APHA Annual Meeting 2022: International Health Program Highlights

Hi members!

We are excited to see you in Boston! We’d love to meet you at our booth in the Exhibit Hall, our Open House/Business Meeting on Sunday at 10 AM, or our Networking/Awards Ceremony on Tuesday at 6:30 PM. Below are a few highlighted events from the International Health program.

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Want to talk about your experiences at APHA 2022 and be featured in our upcoming newsletter? Let us know at ihsection.communications@gmail.com 

See you soon!
Jean, Amanda, Chris, and Kinjal

International Health Section Communications Committee


International Health Program Highlights Community-Based Primary Health Care (CBPHC) Working Group Pre-Conference Event – Community Health Workers at the Dawn of a New Era

Saturday, November 5
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Registration is required. Learn more at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-health-workers-at-the-dawn-of-a-new-era-tickets-395264074487

International Health Section Open House and Business Meeting

Sunday, November 6
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM


Global Maternal and Child Health Network Business Meeting

Monday, November 7
6:15 PM – 7:45 PM


International Health Policy and Advocacy Committee Meeting

Monday, November 7
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM


International Health Section Awards and Reception

Tuesday, November 8
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Join us for a fun night of networking and a short awards ceremony to recognize outstanding members who have contributed in an important way to global health and our section. https://apha.confex.com/apha/2022/meetingapp.cgi/Session/66529 

Palestine Health Justice Working Group

Tuesday, November 8
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM


International Health Luncheon

November 9
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM


View the entire International Health program here: https://apha.confex.com/apha/2022/meetingapp.cgi/Program/2202

News Round Up 

WORLD POPULATION: 7,980,697,000  

YEAR 2100 PROJECTION:  11,200,000,000 

U.S. POPULATION:  330,000,000


September 28, 2022: A century ago, a global flu destroyed lives and shook economies. We believed that scientific and technological progress would protect us from another similar event. But the inequities that persisted in our global system kept the promise of good health and prosperity out of reach for many, which we see starkly in the consequences of COVID-19.


September 27, 2022: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus held the first U.S.-WHO Strategic Dialogue. Convened under the Biden-Harris Administration, the U.S.-WHO Strategic Dialogue provides a platform to maximize the longstanding U.S. government-WHO partnership, and to protect and promote the health of all people around the globe, including the American people. https://www.who.int/news/item/27-09-2022-joint-statement-of-the-united-states-of-america-and-the-world-health-organization-on-the-u.s.-who-strategic-dialogue 



The following grant was awarded by, is supported by, is administered by or is in partnership with the Fogarty International Center at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).                     https://www.fic.nih.gov/Grants/Search/Pages/GID-D43TW007585.aspx


September 14, 2022: New Lancet Commission critically considers the global response to the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, citing widespread failures of prevention, transparency, rationality, basic public health practice, and operational cooperation and international solidarity that resulted in an estimated 17.7 million deaths (including those not reported).               https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/964445  

Although many countries were able to quickly develop capacities to address COVID-19, all countries remain dangerously unprepared for meeting future epidemic and pandemic threats. A great opportunity exists, however, to make new capacities more durable to further long-term gains in preparedness.                         https://www.ghsindex.org/report-model/

November 30, 2020: HIV is a virus spread through certain body fluids that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells, often called T cells. These special cells help the immune system fight off infections. Left untreated, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. For the first time in modern history, the world has the tools to control the HIV epidemic without a vaccine or cure, while laying the groundwork to eventually end HIV. Controlling the epidemic requires accelerating efforts at finding and linking those groups at greatest risk for HIV infection with treatment and prevention services. https://www.cdc.gov/globalhealth/newsroom/topics/hiv/index.html  

In 2020, Hologic launched the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index — a multiyear, comprehensive global survey about women’s health — to help fill a critical gap in what the world knows about the health and wellbeing of the world’s women and girls. Conducted annually, the survey provides the most timely, globally comprehensive data from womens’ perspectives on their health and wellbeing. https://hologic.womenshealthindex.com/en  


