News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Norway has launched a milestone “Better Health, Better Life” strategy to combat deadly non-communicable (NCDs) diseases as part of its international development assistance. This makes Norway the first to develop a strategy for combating this large and growing global health threat, which currently receives only about 1% of international health assistance.

The new head of scandal-hit UNAIDS has vowed to transform the agency’s culture to safeguard staff not only from sexual harassment – which she called “the tip of the iceberg” – but any abuse of power by those at the top.

The Trump Administration will continue strengthening the global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats, as demonstrated by the May 2019 release of the first U.S. Global Health Security Strategy.

Analysis from leading researchers shows there could be significant benefits from a presidentially-led initiative focused on combating pandemics. With the 2020 Presidential race under way, the researchers provide new evidence on the potential for a pro-active U.S. foreign policy effort to halt current pandemics, prevent new outbreaks from becoming pandemics, and address disease threats linked to climate change.  

For six years, Representative Ami Bera has been one of many leaders addressing global poverty issues in Congress. His position in the House Foreign Affairs Committee gives him the unique opportunity to give issues such as global health and women’s rights a voice in congressional hearings and on the House floor.

Programs, Grants & Awards

The 25th UN Climate Change Conference will be taking place in Madrid, Spain, and will convene from 2-13 December 2019. It will feature the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the United Nations Framework Convention to Combat Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 51st meetings of the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies – the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 51) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 51).

Three students in the Long School of Medicine won top awards at the 8th Annual UTMB Global Health Education Symposium Oct. 12 in Galveston.

Rare disease was considered an unattractive market segment as well but with the help of regulatory incentives and premium pricing it has been transformed; 31 out of the 59 new drugs approved by the US FDA in 2018 were for rare diseases. Venture capital has played an instrumental role in that transformation by funding unproven, high-risk technologies and demonstrating their clinical benefits in patients.

Research

The International Committee of the Red Cross reported a new outbreak of dengue fever in war-torn Yemen, with thousands of cases reported and several dozen deaths.

Neurological impairments might significantly contribute to reduced life expectancy in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). There are no empirical studies of premature mortality in children with neurological impairments in Africa. This study estimated the risk of premature mortality in children with neurological impairments and identified risk factors and causes of death.

A new Global Health Security Index released today, the first comprehensive assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across 195 countries, suggests that not a single country in the world is fully prepared to handle an epidemic or pandemic.

In an analysis of research studies conducted in Africa on HIV, malaria, TB, salmonellosis, Ebola and Buruli ulcer, Mbaye and colleagues found that African authors are highly under-represented as first and last authors (authorship positions that often get the most visibility and credit).

Diseases & Disasters

Dementia poses a threat to global health on the same scale as HIV/AIDS, the Dutch government has said, warning that the number of people with the condition will not be far off the population of Germany by 2030.

A deadly virus called Nipah carried by bats has already caused human outbreaks across South and South East Asia and has “serious epidemic potential”, global health and infectious disease specialists said.

Technology 

Artificial intelligence (AI) has demonstrated great progress in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases. Deep learning, a subset of machine learning based on artificial neural networks, has enabled applications with performance levels approaching those of trained professionals in tasks including the interpretation of medical images and discovery of drug compounds

Lack of data, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, combined with the absence of international standards for data management, is hindering efforts in measuring progress toward meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) according to a viewpoint published in the international medical journal The Lancet.

Environmental Health

Climate change has a negative impact on women’s ability to make meaningful decisions in their lives, according to new research looking at climate change hotspots in Africa and Asia.

Equity & Disparities

On Navajo Nation, grocery stores are few and far between. Most people shop at gas stations and trading posts, where healthy foods are scarce. To widen access to fruits and vegetables—and improve overall health—Partners In Health (PIH) and its sister organization on Navajo Nation, Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment, launched an initiative to encourage shops to stock and sell produce and traditional Diné foods.

The patient, a four-year-old girl, came to the Cambodian clinic with a painful mass in her abdomen. Kristin Schroeder, MD, MPH, then a resident at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was part of the medical team that diagnosed her: Wilm’s tumor, a type of kidney tumor that is curable in more than 90 percent of the cases in the United States.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) program to review antiretroviral drugs for use in low-resource settings via the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) now supports treatment of more than 14 million patients with HIV. However, an in-depth evaluation of the program has not been undertaken.

Doctors Without Borders is calling on Johnson & Johnson to halve the price of a lifesaving tuberculosis drug, called bedaquline, to make it more accessible to patients around the world. Currently, a six-month supply of the drug for a single person costs $400 in countries around the world that participate in the Global Drug Facility, a United Nations-linked organization that is the world’s largest provider of tuberculosis medication.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Child health is improving dramatically around the world. Cases of measles and tetanus have reduced by 80 percent. The Center for Disease Control has aided more than 80 countries in eliminating rubella by increasing access to vaccines. The death rate of children under five has plummeted. India is one of the countries making great strides in the health of their children.

Cervical cancer and breast cancer are the biggest causes of cancer deaths among women in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Yet it is only in recent years that prevention and control of these diseases have become a matter of public health. In 2011, the WHO said that non-communicable diseases were “an impending disaster” for some countries, pushing millions of people into poverty.

Once-a-month contraceptive pill could have ‘tremendous impact on global health’. Trialled in pigs, the pill sits in the stomach and dissolves slowly, releasing the hormones required to prevent pregnancy.

More pregnant women and children protected from malaria, but accelerated efforts and funding needed to reinvigorate global response, WHO report show.

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