Global Health News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Mathematical disease modeling can help policymakers during their decision making process when epidemics like Ebola and Zika occur.  The Fogarty International Center recently hosted a meeting between scientists at the center and government officials from the U.S. in order to foster closer collaboration between academia and the government.

The United Nations High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, which will be held in New York on June 8-10, will bring out the importance of political leaders meeting ambitious goals to help end the AIDS epidemic and the need for civil society to set demands and hold government accountable for their stances and promises.

Programs

The 69th World Health Assembly (WHA) will be held in Geneva, Switzerland on May 18-26.  WHA is the decision making body of the World Health Organization (WHO) and is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the WHA are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget.  As the world looks to 2030, and prepares to meet the challenges of an ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals, WHO is developing three global health sector strategies to cover: HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infections.  The strategies will cover the years 2016-2021 and will be finalized for consideration during the meeting.

The Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) Conference was held in San Francisco April 9-11.  It is the largest academic global health conference in the U.S. and this year’s theme was: “Bridging to a Sustainable Future for Global Health.”

Research

A new study published in The Lancet has estimated the worldwide trends in diabetes since 1980 using data from 751 studies including nearly 4.4 million adults from 146 of the 200 countries. The results show that since 1980 the age-adjusted prevalence rates of diabetes has either increased or remained unchanged in every country. The study also shows that there has been a quadrupling of the number of people with diabetes owing to population growth and an aging population. Burden of diabetes has increased faster in LMICs (low-middle income countries) than in high-income countries.

The United Nations agencies have released the latest Global Report on Urban Health. The report presents new data on the health of city-dwellers from nearly 100 countries with a special analysis on the impact of health inequities on the Millennium Development Goals achievement.

Diseases & Disasters

A strain of malaria called Plasmodium   knowlesi found in Southeast Asian Macaque     monkeys has the potential to become a major human disease.  In Borneo, Malaysia the “monkey malaria” has become the most common form of malaria diagnosed in the hospitals.  Symptoms are very similar to those found in the other five types of malaria strains and patients respond to standard malaria treatment upon early diagnosis. Current research is focusing on whether this strain of malaria can have the potential of being easily transmitted from human to human in the future because it is normally a zoonotic (animal to human transmission) disease.

The yellow fever epidemic that started in Angola in December has spread to Democratic Republic of Congo, where there have been 51 deaths. While steps are being taken to curb the epidemic, with the complete depletion of emergency stockpile of vaccines there is a global vaccine shortage.

Technology

A handful of researchers are separately working on inexpensive, paper-based diagnostic tests that accurately pinpoint the cause of a disease in minutes and could speed up treatment and prevent its spread.

Environmental Health

More than 100 countries, including the world’s top four polluters, plan on signing the Paris Agreement on climate change during a ceremony in New York at the United Nations on April 22.  Among them is India, which plans to provide electricity to every village by 2017 and every household by 2019.  Approximately 300 million Indians do not have access to electricity.  Rich countries are committed to helping developing countries with at least $200 billion per year starting in 2020 to help them meet their goals, however, there is opposition from the Third World Network, which cautions the poorer nations to reconsider signing until the financial commitment by the richer countries is fulfilled.  Carbon Brief estimates developing countries will need about $3.5 trillion by 2030 to implement their plans.

Equity & Disparities

Analysis of the data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey conducted in 5 countries between 2011 and 2012 shows that the socially and economically disadvantaged populations are at greater risk of tobacco usage. Their results show that risk for tobacco use was considerably lower in women when compared to men and among people who were better educated. These results call for interventions that specifically focus on these vulnerable populations.

The Global Food Security Act—HR 1567—was passed by the house. The bill authorizes “a comprehensive, strategic approach for U.S. foreign assistance to developing countries to reduce poverty and hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, promote inclusive, sustainable agricultural-led economic growth, improve nutritional outcomes, especially for women and children and build resilience among vulnerable populations.”

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