmental contamination. Levels of stunting and of child mortality from various causes are extremely high. … It is a massive problem, but it is not an insuperable problem — if resources are made available and appropriately targeted…” (12/5).

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Restarting Schools In Ebola-Hit Nations Will Help End Epidemic

Project Syndicate: Educating Against Ebola
Gordon Brown, U.N. special envoy for global education

“…[A] new investigation of Ebola, conducted by education experts and health professionals with the support of the Global Business Coalition for Education, has found that reopening ‘safe schools’ could be a far more effective way to combat the disease. The resulting report, produced in collaboration with A World At School, identifies the components of the safe schools of the future: adequate public health training for teachers, twice-daily body temperature checks for children, education programs on health and Ebola transmission, and hearty, nutrient-rich meals to build up children’s resistance. Given the affordability of these measures, there is no excuse to delay implementation…” (12/8).

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Quality, Efficiency Must Be Top Considerations In Working Toward Universal Health Care

Bloomberg Businessweek: Why Universal Health Care Is No Cure-All
Charles Kenny, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development

“…While the call for universal health care in every country is now the official stance of the World Health Organization, attempts to meet that goal have often seen limited returns. The overwhelming focus on quantity of care is ignoring a massive problem with quality and efficiency. Unless that’s addressed, a lot of money will be spent on expanding access — with little impact…” (12/8).

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U.S., Britain Must Alleviate Syrian, Other Refugee Crises

The Guardian: Britain and the U.S. must help mend the Syrian refugee crisis they helped create
Simon Jenkins, journalist and author

“…Some four million people are living in camps reliant on the U.N.’s World Food Programme, not to mention other camps caused by wars in Sudan, Somalia, and the Central African Republic. A million Syrians have fled to Lebanon and a million to Jordan, creating new desert cities of indolence and disease. … The U.S., Britain, and NATO played a major part in disrupting the region, indulging in ‘wars of choice’ in Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. … Now the humanitarian chicken has come home to roost. Common decency demands a response…” (12/2).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. State Department Releases Report On Progress In Landmine Clearance

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Clear Land Mines Off the Earth
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discusses the release of “To Walk the Earth in Safety Report,” which chronicles U.S. progress and efforts to clear landmines and other unexploded ordnance in more than 60 countries (12/8).

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