KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Number Of Suspected Ebola Cases In Congo Up To 29; WHO Says $10M Needed For Initial Response, Control Efforts

Associated Press: Number of suspected Ebola cases in Congo now up to 29
“The World Health Organization says Congo now faces 29 suspected cases of the deadly Ebola virus. WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier on Friday said the number includes two laboratory-confirmed deaths…” (5/19).

CIDRAP News: WHO: Ebola vaccine could be deployed within a week
“In a telebriefing [Thursday] on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola outbreak, World Health Organization (WHO) officials said while the country has yet to make a formal request for the Ebola vaccine, such a requisition could be fulfilled within one week…” (Soucheray, 5/18).

NBC News: Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo to Cost $10 Million, WHO Says
“… ‘There are only 20 kilometers (12 miles) of paved roads in this area and virtually no functioning telecommunications,’ WHO’s Dr. Peter Salama told a news conference. ‘As of now we do not know the full extent of the outbreak’…” (Fox, 5/18).

New York Times: Suspected Cases of Ebola Rise to 29 in Democratic Republic of Congo
“…Dr. Peter Salama, the executive director of the organization’s health emergencies program, said at a briefing that it was essential to ‘never, ever underestimate Ebola’ and to ‘make sure we have a no-regrets approach to this outbreak’…” (Grady, 5/18).

ScienceInsider: As Ebola outbreak grows, question of using vaccine becomes more urgent
“As health officials and aid workers head to a remote corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to respond to an outbreak of Ebola virus disease, a key question remains: Will the government authorize the use of a promising experimental vaccine? The vaccine had stunning results in a clinical trial in Guinea in 2015, but it has yet to be licensed for broad use…” (Cohen, 5/18).

TIME: Ebola Is Back. Here Are the Challenges Ahead
“…The response to the outbreak is being led by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Health and WHO, with partners including the World Food Programme, UNICEF, and the Red Cross. Priorities currently include a heavy focus on surveillance: getting the best information about the people who have been affected and tracking those who may have been affected, as well as managing and isolating Ebola cases and engaging local communities…” (Samuelson, 5/18).

U.N. News Centre: Experts race against clock to quell Ebola outbreak in remote DR Congo province — U.N.
“…Meanwhile, the first Ebola treatment center has been established in the Likati General Hospital. Protective gear has been dispatched to health workers and a mobile lab is being constructed and then deployed to the area. Immediate repairs to air strips and telecommunications are also being carried out. The first six months of the operation are expected to cost $10 million…” (5/18).

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During Liberia Visit, U.S. HHS Secretary Price Praises Country For 'Remarkable Cooperation' During West African Ebola Outbreak

Associated Press: U.S. health secretary visits Liberia, where Ebola killed 4,800
“U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Thursday made his first trip overseas to Liberia, the West African country where Ebola killed more than 4,800 people. Price praised Liberia for its ‘remarkable cooperation’ on health care issues. The U.S. sent troops into the country to intervene to help stop the outbreak, which killed more than 11,300 people, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. … Price, who did not address the latest outbreak, … promised to highlight the U.S.-Liberia partnership that helped defeat Ebola when he attends the upcoming G20 health summit in Berlin…” (Paye-Layleh, 5/19).

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USAID Administrator Nominee Mark Green Brings Experience, Bipartisan Support But Faces Challenges With Possible Budget Cuts

The Guardian: George W. Bush’s man in Africa handed tough challenge by Donald Trump
“…Trump has nominated Mark Green, a former congressman and one-time U.S. ambassador to Tanzania who has worked under both the Obama and George W Bush administrations, to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In what could be one of the toughest jobs in Trump’s government, Green will have to oversee the massive funding cuts the White House is proposing to the agency, the effects of which are expected to reverberate globally…” (Hodal, 5/18).

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USAID Examines Implications Of Potential Merger Of Food Aid, Disaster Assistance Offices

Devex: USAID exploring food aid, disaster assistance merger for Trump reorganization
“The United States Agency for International Development is exploring a merger of its disaster assistance and food assistance offices, to create a combined entity that would oversee the agency’s roughly $4 billion humanitarian operations, Devex has learned. … Merging the two offices, which often operate in the same crisis contexts, is an idea that has been floating around USAID for at least a year…” (Igoe, 5/18).

