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In The News

Ebola 'Patient Zero' Likely 2-Year-Old African Boy, Researchers Suspect

New York Times: Tracing Ebola’s Breakout to an African 2-Year-Old
“Patient Zero in the Ebola outbreak, researchers suspect, was a 2-year-old boy who died on Dec. 6, just a few days after falling ill in a village in Guéckédou, in southeastern Guinea…” (Grady/Fink, 8/9).

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News Outlets Continue To Discuss Ethical Issues Related To Experimental Ebola Treatment

News outlets discuss the debates surrounding experimental Ebola drugs.

Associated Press: Spanish Ebola patient gets experimental drug
“Spain has imported a U.S.-made experimental Ebola drug to treat a Spanish missionary priest evacuated from Liberia last week after testing positive for the killer virus…” (Giles/Cheng, 8/11).

BBC News: Resolving the ethics of the Ebola dilemma
“A group of ethicists will meet on Monday at the World Health Organization to discuss the wisdom or otherwise of making an experimental drug more widely available to those suffering from Ebola…” (Sokol, 8/10).

The Hill: Obama’s Ebola dilemma
“The Obama administration is grappling with ethical questions over its response to an increasingly dire outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa. At the center of the debate is an experimental treatment given to two American Ebola patients that was facilitated in part by a U.S. government health worker. Calls are rising for health agencies to fast-track approval of the drug for use by African patients. But President Obama said that move would be ‘premature’ given questions about the serum’s effectiveness…” (Viebeck, 8/9).

Reuters/ABC News Australia: Ebola vaccine trials involving humans flagged as health crisis is expected to worsen
“A clinical trial of an experimental vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus, which has killed nearly 1,000 people in West Africa, is expected to begin soon. British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is co-developing the vaccine with U.S. scientists which is said to have produced promising results in animal studies involving primates…” (8/11).

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Rwanda Tests Possible Ebola Case; Nigeria Confirms Additional Case

News outlets continue to report on the Ebola outbreak, noting a possible case in Rwanda and the ongoing outbreak in Nigeria.

Agence France-Presse: Rwanda’s health ministry says tests possible Ebola case
“Rwanda has placed a German student with Ebola-like symptoms in isolation, and was waiting for test results checking for the deadly tropical disease, the health ministry said…” (8/11).

Associated Press/Washington Post: Nigeria confirms 1 more Ebola case
“Nigeria has one more confirmed Ebola case, a nurse who was treating the Liberian-American who flew into the country with the disease and died of it last month, the health minister announced Monday…” (8/11).

New York Times: Nigeria Struggles to Cope With Ebola Outbreak
“Ebola, one of the world’s most fatal diseases, has surfaced in Africa’s most populous country. Nigerian health officials have announced 10 confirmed cases and two deaths in the country from the Ebola outbreak that is sweeping West Africa, including a nurse and a man from Liberia whom the nurse had been caring for…” (Tavernise, 8/10).

Reuters: Nigeria’s Lagos now has 10 Ebola cases: health minister
“Nigeria’s Lagos has 10 confirmed cases of Ebola, up from seven at the last count, although only two so far have died, including the Liberian who brought the virus in, the health minister said on Monday…” (Eboh, 8/11).

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U.S. Missionaries Returning From West Africa Will Be Quarantined

Reuters: Returning U.S. missionaries to be quarantined because of Ebola
“Health officials in North Carolina said on Sunday they will require missionaries and others coming home after working with people infected with Ebola in Africa to be placed in quarantine as a precaution against the spread of the deadly viral disease…” (Dunham, 8/11).

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Obama Administration Provides Humanitarian Aid, Approves Airstrikes In Iraq; U.K. To Support Aid Drops

News outlets report on the Obama administration’s announcement that the U.S. has approved airstrikes and is providing humanitarian aid in Iraq, as well as Britain’s pledge to provide aid.

Foreign Policy: Obama Authorizes Airstrikes and Aid Drops in Iraq
“U.S. President Barack Obama announced Thursday that he has authorized targeted airstrikes and humanitarian aid drops in Iraq…” (Casey, 8/8).

