Global Mental Health in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Social Media and Technology Usage

Written By: Sarah Edmonds MA MFA, Elena Schatell PA-C MPH MMS, and Dr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW

Blog II

The COVID-19 pandemic has touched all of our lives in one way or another. All around the world people transitioned to working from home, lost employment, quarantined, bereaved the loss of loved ones and worried about becoming infected with the virus. The pandemic’s impact on the wellbeing and mental health of people around the globe has been substantial. It is multifaceted and will surely have implications for years to come. The global prevalence of depression and anxiety has increased by 25%. In the United States, we have seen substantial increases in teen suicidality and a four-fold increase in reported symptoms of a depressive or anxiety disorder among U.S. adults. 

During a time when the demand for mental health services has drastically increased, we saw an increased disruption to mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide. The pandemic impeded access to mental health services with reduced outpatient visits, disrupted mental health emergency interventions, and suspended in-person group therapy sessions. What the COVID-19 pandemic has done is “spark a push for global mental health transformation.” It has illuminated the importance of mental health and the need for innovative global interventions targeting mental health promotion, prevention and treatment. 

Consequently, people across the globe have been using social media and other technological applications at increasing rates to enhance their mental health such as online psychological care and counseling or social media user groups for peer support. In addition, persons in isolation or quarantine show increased rates of general social media usage and they seek to cope with loneliness and separation. However, existing studies show conflicting results in the study of how social media usage—all forms, including active usage (like posting and commenting on forums), passive usage (like scrolling through social networking sites), and more direct computer mediated communications such as chatrooms, email, and any sort of interactive communication online—impacts the overall mental wellness of the users. 

Some studies from the Germany, Norway, and Northern Ireland report a correlation between active and passive social media use and increased rates of depression, anxiety, and poor self-image among adolescents, also noting that active social media use can result in cycles of emotions ranging from highly positive to highly negative with little time to process in between. Notably, recent studies from the United States, United Kingdom, and Pakistan have found an explicit connection between consuming media about COVID-19 and negative mental health that suggests—though social media may initially be a form of escapism—that the overabundance of pandemic news, misinformation, and commentary available on social media platforms is significantly detrimental to users’ overall and long-term mental wellness.

In contrast, some studies in Italy and the United States have reported that social media use—specifically active usage within friend groups—resulted in an improved sense of community and empathy and a greater feeling of purpose in life. Professionally developed technological mental health awareness initiatives and campaigns have shown some success in improving mental health outcomes. By using social media and other online platforms to spread awareness of mental health conditions, it can help destigmatize mental health conditions in populations that otherwise may not have access to educational resources. For example, in one study conducted across sub-Saharan Africa, online resources and mental health education campaigns proved successful at improving overall awareness and connecting patients to needed specialized care more easily than traditional pathways. Targeted messaging and the use of telemedicine for mental health has been shown to be a beneficial resource, specifically, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic when many individuals rely on social media for news both from governments and their local communities. The use of telemedicine for mental health care, specifically for younger populations who frequently rely on computer mediated communication methods, has been a useful tool to engage persons and improve well-being according to researchers in Italy.

Multiple literature reviews (Tsao et al. 2021, Meier and Reinecke 2021, Gianfredi et al. 2021, Jones et al. 2021, and Marciano et al. 2022) have suggested that the contradictory results of many studies may be related to variation in how social media usage impacts individuals. Mechanisms that may influence this relationship include a variety of individual demographic factors and mental health history. Future innovative approaches that utilize social media and technology and take into account individual variation are critical to create infrastructure and support to improve mental health and well-being of persons globally. Many of these approaches are already being developed, tested, and implemented and will be central in bringing about sustained improvements in mental health globally. 

Sarah Edmonds MA MFA

Sarah Edmonds is an Adjunct Professor with Arcadia University’s Department of English. She is a former Communications and Social Media Co-chair of the American Public Health Association’s International Health Section and has worked closely with Dr. Heather F. McClintock on research into intimate partner violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. She also works as a technical writer for Goldblum, Pollins, & Dennis Immigration Law advocating for the immigration status of top international researchers. She is Editor-in-Chief of For Page & Screen literary magazine and her fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetic works have been published extensively.

Elena Schatell PA-C MPH MMS

Elena Schatell is a recent graduate of Arcadia University’s Dual Master of Public Health/Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Program. She aims to promote public health in underserved communities as a family medicine physician assistant. Her public health interests include access to mental health services, stigma surrounding mental illness, and the relationship between faith and mental health. She has interned at the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) national office in Arlington, Virginia, working closely with the Advocacy and Public Policy team on conducting research on service barriers and state mental health policy. During her time at NAMI, she also authored articles for the Advocate magazine and blog.

