Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

In a world with no dearth of global challenges or domestic health issues to address, why should countries, in particular bilateral donor countries, care about preventing epidemic threats in other countries?  The moral argument is clear-cut: Epidemics cost lives—in some countries, much more than others.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Thursday it will scrap Obama-era rules governing coal ash disposal. The changes would provide companies with annual compliance cost savings of up to $100 million, but environmentalists warn that doing away with the regulations risks poisoning clean drinking water for millions of Americans and pollute already-endangered ecosystems.

Programs, Grants & Awards

Malawi is the first country in Africa to use the newly approved typhoid vaccine. About 24,000 children are set to take part in the clinical trials to test efficacy and cost-effectiveness of the vaccine.

The 5th Global Symposium on Health Systems Research will be held in Liverpool, UK from October 8-12.

The Dartmouth Institute’s accelerated on-campus Master of Public Health program is designed to help you develop or advance your career while gaining a rigorous understanding of: Epidemiology and biostatistics, decision analysis, improvement and innovation in health systems, healthcare finance and payment systems and shared decision-making.


More than half of gun owners do not safely store all their guns, according to a new survey of 1,444 U.S. gun owners conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In the present study we described the protein level of C1q production and its gene expression in the peripheral blood and skin biopsies in patients with ENL reaction and lepromatous leprosy (LL) patient controls before and after treatment.

Cholera remains a persistent health problem in sub-Saharan Africa and worldwide. Cholera can be controlled through appropriate water and sanitation, or by oral cholera vaccination, which provides transient (∼3 years) protection, although vaccine supplies remain scarce. We aimed to map cholera burden in sub-Saharan Africa and assess how geographical targeting could lead to more efficient interventions.

Crifasi, 34, is part of what she calls “the large moderate swath that is invisible”: those who believe the Second Amendment protects citizens’ right to have a firearm in their home, but also believe that right should be regulated by effective, evidence-based gun policy.

Diseases & Disasters

For a long time, researchers have found it difficult to explain exactly what the Obesity Paradox is, dumbfounded by the notion that putting on excess weight somehow adds extra years to one’s life. The answer? Easy. It’s simply not true.

Diabetes – or uncontrolled blood sugar levels – is normally split into type 1 and type 2.
But researchers in Sweden and Finland think the more complicated picture they have uncovered will usher in an era of personalized medicine for diabetes.

Brazil is suffering its worst outbreak of yellow fever in decades.  The virus, which kills 3 to 8 percent of those who are infected, is now circling the megacities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, threatening to become this country’s first-blown urban epidemic since 1942.


Not very far away, in Malawi, a drone must have taken off with a cargo of a blood sample for testing HIV infestation of an infant. Usually, it takes 23 days to get the diagnosis done and treatment rendered.  But the drone would make this possible in a few days.

Sub-Saharan Africa is leveraging emerging technologies to improve access to basic provisions to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality.

Environmental Health

Penguins preserve records of Antarctic environmental change.  The bird’s feathers and eggshells contain the chemical fingerprints of variations in diet, food web structure and even climate, researchers reported February 12 at the American Geophysical Union’s 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting.

Children as young as 4 years in the Democratic Republic of Congo work at cobalt mines, a critical component of lithium-ion batteries. Chronic exposure to cobalt  dust or fumes poses a serious threat to health and wellbeing.

Equity & Disparities

While both income inequality and prevalence of cardiovascular (CVD) risk factors rose in South Africa, the changes in district level GINI coefficients were not significantly associated with changes in CVD risk factors, a new study shows.

Guatemala has the world’s third highest rate of femicide due to domestic violence and health professionals in the country are taking a stand against domestic abuse.

Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

Highly detailed maps show that while there have been improvements in childhood malnutrition, many African nations are set to miss the 2030 SDG targets on malnutrition.

Taking a daily fish oil capsule during pregnancy and the first few months of breastfeeding may reduce a baby’s risk of food allergy, research suggests.

A lack of iodine in pregnancy and early childhood puts nearly 19 million babies around the world at risk of permanent but preventable brain damage every year, a new report has warned.

Ten years ago, a South Asian girl’s risk of getting married as a child was about 50%, but now that has fallen to about 30%.  A UNICEF release Tuesday attributed the progress in India to increasing rates of girls’ education, government investments and public messaging around the illegality of child marriage.


Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

Last week, Bill and Melinda Gates released their 10th annual letter, focused on the 10 toughest questions they receive in their work. To mark the occasion, the heads of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s three global programmatic areas – Global Development, Global Growth & Opportunity, and Global Health – answer the toughest questions they are asked.

UHC (universal health coverage) is defined as a situation where “all people can obtain the health services they need, of good quality, without suffering financial hardship.” These broad definitions leave lots of room for specifying how decentralization and UHC governance might interact.

Programs, Grants & Awards

Seattle’s Center for Infectious Disease Research announced Tuesday that it has received a new,$17.2 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to fund its research into TB (tuberculosis), a persistent and deadly disease in many parts of the world.

A  multidisciplinary team of scientists from Baylor College of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Utrecht University have been shortlisted for Cancer Research UK’s grand challenge award.


Researchers have identified a new family of antibiotics, malacidins, by using gene sequencing to analyze more than 1,000 soil samples in the US.

Elderly study participants who had positive beliefs about aging were 44% less likely to develop dementia than those who held negative beliefs over the course of 4 years, a new study shows.

Diseases & Disasters

A drug commonly used to control high blood pressure may also help prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes in up to 60 percent of those at risk for the disease.

Monkeys in Brazil are being illegally killed for fear they might help spread yellow fever.

Defeating measles has long been a cherished dream in global health. Just in 2016, according to the World Health Organization, the disease infected more than 20 million people and killed almost 90,000 children.

The World Health Organization has sent a six-person team and 40 boxes of personal protective gear to help fight a major outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria.

More people have taken their own lives in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday agreement than were killed in political violence during the Troubles between 1969 and 1997, the latest regional figures on suicide reveal.


A new tissue paper based wearable sensor has been engineered to detect a pulse or a blink of an eye. The researchers say that these light, flexible, inexpensive sensors could be used for a variety of applications.

Environmental Health

A class of chemicals called perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) used in many industrial and consumer products may be associated with greater weight gain after dieting particularly among women, a new study shows.

Increased neighborhood walkability has been found to be significantly associated with lower blood pressure and decreased hypertension risk among residents.

Equity & Disparities

A new study has found that there is lower access to private health care in areas with high mobile phone ownership. Additionally mobile phones base health care seems to discriminate against poorer households.

Cash transfers through emergency food security program are helping rebuild livelihoods in Sierra Leone after the Ebola epidemic.

Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

An international charity warned on Monday that 4.7 million children across East Africa risk dropping out of school this year due to malnutrition arising from displacement sparked by drought and conflict.

More babies are dying each year in West and Central Africa even as child health improves overall, aid agencies said on Tuesday, calling the region’s newborn death rate a “hidden tragedy.

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Programs, Grants & Awards

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

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


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

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

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

Diseases & Disasters

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

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

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

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


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

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

Environmental Health

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

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

Equity & Disparities

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

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

Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

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

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

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

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

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

Programs, Grants & Awards

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

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

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


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

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

Diseases & Disasters

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Environmental Health

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

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

Equity & Disparities

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

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

Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

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

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

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

Global News Round Up

Politics & Policies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Programs, Grants & Awards

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

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


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

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

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

Diseases & Disasters

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

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

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


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

Environmental Health

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

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

Equity & Disparities

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

Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

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

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