Category Archives: News

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

The Obama administration on Friday declared a public health emergency in the US territory of Puerto Rico, saying the rapid and widespread transmission of the Zika virus threatens the health of infected pregnant women and their babies.

Programs

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday appointed the philanthropist and former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg as a global health ambassador to help governments tackle chronic diseases such as diabetes, stroke, cancer and heart disease.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced today that a distinguished panel of independent international jurors has selected The Task Force for Global Health, an Atlanta-based international organization dedicated to addressing large scale health problems primarily affecting people living in extreme poverty, as this year’s recipient of the Hilton Humanitarian Prize—the world’s largest humanitarian prize.

Research

In this paper, the authors present a mathematical model for studying RBC dynamics in circulating blood during a malarial infection. This blood-stage model has been developed to analyze data from rhesus Macaques infected with P. coatneyi.

In this study, the authors found that about 140 million were affected by climate-related natural disasters and that about 7 million surgical procedures were needed to care for this population. The authors also predict that the “countries with the least surgical capacity will have the greatest need for surgical care for persons affected by climate-related natural disasters.”

The Chilean Ministry of Health developed labels for food packages that would help make consumers quick healthy decisions at the supermarket. The labels were a part of a three pronged approach to combat obesity.

A new study reveals a large disparity between the number of reported and projected Zika cases. The researchers, responding to a ‘call to arms’ to model the spread of the virus, say that while a major US outbreak is not projected, a certain set of countries in the Americas have the right conditions for “major outbreaks.”

United States could soon become the first country to approve the commercial use of a common bacterium to fight the spread of mosquitoes that can transmit viruses such as Zika, dengue and Chikungunya.

Diseases & Disasters

The scale of the Syrian crisis is nearly beyond comprehension: 4.9 million refugees, 6.6 million people displaced inside Syria’s borders. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. CDC’s Emergency Response and Recovery Branch (ERRB) has been on the scene since 2012, working to protect the health of those affected by the crisis. We have conducted more than 85 humanitarian public health missions related to the crisis, making this our second largest humanitarian response to date, surpassed only by ERRB’s work following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Three more people in Florida have tested positive for Zika caused by local mosquitoes, including another person who does not live in the one-square-mile (2.6-square-km) area believed to be the hub of local transmission, state officials said on Friday.

The Zika virus has been found in the sperm of an Italian man six months after his first symptoms, twice as long as in previously reported cases.

A baby born in a Harris County hospital has become the first infant to die from Zika in the US and the first Zika-related death in Texas.

Zika virus seems to affect babies late into pregnancy and its symptoms do not become apparent until months after birth.

About 120 million people worldwide are at risk for river blindness (onchocerciasis), 99 percent of them in Africa, where 31 countries are affected. “The biggest challenge is the sheer scale of what we’re looking at in Africa,” says Darin Evans, senior medical and technical adviser of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), at USAID.

In Peru’s third major oil spill this year, an estimated 600 barrels of crude oil gushed out near the Marañon River, in Datem del Marañón on June 24. The spills proved devastating to local Indigenous communities, but the health response fell far short—with little international attention to the long-term health and social consequences.

On June 7, the World Health Organization congratulated Thailand on eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis, guaranteeing an HIV-free generation. Thailand is the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to successfully transform an HIV-ravaged society into a model for how to address the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

After being polio-free for the over 2 years, the Nigerian Government has reported that two children in the state of Borna have been paralyzed by polio virus.The Government is collaborating with partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, including the WHO to respond urgently by conducting large scale immunizations and strengthening surveillance systems.

In the early ’80s, there were 3.2 million cases of Guinea worm — a 2-foot-long worm that emerges slowly — and excruciatingly — from a blister on the skin.  Now, the worm has been linked to dogs and Dr. Donald Hopkins at the Carter Center is leading the effort to eradicate Guinea worm. “I’m confident we’re going to do it. We’ve have already seen 17 of 21 countries get rid of Guinea worm, and it’s stayed away there.”  That confidence comes with some serious credentials: Hopkins was key in helping to eradicate smallpox — the only human disease to be wiped out, so far.

Despite having higher rates of diabetes and other conditions, Hispanics live longer than other ethnic groups. Now, a new study may help explain why: their blood has a slower aging rate. While Hispanic Americans have a longer lifespan than individuals of other ethnicities, they have higher rates of disease; for example, the rate of diagnosed diabetes among Hispanics is 12.8 percent, compared with 7.6 percent among non-Hispanic whites.  This has long baffled researchers, who often refer to the longer lifespan of Hispanics as the “Hispanic paradox.”

Technology

Pham Sy Long, 28, has volunteered to become the first person in Vietnam to undergo a full head transplant.

A new type of mosquito trap running on solar electricity and using human odor as bait has cut mosquito populations by 70 percent in a test on a malaria-ridden island in Kenya, according to a new study.

Tuberculosis (TB) remains a major global public health challenge, causing substantial morbidity and mortality. One of the most important risk factors for the increasing TB burden is HIV/AIDS, which contributes to the difficulty in diagnosing TB in co-infected patient.  The introduction of the Xpert MTB/RIF represents the first “game-changer” in the field of TB diagnostics in decades due to improved sensitivity, ease of use, and rapid turn-around-time of results made possible by the molecular platform, and in 2010, the World Health Organization endorsed the use of the Xpert device.

Environmental Health

Humans are acclimating to higher temperatures on Earth, according to a study co-led by Kristie Ebi, a University of Washington professor in the School of Public Health.The findings suggest that people can adapt to gradual increases in average temperatures, though whether that adaptability can be sustained with the advance of climate change is yet unanswered.

