KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

On World Day, UNICEF, Rotary Urge Continued International Efforts To Eradicate Polio

U.N. News Centre: On World Polio Day, UNICEF cites ‘dramatic’ progress against virus, urges efforts towards zero cases
“Never before in the history of polio have so few children in so few countries contracted the crippling virus, but a senior United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) official has vowed ‘we cannot rest until the number of cases is zero.’ ‘Progress to end polio is real and dramatic, with now just two countries in the world where the wild poliovirus has never been interrupted: Afghanistan and Pakistan,’ said by the head of the Polio Unit at UNICEF, Peter Crowley, in a press release…” (10/24).

VOA News: World Closes In on Eradicating Polio
“…[A]s World Polio Day is observed Saturday, those who are trying to rid Earth of the virus say it’s time to step up vaccination campaigns. If this happens, said Rotary’s Carol Pandak, director of the PolioPlus program, we could have a polio-free world by 2019…” (Pearson, 10/23).

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WHO Panel Endorses Use Of Polio Vaccine Using 2 Instead Of 3 Strains; No Case Of Type 2 Polio Detected Since 1999

New York Times: WHO Panel Backs Polio Vaccine With Just 2 Strains
“Scientists convened by the World Health Organization recommended Friday that an oral polio vaccine containing only two vaccine strains instead of the usual three be rolled out next April, as planned…” (McNeil, 10/23).

Reuters: WHO experts signal victory over one of three polio strains
“…[T]ype 2 [poliovirus] has not been detected since 1999 and use of the vaccine itself can occasionally, inadvertently, aid the spread of the disease in countries with poor vaccine coverage. ‘This week a momentous decision was made. And the decision was to go ahead and make the switch because we think we can eradicate polio. This is a huge step towards that,’ the chairman of the group, Jon Abramson, said on Friday…” (Miles, 10/23).

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WHO Experts Recommend Pilot Programs To Better Understand Use Of GSK's Malaria Vaccine Among African Children

News outlets report on a WHO panel’s recommendation that GlaxoSmithKline’s RTS,S malaria vaccine candidate undergo further testing through pilot programs in Africa.

CIDRAP News: WHO experts urge gradual rollout of malaria vaccine
“World Health Organization (WHO) experts [Friday] urged further trials of GSK’s candidate malaria vaccine on the heels of a New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) study showing that its low efficacy in young children is likely due to a mismatch with the strains of malaria parasite commonly found in Africa…” (Wappes, 10/23).

Nature News: Malaria vaccine cautiously recommended for use in Africa
“The world’s first vaccine against malaria should be rolled out in limited ‘pilot’ demonstrations in Africa, an advisory group to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva said on 23 October. The demonstrations — involving up to one million children — are needed because the vaccine is ineffective against malaria unless children receive four doses spread out over 18 months, and even then offers only modest protection…” (Callaway/Maxmen, 10/23).

New York Times: Leading Malaria Vaccine Gets Mixed Reviews
“…The vaccine, known as RTS,S or Mosquirix, has been in development for nearly 30 years, and is further along in the approval process than any other candidate. But it is no panacea. In clinical trials, it was less than 40 percent effective even after four shots…” (McNeil, 10/23).

Reuters: World’s first malaria vaccine delayed as WHO experts urge caution
“…GSK said it was ready to work with the WHO to support the pilot implementation of the vaccine. ‘We hope this will provide the additional information needed about how to best deliver the vaccine in a real-world setting,’ a spokeswoman said…” (Miles et al., 10/23).

ScienceInsider: WHO panel recommends pilot trials of so-so malaria vaccine
“…[The vaccine] could still save well over a hundred thousand lives every year, [WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts, or SAGE,] Chair Jon Abramson, a pediatrician at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said at a press conference today. The European Medicines Agency endorsed the use of the vaccine for African children six weeks to 17 months old in July…” (Kupferschmidt, 10/23).

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Consumption Of Processed Meat, Red Meat Associated With Higher Cancer Risk, WHO's Cancer Agency Says

News outlets highlight findings from a new report from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer examining the carcinogenicity of red meat and processed meat.

BBC News: Processed meats do cause cancer — WHO
“…Its report said 50g of processed meat a day — less than two slices of bacon — increased the chance of developing colorectal cancer by 18 percent. Meanwhile, it said red meats were ‘probably carcinogenic’ but there was limited evidence. The WHO did stress that meat also had health benefits…” (Gallagher/Briggs, 10/26).

The Guardian: Processed meats rank alongside smoking as cancer causes — WHO
“Bacon, ham, and sausages rank alongside cigarettes as a major cause of cancer, the World Health Organization has said, placing cured and processed meats in the same category as asbestos, alcohol, arsenic, and tobacco. The report from the WHO’s cancer arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said there is enough evidence to rank processed meats as group 1 carcinogens, because of a causal link with bowel cancer…” (Boseley, 10/26).

