KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

South Korea Reports 172 MERS Cases, 27 Deaths; Thailand Reports No New Cases; Malaysia Steps Up Traveler Screening

Reuters: South Korea reports two more MERS deaths, Thailand says no new cases
“South Korea’s health ministry reported on Monday two more deaths in the country’s Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak, which the World Health Organization said was ‘large and complex,’ bringing the number of fatalities to 27. Thailand, which reported its first case last week, said it had no new cases, raising hopes the virus there had been contained. … The health ministry in Seoul also confirmed three new cases, taking the total to 172…” (Park/Kim, 6/22).

Reuters: Medical tourism expertise helps Thailand cope with MERS
“Thailand’s status as a hub for medical tourism could be helping the country contain the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), government and health officials said, after confirming its first case of the deadly virus last week…” (Lefevre/Jittapong, 6/22).

Reuters: Malaysia steps up health screening for MERS at entry points
“Malaysia has stepped up health screenings at all entry points into the country, after the first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was reported in neighboring Thailand last week…” (Menon, 6/22).

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Experimental Ebola Drug Trial Halted In Sierra Leone As 'Predefined Statistical Endpoint' Reached

New York Times: Clinical Trial of Experimental Ebola Drug Is Halted
“In a setback for efforts to combat Ebola, an experimental drug that researchers had considered one of the most promising potential treatments has not worked in patients in Sierra Leone, the drug’s developer said Friday…” (Pollack, 6/19).

ScienceInsider: In setback for potential Ebola drug, company halts trial
“…The company that developed the drug, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals of Burnaby, Canada, and the Wellcome Trust, which sponsored the trial, announced [Friday] that they would not enroll any more patients because the trial had reached ‘a predefined statistical endpoint.’ Early results suggest that adding more patients to the study ‘was unlikely to demonstrate an overall therapeutic benefit to patients,’ the Wellcome Trust said in its statement…” (Vogel/Kupferschmidt, 6/19).

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Global Surveillance Of Asymptomatic Polio Needed To Truly Eradicate Disease, Study Suggests

VOA News: ‘Silent’ Polio Cases Could Reignite Epidemics, Study Warns
“Only a few hundred cases of paralytic polio still exist worldwide, thanks to massive vaccination campaigns. But a new study concludes that so-called silent cases of polio can infect populations for years, threatening to reignite disease epidemics. … Writing in the journal PLoS Biology, researchers from the University of Michigan say continued surveillance is necessary because these silent infections can spark a resurgence of active polio…” (Berman, 6/19).

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Scientists, Donors Say Improved Systems For Disease Research, Vaccine Development, Outbreak Response Needed

Washington Post: MERS crisis: Do we need a NATO-type war strategy for potential epidemics?
“…[The MERS] crisis has prompted calls for a better early warning and response process to stop the spread of infectious diseases that threaten the planet. At the top of many researchers’ lists are a more structured way to prioritize, fund, and work on vaccines for such pathogens. … During the Ebola crisis, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates described the need for a way for governments to join together in manner similar to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)…” (Cha, 6/19).

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Drought, Financial Instability May Play Role In Increased Risk Of HIV Infection, Study Says

VOA News: Drought-Related Hardship Raises HIV Risk, Study Finds
“…New research concludes buffering people from financial shocks may help keep them from resorting to risky behaviors that spread the virus. … The study says measures such as better access to savings accounts and credit, weather-indexed crop insurance, and more drought-tolerant crops could cushion the blow from money troubles, and ultimately curtail the spread of HIV…” (Baragona, 6/20).

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South Sudan Marks Progress Toward Eliminating Guinea Worm

Agence France-Presse: Medics celebrate ‘remarkable’ step to eliminating flesh-burrowing worm
“Health workers celebrated Friday a key step towards eradicating the flesh-burrowing Guinea worm after South Sudan, once by far the worst affected country, said it had recorded no cases this year…” (6/19).

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Government Program Helps Malawian Men Participate In Prenatal Care, Reduce HIV Infections Among Newborns

Huffington Post: How Dads In Malawi Are Reducing HIV Rates Among Babies
“…Just five years ago, males in Malawi simply did not participate is women’s antenatal care services, which had a grievous effect on the way pregnant women with HIV addressed their health needs, according to UNICEF. But that figure has improved dramatically recently thanks to a government program that’s working to break the stigma around the issue and encourage men to be more involved in their wives’ well-being…” (Goldberg, 6/20).

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Californian, Mexican Counties Sign Agreement To Cooperate In TB Efforts

Times of San Diego: California and Mexico to Battle TB Problem Together
“Public health officials from both sides of the border Friday signed an agreement for a joint effort to battle tuberculosis. … The agreement by health officials from San Diego and Imperial counties formalizes a comprehensive strategy to combat TB along the border, with help from counterparts in Baja, California. As part of the agreement, participants will receive referrals, lend technical support, accept lab specimens, and assist with investigations…” (Posner, 6/19).

