Global News Round-Up

Politics & Policies

On May 27, after months of advocacy and days of intense meetings, the G7 committed to promote Universal Health Coverage (UHC), calling it a “comprehensive framework that underpins all of the targets” in the Sustainable Development Goals.

This past week, Canada participated in international health meetings in Geneva focused on strengthening health systems and improving countries’ capacities to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats.

Programs

A new unified system to facilitate sharing of genomic and clinical data among cancer researchers called Genomic Data Commons was launched on June 6, the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) said.

On May 31, the Harvard Global Health Institute hosted a symposium entitled “Preparing Health Systems for An Aging Global Population.”

World Health Organization member states agreed on Wednesday to more than double the group’s emergency fund to $494 million for the next year, as it works to address major gaps in its ability to respond to global health emergencies.

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day.  The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are calling on countries to get ready for plain (standardized) packaging of tobacco products.

University of Wisconsin-Madison investigators will address flood forecasting and health implications, protecting natural fisheries, tracing the safety of wild-caught fish and improving diabetes care with four new Seed Grants from the UW-Madison Global Health Institute.

Research

The National Institutes of Health hopes to have an early safety study of a Zika virus vaccine by September 2016.

A large fraction of Plasmodium infections do not cause clinical signs and symptoms of disease and persist at densities in blood that are not detectable by microscopy or rapid diagnostics tests.

The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) conducted a research in the southern Osh province in Kyrgyzstan to understand the barriers girls face at school with regards to menstrual hygiene and puberty-related attitudes and practices among young people, parents, and teachers. Because they are having their period for the first time, many young girls in Kyrgyzstan are not aware of menstruation, nobody talks to them about this and they are left alone with their fear, with some even committing suicide.

Diseases & Disasters

On June 8-10, the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS will bring people together around a common objective: ending AIDS by 2030 within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The pandemic of non-communicable diseases (NCD) is expected to claim 28 million lives annually in low- and middle-income countries until 2030.

The World Health Organization says there is “no public health justification” for postponing or canceling the Rio de Janeiro Olympics because of the Zika outbreak.

Doctors and scientists are bracing for the possibility of a wave of rare disorders triggered by Zika in Haiti, an impoverished country that has faced one public health crisis after another and is fertile ground for mosquito-borne scourges.

In Mozambique, almost 7 million people are at risk of losing their sight from trachoma, an eye infection that is the world’s leading cause of blindness.

So far, there have been 51 cases, including 10 deaths from an unknown disease in the northern part of South Sudan. The main symptoms of the disease are similar to those seen with Ebola: unexplained bleeding, fever, fatigue, headache and vomiting.

Technology

The Washington State University student startup company Engage earned $10,000 and a top prize at the University of Washington Business Plan Competition last week.  They are developing a simple needle decontamination solution that could save millions of lives in developing countries.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Government of Canada announced a new online marketplace today that is projected to save at least $250 million in the coming four years by offering health implementers competitive prices for medicines and health commodities.

Environmental Health

A comprehensive global study from the National Academy of Sciences has revealed that genetically modified (GMO) crops do not pose an adverse effect on the environment or human health.

Industrial agriculture is a key contributor to the rampant biodiversity losses now threatening the 35 percent of global crops dependent on pollination, the degradation of some 20 percent of global land, the 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions arising from food and farming, and many other negative outcomes in food systems.

Equity & Disparities

It is now over a year into a conflict in Yemen for which there is no imminent end in sight. Aid agencies are rightly focusing on immediate relief for the time being, but there is an urgent need to start thinking now about reconstruction once the conflict comes to an end. And nowhere is this need greater than in health.

Myanmar has some of the worst health indicators in Asia, as a result of its tumultuous recent history and the second lowest spending on healthcare in the world. Life expectancy is just over 64 years for men and approximately 68 years for women,  compared with the average life expectancy of 82 years for women and 77 for men in the OECD countries.

A new study in The Lancet “estimates that the recent economic crisis was associated with over 260,000 additional cancer deaths in countries within the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) by 2010, of which 160,000 were in the European Union.”

The clearest link between poverty and the rise of antimicrobial resistance is that poor people may not see a qualified health care provider or complete a course of quality antibiotics. Instead, they might turn to unregulated markets for substandard drugs.

(The global news round-up is prepared by the Communications Team)

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