Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Within the space of a few short weeks, the reputation of Peter Sands, incoming Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has gone from respected to reckless according to some critics.

A report from the WHO’s Independent High-level Commission on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) has called for urgent action, high-level political commitment and immediate scaling of actions to address NCDs.

“Winning the fight against tuberculosis (TB)  requires that ‘social drivers’ of the disease – especially poverty and inequality – are tackled head on, the United Nations Secretary General said [Monday], urging greater efforts to provide universal health coverage and combat the growing threat of anti-microbial resistance…”

Being active is critical for health. But in our modern world, this is becoming more and more of a challenge, largely because our cities and communities aren’t designed in the right ways,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General on Monday, launching the WHO Global action plan on physical activity and health 2018-2030: More active people for a healthier world, alongside Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa.

Programs, Grants & Awards

The World Health Organization has certified Paraguay a malaria-free country. An independent panel concluded earlier this year that Paraguay interrupted indigenous malaria transmission for the requisite 3-year period and that it can prevent re-establishment of transmission.

Research

In a new study, scientists suggest that your beloved furry companion could trigger a flu pandemic among people in the future. Why? Researchers found that flu strains can jump from pigs to dogs, and that flu is becoming increasingly diverse in dogs.

In a day long mock pandemic exercise organized by Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, an unreal mystery virus, Clade X, brought the world to its knees before eventually burning out.

A large-scale clinical trial, called HOPE (HIV Organ Policy Equity Act) in Action, a multicenter kidney study, assessing the risks of transplanting kidneys from HIV- positive donors into patients living with the virus, is set to begin soon.

Travellers carrying standby antibiotics take them more often than those traveling without such drugs.  Having antibiotics packed in the bags allows their use – against recommendations – also for mild and moderate diarrhoea, i.e. cases not requiring medication.

Diseases, Disasters & Wars

Haider Hammoud often goes tent-to-tent at the refugee camps near the Syrian border asking families whether they’ve enjoyed their iftar meal.  It’s the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Syrian 32-year-old wants to ensure that when the sun goes down, displaced families break their fasts with a taste of home-cooked food.

First case of Polio (since 1989) has been reported in Venezuela as it falls deeper into crisis that has crippled its healthcare system.

In 2015, a dermatologist in Russia’s fourth largest city, Yekaterinburg, diagnosed Katia with herpes. “I had no idea what it was,” says Katia, who asked that her last name not be used. But because she had suffered repeated illnesses over the preceding 2 years and had an alcoholic ex-boyfriend who simultaneously had other girlfriends, she suspected that something more serious might be wrong.

Technology

Bausch + Lomb, a leading global eye health company and wholly owned subsidiary of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (NYSE/TSX: VRX), today announced the introduction of Ocuvite® Blue Light eye vitamins, a nutritional supplement formulated with lutein and zeaxanthin, the two carotenoid pigments naturally found in the eye. This formulation of eye nutrients includes high levels of lutein and helps protect eyes from the blue light that reaches the macula, which is responsible for our central vision.

Mobile health technology has the potential to transform the way we prevent and manage heart disease, but there are unanswered questions about how to optimize this technology and maintain engagement with patients, according to a recent review.

A new study by Waldemar Gorski, professor and chair of the UTSA Department of Chemistry, and Stanton McHardy, associate professor of research in chemistry and director of the UTSA Center for Innovative Drug Discovery, describes a method that could show quickly and accurately whether a person has been infected with harmful bacteria or other pathogens.

Environmental Health

Plastic and chemical pollution has been detected in most samples of snow and seawater taken by researchers in Antarctica, said the non-governmental environmental group Greenpeace.

Equity & Disparities

An estimated 239,000 excess deaths occur among girls under 5 years of age each year in India. The study highlights the significant effects of gender bias on mortality.

For urban planners, data and technology are valuable tools in the drive to improve administration and services. But while these innovations are making urban environments more livable, they come with a hidden cost: the potential to deepen inequality among digitally marginalized groups.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Childhood deaths from pneumonia and meningitis decreased significantly between 2000 and 2015. This sharp decline could be attributed to the introduction of vaccines against these bacteria in high-burden countries.

