KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

At WEF, Leaders, Experts Discuss Lessons Learned From Ebola, Strategies To Prepare For Future Outbreaks

International Business Times: As Ebola Outbreak Recedes, Global Health Care Leaders Focus On Prevention, Coordinated Action
“…Governments and aid organizations will need to build stronger health care systems in some of the world’s poorest countries and further invest, preemptively, in developing drugs and vaccines to treat rare diseases that could threaten global health. Those are the recommendations of leaders from the public and private sector who convened at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday to talk about the lessons from the latest Ebola outbreak, which has killed thousands in West Africa…” (Nordrum, 1/22).

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Fast-Track Efforts To Produce Experimental Ebola Treatments Taking Longer Than Expected

New York Times: Fast Track on Drug for Ebola Has Faltered
“…Six months [after it was first used in two American aid workers with Ebola], very little [of the experimental drug ZMapp] has been produced, diminishing the chances that the drug can be used to treat large numbers of patients in the current outbreak, which appears to be ebbing. The delays show some gaps in preparedness and have frustrated biodefense and infectious disease experts…” (Pollack, 1/22).

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GSK Ships Experimental Ebola Vaccine To Liberia; Trial Of 2 Vaccine Candidates To Begin There Soon

BBC News: Ebola crisis: Experimental vaccine ‘shipped to Liberia’
“The first batch of an experimental vaccine against Ebola is on its way to Liberia. The shipment will be the first potentially preventative medicine to reach one of the hardest hit countries…” (Mundasad, 1/23).

CQ HealthBeat: Top Ebola Vaccine Candidates to Be Tested in Same Trial
“…A three-pronged trial will involve a vaccine developed by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline Plc and one that is being developed by Merck & Co. and New Link Genetics. People participating in the test will be randomly assigned to get either one of the vaccines or a placebo…” (Young, 1/22).

Financial Times: GSK ships Ebola vaccine to West Africa
“…International health authorities are scrambling to launch trials while there are still enough cases to produce evidence that the GSK vaccine and another from U.S.-based Merck & Co are effective…” (Ward, 1/23).

The Guardian: Experimental Ebola vaccine shipped to Liberia
“…Health care workers and others at high risk from Ebola in Liberia could be given an experimental vaccine as early as next week following the shipment of the first doses to Monrovia, according to the manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline…” (Boseley, 1/23).

New York Times: Trial of 2 Ebola Vaccines’ Effectiveness Is Announced
“…The number of new Ebola cases is waning in West Africa. Officials from the United States Department of Health and Human Services said that could make it harder to determine if either of the vaccines [were] preventing disease. More participants may have to be added to the trial, or it may need to be expanded to neighboring Sierra Leone, they said…” (Pollack, 1/23).

Reuters: First GSK Ebola vaccine shipment due to arrive in Liberia
“…Researchers hope eventually to enroll up to 30,000 people in the trial, a third of whom would get GSK’s candidate vaccine…” (Kelland, 1/23).

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Sierra Leone Lifts Quarantines, Plans To Reopen Schools As Ebola Epidemic Slows

Agence France-Presse: S. Leone to reopen schools in March as Ebola retreats
“Sierra Leone said on Thursday it would reopen schools across the country in March, with the deadly Ebola epidemic slowing throughout West Africa…” (1/22).

Reuters: Sierra Leone lifts Ebola quarantine measures amid progress
“Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma on Thursday removed Ebola district quarantine measures intended to curb the spread of the disease, declaring ‘victory is in sight’ after a sharp drop in transmission…” (1/23).

Reuters: Sierra Leone emergency anti-malaria drive reaches 2.5 million people
“Sierra Leone has given anti-malaria drugs to more than 2.5 million people in Ebola-affected areas and significantly reduced the number of patients with fever that might have been mistaken for Ebola, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday…” (Zweynert, 1/22).

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Gavi Requests $7.5B From Donors As Funding Conference Approaches

Reuters: Vaccines group seeks $7.5 billion as disease fight reaches peak
“The Gavi global vaccines alliance is seeking to raise $7.5 billion at a funding conference in Berlin next week, as its battle to prevent infectious diseases in millions of children reaches an expected peak. … The coming 2016-20 period will be the busiest in Gavi’s history, as it ramps up vaccine purchases to 2.7 billion doses from 2.1 billion in the preceding five years…” (Hirschler, 1/22).

