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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Executive Board Adopts Resolution Calling For Reforms, Including Creation Of Emergency Fund, Health Care Worker Reserve

Agence France-Presse: WHO pledges reforms as it admits Ebola mistakes
“The World Health Organization’s chief on Sunday admitted the U.N. agency had been caught napping on Ebola and pledged reforms to avoid similar mistakes in future…” (Chanda, 1/25).

Bloomberg News: Ebola Spurs WHO Plan for Health Reserves After Missteps
“The World Health Organization’s board agreed to create a special fund to respond to outbreaks such as Ebola and to set up a global emergency workforce after the agency acknowledged missteps in its response to the epidemic…” (Bennett/Gale, 1/25).

Deutsche Welle: WHO agrees on contingency fund to speed up crisis reaction
“…Other [adopted measures] included the development of ‘quality, safe, effective, and affordable vaccines and treatments’ and naming a WHO special representative to coordinate the fight against Ebola. The resolution was brought by the United States and South Africa…” (1/25).

New York Times: WHO Members Endorse Resolution to Improve Response to Health Emergencies
“…The board also asked the organization’s director general to ensure that the WHO’s in-country staff members were selected for their expertise. Some critics have said the early response to Ebola was hobbled in part because some WHO workers lacked important qualifications or had been chosen largely for political reasons…” (Fink, 1/25).

Reuters: After Ebola, WHO to set up contingency fund, develop ‘surge capacity’
“…Major donors welcomed agreement on the emergency fund, which a WHO committee had recommended in 2011 should contain $100 million after the 2009-2010 influenza pandemic. [WHO Director-General Margaret] Chan told reporters that the figure was ‘a good starting point’…” (Nebehay, 1/25).

TIME: WHO Chief Unveils Reforms After Ebola Response Criticized
“…The needed changes, [Chan] said, include country-specific emergency workforces trained with ‘military precision’; a strengthened team of epidemiologists for detecting disease and a network of other providers to allow responders to reach ‘surge capacity’…” (Worland, 1/25).

U.N. News Centre: Ebola: U.N. health agency urges better global preparedness against future outbreaks
“…U.N. Special Envoy for Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro, conveyed a message from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reinforcing the call to draw lessons from this outbreak for the future. In addition, he urged Member States to ensure that the WHO has the resources it needs to end Ebola transmission and build structures for future pandemics…” (1/25).

Wall Street Journal: World Health Organization to Pursue Reforms
“…Sunday’s moves don’t mean that reforms will now be put in motion. The executive board, made up of health officials from 34 countries, sets policy for the WHO’s governing body, the World Health Assembly, to consider. That body, made up of the WHO’s 194 member countries, meets in May and will review the proposed reforms then…” (McKay, 1/25).

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Number Of New Ebola Cases Down Sharply, But WHO Running Out Of Funds To Maintain Efforts

Associated Press: Tide turning in Ebola fight after hard lessons
“…Ten months after it dawned on health officials that they were facing an unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa, experts and officials agree the tide is turning, although previous lulls have proved short-lived…” (Larson/Cheng, 1/24).

The Hill: WHO running out of cash to fight Ebola before rainy season
“…The assistant director-general in charge of the Ebola response, Bruce Aylward, said Friday that the WHO will no longer have money to support efforts to fight the virus by mid-February…” (Viebeck, 1/23).

New York Times: Officials Say Ebola Cases Are Falling In West Africa
“The number of people falling victim to the Ebola virus in West Africa has dropped to the lowest level in months, the World Health Organization said on Friday, but dwindling funds and a looming rainy season threaten to hamper efforts to control the disease…” (Cumming-Bruce, 1/23).

Reuters: WHO says cash crunch, rains could thwart Ebola efforts
“…The U.N. health agency still needs $260 million for its $350 million budget for Ebola for the next six months, Aylward said. It is seeking to raise the money from donor countries…” (Nebehay, 1/23).

VOA News: WHO: Ebola Declining but Still a Threat
“…WHO reports the cumulative number of Ebola cases in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea now stands at 21,797. Over the last 21 days — the incubation period for the Ebola virus — Sierra Leone reported 463 new cases of Ebola, Guinea 109, and Liberia 21…” (Schlein, 1/23).

