KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

As Ebola Epidemic Slows, Experts Look To Strategies To Prevent Future Outbreaks

Reuters: In pursuit of next-generation Ebola stockpile vaccines
“As West Africa’s devastating Ebola outbreak begins to dwindle, scientists are looking beyond the endgame at the kind of next-generation vaccines needed for a vital stockpile to hit another epidemic hard and fast…” (Kelland/Hirschler, 2/1).

SciDev.Net: SciDev.Net Podcast: Vaccines and design against Ebola
“…This month, as the rate of new Ebola deaths slowly declines, we examine how the world got together to fight the crisis, making use of different skills in the fields of medical research, technology, and the media. Experts hope the world will be better equipped to respond fast and effectively to future global health emergencies…” (Del Bello, 2/1).

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Local Communities Played Large Role In Helping To Curb Ebola Epidemic

New York Times: As Ebola Ebbs in Africa, Focus Turns From Death to Life
“…Experts are trying to understand how the disease, which has defied the ominous predictions of the world’s top infectious disease researchers, appears to be extinguishing itself with surprising swiftness. … While many have emphasized the enormous assistance hauled into the region by the United States and international organizations, there is strong evidence, especially here in Monrovia, that the biggest change came from the precautions taken by residents themselves…” (Onishi et al., 1/31).

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Large-Scale Trial Of Experimental Ebola Vaccine Begins In Liberia

Associated Press: Ebola vaccines trial starts in Liberia
“A large-scale human trial of two potential Ebola vaccines got under way in Liberia’s capital Monday, part of a global effort to prevent a repeat of the epidemic that has now claimed nearly 9,000 lives in West Africa…” (Paye-Layleh, 2/2).

International Business Times: Ebola vaccine trials on 30,000 volunteers to begin in Liberia
“…Scientists will give the vaccine to some 30,000 volunteers in a bid to put a halt to the ever increasing number of people who have already lost their lives to the virus. Over 8,500 people have succumbed to the disease already…” (Martin, 2/2).

TIME: The First Ever Large-Scale Ebola Vaccine Trial Begins in Liberia
“…British pharmaceutical and health care company GlaxoSmithKline developed the vaccine alongside the U.S. National Institutes of Health; should the trial be successful, it would be the first preventative vaccine against the killer virus…” (Regan, 2/2).

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Lack Of Ebola Patients In Liberia Leads Drug Developer To Halt Experimental Treatment Clinical Trial

New York Times: Ebola Drug Trial Is Halted for Lack of Patients
“A clinical trial in Liberia of a drug to treat Ebola has been halted because of a sharp decline in the number of people infected with the virus, and studies in West Africa of other potential treatments are also facing problems finding patients…” (Pollack, 2/1).

Reuters: Chimerix to stop participation in clinical studies of Ebola drug
“Drug developer Chimerix Inc. said it would stop participation in clinical studies of its Ebola drug, brincidofovir, citing a significant decrease in the number of new cases for the virus in Liberia…” (Sikka/Koppalla, 1/30).

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IMF Plans To Reach Agreement On Debt Forgiveness, Approve $160M Loan For Ebola-Hit West Africa

Reuters: IMF hopes for deal soon on debt forgiveness for Ebola countries
“An agreement to forgive some of the debt of Ebola-hit West African nations may be reached soon in talks between the International Monetary Fund and donor countries, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said. Lagarde, on a three-day visit to Senegal, said that the IMF board was also due to approve in early February a zero-percent-interest loan of $160 million for the three countries worst-affected by Ebola — Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia…” (Flynn, 1/30).

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African Risk Capacity Agency Discusses Extension Of Insurance Coverage To Include Disease Outbreaks

Reuters: Africa looks to extend new disaster insurance to Ebola-like epidemics
“African countries want to extend a new catastrophe insurance fund, which made its first payout of $25 million this month, to include protection against epidemics in the wake of the devastating Ebola outbreak. The African Risk Capacity (ARC) agency, a specialized body of the African Union, launched a scheme last year to insure against natural disasters…” (Flynn, 1/30).

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At A.U. Summit, Ebola, Food Security, Women's Empowerment Top Agendas

Agence France-Presse: Ebola reveals shortcomings of African solidarity
“As Africa’s leaders meet in Ethiopia to discuss the Ebola crisis, expectations of firm action will be tempered by criticism over the continent’s poor record in the early stages of the epidemic…” (Lebhour/Taggart, 1/31).

