KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

UNMEER Chief Warns Against Complacency, Encourages Coordination Among Countries, Communities To End Ebola

U.N. News Centre: In Liberia, U.N. Ebola mission chief commends progress, warns against ‘complacency’
“On his first tour of Ebola-stricken Liberia, the newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) [Wednesday] outlined his vision to tackle the scourge in what he called a ‘3C approach’ which he described as recognizing the vital roles of ‘countries, communities, and coordination’…” (1/7).

VOA News: New Chief in the U.N. Fight Against Ebola Expresses Concern
“The new U.N. official in the fight against Ebola said he worries that successes in treating the deadly disease may provoke a ‘degree of complacency.’ … Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, Ould Cheikh Ahmed, … described his first impression of the situation as ‘mixed.’ He said there is certainly still a lot to be done for Liberia to be declared free of Ebola. In Liberia, Ahmed met with the country’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf…” (1/7).

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Ebola Incidence May Be Leveling In Sierra Leone, Spreads Further Into Guinea, WHO Reports

CIDRAP: Ebola reach expands in Guinea; WHO vaccine experts to meet
“The Ebola situations in the three hardest-hit countries continue to reflect a mixed picture, with Guinea’s pattern fluctuating and the virus extending its reach, Sierra Leone’s incidence starting to level off, and Liberia’s cases sinking to low levels, the World Health Organization (WHO) said [Wednesday] in its weekly snapshot of the outbreak and response. In other developments, experts will meet at WHO headquarters in Geneva [Thursday] for the second time to discuss Ebola vaccine trials and a funding structure for an immunization campaign in the region, once vaccine is available…” (Schnerring, 1/7).

Reuters: Signs Ebola may be leveling off in Sierra Leone: WHO
“Sierra Leone, the country worst affected by Ebola, reported nearly 250 new confirmed cases in the past week but the spread of the virus there may be slowing, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday. The epidemic has taken 8,235 lives out of 20,747 known cases worldwide over the past year, it said. Overall, 838 health workers have been infected, killing 495 of them…” (Nebehay/Giahyue, 1/7).

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International Community Must Learn Multiple Lessons From Ebola Epidemic Response, DfID Officials Say

Devex: DfID ‘dropped the ball’ in Ebola response in Sierra Leone
“Senior U.K. Department for International Development officials have admitted the body made mistakes in its response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, while also suggesting how the department could respond better to similar crises in future. … ‘There is no doubt that multiple bits of the system messed up over this,’ [DfID’s Chief Scientific Adviser and Director of Research and Evidence Chris] Whitty said. ‘I don’t think we should blame others. I think the key thing is to say we all own the international community, including the U.K.’…” (Jóźwiak, 1/7).

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Vatican Increases Response To Ebola Through Donation To Catholic Institutions Operating In Affected Nations

The Hill: Vatican adds funds to Ebola fight
“The Vatican is seeking to bolster its response to Ebola in West Africa by increasing money spent on Catholic institutions in the countries most affected. The donation, announced Wednesday in a Vatican news bulletin, will support parishes’ purchase of protective gear, transportation of patients, and renovation of key buildings…” (Viebeck, 1/7).

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Record 5.5M Displaced By War In First Half Of 2014; 46.3M Persons Of Concern Worldwide, UNHCR Report Shows

News outlets discuss data from a new report by the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR.

Reuters: Syrians largest refugee group after Palestinians: U.N.
“…At more than three million as of mid-2014, Syrians accounted for nearly one in four of the 13 million refugees worldwide [under the U.N. refugee agency’s mandate], the highest figure since 1996, it said in a report. Some five million Palestinians refugees are cared for by a separate agency, UNRWA…” (Nebehay, 1/7).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. report: 5.5 million displaced by war in first half of 2014, setting record
“The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) in its new Mid-Year Trends 2014 Report showcases that of the 5.5 million who were newly displaced, 1.4 million fled across international borders becoming refugees, while the rest were displaced within their own countries also known as IDPs or internally displaced persons. That said, the new data brings the number of people [UNHCR considers persons of concern] to 46.3 million as of mid-2014 — some 3.4 million more than at the end of 2013 and a new record high…” (1/7).

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USAID Using War-Game Scenarios To Address Potential Health, Development Crises

Bloomberg News: Peace Games: Aid Agency Plays Out Ebola, Starvation Scenarios With the Tools of Roman Generals
“… As the U.S. deals with increasingly complex, interlocking security risks — from disruptive technologies to climate-driven food and water shortages and virulent extremism and nationalism — some officials are borrowing a tool from the military in an effort to identify the triggers for instability. The aim is to defuse them before they become threats. The U.S. Agency for International Development is reinventing military war-gaming — an ancient concept — to prevent wars rather than win battles…” (Gaouette, 1/6).

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Gates Foundation Collaborates With Artists To Raise Vaccine Awareness

Wall Street Journal: At the Gates Foundation, Artists Support Vaccine Effort
“Brazilian artist Vik Muniz turned to an unusual building block to create his latest work: liver cells infected with a smallpox vaccine virus. … The piece is a part of ‘The Art of Saving a Life’ project, launch[ed Wednesday] from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in collaboration with more than 30 artists … Each artwork, using different methods and media, is meant to bring awareness to the importance of vaccines throughout the course of history. … Dr. Orin Levine, director of the vaccine-delivery program at the Gates Foundation, talked with Speakeasy about Ebola, the vaccine backlash, and the intersection of science and art…” (Kawakami, 1/7).

