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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Concerned Over DRC Ebola Outbreak, Anonymous USAID Official Says; U.N. Warns Situation 'Remains Dangerous, Unpredictable'

Reuters: U.S. concerned about Ebola outbreak in Congo conflict zone: official
“The United States is worried about the outbreak of Ebola in conflict-hit eastern Congo where there are 312 confirmed and probable cases and 191 deaths, a USAID official said on Thursday. … The USAID official said the United States had deployed over two dozen technical experts to the country to work with Congo’s health ministry since the outbreak was first reported in August. Since then, the United States had also deployed disaster and health experts from USAID and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The official declined to give specifics about responses and funding because of the security threat from armed groups…” (Wroughton, 11/8).

U.N. News: Ebola outbreak in DR Congo conflict zone ‘remains dangerous and unpredictable’ — U.N. chiefs
“While new measures to tackle the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are working, the epidemic remains dangerous and unpredictable, the United Nations said on Thursday. In a joint mission to the epicenter of the outbreak, around the city of Beni close to the Ugandan border, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), and U.N. [Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations] Jean-Pierre Lacroix spent Wednesday seeing conditions on the ground for themselves, along with Minister of Health Oly Ilunga Kalenga. They met local officials, health workers, civil society leaders, and peacekeepers…” (11/8).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak and response is available from Bloomberg, CIDRAP News, CNN, and VOA News.

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U.S. Sen. Markey Urges Trump To Allow Humanitarian Workers, Aid Into North Korea; U.N. Security Council Exempts Humanitarian Shipments From Sanctions

New York Times: Senator Urges Trump to Ease Ban on Aid Workers Traveling to North Korea
“A Democratic senator has urged President Trump to allow American humanitarian aid workers into North Korea, despite a recent ban on travel to what officials consider a hostile nuclear state but also one of the world’s poorest nations. The senator, Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a letter dated Nov. 7 that he was ‘deeply troubled’ by reports that the Trump administration was barring aid workers ‘from shipping supplies or traveling to North Korea as they seek to provide the most basic humanitarian assistance’…” (Wong, 11/8).

UPI: U.N. exempts humanitarian items to North Korea from sanctions
“The United Nations has allowed shipment of humanitarian supplies to North Korea, including medical equipment, for a health care project. The U.N. Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea has allowed a total of 35 items, worth $469,000, for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) project to combat tuberculosis and malaria and for vaccination in the reclusive country under heavy sanctions, VOA reported…” (Lee, 11/9).

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Health, Development Experts Express Concern Over U.K. Denial Of Visas For African, Asian Researchers To Attend Conference

Devex: Outrage after visas denied for U.K. global health conference
“Health and development researchers have warned that difficulties in getting travel visas for professionals from low-income countries has become a major barrier to access and inclusion, after at least 17 researchers were unable to attend the Women Leaders in Global Health conference in the United Kingdom this week. Fourteen researchers from sub-Saharan Africa and three from Asia were blocked from attending the two-day event, hosted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London…” (Edwards/Watters, 11/9).

Reuters: Scientists angry at U.K. visa denials for African, Asian researchers
“…Peter Piot, a Belgian-born microbiologist who was part of a team that discovered the Ebola virus in the 1970s and is now director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, was among those protesting against restrictive criteria for granting short-term business visas. In a letter to the interior minister, Sajid Javid, Piot said the restrictions ‘represent a significant threat’ to the United Kingdom establishing itself as a global health and science hub when it should be showing it is ‘open for business.’ … Other leading scientists echoed Piot’s concerns…” (Kelland/Holden, 11/8).

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African Island Nations Express Need For More Assistance To Address Health Impacts Of Climate Change

Thomson Reuters Foundation: African islands call for help as climate change worsens health
“African island states this week said they need more help to cope with the health impacts of climate change, from worsening nutrition to a resurgence in mosquito-borne disease. At least 23 percent of deaths in Africa are linked to the environment, the highest of any region worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)…” (Peyton, 11/8).

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Antimicrobial Resistance Poses Threat To Health, Economies Worldwide, OECD Report Says

CNBC: Superbugs pose a dangerous, $65 billion threat to the U.S. health care system
“Antimicrobial resistance is a large and growing problem, with the potential for enormous health and economic consequences for the United States and the rest of the world. According to a new OECD report, released Wednesday, superbug infections could cost the lives of about 2.4 million people in North America, Europe, and Australia over the next 30 years unless more is done to stem antibiotic resistance…” (Koukakis, 11/7).

