KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

West African Nations Set Target To Achieve Zero New Ebola Cases Within 60 Days

Agence France-Presse: Ebola-hit nations pledge to eradicate virus in 60 days
“The leaders of the countries devastated by the West African Ebola outbreak vowed at a summit in Guinea on Sunday to eradicate the virus by mid-April…” (Bah, 2/15).

Reuters: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia target zero new Ebola cases in 60 days
“… ‘The heads of state and the governments of the Mano River Union recognize the effort deployed by the states and the international community which has led to a decline in Ebola. They want to achieve zero new Ebola cases in 60 days from 15th Feb. 2015,’ Guinea’s presidency said in a statement…” (Samb, 2/16).

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U.N. Officials Urge Robust Efforts To Rebuild Ebola-Hit West African Nations

U.N. News Centre: Ebola: U.N. development chief begins last leg of West Africa mission
“The top United Nations development official today began the last leg of her Ebola-recovery focused visit to West Africa a day after she witnessed the reopening of schools in Liberia and urged the international community to support ‘recovery from this terrible crisis’ beyond the emergency phase…” (2/17).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. Economic, Social Council President urges action ‘now’ to bolster health systems in Ebola-hit counties
“In addition to lives lost and the socio-economic impact of the Ebola outbreak, the long-term impact on families — with at least 3,700 children in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone losing one or both parents to the virus — further underscores the dire need to invest in better health care systems, Martin Sajdik, president of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), has said…” (2/13).

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U.N., West African Nations Begin Recovery From Ebola Epidemic, Assess Needs

CIDRAP News: FAO unveils Guinea project for Ebola prevention, rural recovery
“The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) [on Tuesday] announced a new $5 million initiative for rural parts of Guinea that pairs Ebola prevention messages with help for farmers whose livelihoods and food supply have been hurt by the epidemic…” (Schnirring, 2/17).

Devex: What Liberia needs from donors post-Ebola
“…Devex spoke with Liberian Assistant Minister of Health Tolbert Nyenswah about his vision for the development community’s role in a post-Ebola Liberia…” (Anders, 2/16).

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Researchers Urge Continued Efforts To Find Ebola Vaccine, As Disease Remains Threat To West Africa

Agence France-Presse: Scientists warn against complacency on Ebola vaccines
“A team of leading international scientists on Tuesday called for new Ebola vaccines to be made available in months rather than years and warned against complacency after a reduction in infection rates…” (2/16).

Financial Times: World urged not to relax in fight against Ebola
“…Speakers at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference said at the weekend that the virus would remain a threat in the region until it was completely eradicated…” (Cookson, 2/15).

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Sierra Leone Failed To Fully Account For Allocated Ebola Funds, Audit Shows

Media outlets discuss findings from a report on the disbursement of Ebola funds in Sierra Leone.

The Guardian: A third of Sierra Leone’s Ebola budget unaccounted for, says report
“Sierra Leone has failed to properly account for almost a third of the money allocated to fight Ebola, national auditors have found. These undocumented losses may have slowed the country’s emergency response to the Ebola outbreak and may have led to unnecessary loss of life, the authors of a detailed report on the crisis said…” (O’Carroll, 2/16).

Reuters: Sierra Leone failed to properly account for Ebola funds — auditor
“… ‘Monies that have been set aside for the purpose of combating the Ebola outbreak may have been used for unintended purposes, thereby slowing the government’s response to eradicate the virus,’ the report said…” (2/15).

