Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

New waves of nationalism in the UK, US, and Europe could threaten the financing of programs that have saved millions of lives around the world.  While it is certainly true that financial empires and multinational corporations have benefited from globalization to the tune of trillions of dollars over the last 25 years, great humanitarian dreams have also been constructed in this new world, with lowered borders, more open trade, cyber-connectedness, and a sense of responsibility by wealthy nations toward middle- and lower-income states.  Retreat behind traditional national borders, both physically and metaphorically, directly challenges the furtherance of all of the great 21st-century dreams.

Uruguay has won the dispute against the tobacco giant Philip Morris; the tobacco giant must continue to cover packs with graphic warning labels and will be restricted in its branding practices.

Members of Congress are leaving Washington for seven weeks without passing a bill to pay for the fight against Zika. Their failure to do so will delay the public health response to the mosquito-borne virus that causes birth defects, unnecessarily putting thousands of people at risk.

Emergency funds to fight Ebola may run out in October because they were poached to fight Zika.  Unless new funding comes through as part of the Zika package, CDC’s funding for emergency work on Ebola will run out, because more than $500 million was transferred to fight Zika while the administrator waited for Congress to fund work on the mosquito-borne disease, which has spread through Latin America and the Caribbean.

It’s time to think creatively about incentives to push countries to strengthen their public health systems before disasters strike, says Georgetown University Professor Rebecca Katz. Only 1/3 of countries are ready to adequately respond to a disease outbreak or other public health emergency.

The Senate approved a bill to tackle the nation’s opioid crisis, sending to the president’s desk the most sweeping drug legislation in years in a rare instance of consensus in Congress.  The measure, which passed, 92 to 2, would strengthen prevention, treatment and recovery efforts, largely by empowering medical professionals and law enforcement officials with more tools to help drug addicts.

Programs

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be hosting the Public Health Informatics Conference from August 21–24.  This year’s theme is “Access, Analysis, Action” and will explore how to procure technology and best obtain data for the end-user; connect attendees with tools and support available to understand the meaning of data; and drive attendees to apply lessons learned about the application of data in their own profession and community.

The maternal and child health program within the Colorado School of Public Health’s Center for Global Health announced that it has been re-designated by the World Health Organization as a WHO Collaborating Center for Promoting Family and Child Health.  The program, which is a partnership between Children’s Hospital Colorado (Children’s Colorado) and the Colorado School of Public Health, is the only maternal and child health collaborating center in North America.

The AIDS 2016 conference will be held at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC), South Africa from July 18 to 22.
The International AIDS Conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic.

This summer, our team of four students in partnership with the Duke School of Nursing and Ghana Health Services, is conducting research and performing documentary work on perceptions and barriers to maternal healthcare among community members, mothers, healthcare providers, and healthcare leadership.

Research

Determining the spatial patterns of infection among young children living in a malaria-endemic area may provide a means of locating high-risk populations who could benefit from additional resources for treatment and improved access to healthcare.

No data are available on the presence of Zika virus in the female genital tract. Thus, the detection of Zika virus in the female genital tract, its clearance kinetics, and its possible persistence would be of utmost importance in the assessment of woman-to-man sexual transmission of the Zika virus, and it could also help clarify the process of mother-to-child vertical transmission.

Studies done in mice show that getting infected with two species of Plasmodium parasites can lead to a more dangerous and more persistent malarial infection. These results challenge the long held notion that one species will outcompete the other.

A new study in Lancet reports a disproportionately high burden globally of HIV among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM).

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will receive nearly $23 million over the next five years to continue research on their innovative “kick and kill” strategy for eradicating HIV.  Worldwide, 37 million people are living with the virus.

A wider swath of Africa is at risk for Ebola outbreaks than previously thought, according to a new study published in the journal eLife by researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and the Oxford Big Data Institute.

Zika should soon run its course in Latin America.  Within the next couple of years, the epidemic that had battered the region since 2015 will largely be over, researchers estimate in a paper online July 14 in Science.

Diseases & Disasters

A daily pill to prevent HIV infection can reduce new cases among men who have sex with men (MSM) by a third in the US over the next 10 years, according to a new modeling study.

New York City’s health department on Friday reported the first documented case of sexual transmission of Zika from a woman to her male partner, raising new concerns about the spread of the virus, which is typically contracted through mosquito bites.

Things are dire in South Sudan, but aid workers see signs of hope.  As conflict erupted in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, an estimated 30,000 people fled their home, seeking safer ground.  Another 30,000 had previously sought shelter in what’s called a “Protection of Civilian” site in the city that’s run by the UN.  There were reportedly more than 150 deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received reports from international healthcare facilities that Candida auris, an emerging multidrug-resistant (MDR) yeast, is causing invasive healthcare-associated infections with high mortality. Given the occurrence of C. auris in nine countries (US, South Korea, India, South Africa, Kuwait, Colombia, Venezuela, Pakistan, United Kingdom) on four continents since 2009, CDC is alerting US healthcare facilities to be on the lookout for C. auris in patients.

