KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Nearly 3,600 Children Orphaned By Ebola But Well Cared For By Community, UNICEF Says

Agence France-Presse: Fears over abandoned Ebola orphans allayed: UNICEF
“Almost every child who has lost parents to Ebola is being cared for in their community, UNICEF said on Friday — allaying fears that thousands would be shunned by relatives and neighbors. The United Nations children’s fund confirmed an estimate it gave last week that more than 16,000 children have lost at least one parent or main carer to the West African epidemic…” (Taggart, 2/6).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Nearly 3,600 children orphaned by Ebola outbreak in West Africa — UNICEF
“The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has orphaned nearly 3,600 children in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the United Nations Children’s Fund said on Friday. … Extended families and communities were providing care for the vast majority of the children with only three percent of them needing to be placed outside family or community care…” (Caspani, 2/6).

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Health Workers Must Change Care, Treatment Strategies For Children With Ebola To Address High Mortality Rate, WHO Says

Reuters: High rates of child deaths from Ebola, special care needed — WHO
“Authorities fighting Ebola must do more to tackle a high death rate among young children whose isolation from parents also causes great distress and deprives them of the extra care they need, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday…” (Nebehay, 2/6).

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Guinea's Government Approves Wider Use Of Experimental Ebola Drug After New Cases Detected

Reuters: Guinea Ebola infections double as hidden cases discovered
“The number of people sick with Ebola fever has doubled in Guinea in the past week following the discovery of cases previously unknown to health authorities, a Guinea health official said on Friday…” (Samb/Felix, 2/6).

Reuters: Guinea to expand use of experimental anti-Ebola drugs
“Guinea’s government has authorized the wider use of an experimental drug to treat Ebola in treatment centers after successful initial trials, officials said on Saturday…” (Samb/Lewis, 2/7).

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Researcher Describes Long Road To Develop Experimental Ebola Vaccine

Associated Press: Twists, turns, eventually lead to promising Ebola vaccine
“It took 16 years of twists and turns. Over and over, Dr. Nancy Sullivan thought she was close to an Ebola vaccine, only to see the next experiment fail. … But it is those failures that Sullivan credits for finally leading her to a vaccine promising enough to test in parts of West Africa ravaged by Ebola…” (Neergaard, 2/9).

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Britain Contributes $50M To IMF Ebola Debt Relief Fund, Becoming First Country To Pledge

Reuters: Britain becomes first country to donate to IMF Ebola debt relief fund
“Britain said on Monday it would contribute 50 million dollars to a new IMF fund to help West African countries hit by Ebola to service their debts so they can use their own money to help save lives…” (Osborn, 2/8).

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U.K. Pledges Additional Aid For Syrian Refugees, Host Countries

The Guardian: U.K. pledges £100m extra for Syrian refugees
“…The package — intended to assist refugees and the communities hosting them in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq — was announced by the international development secretary, Justine Greening, as she visited Jordan with the Prince of Wales on Sunday. It brings the total committed by the U.K. to the Syrian crisis to £800m — Britain’s largest ever response to a humanitarian emergency…” (Jones, 2/8).

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Experts Discuss Media's Role In Global Health At VOA, USAID Panel

VOA News: VOA, USAID Discuss Importance of Media in Global Health
“Media can have an impact on global diseases, not only by giving people important information, but by changing behaviors that spread illness, aid experts told a recent panel in Washington. The panel was organized by the Voice of America and USAID, in an effort to advance health policy worldwide…” (Khemara, 2/7).

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Ground Truth Project Examines Effectiveness Of Disaster Relief Funding

NPR: Billions Go To Victims Of Disaster And Disease. Does It Really Help?
“…Launched in 2012 under the auspices of a small nonprofit called Keystone Accountability, Ground Truth aims to provide continuous feedback on a relief program’s effectiveness by surveying the people the program is supposed to serve as frequently as once a week…” (Aizenman, 2/8).

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More Than 200 Dead From Swine Flu In India This Year, Raising Concerns Of Epidemic

International Business Times: India: Over 200 swine flu deaths in less than two months raising concerns
“Around 215 deaths from swine flu have been reported so far this year across India, in contrast to 238 deaths in 2014, raising fears of an epidemic. … There is also a rise in mortality rate seen this time with deterioration in infected people being swift and patients dying within two days of reporting the case…” (Jayalakshmi K, 2/9).

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Sustained Conflict, Gaps In Health Workforce Contribute To High Maternal Mortality In DRC

Al Jazeera America: In the DRC, maternity too often means mortality
“…The conflict, which has afflicted eastern Congo since the 1990s, has severely weakened the health system, with clinics ransacked, medical workers evacuated, and others refusing to work in hot zones. Pregnant women are one of the vulnerable groups swept up in the tumult, and Congo has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world, with 846 per 100,000 live births. … Overall the DRC has about half the necessary health workforce to effectively manage its birthrate, according to the U.N. Population Fund…” (Gaestel, 2/9).

