Global Health News Last Week

From March 28 to April 1, panelists working in Canada, Uganda, the United States, and Zambia will lead a discussion in GHDonline.org on ways to build sustainable partnerships to strengthen surgical and anesthesia capacity in resource-poor settings. More information can be found here.

March 22 was World Water Day. Blogger Tom Murphy has collected some interesting videos on PSI’s blog here.
Elizabeth Taylor, Hollywood icon and longtime advocate for the fight against HIV/AIDS, passed away on March 23 at age 78.
March 24 was World TB Day.

POLICY

  • China, the world’s largest tobacco producer and home to a third of all smokers, has issued a national ban on smoking in hotels, restaurants and other indoor public spaces.
  • Fears are growing among HIV/AIDS sufferers in the Ukraine amid claims from some patients that they have been denied life-saving medicines by authorities during a crackdown on drug substitution therapy.
  • The WHO has announced a list of 30 essential medicines for treating common diseases of mothers and children that can be used as the basis for procurement and supply of medicines and guide local medicine production.

RESEARCH

  • Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Dublin City University and Universidad de Valparaiso (Chile) have developed a self-powered, low-cost chip that can test blood samples and diagnose diseases like tuberculosis and HIV within minutes.
  • Researchers have discovered that capsaicin, the compound that makes jalapeños, red chilies, and the famous habanero pepper spicy, inhibit the production of cholera toxins.
  • Results from a recent study show that people with HIV who change antiretroviral treatment regimens due to side effects are at higher risk for developing drug resistance.
  • The Pakistan Medical Association’s 2011 annual report found that 400,000 infants die in the first year of their life each year and 1 out of 10 children die by the age of five.
  • A study by researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that child diarrhea deaths could be almost halved if currently available interventions such as breastfeeding, hand washing with soap, and improved household water treatment were widely implemented.
  • Global health and development blogger Amanda Makulec shares seven key ideas that she took home from the Global Health Metrics and Evaluation Conference in Seattle.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • Despite setbacks, work continues at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant. Meanwhile, in addition to radiation-contaminated vegetables, officials are now warning families to not give Tokyo tap water to infants due to elevated levels of radiation found in the water supply. The World Bank estimates that the earthquake and tsunami have caused as much as $235 billion in damage to Japan and that it will take five years for the nation to recover.
  • The crisis in Côte d’Ivoire continues as well, as the country’s healthcare system is strained by the violence.
  • Leprosy, which has been officially “eliminated” in India, still affects hundreds of thousands of people who are shunned by society. There are 130,000 new cases diagnosed in the country each year.
  • Leaders at the 26th Annual Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International challenged the World Health Organization and countries around the world to take action on the dramatic surge in the global incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
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