Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

The notion of a shared responsibility to prevent global public health emergencies caused by disease epidemics is hardly new.  The history goes back to the 1851 International Sanitary Conference in Paris that followed the cholera epidemics in Europe between 1830 and 1847.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) dwindling pot of money aimed at fighting infectious-disease epidemics like Ebola will run out this year, and the agency doesn’t anticipate new dedicated funds. So the CDC is scaling back epidemic prevention work in 39 countries, and this has experts, including a United Nations Dispatch on Friday, saying “you should be freaking out.”

It has now been a little more than a year since President Donald Trump, on his first full day in office, reinstated the Mexico City Policy, also known as the “Global Gag Rule,” and a picture of its impact is beginning to emerge.

It was a financial investment in a tobacco company that helped lead to the downfall of Brenda Fitzgerald, who until Wednesday was the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The draft 13th General Program of Work cut across discussions at last week’s 142nd executive board session of the World Health Organization.  But while some stakeholders perceived progress on the current draft, questions remain, including the nagging question on how WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus would be able to finance his vision for the organization.

International health campaigners and alcohol concern groups called on a major global HIV and malaria fund on Thursday to end immediately a partnership it had signed with the Dutch brewer Heineken.

Programs, Grants & Awards

US Alumni Global Health Workshop brought together 22 alumni from US government exchange programs from African nations to share best practices for public health communication.

Paul Farmer, co-founder and chief strategist of Partners in Health, will receive the National Academy of Sciences most prestigious Public Welfare Medal this year.


Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have identified a gene associated with lower asthma risk and its role in the disease’s progression — findings that open a new potential pathway for treatment.

Daily use of marijuana as well as past month rates rose for both men and women aged 26 and older in states with medical marijuana laws in effect.  Marijuana use among those younger than 26 years old was generally unaffected by changes in the law.

The results from the largest ever study of septic shock (a life threatening illness that occurs when the body’s response to infection leads to low blood pressure that reduces blood flow to vital organs and tissues such as the heart, brain, kidney and liver) could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Diseases & Disasters

Every single year, a group larger than the entire population of Seattle die from heart disease.  While these 846,000 annual fatalities are only half of what they were in 1980, cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States.

Urgent action must be taken to stop the spread of drug-resistant malaria in south-east Asia and potentially beyond, according to scientists. The outbreak in Cambodia, then Thailand, Laos and most recently Vietnam, of malaria that is untreatable with the newest and best drugs we have has alarmed experts. There have been calls for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare a public health emergency of international concern, as it did with Ebola in west Africa and Zika virus in Brazil.

Due to fears over Dengue vaccine, parents in the Philippines are refusing to vaccinate their children for tetanus, chicken pox and polio.

There have been 22 deaths and about 2000 cholera cases in seven African countries since the beginning of 2018. The increasing numbers of cholera cases are being blamed on poor sanitation and hygiene.


What if reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on access to health for all depended on the willingness of all actors to see beyond outdated dichotomies. The concept may seem obvious, but is easier described than done. In an effort to break silos, the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) brought together stakeholders of all sides last week to discuss how to harness political and economic will to achieve innovation leading to new medicines that are available and affordable for all in need.

In an effort to stop diabetes patients from progressing to dialysis phase, doctors and researchers in Japan have launched a large-scale clinical study to examine whether internet connected medical devices and a smartphone app could help maintain blood sugar levels.

Environmental Health

Hundreds of tonnes of colistin, the strongest “last resort” antibiotic known to medicine, are being shipped to India to be used on chickens that may not even require the drugs.

Hyperthermophilic composting may have the potential to reduce the abundance of antibiotic-resistance carrying bacteria from composting end products.

Equity & Disparities

Equity in health is the notion that everyone should have a fair opportunity to reach his or her full health potential.  A focus on equity can strengthen the link between health and other development sectors by focusing attention on the most vulnerable populations. If certain populations are continually underserved by their health systems and experience a disproportionate impact, it endangers the well-being of societies at-large and can even hold back health progress for the most advantaged.

A new study has found that blacks, Hispanics and low-income students are at most likely to be exposed to air pollution. The study reveals that in 5 of the 10 worst polluted school counties, over 20% of the population is non-white.

Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

In a new study of childhood mortality rates between 1961 and 2010 in the United States and 19 economically similar countries, researchers report that while there’s been overall improvement among all the countries, the U.S. has been slowest to improve. Infants in the U.S. were 76 percent more likely to die.

Recent studies indicate that infants born prematurely have a higher risk of developing heart disease later in life.  Now, researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle have shown that, in preterm animal models, inflammation due to infection can disrupt the activity of genes crucial for normal heart development.


Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is planning to significantly reduce its overseas work to fight disease due to coming funding cutbacks, according to an internal email reported by The Wall Street Journal.

