KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S., Aid Organizations Ramp Up Ebola Efforts In Liberia; Reactions Mixed To Seemingly Fewer Cases

News outlets report on U.S. and international efforts to contain Ebola in Liberia, where an apparent drop in cases is bringing mixed reactions.

Agence France-Presse: Aid workers see hope as Ebola body count drops in Liberia
“The Red Cross offered hope Tuesday of a turning point in the battle against the deadly West African Ebola outbreak, saying it had seen a dramatic drop in bodies collected in Liberia’s capital…” (Dosso, 10/28).

Associated Press: Top U.N. Ebola official: new cases poorly tracked
“Authorities are having trouble figuring out how many more people are getting Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone and where the hot spots are in those countries, harming efforts to get control of the raging, deadly outbreak, the U.N.’s top Ebola official in West Africa said Tuesday…” (Muhumuza, 10/28).

CQ News: U.S. Ramps Up Ebola Response in West Africa
“International aid workers say they are beginning to see some early impacts of U.S. efforts to contain the Ebola virus in Africa, an effort being led by the U.S. Agency for International Development…” (Ferguson/Attias, 10/29).

New York Times: In Liberia, a Good or Very Bad Sign: Empty Hospital Beds
“…Around the country, treatment centers, laboratory workers who test for Ebola, and international and national health officials trying to track the epidemic have noticed an unexpected pattern: There are far fewer people being treated for Ebola than anticipated. … Now, new admissions to treatment centers are dropping or flatlining, the number of samples being submitted to Ebola laboratories has fallen significantly, and the percentage of people testing positive for the disease has dropped as well…” (Fink, 10/28).

Reuters: Liberia sees results in Ebola fight but long way to go: U.S. envoy
“Liberia is beginning to see results from international help to fight Ebola as the number of safe burials increases and laboratory testing times drop from five days to five hours in a remote area, freeing up treatment beds, U.S. envoy Samantha Power said on Tuesday…” (Nichols, 10/29).

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U.N.'s Ban Says World Must Stop Ebola 'At Its Source'

U.N. News Centre: ‘The only way to stop Ebola is at its source’ — U.N. chief
“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [on Tuesday] urged countries that have imposed travel bans or closed their borders in response to the Ebola outbreak of the need to convey a sense of urgency without inciting panic, saying ‘the only way to stop Ebola is to stop it at its source’…” (10/28).

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Obama Praises Ebola Workers, Says Treatment Upon Return To U.S. Should Not Discourage Other Volunteers

News outlets report on comments from U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday regarding monitoring health care workers returning to the U.S. from Ebola-hit West Africa.

Foreign Policy: Obama Tries Tamping Ebola Unrest Week Ahead of Election Day
“With the U.S. response to Ebola at home and abroad under attack on the campaign trail, President Barack Obama took his case that his administration is acting decisively and responsibly in addressing the epidemic to the public on Tuesday…” (Francis, 10/28).

The Hill: Obama: Ebola medics ‘doing God’s work’
“President Obama on Tuesday said policies governing the treatment of Ebola health care workers returning from West Africa should be tailored to support their efforts, an implicit rebuke of governors who have implemented mandatory quarantines…” (Sink, 10/28).

Reuters: Obama defends U.S. Ebola guidelines, backs American volunteers in Africa
“As the second of two nurses infected while treating an Ebola patient left an Atlanta hospital, President Barack Obama on Tuesday said policies adopted in the United States should not discourage Americans willing to fight West Africa’s outbreak…” (Chappell/Rampton, 10/28).

Washington Post: Obama assails Ebola quarantines, saying they are based on fear, not facts
“President Obama on Tuesday forcefully rejected the idea of a quarantine for medical­ workers returning from Ebola-affected­ countries, arguing that such an approach would undermine the broader effort to eliminate the epidemic…” (Eilperin et al., 10/28).

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Joint Chiefs Chair Suggests 21-Day Quarantine For U.S. Military Personnel Who Served In West Africa

News outlets report on the U.S. military’s suggested guidelines for Ebola monitoring for soldiers who have served in West African nations.

New York Times: Joint Chiefs Chairman Urges 21-Day Quarantine for Troops Working in Ebola Zone
“Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday that all members of the armed services working in Ebola-stricken West African countries undergo mandatory 21-day quarantines upon their return to the United States. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said that Mr. Hagel was expected to announce shortly that he would follow the recommendation…” (Cooper/Shear, 10/28).