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UNICEF Urges World Economic Forum Participants To Focus On Marginalized Children

Huffington Post: U.N. Calls On Davos Participants To Do More For Kids Affected By Violence, Poverty, Disease
“…More than 2,500 participants are expected to attend the five-day [World Economic Forum] event in Davos, Switzerland, where business leaders, politicians, and Nobel laureates are tackling such heavy topics as deepening global inequality and declining trust in government. But experts say that such grave issues as Ebola and Islamic extremism will inevitably take center stage, and UNICEF has urged participants to also put crises vulnerable children face at the forefront of the event…” (Goldberg, 1/22).

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Experts At European Parliament Session Outline Challenges In TB Drug Development

EurActiv: Developing countries urged to produce TB vaccines locally
“Even though one third of the global population have the microbes that cause tuberculosis (TB), pharmaceutical companies still have little incentive to produce the drugs that can combat the deadly but curable disease. Speaking at the European Parliament on Wednesday (21 January) Dr. Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary of [the] Stop TB Partnership, an international body coordinating the fight against tuberculosis among government bodies, donors, and NGOs, underlined the huge global health burden of tuberculosis…” (1/23).

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MSF Accepts Pneumonia Vaccine Donation, Bending Own Policy; Group Still Advocates For Fair Pricing

Devex: MSF bends donation policy for pneumonia vaccine
“After years of refusing vaccine handouts from big pharmaceutical companies, international medical humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontières is bending its policy to accept donations of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. … ‘We are not asking for charity from big pharmaceutical companies, but for fair prices enabling every country in the world to buy vaccines for its own population,’ [François Servranckx, MSF’s communications lead for its Access Campaign,] told Devex…” (Ravelo, 1/22).

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Religious Opposition Continues Against Philippines' Reproductive Health Law, Efforts To Provide Free Contraception

GroundTruth Project/PRI: Catholic leaders battle against free birth control in the Philippines
“…[T]he unmet need for birth control may become a thing of the past as the Philippines begins to roll out free contraception under its new reproductive health law. … The path to free family planning services for the poor wasn’t an easy one. Fierce opposition from influential Catholic Church leaders, who have long played a major role in politics, resulted in a bitter 14-year battle in Congress…” (Narang, 1/22).

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Group Urges Countries To Abolish Discriminatory Laws Affecting People With Leprosy

Reuters: Laws deny leprosy sufferers right to work, travel, marry: study
“…Around 20 countries, including India, Thailand, and Nepal, have or continue to pass laws that discriminate against people with leprosy, the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP) said ahead of World Leprosy Day on Sunday. … The U.N. adopted a resolution in 2010, urging governments to abolish all discriminatory laws against people affected by leprosy and their family, ILEP said…” (Guilbert, 1/22).

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Global Health Research Ranking Table Puts Oxford Atop U.K. List

Science Magazine: University of Oxford named United Kingdom’s global health front-runner
“Only a handful of U.K. universities are deeply involved in the fight to improve global health, according to a new ranking table released yesterday at the United Kingdom’s Houses of Parliament. The idea behind the list — which follows a similar ranking for U.S. and Canadian universities and another one for pharmaceutical companies — is to encourage spending on global health research and to increase the pressure on stragglers to step up their efforts…” (Chawla, 1/22).

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Editorials and Opinions

Childhood Vaccinations Provide Lifelong Health, Economic Benefits

Huffington Post: A Birthday Gift to Last a Lifetime
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

“…[T]he impact of immunization only begins with a vaccine shot. Where sickness impoverishes, health empowers, and not just individuals but economies too, helping to lift them out of poverty, potentially reducing dependence on foreign aid and opening new markets. … In its 15 year history … Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has helped immunize half a billion children against a range of deadly diseases, preventing 7 million future deaths in the process. We now plan to ramp up our efforts and immunize a further 300 million children between 2016 and 2020, which would save a further 5-6 million more lives leading to $80-100 billion in economic benefits. The bottom line is that vaccination is about providing children with a lifetime of benefits…” (1/22).

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WHO Needs Structural Reform, Proactive Leadership

Wall Street Journal: All Is Not Well at the World Health Organization
Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust

“…[E]ven if the WHO grasps this historic opportunity [to reform], there are fundamental and systemic failings that underlie its inability to learn lessons. This essential organization, with international legitimacy and respect unmatched in public health, has been held back by deep structural flaws and a chronic refusal to lead. … But if the WHO fails to evolve, others such as the World Bank may feel they have to step in. The result will be Balkanized health governance, when a unified global system is needed. Margaret Chan, the present director general, has another two years in office. Convincing reluctant national governments to embrace real and effective renewal would be a fine legacy” (1/22).

