News Round Up

Politics & Policies

One of the hallmarks of an effective foreign policy is that it runs in the background, neither loud nor especially visible. Governments must urgently adopt such an approach to stem the growing global panic caused by the coronavirus outbreak, which has now killed more than 1,300 people and infected in excess of 63,000.

Tedros took office on 1 July 2017 with an ambitious to-do list: Reform WHO, strengthen evidence-based decision-making, highlight the health impact of climate change, and provide 1 billion more people with health coverage. But the epidemic of COVID-19, as the new disease was christened on 11 February, will overshadow all of his stated priorities.

As concerns mount over the coronavirus that first emerged in China, public health officials there and around the globe have launched a massive response.

Amid two global health crises, the Trump administration has proposed cutting $3 billion from the U.S. government’s global health programs in its latest budget request.

In the midst of a growing public health care emergency with the coronavirus and more than 15 years after the SARS epidemic, an international study shows that no country is fully prepared to deal with a potentially deadly outbreak.

Programs, Grants & Awards

The World Health Organization (WHO) comprehensive global review highlights the importance of adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for human health.

UnitaidExplore is a new funding mechanism seeking new ideas from across spheres to develop innovations or innovative products that can be modified, repurposed, or re-imagined for the goals of global health. UnitaidExplore is looking to improve existing methods of delivery of oxygen therapy, and through that to improve access to oxygen in low resource settings

Research

In December 2019, an outbreak of COVID-19, an acute respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (also known as 2019-nCoV) was detected in mainland China. Researchers have been tracking the spread of the virus, have developed a diagnostic test for 2019-nCoV and are working on a number of vaccines to protect against 2019-nCoV.

Seasonal influenza virus is a common cause of acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) in young children. In 2008, we estimated that 20 million influenza-virus-associated ALRI and 1 million influenza-virus-associated severe ALRI occurred in children under 5 years globally.

Due to Zika virus, more than 1,600 babies were born in Brazil with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads, from September 2015 through April 2016. The epidemic took health professionals by surprise because the virus had been known since 1947 and was not linked to birth defects.

Diseases & Disasters

The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared, but he warned governments not to impose travel or trade restrictions on China.

Much of global health work focuses on making sure that the medical advances made in high-resource countries get to the patients who need them all around the world, including in poor, underdeveloped or remote areas.

As disasters have changed over the years, so must the personnel who manage these crises.  In 1932, sociologist Lowell Carr first described a predictable pattern of how disasters impact society. Refined over the decades by many researchers, the “disaster cycle” includes four phases: prevention, preparedness, response, recovery and rehabilitation.

The number of people who are infected with the new coronavirus that is spreading from China is dwarfed by those affected by a far more common respiratory illness: seasonal flu.  Every year there are as many as 5 million severe flu cases worldwide and hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Technology 

Medic Mobile announced the creation of Medic Labs, a new global health technology accelerator, with $3 million in seed funding from The Rockefeller Foundation. Medic Labs will pursue moonshot ideas – in the tradition of dedicated R&D arms of major technology companies, including Microsoft Research, Google X, and Bell Labs – to drive better community health outcomes for all people, everywhere, through the intentional, equitable application of data science.

The WHO has its own app to help you keep updated on the latest global health information. The app updates daily with the latest news, feature stories, fact sheets, disease outbreak updates, and public health emergency information.

Tuberculosis (TB) has burdened humanity with symptoms including cough, fever, and emaciation for thousands of years. Today it is the world’s leading infectious disease killer: 10 million people fell ill from TB and 1.5 million died in 2018 alone. Yet only one low-efficacy TB vaccine exists, treatment takes months to years, and improved diagnostics designed specifically for low-resource settings are needed.

Environmental Health

The year-long investigation by EHN found that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has stacked the deck against findings from independent scientists that BPA, as well as many compounds used in “BPA-free” products, can harm people at very low doses.

Equity & Disparities

Low- and middle-income countries could see an 80 percent rise in cancer over the next 20 years if treatment and prevention services are not stepped up, according to the latest World Cancer Report.

In November, the WHO launched a pilot program to boost the availability of insulin worldwide. The idea is to work with insulin manufacturers to increase the global supply — and in the process, potentially drive down the price of the treatment.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 10 percent of global health research is devoted to 90 percent of the global disease burden. WHO research confirms that the majority of diseases in low-income countries are caused by poverty.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

A three day awareness campaign on high risk pregnancies was organised in Jhajhar district of Haryana as part of the SMARThealth pregnancy project from Feb 3 to 5, 2020.  This follows a similar exercise done in villages in Guntur for high risk mothers and ASHA workers.  The campaign was part of an endeavour to strengthen post and ante-natal care for pregnant women.  

Poor infection control practices led to an unprecedented HIV outbreak among hundreds of children in Pakistan, according to a recent study.

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