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NPR Examines Impacts Of U.S. Foreign Assistance On Development

NPR: Should America Keep Giving Billions Of Dollars To Countries In Need?
“Each year, the United States sends billions of dollars to poor countries. Does it really help them grow? The question isn’t new. But it’s taken on renewed urgency in the Trump administration. … Once you break open the black box of aid, it’s easier to find out whether a project has made a difference in a country’s well-being…” (Gharib, 5/18).

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Global Health NOW Highlights 8 Issues To Track During World Health Assembly

Global Health NOW: 8 Things To Look For At The 70th World Health Assembly
“…To make sense of the blizzard of topics to be considered by the nearly 4,000 delegates from 194 countries, a WHO source offered Global Health NOW an insider’s guide to the most pressing issues to watch. 8. Dementia … 7. A Slew of Important Decisions [including sepsis, substandard and falsified medical products, noncommunicable diseases, deafness, and the role of health sector in the strategic approach to international chemicals management] … 6. 2 Sensitive Issues [Palestine and Taiwan] … 5. Polio Transition … 4. Margaret Chan’s Last Assembly … 3. Health Emergencies … 2. The Budget … 1. The DG Election…” (Simpson, 5/18).

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Media Outlets Discuss WHO DG Campaign As Organization Prepares To Hold Election Next Week

International Business Times: Who is Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ethiopia’s candidate to lead the World Health Organization?
“Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is the Ethiopian candidate to become the next director general of the World Health Organization. He previously served as minister of health of Ethiopia, where he was responsible for a comprehensive health system reform. Later on, he was appointed minister of foreign affairs from 2012-2016, a position which gave him valuable diplomatic experience. He also served as the chair on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria board. He talked to IBTimes U.K. just as he entered his final month of campaigning to become the next director general of the World Health Organization…” (Surugue, 5/18).

Intellectual Property Watch: Attacks On WHO Candidate Are Defamatory, ‘Colonial,’ Ambassador Says
“The African Union delegation to the United Nations came in outspoken numbers to a press briefing [Wednesday] to express unshakable support for the Ethiopian candidate to be the next head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Asked about recent allegations in the press about Tedros’ part in a coverup of cholera epidemics in his country, the African ambassadors said those were defamatory allegations, done in desperation by a nervous competing candidate. Without citing which of the other two candidate[s] that might be, an African ambassador said such attempt at destabilizing the candidate reflects a ‘colonial mentality.’ Tedros, as he is known, was not at the press briefing…” (Saez, 5/17).

Quartz: The lead candidate for the world’s top health job is being accused of covering up deadly epidemics
“…Such allegations could undermine the WHO candidacy of Dr. Tedros. During a preliminary vote in January, he garnered the most number of votes, and will now contest for the job along with Dr. David Nabarro from Britain, and Dr. Sania Nishtar from Pakistan. … Dr. Tedros has denied all the allegations saying that Dr. Nabarro’s supporters have a ‘typical colonial mindset aimed at winning at any cost and discrediting a candidate from a developing country.’ … Criticism aside, Dr. Tedros is credited with transforming his country’s health system, improving the response to outbreaks, and slashing HIV infection and child mortality rates. His candidacy has been supported by the African Union, Ethiopian health professional associations, and influential figures like the philanthropist Tony Elumelu, and the immediate former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Tom Frieden…” (Dahir, 5/18).

Washington Post: Ethiopia’s candidate for the World Health Organization doesn’t like mentioning a certain disease
“…On Tuesday, the [Office of the Prime Minister] issued a statement carried on Tedros’s website that said: ‘We are working to establish robust surveillance systems for critical diseases … acute watery diarrheal diseases including cholera is of course included in this effort.’ The statement went on to praise Tedros’s tenure as health minister and noted that ‘despite hosting the largest number of refugees in Africa, Ethiopia has a lower rate of childhood deaths from diarrheal diseases than Africa as a whole.’ But international aid organizations have privately expressed frustration at Ethiopia’s refusal to call the disease cholera; such a move would trigger an international response…” (Schemm, 5/18).