Recent climate talks have prompted many countries to reevaluate their energy policies and initiatives.  As a result, the landscape of India could soon be changing (and getting a bit brighter) with a new focus on solar power.

We have to recycle water on a massive scale.  The world is running out of drinkable water, and putting a price on the stuff won’t work. But we are well on the way to building a circular water economy.  Between rising population, megacities, pollution and climate change, the next few decades will see water stresses on a vast scale. The grave difficulties already apparent in the western US and Australia will afflict many more areas of the world. Ethiopia is gripped by the worst drought in decades; with it comes the spectre of famine.

Japan and New Zealand will formally approve the Paris climate agreement this year, officials in Tokyo and Wellington confirmed on Wednesday.

Equity & Disparities

New research published in the American Journal of Public Health shows increase in mental health problems among racial minorities who experienced multiple incidents of racial discrimination. Interestingly, the study also found that “it was the fear of avoiding spaces and feeling unsafe due to racial discrimination that had the biggest cumulative effect on the mental health of ethnic minorities.

An Indonesian central government minister’s comment about banning LGBT people from college campuses led to an immediate backlash and hostility toward the LGBT community. In response to the Human Rights Watch groups criticization, Indonesia has said that there is no room for the LGBT movement in their country. These events unfolded in a country where homosexulaity is not illegal and has had a largely tolerant attitude towards the LGBT group.

Analysis of data from the Global Disease Burden Study shows that Indian women have some of the highest suicide rates in the world.

Former assistant director general of the World Health Organisation told Australian policy makers that poverty is a critical health issue.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has decried the high cost humanitarian organizations pay for vaccines – up to 20 times the normal prices – for vulnerable children in refugee settings. MSF and Save the Children are calling on drug companies to lower vaccine prices.

The global news round up was prepared by the communications team.

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

New waves of nationalism in the UK, US, and Europe could threaten the financing of programs that have saved millions of lives around the world.  While it is certainly true that financial empires and multinational corporations have benefited from globalization to the tune of trillions of dollars over the last 25 years, great humanitarian dreams have also been constructed in this new world, with lowered borders, more open trade, cyber-connectedness, and a sense of responsibility by wealthy nations toward middle- and lower-income states.  Retreat behind traditional national borders, both physically and metaphorically, directly challenges the furtherance of all of the great 21st-century dreams.

Uruguay has won the dispute against the tobacco giant Philip Morris; the tobacco giant must continue to cover packs with graphic warning labels and will be restricted in its branding practices.

Members of Congress are leaving Washington for seven weeks without passing a bill to pay for the fight against Zika. Their failure to do so will delay the public health response to the mosquito-borne virus that causes birth defects, unnecessarily putting thousands of people at risk.

Emergency funds to fight Ebola may run out in October because they were poached to fight Zika.  Unless new funding comes through as part of the Zika package, CDC’s funding for emergency work on Ebola will run out, because more than $500 million was transferred to fight Zika while the administrator waited for Congress to fund work on the mosquito-borne disease, which has spread through Latin America and the Caribbean.

It’s time to think creatively about incentives to push countries to strengthen their public health systems before disasters strike, says Georgetown University Professor Rebecca Katz. Only 1/3 of countries are ready to adequately respond to a disease outbreak or other public health emergency.

The Senate approved a bill to tackle the nation’s opioid crisis, sending to the president’s desk the most sweeping drug legislation in years in a rare instance of consensus in Congress.  The measure, which passed, 92 to 2, would strengthen prevention, treatment and recovery efforts, largely by empowering medical professionals and law enforcement officials with more tools to help drug addicts.

Programs

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be hosting the Public Health Informatics Conference from August 21–24.  This year’s theme is “Access, Analysis, Action” and will explore how to procure technology and best obtain data for the end-user; connect attendees with tools and support available to understand the meaning of data; and drive attendees to apply lessons learned about the application of data in their own profession and community.

The maternal and child health program within the Colorado School of Public Health’s Center for Global Health announced that it has been re-designated by the World Health Organization as a WHO Collaborating Center for Promoting Family and Child Health.  The program, which is a partnership between Children’s Hospital Colorado (Children’s Colorado) and the Colorado School of Public Health, is the only maternal and child health collaborating center in North America.

The AIDS 2016 conference will be held at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC), South Africa from July 18 to 22.
The International AIDS Conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic.

This summer, our team of four students in partnership with the Duke School of Nursing and Ghana Health Services, is conducting research and performing documentary work on perceptions and barriers to maternal healthcare among community members, mothers, healthcare providers, and healthcare leadership.

Research

Determining the spatial patterns of infection among young children living in a malaria-endemic area may provide a means of locating high-risk populations who could benefit from additional resources for treatment and improved access to healthcare.

No data are available on the presence of Zika virus in the female genital tract. Thus, the detection of Zika virus in the female genital tract, its clearance kinetics, and its possible persistence would be of utmost importance in the assessment of woman-to-man sexual transmission of the Zika virus, and it could also help clarify the process of mother-to-child vertical transmission.

Studies done in mice show that getting infected with two species of Plasmodium parasites can lead to a more dangerous and more persistent malarial infection. These results challenge the long held notion that one species will outcompete the other.

A new study in Lancet reports a disproportionately high burden globally of HIV among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM).

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will receive nearly $23 million over the next five years to continue research on their innovative “kick and kill” strategy for eradicating HIV.  Worldwide, 37 million people are living with the virus.

