Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

The goal of the  Resolve to Save Lives initiative is to save 100 million lives within 30 years. With $225 million in funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Gates Foundation, Resolve zeroed in on cardiovascular disease and epidemics as its twin priorities.

Friends of the Global Fight today released an updated, two-page edition of its policy brief, “The Case for U.S. Investment in the Global Fund and Global Health.” This short edition includes updated data and talking points to show how U.S. support for the Global Fund offers extraordinary return on investment.

Ahead of Secretary Tillerson’s budget testimony, humanitarian, development and global health organizations release new data showing the devastating human costs of proposed administration cuts to foreign assistance.

It could take several years before United States aid recipient countries such as Uganda and Nigeria feel the full impact of the expanded Mexico City Policy. But new analysis shows there are already clear signs that the policy is pushing these countries to limit their expansion of key health services, including for women’s health care.

Launching the TB Free India Campaign at ‘Delhi End TB Summit’, PM Narendra Modi said his government is implementing a national strategic plan to end tuberculosis (TB) by 2025.

Global health care efforts rely heavily on U.S. funding, but U.S. attitudes toward spending in this area are increasingly hostile.

Programs, Grants & Awards

Drs. Catherine Blish, Nathaniel Landau, and Sara Sawyer are recipients of the 2018 Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS Research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The Gates Foundation concentrates on advocacy efforts that encourage political leaders to fund initiatives supporting the elimination of global inequalities.  Other notable efforts include initiatives centered around helping farmers in developing countries research and implement better agricultural practices. These include the production of rice and flour enriched with micronutrients.


Human antibody CIS43 protected mice from infection with the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum, a new study shows.

Physical inactivity is an important cause of noncommunicable diseases.  Interventions can increase short-term physical activity (PA),  but health benefits require maintenance. Few interventions have evaluated PA objectively beyond 12 months. We followed up two pedometer interventions with positive 12-month effects to examine objective PA levels at 3–4 years.

In a paper in Public Health Research & Practice, published by the Sax Institute, we outline how collaboration between like-minded national governments can improve pre-migration health assessments (PMHAs) through information sharing, collaborative learning and increased capability in countries of origin.

Diseases & Disasters

Egypt has become the first country in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region to eliminate lymphatic filariasis. This success comes after nearly 20 years of sustained prevention and control activities.

Whooping cough, caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis, is no longer a familiar condition to most Americans. The United States began widespread vaccinations in the 1940s, which nearly eradicated the disease. But whooping-cough has been increasing here over the past two decades despite record rates of vaccination: in 2016, more than 15,000 people in the US came down with the disease, and 7 people died.

There has been an 80 percent decrease in the number of new cholera cases reported among a community of Congolese refugees in Uganda’s western Lake Albert region, the World Health Organization told Devex Friday. As recently as Feb. 28, health care workers were identifying roughly 100 new cases a day and as of March 12, that number is down to 20.

A huge and deadly outbreak of Listeria in South Africa could alter the country’s approach to food-borne disease and prompt improvements in food safety standards, a leading health official said on Friday.


UNICEF aims to scale up real-time monitoring systems in 110 countries by 2021 using the open source technology called RapidPro.

Researchers are developing low cost technology to improve water quality and to remove contaminants using magnetic nanoparticle based adsorption.

Profusa Inc has developed injectable body sensors that are capable of streaming data to mobile phones and to the cloud.

Environmental Health

After the latest study showed that more than 90% of bottled water brands contained tiny plastic particles, the World Health Organization has announced a review of potential risks of plastic contamination in drinking water.

New study shows that alleviating the effects of global warming with tougher climate policies could save 150 million lives.

New research led by IIASA researcher Narasimha Rao has shown how it might be possible to reduce micronutrient deficiencies in India in an affordable way whilst also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Equity & Disparities

Two members of the polio vaccination team were ambushed and killed in a remote tribal region in Pakistan.

Advances in mapping tools and the ability to create maps with extraordinary detail is helping efforts from vaccination to disaster relief.

Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Even with futuristic advances in medicine and science, and increased access to food and other forms of nutrition, the oldest human health problem has remained stubborn—and, sometimes, seemingly impossible to fix: Young children and infants still die at epidemic rates in the poorest corners of the globe.

