KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Ebola Report Shows No New Cases For Week Ending October 4

News outlets discuss the latest WHO Ebola situation report showing no new cases were reported during the week ending October 4.

Agence France-Presse: WHO hails first full week with no new Ebola cases since March 2014
“No new Ebola cases were confirmed last week, marking the first full week without fresh cases of the deadly disease in a year an a half, the World Health Organization said Wednesday…” (10/7).

Deutsche Welle: WHO: No new Ebola cases in West Africa last week
“…The health body said in a report on Wednesday that there ‘remains a near-term risk of further cases’ of the deadly virus, which has killed 11,297 people out of 28,421 infected since the outbreak began…” (Winters, 10/7).

New York Times: No New Ebola Cases Were Reported in the Past Week, Health Agency Says
“…[T]he WHO has warned that Ebola could still come back because more than 500 people in Guinea who may have been exposed are still being monitored and will not be in the clear until a 21-day incubation period is over. In addition, health officials have lost track of some people who were considered high-risk contacts in Guinea and Sierra Leone…” (Grady, 10/7).

Reuters: Countries at heart of Ebola outbreak see first virus-free week
“…Sierra Leone released its last known Ebola patients on Sept. 28 and must wait 42 days until it can be declared free of the disease. Liberia received that declaration for a second time on Sept. 3 after a flare-up in June but remains under heightened surveillance. Guinea’s most recent cases were recorded on Sept. 27” (Brice, 10/7).

VICE News: It’s Been a Week Without Any New Ebola Cases in West Africa
“…As the number of cases drops though, closely monitoring contacts and any potential cases becomes increasingly crucial, WHO’s Ebola response director Rick Brennan explained in a previous interview…” (Ruble, 10/7).

Washington Post: There were no new cases of Ebola in West Africa last week for the first time since March 2014
“…Since the outbreak began early last year, 881 health workers were infected and 513 died…” (Bernstein, 10/7).

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President Obama Calls MSF President To Apologize For Mistaken U.S. Bombing Of Kunduz Hospital

New York Times: Obama Issues Rare Apology Over Bombing of Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan
“President Obama personally apologized on Wednesday to the head of Doctors Without Borders for what he described as the mistaken bombing of its field hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, promising a full investigation into the episode, which took the lives of nearly two dozen doctors and patients…” (Shear/Sengupta, 10/7).

POLITICO: Obama calls Doctors Without Borders head to apologize for airstrike
“…The apology came as [Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International President Joanne Liu] on Wednesday called for an international investigation into the deadly incident, saying it was ‘unacceptable’ that the bombing could be dismissed as collateral damage or a simple mistake…” (10/7).

Reuters: Obama apologizes for Kunduz attack, MSF demands independent probe
“…MSF said that an independent humanitarian commission created under the Geneva Conventions in 1991 should be activated for the first time to handle the inquiry. Three investigations have already begun into Saturday’s air strike that killed 22 people, including 12 MSF staff…” (Rampton/Nebehay, 10/7).

Wall Street Journal: Obama Apologizes for Afghan Airstrike on Hospital
“…[Obama’s] move marked a reversal from the White House position a day earlier, when [White House Press Secretary Josh] Earnest indicated the U.S. wouldn’t formally apologize for the airstrike until several investigations into the incident had made more progress. Mr. Obama since learned new information about the airstrike and decided to apologize, Mr. Earnest said, declining to offer details…” (Lee/Schwartz, 10/7).

Washington Post: Obama apologizes to head of Doctors Without Borders for strike on hospital
“…Earnest said that Obama promised Liu a thorough investigation ‘and if necessary will implement changes to make sure tragedies like this one are less likely in the future’…” (Ryan/Deane, 10/7).

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TPP Likely Will Impact Several SDGs, Devex Reports

Devex: Why Obama’s legacy trade agreement matters for development
“…For stakeholders in the development industry, fresh off their own pivotal week in New York, the long-sought Trans-Pacific Partnership will have substantive impact on several of the Sustainable Development Goals that government, civil society, and business leaders recently agreed to achieve in the next 15 years…” (Mendoza, 10/7).

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Scientists Say Trials Needed To Test Influenza Drugs' Effectiveness During Potential Outbreaks

Reuters: Scientists call for urgent trials to judge flu drugs for pandemics
“Scientists still don’t know if two commonly used flu drugs — Roche’s Tamiflu and GlaxoSmithKline’s Relenza — really work in seasonal or pandemic flu outbreaks and say robust clinical trials are urgently needed to find out…” (Kelland, 10/7).