September 13, 2022: When Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine in late February 2022, two years after the identification of SARS-CoV-2, the ensuing humanitarian crisis and upending of international law fractured the already fragile system of global health governance. Many have elaborated on the immediate health effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the face of an ongoing pandemic. The long term effects on global health governance are, however, underappreciated. These unprecedented challenges to global health infrastructure highlight an urgent need for systemwide reforms. https://www.bmj.com/content/378/bmj.o2216  


October 4, 2022: We regularly answer frequently asked questions about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you’d like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: “Weekly Coronavirus Questions.” See an archive of our FAQs here. A few weeks ago, my friend Ashley was preparing to take her final examinations for her Ph.D. and trying to take all the right precautions so that the exams would go smoothly. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2022/10/04/1126542224/coronavirus-booster-faq-can-it-cause-a-positive-test-when-should-you-get-it         

September 27, 2022: New analysis by scientists at Scripps Research and University of Brussels finds that climate change and other factors could soon make deadly Lassa fever a much bigger public health problem in Africa. In the study, which appeared on September 27 in Nature Communications, scientists analyzed decades of environmental data associated with Lassa virus outbreaks, revealing temperature, rainfall and the presence of pastureland areas as key factors contributing to viral transmission. The researchers projected that areas hospitable to Lassa virus spread may extend from West Africa into Central and East Africa in the next several decades. With this expansion and expected African population growth, the human population living in the areas where the virus should—in theory—be able to circulate may rise by more than 600 million. https://globalhealthnewswire.com/diseases/2022/09/27/lassa-virus-endemic-area-may-expand-dramatically-in-coming-decades  

September 22, 2022: A recently discovered virus in a Russian bat that is similar to SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19, is likely capable of infecting humans and, if it were to spillover, is resistant to current vaccines. A team lead by researchers in Washington State University’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Health found spike proteins from the bat virus, named Khosta-2, can infect human cells and is resistant to both the monoclonal antibodies and serum from individuals vaccinated for SARS-CoV-2. Both Khosta-2 and SARS- CoV-2 belong to the same sub-category of coronaviruses known as sarbecoviruses. https://news.wsu.edu/press-release/2022/09/22/newly-discovered-covidlike-virus-could-infect-humans-resist-vaccines/       

September 7, 2022: GENEVA (AP) — The number of new coronavirus cases fell everywhere in the world last week by about 12%, according to the World Health Organization’s latest weekly review of the pandemic issued Wednesday. The U.N. health agency reported that there were just under 4.2 million new infections last week and about 13,700 deaths – a 5% drop. “This is very encouraging, but there is no guarantee these trends will persist,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press briefing. “The most dangerous thing is to assume (that) they will,” he said. He added that even though the number of weekly reported deaths have plummeted more than 80% since February (2022) a person still dies with COVID-19 every 44 seconds and that most of those deaths are avoidable. https://apnews.com/article/covid-health-pandemics-united-nations-a56980ac42502852ada4f31df4bc9535         


October 7, 2022: The Biden Administration blueprint outlines principles for the use of artificial intelligence and is meant to help government agencies level set – but it’s also an operational vision addressing automation in data-sensitive domains such as healthcare. https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/ai-bill-rights-defining-fairness-and-privacy-design


October 12, 2022:  Icebergs bigger than city blocks loom through the mist as Kaleeraq Mathaeussen reels in halibut from the frigid waters one by one. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-63135211     


October 5, 2022: Two substances in the saliva of wax worms — moth larvae that eat wax made by bees to build honeycombs — readily break down a common type of plastic, researchers said on Tuesday, in a potential advance in the global fight against plastic pollution. https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/plastic-pollution-may-met-match-saliva-wax-worms-rcna50838

