KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Obama Administration To Announce Plan To Address Spread Of Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Politico: Administration drafts plan to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria
“The Obama administration is about to release a long-awaited plan to fight the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria — but scientists and lawmakers are already dismissing it as too weak to make enough progress against one of the most urgent public health risks…” (Wheaton/Purdy, 3/26).

Reuters: White House crafts first-ever plan to fight superbugs
“…The 60-page report is the first ever to tackle antibiotic resistance so broadly. It was compiled by a government task force led by the administration’s top officials for health, agriculture, and defense. A White House official confirmed that it would release the plan on Friday…” (Abutaleb/Baertlein, 3/26).

Washington Times: Obama pushes $1.2 billion plan to fight drug-resistant bacteria
“President Obama on Friday promoted a $1.2 billion plan to fight the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The initiative is aimed at slowing the rise of resistant bacteria, preventing the spread of infections, establishing new tests to identify resistant bacteria faster, and [speeding] up research into new antibiotics and vaccines…” (Wolfgang, 3/27).

WebMD: Obama Unveils Plan to Tackle Antibiotic Resistance
“…[Obama] called on Congress to help fund the plan, but said the administration would act where it could to implement parts of it on its own. The plan will nearly double the amount of money spent on fighting antibiotic resistance to more than $1.2 billion…” (Goodman/Bhargava, 3/27).

WebMD: Exclusive: Obama on Antibiotic Resistance
“Each year, two million people get sick and 23,000 die in the U.S. because the antibiotics we have don’t work. To fight the problem of antibiotic resistance, the White House [Friday] is releasing its National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. WebMD was given the opportunity to ask President Barack Obama questions about the new plan and how it will work…” (3/27).

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GHTC Annual Policy Report Calls For Greater U.S. Support Of Global Health R&D

News outlets discuss the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s sixth annual policy report, released this week.

Healio: Report highlights need for continued U.S. support for global health
“In its annual policy report, the Global Health Technologies Coalition highlighted the need for U.S. policymakers to continue to support global health research and development. On the heels of the Ebola outbreak, which itself highlighted the necessity of investment for new technologies, drugs, and vaccines, the report recommends that Congress ‘provide robust and stable funding for global health research and development, as well as allocate additional resources for global health emergencies as needed’…” (Shafer, 3/26).

Medium: Ebola Was the Wake-Up Call for Global Health…
“…The GHTC report notes that since 2009, U.S. government investments in global health R&D have been either declining or stagnating. Moreover, GHTC is concerned that global health budgets could face a new round of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that would kick in this fall if President Obama and Congress fail to strike a new budget agreement…” (3/23).

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Individuals Who Ignore Official Advice Could Cause Upsurge Of Ebola Cases, U.N. Special Envoy Warns

The Guardian: Ebola upsurge could undo progress in blink of an eye, warns expert
“Despite the massive push to bring the number of new Ebola cases down to zero as quickly as possible, there will inevitably be ‘flare-ups’ that could reverse the overall downward trend and prove difficult to contain, the U.N.’s response coordinator has warned. Dr. David Nabarro, the U.N.’s special envoy for Ebola, said the huge medical, administrative, and logistical operation to fight the disease could still be set back by individuals ignoring official advice…” (Jones, 3/26).

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NIH Confirms Safety Of 2 Experimental Ebola Vaccines

Reuters: Two experimental Ebola vaccines pass safety test in African trial
“Two experimental Ebola vaccines, one from GlaxoSmithKline PLC and the other from biotech start-up NewLink Genetics Corp, ‘appear to be safe’ part way through a clinical trial being conducted in Liberia, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) said on Thursday…” (Begley, 3/26).

Wall Street Journal: Two Experimental Ebola Vaccines Appear to Be Safe in Trial
“…The safety goals for the vaccines have been met, but proving that they are effective — the next step in the research — now appears to be a more complicated project than originally envisioned. Investigators had planned to enroll 27,000 people in Liberia at a high risk of developing Ebola, such as health care workers…” (Burton, 3/26).

