KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO, WFP To Collaborate To Reach Zero Ebola Cases In West Africa

U.N. News Centre: Two U.N. agencies combine expertise in new partnership to reach zero Ebola cases
“The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) [Wednesday] announced they are combining their expertise in public health and logistics in a new partnership to bring the Ebola outbreak down to zero in West Africa…” (3/11).

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Ebola Epidemic Could End By Summer If Funding, Efforts Are Sustained, WHO Official Says

New York Times: Ebola Outbreak Could Be Ended by Summer, U.N. Says
“The Ebola outbreak that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives over the past 15 months could be halted by the summer, but only if international financial support is sustained, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday…” (Cumming-Bruce, 3/11).

Reuters: Waning interest is biggest risk in race to overcome Ebola: WHO
“Waning interest in Ebola could jeopardize efforts to stamp out the world’s worst recorded outbreak of the disease, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday. Case numbers have fallen to a low level and it should be possible to stop transmission by mid-year, but the disease is ‘not waning’ and it is much too early to assume the outbreak will end, said WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward…” (Miles, 3/11).

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Liberian President Acknowledges Shortcomings In Nation's Ebola Response

New York Times: Liberian Leader Concedes Errors in Response to Ebola
“The president of Liberia acknowledged on Wednesday that she had erred in ordering a tough security crackdown at the height of the Ebola crisis last year, describing the deadly virus as an ‘unknown enemy’ that had frightened her. The president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel peace laureate, said that in hindsight, her deployments of troops and police officers to seal off a vast neighborhood in her nation’s capital … had been counterproductive…” (Gladstone, 3/11).

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H1N1 Swine Flu Strain In Indian Outbreak More Infectious, Virulent Than Previously Believed, Study Suggests

News outlets discuss a study published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe showing the H1N1 strain of swine flu circulating in India might be more infectious and severe than previously believed.

International Business Times: India swine flu has mutated to become more deadly as virus claims 1,200 lives
“The current outbreak of swine flu in India, which has so far killed over 1,200 people since December, appears to have mutated to become more deadly, a study has suggested…” (Osborne, 3/11).

PBS NewsHour: Swine flu outbreak sweeping India worse than health officials admit, study suggests
“…A mutation in the new H1N1 strain allows this form of swine flu to attack an infected person’s respiratory cells more virulently, according to the study published [Wednesday] in the journal, Cell Host & Microbe. This finding contradicts previous government reports that the strain currently sweeping India was the same strain and has not changed since it spread worldwide between 2009 and 2012 and left 18,000 people dead…” (Santhanam, 3/11).

TIME: India’s Swine Flu Virus Is Becoming More Severe and Infectious, Study Says
“…Researchers Ram Sasisekharan and Kannan Tharakaraman compared the two influenza strains currently affecting the Indian population with the 2009 strain of H1N1 using their respective genetic sequences. They found mutations in the Indian strains in a protein called hemagglutinin, which binds with receptors on the human body’s respiratory cells. One of the mutations is linked to increased severity of the disease, while another enhances its infectiousness…” (Iyengar, 3/12).

VOA News: India Struggles to Contain Worst Swine Flu Outbreak Since 2009
“…About 26,000 people have tested positive for the virus, and health officials say infections are continuing to spread as current unseasonal rains and high humidity that allow the virus to thrive…” (Rahman, 3/11).

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H7N9 Avian Flu Virus Mutating In China, May Pose Threat Of Human Pandemic, Researchers Warn

Media outlets report on findings from a study published in Nature on Wednesday on the H7N9 avian flu virus found in China.

International Business Times: Bird flu: Fast mutating, deadly strain could turn into a pandemic warn researchers
“A deadly strain of bird flu that can infect humans has spread to different parts of China, is fast mutating, and could end up as a pandemic, warn researchers after conducting the largest-ever genomic survey of the virus in poultry. Now endemic in most regions of China, the H7N9 strain of avian virus is swapping genes with other types of flu viruses, giving rise to new strains…” (Jayalakshmi K., 3/12).

Los Angeles Times: H7N9 bird flu has the makings of a pandemic virus, scientists warn
“… ‘H7N9 viruses should be considered as a major candidate to emerge as a pandemic strain in humans,’ [scientists] wrote in a study published Wednesday by the journal Nature…” (Kaplan, 3/11).

Reuters: Mutating H7N9 bird flu may pose pandemic threat, scientists warn
“… ‘The expansion of genetic diversity and geographical spread indicates that, unless effective control measures are in place, H7N9 could be expected to persist and spread beyond the region,’ [scientists] said in a study published in the journal Nature…” (Kelland, 3/11).

Washington Post: Current bird flu in China could become ‘pandemic’ threat to humans, researchers say
“…While it is much too early to predict whether that might happen, one of the scientists said in an interview, there is cause for alarm because the H7N9 virus jumps to humans more quickly than its predecessors and previously has been found in mammals…” (Bernstein, 3/11).

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Participants At U.N. Session Hear Global Impacts Of Unsafe Reproductive Health Practices

Inter Press Service: U.N. Audience Shocked by Sexual Health, Abortion Statistics
“Audible gasps echoed through the United Nations’ Trusteeship Council chamber on Tuesday, with audiences told the grim impacts of unsafe reproductive practices on women worldwide…” (Butler, 3/12).

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Syrian Government Responsible For Deaths Of Nearly 600 HCWs, 88% Of Attacks On Health Facilities

News outlets discuss a report from Physicians for Human Rights claiming the Syrian government is responsible for the majority of attacks on health care workers and facilities in the country’s war.

