WORLD POPULATION: 8,013,331,312
YEAR 2050 PROJECTION: 9,800,000,000**
YEAR 2100 PROJECTION: 11,200,000,000**
U.S. POPULATION: 333,287,557***
POLITICS & POLICIES
19 January, 2022: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman in his annual letter pushed back against criticism about the organization’s power and influence on key public health initiatives around the world, saying it is not trying to set the world’s agenda on global health and development issues but only “respond to it,” as the foundation announced its biggest ever annual budget Tuesday. In the annual letter, Suzman outlined the Gates Foundation’s plans to spend $8.3 billion on various initiatives in 2023—its highest-ever annual amount—before addressing multiple criticisms leveled at the organization. Without specifically naming anyone the letter pushed back against criticism that “unelected billionaires setting the agenda for global health and development,” saying they simply respond to the agenda already set by global bodies and rely on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as guidance.
4 January, 2023: For the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, people working in the infectious diseases and global health spheres were largely focused on the new disease. In 2022, however, gears shifted. Covid didn’t go away, but diseases like flu that had been held in abeyance by the new virus and the measures we used to slow its spread — well, they’re baaack. From late summer onward in the United States, hospitals have been packed with people sick with one respiratory illness or another. As the third year of the Covid pandemic ends and 2023 begins, what can be spotted on the horizon? We already know about a bunch of things that are going to jostle for our attention; rest assured others we’re not anticipating will materialize as well.
3 challenges to watch in global health in 2023
PROGRAMS, PROJECTS, CONFERENCES, GRANTS, AWARDS & EVENTS
3 October, 2022: Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) is releasing Notices Inviting Applications for two grant programs to increase access to mental health services for students and young people, totaling $280 million, that were funded through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) and the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus Appropriations. The BSCA provided historic funding to help meet President Biden’s goal of doubling the number of school-based mental health professionals and tackling the nation’s mental health crisis. This is the first of $1 billion in Bipartisan Safer Communities Act funds over the next five years that the Department of Education will award for this purpose. “For too long, schools have lacked the resources to hire enough school-based mental health providers, when at the same time, educators are often first to notice when a student is slipping academically or struggling because of mental health challenges,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “We know children and youth can’t do their best learning when they’re experiencing depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges whether they stem from community violence, social isolation from the pandemic, loss of loved ones, bullying, harassment, or something else. This funding from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will help schools raise the bar for student mental health by recruiting, preparing, hiring, and training highly qualified school-based mental health providers, including in underserved communities and for students such as multilingual learners and those from low-income backgrounds and in rural communities, where access to such services can be limited.”
30 September, 2022: Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded more than $266 million in American Rescue Plan funding to grow the community and public health workforce. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to building a robust health workforce to make communities healthy,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Patients depend on community and public health workers for care and medical information. These investments will equip community and public health workers with the skill sets needed to provide effective community outreach, increase access to care, and assist individuals with critical prevention and treatment services.” HRSA is awarding $225.5 million to 83 grantees as part of the Community Health Worker Training Program, which is a new multiyear program that will support training and apprenticeship to support an estimated 13,000 community health workers. Community health workers connect people to care, build trust within communities and facilitate communication between patients and health care providers. They can also be known as promotores de salud, community health advisors, outreach workers, patient navigators and peer counselors.
HISTORICAL, REPORTS, DOCUMENTS, DATA & INDEXES
Your family health history is important to your health. Besides similar looks and lifestyle habits, genes play an important role in your risk of developing certain health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer. Having a picture of your family’s medical history is a good thing when it comes to proactively managing your health. According to the United States Surgeon General, however, very few people are likely to have detailed and precise information about their family members and their health histories. Though having little information about your family health history is better than having none, a detailed health history can have important information for you, your children, and your health care team.