The Guardian: Antibiotic resistant superbugs ‘will kill 90,000 Britons by 2050’
“…Simple hygiene measures such as hand washing and more conservative prescribing of antibiotics could prevent some of the deaths, the authors said. The report said enhanced rapid testing to ensure patients are given appropriate drugs could also help overcome the looming crisis…” (Devlin, 11/7).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: Care amid conflict (Roby, 11/9).

Global Health NOW: Countdown to Kigali: 5 Things to Watch for at #ICFP2018 (Myers, 11/8).

Global Health NOW: Peter Hotez: It’s Time for Scientists to Speak Up for Science (Simpson, 11/6).

Inter Press Service: Alert! Hunger and Obesity on the Rise in Latin America for Third Year in a Row (Milesi, 11/7).

NPR: Health Care For The Migrant Caravan: Flu, Blisters But Definitely Not Smallpox (Fredrick, 11/8).

Scientific American: To Every Pathogen There Is a Season (Weintraub, 11/8).

Xinhua News: Rwanda aims for universal coverage of maternal, child health services by 2024: official (11/8).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Must Do More To Support Ebola Response Efforts In DRC

Washington Post: The U.S. has pulled back its Ebola response in Congo. Here’s the story.
Jeremy Youde, associate professor of international relations at the Australian National University

“The current Ebola outbreak in Congo threatens to become uncontainable — because of politics, not the disease itself. … The local political dynamics at play in Congo are making any sort of response more difficult. This is where the international community could provide assistance by offering personnel, diagnostic assistance, and financing. Instead, the U.S. government’s response has been to withdraw from the region — though other governments have kept personnel in place. … While the United States is providing some support to those working on the frontlines of the crisis, the United States could still do much more by affirming that stopping the outbreak is in the U.S. national interest and embedding security personnel in the MONUSCO peacekeeping operation. … The Ebola outbreak in the Congo won’t magically end if the U.S. does get more involved. But the United States is a long-recognized leader in global health. If it chooses to remain disengaged, that could be worrisome for the future of global health” (11/8).

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Medical Community Must Become More Politically Engaged To Advance Global Health

New England Journal of Medicine: Politics and Pandemics
Ron Klain, lecturer at Harvard Law School and White House Ebola response coordinator from 2014-2015

“… If the world is to tackle many factors that raise our risk of a devastating pandemic, the medical community may have to enter theaters of operation beyond the laboratory bench and the treatment unit and publicly engage with controversial issues that some observers would consider nonmedical. Indeed, I believe that only such efforts can save us from the social trends, political movements, and policy failures that are elevating our risk of a pandemic. … What can the medical community do in the face of [isolationism and xenophobia, antiscientific thinking and resistance to evidence-based medicine, and disease-related danger from climate change]? All these dangers, in my view, require medical professionals to become more politically engaged. … The medical community can begin by stepping up pressure on policymakers to adopt the measures needed to improve our preparations for and ability to respond to epidemics. … In addition, physicians can advocate for and provide counsel about building out and improving our global response systems. … Finally, and perhaps most fundamentally, medical professionals can step into the public arena to take on unpleasant and contentious political issues such as isolationism, climate change, and demagogic populism. … The men and women of this community are in a position to help make us all safer by wading into difficult and divisive issues that are undermining our global capacity to face down a future pandemic” (11/7).

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International Donors Should Invest In Sexual Education, Reproductive Health Programs

The Guardian: The world must not be too scared to talk about teenagers having sex
Jennifer Amadi, co-founder of the Knit Together Initiative

“…[T]he world is too scared to talk about teenagers having sex. And young people are losing their lives and livelihoods as a result. … In Nigeria and abroad, politicians … worry that supporting programs that increase youth access to contraception will cost them their jobs. These fearful leaders — the very people we need to support young girls so they can improve their lives — earmark foreign aid for politically safe initiatives like abstinence-based sex-ed or programs that only provide birth control to married women. In the worst cases, they slash funding for international reproductive health programs altogether. … If things don’t change, we’ll all face the consequences. … [C]hanging the status quo requires more than local promises. … Foreign aid helps fill the funding gaps that often prevent these intentions from becoming reality, so politicians from donor countries like the U.K. must think hard about where they channel investments. … Let’s … commit to giving today’s youth and tomorrow’s leaders the information and tools they need to have safe sex, plan pregnancies, and keep their lives on track. If we succeed, they’ll do more than plan their families — they’ll shape a better future for us all. And that’s the smartest investment any government can make” (11/9).