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Indonesia Trys To Maintain Viability Of National Health Insurance System Under Mounting Costs

Wall Street Journal: Indonesia’s Health Care Program Struggles With Its Own Success
“Just over a year ago, Indonesia created what has quickly become, at least for now, the world’s largest national health insurance system. … But like nascent health care systems in some other developing countries, Indonesia’s program is struggling to live up to its own ambitions…” (Rachman, 10/7).

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Syrian Children Need Access To Medical, Mental Health Care, Education, Panel Participants State

Global Health NOW: Syria’s Lost Generation
“Syrian children risk becoming a ‘lost generation’ if they don’t receive medical care, psychological support, and education, according to representatives of groups grappling with how to protect children displaced by the Syrian civil war. … Speaking at a panel discussion Monday at Yale University, [Unni Karunakara, former international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF),] estimated that 70 percent of health facilities in Syria have been destroyed…” (Shufro, 10/7).

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Ukrainian Group Calls For Destruction Of 3.7M Polio Vaccines Because Of Safety Concerns Under Country's Guidelines

The Guardian: Ukraine could destroy 3.7m polio vaccines despite risk of major outbreak
“…The All-Ukrainian Council for Patients’ Rights and Safety has alleged the vaccines are unsafe, because the frozen vaccines partially thawed while in air transit to Ukraine from the manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur in France. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) says the transport and refreezing were carried out in line with international best practice, the complaint alleges that the process contradicts a set of Ukrainian guidelines that state the vaccines cannot be refrozen…” (Tucker, 10/7).

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Devex Examines Hunger, Nutrition As Global Development Issue

Devex: Understanding hunger
“Hunger — one of the most perennial calls-to-action in global development — is misunderstood…” Devex includes comments from several experts about nutrition and food fortification (Anders, 10/7).

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The Economist Examines Efforts To Eradicate Malaria

The Economist: Eradicating disease
“To exterminate a living species by accident is normally frowned on. To do so deliberately might thus seem an extraordinary sin. But if that species is Plasmodium falciparum, the sin may be excused. This parasitic organism causes the most deadly form of malaria…” (10/10).

The Economist: Breaking the fever
“…[V]igilance has brought Swaziland to the threshold of becoming the first malaria-free country in sub-Saharan Africa, the part of the world most blighted by the disease. Swaziland’s struggle is part of a wider battle that the world is waging — and winning. If it succeeds, Swaziland will join more than 100 countries that have eliminated malaria within their borders…” (10/10).

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Researchers Developing Ways To Cure Worm Infections By Targeting Bacterium Necessary For Life Cycle

The Atlantic: How to Cure The Diseases That Nobel-Winning Drugs Cannot
“…No one is entirely sure what [the bacterium Wolbachia] does in the worms, but it is clearly essential. The nematodes cannot complete their life cycles without these microbes. They couldn’t trigger intense disease, either. When the worms die, they release their Wolbachia into their hosts. And while these bacteria can’t infect us, they can trigger inflammation. Mark Taylor from the University of Liverpool thinks that it’s the combination of immune responses against the worms and their bacteria that leads to the intense symptoms of filarial diseases…” (Yong, 10/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

Cuban Health System Offers Lessons For Prevention, Health Diplomacy

Forbes: A Look Inside Cuba’s Family Clinics
Bill Frist, former U.S. senator from Tennessee and chair of Hope Through Healing Hands

“…Over the course of three visits to Cuba in the past year I have learned much about this nation, its people, its art, and its health care system. … The heavy emphasis on prevention aligns well with the health outcomes reported in Cuba: low infant mortality (even if not as low as reported), and long life expectancy. … I’m struck by how powerful a tool health care can be for diplomacy. The differences between our country and [Cuba] are vast and complicated, but sitting down together — physician with physician — [we can] find much common ground. We can learn from one another. We love our communities and we want to build healthy habits and enable healthy choices for the people in them” (10/7).

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International Community Must Invest In Health Workforce To Achieve 2030 Agenda

Devex: Investing in health workforces: The path toward the SDGs starts here
Jim Campbell, director of health workforce at the WHO and executive director at the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA)

“…A strong and motivated health workforce is key to a resilient, integrated, and people-centered health system. Without a fit for purpose workforce, the world puts itself at risk of not only failing to meet the ambitious targets of the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)], but of even reversing progress in the face of population growth and unexpected challenges, such as the Ebola outbreak. … We all have an opportunity to set off on the right path toward the achievement of the SDGs in 2030. Ensuring that we create the conditions for employment in the health and social sectors, addressing global deficits, and improving access to care is surely the smartest place to start the journey” (10/7).

