KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Health Systems Cannot Keep Up With Ebola Cases, WHO Says; Death Toll Passes 2,400

News outlets report on the rising Ebola death toll in West Africa.

CNN: West African health centers can’t keep up with Ebola outbreak, WHO says
“The number of new Ebola cases is growing faster than the ability of health officials to handle them, the head of the World Health Organization said Friday…” (Payne, 9/12).

New York Times: Ebola Outpaces Global Response, WHO Says
“A month after declaring the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a global health emergency, the World Health Organization warned on Friday that the disease is still outpacing the international response to contain it…” (Cumming-Bruce, 9/12).

Reuters: Ebola cases rising faster than ability to contain them — WHO
“West Africa’s Ebola outbreak is running ahead of health authorities’ ability to contain it, particularly in the three hardest-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday…” (9/12).

Reuters: West Africa Ebola toll rises to more than 2,400 dead
“The death toll from West Africa’s Ebola outbreak has risen to more than 2,400 from at least 4,784 cases, but that is highly likely to be an underestimate, the World Health Organization’s Director-General Margaret Chan said on Friday…” (9/12).

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News Outlets Examine International Community's Ebola Response, Future Challenges

News outlets examine the response to the West African Ebola outbreak and the challenges that lie ahead.

BuzzFeed News: How Global Health Failed Liberia As The Ebola Outbreak Took Hold
“…Liberia’s poor health infrastructure is no secret. … So when one of the world’s deadliest diseases hit a country that had never seen it before, with a health infrastructure that major global health players knew was weak, it’s no wonder health officials … expected a more urgent response…” (Moore, 9/11).

National Journal: What’s Needed to Make the Ebola Relief Effort Work?
“Just about everyone agrees that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is out of control, but no one wants to take responsibility for controlling it. … ‘Right now the prognosis is grim,’ said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. ‘In the absence of all this aid that’s proposed but not yet provided, it seems like the epidemic is on a growth curve, not a downward curve, with more and more cases appearing every week, and more and more deaths. … It’s hard to see far out in the future, but if current trends continue and there’s no change in the way the world, region, countries are intervening, it’s hard see how it won’t just increase, creating greater disruption’…” (Novack, 9/10).

Washington Post: Global response to Ebola marked by lack of coordination and leadership, experts say
“More than six months into the worst Ebola outbreak in history, there is no clear sense of who is leading the international response, how funds are being collected and disbursed, which organizations are providing equipment and personnel, and when any of these efforts will make a significant difference in slowing the epidemic in West Africa…” (Sun, 9/11).

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Calls For White House, Congress To Do More In Ebola Response

News outlets report on congressional comments and action on the West African Ebola outbreak.

The Hill: Coons: We must do more to fight Ebola
“Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) called on the White House to designate a point person to deal with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. ‘It is time for the rest of us to step up,’ Coons said on the Senate floor Thursday. Coons also suggested that the U.S. military provide logistical support and that the administration provide more financial aid…” (Cox, 9/11).

The Hill: Ebola survivor to testify before Congress
“An American doctor who contracted Ebola in West Africa and survived after treatment in the United States will testify before lawmakers about the worsening epidemic. Kent Brantly of Samaritan’s Purse will speak at a joint Senate hearing on Tuesday, staff for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) announced…” (Viebeck, 9/11).

Roll Call: Staffers, Diplomats Call for Capitol Hill to Act on Ebola Crisis
“…[On Thursday,] a group of 25 that included diplomats from Liberia, Cameroon, and staffers from the Congressional African Staff Association gathered on the East Front to bow their heads for two moments of silence. One was observed for the victims of the [September 11] attacks 13 years ago; the second was for victims of the Ebola epidemic…” (Hess, 9/11).

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WHO Calls For Additional HCWs In Ebola-Hit West Africa; Cuba To Send 165 Personnel

News outlets report on the WHO’s call for additional health care workers to respond to Ebola in West Africa, as well as Cuba’s and the Red Cross’s responses to the call.

Reuters: WHO asks for more health workers to fight Ebola as death toll grows
“The number of new Ebola cases in West Africa is growing faster than authorities can manage them, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, renewing a call for health workers from around the world to go to the region to help…” (Kelland/Miles, 9/12).

Associated Press: Cuba sending dozens of doctors to fight Ebola
“Cuba’s health ministry said Friday it is sending more than 160 health workers to help stop the raging Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, providing a much-needed injection of medical expertise in a country where health workers are in short supply…” (Cheng, 9/12).

