Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Rear Adm. Tim Ziemer, the head of global health security on the White House’s National Security Council, left the Trump administration on Tuesday.  The news was announced one day after an Ebola outbreak was declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A judge in Riverside County on Tuesday overturned California’s controversial assisted death nearly two years after it took effect, ruling that the Legislature improperly passed the measure during a special session on health care funding.

When global health leaders convene in Geneva next week for the 71st World Health Assembly, they’ll gather under one banner: universal health coverage.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday that a new Ebola outbreak has emerged in the Democratic Republic of Congo — and thanks to the Trump administration, we are woefully under-equipped to deal with it.


Migrant children have specific health needs, and may face difficulties in accessing health care, but enough is known about their health service use. This study aims to describe patterns of use of health services of international migrant children and differences to respective native populations.

Although uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) are often self-limiting, most patients will be prescribed antibiotic treatment.  We assessed whether treatment with ibuprofen was non-inferior to pivmecillinam in achieving symptomatic resolution by day 4, with a non-inferiority margin of 10%.

Scientists have successfully reconstructed genomes from Stone Age and Medieval European strains of the hepatitis B virus.  This unprecedented recovery of ancient virus DNA indicates that hepatitis B was circulating in Europe at least 7,000 years ago.

Diseases & Disasters

The World Health Organization announced Friday that it hopes to deploy an experimental vaccine against the developing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, even as the agency plans for the “worst case scenario.”

Healthy diet is not just about how many calories you consume, it’s also about how many calories you consume, it’s also about what kind of calories you consume.  A paper published this week in Obesity Reviews, Pathways and Mechanisms Linking Dietary Components to Cardiometabolic Disease: Thinking Beyond Calories, examined how calories from different foods affect the body.

The WHO and not-for-profit organization Resolve to Save Lives have teamed up to build a scheme for governments to use to tackle industrially-produced trans fats.

People who have their body clock disrupted by being awake at night risk developing mood disorders and depression.
People who ate diets full of vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish had bigger brais than their less well-nourished counterparts the large study from the Netherlands found.

Heart failure is a global health problem, affecting about 26 million people worldwide.  The disease presents a major and growing health-economic burden that currently costs the world economy 108 billion dollars every year, which accounts for both direct and indirect costs.

The Ebola virus has reared its head again, this time in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While it is impossible to predict exactly where and when the next outbreak will occur, we now know much more about how to prevent a crisis.

Dr. H.D.B Herath, Director, Anti Malaria Campaign speaks at the World Malaria Day Press event in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
In the jungle-rich landscape of Sri Lanka, mosquitoes are everywhere. But, thanks to a decades-long eradication campaign, the country hasn’t seen a single native case of malaria since 2012.

Sudan is a fragile developing country, with a low expenditure on health. It has been subjected to ongoing conflicts ever since 1956, with the Darfur crisis peaking in 2004. The conflict, in combination with the weak infrastructure, can lead to poor access to healthcare.  Hence, this can cause an increased risk of infection, greater morbidity and mortality from tuberculosis (TB).


Tools to diagnose and monitor HIV, hepatitis B and C, and tuberculosis, as well as resistance to first-line TB treatment are among the tests included in World Health Organizations’s first List of Essential In Vitro Diagnostics, released Tuesday.

Environmental Health

More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits.  While all regions of the world are affected, populations in low-income cities are the most impacted.

Equity & Disparities

WHO recommends that every child should receive at least three doses of hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine, with the first dose being given ideally within 24 h of birth (referred to as HBV birth dose vaccine), regardless of burden of disease in the country.  However, despite this recommendation, only 101 (52%) of the 194 WHO member states provide universal HBV birth dose vaccination, with nine (19%) of 47 countries in the African region providing the vaccine.

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the Canadian government on behalf of a group of Indigenous people who say they were subjected to medical experiments in residential schools and sanatoriums without their consent.


Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

A Government Accountability Office report has found that USDA has taken steps to establish pathogen standards for only some meat and poultry products. Commonly consumed products such as turkey breasts and pork chops don’t have any standards.