A wider swath of Africa is at risk for Ebola outbreaks than previously thought, according to a new study published in the journal eLife by researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and the Oxford Big Data Institute.

Zika should soon run its course in Latin America.  Within the next couple of years, the epidemic that had battered the region since 2015 will largely be over, researchers estimate in a paper online July 14 in Science.

Diseases & Disasters

A daily pill to prevent HIV infection can reduce new cases among men who have sex with men (MSM) by a third in the US over the next 10 years, according to a new modeling study.

New York City’s health department on Friday reported the first documented case of sexual transmission of Zika from a woman to her male partner, raising new concerns about the spread of the virus, which is typically contracted through mosquito bites.

Things are dire in South Sudan, but aid workers see signs of hope.  As conflict erupted in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, an estimated 30,000 people fled their home, seeking safer ground.  Another 30,000 had previously sought shelter in what’s called a “Protection of Civilian” site in the city that’s run by the UN.  There were reportedly more than 150 deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received reports from international healthcare facilities that Candida auris, an emerging multidrug-resistant (MDR) yeast, is causing invasive healthcare-associated infections with high mortality. Given the occurrence of C. auris in nine countries (US, South Korea, India, South Africa, Kuwait, Colombia, Venezuela, Pakistan, United Kingdom) on four continents since 2009, CDC is alerting US healthcare facilities to be on the lookout for C. auris in patients.

Viral hepatitis is one of the leading killers across the globe, with a death toll that matches AIDS or tuberculosis (TB), research in the Lancet suggests.

The world can be a dark place for many children: the “lost boys” from Sudan, refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria, child sex workers in Brazil, baby girls abandoned in China, kids pulled into gang drug wars in the United States.  Such suffering by children is more common than most people might think and represents what some believe to be one of our biggest public health crises of all time.  A study published in January in the journal Pediatrics puts that violence into stark perspective by estimating that as many as half of the world’s 2 billion children experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence in the previous year.

With the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil less than a month away, concerns are mounting that the international event may spread the Zika virus to more countries around the world.  Indeed, global travel has been contributing to the spread of virus in the Western Hemisphere since at least 2015, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  However, the CDC predicted that the Olympics will put only four countries (Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Yemen) at risk for importing Zika.  

Technology

In the US, young gay black and Hispanic men are the groups most likely to be infected with HIV and the least likely to be tested for it, because they often lack health insurance and fear being rejected by their families.  Researchers at Indiana University and the University of California, Los Angeles used Grindr, a gay dating app, to get gay black and Hispanic men to try home HIV self-testing kits.  The study used banner ads on Grindr to offer free test kits.

In the summer of 2011, an epidemic of dengue fever hit the Pakistani province of Punjab, home to 100 million people. With no way of accurately detecting cases, health workers struggled to contain the disease. It spread quickly, especially through the populous city of Lahore. More than 21,000 people were eventually infected, and 350 of them died.  That is when a team of Pakistani scientists decided to create a phone service (free hotline) and use the volume of calls to forecast dengue outbreaks a few weeks in advance. Their predictions helped public health workers to focus their efforts in areas that were at greatest risk.

Billionaire and medical technology magnate Ronda E. Stryker and her husband William D. Johnston donated $20 million to Harvard Medical School to support global health research.  The gift will endow a professorship in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine and provide funding, specifically for junior faculty and fellows in fields including HIV and Ebola research.

The Prime Minister of Tanzania was presented with a Mobile and Compact Portable Clinical Laboratory by an Indian firm.  It does not use electricity and was to be used to serve people living far from health centers in the rural areas.  According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, the mobile and compact portable clinical laboratory uses solar power and can also run on battery which is charged in a car.

Engineers at MIT have designed programmable RNA vaccines that could be rapidly manufactured in one week and rapidly deployed in response to disease outbreaks.  The vaccines have been shown effective against Ebola, H1N1 influenza, and Toxoplasma gondii, in tests in mice. They could also be useful against other infectious diseases and cancer.

Environmental Health

Kenya’s polluted capital Nairobi faces a health crisis from uncontrolled pollution, with a rise in respiratory diseases driven by old vehicles, burning rubbish and indoor cook stoves.

Ethiopia’s worst drought in over 30 years wreaks havoc.  The failure of both of the main rainy seasons last year had a devastating effect on an area where virtually every family lives off the land.  It has left almost every household dependent on food parcels from the Ethiopian government and, by prompting many young men to conclude they must leave, it has caused a surge in the number attempting long and dangerous journeys, primarily to Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Europe, in search of work.

Underground water is being pumped so aggressively around the globe that land is sinking, civil wars are being waged, and agriculture is being transformed.

The new mayor of London announces plan to ban vehicles from major shopping street as part of his commitment to tackle air pollution.  Oxford Street will be pedestrianised by 2020 and the mayor has already pledged to introduce a charge for the most polluting vehicles.

Equity & Disparities

Any initiative to address health and health care goals must wrestle with and address the enormous disparities that exist in health coverage, access, and outcomes across racial and income groups in the United States. Of course there are huge disparities across the developed and developing worlds — the developing world experiences some 85 percent of the global disease burden, yet 85 percent of all health care spending takes place in the rich democracies of North America, Europe, and Asia.

Over the past decades, both health inequalities and income inequalities have been increasing in many European countries, but it is unknown whether and how these trends are related. We test the hypothesis that trends in health inequalities and trends in income inequalities are related.

