KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Ebola Response Plan Aims To Eliminate Disease, Build Health Infrastructure

NBC News: Why It’s Not Enough to Just Eradicate Ebola
“The new U.S. plan to spend $6 billion fighting Ebola has a hidden agenda that aid workers approve of: not only stamping out the epidemic in West Africa, but starting to build a health infrastructure that can prevent this kind of thing from happening again…” (Fox, 11/10).

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Ebola Efforts Begin To Turn Tide On Disease In West Africa, But Continued Vigilance Needed, Officials Say

News outlets report on how efforts to contain Ebola in West Africa are beginning to turn the tide, but officials are warning such efforts must continue until the disease is eliminated.

Agence France-Presse: Ebola fight starting to pay off but too early to claim success
“The deadliest Ebola outbreak ever is finally slowing in Liberia, the worst-hit country, but still wreaking havoc in two neighboring West African states amid warnings of thousands of unreported deaths…” (MacJohnson/Larson, 11/8).

U.N. News Centre: Ebola: U.N. chief hails progress in fight against virus, urges intensified response
“The world is on the ‘right track’ to defeating Ebola as the infection rate of the deadly virus shows some signs of slowing in West Africa’s most affected areas, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared [Sunday] as he urged the international community to remain constant in fighting the disease until it is completely extinguished…” (11/9).

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Evacuation, Quarantine Policies Influencing Health Care Workers' Decisions To Volunteer In Ebola-Hit West Africa

News outlets report on emergency evacuation and quarantine policies that are influencing health workers’ decisions about whether to volunteer in Ebola-affected West African nations.

Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Ebola volunteers wrestle with quarantine mandates
“…As Ebola-related quarantine policies have arisen around the United States, some health workers are reassessing whether, or how long, they can be among the hundreds that officials say are needed to fight the outbreak…” (11/8).

IRIN: Medevac policy gaps slow volunteer recruitment
“More than 5,000 international health care workers and support staff are needed to contain the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa, but doctors, nurses, and emergency responders say the uncertainty about what might happen in the field if they get sick is slowing down recruitment…” (11/7).

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Ebola Death Toll Hits Nearly 5,000 In West Africa, WHO Says

News outlets report on the WHO’s announcement that nearly 5,000 people have died from Ebola in the three worst-hit West African countries.

Reuters: Ebola death toll rises to 4,950 — WHO
“The death toll from the Ebola epidemic has risen to 4,950 out of 13,241 cases in the three worst-hit countries of West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, calling for widespread rigorous control measures to halt the virus…” (Nebehay, 11/7).

Wall Street Journal: U.N. Agency Says Nearly 5,000 Dead From Ebola in West African Nations
“Nearly 5,000 people have died from the Ebola virus disease in the three West African countries at the center of the current Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organization said Friday, with some districts in the countries experiencing a decline in new cases…” (Morse, 11/8).

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WHO Issues New Burial Guidelines For Ebola Victims, Calling Safe Procedures Key To Stopping Virus

Media sources report on new safe burial guidelines for Ebola victims in West Africa.

New York Times: WHO Issues New Guidelines on Safely Burying Ebola Victims
“The World Health Organization released a new protocol Friday for the burial of Ebola victims in an effort to slow transmission of the disease and reinforce signs of progress in curbing the spread of the epidemic in West Africa…” (Cumming-Bruce, 11/7).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. refines Ebola response amid efforts to bring outbreak under control by 1 December
“The United Nations health agency [Friday] announced a new burial protocol for Ebola victims aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to the disease for family members as they bury their loved ones in accordance with religious rites amid organization-wide efforts to control the deadly outbreak by a 1 December deadline…” (11/7).

VOA News: Safe Burial Procedures Key to Reducing Ebola Spread
“Safe burial procedures are considered key to reducing the transmission of Ebola in the three most heavily infected West African states. The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has developed new burial protocols, which are in line with the cultural and religious beliefs of Ebola-infected communities in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia…” (Schlein, 11/7).

WHO: New WHO safe and dignified burial protocol — key to reducing Ebola transmission
“A new WHO protocol for safe and dignified burial of people who die from Ebola virus disease emphasizes inclusion of family members and encouraging religious rites as an essential part of safe burials…” (11/7).

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A.U., AfDB, African Business Leaders Establish $28M Ebola Emergency Fund

Agence France-Presse: Africa sets up $28 million Ebola crisis fund
“The African Union, African Development Bank, and regional business leaders have set up a crisis fund to help areas hit by the Ebola outbreak, the A.U. said in a statement. The organization said a landmark pledging meeting held in the Ethiopian capital on Saturday saw African business leaders offer more than $28 million to help the response to the epidemic…” (11/9).