The United Nations is being criticized for failing to help cholera victims in Haiti. The U.N. Haiti Cholera Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund has raised only about 2.2.% of total amount needed and has spent only less than half thus far.

There are potentially two options as we risk entering a post-antibiotic era: one is to discover new antibiotics and the other is to manage our current antibiotics better so that they remain effective for as long as possible.

Doctors and other specialists in Bangladesh are working under a One Health Initiative to prevent the development of antibiotic resistance.

Programs, Grants & Awards

Bill Gates and Larry Page have pledged $12 million to support the development of a universal flu vaccine.

Women-led movements in France and South Africa exposed damaging environmental policies – and won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for 2018.


Fiber gets well-deserved credit for keeping the digestive system in good working order — but it does plenty more. In fact, it’s a major player in so many of your body’s systems that getting enough can actually help keep you youthful.

More Americans are living in wooded suburbs near dear, which carry the ticks that spread Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, rabbit fever and Powassan virus.

Handgrip strength, a measure of muscular fitness, is associated with cardiovascular (CV) events and CV mortality but its association with cardiac structure and function is unknown.  The goal of this study was to determine if handgrip strength is associated with changes in cardiac structure and function in UK adults.

Diseases & Disasters

The HIV and AIDS epidemic could become uncontained if current funding trends continue, warned one of the founding architects of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Three African countries will soon start rolling out the world’s first malaria vaccine.  Last year, more than 200 million people around the world were affected by the disease.  Most of those cases were reported in Africa.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) did not cross the species barrier to infect cynomologus macaque monkeys during a lengthy investigation by National Institutes of Health scientists exploring risks to humans.


“Si-Low”, a low-cost alternative to the sterile silicone bags could help treat babies who are born with portions of intestines outside the body due to incomplete closure of the abdominal wall.

Purdue University researchers are developing an app and wearable technology to enable pregnant women to use a smart phone to detect whether they have or are susceptible to a condition that could lead to serious health complications for them or their unborn child.

Environmental Health

An experimental “reinvented toilet”, a system designed to reuse water, has been installed at a textile mill in the city of Coimbatore in India.

A new study found that China’s future emissions trajectory has the potential to measurably impact methylmercury levels in the rice being consumed by people in parts of China.

Equity & Disparities

A new report confirms what many residents suspected: living conditions in the city’s ‘resettlement’ blocks are little better than the slums they replaced.

For millions of displaced people around the world – many of them refugees, living in often overcrowded, temporary shelters – an outbreak of disease can be devastating. Each year, the measles virus kills more than 134,000 people globally, and another 100,000 children are born with the medical effects of congenital rubella syndrome. Both diseases are preventable by vaccination.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Results from the Mordor trial conducted in 3 African countries, reveal 14% fewer deaths among children under the age of 5 getting azithromycin doses every 6 months for a 2 year period.

According to a new study, preterm babies should be given freshly expressed breast milk in order to allow slow degradation of hydrogen peroxide to preserve its bactericidal action.

Conference Reflections: Emergency Preparedness & International Health – Different Fields, Same Goals

Last week I was given the opportunity to attend the Preparedness Summit in Atlanta. This conference is the first and longest running national conference that discusses and revolves around the world of public health preparedness (think: natural disasters, medical countermeasures, flu, Zika and Ebola responses, biological threats and much more). There were many different opportunities to learn about preparedness activities including plenaries, small discussions, learning sessions and networking with local, state and federal partners. It was overwhelming, but in a good way!

As an epidemiologist, I have some experience and background in public health preparedness activities, but my main interests and time have always been spent with infectious diseases and global health initiatives. When I worked for the state health department, I actually was on a team that was half epidemiologists and half preparedness staff and we continually supported each other’s activities. Those experiences helped me with preparedness lingo and acronyms used during the conference so that things didn’t go completely over my head. However, I would not consider myself a preparedness expert by any means and soaked up as much as I could from the various sessions I attended.

