2016 IH Section Awards Announced!

The following message is from Gopal Sankaran, chair of the Awards Committee. The other members of the Awards Committee are: Rose Schneider, Ray Martin, Omar Khan, Padmini Murthy, Curtiss Swezy, Malcolm Bryant, Elvira Beracochea, and Paul Freeman. The Committee encourages all to nominate a colleague or be willing to be nominated next year.

This year, we had a good pool of candidates for the various awards offered by our Section. The Awards Committee has selected the following colleagues active in international health to receive the awards for which they were nominated.

  • Carl Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award in International Health: Dr. Peter A. Berman
  • Mid-Career Achievement Award in International Health: Dr. Laura C. Parajon
  • Gordon-Wyon Award for Community-Oriented Public Health, Epidemiology and Practice: Dr. Mizan Siddiqi
  • Distinguished Section Service Award: Dr. Padmini Murthy

Please join me in congratulating our colleagues whose outstanding accomplishments in international health are being recognized by our Section this year. On behalf of the Awards Committee, I thank the nominators for nominating such excellent candidates and to the nominees for graciously accepting their nomination. The awards will be presented to the recipients at the International Health Section Awards Reception and Social on Tuesday, November 1, 2016, 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the 144th APHA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado. You are cordially invited to participate in this event.

Students and young professionals: Please take our survey!

The following is a message from Theresa Majeski, Chair of the Global Health Connections Committee.

Hello IH Section members! If you call yourself a student or a young professional please take a moment to take our survey. The Global Health Connections Committee is trying to create new initiatives to help students and young professionals become more involved in the IH Section. But to do that effectively, we need some help from you all to get some ideas about your current involvement and ideas for increasing the involvement of students and young professionals. You can access the survey here, or paste the following link into your browser: http://goo.gl/forms/ocbKYZrJmCkIw0EE3.

A tale of resistance

Antibiotic resistance poses a serious threat to the gains we have made in curbing infectious diseases caused due to bacteria.Simply put, it is the bacteria’s way of putting up a fight to survive and persist.

To understand what antibiotic resistance is, let’s delve a little into the biology of these famed, overused drugs and into the history of how we got here.

Antibiotics are drugs that are effective in treating and preventing bacterial infections. Barring a few antibiotics with anti-protozoan activity, antibiotics are largely anti-bacterial and are ineffective against viruses.

The word antibiotics might elicit an image of Sir Alexander Fleming, and the famous story of the serendipitous discovery of penicillin in 1928, for which he shared a Nobel Prize with Howard Florey and Ernst Boris Chain. Some studies have even revealed traces of tetracycline in human skeletal remains from ancient Sudanese Nubia (350–550 CE) and femoral midshafts of the late Roman period skeletons from the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt.

http://nfs.unipv.it/nfs/minf/dispense/immunology/lectures/files/images/fleming_penicillin.jpg  Source:Fleming’s Nobel Lecture

There are about 12 classes of antibiotics and the last class of antibiotics, lipopeptides, was discovered in 1987. No new classes of antibiotics have been discovered since then!

Unfortunately, the success of antibiotics as a chemotherapy agent, has also led to the misuse and overuse of these agents. We have moved away from using them judiciously and today, antibiotics are being used rampantly not just to treat infections in humans but to fatten animals that we intend to eat.

RestoReview-1Source: Antibiotic resistance, PEW Charitable Trusts

In an interview shortly after winning the Nobel Prize in 1945, Alexander Fleming said:

“The thoughtless person playing with penicillin treatment is morally responsible for the death of the man who succumbs to infection with the penicillin-resistant organism.”

While the molecular mechanisms of antibiotic resistance have been studied extensively, we know that misuse and overuse of antibiotics have played a key role in the creation of “superbugs”.  Antimicrobial resistance is prevalent world wide and new mechanisms of resistance emerge and spread.


Percentage change in antibiotic consumption per capita 2000–2010*, by country

Source: Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy. State of the World’s Antibiotics, 2015.

The State of World’s Antibiotics released in 2015 identified the different kinds of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. According to the WHO, in 2013, there were about 480 000 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) has been identified in about 100 countries. The treatment courses for MDR-TB is long and usually less effective, posing a greater threat to the progress that has been to curb TB.

The SWA report describes six strategies (listed below from the report) that nations can take to:

  1. Reduce the need for antibiotics through improved water, sanitation, and immunization.
  2. Improve hospital infection control and antibiotic stewardship.
  3. Change incentives that encourage antibiotic overuse and misuse to incentives that encourage antibiotic stewardship.
  4. Reduce and eventually phase out antibiotic use in agriculture.
  5. Educate and inform health professionals, policymakers, and the public on sustainable antibiotic use.
  6. Ensure political commitment to meet the threat of antibiotic resistance.

Resistance Map: A useful resource from CDDEP that you could use to explore antibiotic resistance trends, rates and antibiotic use by country, pathogens and much more.

We have to take smart, swift action to reduce unnecessary use or misuse of antibiotics and use them with caution.

This post is cross-posted to my blog.

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”.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Two Summer/Fall Internships with the Communications Committee

The IH Section’s Communications Committee is currently seeking two summer and/or fall interns! We are looking for two interns to post regularly to the IH Blog and the Section’s social media platforms, contribute to Global Health Communications Committee activities, and assist with the Global Health Jobs Analysis project. The position is unpaid, but it is remote and entirely web-based and thus can be combined with another opportunity. The weekly time commitment will be 15-20 hours a week distributed in any way that the intern can complete their duties.

