KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Congress, Health Officials Say Focus On Ebola, Future Epidemics Needs To Be Maintained

News outlets report on comments made by lawmakers and public health experts during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

CQ News: Ebola Prompts Effort to Bolster Hospital Preparedness
“A bipartisan pair of senators voiced concerns Wednesday about the government’s ability to respond to future public health threats, saying they would push a measure to improve preparedness at designated hospitals. Members of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee also cited issues with a program to develop and stockpile countermeasures for a variety of threats. Administration officials used the committee hearing to emphasize the necessity of emergency funding to aid their response to the Ebola outbreak…” (Ethridge, 11/19).

The Hill: As Ebola attention fades, lawmakers beg for spotlight
“Lawmakers are pleading for public attention on Ebola after the disease disappeared from the political agenda almost immediately after Election Day. Congress has held five hearings on Ebola since returning from the midterm recess, including four this week. Nearly all have featured top members handling the Obama administration’s response. Still, attendance has been scarce and news coverage has nearly evaporated…” (Ferris, 11/19).

The Hill: Frieden: World will not see Ebola worst-case scenario
“…Dr. Tom Frieden said Wednesday that the world will not see the worst-case scenario on Ebola that he predicted earlier this summer, which said as many as 1.4 million people could be infected by early 2015. ‘We don’t think projections from the summer will come to pass,’ Frieden told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs…” (Ferris, 11/19).

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Ebola Treatments Would Qualify For FDA Priority Review Under Bill Passed By Senate Committee

The Hill: Senate panel passes measure to speed up approval of Ebola drugs
“The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved a measure Wednesday designed to speed the approval of Ebola drugs. The bill (S 2917) would make Ebola treatments eligible for priority review vouchers at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), cutting down on the evaluation time taken by regulators…” (Viebeck, 11/19).

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Liberian Officials Warn Of Poor Coordination, Complacency In Ebola Response; WHO Finds Cases Rise In Sierra Leone

News outlets report on Ebola efforts in West Africa, where according to Liberian officials, progress has been made but the response has been hampered by poor coordination, and according to the WHO, the number of cases in Sierra Leone continues to rise.

New York Times: Ebola Response in Liberia Is Hampered by Infighting
“The global response to the Ebola virus in Liberia is being hampered by poor coordination and serious disagreements between Liberian officials and the donors and health agencies fighting the epidemic, according to minutes of top-level meetings and interviews with participants…” (McNeil, 11/19).

Reuters: Liberia has upper hand over Ebola but support must continue: president
“Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said on Wednesday that her government has the upper hand in the fight against Ebola, but warned against complacency or any reduction in international support…” (Farge, 11/19).

Reuters: Ebola spreading intensely in Sierra Leone as toll rises: WHO
“The toll in the Ebola epidemic has risen to 5,420 deaths out of 15,145 cases in eight countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, with transmission of the deadly virus still ‘intense and widespread’ in Sierra Leone…” (Nebehay, 11/19).

U.N. News Centre: Ebola cases no longer rising in Guinea, Liberia, U.N. health agency reports
“The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported today that the number of Ebola cases is ‘no longer increasing nationally in Guinea and Liberia, but is still increasing in Sierra Leone,’ and that preparedness teams have been sent this week to Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, and Senegal…” (11/19).

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WHO Head Says Ebola Efforts Should Focus On Containment, Promises Transparency In Review

Associated Press: WHO chief promises transparency in Ebola review
“The head of the World Health Organization refused Wednesday to respond to criticism about the U.N. agency’s performance in containing the Ebola outbreak, saying the focus now should be on helping countries contain it. … Dr. Margaret Chan said the agency would review how the whole world — and the WHO in particular — managed the outbreak ‘and there will be time for sharing information in a transparent and accountable manner’…” (Winfield, 11/19).

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HCWs, Clinics Refusing Care For Pregnant Women In Liberia Because Of Increased Ebola Risk

NPR: Dangerous Deliveries: Ebola Leaves Moms And Babies Without Care
“…[I]n Liberia, you hear the same story over and over again: Someone got Ebola while trying to help a pregnant woman in trouble. … The risk to health care workers is so high that many clinics in Liberia refuse to treat pregnant women. Hospitals have closed their maternity wards…” (Doucleff, 11/18).

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Nations Pledge More Action On Preventing Malnutrition, As U.N. Leaders Press For Closing Nutrition Gaps At Rome Conference

Media sources report on pledges made during the first day of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (CIN2) in Rome, including the adoption of the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and a Framework for Action.

Agence France-Presse: U.N. urges action to fix ‘broken’ world food system
“The United Nations urged political leaders from around the world on Wednesday to up their game in the fight to wipe out malnutrition, a global scourge afflicting poor and rich alike…” (Carrier, 11/19).

