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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

New Ebola Cases Increase For First Time This Year, WHO Says

Associated Press: World Health Organization Says Ebola Cases Increase Slightly
“The number of Ebola cases in West Africa has gone up for the first time this year, the World Health Organization says, warning that the coming rainy season could complicate efforts to contain the disease…” (2/5).

BBC News: New Ebola cases show first rise in 2015
“…It is the first weekly increase in 2015, ending a series of encouraging declines. The WHO says Sierra Leone registered 80 of the 124 new cases, Guinea 39, and Liberia the remaining five…” (2/4).

Deutsche Welle: World Health Organization: Ebola uptick in West Africa
“…Despite the modest uptick in diagnoses, the world now has too few active Ebola cases to proceed with the testing of a new drug, Doctors Without Borders said…” (2/4).

Reuters: Ebola cases on rise for first time this year, WHO says
“…Suspicion of aid workers, especially in Guinea, and unsafe local practices were continuing to hamper efforts to halt the deadly virus, the United Nations agency said…” (Nebehay, 2/4).

The Economist: The toll of a tragedy
“…The outbreak continues to claim lives, but after glimmers of good news in recent weeks worrying signs are appearing. … The inadequacies of the health-care systems in the three most-affected countries help to explain how the Ebola outbreak got this far…” (2/5).

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News Outlets Continue to Report On Analysis Examining International Funding For Ebola Response

Al Jazeera America: Funding delays may have contributed to Ebola’s spread
“The slow deployment of international aid to countries most affected by the latest Ebola epidemic may have contributed to the virus’ spread, according to a new study, which highlights one of several lessons learned by aid organizations scrambling to contain the infectious disease…” (De Bode, 2/4).

SciDev.Net: Ebola funding held up by ‘inefficient’ WHO alert system
“Payment delays caused by an inefficient global alert system for health crises have hampered the world’s response to Ebola. An analysis, published in the British Medical Journal on 3 February, found that only about a third of the aid money pledged to tackle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been paid out…” (Park, 2/5).

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Experimental Ebola Drug Being Tested In Guinea Shows Promising Early Results

Agence France-Presse: ‘Encouraging’ Ebola drug trial results in Guinea
“For the first time since the West African Ebola outbreak began over a year ago, a clinical trial with a candidate treatment has yielded ‘encouraging’ results, researchers announced Thursday…” (Thibault, 2/5).

The New York Times: Ebola Drug Aids Some in a Study in West Africa
“For the first time, a drug is showing promising signs of effectiveness in Ebola patients participating in a study. The medicine, which interferes with the virus’s ability to copy itself, seems to have halved mortality — to 15 percent, from 30 percent — in patients with low to moderate levels of Ebola in their blood, researchers have found. It had no effect in patients with more virus in their blood, who are more likely to die. … The drug is being tested in Guinea, one of the three West African countries most affected by the Ebola crisis…” (Fink, 2/4).

Reuters: France says results of trials in Guinea of anti-Ebola drug encouraging
“France said on Wednesday the first trials of a drug to treat Ebola in Guinea had been encouraging and appeared to accelerate the recovery process of patients, President Francois Hollande’s office said in a statement. Trials of an experimental Japanese drug — Avigan, or favipiravir — developed by Toyama Chemical, a subsidiary of Japan’s Fujifilm, began at a treatment center in Guinea in mid-December…” (Irish, 2/4).

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U.S. Government Officials Weigh In On Measles Vaccination Debate

NPR: CDC Director: ‘Unfortunately, I’m Not Surprised’ By Measles’ Rise
“Robert Siegel talks to Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about the current measles outbreak in the U.S. and the government’s response…” (Siegel, 2/4).

Washington Post: The politics of the vaccination debate
In this video, “[t]he debate about mandated vaccinations has the political world talking. A spike in measles cases nationwide has President Obama, lawmakers, and even potential 2016 candidates weighing in on the vaccine controversy” (Kirkland, 2/4).

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Study Shows Stigma Impacts Women's Taking Of Drug To Prevent HIV, Stirs Debate On Conduct Of HIV Drug Trials

International Business Times: An End To HIV In Africa Draws Near As Drugs Are Better Than Ever, But Stigma May Be Final Hurdle
“…In some areas of sub-Saharan Africa, where the vast majority of new infections have occurred, shame has kept many at-risk people from seeking treatment or taking measures to prevent infection, especially among women, who account for the majority of new HIV infections on the continent. When presented with state-of-the-art drugs that have proved to be powerful, safe and effective at preventing HIV infection, many women were reluctant to take the medications or stopped taking them altogether, according to a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine that looked at the rates of HIV infection among women in sub-Saharan Africa…” (Ross, 2/4).

