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In The News

WHO Panel Says It Is Ethical To Use Experimental Ebola Drugs

News outlets report on a statement from the WHO that a panel has reached consensus that it is ethical to offer experimental treatment as prevention for Ebola.

Associated Press: U.N.: It’s ethical to try untested Ebola medicines
“The World Health Organization declared Tuesday that it’s ethical to use unproven Ebola drugs and vaccines in the outbreak in West Africa provided the right conditions are met…” (Cheng, 8/12).

Financial Times: WHO says experimental drugs can be used to treat Ebola virus
“Experimental and untested drugs can be used to help combat the spread of Ebola in West Africa, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, as the official death toll from the worst ever outbreak of the virus topped 1,000…” (Cookson, 8/12).

New York Times: World Health Body Endorses Use of Experimental Drugs Against Ebola Virus
“The World Health Organization on Tuesday endorsed the use of untested drugs to combat the Ebola virus, just hours after a Spanish priest who had been supplied with experimental medication became the first European to die of a disease that has claimed more than 1,000 lives in West Africa and which ranks as the worst known outbreak…” (Cumming-Bruce/Cowell, 8/12).

Reuters: WHO backs use of experimental Ebola drugs in West Africa outbreak
“It is ethical to offer unproven drugs or vaccines to people infected or at risk in West Africa’s deadly Ebola outbreak, a World Health Organization panel of medical ethics experts ruled on Tuesday, but cautioned supplies will be limited…” (Kelland/Nebehay, 8/12).

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Ebola Death Toll Tops 1,000

News outlets report on the growing death toll from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Associated Press/Washington Post: Ebola death toll in West Africa passes 1,000
“The World Health Organization says the death toll in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has passed 1,000…” (8/11).

Reuters: West African Ebola outbreak death toll reaches 1,013: WHO
“The death toll from the worst ever outbreak of Ebola has reached 1,013 after another 52 people died in the three days to Aug. 9 in three West African countries, the World Health Organization said on Monday…” (8/12).

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Liberia To Receive Experimental Drug To Treat Two Doctors With Ebola

News outlets report on Liberia’s announcement that it would receive sample doses of an experimental drug to treat two doctors infected with Ebola.

Associated Press: Liberian doctors to get experimental Ebola drug
“Liberia announced Monday that it would soon receive doses of an experimental Ebola drug and give it to two sick doctors, making them the first Africans to receive some of the scarce treatment in a spiraling outbreak…” (Paye-Layleh/Cheng, 8/11).

BBC: Liberia to receive ZMapp drug to treat Ebola virus
“Liberia will receive an untested experimental drug, ZMapp, to treat people infected with Ebola, the Liberian government says. The move came after a request to the U.S. from Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the government said…” (Ross, 8/12).

CNN: Experimental Ebola drug on its way to Liberia
“The government of Liberia says that sample doses of the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp will be sent there to treat doctors who have contracted the deadly virus. The White House and Food and Drug Administration approved the Liberian request for the drug to be made available to them…” (Cullinane, 8/12).

Reuters: Liberia to give two doctors trial drug, Ebola toll at 1,013
“Liberia said on Tuesday it would treat two infected doctors with the scarce experimental Ebola drug ZMapp, the first Africans to receive the treatment, while authorities in Spain said a 75-year-old priest had died of the disease…” (MacDougall/Flynn, 8/12).

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GSK To Start Clinical Tests For Ebola Vaccine

News outlets report on GlaxoSmithKline’s announcement that it will begin to clinically test an Ebola vaccine.

The Hill: Glaxo to start clinical trials for Ebola vaccine
“British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline will start clinically testing an Ebola vaccine as international health workers struggle to contain an outbreak of the deadly disease. Glaxo will partner with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to start a Phase I trial, giving the vaccine to a limited number of patients to test its effectiveness, in the next few months…” (Al-Faruque, 8/11).

Reuters: Clinical trial to start soon on GSK Ebola vaccine
“A clinical trial of an experimental vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus is set to start shortly, according to British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, which is co-developing the product with U.S. scientists…” (Hirschler, 8/11).

