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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Ebola Death Toll Surpasses 10,000, WHO Says

Agence France-Presse: Ebola death toll passes 10,000: WHO
“The global death toll from the Ebola outbreak centered in West Africa has topped 10,000 out of more than 24,000 recorded cases, the World Health Organization said Thursday…” (3/12).

Associated Press: U.N. tally of Ebola deaths passes 10,000, most in West Africa
“The World Health Organization marked a grim milestone Thursday in the biggest-ever Ebola outbreak, estimating that the virus had killed over 10,000 people, mostly in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone…” (Cheng, 3/12).

Deutsche Welle: Ebola death toll surpasses 10,000: WHO
“…Liberia has recorded the highest number of deaths at 4,162, followed by Sierra Leone’s 3,655, and Guinea’s 2,187 deaths. … Despite ongoing international efforts to stop the spread of the disease, it continues to spread in Guinea and Sierra Leone. Liberia last week released its last patient from hospital…” (3/12).

Reuters: Death toll from West Africa’s Ebola outbreak passes 10,000: WHO
“…The deadly hemorrhagic fever reached Senegal, Nigeria, and Mali but was contained there. A handful of cases have also been recorded in the United States, Spain, and Britain” (Lewis, 3/12).

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Economic Consequences Of Ebola Extend Beyond Worst-Hit West African Countries, U.N. Report Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Ebola could cost West Africa $15 billion over three years
“West Africa may lose up to $15 billion over the next three years due to the impact of the Ebola outbreak on trade, investment, and tourism, according to a report by the United Nations…” (Hussain, 3/12).

U.N. News Centre: Powerful effects of Ebola outbreak felt outside worst-affected countries, U.N. report finds
“The effects of Ebola … extend beyond the people who suffer from the virus and even beyond the borders of the worst-affected countries, says a new United Nations report released [Thursday]. Even in West African nations that experienced low or zero incidence of Ebola, the effects of the outbreak have been powerful because of the strong ties between the countries of the region, according to the report, which was produced by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP)…” (3/12).

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Higher Risk Of Measles Outbreak In Ebola-Hit West Africa Because Of Lower Vaccination Rates, Study Shows

News outlets report on a study published in Science examining the risk of measles or other childhood disease outbreaks because of reduced vaccination rates in West Africa as a result of the Ebola epidemic.

Al Jazeera America: Child measles deaths set to soar in Ebola-hit countries
“The Ebola outbreak that infected more than 24,000 people and killed more than 10,000 could lead to thousands more measles deaths among children due to the disruption of health care systems in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, according to a new study…” (Taylor, 3/12).

Mother Jones: Ebola’s Legacy: A Potentially Horrifying Measles Outbreak in West Africa
“…If measles strikes Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone in the coming months, the infection rate would be likely almost double than before the Ebola outbreak, these researchers say…” (McLaughlin, 3/12).

Reuters: Measles cases seen almost doubling in Ebola epidemic countries
“…For every extra month that health care systems are disrupted, international researchers said up to 20,000 children aged between nine months and five years were put at risk…” (Kelland, 3/12).

USA TODAY: Measles outbreaks could follow Ebola in West Africa
“…With the region’s medical systems in shambles, deaths from other infectious diseases could equal or surpass those caused by Ebola, says Justin Lessler, coauthor of the paper in Science and an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore. Lessler and his colleagues base their predictions on mathematical models…” (Szabo, 3/12).

Vox: The hidden cost of Ebola: thousands of measles deaths
“…The researchers found that due to the health system disruptions over 18 months, there could be up to 100,000 additional measles cases and between 2,000 and 16,000 additional deaths. (The range comes from various levels of reduction in vaccination rates that they looked at, from 25 to 100 percent drops in coverage)…” (Belluz, 3/12).

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U.S., British HCWs Infected With Ebola In Sierra Leone Transported To Home Countries For Care

New York Times: American and British Aid Workers Infected With Ebola in Sierra Leone
“A worker from Partners In Health, the prominent American medical aid organization, and an emergency worker from the British military have been infected with the deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, health officials said Thursday…” (Fink/Cowell, 3/12).

Reuters: NIH center to admit U.S. health care worker with Ebola
“The U.S. National Institutes of Health will admit to its hospital on Friday a U.S. health care worker who tested positive for the Ebola virus while working in Sierra Leone…” (Steenhuysen, 3/12).

USA TODAY: Health worker with Ebola heading to NIH Clinical Center
“…The worker will stay in the NIH Clinical Center Special Clinical Studies Unit, one of a handful of units in the USA designed to treat the most dangerous pathogens. NIH officials have not released any information about the identity of the patient, the 11th person with Ebola to be treated in the USA…” (Szabo, 3/12).