August 12, 2022: Globally, July 2022 was the sixth-warmest July in the 143-year NOAA record. The year-to-date (January-July) global surface temperature was also the sixth-warmest on record. According to NCEI’s Global Annual Temperature Outlook, there is a greater than 99% chance that 2022 will rank among the 10-warmest years on record but only an 11% chance that it will rank among the top five. https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/news/global-climate-202207  


September 19, 2022: NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–OurCrowd, a leading global venture firm, announced today the launch of a Global Health Equity Fund (GHEF) in collaboration with the WHO Foundation. The news was shared at the first major Clinton Global Initiative meeting convened since 2016, held in New York City alongside the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220919005064/en/OurCrowd-Launches-200-Million-Global-Health-Equity-Fund-in-collaboration-with-the-WHO-Foundation-at-the-Clinton-Global-Initiative  


September 30, 2022: Hypertension while pregnant or postpartum can increase the risk of other complications that impact the mom and baby. Alison Williams, vice president of Clinical Quality Improvement at Missouri Hospital Association, and Kendell Farr, Women’s Health nurse practitioner at Hannibal Regional Healthcare System, discuss the launch of a home-based blood pressure monitoring program for at-risk patients, which was lauded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a Million Hearts 2021 Hypertension Control Exemplar



April 1, 2022: BEIJING — Over the past 40 years, the number of people in China with incomes below $1.90 per day – the International Poverty Line as defined by the World Bank to track global extreme poverty– has fallen by close to 800 million. With this, China has contributed close to three-quarters of the global reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty. At China’s current national poverty line, the number of poor fell by 770 million over the same period.   https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2022/04/01/lifting-800-million-people-out-of-poverty-new-report-looks-at-lessons-from-china-s-experience  

Poverty entails more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. Various social groups bear a disproportionate burden of poverty. https://www.un.org/development/desa/socialperspectiveondevelopment/issues/poverty-eradication.html


October 5, 2022: One of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the U.S. is dealing with a wide-ranging IT security issue forcing it to shut off systems at some facilities. 

CommonSpirit Health – which has more than 1,000 care sites and 140 hospitals in 21 states – said on Monday that it is “managing an IT security issue” impacting several electronic health record systems. The Chicago-based ​​company did not respond to requests for comment but said in a statement that it is “following existing protocols for system outages and taking steps to minimize the disruption.” “As a result of this issue, we have rescheduled some patient appointments. Patients will be contacted directly by their provider and/or care facility if their appointment is impacted,” the company said. https://therecord.media/massive-u-s-nonprofit-health-care-system-grappling-with-it-security-issue/



May 19, 2022: The World health statistics report is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual compilation of the most recent available data on health and health-related indicators for its 194 Member States. The 2022 edition features the latest data for 50+ indicators from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and WHO Triple billion targets. A total of 35 indicators present at least 2020 data (from comparable estimates and primary data) and 16 indicators include data between 2017 and 2019.


Global Mental Health in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Social Media and Technology Usage

Written By: Sarah Edmonds MA MFA, Elena Schatell PA-C MPH MMS, and Dr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW

Blog II

The COVID-19 pandemic has touched all of our lives in one way or another. All around the world people transitioned to working from home, lost employment, quarantined, bereaved the loss of loved ones and worried about becoming infected with the virus. The pandemic’s impact on the wellbeing and mental health of people around the globe has been substantial. It is multifaceted and will surely have implications for years to come. The global prevalence of depression and anxiety has increased by 25%. In the United States, we have seen substantial increases in teen suicidality and a four-fold increase in reported symptoms of a depressive or anxiety disorder among U.S. adults. 

During a time when the demand for mental health services has drastically increased, we saw an increased disruption to mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide. The pandemic impeded access to mental health services with reduced outpatient visits, disrupted mental health emergency interventions, and suspended in-person group therapy sessions. What the COVID-19 pandemic has done is “spark a push for global mental health transformation.” It has illuminated the importance of mental health and the need for innovative global interventions targeting mental health promotion, prevention and treatment. 