Forbes: Cuba Responds To Ebola Crisis; Black Market For Convalescent Serum
“Cuba will be sending 63 doctors and 102 nurses, epidemiologists, specialists in infection control, intensive care specialists, and social mobilization officers to set up World Health Organization-funded Ebola clinics in Sierra Leone. The workers will deploy in the beginning of October and stay for six months…” (Kroll, 9/12).

Agence France-Presse: Red Cross to train more volunteers to scale up Ebola fight
“The Red Cross said Thursday it planned to train more than 2,000 extra volunteers to step up its response to the deadly Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa. … Since the outbreak began at the beginning of the year, IFRC said it had trained some 3,500 volunteers across the three hardest-hit countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, and that it planned to push that number to over 5,600…” (9/11).

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Ebola Outbreak An 'Avoidable Tragedy,' U.K. MPs Say In Report

The Guardian: Ebola outbreak an avoidable tragedy, say U.K. MPs
“The Ebola epidemic that has so far killed more than 2,200 people in West Africa was an ‘avoidable tragedy’ that underlines the vital need for Britain and other international donors to spend more on strengthening health systems in developing countries, an influential group of U.K. MPs has warned. In a blunt report published on Friday, the Commons International Development Committee urged Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) to place greater emphasis on building up weak health systems and to draw on the medical and managerial expertise of the NHS in doing so…” (Jones, 9/12).

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Microsoft Co-Founder Allen To Donate $9M To CDC For Ebola Response

Reuters: Microsoft co-founder Allen to give $9 million for Ebola fight
“Microsoft Corp co-founder Paul Allen’s charitable foundation on Thursday will announce it is donating $9 million to support U.S. efforts to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, a source familiar with the matter said. … Allen said the donation from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation will help CDC establish emergency operations centers in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone… Last month, Allen’s foundation donated $2.8 million to the American Red Cross for its work on the outbreak…” (Begley, 9/11).

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Liberian Hospitals, Burial Teams Overwhelmed By Growing Number Of Ebola Cases, Deaths

News outlets report on the conditions of health facilities and workers in Ebola-affected Liberia.

IRIN: Liberian Ebola burial teams stressed, traumatized
“As the Ebola death toll mounts in Liberia, burial teams are having to contend with physical risk and trauma as they take charge of safely burying the dead, often in the face of local anger…” (9/12).

New York Times: Dying of Ebola at the Hospital Door
“Monrovia, the Liberian capital, is facing a widespread Ebola epidemic, and as the number of infected grows faster than hospital capacity, some patients wait outside near death…” (Solomon, 9/11).

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U.N. Will Keep Peacekeeping Forces In Liberia To Support Nation During Ebola Outbreak

U.N. News Centre: Ebola: U.N. will ‘stay the course’ in Liberia, peacekeeping chief says
“The United Nations will continue to stand by Liberia and its neighbors currently battling an ‘unprecedented’ Ebola outbreak, the organization’s peacekeeping chief pledged today in Monrovia, spotlighting his mission to assess how the U.N. can further support the country…” (9/11).

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Number Of Ebola Cases, Deaths Rise In DRC, WHO Reports

News outlets report on the rising Ebola death toll in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Associated Press: 35 deaths attributed to Ebola outbreak in Congo
“The World Health Organization says that an Ebola outbreak in Congo is thought to have killed 35 people of the more than 60 sickened. … Officials say the current outbreak is not related to another taking place in West Africa blamed for the deaths of more than 2,200 people…” (9/11).

New York Times: Ebola Cases Rise Rapidly in Congo
“The number of Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo doubled over the past week to 62, the World Health Organization reported Thursday, and more than half the afflicted patients have died…” (Gladstone, 9/11).

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Ebola Will Slow Economic Growth In West Africa, IMF Says

News outlets report on the potential impact Ebola will have on West African economies.

Agence France-Presse: IMF says Ebola will savage W. African economies
“The Ebola epidemic could slice more than three percentage points off economic growth in the worst-hit countries of West Africa, requiring hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid, the IMF said Thursday…” (9/11).

NPR: Fast-Moving Ebola Slows Down Liberia’s Economy
“Postwar Liberia had struggled back onto its feet in the past decade, after the civil war, and was just catching its collective breath when Ebola landed. One of the lasting effects of Ebola on the country is likely to be its impact on the economy…” (Quist-Arcton, 9/11).

