KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Ebola Deaths Exceed 8,000, Cases Pass 20,000; Virus Continues To Spread In West Africa, WHO Says

Associated Press: U.N. tally of Ebola-linked deaths tops 8,000
“The World Health Organization says more than 8,000 people are thought to have died last year from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa…” (1/2).

Reuters: Ebola spreads in Sierra Leone as global cases top 20,000 — WHO
“The Ebola virus is still spreading in West Africa, especially in Sierra Leone, and the number of known cases globally has now exceeded 20,000, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday…” (Nebehay/Miles, 12/31).

U.N. News Centre: Number of people affected by Ebola tops 20,000 — U.N. health agency
“The head of the United Nations Ebola emergency response mission is set to open a treatment facility in Liberia near the Sierra Leonean border during a visit to review where the U.N. can do more to help, as the World Health Organization (WHO) [on December 29] reported that more than 20,000 people have now become infected by the virus…” (12/29).

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Outgoing, New UNMEER Heads Stress Mission Of Reaching Zero Ebola Cases By End 2015

Agence France-Presse: Victory against Ebola ‘within our reach’: new U.N. mission chief
“Ending the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history is a difficult task, but it is ‘within our reach,’ the U.N.’s new mission chief on the disease said, warning that the world has no choice but to beat back the infection…” (1/4).

BBC News: Ebola outbreak will end in 2015 — U.N.’s Anthony Banbury
“The deadly Ebola outbreak will be ended in 2015, the outgoing head of the U.N. team fighting the disease has said. Anthony Banbury said the number of Ebola cases would be brought down to zero by the close of this year, but admitted that the end was ‘not close’…” (1/2).

Reuters: Ebola fight remains tough but may be won this year: U.N. mission chief
“…A spike of cases in Sierra Leone meant UNMEER missed its target of ensuring that by early December 70 percent of all Ebola patients were being treated in isolation units and 70 percent of all those who died from Ebola were buried properly. Banbury said there were now enough functioning treatment centers in the region…” (Kpodo, 1/2).

U.N. News Centre: Outgoing head of U.N. Ebola mission sums up progress in ‘big battle’ with outbreak
“…As Mr. Banbury prepare[d] to hand over the reins of UNMEER to Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on [January 3], he was able to point to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) report on the epidemic, which counted 20,206 confirmed, probable or suspected cases of Ebola and 7,905 reported deaths…” (1/2).

U.N. News Centre: ‘We have no plan B, we have to get rid of this virus’ — new head of U.N. Ebola mission
“…Ould Cheikh Ahmed will be visiting Liberia and Sierra Leone next week, then Guinea shortly after, to reinforce UNMEER’s strategic priorities and see first-hand the Ebola response. He will be accompanied by U.N. Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro…” (1/3).

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Sen. Coons, CDC's Frieden Say U.S. Ebola Efforts Making Progress But Epidemic's End Not Near

The Hill: Dem senator: U.S. military made it possible to fight Ebola
“On the heels of a three-day visit to West Africa, Sen. Chris Coons (D-N.J.) said [December 28] that the United States is helping to finally turn the corner in the fight against Ebola overseas. Coons, the first member of Congress to visit an Ebola-stricken country, wrote in an op-ed published late Sunday that ‘Liberia is moving from crisis toward recovery’ with the help of the U.S. military and agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)…” (Ferris, 12/29).

The Hill: CDC: End to Ebola not yet in sight
“On the heels of a three-country tour across West Africa, one of the leaders of the United States’s response to Ebola is not ready to say the end to the epidemic is near. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said [December 22] that he can’t predict — and doesn’t think anyone can — when West Africa will see its last case of Ebola…” (Ferris, 12/22).

Washington Post: CDC director Frieden cites progress, challenges in Ebola fight after W. Africa trip
“Despite progress fighting Ebola in Liberia, a surge in the number of cases and a shortage of treatment beds in neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea pose ‘sobering’ challenges to stopping the epidemic in West Africa, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said [December 22]…” (Sun, 12/22).

