KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Former U.S. Ebola Coordinator Ron Klain Speaks With Vox About Epidemic, Response

Vox: Ebola czar — “This thing isn’t over yet.” And the next pandemic could be even worse.
“On October 17, 2014, just as Ebola panic reached a fever pitch in America, President Obama did something unusual: he appointed Ron Klain as America’s first-ever ‘Ebola response coordinator’ — a title that very quickly morphed into ‘Ebola czar.’ … [Julia Belluz] talked to Klain by phone about his experience — and why he’s still worried about the next outbreak…” (3/3).

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Ebola Case Numbers Rise In Guinea, Sierra Leone; Liberia Records No New Cases, WHO Says

Reuters: More Ebola in Guinea, Sierra Leone last week, no Liberia cases: WHO
“Guinea and Sierra Leone reported 132 new confirmed cases of Ebola in the week to March 1, an increase of 34 over the previous week, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday. Liberia did not report any new confirmed infections in the week for the first time since May last year, but disease surveillance may not be optimal given the low number of samples, the U.N. agency said in its latest update on West Africa’s epidemic…” (Nebehay, 3/4).

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Liberia Releases Last Known Ebola Patient From Hospital

Associated Press: Last Ebola patient is released in Liberia
“Liberia released its last Ebola patient, a 58-year old teacher, from a treatment center on Thursday, beginning its countdown to being declared Ebola free…” (Paye-Layleh, 3/5).

The Guardian: Liberia almost clear of Ebola after last patient is discharged from care
“…The discharging of Beatrice Yardolo — who had spent 15 days in a Chinese-run Ebola treatment center in the Paynesville district of the Liberian capital, Monrovia — brings the West African country a step closer to declaring itself clear of Ebola…” (Jones, 3/5).

New York Times: Last Known Ebola Patient in Liberia Is Discharged
“…The authorities are still tracking more than 100 people for possible exposure to the virus. As of Thursday, no new cases of Ebola had been confirmed inside Liberia for the past 13 days, [Tolbert Nyenswah, the deputy health minister in charge of Liberia’s fight against Ebola,] said…” (Onishi, 3/5).

Wall Street Journal: Liberia’s Last Ebola Patient Released From Clinic
“…It has been a year since officials in West Africa first realized that the fever stalking their villages was Ebola, a disease that spreads through bodily fluids, often from caregiver to caregiver. Now, some believe they are nearing the end of what has been a public health catastrophe…” (Hinshaw/Morse, 3/5).

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Ebola Vaccine Trial Using Ring Strategy To Launch In Guinea; Researchers Learn From Ebola Doctor Vaccinated After Needlestick Injury

CIDRAP News: Ebola ring vaccination trial set for Guinea launch
“The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that a phase 3 trial of a Canadian-developed Ebola vaccine will launch this week in Guinea, with a ring vaccination strategy designed to test if vaccines might be useful for stamping out hot spots in outbreak settings. In a separate development involving the same vaccine, a research team from the United States reported their experience using it to try to prevent Ebola infection in a doctor who sustained a needlestick injury while treating patients in Sierra Leone. The doctor tested negative for Ebola, but the effect of the vaccine was unclear, the report said…” (Schnirring, 3/5).

CNN: Potentially historic Ebola vaccine campaign to be launched in Guinea (Botelho, 3/5).
New York Times: A Mishap Sheds Light on an Ebola Vaccine (Grady, 3/5).
Reuters: Guinea to start final trials of Ebola vaccines this week (Kelland/Miles, 3/5).
U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency announces start of Ebola vaccine testing in worst-affected areas of Guinea (3/5).
Wall Street Journal: New Ebola Vaccine to Be Tested in Guinea (Morse, 3/5).
WHO: Ebola vaccine efficacy trial ready to launch in Guinea (3/5).

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Ebola Epidemic Negatively Affecting Maternal Health Care In West Africa

Nature: Maternal health: Ebola’s lasting legacy
“…Ebola is having tremendous knock-on effects for maternal health in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Pregnancy seems to make women uniquely vulnerable to the effects of the disease, and babies born to infected women have not been known to survive. … [T]hroughout the region, fears about Ebola and stories about women being turned away have convinced many pregnant women to stop showing up for routine prenatal visits or for assistance with delivery…” (Hayden, 3/4).

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Gates Foundation To Invest $52M In German Biotech Company, To Work Together To Develop Infectious Disease Vaccines

Reuters: Gates Foundation makes its biggest-ever equity investment in German biotech
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said it would invest $52 million in CureVac, a German biotechnology company that develops vaccines and immunotherapies, marking the foundation’s biggest-ever equity investment. … The foundation will also fund multiple projects developing vaccines for viral, bacterial, and parasitic infectious diseases that disproportionately affect people in the world’s poorest countries, apart from the equity investment…” (Grover, 3/5).

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New WHO Guidelines Urge Global Population To Decrease Dietary Sugar Intake

News outlets report on new WHO guidelines urging a global reduction in sugar intake.

