KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Technology, Innovation In Health, Education, Agriculture Will Help Further Reduce Inequality Over Next 15 Years, Gateses Say In Annual Letter

News outlets highlight the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s annual letter, released on Wednesday, as well as comments made by Bill and Melinda Gates in a related interview.

Agence France-Presse: World’s poor headed for better lives in 2030: Gates
“The lives of the poor will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any time in history, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates and his wife Melinda say…” (Landry, 1/21).

Bloomberg News: Bill Gates Expects Historic Improvement in Lives of Poor
“…Advancements in medical care and illness prevention for children, efforts to eradicate polio and other diseases and new farming techniques in Africa will drive ‘major breakthroughs’ for most people in poor countries, according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation annual letter published Wednesday night in Seattle…” (Cao, 1/21).

Devex: Bill and Melinda Gates launch ‘Global Citizen’ advocacy effort
“…The Gates Foundation’s 2015 annual letter, released Jan. 21, concludes with the launch of an online advocacy effort called ‘Global Citizen.’ The campaign aims to connect ideas and people so that, collectively, they can persuade governments, companies, and nonprofits to prioritize efforts to improve the lives of the poorest people…” (Igoe, 1/22).

Financial Times: ‘A bit of luck’ halted Ebola, says Bill Gates
“…Now that the number of new Ebola infections is falling, countries and aid agencies must learn how to ‘respond faster’ next time by ensuring that lists of volunteers are available more quickly and by using experimental new drugs at an earlier stage, he said…” (Crow, 1/22).

Reuters: Gates foundation sees huge gains against disease, poverty by 2030
“…Established in 2000, the foundation distributed $3.6 billion in grants in 2013, in particular for global health and development, and had $42.3 billion in assets as of late 2014…” (Begley, 1/22).

USA TODAY: Gates Foundation targets a better world for poor in 2030
“…While the Gates Foundation’s biggest achievement to date ‘is getting the cost of vaccines down 37 percent and developing a market for such companies, which have grown from five to 12,’ Gates says progress on a large scale is only capable through strategic and significant First World government funding…” (della Cava, 1/21).

Wall Street Journal: Gates Foundation Sees a Better Future Driven by Technology
“…The letter, once written by Mr. Gates and now assembled with Mrs. Gates, is widely read in the global health and development communities and beyond for its prognoses and the agenda it proposes for action…” The newspaper features a video interview with the Gateses (McKay/Blumenstein, 1/21).

Washington Post: Gates priorities: Improvements in African agriculture, health, education, and banking
“…This year’s letter is broader in scope than previous letters that were often focused on a single idea or area of interest. In it, the Gateses reaffirmed their focus on child and maternal health and communicable diseases such as malaria and HIV, but they also signaled that two other areas — agriculture in Africa and technology in banking and education — would become major priorities in the coming years…” (Cha, 1/22).

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U.N. Launches Appeal For Additional $1B To Stamp Out Ebola In West Africa

Bloomberg News: Ebola Fight Needs $1 Billion More as Outbreak Wanes
“Ebola remains a global health emergency, the United Nations said today as it sought another $1 billion in donations to fight the deadly outbreak in West Africa…” (Bennett/Kitamura, 1/21).

Reuters: U.N. Ebola chief calls for final $1 billion to fight virus
“…[U.N. Special Envoy on Ebola] David Nabarro estimated that an overall total of $4 billion in new money, equivalent to all the aid committed so far, was needed by relief agencies and the worst affected countries themselves to end the [Ebola] epidemic and ‘help these countries to get back to the economic trajectory they had’…” (Hirschler, 1/21).

U.N. News Centre: Davos: U.N. launches $1 billion appeal for global Ebola response
“… ‘This is an appeal for funds to support the efforts of the national governments of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone as they identify and treat people affected by Ebola, ensure a rapid end to the outbreak, re-establish essential social services and improve people’s food and nutrition security,’ according to the appeal. ‘[It] includes funds needed for enabling nearby countries to reduce their people’s risk of Ebola infection’…” (1/21).

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Ebola Continues To Be Public Health Emergency Despite Declining Case Numbers, WHO Says

CIDRAP News: Ebola cases tumble as WHO extends public health emergency
“Though Ebola cases in West Africa’s outbreak region continue to drop sharply, infections are still occurring in some hot spots and posing a threat to other countries, with the World Health Organization (WHO) announcing [Wednesday] that the situation is still a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)…” (Schnirring, 1/21).

Reuters: Ebola ebbing in West Africa but vigilance needed: WHO
“… ‘Case incidence continues to fall in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone,’ the United Nations agency said, adding that disease surveillance was being stepped up in border districts of Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, and Senegal…” (Nebehay, 1/22).

WHO: Statement on the 4th meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee regarding the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa
“…It was the unanimous view of the Committee that the event continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The Committee reviewed the temporary recommendations previously issued and stated that all previous temporary recommendations should remain in effect…” (1/21).

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West Africa's Food Security Likely To Become More Tenuous As Ebola Epidemic Continues, E.C. Report Says

SciDev.Net: Ebola worsens food crisis in West Africa
“The Ebola outbreak’s impact on household incomes has significantly damaged food security in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the West Africa countries most affected by the disease, says a report by the European Commission (E.C.). Assessing data from agencies including the World Bank and the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the report says: ‘The extent, magnitude and severity of the food security impacts of the [Ebola] outbreak are likely to increase as the epidemic continues’…” (Sharma, 1/22).