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U.K.'s Bilateral Aid Increases British Exports, Creates Jobs, ODI Research Shows

Devex: Every $1 of U.K. aid increases U.K. exports by $0.22, study finds
“Bilateral aid has a positive impact on British exports and job creation, new research out [Thursday] suggests. Every $1 of aid from the United Kingdom creates $0.22 in new exports, according to a study by the Overseas Development Institute. It suggests that, as a result, the U.K.’s 2014 bilateral aid budget of about $5.9 billion created approximately 12,000 jobs domestically…” (Anders, 5/18).

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AMR Industry Alliance Formed To Ensure Pharma Involvement In Addressing Antimicrobial Resistance

CIDRAP News: Pharma leaders announce alliance to fight antimicrobial resistance
“An international association of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and diagnostics companies [Thursday] announced the formation of a new alliance to monitor and drive industry efforts to fight antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The AMR Industry Alliance aims to bring together stakeholders from the life sciences industry to ensure progress is made on their commitments to reduce the development of antimicrobial resistance, invest in research and development, and improve global access to antimicrobials, diagnostic tests, and vaccines…” (Dall, 5/18).

Devex: New drug industry alliance will tackle antibiotic resistance
“…The initiative is being launched on the back of recent commitments, including the Industry Declaration on AMR and subsequent Roadmap, which were signed by more than 100 companies and trade associations during meetings at last year’s World Economic Forum and a high-level United Nations meeting on AMR. The commitments set out a plan for global action to reduce AMR through investing in research and development, [and] improving access to antibiotics, vaccines, and diagnostics…” (Edwards, 5/19).

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Polio Elimination Efforts Become Complicated As Vaccine Supplies Run Low

STAT: As hopes for polio eradication rise, the endgame gets complicated, and a vaccine runs short
“The world appears to be on the verge of finally putting an end to polio. But the endgame could get complicated. For more than a year there has been a severe shortage of the injectable polio vaccine known as IPV. Manufacturers have been racing to overcome production problems and hope to be back to full output early next year. But the shortage could be repeated in a few years, and at a more critical time, public health officials acknowledge…” (Branswell, 5/19).

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Cholera Outbreak In War-Torn Yemen Could Reach 300K People In 6 Months, WHO Warns

IRIN: A country ‘on its knees’: Cholera takes hold in war-weary Yemen
“…Shinjiro Murata, head of mission for Médecins Sans Frontières, which alone has treated 1,670 patients, told IRIN he is ‘very concerned that the disease will continue to spread and become out of control.’ Those controlling the capital — an uneasy alliance of Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh — have this week declared a ‘state of emergency’ in the city, which alone has 4,000 cases of cholera…” (Almosawa/Slemrod, 5/17).

PRI: Thousands in Yemen get sick in an entirely preventable cholera outbreak
“Cholera is spreading rapidly across Yemen just ahead of President Donald Trump’s trip to its northern neighbor, Saudi Arabia. Aid groups say Yemen’s medical system, ruined by the war, needs a break from the fighting that Saudi Arabia — and the United States — have enabled…” (Snyder, 5/15).

Reuters: Yemen cholera cases could hit 300,000 within six months: WHO
“Yemen could have as many as 300,000 cases of cholera within six months, the World Health Organization representative in the country, Nevio Zagaria, told reporters in Geneva by phone on Friday…” (Miles, 5/19).

Reuters: Spread of combat, cholera wreaks misery, collapse in Yemen
“…The escalating outbreak of disease and displacement of tens of thousands by recent fighting has inflamed one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, pushing Yemen’s war-pummeled society ever nearer to collapse…” (Browning/Ghobari, 5/16).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. aids Yemenis in embattled Mokha; warns of cholera’s spread amid crippled health systems
“…[T]he U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) [Tuesday] announced that inferior health systems and water supply provisions are raising concerns for health, particularly for the youngest Yemenis. More than 11,000 cases of diarrhea have been reported across the country, with more than 250 confirmed cases of cholera. UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac calls the situation a ‘public health crisis in the making’…” (5/16).

