KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Ebola Highlights Weak Health Systems, Offers Lessons For Next Epidemic On 1-Year Anniversary Of Outbreak Declaration

CNN: Ebola outbreak: Here’s where we are 1 year later
“…The Ebola outbreak, ravaging primarily Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, is a year old today [(Monday)]. According to one official count, it’s infected 24,000 people and killed 10,000. And it’s managed to do so because of an institutional failure on several levels: weak public health systems locally and a painfully slow response globally. But in order to get to where we are, we need to go back to how it began…” (Payne, 3/23).

New York Times: One Year Later, Ebola Outbreak Offers Lessons for Next Epidemic
“…The effort [against Ebola] has been messy, inefficient, and expensive, often lagging the epidemic’s twists in tragic ways. But the effort has also established expertise that may be built upon to prevent similar tragedies in the future — and shown personal and institutional bravery…” (Fink/Belluck, 3/22).

NPR: As Ebola Crisis Ebbs, Aid Agencies Turn To Building Up Health Systems
“…Like the two other countries at the center of the outbreak, Guinea and Sierra Leone, Liberia is one of the world’s poorest countries. And now that cases are down in Liberia — the country has seen only one new case in weeks — attention is shifting to building up the broader health system there…” (Aizenman, 3/23).

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Liberia Records Ebola Case After 28 Days With No New Cases

Associated Press: Liberia investigates how latest Ebola patient got infected
“Liberian officials were investigating Saturday how the country’s latest Ebola patient became infected, after weeks with no cases of the disease in the country…” (Paye-Layleh, 3/21).

Financial Times: Ebola still a mortal danger in West Africa, warn health leaders
“…Liberia had not reported a new case for three weeks until a woman was diagnosed with the virus in Monrovia on Friday, highlighting the difficulty facing the region in trying to eliminate the deadly disease…” (Ward, 3/22).

New York Times: Liberia Reports First Ebola Case in Weeks
“…Health officials said it was unclear how the woman, a food seller, had been infected. She had not been on a monitoring list for possible exposure and she said she had not traveled outside Liberia. The Information Ministry issued a statement saying ‘initial suspicion is that it may be the result of possible sexual intercourse with an Ebola survivor’…” (Fink/Gladstone, 3/20).

NPR: With Ebola Waning, New Case In Liberia Concerns Officials
“…Authorities in the West African nation, which has borne the brunt of the deaths in the current outbreak — 4,200 of the approximately 10,000 who have died in the region — had hoped that a patient discharged on March 5 would be the last…” (Neuman, 3/21).

PBS NewsHour: After 28 days without a case, new Ebola patient confirmed in Liberia
“…The patient is being treated at a facility run by the aid group Doctors Without Borders, and teams have been sent out to find and monitor people who had contact with the new patient, according to the information ministry statement…” (Costa-Roberts, 3/21).

Reuters: Liberia reports first new case of Ebola in weeks
“…Monrovia became the epicenter of the outbreak in the middle of last year but since then hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and the deployment of U.S. troops have helped officials control the spread of the virus…” (Farge et al., 3/20).

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WHO Appeals For Vaccination Scale-Up, Distribution Of Anti-Malaria Drugs In Ebola-Affected West Africa

Reuters: WHO urges mass vaccination against measles, other diseases in Ebola areas
“The World Health Organization warned on Friday of a risk of outbreaks of measles, whooping cough, and other diseases in West African countries hit by Ebola and urged a rapid intensification of routine immunizations…” (Kelland/Nebehay, 3/20).

TIME: WHO Urges Mass Measles Vaccinations in Ebola Regions
“…The organization says the risk for additional outbreaks is high due to interrupted immunization practices in the area. The agency is calling for an ‘intensification’ in routine vaccinations, and a measles vaccination push in countries that no longer have Ebola cases…” (Sifferlin, 3/20).

U.N. News Centre: Ebola-affected countries need to intensify routine immunization services — U.N.
“The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is appealing for the ‘urgent scaling up’ of routine immunizations services and distribution of anti-malaria medicines in countries most affected by Ebola in West Africa to counter a growing risk of outbreaks of measles, pertussis, and other vaccine-preventable diseases. … In a guidance note sent out this week, WHO warned: ‘Any disruption of immunization services, even for short periods, will result in an increase in the number of susceptible individuals, and will increase the likelihood of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks’…” (3/20).

