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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Lancet Special Issue Examines Global Health Security, WHO Reforms In Light Of Ebola Epidemic

Media sources discuss papers published in a special issue of The Lancet examining global health security in light of the Ebola epidemic.

Agence France-Presse: WHO reform needed after Ebola failure
“…Researchers from the Washington-based O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law said the U.N.’s health organ urgently needed an injection of cash and expertise to boost its capacity and credibility. ‘Action now on WHO and other reforms to the global health system is crucial, before the political moment passes,’ the research institute’s Lawrence Gostin and Eric Friedman wrote in The Lancet medical journal…” (5/7).

CIDRAP News: Experts air Ebola lessons ahead of World Health Assembly
“…[A public policy paper by David Heymann of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and 23 other experts] touched on several themes addressed at a media Web briefing [Thursday] on the upcoming [World Health Assembly], at which delegates will consider several reforms for improving the global response to health emergencies such as the Ebola outbreak. … At [Thursday’s] briefing, sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Lawrence Gostin, JD, one of the Lancet report authors, said health leaders at the WHA have the critical task of strengthening the WHO’s capacity to handle such health emergencies, or else the global community will lose confidence in the public health system…” (Schnirring, 5/7).

Epoch Times: Four Reforms Needed to Handle the Next Big Ebola Epidemic
“When the biggest ever World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization (WHO) meets in Geneva May 18–26, it will face a pivotal challenge: how to address the next big epidemic. ‘Ebola is now a wake up call. The question is, will the world hit the snooze button?’ said Josh Michaud, associate director of the Global Health Policy team at the Kaiser Family Foundation…” (Silver, 5/8).

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Measles Infection Possibly Weakens Immune System For Several Years; Researchers Urge Vaccination To Protect Children From Other Diseases

News outlets report on a study published in the journal Science showing measles infections can have long-term negative effects on children’s immune systems.

Los Angeles Times: Study points to years-long immune system woes from measles
“Scientists have known for decades that having measles suppresses kids’ immune systems for several weeks or months, leaving them ill-equipped to fight off pneumonia, bronchitis, diarrheal diseases, and other infections. Now a team of researchers has suggested that the measles virus may also confer a longer-lasting sort of ‘immune-amnesia’ that makes it harder for people to stave off other illnesses for two years or more…” (Brown, 5/7).

New York Times: Measles May Increase Susceptibility to Other Infections
“…Researchers examined data on post-measles infections in the United States, England and Wales, and Denmark both before and after the measles vaccine became available in the 1960s. They found a correlation between the number of measles cases in a given period and the number of deaths from non-measles infectious diseases in children in the two to three years afterward…” (Bakalar, 5/7).

NPR: Scientists Crack A 50-Year-Old Mystery About The Measles Vaccine
“…Like many viruses, measles is known to suppress the immune system for a few weeks after an infection. But previous studies in monkeys have suggested that measles takes this suppression to a whole new level: It erases immune protection to other diseases, [study author Michael Mina, a postdoc in biology at Princeton University and a medical student at Emory University,] says…” (Doucleff, 5/7).

Reuters: Study shows measles vaccine thwarts other infectious diseases
“… ‘Our work reiterates the true importance of preserving high levels of measles vaccine coverage as the consequences of measles infections may be much more devastating than is readily observable,’ Mina said…” (Dunham, 5/7).

Science News: Measles vaccine protects against other deadly diseases
“… ‘It is indirect evidence,’ says William Moss, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. But he says that the results are ‘highly suggestive’ that measles is contributing to this longer period of immune suppression. And if the researchers are right, he says, ‘the benefits of measles vaccination are far greater than simply the reduction in measles deaths’…” (Leslie, 5/7).

VOA News: Study: Measles Can Weaken Immune System as Long as 3 Years
“…[The researchers] encourage parents to give children a measles shot, calling it ‘one of the most cost-effective interventions for global health’…” (5/7).

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U.S. Senate Prepares To Debate Food Aid Bills

Devex: Food aid showdown in U.S. Congress
“The Global Food Security Act of 2015 is looking for another shot in the U.S. Senate, but some insiders have speculated the bill could get tangled with efforts to reform other long-embattled U.S. policies around food aid…” (Luke, 5/7).

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News Outlets Profile USAID Administrator Nominee Smith, Experts' Opinions Over Nomination

Devex: Sounding off on the nomination of Gayle Smith as USAID chief
“…Gayle Smith is a White House insider, serving as special assistant to the president and senior director of the National Security Council. Her name was one of those being floated earlier on to be the next USAID chief. Indeed, she was also rumored to have been in contention for that position during the early days of the Obama administration. If confirmed, how will Smith lead USAID? Senior Global Development Reporter Michael Igoe spoke with industry experts to get their take…” (Villarino, 5/7).

