News Round up

Politics & Policies

The leadership shown by President Biden is commendable and provides a much-needed boost to the global efforts to rapidly expand access to vaccines, scale up diagnostic testing and expand supplies of oxygen and other life-saving tools in all countries – especially the most vulnerable.

Mr. Biden assured leaders attending the UN General Assembly that the US intends to partner with allies to “help lead the world toward a more peaceful, prosperous future for all people.”                                               

An expert group consulted by the World Health Organization on how Europe and the world can better prepare for the next health emergency has proposed the creation of several new entities while resisting calls to merge existing ones.  

France’s former health minister Agnes Buzyn has been charged over her handling of the COVID-19 crisis after investigators at a special court in Paris concluded there were grounds to prosecute her.

Vice President Harris recently called for a new global health security fund at the World Bank to focus on pandemic preparedness, with the Biden administration planning to contribute $250 million in seed funding, a White House official said.

Programs, Grants & Awards

Northwestern University Trustees and alumni Patrick G. Ryan and Shirley W. Ryan have made a $25 million gift to name and endow the Robert J. Havey, MD, Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The Ryans’ gift will ensure that the institute has resources in perpetuity to improve the health of billions of people in low- and middle-income countries worldwide.

A gift of $2.5 million is helping Hope College establish a new academic program. The multidisciplinary global health program started this fall and involves 12 academic departments.

On September 22, 2021, President Biden convened a virtual Global COVID-19 Summit focused on ending the pandemic and building better health security to prevent and prepare for future biological threats.

The Keck School of Medicine of USC global health student analyzed ways to use community health volunteers to expand residents’ access to health care in rural areas. His goal: to influence policy changes that could improve the Kenyan health system.

Research

As public health leaders worldwide scramble to contain COVID-19’s delta variant, researchers at Michigan State University know what can provide early signs of the virus and help with critical decisions — sewage.

More than 700 people have applied for spots on a new committee charged with breathing life into the World Health Organization’s stalled inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. The committee, expected to be announced this week, represents an attempt by the embattled global health body to reset its approach to determining how the pandemic began.

The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that have yet to be certified by peer review.

Diseases & Disasters

War and armed conflict causes a significant loss to human life and is a major cause of disability worldwide. In addition to those hurt and killed as a direct result of violent conflict, a vast amount of people are also negatively impacted by the wider effect of war on global health.

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely set back the fight against other global scourges like H.I.V., tuberculosis and malaria, according to a sobering new report released on Tuesday.                  

Nearly 18 months after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the coronavirus continues its march around the globe, leaving medical, social, and economic trauma in its wake. With the delta variant driving new and deadly waves of the disease across the world, the pandemic appears far from over.

More than 130 years after the naming of the Plasmodium parasites behind malaria, the world now has its first approved vaccine against them. Many malaria researchers have celebrated the development, but others have expressed concerns over the deployment of a vaccine that has only moderate efficacy.

Technology 

Universal concern over the potential use and misuse of genome editing reached a peak in 2018 following the surprise announcement of the first edited babies. 

Intended to create the foundation necessary to support the integrated digital health infrastructure of the country, the NDHM, now known as the Pradhan Mantri Digital Health Mission (PM-DHM), was first piloted last year in August across six union territories. It seeks to bridge the existing gap among different stakeholders in India’s healthcare ecosystem through digital highways.

A World Health Organization “pandemic intelligence hub” launched by the UN agency’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Germany’s Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday will try to help governments identify future pandemics at an earlier stage and improve monitoring of new variant strains of Covid-19.

Environmental Health 

New WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) provide clear evidence of the damage air pollution inflicts on human health, at even lower concentrations than previously understood. The guidelines recommend new air quality levels to protect the health of populations, by reducing levels of key air pollutants, some of which also contribute to climate change.

The scientific community has known for decades that a group of widely-used chemicals is causing health harms across the globe, but effective policies aimed at curbing those impacts lag far behind the research, according to a new study.

At the end of this month, the annual United Nations climate conference will have begun, this year in the Scottish city of Glasgow. Campaign groups are already limbering up for the talks, COP-26, publishing the action they think is vital.

The WHO COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health, launched today, in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, spells out the global health community’s prescription for climate action based on a growing body of research that establishes the many and inseparable links between climate and health.

Equity & Disparities

President Joe Biden has announced that the United States will double its purchases of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines for low and middle-income countries, bringing its pledged donations to a total of 1.1 billion doses.

In May 2020, there was a significant spike of COVID-19 cases among the Hispanic/Latino population in the Richmond, Virginia metro area of Chesterfield and Henrico counties. The Richmond City Health District contacted CDC and asked for help investigating this outbreak, which was quickly becoming a hot spot. Given my experience working with populations who are underrepresented, I was asked to organize and lead an emergency response team. We assembled the first ever CDC COVID-19 emergency response team made up of CDC H/L scientists and public health experts.

Humanitarian crises have a significant impact on global health. Situations such as armed conflict and war, natural disasters, and epidemics/pandemics, are all examples of humanitarian emergencies that are affecting more people today than they ever have. The impact of these crises on healthcare systems is great.

Not all food is created equal. So-called blue foods—a diverse range of aquatic animals, plants and microorganisms—offer significantly more nutrients than land-based crops and livestock, according to a first-of-its-kind database compiled by an international team that included researchers at Stanford.

Victor Dzau, President of US Academy of Medicine, calls on governments to establish a global health threats council, and says pharmaceutical companies should temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a principal component of global climate variability known to influence a host of social and economic outcomes, but its systematic effects on human health remain poorly understood. A recent study shows that warmer El Niño conditions predict worse child undernutrition in most of the developing world, but better outcomes in the small number of areas where precipitation is positively affected by warmer ENSO

Texas’ controversial six-week abortion ban has been in effect just a few weeks, and physicians and researchers are already warning that the impact could be dire: if the law remains in effect, Texas could see a significant increase in maternal mortality.

Afghanistan has one of the worst maternal and infant mortality rates in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with 638 women dying per 100,000 live births.

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