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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

House Foreign Affairs Committee Holds Ebola Hearing; Administration Officials, Members Of Congress Comment On Epidemic Responses, Funding

News outlets report on comments on the U.S. and international responses to Ebola in West Africa from Obama administration officials and members of Congress at a House committee hearing and other events, as well as possible legislation on and emergency funding for the epidemic.

CQ News: USAID’s Ebola Request Gets Sympathetic Ear from House Panel
“House Foreign Affairs Committee members appeared supportive of providing emergency funding to help the State Department respond to the Ebola outbreak, but were skeptical of funding the World Health Organization. State Department officials, including U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah, stressed the importance of getting the extra fiscal 2015 funding, saying the agency has been spending money quickly to try to combat the epidemic in West Africa…” (Ethridge, 11/13).

The Hill: GOP chairman rips ‘deadly incompetence’ of U.N. Ebola response
“A top Republican is calling for a new strategy to fight Ebola overseas — one that does not rely on the embattled World Health Organization (WHO). Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, slammed the organization for what he called ‘deadly incompetence’ in the battle against the disease…” (Ferris, 11/13).

CQ News: Pentagon’s Ebola Quarantines Not Grounded in Science, Officials Say
“Administration officials told a House hearing Thursday that mandatory quarantines of troops returning from Ebola-stricken nations in West Africa are not based on scientific considerations but intended to address operational issues. The House Foreign Affairs Committee took up why military and health care workers involved in the response follow different protocols when they return from the epicenter of the outbreak — an issue also raised at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Wednesday…” (Zanona, 11/13).

DoD News: USAID Administrator Praises DoD Effort in Ebola Fight
“Against the largest and most protracted Ebola outbreak in history, the U.S. military has made a Herculean effort and helped accelerate the critical response in Liberia, Administrator Rajiv Shah of the U.S. Agency for International Development told a House panel today…” (Pellerin, 11/13).

U.S. News: USAID Head Calls on Congress to Pass Ebola Funding
“…Speaking at a Brookings Institution event Wednesday, Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, said that shielding Americans from Ebola begins with eradicating the deadly disease in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea…” (Actman, 11/13).

Foreign Policy: Momentum to Fund Ebola Vaccine Research Grows in Congress
“…A bill drafted by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) that would allow the FDA to fund Ebola treatment research will be marked up next week by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee…” (Francis, 11/13).

The Hill: House Republican plans Ebola bill
“Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said Thursday plans to introduce a bill to bolster the government’s overseas efforts to fight Ebola. The bill, which he called the Ebola Emergency Response Act, calls for more treatment centers, better training for recruiting and training health care workers, and developing vaccines and treatments…” (Ferris, 11/13).

The Hill: GOP torn on Obama’s Ebola funding request
“Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) late Wednesday suggested Congress might supply funding to combat Ebola, but below President Obama’s new $6.2 billion request. On Fox Business Network’s ‘Lou Dobbs Tonight,’ Boozman said lawmakers are still looking over the comprehensive request…” (Shabad, 11/13).

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U.N. Strengthens Ebola Efforts In Rural West Africa, Calls For Overall Response Scale Up To Defeat Virus

News outlets report on the U.N.’s Ebola efforts in rural areas and their call for the overall scaling up of the on-the-ground Ebola response in West Africa.

Agence France-Presse: U.N. bolsters Ebola response in rural West Africa
“Efforts to beat back Ebola in West Africa are shifting from cities to rural areas where smaller treatment units are being built, the U.N. Ebola mission chief said Thursday…” (11/13).

U.N. News Centre: Defeating Ebola, ‘a fearsome,’ elusive enemy, requires scaling up response on the ground — U.N.
“There has been important progress made in the global fight against Ebola but a scaling-up in the overall response remains necessary if the deadly outbreak is to be fully stopped, top United Nations officials told the General Assembly today as they cautioned against complacency in tackling the disease…” (11/13).