Foreign Policy: Obama Won’t Set Timetable for Iraq, As Airstrikes, Humanitarian Aid Continue
“…Obama seemed to indicate that the airstrikes, military assistance, and humanitarian aid mission that began Thursday would not be over anytime soon. The commander-in-chief said he would not set a timetable for ending U.S. engagement there…” (Lubold, 8/9).

Wall Street Journal: Barack Obama Approves Airstrikes on Iraq, Airdrops Aid
“President Barack Obama authorized targeted airstrikes and emergency assistance missions in northern Iraq, saying Thursday the U.S. must act to protect American personnel and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in the face of advances by violent Islamist militants…” (Barnes et al., 8/8).

Washington Post: How the U.S. plan for humanitarian aid and airstrikes in Iraq unfolded
“…Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of Iraqis belonging to the minority Yazidi sect were dying of dehydration and starvation atop a barren mountain in northern Iraq, surrounded by militants who had vowed to kill them if they descended. Iraqi government efforts to drop food and water to them had failed, with pallets loaded with supplies crashing onto the rocks…” (DeYoung, 8/8).

Bloomberg Businessweek: Fallon Says U.K. to Send Food Aid to Iraqis Stranded on Mountain
“The U.K. will assist the U.S. in its humanitarian mission in Iraq and and food aid to some of Iraq’s displaced minorities, [U.K.] Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said…” (O’Donnell, 8/8).

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U.N. Warns Somalia Needs Assistance To Prevent Famine

News outlets report on the U.N.’s warnings that Somalia needs assistance to prevent famine.

Reuters: Somalia donors must act now to avoid famine ‘catastrophe’ — U.N.
“War-ravaged Somalia is hurtling towards a second famine in three years that could be prevented if donors increased funding, Philippe Lazzarini, United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator for Somalia said on Sunday…” (Jorgic, 8/10).

U.N. News Centre: ‘World must act now’ to avert repeat of devastating famine in Somalia — U.N. expert
“A United Nations human rights expert [on Friday] urged the international community to ‘act now’ to avert a humanitarian disaster in Somalia, where a widening hunger crisis has sparked fears of a repeat of the 2011 famine that devastated the war-ravaged country…” (8/8).

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HIV/AIDS Remains 'Urgent Threat' In Africa

Inter Press Service/AllAfrica: Africa: Stigma Still a Major Roadblock for Aids Fight in Africa
“Though West Africa’s massive Ebola outbreak may be dominating the spotlight within the global health community, HIV/AIDS remains an enormous issue for Africa as a whole — a sentiment that Washington officials made clear this week in their discussions of legislative and technological setbacks plaguing progress in fighting the epidemic. Despite the World Health Organization’s announcement Friday that Ebola is now an ‘international public health emergency,’ doctors, academics, and policymakers met Thursday at the Washington office of Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a health-policy non-profit, to discuss the similarly urgent threat posed by HIV/AIDS, the subject of last month’s 2014 International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia…” (Hotz, 8/9).

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Rising Number Of HIV Infections In Brazil Show Weaknesses In Programs, Especially Among Youth

Associated Press: HIV infections rise, thwart Brazil’s AIDS efforts
“…While Brazil has long been seen as a global model in the fight against AIDS, activists and officials say more and more youths share [an] unawareness of HIV risks, or are unconcerned about them. Even as HIV infection rates have begun declining in many other places, cases have been slowly rising in Brazil — with the sharpest jump among youths 15 to 24…” (Licon, 8/9).

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Tanzanian Women Urging Partners To Undergo Circumcision To Reduce HIV, HPV Risk

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Tanzanian women lobby male partners to be circumcised
“…In [Efrazia Ngwabi's] village, talking candidly about circumcision would have once been unthinkable, but as people’s attitudes begin to change due to awareness campaigns, more women are actively encouraging their male partners to be circumcised, she said…” (Makoye, 8/8).

