What we’re reading: An Ebola analysis and a Senate spending bill

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The Ebola Virus is Winning – This comprehensive analysis by J. Stephen Morrison of the Center for Strategic & International Studies explains how with unprecedented advantages of an effective vaccine and now proven treatments the 10th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to defy control and threaten the region. Continued political and armed conflict fostering “dense and formidable insecurity and chaos,” are part of the answer. In addition, he notes are weaknesses in both national government and international responses leading to incoherent and uncoordinated strategies. For all of its complexity the components of the crisis are not unique, and Morrison notes, are likely to come together in similar fashion with similar results where limited resources, international neglect, and failed policies allow them to.

Graham releases FY 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill – The contexts of the ongoing epidemic in the DRC, the real danger of a continued comeback of measles outbreaks across the U.S., the global threat of infections resistant to existing drugs, and the ambitious plan to finally end HIV as an epidemic in America, all highlight the needs cited by Morrison for comprehensive, sustained, and full-force approaches to equipping, coordinating and informing disease control efforts. A budget document, on the other hand, by its nature takes a more piecemeal approach to challenges. While the funding bill released this week by the Senate State and Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee is strongly responsive to some of the most pressing health issues confronting health security at home and abroad, including with a 15.6% boost for the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, it also leaves gaps — including with the subtraction of last year’s increase to the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief — the program’s first raise in a decade. The subcommittee’s release on the bill also is not without irony, with the section titled “STRENGTHENS GLOBAL HEALTH,” directly above a section boasting that the bill “maintains” the expanded “Mexico City Policy” also known as the global gag rule, that a series of studies have determined obstructs access to essential basic health services and public health interventions worldwide. A few lines down the release also notes that “The bill does not include funds for the Green Climate Fund, the UN Human Rights Council, and the UN Relief and Works Agency.”

News Releases from the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association, which produce this blog, delineated pertinent points of that spending bill, as well as on the bill released by the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations subcommittee this week.

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