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IMF To Discuss Debt Relief For Ebola-Hit West African Nations After U.S. Proposes Move

News outlets report on a possible move by the International Monetary Fund to forgive the debt of West African nations worst-hit by Ebola.

Inter Press Service: U.S. Proposes Major Debt Relief for Ebola-Hit Countries
“The United States proposed Tuesday that the international community write off 100 million dollars in debt owed by West African countries hit hardest by the current Ebola outbreak. The money would be re-invested in health and other public programming…” (Biron, 11/13).

Reuters: IMF says to consider debt relief for Ebola-hit countries
“The International Monetary Fund will discuss debt relief for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone at the Group of 20 leaders meeting in Australia later this week as it considers further support for the countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak, an IMF spokesman said on Thursday…” (Yukhananov, 11/13).

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World Bank Might Back Indemnity Plan For Ebola Vaccine Makers, WHO Official Says

Bloomberg News: World Bank May Help Indemnify Ebola Vaccine Makers, WHO Says
“The World Bank may help indemnify Ebola vaccine makers in case any liabilities arise, as countries and international aid groups support drugmakers racing to develop preventions for the virus. Establishing an indemnity mechanism is being discussed among governments, and the World Bank may play a role, said Marie-Paule Kieny, the World Health Organization’s assistant director-general of health systems and innovation…” (Kitamura/Bennett, 11/13).

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MSF Waited Too Long To Ask For Ebola Vaccine, Aid Group Veteran Says

Reuters: Exclusive: MSF should have called for Ebola vaccine earlier, says aid group veteran
“Médecins Sans Frontières ‘wasted time’ by waiting too long to call for vaccines to fight an unprecedented outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, a veteran of the medical charity told Reuters. … [T]he emergency group relied too much on strategies it developed during smaller previous eruptions of the virus, leading it to make mistakes as this year’s rampant multi-country epidemic pushed it to its limits, said Jean-Herve Bradol, a member of MSF’s internal think-tank…” (Flynn/Bartunek, 11/14).

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Liberia Sees Progress Against Ebola, While Mali Imposes Stronger Measures To Contain Virus

News outlets report on Liberia’s progress in containing Ebola, while Mali imposes stronger measures to contain the second outbreak of the virus in the country.

Reuters: Mali rushes to contain Ebola outbreak, Liberia signals progress
“Mali is rushing to impose tougher measures to contain the spread of Ebola after recording a new case of the disease in the West African nation’s capital, health officials said on Thursday…” (Diallo/Giahyue, 11/13).

Reuters: Mali tries to trace over 200 contacts in second Ebola wave
“Mali is trying to trace at least 200 contacts linked to confirmed and probable Ebola victims in an effort to control its second Ebola outbreak, health officials said on Friday. … There have been at least four more suspected Ebola deaths, all linked to an imam who entered Mali from neighboring Guinea and died late last month with Ebola-like symptoms that were not recognized…” (11/14).

Wall Street Journal: Liberia Lifts State of Emergency in Hopes Ebola Is Lessening There
“The government of Liberia on Thursday lifted a state of emergency in the hopes that Ebola was lessening there, even as a new case in neighboring Mali showed how the epidemic is shifting…” (Hinshaw/Mcgroarty, 11/13).

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Progress Stalled On Measles Elimination, WHO Data Show

Media sources report on a WHO report showing 2015 targets for measles will not be met without stepped up efforts.

The Guardian: Measles eradication plans have stalled, says WHO
“Progress against the elimination of measles has stalled, the World Health Organization is warning. The number of deaths from the viral disease actually rose in the last year — from an estimated 122,000 in 2012 to 145,700 in 2013…” (Boseley, 11/13).

LiveMint: 6.4 million newborns do not get measles vaccine every year: WHO
“Although measles can be prevented through vaccination, nearly 6.4 million newborns are still not being immunized annually and the progress to eradicate the disease has stalled globally in the past one year, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned in a report on Thursday…” (Krishnan, 11/14).