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UCSF Receives $4.5M Donation For Innovative Malaria Research

SFGate: Entrepreneur gives UCSF $4.5 million to combat malaria
“Billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sean Parker has given money for medical research, including allergies and cancer, and now has turned his attention to malaria with a $4.5 million gift to UCSF to tackle the global health issue. The Napster founder and former Facebook president, 35, is donating the money to start up a program dedicated to developing new and aggressive approaches to fight the mosquito that transmits the potentially deadly infectious disease. … Sir Richard Feachem, director of the Global Health Group at UCSF Global Health Sciences, will direct the new program, which will be designed to complement the school’s existing efforts to eliminate malaria globally…” (Colliver, 6/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

Vigilant Monitoring, Especially In Hospitals, Crucial To Stopping Spread Of MERS

New York Times: Coping With Outbreaks of MERS
Editorial Board

“…Officials at the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have expressed confidence that the disease is not yet a global emergency. But a series of medical errors in South Korea shows what can happen to any country that lets its guard down. All of the South Korean MERS cases so far involved people who were infected in hospitals, either as patients and staff members or as visitors who often shared a room with infected patients. … Fortunately, there has not been a surge in new cases, but vigilant monitoring will be crucial. In the meantime, hospital systems, the main culprits in spreading the disease in many countries, need to beef up their ability to identify and isolate cases and contacts” (6/20).

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U.N. Must Develop Policies To Protect Local Populations From Disease Importation By Peacekeepers

Foreign Affairs: Peace and Pestilence
Adam Houston, global health and human rights advocate

“…The Haitian cholera epidemic, which has resulted in more than 730,000 infections and 8,900 deaths since 2010, originated with U.N. peacekeepers. This tragedy serves as a warning, as yet largely unheeded, about preventing those sent to help vulnerable populations from becoming a vector for disease. … Existing guidelines on peacekeeping and disease focus on protecting peacekeepers from local diseases, overlooking the risks to locals from imported ones. … The U.N. has access to the expertise necessary to develop effective policy, and a structure that is well suited to its implementation. It also has a duty to ensure that peacekeepers protect the most vulnerable not only from war but from pestilence as well” (6/21).

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Fathers Play Important Roles In Maternal, Child Health

Huffington Post: On Taking Time to Be a Father
Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA executive director

“…Today, I am a father of five grown children and grandfather of four grandchildren. I have witnessed first-hand the time and care that goes into giving children the best start in life. So this week, as the first State of the World’s Fathers report is released across the globe, I urge all of us fathers to think about what it means to be a dad, and about the time we spend caring in the home. I call on you, on all of us, to promote the full involvement of men in family life and the full integration of women in community life, ensuring that men and women are equal partners…” (6/21).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Men Play Critical Role In Global Efforts Toward AIDS-Free Generation

U.S. State Department’s “DipNote”: On Father’s Day, Recognizing Men’s Critical Role in HIV/AIDS Response
In recognition of Father’s Day, Deborah L. Birx, U.S. global AIDS coordinator and U.S. special representative for global health diplomacy, discusses the role men play in the global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic (6/21).

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First Lady Michelle Obama Discusses Food Security, Nutrition At World Expo In Milan

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: FLOTUS Highlights Global Nutrition and Health Challenges at Expo Milano 2015
The blog post summarizes First Lady Michelle Obama’s comments made while visiting the USA Pavilion at the World Expo, noting she “expressed optimism about facing our global food and nutrition challenges after visiting the pavilion. … She said, ‘The global conversation about our food and our food systems is really exciting. Because whether it’s food security, or hunger, or health and nutrition, the issues around the globe are really complex for all of us. So we really … need to talk about these issues'” (6/18).

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Nurses Play Vital Role In Community Health Systems

IntraHealth International’s “Vital”: Nurses Are Global Citizens and Community Heroes
Allison Annette Foster, senior adviser for human resources for health at IntraHealth International, writes about the importance of nurses in community health care and an innovative program in Tanzania that helps connect nurses to those who need care (6/19).

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Study Suggests Quality HIV Treatment, Treatment For Prevention Can Be Achieved In Resource-Poor, Remote Settings

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Henan province study shows HIV treatment offering greater protection against transmission as drugs, programs improved
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” discusses findings from a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases that followed HIV serodiscordant couples in China’s Henan province. She notes, “The authors conclude that adequate drugs, health care, and [drug] adherence all boost the preventive benefit of treatment for HIV, and that the experience of Henan province indicates that all of those are possible in a resource-poor and remote setting…” (6/18).

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