Inter Press Service: Ending Hunger in Africa
“…One of the key issues discussed at the 24th African Union Summit, which ended here on Jan. 31, was food security within the broader of framework of development towards Agenda 2063 — an agenda that touches on many aspects of where Africa should be 50 years from now…” (van der Wolf, 2/1).

U.N. News Centre: At African Union Summit, Ban promises U.N. support to build back Ebola-hit countries
“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [on Friday] assured African leaders gathered for a summit in Addis Ababa of the support of the United Nations in helping the countries affected by Ebola ‘build back stronger than ever,’ while the head of the U.N. development agency tasked with leading the organization’s recovery efforts urged the world to stay the course in aiding hard-hit West Africa…” (1/30).

Xinhua: Interview: U.N. to support women empowerment programs in Africa: official
“The United Nations will support programs that accelerate the attainment of gender-related millennium targets in Africa, a senior U.N. official said Saturday. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the executive director of U.N. Women, said the global body will partner with African states to promote the empowerment of women and girls…” (Lagat, 1/31).

Xinhua: Africa Focus: African first ladies vow action on maternal health, gender violence
“The wives of African presidents on Saturday vowed to rejuvenate the fight against maternal health, gender violence, and discrimination to ensure women are critical players in the continent’s development. Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing A.U. summit in Addis Ababa, the first ladies endorsed a raft of strategies to promote women’s health and economic empowerment…” (Lagat, 1/31).

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Chilean President Bachelet Proposes Legalizing Abortion In Some Cases

BBC News: Chile’s President Bachelet proposes end to total abortion ban
“Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has announced plans to end a total ban on abortions in the predominantly Roman Catholic country. Ms. Bachelet has tabled a bill in Congress to legalize abortion in cases of rape or when there is a threat to the mother’s or the baby’s life…” (1/31).

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Motorcycles Help Health Workers Deliver Basic Care Around Africa

Wall Street Journal: In Africa, Motorcycles Can Save Lives by Delivering Health Care
“…The lack of reliable transportation ‘is a severe barrier and a bottleneck’ to delivering health care in the developing world, [Riders for Health co-founder Andrea Coleman] says. Supported by private donors, foundations, and African health ministries, Riders for Health manages more than 1,400 motorcycles … and other vehicles in seven sub-Saharan African countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, and Zimbabwe…” (Bloch, 1/30).

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Gates Foundation CEO Discusses Gates Annual Letter In Two-Part Podcast

In a two-part series, “Gates Foundation CEO Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann and Scientific American Editor-in-Chief Mariette DiChristina talk about the [issues] set forth in its recently released annual letter.”

Scientific American: Every Life Has Equal Value (Part 1): Gates Foundation CEO Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann
(DiChristina/Mirksy, 1/30).

Scientific American: Every Life Has Equal Value (Part 2): Gates Foundation CEO Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann
(DiChristina/Mirksy, 1/30).

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Gates Foundation Awards Stanford University $50M For Vaccine Development Efforts

Reuters: Gates Foundation awards $50 million to Stanford vaccine discovery
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said on Friday it had awarded Stanford University a $50 million grant to accelerate vaccine development efforts for the world’s most deadly diseases, including AIDS and malaria…” (Cavaliere, 1/30).

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Editorials and Opinions

Efforts To Raise Global Drug Prices In TPP's Intellectual Property Section 'Take Us In The Wrong Direction'

New York Times: Don’t Trade Away Our Health
Joseph E. Stiglitz, professor at Columbia University and former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers

“…Representatives from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries convened [last week] to decide the future of their trade relations in the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). … What’s clear is that the overall thrust of the intellectual property section of the TPP is for less competition and higher drug prices. The effects will go beyond the 12 TPP countries. Barriers to generics in the Pacific will put pressure on producers of such drugs in other countries, like India, as well. … The efforts to raise drug prices in the TPP take us in the wrong direction. The whole world may come to pay a price in the form of worse health and unnecessary deaths” (1/30).

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Monetization Of Food Aid Important Tool In Bringing Food Security To Vulnerable Nations

The Hill: Monetization: Market-based food aid that works
Sheryl Cowan, deputy director of sustainable food and agriculture systems at International Relief & Development

“…Achieving [an end to the need to provide food aid relief in any form], and the increased peace and stability it brings, requires sustained economic and social development. U.S. food aid monetization programs are one effective and efficient tool to help achieve it. … Monetization can overcome limited access to credit, smaller than typical commercial volume shipments, currency risk, limited foreign exchange reserves to import commodities, and price sensitivity…” (1/30).