One of the most exciting activities from the week was visiting the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This EOC is the center that gets activated in a public health emergency and where experts gather and get ready to respond. The main room of the EOC is spacious, with many computers, television screens and telephones set up and ready to be filled with points of contacts from different divisions and organizations. When there’s not an emergency response going on (like on our tour), it’s actually pretty quiet. However, staff are still on call working to monitor information and sift through potential threats. During a response, I’m sure the place is bustling with people, calls, information sharing and meetings. It was a neat experience to be in the center communication hub where past emergency responses like Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or the 2014 Ebola outbreaks took place.

I did some research after attending the summit and found that the EOC has become an integral part of meeting the goals of the “Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA)”. This agenda is focused on “accelerating progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats and to promote global health security as an international security priority.” Over 50 countries have joined in partnership with the U.S. to meet this objective and the CDC aims to activate the EOC and respond within 2 hours of any mandated public health emergency. There’s even a fellowship offered by the CDC called the “Public Health Emergency Management Fellowship” that provides an opportunity for public health workers to learn and train over a four-month course then go back to their respective countries and create their own local EOCs. Emergency management experts can also be sent to these countries and help guide and train responders in their own environment if needed.

This post-tour research made me start thinking about the importance of the EOC and preparedness in relation to international health. Public health threats (like pandemic flu, Zika, Ebola) of any degree can happen at any time at the local, state, national, or international level. Bill Gates recently spoke out about the necessity of being prepared for public health threats such as these at the Massachusetts Medical Society 2018. He stressed how unprepared we are for the next epidemic and the world’s need for a “global approach” with “better tools, an early detection system, and a global response system”. Gates’ is most likely alluding to the poor handling of the Ebola outbreaks in the recent past. These are a perfect example of why the field of preparedness is so important to global health. During Ebola, public health response was “too late” and there were too many “deaths that could have been prevented”. There were many disagreements among global health leaders over things like travel bans, how to handle public panic and how to best respond. The aftereffects of the outbreak point to the integral link between a strong preparedness field and international health that was lacking. Gates’ argues that we weren’t prepared to handle prior outbreaks, but we are capable and should spend time and money on planning and preparing for similar epidemics in the future.

Overall, these events – the conference, EOC tour and recent news and outbreaks – have helped hit home that these different public health fields, although working in slightly different capacities, are really aligned and influential on each other. Ultimately, preparedness and global health are working to reach the same goals of keeping our planet safe and healthy and we must first be prepared for any global threat in order to achieve these goals. Today, I feel refreshed in my perspective of the field and inspired and hopeful of future preparedness efforts. I no longer feel that preparedness and international health belong in the different boxes or divisions I’ve created in my mind, but as two parts to the same path.

I challenge other public health workers to also think about the important link between preparedness and global health and advocate for changes that strengthen this partnership. The Preparedness Summit conference is a great starting place and I encourage all fields of public health workers to look into it! I truly believe the more you learn, the more you see how everything is connected and the better you are able to achieve your public health goals … and maybe find some new teammates from other fields to help you along your journey, too.


Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

An affordable hepatitis C treatment has been shown to be safe and effective, with very high cure rates for patients including hard-to-treat cases, in interim clinical trial results that offer hope to the 71 million people living with the disease worldwide.

The Trump administration is releasing the first of its kind interagency review of US overseas involvement that creates a framework for how the State Department, US Agency for International Development, and Department of Defense can coordinate efforts to streamline diplomacy, aid, and military operations around the world and maximize resources and results.

Programs, Grants & Awards

As part of its efforts to improve maternal healthcare in the country, Serene Health will kick off a campaign dubbed “Dollar4life”.

Four Duke doctoral students have been selected to join the Global Health Doctoral Scholars program at the Duke Health Institute (DGHI), bringing the current cohort total to 13 scholars.


Evolve BioSystems, Inc. and the icddr,b (International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh) today announced their collaboration, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to study the use of Evivo® in infants to aid in recovery from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

A far-reaching study conducted by scientists at Cincinnati Children’s reports that the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)—best known for causing mononucleosis—also increases the risks for some people of developing seven other major diseases.

A natural variation of the gene KLF14 causes some women to store fat on their bellies and hips and outs them at significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes, new research reveals.

