Mark your calendar for WORLD AIDS DAY – December 1st!

The first global health day ever recognized, World AIDS Day, is observed on December 1st every year. This day is an opportunity for people all over the globe to support those living with HIV, support the fight and research against HIV, and remember those who have died because of AIDS-related illnesses.

Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s, over 70 million people have acquired the infection and an estimated half have died from AIDS related complications. Today, there are over 37 million across the globe that live with the disease. Twenty-two million of the 37 million are currently on treatment.

Today, an HIV diagnosis is not a death sentence. There are many different treatment and prevention options (such as PrEP) and services for those in vulnerable populations. Still, access to care and treatment remains a significant problem, especially in developing nations, and more needs to be done to address this issue and increase access. There is also still a general gap in awareness. This year’s theme is “Know Your Status” because one in four people with HIV are unaware that they have the disease. Unfortunately, this may be due to barriers to getting tested.

The WHO recommends the use of self-tests for HIV in areas where there is a lack in availability of HIV tests. This is where a person can collect their own specimen, typically oral fluid or blood, and perform the test in a private setting such as their home. Currently, 59 countries have started using HIV-self tests.  The largest HIV self testing programs have been implemented in six countries in south Africa by the WHO with help from international organizations such as Unitaid.

The UN has a target of diagnosing 90% of all people with HIV by year 2020 and the world has committed to ending AIDS by 2030. Self tests are a huge step in getting vulnerable populations and communities access to testing and knowing their status. Knowing your status and getting on antiviral treatment as soon as possible are the consequential steps to ending AIDS. However, it all begins with awareness and access to testing.

What are some ways YOU can spread awareness and recognition for World AIDS Day and contribute to the goals for 2020 and 2030?

  1. Rock the RED Ribbon to show everyone you support the movement – this symbol became part of the AIDS awareness movement in 1991 when New York artists created it. Fun Fact:  It was the first disease-awareness ribbon made and was later adopted by other health awareness causes, such as breast cancer awareness and mental health awareness.
  2. Print out #ROCKTHERIBBON posters or share them on social media to spread the message. Find these images here!
  3. DONATE to organizations that support AIDS research. Be sure to do your own research to make sure the organization’s mission aligns with your motivations.
  4. Volunteer at a World AIDS Day event near you!
  5. GET TESTED & KNOW YOUR STATUS!
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IH Section’s Global Health Mentoring Program, Applications due 11/29!

Don’t forget to apply!

The Global Health Mentoring Program applications for mentors and mentees is still open. Applications and information on the program can be found here: https://aphaih.org/global-health-mentoring-program/

Mentee applications for this cohort (January 2019 to€“ September 2019) will be accepted until November 29, 2018 at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time.

Mentor applications have been extended! Applications are due on Thursday Dec 6th at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time.

African Field Epidemiology Network: My Experience Attending the 2018 AFENET Conference in Maputo, Mozambique

I attended the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) from November 12th-16th in Maputo, Mozambique. It was a great opportunity to hear about the on-the-ground public health work being conducted in 31 countries on the African continent and efforts being made to build field epidemiology capacity. The theme of the conference was, “Building Resilient and Sustainable Public Health Systems in Africa Through Field Epidemiology Training.” My first session to participate in was the preconference workshop, “Orientation to International Outbreak Response with WHO and Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) in the African Region.” Participants spent a full day learning about how to become involved in international public health deployments through the AFENET network, working through complex exercises in groups, and assessing our individual readiness to deploy if needed. Attendees from Zambia, Guinea, Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda, and many other countries were represented at this session.

There were also great plenary sessions. My top three sessions (of those I had the opportunity to attend) included: 1) Implementation Science in Public Health (presentation given by Dr. Echezona Ezeanolue), 2) Transforming Public Health Surveillance – Proactive Measures for Prevention Detection and Response (presentation given by Dr. Scott JN McNabb), and 3) North-South Collaboration for Public Health Workforce Development: The Case of Washington University & University of Zimbabwe (Dr. Janet Baseman, Dr. Notion Gombe and Audrey Hu). All of these sessions either resonated with me or challenged me to think outside the box to take needed risks as a public health professional.

Now, the real reason I had the opportunity to attend the AFENET conference was to provide support and technical assistance to the Zambia Field Epidemiology Training Program (Zambia FETP). Zambia FETP had 6 residents present a mixture of poster and oral presentations over the course of 5 days. Our residents shined not only in the scientific sessions but also when it came time to share about the nation of Zambia during the International Night that was held towards the end of the week. Overall, I learned that providing support also meant helping showcase a popular Zambian dance, assisting with handing out small gifts and pamphlets to colleagues from other countries, and participating in insightful conversations about what true mentorship looks like.

