KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Sierra Leone, Guinea Experience Near Fourfold Increase In Ebola Cases In One Week, WHO Says, Warning Vigilance Must Remain High

New York Times: Doctors Link Risky Burials to Ebola Rise in West Africa
“Only days after declaring the lowest number of new Ebola cases in Guinea and Sierra Leone this year, officials at the World Health Organization said Tuesday that there had been a nearly fourfold increase during the most recent week of reporting, to about 35 new cases…” (Nossiter, 5/19).

Reuters: New Ebola cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone show huge effort still needed — WHO
“…The 35 new cases in the week to May 17 were in six districts of Guinea and Sierra Leone, with most infections in Guinea, [WHO’s special representative for Ebola, Bruce] Aylward said, giving no breakdown of the preliminary figures. A total of nine were confirmed the previous week…” (Nebehay, 5/19).

VICE News: Ebola Cases Quadruple in Guinea and Sierra Leone as Rainy Season Sets In
“… ‘It will take an extraordinary effort to finish the job,’ Aylward told a briefing attended by health ministers. ‘With the start of the rainy season today, the doubling of effort will be that much more difficult, that much more important’…” (Ruble, 5/19).

VOA News: WHO: Ebola Is Still a Risk, Requires Vigilance
“…At a WHA conference [in Geneva], Magaret Chan, WHO’s director-general, kicked off a panel discussion on Ebola with a cheery note — a reminder that Liberia had been declared Ebola-free May 9. … But, Chan added, ‘This is a qualified victory … because the country remains at risk of reinfection from its neighbors’…” (Schlein, 5/19).

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Local Frontline HCWs Working To Stem Sierra Leone's Ebola Epidemic Remain Underpaid, Newsweek Reports

Newsweek: Frontline health workers were sidelined in $3.3bn fight against Ebola
“…Hundreds, if not thousands, of nurses and other frontline staff fighting Ebola have been underpaid throughout the outbreak — and many remain so today. … The problems appear to be twofold: first, Sierra Leone’s national health system has been so underfunded for so long, that it was a monumental challenge to document all of the country’s care workers and set up payment distribution channels to them. Second, it turns out that relatively little money was set aside for local frontline staff within Sierra Leone’s health system in the first place…” (Maxmen, 5/19).

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UNAIDS Renews Call For International Commitment To Develop HIV Vaccine

U.N. News Centre: U.N. agency calls for renewed global commitment to develop effective HIV vaccine
“To mark HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS, has renewed its call for a sustained worldwide commitment to finding an effective HIV vaccine. Steadfast in leaving nobody behind in the HIV response, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel SidibĂ© explained: ‘A vaccine would be a major step towards ending the AIDS epidemic’…” (5/19).

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Relief Agencies Use Data From Mobile Technology To Inform Food Aid Decisions

Financial Times: Technology helps feed a hungry world
“…Where people are facing hunger and malnutrition, a basic form of technology — the mobile phone — can be used to generate data that helps relief agencies make better decisions on where to distribute food aid…” (Murray, 5/20).

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BBC Examines Growing HIV/AIDS Epidemic In Russia

BBC News: Fighting HIV where no-one admits it’s a problem
“For years Russia has remained remarkably silent on the challenge it faces from HIV and AIDS. Now that silence has been broken by an epidemiologist who has been working in the field for more than two decades — and he calls the situation ‘a national catastrophe.’ Vadim Pokrovsky, the softly spoken head of the Federal AIDS Centre in Moscow, has watched as the figures have climbed remorselessly upwards. There are about one million people living with HIV today in Russia and year on year the rate of infection is rising, unlike sub-Saharan Africa where the rate of increase is slowing…” (Fowler, 5/20).

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South Korea Confirms Country's First MERS Case In Patient Returning From Bahrain

Reuters: South Korea reports first case of MERS virus; patient stable
“South Korean health officials on Wednesday confirmed the country’s first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in a patient who recently returned from Bahrain and is in stable condition after being treated for a high fever and cough…” (Cho, 5/20).

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Health Conditions Deteriorate Among Burundian Refugees In Tanzania, WHO Says

U.N. News Centre: Burundi humanitarian crisis worsens as political tensions in country grow
“The humanitarian crisis caused by the ‘escalating political tensions’ in Burundi has worsened, according to the United Nations which today reported an uptick in the number of Burundian refugees seeking asylum and a deterioration in health conditions at refugee camps receiving them…” (5/19).

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Partners In Health Works In Conjunction With Peruvian Government To Treat TB

NPR: She’s Got One Of The Toughest Diseases To Cure. And She’s Hopeful
“Drug-resistant tuberculosis is not only airborne and lethal; it’s one of the most difficult diseases in the world to cure. … The key to containing it is to get patients into treatment. But that treatment can take years and is so difficult that many patients give up before they’re cured. … The Peruvian government oversees the treatment of most tuberculosis patients in the country. [Partners in Health (PIH)] manages the difficult cases…” (Beaubien, 5/20).

