KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

World Bank, U.S. Commit Additional Funds To DRC Ebola Response, Bringing Total Pledged To More Than $25M

CIDRAP News: New funding pledges boost DRC Ebola response
“A major infusion of financial support for Ebola response — to the tune of more than $25 million — has come from the World Bank, the United States, and Germany to support the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)…” (Schnirring, 5/22).

Financial Times: World Bank approves first pandemic facility grant to fight Ebola in DRC
“The World Bank is to disburse money for the first time from its Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility to help contain the spreading outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The $12m grant is being combined with the reallocation of the international agency’s $15m three-year investment in disease surveillance in DRC to the government’s three-month $56.8m Ebola response plan. This means the plan is now fully funded, the World Bank said in a statement…” (Aglionby, 5/23).

The Hill: U.S. to contribute up to $7 million to fight Ebola outbreak
“The U.S. will contribute up to $7 million to fight an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Tuesday. Azar made the announcement in Switzerland at the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), while urging other member states to contribute to ‘ensure we defeat this outbreak’…” (Hellmann, 5/22).

HuffPost: U.S. Announces Additional $7 Million Donation In Fight Against Ebola In Congo
“U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday announced that the U.S. is contributing an additional $7 million to fight the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, following the U.S. Agency for International Development’s $1 million donation. The World Health Organization estimates it will take at least $26 million to quell the current outbreak, and the U.S. contribution brings the internationally raised total up to approximately $25.45 million…” (Weber, 5/22).

Washington Post: U.S. pledges $8 million for Ebola outbreak in Congo
“…Some global health experts have expressed concern privately that the U.S. response would be minimized given President Trump’s disparaging and isolationist comments about Ebola during the 2014 epidemic. He complained about two sick American health workers being flown back to the United States for treatment and said they should not be brought into the country. But the U.S. response appears to be appropriate for this outbreak, experts say…” (Sun, 5/22).

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DRC Ebola Outbreak Response Sits On 'Epidemiological Knife-Edge' With Spread Into Urban Area, WHO Official Says; Experts Launch Vaccinations, Weigh Experimental Treatment Use

Associated Press: Ebola response on ‘knife’s edge’ as timing key, WHO says
“The World Health Organization is accelerating its efforts with nine countries neighboring Congo to try to prevent the current Ebola outbreak from spreading beyond the border, WHO’s director for Africa said Wednesday, as a colleague warned that the next few weeks will determine whether the virus can be kept under control…” (Keaten/Mwanamilongo, 5/23).

Devex: Ebola outbreak in DRC on ‘epidemiological knife-edge,’ says WHO official
“…Dr. Peter Salama, deputy director general of emergency preparedness and response, told Devex on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly that confirmation last week that the virus had reached Mbandaka — a city of about one million people on the Congo River, which leads to the capital Kinshasa — meant the situation was now ‘on an epidemiological knife-edge’…” (5/22).

STAT: Excitement over use of Ebola vaccine in outbreak tempered by real-world challenges
“The start of a vaccination program this week in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a first in an Ebola outbreak, was a cause for a mini celebration in research and outbreak response circles. But there are challenges ahead in the real-world use of the vaccine, warned the head of the global health organization that is funding the vaccination effort…” (Branswell, 5/23).

VOA News: DRC Prepares for Mass Ebola Vaccinations
“Preparations are under way for a mass Ebola vaccination campaign in the Democratic Republic of Congo as the Ministry of Health and international aid agencies hold a second day of inoculations in northwestern Equateur Province…” (Schlein, 5/22).

Wall Street Journal: Experimental Ebola Treatment May Be Deployed to Congo
“An experimental treatment for Ebola currently in testing may be deployed to Democratic Republic of Congo to help combat a growing outbreak of the virus, a top U.S. government official said Tuesday. Congo’s minister of health has requested the treatment for use in a clinical trial, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during The Wall Street Journal Health Forum in Washington, D.C…” (McKay, 5/22).

Washington Post: A new Ebola vaccine could help stop an epidemic — but faces enormous obstacles in crucial test
“…[E]normous challenges lie ahead as officials and others race against the virus to identify people in the high-risk groups being targeted for vaccination: front-line and medical workers, persons who had contact with confirmed cases and then contacts of those contacts. The goal is to form a buffer of immune individuals to rapidly prevent the disease from spreading. The first batch of vaccines — one-dose shots — is enough to vaccinate 50 ‘rings’ of 150 people, officials said. … As of Tuesday, according to WHO, 58 confirmed, probable and suspect cases had been reported, with 27 deaths…” (Sun, 5/22).

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WHO Member States Vote Against Discussing Taiwan's Membership In WHA

Devex: Politics and health clash as Taiwan’s bid for observer status falls at WHA
“Efforts to tackle Taiwan’s membership of the World Health Assembly collapsed on Monday after member states voted against including it in the list of agenda items for discussion. From 2009 to 2016, Taiwan enjoyed observer status at the WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization. But last year, it was not invited to the annual meetings in Geneva, and efforts to discuss its status didn’t receive enough support to make it onto the agenda…” (Ravelo, 5/22).