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Aid Agencies Face Challenges To Famine Response In South Sudan

The Lancet: Famine in South Sudan
“…The first famine in six years was officially declared by the U.N. in parts of South Sudan in February, affecting more than 100,000 South Sudanese, with a further one million on the brink of starvation. Food aid is acting as life support for many, but a shortage of basic drugs condemns others to death. Aid officials accuse both government and multiple opposition forces of using hunger as a weapon of war, since aid is routinely denied access to the thousands displaced. Added to this are ethnic atrocities and massacres, rape, and oppressive security measures…” (Devi, 5/20).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial Discusses Campaign For Next WHO Director General; DG Candidates Discuss Their Visions For WHO

The Lancet: WHO: Director General campaign closes amid anxiety and hope
Editorial Board

“…The election [for next WHO director general] comes at a time of unparalleled uncertainty for WHO. … At this juncture in the history of WHO it feels right that there are two candidates from low- and middle-income countries, and one a woman. … Each candidate has strengths. And each has weaknesses. … To achieve genuine internal reforms and to restore public confidence might seem to favor Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus] and [Sania] Nishtar. The complex management and diplomacy requirements could favor [David] Nabarro. The new campaign process has succeeded in enhancing transparency about the qualities and attributes of the candidates. But, as in any election, unpredictability reigns. We encourage member states to vote for the candidate who they believe mixes proven managerial competence with a clear and deliverable vision for WHO’s next five years. No empty promises. Just realizable results. And, perhaps most importantly, someone with the skills to handle the unexpected” (5/20).

BMJ Blog: David Nabarro: The WHO must change, and I am the right person to deliver that change
David Nabarro, candidate for next WHO director general

“…With variable climates, war, and changing lifestyles putting pressure on health, this election could not come at a more critical time. The WHO must be there to help with these challenges, but to do it effectively, it needs an upgrade and as director general I will deliver the much-needed reforms. … Throughout my career I have traversed a huge range of complex and technical health challenges. … WHO must change the way it manages health emergencies, as a matter of urgency. … I am the best person to deliver that change. … I have worked in global health for over 40 years, from roles in senior leadership, to working as a clinician, and as an educator. I know how to lead in the multilateral system, I know the issues at a local level, and I understand the science that must underpin decisions. That is why I am in this race. I think the WHO must change, and I am the right person to deliver that change” (5/19).

BMJ Blog: Sania Nishtar: Delivering the WHO that we need
Sania Nishtar, candidate for next WHO director general

“…[M]y vision for a new WHO focuses on the need for WHO to reclaim its primacy and regain the world’s trust as its lead health agency. I stand on record as a builder and reformer and someone who has demonstrated commitment to transparency and accountability. I will accelerate meaningful reform of the organization, build its foundations, and prioritize its core and exclusive mandates. … To truly contribute to the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)] and fulfill its mandate, there is need for a change in mindset and capacity to usher in a new leadership paradigm where WHO will lead through convening and forging partnerships, recognizing the need to work with all stakeholders without vilification, but with transparency and accountability. … Urgent reform is now an imperative — it is underway, but at a fragile stage in its progress. By supporting my candidacy, member states will be casting their vote for reform, transparency, and accountability, and an earnest desire for change” (5/19).

BMJ Blog: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: Let’s prove the impossible is possible
Tedros Adhanom Gheybreyesus, candidate for next WHO director general

“…If I am elected director general, achieving universal health coverage will be my top priority, because I believe it is the best overall investment in health we can make. … I think we should be unapologetically ambitious in the objectives we set because people around the world matter far too much to think on a small scale. Furthermore, the challenges we face today — including achieving universal health coverage, managing the triple burden of communicable and non-communicable disease, combined with health emergencies, and addressing the health effects of climate change — require bold action. … With the Sustainable Development Goals giving us mandate to aim for universal health coverage, we have an opportunity to make progress on health equity the likes of which we could have only dreamt about 20 or 30 years ago. That is why I want to lead the WHO — to relentlessly work toward a world in which every individual can lead a healthy and productive life, regardless of who they are or where they live” (5/19).

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WHO Should Not Allow Politics Between Taiwan, China To Hamper Public Health

Nature: Clock is ticking for WHO decision over Taiwan
Editorial Board

“…For almost a decade, Taiwan — despite not being a member of the United Nations — has been permitted to attend WHO events as an observer. But, so far, its invitation for this year’s event in Geneva has not arrived. That’s because of the rising political tensions between Taiwan and the Chinese government in Beijing. … It is not surprising that global health has become ensnared in world politics in this way, but it’s still disappointing — particularly given that it deflates the mood of cooperation that had allowed Taiwan to participate since 2009. … The WHO recognizes the U.N.’s 1971 decision that Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic of China, led by Beijing. Nature also recognizes that decision. … As China seems to have recognized in years past, in public health terms Taiwan’s presence at WHO meetings is good for everyone. If politics disrupts that, then people on both sides of the divide and the strait must hope that faith in the informal global infectious disease control network is not misplaced. And when (not if) a new health emergency comes, China must ensure that Taiwanese health officials and researchers are not kept out of the loop” (5/19).