Dr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW

Dr. McClintock is an IH Section Member and Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health, College of Health Sciences at Arcadia University. She earned her Master of Science in Public Health from the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. McClintock received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on health behavior and promotion. Her research broadly focuses on the prevention, treatment, and management of chronic disease and disability globally. Recent research aims to understand and reduce the burden of intimate partner violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to completing her doctorate she served as a Program Officer at the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and a Senior Project Manager in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania. At the University of Pennsylvania she led several research initiatives that involved improving patient compliance and access to quality healthcare services including the Spectrum of Depression in Later Life Study and Integrating Management for Depression and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Study.

News Round Up

WORLD POPULATION:  7,972,475,000  

POLITICS & POLICIES

August 16, 2022: SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Bill Gates on Tuesday called for South Korea to become more involved in international efforts to prevent infectious diseases like COVID-19 as he stressed the need for the world to be better prepared for the next pandemic. Representing the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korea’s foreign and health ministries pledging further partnerships in projects aimed at improving public health tools in the developing world and advancing vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases

https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2022-08-16/gates-eyes-partnership-with-south-korea-over-global-health

August 10, 2022: At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the WHO’s mandate “to act as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work,” the unprecedented monkeypox outbreak presented the organization with a chance to prove its value to the global community. Instead, through its cautious approach and hesitancy, the WHO contributed to the conditions that facilitated the disease’s continued spread. As a result, the WHO faces more questions about where it fits into the COVID-battered landscape of global health governance. https://www.thinkglobalhealth.org/article/monkeypox-outbreak-and-whos-existential-crisis  

August 2, 2022: The Biden administration on Tuesday named veteran FEMA official Robert Fenton to lead the government’s response to the monkeypox outbreak. Why it matters: The Biden administration has faced mounting pressure to do more to stop the spread of monkeypox, which has prompted three states to declare health emergencies. Driving the news: Fenton, a FEMA regional administrator, has over 25 years of experience in federal emergency response and will serve as the White House national monkeypox response coordinator.

https://www.axios.com/2022/08/02/biden-monkeypox-coordinator-robert-fenton

PROGRAMS, PROJECTS, CONFERENCES, GRANTS, AWARDS & EVENTS

The objective of the Program Towards Elimination of Tuberculosis Project is to improve the coverage and quality of TB control interventions in the private and public sector in targeted states of India. Growth has accelerated in the last two quarters to reach 8.2 percent in the first quarter of FY18-2019. This growth was supported by a revival in industrial activity, strong private consumption, and a rise in exports of goods and services. https://projects.worldbank.org/en/projects-operations/project-detail/P167523

August 17, 2022: Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (parent company of Healthcare IT News) is launching an early invitation to thought leaders and experts to present at the 2023 HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition, taking place April 17-21 in Chicago. Presentation topics span a wide range, including healthcare and technology solutions, critical advancements, best practices and other stories. The event draws tens of thousands of healthcare professionals annually.

https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/call-proposals-himss-global-health-conference-exhibition

HISTORICAL, REPORTS, DOCUMENTS, DATA & INDEXES

September 2, 2022: A comprehensive historical assessment of knowledge and beliefs about disease transmission sheds light on why influential institutions worldwide took too long to recognize that COVID-19 is primarily airborne. The authors trace this deadly resistance one hundred years back in history, to the rejection of sickly air called ‘miasma,’ the rise of germ theory and our own stubborn tendency to retain beliefs in spite of accumulating evidence to the contrary. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/09/220902122738.htm

RESEARCH

August 20, 2022: Understanding the magnitude of cancer burden attributable to potentially modifiable risk factors is crucial for development of effective prevention and mitigation strategies. We analysed results from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019 to inform cancer control planning efforts globally.https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(22)01438-6/fulltext  

DISEASES & DISASTERS

August 3, 2022: On 23 July, the World Health Organization declared the monkeypox outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern”. The move is designed to trigger a coordinated international response and could unlock funding for vaccines or treatments.https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/08/health-wellbeing-news-monkeypox-covid19/  

August 2, 2022: Globally, only half (52%) of children living with HIV are on life-saving treatment. UNAIDS, UNICEF, and WHO have brought together a new alliance to fix one of the most glaring disparities in the AIDS response.

https://www.who.int/news/item/02-08-2022-new-global-alliance-launched-to-end-aids-in-children-by-2030

August 1, 2022: ALBANY, N.Y. (August 1, 2022) – The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) today updated New Yorkers on polio in New York State. Following the identification of a case of polio in a Rockland County resident, NYSDOH launched wastewater surveillance, among other detection efforts, to check for signs of the virus. Following analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the polio virus was detected in samples from June in Rockland County. These findings underscore the critical importance of vaccination to protect all New Yorkers and New York children against polio.https://www.health.ny.gov/press/releases/2022/2022-08-01_polio.htm

 

TECHNOLOGY

The World Health Organization announced in April that it will consider changing its regimen recommendation for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine , which protects against cervical cancer, the fourth most common cancer in women. https://www.fic.nih.gov/News/GlobalHealthMatters/Pages/who-debates-reducing-hpv-vaccine-schedule-one-dose.aspx