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Media Outlets Cover Sessions, Side Events At World Health Assembly

Global Health NOW: The Local Path to Global Health Security (Simpson, 5/22).

Global Health NOW: NCDs Are Ready For Their Close Up (Simpson, 5/22).

Intellectual Property Watch: World Health Assembly Begins Discussion On Access To Medicines (Saez, 5/22).

Intellectual Property Watch: Global Antimicrobial Resistance R&D Hub Launched At Health Assembly (Adepeju, 5/22).

Xinhua News: WHO official says the world truly at crossroad in global fight against malaria (5/23).

Xinhua News: China, Southeast Asian nations sign action document to eliminate malaria during World Health Assembly (5/23).

Xinhua News: China on verge of eliminating malaria, health official tells U.N. gathering (5/23).

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U.N. Palestinian Relief Agency Warns Of Health Care Crisis In Gaza

U.N. News: Poverty compounding health challenges for Palestine refugees — U.N. agency
“Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and smoking-related ailments, account for the majority of the chronic health problems confronting Palestine refugees across the Middle East, a new report by the United Nations agency which supports them, has found…” (5/22).

Xinhua News: U.N. agency urges for saving health system in Gaza
“… ‘This morning I’m sending out an emergency call to help save Gaza’s health system,’ Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Pierre Krahenbuhl told reporters in Gaza. He said Gaza is facing a major human and health care disaster due to the high numbers of injured Palestinians by Israeli fire during the rallies known as the ‘Great March of Return’…” (5/22).

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Death Toll Rises To 11 In Kerala Nipah Outbreak; 2 Suspected Cases Reported In Neighboring Indian State

Reuters: Second Indian state reports suspected cases of rare virus, fanning fears of spread
“Indian health officials were checking on Wednesday if a rare, brain-damaging virus had spread to a second state after two suspected cases reported in southern Karnataka, as the death toll in adjacent Kerala, where the outbreak began, rose to 11. … Health officials investigating the outbreak in Kerala, where the first death happened on Friday, have traced it to a well infested with bats from which the victims drew water…” (Siddiqui/Jose, 5/23).

Additional coverage of this story is available from CNN, Reuters, USA TODAY, and Washington Post.

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More News In Global Health

Global Health NOW: Clade X: A Mock, Yet Entirely Plausible, Pandemic (Myers, 5/22).

The Guardian: ‘Every girl is forced by our culture into FGM’: battling for change in Kenya — podcast (Lamble/Stephens, 5/23).

HealthDay News: Small World? Not With One-Quarter Obese by 2045 (Dallas, 5/22).

Reuters: Cholera outbreak kills 12 in northeast Nigeria (Ande et al., 5/23).

SciDev.Net: Cancers linked to obesity to double by 2025 in Brazil (de Oliveira Andrade, 5/18).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Mexico stumbles in race against global obesity time-bomb (Hares, 5/22).

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Editorials and Opinions

Controlling, Eliminating Global AIDS Possible With Continued Support Of PEPFAR

The Hill: Over 14 million lives saved thanks to the U.S. emergency plan for AIDS relief
Deborah L. Birx, U.S. global AIDS coordinator and U.S. special representative for global health diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State

“…On the 15th anniversary of PEPFAR’s enactment, the program continues to receive strong bipartisan support, which has spanned three U.S. presidential administrations and eight U.S. Congresses. … PEPFAR continues to expand its remarkable and cost-effective impact, moving the AIDS pandemic from crisis toward control. Over the past two years, to ensure a future generation free of the virus, PEPFAR has dramatically increased its investment in HIV prevention services, which are already working to decrease new infections. … As we celebrate 15 years of saving lives, we are seizing the historic opportunity — for the first time in modern history — to control a pandemic without a vaccine or a cure, laying the groundwork for eventually eliminating HIV. PEPFAR was born out of the belief that we could make the impossible possible. Today, that belief is becoming a reality” (5/22).

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Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss National Security, U.S. Response To Ebola

New York Times: Ebola, Amnesia and Donald Trump
Editorial Board

“…The Trump White House … appears to be uniquely amnesiac [about Ebola]. On the same day that officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo reported the new Ebola cases, the administration sought to rescind $252 million in Ebola response funds left over from the earlier epidemic. … Around the same time that the administration proposed rescinding the funds, the [National Security Council (NSC)] dissolved its biosecurity directorate … The Trump administration has also failed to seek renewed funding from Congress for a global health security initiative begun after the 2014 epidemic. … [W]hether and how these policy shifts will affect the current Ebola response remains to be seen. Though the outbreak seems to have been quickly contained, it involves a disease that we have fresh and terrifying experience with, in a country that has seen this particular foe nine times in living memory. The next outbreak may not offer such a head start. And when it comes, Mr. Trump’s shortsightedness, if it is not corrected, will have left us far less prepared” (5/22).