Reuters: IMF says Ebola hits economic growth in West Africa
“Economic growth in Liberia and Sierra Leone could decline by almost 3.5 percentage points as the world’s worst outbreak of Ebola has crippled mining, agriculture, and services sectors in the two West African states, the IMF said on Thursday…” (Yukhananov, 9/11).

Washington Post: Ebola is ‘devouring everything in its path.’ Could it lead to Liberia’s collapse?
“With Ebola’s death toll surging and a top United Nations official declaring that ‘the rate of acceleration is now picking up dramatically,’ Liberian officials have been making dire pronouncements about the deepening crisis in their country…” (Ohlheiser, 9/11).

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Ebola Outbreak Spurs Rise In Search For Treatment, Vaccine, Other Tropical Disease R&D

News outlets report on the search for an effective Ebola treatment.

The Economist: Fast-tracking treatments
“…The scale of the present [Ebola] outbreak, together with the fear and suffering it is causing, has resulted in a burst of scientific activity to find new treatments and vaccines. Some of these medicines look promising. But to contain the spread of Ebola, scientists and health officials will have to bypass many of the existing rules that govern the delivery of new drugs, and develop potential remedies with unprecedented speed…” (9/13).

Wall Street Journal: Glaxo’s Ebola Vaccine and the Rise of Tropical Disease R&D
“One surprising feature of the Ebola outbreak is that drug giant GlaxoSmithKline PLC was already developing a vaccine for the disease, which kills fewer than 100 people on average a year. Are drug companies finally becoming more interested in neglected tropical diseases?… [F]inancial arguments may finally be leading Big Pharma to increase its minuscule investment in research and development of new drugs for tropical diseases…” (Plumridge, 9/11).

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3rd U.S. Ebola Patient Receives Transfusion From Recovered Patient, Shows Improvement

News outlets report on the ongoing recovery of an American aid worker who contracted Ebola and received blood donations from former Ebola patient Kent Brantly.

ABC News: U.S. Ebola Patient Gets Serum From Recovered Victim to Fight Virus
“An American Ebola survivor has donated blood to help an infected U.S. doctor fight the deadly disease. Dr. Richard Sacra, missionary with the group SIM, received a ‘convalescent serum’ created from plasma donated by former Ebola patient Dr. Kent Brantly, officials at the Nebraska Medical Center said…” (Mohney, 9/11).

New York Times: Aid Worker Recovering From Ebola
“Dr. Rick Sacra, an American aid worker stricken with Ebola in Liberia, is making a remarkable recovery, his wife and doctors said Thursday. One reason could be transfusions of blood plasma he received from Dr. Kent Brantly, a fellow missionary who recovered from the disease…” (Pollack, 9/11).

Reuters: Third U.S. Ebola patient showing ‘remarkable improvement’
“The third American to be treated for Ebola in the United States is showing ‘remarkable improvement’ after receiving an infusion of plasma from U.S. Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, as well as an undisclosed experimental drug, his doctors said on Thursday…” (Steenhuysen, 9/12).

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WHO To Announce Global Health Initiative On Needle Safety

TIME: WHO to Start New Global Health Initiative For Needle Safety
“At the TEDMED conference in Washington, D.C., Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), revealed that the organization will announce its third-ever global health initiative and policy in October. The initiative this time is around needle safety…” (Sifferlin, 9/11).

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Nearly Half Of Girls In South Asia Marry By Age 18

Associated Press: UNICEF: 46 percent of South Asia girls marry by 18
“Nearly half of girls in South Asia marry before their 18th birthday as children in the region continue paying the price of persistent inequality, according to a UNICEF report released Thursday…” (Olson, 9/11).

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Flooding In Pakistan, India Displaces Nearly 1M People

News outlets report on flooding in Pakistan and India that has displaced nearly one million people.

The Guardian: Kashmir monsoon floods leave 460 dead and displace almost a million
“Authorities in Pakistan and India are struggling to cope with raging monsoon floods which have killed more than 460 people, displaced nearly a million people, and still threaten many more. … The prime ministers of both India and Pakistan offered each other help at the weekend to deal with the disaster, which temporarily diverted attention from fighting along the national borders. The crisis is the first humanitarian emergency in India since Narendra Modi took power in India in May…” (Burke/Boone, 9/11).

IRIN: “Super-flood” risk Pakistan
“Late monsoon rains in northern Pakistan have washed away communities, devastated farmland, and brought the risk of a ‘super-flood’ moving across the country, leaving millions of people potentially vulnerable. … The immediate needs are search and rescue, restoration of access, drainage, food, drinking water, and emergency health and shelter requirements for the growing number of flood displaced people in the 271 camps dotted across Punjab…” (9/11).