CLIMATE CHANGE & ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

August 31, 2022: MAHANDRI, Pakistan – The village of Mahandri was once a scenic stopover for tourists visiting the valley of Kaghan in Pakistan’s northernmost province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but recent flash floods have destroyed most of its infrastructure. The monsoon floods have killed about 14 people, washed away five restaurants, all 30 shops in the local market and destroyed health infrastructure in the village, which located on the Kunhar River. The river starts in the glaciers of the Kaghan valley, and melting ice has added to the deluge. https://healthpolicy-watch.news/climate-crisis-government-pakistan-floods/ 

August 8, 2022: The findings are based on a comprehensive review of more than 150 studies that looked at how children maintain physical activity, exercise and cope with heat, as well as how this might change as global temperatures rise. The research was published Aug. 5 in the journal Temperature. “Fitter adults are better able to tolerate higher temperatures, due to a combination of physiological, behavioral and psychological factors,” said Shawnda Morrison, an environmental exercise physiologist at Slovenia’s University of Ljubljana. She is an expert in adaptive and integrative human physiology in extreme environments.

https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2022-08-08/global-warming-will-mean-more-unfit-unhealthy-kids-worldwide-study

EQUITY & DISPARITIES

August 31, 2022: Concern is growing that the scramble for scarce supplies of monkeypox vaccines could see some nations and high-risk groups miss out – recalling unequal global access to Covid-19 vaccines and HIV medication. The outbreak, which has reached nearly 100 countries outside of Africa, where the virus is endemic, is overwhelmingly being transmitted among men who have sex with men. They are getting priority for vaccination globally, but some face a longer wait than others.

https://www.eco-business.com/news/race-for-monkeypox-vaccines-exposes-global-health-inequality/

August 30, 2022: Human Rights Watch said Tuesday it examined more than 100 laws and policies concerning education, gender equity, and reproductive health, that are detrimental to the education of teenage mothers. Adi Radhakrishnan works with the rights group’s children rights division. He says some African laws have pushed young mothers out of school.

https://www.voanews.com/a/some-african-laws-create-difficulty-for-young-mothers-to-attend-school/6722436.html

August 11, 2022: In the scramble for monkeypox vaccines, the European Union and the United States have once again left Africa behind. The World Health Organization says there are around 16 million doses, mostly in bulk form, of the only vaccine approved for protection against monkeypox. None are being distributed to Africans. 

https://www.politico.eu/article/monkeypox-deals-fatal-blow-to-global-health-solidarity/

WOMEN, MATERNAL, NEONATAL & CHILDREN’S HEALTH

September 4, 2022: Over three violent days in early August, until a ceasefire was reached on 7 August, Israeli Defence Forces launched some 147 air strikes against targets in Gaza while Palestinian militants unleashed around 1,100 rockets and mortars into Israel. Briefing the Security Council on 8 August, Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, reported that 46 Palestinians had been killed and 360 injured, and 70 Israelis injured.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/09/1125712

April 21, 2022: Since publishing this web story, the Women’s Health Research Institute has remained committed to finding ways to support research that is inclusive of all bodies that may benefit from it. As part of this work, Dr. Angela Kaida (Women’s Health Research Institute) and Bev Pomeroy (Island Health, Experience) are co-leading a project titled Beyond the Binary: Taking a patient-oriented and trauma-informed approach to building partnerships and dialogue to incorporate gender equity into women’s health research. This is a multi-stakeholder, participatory project intended to inform guidance for gender-equitable practice within BC’s women’s health research community. Through collaboration with people from intersecting trans, non-binary, intersex, Two-Spirit, queer, research, health, ethics, and academic communities, we aim to develop context-specific guidance, resources, and recommendations for researchers and health decision-makers. https://whri.org/beyond-the-binary-what-does-gender-inclusive-womens-health-research-look-like/ 

HUMANITARIAN, NONPROFITS, FOUNDATIONS & NGOS

September 1, 2022: GENEVA (AP) — China’s discriminatory detention of Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups in the western region of Xinjiang may constitute crimes against humanity, the U.N. human rights office said in a long-awaited report Wednesday, which cited “serious” rights violations and patterns of torture in recent years. The report seeks “urgent attention” from the U.N. and the world community to rights violations in Beijing’s campaign to root out terrorism.

https://apnews.com/article/china-beijing-united-nations-michelle-bachelet-government-and-politics-6fa4626b3b60a722eb355c56ef1a67ec

August 29, 2022: In the Um Rakuba refugee camp in Sudan, donated medical supplies are vital to the survival of thousands of Tigrayan refugees who fled their homes in Ethiopia due to war. More than 2,000 miles away, Ukrainians who’ve fled their homes due to the Russian attack on Ukraine have similar emergency needs. https://www.taskforce.org/ethiopian-humanitarian-and-cnn-hero-ensures-medical-supplies-reach-people-affected-by-conflicts/  

August 9, 2022: “The war increases levels of stress in pregnant women, which leads to an increase in the number of premature births reported,” Herve Verhoosel, Spokesperson for global health agency Unitaid, told journalists at a regular WHO press briefing. “Babies born prematurely are more likely to develop respiratory, neurological or digestive complications, conditions that often require oxygen for treatment”.  https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/08/1124262  