Washington Post: The White House signals that bioterrorism and disease don’t matter — again
Kenneth W. Bernard, special assistant to the president for security and health during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations

“…What is it about international epidemics and biosecurity that so offend national security professionals that their default approach to the threat is to reorganize and eliminate it as a priority focus? … Mostly, it is tribalism. A functional disconnect exists between health and national security, and it is based on the innate differing interests and cultures of the security tribe and health tribe. By training and inclination, they just differ on what they perceive as priority issues. But tribalism is no longer an acceptable justification for the White House downgrading leadership on the national security aspects of global epidemics and bioterrorism. … Epidemic disease — whether natural, accidental, or intentional — will predictably recur during this and future administrations, and it will affect whole populations and economies as well as individual lives. Leadership at the White House and the NSC is not the whole solution. But without it, we are fighting while handcuffed” (5/22).

The Hill: U.S. and global community has to keep the Ebola outbreak from spreading — don’t cut funds
Peter Yeo, senior vice president of the United Nations Foundation

“…Until widespread vaccination can occur in the [West African] region, Ebola outbreaks will remain a fact of life, requiring continued U.S. and global interventions to keep the outbreak from spreading. We in the U.S. should be proud of our government’s role in helping the global community better prepare for, prevent, detect, and respond to a global health care crisis like Ebola. … Congress should oppose any attempts to slash the emergency funds meant to prevent and respond to Ebola outbreaks. The U.S. must ensure this funding remains available and fully partner with the World Health Organization so we can address this crisis proactively rather than reactively” (5/22).

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Investing In Health Systems, 'Out-Of-The-Box' Thinking Critical To Making Progress On UHC

Devex: Opinion: Beware of fake news on global health
Thomas B. Cueni, director general of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA)

“…Global health requires building and supporting strong health systems, promoting prevention in communities, strengthening standards and regulations, and creating innovative financing models. If we work constructively with others toward achieving [universal health coverage (UHC)], we can improve access to healthier lives. But this requires governments to step up to the plate as well, investing in health care systems — even when times are bad. … Today’s complex health challenges call for out-of-the-box thinking based on the facts, involving all those with the relevant experience. Our innovative industry is prompting, and will continue to prompt, new discoveries, and is evolving, learning, and pioneering on ways to do more to reach all patients. … [W]e must ensure health policy is developed on the basis of need and not news headlines” (5/23).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

WHA Delegates Agree To New 5-Year Strategic Plan, Set 3 New Targets

WHO: World Health Assembly delegates agree new five-year strategic plan
“World Health Assembly delegates today agreed an ambitious new strategic plan for the next five years. … It sets three targets: to ensure that by 2023, one billion more people benefit from universal health coverage; one billion more people are better protected from health emergencies; and one billion more people enjoy better health and well-being. WHO estimates that achieving this ‘triple billion’ target could save 29 million lives…” (5/23).

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World Health Statistics 2018 Report Shows Progress Toward SDGs Made In Some Areas, Stalled In Other Areas

WHO: World Health Statistics
“The World Health Statistics 2018, WHO’s annual snapshot of the state of the world’s health, highlights that while remarkable progress towards the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)] has been made in some areas, in other areas progress has stalled and the gains that have been made could easily be lost.” The release of this report was announced in a press release ahead of the 71st World Health Assembly (5/17).

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PLOS, Global Antibiotic Research And Development Partnership Launch AMR Channel

PLOS Blogs: The Antimicrobial Resistance Channel — uniting the four pillars of AMR research
“PLOS, in collaboration with the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP), is delighted to launch the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Channel. This new Channel offers the AMR research community access to the latest research, as well as commentaries, blogs, news, and discussions that span science, research and development, public health, and policy in the fight against AMR. … The PLOS AMR Channel will highlight four pillars of AMR research (Basic Science — biology of disease, Research and Development, Appropriate Use and Access, Public Health — surveillance and epidemiology), but the Channel editors are united in the belief that a coordinated, integrated, and prioritized research agenda is required to effectively ensure these areas form a singular public health response…” (5/22).

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HRW Submits Amicus Brief On Decriminalizing Abortion To Constitutional Court Of S. Korea

Human Rights Watch: Amicus Brief: Decriminalization on Abortion in South Korea
This amicus brief was submitted by Human Rights Watch to the Constitutional Court of Korea. In the brief, HRW states, “As the Court reviews case 2017Hun-Ba127, Human Rights Watch urges it to take international human rights law, and authoritative interpretations of how it applies to abortion, into account. South Korea’s laws and jurisprudence should comply with its international human rights obligations, including by decriminalizing abortion and ensuring safe, legal access…” (5/22).

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From the U.S. Government

HHS Secretary Delivers Remarks At WHA, Announces U.S. Commitment Of Additional $7M To Respond To Ebola

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: HHS Secretary Alex Azar World Health Assembly Plenary Remarks
During his remarks at the World Health Assembly (WHA), HHS Secretary Alex Azar touched upon numerous topics and discussed the importance of pandemic preparedness; expressed disappointment that Taiwan was not invited to observe the WHA; announced the U.S. would provide $7 million in additional assistance to respond to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo; expressed U.S. support for the Global Health Security Agenda; and discussed the role of private-sector engagement in providing access to medicines (5/22).

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