Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

An affordable hepatitis C treatment has been shown to be safe and effective, with very high cure rates for patients including hard-to-treat cases, in interim clinical trial results that offer hope to the 71 million people living with the disease worldwide.

The Trump administration is releasing the first of its kind interagency review of US overseas involvement that creates a framework for how the State Department, US Agency for International Development, and Department of Defense can coordinate efforts to streamline diplomacy, aid, and military operations around the world and maximize resources and results.

Programs, Grants & Awards

As part of its efforts to improve maternal healthcare in the country, Serene Health will kick off a campaign dubbed “Dollar4life”.

Four Duke doctoral students have been selected to join the Global Health Doctoral Scholars program at the Duke Health Institute (DGHI), bringing the current cohort total to 13 scholars.

Research

Evolve BioSystems, Inc. and the icddr,b (International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh) today announced their collaboration, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to study the use of Evivo® in infants to aid in recovery from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

A far-reaching study conducted by scientists at Cincinnati Children’s reports that the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)—best known for causing mononucleosis—also increases the risks for some people of developing seven other major diseases.

A natural variation of the gene KLF14 causes some women to store fat on their bellies and hips and outs them at significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes, new research reveals.

Falls are a leading cause of injury and death among older adults.  In 2014, about 1 in 3 adults aged 65 and older reported falling, and falls were linked to 33,000 deaths.

Diseases & Disasters

The first known epidemic of extensively drug-resistant typhoid is spreading through Pakistan, infecting at least 850 people in 14 districts since 2016, according to the National Institute of Health Islamabad.

There have been recent spikes in Buruli ulcer cases in Australia, a chronic infection that leads to erosion of flesh. This condition once considered rare, is caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans.

Technology

A group of scientists from VCU Massey Cancer Center and UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have developed new, high-speed microscopy platform that can measure a cancer cell’s resistance to drugs up to 10 times faster than existing technology, potentially informing more effective treatment selection for cancer patients. The technology is being presented in abstract form today at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Annual Meeting in Chicago.

A new e-health system designed to be a whole-home sensor aims to allow the elderly to live in their own homes with a higher degree of independence.

Environmental Health

A University of Montana researcher and her collaborators have published a new study that reveals increased risks for Alzheimer’s and suicide among children and young adults living in polluted megacities.

According to the World Poverty Clock, more than 73,000 people have escaped poverty – today.  The flip side of that coin is that more than 15,000 people have, today, fallen into poverty.  The sum total of people living in extreme poverty as of March 23, 2018, is about 619,800 people. By the time you read this, many more people will make the escape.

Two of the most elite waste treatment systems available today on farms do not fully remove antibiotics from manure, research finds.

Equity & Disparities

In two suburbs of the American city of St. Louis, separated by fewer than 30 miles, the odds of living a long and healthy life could not be more different.  If you reside in the mostly white, wealthy suburb of Wildwood, your life expectancy is 91.4 years. But if you live in the mostly black, poorer suburb of Kinloch, your life expectancy is only 55.9 years.

One in five older adults is socially isolated from family or friends, increasing their risks for poor mental and physical health, as well as higher rates of mortality, a new study shows.

Nearly nine months after Myanmar’s military was accused of widespread sexual violence in a crackdown against Rohingya communities, aid groups in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps are scrambling to identify women and girls now pregnant by rape.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Taking painkillers during pregnancy could affect the fertility of the unborn child in later life, research suggests.

Maternal anemia is an important global health problem that affects about 500 million women of reproductive age.  Much is known about the consequences of anemia during pregnancy, including the increased risks of low birth weight, preterm birth, perinatal mortality, and neonatal mortality.

Many moms-to-be know that their health even before they become pregnant- known as pre-conception health – can affect the health of their babies. Now, research is continuing to show that the pre-conception health of fathers also can influence a pregnancy and the baby.

Infants in some of the world’s poorest regions are vulnerable to a common worm parasite infection and their treatment should become a priority, according to a study.

Despite a global decline in childhood infectious diseases, the prevalence of mental illness among youth has remained the same. That makes mental disorders one of the main origins of illness in children aged 4-15 years around the world, according to a new study published in the journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health.

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Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

A review of US-funded Ebola recovery projects in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released this week found that, of $1.6 billion appropriated by Congress in 2014 for US Agency for International Development (USAID) in the hard-hit region, $411.6 million has been targeted to 131 specific projects.

Programs, Grants & Awards

Each year we commemorate World TB Day on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of tuberculosis (TB) and to step efforts to end the global TB epidemic. The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.