New York Times: A Failed Trial in Africa Raises Questions About How to Test HIV Drugs
“The surprising failure of a large clinical trial of HIV-prevention methods in Africa — and the elaborate deceptions employed by the women in it — have opened an ethical debate about how to run such studies in poor countries and have already changed the design of some that are now underway. Scientists who conduct clinical trials are now testing participants’ blood more often and holding group discussions to quell rumors and urge participants to take their medications diligently…” (McNeil, 2/4).

VOA News: Study: African Women at Highest Risk for HIV Don’t Use Prevention Drugs
“Most young women who are at the highest risk of contracting the AIDS virus do not use drugs designed to prevent HIV infection, even when they’re offered. That’s the conclusion of a new study that looked at so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, in thousands of women in Africa. … Many of the women in the study felt stigmatized using an AIDS medication…” (Berman, 2/4).

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Poorer, Disadvantaged Children More Likely To Die Young In Developing Countries, Says Report

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Poorest children more likely to die young in developing countries — charity — TRFN
“A ‘lottery of birth’ is at play in many developing countries where poorer, socially disadvantaged children are more likely to die than their more fortunate peers, according to a leading children’s charity…” (Caspani, 2/4).

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Role Of Health To Be A Priority In Disaster Risk Reduction Framework Discussions, Says U.N.

U.N. News Centre: Role of health emerges as vital concern ahead of U.N. disaster risk reduction conference
“As Member States accelerate efforts to finalize the successor to ‘the world’s most encompassing framework’ on disaster risk reduction ahead of a critical United Nations conference in Japan next month, the role of health in building community resilience has suddenly come front and center in the negotiation process, the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) said [Wednesday]…” (2/4).

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International Community Marks World Cancer Day

U.N. News Centre: On World Cancer Day, U.N. says ‘goal must be equitable access for all patients, in all countries’
“As the international community pauses on World Cancer Day to remember the millions of preventable deaths caused by the disease, the head of the U.N. agency that contributes nuclear techniques to fight cancer said [Wednesday] that a huge percentage of the world’s cancer deaths occurring in developing countries can be prevented…” (2/4).

Xinhua News: Ghana commemorates 2015 World Cancer Day
“Ghana joined the rest of the international community Wednesday to commemorate the 2015 World Cancer Day. … The WHO Country Director, Magda Robalo, said many lives could be saved in Africa if appropriate investment was made in raising public awareness on the early signs and symptoms of common cancers…” (2/4).

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U.K.-Led Report Calls For Development Of Innovation Fund To Address Antibiotic Resistance

BBC News: Call to boost antibiotics funding to tackle ‘looming crisis’
“Far more money needs to be pumped into global drug research to tackle the looming crisis of antimicrobial resistance, a report says…” (Gallagher, 2/4).

Financial Times: Call for superfund to fight superbugs
“…The review, set up by David Cameron and headed by the economist Jim O’Neill, released its first report in December. … The second report, published on Thursday, begins to outline specific steps to tackle the worldwide rise of resistant infections. ‘I am calling on international funders, philanthropic or governmental, to allocate money to a fund that can support blue sky science and incubate ideas that are more mature,’ said Mr. O’Neill, former chief economist at Goldman Sachs…” (Cookson, 2/5).

Reuters: Review calls for global fund to fight dangerous superbugs
“…It said a targeted ‘innovation fund’ could support the kind of research needed to pave the way for new drugs, for alternatives to antibiotics, and for new testing technology that is vital to ensure the right drugs are used…” (Kelland, 2/4).

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Increased Access To Modern Contraception Could Prevent Unintended Pregnancies

VOA News: Study: Access to Modern Contraception Could Avoid Unwanted Pregnancies
“A new study says the vast majority of unwanted pregnancies every year could be avoided if women had access to modern contraception…” (DeCapua, 2/4).

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Smartphone Device May Improve Disease Detection In Developing Countries, Researchers Say

International Business Times: HIV and syphilis can be detected in minutes using cheap, lab-on-chip device
“A cheap device that can detect HIV and syphilis from a drop of blood in less than 15 minutes has been developed by U.S. and Rwandan researchers…” (Jayalakshmi K, 2/5).

