APHA Signs on to Letter to WHO Executive Board on Protection of Health Care Workers

The following message is from Peter Freeman, chair of the IH Section’s Advocacy and Policy Committee.

Since October 2011, members of the IH Advocacy & Policy Committee have been participating on a coalition, organized through IntraHealth International, whose aim is to bring global focus onto the protection of health care workers, patients and systems in areas and times of conflict.

In mid January 2012, the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) is scheduled to meet; members of this coalition will be in attendance. To move the coalition’s agenda forward, a letter is being presented to the WHO Executive Board asking to put a resolution before the WHO Assembly that would call for:
*the development and implementation of a plan to collect and report data concerning attacks on health facilities, workers and patients or other violations of medical neutrality where conflicts are taking place;
*make this data publicly available on the WHO website
*regularly update said data
The coalition has asked for agencies who have stake in the protection of global health care infrastructures to sign onto this letter.

It is greatly exciting to report that on January 13, 2012, APHA agreed to become a signatory of this letter! The Advocacy & Policy Committee is encouraged to see a growing receptiveness and response by APHA staff to give the association a voice on the global health platform and we look forward to many more advocacy victories!

Peter F Freeman, MPH
Chair, APHA-IH Advocacy/Policy Committee

Content of the letter signed on by APHA:

Dear Members of the WHO Executive Board:

We write to urge that you support action at the Executive Board to bring WHO’s expertise to the pressing problem of attacks on health care, including health care workers, during situations of conflict. The report released by the International Committee of the Red Cross last August – Health Care in Danger – concluded that, “in terms of number of people affected, violence, both real and threatened, against health-care workers, facilities and beneficiaries is one of the biggest, most complex, and yet most under-recognized humanitarian issues today.” As Director-General Margaret Chan recognized in her address to the World Health Assembly last May, the problem needs the urgent attention of the global health community. WHO is uniquely positioned to address a key need identified by the ICRC and many others, which is sound and reliable data on the magnitude and dynamics of violence against health care and health workers.

WHO’s expertise in developing an evidence base for global health policy, in health systems development and in humanitarian coordination creates an opportunity for leadership at the global level. The WHO can develop and implement methods for systematic collection of data on attacks on health facilities, workers, and transport and patients in conflict areas. This should be done in cooperation with other relevant UN agencies, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations.

We ask that the Executive Board adopt a resolution for consideration by the World Health Assembly that requests the Director-General to develop and implement a plan for WHO to collect and report data on attacks on health facilities, workers and patients where conflicts are taking place or other violations of medical neutrality. The data should be publicly available and periodically updated on the WHO web site.

The signatories to this letter are familiar with the tragic consequences of violence on health care. There are roles for many entities, including health workers themselves, governments, professional associations, non-governmental organizations and other UN agencies. All must do their part to increase protection. WHO’s role is limited but essential, as it is in the best position to lead the data collection process.

We therefore urge you to support action at the Executive Board to enhance protection of health in situations of conflict.

Global Health News Last Week


The following announcement is from Peter Freeman, chair of the section’s Advocacy and Policy Committee, regarding their first Advocacy Day to take place in conjunction with this year’s Annual Meeting in Washington,DC.

To all International Health Section Members:

The Advocacy/Policy Committee would like to invite you to participate in our first Advocacy Day, led in partnership with the Global Health Council. The day, scheduled for Thursday, November 3rd, 2011, will be an opportunity for us to voice support for a continued focus on international health to our elected officials. With the intense Congressional pressure to cut the budget, our voices can make a real difference. As a participant during this exciting day, you will be provided with training materials on effective advocacy techniques to ensure your message is clearly heard. Even if you do not have advocacy experience, you need not hesitate to sign up because you will be teamed with others. Please consider joining your fellow International Health Section members on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 on Capitol Hill to advocate for a healthy globe.

Interested parties should contact Peter Freeman, Advocacy/Policy Committee Chair, at pffreeman@gmail.com or 773.318.4842 with their name, phone number and e-mail address. A registration link for the Advocacy Day will be sent out to the section by mid-September; please be on the lookout for it.

August 20 was World Mosquito Day.

On August 22, the Gates Foundation celebrated its 12-year anniversary (well, sort of).



  • Donor funding for AIDS has decreased by 10 percent during the recent economic recession. The overall decrease in global AIDS funding marks a stark reversal in trends for previous years.


  • Proposals for Round 8 of the Grand Challenge Exploration, a $100 million grant initiative to encourage innovation in global health and development research, are now being accepted.  Proposals can be submitted until November 17, 2011 at 11:30 am Pacific Daylight Time.
  • Researchers from Michigan State Universityare working on bringing a low-cost, hand-held device to nations with limited resources to help physicians detect and diagnose cancer. The Gene-Z device is operated using an iPod Touch or Android-based tablet and performs genetic analysis on microRNAs and other genetic markers.
  • The problem of obesity is spreading around the world and poses serious health threats.  The finding is part of a new special report on obesity, and how to combat it in the medical journal the Lancet.
  • A team of Australian researchers have discovered a breakthrough in the reduction of dengue. By injecting mosquitoes with a bacteria, they were able to block them from transmitting the virus that kills 20,000 people a year.
  • Nanotechnology, the science of manipulating tiny particles, has is rapidly finding wide application. Developing countries that embrace nanotechnology should not overlook possible risks and must regulate products that contain nanoparticles.
  • A study has found that nasal spray vaccines for influenza delivered to children between the age of six months and three years old are more effective than other vaccines.
  • In a study released by the International Journal of Biological Sciences, analyzing the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers found that agricultural giant Monsanto’s GM corn is linked to organ damage in rats.


  • The current famine in the Horn of Africa has again brought to our attention the interaction between climate change, food prices and extreme weather conditions on the African continent.
  • Most of the world’s population growth today is in urban areas creating what some are dubbing unstable, unsustainable “mega-cities.” A new report by the World Wildlife Fund says that by 2050, about 70 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas creating “horrendous” problems.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, a combination of inaccurate testing and patients quick to seek treatment has lead to a worrisome trend: treating patients for malaria when they do not have the disease.
  • HIV epidemics are emerging among men who have sex with men in the Middle East and North Africa, researchers say. It’s a region where HIV/AIDS isn’t well understood, or studied.  More than 5 percent of men who have sex with men are infected by HIV in countries including Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia, according to a recent study in PLoS Medicine. In one group of men in Pakistan, the rate of infection was about 28 percent.


Thanks to Tom Murphy and Mark Leon Goldberg, Tom Paulson, and Isobel Hoskins.