Wall Street Journal: Joint Chiefs Urge Quarantine for U.S. Troops Back From West Africa
“…The recommendation, coming from the top officers of each of the country’s military branches, would extend a ‘controlled monitoring’ period, ordered on Monday for the Army, to the entire American military. Mr. Hagel has not yet decided whether to adopt the joint chiefs’ recommendation, officials said…” (Schwartz, 10/28).

Reuters: Obama sees different Ebola rules for U.S. military than for civilians
“President Barack Obama on Tuesday appeared to back more rigorous procedures for dealing with soldiers returning from missions to Ebola-hit West African countries, even as he criticized moves by some U.S. states to quarantine returning civilian health workers. Obama said that American military personnel were in a ‘different situation’ compared with health care workers…” (Alexander/Holland, 10/28).

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U.S. Senators To Introduce Bill Aimed At Speeding Development Of Ebola Drugs

News outlets report that leaders of the U.S. Senate Health Committee are planning on introducing a bill that would offer incentives for companies to develop Ebola treatments and vaccines.

Chattanooga Times Free Press: Lamar Alexander to introduce bill to speed development of Ebola treatment
“Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander will introduce a bill with Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin to help speed the development of Ebola treatments and vaccines. The bill is designed to add Ebola to FDA’s priority review ‘voucher’ program, a program at the Food and Drug Administration designed to incentivize the development of new drugs for neglected tropical diseases…” (10/28).

The Hill: Senators plan bill to speed up approval of Ebola drugs
“Leaders of the Senate Health Committee are planning to introduce a bill that would fast-track the creation of Ebola treatments by offering incentives to drug companies…” (Ferris, 10/28).

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U.S. Ebola Coordinator Klain Keeps Low Profile, Reuters Reports

Reuters: In Ebola response, Obama’s ‘czar’ stays behind the curtain
“…Ron Klain’s low-profile first week as President Barack Obama’s behind-the-scenes Ebola ‘czar’ has become another attack point for a White House struggling to show it’s on top of the crisis. Since starting last Wednesday, Klain has been seen only once, in a photo op on his first day, leaving health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health — and Obama himself — to be the public ‘face’ of the response…” (Rampton, 10/28).

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U.K. Umbrella Aid Group Launches Unprecedented Funding Appeal For Ebola

News outlets report that Britain’s Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has launched an appeal to raise funds to fight Ebola, making this the first time the group has sought to raise money in response to a disease outbreak.

The Guardian: Ebola crisis: DEC launches unprecedented appeal for public help
“The Disasters Emergency Committee is to launch an unprecedented appeal for help from the public to tackle the Ebola crisis in West Africa, warning that a medical emergency is turning into a humanitarian catastrophe…” (Boseley, 10/28).

Reuters: U.K. charities group launches appeal for Ebola, first for a disease
“Britain’s Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launched an appeal to raise funds for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa on Wednesday, the first time the charities group has sought to raise money in response to a disease…” (Young, 10/29).

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Australian Ebola Coordinator Questions Nation's Visa Ban; Beijing Recommends Home Quarantine For Returned Ebola Workers

Reuters reports on Australian and Chinese efforts to reduce the risk of Ebola entering their borders.

Reuters: Australian Ebola ‘tsar’ questions government’s West Africa visa ban
“Australia’s newly appointed Ebola tsar challenged the government’s blanket ban on visas from West African nations affected by the deadly virus, saying the controversial measure was not supported by medical evidence…” (Siegel, 10/29).

Reuters: Beijing recommends home quarantine for people coming from Ebola regions
“China’s capital will suggest to people returning from regions affected by Ebola to quarantine themselves at home for 21 days, and to undergo twice daily temperature checks if they have had contact with patients, state media said on Wednesday…” (Blanchard, 10/29).

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West Africa Missed Out On Health Investment Because Of Low HIV Rates, Survey Shows

The Guardian: Low HIV and AIDS rates saw West Africa ‘miss out on health investment’
“West Africa, now in the throes of a calamitous Ebola epidemic, missed out on significant health investment over the past decade or more because it had low rates of HIV, a detailed survey of the changing health of Africa and Asia reveals…” (Boseley, 10/28).

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U.S., Germany To Provide Humanitarian Assistance For Syrian Refugees

News outlets report on U.S. and German humanitarian aid pledges for Syrian refugees in Middle East host nations.

The Hill: U.S. pledges $10M more to aid Syrian refugees
“The United States will provide an additional $10 million in humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees, the State Department announced Tuesday. The new funding, provided through the United Nations Development Programme, is meant to help countries in the Middle East hosting the more than three million refugees who have fled Syria…” (Shabad, 10/28).