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Health Care Workers Face Threat Of Ebola Infections

News outlets report on efforts to reduce Ebola infections among health care workers.

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Must reduce infections among doctors, nurses to get Ebola under control, USAID says
“Reducing Ebola infections among doctors, nurses, and morgue workers is a priority in the struggle to control the outbreak of the virus in West Africa, a U.S. official said on Monday…” (Dawson, 8/12).

Washington Post: The challenge of stopping Ebola when it keeps killing doctors
“…Since the worst Ebola outbreak in history first emerged in March in West Africa, 1,013 have died — including 81 health-care workers of 170 infected, according to statistics just released by the World Health Organization. The Liberian government announced on Monday the producer of the drug ZMapp, which treated two American healthcare workers, was shipping more of the drug to treat infected Liberian doctors. But even with that announcement, the sheer number of deaths among healthcare workers and the subsequent fear have crippled some medical units fighting Ebola, which is currently killing around 60 percent of those infected…” (McCoy, 8/12).

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Polio Vaccination Campaign Launched In Conflict-Torn Iraq

News outlets report on the announcement of a new polio vaccination campaign in Iraq, which is part of national efforts to tackle the reemergence of the virus and is supported by WHO and UNICEF.

Bloomberg News: Polio Vaccination Efforts Begin in Conflict-Torn Iraq
“UNICEF and the World Health Organization yesterday began a four-day campaign to try to vaccinate 4 million children for polio in Iraq, a difficult task in a region ravaged by fighting…” (French, 8/11).

New York Times: Amid Iraq’s Political Chaos, a New Polio Vaccination Campaign Faces Challenges
“Increasingly worried about the possible spread of polio amid Iraq’s escalating chaos, UNICEF and the World Health Organization said Monday that they had begun a mass vaccination in what amounts to a test case of whether Islamist extremists will allow such an effort in areas they control…” (Gladstone, 8/11).

UNICEF: Mass Polio Vaccination Campaign Supported by WHO and UNICEF Kicks Off in Iraq
“Iraq has launched a polio immunization campaign aiming to protect over four million children under the age of 5 throughout the country against the crippling disease. The four-day campaign, undertaken by the Ministry of Health with the support of WHO and UNICEF, is part of the national response to the re-emergence of the polio virus earlier this year…” (8/11).

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U.N. Prepares To Mark World Humanitarian Day

U.N. News Centre: World Humanitarian Day: More people than ever need help
“Spotlighting humanitarians who often take great risks to help communities in need, World Humanitarian Day 2014 will feature events ranging from a 5K run/walk in Mogadishu, a wreath-laying ceremony at London’s Westminster Abbey, a radio talk show with disaster management experts in Papua New Guinea, and the launch of a postage stamp honoring the late United Nations humanitarian veteran Sergio Vieira de Mello…” (8/11).

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U.S.-Funded Program Strengthens Medical Education In Africa

New York Times: Africa, With U.S. Help, Graduates More Doctors
“An ambitious United States government project to strengthen medical education in sub-Saharan Africa is reporting broad progress in addressing the continent’s critical shortages of physicians and health care workers…” (Saint Louis, 8/11).

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Ugandan President Not Rushing Reintroduction Of Anti-Gay Law, Lawmaker Says

News outlets report on the upcoming reintroduction of the controversial anti-gay law that was invalidated by the Ugandan court earlier this month.

Associated Press/Washington Post: Uganda president not keen on rushing anti-gay law
“President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda is urging parliamentarians not to rush to reintroduce a controversial anti-gay law that was invalidated earlier this month, saying the measure is not a priority and could hurt the country’s economic development. Museveni, who held a meeting Monday with lawmakers from his party, urged parliamentarians ‘not to cause chaos’ by quickly reintroducing the bill, according to Medard Bitekyerezo, a lawmaker who strongly supports the anti-gay measure…” (8/12).

Reuters: Uganda’s Museveni wants to water down anti-gay law: lawmaker
“Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni wants to issue a watered-down version of a divisive anti-gay law, stripping out tough penalties for consenting adults, a ruling party lawmaker said on Tuesday…” (Biryabarema, 8/12).