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U.N.'s Ban Says Early Warning System Needed For Outbreaks; WHO To Review Its Ebola, Outbreak Response

Associated Press: U.N. chief urges better early warning of next disease outbreak
“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said [December 22] the international community urgently needs better early warning and rapid response to the next outbreak of disease — ‘a test that is sure to come.’ The U.N. chief, who just visited Ebola-hit countries in West Africa, said the world must learn the lessons from the deadly outbreak, which go beyond strengthening public health systems…” (Lederer, 12/22).

Wall Street Journal: After Slow Ebola Response, WHO Seeks to Avoid Repeat
“…At the Jan. 25 meeting, the WHO says, its executive board — health officials from 34 countries — will debate changes to how it responds to outbreaks. It will determine which to put forward for approval by the WHO’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly…” (McKay/Wonacott, 12/29).

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News Outlets Examine Lessons Learned, Knowledge Yet To Be Gained From Ebola Epidemic

Canadian Press: Largest Ebola outbreak ever reveals truths about the mysterious, deadly disease (Branswell, 1/1).
New York Times: How Ebola Roared Back (Sack et al., 12/29).
Washington Post: Ebola’s lessons, painfully learned at great cost in dollars and human lives (Sun et al., 12/28).
Washington Post: Could a pregnant woman change the way we think about Ebola? (Sieff, 1/4).

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Malaria Control Efforts Challenging Amid Ebola Epidemic In West African Nations

Associated Press: Malaria killing thousands more than Ebola in West Africa
“West Africa’s fight to contain Ebola has hampered the campaign against malaria, a preventable and treatable disease that is claiming many thousands more lives than the dreaded virus…” (Faul, 12/28).

Nature: Side effects vex anti-malaria push in Sierra Leone
“…In early December, public health workers distributed malaria medication to 2.52 million people in Sierra Leone. The effort was meant to curb the number of malaria cases as the disease approaches its peak season, and reduce, in turn, the number of people whose symptoms could be mistaken for those of Ebola. … But the side effects of the drugs can limit the efficacy of this approach, known as mass drug administration (MDA)…” (Maxmen, 1/3).

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IMF Policies Contributed To Poor Health Care In West Africa, Lack Of Ebola Response, Researchers Write In Commentary

News outlets report on a commentary published in The Lancet Global Health that discusses International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies and the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Associated Press: Researchers: IMF policies hindered Ebola response
“Professors from three leading British universities say International Monetary Fund policies favoring international debt repayment over social spending contributed to the Ebola crisis by hampering health care in the three worst-hit West African countries…” (Faul, 12/30).

The Hill: Study: IMF policies fueled Ebola spread
“…The IMF denied that the terms of its loans to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone hampered social spending, noting data that pointed to improved health outcomes in those countries. Health spending has also increased as a percentage of GDP in the region, the IMF said…” (Viebeck, 12/30).

Washington Post: Did the International Monetary Fund help make the Ebola crisis?
“…The [researchers’] basic argument: the IMF gives lip service to social services, but their insistence on financial austerity starved the health systems of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, and the crisis is worse because of it…” (Blattman, 12/30).

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Critics Of Disease-Specific Global Health Spending Urge More Focus On Health Systems Development

Bloomberg News: Bill and Melinda Gates Are Spending Their Money the Wrong Way, Critics Say
“Over the past decade, aid groups such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have spent tens of billions of dollars battling deadly infectious diseases. Some public health experts want them to stop. … [M]any officials say spending billions of dollars to fight ailments such as AIDS, malaria, and polio rather than supporting basic health services has left nations unprepared for epidemics like Ebola…” (Bennett et al., 12/22).