The Burden of Global Mental Health in the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Update

Written By: Elena Schatell PA-C MPH MMS and Dr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW

Over two years ago we co-wrote IH Connect’s blogs on mental health and COVID-19 (part 1 and part 2 here). Since this time the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to shape and influence so many facets of our lives. This unprecedented pandemic has created challenges with psychological ramifications for people around the world such as the loneliness from social isolation during quarantine, fear of contagion and infection, constraints on the ability to work and attend school, unemployment, financial worries, domestic violence, grief after the death of a loved one, and the emotional burdens of working on the frontlines. Furthermore the economy has been impacted, as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global economic recession worse than the Great Depression. Hundreds of millions around the world have lost jobs due to the inability to work remotely, businesses going bankrupt, declines in labor demand, falling export demand and supply chain disruptions.

The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health and well-being of people around the globe is substantial. A February 2021 brief published by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) reported a four-fold increase in U.S. adults reported symptoms of a depressive or anxiety disorder. Parents, children, young adults, people experiencing unemployment, essential workers and communities of color are populations at increased risk for experiencing poor mental health during the pandemic. The impact of COVID-19 on mental health and well-being is not limited to any single country or region; it has impacted people in every part of the globe. In the first year of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a 25% increase in the global prevalence of depression and anxiety. For more details about the global mental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic please read this WHO scientific brief.

I (Elena Schatell) spent the past year working in different medical offices and hospital systems across the country as part of my final year of physician assistant school. I have been exposed to many health care settings and various patient populations, and at every single site I have witnessed the mental health effects of COVID-19 on patients and their families. On my pediatrics rotation at a practice in a western Pennsylvania suburb, there were multiple teenage girls who came in for follow-ups after being admitted to behavioral health units for attempting suicide. Suicidality among U.S. adolescents was already a public health topic of concern, but since the start of the pandemic, rates of teen suicidality and poor mental health have increased. I heard numerous individuals talk about the hardships their families have faced since the establishment of online school, or “distance learning.” In an emergency department (ED) on the south side of Chicago I saw countless mental health emergencies and drug overdoses. I talked to individuals experiencing homelessness who came to the ED solely for comfort and shelter. I could not help but imagine all the many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted these individual’s lives.

The increased prevalence of mental health problems has been accompanied by an increased disruption to mental health services, leaving large gaps in care for people who need it the most. Some of these disruptions began at the start of the pandemic, like lack of access to face-to-face care, reduced outpatient appointments and limited admissions to emergency departments. However, many of these disruptions were pre-existing and the pandemic exacerbated already struggling and taxed systems. The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light onto the critical need for accessible and well-resourced mental health care systems globally. The lack of such infrastructure has widened disparities across many sectors and dimensions of well-being (e.g. social, economic, psychological) leaving the underserved even more marginalized and disempowered.  Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, stated, “This is a wake-up call to all countries to pay more attention to mental health and do a better job of supporting their populations’ mental health.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on mental health and well-being globally and has shed light on fractured and under-resourced mental health care systems; there is a silver lining. It has afforded the opportunity for growth, development and creativity to address the complex mental health needs of populations around the world. The WHO and countries around the world have been “stepping up” their mental health response. For instance, with increasing suicide death rates, the U.S. federal government has launched the national three-digit number “988” as the mental health crisis hotline. Callers who are experiencing a mental health crisis will be automatically routed to a trained mental health professional, instead of law enforcement.  Telehealth has stepped up to the plate to meet mental health needs during the pandemic. An analysis from KFF and Epic Research found telehealth services for mental health and substance use increased from near zero percent in 2019 to 40% in mid-2020. Two-thirds of community health centers in the U.S. have added new mental health services, including virtual services. I (Elena Schatell) can personally attest to the enormous benefit of telehealth access for mental health care. From 2020 into 2022 I participated in telehealth counseling services offered through my university and later through an online mental health service platform. Conveniently having a mental health professional whom I could communicate with online helped me navigate stressors I was experiencing. When reliable and easily accessible, these services are effective at filling gaps in mental health care. But in resource-limited settings around the world, developing and implementing digital tools poses a challenge. WHO has been instrumental in providing guidance, tools and resources to member states, public health planners and responders, and the general public. In collaboration with partners around the world, WHO developed multilingual resources such as a stress management guide and mental wellness toolkit for older adults. As of early 2021, 90% of WHO member states reported including mental health support in their COVID-19 response plans and the number of countries with an emergency mental health support platform doubled. 

WHO acknowledged global mental health as a priority when it published its Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020. Just one year prior to the start of the pandemic, in 2018, the WHO Director-General acknowledged mental health as an area in which action needed to be accelerated. He established the WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health, covering 2019-2023, with the goal of 100 million more people having access to quality and affordable mental health care by 2023. Largely focused on finding innovative ways to provide support in hard-to-reach communities, the initiative was created just in time for the pandemic. It is underway in Bangladesh, Ghana, Jordan, Nepal, Paraguay, the Philippines, Ukraine and Zimbabwe. In Ukraine, which has been affected by military conflict and COVID-19, community mental health mobile teams have been developed to provide services to individuals in remote areas.