6 October, 2022: The American Revolution had July 4. The allies had D-Day. And now U.S. patients, held down for decades by information hoarders, can rally around a new turning point, October 6, 2022 — the day they got their health data back. Under federal rules taking effect Thursday, health care organizations must give patients unfettered access to their full health records in digital format. No more long delays. No more fax machines. No more exorbitant charges for printed pages. “My great hope is that this will turn the tide on the culture of information blocking,” said Lisa Bari, CEO of Civitas Networks for Health, a nonprofit that supports medical data sharing. “It’s a ground level thing to me: We need to make sure information flows the way patients want it to.”
Call it data liberation day: Patients can now access all their health records digitally
23 January, 2023: In a recent study published in Scientific Reports, researchers assessed the importance of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) features as a predictor of internalizing problems. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is described as social-communication difficulties and repetitive and restrictive trends in behavior. Along with the fundamental symptoms of ASD, a significant amount of research has studied the links between mental health issues and AS, particularly internalizing disorders. Notably, internalizing issues have also been associated with lower life quality, physical health, and social activity in ASD, making them crucial intervention targets. ADHD is another neurodevelopmental illness related to internalizing disorders such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and depression. Yet, studies on internalizing issues and clinical practice place a much larger focus on ASD than ADHD.
23 January, 2023: Many cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis, or ‘hardening of the arteries,’ correlate to mitochondrial dysfunction and endothelial impairment in the tissues of the heart and blood vessels. Despite a significant improvement in therapies to treat cardiovascular disease, there is an unmet need to investigate mitochondria as a therapeutic target. A review published recently explores the existing literature on relevant studies and makes recommendations for further study. The paper was written by Professor Giovanni Ciccarelli, M.D., Interventional Cardiologist at Monaldi Hospital of Naples, Italy, and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the College of Science and Technology at Temple University. Co-authors include an international team working with the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine and the Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO), which is led by SHRO Founder and President Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., professor at Temple University and the University of Siena.
DISEASES & DISASTERS
The list of stressors on the health care system is daunting: climate change and catastrophic weather events, mass casualty incidents, cybersecurity attacks, understaffing and workforce burnout are just some of the challenges that have been confronting health executives for years. Add a global pandemic to the mix – not to mention the threat of future epidemics – and it’s fair to say that hospitals and health systems are being tested as never before. That’s where strong preparedness plans come in. Emergency management officers now need to be at the table in hospital C-suites and boardrooms, and forward-thinking executives must ensure that their critical infrastructure, communication plans and other essential functions are properly designed to mitigate the human and financial costs of future crises. That’s according to a panel of experts who spoke on health care emergency preparedness in a recent webinar hosted by U.S. News & World Report.
30 November, 2022: The country is about to enter its fourth calendar year of the coronavirus outbreak, and new variants are expected to make for a tough winter. Researchers think most Americans have had Covid-19 at this point. Studies suggest subsequent infections raise the chances of an “adverse” outcome, including hospitalization and death. The virus has killed more than 1 million Americans to date, and some 2,000 more die each week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Long Covid demonstrates that the virus is taking a lingering, pervasive and perhaps even more insidious toll. Medical experts have called it “the next public health disaster in the making.” “There are just large numbers of people affected by this,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital and a dean at Baylor College of Medicine.
12 January, 2023: The World Health Organization warned Wednesday against two cough medicines made in India after the Uzbekistan Health Ministry linked the syrup to the deaths of at least 18 children. It is the second WHO medical alert about Indian-manufactured cough syrup, after the United Nations agency acted on the Gambian Health Ministry’s allegation that Indian medicines caused the deaths of more than 60 children in October. The case in Uzbekistan was linked to a facility of Marion Biotech in Noida, outside of Delhi. The Uzbek Health Ministry said 18 out of 21 children suffering from a respiratory illness took an excess amount of the Indian-made syrup and died afterward. The ministry added that the medicine was withdrawn from the market.