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Sanofi Pasteur Works To End Polio By 2018

SciDev.Net: Is the world on track for polio eradication by 2018?
“Polio is a viral disease that, until the 1980s, crippled an estimated 350,000 children every year. … SciDev.Net visited the Mérieux campus in Lyon, France, where the pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur works with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to produce and deliver more vaccines at a cheaper price to meet the goal of polio eradication by 2018…” (Bello, 9/11).

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Ugandan Maternal Mortality Case Adjourns, Prompts Disappointment From Human Rights Activists

Agence France-Presse: Landmark maternal mortality case adjourns in Uganda
“A court case spotlighting Uganda’s high mortality crisis — with an estimated 16 women dying in childbirth daily — adjourned Thursday, prompting disappointment from human rights activists. … After a brief hearing on Thursday, the matter was adjourned to a later date for judgement. [Asia Russell, Director of International Policy at Health GAP,] said it was ‘extremely disappointing’ that ‘after so much time to study such an important case, the Supreme Court Justices had not even one question for the attorneys in this matter'” (9/11).

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Global Food Prices Drop To 4-Year Low, FAO Reports

News outlets report on a drop in global food prices recorded by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

Bloomberg News: Food Prices Drop to 4-Year Low on Tumbling Milk to Oils
“Food prices fell to the lowest in almost four years in August as costs of milk, cheese, and cooking oils tumbled on signs of rising production. An index of 55 food items dropped 3.6 percent to 196.6 points, the lowest since September 2010, the United Nation’s Rome-based Food & Agriculture Organization said in an online report today…” (Ruitenberg, 9/11).

U.N. News Centre: Food prices drop to four-year low — U.N. agency
“Global food prices continued to dip for the fifth month straight reaching their lowest level since September 2010, the United Nations agriculture agency reported today…” (9/11).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Issues Surrounding West African Ebola Outbreak

The following opinion pieces discuss issues surrounding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Washington Post: The world yawns as Ebola takes hold in West Africa
Richard Besser, chief health editor at ABC News

“…There’s no cure for Ebola, but supportive treatment as simple as supplementary fluids can save lives and slow the spread of the disease. But many treatment centers are unable to provide even rudimentary care. Last week, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for more support for the region. … In my 13 years at the CDC, I never witnessed an outbreak as disturbing as this one. We have the tools to save thousands of lives, but our response has been inadequate. We underestimated this epidemic, and the people of West Africa are paying for it. We know how to control Ebola. It’s time to step up and get the job done” (9/11).

Washington Post: A concrete response to the Ebola outbreak cannot wait
Joanne Liu, international president of Médecins Sans Frontières

“…This Ebola outbreak is akin to a war, claiming lives, destroying communities, and perpetuating fear. No country could be expected to manage such a disaster without additional support. … Countries cannot focus solely on measures to protect their own borders. Only by battling the epidemic at its roots can we stem it. This is a transnational crisis, with social, economic, and security implications for the African continent. We cannot cut off the affected countries and hope this epidemic will simply burn out. To put out this fire, we must run into the burning building” (9/11).

New York Times: What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota

“The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has the potential to alter history as much as any plague has ever done. … There are two possible future chapters to this story that should keep us up at night. The first possibility is that the Ebola virus spreads from West Africa to megacities in other regions of the developing world. … The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. … This is about humanitarianism and self-interest. If we wait for vaccines and new drugs to arrive to end the Ebola epidemic, instead of taking major action now, we risk the disease’s reaching from West Africa to our own backyards” (9/11).

New York Times: A Closer Look at the Ebola Epidemic in the Context of Ecological Health
Andrew Revkin, writer at the New York Times Dot Earth blog

“The Ebola epidemic continues to rage in West Africa, and while it is very unlikely to reach pandemic scale … the outbreak provides a reminder of the linkages between disrupted ecosystems and human illness…” Revkin highlights blog pieces that explore this issue (9/11).

Inter Press Service: Ebola Crisis Reversing Development Gains in Liberia
Antonio Vigilante, deputy special representative of the secretary general, U.N. resident coordinator and UNDP representative in Liberia

“As the Ebola crisis continues to take a toll on people’s lives and livelihoods in West Africa, the focus is increasingly not just on the health aspects of the crisis, but also on its social and economic consequences. … The resurgence of the Ebola crisis since July and its gradual escalation into a national emergency in Liberia has diverted the focus and resources available to the authorities to the containment of the virus. In this phase of the crisis, it is necessary to act on all fronts to meet the devastating health, social, and economic challenges before Liberia and other affected countries see all their hard-won development gains dwindle to nothing” (9/11).