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) will host the Summer Institute on Health Disparities Science from August 15-19. The program will support the development of individual research projects by promising scientists early in their careers and will stimulate research in the disciplines supported by science on minority health and health disparities.

The Healthcare Quality and Equity Action Forum will be held from September 28-30 at the Seaport Hotel & Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, Massachusetts.  The forum  will provide the essential strategies to improve quality, achieve equity and deliver high-value healthcare to diverse populations.

On May 18, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a final rule to implement Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which prohibits discrimination in health coverage and care based on race, color, national origin, age, disability, and sex. These provisions incorporate existing federal non-discrimination law and policy and also contain some new protections.

The global news round up was prepared by the communications team.

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Officials from the March of Dimes and nearly 40 other advocacy and health organizations sent a letter to lawmakers earlier this week urging Congress to pass a measure that would not place restrictions on Zika funding and that would allow the budget to be expanded in subsequent years.

Republicans and Democrats play chicken With Zika Funding.  Never mind dire health warnings as the disease spreads, Congress has politics to play. The Senate has just three working days next week following the July 4 break to pass Zika funding, or it will punt until September, when Congress is next in session.

The United Kingdom (UK) has made the unprecedented move of leaving the European Union (EU), an economic and political union of 28 member countries. The implication of the decision is that it will affect the health of both of its citizens and those around the world.

After recent outbreaks of Ebola, Zika and yellow fever, senior health officials from the United Nations, Governments and other institutions are prioritizing global health security preparedness given ongoing concerns about national health systems that are weak, fragmented and underfunded.

Programs

The third annual Global Digital Health Forum (formerly the Global mHealth Forum), focusing on digital and connected health in low and middle income countries (LMICs), will convene on December 13-14, co-located with the 2016 Connected Health Conference at the Gaylord Conference Center in National Harbor, Maryland.  The forum brings together public and private sector organizations to share the latest evidence, experiences, and lessons learned on new applications and approaches in digital health

Global Health Corporate Champions (GHCC), a month-long service learning adventure, is an activity of the Global Health Fellows Program II (GHFP-II), a USAID program implemented by the Public Health Institute with support from PYXERA Global to make health services accessible in rural Ghana.

Research

According to a new study, nearly 845 million people (10% of total population) will be prone to micronutrient deficiencies if global fish catches continue to decline. The authors warned of a perfect storm in countries like Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Maldives, Angola, Ghana, Nigeria and others that rely heavily on wild-caught fish for sustenance, and are under serious threat from “illegal fishing, weak governance, poor knowledge of stock status, population pressures and climate change.

The Guidelines for Accurate and Transparent Health Estimates Reporting, or GATHER, a checklist of 18 best practices that set the standard for disclosing how health estimates are developed, was released in June. The GATHER checklist was developed by WHO in partnership with researchers from around the world.

Phase 3 evaluation of a promising malaria vaccine candidate, RTS,S/AS01 shows that the efficacy of this vaccine wanes over time. The study was conducted across several sites in Africa and the researchers recruited 447 healthy children for the trial which began in 2007. The small study population is a limitation of this study.

Diseases & Disasters

A virus is killing hundreds of babies in the US each year, and leaving thousands with debilitating birth defects, including abnormally small heads and brains. This is not the Zika virus. It is a common and much less exotic one: cytomegalovirus (CMV).

The 2009 swine H1N1 flu pandemic, responsible for more than 17,000 deaths worldwide, originated in pigs from a very small region in central Mexico, a research team headed by investigators at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is reporting.  The scientists say their findings represent the first time that the origin of an influenza pandemic virus has been determined in such detail.

Afghanistan is one of 22 countries with a high burden of tuberculosis (TB) according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The estimated number of new cases each year is a staggering 53,000 and as many as 12,000 afflicted by this curable infection lose their lives each year. For a large number of those infected, a timely diagnosis and effective treatment is out of reach due to high levels of poverty, lack of access to effective health care, and ongoing conflict in large parts of the country.

When the first cases were reported in Syria 275 years ago, it was called “the Aleppo boil” or “the Aleppo evil.” And for good reason: The parasitic illness spread by sand flies causes nasty skin lesions that leave victims scarred for life physically and can leave emotional scars as well.

The current yellow fever outbreak in Angola began in December 2015. Since then it has grown and spread further. Today, more than five months on, 3,137 suspected cases have been reported in all 18 provinces, with 345 deaths. The disease has already spread, including to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, China and Kenya, and suspected cases are being investigated in other countries.

Flooding in the Yangtze River basin has left at least 112 people dead or missing in recent days, and the situation could worsen when a typhoon makes landfall this week.  About 16 million people have been affected by the rains that submerged vast tracts along the Yangtze, China’s longest river, ­according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.  Nationwide, the death toll stands at 170, and direct economic losses exceeded 20 billion yuan (HK$23.3 billion), the ministry said.  Floods have created havoc in South Asia this week, with 33 killed in Pakistan and 25 dead in India after unusually heavy rains.

Technology

Rabies kills about 60,000 people a year, many of them children in Africa and Asia. Rapid tests for the infection are badly needed in poor countries.  But diagnostic test strips made by six companies for this purpose are “unsatisfactory” and “cannot be recommended,” according to recent evaluations by scientists at the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute in Germany.

Public health and development experts have set themselves ambitious goals to rid the world of disease and end preventable maternal and child deaths. The aims of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include ending the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases; ending preventable deaths of newborns and under-5 children; and reducing maternal mortality to less than 70 per 100,000 live births. All this is to be achieved by 2030, only 15 years from now.  Yet these same public health and development experts acknowledge that they don’t have the tools they need to achieve these goals.

