KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Judge Dismisses Case Against U.N. Over Cholera In Haiti; Plaintiffs' Lawyers Vow To Appeal

Associated Press: U.S. judge tosses lawsuit vs. U.N. over Haiti cholera outbreak
“The United Nations is immune from a lawsuit seeking compensation for victims of a deadly cholera outbreak, a U.S. judge said Friday in dismissing a case that government lawyers said could open the international body to an onslaught of litigation…” (Peltz, 1/9).

New York Times: Haiti: Judge Throws Out Cholera Suit Against U.N.
“…Judge J. Paul Oetken dismissed a class-action lawsuit by Haitians against the United Nations, deeming the organization immune because of treaties. Lawyers for the plaintiffs vowed to appeal. ‘The court’s decision implies that the U.N. can operate with impunity,’ said Beatrice Lindstrom, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which helped file the lawsuit in October 2013…” (Gladstone, 1/10).

Reuters: U.S. judge rules Haitians cannot sue U.N. for cholera epidemic
“…Oetken wrote that the U.N.’s ability to block lawsuits was established by a 1946 international convention and was made clear again in a 2010 ruling from a U.S. appeals court in a case of alleged sex discrimination…” (Ingram/Charbonneau, 1/10).

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WHO Approves MenAfriVac Vaccine For Use In Infants; Meningitis Vaccine Project Shutting Down After Vaccine's Success In Africa

Reuters: Tailor-made vaccine set to banish Africa’s meningitis epidemics
“…Barely five years after the team began rolling out a tailor-made vaccine in Africa’s ‘meningitis belt,’ the disease has all but disappeared there and the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) is closing down after pioneering what may be a model for tackling infectious diseases in developing countries. … On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) authorized MenAfriVac for use in routine child immunizations in Africa, establishing it as part of everyday health care and bringing an end into sight for a disease that has plagued Africa for more than a century…” (Kelland, 1/9).

VOA News: WHO Approves Infant Meningitis Vaccine
“The World Health Organization has approved the use of a meningitis vaccine for infants in sub-Saharan Africa. The vaccine has been given to older children and young adults for the past four years. … The MenAfriVac vaccine costs less than a dollar per dose. [Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance,] is picking half the cost in the first year of mass immunizations with individual countries paying the rest…” (DeCapua, 1/9).

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Republican-Controlled U.S. Congress Could Target Foreign Aid For Family Planning, Women's eNews Reports

Women’s eNews: GOP Congress Threatens Overseas Family Planning
“U.S. foreign aid to family planning clinics in developing countries could face trouble when committees of the GOP-controlled 114th Congress begin work this week. Funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which provides reproductive health services in 180 countries, may also be at risk…” (Johnson, 1/12).

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U.N. Global Compact Must Help End Poverty, Ban Says

U.N. News Centre: Ban calls on Global Compact to help end poverty, transform lives, protect planet
“Addressing the United Nations Global Compact board meeting [on Friday], Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said everyone held a stake in ending poverty, transforming people’s lives, and protecting the planet. … Despite progress in many areas, including reducing poverty and improving health care, he said individual and group interests still take precedence over universal priorities too often…” (1/9).

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Sierra Leone Now Has Tools To Effectively Address Ebola, U.N. Officials Say; Local, International Efforts Still Needed To Stop Epidemic

Agence France-Presse: Sierra Leone now has means to control Ebola epidemic: U.N.
“Sierra Leone now has the means to curb the Ebola epidemic, the new head of the U.N. mission for the fight against the disease and a senior World Health Organization official said…” (1/9).

Associated Press: Ending Ebola in ’15 depends on locals as much as foreign aid
“…Whether the world’s worst-ever Ebola outbreak can be wiped out in West Africa in 2015 is uncertain. To a large extent, it depends as much on locals changing their practices and beliefs as it does on continued international assistance…” (Cheng/Roy-Macaulay, 1/9).

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WHO Approves Two Experimental Ebola Vaccines For Testing In West Africa But Declining Case Numbers Could Complicate Trials

CIDRAP: WHO experts chart next steps for Ebola vaccine trials (Schnirring, 1/9).
Bloomberg News: Glaxo, Merck Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start in West Africa (Bennett, 1/9).
Deutsche Welle: WHO announces ‘good news’ for Ebola vaccine (1/9).
New York Times: In Africa, a Decline in New Ebola Cases Complicates Vaccine Development (Pollack, 1/9).
NPR: Ebola Vaccine Will Soon Be Tested In West Africa (Harris, 1/9).
U.N. News Centre: Two leading Ebola vaccines show ‘acceptable safety’ — U.N. health agency (1/9).

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Sen. Coons Asks U.S. Defense Secretary To Bring 'Majority' Of Troops Home From Ebola Efforts

The Hill: Dem: Bring troops home from Ebola hot zones
“Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) is calling for a major shift in the strategy to contain Ebola in West Africa, urging military leaders to bring home a ‘majority’ of U.S. troops. ‘The United States went to West Africa with a strategy that has made a historic difference, but now that strategy should evolve,’ Coons, who recently returned from West Africa, wrote in a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel…” (Ferris, 1/9).

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MSF Opens Ebola Clinic Specifically For Pregnant Women In Sierra Leone Capital

Reuters: Medical charity MSF opens Ebola clinic for pregnant women
“Medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has opened the first care center in the current Ebola epidemic for pregnant women, whose survival rate from the virus is virtually zero, the charity said on Saturday. … Medical authorities say it is unclear why the survival rate for pregnant women is lower than for other patients but early testing and rapid treatment will help lower mortality rates…” (Fofana, 1/11).