Associated Press: Governments pledge more to prevent malnutrition
“More than 170 governments pledged Wednesday to do more to prevent malnutrition around the globe, adopting voluntary guidelines to promote healthy diets and reduce levels of obesity at the start of a three-day U.N. conference…” (Winfield/Thomas, 11/19).

Reuters: United Nations, WHO, politicians commit to fight poor nutrition
“…WHO Director General Margaret Chan told delegates that social and income inequality and gaps between people’s nutrition levels were at their highest in living memory…” (Binnie, 11/19).

U.N. News Centre: At global food conference, U.N. officials sound the call for better global nutrition
“…In a video message delivered to the International Conference on Nutrition — organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon observed that while ‘a great deal of progress’ had been made since his Zero Hunger Challenge was first issued, the world needed to ‘redouble’ its efforts in eliminating hunger and improving nutrition…” (11/19).

WHO: Countries vow to combat malnutrition through firm policies and actions
“…The Rome Declaration on Nutrition enshrines the right of everyone to have access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food, and commits governments to preventing malnutrition in all its forms, including hunger, micronutrient deficiencies, and obesity. The Framework for Action recognizes that governments have the primary role and responsibility for addressing nutrition issues and challenges, in dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders — including civil society, the private sector, and affected communities…” (11/19).

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World Marks 25th Anniversary Of U.N. Child Rights Convention; Report Says Some Gains But Challenges Remain

News outlets discuss the 25th anniversary of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as a report examining progress.

The Guardian: Children’s rights being ‘violated with impunity’
“…As the world marks the 25th anniversary of the convention (CRC), gains made in education, reducing child mortality, and recognizing the inalienable rights of children have been hailed, but U.N. member states have been criticized for failing to deliver on promises contained in the world’s most widely ratified rights treaty…” (Chonghaile, 11/19).

Newsweek: Are Children Better Off Today Than 25 Years Ago? Yes and No, New Report Says
“Twenty-five years since the United Nations ratified its Convention on the Rights of the Child, have the lives of the world’s children improved? A new report tried to answer that question and found some gains among ongoing and long-standing challenges. Examining the quality of life for children in 190 countries, the report card by the University of California’s World Policy Analysis Center found that while child mortality has been halved and more children are graduating from school since the convention was signed in 1989, major issues remain, including child labor, child marriage, and discrimination against children with disabilities…” (Westcott, 11/19).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. spotlights children’s rights as world gears up to mark 25th anniversary of landmark treaty
“As the global human rights community readies to celebrate [Thursday as] the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the United Nations committee charged with monitoring its implementation highlighted the right of children to actively participate — and not just be heard — in discussions that affect their lives and communities…” (11/19).

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Women's Access To Safe Toilets 'Moral' Imperative, Investment In WASH Critical, U.N. Says

The U.N. News Centre reports on findings from a U.N. report on water and sanitation released in connection with events marking World Toilet Day, which takes place annually on November 19.

U.N. News Centre: Ensuring women’s access to safe toilets is ‘moral’ imperative, says Ban marking World Day
“With one out of three women worldwide lacking access to safe toilets, it is a moral imperative to end open defecation to ensure women and girls are not at risk of assault and rape simply because they lack a sanitation facility, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged [Wednesday] on World Toilet Day…” (11/19).

U.N. News Centre: Every dollar invested in water, sanitation brings four-fold return in costs — U.N.
“For every dollar invested in water and sanitation, there is a $4.3 return in the form of reduced health care costs for individuals and society around the world, where 2.5 billion people still lack access to basic sanitation services, with one billion practicing open defecation, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today…” (11/19).

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In Zimbabwe, HIV Treatment Reportedly Being Disrupted By Theft, Corruption

Al Jazeera: Zimbabwe: Stealing Lives
“…Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are kept alive by antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) given freely by aid agencies on condition that they are not re-sold and that they are used for treating those in need. The drugs have played a vital role in stabilizing a situation that was running out of control a decade ago … However, any interruption in the supply of those drugs to a patient can seriously affect their health, as HIV expert Professor Rudi Luthy of the Newlands clinic in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare explained. … Which is why it is so disturbing that the regular supply of ARV is reportedly being disrupted by theft and corruption…” (11/20).