The Guardian: Who is the ‘Gayle-force wind’ picked by Obama to lead USAID?
“In the week since U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Gayle Smith to succeed Rajiv Shah as administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), there has been jubilation, consternation, and growing pressure for the Senate to confirm her appointment…” (Anyangwe, 5/8).

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U.N. Says Emergency Funding For Nepal Slow To Arrive Nearly 2 Weeks After Earthquake; Humanitarian Aid Distribution, Vaccination, Continue

Agence France-Presse: Health workers race to prevent Nepal measles outbreak
“Health workers are rushing to vaccinate more than half a million children in Nepal as fears grow that last month’s massive earthquake has made youngsters more susceptible to disease…” (5/6).

IRIN: Are mothers and children missing out on Nepal aid?
“…The way aid is prioritized in Nepal has led to fears that pregnant and breastfeeding women in certain areas — as well as infants and babies — are not receiving the specialized help they need…” (Newar, 5/7).

The Lancet: Nepal earthquake exposes gaps in disaster preparedness
“…As rescue teams, relief material, and medical help pours in from different parts of the world, WHO is working with the Ministry of Health and Population to ensure that medical resources are distributed based on specific requirements of different regions…” (Sharma, 5/9).

Reuters: Emergency funds for Nepal quake slow to come in, says U.N.
“Only a fraction of the emergency funds the United Nations has requested for victims of Nepal’s earthquake have come in, U.N. officials said on Thursday, as crises around the world put unprecedented demands on international donors. Of the $415 million requested by the U.N. and its partners last week, just $22.4 million has been provided…” (Mahr, 5/7).

U.N. News Centre: Nepal: U.N. agency calls for ramped-up efforts to boost health services in quake-hit country
“Amid continuing relief efforts throughout Nepal, the threat of disease increasingly hangs over the earthquake-stricken nation as the country’s water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure struggles to recover from the 7.8 magnitude tremor, an official with the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has warned…” (5/7).

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As Liberia Prepares To Be Declared Ebola-Free, Officials Caution Recovery Will Be Long Road

International Business Times: Ebola Outbreak In Liberia Almost Over, World Health Organization Says
“Liberia is just two days away from being officially free of the Ebola virus, but authorities warn the outbreak will have long-term consequences…” (Caulderwood, 5/7).

NPR: On Saturday, The Ebola Outbreak In Liberia Should Officially Be Over
“…[O]n Saturday, WHO officials and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will announce that Liberia is Ebola-free. NPR’s global health correspondent, Jason Beaubien, visited Liberia in August and October when Ebola was raging. He’s back in the country for this milestone day, and he spoke with us about the mood there…” (Silver, 5/7).

U.N. News Centre: Interview: as Liberia moves past Ebola ‘nightmare,’ security and political challenges still ahead, U.N. envoy cautions
“As Liberia bounces back from the ‘national nightmare’ of a devastating Ebola epidemic which claimed more than 4,000 lives, the country must also prepare for a series of future challenges — from the build-up of its security sector to the undertaking of critical presidential elections in 2017, according to Karin Landgren, the head of the United Nations Mission there (UNMIL)…” (5/6).

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U.N.'s Haiti Cholera Coordinator Says Gains Against Disease Being Lost As Case Numbers Rise

Agence France-Presse: U.N. struggles to stem new rise in Haiti cholera cases
“A deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti that experts say was introduced by U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal is on the rise, with hundreds of new cases registered weekly, a U.N. official said Thursday. Pedro Medrano, the U.N. coordinator for Haiti’s cholera outbreak, said years of work to beat back the disease are in jeopardy as donors turn away from the emergency…” (5/7).

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WHO Adds New Hepatitis C, Cancer, TB Drugs To Essential Medicines List, Encourages More Accessible Pricing

Reuters: WHO adds hepatitis C drugs to essential list, urges lower prices
“The World Health Organization has added new curative treatments for hepatitis C to its essential medicines list, but the U.N. agency said prices needed to fall to make them accessible to patients in poorer countries…” (Hirschler, 5/8).

WHO: WHO moves to improve access to lifesaving medicines for hepatitis C, drug-resistant TB and cancers
“WHO [on Friday] published the new edition of its Model List of Essential Medicines which includes ground-breaking new treatments for hepatitis C, a variety of cancers (including breast cancer and leukemia), and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (TB), among others. The move opens the way to improve access to innovative medicines that show clear clinical benefits and could have enormous public health impact globally…” (5/8).

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Ebola Virus Found In Eye Of U.S. Doctor After Being Declared Virus-Free

News outlets discuss a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine showing the Ebola virus can persist in the eyes of survivors.

Agence France-Presse: Ebola found in man’s eye months after it left blood: report
“The Ebola virus has been detected for the first time in an eye of a patient months after it vanished from his blood, researchers said…” (5/8).