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GBD 2017 Should Spur National Governments, International Organizations To Redouble Global Health Efforts

The Lancet: GBD 2017: a fragile world
Editorial Board

“Since The Lancet published the first Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) over 10 years ago, every new iteration has brought improvements in data quality and quantity. With the sharpening of these estimates came a reassuring message: year on year, they portrayed an ever-healthier world. Careful reading of the results of GBD 2017 shatter this comforting trend of gradual improvement and instead show plateauing mortality rates on a background of faltering and uneven progress, era-defining epidemics, and dramatic health worker shortages. Instead of the progress updates we have become accustomed to, GBD 2017 comes as an urgent warning signal from a fragile and fragmented world. … GBD 2017 is a reminder that, without vigilance and constant effort, progress can easily be reversed. But the GBD is also an encouragement to think differently in this time of crisis. … GBD 2017 should be an electric shock, galvanizing national governments and international agencies not only to redouble their efforts to avoid the imminent loss of hard-won gains but also to adopt a fresh approach to growing threats” (11/10).

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International Community Must Work Together To Eradicate Hunger, All Forms Of Malnutrition

Inter Press Service: Only Acting Together Can We Stop the Rise in Malnutrition
Julio Berdegué, FAO regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean; Carissa F. Etienne, director of PAHO; Marita Perceval, director of UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean; and Miguel Barreto, WFP regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean

“The number of undernourished people increased for the third consecutive year in Latin America and the Caribbean. … This year’s edition [of the Panorama of food and nutrition security in Latin America and the Caribbean 2018] focuses on inequality, a fundamental issue for the region. … Without addressing inequality in food security and nutrition, we will not be able to fulfill the commitment we have adopted to leave no one behind, established in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. … It is possible to change the current course of the region to accelerate progress towards the goal of eradicating hunger and all forms of malnutrition … For this, what we need most is to recover greater political commitment with the eradication of hunger and all forms of malnutrition. … Together we must think of ways for all the actors of the food system to act more responsibly with society and the environment … Together we can build food systems that ensure adequate food in the present and in the future. Together we can guarantee a healthy life for all and become the zero hunger generation” (11/8).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Wilson Center Event Discusses Youth Engagement In Sexual, Reproductive Health, Rights Efforts

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: More than a Seat at the Table: Engaging Adolescents to Protect their Health and Rights
Elizabeth Wang, intern with the Wilson Center’s Maternal Health Initiative, discusses “a recent Wilson Center event on engaging youth and protecting their sexual and reproductive health and rights.” Wang highlights comments from panel participants, including Sarah Barnes, project director of the Maternal Health Initiative; Preston Mitchum, senior legal and international policy analyst at Advocates for Youth; Cate Lane, senior technical adviser of adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health at Pathfinder International; Lada Nuzhna, youth representative at Teenergizer!; Ilya Zhukov, global focal point for comprehensive sexuality education at UNFPA; and Sarah Keogh, senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute (11/8).

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CGD Analysis Examines Entrepreneurialism In Pharmacy, Supply Chain Markets In Transitional LMICs

Center for Global Development: Entrepreneurship on the Rise in the Medical Supply Chain in Africa: A Tale of Four Pharmacy Disruptors
In this analysis, Cassandra Nemzoff, research assistant with CGD Europe, Dan Rosen of AfRx Consulting Group, and Kalipso Chalkidou, director of global health policy and senior fellow at CGD, “look at how … entrepreneurialism is being leveraged in the pharmacy and supply chain space. … [W]e chronicle what we describe as the 4M’s — Maisha Meds, MedSource, mPharma, and mTIBA — and the impact we think they could have on the procurement and supply chain landscape in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) in transition, and perhaps even in high-income country markets also struggling with spiraling drug costs…” (11/7).

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From the U.S. Government

TechWomen Team Nigeria Aims To Address Maternal, Infant Mortality Through Mobile Technology

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Empowering Women and Girls through STEM
Rasheeda Clements, who serves in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, highlights the State Department’s TechWomen mentorship and cultural exchange program. One of the winning groups, TechWomen Team Nigeria, developed an automated audio messaging system to improve health education and address maternal and infant mortality in the country  (11/8).

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CDC's MMWR Publishes Update On Progress Toward Polio Elimination In Pakistan

CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”: Progress Toward Poliomyelitis Eradication — Pakistan, January 2017-September 2018
Christopher Hsu of the CDC’s Global Immunization Division and colleagues write, “Pakistan remains one of only three countries worldwide (the others are Afghanistan and Nigeria) that has never had interrupted [wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1)] transmission. This report documents Pakistan’s activities and progress toward polio eradication during January 2017-September 2018 and updates previous reports. In 2017, Pakistan reported eight WPV1 cases, a 60 percent decrease from 20 cases in 2016. As of September 18, 2018, four cases had been reported, compared with five cases at that time in 2017…” (11/9).

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