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Current Epidemic's Ebola Virus Not Mutating Faster Than Strains In Previous Outbreaks, Study Shows

New York Times: Ebola Virus in Latest Outbreak Does Not Show Unusual Mutations, Study Finds
“Fears that the current Ebola epidemic, the deadliest in history, was caused by a more lethal, fast-moving or easily transmissible virus than in previous outbreaks appear to be unfounded, according to a new study. The study, a genetic analysis published in the journal Science on Thursday, is based on data that indicate that the virus has mutated over time in a way that is similar to that of previous, smaller outbreaks…” (Belluck, 3/26).

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DfID Should Have Done More To End FGM In Sierra Leone, British MPs Say

The Guardian: MPs take aim at DfID as inaction on FGM in Sierra Leone heads list of ‘failures’
” …The [U.K. Parliament’s International Development Committee] chided DfID for failing to do more to stamp out FGM in Sierra Leone and said that, since the practice had stopped during the Ebola outbreak, the department — one of the country’s biggest bilateral donors, with a stated aim of ending violence against women and girls — should now make the issue a priority…” (Chonghaile, 3/26).

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European Governments Must Cooperate To Counter High Prices For New Medicines, WHO Report Says

Reuters: WHO urges Europeans to work together to counter high drug prices
“European governments need to be better at sharing expertise about the cost-effectiveness of new medicines to counter the budget strains posed by the arrival of a wave of costly drugs, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)…” (Hirschler, 3/26).

WHO: New WHO report shows that transparency and cooperation help to reduce high prices for new medicines
“As the number of new medicines introduced in Europe rises, governments are finding it increasingly difficult to afford them, according to a comprehensive study released [Thursday] by the WHO Regional Office for Europe. The study illustrates the challenges for national health systems, with specific examples, and shows that few countries in the WHO European Region have mechanisms in place to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of new drugs; this hampers the value-assessment and decision-making processes…” (3/26).

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Analysts, Stakeholders Developing Potential International Pandemic Insurance Schemes

Reuters: New pandemic insurance to prevent crises through early payouts
“…Analysts are developing insurance schemes that could turn the humanitarian system on its head, by paying out money as soon as a disease breaks out to stop it becoming an international crisis, rather than trying to raise funds after the event. The World Bank, the African Union, a consortium of aid agencies, and experts in the private sector are starting to do the sums and figure out what such schemes could look like…” (Whiting, 3/26).

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Syrian Humanitarian Crisis Worsening, U.N. Official Warns, Urges International Solution To Violence

U.N. News Centre: Syria crisis ‘worsening’ amid humanitarian funding shortfall, warns top U.N. relief official
“The situation on the ground in Syria has ‘dramatically’ worsened as the country enters its fifth year of war amid escalating fighting and targeted attacks against civilians, the top United Nations humanitarian official warned today as she urged the international community to bring the violence to an end…” (3/26).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Must Increase Capacity For Global Health R&D, Anticipate Global Disease Threats

Washington Post: Why aren’t we producing medications for looming global disease threats?
Mel Spigelman, physician and president and chief executive of TB Alliance

“…[A new Global Health Technologies Coalition] analysis reveals that over the past six years, [U.S.] taxpayer funding for global health research has been stagnant or declining. … Managing health threats through emergency allocations is both ineffective and inefficient — and doesn’t provide the drugs and vaccines that can stop the next unexpected disease outbreak before it starts. … Today, U.S.-led partnerships in health innovation are poised to deliver a treasure trove of new prevention, treatment, and diagnostic tools targeting a wide range of neglected diseases. But lacking sufficient and consistent support, these tools will get stuck in the pipeline and new research initiatives will not start…” (3/26).

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U.S. Navy's Pacific Partnership Must Be More Responsive To Emergencies In Region

The Hill: Need more than lip-service from Pacific Partnership
Eileen Natuzzi, medical education coordinator for the Solomon Island Living Memorial Project for the San Diego State University School of Public Health

“…The failure of Pacific Partnership, [a Department of Defense forward readiness program in the Asia Pacific Region and] one of the United States’ only ‘humanitarian aid programs’ in the Pacific Region, to deploy during the time of crisis must be addressed. As ‘America’s first Pacific President,’ Obama has done more than any recent president to draw attention to the Pacific Region, but it has not been nearly enough. He needs to be a ‘Pacific President’ who recognizes our Pacific neighbors’ climate-mediated health and well-being vulnerability and responds with emergency support and adaptation programs that are proportional to the risks Pacific Island nations face today. One easy way to start is to make Pacific Partnership more responsive to the disaster needs in the Pacific region” (3/26).