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U.N. Delivers Food Aid To South Sudan Via Reopened Nile Route

Wall Street Journal: U.N. Steps Up Food Aid to South Sudan
“The United Nations started delivering food aid by barge to South Sudan as fears grow that the country’s civil war will lead to widespread famine early next year. The vessel transported the food [December 29] from Sudan by way of the Nile, an aid route that has been closed since 2011, when the Khartoum government cut off all commercial traffic on the river after South Sudan became independent…” (Bariyo, 12/31).

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New Clinics In Haiti Use Functional Architecture To Help TB, Cholera Patients

New York Times: In Haiti, Battling Disease With Open-Air Clinics
“…Haiti — a broken country if there ever was one — now has two new clinics, open-air, modest in size and cost, designed to tackle diseases that can be as insidious and deadly as Ebola, but are also more common: cholera and tuberculosis. … Instead of constructing hermetic shields in the form of airtight, inflexible hospital buildings, the architects took advantage of Haiti’s Caribbean environment, exploiting island cross breezes to heal patients and aid caregivers…” (Kimmelman, 12/28).

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Indian Government To Use Mobile Technology To Track Rural Toilet Use

Reuters: India to track toilet use with tablets
“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is launching a nationwide online program to check whether people are using toilets as part of his cleanliness drive. [Beginning in January], officials will head out with mobile phones, tablets, and iPads to report on whether toilets are being used in rural India, with results uploaded onto a website in real time…” (MacAskill, 12/31).

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Translating HIV Advances Into Practice Presents Opportunities, Challenges In 2015, AVAC Executive Director Says

VOA News: Overcoming HIV Obstacles in 2015
“The head of a prominent HIV/AIDS advocacy organization says 2015 will be a year of great opportunities and great challenges. [AVAC Executive Director] Mitchell Warren said one challenge of the New Year will be to translate recent scientific advances into practice…” (DeCapua, 1/1).

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Peer-Based Counseling Group Helps Connect HIV-Positive Mothers In South Africa

Wall Street Journal: In South Africa, HIV-Positive Mothers Help Others Fight AIDS
“…mothers2mothers, a peer-to-peer, community-based organization [was founded by Dr. Mitchell Besser] in Cape Town in 2001. Funded by government, corporate, foundation, and private sources, the program trains and employs HIV-positive mothers to serve alongside doctors and nurses, advising and supporting pregnant women and new mothers infected with the virus…” (Bloch, 12/26).

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Artemisinin Drug Resistance Threatens Mekong Region's Progress Against Malaria

Financial Times: Malaria: Real and present danger
“…A potential comeback by malaria in Myanmar, Cambodia, and neighboring Mekong subregion countries risks quietly undoing years of progress in fighting this historical scourge in the world’s warmer regions. Health workers are finding growing numbers of sufferers of the disease for whom therapies based on artemisinin, a compound extracted from a grass used in Chinese traditional medicine, are no longer working properly…” (Peel/Ward, 12/28).

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Unlicensed Health Practitioner Who Allegedly Infected Cambodian Villagers With HIV Charged With Murder

Associated Press: Cambodia ‘doctor’ faces murder rap in HIV outbreak
“An unlicensed medical practitioner suspected of negligently infecting more than 100 villagers in northwestern Cambodia with the virus that causes AIDS was charged [December 22] with murder and other crimes, a prosecutor said…” (Cheang, 12/22).

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Editorials and Opinions

Obama Should Nominate Influential Development, Health Leader To Head USAID

The Hill: Think big on USAID administrator
Richard Lugar, former Republican Senator from Indiana

“…From the recent Ebola outbreaks, to the instability caused by chronic hunger, to terrorist recruitment fueled by crushing poverty, the United States has a deep interest in being a leader on development issues. The President should find an [USAID] Administrator who will command immediate respect in Congress and overseas and who is dedicated to two years of strengthening the momentum created by [outgoing USAID Administrator Rajiv] Shah” (12/29).