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AIDS Leading Cause Of Death Among Adolescents In Africa; U.N. Launches Initiative To End Epidemic Among Age Group

Associated Press: Health groups say AIDS No. 1 killer of adolescents in Africa
“…Global health organizations said Tuesday that AIDS is now the leading cause of death for adolescents in Africa, and the second leading cause of death among adolescents globally. … Adolescent girls, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, are most affected, said the organizations which included UNAIDS, U.N. children’s fund, World Health Organization, and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR, among others…” (Odula, 2/17).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Africa must talk to teens about sex to avert new AIDS crisis
“The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa will explode again unless parents and teachers start talking to teenagers about sex, experts warned on Tuesday…” (Migiro, 2/17).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. launches ‘All In’ initiative to end adolescent AIDS
“In the fight against HIV/AIDS, progress for adolescents has fallen behind, world leaders gathered at a United Nations meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, stressed [Tuesday], as they launched a global initiative that aims to end the second leading cause of death among young people worldwide. … The ‘All In’ initiative, a partnership between UNAIDS (Joint U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS) and UNICEF, aims to reach adolescents with HIV services designed for their specific needs and to fast-track progress to advance global efforts to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030…” (2/17).

UNAIDS: Leaders from around the world are All In to end the AIDS epidemic among adolescents
“…All In focuses on four key action areas: engaging, mobilizing, and empowering adolescents as leaders and actors of social change; improving data collection to better inform programming; encouraging innovative approaches to reach adolescents with essential HIV services adapted to their needs; and placing adolescent HIV firmly on political agendas to spur concrete action and mobilize resources…” (2/17).

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Polio Vaccination Teams Attacked In Pakistan; At Least 5 Dead

Associated Press: In Pakistan, vaccinating children has become a deadly battle
“…Long eradicated in the West, polio remains endemic in Pakistan after the Taliban banned vaccinations, attacks targeted medical staffers, and suspicions lingered about the inoculations…” (Santana, 2/18).

International Business Times: Pakistan Polio Update: Vaccination Team Attacked In Khyber Agency; Second Team Disappears In Baluchistan Province
“Gunmen attacked a vehicle carrying a polio vaccination team in the Khyber Agency in Pakistan. Dawn newspaper reported the driver was killed and a polio volunteer was injured. … Earlier, Pakistan Today reported two medical workers and their police escort disappeared in a remote area of Baluchistan as they handed out polio vaccines, authorities said…” (Kreiter, 2/14).

New York Times: Polio Team Attacked in Pakistan
“Gunmen attacked a vehicle carrying a polio vaccination team in northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, killing the driver and wounding a health care worker, according to police officials…” (Masood, 2/14).

VOA News: Pakistan Finds Bodies of Kidnapped Polio Vaccination Team
“Pakistani authorities said they have found bodies of four members of a polio vaccination team who were kidnapped by unknown militants in southwestern Baluchistan province on Friday…” (Gul, 2/17).

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Saudi Arabia Invites U.N. Mission To Assist In Efforts Against MERS

U.N. News Centre: Saudi Arabia invites U.N. health team in precautionary measure against spread of respiratory virus
“The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today announced it is dispatching a mission to Saudi Arabia next week at the request of the government to take preventive measures for a possible upsurge of cases of a respiratory virus linked with camels known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)…” (2/13).

VOA News: WHO Mission to Saudi Arabia to Target MERS Corona Virus
“…Saudi Arabia is entering the third year of battling the MERS-Corona virus. WHO researchers have reported at least 975 cases, including 358 deaths — a 35 percent fatality rate — from the disease since 2012…” (Schlein, 2/14).

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India Sees Rise In Swine Flu Cases, Deaths; Hospitals Running Out Of Protective Masks As Disease Spreads

Reuters: India sees rapid rise in swine flu deaths and cases
“India has seen a sharp rise in the number of swine flu deaths and reported cases this year, prompting officials to investigate the cause and step up efforts to combat the virus…” (Kalra, 2/13).

TIME: 100 Indians Have Died of Swine Flu in the Past Three Days
“A hundred people have died in three days of the H1N1 virus — commonly known as swine flu — in India, taking the country’s death toll from the disease to 585 in 2015. A total of 8,423 people have contracted the disease in the country this year, and the Indian Express reports that hospitals are now running out of protective masks and medicines to combat the disease…” (Iyengar, 2/17).