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Leadership, Global Governance Questions Must Be Answered For True Pandemic Preparedness

Washington Post: The next epidemic
Michael Gerson, opinion writer

“…The first and foundational layer of pandemic preparedness is the disease surveillance system in developing countries. … Many developing countries lack even the minimal capability to identify outbreaks before they become epidemics. Filling those gaps is one of the goals of President Obama’s essential Global Health Security Agenda, designed to strengthen surveillance capacity in 30 countries containing four billion people. The second layer of preparedness is emergency response — the ability, on a moment’s notice, to provide mass logistics and command-and-control in the midst of chaos. … All of this raises questions of leadership and global governance. If the worst happens, would anyone be in charge? The day before the next epidemic, this will seem a secondary matter. The day after, there will be no other issue” (3/26).

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The Lancet To Focus On Ebola's Lessons, Global Health Security In Upcoming Issues

The Lancet: 1 year on — lessons from the Ebola outbreak for WHO
Editorial Board

“This week has seen what is likely to be the beginning of an onslaught of criticism leveled against WHO for its handling of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. … This year will see at least three further international, independent investigations into WHO’s conduct in the Ebola response. Regrettably, it is likely that WHO’s reputation is going to suffer more wounds in the coming months. The Lancet’s focus will be to try and draw larger lessons from the Ebola outbreak. In early May, we will be publishing a collection of essays on global health security, together with one of the first analyses of the deeper consequences of Ebola” (3/28).

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Building Community Resilience, Food Security Can Improve Development Indicators

Huffington Post: From Food Security to Regional Security: How Community Resilience Can Prevent Conflict in Africa
Darius Mans, president of Africare

“…From 2008 to 2015 with support from USAID’s Office of Food for Peace, Africare/Chad implemented the Batha and Ouaddaï Food Security Initiative (BOFSI). The project improved food security and livelihoods with multidimensional strategies in agriculture, water, nutrition, microfinance, capacity building, disaster risk reduction, and infrastructure development. … As global leaders discuss insecurity, Africare is implementing the kind of solutions they seek. After decades of supporting community resilience in partnership with numerous government ministries in Chad, Africare was the sole NGO invited to help design Chad’s national food security program. BOFSI’s model served as the blueprint. Africare’s resilience programs address insecurity at its root” (3/26).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kaiser Family Foundation Fact Sheet Examines U.S. Government And Global Malaria

Kaiser Family Foundation: The U.S. Government and Global Malaria
This fact sheet examines the U.S. government’s role in global malaria efforts, including the President’s Malaria Initiative and funding; effective malaria interventions; and global goals for control and eradication (3/27).

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Better Access To Surgical Care Could Avert 1.5M Deaths Annually

World Bank: Surgery Could Save Millions of Lives in Developing Countries
The World Bank Group published a new book on how better access to surgical care can avert 1.5 million deaths a year. The book, titled “‘Essential Surgery,’ launched at the Consortium of Universities for Global Health sixth annual conference in Boston, is the first of nine volumes of the third edition of ‘Disease Control Priorities (DCP3),’ a comprehensive review and analysis of the most effective and cost-effective approaches to global health” (3/26).

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Simultaneous Treatment For HIV/TB Improves Survival Of Co-Infected, Study Says

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Concurrent treatment for HIV/TB co-infection breaks up ‘deadly alliance’
In a guest post, Martha P. Skiles, a research associate at MEASURE Evaluation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Stephanie Mullen, team leader at MEASURE Evaluation and senior M&E adviser at John Snow Inc., discuss “how current data from Ukraine show promise for patients co-infected with TB and HIV.” They write, “In the study of TB and HIV service integration, data reviewed from patients presenting with TB found that early initiation of antiretroviral treatment for those co-infected with HIV, improved survival” (3/26).

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