Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

The UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which will run through 18 July, brings together more than a thousand government, business and civil society leaders.  They will discuss progress already made by dozens of countries towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – adopted by 193 Member States in 2015 – in an effort to find out what is and what is not working, based on the UN Secretary-General’s annual progress report.

The federal government’s top disease fighter, who built hs career battling the emergence of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, says the opioid epidemic will be even worse.

The U.S. opposed a World Health Assembly resolution to encourage breastfeeding because it called for limits on he promotion of infant formula, not because of objections to breastfeeding, President Donald Trump tweeted Monday.

Cannabis Science, Inc., a U.S. company specializing in the development of cannabinoid-based medicines, is pleased to announce Harvard Medical School’s Global Health Catalyst (GHC), American States University (ASU), and Elpasso Farms (South Africa), and Cannabis Science (CBIS) announce the signing of a historic collaboration agreement for development initiatives throughout Africa to strengthen its economic and healthcare infrastructure through education, agriculture, technology, and food security.

The Government of Liberia and partners have launched the National Action Plan for Health Security, the National Action Plan for Antimicrobial Resistance and the One Health Coordinating Platform meeting chaired by the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Mrs. Jewel Howard Taylor.

Programs, Grants & Awards

Poor quality health care services are hindering health improvement in countries at all income levels.

The world celebrates World Population Day on July 11th, day when family planning was affirmed as a human right 50 years ago. While it is central to women’s empowerment and achieving sustainable development goals, it is still not a guarantee given the poor access to reproductive resources.


Zika virus (ZIKV) was discovered 70 years ago, and since then small isolated outbreaks occurred without major complications being reported.   When ZIKV hot Brazil, however, a public health emergency was declared, given its link with microcephaly. Knowledge on ZIKV has advanced, but demographic impacts remain poorly understood.

A new study shows that taking insulin or metformin (most commonly used for type 2 diabetes) does no delay or effectively treat diabetes in children and teens ages 10-19.

Diseases, Disasters & Wars

Paraguay has eliminated malaria, the first country in the Americas to do so in almost 50 years, according to the World Health Organization.

If polio is near extinction, why do outbreaks still pop up in places where the disease was thought to be long gone? The answer is complicated.

Eating overripe mangoes, excessive heat, and arduous labor used to be some of the myths concerning the causes of malaria in Ghana’s Ashanti region. “I used to believe I fell ill because I worked for too many hours under the sun,” said Dina Serwa, a mother of five from the gold mining district of Obuasi.

Clinics for men, adolescent-dedicated sections in existing clinics, and increased support for community-based services are all needed to expand the reach of HIV testing in Lesotho, and offer hope of controlling the epidemic in a country where the virus is responsible for one of the shortest life expectancies in the world, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last week, biologists reported the most detailed structure of the Zika virus to date, a finding that could help the effort to develop vaccines or anti-viral medicines.  And Monday, a nationwide group of researchers reported in Nature Medicine that Zika causes miscarriages and stillbirths in a quarter of pregnancies in non-human primates.


Cryo-electron microscopy reveals how Plasmodium vivax (malarial parasite) invades human red blood cells.

An electronic self-management system to help with recovery after stroke is ready to be pilot tested, a new study reports.

Environmental Health

Maasai herding communities in Tanzania are at risk of being driven from their lands, to make way for luxury safaris for high-end tourists.

The city of Moradabad, once celebrated as the brass capital in India, has become a center for e-waste processing with more than nine metric tonnes arriving daily.

Equity & Disparities

The past two years have been a challenging time to live through in the United States. The Trump campaign and presidency themselves were founded on spreading racist rhetoric, and also can with a rise in reports of bullying and harassment based on race. All of these factors have impacted the mental health of millions of Americans.

Three in four children born in South Sudan since independence, the youngest country in the world, have known nothing but war.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

The Trump administration’s aggressive attempts to water down an international resolution supporting breastfeeding go against decades of advice by most medical organizations and public health experts.  The American Academy of Pediatrics calls human breast milk the “normative standard” for infant feeding, and recommends that mothers breastfeed their babies exclusively for six months.

There’s a reason why a story about 12 boys gets more attention than the world’s 12 million refugees under the age of 18. The more people who are suffering in a crisis, the harder it is for people to become engaged with their stories, says Delafield.
That’s because of a phenomenon known as “psychic numbing,” which psychologist Paul Slovic has written about extensively.

A study reports that infants who were introduced to solids slept longer and woke up less frequently than those infants who were exclusively breastfed to around six months of age.


Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Early last week, the White House made a number of modifications to its proposed rescission package, including a removal of the recession of $252 million in remaining unobligated Ebola response funding.

The use of medicinal cannabis is to be reviewed, which could lead to more prescriptions of drugs made from plant, the home secretary has said.

Programs, Grants & Awards

The WHO released a version of ICD-11, a vast improvement on ICD-10 which was launched nearly 18 years ago.

London School of Tropical Medicine led consortium has been awarded £ 3million to investigate the impact of human behavior on the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance.

New York city’s health department has launched a public service ad campaign aimed at Chinese men to address the high rates of smoking among them.


Dengue fever is the most prevalent and widespread mosquito-borne disease, and can only be countered by integrated prevention and control strategies, including sustained vector control programs, the best evidence-based clinical care, and vaccination.

Long term survival of patients with recurrent glioblastoma improved significantly with genetically modified polio virus therapy.

Diseases, Disasters & Wars

Governments around the world will not reach the Sustainable Goal Of sharply reducing premature deaths unless “urgent action” is taken, according to a WHO report published today in The Lancet.

A new study shows that a key genetic change the V. cholerae (human cholera pathogen) acquired during the seventh pandemic allows it thrive for 50 years.

A single case of polio has been reported in Papua New Guinea, a country that has been polio free since 2000.


The FDA-approved wearable device The Embrace analyzes physiological signals to detect seizures. The device aims to change the future of stress management to predict and head off panic attacks.

A computer-generated model allows clinicians to tailor effective therapies for individual patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

Using lay mHealth workers to develop real time cartography of an epidemic disease in remote villages has great potential, a new study shows

Environmental Health

Triclosan, a common ingredient in toothpaste and thousands of other personal care products, could be worsening the global problem of antibiotic resistance, a new study shows.

Children in the UK, who walk along busy roads in close proximity to fumes from vehicle exhaust, are exposed to 30% more air pollution than adults.

This month, diplomats from around the world met in New York and Geneva to hash out a pair of new global agreements that aim to lay out new guidelines for how countries should deal with an unprecedented surge in the number of displaced people, which has now reached 65.6 million worldwide.

Equity & Disparities

India’s public health expenditure (₹ 1112 per capita per year) is among the lowest in the world, a  new analysis shows.

Tenants in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, receive drastically inferior household services and pay more rent compared to those in its formal settlements, a new study shows.

A study conducted in Valencia (Spain) shows that certain neighborhood characteristics are associated with increased risk of family violence, regardless of whether it is intimate partner violence or violence against children.

India ranked as the most dangerous country for women,a new poll shows.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Deaths among children under 5 years of age dropped nearly 20% in just 2 years in Madagascar and dropped 60% in Rwanda between 2005 and 2010. This success is due to the grassroots movements to improve health systems.

According to a new study, food insecurity impacted behavioral problems in young children of single mothers in urban neighborhoods.

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.


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.


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.

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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.