News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Today, the field of “global health” strives to create equitable and just relationships between wealthy and impoverished regions, places and peoples. But it is still a field with markedly unequal power dynamics: racism, classism and many of the residual exploitations of a terrible colonial past.

In June, a public health professional serving as an International Health Specialist deployed to Iraq as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

Global health, a field dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of the poor and most vulnerable, has quietly developed a penchant for highly-paid management consultants and their business world tools.

One of the greatest threats to public health today, in the United States and around the world, isn’t a new exotic hazard. It’s antibiotic resistance: the potential failure of one of our most important and well-known disease-fighting tools.

The world is not on track to reach the 2020 targets of the End TB Strategy, according to the World Health Organization’s latest Global Tuberculosis Report, published on Thursday.

The nation’s hospital groups sued the Trump administration over a new federal rule that would require them to disclose the discounted prices they give insurers for all sorts of procedures.

Programs, Grants & Awards

More people around the world than ever before led healthy, productive lives in 2018.  It was the year that transmission of wild poliovirus was cornered to the smallest area in history, the first new treatment for relapsing malaria in 60 years was approved, and the number of women in developing countries using modern contraceptives reached record levels. Innovations in sanitation, financial services and healthcare were brought to refugees, a billion people were treated for neglected tropical diseases, and 100 million mobile money accounts across Africa were made interoperable—allowing people to send and receive payments more quickly, safely and affordably.

Inaugural Nipah virus conference convenes leading experts to strengthen global collaboration, improve efforts to combat deadly virus.

Research

Many people under 60 who develop stomach cancer have a “genetically and clinically distinct” disease, new Mayo Clinic research has discovered. Compared to stomach cancer in older adults, this new, early onset form often grows and spreads more quickly, has a worse prognosis, and is more resistant to traditional chemotherapy treatments, the study finds.

Diseases & Disasters

The Samoas, an island nation of 200,000 was unprepared for the 300% increase in measles worldwide. While it had 90% measles vaccine coverage in 2013, that percent had fallen to 30% by 2018.

In 2019, the World Health Organization and partners have responded to 51 emergencies in more than 40 countries and territories and have investigated 440 potential health threats in 138 countries and territories. 

The future of global HIV response must be very different from today’s efforts. It must be youth focused and youth led. Otherwise, many of our successes against HIV may be endangered by the rapid growth of vulnerable youth populations in the highest burden countries.

More than two years after doctors in Jerusalem removed thousands of barklike lesions that had prevented Mahmoud Taluli from using his hands for more than a decade, he continues his battle with a rare, incurable skin condition.

New Zealand has ordered 1,292 square feet of skin to treat patients injured in Monday’s volcanic eruption on White Island, authorities said Wednesday.

Rising temperatures across Asia and the Americas have contributed to multiple severe outbreaks of dengue fever globally over the past six months, making 2019 the worst year on record for the disease.

The Pacific island nation of Samoa will shut down government services for two days so that civil servants can focus on a nationwide immunization drive as the country struggles to end a measles outbreak that has claimed more than 50 lives, most of them children.

Technology 

After more than two decades of research, the world finally has an approved Ebola vaccine.

Researchers have developed a new tool to predict the global spread of human infectious diseases, like dengue, and track them to their source.

Environmental Health

At Boulder High, students are prohibited from smoking cigarettes or vaping electronic cigarettes anywhere on school grounds. But Lewis and other school employees still regularly pluck e-cigarettes from students’ hands or find the used pods scattered all around.

Equity & Disparities

The United Nations said on Tuesday it was procuring food assistance for 4.1 million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the population in a country where shortages are being exacerbated by runaway inflation and climate-induced drought.

Yemen’s civil war has exacted an enormous toll on people with disabilities, who find themselves on the margins of society and excluded from badly needed humanitarian assistance, Amnesty International said in a report released Tuesday.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Children continue to pay a deadly price as they succumb to a nearly three-fold rise in attacks over the last 10 years in conflict-ridden areas, the United Nations has said.

What does it mean that more seasoned pediatricians are also wanting to become more engaged in global health work?  We asked Dr. Suzinne Pak-Gorstein, a pediatric leader in global health efforts, to weigh in with an accompanying commentary.

As technology advances in the things we use every day, it’s generally accepted they also become safer. But according to one UBC engineer, that may not be true for a large portion of the population.