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Gilead Purchases FDA Priority Review Voucher For $125M

NPR: Gilead Buys Shortcut For FDA Drug Review For $125 Million
“…In an auction, Gilead Sciences, a maker of HIV and hepatitis medicines, just bought a coupon good for the accelerated review of a drug of the company’s choice from Knight Therapeutics, a Canadian company. The priority review voucher entitles Gilead to move a drug of its choice through the FDA four months faster than the normal track. … The legal shortcut was created in 2007 as a reward for companies developing drugs for specific neglected tropical diseases…” (Hensley, 11/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Should Improve Hospital Preparedness For Ebola, Create PPPs To Spur Treatment, Vaccine Development

Roll Call: Fighting Ebola Requires Better Planning
Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio)

“…[W]hile it is clear the U.S. health care system ultimately rose to the challenge of caring for multiple Ebola patients, the grave mistakes made in Texas should serve as a wake-up call. We must ensure our health care system is better prepared to diagnose, treat, and prevent the spread of Ebola and other diseases, which is why we are proposing specific legislation to advance this vital goal. … Together, we have crafted a bipartisan proposal to allocate funds to support the establishment of regional designated hospitals that can provide a higher level of specialized care for Ebola patients in an isolated setting. … The creation of these designated Ebola treatment centers is a critical component of our nation’s preparedness in battling Ebola and other infectious diseases and will help protect the safety of health care workers, our communities, and future patients” (11/19).

USA TODAY: How to upgrade Ebola fight
Andrew von Eschenbach, chair of the Manhattan Institute’s Project FDA, and Paul Howard, director of the institute’s Center for Medical Progress

“…Congress should authorize a public-private partnership (PPP) designed specifically to mutually fund and develop the most promising drugs and medicines to combat outbreaks like Ebola and bioterrorism. … The FDA has made great strides over the past 10 years to become a facilitator of medical product development, but much more can be done, and the partnership would be a great place for FDA to experiment with innovative new approaches like ‘adaptive licensing’ and technologies such as early biomarker qualification that would rapidly accelerate access to life-saving innovative therapies. The net effect of a nimble partnership is that we could afford to invest in more products and technologies with a much greater likelihood of success, protecting us from biologic threats while also developing better standards for drug development that could benefit patients everywhere…” (11/19).

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U.S. 'Must Increase Its Longstanding Investment In' Gavi

The Hill: Four reasons why the U.S. should invest more in vaccines around the world
Richard Lugar, former Republican Senator from Indiana

“…Among our most effective tools for stabilizing fragile states and improving perceptions of the United States are our global health programs. … Especially important are our efforts to immunize young children against deadly diseases like measles, pneumonia and diarrhea. … The U.S. government must increase its longstanding investment in [Gavi, a] critical alliance. By doing so, we can build on the gains we’ve made in immunizing children around the world and help ensure that all children in poor countries have access to life-saving vaccines going forward, especially those in the hardest to reach places. … I urge the United States to continue its commitment to immunization by pledging $1 billion for Gavi for the period between 2015-2018…” (11/19).

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India Should End Mass Sterilization, More Strongly Regulate Pharmaceutical Industry

New York Times: India’s Lethal Birth Control
Editorial Board

“…India persists in a cruel strategy of bringing down birthrates through mass female sterilization. … Thirteen women died shortly after undergoing tubal ligations on Nov. 8, in what in India is called a ‘sterilization camp.’ … Faced with public outrage, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ordered an investigation into what caused the sickening and deaths of so many women this time. The victims’ families were immediately paid compensation. … India’s poor women have a right to informed reproductive choices, and to medical care that meets minimum standards. Mr. Modi should call for an immediate end to mass sterilization of poor women, provide men and women with the means to make educated reproductive choices, and invest in fixing a dysfunctional health system” (11/20).

The Hill: India’s dangerous medicine industry
Dinesh Thakur, executive chair of Medassure Global Compliance Corporation; Roger Bate, American Enterprise Institute visiting scholar; and Amir Attaran, professor in the Faculties of Law and Medicine at the University of Ottawa

“A tragedy is unfolding in Bilaspur, India, where [at least 13] women have died as a result of complications from sterilization procedures. The use of substandard drugs is one of the reasons for the deaths. … This case provides a concrete example of the consequences of poor quality drugs in an acute care setting: it needs to be studied, not swept under the carpet. … The Indian pharmaceutical industry wields enormous power, and policy makers often subscribe to its point-of-view without fully appreciating the damage it is causing to the industry’s — and the country’s — reputation. … The regulatory mechanism in India that governs drugs needs immediate attention … Without … changes, we cannot be sure drugs made in India are safe…” (11/19).

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U.S. Must Lead World In Protecting Health Workers In Syria

New York Times: In Syria, Doctors Become the Victims
Leonard Rubenstein of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and M. Zaher Sahloul, president of the Syrian American Medical Society

“…International law is supposed to protect health workers treating anyone who is sick or wounded. Not in Syria: There, along with bakeries and schools, one of the most dangerous places to be is in a hospital or an ambulance. According to Physicians for Human Rights, more than 560 medical personnel have been killed and 155 medical facilities have been attacked since the conflict began, though based on our interviews these numbers are understated. … The Obama administration must affirm America’s leadership role and act to save people under such relentless attack. When work in a field hospital becomes like death, it is difficult to imagine how life has any chance at all” (11/19).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Issues Surrounding Access To Toilets, Sanitation