In April 2020 the publication of the storybook, My Hero is You, was produced through a collaboration of over 50 organizations, including WHO, UNICEF, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Federation of Red Cross. This is a picture book, available in 142 languages, that serves as a resource for helping children around the world cope with and respond to the mental health impacts of COVID-19. Found to be hugely successful, multimedia formats and additional resources were created targeting other populations. A sequel was released in September 2021, reflecting on the new challenges the world has faced in the second year of the pandemic. The sequel is based on survey responses from over 500 individuals around the world. The coordination and collaboration involved in creating these books is amazing. The pandemic has had a catastrophic impact on psychological health and well-being. However, (as evidenced by the projects described above) it has created an opportunity for collaboration and cooperation as well as highlighting the importance of nations in prioritizing global mental health care.

Elena Schatell PA-C MPH MMS

Elena Schatell is a recent graduate of Arcadia University’s Dual Master of Public Health/Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Program. She aims to promote public health in underserved communities as a family medicine physician assistant. Her public health interests include access to mental health services, stigma surrounding mental illness, and the relationship between faith and mental health. She has interned at the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) national office in Arlington, Virginia, working closely with the Advocacy and Public Policy team on conducting research on service barriers and state mental health policy. During her time at NAMI, she also authored articles for the Advocate magazine and blog.

Dr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW

Dr. McClintock is an IH Section Member and Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health, College of Health Sciences at Arcadia University. She earned her Master of Science in Public Health from the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. McClintock received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on health behavior and promotion. Her research broadly focuses on the prevention, treatment, and management of chronic disease and disability globally. Recent research aims to understand and reduce the burden of intimate partner violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to completing her doctorate she served as a Program Officer at the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and a Senior Project Manager in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania. At the University of Pennsylvania she led several research initiatives that involved improving patient compliance and access to quality healthcare services including the Spectrum of Depression in Later Life Study and Integrating Management for Depression and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Study.

News Round Up

WORLD POPULATION:  7,964,410,225

POLITICS & POLICIES

July 4, 2022: Atul Gawande, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s global health office, is trying to figure out how to tackle one of the world’s biggest crises in decades as governments struggle to fund the effort. https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/04/atul-gawandes-new-global-health-fight-00043494

PROGRAMS, CONFERENCES, GRANTS, AWARDS & EVENTS

July 25, 2022: Virtual indigenous peoples panel discussion: Inputs to the Report on Health and Nature-Based Solutions. https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2022/07/25/default-calendar/virtual-indigenous-peoples-panel-discussion–inputs-to-the-report-on-health-and-nature-based-solutions

July 26, 2022: Introduction to recent World Health Organization (WHO) publications on Patient Blood Management, Clinical Use of Blood and Haemovigilance Systems – Webinar. https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2022/07/26/default-calendar/introduction-to-recent-world-health-organization-(who)-publications-on–patient-blood-management–clinical-use-of-blood-and-haemovigilance-systems-webinar

HISTORICAL, REPORTS, DOCUMENTS, DATA & INDEXES

July 12, 2022: Patients with a specific form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in the United States, are at significant risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to new research from New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. This study, published in the July issue of Retina, is the first to demonstrate a link between the disorders. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-07-eye-disease-strongly-heart.html

July 7, 2022: Preeclampsia—a condition that occurs in pregnancy and is characterized by high blood pressure and signs of kidney damage—can be dangerous for both mother and baby. New research published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica suggests that the characteristics and lifestyle of the fathers do not play a significant role in their partners’ susceptibility to preeclampsia. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-07-fathers-affect-partners-susceptibility-preeclampsia.html

RESEARCH

July 18, 2022: Scientists at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom report that they used cell and animal models to show that the drug, dubbed AZD1390, can block the body’s response to DNA damage in nerve cells and restore function after a spinal injury. “This early study shows that AZD1390 could be used as a therapy in life-changing conditions,” said Dr. Richard Tuxworth of the university’s Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences. “In addition, repurposing this existing investigational drug potentially means we can reach the clinic significantly faster than developing a new drug from scratch.” https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2022-07-18/could-an-experimental-cancer-drug-help-treat-spinal-injury

DISEASES & DISASTERS

July 12, 2022: Rising COVID-19 cases are not only putting further pressure on already stretched health systems and workers but also triggering an “increasing trend of deaths”, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists at the regular weekly press briefing on Tuesday. https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/07/1122382  

July 22, 2022: Two fatal cases of Marburg virus disease (MVD) were reported from Ashanti region, Ghana. On 28 June 2022, these cases were notified to health authorities as suspected viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) cases and tested positive for Marburg virus on 1 July 2022. An outbreak of MVD has only been reported once previously in West Africa, and this is the first time MVD has been notified in Ghana. An outbreak of MVD may represent a serious public health threat as it is severe and often fatal. https://www.who.int/emergencies/disease-outbreak-news/item/2022-DON402