NPR: Dump The Lumps: The World Health Organization Says Eat Less Sugar
“…[T]he World Health Organization has new advice: Limit sugars to less than 10 percent of total calories consumed each day. And capping your sugar intake at just 5 percent of your daily calories ‘would provide additional health benefits,’ the guideline says…” (Aubrey, 3/4).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency points to ‘solid evidence’ backing its call to reduce sugar intake
“… The WHO’s recommendations are based on evidence showing that adults who consume less sugar have lower body weight and that increasing the amount of sugars in the diet is associated with a weight increase. It also shows that children with the highest intakes of sugar-sweetened drinks are more likely to be overweight or obese than children with a low intake of sugar-sweetened drinks…” (3/4).

Washington Post: WHO to basically everybody: Stop eating so much sugar
“…Altering sugar intake will be harder for some countries than others. According to the WHO, added sugar intake ranges from about 7 to 8 percent of total energy consumption in Hungary and Norway to as much as 17 percent in Spain and Britain. In children, the figures go as high as nearly 25 percent in Portugal. There are also differences between rural and urban diets, the organization said…” (Dennis, 3/4).

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Disaster Aftereffects Cause Similar Amount Of Life Years Lost As TB, U.N. Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Disasters have same human impact as tuberculosis: U.N.
“Deaths, economic damage, and other negative impacts from disasters have caused losses equivalent to 42 million life years annually since 1980, a measure that is comparable to the burden of tuberculosis worldwide, the United Nations said…” (Rowling, 3/4).

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Almost 800K Women Die Annually Due To Lack Of Access To Safe Toilets, Clean Water, WaterAid Report Says

Reuters: What kills more women than AIDS and breast cancer? Dirty water
“Diseases spread through dirty water and poor sanitation are the fifth biggest killer of women worldwide, causing more deaths than AIDS, diabetes, or breast cancer, researchers say. Nearly 800,000 women die every year because they lack access to safe toilets and clean water, said the development organization WaterAid, which analyzed data from the Seattle-based Institute of Health Metrics research center…” (Caspani, 3/5).

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The Lancet Examines Efforts To End FGM

The Lancet: Working towards an end to FGM
“In practicing communities, female genital mutilation (FGM) is a social norm — a public declaration of social acceptability that families believe makes their daughters pure, clean, and prepared for marriage. … The practice is enforced by communities in which cultural and religious conventions are often more robust than national laws that ban FGM. However, cutting has serious health effects, and is classed by many people as child abuse…” (Morgan, 3/7).

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Conflict-Affected Areas Risk Spread Of Polio, WHO Warns

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency notes possible threat of polio spread in conflict-affected countries
“An emergency meeting convened by the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) noted today that Pakistan had become the 10th country to be ‘infected’ by polio and that ‘the possibility of international spread still remains a global threat worsened by the expansion of conflict-affected areas, particularly in the Middle East and Central Africa’…” (3/4).

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Cost Of Condoms, Other Contraceptives Prohibitive In Venezuela

Thomson Reuters Foundation: The high cost of safe sex in Venezuela
“With a pack of 36 condoms costing $755 online, the prohibitive cost of safe sex in Venezuela threatens to increase teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS rates and the number of backstreet abortions, says local family planning NGO Plafam…” (Maloney, 3/5).

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Indoor Air Pollution Continues To Plague India, Other Nations

Inter Press Service: In India, an Indoor Health Crisis
“…According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around three billion people cook and heat their homes using open fires and mud stoves burning biomass (wood, animal dung, and crop waste), as well as coal. … The WHO estimates that around 4.3 million people die each year from diseases attributable to indoor air pollution, including from chronic respiratory conditions such as pneumonia, lung cancer, and even strokes…” (Parvaiz, 3/5).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Piece Discuss Health-Related Issues Surrounding International Women's Day

The Lancet: International Women’s Day 2015
Editorial Board

“…At the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (March 9-20), the political declaration for the 20th anniversary of the Beijing conference will be adopted. The absence of health in the draft is a concern, and it is weak on human rights, especially sexual rights, which encompass abuses such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, and violence. Negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda have similarly struggled to address these core issues. Sexual and reproductive health and rights must not be sidelined again as they were initially in the Millennium Development Goals. The opportunities offered by U.N. negotiations this year must not be squandered if we are to secure actionable commitments that could yield vast improvements for girls and women everywhere” (3/7).

Devex: Make HIV prevention happen for young women
Zeda Rosenberg, CEO of International Partnership for Microbicides, and Sharon Hillier of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

“…Preventing HIV in women has always been both a scientific and a social challenge. … To close the gap and lower women’s risk of acquiring HIV, we need more female-initiated options that can work for and meet the needs of different women at different times of their lives. … If we can offer women practical and effective prevention options, we not only enable them to protect their own well-being — we protect their children and future generations. On International Women’s Day, let us remember that we cannot end AIDS without giving women new options they can use to keep themselves healthy and safe” (3/6).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Efforts To End Ebola Epidemic, Build Health Systems In West Africa

Devex: The hidden weapon in the fight against Ebola
Nigel Chapman, chief executive officer of Plan International

“…[E]nlisting ‘secret societies’ and changing their attitudes is one of the key weapons to help put an end to this outbreak. … Winning the fight against Ebola is both a short-term and a long-term battle. The damage Ebola has done in these fragile societies is significant and it won’t be a quick fix. But by taking a holistic view and working with communities to firstly finish the battle and then to help rebuild, donors, governments, and other agencies can and must help these countries come back stronger” (3/5).