Eastern Ukraine has become one of the most mine-contaminated places on earth, despite recent developments aimed to protect the rights of girls and boys affected by more than five-year-long conflict.

News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Norway has launched a milestone “Better Health, Better Life” strategy to combat deadly non-communicable (NCDs) diseases as part of its international development assistance. This makes Norway the first to develop a strategy for combating this large and growing global health threat, which currently receives only about 1% of international health assistance.

The new head of scandal-hit UNAIDS has vowed to transform the agency’s culture to safeguard staff not only from sexual harassment – which she called “the tip of the iceberg” – but any abuse of power by those at the top.

The Trump Administration will continue strengthening the global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats, as demonstrated by the May 2019 release of the first U.S. Global Health Security Strategy.

Analysis from leading researchers shows there could be significant benefits from a presidentially-led initiative focused on combating pandemics. With the 2020 Presidential race under way, the researchers provide new evidence on the potential for a pro-active U.S. foreign policy effort to halt current pandemics, prevent new outbreaks from becoming pandemics, and address disease threats linked to climate change.  

For six years, Representative Ami Bera has been one of many leaders addressing global poverty issues in Congress. His position in the House Foreign Affairs Committee gives him the unique opportunity to give issues such as global health and women’s rights a voice in congressional hearings and on the House floor.

Programs, Grants & Awards

The 25th UN Climate Change Conference will be taking place in Madrid, Spain, and will convene from 2-13 December 2019. It will feature the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the United Nations Framework Convention to Combat Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 51st meetings of the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies – the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 51) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 51).

Three students in the Long School of Medicine won top awards at the 8th Annual UTMB Global Health Education Symposium Oct. 12 in Galveston.

Rare disease was considered an unattractive market segment as well but with the help of regulatory incentives and premium pricing it has been transformed; 31 out of the 59 new drugs approved by the US FDA in 2018 were for rare diseases. Venture capital has played an instrumental role in that transformation by funding unproven, high-risk technologies and demonstrating their clinical benefits in patients.

Research

The International Committee of the Red Cross reported a new outbreak of dengue fever in war-torn Yemen, with thousands of cases reported and several dozen deaths.

Neurological impairments might significantly contribute to reduced life expectancy in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). There are no empirical studies of premature mortality in children with neurological impairments in Africa. This study estimated the risk of premature mortality in children with neurological impairments and identified risk factors and causes of death.

A new Global Health Security Index released today, the first comprehensive assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across 195 countries, suggests that not a single country in the world is fully prepared to handle an epidemic or pandemic.

In an analysis of research studies conducted in Africa on HIV, malaria, TB, salmonellosis, Ebola and Buruli ulcer, Mbaye and colleagues found that African authors are highly under-represented as first and last authors (authorship positions that often get the most visibility and credit).

Diseases & Disasters

Dementia poses a threat to global health on the same scale as HIV/AIDS, the Dutch government has said, warning that the number of people with the condition will not be far off the population of Germany by 2030.

A deadly virus called Nipah carried by bats has already caused human outbreaks across South and South East Asia and has “serious epidemic potential”, global health and infectious disease specialists said.

Technology 

Artificial intelligence (AI) has demonstrated great progress in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases. Deep learning, a subset of machine learning based on artificial neural networks, has enabled applications with performance levels approaching those of trained professionals in tasks including the interpretation of medical images and discovery of drug compounds

Lack of data, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, combined with the absence of international standards for data management, is hindering efforts in measuring progress toward meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) according to a viewpoint published in the international medical journal The Lancet.

Environmental Health

Climate change has a negative impact on women’s ability to make meaningful decisions in their lives, according to new research looking at climate change hotspots in Africa and Asia.

Equity & Disparities

On Navajo Nation, grocery stores are few and far between. Most people shop at gas stations and trading posts, where healthy foods are scarce. To widen access to fruits and vegetables—and improve overall health—Partners In Health (PIH) and its sister organization on Navajo Nation, Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment, launched an initiative to encourage shops to stock and sell produce and traditional Diné foods.

The patient, a four-year-old girl, came to the Cambodian clinic with a painful mass in her abdomen. Kristin Schroeder, MD, MPH, then a resident at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was part of the medical team that diagnosed her: Wilm’s tumor, a type of kidney tumor that is curable in more than 90 percent of the cases in the United States.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) program to review antiretroviral drugs for use in low-resource settings via the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) now supports treatment of more than 14 million patients with HIV. However, an in-depth evaluation of the program has not been undertaken.