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Editorial, Opinion Pieces Examine Efforts To Contain Ebola Epidemic

Washington Post: Lessons from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa
Editorial Board

“…[O]ver the past decade, there have been four major outbreaks of infectious disease caused by a virus: severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS; swine flu; Middle East respiratory syndrome; and now Ebola. Each has taken populations by surprise. Next time, the world should not be gobsmacked. It is possible to be better prepared, be more aware of the potential threats and not start from zero every time the alarm goes off. … More ought to be done jointly by governments and the private sector to improve the ability to swing into action” (12/25).

Project Syndicate: Fighting Ebola on All Fronts
Christian Bréchot, president of the Institut Pasteur

The Guardian: Ebola can only be beaten by tackling poverty in Africa
Anne Perkins, Guardian leader writer, lobby correspondent and feature writer

New England Journal of Medicine: West African Ebola Epidemic after One Year — Slowing but Not Yet under Control
WHO Ebola Response Team

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Violence Against Women Should Be Treated As Global 'Public Health Crisis'

Washington Post: How to cure the pandemic that women face
Mary Ellsberg, director of the Global Women’s Institute at George Washington University

“When violence is inflicted upon women and girls, we rightly think of it as a crime and a tragedy. But we should also recognize it for what it truly is: a global pandemic and a public health crisis. … We need to act as we would in the face of any other epidemic — by responding appropriately to victims and moving swiftly to implement preventive measures. … Not one grand vaccine will ever eradicate violence against women — just the hard work of transforming deeply entrenched societal norms, one community at a time” (1/2).

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India Needs Real Reform To Address High Suicide Rate, Mental Health 'Crisis'

New York Times: India’s Mental Health Crisis
Editorial Board

“On Oct. 10, the government of India announced an ambitious new policy to provide universal mental health services. … India has the highest number of suicides in the world. According to the World Health Organization, of 804,000 suicides recorded worldwide in 2012, 258,000 were in India. … Unfortunately, the new policy may be almost impossible to translate into action. … Unless Prime Minister Narendra Modi reverses course, his impressive new policies will end up exactly like the development projects of the past administrations he excoriated during his campaign: high-minded pronouncements on paper with zero delivery in practice” (12/30).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kaiser Family Foundation Analysis Examines Global Health Funding In FY15 Omnibus

Kaiser Family Foundation: Analysis: Global Health Funding in the FY15 Omnibus Appropriations Act
A new Kaiser Family Foundation issue brief provides an analysis of the FY15 Omnibus Appropriations Act, which “contains $5.4 billion in emergency funding to address the Ebola crisis — a significant increase in total U.S. support for global health. Aside from the additional funding for Ebola, global health funding remained essentially flat at $9.2 billion,” a press release states (Wexler/Kates, 12/22).

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State Department Blog Posts Discuss Ebola Response Efforts

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Continuing The Fight Against Ebola
Nasserie Carew, senior adviser and acting deputy assistant secretary of state for public affairs, highlights a new State Department podcast series, titled “Fighting Ebola.” The series features interviews with U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Deborah Malac, former UNMEER head Anthony Banbury, and Ambassador Nancy Powell, head of the Ebola Coordination Unit at the State Department (12/19).

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Robust Responses From the Asia-Pacific Region to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa
Andy Weber, deputy coordinator for the State Department’s Ebola Coordination Unit, discusses various Ebola response efforts from nations in the Asia-Pacific region (12/23).

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USAID Official Outlines Disaster Response Lessons Learned 10 Years After Indian Ocean Tsunami

USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: Lessons Learned a Decade after the Indian Ocean Tsunami
Nancy Lindborg, USAID’s assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, discusses USAID’s response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and outlines “six lessons that inform the way we respond to disasters a decade” later (12/26).

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January 2015 Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

WHO: Bulletin of the World Health Organization
The January 2015 WHO Bulletin includes news and research articles on various topics, as well as editorials on the Ebola epidemic and the global health worker shortage (January 2015).

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