Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

With a single memorandum, President Trump may well have made it harder for health workers around the world to fight cancer, H.I.V., Zika and Ebola.

President Donald Trump has massively expanded the ban on providing federal money to international family planning groups that perform abortions or provide abortion information to all organizations receiving U.S. global health assistance.

In 2017 new developments, new leaders and new threats promise to tug the reins of global health organizations and send us off in unexpected directions. In fact, we’re already feeling the road change beneath us.

Global health watchers will pay close attention to Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, when the World Health Organization (WHO) will announce the final three candidates to take the agency’s top job.

Programs, Grants & Awards

Pathfinder’s board of directors named Lois Quam CEO last week after conducting an international search.

Pathfinder partners with local governments, communities and health systems to help women get vital health services.  Those services range from family planning and access to contraception, to efforts to help stop the spread of HIV, and care for women during pregnancy and childbirth.

After Trump’s ban on funding international groups whose humanitarian healthcare includes abortion counseling or services, Netherlands announced its intent to organize alternative funding for this vital area of medicine, and today a new global alliance is already rolling $10.7 million strong and up to 20 countries deep.

The Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health has awarded funding to six multidisciplinary research teams to jump-start novel efforts to address global health challenges.

The Arnhold Institute for Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and GLG (Gerson Lehrman Group, Inc.) today announced the 2017 class of Mount Sinai-GLG Global Health Scholars.

Research

Bernadette Abela-Ridder and colleagues (November, 2016) describe the commendable joint efforts of WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health, and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control to control rabies on a global level, including their endorsement of a global framework to eliminate human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030.

Development of Plasmodium falciparum specific naïve, atypical, memory and plasma B cells during infancy and in adults in an endemic area.

Researchers have identified biomarkers (a set of genes including those involved in immune response) that can predict progression of disease in humans infected with the Ebola virus.

Out of pocket (OOP) health spending can potentially expose households to risk of incurring large medical bills, and this may impact on their welfare. This work investigates the effect of catastrophic OOP on the incident and of poverty in Malawi.

Diseases & Disasters

Smoking consumes almost 6 percent of the world’s total spend on healthcare and nearly 2 percent of global GDP, reveals the first study of its kind, published in the journal Tobacco Control.  In 2015 the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This includes 17 goals that all member states have signed up to achieve by 2030. Goal 3 includes a target to cut by a third early deaths from non-communicable diseases, such as those caused by smoking, and to strengthen national implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Health officials in Brazil say there has been a sharp rise in the cases of yellow fever in the country.

Today marks the launch of End Malaria Council, a group of influential public and private sector leaders committed to eradicating malaria, convened by Bill Gates and Ray Chambers.

Tuberculosis (TB) is more than 15,000 years old. The tubercle baccilus was discovered by Robert Koch, MD, in 1882. From that initial discovery we have made dramatic strides in the diagnosis and treatment of this ancient disease. But it has only been in the past 70 years that we have developed effective anti-TB drugs to treat the nearly 10 million people around the globe who still fall sick to this disease every year.

A teenager who sued the Indian government to gain access to a new drug against multi-resistant tuberculosis was granted her petition in a ruling handed down by the New Delhi High Court on January 18, according to the family lawyer.

Technology

Google.org and Gavi announced a new partnership today to help tech start-up Nexleaf Analytics strengthen vaccine cold chain equipment for developing countries.  Google.org’s contribution of US$ 2 million, which will be matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s funding to the Gavi Matching Fund, will be used to help countries to make evidence-based decisions on the purchase and maintenance of vaccine refrigerators.

Doctors in India are to get text alerts reminding them to ask families to donate the organs of deceased loved ones as part of a campaign to solve the country’s organ shortage, which has fuelled a black market trade.

PLOS NTDs co-Editor-in-Chief Peter Hotez lists the key scientific papers refuting the myth that vaccines cause autism.

Environmental Health

Once a climate-change denier, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson said during his Senate confirmation hearings that “the risk of climate change does exist, and the consequences could be serious enough that action should be taken, distancing himself from Trump’s position. But he fell short of publicly accepting the scientific community’s consensus that there is a human role.

A toxic stew from a former copper mine in Montana killed nearly 3000 late-migrating geese raising alarm and questions around how the new Trump administration is going to handle this and other Superfund sites around the country.

A new study published examines the public health risk in aluminum cookware made from scrap metals. The authors tested 42 samples of aluminum cookware from 10 countries. They found that one-third of these samples pose lead exposure hazard and have found that these cookware release significant amounts of aluminum, arsenic and cadmium.

Due to persistent conflict, severe drought and economic instability, Nigeria and three other countries face a credible risk of famine in 2017, a report has said.

Equity & Disparities

A large prospective study conducted in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh has examined the health effects of bidis. Bidis are inexpensive, hand-rolled tobacco products manufactured by cottage industries in South Asia that have avoided national and international tobacco regulations. The authors find that bidi smoking is associated with “severe baseline respiratory impairment, all-cause mortality, and cardiorespiratory outcomes.”

They came from Mozambique, India, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Switzerland, Brazil, the US and Uganda. The 20 public health experts gathered in late November in Bellagio, Italy. Their goal: Help countries strengthen public health practice so they can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Many low- and middle-income countries are too scared by the threats and misinformation of big tobacco to raise the price of cigarettes, even though it would hugely benefit both health and the economy, according to a major new report.

Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Reinstatement of policy by Donald Trump could have ‘chilling impact’ in the Latin American region which already has high rates of teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality.

It is MSF (Doctors without Borders) policy to provide contraceptives and abortion care, given that unsafe abortion in one of the top five causes of maternal mortality. The group is now concerned about implications of the US “global gag rule” that now applies to all US-funded programs including HIV and MCH programs.

Starvation in northern Nigeria’s Borno State is so bad that a whole slice of the population — children under 5 — appears to have died, aid agencies say.

With more than 90% of refugees in Lebanon short of food and facing cuts to aid, desperate families often rely on their children to boost income.

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