Doctors Without Borders is calling on Johnson & Johnson to halve the price of a lifesaving tuberculosis drug, called bedaquline, to make it more accessible to patients around the world. Currently, a six-month supply of the drug for a single person costs $400 in countries around the world that participate in the Global Drug Facility, a United Nations-linked organization that is the world’s largest provider of tuberculosis medication.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Child health is improving dramatically around the world. Cases of measles and tetanus have reduced by 80 percent. The Center for Disease Control has aided more than 80 countries in eliminating rubella by increasing access to vaccines. The death rate of children under five has plummeted. India is one of the countries making great strides in the health of their children.

Cervical cancer and breast cancer are the biggest causes of cancer deaths among women in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Yet it is only in recent years that prevention and control of these diseases have become a matter of public health. In 2011, the WHO said that non-communicable diseases were “an impending disaster” for some countries, pushing millions of people into poverty.

Once-a-month contraceptive pill could have ‘tremendous impact on global health’. Trialled in pigs, the pill sits in the stomach and dissolves slowly, releasing the hormones required to prevent pregnancy.

More pregnant women and children protected from malaria, but accelerated efforts and funding needed to reinvigorate global response, WHO report show.

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Health care can shift so that organizations across borders collaborate to help solve health care problems. Organizations can better solve problems related to access to care, research, training and development if they work together, not competitively.

It was the ambitious sanitation campaign aimed at giving almost half of India’s 1.3 billion population access to a toilet in just five years.  And last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally declared India free of open defecation.

Bill Gates told an audience at the University of Cambridge that global malnutrition will be solved and malaria will be virtually eliminated by 2040 if world leaders choose to fund scientific innovation.

During a meeting of heads of State, ministers, health leaders, policy-makers, and universal health coverage champions, the UN chief called UHC “the most comprehensive agreement ever reached on global health – a vision for Universal Health Coverage by 2030”

Programs, Grants & Awards

NEST360° is announcing $68 million in funding commitments from a consortium, including some of the world’s largest private foundations, for the first phase of an eight-year initiative to enable African hospitals to improve newborn survival by 50 percent and to establish a pipeline of local innovators, technicians and medical staff. 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded 10 grants this year to UC San Francisco researchers as part of the NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative. The awards to UCSF total more than $40 million and will fund projects ranging from better technologies for MRI imaging of back pain, to the use of deep-brain stimulation for treating chronic pain, to a new interdisciplinary research center for low back pain.

Research

In a new study, UC San Francisco scientists used maps of brain connections to predict how brain atrophy would spread in individual patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), adding to growing evidence that the loss of brain cells associated with dementia spreads via the synaptic connections between established brain networks.

In animals, infections are fought by the immune system. Studies on an unusual virus infecting wild koalas reveal a new form of ‘genome immunity.’

Diseases & Disasters

If you visited the Philadelphia International Airport earlier this month, you may have been exposed to measles. The Pennsylvania Department of Health warned the public on Friday that anyone who visited the airport on October 2 and 3 could have contracted the viral infection.

Ebola in the DRC has been corralled into a much smaller geographical area—27 zones, compared to 207 at the outbreak’s peak, the WHO’s Michael Ryan told reporters.

Kenya is seeing more and more addicts. The number of people injecting drugs jumped by more than 50% in the past eight years and the majority of users inject heroin, the health ministry says.

The World Health Organization is meeting in the Philippines after the country announced an outbreak of polio.  Environmental samples from sewage in Manila have been confirmed as containing the virus.

The United States remains committed to fighting Ebola in Africa, American health officials said, but the scope of the current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has become somewhat unclear.

Technology 

An ingestible sensor that allows doctors to remotely monitor tuberculosis patients’ intake of medication has the potential to save millions of lives and revolutionise treatment for the world’s most deadly infectious disease, researchers said.

Environmental Health

Climate change poses a huge threat to global health and is likely to trigger mass migration, food and water shortages and the spread of infectious diseases, experts have warned.

Pregnant women’s exposure to extreme heat raises their risk of being hospitalized, according to a new working paper distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research — and black women, as in other pregnancy outcomes, appear to be more severely impacted than white women. What’s more, greater exposure to extreme heat can increase a newborn’s likelihood of a dehydration diagnosis and subsequent chances of returning to the hospital within the first year of life, the study found, for diagnoses including respiratory diseases and prenatal jaundice. 

