KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Wraps Up Meeting Pledging To Advance R&D, Preparedness For Next Disease Outbreak

Agence France-Presse: WHO works on plan to tackle disease outbreaks after Ebola fiasco
“The World Health Organization, reeling under stinging criticism for its late response to the worst ever Ebola outbreak, on Tuesday said it was creating a blueprint to handle future disease outbreaks. A two-day meeting of the U.N. agency was aimed at creating better research and diagnostic facilities, improving data sharing between countries, and creating biobanks, said Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO assistant director for health systems and innovation…” (Chanda, 5/12).

CIDRAP News: Experts weigh challenges, options for Ebola vaccine clearance
“With Ebola cases in West Africa again declining sharply, researchers are looking closely at alternatives for getting a vaccine licensed quickly, without traditional efficacy data, and studying how stepped-up strategies for vaccines and other medical tools might be used for future disease epidemics…” (Schnirring, 5/12).

Reuters: As Ebola disappears, no useful data seen from vaccine trials: WHO
“…[T]wo experimental Ebola vaccines — developed by GlaxoSmithKline and jointly by Merck and NewLink Genetics — being tested on volunteers may not yield sufficient data on efficacy as case numbers fall, Kieny said. ‘It is not clear whether it will be possible to have even a hint of efficacy from these two vaccines,’ she said, noting that they already had been proven safe…” (Nebehay, 5/12).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency draws lessons from Ebola to prepare roadmap for future epidemics
“…Kieny went on to say the Geneva meeting aimed ‘to come up with a new framework for R&D for diseases with epidemic potential and other health threats, so that next time we can be better prepared, faster, and more effective.’ WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, in the meeting’s opening remarks on Monday, said that the Ebola R&D effort has mobilized people, institutions, and resources in ways never before seen in an ‘otherwise horrific human calamity’ and noted that the world was ‘likely very close to having a vaccine that can protect against Ebola’…” (5/12).

VOA News: WHO to Accelerate R&D for Ebola, Other Diseases
“…[Kieny] says participants are working on a new framework to speed up research and development for diseases that could become epidemics and other health threats. This way, she says, the next time the world is faced with an epidemic, it can respond more quickly and effectively…” (Schlein, 5/12).

Wall Street Journal: Disputes Emerge on African Ebola Drug Trials
“…At issue is the way doctors from Oxford, Doctors Without Borders, and other European groups are evaluating experimental Ebola drugs without using a comparison group of patients given a placebo — just as Doctors Without borders has done with vaccines. Randomly assigning patients to drugs or a placebo is the gold standard for testing whether drugs work and aren’t causing harm…” (Burton, 5/12).

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News Outlets Examine Independent Panel's Report On WHO's Ebola Response, Preview World Health Assembly

Devex: ‘Business as usual’ no longer an option for WHO, member states
“The expert panel tasked to review the World Health Organization’s initial response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has noted areas in which the organization could have responded better. WHO, according to the panel’s interim report made public May 11, could have sought support from other U.N. agencies and humanitarian actors that comprise the U.N. Interagency Standing Committee — the body formed in 1992 to help coordinate humanitarian assistance, including in clarifying responsibilities, and helping identify and address gaps in response…” (Ravelo, 5/12).

Nature: Ebola failures prompt WHO rethink
“…The main reforms up for discussion [at the World Health Assembly] in Geneva include creating a US$100 million fund for response to fast-moving events such as the Ebola epidemic; setting up an international cadre of first responders to outbreaks; and setting guidelines for how aid groups, foundations, academic institutions, and corporations can take part in WHO meetings. … The agency is also asking member states to boost its budget by eight percent for 2016-17, after having received flat funding since 2012. And [Director-General Margaret] Chan wants to strengthen the International Health Regulations — rules agreed by member states in 2005 that require countries to set up basic outbreak-response mechanisms — but there are no specific proposals for how this would occur…” (Hayden, 5/13).

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FDA Examines Process For Approving Ebola Vaccine In Light Of Waning Outbreak

CQ HealthBeat: FDA Weighs Process for Approving Ebola Vaccine
“A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Tuesday tackled difficult questions on the development of a vaccine for the Ebola virus although the outbreak, which has killed more than 11,000 people, has subsided. … While that comes as good news for public health, it presents a challenge for drug development and for regulators who now need to look at other data, potentially from animal studies, as it reviews potential vaccines…” (Gustin, 5/12).

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Groups Continue To Warn TPP Could Harm Access To Medicines As U.S. Senate Votes To Deny Debate On Fast-Track Legislation

GlobalPost: This U.S.-backed Pacific trade deal could stop the poor from getting life-saving meds
“…[H]undreds of millions of patients around the Pacific rim face losing the chance to use new, cheap generic drugs to treat a host of conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and rheumatoid arthritis. That’s thanks to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a Washington-backed mega-trade agreement that would include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam…” (Grillo/Tegel, 5/12).