It may require a culture change, but making the link between global health and development challenges — from education to poverty – is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,

Programs, Grants & Awards

The Vanderbilt Global Health Case Competition, sponsored by the Vanderbilt Institute of Global Health, gives students the opportunity to work together to develop solutions to global health problems.

Vandana Gopikumar who co-founded The Banyan and The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health will receive the Penn Nursing Renfield Foundation Award for Global Women’s Health this year.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a $1.4 million grant to Wistar Institute in Philadelphia to create a synthetic DNA-based vaccine for malaria.


Results from a new study show that steroids reduced both the duration of septic shock and the time spent on  life support therapy in intensive care.

To explore the duration of asymptomatic Plasmodium infections and changes in parasite densities over time, a cohort of participants who were infected with Plasmodium parasites was observed over a 2-year follow-up period.

Diseases & Disasters

The government of Brazil’s southeastern state of Minas Gerais has decreed a state of emergency for its public health system due to an outbreak of yellow fever in 94 of its 853 cities.

With the crisis in war-ravaged Yemen continuing to deteriorate, United Nations agencies and humanitarian partners have launched a $2.96 billion response plan to reach over 13 million people with lifesaving assistance.

The long struggle to eliminate polio from Pakistan has faced many obstacles – public ignorance about the disease, myths about a Western plot to sterilize Muslims, claims about fake vaccination drives being used to cover up spying.

Nearly half a million children living in refugee camps in Bangladesh will be vaccinated to stop the further spread of diphtheria.

The fight against HIV in Uganda provides lessons to combat a disease largely eliminated in develop countries: rheumatic heart disease (RHD).


Smart thermometers made by Kinsa Health allow you to upload body temperatures to a website that helps track flu faster and with greater geographic detail, the company claims.

An international research team has conducted successful phase II clinical tests of a new anti-malaria medication. The treatment led to a cure in 83 cases.

Environmental Health

For the second time in 5 days, air pollution levels in Hong Kong were at its worst, posing serious risks to health of the people.

Following a winter storm, piles of trash washed up on the beaches about 10 miles from Beirut (Lebanon). The trash overwhelmed the shoreline and accumulation is expected to continue if winter storms resume.

Equity & Disparities

There has been a sudden 30% increase (from 2016) in violent deaths of LGBT people in Brazil.

The number of older adults diagnosed with four or more diseases is expected to double between 2015 and 2035, a new study reports.

Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Withdrawing the contraceptive injection, Depo-Provera, from sub Saharan African nations would lead to an increased likelihood of maternal deaths, possibly outweighing the risk of increased HIV infections and subsequent deaths, a new study shows.

Results from a 30-year prospective cohort study that included 1283 mothers and babies show that mothers who breastfed their babies for six months or more were 47% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. The study shows that “lactation duration is independently associated with lower incidence of diabetes”.

Pneumonia is the biggest killer of children worldwide, but when it comes to fighting the deadly disease, the problem is not a lack of tools or knowledge, but access, experts say.

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Two Ebola survivors are suing the Sierra Leone government to shed light over the disappearance of millions of dollars that the country received following the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

As 2017 ended, some key global health events, milestones and highlights from the past 12 months of efforts at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to prevent child and maternal deaths, control the HIV/AIDS epidemic and combat infectious diseases were shared.

India’s Supreme Court on Monday put on hold a lower court’s order that quashed federal rules mandating larger health warnings on tobacco packages , in a setback for the country’s $11 billion tobacco industry.

The United Nations is predicting 135.7 million people worldwide will need humanitarian assistance in 2018, an increase over this year. More than 76 million people are projected to need emergency food assistance in 2018 as well.

Vaccines are one of the most important scientific inventions of all time, preventing millions of cases of disease every year and helping to consign once-deadly outbreaks to history. Yet these vital public-health tools are under threat from growing public mistrust in immunization and the rise of so-called “fake news” drowning out expert voices.

Tereza Kasaeva is to be the new Director or WHO’s Global Tuberculosis Program.  She joins WHO from Russia’s Ministry of Health. But instead of a warm welcome, she will arrive in Geneva amid potentially disabling controversy.

The Director-General of WHO has outlined his vision for a Madagascar free of plague epidemics during a three-day visit to the island nation that started on 7 January 2018.

2017 was probably the very best year in the long history of humanity.
A smaller share of the world’s people were hungry, impoverished or illiterate than at any time before. A smaller proportion of children died than ever before.  The proportion disfigured by leprosy, blinded by diseases like trachoma or suffering from other ailments also fell.

Parliament has called on government to consider increasing the budget allocation for the Ministry of Health and Child Care saying it should have the highest allocation, or at least the 15 percent benchmark set out in the Abuja Declaration of 2001.