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Brazil Unveils New Rules To Curb Cesarean Deliveries, Promote Natural Birth

Associated Press: New rules to curb ‘epidemic’ of cesarean births in Brazil
“Brazil has unveiled new rules aimed at stemming the South American nation’s ‘epidemic of cesareans’ and promoting natural births among private health care providers. Health Minister Arthur Chioro called Brazil’s obsession with cesareans, which account for more than eight out of 10 births handled by private health providers, a ‘public health problem’…” (1/7).

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Human Rights-Based Approach Integral To Food Security Issues, NGO Head Says

Devex: Food, hunger, and malnutrition problems linked to an ‘abuse of power’
“For the past decade, efforts to integrate human rights into food security policies and actions have been led by the Right to Food Guidelines adopted in 2004 by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Despite some notable achievements such as the fact that many governments have incorporated human rights provisions in their food security laws, the guidelines have nonetheless come under fire from some quarters for having been inadequately applied and implemented. … According to Flavio Valente, secretary-general of FIAN International, the rights-based approach is the only possible way to tackle the full spectrum of food security issues…” (Pasquini, 1/8).

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NPR Interviews Partners In Health's Chief Nursing Officer, Who Also Heads PIH Ebola Response

NPR: Teaching Nurses How To Speak Up — And Speak Gently
“Teach someone to fish, the saying goes, and they’ll eat for a lifetime. Teach a nurse to become more involved in helping people heal, and patients could enjoy a longer life. That’s the philosophy behind training nurses to mentor other nurses, says Sheila Davis, chief nursing officer and chief of Ebola response for Partners in Health, the worldwide nonprofit organization…” NPR features an interview with Davis (Cole, 1/6).

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Experimental Antibiotic Extracted From Soil Bacteria Could Work Against Drug-Resistant Infections

News outlets report on a study published in the journal Nature describing a new experimental antibiotic extracted from soil samples.

New York Times: From a Pile of Dirt, Hope for a Powerful New Antibiotic
“An unusual method for producing antibiotics may help solve an urgent global problem: the rise in infections that resist treatment with commonly used drugs, and the lack of new antibiotics to replace ones that no longer work. The method, which extracts drugs from bacteria that live in dirt, has yielded a powerful new antibiotic, researchers reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday…” (Grady, 1/7).

Reuters: Scientists find antibiotic that kills bugs without resistance
“…Researchers said the antibiotic, which has yet to be trialed in humans, could one day be used to treat drug-resistant infections caused by the superbug MSRA, as well as tuberculosis, which normally requires a combination of drugs that can have adverse side effects…” (Kelland, 1/8).

Wall Street Journal: Scientists Discover Potent Antibiotic, A Potential Weapon Against a Range of Diseases
“…While the new compound was shown to be safe and effective in mice, scientists need to determine whether this is the case for people. The discovery of the new class of antibiotic, called teixobactin, was reported Wednesday in the journal Nature. It was uncovered by screening 10,000 bacterial strains from soil. Teixobactin will be investigated further in animals before being tested in people…” (Gaik, 1/8).

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Editorials and Opinions

West African Ebola Recovery, Health Systems Strengthening Must Include Reproductive Health Care

Huffington Post: Ebola and Pregnant Women: A Tragedy to Be Addressed in Recovery Plans
Anika Rahman, human rights lawyer

“…Pregnant women infected with Ebola face a perilous situation. A study of a 1995 Ebola outbreak in the Congo indicated that almost all infected pregnant women died from the virus. … Furthermore, pregnant women with Ebola are actually being turned away from care for fear of contamination. … Global recovery efforts should focus on rebuilding health systems that address the needs of women. Health centers should integrate women’s reproductive health care. … To emerge from this darkness, we must ensure that long-term recovery plans recognize the needs of women and include reproductive health care” (1/7).

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'Unpleasant Accounting,' Public Finance Trade-Offs Hold Some Responsibility For Poor Health Care In West Africa

Washington Post: Who has responsibility for Ebola? The IMF, the West, or unpleasant accounting?
Chris Blattman, associate professor of political science and international and public affairs at Columbia University

“…The idea that financial austerity kills is not unique to West Africa. Most of the world is suffering from austerity, and a lot of people hold the IMF and their ilk responsible. So this is an important question beyond the Ebola crisis. … In my mind, the real problem is the unpleasant accounting you face when you’re poor, have no tax revenues, and only so much aid. You need to spend less on something. … To sum up, I want to suggest a rule of thumb for any public finance question: When someone suggests ‘This country should spend more on X,’ the most important thing you can ask is the unpleasant accounting question: ‘Where should that money come from?’ More loans? More aid? Less spending on something else? The next thing you should do is take back the point I conceded, and ask whether spending equals results. Because of tradeoffs: money wasted on one thing is money not spent saving lives in other ways. Anything less doesn’t add up, IMF or not” (1/7).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

State Department Blog Provides Update On U.S. Ebola Response, Coordination Efforts

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Obama Administration Provides Update to African Diaspora Communities on U.S. Ebola Response
David Duckenfield, deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Public Affairs, discusses an update provided by Assistant Secretary of African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield and officials from USAID, the National Security Council (NSC), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), on the ongoing U.S. response to Ebola in Liberia and other affected countries (1/7).

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'Coordinated, Integrated Response' Will Accelerate Efforts To Eliminate Intestinal Worms, Undernutrition Among Children

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Linking Nutrition and Deworming Interventions for Improved Child Growth and Development
Clayton Ajello, senior technical adviser for Vitamin Angels, David Addiss, director of Children Without Worms, and Neeraj Mistry, managing director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, write, “… By focusing new energy toward eliminating the policy, program, and resource gaps that hinder existing efforts to end both intestinal worms and undernutrition, global partners can accelerate impact. Simply put, the development community should embrace a coordinated, integrated response to address both problems…” (1/7).

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