Reuters: Could a $34 smartphone device improve HIV diagnosis in Africa?
“A $34 device that plugs into the audio jack of a smartphone was nearly as effective as far more costly diagnostic blood testing equipment in identifying antibodies for HIV and syphilis in a pilot study in Africa, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday…” (Steenhuysen, 2/4).

Science Magazine: Lab on a chip turns smart phones into mobile disease clinics
“…Compared with gold standard laboratory tests, the dongle was 96% as accurate in detecting infections, missing just one case of latent syphilis, the team reports online today in Science Translational Medicine. … The researchers are now preparing a larger scale trial for the $34 device, which they hope will let mobile clinics and health workers provide rapid and reliable disease screening in the remotest areas of the world” (Weiler, 2/4).

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India's Progress On MDGs Mixed

Wall Street Journal: India Hits Its U.N. Poverty-Cutting Target, but Misses Others
“India is on track to cut poverty in half by the end of this year, compared to 2000 levels, but needs to do more to improve education and empower women, a United Nations report said Wednesday…” (Agarwal, 2/5).

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Islamic State's Theft, Manipulation Of Food Aid In Syria Sparks Debate On Delivering Aid To Conflict Zones

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Food hijack by Islamic State fuels debate over transparency of aid
“The hijacking of United Nations aid deliveries by Islamic State fighters in Syria sparked outrage this week, reviving a debate about how humanitarian groups should work effectively to ensure crucial supplies reach victims in conflict zones…” (Arsenault, 2/5).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Mark World Cancer Day, Address Various Issues Related To Cancer

EurActiv: Clean the air, prevent cancer
Christian Friis Bach, executive secretary and under-secretary-general at the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe

“…We can do more to prevent people from getting sick. One way is to increase our efforts to reduce the amount of pollutants in the air we breathe. Air pollution is already known to increase risks for a wide range of diseases, including respiratory and heart diseases. … But we must do more and we must take global action. This is why air quality has been selected as one of the two main themes at the next Environment for Europe ministerial conference in Georgia in 2016. This is why air quality is a key priority in the expected Sustainable Development Goals…” (2/4).

Huffington Post: Noncommunicable Disease – An Emerging Global Health Crisis
Nancy G. Brinker, founder and chair of global strategy, Susan G. Komen, and former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary

“…There is much the United States and its allies can do to help developing countries meet the NCD challenge at relatively modest cost. By placing the cancer crisis far higher on the global health agenda, we have it in our power to spare millions from needless suffering and death” (2/4).

Devex: Emerging world cities: Innovating on cancer’s front lines
Jonathan S. Jay, attorney, bioethicist, and senior writer for Management Sciences for Health, and Chelsey R. Canavan, research and communications specialist with Management Sciences for Health

“Cancer is gaining ground in the developing world. People in poor countries are more likely to die from cancer, and die far younger, than people in rich countries. … Cancer isn’t just an urban issue. Most of the world’s poor still live in rural communities. National governments and development groups should expand their programs to bring the cancer response to these areas, too. Universal health coverage policies could help finance and reorganize services to address NCDs. Emerging world cities, however, have no need to wait — they can go fast and far on their own. Their leadership can begin to close the cancer divide” (2/4).

Financial Times: Guest post: the global problem of spiraling costs for cancer medicines
Mohga Kamal-Yanni, senior health and HIV policy adviser for Oxfam

“Gone are the days when cancer was seen as a problem only faced by rich countries. With the trend of rising cancer rates set to continue because of changing lifestyles and increasingly aging populations in developing nations, cancer is becoming a huge challenge for emerging economies and the situation is being exacerbated by a lack of affordable medicines. … Clearly now is the time for global mechanisms to delink the financing of R&D from the prices of resulting medicines. Otherwise, new effective medicines will be affordable only for the lucky few” (2/4).

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Investing In Disadvantaged Children Can Improve Health Outcomes, Survival

Huffington Post: Giving Every Child a Fair Chance in Life Is a Defining Challenge For Our Generation
Carolyn S. Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children

“…All over the world, children’s chances of seeing their fifth birthday depend on where they are born, the wealth of their parents, and their ethnic identity — factors that, for them, are purely a matter of chance. New research released today by Save the Children reveals a story of fast but unequal progress in child survival. … The world’s most disadvantaged children are being left at the back of the line. If current trends continue, children drawing the shortest straw in this lottery of birth will continue to die from preventable causes for generations to come. Giving every child a fair chance in life is a defining challenge for our generation, and it must be tackled head-on…” (2/5).