“Land of a thousand hills” is an apt nickname for Rwanda. The tiny, landlocked country ripples with steep, terraced hillsides. Under its single-minded president, Paul Kagame, it is also determined to become a technology hub for Africa.  Zipline, a Silicon Valley startup, will start testing delivery drones (otherwise known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) at a site 40 minutes drive south-west of the capital, Kigali, in August.

We live in an age of unprecedented unforced migration, as people move across borders to seek better lives and opportunities: in 2015, 244 million people (3.3 per cent of the world’s population) lived outside their country of origin.  And this extraordinary age of mobility involves not just people, but also goods, money and ideas. Communication advances create unprecedented development opportunities, connecting people and organizations as never before.

A sleepy community of Key Haven has been identified by one company as the perfect spot to experiment with a controversial method of combating Zika before it reaches US shores — a method that has divided neighbors and could have broad implications across the country: genetically modified (GMO) mosquitoes.

Environmental Health

The global threat of highly persistent plastic waste accumulating and fragmenting in the world’s oceans, inland waters and terrestrial environments is becoming increasingly evident.  Humans are being exposed to both plastic particles and chemical additives being released from the plastic debris of consumer society.

Brush fires in Siberia are bringing a haze of ultrafine dust to Korea, according to a study.  Jung Jin-sang at the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science says ultrafine dust particles from forest fires in Siberia are traveling 3,000 km (1,864 miles) south to the Korean Peninsula, causing lung and heart diseases.

Brazil’s government will hand out 9 million condoms for free around Rio de Janeiro during the Olympics in August, a push to encourage safe sex and also defend the Amazon rainforest.

Paris has launched a fresh attack on dirty air with new rules to prevent older, more polluting vehicles from driving on its roads.The restrictions, which came into force on July 1, will prevent any car registered before January 1997 from driving within the city’s streets between Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm. The same rule will apply to utility vehicles put in circulation before October 1, 1997 and motorcycles before June 1999.

Equity & Disparities

In Tanzania, leafy green sprouts once crowded together – the sign of a good season of sweet potato crops. Today, a dry, barren dirt field remains. This could be any farm in Zambia, Ethiopia, Rwanda or elsewhere in the developing world. And this vacant landscape means one thing: there is no food. Without the basic staple of nutritious and healthy food, progress stops, people die, and whole communities are held hostage to hunger.

The World Health Organization recommended substandard care to people with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis living in developing countries, according to a new paper published in the Health and Human Rights Journal. Between 1993 and 2002, the WHO made treatment recommendations in low-income countries based on cost – treatment that was deemed substandard in wealthy countries.

In low-resource settings, clinicians are often asked to practice at the “top of their license.” General internists and primary care physicians are asked to diagnose and treat disease that would fall under the purview of subspecialists in the US. This, of course, is due to extreme lack of medical specialists across many low and middle income (LMIC) countries.  A study published in BMJ Global Health evaluated a program to provide free access to UptoDate to these clinicians and the results were fascinating.

The global news round up was prepared by the communications team.

Global News Round-Up

Politics & Policies

After less than a week of formal, bipartisan negotiations on Zika funding, congressional lawmakers have reached a deal.

In the nearly four months since the Obama administration issued its 1.9 billion Zika funding request, congressional lawmakers have publicly bickered over each chamber’s response to the virus.

In light of the Orlando mass shooting, the American Medical Association has declared gun violence a “Public Health Crisis” and said that it will lobby Congress to overturn a 20-year old legislation that put an end to research on gun violence.

In a rare reversal, the WHO has removed coffee from the list of possible carcinogens after an expert panel of 23 scientists reviewed hundreds of studies and found insufficient evidence for a link between coffee and cancer.

Global health action has been remarkably successful at saving lives and preventing illness in many of the world’s poorest countries. This is a key reason that funding for global health initiatives has increased in the last twenty years. Nevertheless, financial support is periodically jeopardized when scandals erupt over allegations of corruption, sometimes halting health programs altogether.

Programs

The Society for Disaster Medicine in Public Health (SDMPH) will have the 2nd Annual Meeting from July 27-29 at the Hilton Hotel in Rockville, MD.

Royal Philips and The Texas A&M University System Chancellor announced a collaboration aimed at developing population health solutions as part of the Healthy South Texas pilot project, creating integrated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) technologies for more efficient and effective coordination of response efforts, and developing point-of-care diagnostics and biosurveillance to help avoid epidemics and pandemics.

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) will host the Summer Institute on Health Disparities Science from August 15, 2016 to August 19, 2016.  The program will support the development of individual research projects by promising scientists early in their careers and will stimulate research in the disciplines supported by science on minority health and health disparities.

Research

A preliminary surveillance report of pregnant Colombian mothers suggests that Zika virus infection during the third trimester of pregnancy is not linked to structural abnormalities in the fetus.

Diseases & Disasters

Two years after India was declared free of polio, a strain of polio virus has been identified in a sewer during routine checks in the Indian state of Telangana. In response to this, the Indian government will launch an emergency vaccination drive.

According to the CDC, Zika is spreading rapidly in Puerto Rico.   Blood donations suggest “the Zika virus has gained a startling foothold in Puerto Rico based on the number of blood donations that have tested positive for the disease.”