The unique composition of a mother’s breast milk may reduce food sensitization in her infant, report researchers at the University Of California San Diego School of Medicine with colleagues in Canada.  The findings, publishing in the June 15 issue of Allergy, further highlight the health role of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), which are not found in infant formula, and underscore their potential for therapeutic interventions.

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World No Tobacco Day 2018

The focus of this year’s World No Tobacco Day on May 31st is the impact of tobacco on cardiovascular health. In 1967 the Surgeon General’s report definitively linked smoking to lung cancer and presented evidence that it causes cardiovascular problems. Despite all the evidence and outcry from health professionals, it was not until the 1990s when many countries around the world banned smoking in public places. There have been several policies including those deterring tobacco companies from advertising to younger age groups and forcing them to add warning labels on tobacco products. Despite all these efforts, tobacco still kills 7 million people each year and tobacco use (and secondhand smoke) is responsible for nearly 12% of all deaths globally due to cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).

Tobacco1

Tobacco smoke contains more than 7000 chemicals and is divided into a) a particulate phase which contains nicotine and total aerosol residue or tar and b) gas phase which contains carbon monoxide and other gases. The image below depicts how chemicals in tobacco cause CVDs.

Tobacco2

While the effects of tobacco on heart health are well known, knowledge among the public that tobacco is one of the leading causes of CVD is very low. The figure below from WHO’s brochure shows the percentage of adults who do not believe or do not know that smoking causes stroke and heart attacks.

Tobacco3

The goals of World No Tobacco Day 2018 are to:

  • Emphasize the links between use of tobacco products and CVDs
  • Increase awareness among the broader public about the impact of tobacco and exposure to secondhand smoke on heart health
  • Provide opportunities to make commitments to promote heart health
  • Encourage countries to strengthen implementation of MPOWER

WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the Global Hearts initiative in September 2016. The initiative aims to support governments in bolstering prevention and control of CVD. Global Hearts comprises of three technical packages: a) MPOWER for tobacco control b) SHAKE for salt reduction and c) HEARTS to strengthen management of CVD in primary health care settings.

Hopefully, on this World No Tobacco Day, the governments will commit to protect their citizens from tobacco use. The truth of the matter remains: prevention and control are not sole responsibilities of governments. Health care professionals, public health agencies/staff, national/state/local governments, educational institutions, business leaders/businesses, community based organizations and community leaders all have a role in making everyday a “No Tobacco Day”.

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

China is willing to cooperate with other countries to reduce health injustice and achieve better health services for everyone, Ma Xiaowei, minister of China’s National Health Commission, has told the just-concluded 71st World Health Assembly (WHA).

Speaking to United States lawmakers in a congressional hearing on Thursday, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Deborah Birx questioned whether the 3 billion spent on supply chain technical assistance since 2008 had been used effectively.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is preparing to deploy staffers to several cities and towns deep in the Congolese jungle amid a new Ebola outbreak that has claimed at least two dozen lives.

The World Health Organization has released its first ever Essential Diagnostics List, an inventory of tests to diagnose common conditions and global priority diseases.

Programs, Grants & Awards

The World No Tobacco Day on May 31st will focus on the impact of tobacco use on cardiovascular health.

World Health Assembly delegates have agreed to the new ambitious five-year strategic plan that aims to achieve the SDGs with a special focus on SDG 3.

At the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, first place was awarded to 2 high school students from Salt Lake City (Utah) for their project on testing a bioinformatics program to identify under reported suicides linked to drug overdoses.

Research

Health care access and quality improved globally between 2000 and 2016 due to gains in many low- and middle-income countries, according to data from the Global Burden of Disease study.

A survey among 540 internally displaced persons in Syria and refugees in Turkey reveals a high prevalence of mental disorder in both populations but major depressive disorder was more frequent in refugees in Turkey.

Women who did strenuous exercise regularly in their teens appear to be protected from height loss later in life, a new study shows.

Diseases & Disasters

More than a dozen people have died after an outbreak of a rare disease in southern India that health officials warn could cause a global epidemic.

The financial mechanism, Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF), that was set up after the 2013-2016 Ebola epidemic has been activated for the first time, in response to an Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Based on a report from the Famine Early Warning Network which said that about a fifth of households in Pibor (South Sudan), could be classed as hitting famine levels of hunger, Oxfam has called for urgent action to help avert this crisis.