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'Simple' Development Solutions Should Not Be Overlooked

SciDev.Net: Development is complex but needs simple solutions
Christopher Charles, vice-president of global health at the Canadian Federation of Medical Students

“…Some see failed interventions as an opportunity to endlessly experiment with innovative technologies. Let’s shift our thinking — for example by moving away from expensive agricultural biotechnologies that promise to cure malnutrition if enough time and money are poured into them, and instead look at simple solutions like incorporating ancient grains such as millet, which already have the nutritional benefits the biotechnologists are trying to engineer. Donor organizations increasingly require that every project simultaneously caters to environmental, health, social, economic, and gender concerns. But simple interventions should not be overlooked…” (2/4).

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Reasons For Optimism In Ebola Fight, Concerns Over Long-Term Impact On West Africa

The Guardian: Experts raise hope of end to Ebola outbreak
Simon Allison, writer for Daily Maverick, part of the Guardian Africa network

“…[I]t is worth taking a moment to congratulate everyone involved in the effort to slow down the spread of Ebola, which at one time looked unstoppable. But even when this particular outbreak of the virus is eradicated, it is vital to remember that the devastation caused by Ebola is far from over, and won’t be for decades to come” (2/4).

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Plans To Develop Children's Medical Research Center In Washington, D.C. Should Move Forward

The Washington Post: Saving children — and a hallowed site
Kurt Newman, president and chief executive of Children’s National Health System

Discussing a debate over the future plans for a building site in Washington, D.C., the author writes, “Founded in 1955, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) building once housed an eminent biomedical research program. Now our country can convert this abandoned but renovated facility into a world-class pediatric medical research center, devoted to the groundbreaking discoveries that can save children’s lives and advance global child health. But this opportunity could be lost amid discussion over how to divide 43 acres of the Walter Reed site, upending a plan already agreed to by the Defense Department, approved by Congress and endorsed by key District officials and neighborhood groups…” (2/4).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Posts Discuss Analysis Of International Community's Donations To Ebola Response

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog”: Funding to Fight Ebola: Not Too Little, but Definitely Too Late
Karen A. Grépin, visiting fellow, and Amanda Glassman, director of Global Health Policy and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, discuss an analysis authored by Grépin in the BMJ examining donations made by the international community in response to the Ebola epidemic, noting that “the pace at which pledges were made to the epidemic and the speed at which resources were disbursed were slow, which likely allowed the epidemic to spread longer and may have contributed to overall higher costs to control” (2/4).

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Ebola responses: Only a third of donors’ pledges have materialized where they are needed
Antigone Barton, writer and editor of “Science Speaks” and senior communications officer at the Center for Global Health Policy, discusses findings from Karen A. Grépin’s analysis of donations made by the international community in response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa (2/4).

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Investment In Reproductive Health R&D In Developing Countries Is Small

Global Health Technology Coalition’s “Breakthroughs”: The state of reproductive health R&D for developing countries
“…Dale Halliday — an analyst at Policy Cures — discusses the finding of Policy Cures’ report on funding for reproductive health technology research and development (R&D) in developing countries” and notes that “[c]onsidering the health burden, capacity for health improvements, and potential impact on broader poverty indicators, as well as the size of the reproductive health R&D sector as a whole, investment in R&D for reproductive health products in developing countries is small” (2/4).

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UCSF Releases Paper On Private Health Sector's Role In Malaria Surveillance

UCSF Global Health Sciences: Background Paper: The Private Sector’s Role in Malaria Surveillance
UCSF Global Health Sciences Global Health Group published a background paper “synthesizing current research and expert knowledge on the current state of the private health sector’s role in malaria surveillance. [The paper discusses] key challenges and how these have been addressed by several countries, as well as potential opportunities presented by the private sector for case management and response, with a focus on malaria elimination” (2/4).

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Global Malnutrition Has Significant Human, Economic Costs

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs: Healthy Food for a Healthy World: Economic Costs of Global Malnutrition
Louise Iverson, research associate at the Chicago Council, discusses the economic costs of global malnutrition, as part of the Chicago Council’s new campaign, “‘Healthy Food for a Healthy World,’ to build awareness about the important role food can play in promoting health and alleviating malnutrition…” (2/4).

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