Consequently, people across the globe have been using social media and other technological applications at increasing rates to enhance their mental health such as online psychological care and counseling or social media user groups for peer support. In addition, persons in isolation or quarantine show increased rates of general social media usage and they seek to cope with loneliness and separation. However, existing studies show conflicting results in the study of how social media usage—all forms, including active usage (like posting and commenting on forums), passive usage (like scrolling through social networking sites), and more direct computer mediated communications such as chatrooms, email, and any sort of interactive communication online—impacts the overall mental wellness of the users. 

Some studies from the Germany, Norway, and Northern Ireland report a correlation between active and passive social media use and increased rates of depression, anxiety, and poor self-image among adolescents, also noting that active social media use can result in cycles of emotions ranging from highly positive to highly negative with little time to process in between. Notably, recent studies from the United States, United Kingdom, and Pakistan have found an explicit connection between consuming media about COVID-19 and negative mental health that suggests—though social media may initially be a form of escapism—that the overabundance of pandemic news, misinformation, and commentary available on social media platforms is significantly detrimental to users’ overall and long-term mental wellness.

In contrast, some studies in Italy and the United States have reported that social media use—specifically active usage within friend groups—resulted in an improved sense of community and empathy and a greater feeling of purpose in life. Professionally developed technological mental health awareness initiatives and campaigns have shown some success in improving mental health outcomes. By using social media and other online platforms to spread awareness of mental health conditions, it can help destigmatize mental health conditions in populations that otherwise may not have access to educational resources. For example, in one study conducted across sub-Saharan Africa, online resources and mental health education campaigns proved successful at improving overall awareness and connecting patients to needed specialized care more easily than traditional pathways. Targeted messaging and the use of telemedicine for mental health has been shown to be a beneficial resource, specifically, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic when many individuals rely on social media for news both from governments and their local communities. The use of telemedicine for mental health care, specifically for younger populations who frequently rely on computer mediated communication methods, has been a useful tool to engage persons and improve well-being according to researchers in Italy.

Multiple literature reviews (Tsao et al. 2021, Meier and Reinecke 2021, Gianfredi et al. 2021, Jones et al. 2021, and Marciano et al. 2022) have suggested that the contradictory results of many studies may be related to variation in how social media usage impacts individuals. Mechanisms that may influence this relationship include a variety of individual demographic factors and mental health history. Future innovative approaches that utilize social media and technology and take into account individual variation are critical to create infrastructure and support to improve mental health and well-being of persons globally. Many of these approaches are already being developed, tested, and implemented and will be central in bringing about sustained improvements in mental health globally. 

Sarah Edmonds MA MFA

Sarah Edmonds is an Adjunct Professor with Arcadia University’s Department of English. She is a former Communications and Social Media Co-chair of the American Public Health Association’s International Health Section and has worked closely with Dr. Heather F. McClintock on research into intimate partner violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. She also works as a technical writer for Goldblum, Pollins, & Dennis Immigration Law advocating for the immigration status of top international researchers. She is Editor-in-Chief of For Page & Screen literary magazine and her fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetic works have been published extensively.

Elena Schatell PA-C MPH MMS

Elena Schatell is a recent graduate of Arcadia University’s Dual Master of Public Health/Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Program. She aims to promote public health in underserved communities as a family medicine physician assistant. Her public health interests include access to mental health services, stigma surrounding mental illness, and the relationship between faith and mental health. She has interned at the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) national office in Arlington, Virginia, working closely with the Advocacy and Public Policy team on conducting research on service barriers and state mental health policy. During her time at NAMI, she also authored articles for the Advocate magazine and blog.

Dr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW

Dr. McClintock is an IH Section Member and Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health, College of Health Sciences at Arcadia University. She earned her Master of Science in Public Health from the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. McClintock received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on health behavior and promotion. Her research broadly focuses on the prevention, treatment, and management of chronic disease and disability globally. Recent research aims to understand and reduce the burden of intimate partner violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to completing her doctorate she served as a Program Officer at the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and a Senior Project Manager in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania. At the University of Pennsylvania she led several research initiatives that involved improving patient compliance and access to quality healthcare services including the Spectrum of Depression in Later Life Study and Integrating Management for Depression and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Study.