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Disease Threats Top Security Concerns At World Economic Forum; Ban Urges Focus On Climate, Development, Gender Issues

Reuters: After Ebola, flu and drug resistance top pandemic threats
“…Risks posed by pandemic threats such as deadly strains of flu and drug-resistant superbugs have shot up the agenda of global security issues at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos as politicians and scientists grapple with the lessons from an Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 8,600 people…” (Hirschler, 1/23).

U.N. News Centre: In Davos, Ban urges global action in 2015 on development, gender equality, climate change
“United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [Friday] urged world leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to maintain their focus on a broad range of climate, development, and gender equality issues, warning that as the global community continues to face multiple crises, the new year must be a time for ‘strong commitment’ from international stakeholders…” (1/23).

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Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance On Track To Raise Funding Target Of $7.5B; U.S. To Commit $1B Through 2018

Bloomberg News: GAVI Close to Reaching $7.5 Billion Vaccines Fund Target
“The Gavi Alliance, the world’s biggest funder of vaccines for developing countries, has reached more than 75 percent of its target of raising $7.5 billion from donors for financing its activities from 2016 to 2020…” (Kitamura/Bennett, 1/26).

Devex: U.S. to commit $1B to Gavi until 2018
“…In an announcement shared with Devex over the weekend, the United States said it will be committing $1 billion to the alliance through 2018. While still subject to congressional approval, this shows an increased commitment by the bilateral donor to Gavi…” (Ravelo, 1/26).

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Kaiser Family Foundation Poll Finds Americans Support Global Health Program Spending More Than General Foreign Aid

CQ News: Poll Finds Support for Global Health Spending
“More Americans support spending on global health needs instead of foreign aid in general, according to a new poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation — in part because the public thinks medical aid abroad protects them at home…” (Adams, 1/23).

The Hill: Clean water, children’s well being top global health concerns
“Americans are most concerned about improving access to clean water, improving children’s health, and fighting hunger when it comes to global health policy, according to a new [Kaiser Family Foundation] survey…” (Viebeck, 1/23).

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Gates Optimistic 'Two Miracles' Of HIV/AIDS Vaccine, Improved Treatments Will Be Available By 2030

Bloomberg News: Gates Predicts Two Miracles for AIDS Relief by 2030
“…Improved treatment and the development of a vaccine to prevent new infections are the ‘two miracles’ needed to help turn the tide [on AIDS], the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corp. [Bill Gates] said Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland…” (Cao, 1/23).

Reuters: Gates sees ‘miracle’ tools for AIDS by 2030 in vaccine and drugs
“… ‘We’re pretty optimistic in this 15-year period we will get those two new tools,’ Gates told a session late on Friday. A vaccine is seen as pivotal in preventing new infections among susceptible populations, while new kinds of intense drug treatments should do away with the need for life-long pills, he said…” (Hirschler, 1/24).

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Southern African Floods Leave Survivors In Need Of Food, Humanitarian Assistance, U.N., Aid Groups Say

Thomson Reuters Foundation: ‘Dire’ needs of southern African flood survivors unmet two weeks on
“Two weeks after floods first swept across southern Africa, tens of thousands of people urgently need clean water, food, shelter, and medical care, aid agencies said on Friday, as more rain was forecast for worst-affected Malawi…” (Tuhkanen, 1/23).

U.N. News Centre: Flood victims in Malawi in urgent need of food, other relief aid, U.N. warns
“The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced [Friday] that it has begun distributing high-energy biscuits in Malawi following the devastating flooding that displaced more than 100,000 people and reportedly killed at least 50 others in recent weeks…” (1/23).

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U.N. Welcomes El Salvadorian Assembly's Pardon Of Woman Previously Convicted Of 'Aggravated Homicide' For Miscarriage

U.N. News Centre: El Salvador: U.N. rights office welcomes ‘ground-breaking’ pardon of woman in abortion case
“The United Nations human rights office [Friday] welcomed the ‘ground-breaking decision’ of the Salvadorian Legislative Assembly to pardon a young women’s 30-year sentence in an abortion case. Carmen Guadalupe Vásquez Aldana, who suffered a miscarriage at the age of 18 after reportedly being raped, was convicted of aggravated homicide after her crime was reclassified from ‘abortion’ to ‘aggravated homicide’ during her trial…” (1/23).

