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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain Speaks With POLITICO Magazine About Epidemic Response Efforts

POLITICO Magazine: How a ‘Czar’ Fights a Disease
U.S. Ebola Response Coordinator “[Ron] Klain spoke with Politico Magazine senior writer Michael Grunwald about what went right, what he learned about public health, what the public gets wrong about government … and ‘Obamaphones’…” (Grunwald, 1/19).

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Ebola Treatment, Isolation Centers Continue To Be Built In Liberia As Epidemic Winds Down

Washington Post: U.S.-built Ebola treatment centers in Liberia are nearly empty as outbreak fades
“… Although future flare-ups of the disease are possible, the near-empty Ebola centers tell the story of an aggressive American military and civilian response that occurred too late to help the bulk of the more than 8,300 Liberians who became infected. Last week, even as international aid organizations built yet more Ebola centers, there was an average of less than one new case reported in Liberia per day. … To some of the Liberian doctors who have been fighting the disease almost since the beginning of the outbreak last spring, the continued push to construct Ebola centers makes little sense…” (Sieff, 1/18).

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U.N. Declares Mali Ebola-Free, Commends Liberia For Fewer Cases, Calls On Nations To Fulfill Pledges

Agence France-Presse: Mali government, U.N. declare country Ebola-free
“The Malian government and the United Nations on Sunday declared the country free of Ebola after 42 days without any new cases of the deadly virus…” (1/18).

The Guardian: U.N. Ebola chief calls for final funding push to defeat virus in West Africa
“Half a billion dollars of aid pledged to end the Ebola outbreak in West Africa still hasn’t been paid, according to the U.N.’s response coordinator. Dr. David Nabarro, in London and on his way to Davos to discuss progress against Ebola and future plans, said about two-thirds of the promised $1.5bn had been paid so far…” (Boseley, 1/20).

U.N. News Centre: No new Ebola cases reported in most of Liberia counties over past week — U.N.
“The United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) today welcomed encouraging statistics recently released by Liberia’s Minister of health and Social Welfare that reported that 12 of the country’s 15 counties have had no new cases within the past seven days…” (1/19).

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Schools Reopen In Ebola-Hit Guinea, Showing Cautious Signs Of Recovery

Devex: Why reopening schools today in Ebola-hit Guinea isn’t just about education
“…The Guinean minister of health announced Friday that schools will reopen [Monday], only days after a World Health Organization report stated that new Ebola cases were at their lowest in the country since August. … According to experts, getting kids back to school is a crucial step as the crisis winds down…” (Anders, 1/19).

Agence France-Presse: Schools reopening as W. Africa turns page on Ebola epidemic
“Children on Monday trickled back to school in Guinea, where the Ebola epidemic broke out in December 2013, as West Africa cautiously began turning the page on the deadly outbreak. Schools in neighboring Liberia will reopen on February 2, while Sierra Leone, the country with the largest number of Ebola cases, has yet to set an official date…” (Bah, 1/19).

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J&J Receives $117M Grant From E.U.-Supported Innovative Medicines Initiative For Ebola Vaccine Efforts

Associated Press: Johnson & Johnson Ebola groups get $117M in funding
“Johnson & Johnson is working with a slew of organizations to speed up development of an Ebola vaccine, and the company said Friday that a European health organization awarded them $117 million…” (1/16).

Financial Times: J&J receives €100m E.U. injection for Ebola vaccine development
“J&J and its partners are the main beneficiaries of a €215m funding package from the E.U.-backed Innovative Medicines Initiative announced on Friday to support development and manufacturing of vaccines and diagnostic tools for Ebola…” (Ward, 1/16).

Wall Street Journal: J&J Gets Grant to Speed Up Ebola Vaccine
“…The grants will go toward clinical trials and production of J&J’s experimental vaccine and a campaign to raise awareness of the vaccination. In October, J&J committed $200 million to developing the treatment and has since been looking for funding partners…” (Dulaney, 1/16).

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Devex Discusses Potential Candidates To Follow Shah As USAID Administrator

Devex: Who will be the next USAID administrator?
“…In the short term, we know the answer. Current Deputy Administrator Alfonso Lenhardt will step in as acting administrator when Shah vacates his position, and it is possible Lenhardt will ride out the remaining two years of the Obama administration in that role. … We’ve compiled a list of the 10 most likely candidates to succeed Raj Shah as administrator…” (Igoe, 1/20).

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WHO 2014 Global Status Report Shows NCDs Cause 16M Premature Deaths Annually

News outlets discuss the WHO’s Global status report on non-communicable diseases 2014, released on Monday.

Agence France-Presse: ‘Lifestyle’ diseases kill 16 mn prematurely
“Diseases linked to lifestyle choices, including diabetes and some cancers, kill 16 million people prematurely each year, the World Health Organization said Monday, urging action to stop the ‘slow-moving public health disaster’…” (Larson, 1/19).