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Historic G20 Health Ministers Meeting Should Recognize Health Investments As 'Foundation For Sustainable Development'

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Investment in health is the foundation for sustainable development
Marijke Wijnroks, interim executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as of June 1

“…At the most basic level, health financing supports interventions that save individual lives; beyond this, it builds stronger systems that forestall myriad potential health crises. Robust systems for health are the sentinels that guard against regional or global outbreaks. … This historic meeting of G20 health ministers is an important affirmation that diseases and the people they threaten are part of a bigger picture. They exist within a health system that either provides a springboard to well-being and economic prosperity or fuels the cycle of poverty and insecurity by limiting opportunities for education and employment. The Global Fund is working to build the former, using innovative public-private partnerships that are defining social and economic development in the 21st century. … We can immunize children, prevent malaria, and cure tuberculosis. We can help empower people to stay free of HIV. We can build systems that provide prevention and care, and — when necessary — respond swiftly to crises that threaten our global health security. We can invest in research and technology that allows us to stay ahead of drug resistance. These are the hallmarks of universal health care, and this is the foundation for sustainable development” (5/19).

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New Guide Provides Information For Countries Negotiating Transition From Donor Support To Sustainable Financing

Project Syndicate: Immunization Independence
Helen Saxenian, senior fellow at Results for Development, and Paul Wilson, senior fellow at Results for Development and assistant professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

“…[N]ew international funding initiatives — such … Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — have invested billions of dollars in national disease-control programs and health systems, saving millions of lives. But now some of the countries that have benefited from these programs face a new challenge: sustaining the gains they have made once external support is withdrawn. … With so much at stake, international agencies must do whatever they can to prepare countries for ‘life after Gavi.’ … [A new publication from Results for Development, titled ‘Immunization Financing: A Resource Guide for Advocates, Policymakers, and Program Managers,’] provides information on estimating immunization costs, assessing the pros and cons of various sources of financing, shaping purchasing strategies, and navigating policy processes. It does not prescribe one way forward, but rather provides relevant information and expert analysis. Countries can then evaluate options in light of their own circumstances, and advocates can ask the right questions. … [O]nly if countries successfully negotiate the transition from Gavi support can they be confident that future generations will enjoy the same health protections” (5/18).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CGD Podcast Spotlights Panel Discussion On Pandemic Preparedness

Center for Global Development’s “CGD Podcast”: Are We Ready for the Next Pandemic? — CGD Podcast
In this podcast, Rajesh Mirchandani, vice president of communications and policy outreach at CGD, highlights an event at CGD during which panelists discussed pandemic preparedness and the role global health plays in national security. Panelists included Amy Pope, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Center for Resilience; Jeremy Konyndyk, CGD senior policy fellow and former director of USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance; David Smith, currently performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for health affairs; and Rebecca Martin, director of the Center for Global Health at the CDC. Amanda Glassman, CGD’s chief operating officer and senior fellow in global health, moderated the discussion (5/18).

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'Science Speaks' Highlights Findings Of National Academies Report On U.S. Global Health Leadership

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: U.S. global health leadership more critical to security, stability and prosperity than ever, National Academy of Science report argues
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” discusses a report released Monday by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine that “makes a case that U.S. global health leadership must continue, but, in a landscape of shifting priorities, also must change…” (5/18).

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PATH Part Of Coordinated Response To Address New Ebola Outbreak In DRC

PATH: Breaking story: Ebola in DR Congo
This blog post discusses the most recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and PATH’s work responding to the outbreak as part of a coordinated response among various organizations. In a statement, PATH President and CEO Steve Davis said, “America’s leadership in international health security is vital to preventing and containing future threats. Continued U.S. investment in epidemic preparedness protects the health and safety of Americans as well as citizens of other nations…” (5/17).

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