Technology

For the first time in Madagascar, a novel, portable DNA sequencing method allowed rapid identification of bacteria causing TB and its drug resistance profile.

Engineers have developed a new device to detect malaria by taking advantage of the tiny crystals with magnetic property produced by malarial parasites in the infected blood.

Environmental Health

An extensive analysis of biomass distribution of all organisms on this planet shows that humans are very efficient in exploiting natural resources.

According to a new study, rice grown in increasing CO2 levels has poor nutritional quality including declines in vitamins B1, B2, B5 and B9.

Despite being linked to risk of prematuredeath, noise pollution in major cities is often overlooked.

Equity & Disparities

The UN’s peace building efforts must include ways to address social, economic and cultural rights to effectively tackle violence.

According to Kenya’s National Council for Population and Development, 51% of all new HIV infections are occurring among young people between 15 and 24 years of age.

Researchers who conducted analysis of data from the National Family Health Survey report that despite improvement in childhood stunting in India, the prevalence of high rates of malnutrition is “rooted deep in inequality between men and women”.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Evidence gathered over a 30-year period reveals the possibility of immune cells becoming cancerous “if it does not see enough bugs in early life.”

Tanzania is scaling up surgical services, developing specific health policies and upgrading health centers in an effort to lower the maternal and neonatal mortality rates.

Nearly 350,000 children and adolescents die each year from road traffic accidents and millions more are serious harmed and injured, according to a new report.

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Rear Adm. Tim Ziemer, the head of global health security on the White House’s National Security Council, left the Trump administration on Tuesday.  The news was announced one day after an Ebola outbreak was declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A judge in Riverside County on Tuesday overturned California’s controversial assisted death nearly two years after it took effect, ruling that the Legislature improperly passed the measure during a special session on health care funding.

When global health leaders convene in Geneva next week for the 71st World Health Assembly, they’ll gather under one banner: universal health coverage.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday that a new Ebola outbreak has emerged in the Democratic Republic of Congo — and thanks to the Trump administration, we are woefully under-equipped to deal with it.

Research

Migrant children have specific health needs, and may face difficulties in accessing health care, but enough is known about their health service use. This study aims to describe patterns of use of health services of international migrant children and differences to respective native populations.

Although uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) are often self-limiting, most patients will be prescribed antibiotic treatment.  We assessed whether treatment with ibuprofen was non-inferior to pivmecillinam in achieving symptomatic resolution by day 4, with a non-inferiority margin of 10%.

Scientists have successfully reconstructed genomes from Stone Age and Medieval European strains of the hepatitis B virus.  This unprecedented recovery of ancient virus DNA indicates that hepatitis B was circulating in Europe at least 7,000 years ago.

Diseases & Disasters

The World Health Organization announced Friday that it hopes to deploy an experimental vaccine against the developing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, even as the agency plans for the “worst case scenario.”

Healthy diet is not just about how many calories you consume, it’s also about how many calories you consume, it’s also about what kind of calories you consume.  A paper published this week in Obesity Reviews, Pathways and Mechanisms Linking Dietary Components to Cardiometabolic Disease: Thinking Beyond Calories, examined how calories from different foods affect the body.

The WHO and not-for-profit organization Resolve to Save Lives have teamed up to build a scheme for governments to use to tackle industrially-produced trans fats.

People who have their body clock disrupted by being awake at night risk developing mood disorders and depression.
People who ate diets full of vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish had bigger brais than their less well-nourished counterparts the large study from the Netherlands found.

Heart failure is a global health problem, affecting about 26 million people worldwide.  The disease presents a major and growing health-economic burden that currently costs the world economy 108 billion dollars every year, which accounts for both direct and indirect costs.

The Ebola virus has reared its head again, this time in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While it is impossible to predict exactly where and when the next outbreak will occur, we now know much more about how to prevent a crisis.

Dr. H.D.B Herath, Director, Anti Malaria Campaign speaks at the World Malaria Day Press event in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
In the jungle-rich landscape of Sri Lanka, mosquitoes are everywhere. But, thanks to a decades-long eradication campaign, the country hasn’t seen a single native case of malaria since 2012.