Some highlights of the conference included catching up with two of my fellow PHI/CDC Global Health Fellows, having breakfast with my mentor, being near the beach, building relationships with our residents, meeting our points of contacts from CDC Atlanta, connecting with the Nigerian FETP and, of course, networking with a diverse array of public health leaders from the African continent. There were a few challenges as well. I was sick for the first few days of the conference. There were many hiccups that occurred prior to the conference which led to me only being able to attend last minute. Finally, the theme of the conference made me reflect on gaps I see in epidemiology capacity when I consider situations like the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and wonder what, if any, impact I may be able to make during my time here.

Sophia Anyatonwu, MPH, CPH, CIC
Epidemiologist
Global Epidemiology Fellow | PHI/CDC Global Health Fellowship Program

 

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Donors have lost their focus on aid effectiveness in the last decade, limiting aid’s impact. Here we report on new results of one of the few measures of aid “quality” – the Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA).

The US midterm election was a partial rebuke to President Donald Trump. But although Trump’s legislative agenda has largely come to an end, his ability to affect global health through non-legislative means remains vast.

One of the largest Ebola outbreaks in history shows no signs of slowing — and the Trump administration barred US health experts who want to help at the outbreak’s epicenter in the Democratic Republic of Congo from traveling there.

The British parliament is urging the government of Prime Minister Theresa May to make antimicrobial resistance (AMR) a ”top five policy priority” in a new report.

Programs, Grants & Awards

On November 4-6, 2018, Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan will attend the Fifth Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Ministerial Meeting in Indonesia, which will officially launch the next five-year phase of GHSA, known as GHSA 2024.

Research

Effect of ten-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine introduction on pneumococcal carriage in Fiji: results from four annual cross-sectional carriage surveys.

We provide new empirical and methodological findings problematising evidence, evaluation and measurement when using asset-based approaches and co-production to improve health and address inequalities.

CDC’s global health security work focuses primarily on countries with weaknesses in their health systems, because these countries are vulnerable to global disease threats that could adversely affect the health and economy of the United States at the national, state, and local levels.

Diseases & Disasters

Food, clothes, medicine: the people of Yemen just want the same life as us.  After spending years amid Yemen’s devastation, we have seen conflict and hardship overtake millions of ordinary people.

Scientists believe the STD mycoplasma genitalium—Mgen—infects 1-3% of the population. However, it often doesn’t cause symptoms or is easily confused with better-known conditions.

The first treatment for sleeping sickness that relies on pills alone was approved recently by Europe’s drug regulatory agency, paving the way for use in Africa, the last bastion of the horrific disease.

Although the WHO has not yet declared the latest Ebola outbreak an international public health emergency, its latest report warned that the volatile security situation is making the risk of disease spread to neighboring countries very high.

The withdrawal of a major international aid organization threatens to leave tens of thousands of tuberculosis patients in North Korea without the medication they need and could spiral into a severe crisis if it is not addressed soon, according to health experts familiar with the situation in the North.

Technology

Cancer scientists have combined ‘liquid biopsy,’ epigenetic alterations and machine learning to develop a blood test to detect and classify cancer at its earliest stages.

Low levels of public confidence in vaccines in the European Union are pushing immunization rates down and the number of disease outbreaks up, according to an expert report.

Environmental Health

Air pollution is a silent public health emergency, killing 7 million people every year and damaging the health of many, many more.  Despite this epidemic of needless, preventable deaths and disability, a smog of complacency pervades the planet.

Equity & Disparities

Women provide most of the world’s frontline health care in their roles as nurses and community health workers, but they are underrepresented in leadership positions.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

In a call for concrete policy pledges from governments across the world to tackle the problem, the UN health agency reports that more than nine in 10 youngsters breathe air that is so polluted, “it puts their health and development at serious risk”.

Many migrant children separated from their parents at the U.S. border, some of them very young, have landed in shelters where they often experience stress, neglect and minimal social and cognitive stimulation. The latest findings tell a cautionary tale about the psychiatric and social risks of long-term deprivation and family separation as children transition to adolescence.

About 80 percent of an estimated 8 million children in orphanages or other institutions are not orphans, according to Lumos, a charity founded by “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, which aims to have no children living in institutions by 2050.