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Ebola In Mali Likely To Be Declared 'Under Control' This Week, MSF Says

Bloomberg News: Ebola in Mali ‘Under Control’ If No Case Next Week, MSF Says
“Mali will probably have limited the outbreak of Ebola to one case if there are no new patients next week, medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières said…” (Monnier, 11/8).

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Ebola Strains West Africa's Health Care Infrastructure, Ebola Expert Says

Scientific American: How Ebola Strains West Africa’s Infrastructure
“Ebola has pummeled health care systems in West Africa and laid bare health infrastructure issues that may not have otherwise been so readily apparent. It has also prompted aid organizations and governments to do some soul-searching about what should be done to prepare for the future. … [The magazine interviews] Ebola expert Daniel Bausch, a professor in the Department of Tropical Medicine at Tulane University, [who] has been consulting with groups including the World Health Organization to ramp up its Ebola response…” (Maron, 11/7).

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U.S. Seeks Patent On Ebola Virus

International Business Times: The U.S. Government Wants To Patent The Ebola Virus, Here’s Why That’s A Good Thing
“U.S. government researchers are embroiled in a five-year fight with the Patent and Trademark office for a patent on the Ebola virus. Though the effort sounds ominous, it could accelerate the pace of research into an Ebola vaccine by preventing pharmaceutical companies from monopolizing the field…” (Caulderwood, 11/7).

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Devex Examines Kaiser Family Foundation Report On Bilateral Donors To Family Planning, Reproductive Health

Devex: Top 3 bilateral donors to family planning
“…The world’s largest bilateral donor, the United States spent $585 million on family planning and reproductive health programs in fiscal year 2013. While significantly smaller compared with U.S. aid to HIV and AIDS, which accounted for more than 60 percent of the country’s health assistance disbursements during the period, spending on family planning programs increased 20.6 percent year-on-year. That’s according to data published this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which also noted increases in foreign assistance to family planning programs from nearly all of the top donors to the health subsector…” (Ravelo, 11/7).

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Dual-Disease Initiatives Have Built-In Efficiencies

Devex: Are double-disease initiatives global health’s low hanging fruit?
“…If all goes well, battling pneumonia and diarrhea together [through a UNICEF vaccination program] will not only reduce the mortality rate of the two diseases — but hopefully of five, six, or even 10 other diseases. The structure is similar to that of other dual-disease initiatives, whose tumble-down effect often saves lives of patients who contract curable illnesses while battling incurable or chronic ones. … While tackling two of the world’s leading killers at once sounds like an unfair fight, certain disease pairs have similar causes and preventatives, so medical professionals can use similar techniques and resources to combat them…” (Anders, 11/7).

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Kenyan Researcher Discusses Malaria Vaccine Studies, Improving Links Between Scientists, Policymakers In East Africa

SciDev.Net: Q&A: Rolling out malaria vaccine research across Africa
“Earlier this year, the 2014 Royal Society Pfizer Prize was awarded to Kenyan scientist Faith Osier for her efforts to understand human immunity to malaria in endemic areas of Kenya. … In this interview, she explains to SciDev.Net how her team’s research into child and adult immunity to malaria can aid vaccine development, and about plans to carry out further related studies on immunity across seven African countries over the next five years. She also shares her thoughts on how to improve links between researchers and policymakers in East Africa, and on creating a more supportive environment for girls and women pursuing scientific careers in Kenya” (Mathers, 11/7).

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WFP Can Operate In North Korea Through March With Current Funds But Future Uncertain

Associated Press: Food agency has funds to stay in N. Korea, for now
“The U.N. agency that has provided food aid to North Korea for nearly two decades says it has enough donations to stay open for the rest of this year but is uncertain whether it will be able to operate there beyond next March. The World Food Programme has been struggling to meet its funding needs…” (Talmadge, 11/10).

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Prevention Failing To Prevent HIV Among Young East, Southern African Women

Inter Press Service: The Young, Female Face of HIV in East and Southern Africa
“Experts are raising alarm that years of HIV interventions throughout Africa have failed to stop infection among young women 15 to 24 years old. … Among women in East and Southern Africa, four out of 10 new HIV infections among women aged 15 years and over happen among those aged 15 to 24, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)…” (Gathigah, 11/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Issues Related To Ebola Epidemic

The Lancet: The medium and the message of Ebola
Editorial Board

“…Social media during a health crisis has the potential to bring experts together in a transparent and democratic forum with global participation to generate a mass of new and potentially helpful ideas. Scaling up the positive and constructive discussion of an informed Twitter discussion could remove boundaries between scientists, health professionals, and policymakers, creating a new diverse community that gives everyone a voice and an opportunity to contribute. To create the conditions to defeat Ebola, we need more of that kind of global engagement, knowledge, and commitment” (11/8).