Deutsche Welle: WHO says bad lifestyle choices continue to kill millions annually
“A report released by the World Health Organization on Monday said that unhealthy habits such as smoking, alcohol abuse, as well as consuming too much salt, sugar, and fat were leading to sicknesses that killed around 16 million people each year — up from 14.6 million in 2000. Another major factor was a lack of physical activity…” (1/19).

Devex: ‘Best buy’ interventions for NCDs
Devex presents “five things the international development community can learn — and ponder on — about combating NCDs, based on some of the ‘best buys’ or initiatives WHO presented in a new report that aims to inform stakeholders on the global progress on NCD prevention and control…” (Ravelo, 1/19).

Reuters: WHO says chronic diseases kill 3 million annually in China
“…The organization said prevalence of many key risk factors in China is ‘worryingly high.’ It said that over half of all men in the country are smokers, more than four in five adolescents do not engage in sufficient physical activity, and around one in five adults have raised blood pressure…” (Wee, 1/19).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency urges greater government action against non-communicable diseases
“…Speaking at the launch of the WHO’s Global status report on non-communicable diseases 2014, the agency’s Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, announced that by investing anywhere from $1 to $3 per person per year, countries could dramatically reduce illness and death from NCDs…” (1/19).

VOA News: WHO: Millions Die Prematurely From Non-Communicable Diseases
“…In 2013, the World Health Assembly approved a ‘global action plan’ that aims to reduce the number of premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by one quarter by 2025. The plan includes nine voluntary global targets to tackle key risk factors. … WHO finds most countries are not on track to meet the 2025 goal…” (Schlein, 1/19).

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MSF Urges Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline To Cut Pneumococcal Vaccine Prices For Children In Developing Countries

The Guardian: Pharmaceutical companies told to slash price of pneumococcal disease vaccine
“Two giant pharmaceutical companies should lower the price of a new vaccine against pneumococcal disease that is needed by children in developing countries, but is unaffordable for some of their governments, say the volunteer doctors of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)…” (Boseley, 1/20).

Reuters: MSF slams expensive vaccines, urges GSK and Pfizer to cut prices
“…In a report on vaccine prices ahead of an international donor conference in Berlin at the end of January, MSF slammed Big Pharma companies and said the cost of vaccinating a child in the world’s poorest countries was now 68 times higher than in 2001…” (Kelland, 1/20).

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Conflict-Ridden Eastern Ukraine's Health System In Crisis, WHO Warns

Agence France-Presse: WHO sounds alarm on Ukraine’s creaking health system
“Fierce fighting in Eastern Ukraine has wreaked havoc on the health system, with more than five million people affected, the United Nations said on Friday. The World Health Organization said access to primary, secondary, and emergency health services was ‘critically needed,’ adding that the health infrastructure was buckling under the humanitarian crisis…” (1/16).

Reuters: Health crisis worsens in eastern Ukraine, WHO warns
“… ‘We have special concerns for children, infants, and the lack of vaccines. Ukraine in the past month had no vaccines in the country, we are warning,’ Dr. Dorit Nitzan, WHO representative in Ukraine, told a news briefing in Geneva. There is a ‘huge risk of vaccine-preventable diseases,’ she said. ‘Measles and polio are first on the list’…” (Nebehay, 1/16).

VOA News: Health System Collapsing in Conflict-Ridden E. Ukraine
“…Ukraine’s health care system was broken prior to the outbreak of fighting between Russia-backed rebels in Eastern Ukraine and the government in Kyiv in March. But, now it is completely collapsing, especially in areas where fighting is taking place. … WHO representative to Ukraine, Dorit Nitzan, says hospitals often experience water and electricity cuts; households, hospitals, and institutions do not have much food available; and medicines are in short supply…” (Schlein, 1/16).

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Catholic Church's Stance Against Contraception Not License For Large Families, Pope Says

International Business Times: Pope Francis Suggests Natural Family Planning Instead Of Breeding ‘Like Rabbits’
“Pope Francis doesn’t want members of the Catholic faith to feel they have to ‘breed like rabbits’ because of the church’s contraception ban. Instead, he suggested natural family planning strategies…” (Elise, 1/19).

Reuters: Pope says birth control ban doesn’t mean breed ‘like rabbits’
“…Francis used the unusually frank language during an hour-long news conference on the plane from Manila to Rome at the end of his week-long Asia trip…” (Pullella, 1/19).

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U.K. Launches $17.4M Effort To End TB

Reuters: Europe’s tuberculosis hub Britain seeks to wipe out the disease
“Health authorities launched an 11.5 million pounds ($17.4 million) plan on Monday to tackle Britain’s persistent tuberculosis (TB) problem, seeking to wipe the contagious lung disease out altogether. Britain has one of the highest TB rates in western Europe and London is known as the continent’s ‘TB capital’…” (Kelland, 1/18).