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Global Burden Of Disease Data Show Ending AIDS Epidemic Possible

The Lancet: MDG 6 and beyond: from halting and reversing AIDS to ending the epidemic
Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS executive director; Mark Dybul, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria executive director; and Deborah Birx, ambassador-at-large and U.S. global AIDS coordinator

“…Overall, [the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME) Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study 2013 data] echo our concerns that despite breakthrough progress, HIV continues to take a severe toll on health globally. We see a massive ongoing burden of deaths from AIDS-related illnesses that could be prevented. We all see places where more can be done. This is an essential message for political leaders and policymakers. No matter what lens you look through, the opportunity to make a transformative difference in HIV lies before us. … The GBD estimates show the enormous success of the global AIDS response to date, with the annual number of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths decreasing significantly in recent years. Most importantly, this progress is now allowing us to envisage ending the AIDS epidemic” (9/13).

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Development Initiatives Should Focus On Women's Empowerment

Science: Putting women and girls at the center of development
Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“The development field needs to be more serious about gender inequities and women’s empowerment. By ignoring gender inequities, many development projects fail to achieve their objective. And when development organizations do not focus on women’s empowerment, they neglect the fact that empowered women have the potential to transform their societies. I also review the Gates Foundation’s record on gender and propose some approaches to improve it…” (9/12).

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U.S. Global Health Engagement Must Be Flexible, Adaptable

The Lancet: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control: a crucial actor in global health
Johanna Hanefeld of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

“…At the heart of U.S. [global health] engagement is a tension between an agency accountable to domestic policy audiences — the U.S. Congress and through it the people of the USA — while shaping the health and services of people abroad with little say in setting these agendas. Overcoming this tension holds the most important lesson of U.S. engagement in global health: the need for more open and crucial dialogue about what works, to adapt, to evolve, and allow learning from implementation rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to reaching targets” (9/13).

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Oxfam America Report Examines World Bank's Investments In For-Profit Health In Africa

Huffington Post: World Bank Group’s For-profit Health Investments Fail to Reduce Inequality in Access to Health Care
Raymond Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America

“…In [World Bank] President Jim Kim’s own words, ‘achieving universal health coverage and equity in health are central to reaching the [Bank’s] global goals to end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity.’ But are all parts of the World Bank Group now aligned with this approach? In our new report, ‘Investing for the Few: The IFC’s Health in Africa initiative,’ we explore this question by reviewing the Bank Group’s investments in the for-profit health sector in Africa via the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Bank’s private sector lending arm. Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding ‘no’…” (9/11).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kaiser Family Foundation Web Briefing Discusses U.S. Global Health Budget Tracker

Kaiser Family Foundation: Web Briefing: The U.S. Global Health Budget Tracker
The Kaiser Family Foundation presents an archived video of an interactive web briefing discussing the foundation’s new global health tracker and demonstrating how to use it to analyze funding data. The briefing included Kaiser Family Foundation Vice President and Director of Global Health and HIV Policy Jennifer Kates, Director of the U.S. Global Health Budget Project Adam Wexler, and Global Health Policy Analyst Allison Valentine (9/11).

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Special Issue Of Science Magazine Discusses Global Health

Science: Introduction to Special Issue: What works
The editors of the September 12 edition of the magazine write, “This special issue of Science focuses on diverse areas where public health can be improved by making better use of the resources we have in our grasp, ranging from tailoring engineering projects to meet the needs of material- and infrastructure-limited regions, to building a surveillance network for the detection of drug resistance, to empowering women. Education is key for the general public, for decision-makers, and for the next generation of researchers, medical students, and public health professionals…” (Jasny et al., 9/12).

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Blog Post Discusses New Coalition To Promote Preterm Birth Research

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists”: New Coalition Seeks to Boost Preterm Birth Research
Eve Lackritz, deputy director of the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), discusses the Global Coalition to Advance Preterm birth Research (GCAPR), “a partnership initiated by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the March of Dimes Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an initiative of Seattle Children’s…” (9/11).

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CFR Senior Fellow Laurie Garrett Speaks About Ebola Outbreak

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “NewPublicHealth”: The Ebola Response: Q&A with Laurie Garrett, Council on Foreign Relations
“NewPublicHealth” interviews Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, about the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa (9/9).

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