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Economic Crisis In Zimbabwe 'Severely Affecting' Country's Health System

IRIN: Zimbabwe’s health system in crisis
“Zimbabwe’s deepening economic crisis is severely affecting the government’s ability to fund public health delivery and restricting poor people’s access to health care, economists, government officials, and health experts agree…” (8/11).

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Polio In Pakistan Threatens Global Goal, Polio Achievements In Other Countries

Times of India: WHO says polio virus from Pak has spread to Israel, Iraq
“India may be gearing up against Ebola but a more serious threat is at hand. One of 21st century’s greatest public health achievements — India wiping out polio, is now under serious threat from across its borders…” (Sinha, 8/11).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Issues Surrounding Ebola Response

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

Bloomberg Businessweek: The Ebola Outbreak Shows Why the Global Health System Is Broken
Charles Kenny, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development

“…[T]he Ebola outbreak is a wake-up call to governments everywhere: The international health system is broken. Preventing a recurrence of this tragedy will require more money and attention on global progress against infectious disease and epidemics. … Why hasn’t Ebola been stamped out already? The problems start with national health systems. … Extremely poor countries with crumbling health systems simply don’t have the ability to monitor outbreaks and isolate and care for victims of an epidemic or to provide cheap and effective tools to protect people from major killers. That’s why greater international support is essential. … More broadly, diseases of the poor don’t get research attention from medical companies, because those organizations want to develop treatments for people who can pay a lot for them. … If we want to save lives abroad and protect ourselves from future threats posed by diseases that really could spread in the U.S., it’s time to replace periodic panicked calls for quarantine in response to a new outbreak with sustained support for global health systems” (8/11).

The Hill: The real Ebola dilemma
Heather M. Ross, nurse practitioner in cardiac electrophysiology at Arizona Arrhythmia Consultants and faculty member at Arizona State University

“President Obama’s Ebola ethics dilemma is merely a headline — a critical case that illustrates a much broader problem with medical research and particularly vaccine development in the United States and worldwide. … [W]hen we rely on a market-based system to drive medical research that may not be profitable in the short term or even medium term, that system is unlikely to respond to potential future threats — no matter how high the potential cost — if there is not a reasonable promise of economic return in the end. As many scholars have noted in the past, the system is designed to yield a flood of drugs to treat high cholesterol and erectile dysfunction, but barely a trickle of vaccines for rare but deadly viruses. … I suggest that the real ethical dilemma here is not whether to fast-track approval and production of the Ebola treatment that has been used experimentally, but whether medical research should be funded by a predominantly market-driven system with the work of critical drug discovery left to the underfunded public sector…” (8/12).

The Seattle Times: Guest: Ebola needs a new model of drug development
Jennifer Dent, president of BIO Ventures for Global Health

“…Americans and other health care workers are among those infected with Ebola. But none of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies have invested in developing treatments for Ebola. A new drug-development paradigm is critical. The current, conventional drug-development approach does not work when it comes to creating treatments for rare and uncommon diseases like Ebola. … In order to effectively develop treatments for neglected infectious diseases, including ones recently identified in the United States such as West Nile virus and dengue fever, partnerships involving biopharmaceutical companies are absolutely critical. … Collaborations between researchers in Africa, academics around the world and the pharmaceutical industry not only advance the medical needs of developing nations but also establish multinational networks to address rapidly emerging diseases that may affect all of us” (8/11).

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Cuba's Health Care System Can Serve As Example To Other Countries

Huffington Post: Cuba’s Health Care System: a Model for the World
Salim Lamrani, doctor, Paris Sorbonne Paris IV University, and lecturer, University of La Réunion

“According to the U.N.’s World Health Organization, Cuba’s health care system is an example for all countries of the world. … Despite extremely limited resources and the dramatic impact caused by the economic sanctions imposed by the United States for more than half a century, Cuba has managed to guarantee access to care for all segments of the population and obtain results similar to those of the most developed nations. … During her recent visit to Havana in July of 2014, Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), impressed by the country’s achievements in this field, praised the Cuban health care system… In praising Cuba, the World Health Organization stresses that it is possible for third-world countries with limited resources to implement an efficient health care system and provide all segments of the population with social protection worthy of the name. This is possible if the political will exists to put human beings at the center of the project” (8/8).