The U.N.’s refugee agency reports that the number of displaced people is at its highest ever,  surpassing even post-World War II numbers, when the world was struggling to come to terms with the most devastating event in history.  According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 65.3 million were displaced at the end of 2015.

Technology

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be creating the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance Network, or CHAMPS in Asia and Africa.  CHAMPS will be a network of disease surveillance centers in developing nations that will “gather better data, faster, about how, where and why children are getting sick and dying.”

The WHO has approved two innovative new technologies to detect HIV among infants who pre-qualify. The products (both of which use disposable cartridges preloaded with chemicals needed for HIV detection), Alere™ q HIV-1/2 Detect (made by Alere Technologies GmbH) and Xpert® HIV-1 Qual Assay (made by Cepheid AB), will be able to diagnose HIV in infants in a matter of hours (as little as an hour), as opposed to sending the sample to a laboratory where it could take weeks or months.

Environmental Health

The Middle East has been the worst hit by significant rise in sand and dust storms, with major impacts on human health, United Nations scientists say.  Iran and Kuwait are the most affected countries, largely because of sand and dust blowing in from Syria and Iraq.

Equity & Disparities

A study conducted among Ethiopian women revealed that “majority of slum residents did not have adequate antenatal care services with only 50.3, 20.2 and 11.0% of the slum resident women initiated antenatal care early, received adequate antenatal care service contents and had overall adequate antenatal care services respectively“. They also report that educational status and place of ANC visits were important determinant factors.

The global news round-up was prepared by the communications team

Global News Round-Up

Politics & Policies

On May 27, after months of advocacy and days of intense meetings, the G7 committed to promote Universal Health Coverage (UHC), calling it a “comprehensive framework that underpins all of the targets” in the Sustainable Development Goals.

This past week, Canada participated in international health meetings in Geneva focused on strengthening health systems and improving countries’ capacities to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats.

Programs

A new unified system to facilitate sharing of genomic and clinical data among cancer researchers called Genomic Data Commons was launched on June 6, the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) said.

On May 31, the Harvard Global Health Institute hosted a symposium entitled “Preparing Health Systems for An Aging Global Population.”

World Health Organization member states agreed on Wednesday to more than double the group’s emergency fund to $494 million for the next year, as it works to address major gaps in its ability to respond to global health emergencies.

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day.  The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are calling on countries to get ready for plain (standardized) packaging of tobacco products.

University of Wisconsin-Madison investigators will address flood forecasting and health implications, protecting natural fisheries, tracing the safety of wild-caught fish and improving diabetes care with four new Seed Grants from the UW-Madison Global Health Institute.

Research

The National Institutes of Health hopes to have an early safety study of a Zika virus vaccine by September 2016.

A large fraction of Plasmodium infections do not cause clinical signs and symptoms of disease and persist at densities in blood that are not detectable by microscopy or rapid diagnostics tests.

The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) conducted a research in the southern Osh province in Kyrgyzstan to understand the barriers girls face at school with regards to menstrual hygiene and puberty-related attitudes and practices among young people, parents, and teachers. Because they are having their period for the first time, many young girls in Kyrgyzstan are not aware of menstruation, nobody talks to them about this and they are left alone with their fear, with some even committing suicide.

Diseases & Disasters

On June 8-10, the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS will bring people together around a common objective: ending AIDS by 2030 within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The pandemic of non-communicable diseases (NCD) is expected to claim 28 million lives annually in low- and middle-income countries until 2030.

The World Health Organization says there is “no public health justification” for postponing or canceling the Rio de Janeiro Olympics because of the Zika outbreak.

Doctors and scientists are bracing for the possibility of a wave of rare disorders triggered by Zika in Haiti, an impoverished country that has faced one public health crisis after another and is fertile ground for mosquito-borne scourges.

In Mozambique, almost 7 million people are at risk of losing their sight from trachoma, an eye infection that is the world’s leading cause of blindness.

So far, there have been 51 cases, including 10 deaths from an unknown disease in the northern part of South Sudan. The main symptoms of the disease are similar to those seen with Ebola: unexplained bleeding, fever, fatigue, headache and vomiting.

Technology

The Washington State University student startup company Engage earned $10,000 and a top prize at the University of Washington Business Plan Competition last week.  They are developing a simple needle decontamination solution that could save millions of lives in developing countries.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Government of Canada announced a new online marketplace today that is projected to save at least $250 million in the coming four years by offering health implementers competitive prices for medicines and health commodities.

Environmental Health

A comprehensive global study from the National Academy of Sciences has revealed that genetically modified (GMO) crops do not pose an adverse effect on the environment or human health.

Industrial agriculture is a key contributor to the rampant biodiversity losses now threatening the 35 percent of global crops dependent on pollination, the degradation of some 20 percent of global land, the 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions arising from food and farming, and many other negative outcomes in food systems.

Equity & Disparities

It is now over a year into a conflict in Yemen for which there is no imminent end in sight. Aid agencies are rightly focusing on immediate relief for the time being, but there is an urgent need to start thinking now about reconstruction once the conflict comes to an end. And nowhere is this need greater than in health.

Myanmar has some of the worst health indicators in Asia, as a result of its tumultuous recent history and the second lowest spending on healthcare in the world. Life expectancy is just over 64 years for men and approximately 68 years for women,  compared with the average life expectancy of 82 years for women and 77 for men in the OECD countries.

A new study in The Lancet “estimates that the recent economic crisis was associated with over 260,000 additional cancer deaths in countries within the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) by 2010, of which 160,000 were in the European Union.”