News Round Up

WORLD POPULATION:  7,972,475,000  


August 16, 2022: SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Bill Gates on Tuesday called for South Korea to become more involved in international efforts to prevent infectious diseases like COVID-19 as he stressed the need for the world to be better prepared for the next pandemic. Representing the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korea’s foreign and health ministries pledging further partnerships in projects aimed at improving public health tools in the developing world and advancing vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases


August 10, 2022: At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the WHO’s mandate “to act as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work,” the unprecedented monkeypox outbreak presented the organization with a chance to prove its value to the global community. Instead, through its cautious approach and hesitancy, the WHO contributed to the conditions that facilitated the disease’s continued spread. As a result, the WHO faces more questions about where it fits into the COVID-battered landscape of global health governance. https://www.thinkglobalhealth.org/article/monkeypox-outbreak-and-whos-existential-crisis  

August 2, 2022: The Biden administration on Tuesday named veteran FEMA official Robert Fenton to lead the government’s response to the monkeypox outbreak. Why it matters: The Biden administration has faced mounting pressure to do more to stop the spread of monkeypox, which has prompted three states to declare health emergencies. Driving the news: Fenton, a FEMA regional administrator, has over 25 years of experience in federal emergency response and will serve as the White House national monkeypox response coordinator.



The objective of the Program Towards Elimination of Tuberculosis Project is to improve the coverage and quality of TB control interventions in the private and public sector in targeted states of India. Growth has accelerated in the last two quarters to reach 8.2 percent in the first quarter of FY18-2019. This growth was supported by a revival in industrial activity, strong private consumption, and a rise in exports of goods and services. https://projects.worldbank.org/en/projects-operations/project-detail/P167523

August 17, 2022: Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (parent company of Healthcare IT News) is launching an early invitation to thought leaders and experts to present at the 2023 HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition, taking place April 17-21 in Chicago. Presentation topics span a wide range, including healthcare and technology solutions, critical advancements, best practices and other stories. The event draws tens of thousands of healthcare professionals annually.



September 2, 2022: A comprehensive historical assessment of knowledge and beliefs about disease transmission sheds light on why influential institutions worldwide took too long to recognize that COVID-19 is primarily airborne. The authors trace this deadly resistance one hundred years back in history, to the rejection of sickly air called ‘miasma,’ the rise of germ theory and our own stubborn tendency to retain beliefs in spite of accumulating evidence to the contrary. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/09/220902122738.htm


August 20, 2022: Understanding the magnitude of cancer burden attributable to potentially modifiable risk factors is crucial for development of effective prevention and mitigation strategies. We analysed results from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019 to inform cancer control planning efforts globally.https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(22)01438-6/fulltext  


August 3, 2022: On 23 July, the World Health Organization declared the monkeypox outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern”. The move is designed to trigger a coordinated international response and could unlock funding for vaccines or treatments.https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/08/health-wellbeing-news-monkeypox-covid19/  

August 2, 2022: Globally, only half (52%) of children living with HIV are on life-saving treatment. UNAIDS, UNICEF, and WHO have brought together a new alliance to fix one of the most glaring disparities in the AIDS response.


