News Round Up

Politics & Policies

The World Health Organization’s annual oversight convention was held by teleconference recently, as the worst pandemic in modern history continues around the globe.

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/05/17/857206256/unprecedented-world-health-assembly-convenes-online-as-pandemic-rages

World Health Organization (WHO) member states have agreed to set up an independent inquiry into the global response to the coronavirus pandemic. The resolution, approved without objection by the WHO’s 194-member annual assembly meeting virtually in Geneva, also allows for the inquiry to look into the health body’s own role.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-52726017

Domestic travel restrictions and a general lack of coordinated funding — not shortages of personal protective equipment — are the biggest constraints to accessing the world’s most vulnerable communities in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, humanitarian leaders said Monday.

https://www.devex.com/news/travel-restrictions-funding-gaps-a-bigger-problem-than-ppe-humanitarian-leaders-say-97217

As parts of the United States and Europe consider reopening, most of the world’s population remains susceptible to the coronavirus. We look at new efforts to stop the deadly spread of COVID-19 with contact tracing.

https://www.democracynow.org/2020/4/23/dr_joia_mukherjee

Loyce Pace, current president and executive director of Global Health Council, releases an opinion piece on Devex titled “The end of global health advocacy as we know it”

https://www.devex.com/news/opinion-the-end-of-global-health-advocacy-as-we-know-it-97302

President Trump has threatened to withdraw funding from the World Health Organization, accusing it of mismanaging the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in its early stages as it emerged in China. This BBC article looks at some of the charges President Trump has levelled against the WHO and the health body’s responses.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52294623

Programs, Grants & Awards

At this month’s meeting of the 73rd World Health Assembly —its first-ever to be held virtually—delegates adopted a landmark resolution to bring the world together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/19-05-2020-historic-health-assembly-ends-with-global-commitment-to-covid-19-response

The DGHI, established in 2006, is working hard to keep current students going, and some classes have shifted to focus on the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, the institute is looking ahead to a possible increase in applications.

https://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2020/05/duke-university-how-global-health-institute-adapted-pandemic-coronavirus

Research

International experts have advised the World Health Organization (WHO) to work to identify the animal origins of the virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic and its transmission to humans, the UN agency said.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/05/1063072

One prominent research group, Harvard’s Global Health Institute, proposes that the U.S. should be doing more than 900,000 tests per day as a country.

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/05/07/851610771/u-s-coronavirus-testing-still-falls-short-hows-your-state-doing

While the COVID-19 pandemic will increase mortality due to the virus, it is also likely to increase mortality indirectly. In this study, we estimate the additional maternal and under-5 child deaths resulting from the potential disruption of health systems and decreased access to food.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(20)30229-1/fulltext

Enrollment in several clinical trials of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine — including two by the University of Washington — has been anemic so far. Fewer than 260 volunteers, out of a target of 2,000, have signed up for a $9.5 million UW study being conducted in Seattle and six other sites across the country. Another multi-site project coordinated by the UW has only about 30 patients enrolled.

https://globalhealth.washington.edu/news/2020/05/11/clinical-trial-enrollment-plummets-volunteers-are-scared-coronavirus-drugs-promoted

In most of the world, the Aedes aegypti mosquito is notorious for biting humans and spreading dengue, Zika, and other viruses. But in Africa, where the mosquito is native, most Aedes prefer to suck blood from other animals, such as monkeys and rodents. A new study suggests, though, that their taste for humans may rapidly expand—and with it their ability to spread disease.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/05/mosquitoes-taste-human-blood-may-grow-african-cities-expand

Toddlers with congenital Zika syndrome have severe developmental delays, researchers report.  In a study that covered a five-year period, researchers found that children in Brazil with congenital Zika syndrome who had microcephaly at birth suffered severe mental delays.

https://consumer.healthday.com/diseases-and-conditions-information-37/zika-1007/zika-virus-tied-to-profound-developmental-delays-757407.html

An herbal tonic developed in Madagascar and touted as a cure for COVID-19 could fuel drug-resistant malaria in Africa, scientists warn. Several African countries have said they are placing orders for the brew, whose efficacy has yet to be shown.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/05/unproven-herbal-remedy-against-covid-19-could-fuel-drug-resistant-malaria-scientists