Foreign Policy: It’s Time to Start Giving a Shit About Toilets
Lauren Bohn, multimedia journalist and co-founder of Foreign Policy Interrupted

The Guardian: Snakebites, diarrhea, and violence: why India’s rural women need toilets
Seren Boyd, writer for Toilet Twinning

Huffington Post: It’s Time to Break the Silence on Sanitation and Open Defecation
Sanjay Wijesekera, chief of water, sanitation, and hygiene and associate director of programs at UNICEF

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World Must Take Actions To End Violence Against Women

Huffington Post: It’s Time to Fulfill the Promise to End Violence Against Women
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of U.N. Women

“Every year, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women [November 25], we are reminded how every day women and girls experience violence in their lives. … Violence against women has become a real epidemic that must be stopped. … Wherever I go, I feel a sense of urgency that suggests that this is the moment to turn the tide on violence against women and achieve gender equality. Next year, after the endpoint of the Millennium Development Goals, a new roadmap for development will be adopted by the international community. Ending violence against women and girls must have a central place in this new framework…” (11/19).

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Public, Private Resources, Political Will Needed To End Extreme Hunger

Huffington Post: A Tradition Worth Feeding
Samuel Worthington, president of InterAction

“…We are at an exciting time in history: We have the means and opportunity to eliminate extreme hunger. However, this possibility requires not only public and private resources but also political will. … That’s why this May, InterAction and USAID announced a first-of-its-kind agreement aimed at maximizing the U.S. government’s and U.S. NGOs’ ability to fight extreme hunger and malnutrition. This new partnership redefines and explores innovative ways for USAID and U.S. NGOs to work together. … To achieve our hunger and nutrition goals it will take everyone — governments, corporations, civil society organizations, universities, think tanks, and individuals — working together, with shared goals and sustained efforts…” (11/19).

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Short-, Long-Term Responses To Haitian Cholera Outbreak Still Needed

Huffington Post: Don’t Forget Cholera
Pedro Medrano Rojas, U.N. assistant secretary general and senior coordinator for cholera response in Haiti

“…Cholera remains a crisis in Haiti and the recent attention to the Ebola outbreak should be a reminder that we cannot drop our guard. … [B]oth feed on weak public health systems, and require a sustained response to combat. And, as Ebola has reminded us, in today’s globalized world, neither epidemic respects borders. … In the longer term, we must for once invest in [Haiti’s] public health systems, in particular water and sanitation, and the U.N. is working to support the Government of Haiti. But this will take years, and the humanitarian response is needed to respond to and control outbreaks today. Both cholera and Ebola have had limited reach when confronting strong public health infrastructure. Lacking these, Haiti and the Ebola-affected countries must respond to outbreaks while keeping site of the future…” (11/19).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Post Outlines Lessons From Ebola Response, Implications For Future Outbreaks

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog”: After Ebola: Five Lessons for Outbreak Response
Amanda Glassman, senior fellow and director of global health policy at CGD, outlines five lessons from the Ebola epidemic response so far, including building WHO leadership and investing in public health preparedness, and the implications for future disease outbreak responses (11/19).

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Blog Posts Discuss Global Nutrition Efforts

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: November is a Month of Action for Nutrition
Elizabeth Buckingham and Daniel Oerther, who both serve in the Secretary of State’s Office of Global Food Security, outline several U.S. government initiatives on nutrition that are committed to achieving “better nutrition for all” (11/19).

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: One of the Most Neglected Health Problems in the World
Melinda Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Gates Foundation, writes malnutrition “may be the most neglected health problem in the world — and it affects many more people than any single disease,” and she discusses the Global Nutrition Report, which “is an important resource and a good sign that the world is starting to pay more attention to this urgent priority” (11/18).

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MCC Marks 10-Year Milestone In Efforts To Reduce Global Poverty

The U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote” blog: Marking a Milestone: 10 Years of Reducing Poverty
Dana Hyde, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), discusses the impact the MCC has made over the past 10 years in its efforts to reduce global poverty (11/19).

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Collaboration, Innovation Important To Improve Water, Sanitation

USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: The Power of Toilets, Simple Medicines, and Strong Policies to Stop Diarrhea
Steve Davis, president and CEO of PATH, discusses the importance of NGOs and governments working with and empowering local communities and their leaders “to expand toilet use, improve water and sanitation, and advance diarrheal disease policies around the world” (11/19).

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Accurate, Accessible Data Essential To Tackling Global Health Challenges

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: Knowledge is Power: Sharing Information Can Accelerate Global Health Impact
Trevor Mundel, president of global health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses the importance of accurate and accessible data in global health, and announces the foundation’s adoption of “an Open Access (OA) policy to enable the unrestricted access and reuse of all peer-reviewed published research funded by the foundation, including any underlying data sets” (11/20).

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