August 1, 2022: ALBANY, N.Y. (August 1, 2022) – The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) today updated New Yorkers on polio in New York State. Following the identification of a case of polio in a Rockland County resident, NYSDOH launched wastewater surveillance, among other detection efforts, to check for signs of the virus. Following analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the polio virus was detected in samples from June in Rockland County. These findings underscore the critical importance of vaccination to protect all New Yorkers and New York children against polio.https://www.health.ny.gov/press/releases/2022/2022-08-01_polio.htm



The World Health Organization announced in April that it will consider changing its regimen recommendation for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine , which protects against cervical cancer, the fourth most common cancer in women. https://www.fic.nih.gov/News/GlobalHealthMatters/Pages/who-debates-reducing-hpv-vaccine-schedule-one-dose.aspx


August 31, 2022: MAHANDRI, Pakistan – The village of Mahandri was once a scenic stopover for tourists visiting the valley of Kaghan in Pakistan’s northernmost province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but recent flash floods have destroyed most of its infrastructure. The monsoon floods have killed about 14 people, washed away five restaurants, all 30 shops in the local market and destroyed health infrastructure in the village, which located on the Kunhar River. The river starts in the glaciers of the Kaghan valley, and melting ice has added to the deluge. https://healthpolicy-watch.news/climate-crisis-government-pakistan-floods/ 

August 8, 2022: The findings are based on a comprehensive review of more than 150 studies that looked at how children maintain physical activity, exercise and cope with heat, as well as how this might change as global temperatures rise. The research was published Aug. 5 in the journal Temperature. “Fitter adults are better able to tolerate higher temperatures, due to a combination of physiological, behavioral and psychological factors,” said Shawnda Morrison, an environmental exercise physiologist at Slovenia’s University of Ljubljana. She is an expert in adaptive and integrative human physiology in extreme environments.



August 31, 2022: Concern is growing that the scramble for scarce supplies of monkeypox vaccines could see some nations and high-risk groups miss out – recalling unequal global access to Covid-19 vaccines and HIV medication. The outbreak, which has reached nearly 100 countries outside of Africa, where the virus is endemic, is overwhelmingly being transmitted among men who have sex with men. They are getting priority for vaccination globally, but some face a longer wait than others.


August 30, 2022: Human Rights Watch said Tuesday it examined more than 100 laws and policies concerning education, gender equity, and reproductive health, that are detrimental to the education of teenage mothers. Adi Radhakrishnan works with the rights group’s children rights division. He says some African laws have pushed young mothers out of school.


August 11, 2022: In the scramble for monkeypox vaccines, the European Union and the United States have once again left Africa behind. The World Health Organization says there are around 16 million doses, mostly in bulk form, of the only vaccine approved for protection against monkeypox. None are being distributed to Africans. 



September 4, 2022: Over three violent days in early August, until a ceasefire was reached on 7 August, Israeli Defence Forces launched some 147 air strikes against targets in Gaza while Palestinian militants unleashed around 1,100 rockets and mortars into Israel. Briefing the Security Council on 8 August, Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, reported that 46 Palestinians had been killed and 360 injured, and 70 Israelis injured.


April 21, 2022: Since publishing this web story, the Women’s Health Research Institute has remained committed to finding ways to support research that is inclusive of all bodies that may benefit from it. As part of this work, Dr. Angela Kaida (Women’s Health Research Institute) and Bev Pomeroy (Island Health, Experience) are co-leading a project titled Beyond the Binary: Taking a patient-oriented and trauma-informed approach to building partnerships and dialogue to incorporate gender equity into women’s health research. This is a multi-stakeholder, participatory project intended to inform guidance for gender-equitable practice within BC’s women’s health research community. Through collaboration with people from intersecting trans, non-binary, intersex, Two-Spirit, queer, research, health, ethics, and academic communities, we aim to develop context-specific guidance, resources, and recommendations for researchers and health decision-makers. https://whri.org/beyond-the-binary-what-does-gender-inclusive-womens-health-research-look-like/ 


September 1, 2022: GENEVA (AP) — China’s discriminatory detention of Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups in the western region of Xinjiang may constitute crimes against humanity, the U.N. human rights office said in a long-awaited report Wednesday, which cited “serious” rights violations and patterns of torture in recent years. The report seeks “urgent attention” from the U.N. and the world community to rights violations in Beijing’s campaign to root out terrorism.