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WFP Needs $28M To Provide Food For Haitians In 2015, 5 Years Post-Earthquake

U.N. News Centre: Haiti: 5 years after earthquake, U.N. warns progress threatened by poverty, inequality
“Five years after a massive earthquake killed 200,000 people in Haiti, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is appealing for funds to continue momentum towards building more resilient communities that will withstand future disasters. Today, some three million Haitians remain unsure where their next meal will come from. To provide them the essential food they require, about $28 million will be needed in 2015…” (1/9).

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Eastern Europe, Central Asia Region Faces International Aid Cuts To HIV, TB Funding, IPS Reports

Inter Press Service: Marginalized Communities Warn of AIDS/TB “Tragedy” in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
“…The EECA is home to the world’s only growing HIV/AIDS epidemic and is the single most-affected region by the spread of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). For years, HIV/AIDS and TB programs in many of its countries have been heavily, or exclusively, reliant on funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. But this year has seen the Global Fund move to a new financing model based on national income statistics, under which funding in many EECA countries has already been — or will soon be — heavily cut…” (Stracansky, 1/9).

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'Medicalization' Of FGM Causing Religious Leaders, Activists To Increase Efforts Against Practice

Religion News Service/Washington Post: African church leaders worry about the ‘medicalization’ of female genital mutilation
“International rights groups, churches, and activists are escalating campaigns against female genital mutilation now that a new practice has emerged in which girls are checking into hospitals to have the procedure. In what is being referred to as the medicalization of FGM, doctors, nurses, and other health practitioners are secretly performing the procedures at the request of families…” (Nzwili, 1/9).

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Gates Foundation Funds Machine That Can Transform Human Waste Into Drinking Water

NPR: Bill Gates Raises A Glass To (And Of) Water Made From Poop
“…In the video, released [last] week, [Gates] stands in front of the Janicki Omniprocessor, a giant new machine that can turn human waste into clean drinking water in minutes. … The Omniprocessor is one of the latest projects funded by the Gates Foundation (which also supports NPR), and the philanthropist wants the rest of the world to back it up as well. The machine’s purpose is to help the 783 million people living without clean water and the nearly 2.5 billion who don’t have adequate sanitation…” (Poon, 1/10).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Should Contribute 'Generous' Amount To Gavi

Washington Post: The United States should generously support Gavi’s immunization efforts
Editorial Board

“An important conference is to be held in Berlin on Jan. 27 to secure financial replenishment for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a multilateral nonprofit that for 15 years has been bringing vaccines to children in the world’s 73 poorest nations. Many attendees will be watching to see what the United States pledges to the effort for the next few years. It ought to be generous. … The group is seeking to raise $7.5 billion, and it has asked the United States to make a multiyear commitment, $1 billion from 2015 to 2018, compared with the $1.4 billion U.S. contribution over the past decade and a half. … Gavi is a worthy investment for the United States. The sums are relatively small, and the potential returns are significant” (1/11).

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Canada Should Step Up To Help Care For Children Affected By Ebola

Huffington Post Canada: Ebola and West Africa’s Children
Kirsty Duncan, Canadian member of parliament

“…Ebola has been horrendous for children. United Nations officials estimate that more than 3,500 have been infected, at least 1,200 have died, and up to 10,000 children have lost one or both parents or caregivers to the disease. … UNICEF is appealing for over US$ 500 million to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa until the end of June 2015. West Africa had to wait for Canada to take notice of Ebola, offer a vaccine, as well as send personal protective equipment and personnel. Let us ensure that the children do not have to wait any longer” (1/11).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Marks 5th Anniversary Of Haiti Earthquake; Discusses Progress, Challenges

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Haiti Still Needs Our Help
Thomas Adams, the State Department’s Haiti special coordinator, marks the 5th anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010. He writes, “Haiti still needs our help. We can do justice to those lost and to all that has been achieved by taking a closer look at Haiti and seeing not only its challenges but also its potential. … A priority of the United States in the years to come is helping Haiti to leverage these advantages and to sustain our commitment to helping Haitians achieve stability and development” (1/9).

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Increased Political Commitment, Attention To TB Bolstering Control Efforts In India

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: How India is moving the needle on TB
Puneet Dewan, senior program officer for tuberculosis in the Gates Foundation’s India office, discusses TB efforts in India, writing, “The increased public attention, political commitment, and innovative solutions are generating much optimism and momentum around controlling TB in India. It’s increasingly possible that the bold vision and promises being made may finally get the support needed to make them real. This would be very good news for TB patients in India and also TB control globally” (1/8).

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MenAfriVac Helps Move Africa's Sahel Toward Meningitis Elimination

Humanosphere: Vaccine on track to eliminate one of Africa’s most feared and deadly diseases — meningitis
Tom Paulson, founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere, discusses progress toward eliminating meningitis in Africa’s Sahel region through the use of the MenAfriVac vaccine, which the WHO recently approved for use in infants (1/9).

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More U.S., International R&D Funding Needed For Neglected Diseases, Experts Say

Humanosphere: U.S. sequester took big bite out of global research and development spending
Humanosphere reporter Tom Murphy explores U.S. and international funding for global health research and development and neglected diseases. He includes comments from Mary Moran, executive director of Policy Cures; WHO Director-General Margaret Chan; and Mel Spigelman, president and chief executive officer of TB Alliance (1/9).

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