Falls are a leading cause of injury and death among older adults.  In 2014, about 1 in 3 adults aged 65 and older reported falling, and falls were linked to 33,000 deaths.

Diseases & Disasters

The first known epidemic of extensively drug-resistant typhoid is spreading through Pakistan, infecting at least 850 people in 14 districts since 2016, according to the National Institute of Health Islamabad.

There have been recent spikes in Buruli ulcer cases in Australia, a chronic infection that leads to erosion of flesh. This condition once considered rare, is caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans.


A group of scientists from VCU Massey Cancer Center and UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have developed new, high-speed microscopy platform that can measure a cancer cell’s resistance to drugs up to 10 times faster than existing technology, potentially informing more effective treatment selection for cancer patients. The technology is being presented in abstract form today at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Annual Meeting in Chicago.

A new e-health system designed to be a whole-home sensor aims to allow the elderly to live in their own homes with a higher degree of independence.

Environmental Health

A University of Montana researcher and her collaborators have published a new study that reveals increased risks for Alzheimer’s and suicide among children and young adults living in polluted megacities.

According to the World Poverty Clock, more than 73,000 people have escaped poverty – today.  The flip side of that coin is that more than 15,000 people have, today, fallen into poverty.  The sum total of people living in extreme poverty as of March 23, 2018, is about 619,800 people. By the time you read this, many more people will make the escape.

Two of the most elite waste treatment systems available today on farms do not fully remove antibiotics from manure, research finds.

Equity & Disparities

In two suburbs of the American city of St. Louis, separated by fewer than 30 miles, the odds of living a long and healthy life could not be more different.  If you reside in the mostly white, wealthy suburb of Wildwood, your life expectancy is 91.4 years. But if you live in the mostly black, poorer suburb of Kinloch, your life expectancy is only 55.9 years.

One in five older adults is socially isolated from family or friends, increasing their risks for poor mental and physical health, as well as higher rates of mortality, a new study shows.

Nearly nine months after Myanmar’s military was accused of widespread sexual violence in a crackdown against Rohingya communities, aid groups in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps are scrambling to identify women and girls now pregnant by rape.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Taking painkillers during pregnancy could affect the fertility of the unborn child in later life, research suggests.

Maternal anemia is an important global health problem that affects about 500 million women of reproductive age.  Much is known about the consequences of anemia during pregnancy, including the increased risks of low birth weight, preterm birth, perinatal mortality, and neonatal mortality.

Many moms-to-be know that their health even before they become pregnant- known as pre-conception health – can affect the health of their babies. Now, research is continuing to show that the pre-conception health of fathers also can influence a pregnancy and the baby.

Infants in some of the world’s poorest regions are vulnerable to a common worm parasite infection and their treatment should become a priority, according to a study.

Despite a global decline in childhood infectious diseases, the prevalence of mental illness among youth has remained the same. That makes mental disorders one of the main origins of illness in children aged 4-15 years around the world, according to a new study published in the journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health.

A Highlight from National Public Health Week: North Dakota State University’s “New Perspective on Refugees Roundtable”

Every April, the public health community celebrates National Public Health Week.  National Public Health Week is a time in which we recognize the amazing contributions of public health professionals and highlight the pressing public health issues important to improving our nation’s health. This year’s National Public Health Week theme was Changing our Future Together.

IH Section Councilor Mark Strand organized a roundtable entitled A New Perspective on Refugees in the Community: Changing our Future Together at North Dakota State University where he is a professor. 40 attendees from 12 countries participated in this National Public Health Week event which was held on April 3rd. Attendees learned many things they didn’t know before:

(1) At least one member of the family is working within 6 months of arriving in the U.S.

(2) Over an adult’s first 20 years here, a refugee pays approximately $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in social service benefits.

(3) There is no evidence for increased crime rates among refugees.

(4) There are many positive impacts resettled refugees make on their new communities.

Visit their Facebook post for a look at some of the photos from their event:

Share your National Public Health Week highlights with us for a chance to be featured on our blog!