WHO issues new warning on Indian cough syrup after 18 more child deaths
20 January, 2023: According to a report from The Brookings Institution, the healthcare sector’s integration of AI has been more lackadaisical than anticipated, though medical professionals still see the tech tool as an ideal means of both improving health outcomes as well as gaining key diagnostic and treatment insights…
AI Proliferation in Healthcare Slower Than Expected, but Still a Priority
CLIMATE CHANGE & ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
10 January, 2023: Heat waves that kill tens of thousands of people at once. Massive floods that not only destroy property but also spread typhoid and cholera. Mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue fever and malaria, in areas that never saw such diseases before. A new pandemic far deadlier than COVID-19. These are just a few of the dramatic potential health effects of unstoppable climate change — and not 50 years or a century from now, but possibly within the next decade. Global summits routinely discuss the multifaceted dynamics of climate change — from the economic fallout of natural disasters to conflicts driven by precious resources — although the nexus between changing weather patterns and human health has not received as much attention. But the issue will be discussed at the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos, a sign that policymakers are increasingly recognizing the growing body of evidence that climate change is already wreaking havoc on human health.
20 January, 2023: Brazilian environmental agents cut through the rainforest with machetes on Thursday in search of criminals in the first anti–deforestation raids under President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has pledged to end surging destruction inherited from his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro. Reuters exclusively accompanied raids led by environmental agency Ibama in the rainforest state of Para to stop loggers and ranchers illegally clearing the forest. The agency also launched raids this week in the states of Roraima and Acre, Ibama environmental enforcement coordinator Tatiane Leite said. About ten Ibama agents set out in pickup trucks on Thursday from their base in the municipality of Uruara, Pará, along with a dozen federal police, heading toward a cluster of points where satellite images showed loggers and ranchers recently at work clearing the forest illegally.
Brazil launches first raids against Amazon tree-cutters under Lula’s new government
EQUITY & DISPARITIES
19 December, 2022: When acknowledging the impact racism can have on health, it is important to remember that less than a century ago racist ideas were given legitimacy by scientific and medical communities in Western countries. While Charles Darwin is held up as a symbol of rationality and scientific progress, it is important to note that his theory of evolution by natural selection in the Origin of Species published in 1849, was appropriated by eugenicists. Eugenicists argued for the selective breeding of humans with the aim of improving the heritable traits in a population. Originally, these ideas claimed that people on low incomes had lower mental capabilities and morals, and that preventing these people from being able to reproduce would prevent these traits from being passed on, allegedly improving the human gene pool. These ideas were quickly applied to preexisting ideas of racial categories of humans, with impacts on the health of people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, which we are still seeing today.
20 December, 2022: Lots of people struggle to get enough sleep — and the responsibility for fixing the problem tends to fall on the individual. Experts offer advice like reducing screen time, exercising more, or just going to bed earlier in the evening. But many restless nights can’t be solved with blackout curtains, ear plugs, or other typical suggestions. On average, Black adults in the U.S. get poorer sleep than white adults — often for reasons outside of their control. A growing number of experts argue that in order to address such racial disparities, health professionals need to start discussing sleep within the complex tapestry of a person’s life and surroundings. “A large proportion of the disparities in sleep are really due to social and environmental factors” such as noise pollution, said Mercedes Carnethon, vice chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and an expert on racial disparities in cardiovascular disease.
Racism leads to troubled sleep — and it’s putting Black Americans’ heart health at risk
WOMEN, MATERNAL, NEONATAL & CHILDREN’S HEALTH
19 January, 2023: Menopause, the end of menstrual cycles, can produce symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia and mood changes. Women do not need to suffer in silence: Many treatment options are available. Jewel Kling, M.D., chair of the Division of Women’s Health at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, describes hormonal and nonhormonal therapies. “We sometimes hear the question, ‘Do I need to treat hot flashes or night sweats?’ and the answer for many may be, ‘Yes,'” Dr. Kling says. “Because hot flashes and night sweats affect quality of life and productivity at work and at home for women.” Hormone replacement therapy is an estrogen medication; for women with a uterus, hormone therapy typically includes estrogen plus progestogen medication to prevent endometrial cancer. For women younger than 60 or within 10 years after their final period, the benefit of hormone therapy outweighs the risk in healthy women with postmenopausal symptoms, according to recent guidelines from the North American Menopause Society.