VOA News: WHO Urges Focus Preventable Killer Diseases in Ebola Countries
“…Many illnesses, including child-killing, vaccine-preventable diseases, have been neglected In West Africa’s Ebola-affected countries. Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea have diverted most of their resources and efforts toward containing the deadly Ebola virus over the past year… (Schlein, 3/20).

WHO: Vaccination must be scaled up in Ebola-affected countries
“… ‘This focus on vaccinations and malaria is part of WHO’s efforts to support countries in early recovery, including infection prevention and control in non-Ebola health care settings, strengthening of the health workforce, disease surveillance, and safe essential health services,’ says Dr Edward Kelley, director of Service Delivery and Safety at WHO…” (3/20).

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U.N. Official Predicts Ebola Outbreak To End By August

BBC News: Ebola outbreak ‘over by August,’ U.N. suggests
“The Ebola outbreak in West Africa will be over by August, the head of the U.N. Ebola mission has told the BBC. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed admitted the U.N. had made mistakes in handling the crisis early on, sometimes acting ‘arrogantly’…” (Mundasad, 3/23).

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Many Institutions, Including WHO, Failed In Ebola Response, MSF Report Says

News outlets discuss a report by Medécins Sans Frontières analyzing the response to the West African Ebola outbreak.

Deutsche Welle: Ebola report slams slow WHO response
“A year on from the start of the worst Ebola outbreak in history, Doctors Without Borders published a report slamming the international community’s response to the crisis, particularly that of the World Health Organization (WHO)…” (3/23).

Canadian Press/Globe And Mail: MSF report cites WHO’s failures in ongoing Ebola outbreak
“…The report notes that many observers have suggested the scale of the outbreak was due to a perfect-storm-like confluence of factors. … The report says the World Health Organization displayed a lack of leadership, downplaying the threat the outbreak posed when MSF officials were desperately trying to get the world to realize how dangerous the situation in West Africa had become…” (Branswell, 3/22).

Fox News: Front-line doctors blame U.N. for Ebola response
“…In response to the MSF accusations, [a] WHO spokesman told Fox News that MSF had offered ‘several criticisms that WHO has already acknowledged and has taken action to address,’ pointing to a series of measures the organization had passed at a special session of the organization’s supervising Executive Board in January 2015…” (Russell, 3/22).

International Business Times: Ebola outbreak an avoidable tragedy and WHO must shoulder much of the blame — MSF
“…Medécins Sans Frontières (MSF), which first raised the alarm over the current Ebola outbreak that has killed over 10,200 people, said in its report that many institutions, including the WHO, had failed in their response. Entitled ‘Pushed To The Limit And Beyond,’ the MSF report notes how its warnings in June were dismissed as alarmist by many of the affected nations…” (K, 3/23).

Reuters: Slow Ebola response cost thousands of lives: MSF
“…Guinea and Sierra Leone downplayed the epidemic and accused MSF of spreading fear and panic. In June, the Sierra Leone government told the WHO to report only lab-confirmed deaths — falsely reducing the death toll, the report said…” (Hussain, 3/22).

TIME: Slow International Response to Ebola Epidemic Cost Thousands of Lives: MSF
“…MSF first declared there was an Ebola outbreak at the end of March last year but this was rejected by the WHO. Three months later the body officially confirmed the outbreak…” (Regan, 3/22).

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WHO Denies Accusations It Delayed Declaring Ebola A Public Health Emergency For Political Reasons

VOA News: WHO Denies It Delayed Declaration of Ebola Epidemic
“The World Health Organization is vigorously denying accusations that it delayed declaring the Ebola epidemic in West Africa an international public health emergency for political reasons. An article by the Associated Press said secretly obtained e-mails of internal documents indicated the WHO was afraid that declaring a global emergency could set off alarm bells, which could hurt countries’ economies or interfere with the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. WHO’s spokeswoman on Ebola, Margaret Harris, told VOA that the assertion was categorically untrue…” (Schlein, 3/20).

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Increase In Guinea's Ebola Cases Possibly Attributable To Better Access To Hard-To-Reach Patients

Reuters: Spike in Ebola in Guinea could reflect access to hidden patients
“The latest spike in Guinea’s Ebola cases could be a sign that aid teams are at last gaining access to hidden patients, rather than a surge of new cases, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official said. The number of suspected cases in the West African country has more than doubled from last month, according to the health ministry, prompting fears the epidemic could mushroom as it did in Liberia and Sierra Leone in September…” (Hussain, 3/20).