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New York Times Examines Use Of Mosquito Nets For Fishing In Africa, Possible Unintended Consequences

New York Times: Meant to Keep Malaria Out, Mosquito Nets Are Used to Haul Fish In
“…Across Africa, from the mud flats of Nigeria to the coral reefs off Mozambique, mosquito-net fishing is a growing problem, an unintended consequence of one of the biggest and most celebrated public health campaigns in recent years. … Though experts say that the vast majority of mosquito nets are used exactly the way they were intended — hung over beds — the full extent of mosquito-net fishing is unknown…” (Gettleman, 1/24).

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Zimbabwe Sees Increase In MDR-TB Cases Despite Drop In Overall TB Cases

Inter Press Service: Zimbabwe Faces Troubling Spike in Cases of Multi-Drug Resistant TB
“…According to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, cases of MDR-TB nearly doubled from 156 in 2011 to 244 cases in 2013. This was despite the fact that notifications for ordinary TB drastically declined from 47,000 in 2010 to 38,367 in 2012…” (Moyo, 1/25).

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Editorials and Opinions

World Must Address Multiple Geo-Economic Risks In 2015, Including Conflict, Water Shortages, Climate Change

Huffington Post: 2015: A Year of Action for Global Risks?
Margareta Drzeniek-Hanousz, lead economist at the World Economic Forum

“Geo-economic conflict is the number one risk facing the world right now, according to the Global Risks 2015 report. Experts believe we face a greater threat of terrorist attacks and state crises, while water shortages and extreme weather can create more havoc and be more frequent due to intensifying climate change. The good news is that the capacity of the human race for avoiding risks, mitigating them, and strengthening resilience is now higher than ever in human history. And 2015 in particular presents a number of opportunities to address global risks. There are reasons for optimism that this year may bring significant action…” (1/23).

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Gates Annual Letter Should Prompt Discussion About West's Role In Poverty Eradication

Washington Post: Grading the 2015 Bill and Melinda Gates letter on poverty alleviation
Chris Blattman, associate professor of political science and international and public affairs at Columbia University

“…[T]o preview, my overall grade [of the Bill and Melinda Gates annual letter] is a B. … By 2030, probably half the world’s poor will live in fragile and conflict-affected places. These are the places that will be hard, maybe impossible, to penetrate with vaccines, the Internet, agricultural extension, and online courses. They certainly won’t be industrializing. If that’s right, then poverty reduction today is an economic and health problem. But poverty eradication in the very near future is a political problem. … We don’t know what to do, and we Westerners don’t know if we make it worse when we try to make it better. To me, that sounds like a conversation worth having…” (1/23).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Supporting Women's Reproductive Health Can Help Build Stronger Economies

World Economic Forum’s “Agenda”: The economic case for contraceptive choice
Karl Hoffman, president and CEO of Population Services International, discusses how family planning and women’s health impact economic growth and development (1/23).

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Blog Post Outlines 10 Top Global Health Issues For 2015

Humanosphere: 10 Global health issues to watch in 2015
In a guest post, Margarite Nathe, senior writer for IntraHealth International, outlines 10 top global health issues for 2015, including mental health, cancer, HIV/AIDS, family planning, mobile technology, global health security and surveillance, war and civil unrest, Ebola, the post-2015 development agenda, and people-centered health systems (1/23).

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Global Network For NTDs Special Envoys Urge U.N. To Include NTDs In Post-2015 Development Goals

Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect”: Special Envoys Urge the Inclusion of NTDs within the Sustainable Development Goals
“…Even though NTDs were included in the Outcome Document of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG) in 2014, they are not specifically mentioned in [U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s] Synthesis Report. [In a letter to Ban, t]he Special Envoys urge the inclusion of NTDs in the final post-2015 development agenda and the corresponding sustainable development goals and indicators in order to give increased visibility to the people affected by these diseases…” (1/23).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.