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TB Needs To Be Addressed In North Korea, U.N. Report Says

UPI: United Nations: 2,500 North Koreans die annually from tuberculosis
“The U.N. said 2,500 North Koreans die annually from tuberculosis and the health crisis urgently needs to be addressed in the isolated country. In its ‘DPRK Humanitarian Needs and Priorities 2015 Report,’ the international body said tuberculosis is posing enormous health risks inside North Korea…” (Shim, 5/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

Disease Eradication Efforts Must Continue In Earnest, Be Fully Supported Until Completion

Bloomberg Business: How the World Is Wiping Out Killer Diseases
Charles Kenny, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development

“…These eradication efforts [for Guinea worm, polio, malaria, and other diseases] represent genuine and largely unheralded breakthroughs, not just for Africa but for the planet as a whole. At the same time, these gains are fragile. If governments misuse disease-fighting tools, deaths from infection could surge again. … The recent progress against major infections, including national elimination and global eradication of some of history’s greatest killers, still stands as a massive triumph for humanity. We should do all we can to ensure the triumphs continue — not least by generously supporting eradication campaigns all the way through to their final completion” (5/19).

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U.S. Should Increase Funding For Food For Peace Program To Aid Those Affected By War

Huffington Post: Congress, Obama Have to Boost Food for Peace in Response to Wars
William Lambers, author and blogger

“…It’s urgent [the U.S.] boost funding for Food for Peace right away to feed hungry war victims all over the globe. … In the violently stormy waters of global affairs, Food for Peace is one of the few stabilizing forces. Yet, President Obama and the Congress may reduce funding for Food For Peace. … Food for Peace funding should include maximum flexibility for aid agencies like WFP and Catholic Relief Services to use local and regional sources to provide the food aid. This will make the most efficient use of Food for Peace…” (5/19).

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Criminalization Of FGM, Combined With Community Engagement, Can Help End Violence Against Women, Girls

The Guardian: Nigeria’s bill targeting FGM is a positive step, but must be backed by investment
Stella Mukasa, director of gender, violence, and rights at the International Center for Research on Women

“The Nigerian senate recently passed its violence against persons prohibition (VAPP) bill, which seeks to eliminate female genital mutilation (FGM) as well as all other forms of gender-based violence. … Such laws are a must. They are particularly critical for organizations working tirelessly to end FGM. In Nigeria, this law provides them with a legal framework and backing to tackle the problem. The legislation sends a clear message on impunity and serves as a basis for holding government to account. However, criminalization of entrenched cultural practices has its limitations. While legal safeguards are an important step towards ending FGM, they are not enough to eliminate it. Ending violence against women and girls requires investment, not just laws written in statute books. This is why we must emphasize community engagement, with a view towards shifting social norms, as a critical component of the eradication of FGM…” (5/20).

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Ending Obstetric Fistula In Uganda Can Help 'Restore Women's Dignity'

Huffington Post: Whole Again: Obstetric Fistula in Rural Uganda
Orrin Tiberi, Global Health Corps fellow at Uganda Village Project

“On May 23, Uganda will join the world in celebrating the third International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, which arose from the Campaign to End Fistula initiated in 2003 by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). … May 23 is fast approaching, and 2015 is passing quickly, but I take solace knowing that Uganda Village Project is doing their part to support this resolution. ‘End fistula, restore women’s dignity’ is a fitting theme for this years commemoration, and I have seen how such a small act has a tremendous impact on a woman’s life and welfare. For a woman to be a whole again after such a traumatic experience is not a privilege, it is a right, and I am proud to be working for an organization that is helping woman realize that” (5/19).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Cuts To R&D Funding May Threaten Progress Toward HIV Vaccine, Panelists Say

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Budget cuts threaten HIV vaccine development, say experts
Rabita Aziz, policy research coordinator for the Center for Global Health Policy, reports from an HIV Vaccine Awareness Day event that took place on Monday and hosted by AVAC, IAVI, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She writes, “Advancements in technology have paved the way for an effective HIV vaccine, but progress is threatened by cuts to research and development funding, particularly from U.S. government agencies … panelists said…” (5/19).

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Primer Examines TPP's Potential Impact On Drugs' Data Exclusivity

Brookings Institution’s “Health360”: Health Policy 101: How the Trans-Pacific Partnership Will Impact Prescription Drugs
This primer discusses biologic and biosimilar drugs and concerns over “the length of data exclusivity granted to the companies that hold the patents on these drugs” contained in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement that the U.S. has been negotiating with 11 other countries (5/19).

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Free, Anonymous HIV Testing, Treatment Can Reduce HIV-Related Deaths Among Key Populations In Bangkok, Study Says

World Bank: Expanding Free, Anonymous HIV/AIDS Testing and Treatment Essential to Save Many Lives in Bangkok
“There is an HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Bangkok. Increasing the availability and use of free and anonymous testing and treatment of HIV infection among all at-risk groups, especially MSM, can stem the epidemic and cut the number of HIV-related deaths in half over the next 10 years, according to a new study ‘Scaling up HIV Treatment for MSM in Bangkok: What Does it Take?’…” (5/19).

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MCH Strategies Helping To End Preventable Maternal, Newborn Deaths

Global Health NOW: Delivering for Mothers and Newborns: Ending Preventable Maternal and Newborn Deaths
Kathleen Hill, Maternal Health Team lead in the Maternal Child Survival Program of Jhpiego, and Neena Khadka, Newborn Team lead in the Maternal Child Survival Program at Save the Children, discuss “two reports — The WHO report on Strategies Toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM) and the Every Newborn Action Plan Progress Report (ENAP). These two reports contribute to the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health.” In addition, they highlight USAID’s Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) (5/19).

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