Wall Street Journal: Germany Pledges Aid to Countries Sheltering Refugees From Syria
“Germany pledged €500 million ($635 million) over the next three years to help Syria’s neighbors cope with the influx of refugees fleeing civil war and terror. Speaking after a conference in Berlin on the refugee crisis in Syria, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Berlin will provide €140 million in extra funding this year, and ‘at least’ €500 million in humanitarian and development aid between 2015 and 2017…” (Torry, 10/28).

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Almost 25M People In Sahel Experiencing Food Insecurity, OCHA Estimates

IRIN: Nearly 25 million food insecure in Sahel
“Food security and malnutrition rates across the Sahel are deteriorating, due in large part to ongoing conflict and instability in the Central African Republic (CAR), northern Mali, and northeast Nigeria, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)…” (10/29).

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Calls For New Global Infectious Diseases Agency Gaining Ground, VOA Reports

VOA News: Does Ebola Reveal WHO Shortfalls?
“As the Ebola outbreak rages in three West African countries — and raises fears abroad — some are questioning whether the World Health Organization is being stretched too thin. A proposal for a new global agency to deal strictly with infectious diseases is gaining some support…” (DeCapua, 10/28).

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Experts Warn Of TB-Diabetes Co-Infection

Reuters: Experts sound alarm as diabetes fuels cases of TB
“Cases of tuberculosis are set [to] accelerate worldwide unless action is taken to curb diabetes, a chronic condition that weakens the immune system and triples the risk a person will develop the lung disease, health experts warned on Wednesday…” (Hirschler, 10/29).

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Jordan Experiencing Increase In Antibiotic-Resistant Infections As Patients From Region Seek Care

The Atlantic: Invincible Bacteria in the Middle East
“…For virulent infections, even fewer antibiotics are effective, and treatment is more complex. And as health systems deteriorate in surrounding countries, war-injured patients with complicated wounds are flocking to Jordan, the Middle East’s top destination for medical tourism, for treatment, bringing fierce infections with them…” (Whitman, 10/28).

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Text Message Reminders Could Help Patients Finish Malaria Treatment, Study Shows

News outlets report on a study published in PLOS ONE that examined how text message reminders could help patients finish malaria medications.

FOX News: Simple text message reminders may help fight malaria
“Text message reminders to take malaria medication may help fight the disease, found a new study published in PLOS ONE…” (10/28).

Science World Report: Could Text Messaging Help Stop Malaria?
“Texting may actually help combat malaria, according to recent findings published in the journal PLOS ONE. … Researchers at the Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), a non-profit organization and Harvard University, reported that one of the major issues with combating malaria is getting patients to finish their medications — otherwise known as artemisinin-based combination therapies…” (Lees, 10/29).

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Zimbabwe Doctors Strike To Demand Pay Increases

Agence France-Presse: Zimbabwe doctors strike for better pay
“Patients waited in long queues while others were being turned away at state hospitals in Zimbabwe on Tuesday as hundreds of doctors staged a strike to press for higher pay. Around 300 junior doctors went on strike at the lapse of a two-week ultimatum for the government to address their demands for a pay rise of around 400 percent…” (10/28).

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South African Researcher Wins Prize For Work On HIV Prevention

The Guardian: The South African HIV scientist who gave girls back control of their bodies
“Last weekend Quarraisha Abdool Karim, one of South Africa’s top HIV researchers, became the first woman to receive a US$100,000 (£62,000) prize for developing world scientists. The prize is a welcome recognition for the 54-year-old epidemiologist. Abdool Karim has devoted her career to developing tools that African women can use to protect themselves against HIV…” (Nordling, 10/28).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Examine Various Angles Of Ebola Epidemic

The following opinion pieces examine various angles of the Ebola epidemic, including international efforts to contain the outbreak, the response in the U.S. and Europe, the science of Ebola, and Ebola’s potential impact on development goals.

USA TODAY: USAID chief: We will stop Ebola in West Africa
Rajiv Shah, USAID administrator

“In the heart of the Ebola epidemic, there is a clear sense of hope. I’ve just returned from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, where I met dozens of health workers, humanitarians, and community leaders who are making a difference in this fight. There is no question that the pace, ingenuity, and scale of our global response must continue to grow quickly. But at a time when fear and misinformation spread panic faster than a virus, let’s not miss the opportunity to scale up what’s working, fix what isn’t and bring the best of science, technology, and innovation to bear on this devastating disease. … But the United States cannot end this epidemic alone. Already the U.S. response — in dollars alone — accounts for more than one-third of the global commitment. As President Obama has stressed, governments, international organizations, and the private sector must step up far more aggressively…” (10/28).