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In Lancet Letter, Researchers, Advocates Express Concern TPP Will Hinder Health Care Access

Reuters: Doctors warn of health care impact from Pacific trade pact
“Doctors and health professionals from both sides of the Pacific on Thursday said they worry that a major regional trade pact could result in higher medical costs and urged a full assessment of the pact’s impact on health care. In a letter to be published in The Lancet medical journal, academics and medical associations from seven of the 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership voiced their concerns over the deal, which seeks to cut tariffs and set common standards on intellectual property…” (Hughes, 2/12).

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SDG Targets Might Be Too Broad To Achieve Targets, Report Warns

SciDev.Net: U.N. warned of pitfalls of vague SDG targets
“The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) may struggle to achieve their stated objectives due to a lack of clearly defined targets, a report warns. The report was published last week (12 February) by the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the International Social Science Council just ahead of the second session of negotiations on the U.N.’s post-2015 development agenda…” (Hazelton, 2/17).

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WHO To Integrate Food Safety Into Global Agenda Against Food Insecurity, Malnutrition

Devex: How to fight foodborne diseases: The hidden side of food insecurity
“…Chemical substances, viruses, parasites, and bacteria in food pose serious health risks, which may not only lead to acute and chronic infections, but also increase nutrient deficiencies and reduce nutrient absorption. … WHO, which will dedicate 2015 World Health Day to food safety, believes it’s now time to integrate the ‘safety’ dimension into the global agenda to fight food insecurity and malnutrition, and has devised a multipronged strategy to do so…” (Pasquini, 2/16).

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Malaria In Asia-Pacific Can Be Eliminated By 2030 With Enough Political Will, Funding, Experts Say

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Can Asia-Pacific region get rid of malaria by 2030?
“An ambitious goal — to eliminate malaria from the Asia-Pacific region by 2030 — faces formidable hurdles but is achievable if enough political will and funding are available to fight the mosquito-borne disease, health experts say…” (Zweynert, 2/13).

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Africa Experiencing Rising Cancer Cases But Leaders Fail To Give Disease High Priority

Inter Press Service: Cancer Locks a Deadly Grip on Africa, Yet It’s Barely Noticed
“…World Cancer Day commemorated on Feb. 4 may have come and gone, but the spread of cancer in Africa has been worrying global health organizations and experts year round. The continent, they fear, is ill-prepared for another health crisis of enormous proportions. … ‘Africa and its leaders have failed to recognize cancer as a high-priority health problem despite millions of people succumbing to the disease,’ [said oncologist Menzisi] Thabane…” (Moyo, 2/13).

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Additional Mortality Data Would Help Inform Disease Prevention

The Atlantic: Mystery Killers
“Considering we live in the age of big data, we know astonishingly little about why people die. Each year, more than 50 million deaths occur around the globe — and for all but a fraction, the actual cause goes unrecorded. That’s a major obstacle to improving public health: How can we save lives if we don’t understand what threatens them?…” (Smith, 2/16).

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CNN Examines Global Preparedness For Disease Outbreaks

CNN: Are we ready for the next global epidemic?
“…Experts agree that future outbreaks and potential pandemics may occur, but the lessons learned from previous ones should enable a faster response. The key is to identify the virus, estimate its threat and its potential to spread across a population as quickly as possible to then put a pandemic preparedness plan into action…” (Senthilingam, 2/13).

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Brazil's São Paulo Faces Water Crisis

New York Times: Taps Start to Run Dry in Brazil’s Largest City
“… ‘We’re witnessing an unprecedented water crisis in one of the world’s great industrial cities,’ said Marússia Whately, a water specialist at Instituto Socioambiental, a Brazilian environmental group. ‘Because of environmental degradation and political cowardice, millions of people in São Paulo are now wondering when the water will run out’…” (Romero, 2/16).