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Better Detection, Treatment Strategies Needed To Beat TB

Huffington Post: Decades-old Tools No Match for Today’s Drug-resistant TB
Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention

“…To get serious about ending the threat of TB in the U.S. and reducing its human cost worldwide, we need action on three main fronts: First, U.S. health care providers and local health departments need to work together to make sure that every single case of TB is diagnosed and effectively treated. … Second, global TB control efforts need to be strengthened so that more people receive effective, timely treatment and avoid developing drug resistance. … Finally, we need 21st-century TB tools to fight TB…” (8/11).

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American Global Health Efforts 'Worth Celebrating'

Roll Call: Something to Celebrate: America’s Lifesaving Work
Sam Daley-Harris, founder of RESULTS

“Dire headlines from around the globe and polls showing a record-breaking plunge in the public’s confidence in our Supreme Court, Congress and the office of the president may make the average American want to throw up their hands in despair. But in what many might consider the least expected place to look, I have found something truly worth celebrating. I wish more Americans knew about the unprecedented American effort that saves millions of children’s lives around the world every year providing a true beacon of hope…” (8/11).

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Medical Male Circumcision Powerful Tool In Overcoming Spread Of HIV

Mail & Guardian: Comment: Safer, due to unforeskinned circumstances
Festus Gontebanye Mogae, former president of Botswana and member of Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation

“… Any man who wants to receive medical circumcision to prevent HIV should be able to access it from a trained health provider. … As more men take responsibility for their health and well-being, our leaders must not let them down. We have made tremendous progress toward ending AIDS, considering where we started. But we aren’t out of the woods yet — AIDS is still upon us. Medical male circumcision is a powerful, safe, and affordable way to protect current and future generations from HIV. The responsible choice is clear to those who are willing to step up” (8/8).

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Recent Releases

Blogs Address Ebola Control Efforts

Blogs discuss responses to the Ebola outbreak.

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: The High Stakes in Fighting Ebola: Leave One Burning Ember and the Epidemic Could Re-Ignite
CDC Director Tom Frieden discusses the efforts of the CDC and WHO to end the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and prevent future outbreaks from occurring (8/11).

The Lancet’s “Global Health Blog”: Regaining trust: an essential prerequisite for controlling the Ebola outbreak
Francis Omaswa, executive director of the African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST), discusses the gaps and challenges of controlling Ebola in West Africa and suggests interventions to address them (8/11).

Project Syndicate: Responding to Ebola
Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals, describes “four crucial facts to understand about Ebola and the other epidemics” and discusses ways to respond to them (8/11).

United Nations Foundation’s “Global Connections”: WHO Works to Halt Ebola Outbreak
Chelsea Hedquist, communications manager for Global Health at the United Nations Foundation, interviews Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO), on the Ebola outbreak and his on-the-ground experiences in West Africa (8/6).

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Humanosphere Examines HIV/AIDS Trends In Southern, East Africa

Humanosphere: HIV-AIDS Trends in Southern and East Africa: A Mixed Bag
Katie Leach-Kemon, policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, discusses HIV/AIDS trends in Southern and East Africa using data visualization maps and graphs (8/11).

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Blogs Discuss Outcomes, Takeaways From AIDS 2014

Blogs discuss outcomes and takeaways from the recently concluded International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) in Melbourne, Australia.

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: AIDS 2014: A Week of Heartbreak, Hope, and Renewed Commitment
Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, discusses the recent International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, noting the focus on specific geographic areas and key affected populations, progress and gaps in the HIV/AIDS response, improving data collection and use, and the loss of life on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 (8/11).

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: AIDS 2014: Confronting tragedy and progress, 20th International AIDS Conference brought approaches, community together
Christine Lubinski, executive director of the Center for Global Health Policy and vice president for global health at the Infectious Diseases Society of America, writes about an event convened by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Center for Strategic and International Studies last week to discuss the outcomes of the International AIDS Conference (8/11).

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