Sudan is a fragile developing country, with a low expenditure on health. It has been subjected to ongoing conflicts ever since 1956, with the Darfur crisis peaking in 2004. The conflict, in combination with the weak infrastructure, can lead to poor access to healthcare.  Hence, this can cause an increased risk of infection, greater morbidity and mortality from tuberculosis (TB).

Technology

Tools to diagnose and monitor HIV, hepatitis B and C, and tuberculosis, as well as resistance to first-line TB treatment are among the tests included in World Health Organizations’s first List of Essential In Vitro Diagnostics, released Tuesday.

Environmental Health

More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits.  While all regions of the world are affected, populations in low-income cities are the most impacted.

Equity & Disparities

WHO recommends that every child should receive at least three doses of hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine, with the first dose being given ideally within 24 h of birth (referred to as HBV birth dose vaccine), regardless of burden of disease in the country.  However, despite this recommendation, only 101 (52%) of the 194 WHO member states provide universal HBV birth dose vaccination, with nine (19%) of 47 countries in the African region providing the vaccine.

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the Canadian government on behalf of a group of Indigenous people who say they were subjected to medical experiments in residential schools and sanatoriums without their consent.

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

A Government Accountability Office report has found that USDA has taken steps to establish pathogen standards for only some meat and poultry products. Commonly consumed products such as turkey breasts and pork chops don’t have any standards.

The United Nations is being criticized for failing to help cholera victims in Haiti. The U.N. Haiti Cholera Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund has raised only about 2.2.% of total amount needed and has spent only less than half thus far.

There are potentially two options as we risk entering a post-antibiotic era: one is to discover new antibiotics and the other is to manage our current antibiotics better so that they remain effective for as long as possible.

Doctors and other specialists in Bangladesh are working under a One Health Initiative to prevent the development of antibiotic resistance.

Programs, Grants & Awards

Bill Gates and Larry Page have pledged $12 million to support the development of a universal flu vaccine.

Women-led movements in France and South Africa exposed damaging environmental policies – and won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for 2018.

Research

Fiber gets well-deserved credit for keeping the digestive system in good working order — but it does plenty more. In fact, it’s a major player in so many of your body’s systems that getting enough can actually help keep you youthful.

More Americans are living in wooded suburbs near dear, which carry the ticks that spread Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, rabbit fever and Powassan virus.

Handgrip strength, a measure of muscular fitness, is associated with cardiovascular (CV) events and CV mortality but its association with cardiac structure and function is unknown.  The goal of this study was to determine if handgrip strength is associated with changes in cardiac structure and function in UK adults.

Diseases & Disasters

The HIV and AIDS epidemic could become uncontained if current funding trends continue, warned one of the founding architects of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Three African countries will soon start rolling out the world’s first malaria vaccine.  Last year, more than 200 million people around the world were affected by the disease.  Most of those cases were reported in Africa.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) did not cross the species barrier to infect cynomologus macaque monkeys during a lengthy investigation by National Institutes of Health scientists exploring risks to humans.

Technology

“Si-Low”, a low-cost alternative to the sterile silicone bags could help treat babies who are born with portions of intestines outside the body due to incomplete closure of the abdominal wall.

Purdue University researchers are developing an app and wearable technology to enable pregnant women to use a smart phone to detect whether they have or are susceptible to a condition that could lead to serious health complications for them or their unborn child.

Environmental Health

An experimental “reinvented toilet”, a system designed to reuse water, has been installed at a textile mill in the city of Coimbatore in India.

A new study found that China’s future emissions trajectory has the potential to measurably impact methylmercury levels in the rice being consumed by people in parts of China.

Equity & Disparities

A new report confirms what many residents suspected: living conditions in the city’s ‘resettlement’ blocks are little better than the slums they replaced.

For millions of displaced people around the world – many of them refugees, living in often overcrowded, temporary shelters – an outbreak of disease can be devastating. Each year, the measles virus kills more than 134,000 people globally, and another 100,000 children are born with the medical effects of congenital rubella syndrome. Both diseases are preventable by vaccination.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Results from the Mordor trial conducted in 3 African countries, reveal 14% fewer deaths among children under the age of 5 getting azithromycin doses every 6 months for a 2 year period.

According to a new study, preterm babies should be given freshly expressed breast milk in order to allow slow degradation of hydrogen peroxide to preserve its bactericidal action.