TECHNOLOGY

July 27, 2022: With medical devices and data at a heightened risk of Log4j exploitation, here are steps you can take to secure your organization and your health IT environment. As a prime target for cyberattacks and data breaches, healthcare companies must be constantly on guard against new threats. One of the latest and most dangerous vulnerabilities involves a commonly used application tool that resides on many medical devices and in healthcare software solutions. https://healthtechmagazine.net/article/2022/07/log4j-vulnerability-what-should-healthcare-organizations-do-next-protect-patient-data-perfcon

CLIMATE CHANGE & ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

July 22, 2022: In a world first, the American state is expected to adopt a bill that would let people contribute to the Least Developed Countries Fund when filing their tax return. https://www.climatechangenews.com/2022/07/22/massachusetts-set-to-enable-citizens-to-give-climate-finance-to-vulnerable-nations/

July 21, 2022: US President Joe Biden has announced $2.3bn (£1.9bn) to help build infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather and natural disasters. But he stopped short of formally declaring a climate emergency, which would grant him further powers. Mr Biden spoke in Massachusetts as a heatwave brings extreme weather to Europe and North America. Tens of millions of people in the US, across more than two dozen states, are living under heat warnings this week. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-62241954

EQUITY & DISPARITIES

July 15, 2022: MUSCATINE, Iowa — Bailee Tordai, who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy, barely made it to the prenatal checkup. Her clunky old Jeep couldn’t complete the 2-mile trip from her house to the University of Iowa’s outreach clinic in her southeastern Iowa hometown. It was a hot June day, and a wiring problem made the Jeep conk out in the street. https://khn.org/news/article/nurse-midwives-prenatal-care-rural-hospital-birthing-centers/

July 12, 2022: SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After the Russian invasion, Katie Nelha and her husband couldn’t safely return to their home in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, so they took their chances as refugees. Flying from Poland, where they were working, to Mexico in early April, they crossed into the U.S. at Tijuana, where they were granted a temporary visa for humanitarian reasons. https://khn.org/news/article/california-medicaid-ukrainian-refugees-interpreter-shortage/

WOMEN, MATERNAL, NEONATAL & CHILDREN’S HEALTH

July 15, 2022: The largest sustained decline in childhood vaccinations in approximately 30 years has been recorded in official data published today by WHO and UNICEF. The percentage of children who received three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) – a marker for immunization coverage within and across countries – fell 5 percentage points between 2019 and 2021 to 81 per cent.

https://www.who.int/news/item/15-07-2022-covid-19-pandemic-fuels-largest-continued-backslide-in-vaccinations-in-three-decades 

July 21, 2022: The Senate today passed and sent to the president for his signature the Formula Act (H.R. 8351), bipartisan legislation that would suspend tariffs on imported infant formula through 2022. The Food and Drug Administration has allowed formula imports to help address a U.S. formula shortage, but tariffs have increased the retail cost of these products. The Department of Health and Human Services offers a webpage to help health care providers and families locate formulas.    https://www.aha.org/news/headline/2022-07-21-congress-temporarily-suspends-tariffs-imported-formula-reduce-cost

HUMANITARIAN, NONPROFITS, FOUNDATIONS & NGOS

July 4, 2022: When 5.3 million Ukrainians entered the EU between February and June 2022, alongside life-saving emergency assistance came similarly crucial support: the right to stay and work in the EU for up to three years. This arose out of the recognition that people deserve the chance to make a living in exile – and that doing so can benefit host countries as well. https://theconversation.com/do-humanitarian-agencies-help-refugees-become-independent-evidence-from-history-184744

July 20, 2022: The founder of the world’s largest Western-based international Muslim relief agency, one that helps millions worldwide. Today, Islamic Relief Worldwide has an income of some $200m per year, supporting almost 12 million people in 36 countries. The Muslim relief agency was co-founded by Hany El-Banna, an Egyptian medical student training in the United Kingdom. https://www.aljazeera.com/program/al-jazeera-world/2022/7/20/hany-el-banna-the-giving-business

News Round Up

WORLD POPULATION:  7,960,832,160

POLITICS & POLICIES

June 30th, 2022: The devastating human, economic, and social cost of COVID-19 has highlighted the urgent need for coordinated action to build stronger health systems and mobilize additional resources for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response (PPR). https://www.who.int/news/item/30-06-2022-world-bank-board-approves-new-fund-for-pandemic-prevention–preparedness-and-response-(ppr) 

June 27th, 2022: The leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations have pledged to raise $600bn in private and public funds over five years to finance infrastructure in developing countries and counter China’s older, multi trillion-dollar Belt and Road project. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/6/27/g7-pledges-600bn-infrastructure-plan-to-counter-china

June 20th, 2022: (Reuters) – Russia on Monday accused some members of the Group of 20 major economies of politicizing a meeting on global health, as it faced criticism over how its invasion of Ukraine in February had plunged its healthcare system into chaos. https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-06-20/russia-accuses-g20-members-of-politicizing-health-talks-after-criticism-over-ukraine