Equity & Disparities

Narendra Modi is to declare that his flagship sanitation programme has ended open defecation in India, amid accusations that the scheme has sparked violence and abuse.

Six young women went to the U.N. to present a document that has no precedent: a Global Girls’ Bill of Rights.

Hundreds of thousands of healthcare facilities in low- and middle- income countries is deplorable. Take into account that this data includes developed countries. Worldwide, 1/4 lack basic water services and 1/5 lack adequate sanitation services, leaving 2 billion people without access to safe, affordable surgical care.

Foundations and nonprofits committed a new and substantial $120 million for global health at a convening in Washington, D.C., this past summer. The pledges of support focus on an urgent challenge across developing countries that doesn’t get much attention: ensuring safe water and sanitation at hospitals and health clinics around the world. 

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

In 2015, Zika virus swept through Brazil and the Americas. In the three years since it ended, the pandemic has become an object of obsession for scientists, who have published more than 6,000 research papers about it. Researchers have been able to follow long-term health consequences in children infected with the virus before birth. 

Women represent 70% of the global health workforce but hold only 25% of the senior roles, according to World Health Organization. Amika George and Flaviana Matata talk about how their organizations are helping women have control over their bodies and their futures. 

Researchers from Ghana, Guinea, Myanmar and Nigeria, sent trained observers to three urban hospitals in each country to watch pregnant women from the time they were admitted until two hours after delivery. They found that of 2,016 women directly observed, 838 (41.6%) experienced physical or verbal abuse.

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

A new study by WHO, published in Lancet Global Health, found that investing $6 billion per year in eliminating hepatitis in 67 low- and middle-income countries would avert 4.5 million premature deaths by 2030, and more than 26 million deaths beyond that target date.

There isn’t a single country in the world with 100 per cent universal health coverage. All global health systems have room to improve. But UHC as it has been held up as a UN goal leaves much to be desired.

A new KFF online resource tracks more than 30 bills introduced in the current Congress that would affect global health policy.

Programs, Grants & Awards

The United States government announced US$45 million in funding to respond to the critical food security situation in the upcoming lean season between October 2019 and March 2020 in Zimbabwe.

There is a great deal of institutional interest among health professions students in joining global health programs, with more than 25% having participated during their training. However, when programs rely on short-term fixes to long-standing infrastructure and resource deficits, some of the world’s most vulnerable, poor patients can be exploited.

European University Alliance for Global Health has been launched with a press conference in Paris. Part of the European Universities alliances receiving funding by the EU Commission to collaborate across borders, the network is composed of five international partners.

Research

Visceral leishmaniasis infects an estimated 300,000 people annually and causes 20,000 deaths every year, according to the World Health Organization.

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers antimicrobial resistance to be one of the 10 threats to global health in 2019. 

Malaria, one of the world’s leading killers, could be eradicated as early as 2050, according to a new report published by The Lancet Commission on malaria eradication.

Diseases & Disasters

Measles is proving fatal at an alarming rate, far faster than Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The Bangladeshi government has confirmed another five deaths from dengue fever, bringing the total number of fatalities in the country since January to 23, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) reported Tuesday.

Malaria has killed more than 1,800 people in Burundi this year, the UN’s humanitarian agency says, a death toll rivalling a deadly Ebola outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Obesity is a growing problem in many countries around the world. Obesity is reaching further into Mexico and costing their citizens and healthcare system millions of dollars.

Technology 

It is hard to get much of a reputation if nobody knows you’re around, and that has definitely been the case for mycoplasma genitalium, the tiny bacteria estimated to be more prevalent than the bug that causes gonorrhea but is almost completely off the public’s radar.

Technology designed to intercept online extremism is being deployed to tackle vaccine misinformation.

Environmental Health

Common ingredients in the cleaning sprays for your kitchen and bathroom make mice less fertile, suggesting the compounds could do the same to humans, according to a new study.

Ocean heat waves, which can push out fish, plankton and other aquatic life, are happening far more frequently than previously thought, according to a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The climate crisis represents the biggest threat to the future of global health over the next quarter of a century, according to a survey of top medical professionals.

 

Equity & Disparities

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has published a report, Examining Inequality, on how the world is doing. In short, it’s not great. It’s even worse if you are a girl.