Reuters: Progress on eliminating measles has stalled, WHO warns
“…More than 145,000 people died of measles in 2013, up from 122,000 in 2012, the WHO said. Epidemics in China, Congo, and Nigeria contributed to this, but there were also outbreaks in the WHO’s European region, including in Georgia, Turkey, and Ukraine…” (Kelland, 11/13).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency sees ‘alarming trend’ as efforts lag in eliminating measles
“…In developing countries, it costs around $1 to vaccinate a child against the disease, making the measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health. During 2013, 205 million children were immunized against measles through large-scale campaigns in 34 countries, including Cambodia, Cape Verde, Ghana, Jordan, Senegal, and Sudan…” (11/13).

VOA News: Global Campaign to Eliminate Measles Stalls
“The U.N. agency says measles immunization efforts are hampered by lack of money, weak health systems, and not enough awareness of the importance of vaccinating children against this killer disease…” (Schlein, 11/13).

WHO: WHO warns that progress towards eliminating measles has stalled
“…Barriers that are hampering immunization efforts will need to be addressed, including diminishing funding and the need to strengthen health systems. WHO strongly recommends that every child receives two doses of measles vaccine and that countries unable to reach high coverage through routine immunization services continue follow-up vaccination campaigns every two to four years to eliminate the risk of resurgence…” (11/13).

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Pfizer, Development Organizations To Expand Injectable Contraceptive Access In Developing Countries

News outlets report on an announcement that the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, in collaboration with development organizations, will expand access to its injectable contraceptive for women in developing countries.

New York Times: Pfizer and Aid Groups Team Up on Depo-Provera Contraceptive for Developing World
“Depo-Provera, an injectable contraceptive given once every three months, is already a popular choice of women in developing countries, who value the convenience and discretion of not having to take a daily birth control pill. But the injections are out of reach for many more women because they live in rural areas that are too far from a health clinic to make the treatments practical. Now, a major collaboration between Pfizer, the drug’s manufacturer, and several global aid groups is aiming to change that by providing financing to make a new version of the drug — redesigned with developing countries in mind — available in 69 nations throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe…” (Thomas, 11/13).

Reuters: Pfizer, Gates Foundation, expand contraceptive access in poor nations
“Pfizer Inc. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday announced an agreement to expand access to the drugmaker’s long-acting Sayana Press contraceptive to women in 69 of the world’s poorest countries, for $1 per dose…” (Pierson, 11/13).

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Media Outlets Discuss Two New Reports On Nutrition Worldwide, In India

News outlets discuss a report on global nutrition from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and a report on nutrition in India from the World Bank.

BBC News: World is crossing malnutrition red line, report warns
“Most countries in the world are facing a serious public health problem as a result of malnutrition, a report warns. The Global Nutrition Report said every nation except China had crossed a ‘malnutrition red line,’ suffering from too much or too little nutrition…” (Kinver, 11/13).

LiveMint: Focus on health, sanitation can reduce stunting in children: World Bank
“Undernourishment is not the only factor responsible for stunting among children — where a child’s height is low for his or her age — and with improved access to health care and sanitation, India can dramatically reduce the incidence of stunting, according to a World Bank report released on Thursday…” (Bera, 11/13).

Wall Street Journal: On Children’s Day, Too Posh to Breastfeed, Rich Indians Are Stunting India’s Growth
“It’s not just India’s poorest children who are in danger of malnourishment. The vast majority of infants from wealthiest third of households don’t receive the quality or quantity of food recommended for their age, according to a new report from the World Bank…” (Agarwal, 11/14).

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U.S. Military Considers Resurrecting Dengue Fever Research Program

News outlets report on the possibility that the Walter Reed Army Institute will revive a dengue research program and the ethical issues surrounding the program.

VOA News: Dengue Fever Epidemic Neglected Amid Ebola Scare
“Scientists at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research are considering resurrecting a research program that would infect healthy people with dengue fever, the potentially deadly mosquito-borne disease that has no specific drug treatment…” (Berman, 11/13).