For the first time in the post-war history of epidemics, there is a reversal of which countries are most heavily affected by a disease pandemic. By early May 2020, more than 90% of all reported deaths from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been in the world’s richest countries; if China, Brazil, and Iran are included in this group, then that number rises to 96%.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31089-8/fulltext

Diseases & Disasters

Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the pandemic — its intensive care units inundated and its elderly dying in droves before the tsunami reached Spain, France, the United States or Britain. And so Italy is also ahead in coming to grips with the long duration of the illness and the lasting consequences for some survivors.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/10/world/europe/coronavirus-italy-recovery.html

For the first time in over 100 years, people all over the world are fighting a common public health enemy: COVID-19. Yet, even as we pour resources into fighting this new pandemic, there is an urgent need to keep up the fight against an age-old enemy: malaria, which continues to cause immense suffering and death among some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

https://www.globalhealthnow.org/2020-04/malaria-services-must-be-maintained-amid-covid-19-pandemic

Technology 

As coronavirus vaccines hurtle through development, scientists are getting their first look at data that hint at how well different vaccines are likely to work. The picture, so far, is murky.  On 18 May, US biotech firm Moderna revealed the first data from a human trial: its COVID-19 vaccine triggered an immune response in people, and protected mice from lung infections with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The results — which the company, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced in a press release — were widely interpreted as positive and sent stock prices surging. But some scientists say that because the data haven’t been published, they lack the details needed to properly evaluate those claims.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01092-3

Landmark review of the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the future of global health published in The Lancet calls on the global health community to establish guidelines for development and deployment of new technologies and to develop a human-centered research agenda to facilitate equitable and ethical use of AI.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200519165844.htm

Environmental Health

Air pollution exposure has been linked to coronary heart disease.  This prospective cohort study aimed to investigate associations between long-term exposure to air pollution and MI incidence, adjusting for road traffic noise.

https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/full/10.1289/EHP5818

Equity & Disparities

On April 29, UNICEF published a discussion paper comparing the probable downstream effects of COVID-19 in developed and developing countries. High-income and upper-middle-income countries have borne the brunt of deaths associated with COVID-19 so far, and they are now seeing diminishing mortality rates. Countries across the world are easing lockdown restrictions. But, as this UNICEF paper outlines, for populations least affected by the disease itself, but for whom food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition are already prevalent and critical problems, the worst might be yet to come.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/artcle/PIIS2214-109X(20)30228-X/fulltext

The number of older people in lower income countries is growing. These countries’ health systems are not designed to care for people with chronic conditions. They are more focused on single, acute diseases. This may need to change towards more individual-based health care for chronic conditions. This is why it’s important to establish if multi-morbidity is also an issue in lower income countries.

https://qz.com/africa/1860255/people-in-poor-countries-are-living-longer-but-with-more-diseases/

In nearly half a million American homes, washing hands to prevent COVID-19 isn’t as simple as soaping up and singing “Happy Birthday” twice while scrubbing. In many of those homes, people can’t even turn on a faucet. There’s no running water.

https://khn.org/news/millions-stuck-at-home-with-no-plumbing-kitchen-or-space-to-stay-safe/

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

The decision to close schools was among the first action that many states took to stave the impending pandemic and was based on a strong theoretical foundation. Children are typically at greatest risk of infectious diseases, and they transmit them to each other and their families with considerable speed.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2766113

There are reports that the coronavirus lockdowns around the world are leading to a catastrophic rise in domestic violence.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/may/12/we-wrap-services-around-women-brazils-innovative-domestic-violence-centre

Doctors have described children with covid-19 coming into emergency rooms in bad shape with a kind of inflammatory shock syndrome affecting multiple organs.  Some were screaming from stomach pain. Others had bubbles, or swelling, in the arteries of their hearts.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/05/06/kawasaki-disease-coronavirus/

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that 116 million babies have been born since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and on Thursday called for governments to maintain lifesaving services for pregnant women and newborns that are under increasing threat from strained health services and supply chains.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/05/1063422

 

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