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More Than 2M In Central America Need Food Assistance Following Prolonged Drought, U.N. Says

U.N. News Centre: As Central America drought causes food shortages, U.N. agency calls for urgent funding
“The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) voiced concern [Friday] over the impact a ‘severe and prolonged’ drought in four Central American States may have on food and nutrition security across the region…” (2/6).

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South Sudan Risks Famine If Fighting Does Not Subside, Aid Workers, U.N. Say

Reuters: Famine threat to South Sudan if war continues to block aid
“…Aid workers fear famine will again threaten South Sudan in the next few months if forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar continue to shell food distributions, loot aid, and menace humanitarian staff…” (Migiro, 2/6).

U.N. News Centre: South Sudan: as top officials spotlight crisis, U.N. warns of ‘dramatic’ decline in food security
“South Sudan is on the brink of a major food insecurity crisis as millions of people remain trapped by the country’s ongoing internecine fighting, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned…” (2/6).

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Dry Winter Raises Concerns Over Food Shortages, Malnutrition In North Korea, U.N. Says

Washington Post: Dry winter sparks fears of another food crisis in North Korea
“As North Korea heads toward the ‘barley hump’ — the lean season before the rice and corn harvest in the summer — aid agencies are warning that an unusually dry winter is compounding chronic food shortages in the impoverished country…” (Fifield, 2/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

Physicians, Scientists Must Work With Journalists To Accurately Report Infectious Disease Risk, Vaccine Benefits

USA TODAY: We must separate fact from fiction on health
Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine

“…I believe we scientists and physicians need to do a much better job getting the message [about infectious disease risks] out to the public and the media. Our failure to do so is one reason the U.S. public overreacted to Ebola last fall and continues to underreact to the real infectious disease threats facing us now. Communicating public health threats to the American public requires a closer partnership among the communities of scientists, physicians, and journalists. It will take new approaches and hard work. But it can be done” (2/8).

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Immunizations 'Have Revolutionized Public Health'

New York Times: The Dangers of Vaccine Denial
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist

“…If we’re going to denounce the Taliban for blocking polio vaccinations, we should be just as quick to stand up to health illiteracy in our midst. First, a word on vaccines: They have revolutionized public health. … Thus refusing to vaccinate your children is not ‘personal choice’ but public irresponsibility. You no more have the right to risk others by failing to vaccinate than you do by sending your child to school with a hunting knife. Vaccination isn’t a private choice but a civic obligation…” (2/7).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Brookings Fellow Speaks With USAID Administrator Shah In Wide-Ranging Interview

Brookings Institution’s “Future Development”: A Conversation with Rajiv Shah, Administrator of USAID
Homi Kharas, senior fellow and deputy director for the Brookings Global Economy and Development program, writes, “…In our one-on-one conversation about all manner of things USAID, I pressed Shah to comment on the challenges he has faced: the so-called death of official development assistance (ODA), tenuous progress in Haiti, the tension between local ownership and control over resources and ensuring effectiveness in impact of resources, and the ability of a large bureaucracy like USAID to truly become innovative…” The blog features a video of the interview (2/6).

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India Launching Campaigns To Combat Soil-Transmitted Helminths, Elephantiasis

Humanosphere: India launches campaigns against two neglected diseases
“The Indian government is undertaking two major campaigns in the span of one month to protest hundreds of millions of Indians against soil-transmitted helminths and lymphatic filariasis — or worms and elephantiasis, respectively. … The goal: that some 140 million people will be protected against parasitic worms and more than 400 million will take medicine that prevents elephantiasis,” Humanosphere reporter Tom Murphy writes (2/6).

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Blog Post Discusses Recent WHO Decisions Potentially Affecting Global Health R&D

Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs”: WHO Executive Board agrees on set-up of pooled fund for global health R&D
“In this guest post, Alexandra Heumber — head of policy affairs at the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative — discusses actions taken during the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Executive Board meeting which could impact financing for the research and development (R&D) of new health technologies for developing countries…” (Chmiola, 2/6).

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BRICS, G7 Nations Call Attention To NTDs, Should Uphold Commitments

Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect”: BRICS and G7 Countries Poised to Expand Access to NTD Treatments
Alex Gordon, communications associate for the Global Network and the Sabin Vaccine Institute, writes, “…Recently, the Global Network was encouraged to see both the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and the Group of 7 (G7) call attention to NTDs and add momentum to the global movement to control and eliminate them. … [W]e hope they will deliver on their promises and take concrete actions to control and eliminate NTDs…” (2/6).

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