August 29, 2022: In the Um Rakuba refugee camp in Sudan, donated medical supplies are vital to the survival of thousands of Tigrayan refugees who fled their homes in Ethiopia due to war. More than 2,000 miles away, Ukrainians who’ve fled their homes due to the Russian attack on Ukraine have similar emergency needs. https://www.taskforce.org/ethiopian-humanitarian-and-cnn-hero-ensures-medical-supplies-reach-people-affected-by-conflicts/  

August 9, 2022: “The war increases levels of stress in pregnant women, which leads to an increase in the number of premature births reported,” Herve Verhoosel, Spokesperson for global health agency Unitaid, told journalists at a regular WHO press briefing. “Babies born prematurely are more likely to develop respiratory, neurological or digestive complications, conditions that often require oxygen for treatment”.  https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/08/1124262  

The Burden of Global Mental Health in the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Update

Written By: Elena Schatell PA-C MPH MMS and Dr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW

Over two years ago we co-wrote IH Connect’s blogs on mental health and COVID-19 (part 1 and part 2 here). Since this time the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to shape and influence so many facets of our lives. This unprecedented pandemic has created challenges with psychological ramifications for people around the world such as the loneliness from social isolation during quarantine, fear of contagion and infection, constraints on the ability to work and attend school, unemployment, financial worries, domestic violence, grief after the death of a loved one, and the emotional burdens of working on the frontlines. Furthermore the economy has been impacted, as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global economic recession worse than the Great Depression. Hundreds of millions around the world have lost jobs due to the inability to work remotely, businesses going bankrupt, declines in labor demand, falling export demand and supply chain disruptions.

The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health and well-being of people around the globe is substantial. A February 2021 brief published by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) reported a four-fold increase in U.S. adults reported symptoms of a depressive or anxiety disorder. Parents, children, young adults, people experiencing unemployment, essential workers and communities of color are populations at increased risk for experiencing poor mental health during the pandemic. The impact of COVID-19 on mental health and well-being is not limited to any single country or region; it has impacted people in every part of the globe. In the first year of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a 25% increase in the global prevalence of depression and anxiety. For more details about the global mental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic please read this WHO scientific brief.

I (Elena Schatell) spent the past year working in different medical offices and hospital systems across the country as part of my final year of physician assistant school. I have been exposed to many health care settings and various patient populations, and at every single site I have witnessed the mental health effects of COVID-19 on patients and their families. On my pediatrics rotation at a practice in a western Pennsylvania suburb, there were multiple teenage girls who came in for follow-ups after being admitted to behavioral health units for attempting suicide. Suicidality among U.S. adolescents was already a public health topic of concern, but since the start of the pandemic, rates of teen suicidality and poor mental health have increased. I heard numerous individuals talk about the hardships their families have faced since the establishment of online school, or “distance learning.” In an emergency department (ED) on the south side of Chicago I saw countless mental health emergencies and drug overdoses. I talked to individuals experiencing homelessness who came to the ED solely for comfort and shelter. I could not help but imagine all the many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted these individual’s lives.