The Hill: Hope but no respite from Ebola
Jones Nhinson Williams, founder and president of the New Liberia Foundation

“…[Liberian President Ellen Johnson] Sirleaf rightly capitalized on this moment to galvanize hope among Liberians and reenergize Liberian-U.S. relations. We have the opportunity to build a health care system from the ground up and see the fruits of our labor reverberate in Liberia’s economy, the region, and the world. This could be an opportunity to start a fresh chapter in Liberia and to become a source of strength and order in the region. Instead of just putting out fires, we must dedicate ourselves to building an infrastructure that will give Liberia the 21st century tools it needs to protect its citizens and its neighbors…” (3/6).

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Malaria Eradication Ultimate Goal; Integrating Malaria, MNCH Programs Critical To Achieving Target

Devex: As malaria resistance continues to evolve, science must keep pace
Ashley Birkett, director of PATH’s Malaria Vaccine Initiative

“…The news that drug-resistant parasites are once again on the march will prompt new efforts to slow their advance and add urgency to the search for alternatives to artemisinin, as it should. But there is really only one way to break out of malaria’s version of the boom-bust cycle: eliminate malaria from its remaining strongholds and eventually eradicate the parasite altogether…” (3/5).

Huffington Post Canada: A ‘No Missed Opportunities’ Approach Is Essential For Ending Diseases Like Malaria
Joel C. Spicer, president of the Micronutrient Initiative

“…Aligning nutrition, malaria, and other MNCH action when possible represents a key opportunity to improve how we deliver life-saving health programs. Right now, opportunities are available to integrate the delivery of nutrition with seasonal malaria prevention campaigns to save more children’s lives. … We are still missing opportunities and those we exist to serve are paying the price. There is much more that can be done to close this gap. Now is the time to accelerate our efforts where progress has been slow to seize every opportunity…” (3/3).

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Community Involvement Important Factor In HIV Prevention Clinical Trials

Al Jazeera America: Blame research design for failed HIV study
Ida Susser, professor of anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center and adjunct professor of sociomedical sciences at the HIV Center at Columbia University

“…The VOICE study appeared to lack sufficient community involvement. … The high HIV incidence observed in the VOICE study reminds us that we desperately need methods women can more easily put into practice in difficult situations, especially those most at risk in southern Africa: women ages 15 to 22. … Most important, to reduce the incidence of HIV infection globally, we must work with women and men at the community level to promote trust and identify the best ways to use the effective methods we already have” (3/5).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

International Partners Launch New Initiative To End AIDS Epidemic Among Adolescents

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Ending the AIDS Epidemic Among Adolescents: We’re All in This Together
Deborah L. Birx, U.S. global AIDS coordinator and U.S. representative for global health diplomacy, Robert F. Godec, U.S. ambassador to Kenya, discuss the recent launch of “ALL IN — a new platform for action to end AIDS among adolescents. While major advances have been made in the effort to achieve an AIDS-free generation, controlling the epidemic among adolescents is falling behind. … In our efforts to control the epidemic, we must address the challenges that remain and include adolescents in the conversation…” (3/4).

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Beijing Declaration Principles At Core Of UNAIDS' Efforts To End AIDS

UNAIDS: Empowering women is critical to ending the AIDS epidemic
In a statement, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel SidibĂ© says, “As we celebrate International Women’s Day, world leaders and civil society are gathering in New York to take part in the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. … The core principles of the Beijing Declaration are at the heart of UNAIDS’ commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic. As the world moves towards collectively agreeing global sustainable development goals, we need to reaffirm the commitment that no one is left behind…” (3/8).

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'Global Fund News Flash' Special Edition Highlights International Women's Day

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Global Fund News Flash
A special edition of the Global Fund News Flash highlights International Women’s Day with articles focusing on global health efforts for women and girls and the link between health and education (3/6).

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Global Network Urges Congress To Uphold Previous Funding Commitments To NTDs

Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect”: Speak out against Proposed Cuts to the USAID’s NTD Program
Selma Melkich, policy coordinator for the Global Network, discusses proposed funding for neglected tropical diseases in the White House FY 2016 budget request and writes, “Bipartisan action in Congress has thankfully, over the past few years, led to increased funding for NTD programs beyond the administration’s requests. This year, the Global Network is urging Congress to honor and continue these previous commitments by requesting that the USAID NTD Program receive $125 million in funding for FY 2016…” (3/5).

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