Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

As the global public health community gathered in the South African city of Durban this week to talk about the end of AIDS, they were greeted with news that annual international support for combating the epidemic had fallen by more than US $1 billion.

Last September, urged on by Pope Francis, the United Nations and its 193 member states embraced the most sweeping quest yet to, basically, save the world and everyone in it — dubbed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).  It’s a global agenda to fix climate change, stop hunger, end poverty, extend health and access to jobs and vastly more — all by 2030.  Sweden is already 84.5 percent of the way to meeting the best possible outcome across the 17 SDG, ranking number one in the world, according to a report.

Some $60 million will soon flow to states, cities and territories to fight the Zika virus, White House officials announced Thursday.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will begin awarding nearly $60 million to “support efforts to protect Americans from the Zika virus,” including protecting against the birth defect microcephaly, the agency said in a press release Thursday. CDC said new funding will be available to jurisdictions Aug. 1.

The recent Ebola epidemic in Liberia exposed gaps in legal authority during the response.  This is one reason why Liberia’s government recently reached out to the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Public Health Law Project.  The project team is helping to document issues that could be improved by updating Liberia’s public health law, which was last fully revised in 1976.

Programs

CDC’s vision is to eliminate viral hepatitis in the United States and worldwide.  World Hepatitis Day on July 28 is an opportunity to highlight the global burden of disease and our efforts to combat viral hepatitis around the world.  Viral hepatitis is the seventh leading cause of death worldwide, and causes more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis, and even road injuries.

Health ministers and high-level representatives of the 53 Member States of the WHO European Region, partner organizations and civil society will take part in the 66th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, on September 12-15.

The University of Washington is one of 56 DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe women) Innovation Challenge winners announced on Monday by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (Janssen), one of the Janssen pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson; and ViiV Healthcare. Their combined $85 million investment will accelerate progress toward the DREAMS target of achieving a 40 percent reduction in new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in the highest-burden areas of 10 sub-Saharan African countries by the end of 2017.

Research

Offering Truvada pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to the HIV-negative partner in a serodiscordant couple during the first six months after the HIV-positive partner starts antiretroviral therapy (ART) can serve as a ‘bridge’ to provide further protection against HIV infection, researchers reported yesterday at the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.

Brazilian researchers on Thursday said they found signs of the Zika virus in a common mosquito that is a separate species from the insect known to be the primary means of transmission.  They warned, however, that further tests are needed to determine whether the species, known as Culex quinquefasciatus, is in fact responsible for transmitting the virus to humans and, if so, to what extent.

Diseases & Disasters

With 4.4 million food insecure individuals in northeastern Nigeria, the region is on the brink of famine. Boko Haram, the militant group who had overrun the area, is clearly a major cause of this crisis, which has taken international aid agencies by surprise.

Anthony Fauci and other researchers announced a big new HIV vaccine trial in South Africa on July 19.  Now, scientists have hopes for a functional cure – a cure that doesn’t wipe out every possible trace of HIV but keeps it at bay – and a potential vaccine.

Scientists have found fossilized intestinal parasites in a 2000-year-old human excrement in western China: the first evidence of infectious diseases spreading along the Silk Road.

Controlling human nerve cells with electricity could treat a range of diseases including arthritis, asthma and diabetes.  Galvani Bioelectronics hopes to bring a new treatment based on the technique before regulators within seven years.

Two studies published today help shed light on the virus that the World Health Organization has called a “global health emergency.” Yale researchers modeled the risk for people attending the Olympics and found only a small chance that those visiting Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics would contract the virus.

The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are almost here. Starting this week, athletes from around the world will perform amazing feats including older Olympians who are generally not reported in traditional media. Older athletes have always participated in the games. For example, Brazil’s 2016 Olympic qualifying tournaments had many athletes in their 30’s and a few well into their 40’s. This article will focus on older athletes with the hope that it inspires readers and challenges aging stereotypes.

Technology

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, has begun an early-stage clinical trial of an investigational vaccine designed to protect against yellow fever virus. The Phase 1 study is evaluating whether an experimental vaccine developed by the Danish biopharmaceutical company Bavarian Nordic is safe, tolerable and has the potential to prevent yellow fever virus infection.

A new study in the journal Vaccine showed that mice immunized against Chlamydia are more likely to ward off the infection. Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STD). It is currently treated with antibiotics but the infection has to be detected early on for the treatment to work best.

Support from The Grand Challenges Canada will allow for six innovations showing promising evidence to improve global health to “transition-to-scale.”  These innovations range from low cost hardware drill for bone surgeries to smartphone based HIV self-test application.

The first dengue approved by the WHO and now licensed for use in 5 countries appears to cause a phenomenon called antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). In simple terms, this is a phenomenon whereby dengue vaccine sets up dengue-naive (those who had never had dengue) recipients for severe disease. Sanofi Pasteur has denied that the dengue vaccine causes ADE.

Phase I trials of a novel influenza vaccine, RedeeFlu developed by a Madison company, Flugen, began at the end of July in Kansas. 96 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 49 are in the trial and the vaccine is administered as a spray through the nose. It is expected to protect against main strains of influenza and the variations in the flu season.

Environmental Health

New research suggests that reduced rainfall due to climate change is likely to result in conditions that make it harder for mosquitoes to thrive and ultimately lead to lower malaria rates in parts of West Africa.

An anthrax outbreak in remote western Siberia has led to the hospitalization of at least 90 people in the Arctic town of Salekhard, with at least 20 confirmed cases of the illness. One person, a 12-year-old boy, has died from anthrax according to the TASS News Agency and other media reports.

We know the world is warming, and we know humans are the main reason. But so what? The thing we’d really like to know is, what will the impacts be on our planet, it’s biodiversity, our society, our economies? It is only through understanding the impacts of climate change that action for reducing greenhouse gases can be motivated.

Raging floods that started on July 25 submerged up to 80 percent of India’s Kaziranga National Park, in the northeastern state of Assam. The flooding subsided on July 31, but hundreds of animals have drowned, including more than a dozen rare Indian rhinoceroses. Across the country, the flooding has displaced millions of people and killed 152.

Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2015 State of the Climate report unleashed a flood of statistics that should overwhelm whatever doubts remain of global warming’s already startling impacts, scientists said Tuesday.

Earth’s fever got worse last year, breaking dozens of climate records, scientists said in a massive report nicknamed the annual physical for the planet.

Equity & Disparities

The World Health Organization’s first global report on diabetes  highlights the disease’s “alarming surge” with rates that have quadrupled in fewer than three decades.  The report reminds us that essential diabetes medicines and health technologies, including lifesaving insulin, are available in only one in three of the world’s poorest countries.

The motorcycle-ambulance in India is “saving lives in remote regions where people had been dying because they could not make it to the hospital on time.”

PolicyLink and FSG are launching a new Ambassadors for Health Equity Fellowship that aims to “connect innovative and inspiring leaders to mentorship, education, and opportunities for collaboration around advancing systemic solutions in health equity.”

A study published in PlosOne has revealed that nearly 1 in 3 pre-school age (under 5 years of age) children living in low and middle income countries do not meet the basic milestones of cognitive or social-emotional development. The poor basic skills development is worsened by inadequate physical growth.

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

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