An international study of over 300,000 women from across 29 countries showed that pregnant women with anemia are twice as likely to die during or shortly after pregnancy.


Stand up for gun violence prevention with a few actions you can take in the coming week

Dear IH Friends,

Here is a message from our colleagues at APHA and the MCH Gun Violence Prevention Workgroup:

Now is the time to stand up for gun violence prevention (GVP) in our Nation.  Many of you have asked what you can do to promote the public health approach to gun violence prevention. Below are actions to take in the coming week:

1.    Please plan on attending one of over 817 March for Our Lives events worldwide on Saturday, March 24th. Click on this link to register for the March:  March for Our Lives (

Possible Signage for the March for our Lives:

-Gun violence is a public health crisis.

-We need more funding for gun violence prevention research

-Gun violence is a public health issue

2.    Visit the APHA website Gun Violence Page:   Gun Violence. (

3.     Share AJPH Gun Violence Research. (

4.    Get active in your communities. Engage at the grassroots level.  Join your local GVP organizations and promote a public health approach to end the gun violence epidemic.

In collaboration,

The APHA Intersectional Council (ISC) and MCH Gun Violence Prevention Workgroups

Access to PrEP under NHS England: My trip to London

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a way to prevent HIV infection for people who do not have HIV but who are at high risk of getting it by taking the pill everyday. When someone is exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, PrEP can work to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection. Individuals who take 7 PrEP pills per week, have an estimated level of protection of 99%. It is a powerful prevention tool combined with condoms.

In the United States, PrEP became available in 2012 by the FDA and can be accessed in most clinics and hospitals and is free under most insurance plans. As of 2017, there are an estimated 136,000 people currently on the drug for HIV prevention. This is not the case in the United Kingdom. As a part of a research project for my MPH degree I traveled to London, England to meet with members from the LGBT community, advocates and public health professionals and to learn more about access to PrEP under the National Healthcare System (NHS) England. Currently, PrEP is not available under NHS England even though HIV continues to be a prevalent problem in England, namely among men who have sex with men (MSM) where approximately 54% of the total of MSM population were diagnosed in 2015. England is however enrolling 10,000 people over 3 years through the PrEP IMPACT trial.

Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are also a component of the NHS. Wales has commenced their PrEPared Wales project, which provided information on where to access PrEP in the country. Scotland is currently the only country in the UK that offers a full PrEP provision through their NHS. Northern Ireland currently has no provision of PrEP.

The NHS is widely regarded as a remarkable system, allowing UK citizens to access certain free healthcare services. England has had some shortcomings however when it comes to preventing HIV and I was interested in learning more. I visited the Terrance Higgins Trust (THT), a British charity that campaigns on and provides services relating to HIV and sexual health. In particular, they aim to end the transmission of HIV in the UK, to support people living with HIV (PLWH), and decrease stigma around HIV. I met Greg Owen, the founder of iWantPrEPNow, a website that explains why it is important for HIV protection, who might consider PrEP, what you need to do before you start, where to buy it online, and how to take it. I also met with Will Nutland, who works alongside Greg and is the founder of Prepster, a guide and movement to safely buying PrEP. Both websites have experienced a lot of traffic since the IMPACT Trial began in October 2017. The trial seems like a step in the right direction when it comes to accessing PrEP, this is not the attitude for many and there continues to be a debate.  While there is significant evidence from other trials that demonstrates PrEP is an effective HIV prevention tool, many people believe that NHS will not endorse PrEP after the trial is complete.

I asked Liam Beattie, also a member of the THT team, why he believes NHS England did not endorse PrEP under its guidelines. He believed that it was because of 1. homophobia among the NHS and 2. the media. Liam was recently interviewed on BBC News. During the interview, PrEP was categorized as a “controversial drug,” which paints a negative light on the topic from the get-go.  While England is well-developed and progressive in so many ways, HIV is still known as the “middle-aged gay male virus.” THT and other organizations continue to develop new marketing tools and programs in order to target women, transgender persons, and people of color to visit a sexual health clinic and get tested. Taking PrEP is an advantage for not only the individuals health but the overall cost of healthcare. Many are hopeful that in the future, the NHS will work with organizations like THT to promote PrEP and other educational resources to prevent HIV.