The clearest link between poverty and the rise of antimicrobial resistance is that poor people may not see a qualified health care provider or complete a course of quality antibiotics. Instead, they might turn to unregulated markets for substandard drugs.

(The global news round-up is prepared by the Communications Team)

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

The White House request for $1.9 billion to fight the Zika virus has been met with a $1.1 billion plan by the Senate and a $622 million bill by the House.

A French diplomat who wants to be the world’s top health official says an international tax could help fill the World Health Organization’s coffers, a proposal aimed at bringing order to the UN agency’s fragmented budget.

A recent report released by the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition reviewed the attacks on healthcare services and service providers between January 2015 and March 2016. The report suggests that urgent actions are needed to prevent such attacks. The recommendations include “prosecuting those who bomb healthcare facilities, creating a system for reporting acts of violence, and implementing an international body to investigate attacks”.

Programs

The Women Deliver Conference will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark on May 16-19.  As a leading, global advocate for girls’ and women’s health, rights, and wellbeing, Women Deliver brings together diverse voices and interests to drive investments and progress, particularly in maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights. The focus of the 2016 Conference will be on how to make development matter most for girls and women, with a specific focus on health, rights, gender equality, education, and economic empowerment.

The 69th World Health Assembly opened in Geneva, Switzerland on May 23rd. The Health Assembly elected Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Saidi, Minister of Health of Oman as its new President. While celebrating the recent progresses in global public health, Dr. Margaret Chan also noted that the global community is not prepared to cope with the emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. She also raised concern over “slow-motion” disasters of climate change, antibiotic resistance and chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Research

Researchers have identified a protein in the Zika virus called NS5 that could potentially be a target for future vaccines. The scientists think it may be possible to develop a vaccine against the Zika virus by changing the protein structure.

New research from the University of Birmingham has shown that flu vaccinations are more effective when administered in the morning.  In some patients, morning administration of the flu vaccine induced a greater antibody response.

A Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine report finds more than 250,000 deaths per year can be attributed to medical errors in the US, making it the third leading cause of death, surpassing respiratory disease.

Diseases & Disasters

According to the CDC, the number of pregnant women in the US reported to have the Zika virus has more than tripled, increasing from 48 to 157.

The head of WHO warns that the world is not prepared to deal with the rapid spread of infectious diseases based on the responses to Zika, Ebola, MERS coronavirus and yellow fever outbreaks.

CDC, WHO, and Vietnamese health authorities work together to detect and respond to locally transmitted Zika cases.  On April 4, 2016 there were locally confirmed cases of Zika virus transmission that was not likely linked to the recent outbreaks in South and Central America.

In order to combat the Zika virus, the Australian Olympic Committee announced today that special anti-viral condoms will be given to athletes in order to curb the spread of the Zika virus in anticipation of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

According to the World Health Organization, the Zika virus could spread to Europe this summer, although the likelihood of an outbreak is low to moderate.

The World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting on May 19 because of the the yellow fever outbreak that has hit hardest in Angola but risks spreading further if vaccinations are not ramped up.

The yellow fever epidemic that started in Angola in January could become the next health emergency.  Because of the complexity and frequency of emergency disease threats, a “standing emergency committee” has been recommended that could meet on a regular basis to give recommendations to the UN Director-General.

Technology

A mobile app created by a team at Cornell Tech is aimed at helping Lesotho’s Riders for Health organization digitally track the clinical specimens that the motorcycle-riding health workers collect from many of the hard to reach places in Lesotho.

Environmental Health

The Peruvian government has declared a state of emergency in 11 towns in the Madre de Dios region bordering Brazil after officials found alarmingly high levels of mercury, a harmful heavy metal used in gold mining. Mercury contamination causes chronic renal and neurological disorders, among other things, and is especially harmful for children and pregnant women.

The WHO estimates 12.6 million people died worldwide as a result of unhealthy living and working environments. This number amounts to nearly one in four of total global deaths.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) update for 2015, over 6 million Kenyans still defecate in the open resulting in the prevalence of diseases such as diarrhea, amoeba, typhoid, and cholera.  Hence, the government has begun to develop environmental and sanitation policies to ensure universal access to improved sanitation and a clean and healthy environment, dignity, social well-being and quality of life for all Kenyans.

Studies suggest even low levels of lead exposure can hurt a fetus’ development in the womb.  For months now, the Michigan state health department has been looking into whether the Flint water crisis caused problems with pregnancies.

Indonesia has one of the worst mercury problems in the world.  Millions of people in 70 countries across Asia, Africa, and South America have been exposed to high levels of mercury as small-scale mining has proliferated over the past decade. The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that at least 10 million miners, including at least four million women and children, are working in small “artisanal” gold mines, which produce as much as 15 percent of the world’s gold.  High doses of mercury, which is a neurological poison, are a well-documented cause of birth defects, including crippling deformities and nervous system disorders.

A new rule called the “Beijing Six” standard will be implemented by January 2017, according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau.  It will be China’s strictest fuel standard as it tries to reduce pollution in the city caused by vehicle emission.

Equity & Disparities

A new country engagement plan for Cambodia will help communities across Cambodia with better access to healthcare.  A $30 million World Bank funding will build upon two innovative Cambodian health financing mechanisms. First, the Health Equity Funds help cover the costs of health services for the nation’s three million poor people, reducing their out-of-pocket costs and providing reliable financing for health facilities. Second, redesigned Service Delivery Grants will improve quality of health services, including health-facility management, staff attendance and the coverage of health services.