The increased prevalence of mental health problems has been accompanied by an increased disruption to mental health services, leaving large gaps in care for people who need it the most. Some of these disruptions began at the start of the pandemic, like lack of access to face-to-face care, reduced outpatient appointments and limited admissions to emergency departments. However, many of these disruptions were pre-existing and the pandemic exacerbated already struggling and taxed systems. The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light onto the critical need for accessible and well-resourced mental health care systems globally. The lack of such infrastructure has widened disparities across many sectors and dimensions of well-being (e.g. social, economic, psychological) leaving the underserved even more marginalized and disempowered.  Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, stated, “This is a wake-up call to all countries to pay more attention to mental health and do a better job of supporting their populations’ mental health.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on mental health and well-being globally and has shed light on fractured and under-resourced mental health care systems; there is a silver lining. It has afforded the opportunity for growth, development and creativity to address the complex mental health needs of populations around the world. The WHO and countries around the world have been “stepping up” their mental health response. For instance, with increasing suicide death rates, the U.S. federal government has launched the national three-digit number “988” as the mental health crisis hotline. Callers who are experiencing a mental health crisis will be automatically routed to a trained mental health professional, instead of law enforcement.  Telehealth has stepped up to the plate to meet mental health needs during the pandemic. An analysis from KFF and Epic Research found telehealth services for mental health and substance use increased from near zero percent in 2019 to 40% in mid-2020. Two-thirds of community health centers in the U.S. have added new mental health services, including virtual services. I (Elena Schatell) can personally attest to the enormous benefit of telehealth access for mental health care. From 2020 into 2022 I participated in telehealth counseling services offered through my university and later through an online mental health service platform. Conveniently having a mental health professional whom I could communicate with online helped me navigate stressors I was experiencing. When reliable and easily accessible, these services are effective at filling gaps in mental health care. But in resource-limited settings around the world, developing and implementing digital tools poses a challenge. WHO has been instrumental in providing guidance, tools and resources to member states, public health planners and responders, and the general public. In collaboration with partners around the world, WHO developed multilingual resources such as a stress management guide and mental wellness toolkit for older adults. As of early 2021, 90% of WHO member states reported including mental health support in their COVID-19 response plans and the number of countries with an emergency mental health support platform doubled. 

WHO acknowledged global mental health as a priority when it published its Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020. Just one year prior to the start of the pandemic, in 2018, the WHO Director-General acknowledged mental health as an area in which action needed to be accelerated. He established the WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health, covering 2019-2023, with the goal of 100 million more people having access to quality and affordable mental health care by 2023. Largely focused on finding innovative ways to provide support in hard-to-reach communities, the initiative was created just in time for the pandemic. It is underway in Bangladesh, Ghana, Jordan, Nepal, Paraguay, the Philippines, Ukraine and Zimbabwe. In Ukraine, which has been affected by military conflict and COVID-19, community mental health mobile teams have been developed to provide services to individuals in remote areas.

In April 2020 the publication of the storybook, My Hero is You, was produced through a collaboration of over 50 organizations, including WHO, UNICEF, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Federation of Red Cross. This is a picture book, available in 142 languages, that serves as a resource for helping children around the world cope with and respond to the mental health impacts of COVID-19. Found to be hugely successful, multimedia formats and additional resources were created targeting other populations. A sequel was released in September 2021, reflecting on the new challenges the world has faced in the second year of the pandemic. The sequel is based on survey responses from over 500 individuals around the world. The coordination and collaboration involved in creating these books is amazing. The pandemic has had a catastrophic impact on psychological health and well-being. However, (as evidenced by the projects described above) it has created an opportunity for collaboration and cooperation as well as highlighting the importance of nations in prioritizing global mental health care.

Elena Schatell PA-C MPH MMS

Elena Schatell is a recent graduate of Arcadia University’s Dual Master of Public Health/Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Program. She aims to promote public health in underserved communities as a family medicine physician assistant. Her public health interests include access to mental health services, stigma surrounding mental illness, and the relationship between faith and mental health. She has interned at the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) national office in Arlington, Virginia, working closely with the Advocacy and Public Policy team on conducting research on service barriers and state mental health policy. During her time at NAMI, she also authored articles for the Advocate magazine and blog.

Dr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW

Dr. McClintock is an IH Section Member and Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health, College of Health Sciences at Arcadia University. She earned her Master of Science in Public Health from the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. McClintock received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on health behavior and promotion. Her research broadly focuses on the prevention, treatment, and management of chronic disease and disability globally. Recent research aims to understand and reduce the burden of intimate partner violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to completing her doctorate she served as a Program Officer at the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and a Senior Project Manager in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania. At the University of Pennsylvania she led several research initiatives that involved improving patient compliance and access to quality healthcare services including the Spectrum of Depression in Later Life Study and Integrating Management for Depression and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Study.