Agence France-Presse: Syria regime killed nearly 600 doctors: rights group
“Syrian government forces have killed nearly 600 doctors and medical workers with bomb attacks, sniper fire, and torture over the past four years of war, Physicians for Human Rights said in a hard-hitting report released Wednesday…” (Landry, 3/11).

Reuters: Rights group blames Syria government forces for majority of doctor deaths
“U.S.-based Physicians for Human Rights on Wednesday blamed Syrian government forces for 88 percent of its recorded attacks on hospitals and almost all recorded killings of medical workers during the country’s four-year conflict…” (Nichols, 3/11).

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Ugandan Government's Plan To Export HCWs Will Impact Nation's Ability To Respond To Epidemics, Activists Say

IRIN: Plan to export medics ‘threatens Uganda’s epidemic response’
“Uganda’s ability to respond to major epidemics will be undermined if plans to send 263 doctors, nurses, and midwives to the Caribbean are carried out, civil society activists have warned. The health care workers are due to travel on renewable two-year contracts to Trinidad and Tobago under a bilateral agreement the Ugandan government says will improve the skills of those who take part…” (Okiror, 3/11).

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Melinda Gates Discusses Importance Of Contraceptive Access At AOL Event

Huffington Post: Melinda Gates Shares Personal Reason She Wants All Women To Have Access To Birth Control
“Melinda Gates understands why contraceptives are vital to the health and well-being of women in the developing world. Her own life would be different if she hadn’t had access to them. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair opened up to AOL Build on Tuesday about the role birth control can play in empowering women, particularly in the developing world…” (Couch, 3/11).

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Editorials and Opinions

Disaster-Risk Reduction 'Lies At The Nexus Of' Development Assistance, Humanitarian Aid

Project Syndicate: A Global Strategy for Disaster Risk
Ban Ki-moon, U.N. secretary-general

“…It is time to stop addressing development and humanitarian emergencies separately. Disaster-risk reduction lies at the nexus of development assistance, which seeks to advance better living conditions, and humanitarian aid, which begins after a disaster hits. Starting our international calendar with the Sendai meeting on disaster-risk reduction sends a clear signal that the world is ready to integrate its strategies…” (3/11).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kaiser Family Foundation Releases Analysis Of FY16 Global Health Budget Request

Kaiser Family Foundation: The U.S. Global Health Budget: Analysis of the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Request
A new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis examines President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget request, which “proposed $9.9 billion in specified funding for global health programs. If enacted by Congress, this would represent a decline from levels set in the FY15 Omnibus Appropriations bill (not including emergency funding for Ebola that was provided in the FY15 Omnibus bill). In each of the past three fiscal years (FY13-FY15), however, Congress has approved higher funding levels for global health than those proposed in the President’s budget request…” (Wexler/Valentine, 3/11).

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U.S. Supports Gender Equality, Empowerment Of Women, Girls As Part Of Development Agenda

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Our Next ‘Beijing Moment’: Achieving Gender Equality by 2030
Catherine Russell, ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues; Tony Pipa, the U.S. special coordinator for the post-2015 development agenda; and Daniella Ballou-Aares, the secretary of state’s senior adviser for development, discuss U.S. support for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as part of the global development agenda. “…We believe 2015 is an opportunity for another ‘Beijing moment’ — one where the world comes together to advance women and girls, and by doing so advances an entire global agenda…” (3/11).

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USAID's Report To Congress On Health-Related R&D Shows Progress, Challenges

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: USAID report and launch show varying degrees of progress on global health research goals
Antigone Barton, writer and editor of “Science Speaks” and senior communications officer at the Center for Global Health Policy, discusses highlights from the launch of USAID’s Health-Related Research and Development Progress Report, “a document delineating the agency’s goals and progress for medicines and technologies to save lives and protect health in low-resource settings…” (3/11).

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Third Blog Post In Series Examines China's History Of Artemisinin Drug Development

Council on Foreign Relation’s “Asia Unbound”: Artemisinin’s Rocky Road to Globalization: Part III
In part three of his series on anti-malarial artemisinin drugs, Yanzhong Huang, CFR senior fellow for global health, explores China’s efforts to increase its market share of artemisinin-based combination therapies worldwide. “…To sum up, China has come a long way in developing and promoting its own artemisinin-based products, but there is still a long way to go before it is able to seriously challenge the status quo in the international anti-malarial market” (3/11).

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USGLC Highlights Public-Private Partnership That Supports Refugees In South Sudan

U.S. Global Leadership Coalition: A Public-Private Partnership that’s Saving Refugees and Rescuing Aid Workers
David Stein, policy associate at USGLC, marks Global Partnership Week and discusses how “forward-thinking businesses and nonprofits have been working with the U.S. government in innovative ways to tackle some of the toughest challenges in global development.” He highlights a collaboration that helps support refugees in South Sudan (3/11).

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Ketamine Is 'Essential Medicine,' Should Not Be Restricted Under U.N. Conventions

Global Health Hub: Ketamine is an essential medicine: an update from the frontline
Jason Nickerson, a clinical scientist with the Bruyère Research Institute, discusses a Chinese proposal to the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs to place “restrictive controls” on ketamine, an anesthetic used in many low-resource settings. He writes, “…While this campaign will hopefully be a win for ketamine, this system continues to deprive billions of people of access to essential medicines, and that has to change. We should not forget why we are fighting this: these systems are broken…” (3/11).

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