Wall Street Journal: Dengue Fever Researchers in Military Weigh Infecting Volunteers
“…The tests raise ethical issues, but advocates say they are offset by the need to halt the dramatic growth in the disease. As many as 50 million people a year are infected with dengue, a 30-fold increase in the last 50 years. The disease causes 22,000 deaths each year, mainly among children, the World Health Organization says…” (Wang, 11/13).

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Nigeria Launches New Plan To Eliminate MTC HIV Transmission By 2015

News outlets report on Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan’s launch of a new plan to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission in the country by 2015.

Daily Times: No Nigerian Child Should Be Born With HIV — Jonathan
“President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday inaugurated a national operational plan for the Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (EMTCT) with a declaration that no Nigerian child should be born with HIV…” (Aminu, 11/14).

The Guardian: Jonathan to launch new HIV plan for mothers, babies today
“…The plan, according to the Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, John Idoko, aims to ensure that no child is born with HIV in Nigeria. And faced with the reality of dwindling donor funding for the HIV battle, Nigeria is turning to the private sector to provide needed support to prevent the HIV battle from failing, Idoko has said…” (Anuforo/Anako, 11/13).

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U.N. Official Calls For More Funding For Cholera Elimination Efforts In Haiti

U.N. News Centre: ‘Haiti cannot wait 40 years’ to eliminate cholera, warns U.N. envoy as response lags
“The top United Nations coordinator for cholera response in Haiti says support for initiatives to combat the disease has been ‘disappointing,’ noting that while it may be possible to eliminate cholera in about a decade, at the current rate of funding, it would take more than 40 years to do the job…” (11/13).

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Men Must Take More Responsibility For Contraception, Global Conference Concludes

The Guardian: Gender equality forum urges men to take responsibility on contraception
“Men must take more responsibility for using contraception away from women to reduce the risk of more women dying from botched sterilizations like those seen in India this week, a global symposium on gender equality concluded on Thursday. The MenEngage conference, held in New Delhi, ended with a declaration stating that — unless governments adopt a ‘She+He’ perspective — women’s ability to galvanize efforts in the fight for gender equality will be limited…” (Dasgupta, 11/13).

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Economist Urges Rethink Of U.N. Development Goals In Deutsche Welle Interview

Deutsche Welle: U.N. development goals: Less is more
“Economist Abhijit Banerjee says development aid requires a thoroughgoing rethink. He tells DW he is convinced that there is no panacea for poverty reduction — and that the U.N.’s development goals lack focus…” (Uhlig/Opielka, 11/13).

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Financial Times Features Report On Combating Diabetes

Financial Times: Report: Combating Diabetes
The newspaper features several articles on different aspects of diabetes, including prevention, treatment, and cure research. “Urbanization, poor diet, and failure to exercise have led to record levels of obesity, fueling a diabetes epidemic…” (11/13).

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Editorials and Opinions

FAO, WHO Stand Ready To Assist Nations In Addressing 'Shocking' Numbers On Malnutrition, Hunger

Inter Press Service: Now Is the Time to Tackle Malnutrition and Its Massive Human Costs
José Graziano da Silva, FAO director general, and Margaret Chan, WHO director general

“The scourge of malnutrition affects the most vulnerable in society, and it hurts most in the earliest stages of life. Today, more than 800 million people are chronically hungry, about 11 percent of the global population. … These numbers are shocking and must serve as a global call to action. … Government leaders, scientists, nutritionists, farmers, civil society, and private sector representatives from around the world will gather in Rome from Nov. 19 to 21 for the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2). It is an opportunity they cannot afford to miss: making peoples’ right to a healthy diet a global reality. … FAO and WHO are ready to assist countries in this effort. By transforming commitment into action and cooperating more effectively with one another and with other stakeholders, the world has a real chance of ending the multiple burdens of malnutrition in all its forms within a generation” (11/13).