New York Times: A Rational Quarantine
Steven Corwin, chief executive of New York-Presbyterian Hospital

The Atlantic: Assessing the Science of Ebola Transmission
Stephen Goldstein, a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania

Foreign Policy: Stop Playing Cowboy on Ebola
Gregg Gonsalves, co-director of the Global Health Justice Partnership at Yale Law School

Wall Street Journal: Why No Ebola Travel Ban? Politics
Holman Jenkins, columnist and member of the editorial board at the Wall Street Journal

FOX News: Ebola crisis: Team Obama takes politically correct approach, ignores science
Betsy McCaughey, chair of Reduce Infection Deaths, senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, and former lieutenant governor of New York

The Guardian: Ebola is a risk the U.K. can defend against locally
Paul Netherton, assistant chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police

Inter Press Service: Ebola, Human Rights and Poverty — Making the Links
Alicia Ely Yamin, lecturer on global health and policy director at the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, and chair of the Center for Economic and Social Rights

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Devex Series Continues To Examine Ways To Advance Global Health

The following opinion pieces are part of Devex’s new #HealthyMeans series examining ideas to advance global health outcomes.

Devex: For-profit health care: Eliminate, tolerate or stimulate?
Marty Finnegan, a consultant focused on building and strengthening social enterprises

“…Policy choices range from eliminating the involvement of the private sector in health care to stimulating it as a contributor to universal coverage. … In my view, a better solution is to embrace and stimulate for-profit health care in two ways: first, by recognizing its role and then acting to improve its reach and performance. Secondly, by understanding corporate strengths and adapting them for the public health care system…” (10/27).

Devex: Building on the microcredit platform for better child health
Valerie Flax, research assistant professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

“…Two ways to efficiently reach out to a large number of women on breastfeeding are through microfinance programs and cellphone messages. … By building innovative face-to-face and mobile health components onto a microcredit program, we can spread messages to women in the groups and their friends and neighbors, greatly broadening the impact…” (10/28).

Devex: The next big challenge: From new ideas to greater health outcomes
Eliza Villarino, senior news producer at Devex

“…Today, quite a number of medicines, health diagnostics, and delivery mechanisms are lagging behind their potential. … Scaling up new ideas in global health is a challenging venture. It requires leadership, funding and buy-in from a variety of stakeholders, from patients to providers, from the public to the private sector. Cross-sector partnerships can facilitate the process, but there’s no silver bullet to sustainably scaling up new ideas in global health…” (10/27).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Former CGD Fellow Argues Ebola Response Must Account For Long-Term Health Systems Development

Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy Blog”: Letter from Liberia: Ebola Is Not a Failure of Aid or Governance
Amanda Glassman, senior fellow and director of global health policy at CGD, presents a letter from Gyude Moore, a former Scott Fellow at CGD and current deputy chief of staff to Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who “writes that the conversation around — and money for — Ebola needs to consider the long-term improvements to health systems so that countries like Liberia can better fight against the next epidemic…” (10/28).

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Guardian Launches Interactive Ebola Funding Tracker

The Guardian: Ebola funding tracker — interactive
“Actual payments fall significantly short of amounts pledged … to fight Ebola. Our interactive tracks daily the total contributions pledged by countries and organizations, and records what has actually been paid out towards the U.N. target of $988m…” (Galatsidas, 10/28).

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German NTD Network Launched

Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End The Neglect”: Newly Formed German NTD Network Poised to Advance NTD Advocacy
Michelle Brooks, policy director for the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, writes, “On September 22nd, the Global Network was thrilled to support a launch event for the German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases. … By joining with the United States and the United Kingdom — two leaders in providing funding for NTD programs — Germany has the potential to play a key role in accelerating efforts to control and eliminate NTDs…” (10/28).

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New Global Campaign Launched To Raise Awareness Of Stroke Among Women

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: October 29 is World Stroke Day
Mary George, deputy associate director for science and senior medical officer in the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, writes, “On October 29, 2014, for World Stroke Day, the World Stroke Organization will launch a new campaign around women and stroke. Every year 3.2 million women die of strokes globally … and thousands of other women are suffer long-term disabilities resulting from stroke. The ‘I Am Woman’ campaign … raises awareness about the special challenges of stroke in women and how women can reduce their risk and protect their health…” (10/27).

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