Life expectancy globally increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s, according to a new World Health Statistics report by WHO.  The greatest gain was in the African region where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years to 60 years, driven in part by expanded access to antiretrovirals for treatment of HIV.However, the gains have been uneven. Supporting countries to move towards universal health coverage based on strong primary care is the best thing we can do to make sure no one is left behind.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a final rule to advance health equity and reduce healthcare disparities. Under the rule, individuals are protected from discrimination in healthcare on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability and sex, including discrimination based on pregnancy, gender identity and sex stereotyping.

Prepared by the Communications team (Steve & Abbhi)

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

The FDA released a new tobacco rule mandating that cigar packages include prominent new warning labels intended to remind smokers of health risks.

Global fund has suspended funds to the Nigeria AIDS agency after a report by the fund’s general inspector revealed that the workers and consultants who worked for the agency stole nearly $3.8 million.

A new report by WHO, UNICEF, and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) that included analysis of national laws in 194 countries reveals the status of laws to protect and promote breastfeeding. The report shows that only 39 countries have laws to enact all provisions of the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes.

Programs

The new Center for Global Health at the University of Oregon Global Studies Institute will support a wide range of scientific, educational, and service-oriented initiatives designed to understand and ameliorate the world’s most challenging health and social problems.

Research

Researchers at the National Institute Of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) created models to test Zika virus transmission in the placenta of female mice.  These models may be useful in assessing drug efficacy and other interventions on the road to finding an effective treatment.

New research suggests herbal remedies are a “global health hazard” and could be putting millions at risk of cancer and other diseases.

An assessment of the annual mass drug administration that has been conducted for a decade for lymphatic filariasis among children under 5-years of age in Burkina Faso reveals that this large scale preventive treatment has been effective in controlling soil-transmitted helminth infections.

Adolescents aged 10-24 years represent over a quarter of the world population (1.8 billion), 89% of whom live in developing countries. Their number is set to rise to about 2 billion by 2032.  Although adolescence is generally thought to be the healthiest time of life, young people have attracted little interest and too few resources in global health research. And, adolescents aged 10-24 years old have the worst health-care coverage of any age group.  According to a Lancet Commission, two-thirds of young people are growing up in countries where preventable and treatable health problems like HIV/AIDS, early pregnancy, unsafe sex, depression, injury, and violence remain a daily threat to their health, wellbeing, and life chances.

 

Diseases & Disasters

May 3 is World Asthma Day.  About 300 million people worldwide are affected with asthma, including 24 million in the US.  Asthma is caused by inflammation of the airways, leading to recurrent attacks of wheezing, difficulty with breathing, tightness of the chest, and coughing.  Also, asthma seems to be hereditary, which means if someone in your family has asthma, you may develop the disease.  Although asthma may develop at any age, half of the patients develop symptoms before the age of 10 and many children with asthma had their first asthma attack by the age of 6.  The cause of asthma is still being researched.

Mass immunization is the only way to stop yellow fever, but producing more of the vaccine is not easy. Four laboratories in the world produce the vaccine:  The Institut Pasteur de Dakar (Guinea), Russia, France, and Brazil.  Around 80 million doses are produced globally each year.

To date, 35 countries and territories have confirmed local, vector-borne transmission of Zika virus in the Region of the Americas since 2015.  Since the last Pan American Health Organization/ World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Zika Epidemiological Update of April 14, 2016, no new countries or territories have confirmed vector-borne transmission of Zika virus in their region.

Technology

The only cancer treatment machine in Uganda has broken down jeopardizing patients’ lives.  This machine was donated by China in 1995 and in 2013 Uganda did purchase a second radiotherapy machine, but it has not been operational due to delay in allocation of funds by the Ugandan government.  According to WPR, this represents a lack of funding for strengthening healthcare systems and creating systems that are resilient and sustainable.

Immunization averts 2 to 3 million deaths annually. However, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if global vaccination coverage improves.  1 in 5 children (20%) worldwide still do not receive routine vaccinations for preventable diseases.  During World Immunization Week, we can continue to write the history of vaccination as we celebrate the triumphs in vaccine research and development.

Recent technical and scientific innovations have accelerated the ability to fight emerging infectious diseases as they develop.  Examples include five Zika virus vaccines about to be tested, Sanofi’s dengue vaccine, and products being developed to fight Marburg, West Nile, and the Ebola virus.

The UPS Foundation is partnering with Zipline, a California­-based robotics company, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to explore using drones to transform the way life-saving medicines like blood and vaccines are delivered across the world.  The $800,000 grant will help initiate the project in Rwanda, where drones will be used to deliver life-saving blood.  According to WHO, Africa has the highest rate in the world of maternal death due to postpartum hemorrhaging, which makes access to lifesaving blood transfusions critically important for women across the continent.

Environmental Health

According to the World Bank, the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and South Asia will suffer the biggest economic hit from water scarcity as climate change takes hold by 2050.

A leading environmental health expert warns people may be breathing in microplastics or microparticles of plastic.

Equity & Disparities

A new toolkit called the Health Equity Assessment Toolkit (HEAT) has been developed by WHO. The software that uses data from the WHO Health Equity Monitor allows health professionals and researchers to examine health inequalities in their countries and compare inequalities in their country with other countries.

Eight million people are killed or injured every year because they cannot access safe surgery and 5 billion people around the world cannot access safe, affordable, and timely surgery.  The global burden of surgical diseases outstrips that of HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis and has been called the “neglected stepchild of global health.”

                                                                                                                 Prepared by the Communications Team