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Pharma Industry Must Focus On Dengue, Other Diseases Of Poverty That Threaten Global Population

New York Times: The Dengue Fever Scourge
Editorial Board

“While the world’s attention has been focused on Ebola, dengue hemorrhagic fever, an incurable viral disease, has become a pandemic, sickening up to 100 million people a year and killing more than 22,000. … A vaccine to protect against dengue is set to become available next year, with more in the pipeline. … There are potentially big profits to be made from a dengue vaccine in the fast-growing economies of Asia and Latin America. … Meanwhile, governments and community health workers must continue efforts to educate people about precautions to take against dengue-infected mosquitoes, like eliminating standing water and improving sanitation in crowded urban centers. In our interconnected and warming world, the pharmaceutical industry will have to focus more effort on diseases that initially affect the poor but then threaten the entire population” (11/14).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Different Aspects Of Ebola Epidemic Responses

Inter Press Service: Ebola and ISIS: A Learning Exchange Between U.N. and Faith-based Organizations
Azza Karam, senior adviser on culture at the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA)

“…Burying the dead in a community touches the very belief systems which give value and meaning to life. … And the opportunity to address this medical-cultural gap (which is not new to development or humanitarian work) extends beyond burials of the dead and medical care for the living, to providing psycho-social support, and ensuring economic livelihoods. In these areas, too, faith-based NGOs have roles to play. The militancy of ISIS and the repercussions of the war currently being waged both with and against them presents a similar set of cultural challenges to national and international actors…” (11/13).

New England Journal of Medicine: Communicating Uncertainty — Ebola, Public Health, and the Scientific Process
Lisa Rosenbaum, national correspondent for NEJM

“…[T]he Ebola epidemic in West Africa is far from over. Containing the epidemic requires continued efforts by dedicated international health workers and a willingness to trust that though our health authorities cannot know everything, they will do everything they can to protect us with the knowledge they have” (11/13).

Huffington Post: Ebola Is Not the Problem
Cindy Stein Urbanc, coordinator of Maternal Child Health Programs for Real Medicine Foundation

“…Ebola serves as the best current case study to date showing how we are all interconnected and so, as such, to some degree any Ebola strategy needs to focus on human behavior rather than viral behavior. … The best hope we have is in placing a focus on incentivizing people to make good choices. This means promoting social justice and equality in health care, eliminating poverty even if it means we need to forego one or two luxuries that we are accustomed to, and essentially caring about others even before an infectious disease like Ebola reaches our doorsteps…” (11/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. State Department Official Testifies On U.S. Ebola Response, Funding At Senate Appropriations Hearing

U.S. Department of State: The U.S. Government Response to the Ebola Outbreak
The State Department features a transcript of testimony from Heather Higginbottom, deputy secretary of state for management and resources, before the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations regarding the State Department and USAID’s emergency request for the U.S. Ebola response in West Africa (11/12).

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Infographic Examines Potential Human Impact Of $300M In PEPFAR Funding

amfAR: Infographic: FY2015 U.S. Global AIDS Budget Plan: The Human Impact
“…To maintain the current total level of U.S. global HIV/AIDS funding in Fiscal Year 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives has proposed restoring $300 million in PEPFAR funding. [In this infographic,] amfAR has estimated the potential human impact of $300 million to expand lifesaving HIV prevention, treatment, and care services” (11/12).

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Ambitious Targets Important For Progress Toward Ending AIDS

AVAC: Guest Blog by UNAIDS’ Chris Collins — Fast Track: New AIDS targets and the urgency for action
Chris Collins, chief of the Community Mobilization Division at UNAIDS, discusses the U.N. agency’s “90 90 90” plan, and a new Fast Track initiative to help countries evaluate and implement programs to reach their goals. “…Without ramped up delivery of lifesaving treatment and targeted prevention in the next five years, along with advances in non-discrimination and human rights that make these services possible, the AIDS epidemic will remain a serious global health threat as far as we can see. We have the chance to change that outcome — but will we seize it?” (11/12).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has published Issue 255 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter features several news articles on issues ranging from commodities delivery to a new national HIV strategic plan in the Ukraine, among other topics (11/13).

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