Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Technological innovation, expansion of the use of frontline personnel such as community health workers, and rapid increases in health care financing are likely to be instrumental to achieving universal health care (UHC) in countries around the world, according to a new analysis led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

UW Provost Mark Richards joined Sen. Patty Murray and seven global health security experts in Kane Hall on Monday morning to discuss the future of global health in a violent world.  The event was hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security.

On August 3, Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), with Ed Royce (R-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Karen Bass (D-CA) as additional cosponsors, introduced the PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018 (H.R. 6651). The bill reauthorizes the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through 2023 and upholds the United States’ commitment to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Perhaps no other prominent African personality of international clout, apart from late Nelson Mandela, has attracted so much accolade, sympathy, empathy and condolence like the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Atta Annan, who died in Bern, Switzerland, on August 18, 2018.

Programs, Grants & Awards

The Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) has selected three new Doris Duke International Research Fellows for the 2018-19 academic year.  The fellows—one medical student from Indiana University and two from Duke University—will conduct clinical global health research throughout the upcoming academic year.

Research

Researchers explored the link between cardiovascular health level (defined using the 7-item tool from the American Heart Association [AHA]) and risk of dementia and cognitive decline in older persons. They observed that increased numbers of optimal cardiovascular health metrics and a higher cardiovascular health score were related to a lower risk of dementia and lower rates of cognitive decline.

The financial fallout from breast cancer can last years after diagnosis, particularly for those with lymphedema, a common side effect from treatment, causing cumulative and cascading economic consequences for survivors, their families, and society, a study led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers suggests.

Despite increased attention to opioid abuse, prescriptions have remained relatively unchanged for many US patients, new research finds.

Diseases & Disasters

It’s been years since the tobacco industry promised to stop luring young people to smoke cigarettes.  Phillip Morris International says it is “designing a smoke-free future.” British American Tobacco, likewise, claims to be “transforming tobacco” into a safer product.

In a shocking revelation, a recent study has found that alcohol is associated with nearly one in 10 deaths in people aged 15-49 years old.  Overall, according to the research that estimates levels of alcohol use and health effects in 195 countries between 1990 to 2016, 2.8 million deaths occur each year worldwide.

Listeria monocytogenes as the main causative agent of human listeriosis is an intracellular bacterium that has the capability to infect a wide range of cell types. Human listeriosis is a sporatic foodborne disease, which is epidemiologically linked with consumption of contaminated food products.  Listeriosis may range from mild and self-limiting diseases in healthy people to severe systemic infections in susceptible populations.

Approximately one-third of the earth’s population – that’s 2.4 billion people – drinks alcohol, and 2.8 million deaths a year are caused by alcohol-related problems, according to a massive study estimating alcohol use and health effects in 195 countries.

Salt may not be as damaging to health as is usually claimed, according to a controversial new study which suggests campaigns to persuade people to cut down may only be worthwhile in countries with very high sodium consumption, such as China.  The World Health Organization recommends cutting sodium intake to no more than 2g a day – the equivalent of 5g of salt – because of the link to increased blood pressure, which is in turn implicated in stroke.

Those who fail to vaccinate are bound to suffer the diseases of the past.  Measles, which once killed an estimated 2.6 million people a year, is still killing almost 90,000 people a year according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and may be endemic again in the Americas, according to the latest data from the Pan American Health Organization.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo started using an experimental vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus yesterday after identifying it as the virulent Zaire strain. The latest outbreak has spread to a conflict region and is suspected of killing at least 36 people during its first week.

Aardman Animations, creator of the popular “Wallace and Gromit” claymation films, and actor Hugh Laurie teamed up for a 2-minute video on the history of his disease, which claims 450,000 lives a year.  It’s called “Malaria Must Die, So Millions Can Live.” And it stars “Mozzie the Mosquito.”

Technology

A new report from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) details the investigational use of a drug to treat Chagas disease now available commercially in the United States.

A rotavirus vaccine introduced in rural Malawi has reduced deaths from infant diarrhea morale by more than a third, proving for the first time that a major intervention in a low-income country can be highly effective.

Environmental Health

Exposure to a prevalent type of air pollution—particulate matter called PM2.5—takes one year off the average global lifespan, according to research published Wednesday (Aug. 22) in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. But that air pollution is never evenly distributed; for people living in the most-polluted areas of Asia and Africa, the situation is worse—life expectancy for them drops between one year and two months to one year and 11 months.

Equity & Disparities

Women’s Equality Day commemorates the ratification of the 19th Amendment and the resilient women who work to promote the American value of equality.  Today, Peace Corps recognizes the contributions that volunteers have made to help advance equality across the globe and back home in the United States. Currently, women make up 63 percent of all Peace Corps volunteers.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

An estimated 6.5 million abortions take place across Latin America each year.  Three-quarters of these procedures are unlawful, often performed in unsafe illegal clinics or at home.

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Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Given the collective threat posed by certain highly pathogenic infectious diseases – whether through naturally occurring outbreaks or deliberate or accidental release – the governments of the United States and Australia have formed a multi-sectoral partnership to strengthen health security in the Indo-Pacific Region. This partnership advances the goals of the U.S. National Security Strategy and the Australian Foreign Policy White Paper and strongly supports implementation of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), which endeavors to create a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats.

The Trump administration is resisting the World Health Organization’s effort to sharply limit antibiotic use in farm animals, a move intended to help preserve the drugs’ effectiveness.

Since the 2016 United States elections, immigrants from Latin America with HIV have become more anxious about the possibility of being deported to their home countries and losing access to medical care, according to a recent Viewpoint published in The Lancet HIV.

