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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Releases 14 Papers Examining Past Year Of West African Ebola Epidemic

News outlets highlight a series of 14 reports released on Thursday by the WHO discussing various aspects of the first-ever Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Bloomberg News: Ebola Spread After WHO’s 2010 Warning Ignored, Agency Says
“…A WHO review committee convened in 2010 in the aftermath of the swine flu epidemic called for international collaboration to form an ‘extensive global public health reserve workforce’ to counter crises and outbreaks of disease, the Geneva-based health agency said in a report issued Thursday. ‘The world did not respond to these recommendations, with none of these measures fully in place to support a response that could last for many more months to come,’ the report said…” (Lauerman et al., 1/15).

NPR: 14 Takeaways From The 14-Part WHO Report On Ebola
“[Thursday], the World Health Organization issued a 14-part report on Ebola, from the moment it started until now. We asked our team of Ebola correspondents to look at the sections and pull out the points that seemed most interesting — that may have been overlooked or forgotten, stories that show how the virus turned into an epidemic…” (1/15).

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U.N., International Experts Begin Ebola Recovery Assessment Mission In Sierra Leone

U.N. News Centre: International experts, led by U.N., kick off Ebola recovery assessment in Sierra Leone
“Spearheaded by the United Nations, a team of international experts has begun an Ebola Recovery Assessment (ERA) mission in Sierra Leone as part of an effort to partner with governments to address the impact of the virus on affected countries. … The mission’s aim is to work with the governments of the countries hardest hit by the virus — Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea — to assess critical areas that will spearhead economic and social recovery in the post-Ebola era…” (1/15).

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U.S. Funding For Malaria Under Threat, Senator Warns; $8.5B Needed To Eliminate Disease In 34 Countries By 2030, Paper Estimates

Devex: The fight against malaria, at a critical juncture
“…Global spending on malaria control totaled $2.6 billion in 2013, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Major funders include countries affected by the disease as well as the United Kingdom and the World Bank. … If the U.S. government is unable to find solutions to it’s discretionary budget woes, [Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)] warns, malaria funding in 2016 and beyond may plummet, leaving malaria-endemic countries without sufficient resources to cope…” (Anders/Tyson, 1/15).

SciDev.Net: Bill to end malaria in 34 nations put at $8.5 billion
“Thirty four nations have officially adopted the target of eliminating malaria within 15 years. Now a paper has estimated that this could require around US$8.5 billion in sustained financing to 2030…” (Sharma, 1/15).

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Planned Parenthood Campaign Urges Clarification Of Helms Amendment To Allow U.S. Foreign Aid To Fund Some Abortions

The Hill: Planned Parenthood fights to allow some abortions under foreign aid
“Planned Parenthood is pressuring the Obama administration to allow foreign aid to pay for some abortions, specifically in cases of rape or incest, or when a pregnancy endangers the woman’s life. The new campaign comes as abortion-rights groups around the country highlight what they call a misreading of the Helms Amendment, a piece of language enacted in 1973 that prohibits foreign aid from paying for abortions ‘as a method of family planning’…” (Viebeck, 1/15).

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Carter Foundation On Track To Eradicate Guinea Worm Disease Worldwide

The Atlantic: The Second Disease Ever Eradicated
“…[G]lobally, there are only 126 cases left [of Guinea worm], [former President Jimmy] Carter announced this week during the unveiling of a new exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, called Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease. … Though most of the Western world has averted its attention from the scourges [of neglected tropical diseases], Carter said that these diseases are prime for eradication, and his foundation is on track to make Guinea worm the second human disease after smallpox to be entirely eliminated worldwide…” (Fleur, 1/15).

Scientific American: Ex-President Wins Campaign against Ghastly Guinea Worm
“Jimmy Carter’s efforts against the horribly painful guinea worm parasitic disease have helped lower the number of cases from 3.5 million in 1986 to just 126 last year…” The magazine features an audio version and transcript of an interview with Carter (DiChristina et al., 1/15).

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Health Officials Warn Of Possible Cholera Outbreak In Malawi's Flooded Regions; President Appeals For Food Relief, Other Assistance

Reuters: Malawi floods raise fears of cholera outbreak, poor harvest
“Severe floods in Malawi are raising fears of a large-scale cholera outbreak, a health official said on Thursday, as the country grapples with a disaster that has killed at least 48 people and made 70,000 homeless over the past few days…” (Banda, 1/15).

Wall Street Journal: Malawi Floods Kill at Least 50, Threaten This Year’s Crop
“…Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika has already declared a state of emergency in 15 of the country’s 28 districts and appealed to the international community for food relief and support for search and rescue operations. The floods have wrought widespread damage to crops and have swept away livestock in the past few days, according to government and humanitarian officials…” (Bariyo, 1/15).

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Despite Meeting U.N. Goal Of Reducing Hunger, Malnutrition-Related Anemia Remains Problematic In Cuba

Inter Press Service: Anemia in Eastern Cuba Reflects Inequality
“Cuba has met the United Nations goal of reducing hunger. But anemia caused by malnutrition is still a problem among infants, small children, and pregnant women in this Caribbean island nation, which has been in the grip of an economic crisis for over two decades…” (González, 1/14).

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China Reports Increase In New HIV Cases In 2014

Financial Times: China reports sharp rise in HIV cases
“China has reported a sharp rise in new cases of HIV infection last year, highlighting increased incidence of the disease among the elderly and young students…” (Waldmeir, 1/16).

Xinhua: China reports over 100,000 new HIV/AIDS infections in 2014
“China reported 104,000 new HIV/AIDS infections in 2014, up 14.8 percent from the previous year, the country’s central health authority revealed on Thursday. Wang Guoqiang, vice head of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said that the overall rates of infection and number of HIV/AIDS cases have stayed at a low level…” (1/15).