Reuters: Processed meat can cause cancer, red meat probably can: WHO
“…Red meat, under which the IARC includes beef, lamb, and pork, was classified as a ‘probable’ carcinogen in its group 2A list that also contains glyphosate, the active ingredient in many weedkillers. The lower classification for red meat reflected ‘limited evidence’ that it causes cancer…” (Trompiz, 10/26).

Washington Post: Hot dogs, bacon, and other processed meats cause cancer, World Health Organization declares
“…The report by the influential group stakes out one of the most aggressive stances against meat yet taken by a major health organization, and it is expected to face stiff criticism in the United States. The WHO conclusions are based on the work of a 22-member panel of international experts that reviewed decades of research on the link between red meat, processed meats, and cancer…” (Whoriskey, 10/26).

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Scientists Take Steps To Learn More About New, Emerging Diseases Such As MERS, Avian Influenza

Reuters: MERS, Ebola, bird flu: Science’s big missed opportunities
“…Those [in Europe who agree to participate in a flu clinical trial this year] could be helping the world prepare for the next potentially deadly disease pandemic as well as helping scientists who are now desperate to plug gaps in knowledge left by previous missed opportunities. Scientists are largely in the dark about how to stop or treat the slew of never-seen-before global health problems of recent years, from the emergence of the deadly MERS virus in Saudi Arabia, to a new killer strain of bird flu in China and an unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa…” (Kelland, 10/26).

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Increased Spending, Cash Incentives Helped Peru Lower Maternal, Child Mortality, NPR Reports

NPR: To Save The Lives Of Babies And Mothers, Ask For Advice From Peru
“…Since 2008, when Peru was added to the countries monitored in the [Countdown to 2015: Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival] report, the country has cut maternal deaths by an annual average rate of 4.4 percent and childhood deaths by an average rate of 6.2 percent a year. It wasn’t magic. It was, in no small part, money…” (Brink, 10/23).

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SciDev.Net Audio Slideshow Examines HIV Prevention, Treatment Strategies In Cambodia

SciDev.Net: Face to face with Cambodia’s HIV fighters
“…Thanks to heavy government investment and international aid, Cambodians now have free access to HIV tests, antiretroviral drugs, and counseling. As a result, new HIV infections have dropped from 3,500 in 2005 to 1,300 in 2013. … In this audio slideshow, Didier Fontenille, director of research foundation the Pasteur Institute in Cambodia, discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the country’s HIV response” (Ortolani/Di Bella, 10/23).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Recognize World Polio Day, Discuss Issues Surrounding Disease's Eradication

VOA News: World Polio Day: How Far We’ve Come, What’s Left to Do
Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“…We’re tantalizingly close to eradicating polio — but we are not there yet. [World Polio Day] is a good day to recognize our successes, reaffirm our commitment, and take stock of what’s needed to reach the ultimate goal of ending polio once and for all. … We are committed to overcoming the final obstacles to eradicating polio forever and ensuring that children everywhere live free from this terrible disease. To end polio forever, all countries must strengthen vaccine service delivery, address gaps in disease surveillance, and do more to reach children missed by vaccination programs…” (10/23).

Devex: Humanitarian diplomacy offers the olive branch needed in today’s violent world
John Hewko, general secretary of Rotary International and the Rotary Foundation

“…From Sri Lanka to Syria and Nigeria, [humanitarian] diplomacy — as practiced by members of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and its partners, which has reduced polio cases by 99.9 percent since its launch in 1988 — is creating new models and tactics for humanitarian organizations. The best practices of humanitarian diplomacy aim to achieve sustainable results by combining top-level negotiations with local peace initiatives. … [T]he coalition-building and agile engagement strategies of humanitarian diplomacy will be crucial in achieving many of the benchmarks of the Sustainable Development Goals” (10/23).

Huffington Post: The U.S. Government Must Continue to Lead Efforts to End Polio
Justine Lucas, global programs director at the Global Poverty Project

“…With less than one percent of polio cases remaining, it is absolutely critical that the United States government continues investing in polio eradication efforts. Our government’s investment in polio eradication is the only way to yield the ultimate return: future generations of children free from this devastating disease. … Eradication cannot be taken for granted — as we have seen through previous setbacks, seeing the end of polio forever will require every country to play a key role. Now is the time for the United States, and other key donors, to continue their tremendous support for polio eradication efforts and consider increases as necessary to eradicate this disease once and for all” (10/24).

The Hill: Prime Minister Sharif can make polio eradication his legacy
Mubasher Rana, president of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America

“…While there are encouraging signs that the government of Pakistan and other high-level leaders in the country have made polio eradication a priority, there is an urgent need for a redoubled commitment at all levels to overcome the remaining challenges. This includes direct oversight from Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who [was] in Washington, D.C., [last] week for an official White House visit. … Polio can be eradicated, and Pakistan has an incredible opportunity to bring the world over the finish line. By building on recent momentum, and with the support of the international community, Pakistan can show us all what’s possible when we commit to a goal…” (10/23).