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Researchers Show Leprosy Can Survive Months Inside Amoebae, Answering Questions On How Disease Persists

New York Times: Research Finds a Reason Leprosy Has Persisted
“The bacteria that cause leprosy can survive for months inside amoebae that are common in water and soil, and even in human eyes and noses, scientists at Colorado State University have found…” (McNeil, 2/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Government, Partners Must Sustain Global Immunization Efforts

The Hill: Our vaccine imperative: Protecting children at home and abroad
Steve Davis, CEO of PATH

“…The U.S. government has a long and continuing history of leadership in global immunization. … But the current measles outbreak proves once again that the successes we have achieved in the U.S. and abroad will take ongoing effort and commitment to sustain. … To protect our gains, we must make a global commitment to the safe, continued, and expanded use of vaccines. … That’s why we at PATH are committed to working with the U.S. government and our partners around the globe to make sure every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential, no matter where they live” (2/16).

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Economic Analysis Shows Family Planning, Other Investments To Promote Gender Equality Should Be Development Targets

Project Syndicate: Gender Equality as a Development Goal
Bjørn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School

“…There is no simple way to achieve something as complex as gender equality. But economic analyses can help show us where we can do the most good. Clearly, the international community needs to consider the case for family planning carefully when formulating its priorities for the next set of development goals. And we now have stronger information for other gender targets when they compete with targets related to nutrition, health, poverty, and the environment” (2/17).

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Global Burden Of Disease Data Can Inform Policy To Prevent Accidents, Related Mortality

New York Times: Fatal Accidents as a Global Health Crisis
Jeremy N. Smith, author

“Worried about what to worry about? Accidents should move higher up your list. … Where data on causes of death is sparse, the Global Burden team fills in the gaps as best it can with statistical modeling. The findings are therefore provisional — the best available evidence, not the final word. Still, broad trends suggest that accident prevention continues to be neglected as a public health issue worldwide. … If public health leaders are to catch up on accident prevention, the Global Burden of Disease study findings can help them see where and how…” (2/16).

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Global Community Must End FGM

Huffington Post: Act Now to End FGM
Tewodros Melesse, director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation

“Every year, in Africa alone, three million girls are subjected to female genital mutilation. That’s about 8,000 every day. … At IPPF we look for a comprehensive approach to tackle FGM — from advocacy for the enforcement of laws and policies to end FGM to working with communities to tackle this harmful practice, as we did in Mauritania and Uganda, to make sure that women and girls who have been cut are not stigmatized. … FGM violates women’s rights to health, life and bodily integrity. It’s time to act…” (2/14).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Providing Additional $125M In Humanitarian Aid To U.N. Food Programs For Syrian Refugees

U.S. Department of State: United States Provides $125 Million to the World Food Program for the Syria Crisis
“Increasing its commitment to help those affected by the crisis in Syria, the United States is providing an additional $125 million in humanitarian assistance to the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), which feeds nearly six million Syrians and refugees from Syria every month. … This is a continuation of U.S. humanitarian assistance that has provided more than $1.5 billion to humanitarian agencies operating in all of Syria’s 14 governorates…” (2/17).

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New PEPFAR Guidance Requires Input From Civil Society

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: PEPFAR requires its programs to seek, use, document civil society input in planning
Antigone Barton, writer and editor of “Science Speaks” and senior communications officer at the Center for Global Health Policy, writes about the PEPFAR Country/Regional Operational Plan 2015 Guidance, which was released on Thursday “with an unprecedented formal requirement to use input from in-country civil society…” (2/13).

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'All In' Campaign Focuses Lens On HIV Prevention, Care Among Adolescents

UNAIDS: To end the AIDS epidemic, start focusing on adolescents
In an opinion piece, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé discuss HIV/AIDS among adolescents and “All In, a new platform for action to end adolescent AIDS. It concentrates on the areas where we need to accelerate progress: from improving data to identify the young people we are missing and provide a sharper focus on adolescents in national AIDS programs…to fostering innovation in developing new technologies and approaches to engage adolescents more effectively…to advocating for more resources to reach every adolescent living with, or at risk of acquiring, HIV, before it is too late…” (2/17).

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Blog Post Examines Food Security In North Korea

Council on Foreign Relation’s “Asia Unbound”: North Korea’s Food Situation: Stable and Improving
Scott A. Snyder, senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the Program on U.S.-Korea Policy, examines the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s recent assessment of food security in North Korea (2/17).

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