Research

In most health systems, Community Health Workers (CHWs) identify and screen for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in the community. This study aimed to investigate the potential of integrating SAM identification and treatment delivered by CHWs, in order to improve the coverage of SAM treatment services.

Researchers with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently made a breakthrough on the link between iron supplements and worsening malaria infections, as well as curious mutation in African populations.

States that have approved medical cannabis laws saw a dramatic reduction in opioid use, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Georgia.

It seems the multi-billion dollar cannabis industry is having some problems with its employees showing up to work stoned. A recent study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine finds that a large percentage of those employed in the businesses of growing and selling weed are getting high either before work at some point during business hours — risking both their safety and that of their co-workers.

Diseases & Disasters

In West and Central Africa, nearly 170 young people are infected with HIV everyday and a disparity in funding has left the youth at risk.

Public Health England has reported a gonorrhea case resistant to the pair of antibiotics (ceftriaxone and azithromycin) that have been typically effective in treating gonorrhea.

For decades now, global health organizations and deep-pocketed philanthropies like the Gates Foundation have worked to eradicate wild poliovirus – and the achievement of that goal often seems tantalizingly close at hand.

The United Nations emergency food relief agency has airlifted over 80 metric tons of vital nutritional supplements to Papua New Guinea – enough to feed approximately 60,000 people in the earthquake-hit country.

Technology

Antibiotics were heralded as life-savers when they became widely available in the 1940s.  Today, they are fast becoming killers themselves. The more any given antibiotic is used, the greater the chances that bacteria will develop antimicrobial resistance (AMR) that renders the drug ineffective.

Environmental Health

The world is facing one of the largest food crises in more than 79 years, and climate change is only making it worse.  Between 2030 and 2050, climate change could kill an additional 250,000 people every year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.

Lebanon’s waste crisis began in 2015 when a huge landfill site closed and government authorities failed to implement a contingency plan in time to replace it; dumping and burning waste on the streets became widespread. The campaign group Human Rights Watch calls it “a national health crisis”.

New research reveals shortening of telomeres due to air pollution in newborn. The researchers analyzed telomeres in the umbilical cord blood of 255 newborns, half of whom were born prior to the coal plant closure and the other half were conceived and born after the plant closure in Tongliang, China.

Equity & Disparities

One of the biggest issues at the intersection of sanitation, poverty and global health, open defecation has also long been one of the hardest to represent visually.

While globally men report a 25% higher cancer incidence than women, a new study reveals the opposite trend in India with more women being diagnosed with cancer than men.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

A United Nations employee who says she was sexually assaulted by a top UN official has spoken publicly for the first time, alleging she was offered a promotion if she accepted an apology from the man and claiming that the organization failed to take her complaint seriously.

An international health organization has suspended its partnership with the Heineken beer company because of the controversial use of so-called “beer girls” to promote its products.

Teenage pregnancy – the biggest killer of girls and women aged 15 to 19 in the world – is growing in the east Asia-Pacific region, the only place where the rate is climbing.

Human Rights

UN Security Council members condemned the killing of civilians in Gaza after a peaceful protest turned violent.

World TB Day 2018

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Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium (seen in the image), a genus postulated  to have originated some 150 million years ago! The first written records about TB from India and China, date back to 3300 and 2300 years ago respectively.

Hippocrates accurately defined symptoms of “Pthisis” (Greek for TB) and described it as a fatal disease. There is also plenty of historical evidence about tuberculosis and its impact on human culture. From being identified as a “romantic disease” to being associated with poetic and artistic qualities, TB has had its fair share of time in the limelight.

All this history aside, the fact is, if untreated, TB can be fatal.  Effective treatment became available about 50 years after Robert Koch showed that TB was caused by an infectious agent in 1882Soldier TB 2. Isolation in sanitariums and surgical interventions were all part of treatment until the advent of streptomycin in 1944. BCG vaccine has also been in use since 1921. Several public health campaigns (such as the one seen here) were also conducted to raise awareness once TB was established as a contagious disease.

Unfortunately even to this day, TB is still a major public health concern in many parts of the world and is among the top 10 leading causes of death worldwide.  Seven countries account for two-thirds of total TB cases with India leading the count.

The disease typically affects the lungs and is spread in the air when a person infected with TB coughs or sneezes. Sadly the cost of having TB goes beyond the damage it does to one’s health. Recent studies show that economic impact TB can have people; TB can lead to a downward spiral into poverty and for the poor a TB diagnosis can prolong the cycle of poverty they already live in.

TB3March 24th is World TB Day. The theme for World TB Day 2018 is “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free World”.

TB rate spike due to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, poor TB infection control in South African clinics and jail time for doctors who fail to report TB cases in India, have all been in the news leading up to World TB day. Clearly these news reports show the need for stepping up global action, if we hope to end TB by 2030.