Forbes: A Tragedy The World Will Celebrate
Devin Thorpe, Forbes contributor

“…Friday, Rotary and UNICEF held their annual World Polio Day to celebrate the progress being made in the global effort to eradicate the disease … While [polio] could not be eradicated without an effective vaccine … credit must also be given to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the team of organizations that has been working to end polio since the mid-1980s. … With the world focused intently on the eradication of polio, every case is scrutinized. … A focused effort will be required this winter to bring an end to polio…” (10/25).

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Experimental Viral Pneumonia Vaccine Could Save Thousands Of Newborn Lives If Mothers Get Immunized

CNN: A new way to protect babies from pneumonia
Keith Klugman, director of the pneumonia team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…Data available to date shows that when a pregnant woman receives a vaccine she can naturally produce antibodies that she then passes on to the baby. Therefore, immunizing expectant mothers is a potentially groundbreaking approach that could dramatically reduce the number of child deaths. … We are thrilled that a promising vaccine to tackle the leading cause of viral pneumonia (respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV), appears closer to reality than ever. … [T]he Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a grant of up to $89 million to Novavax, Inc. to develop this vaccine against RSV in high- and low-income countries. The funding will go toward a larger trial to better understand how effective this vaccine is for pregnant women and their newborns. … A new vaccine to tackle viral pneumonia would be a major scientific achievement and, more importantly, would have the potential to save thousands of lives…” (10/23).

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Public Health Preparedness Efforts Must Increase To Prevent Tropical Disease Outbreaks In Southern Europe, Middle East

Washington Post: A new wave of diseases threatens Southern Europe and the Middle East
Peter J. Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine

“…[A] new wave of tropical infectious disease is threatening Southern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. … [I]t is apparent that an enormous band of territory extending from Spain and Morocco in the west to Asia Minor, Iran, and the Arabian Peninsula in the east is under threat and could become a source for epidemics that imperil the world. … Action is urgently needed to answer this threat. Key needed measures include expanded surveillance for selected tropical infections, as well as studies to better understand how these infections are transmitted and where they originate. A global health-security agenda launched last year and endorsed by the G7 countries is intended to address some of these urgent issues. Wherever possible, public-health preparedness efforts must be intensified on both sides of the Mediterranean and in the Middle East…” (10/23).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Bill Gates Writes Thank You Letter To Polio Workers, Presents Photo Essay Marking World Polio Day

Gates Notes: Dear Polio Fighter…
Writing on his personal blog, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, presents a thank you letter to the “international coalition of people fighting the disease: the volunteers and front-line health workers who go out and deliver vaccines, the leaders who make it a priority, the funders who underwrite the work.” In the letter, Gates writes, “For me personally, it is an honor to support your amazing work. One day we will come together to celebrate the end of polio, and the world will know that it was only possible because of what you are doing” (10/22).

Gates Notes: Scenes From the Polio Fight
This photo essay with text by Bill Gates presents scenes from around the world to mark the occasion of World Polio Day, recognized on October 24, and highlight progress in efforts to eradicate the disease (10/22).

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Lancet Series Examines Strategies To Eliminate TB

The Lancet: How to eliminate tuberculosis
“…This Lancet Series, led by Salmaan Keshavjee, looks to translate existing knowledge, strategies, and approaches into effective interventions in the communities most afflicted by tuberculosis. His group decided on a goal: to work towards achieving zero deaths from tuberculosis, and to create a scientifically-based roadmap outlining the steps needed to reach this goal.” The series includes commentaries; a profile of Keshavjee, a physician and director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Global Health Delivery — Dubai; and several articles examining different methods and strategies to control, and eventually eliminate, tuberculosis (10/26).

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WHO Strategy For Malaria 'Sets Ambitious But Achievable Global Targets'

Tropical Health Matters: Eradication, Elimination: What is Feasible — WHO Global Malaria Program
In his blog, formerly named “Malaria Matters,” Bill Brieger, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, presents a letter by Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO’s Global Malaria Programme, in which he “provide[s] a reminder of WHO’s position and strategy.” Brieger presents definitions for malaria elimination and eradication and highlights the WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030, which “sets ambitious but achievable global targets” (10/24).

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Blog Post Examines Efforts To Prevent, Treat Filarial Diseases

PLOS “Speaking of Medicine”: Filarial Diseases and the Nobel Prize for Medicine: Going Even Further for Neglected Patients
“Claudia Pena Rossi of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative reflects on the Nobel Prize winning work of William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura and the current challenges in the fight against filarial diseases…” (10/23).

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