The ideal candidate a self-starter who can initiate activities based on new ideas and complete projects with minimal supervision and guidance.

Qualifications: Must be a Student or Early Career Professional member of the American Public Health Association.

Not yet a member of APHA? Interested candidates may submit an application and, if selected, join before beginning the internship period. See https://www.apha.org/become-a-member/ for more information.

How to Apply: Interested candidates should e-mail a resume/CV and two writing samples to ihsection.communications@gmail.com. Please include the cover letter in the body of the e-mail.

2016 Call for Award Nominations: Recognizing our finest in International Health through the IH Section Awards

Note: The deadline for nominations has been extended to Monday, May 16th.

Each year, the International Health (IH) Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA) recognizes outstanding contributions of its members through its Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in International Health, its Mid-Career Award in International Health, the Gordon-Wyon Award for Community-Oriented Public Health, Epidemiology and Practice, and the Distinguished Section Service Award. The Section is now seeking nominations for deserving candidates for these awards, to be presented at its Awards Ceremony at the APHA Annual Meeting in Denver, CO in November 2016.

The Carl Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award in International Health was created by the IH Section to honor the visionaries and leaders in APHA who have shaped the direction of International Health. The evaluation criteria for the Lifetime Achievement Award include

  • quality/creativity/innovativeness of the individual’s contributions to the field of International Health;
  • the individual’s contributions to the development of APHA or the IH Section;
  • application of the individual’s work to service delivery (as opposed to primarily theoretical value)
  • the individual’s contributions as a leader/visionary/role model;
  • the volunteerism/sacrifice associated with the individual’s contributions; and
  • membership in APHA (preferably with primary affiliation with the IH Section), a State affiliate, or a national public health association that is a member of the World Federation of Public Health Associations.

No self-nomination is allowed.

Prior winners of the Carl Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award in International Health include: Jeanne Foster, Joe Wray, Carl Taylor, Milton Roemer, Warren and Gretchen Berggren, John Wyon, Derrick Jelliffe, Tim Baker, Cicely Williams, Bud Prince, Veronica Elliott, Moye Freymann, Dory Storms, Tom Hall, Samir Banoob, William Reinke, Michael Latham, William Foege, Clarence Pearson, Stanley Newman, Jack Bryant, Richard Morrow, Ray Martin, Miriam Labbok, Douglas Huber, and Henry B. Perry, III.

The Mid-Career Award in International Health is intended to recognize outstanding young professionals in the IH Section. The evaluation criteria for the Mid-Career Award include

  • a commitment to the promotion and development of primary health care in a cross-cultural setting over a period of 5-15 years (primary health care is meant here to encompass a broad array of public health issues, including HIV/AIDS prevention and environmental health);
  • demonstrated creativity in expanding the concepts pertinent to the practice of public health with an international focus; and
  • membership in APHA (preferably primary affiliation with the IH Section), a State affiliate, or a national public health association that is a member of the World Federation of Public Health Associations.

No self-nomination is allowed.

Prior winners of the Mid-Career Award in International Health include Margaret Henning, Elvira Beracochea, Laura Altobelli, Matt Anderson, Padmini Murthy, Gopal Sankaran, Jean Capps, Tim Holtz, Kate Macintyre, Sarah Shannon, Adnan Hyder, Stephen Gloyd, Luis Tam, Marty Makinen, Colleen Conroy, Mary Ann Mercer, Irwin Shorr, Walter K. Patrick, Dory Storms, Clyde “Lanny” Smith and Theresa Shaver.

The Gordon-Wyon Award for Community-Oriented Public Health, Epidemiology and Practice is intended to reward outstanding achievement in community-oriented public health epidemiology and practice. This award was established in 2006 by the IH Section. It is administered by the Community Based Primary Health Care Working Group. John Gordon and John Wyon were pioneers in this field, so encouraging and recognizing others in this field is one important way of honoring their memory. The evaluation criteria for this award include:

  • a central role in an outstanding achievement in community-oriented public health and practice;
  • demonstrated creativity in expanding the concepts pertinent to the practice of community-oriented public health with an international focus; and
  • membership in APHA or one of its affiliates (either a State affiliate or a national public health association that is a member of the World Federation of Public Health Associations.

No self-nomination is allowed.

Previous winners of the Gordon-Wyon Award for Community-Oriented Public Health, Epidemiology and Practice are Rajnikant Arole, Carl Taylor, Henry B. Perry, Bette Gebrian, Jaime Gofin, Warren and Gretchen Berggren, Tom Davis, Jr., Malcolm Bryant, Sandy Hoar, and William Robert Brieger.

In addition, the Distinguished Section Service Award is intended to honor outstanding service to the IH Section. Award criteria are

  • dedication to the IH Section mission and goals as demonstrated by continuing exceptional contribution to its activities;
  • serving on the Section elective positions or chairing its committees with remarkable or unusual effort and achievements;
  • distinguished achievement in the international health field with a remarkable career; and
  • excellence in leadership and strong ability for team work with peers in the IH Section and the APHA.

Current membership in APHA is essential.

Nomination Process
Award nominations should include (1) a detailed letter explaining why the individual nominated should receive the award, addressing the criteria for the specific award; and (2) a current curriculum vitae of the nominee.

Both documents (the nomination letter and the curriculum vitae) should be forwarded as e-files (Word or pdf). Only nominations with required documentation will be considered for the awards. Nominations should be submitted by email to Gopal Sankaran (gsankaran [at] wcupa [dot] edu). Please submit the required documents by Monday, May 2, 2016. Late submissions will not be reviewed.