New York Times: After Nearly Claiming His Life, Ebola Lurked in a Doctor’s Eye
“…Despite the infection within his eye, [Ebola survivor Dr. Ian Crozier’s] tears and the surface of his eye were virus-free, so he posed no risk to anyone who had casual contact with him. … Dr. Crozier’s condition, uveitis — a dangerous inflammation inside the eye — has also been diagnosed in West Africans who survived Ebola…” (Grady, 5/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

Public-Private Partnerships Should Aim For 'Audacious' Targets Through Coordination, Cooperation

Devex: Audacity useful in reimagining role of partnerships
John Hewko, general secretary of Rotary International and the Rotary Foundation

“…The [Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s] mission — as its name states — is the global eradication of poliomyelitis, a crippling viral disease that paralyzed about 350,000 children a year when the campaign began. By any measure, that’s an audacious goal. After all, only one human disease — smallpox — has ever been vanquished. But if we are to reimagine the role of public-private partnerships in today’s world, we need even more audacity. We need to think big at the outset. Bigger than what might seem reasonable or even possible. … A partnership like the Global Polio Eradication Initiative demonstrates why it is so important to trust and embrace the unique benefits of the public and private assets brought together for a greater purpose as we improve the lives of fellow human beings worldwide…” (5/7).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kaiser Family Foundation Web Briefing Examines Key Issues For Upcoming World Health Assemby

Kaiser Family Foundation: Web Briefing for Media: Key Issues Facing the 2015 World Health Assembly, from Ebola to WHO Reform
On May 7, the Kaiser Family Foundation held an interactive web briefing exclusively for journalists to examine key issues to be addressed at the upcoming World Health Assembly, to be held in Geneva May 18-26. Issues explored during the briefing included the global response to Ebola, and what changes will be adopted in the world’s approach to addressing similar emerging disease threats, reforming the WHO, combating antimicrobial resistance, and addressing the rise in non-communicable diseases around the world (5/7).

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Kaiser Family Foundation Releases Brief Examining Corruption, Global Health

Kaiser Family Foundation: Corruption and Global Health: Summary of a Policy Roundtable
A new Kaiser Family Foundation brief explores what is known and understood about how corruption overseas affects U.S. global health programs, including the challenges in measuring and quantifying the problem. The brief summarizes a roundtable discussion of experts convened by the foundation. Key themes of the discussion included how more could be done to reduce global health corruption through coordinated policies and programs, and how the U.S. government and other stakeholders could use a proactive, preventive approach when addressing corruption (5/8).

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CSIS Report Examines U.S. Government's Polio Efforts, 'Legacy Planning'

Center for Strategic & International Studies: The United States Should Take a Proactive Stance on Polio Eradication Legacy Planning
In this report, Nellie Bristol, a senior fellow with the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, discusses the U.S. government’s role in polio eradication and polio ‘legacy planning’ (5/6).

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Global Health Policies, Resources Should Better Account For Disease Burden, Not Only Focus On 'Short-Term, Dramatic Priorities'

Health Affairs Blog: Silent Killers Amidst The Fast And The Furious
Karen R. Siegel of the CDC and colleagues write about differences in the international response and media attention to disease outbreaks compared with more chronic and widespread diseases, such as diabetes. “…The global policy lens remains biased towards short-term, dramatic priorities. However, there is a crucial need to take steps to make global health resources and attention more proportionate to current and future disease burdens. The extraordinary response to H1N1 in 2009, and to Ebola in 2014, show what governments and global collaboration can do when faced with a serious health threat…” (5/7).

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Gates Foundation Wraps Up Global Partners Forum, Announces Child Health Surveillance Network

Humanosphere: Bill and Melinda Gates move to bolster global health basics
Humanosphere founder and lead journalist Tom Paulson discusses the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s three-day Global Partners Forum held this week in Seattle, Washington, and highlights the foundation’s announcement of the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) network (5/7).

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Organizations Can Work Together To 'Refine And Strengthen Health Systems'

IntraHealth International’s “Vital”: Why Strengthen the Health System?
Rebecca Shore, online communications manager at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, discusses the recent SwitchPoint “unconference,” writing, “I was inspired by the commitment and work that SwitchPoint’s attendees do every day in their organizations. I feel that the key to improved health is to refine and strengthen health systems. As organizations, if we work together and listen instead of just talking, I believe real change will happen in the world and lives will be saved” (5/7).

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HIV Counselors In Zambia Face Challenges, Note Successes

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: For HIV counselors in Zambia, work hits close to home
In a guest post, Karen Blyth, director of East Africa programs for IntraHealth International, writes about the challenges and successes of two male HIV counselors in Zambia (Barton, 5/7).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.