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Sierra Leoneans Nearly Halt FGM Practices Because Of Ebola; U.K. Minister Urges Permanent Cessation

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Sierra Leoneans halt genital mutilation amid Ebola fears: U.K. minister
“The Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa appears to have brought the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) to a near halt in Sierra Leone, a British minister said on Friday. International development minister Lindsay Northover urged donors, aid agencies, campaigners, and others to capitalize on the opportunity to make the break permanent…” (Batha, 3/20).

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Senegal's Health Minister Considers Campaign To Be Next WHO Director General

Bloomberg News: Ebola Contained, Senegal Health Minister Eyes U.N. Health Post
“Senegalese Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck is considering running for the World Health Organization’s top post after the nation limited Ebola to a single patient. President Macky Sall has discussed a bid for 2017 with supporters, Seck, 63, said in an interview in the capital, Dakar. She will decide next year about campaigning for director-general of the United Nation’s public health agency…” (Monnier/Baker, 3/22).

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Bloomberg Philanthropies, Australian Government Launch Initiative To Improve Health Data Collection

Wall Street Journal: Michael Bloomberg Backs Health-Data Push
“…Bloomberg Philanthropies … and the Australian government are launching a $100 million, four-year effort to help 20 African, Southeast Asian, and Latin American countries learn more about the lives and deaths of their peoples. The initiative will pay for new tools and systems to improve birth- and death-registration systems and help the countries gather more information on risk factors for premature deaths…” (McKay, 3/22).

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CDC Lab Safety 'Inconsistent And Insufficient,' Independent Panel Says

Christian Science Monitor: CDC commitment to safety ‘inconsistent and insufficient,’ report finds
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal agency dealing with Ebola, anthrax, measles, avian flu, and other issues involving public health, has come under fire for what a panel of experts says are inadequate lab safety practices and procedures. The independent panel was named last year after a series of safety lapses at CDC facilities, including the accidental exposure of 80 unprotected workers to pathogenic anthrax at CDC’s Bioterrorism Rapid Response and Advanced Technology lab in June…” (Knickerbocker, 3/20).

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World Tobacco Conference Urges Increased Efforts To Curb Smoking, Tobacco-Related NCDs

Agence France-Presse: Global conference declares all tobacco products harmful
“A global anti-tobacco conference that ended Saturday urged countries to take steps to reduce the consumption of tobacco, which it said was a leading cause of disease and death worldwide. In its final declaration, the 16th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health in Abu Dhabi also called for wider implementation of World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for cutting smoking rates and reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases…” (3/21).

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Consortium Launches World's First Academy To Train Aid Workers In Rapid Disaster Response

The Guardian: World’s first academy for humanitarian relief to be launched
“The world’s first academy for humanitarian relief is to be launched, aimed at training 100,000 aid workers from over 50 countries in organizing rapid responses to disasters and emergencies. The Humanitarian Leadership Academy, launching on Monday, is a response to the growing number of humanitarian crises around the world, driven by climate change and conflict, combined with a severe and worsening shortage of people with the skills necessary to coordinate the large-scale response required in the critical first days to prevent mass casualties. The HLA is being set up by a global consortium of aid organizations with initial £20m funding from the U.K. Department for International Development, out of a target of £50m. The Save the Children charity has paid the startup costing and is hosting the academy’s hub in London…” (Border, 3/22).

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U.N.'s Ban Observes World Down Syndrome Day, Reaffirms Efforts To Ensure SDGs Address Equality For People With Disabilities

U.N. News Centre: Ban, on World Down Syndrome Day, applauds all who champion rights of disabled
“United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [Saturday] urged everyone to ‘make every effort’ to ensure that the new Sustainable Development Goals address equality and help build a life of dignity for all, including people with Down syndrome and other persons with disabilities…” (3/21).

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Indian Government Limiting Access To New TB Drug In Private Sector

Reuters: New drugs still out of reach for most in India, world TB hotspot
“…The government approved the drug bedaquiline in January for about 500 patients under a national TB control program. It is intended for patients with an extremely resistant form of the infection and are immune to existing drugs. But it has no plans yet to make the drug available to the private sector, which is where more than half of the three million afflicted with the deadly infection go for treatment…” (Siddiqui, 3/20).

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Active Ingredient In Monsanto Insecticide 'Probably Carcinogenic To Humans,' WHO Says

Reuters: Monsanto weed killer can ‘probably’ cause cancer — World Health Organization
“The world’s most widely used weed killer can ‘probably’ cause cancer, the World Health Organization said on Friday. The WHO’s cancer arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), said glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Monsanto Co. herbicide Roundup, was ‘classified as probably carcinogenic to humans.’ It also said there was ‘limited evidence’ that glyphosate was carcinogenic in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma…” (Polansek, 3/20).