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Western Nations Must Invest In Vaccines, Treatments To Prepare For Future Infectious Disease Outbreaks, Piot Says

BBC News: Davos: Western world ‘vulnerable’ to epidemics, warns Ebola expert
“The Western world is ‘vulnerable’ to epidemics such as Ebola, and must invest more in researching vaccines, a leading scientist has warned. Prof Peter Piot [who co-discovered the Ebola virus in 1976] told the BBC that developed nations would be in ‘deep trouble’ if they failed to adequately prepare for another outbreak…” (Miller, 1/21).

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Polio Immunization Campaign Successful In Syria, As No New Cases Reported In Past Year, WHO Says

Agence France-Presse: No new polio cases in Syria reported for a year: WHO
“Syria has gone a year without a reported polio case, the World Health Organization said Wednesday, after a massive immunization campaign triggered by the disease’s appearance in the war-torn country…” (1/21).

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MSF Resumes Humanitarian Operations In Myanmar's Rakhine State After 9-Month Government Ban

Reuters: MSF resumes work in Myanmar state after government ban
“An international medical group has resumed work in an area of northwest Myanmar after a nine-month government ban on its presence in one of the poorest parts of the country over allegations of bias. Médecins Sans Frontières-Holland (MSF) said Tuesday it was allowed to resume work on Dec. 17 in Rakhine State, where it has provided health and emergency assistance since 1992…” (Mooney, 1/21).

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Unfair Economic System, Not Large Families, To Blame For Poverty, Pope Clarifies After Contraception Comments

Agence France-Presse: Pope rows back from ‘rabbits’ comments, praises large families
“Pope Francis on Wednesday described large families as a ‘gift from God,’ just days after he said Catholics did not need to ‘breed like rabbits.’ In an apparent row back from comments he made on his way back from the Philippines, the Argentinian pontiff argued that an unfair economic system is the primary cause of poverty, rather than overpopulation…” (MacKinnon, 1/21).

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Editorials and Opinions

World Must Better Prepare For Future Pandemics

Project Syndicate: Diseases Without Borders
Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group

“…The WEF’s [World Economic Forum] Global Risks report emphasizes the need for robust plans to face the threat of pandemics. This is especially urgent in light of the rapid growth of cities and informal settlements — where infectious diseases can spread more easily — in developing countries. We need to start creating those plans now. After all, we do not know when the next pandemic will strike. We cannot eliminate global risk. We can, however, make our economies and societies more resilient and thus better equipped to minimize the impact of the threats we face. In this sense, forward-thinking initiatives like the global pandemic emergency facility are crucial to making the world a safer place for all of us” (1/22).

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Improving Population Health, Including Sexual, Reproductive Health, Critical For Economic Growth

Huffington Post: Focus on the Finances of Sexual Health
Tewodros Melesse, director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation

“…For the first time last year [Davos] organizers started to elevate their conversations to include health. They realized that to improve the health of the economy they would need to improve the population’s health. … When business leaders talk about health, we know that there is a serious economic point to be made, especially when you talk about it in the broadest possible terms to include sexual health. … Small investments can produce staggering results. That’s why IPPF is campaigning for a goal on gender equality, women’s empowerment, and universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights to be at the heart of new development goals…” (1/21).

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Redouble Efforts To Reach MDGs In Final Year To 'Make Good On Our Promise'

Huffington Post: Let’s Build on Our Success
Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children International

“…The MDGs stand out as one of the resonant and unifying political agreements ever achieved. There are 90 million people living today whose lives would have otherwise been cut short. We’ve proven we can do it — even in the face of great obstacles and with less than 400 days to go before the MDG deadline we need to redouble our efforts and make good on our promise” (1/21).

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Nutrition Must Be Top Priority In Global Development Agenda

The Hill: Africa’s future depends on improved nutrition
Strive Masiyiwa, chair and founder of Econet Wireless

“More than two billion people still suffer from poor nutrition. That’s the central finding of the new Global Nutrition Report, a first-of-its-kind evaluation of food security in 193 countries produced by the International Food Policy Research Institute. … The report is a reminder that nutrition must take top priority on the global development agenda. … Even modest upticks in nutrition dollars will translate into huge benefits. Effective nutritional support can be simple and inexpensive. … Nutritional aid shouldn’t be seen as charity — it should be seen as an investment. Improving childhood nutrition will set the stage for long-term dynamism that will resound throughout [Africa]. This must be a global priority” (1/21).

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Many Women Worldwide Prefer Contraception Use Over Natural Family Planning

The Guardian: Why I agree with the Pope on family planning — up to a point
Faustina Fynn Nyame, country director of Marie Stopes Kenya

“…[I]n a lot of ways Pope Francis and I are in complete agreement. We both want to see happy children raised in happy homes: children who are able to grow up and contribute to society. It also seems from his comments this week that the Pope recognizes the benefits of healthy spacing between children and being able to decide when to say when enough is enough. Where we are at odds is how to achieve that … Unfortunately in my experience, the natural methods advocated by the Pope are not always the best choice for every woman on every occasion. … Believe me, when women have the facts about the different choices available and are able to access them, they jump at the chance to use contraception…” (1/21).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Haiti's Health, Development Landscape Should Be Viewed With 'Fuller Lens'

Humanosphere: Visualizing Haiti’s new and improving health landscape
In a guest post, Lauren Hashiguchi, a policy translation specialist at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, discusses post-earthquake recovery in Haiti, including progress in the health sector. She includes graphics and writes, “Half a decade after the earthquake, it is time to consider Haiti’s health and development with a fuller lens” (1/21).

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Pakistan Continues To Face Challenges In Polio Eradication Efforts

Wired’s “Superbug”: A New Polio Case in Pakistan and an Unsolved Epidemic
In her blog, Maryn McKenna, a journalist and senior fellow of the Schuster Institute at Brandeis University, discusses the challenges of eliminating polio in Pakistan and “the possibility of [the disease] surging back over the rest of the world” (1/21).

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