The message about greater commitment and better leadership comes ahead of the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on TB in September 2018. Given the surge in multiple drug-resistant TB, it is imperative that leaders at all levels work together to end TB. End TB strategy adopted in 2014 outlines interventions that fall under three key pillars that include integrated, patient-centered care and prevention, policies and supportive systems and research and innovation.

But as public health professionals, community leaders and residents, we all can take small steps to make sure we put an end to TB. The path to ending TB will hopefully improve the lives of most vulnerable people world-wide.

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Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

The goal of the  Resolve to Save Lives initiative is to save 100 million lives within 30 years. With $225 million in funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Gates Foundation, Resolve zeroed in on cardiovascular disease and epidemics as its twin priorities.

Friends of the Global Fight today released an updated, two-page edition of its policy brief, “The Case for U.S. Investment in the Global Fund and Global Health.” This short edition includes updated data and talking points to show how U.S. support for the Global Fund offers extraordinary return on investment.

Ahead of Secretary Tillerson’s budget testimony, humanitarian, development and global health organizations release new data showing the devastating human costs of proposed administration cuts to foreign assistance.

It could take several years before United States aid recipient countries such as Uganda and Nigeria feel the full impact of the expanded Mexico City Policy. But new analysis shows there are already clear signs that the policy is pushing these countries to limit their expansion of key health services, including for women’s health care.

Launching the TB Free India Campaign at ‘Delhi End TB Summit’, PM Narendra Modi said his government is implementing a national strategic plan to end tuberculosis (TB) by 2025.

Global health care efforts rely heavily on U.S. funding, but U.S. attitudes toward spending in this area are increasingly hostile.

Programs, Grants & Awards

Drs. Catherine Blish, Nathaniel Landau, and Sara Sawyer are recipients of the 2018 Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS Research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The Gates Foundation concentrates on advocacy efforts that encourage political leaders to fund initiatives supporting the elimination of global inequalities.  Other notable efforts include initiatives centered around helping farmers in developing countries research and implement better agricultural practices. These include the production of rice and flour enriched with micronutrients.

Research

Human antibody CIS43 protected mice from infection with the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum, a new study shows.

Physical inactivity is an important cause of noncommunicable diseases.  Interventions can increase short-term physical activity (PA),  but health benefits require maintenance. Few interventions have evaluated PA objectively beyond 12 months. We followed up two pedometer interventions with positive 12-month effects to examine objective PA levels at 3–4 years.

In a paper in Public Health Research & Practice, published by the Sax Institute, we outline how collaboration between like-minded national governments can improve pre-migration health assessments (PMHAs) through information sharing, collaborative learning and increased capability in countries of origin.

Diseases & Disasters

Egypt has become the first country in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region to eliminate lymphatic filariasis. This success comes after nearly 20 years of sustained prevention and control activities.

Whooping cough, caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis, is no longer a familiar condition to most Americans. The United States began widespread vaccinations in the 1940s, which nearly eradicated the disease. But whooping-cough has been increasing here over the past two decades despite record rates of vaccination: in 2016, more than 15,000 people in the US came down with the disease, and 7 people died.

There has been an 80 percent decrease in the number of new cholera cases reported among a community of Congolese refugees in Uganda’s western Lake Albert region, the World Health Organization told Devex Friday. As recently as Feb. 28, health care workers were identifying roughly 100 new cases a day and as of March 12, that number is down to 20.

A huge and deadly outbreak of Listeria in South Africa could alter the country’s approach to food-borne disease and prompt improvements in food safety standards, a leading health official said on Friday.

Technology

UNICEF aims to scale up real-time monitoring systems in 110 countries by 2021 using the open source technology called RapidPro.

Researchers are developing low cost technology to improve water quality and to remove contaminants using magnetic nanoparticle based adsorption.

Profusa Inc has developed injectable body sensors that are capable of streaming data to mobile phones and to the cloud.

Environmental Health

After the latest study showed that more than 90% of bottled water brands contained tiny plastic particles, the World Health Organization has announced a review of potential risks of plastic contamination in drinking water.

New study shows that alleviating the effects of global warming with tougher climate policies could save 150 million lives.

New research led by IIASA researcher Narasimha Rao has shown how it might be possible to reduce micronutrient deficiencies in India in an affordable way whilst also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Equity & Disparities

Two members of the polio vaccination team were ambushed and killed in a remote tribal region in Pakistan.

Advances in mapping tools and the ability to create maps with extraordinary detail is helping efforts from vaccination to disaster relief.

Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Even with futuristic advances in medicine and science, and increased access to food and other forms of nutrition, the oldest human health problem has remained stubborn—and, sometimes, seemingly impossible to fix: Young children and infants still die at epidemic rates in the poorest corners of the globe.

An international study of over 300,000 women from across 29 countries showed that pregnant women with anemia are twice as likely to die during or shortly after pregnancy.

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

In a world with no dearth of global challenges or domestic health issues to address, why should countries, in particular bilateral donor countries, care about preventing epidemic threats in other countries?  The moral argument is clear-cut: Epidemics cost lives—in some countries, much more than others.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Thursday it will scrap Obama-era rules governing coal ash disposal. The changes would provide companies with annual compliance cost savings of up to $100 million, but environmentalists warn that doing away with the regulations risks poisoning clean drinking water for millions of Americans and pollute already-endangered ecosystems.

Programs, Grants & Awards

Malawi is the first country in Africa to use the newly approved typhoid vaccine. About 24,000 children are set to take part in the clinical trials to test efficacy and cost-effectiveness of the vaccine.

The 5th Global Symposium on Health Systems Research will be held in Liverpool, UK from October 8-12.

The Dartmouth Institute’s accelerated on-campus Master of Public Health program is designed to help you develop or advance your career while gaining a rigorous understanding of: Epidemiology and biostatistics, decision analysis, improvement and innovation in health systems, healthcare finance and payment systems and shared decision-making.

Research

More than half of gun owners do not safely store all their guns, according to a new survey of 1,444 U.S. gun owners conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In the present study we described the protein level of C1q production and its gene expression in the peripheral blood and skin biopsies in patients with ENL reaction and lepromatous leprosy (LL) patient controls before and after treatment.

Cholera remains a persistent health problem in sub-Saharan Africa and worldwide. Cholera can be controlled through appropriate water and sanitation, or by oral cholera vaccination, which provides transient (∼3 years) protection, although vaccine supplies remain scarce. We aimed to map cholera burden in sub-Saharan Africa and assess how geographical targeting could lead to more efficient interventions.

Crifasi, 34, is part of what she calls “the large moderate swath that is invisible”: those who believe the Second Amendment protects citizens’ right to have a firearm in their home, but also believe that right should be regulated by effective, evidence-based gun policy.

Diseases & Disasters

For a long time, researchers have found it difficult to explain exactly what the Obesity Paradox is, dumbfounded by the notion that putting on excess weight somehow adds extra years to one’s life. The answer? Easy. It’s simply not true.

Diabetes – or uncontrolled blood sugar levels – is normally split into type 1 and type 2.
But researchers in Sweden and Finland think the more complicated picture they have uncovered will usher in an era of personalized medicine for diabetes.

Brazil is suffering its worst outbreak of yellow fever in decades.  The virus, which kills 3 to 8 percent of those who are infected, is now circling the megacities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, threatening to become this country’s first-blown urban epidemic since 1942.

Technology

Not very far away, in Malawi, a drone must have taken off with a cargo of a blood sample for testing HIV infestation of an infant. Usually, it takes 23 days to get the diagnosis done and treatment rendered.  But the drone would make this possible in a few days.

Sub-Saharan Africa is leveraging emerging technologies to improve access to basic provisions to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality.

Environmental Health

Penguins preserve records of Antarctic environmental change.  The bird’s feathers and eggshells contain the chemical fingerprints of variations in diet, food web structure and even climate, researchers reported February 12 at the American Geophysical Union’s 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting.

Children as young as 4 years in the Democratic Republic of Congo work at cobalt mines, a critical component of lithium-ion batteries. Chronic exposure to cobalt  dust or fumes poses a serious threat to health and wellbeing.

Equity & Disparities

While both income inequality and prevalence of cardiovascular (CVD) risk factors rose in South Africa, the changes in district level GINI coefficients were not significantly associated with changes in CVD risk factors, a new study shows.

Guatemala has the world’s third highest rate of femicide due to domestic violence and health professionals in the country are taking a stand against domestic abuse.

Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Highly detailed maps show that while there have been improvements in childhood malnutrition, many African nations are set to miss the 2030 SDG targets on malnutrition.

Taking a daily fish oil capsule during pregnancy and the first few months of breastfeeding may reduce a baby’s risk of food allergy, research suggests.

A lack of iodine in pregnancy and early childhood puts nearly 19 million babies around the world at risk of permanent but preventable brain damage every year, a new report has warned.

Ten years ago, a South Asian girl’s risk of getting married as a child was about 50%, but now that has fallen to about 30%.  A UNICEF release Tuesday attributed the progress in India to increasing rates of girls’ education, government investments and public messaging around the illegality of child marriage.