Programs, Grants & Awards

Tuesday’s Global Disability Summit in London yielded 170 commitments to increase disability inclusion and tackle stigma in lower-income countries, according to the United Kingdom government, from financial pledges, to in-kind devices and technology, to new or amended action plans and charters.

On July 17th, NTI | bio of the Nuclear Threat Initiative partnered with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, PATH, and the Global Health Council, with support from the Open Philanthropy Project, to bring together congressional staff across committees to highlight the challenges of detecting and responding to an outbreak caused by a novel pathogen.

Research

Seven out of 10 middle-aged people in India have poor muscle health, key to an active lifestyle and can impact health and wellness, finds a survey.

Duke faculty have been partnering with colleagues in Sir Lanka since 2005, but their research collaboration recently entered new territory: outbreak response.

Diseases & Disasters

Twelve cases of human infection with Angiostrongylus cantonensis, otherwise known as rat lungworm, have been identified in the continental United States, with possible sources including raw vegetables from local gardens, according to study results from the CDC.

With the recent outbreak declared over in little more than two months, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s health minister explains how a major crisis was avoided.

Advancements in health and science and a sea change in policy priorities over the past decade have made it possible to believe that an end to the HIV epidemic might be in sight.

A report by UNAIDS, “Miles to go—closing gaps, breaking barriers, righting injustices”, warns that the global response to HIV is at a critical point.  Eastern and Southern Africa remain the regions most affected by the HIV epidemic, accounting for 45 percent of the world’s HIV infections and 53 percent of people with HIV globally.

Technology

Medical devices are essential to health care systems however, health systems in low-income countries (LICs) often have limited access to them. As a result, these countries rely heavily on donations, with some LICs receiving donations making up 80% of their supply of medical devices. While good intentioned, there is often a mismatch between the types of equipment needed or usable and those that are received.

Chinese state media say a total of 15 people have been detained in a growing scandal over the faking of records by a vaccine rabies maker.

Environmental Health

In June of 1988, a time when most experts treated global warming as a future issue, NASA’s leading climate scientist James Hansen announced on Capitol Hill that Earth’s atmosphere was already warming and that it was getting worse.  Hansen told the Associated Press that he wishes that his forecast about global warming had been wrong, but unfortunately it was right.

Researchers think that temperature increases could lead to a 1.4 percent increase in suicides in the United States and a 2.3 percent increase in Mexico by 2050. That would add up to an additional 21,000 suicides in the two countries.  The effects of rising temperatures on suicide rates are about the same as that of economic recessions effects, according to the study authors.

Equity & Disparities

More than 800 delegates representing government, civil society and the development community are convening today for the first Global Disability Summit, hosted by the British and Kenyan governments and the International Disability Alliance with the goal of generating new commitments toward implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

India has scrapped its 12% tax on all sanitary products following months of campaigning by activists.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

A major new study has shown that rotavirus vaccination reduced infant diarrhea deaths by 34% in rural Malawi, a region with high levels of child deaths.

In 1968 at the International Conference on Human Rights, family planning was declared a human right.  Today, we mark the 50th anniversary of World Population Day and we celebrate this watershed moment when the global community asserted the right of all individuals to plan their families.

 

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.

Research

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.

Technology

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.

Research

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.

Technology

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.

The G20 Makes Early Childhood Development a Priority

World wide roughly 200 million children under the age of five, in low and middle income countries, will fail to meet basic developmental milestones. Such deficits affect health across the lifespan, the ability to contribute to the national economy, and the ability to stop the cycle of poverty. With this knowledge in mind the United Nations made a point of linking their sustainable development goals to children’s issues, specifically early childhood development (ECD). Recently the G20, with Argentina as the new chair, have placed an emphasis on ECD in the international community by adding it to their own sustainability goals. The G20 has recognized that ECD must be incorporated into all programs, not just within child centric programs and that an emphasis must be placed on children under five years of age.

Programmatic areas have remained siloed focusing on nutrition and ensuring school aged children receive an education. While these initiatives play a role in ECD they only focus on topical areas and do not formally integrate ECD, newborn to age five, into programmatic work. The G20 has created a case for cross collaboration within programmatic and policy level work, even laying out funding streams for such work. This puts the G20 in line with World Health Organization guidelines, including guidelines around integration of ECD in emergency situations. When you are already servicing families and their children, especially in low income programmatic settings, it is easy to add in basic ECD education. For example, when providing breastfeeding support to mothers this is a wonderful opportunity to briefly discuss the need to talk and sing to the child in order to develop language acquisition. Another example is to provide pamphlets, that match the health literacy level of the community, around positive parenting and age appropriate milestones at an immunization drive.  

ECD doesn’t just apply to children – it applies directly to the child’s environment: families, caregivers, and national leadership. ECD focuses a lot on positive parenting to encourage positive brain development and language acquisition. The World Health Organization just released a guideline that discusses nurturing care within ECD, highlighting strategies and policies focusing on the environment that impacts ECD. A really interesting piece that the G20 highlights is the need for better trained child care providers. The G20 ties it back to economics – if a family, mothers in particular, feels comfortable leaving their child in the care of someone else they are able to contribute to their local and national economy in a greater way. There is also the money saving aspect for countries who invest in programs that promote ECD in children under the age of five. As discussed in the literature, children’s brains are rapidly developing arguably from in the womb through the first 1,000 days of life, and programs that focus on this age group provide a larger cost saving than programs that focus on children over five. This is because potential developmental delays are prevented, thus not as much money is needed to get a child back on their developmental track. Also, at such a young age with the focus predominantly being on environmental factors the cost is solely around training and educating front line staff, not actual school aged interventions.

Again – it is great news to have a group like G20 make ECD a priority, especially for children under five. It brings the topic back to the front of the global health stage and proves that it can be easily incorporated into programmatic work.