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Editorials and Opinions

Ahead Of World TB Day, Ambassador Eric Goosby Discusses Prioritizing TB In Global Health Agenda

Huffington Post: In Conversation: Ambassador Eric Goosby Readies for the Fight to Defeat Tuberculosis
Ray Chambers, U.N. special envoy for health financing

“…In January, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Ambassador Eric Goosby as the Special Envoy for Tuberculosis. A seasoned veteran in public health, Ambassador Goosby’s appointment provides an opportunity to secure a renewed focus on this deadly yet treatable disease. In anticipation of World Tuberculosis Day on March 24th, I reached out to Dr. Goosby to discuss his vision for raising the profile of TB and ensuring its prioritization on the global health agenda…” (3/20).

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BRICS Countries Must Invest In Health Systems To Better Prevent, Treat Tuberculosis

NPR: ‘How Unromantic It Is To Die Of Tuberculosis In The 21st Century’
Salmaan Keshavjee, director of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Global Health Delivery-Dubai and senior TB specialist at Partners In Health

“…Ebola is the tip of a global health crisis: a crisis in our collective ability to deliver the essentials of modern medicine to those who need help the most, in the most timely and efficient manner. Few diseases illustrate the ongoing nature of this crisis better than tuberculosis, a highly transmissible airborne infection that kills more than 1.5 million people every year. … More than a third of TB cases and almost two-thirds of drug-resistant cases are found in the BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, collectively seen as drivers of global economic prosperity and innovation that attract huge sums of foreign investment and that have burgeoning middle classes. The BRICS countries must stop the spread of this scourge by investing in health care delivery systems that are able to find, diagnose, and treat individuals exposed to and sick from TB. They must also put a priority on care for poor and vulnerable populations…” (3/22).

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Including Water Targets In SDGs Could Drive Awareness, Accountability On Access

Inter Press Service: Opinion: Sustainable Development Goals Could Be a Game-Changer for Water
Betsy Otto, director of WRI’s Global Water Program, and Kitty van der Heijden, director of WRI Europe

“…People, ecosystems, food, energy and cities can’t exist without water. Already, water resources are being strained to the breaking point — in Sao Paulo, northern China, the western United States, northwestern India and many other places. And the world’s water needs are rising inexorably. Yet this World Water Day, we also find ourselves at a watershed moment. There is a powerful opportunity that may help countries move toward better water management: the United Nations’ proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). … Strategies to reduce water stress and use water more efficiently have been successfully applied by countries on virtually every continent. Awareness drives action, and transparency drives accountability. … While challenging to implement, the new SDGs could bring unprecedented action to mitigate the world’s water demand and supply crises…” (3/20).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

PMI Launches New Strategy For 2015-2020

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: A World Without Malaria: New President’s Malaria Initiative Strategy Launched
Deborah L. Birx, U.S. global AIDS coordinator and U.S. special representative for global health diplomacy, and Tim Ziemer, U.S. global malaria coordinator, discuss the progress of the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), as well as the launch of the updated strategy which will guide the initiative through 2020. The initiative will work to accomplish three objectives: “[r]educe malaria mortality by one-third from 2015 levels in PMI-supported countries … [r]educe malaria morbidity in PMI-supported countries by 40 percent from 2015 levels … and [a]ssist at least five PMI-supported countries to meet the WHO criteria for national or sub-national pre-elimination” (3/20).

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WHO Calls For Global Action To Reach Goals Of 'End TB Strategy'

WHO: WHO calls on the world to “Gear up to End TB”
“As countries mark World Tuberculosis Day on March 24, WHO is calling for ‘global solidarity and action’ to support a new 20-year strategy, which aims to end the global tuberculosis epidemic. … WHO’s End TB Strategy, adopted by governments at the World Health Assembly last year, is designed to drive action in three key areas: integrated patient-centered TB care and prevention for all in need, including children; bold policies and supportive systems; and intensified research and innovation…” (3/19).

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IHME Director Discusses Health Metrics In Humanosphere Podcast

Humanosphere: Transforming global health with metrics: Chris Murray
Humanosphere correspondent Gabe Spitzer notes Humanosphere founder and lead journalist Tom Paulson spoke with Chris Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, in last week’s podcast. “An institute of health metrics may sound to some like a dry and tedious sort of academic institution, or line of work — health statistics. But … Murray and his gang of number-crunchers are actually revolutionaries,” Spitzer writes (3/20).

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