International Business Times: Trans-Pacific Partnership Health And Medicine Policies Could Hurt Poor Nations, Boost Pharmaceutical Companies
“Health organizations across the globe have taken a strong stance against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, saying it would shoot up drug costs and hurt people in poorer countries. The controversial deal is up for a vote in the Senate on Tuesday to allow President Barack Obama fast track authority in negotiating the deal…” (Marcin, 5/12).

Wall Street Journal: Senate Democrats Block Debate on Obama’s Fast-Track Bill
“Senate Democrats derailed a top White House economic priority Tuesday, blocking a bill to give President Barack Obama authority to ease trade deals through Congress and forcing the administration and Republican leaders to regroup on trade policy. … The Senate action almost certainly won’t be the last word on advancing trade deals, since a majority of senators are believed to favor both the fast-track measure and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the big trade deal between the U.S. and 11 nations around the Pacific whose path would be eased by the fast-track legislation. Late Tuesday, Democrats had already proposed a way to bridge the divide…” (Hughes/Mauldin, 5/12).

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Devex Examines World Bank President Jim Kim's 'Science Of Delivery' System

Devex: Inside Jim Kim’s ‘science of delivery’
“…Kim’s emphasis on delivery and systematically sharing knowledge can be traced at least back to his time at the World Health Organization from 2003 to 2006. It was at the WHO where Kim noticed that policymakers and health care workers with access to similar resources achieved different health outcomes. … Then Kim came to the World Bank where he sought to push the envelope at the institution by making the transition from a ‘knowledge bank’ to a ‘solutions bank’ that enacts a systematic science of delivery…” (Tyson, 5/12).

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Income Inequality Limits Reproductive Rights Of Women In Latin America, BBC Reports

BBC News: How inequality limits reproductive rights in Latin America
“…In five countries abortion is outlawed completely and heavy restrictions such as those in Paraguay are in place across the region. But this is not just an issue of competing liberal norms and conservative values. It is mainly about inequality in a region where the gulf between rich and poor remains huge. To access abortions, you either have to have the money to pay for illegal procedures or the funds to fly out of the country…” (Watson, 5/12).

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Drought Threatens Maize Production, Food Security In Southern Africa, WFP Warns

Reuters: Drought-hit Southern Africa at risk of food shortage — WFP
“Southern Africa faces possible food shortages over the next few months due to a severe drought in the ‘maize belt’ of South Africa, where a lack of rain had caused crop failure rates of over 50 percent, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Monday…” (Cropley, 5/11).

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Lottery Ticket Program Leads To Reduction In HIV In Lesotho, Researchers Say

Foreign Policy: Lottery Ticket Approach Leads to Drastic Reduction in HIV Prevalence
“Researchers funded by the World Bank arrived at a wildly unorthodox and unexpectedly effective strategy for preventing HIV in the African nation of Lesotho: A lottery program that offered participants an opportunity to win cash on the condition that they tested negative for sexually transmitted infections…” (Soloway, 5/12).

NPR: What Might Make Young People Practice Safe Sex? Lottery Tickets!
“…After two years, there was a 21.4 percent reduction in HIV infections in the lottery ticket group compared with the volunteers who got the small gifts…” (Vedantam, 5/12).

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Nationwide Condom Shortage Affects India's HIV Prevention Efforts

LiveMint: Shortage of condoms hits govt’s AIDS prevention program
“A nationwide shortage of government-supplied condoms has affected two key programs of the health ministry [in India] — human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention and family planning. What compounds matters is the size of funds needed to address the shortage…” (Krishnan, 5/12).

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Brazil's Dengue Outbreak Highlights Issues Within National Health Care System

Reuters: Brazil dengue outbreak exposes tough challenge for Rousseff
“An epidemic of dengue fever is fanning public anger over what Brazilians say is President Dilma Rousseff’s biggest challenge — the sad state of the national health care system. … Health Minister Arthur Chioro has blamed the outbreak in part on a severe drought in Brazil’s southeast, an area including Sao Paulo where dengue has been most prevalent. … However, many point their finger back at the government. Brazil promises universal health care in its constitution, but the system is underfunded and poorly managed, critics say…” (Winter, 5/12).

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Dissatisfaction Growing Over Russia's State-Run Health Care System, Bloomberg Reports

Bloomberg Businessweek: In Putin’s Russia, Universal Health Care Is for All Who Pay
“…Russia [has] slashe[d] health care services to plug budget gaps left by lower oil prices. That has provoked labor unrest by medical workers — some have even staged hunger strikes — and alarm among patients and their families as one government agency said the cuts were responsible for thousands of extra deaths in Russian hospitals last year. … A poll last August by Moscow researcher Levada Center found that just 19 percent of respondents were satisfied with the state medical system…” (Arkhipov/Meyer, 5/13).