16 January, 2023: A specific colonization of microbes in the reproductive tract is commonly found in women with ovarian cancer, according to a new study from Mayo Clinic’s Center for Individualized Medicine. The discovery, published in Scientific Reports, strengthens evidence that the bacterial component of the microbiome — a community of microorganisms that also consists of viruses, yeasts and fungi — is an important indicator for early detection, diagnosis and prognosis of ovarian cancer. “In addition, we found a clear pattern that reveals women with early stage ovarian cancer have a significantly higher accumulation of the pathogenic microbes when compared to women with later-stage disease,” says Abigail Asangba, Ph.D., a microbiome researcher within the Center for Individualized Medicine. “In later stages, the number of microbes fades. This strong signal could potentially help us diagnose women earlier and save lives — similar to how a noninvasive Pap smear is used to detect cervical cancer.”
POVERTY ALLEVIATION & ERADICATION
8 July, 2022: In its resolution 72/233, the General Assembly proclaimed the Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018–2027). It also considered that the theme of the Third Decade, to be reviewed at its seventy-third sessions, should be “Accelerating global actions for a world without poverty”, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The core of the present report consists of an inter-agency, system-wide plan of action for poverty eradication to coordinate the efforts of the United Nations system, as well as recommendations concerning how to make the Third Decade effective. As the international community embarks on the Third Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, an estimated 783 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day in 2013, compared with 1.867 billion people in 1990. Economic growth across developing countries has been remarkable since 2000, with faster growth in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita than advanced countries. This economic growth has fuelled poverty reduction and improvements in living standards. Achievements have also been recorded in such areas as job creation, gender equality, education and health care, social protection measures, agriculture and rural development, and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
30 June, 2022: CPAN has been working with its partners to understand poverty dynamics (escaping poverty, impoverishment, chronic poverty) in low and lower middle income countries since 2011, building on the work of the Chronic Poverty Research Centre. It works with a combination of household panel survey and qualitative research data (life histories, focus group discussions and key informant interviews), draws out policy implications and engages with national and international policy makers and other stakeholders. It produces international Chronic Poverty Reports, the last of which was on growth, and is starting work on a new report on the pandemic. During the pandemic CPAN researchers returned to re-interview people interviewed pre-pandemic, and produced a number of bulletins as part of a Covid-19 Poverty Monitoring Initiative. It is continuing and synthesizing this work.
HUMANITARIAN, NONPROFITS, FOUNDATIONS & NGOS
16 January, 2023: The Taliban’s 24 December 2022 decree barring women from working in national and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) is another devastating blow to women’s rights in Afghanistan. It also threatens to plunge a country beset by hunger and natural disasters even deeper into a public health crisis. The United Nations and its humanitarian partners are engaged in intense negotiations to persuade the Taliban to reverse the edict. But for now, many NGOs, which depend heavily on female staff, have made the heart-wrenching decision to suspend their operations, which provide vital food, hygiene, and medicines. The decree also jeopardizes the global campaign to eradicate polio, in which women play crucial roles raising awareness and vaccinating children. Afghanistan and its neighbor Pakistan are the last two countries where the wild poliovirus is still endemic, and the campaign is going full bore to wipe it out by the end of this year.
The Taliban administration last month ordered local and foreign aid organisations to stop letting female staff work until further notice. It said the move — condemned globally — was justified because some women had not adhered to the Taliban’s interpretation of Islamic dress code. Many NGOs suspended operations in response, saying they needed female workers to reach women in the conservative country. “Last week, the Ministry of Public Health offered assurances that female health staff, and those working in office support roles, can resume working. Based on this clarity, IRC has restarted health and nutrition services through our static and mobile health teams in four provinces,” Nancy Dent, a spokesperson for IRC, said. A spokesperson from the Afghan Ministry of Public Health told the Reuters news agency that they had not stopped any health-related activities.