Programs, Grants & Awards

With a $100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation, Sesame Street and International Rescue Committee will begin to work on bringing regional version of Sesame Street and related activities aimed at providing education to nearly 9.4 million Syrian refugees.

Henrietta Holsman Fore is the next executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres announced Friday.


Using the genetic information obtained from Wyeomyia smithii (pitcher plant mosquitoes), scientists are hoping to stop different mosquito species from feeding on blood.

Madagascar can build stronger health systems to fight plague and prevent the next epidemic.

With transmissions between family members accounting for most infections during the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak, the virus spread to other members in one out of three households that was home to an infected person, a study in one Sierra Leone community found.

Diseases & Disasters

The WHO has approved a new highly effective typhoid vaccine, Typbar TCV. The vaccine is made by Bharat Biotech based in Hyderabad, India and can be purchased by donors for use in low-income countries.

Three people in South Sudan have died of a suspected viral harmorrhagic fever and 60 of their contacts are being monitored for any infection, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

One million children aged six months to 10 years in Puntland and 4.2 million across Somalia were reached during a five-day measles campaign that wrapped up on Sunday, the United Nations has reported.


Yesterday’s announcement that WHO has prequalified the first conjugate vaccine for typhoid offers a major boost to prevention efforts against a disease that causes 11-20 million cases annually and up to 161,000 deaths.

Environmental Health

Plastic microbeads can no longer be used to manufacture personal care and cosmetic products in the UK. The ban on sales of such products is expected to go into effect in July.

Eucador’s state oil company has begun drilling in Yasuní National Park, one of the world’s most biodiverse regions.

Equity & Disparities

In Malawi, where menstrual hygiene is a major concern among young women, menstrual cups may be an inexpensive alternative.

Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Huge burden of unintended pregnancies and drug-induced abortions that occur outside of health facilities confirm the need for rethinking medical abortions and improving contraceptive access, a new study shows.

A new study shows that group singing sessions can help mothers recover from postpartum depression more quickly.

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Effective partnerships between governments, universities, and businesses may solve problems such as neglected tropical diseases, antimicrobial resistance, non-communicable diseases and other challenges to Global Health.

Pakistan has ordered over 20 foreign aid groups to cease operations by February. This has caused panic and confusion among the non-profit community.

Programs, Grants & Awards

Yale University has approved the creation of the Yale Institute for Global Health (YIGH) led by the health sciences schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health.


Estimates of influenza-associated mortality are important for national and international decision-making on public health priorities. Previous estimates of 250 000–500 000 annual influenza deaths are outdated. We updated the estimated number of global annual influenza-associated deaths using country-specific influenza-associated excess respiratory mortality estimates from 1999–2015.

Effects of Ebola virus has been studied four decades after infection using blood samples and health history reports from 14 survivors of the 1976 Ebola outbreak. The findings show that the survivors may be able to stave off future infection.

A new experimental vaccine has been shown to induce antibodies against heroin and prevent the drug from crossing the blood brain barrier in mice and rats.

Diseases & Disasters

Drug resistance is still the main concern for health authorities in Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Yesterday, representatives from these countries called for accelerated action to eliminate malaria in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) by the year 2030.

Firefighters in Southern California were under pressure on Saturday to contain six raging wildfires, which have destroyed hundreds of buildings and forced tens of thousands of people to flee, before fierce winds are expected to strengthen again.

If a new flu pandemic emerges, it may be easy to spot. The epidemic is most likely to appear in spring or summer, researcher have found — not in the midwinter depths of the flu season.

With the introduction of a highly effective vaccine in the 1920s and early ‘30s, diphtheria faded away in much of the world.  Today it’s largely considered a disease of the past. But now it’s back in the headlines, spreading quickly in places like Bangladesh and Yemen.

The World Health Organization says Uganda has successfully controlled a deadly outbreak of Marburg hemorrhagic fever, an infectious disease related to Ebola.

Year after year cervical cancer continues to kill more women in Tanzania than any other type of cancer.  For more than six years, IMA World Health—with funding from the IZUMI Foundation, American Baptist Churches (USA), Week of Compassion, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and private donors—has supported Shirati and other health facilities to ease the burden of cervical cancer by training health workers, providing testing and treatment supplies and equipment and creating referral linkages to larger hospitals for those who require additional treatment.

Respiratory diseases from seasonal influenza takes up to 650,000 lives annually, according to new estimates released Thursday by the United Nations health agency and global partners.


A new portable low-cost diagnostic test allows people to check for iron and vitamin A deficiencies within minutes. The system includes blood sample test strip that includes three types of antibodies.

Carbon, a 3D printing technology company, is developing an inexpensive, easy-to-use, in vitro diagnostic device for TB testing.

Environmental Health

A new UN report warns that the growing electronic waste poses a major threat to the environment and human health. The report also highlights unsafe and improper treatment and disposal of e-waste.