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Despite Challenges Facing Health Workers, Pakistan Hopes To Eradicate Polio

BBC News: What must Pakistan do to beat polio?
“Pakistan has yet to report a new case of polio in 2015 — but officials are keeping their fingers crossed nonetheless. In recent years the Taliban have banned vaccinations in areas under their control, while scores of health workers or policemen guarding vaccine campaigns have been shot dead by gunmen. … Officials responsible for the country’s polio eradication efforts feel things have changed in recent years. More areas have become accessible to vaccination teams, and the government has been showing added interest in tackling the virus. But no one is willing just yet to put a time frame on when Pakistan can be declared polio free…” (Khan, 1/17).

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Cambodian Villagers Angry Over Unlicensed Medical Practitioner Who Allegedly Infected More Than 200 With HIV

New York Times: Shock and Anger in Cambodian Village Struck With HIV
“…Even in a country inured to hardship and suffering, the [HIV] infection of such a large number of people within a radius of a few miles was shocking. … What the [more than 200] victims appear to have in common is that they were treated by Yem Chrin, a village medical practitioner who was charged last month with aggravated murder, intentionally spreading HIV and practicing without a medical license…” (Fuller/Neou, 1/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

Obama Administration, Congress Should Allow U.S. Foreign Aid To Support Some Abortion Care

The Hill: President Obama: Ensure U.S. foreign assistance supports safe abortion care
Aram Schvey, senior policy counsel and manager of projects and operations at the Center for Reproductive Rights

“…President Obama, like so many presidents before him, refuses to allow any U.S. foreign assistance to support safe abortion care for survivors of rape or incest, even in life-threatening situations and in countries where abortions are permitted by law. … The Obama administration must recognize the harm that is being inflicted upon countless women when U.S. foreign assistance organizations are prohibited from providing critical services and resources. … It’s time to finally implement the Helms Amendment as it was written” (1/16).

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West Africa Needs 'Capacity To Safely Deliver Excellent Supportive Care' To End Ebola, Strengthen Health Systems

Washington Post: The secret to curing West Africa from Ebola is no secret at all
Paul Farmer, the Kolokotrones University professor at Harvard University and co-founder of Partners In Health

“…Getting to zero new [Ebola] infections is the overarching goal of what is now the world’s largest public-health undertaking. But it’s still far from an ambitious clinical endeavor. … What we need — what we’ve always needed — to improve survival in West Africa is the capacity to safely deliver excellent supportive care. … Since hospitals with poor infection control have always amplified Ebola’s spread, the two tasks — stopping transmission and improving care — are the means by which the world’s largest outbreak will be halted and proper health systems built…” (1/16).

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Investment In TB, Malaria, HIV Treatment And Prevention, Health Systems Saves Lives

The Guardian: Ebola kills far fewer than AIDS, TB, and malaria. What should we prioritize?
Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School

“…It may sound cold-hearted to set health priorities based on cost-effectiveness, but it’s actually the best way to do the most good in the world with limited resources. … Health is a big topic, and we’ve had the perspectives of five expert groups plus a number of commentaries. The case they make for tackling killer diseases is a strong one. … In the health sector, we are spoilt for choice of good projects to spend money efficiently — and transform people’s lives. Now it’s up to the world’s governments to look at the evidence and make good choices on priorities for the next fifteen years. The lives of millions of people depend on it” (1/19).

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Better Global Governance Important Component Of 'Achieving Peace And Food Security For All'

Christian Science Monitor: Achieving peace and food security for all
José Graziano da Silva, director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization

“…[H]unger still persists due to two main reasons: At a global level, the poorest populations have limited access to food, not only because of their reduced purchasing power (as they cannot find decent employment) but also because they do not have access to the resources necessary for production (such as water, land, and credit). And at a local level, conflicts that turn into protracted crises continue to flare up. … [I]f we can establish effective political governance at the global level, then the conditions will be in place for FAO to play its part in implementing a global food governance” (1/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Innovation Improving Global Response Against Ebola

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: How Innovation Is Transforming the Fight Against Ebola
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah writes about how “evidence, innovation, and data” are allowing the U.S. to help lead the global response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa (1/17).

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State Department Briefing Discusses Global Ebola Response With African Diaspora Communities

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Ambassador Power Engages With African Diaspora Communities on the Ongoing International Response to the Ebola Crisis
David Duckenfield, deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Public Affairs, summarizes a recent “conference call with Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and representatives of African diaspora communities from across the United States to discuss the international response to the Ebola crisis…” (1/16).

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Humanosphere Podcast Features Intellectual Property, Patent Expert Jamie Love

Humanosphere: Patently unfair: On the need for more equitable drug pricing
In this podcast, Humanosphere contributor Gabe Spitzer of KPLU Public Radio speaks with Jamie Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, about the organization’s work in intellectual property rights, patent law, and trade agreements (1/16).

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