Washington Post: The Ebola fight is far from over
Ban Ki-moon, U.N. secretary general

“…The rate of new Ebola cases shows encouraging signs of slowing in some of the hardest-hit parts of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone — and that’s good news. The full-scale international strategy to attack Ebola through safe burials, treatment facilities and community mobilization is paying dividends. … Each day’s delay in intensifying the response adds greatly to the toll in lives, the cost of ending the outbreak, the social and economic impact, and the risk of the disease spreading to other countries. Ebola will be beaten through a resolute and coordinated effort. We have initial evidence to prove that this can happen. But we must speed up efforts to first get the crisis under control and then bring it to an end…” (11/7).

Foreign Policy: Ebola Was Here
Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations

BMJ: Response to Ebola in the U.S.: misinformation, fear, and new opportunities
José Merino, U.S. clinical research editor

Project Syndicate: Ebola and Inequality
Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics and University Professor at Columbia University

Washington Post: The world can’t hide from pandemics
Lawrence Summers, professor at and past president of Harvard University

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More Robust Federal Funding For U.S. Scientists Needed For 'Next Big Breakthroughs'

The Hill: Poised for big breakthroughs, U.S. scientists find dwindling support
Paul Rothman of the Johns Hopkins University, and E. Albert Reece of the University of Maryland School of Medicine

“With the midterm elections now behind us, we could not help but notice that one crucial policy issue was not considered in a serious or thoughtful way on the campaign trail: today’s woeful funding shortfalls in science. … Preserving America’s leadership in global biomedical research will require bold, decisive actions and strategic planning for the long term. … We call upon policymakers to restore the lost ground of 10 years of flat funding and demonstrate a commitment to sustained, robust financial support that matches the unprecedented scientific opportunity at hand. While we cannot recoup the losses of the past few years, we can start investing now in the next big breakthroughs…” (11/7).

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U.N. Should Take Responsibility For Haitian Cholera Outbreak

GlobalPost: In denying Haiti cholera deaths, U.N. risks violating its core purpose
Tim Howard, professor of international law at Cambridge Graduate University and lead attorney on a lawsuit filed against the U.N. on behalf of more than 2,600 Haitian families

“Late last month, attorneys argued before the U.S. Federal District Court in Manhattan that the United Nations is not immune from liability for the spread of cholera throughout Haiti. The medical science is clear on this point, and none but the U.N. itself disputes this conclusion. … There are voices within the U.N., and from scholars and scientists globally, agreeing that the United Nations is obligated to be held accountable, and demanding that the U.N. meet its mission to advance global human rights. Among them is its own high commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. … Reckless cholera dumping allowed by the U.N. has killed more than 8,500 Haitians and injured more than 700,000. The U.N. must be shaken from its institutional complacency and decide whether it would rather risk extinction than be held accountable” (11/9).

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Cuba's 'Doctor Diplomacy' Payment Scheme Questioned

Wall Street Journal: Cuba’s Slave Trade in Doctors
Mary Anastasia O’Grady, editor at Wall Street Journal

“…Cuba is winning accolades for its international ‘doctor diplomacy,’ in which it sends temporary medical professionals abroad — ostensibly to help poor countries battle disease and improve health care. But the doctors are not a gift from Cuba. Havana is paid for its medical missions by either the host country, in the case of Venezuela, or by donor countries that send funds to the World Health Organization. The money is supposed to go to Cuban workers’ salaries. But neither the WHO nor any host country pays Cuban workers directly. Instead the funds are credited to the account of the dictatorship, which by all accounts keeps the lion’s share of the payment and gives the worker a stipend to live on with a promise of a bit more upon return to Cuba…” (11/9).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Leadership Helping Turn Tide Against Ebola In West Africa

U.N. Dispatch: How American Leadership is Succeeding in Ending the Ebola Outbreak
Mark Leon Goldberg, managing editor of U.N. Dispatch, writes, “If present trends [of decreasing numbers of new Ebola cases] hold and this is in fact the beginning of the end of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the U.S. government deserves a great deal of credit for bringing this about. … We are not out of the woods yet. Far from it. But if the slowing down of infections is a trend that continues, we may be able to credit American leadership at the United Nations and elsewhere for finally bringing this outbreak to heel” (11/6).

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Blog Post Highlights 'Critical Gaps' Allowing Continued DR-TB Transmission

PLOS “Speaking of Medicine”: Mind the Deadly Gaps
Grania Brigden, tuberculosis (TB) adviser to the MSF Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, discusses new commitments from India and South Africa to end TB and highlights “critical gaps that help explain the continuing increases in direct transmission of drug-resistant TB and the poor outcomes for its treatment” (11/7).

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PRB Releases Male Engagement Infographic

Population Reference Bureau: Male Engagement
PRB released an infographic about how “engaging men as clients, partners, and agents of change can increase family planning use, improve health outcomes for men and women, strengthen families and communities, advance gender equality, and transform gender norms” (November 2014).

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