Ebola Outbreak: Congressional Update

Posted on in Blog Posts, Breaking News, Infectious Disease, News Center

Although Congress is in recess until after the mid-term elections, two hearings were held on the Ebola outbreak with a focus primarily on recent diagnosis of the first Ebola cases in the U.S. The House Committee on Homeland Security held a field hearing in Dallas on the importance of coordinating the response both domestically and internationally. A week later, the House Energy and Commerce Committee convened a hearing on the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak. At both hearings the focus was primarily on the response to the recent diagnosis of the first Ebola cases in the U.S. and what measures are in place to prevent infected travelers from arriving in the U.S. Representatives were interested in a travel ban for the affected countries in West Africa. At the Energy and Commerce hearing, Dr. Thomas Frieden stated firmly that a travel ban would be ineffective and would actually slow down the international response. To date, the Obama Administration remains opposed to a travel ban, and it is unclear if Congress will act on its own.

The House Oversight Committee will convene a hearing on the coordination of a multi-agency response to Ebola on Friday, October 24.

Before heading into recess in September, Congress approved a Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the government until mid-December and which contained $88 million to fight Ebola in West Africa. Other U.S. agencies, including the Department of Defense, are using unused funds to contribute to the U.S. response. Congress will reconvene for a lame duck session to finish up the Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations process and it is unclear if additional funding for the Ebola response will be included in the final bill.



Posted on in Blog Posts, Breaking News, News Center, Press Releases

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
USAID Press Office
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email: USAIDPressOfficers@usaid.gov | Twitter: @USAIDPress

WASHINGTON, D.C.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) today announced Katie Taylor as interim Child and Maternal Survival Coordinator, focused on the goal of ending preventable maternal and child deaths.

For half a century USAID has been the global leader in reproductive, maternal and child health driven by our work in field missions. During the last 20 years alone, one hundred million children’s lives have been spared, and through our efforts the rate of mortality reduction is accelerating. By building upon our history of success and partnering with governments, civil society, and the private sector, the Child and Maternal Survival Coordinator work will help to accelerate progress toward our goal.

In June at a high-level forum called Acting on the Call: ending preventable child and maternal deaths, a panel of esteemed business, health, development and government experts strongly recommended that USAID strengthen and restructure decision-making and processes by establishing a maternal and child health coordinator, similar to the successful model of USAID’s own President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI).

Taylor will oversee USAID’s near- and longer-term goals and actions to drive increased outcomes for impact, as well as working to gain greater operational efficiency. She will be responsible for USAID’s child survival and maternal health policy and programs, working collaboratively across the Agency and with USAID Missions and partners.

Taylor is currently USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Global Health, and assumes this new role in addition to her regular duties. Read her biography here.

USAID’s child survival and maternal health work prioritizes 24 countries, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia which account for 70 percent of maternal and child deaths and half of the unmet need for family planning. The 24 priority countries have achieved an 8 percent reduction in under-5 mortality, saving 500,000 lives in the last two years alone.


The Ebola Outbreak: A Global Conversation and Resources

Posted on in Breaking News, Health Systems, Infectious Disease, News Center

The Ebola Outbreak: A Global Conversation and Resources

The current outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever has captured the world’s attention for the past several months.  Centered in West Africa (with a few isolated cases in the United States and Europe), this ongoing crisis has been deemed a “public health emergency of international concern” as well as a global security threat.  As national governments and international bodies struggle to contain this outbreak, a number of issues have come to the fore – which include global and national governance, health systems strengthening, public health preparedness – and more fundamentally, questions of ethics, human rights, and social justice.

To respond to some of these questions, the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, and Georgetown University Law Library are pleased to announce the launch of “The Ebola Outbreak: A Global Conversation and Resources.”

This university-wide resource on the current Ebola Outbreak highlights the expertise across all campuses within Georgetown University to inform and assist our university community, members of the interested public, and those working to contain, treat, and prevent Ebola.

Georgetown faculty are exploring the impact and implications of the crisis from various perspectives, including infectious disease control, global health law, national security, human rights, epidemiology, and public health preparedness.

The site should be considered a real-time tool, and additional contributions will be included as they are developed and disseminated.  Resources are available through scholarly publications, blog posts, events, news articles, and useful links.  Examples of some recent materials include:

Georgetown University Media Relations from our various campuses have also compiled a roster of faculty experts on this topic.  To arrange interviews, please contact a Media Relations representative or call (202) 687-4328.

The Ebola Outbreak: A Global Conversation and Resources can be accessed here: https://bioethics.georgetown.edu/ebola/.  For any questions about this resource, please contact Mark Hakkarinen, Kennedy Institute of Ethics, or Susan Kim, O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law.

Request for Proposals: A Systems Biology Approach to Pregnancy and Prematurity

Posted on in Blog Posts, Breaking News, Maternal & Child Health, News Center

The Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS) is now accepting letters of inquiry for a new round of grants as part of its Preventing Preterm Birth initiative (PPB).

GAPPS seeks projects that discover and characterize longitudinal changes associated with normal and abnormal pregnancy and develop biomarkers to identify at-risk pregnancies through rigorous analysis of underlying biological mechanisms that lead to preterm birth, focusing on the role of high dimensional systems biology and its applications in pregnancy.

The goal of this RFP is to solicit applications utilizing one or more high-throughput systems biology approaches in a pilot study using data and biologic samples collected prospectively throughout the course of gestation for 50 women with spontaneous term delivery and 25 women with early spontaneous preterm birth (less than or equal to 34 weeks gestation).

GAPPS is expecting to fund several projects for up to $500,000 US dollars each. The Preventing Preterm Birth initiative is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the Grand Challenges in Global Health.

Details and application instructions are available here. Letters of inquiry are being accepted online until 1 December, 2014.

The PPB review committee will review all letters of inquiry submitted, and selected applicants will be invited to submit a full grant proposal.

We look forward to receiving innovative ideas from scientists around the world. If you don’t submit a letter of inquiry yourself, we hope you will forward this message to someone else who might be interested.

53rd PAHO Directing Council concludes agenda, with “historic” agreement on universal health coverage

Posted on in Blog Posts, Breaking News, Leadership, News Center

This post was was originally found on Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)

Washington, D.C., 3 October 2014 (PAHO/WHO) – The 53rd Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) ended today, following a week of discussions and decisions about major public health issues in the Region of the Americas.

PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne praised the ministers of health and other high-level delegates for their work during the meeting. “The debate has been lively and enriching as we sought to reach consensus with respect and sensitivity on how to collectively address the pressing public health challenges that confront our countries and our region,” she said.

Among the results of this week’s deliberations was a series of strategies and plans of action designed to reduce childhood obesity, expand mental health care, promote the rights of and better care for people with disabilities, improve the safety and sufficiency of blood supplies, prevent avoidable blindness, and enhance coordination of humanitarian assistance during emergencies and disasters.

Etienne noted that, among the decisions taken during the meeting, “one area stands out above all for its historic significance and for the impact it promises to have on health in our Region. That is the goal of access to universal health and universal health coverage.” Adopted by the Directing Council on Thursday, the new regional strategy on universal health care and universal access to health “reflects Pan American solidarity at its best, as we have come to agreement based on deeply shared values and historically shared lessons,” she said.

Etienne pledged to work closely with Member States over the coming year to advance the agenda set by the 53rd Directing Council and to address new and emerging public health challenges in PAHO Member States.

“While the road ahead of us may be long and challenging, I firmly believe that, encouraged and inspired by our collective achievements and reassured of your committed leadership, we will continue to successfully reach our agreed milestones,” she said.

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