The darkening clouds are ominous for many in this urban neighborhood in Kampala, promising rushing rainwaters stinking of human waste from overflowing septic tanks.

 

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

UNICEF and the World Food Programme provide food and nutrition aid to North Korean children—but a lack of funds, fueled by political tension and the US-led strategy of pressure and isolation of North Korea, have limited their reach.

New Zealand’s government announced that it plans changes to the country’s abortion laws that would treat the procedure as a health issue rather than a crime.

 

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

President Trump’s nominee to be the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva sparred with the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday over whether rape victims should be allowed to have abortions.

Programs, Grants & Awards

Cancer is a truly global epidemic, with rates rising dramatically in low- and middle-income countries and continuing to increase in wealthier countries. Across Fred Hutch, our cancer and infectious disease researchers are making discoveries and testing new diagnostics and therapies that can have potentially worldwide impact.

Each May, the World Health Assembly brings a whirlwind of global health debate and discussion to the UN’s Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Research

Researchers in the United States and the Netherlands propose a new theory: global warming may have played a key role in the spread of Candida auris, a new and highly drug-resistant yeast, and suggest that this may be the first example of a new fungal disease emerging from climate change, according to a study published in mBio, a journal of the American Society of Microbiology.

Despite substantial progress, only three African nations expected to meet global breastfeeding goals. Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, and São Tomé and Príncipe, are singled out in a new study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.

Weizmann Institute of Science researchers have developed an algorithm that may predict the onset of such diseases as tuberculosis. The findings of this research were recently published in Nature Communications.

Diseases & Disasters

In epidemic preparedness, we dive deep into the core components of outbreak detection and response like laboratory strengthening and response planning. But when an outbreak occurs, it’s the strength of the system working as a whole—not the individual pieces in isolation—that determines whether it will be contained quickly or spiral out of control.

Technology

China passed a law on Saturday tightening the supervision and management of how vaccines enter the market, requiring stricter management of their production, research and distribution, after a series of safety scandals.

The Salzburg Statement on Vaccination Acceptance lays down several recommendations to combat the global fall in vaccination rates fuelled by a powerful worldwide ‘anti-vax’ movement.

Public mistrust of vaccines means the world is taking a step backwards in the fight against deadly yet preventable infectious diseases, warn experts.

Four years ago, antibiotics developer Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals Inc. had a market value of almost $2 billion. Now its shares trade for about 70 cents as investors flee the market for new drugs that kill bacterial infections.

Environmental Health

The prime minister called on the G20 countries to set targets for net zero greenhouse gas emissions.  Instead, 19 pledged to meet their targets set in the 2015 Paris agreement. The US did not sign up.

The world’s wood products — all the paper, lumber, furniture and more — offset just 1 percent of annual global carbon emissions by locking away carbon in woody forms, according to new research.

An Oakland-based environmental health group is threatening to sue the manufacturers and retailers behind two bottled water brands for failing to warn consumers about allegedly high levels of arsenic in their products. 

Equity & Disparities

Too often toxic coal ash, a byproduct of coal-fired power, ends up in poor, minority communities. U.S. civil rights officials are launching a deeper look at federal environmental policy to find out why.

In countries such as Zambia, Senegal and Tunisia, everyday drugs like paracetamol can cost up to 30 times more than in the UK and USA.

President Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to cross from South Korea into North Korea (in a demilitarized zone dividing the two countries). The goal was to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a diplomatic effort to discuss the denuclearization of North Korea. But the country poses much more of a global deadly force and significant security concern than just nuclear weapons.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Luciana Angueira, a social worker in Villa Fiorito, a poor neighborhood outside of central Buenos Aires, Argentina, says many of the women she sees are looking to end their pregnancies, but don’t want their husbands to know.

For 10 years, Honduran women like Emilia have been unable to legally and easily buy the morning-after pill (also referred to as the day-after pill), a form of contraception that the World Health Organization (WHO) considers a human right.

Approximately 1 million treatment courses of new tuberculosis medicines designed for easy administration in children have been ordered by 93 countries since they were first introduced in 2016, according to the nonprofit organization TB Alliance.

The report, “Adolescent Girls in Crisis: Voices from Beirut,” reveals that girls between the ages of 10-19 living in refugee communities in this region face gender-based violence and rising child marriage — which parents are supporting less for cultural reasons, but in a bid to protect their daughters.