Happy #InternationalWomensDay!

A message from our section chair, Laura Altobelli

In 1909 and 1917, women organized to demand better wages, equal working conditions, and the right to vote.

In 1975, the United Nations established March 8 for the annual recognition of these struggles.

On this International Women’s Day, the tendency is to think that today celebrates women just for BEING WOMEN — instead of its true meaning….THE GLOBAL STRUGGLE FOR EQUAL RIGHTS OF WOMEN.

Today is to commemorate the hard work that has not yet ended, and to celebrate those women (and some men), past, present, and future, who push the boundaries toward empowerment of women and girls and gender equality in all aspects of life.

Today is an annual call to continue the struggle.

In international health and global development work, this is arguably the most important of our callings — to reach the 5th Sustainable Development Goal: to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls,’ after which all other SDGs will be easier to reach.

Have a good day and keep up the struggle!

Achieving health equity in global health through workforce diversity

This International Women’s Day we honor the achievements of women leaders working to advance the health and well-being of people all over the world. Their path to success was certainly not easy. It was fraught with numerous challenges; challenges that are not only experienced by those of us working in global health but by women across all industries.

We are considered either too soft and feminine or too bossy and pushy to be seen as competent leaders. Our work culture lacks family-oriented, work-life balance policies which enable us to contribute to our field in significant ways. We lack female mentors to encourage us to grow and push us to overcome any obstacles we encounter in our career. We work for organizations where the people who make the big decisions on what policies and programmatic areas to focus on are men. The struggles we face trying to advance in our careers are reflected in the lack of gender equality in the global health workforce. While women make up 70% of the global health workforce, only 25% of leadership positions in global health are held by women.

We have known for a long time that when women are given equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in economic, political, and public life, everyone in society does better. Female leaders in health “promote access to contraceptives, empowerment programs for girls, women’s rights to family planning and maternity care, safe abortions, and protecting environmental assaults on children’s health.” In addition, women leaders at all levels of governance have shown to be the primary driver toward financing public goods such as health, education, hospitals, clean water, and sanitation. Women’s participation and leadership in economic, political, and public life is so critical to advancing societies that it is even written into one of the sustainable development goals. When women have a voice at all levels of decision-making, we are closer to eliminating the inequities that lead to disparities in health.

More global health organizations are recognizing the need for women leaders and organizations such as Women in Global Health are working toward achieving gender equality in global health leadership. Last year the World Health Organization’s newest Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom, appointed eight women to senior leadership, effectively outnumbering the men. In doing so, he took one big leap toward achieving gender equity at the WHO – a goal that was first set in 1997 and that took two decades to realize.

Gender equality is not the only type of diversity we need to strive toward in our global health leadership however. Diversity in global health leadership must also focus on inclusion of people from different ages, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, social class, geography, religion, and other characteristics of personal identity.  As a woman and a first-generation Filipino-American working in global health in the United States, I often find myself at global health and public health conferences and meetings wondering why there are very few leaders that encompass the diversity that I represent on stage (and occasionally even in the audience). The people who make the decisions with the biggest impact in global health must reflect the diversity of the people we serve.  

Learning from, understanding, and seeing the world through another person’s point of view is at the heart of working in global health and a driving reason for why I chose to work in this field. In order to truly reflect the diversity of this field though, the definition of diversity itself needs to go far and beyond the characteristics of one’s personal identity. To fully be inclusive, we must also be open to learning from, understanding, and seeing the world through the perspectives of individuals in the global health workforce with diverse backgrounds, life experiences, and competencies. Our field could benefit from the ideas of diverse individuals in solving some of the world’s most pressing global health problems. These ideas cannot always come out of our own echo chambers. 

Achieving diversity in the global health workforce is everyone’s job. It requires each one of us to recognize and overcome the personal biases (whether they are subconscious or not) which prevent us from hiring and working with more diverse talent. For those of us responsible for making decisions, we must work to create policies at all levels which not only promote but require inclusion. It’s only then that we can achieve true diversity in our workforce and our leadership. It’s only then that we can progress further in achieving health equity.

Stay tuned for part two of my series on Achieving health equity in global health through workforce diversity in which I will discuss different ideas for how we can achieve diversity in the global health workforce.