VOA News: U.S. Health Worker With Ebola Headed Home for Treatment
“…Earlier, a female British military health worker in Sierra Leone who tested positive for Ebola was flown home for treatment, the Ministry of Defense said Thursday. A Royal Air Force plane was sent to the West African country Wednesday. The woman will be treated at London’s Royal Free Hospital, a military spokeswoman said…” (3/12).

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Tobacco-Free World By 2040 Possible With Greater Political Will, Experts Say In Lancet Series

Reuters: Experts call for a tobacco-free world by 2040
“A world virtually free of tobacco and its devastating health consequences could be a reality within 30 years if governments showed political will and took stronger action against cigarette companies, health experts said on Friday. The international group of public health and policy specialists, writing in The Lancet medical journal, said sale of tobacco should be phased out worldwide by 2040 and called for a ‘turbo-charged’ international effort against its use…” (Kelland, 3/12).

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Indian Health Officials To Review Study Findings Showing H1N1 Swine Flu Mutations

IANS/Zee News: MIT swine flu report to be studied: Indian experts
“A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) report claiming that the swine flu virus in India may have mutated and become severely infectious needs to be studied thoroughly before being accepted, Indian health experts said on Thursday…” (3/12).

Reuters: India, U.S. researchers clash over swine flu strain mutation
“India has disputed U.S. scientists’ findings that the deadly swine flu virus has acquired more virulent mutations in the South Asian country and rejected their concerns over how authorities are monitoring an outbreak of the disease…” (Kalra, 3/13).

Washington Post: Study: India’s swine flu virus may have mutated into more dangerous strain
“…Indian health officials have maintained that the swine flu (H1N1) virus they have seen with this outbreak is the same as what emerged in 2009 and has since been seen around the world…” (Gowen, 3/12).

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14M Children At Risk In Syria; More Funding Needed For Humanitarian Efforts, UNICEF, Aid Groups Say

News outlets report on a statement released by UNICEF and a report published by 21 humanitarian agencies on children at risk in war-torn Syria.

Deutsche Welle: UNICEF warns whole generations of Middle East children are at risk
“About 14 million children across the Middle East are suffering from the escalating conflict sweeping Syria and much of Iraq, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday. … [UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake] warned that youths in both Syria and Iraq are at risk of being lost to a cycle of violence. … He said the organization would need $9 million (8.5 million euros) for 2015 to help the children in need…” (3/12).

New York Times: 14 Million Children Suffering as Result of War in Syria and Iraq, UNICEF Says
“…Describing 2014 as the worst year yet in the conflict, a report by 21 humanitarian agencies on Thursday said that parties to the conflict had ignored three United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding access for humanitarian assistance, that the number of children needing aid had increased by nearly one-third since the previous year, and that funding for aid agencies had fallen steeply in relation to needs…” (Cumming-Bruce, 3/12).

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The Lancet Examines State Of Syrian Health Care System Amid War, Humanitarian Crisis

The Lancet: Syrian crisis: health experts say more can be done
“…Inevitably, the war has had an unprecedented and multidimensional effect on the country’s health system. What was once touted as one of the best health care systems in the Arab world is now the worst. Hundreds of doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and paramedics have been killed, or fled to neighboring countries or further afield, leaving a huge gap in experience and expertise that cannot be filled…” (Cousins, 3/14).

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Conflict Interfering With Consistent Treatment For Syrians With HIV/AIDS

Al-Monitor: Syrian AIDS patients suffer in silence
“…Jamal Khamis, the director of the National Program for Combating AIDS at the infectious disease control center, which works in cooperation with the Syrian Health Ministry, revealed in his latest statement to the Baath newspaper in February that by the end of 2014, 833 AIDS cases were recorded in Syria, mainly in Damascus and its countryside. He also noted that only 154 Syrian AIDS patients receive treatment for free, while the price of each medication refill is more than many of the rest can pay…” (al-Haj/Milan, 3/9).

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CNN Examines Efforts To Eliminate Elephantiasis, Especially In India Where 40% Of Cases Occur

CNN: The worms inflating your limbs: The battle to eliminate elephantiasis
“…Of the 120 million people infected [with lymphatic filariasis, or elephantiasis,] worldwide, 40 million of them are disabled, or disfigured, according to the World Health Organization. There is no vaccine and no treatment, only these drugs to prevent further transmission of the disease. Of all the people in the world in need of this preventative treatment, over 40 percent of them live in India…” (Senthilingam, 3/12).