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Aid Agencies Ready To Send Food, Medical Supplies, Fuel Into War-Torn Yemen As Ceasefire Begins

Wall Street Journal: Aid Agencies Prepare to Rush Food, Medicine to Needy Yemenis
“Humanitarian aid agencies prepared to deliver thousands of tons of food, fuel, and medical supplies to needy Yemenis during a five-day ceasefire between Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led military coalition that began late Tuesday…” (Fitch/Mohsen, 5/12).

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Editorials and Opinions

Senate Should Advise Obama To Send Different Nominee For USAID Administrator

The Hill: Senate should not confirm Gayle Smith
Alemayehu G. Mariam, professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino, and a constitutional lawyer

“…Obama has tapped Gayle Smith to run the U.S. Agency for International Development. African strongmen will be very pleased by the news; but she is the wrong choice for the job. … Smith will oversee the administration of billions of dollars in U.S. aid to Africa if confirmed. Her long and chummy relationship with Africa’s strongmen will make her a weak advocate of human rights, the rule of law, and good governance on the continent. … Obama is requesting the Senate’s advice and consent. The Senate should withhold consent and advise the president to send a nominee who is on the right side of history, the rule of law, and democracy. For Africa, Senate confirmation of Smith at this moment will be the equivalent of moving the clock of history backwards” (5/12).

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FP2020 Provides Framework For Sexual, Reproductive Health Programs, Ensures Continued Progress On MDG 5

Devex: Built to last: How FP2020 accelerates progress on MDG 5
Suzanne Ehlers, president and CEO of PAI

“…Last summer, the FP2020 rights and empowerment working group released a statement of principles that puts human rights at the center of all family planning and reproductive health efforts. The 10 principles provide a framework on which all sexual and reproductive health programs should be built. They also outline a clear role for civil society as partners in upholding and protecting rights. Combined with MDG 5’s other targets, they will propel access forward. The Millennium Development Goals set an ambitious global mandate for development. And despite a few setbacks, the goals have created momentum that is moving us unequivocally forward on women’s health and empowerment. The contributions of FP2020 to MDG 5 will help to ensure that our progress is built to last” (5/12).

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Uganda's Plan To Send HCWs Abroad Could Benefit Workers, Country If 'Executed Properly'

Project Syndicate: Reversing Africa’s Medical Brain Drain
Serufusa Sekidde, a consultant with Oxford Policy Management and a 2015 Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow

“There is understandable consternation over Uganda’s plan to send almost 300 health workers to Trinidad and Tobago. … But the truth is that Uganda may have inadvertently stumbled upon an innovative policy. If the plan is executed properly, it could benefit both the health care sector and the country, by raising additional funds, strengthening medical workers’ skills and motivation, and creating a model for engaging with the diaspora. … Of course, this type of mass recruitment could have a major adverse impact on developing countries’ health care systems. But it also should be recognized that it is not sensible to chain health care workers to a failing system. There has to be a way to encourage doctors to contribute to their country’s health care system, while offering them an opportunity to achieve their personal and professional goals. … The ultimate solution is not to discourage professionals from working abroad; it is to ensure better training and more amenable working conditions…” (5/12).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

National Science Academies Of G7 Countries Urge Leaders To Support Efforts Against NTDs, Antibiotic Resistance

Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect”: National Science Academies Urge G7 Leaders to Address NTDs
Whitney McInvale of the Global Network writes, “In advance of every G7 summit, the national science academies of the G7 countries prepare policy statements on the priority issues identified by the G7 host country. This year, the national science academies delivered statements on neglected tropical diseases, antibiotic resistance, and the future of the ocean. … After receiving the statement from the academies, Chancellor [Angela Merkel, who carries the G7 presidency this year,] responded with a call to strengthen the WHO’s ability to combat disease…” (5/12).

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WHO's 'World Health Statistics' Reports On Health-Related MDG Progress

WHO: World Health Statistics reports on global health goals for 194 countries
“2015 is the final year for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — goals set by governments in 2000 to guide global efforts to end poverty. This year’s ‘World Health Statistics’ — published [Wednesday] by WHO — assesses progress towards the health-related goals in each of the 194 countries for which data are available. The results are mixed…” (5/13).

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New Issue Of 'Global Fund News Flash' Available Online

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Global Fund News Flash
The latest issue of the Global Fund News Flash discusses the Partnership Forum held last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; a meeting of the Africa Constituencies Bureau of the Global Fund; a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on global health spending; and one woman’s story of being a sex worker living with HIV in Kenya (5/12).

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