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Lack Of Access To Health Care Facilities Force Many Women In Northern Kenya To Deliver At Home, Increasing Mortality Risk

Al Jazeera: Dying to give birth in northern Kenya
“…Home deliveries often turn tragic with either the mother or the child dying. Such deaths are dealing a blow to maternal health initiatives in northern Kenya, where even basic health care is inaccessible for many. … According to Kenya’s 2008-2009 Demographic and Health Survey, between 1,000 and 1,200 women die during delivery per 100,000 births in northeastern Kenya, compared to the national rate of 488 deaths per 100,000…” (Bosh, 1/15).

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TV Can Impact Poverty, Public Health By Changing Social Behaviors

Bloomberg Businessweek: Fighting Poverty and HIV With Soap Operas
“…Governments have long known that TV can have an impact on poverty by changing behavior. In the 1970s, after the launch in Peru of Simplemente María, a telenovela about an aspirational maid, the country’s government noticed a rise in demand for literacy classes. More recently, economists have tried to measure these effects with greater precision…” (Greeley, 1/15).

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Editorials and Opinions

Congress Should Pass Bipartisan Legislation To Bolster New Antibiotic Development

Roll Call: Congressional Action in the Fight Against Superbugs
Rear Admiral James J. Carey, national chair of the Flag & General Officers’ Network and chair of the Science in Service to Humanity Foundation

“…[Thursday], two senators, Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., introduced a bipartisan bill to encourage the development of badly needed antibiotics. It’s similar in intent to a bipartisan bill introduced during the last congressional session in the House of Representatives. … There is broad support for updating the antibiotics approval process from industry and the nonprofit sector. There is bipartisan support on both sides of the Hill and at the White House. For the sake of our returning troops and the millions of people worldwide at risk of untreatable infections, I hope this legislation is among the first bills to pass the new Congress” (1/16).

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Creating Separate Entity Under WHO To Address Health Emergencies 'Ought To Be Taken Seriously'

The Lancet: Offline: Solving WHO’s “persisting weaknesses” (part 2)
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet

“…What if we accepted that financing arrangements for WHO hampered its ability to fulfill this core mandate? Perhaps one option would be to create a fully and independently funded body, still under the leadership of WHO but separated financially and administratively from its existing structure. This new organization would be tasked with preparing for, detecting, and responding to global health emergencies. It would be led by WHO, but governed by a diverse board of partners. Critics might oppose the idea of dividing a core function from the main body of WHO. But if we agree that the status quo is not an option (and surely we do), and if we also agree that radical reshaping of WHO is improbable, a substantive but still practicable reform, building on WHO’s strengths, ought to be taken seriously” (1/17).

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7 Key Challenges Face Ebola Vaccine Developers, Stakeholders

The Lancet: Is the world ready for an Ebola vaccine?
Bruce Y. Lee of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues

“…We propose seven key challenges to be considered early in Ebola vaccine development that will help stakeholders prepare and allow developers to adjust vaccine characteristics accordingly. … The first challenge is who will be vaccinated and who will make this decision? … how will the vaccine reach the target population? … how the vaccine will be administered. … how safe does the vaccine need to be? … how the benefits and risks of an Ebola vaccine should be communicated to the public and major stakeholders. … how the vaccine would fit into affected countries’ existing fragile health systems. … [and] the cost of an Ebola vaccine and who will pay for it…” (1/17).

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India Must Focus On Stopping Drug-Resistant TB Transmission, Involve All Sectors In Ending TB

Huffington Post India: Understanding India’s Evolving Tuberculosis Challenge
Nerges Mistry, trustee and joint director of the Foundation for Medical Research

“…Given its dangerous implications, curbing transmission-generated drug-resistant TB in India is the need of the hour. This is only possible if every suspected patient undergoes drug susceptibility testing during their initial TB diagnosis to guide an appropriate, timely, and effective treatment regime suited to their individual needs. This will rapidly reduce transmission of severe disease and prevent needless deaths. … Ending tuberculosis in India in its most comprehensive form will require the involvement of non-medical sectors such as nutrition, education, sanitation, engineering, urban planning, and judicial. This is a historical lesson that India can ignore only at its peril” (1/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

USAID, U.S. Military, Ebola Survivors Training Health Care Workers In Liberia

USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: Training the Next Generation of Ebola Fighters
Carol Han, press officer for the Ebola Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), describes how USAID and the U.S. military are training Ebola workers in Liberia, along with the “invaluable” assistance of Ebola survivors who act as patients in the training facilities (1/15).

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Ebola Epidemic, Conflict Causing Economic Harm In Affected African Nations

Humanosphere: The striking economic toll of Ebola and war on African countries
Humanosphere reporter Tom Murphy discusses how the Ebola epidemic in West Africa’s Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and conflict in South Sudan are impacting these countries’ economies and development (1/15).

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World Must Focus On Preparing For Next Global Health Emergency, Not Place Blame

PLOS “Speaking of Medicine”: Is Margaret Chan Really to Blame for the Delayed Ebola Response?
Blog contributor Sara Gorman “discusses recent criticism of WHO Director-General Margaret Chan and whether the focus should be on failures in preparation rather than response” (1/16).

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New Issue Of 'Global Fund News Flash' Available Online

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Global Fund News Flash
The latest issue of the Global Fund News Flash discusses the importance of dialogue and cooperation for achieving global health goals; reaching key populations with HIV prevention, treatment, and care services; and preventing malaria in Myanmar (1/16).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has published Issue 258 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter discusses the appointment of the Global Fund’s new inspector general, Mouhamadou Diagne; audits of Ecuador’s and Rwanda’s programs; and an analysis of tuberculosis drug pricing trends, among other articles (1/16).

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