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Al Jazeera Examines Legal Battle Between Botswana, HIV-Positive Foreign Inmates

Al Jazeera: Botswana in legal battle with foreign inmates
“…Foreign inmates are expected to finance their own HIV/AIDS treatment, according to the Botswana government’s HIV/AIDS policy guide. The prisoners say the government has denied them ‘the right to life’ and are fighting to have ‘freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment, discrimination, and inequality’…” (Baatweng, 8/10).

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Ethiopia's Decriminalization Of Abortion Helping To Reduce Maternal Deaths

IRIN: Ethiopia’s game-changing abortion law
“After decades battling high maternal death rates — at least a third of which were due to botched abortions — Ethiopia took a stand: it prioritized newborn and maternal health, and in 2005 it relaxed its abortion law in an effort to save women’s lives. Stopping short of legalizing abortion, the new law decriminalized the act…” (8/8).

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India's School Lunch Program Needs Focus On Safety, Accountability

The Guardian: Lessons learned from India’s midday meal scheme for schoolchildren
“…India’s midday meal scheme is the largest school feeding program of its kind in the world and counts former U.S. president Bill Clinton among its admirers. The scheme was set up in 1995 to ensure hunger didn’t prevent children from attending school and nearly 120 million children are fed daily. But the program is rife with corruption and improperly implemented, which frequently endangers and lets down the vulnerable population it seeks to serve…” (Pain, 8/11).

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Public Private Partnerships Key To Food Security In Philippines

Eco-Business: Public private partnerships key to ensuring food security
“Philippines Presidential Adviser for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, Francis Pangilinan, says the public sector must facilitate and support private investments in agriculture and fisheries, and in particular, investments for the poor and marginalized…” (Reyes, 8/11).

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Editorials and Opinions

Public Health Measures Should Bring Ebola Outbreak 'Under Control'

New York Times: Controlling the Ebola Epidemic
Editorial Board

“On Friday, the World Health Organization formally declared an international public health emergency in response to what its director general, Dr. Margaret Chan, called ‘the largest, most severe, most complex outbreak’ of the deadly Ebola virus ‘in the nearly four-decade history of the disease.’ And what has the world done in those 40 years to defend against the disease? Not much. … [Now] the CDC has elevated its response to the highest possible level and is sending 50 more health care professionals to the area, backed by hundreds more professionals in this country. Sierra Leone, which has the highest number of cases, is planning to deploy hundreds of troops and police officers to enforce isolation measures that its residents have so far ignored, and Liberia, with the second largest number, has declared a 90-day state of emergency that allows it to suspend civil liberties and impose quarantines. Nigeria has also declared a state of emergency. Such public health measures should ultimately, although perhaps not quickly, bring the outbreaks under control” (8/10).

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Opinions, Editorial Discuss Response To Ebola Outbreak

The following opinion pieces and editorial discuss the response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Washington Post: Can the World Health Organization lead? Do we want it to?
Jeremy Youde, associate professor of political science at the University of Minnesota Duluth

“On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the current Ebola outbreak a ‘public health emergency of international concern.’ Ebola is only the third disease to receive this designation, underscoring its importance. This declaration means that the world is facing a serious health emergency that requires a ‘coordinated international response’ that puts WHO front and center at facilitating the world’s response. This should be the time for WHO to shine. While it’s too early to know exactly what effect this designation will have, WHO’s track record on responding to Ebola doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence. … We must remember, though, that many of WHO’s shortcomings in responding to this outbreak are the result of limitations placed on the organization. If we want a WHO that can respond more quickly and with more resources, the international community has to be willing to support such an organization” (8/8).

Financial Times: Cure a moral ailment that allows Ebola to fell the poor
Clive Cookson, science editor

“…The dearth of properly tested drugs or vaccines for the most lethal haemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola and Marburg disease is a sign of the low priority given until recently to the development of treatments for combating infection. The world is now waking up… The pharmaceutical industry, which has little market incentive to develop new antibiotics only to see them unused and held in reserve, has no more reason to work on cures for infections in the developing world. Fear of bioterrorism has provided some US government funding for research. But a more robust mechanism is needed to develop treatments for these lethal germs, put them through clinical trials and build up supplies for use in an emergency. Even if the science is conquered, a moral and political challenge will remain” (8/8).