 

New American Public Health Association policy statements address gun suicides, tuberculosis prevention, global food security and more

Summaries of 2018 APHA policy statements adopted by the Governing Council in San Diego

San Diego, Nov. 13, 2018 – The American Public Health Association Governing Council adopted 12 new policy statements at its 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo in San Diego today, covering topics from gun suicides to tuberculosis prevention, global food security and more.

The following are brief descriptions of the 12 policy statements adopted by the Governing Council at the Annual Meeting. One of the new policy statements is a latebreaker, meaning it was not open to the same review as the other 2018 policy statements and will serve as an interim policy statement until reviewed by the Governing Council at its regular 2019 meeting. For more information on any of these policy statements, email policy@apha.org.

These brief descriptions are not comprehensive and do not include every point, statement or conclusion presented in the policy statements. For the full policy statements, which will be posted in early 2019, visit www.apha.org.

20181 Reducing global child mortality rates — Noting that one child younger than 5 worldwide dies of diarrhea every minute and that oral rehydration salts and zinc treatment can prevent many such deaths, calls on federal officials to appoint a U.S. global “Children’s Champion” charged with coordinating U.S. activities to reduce diarrhea-related mortality and serving as a global voice for children’s health. Encourages U.S. global health programs to fund investments to improve the supply of oral rehydration salts and zinc, fund innovations in home-based diarrhea treatment, and train local health providers in treatment guidelines, among other measures. Urges public health professionals and organizations to support efforts to reduce diarrhea-related deaths in young children and work toward increasing public-private partnerships that scale up oral rehydration salts and zinc treatment by at least 30 percent within three years.

20182 Addressing potential health impacts of fracking — Because unconventional oil and gas extraction — often known as fracking — poses a range of known and unknown risks to public health and the environment, including risks to drinking water, air quality and worker health, recommends that unconventional oil and gas development cease and that a strategic phase-out of existing development be encouraged where possible. Calls for policies that explicitly compare the economic and public health trade-offs of fracking, that require environmental impact assessments and that minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Encourages federal, state and local agencies to adopt a precautionary approach to unconventional oil and gas activities, including discouraging the use of chemicals with unknown health risks. Also calls for the elimination of unconventional oil and gas exemptions from federal worker safety rules and encourages federal health officials to establish an industry-wide worker health registry.

20183 Ensuring a healthy energy future — As communities move toward to non-fossil fuel and alternative energy sources, calls on stakeholders across sectors to monitor, evaluate and support effective strategies to transition to healthier, more efficient energy supplies. Regarding coal, calls on the Mine Safety and Health Administration to vigorously enforce worker health and safety standards. Also calls on officials to suspend new coal-fired power plants and cancel plans for future plants. Urges Congress to set fuel economy and emissions standards for vehicles, and urges car manufacturers to begin a complete phase-out of fossil fuel-dependent vehicles. Encourages federal officials to develop effective energy efficiency standards for homes and commercial buildings, and calls on people, families, businesses and governments to expand the adoption of alternative energies, such as wind and solar.

20184 Reducing gun-related suicides — With U.S. suicide rates increasing by nearly one-third over the last 20 years and considering that guns are involved in more than half of U.S. suicide deaths, calls on advocates and professional associations to adopt and promote guidelines for mental health providers on screening for guns in the home and to equip them with information on local offsite gun storage options. Urges state public health agencies to collaborate with public safety and mental health agencies to advocate for increasing the availability of temporary gun storage outside the home. Calls on public health agencies to partner with gun owners and suicide prevention professionals to advocate for increased funding for gun-related suicide research, including research on developing effective marketing campaigns on gun-related suicide prevention.

20185 Understanding, treating violence as a public health issue — With national data showing an increase in violent deaths, such as gun-related homicides and suicides, as well as research finding long-term health effects from childhood exposures to violence, calls on health departments to collect, analyze and report data on violence, including details on how violence impacts historically marginalized communities. Encourages community health programs to start programs that detect and interrupt the transmission of violence using professionally trained workers. Also encourages health providers to screen patients for domestic violence, past exposure to violence and behavioral problems that can lead to violence, all while using a trauma-informed and culturally competent approach. Calls on federal, state and local governments to invest in public health approaches to violence prevention, and recommends that federal agencies help establish an active surveillance system for monitoring violence in communities.