Viral hepatitis is one of the leading killers across the globe, with a death toll that matches AIDS or tuberculosis (TB), research in the Lancet suggests.

The world can be a dark place for many children: the “lost boys” from Sudan, refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria, child sex workers in Brazil, baby girls abandoned in China, kids pulled into gang drug wars in the United States.  Such suffering by children is more common than most people might think and represents what some believe to be one of our biggest public health crises of all time.  A study published in January in the journal Pediatrics puts that violence into stark perspective by estimating that as many as half of the world’s 2 billion children experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence in the previous year.

With the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil less than a month away, concerns are mounting that the international event may spread the Zika virus to more countries around the world.  Indeed, global travel has been contributing to the spread of virus in the Western Hemisphere since at least 2015, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  However, the CDC predicted that the Olympics will put only four countries (Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Yemen) at risk for importing Zika.  

Technology

In the US, young gay black and Hispanic men are the groups most likely to be infected with HIV and the least likely to be tested for it, because they often lack health insurance and fear being rejected by their families.  Researchers at Indiana University and the University of California, Los Angeles used Grindr, a gay dating app, to get gay black and Hispanic men to try home HIV self-testing kits.  The study used banner ads on Grindr to offer free test kits.

In the summer of 2011, an epidemic of dengue fever hit the Pakistani province of Punjab, home to 100 million people. With no way of accurately detecting cases, health workers struggled to contain the disease. It spread quickly, especially through the populous city of Lahore. More than 21,000 people were eventually infected, and 350 of them died.  That is when a team of Pakistani scientists decided to create a phone service (free hotline) and use the volume of calls to forecast dengue outbreaks a few weeks in advance. Their predictions helped public health workers to focus their efforts in areas that were at greatest risk.

Billionaire and medical technology magnate Ronda E. Stryker and her husband William D. Johnston donated $20 million to Harvard Medical School to support global health research.  The gift will endow a professorship in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine and provide funding, specifically for junior faculty and fellows in fields including HIV and Ebola research.

The Prime Minister of Tanzania was presented with a Mobile and Compact Portable Clinical Laboratory by an Indian firm.  It does not use electricity and was to be used to serve people living far from health centers in the rural areas.  According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, the mobile and compact portable clinical laboratory uses solar power and can also run on battery which is charged in a car.

Engineers at MIT have designed programmable RNA vaccines that could be rapidly manufactured in one week and rapidly deployed in response to disease outbreaks.  The vaccines have been shown effective against Ebola, H1N1 influenza, and Toxoplasma gondii, in tests in mice. They could also be useful against other infectious diseases and cancer.

Environmental Health

Kenya’s polluted capital Nairobi faces a health crisis from uncontrolled pollution, with a rise in respiratory diseases driven by old vehicles, burning rubbish and indoor cook stoves.

Ethiopia’s worst drought in over 30 years wreaks havoc.  The failure of both of the main rainy seasons last year had a devastating effect on an area where virtually every family lives off the land.  It has left almost every household dependent on food parcels from the Ethiopian government and, by prompting many young men to conclude they must leave, it has caused a surge in the number attempting long and dangerous journeys, primarily to Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Europe, in search of work.

Underground water is being pumped so aggressively around the globe that land is sinking, civil wars are being waged, and agriculture is being transformed.

The new mayor of London announces plan to ban vehicles from major shopping street as part of his commitment to tackle air pollution.  Oxford Street will be pedestrianised by 2020 and the mayor has already pledged to introduce a charge for the most polluting vehicles.

Equity & Disparities

Any initiative to address health and health care goals must wrestle with and address the enormous disparities that exist in health coverage, access, and outcomes across racial and income groups in the United States. Of course there are huge disparities across the developed and developing worlds — the developing world experiences some 85 percent of the global disease burden, yet 85 percent of all health care spending takes place in the rich democracies of North America, Europe, and Asia.

Over the past decades, both health inequalities and income inequalities have been increasing in many European countries, but it is unknown whether and how these trends are related. We test the hypothesis that trends in health inequalities and trends in income inequalities are related.

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) will host the Summer Institute on Health Disparities Science from August 15-19. The program will support the development of individual research projects by promising scientists early in their careers and will stimulate research in the disciplines supported by science on minority health and health disparities.

The Healthcare Quality and Equity Action Forum will be held from September 28-30 at the Seaport Hotel & Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, Massachusetts.  The forum  will provide the essential strategies to improve quality, achieve equity and deliver high-value healthcare to diverse populations.

On May 18, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a final rule to implement Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which prohibits discrimination in health coverage and care based on race, color, national origin, age, disability, and sex. These provisions incorporate existing federal non-discrimination law and policy and also contain some new protections.

The global news round up was prepared by the communications team.

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