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Social Sciences As Important As Medical Science In Preventing Drug Resistance, Disease Spread

Project Syndicate: The Social Science of Medicine
Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust

“…The growing capacity of pathogens to resist antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs is turning into the greatest emerging crisis in contemporary health care — and it is a crisis that cannot be solved by science alone. … Today’s great public health threats have profound economic consequences. Minimizing the risks they pose requires recognizing that they are intertwined with the social, behavioral, and cultural landscape. Science provides powerful tools. But we need more than science to use these tools effectively” (1/22).

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Private Sector Must Join Governments In Providing Unprecedented Amount Of Humanitarian Aid

Project Syndicate: Aid in a World of Crisis
António Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees

“…Protracted wars, environmental disasters, and state failure have stretched the international humanitarian aid system passed its breaking point. If the UNHCR and other relief agencies are to address the unprecedented amount of human need, they will have to broaden their base of support. Without a massive scaling up of private sector involvement, both in terms of shared expertise and funding support, we will fail to provide for millions of people who have lost almost everything. … The crisis in Syria has exposed the failure of the old approach to humanitarian aid. It is time to get serious about establishing a new one” (1/22).

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Systematic Changes In Pricing, Procurement Must Occur For Universal Access To Affordable Vaccines

The Lancet: What are affordable vaccines?
Editorial Board

“…Although the world’s poorest countries are supported by Gavi, [a new report from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)] describes how a large group of middle-income countries, aid agencies, and Gavi-graduating countries are struggling to afford key vaccinations. … MSF calls on governments and drug companies to introduce strategies to increase transparency of vaccine prices, including provision of publicly available information on vaccine research and development costs; monitoring and accountability of vaccine prices; increased use of effective procurement strategies; and increased competition and entry of lower cost manufacturers. Ahead of the Gavi pledging conference in Berlin, Germany, on Jan 27, it is time to join the call for systematic changes to ensure long-term universal access to the benefits of vaccination” (1/24).

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Health, Development Goals In Gates Annual Letter More Realistic Than Draft U.N. SDGs

Bloomberg Businessweek: Bill and Melinda Gates Want the U.N. to Get Real
Charles Kenny, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development

“…The bets in the Gates [annual] letter are far more likely to happen than the U.N. [Sustainable Development Goals] draft’s targets. … The Gateses’ annual letter is a shot across the bows of a United Nations effort that looks headed toward utopian irrelevance. It comes from two of global development’s best-known advocates and is a welcome attempt to rein in the excessive ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals. But U.N. negotiators are suggesting tweaks to the draft, not the radical surgery that’s badly needed. Sadly, it’s a bet with long odds that the Gates letter will alter the course of the negotiations over the next few months” (1/22).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kaiser Family Foundation Examines Americans' Views On U.S. Role In Global Health

Kaiser Family Foundation: Data Note: Americans’ Views On The U.S. Role In Global Health
This new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation “shows the public, including a plurality of Republicans, Democrats and independents, wants funding for global health maintained. Americans’ top priorities for global health funding focus on meeting basic human needs such as improving access to clean water and food, and helping children… A large majority of the public overestimates the share of the U.S. federal budget spent on foreign aid and most say the country spends too much on it, but the public is more supportive of spending specifically aimed at improving health in developing countries. Another top priority is the fight against Ebola in West Africa, a news story that has ranked among the most closely watched developments of 2014…” (DiJulio et al., 1/23).

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U.N. Declares 2015 As International Year Of Light

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: 2015 is the U.N. International Year of Light
Paul T. Mungai, the science officer in the Office of UNESCO Affairs at the State Department, notes the U.N. has declared this year as the International Year of Light, writing, “Light technologies provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications, and health” (1/22).

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7 'Achievable But Ambitious' NTD Goals For 2015

Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect”: A Wish List for 2015: 7 Achievable Victories in the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases
Mirta Roses Periago, former director of the Pan American Health Organization, outlines her “wish list” for 2015, which “includes seven achievable yet ambitious victories for the global health and development community.” The goals include eliminating river blindness and lymphatic filariasis in Latin America and the Caribbean; securing G7 commitment to fighting NTDs; and including NTDs in the post-2015 development agenda, among other goals (1/16).

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Ebola Epidemic Highlights Need To Improve Women's Health Care In West Africa

Maternal Health Task Force’s “MHTF Blog”: New Lancet commentary makes link between Ebola and women’s health
Katie Millar, technical writer for MHTF, discusses a commentary published in The Lancet Global Health “that describes the socioeconomic, biologic, and health systems connections between women’s health and the current Ebola epidemic.” She writes, “Addressing the current outbreak is critical, but maintaining a focus on strengthening these health systems beyond the outbreak will be critical for ensuring and protecting maternal and child health…” (1/22).

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