June 9th, 2022: BANGKOK — Thailand made it legal to cultivate and possess marijuana as of Thursday, like a dream come true for an aging generation of pot smokers who recall the kick the legendary Thai Stick variety delivered. https://www.npr.org/2022/06/09/1103878929/thailand-decriminalizes-marijuana

June 8th, 2022: The COVID-19 pandemic took a devastating human toll on Latin America and the Caribbean, taking the lives of more than 2.7 million people across our hemisphere — accounting for more than 40 percent of global reported deaths.  It showed us the many cracks in our global health systems and underscored the importance of strong and resilient health systems for the entire population, health security, and pandemic preparedness and response, starting with a strong foundation based on cooperation, transparency, and accountability. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/06/08/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-announces-action-on-covid-19-pandemic-response-and-improving-health-systems-and-health-security-in-the-americas/

PROGRAMS, CONFERENCES, GRANTS, AWARDS & EVENTS

June 7th, 2022: The World Hepatitis Summit 2022 will review progress and renew commitments by global partners to accelerate action to achieve the global target of eliminating of viral hepatitis by 2030. At the 2016 World Health Assembly, countries made a historic commitment to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. Since 2016, countries have met the global 2020 target of reducing the incidence of hepatitis B in children under 5 and the number of people receiving treatment for hepatitis C has increased 10-fold.  https://www.who.int/news/item/07-06-2022-world-hepatitis-summit-2022-urges-action-to-eliminate-viral-hepatitis-as-unexplained-hepatitis-cases-in-children-rise-globally

June 3rd, 2022: Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) have received a $5.5 million award from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Fogarty International Center to help foster the next generation of global health scientists. The award, titled “Integrated Network of Scholars in Global Health Research Training (INSIGHT),” will expand global health research across sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean by providing one-year mentored research training to U.S. and lower-middle-income country scholars. https://www.umaryland.edu/news/archived-news/june-2022/nih-grant-expands-global-health-research.php

June 1st, 2022: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has shaped the global development landscape for two decades, with about $60 billion in grants to its name. Global health is one of the foundation’s biggest priorities — so we’re taking a look at where that money went. https://www.devex.com/news/devex-newswire-who-gets-gates-global-health-money-103369

HISTORICAL, REPORTS, DOCUMENTS, DATA & INDEXES

June 16th, 2022: New study offers the first comprehensive, county-level life expectancy estimates in the US and highlights important differences among racial and ethnic groups. The analysis reveals that despite overall life expectancy gains of 2.3 years (from 76.8 years in 2000 to 79.1 years in 2019) during the 20-year study period (2000–2019), disparities among racial and ethnic groups remain, with Black populations still experiencing shorter life expectancy than White populations. https://www.healthdata.org/news-release/lancet-disparities-life-expectancy-persist-among-racial-and-ethnic-groups-across-us

RESEARCH

June 23rd,2022: The first COVID-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial setting was administered on Dec 8, 2020. To ensure global vaccine equity, vaccine targets were set by the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility and WHO. However, due to vaccine shortfalls, these targets were not achieved by the end of 2021. We aimed to quantify the global impact of the first year of COVID-19 vaccination programmes. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(22)00320-6/fulltext

June 20th,2022: SINGAPORE, June 20, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) (the Company) today announced the launch of the new J&J Satellite Center for Global Health Discovery (Satellite Center) at Singapore’s Duke-NUS Medical School, jointly established by Duke University and the National University of Singapore (NUS) as a graduate-entry medical school and research powerhouse. As the first of the J&J Centers for Global Health Discovery (J&J Centers) in the Asia-Pacific region, the Satellite Center at Duke-NUS aims to help drive new solutions to address flaviviruses, which disproportionately impact communities across the region, by bringing together the talent and expertise of the world’s largest healthcare company with that of a leading academic institution. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/johnson–johnson-opens-first-satellite-center-for-global-health-discovery-in-asia-pacific-at-duke-nus-to-advance-dengue-research-301571141.html

June 13th, 2022: Stress — in the form of traumatic events, job strain, everyday stressors and discrimination — accelerates aging of the immune system, potentially increasing a person’s risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and illness from infections such as COVID-19, according to a new USC study. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220613150648.htm

DISEASES & DISASTERS

July 6th, 2022: LONDON, July 6 (Reuters) – More than 6,000 cases of monkeypox have now been reported from 58 countries in the current outbreak, the World Health Organization said. The U.N. agency will reconvene a meeting of the committee that will advise on declaring the outbreak a global health emergency, the WHO’s highest level of alert, in the week beginning July 18 or sooner, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference from Geneva.https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/who-more-than-6000-monkeypox-cases-reported-another-emergency-meeting-set-2022-07-06/