20186 Regulating electronic nicotine delivery products — With the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems increasing among all U.S. demographic groups and little known about their long-term safety or efficacy in helping people quit cigarettes, calls on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to add nicotine to its list of substances covered by regulations and to require special packaging and warning labels for such products. Also calls on Congress to amend the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act to include electronic nicotine delivery systems. Encourages federal agencies and health organizations to fund research on the short- and long-term health effects of such products on both users and those subject to secondhand exposures. Calls on state and local officials to enact laws prohibiting the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems in enclosed public spaces and places of employment.

20187 Preventing tuberculosis among health workers — With tuberculosis causing nearly 2 million deaths worldwide in 2016 and with health care workers at higher risk of infection than the general population, urges national and state governments to develop and implement policies that strengthen workplace health and safety programs that focus on prevention and education. Calls for workers’ compensation programs that provide adequate tuberculosis treatment and counseling, paid leave and death benefits. Recommends workplace programs that have rigorous respiratory protection components, improve exposure control efforts inside hospitals, promote new diagnostic strategies, and provide counseling to help workers cope with the side effects of tuberculosis treatment. Calls on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase funding for tuberculosis research, including more support for research efforts focused on developing a vaccine for the disease.

20188 Advancing the health of refugees — With global instability contributing to historic levels of displaced people and knowing that refugees face significant health challenges, calls on the U.S. government to fully invest in and cooperate with the international community in efforts to prevent conflict and to reaffirm the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and its goal of coordinating a multi-sector response to the refugee crisis. Encourages U.S. officials to work with state and local partners to coordinate housing, educational and health needs among refugees. Urges health care systems and providers to tailor their services to meet the needs of refugees, including the use of trauma-informed, culturally competent care. Calls on the U.S. government to work cooperatively to ensure safe passage for refugees, and urges the international community to adopt legal protections for displaced people.

20189 Achieving health equity in the U.S. — With research documenting clear disparities in morbidity and mortality, particularly among racial and ethnic minority groups, calls on federal officials and members of Congress to fully fund the Affordable Care Act, the National Prevention Strategy and Implementation Plan, and the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities. Calls on federal public health agencies, as well as public health organizations, to develop and implement evidence-based toolkits that communities can use to reach vulnerable populations. Calls on state and local officials to support social policies to improve education, income, housing, jobs and transportation, and urges state and local government to work with urban planners and health professionals to integrate health considerations into planning, policy and decision-making. Encourages people and communities to advocate for the enforcement of civil rights and disability laws.

201810 Supporting global food security — With hunger still a daily challenge for more than 815 million people worldwide, calls on U.S. leaders to ensure adequate funding for U.S. Agency for International Development programs that improve food security and encourages leaders to fund efforts focused on preventing and mitigating the effects of climate change on world food production. Encourages U.S. leaders to sign or ratify relevant United Nations conventions that support food security, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Resolution to Support Breastfeeding, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Urges the U.S. government, foundations and other donors to mobilize funding and resources to increase the scale, scope and impact of food security efforts. Calls on U.S. officials to support the creation of a system to collect and interpret global dietary data.

201811 Addressing police violence as a public health issue — With law enforcement violence — including death, injury, trauma and stress — often disproportionately affecting marginalized populations, calls on federal agencies, localities and states to add death and injury by legal intervention to their list of reportable conditions. Calls on Congress to fund the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on the health consequences of law enforcement violence, with a particular focus on disproportionate burdens among people of color, people with disabilities or mental illness, people living in poverty, people experiencing homelessness, immigrant populations, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations. Urges governments and law enforcement agencies to review policies that can lead to disproportionate violence against specific populations. Calls on governments to allocate funding from law enforcement agencies to community-based programs that address violence and harm without criminalizing communities, including restorative justice programs.

LB-18-12 Opposing family-child separations at the U.S. border — With the separation of immigrant children and families at the U.S.-Mexico border a public health crisis with the potential for long-lasting negative health impacts, calls on federal officials to permanently halt such separations unless there is an imminent, ongoing threat to the child’s safety in a respective parent’s care. Urges the federal government to collect relevant data to ensure that children and parents can be located if separated. Calls on federal officials and agencies, as well as contractual partners, to offer culturally competent resources and support to reunite separated families. Urges public and private funding agencies to support additional research to understand the mental, physical, spiritual and cultural consequences of separating families, including the separation of lactating mothers and their babies. Recommends that such research examines the roles and history of racism, xenophobia and inequality in the creation of family separation policies.