The Lancet: Ebola: protection of health workers on the front line

“…Health workers on the front line are at increased risk of contracting Ebola by coming into contact with the bodily fluids of infected patients. Use of adequate personal protective clothing and equipment when caring for patients or the deceased, thorough cleaning, and effective waste disposal, can substantially reduce the risk of infection. Worryingly, last week the World Medical Association reported that many of its junior doctor members dealing with the outbreak had not been provided with essential protective equipment. The situation is disturbing and unacceptable. Governments, WHO, and the international community have a collective responsibility not only to fully staff the effort to bring Ebola under control, but also to provide adequate protective clothing, training, and support for anyone coming into contact with patients” (8/9).

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Future U.S.-Africa Summits Should Reflect Human Rights, Increased Investment Strategies

Washington Post: Africa summit marks a tectonic shift that should be bolstered
Editorial Board

“Even while irrational fears about Ebola’s spread to the United States swirled, the three-day Africa summit in Washington [last] week managed to crystallize the continent’s continued evolution from a beneficiary of U.S. aid and security interventions to a partner in trade. … Sadly, the summit dealt little with human rights improvements that would sustain Africa’s growth. … The administration’s long-term strategy must include both human rights and increased investment, and future summits should reflect this…” (8/8).

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Opinion Recognizes Former President George W. Bush's Work To Improve Health In Africa

Washington Post: Distinguished pol of the week
Jennifer Rubin, opinion writer

“Former president George W. Bush spoke at the Africa leaders summit this week. … Unlike President Obama, he did not rely on platitudes or speak as if Africa were one big, undifferentiated country. He spoke about specific programs in three countries in which he is involved and announced he was extending his work to two more countries… It was a reminder how dedicated he was and is to women’s rights and human rights more generally. … For his efforts in saving millions of people from AIDS and other diseases, his ongoing spotlight on human rights and his farsightedness on the Middle East, we can say well done, President Bush” (8/10).

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Helms Amendment Interpretation Is A 'Violation Of Women's Human Rights'

The Hill: Helms amendment blocks aid to African women
Suzanne Ehlers, CEO of Population Action International (PAI)

“…For 40 years, the Helms amendment has been applied as a blanket restriction on the use of U.S. funds to pay for abortions. Since its passage, policymakers have gone beyond the letter of the law, barring foreign assistance dollars from paying for abortion services even under the direst circumstances — cases that have nothing to do with family planning — cases where women have suffered rape or incest or whose pregnancies put their lives in danger. … Redefining the Helms amendment is about access to safe treatment for survivors of sexual violence, and for women whose lives are in danger during pregnancy. Most Americans — even conservative members of Congress — accept the rights of women to receive abortions in these exceptional cases. The current interpretation of the Helms amendment is not only inconsistent with U.S. policy; it is a violation of women’s human rights that hurts the most vulnerable. The president can correct the misinterpretation of the Helms amendment immediately and without congressional approval. It’s time to fix this broken policy and end a forty-year injustice” (8/8).

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Recent Releases

PEPFAR, CIFF Partner To Increase Acccess To HIV Treatment For Children In Africa

UNAIDS: New initiative announced to expand access to treatment for children in Africa
“The United States government has recently announced that the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), in partnership with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), is planning to significantly increase the number of children who have access to life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ART) across ten priority African countries over the next two years…” (8/8).

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U.S.-African Health Partnerships Key To Improving Health

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Investing in Health: Investing in Africa’s Future
Elizabeth Jordan, acting special representative for the Secretary’s Office of Global Health Diplomacy, writes about the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and notes that the partnerships between U.S. government agencies and African countries “will ensure a healthier human family” (8/8).

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The Guardian To Host Q&A On Resilience Building In Humanitarian Response

The Guardian: Ebola, dengue and cholera: how can we contain epidemics earlier?
Rachel Banning-Lover, content co-coordinator for the Guardian’s Global Development Professionals Network, discusses disease outbreaks and announces a live question and answer session to be hosted by The Guardian on resilience building in humanitarian responses (8/8).

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