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Guinea Worm Close To Eradication As Incidence Declines

Slate: Tug of War
“…From 3.5 million cases in 21 countries in 1986, incidence [of Guinea worm] dropped to just 126 cases in 2014, with more than half of those occurring in South Sudan. Vanquishing Guinea worm would be arguably the first great public health triumph of the 21st century. It would also give new life to the human disease eradication movement…” (Palmer, 3/10).

U.N. Dispatch: Guinea Worm Eradication is Near
“…[The] decline [in Guinea worm cases] is thanks in large part to Jimmy Carter and the the work of the Carter Center, which launched a Global Eradication Program in the 1980s. … Adam Weiss of the Carter Center … discusses Guinea worm disease, how this amazing decline in cases has occurred, and what needs to be done to eradicate it once and for all” (Goldberg, 3/12).

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Gates Foundation Using Direct Equity Investments To Further Its Goals

New York Times: From the Gates Foundation, Direct Investment, Not Just Grants
“…The [Bill & Melinda Gates F]oundation, which has distributed billions of dollars in grants to improve health and living conditions in developing countries, is increasingly expanding its tool kit, using some of its capital to invest directly in companies that could help advance its goals. The foundation has made about a dozen direct equity investments in companies over the last couple of years under the umbrella of program-related investing, as it is called in foundation circles…” (Max, 3/12).

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Editorials and Opinions

Placing Women, Children At Center Of SDGs Will Help Improve More Lives Over Next 15 Years

Foreign Policy: How to Make the Sustainable Development Goals Work
Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Graça Machel, founder of the Graça Machel Trust, chair of the board of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, and a member of the U.N. Secretary-General’s MDG Advocacy Group

“…For the SDGs to succeed and ensure that no one is left behind, we believe world leaders must keep the focus on ambitious but achievable targets centered on the health and well-being of women and children. At a minimum, we believe we must finish the work of the MDGs by setting and meeting concrete targets for child, newborn, and maternal health by 2030. … Reflecting on the progress we have seen over the last 15 years, we are optimistic about the future. In fact, we believe that if the world is deliberate about putting women and children at the center of the development agenda, we will see the lives of millions of people improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history…” (3/12).

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Partnerships Vital To Creating 'One Voice' To Reach MNCH, FP/RH Goals

Devex: Fresh perspectives on maternal, child and adolescent health
Robin Gorna, executive director for the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH)

“…PMNCH is such an exciting mechanism, bringing together all of the sectors involved in maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. As we strive to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, and as we set out a new development agenda this year, I am reminded how important this partnership mechanism is to keep us united, focused, and determined to act in alignment and speak with one voice. … PMNCH stands ready to continue to serve the movement, to make sure we align our efforts and maintain the momentum to meet the health needs and rights of every woman, every child, every adolescent, everywhere…” (3/12).

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IntraHealth's 'Choose To Invest' Report Offers U.S. Development Aid Policy Recommendations

Devex: Here’s what U.S. leadership in global development means today
Mark Lotwis, vice president of policy and government relations at InterAction

“…This week marks the launch of InterAction’s Choose to Invest in Development and Humanitarian Relief FY 2016. … Specific recommendations are made across more than 35 international development and humanitarian response programs. Diving deeper into Choose to Invest opens a window into the largest policy issues facing the international development community today, such as backsliding on democracy programs, scaling up the signature food security program Feed the Future, responding to the largest number of high-level emergencies in decades, and reforming the delivery of food aid to increase efficiency and reach more people in need…” (3/12).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Indian Prime Minister Launches First Indian-Made Rotavirus Vaccine

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Make in India: Modi Launches New Vaccine
Divya Sachdev, project manager at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses the launch of ROTAVAC®, “India’s first indigenously discovered and manufactured rotavirus vaccine.” She writes, “The development of ROTAVAC® is testimony to the partnerships and innovation that pave the way for a better, healthier world…” (3/12).

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Boko Haram In West, Central Africa Poses Threat To NTD Gains

PLOS “Speaking of Medicine”: Boko Haram and Africa’s Neglected Tropical Diseases
Peter Hotez, co-editor in chief of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, writes, “I am concerned that the expansion of Boko Haram into West and Central Africa could have important consequences for the spread of the vector-borne NTDs … As I have pointed out previously, there are similar concerns for ISIS-occupied regions of the Middle East and North Africa. The NTD community of scientists and public health experts has much to fear about Boko Haram’s aggressive expansion, and its potential for threatening previous gains in control and elimination efforts in Africa…” (3/12).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has published Issue 262 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter features six news articles and a commentary by Lloyd Matowe of Pharmaceutical Systems Africa on capacity-building for supply chain management (3/12).

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