June 24th, 2022: A new commentary series introduced in the July issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association will examine oral health from a global perspective. The global pandemic that ravaged populations around the world these past two years brought home the importance of global health and how it impacts us all,” said Tim Wright, D.D.S., editor-in-chief of JADA. “The global health commentary series presents information on issues that are important locally and globally for oral and systemic health. https://www.ada.org/publications/ada-news/2022/june/jada-introduces-commentary-series-on-global-oral-health

June 25th, 2022: The monkeypox outbreak does not currently constitute a global public health concern, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday, though “intense response efforts” are needed to control further spread. https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/06/1121362

June 23rd, 2022: LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization convenes its emergency committee Thursday to consider if the spiraling outbreak of monkeypox warrants being declared a global emergency. But some experts say the WHO’s decision to act only after the disease spilled into the West could entrench the grotesque inequities that arose between rich and poor countries during the coronavirus pandemic. Declaring monkeypox to be a global emergency would mean the U.N. health agency considers the outbreak to be an “extraordinary event” and that the disease is at risk of spreading across even more borders, possibly requiring a global response. It would also give monkeypox the same distinction as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing effort to eradicate polio. https://apnews.com/article/covid-health-pandemics-united-nations-2672737d50fa8ca3029c053ce745ae6a

June 15th, 2022: An emergency committee of independent experts will meet next week to determine whether the growing monkeypox outbreak that’s spread to dozens of countries should be declared an international health emergency, the World Health Organization announced Tuesday. That’s the highest level of alert for viral outbreaks and doing so would mean that WHO views the normally rare disease as a continuing threat to nations worldwide, the Associated Press reported. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=277789

June 10th, 2022: To end AIDS, beat COVID-19 and “stop the pandemics of the future”, the world needs to ensure global access to lifesaving health technologies, the UN Chef de Cabinet has told a meeting of the General Assembly to review progress. https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/06/1120122

TECHNOLOGY

July 8th, 2022: LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today praised the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) for committing to share innovative technologies with a South Africa-based biotech company, Afrigen, which should speed up the development and rollout of modern, highly-effective vaccines in low- and middle-income countries, including on the African continent. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220708005540/en/U.S.-Vaccine-Tech-Transfer-to-Africa-a-Win-for-Global-Health-says-AHF

June 10th, 2022: NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. government is buying more monkeypox vaccine as a surprising international outbreak continues to grow, health officials said Friday. As of Friday, the U.S. had identified 45 cases in 15 states and the District of Columbia. More than 1,300 cases have been found in about 30 other countries outside the areas of Africa where the virus is endemic. https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2022-06-10/us-buys-more-monkeypox-vaccine-as-global-case-count-grows

June 8th, 2022: As global monkeypox cases continue to rise, public-health officials and researchers are questioning whether the current outbreaks can be contained. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the situation is unlikely to escalate into a full-blown pandemic. But there are now more than 1,000 confirmed infections in nearly 30 countries where outbreaks do not usually occur (see ‘Unusual spread’). https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-01587-1

CLIMATE CHANGE & ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

June 15th, 2022: Children are more likely than adults to suffer health impacts due to environmental impacts. Kari Nadeau of Stanford’s Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy & Asthma Research discusses related risks, as well as what caregivers and health care workers can do about them. https://news.stanford.edu/2022/06/15/childrens-health-climate-change/

EQUITY & DISPARITIES

June 2nd,2022: As of May 31, only 58 countries and territories have done so, according to Our World in Data. Most are from high-income countries — which doesn’t include yet the United States — and none are from low-income countries. Collectively, only 16.2% of low-income countries’ population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. https://www.devex.com/news/some-lics-make-covid-19-vaccination-progress-but-far-from-70-target-102280

WOMEN, MATERNAL, NEONATAL & CHILDREN’S HEALTH

June 24th, 2022: We expect that today’s decision will have practical impacts on hospitals and health systems, including on health care provided across state lines, EMTALA obligations, maternal health care, the clinician-patient relationship, medical education and access to care for individuals regardless of socioeconomic status. We are committed to helping our member hospitals and health systems navigate the evolving landscape consistent with AHA’s mission of advancing the health of all individuals and communities. https://www.aha.org/press-releases/2022-06-24-aha-statement-us-supreme-court-decision-dobbs-v-jackson-womens-health

HUMANITARIAN, NONPROFITS, FOUNDATIONS & NGOS

June 28th, 2022: On the United Nation’s World Refugee Day, June 20, I found myself reflecting on how my capstone project fits into the field of refugee health. I was drawn to work on a project in refugee health because of the experiences that my parents had as Kurdish refugees fleeing oppression in Turkey. Kurdish identity, language, and culture have long been targeted by the Turkish government through acts of violence and persecution. As minorities living under the jurisdiction of a system built to erase their existence, many Kurds are forcibly displaced either internally or internationally. For my parents, the best hope for our family was to start a life in the United States by applying for asylum. Growing up in the midst of this, I knew that I wanted to work towards justice and advocacy for asylum seekers and refugees. https://globalhealthsciences.ucsf.edu/blog/honoring-refugees-world-refugee-day-and-beyond