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In Partnerships, Private Sector Can Advance Global Health Goals

Devex: Expanding the boundaries of global health: The intersection of the public and private sector
Laura Asiala, vice president of client relations & public affairs at PYXERA Global

“…An increasing number of companies are turning their attention — and their resources — to the vast health needs of the global population for two essential reasons: It represents opportunities to create shared value and it is foundational to a thriving economy. Relatively new to the landscape of international development, strategic partnerships help to guide the strategies, investments, and on-the-ground engagements that can inform the deployment of the resources only the private sector can bring. … [P]artnership is required to achieve [the Sustainable Development Goals]. No one organization — or one sector — can do it alone. The challenges these goals represent require the innovative thinking from a diverse community of talent — leveraging government, nonprofit, and private sector professionals alike. … [T]he private sector — especially in partnership — can provide their assistance to build a world of better health for all of us” (10/7).

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Reproductive, Maternal, Child, Adolescent Health Has 'Powerful Role' In Building Resiliency To Climate Change In Oceania Nations

Fiji Times: Pacific leadership pivotal in global health initiative
Ariela Zibiah, communication analyst at the UNFPA Pacific Sub-Regional Office

“…[Reproductive, maternal, newborn, children’s, and adolescents’ health (RMNCAH)] in the context of climate change … is crucial for resilience — whether one is speaking of human population or ensuring an enabling environment for RMNCAH to thrive. … The interplay between the impact of climate change and Pacific nations’ status of RMNCAH exists; the shifting realities of humanitarian and fragile settings needs to be better anticipated, planned for, and resourced. Oceania nations and peoples face unique challenges being at the forefront of impacts of climate change: investments in health, well-being, and dignity of women, young people, and children have a powerful role in shoring up the resilience of island communities…” (10/8).

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Vitamin A Supplementation Effective Way To Prevent Avoidable Blindness In Children

Huffington Post: Let’s recognize the Impact of Vitamin A on World Sight Day
Marion Roche, technical adviser at Micronutrient Initiative

“…The most efficient way to administer [Vitamin A] doses is in capsule form, distributed by health workers around the world. … Protecting a child’s sight in this way is not only simple, it’s inexpensive. It costs about two cents to manufacture a vitamin A capsule. The Micronutrient Initiative procures about 500 million capsules each year, meeting about 75 percent of the world’s need for high-strength vitamin A supplements. The return on that investment is huge. It’s estimated that every dollar spent generates about $17 through reduced health expenditure and increased productivity. We still have much more work to do. But World Sight Day provides an opportunity to use the progress we’ve made as inspiration to keep pushing toward that goal of stopping avoidable blindness for all children, everywhere” (10/7).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

House Resolution Would Recognize Importance Of Frontline Health Workers

ONE Campaign: One way to help fight preventable disease: Focus on frontline health workers
In a guest post, Scott Weathers, Global Health Corps policy fellow at IntraHealth International, discusses H.Res. 419, “Recognizing the Importance of Frontline Health Workers,” which is co-sponsored by Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), and “a growing list of co-sponsors.” Weathers notes, “This resolution would recognize the enormous impact of these health workers, whose work often puts their own well-being in great danger. It would also urge strong U.S. leadership and a coordinated U.S. government-wide action plan for its investments to help those same frontline health workers…” (10/7).

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NIH Research Funding Discussed At Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Senator: Move money from HIV research to “more important” diseases
Antigone Barton, senior writer and editor of “Science Speaks,” discusses remarks made by NIH Director Francis Collins and Sen. William Cassidy (R-La.) at an Appropriations Labor-HHS subcommittee hearing on NIH funding. Cassidy used “his question time to repeatedly suggest cutting funding for [HIV] research” in order to shift funding to other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Barton writes (10/7).

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WASH Resources, Education Helps Liberian Communities Prevent Ebola, Other Diseases

U.S. Global Leadership Coalition/Medium: Untouched: How 284 Liberian Communities Remained Ebola-Free
Piet deVries, senior adviser for water, sanitation, and hygiene at Global Communities, discusses how the organization’s efforts to eliminate open defecation in 284 Liberian communities helped those places remain Ebola-free during the epidemic. “…[P]eople who had been exposed to the program’s education were far more likely to develop healthier behaviors and practices that lead to Ebola resistance  –  especially when led by a member of their own community…” (10/7).

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Civil Society Health Manifesto Aims To Leverage Uganda's General Elections To Advocate For Health

PATH Blog: Advocates in Uganda launch national manifesto for health
Jude Bigirwenkya, regional advocacy officer at PATH in Uganda, discusses her work around launching the Civil Society Health Manifesto, which “demands that all political parties and candidates prioritize lifesaving health services. This is the first time that CSOs will join together to leverage Uganda’s general elections to amplify the health needs and rights of Ugandan citizens” (10/6).

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