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WASH, Patient Isolation, Information Sharing Vital To Stopping Present, Future Ebola Epidemics

Washington Post: What worked in controlling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa
Editorial Board

“…Ebola spreads through bodily fluids, but transmission can be interrupted if those infected are identified and treated as soon as possible and contacts with others traced. … A lesson here is that, in parts of the world where health care infrastructure is weak, it is of huge benefit to isolate the infected even in rudimentary facilities, and that an airlift of temporary centers can make a real difference. In the end, fighting an outbreak is not only battling a virus but also dealing effectively with people, modifying their behavior and taming their fears…” (1/30).

GlobalPost: Ebola’s public health message: Sanitation is critical to containing the disease
Maria H. de Miguel of Columbia University Medical Center

“…Running water and flushing toilets are such basic elements of life [in developed countries] that we tend to take them for granted. In poor countries, outdoor toilets are common, meaning there is no running water for hand washing. … For the ill and weak, not having indoor plumbing means fluids are discharged in the living space, around family, and can contain billions of viruses. … Our fear [of an outbreak] should catalyze a revolutionary fervor among people and leaders of all countries to bring living conditions out of the Middle Ages and into the modern era of sanitation…” (1/31).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Gavi Pledges, Organization's Next Steps In Supporting Childhood Immunizations Worldwide

Devex: Equity, accountability key next steps after Gavi replenishment
Patrick Bertrand, executive director of Global Health Advocates France, and Jack Ndegwa, vaccines advocacy manager for the Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium; both members of the Gavi Civil Society Steering Committee and the ACTION global health advocacy partnership

“…ACTION — an international partnership of advocacy organizations from the global north and south — has developed a scorecard that keeps track of the 17 pledges to Gavi by traditional aid donors. Now that lifesaving resources have been pledged, those funds must be delivered on time, and must reach those most in need…” (1/30).

Huffington Post: Investments In Equity Will Impact Half a Billion Lives
Orin Levine, director of vaccine delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…Equity in health is a key priority at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and as part of their ‘Big Bet,’ Bill and Melinda wager that we can cut child deaths in half and eradicate more diseases than ever before by 2030. With one in five children still lacking access to lifesaving vaccines, we need Gavi to make good on their predication. Thankfully, donors agreed and, once again, went all in” (1/30).

Devex: Gavi replenishment 2015: 5 key issues
Katharina Wertenbruch, international director for partnership and communication in Berlin for DSW-Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung

“…[W]hat were the key issues raised by the replenishment conference, and what did we learn about the work of Gavi both past and future? Here are five key takeaways and upcoming issues. 1. Vaccines work. … 2. There is no room for complacency. … 3. Donors have bought into the Gavi model. … 4. Gavi graduates — how will they be affected? … 5. Where will the next vaccines come from?…” (1/30).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Post Examines Data On Health Care Access In Africa

Humanosphere: Visualizing health care access, equity, and bottlenecks across the world
In a guest post, Amy VanderZanden, a communications data specialist at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), discusses the Access, Bottlenecks, Costs, and Equity (ABCE) project, led by IHME and collaborators in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia. She writes, “The project’s findings give us insights into granular, long-difficult-to-answer questions about how people interact with health systems. The breadth and depth of data now available are vast, but here we delve a little deeper into the patient experience…” (1/30).

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NGOs, WHO Working To Create Strategy To Improve Global Health Care Workforce

IntraHealth International’s “Vital”: A Bold Strategy and Clear Vision to Improve the Global Health Workforce
Vince Blaser, director of the Frontline Health Workers Coalition, discusses a Synthesis Paper from the Global Health Workforce Alliance summarizing a year-long consultation to help the WHO in the creation of “a strategy that aims to drive and coordinate action to improve the global health workforce from 2016-2030” (1/30).

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Parliamentary Workshop In Germany Addresses NTDs

Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect”: Back in Berlin: NTD Discussions Advance
Michelle Brooks, the Global Network’s policy director, discusses a recent parliamentary workshop in Germany hosted by the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases and the Sabin Vaccine Institute to raise awareness and increase support for eliminating NTDs. She notes, “The Global Network plans to return to Germany a few more times this year to continue our engagement working closely with our in-country partners…” (1/30).

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