According to a new study the exposure to air pollution can cancel out the benefits of exercise among adults over 60 years of age.

New studies suggest a link between warming of the Arctic waters and drier conditions in California.

Equity & Disparities

Publication of a new World Bank – World Health Organization report reveals that half of the world do not have access to essential quality healthcare, and 800 million people face severe financial difficulties because of healthcare costs.

Rickets and stunted growth are making an appearance among children who are malnourished and food insecure in Britain.

Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Assessment of BetterBirth India, the largest implementation of WHO’s Safe Childbirth Checklist, shows that even though many health centers adopted the checklist, there has not been any improvement in maternal or infant mortality rates. This could very likely be due to poor infrastructure and access to care.

Hong kong recalls imported baby milk products after reports of salmonella infections in France.

In addition to deterioration of sleep quality and quantity among children and teenagers who have smartphones and tablets in their bedrooms (even when not in use), a new study also reports that young people who spend time in front of a screen at bedtime are more likely to be overweight or obese.

This is the last round up for 2017!

Please share your thoughts on what you liked about the round up, how we could improve this section and what we could be doing differently in 2018.



Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

President Trump and other populist world leaders are dismantling funding that protects the world from future epidemics as they put national interests ahead of global health, a Pulitzer Prize-winning expert said Tuesday at Brigham Young University.

In late July, the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Steering Group, chaired by the Republic of Korea, convened in Seoul to discuss ongoing implementation of the GHSA.  A partnership of 61 nations, international organizations, and non-governmental stakeholders, GHSA facilitates collaborative, capacity-building efforts to advance a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats.

The US opioid epidemic and the “war-on drug” language being used internationally is a cause for concern among palliative care experts, especially given a serious gap in access to painkillers in poor countries.

Programs, Grants & Awards

USAID has announced a new development impact bond called the Utkrisht Impact Bond, aimed at reducing maternal and neonatal deaths in India.

Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health has received a grant to study the impact of the expanded global gag rule on women’s health and wellbeing.

Chemonics International is under mounting pressure to show that the largest project ever funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has turned a corner.

One Health lies at the core of the Global Health Ethic, recognizing the highly interdependent nature of the health and well-being of humans, domestic animals, wildlife and the ecosystem we all share.

Crossing Boundaries 3 is a conference to showcase Oxford’s multidisciplinary research informing health systems strengthening in low and middle-income countries.


An increase in dengue cases from zero (pre-2000) to 35,000 in Acre State in Brazil has been attributed to landscape changes coinciding with commercial development in the state.

An economic modeling study showed that a TB-sensitive cash transfer approach to increase all poor households’ income is unlikely to be as effective or affordable to prevent TB’s catastrophic costs as a TB-specific cash transfer approach.

Diseases & Disasters

After unprecedented global success in malaria control, progress has stalled, according to the World malaria report 2017.  With 5 million more malaria cases in 2016 than in 2015, experts worry that the progress toward global malaria control has stalled. Without urgent action, there is a risk of missing the malaria control targets for 2020 and beyond.

The U.N. is voicing alarm over the spread of HIV in Egypt, where the number of new cases is growing by up to 40 percent a year, and where efforts to combat the epidemic are hampered by social stigma and a lack of funding to address the crisis.


Several security problems have been identified in a software platform used by aid agencies to store data on vulnerable people.

Prognos, a New York City-based artificial intelligence company, has wrapped up a $20.5 million Series C financing round. The seven-year-old company utilizes AI to track and predict disease as early as possible in collaboration with payers, diagnostics and life sciences companies.

Environmental Health

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is a leading implementer of climate change projects in developing countries, but the money that is supposed to materialize to support the developing world as climate change impacts intensify is still hard to come by.

Noting the severity of the threats posed by pollution to both people and the planet, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted the need for rapid, large-scale and coordinated action by all actors to make the world pollution-free.

Arctic sea ice loss of the magnitude expected in the next few decades could impact California’s rainfall and exacerbate future droughts, according to new research.

Equity & Disparities

About 11 percent of medicines in developing countries are counterfeit and likely responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of children from diseases like malaria and pneumonia every year, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

Persons with disabilities, as both beneficiaries and agents of change, can fast track the process towards inclusive and sustainable development, and for the 2030 Agenda to truly live up to its promise to ‘leave no one behind,’ all physical and cultural barriers must be removed to create societies that provide real opportunities for everyone everywhere, the United Nations has said.

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people in poor countries. are detained every year in hospitals over unpaid bills.

Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

The Philippines has achieved maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination status, a status given when there is less than one case per 1000 live births in every region.

Many girls get married before age 18 in the northern, Amhara region of Ethiopia.  The legal age of marriage is 18 — but the law is seldom enforced.

Air pollution significantly increases the risk of low birth weight in babies, leading to lifelong damage to health, according to a large new study.