Global Health News Last Week

The IH Newsletter is up! The Winter 2011 edition features several articles written by section members on various topics, a social media corner, fellowships and internships, and member publications. Check it out, and please consider contributing to the Spring edition!

On Tuesday, USAID administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah gave the 2011 David E. Barmes Global Health Lecture at NIH. His speech, titled “Addressing Grand Challenges:The Role of Science in Global Health Development,” can be viewed here. The transcript can also be downloaded, or you can read it on USAID’s website here. Also, you can check out commentary by Amanda Glassman, Sarah Arnquist, and K4Health.

Cholera, as usual, remains in the news: experts say the outbreak in Haiti has plateaued, while the one in Papua New Guinea rages on, and it is just getting started in Ghana. Meanwhile, health officials in Bangladesh prepare to launch the world’s largest cholera vaccine trial near Dhaka, the capital.

Scientists from Edinburgh University claim that the malarial parasite is particularly deadly because it competes with other strains of the infection by focusing on producing quickly-replicating cells, thus “duking it out” in the bloodstream. On a more positive note, Kenyan scientists believe that a spider that is attracted to the smell of human sweat may aid in the fight against the disease.

UN experts maintain that the laws in many Asian countries obstruct access to HIV/AIDS care and services. Nineteen countries in the region outlaw same-sex relations, and 29 criminalize prostitution. The remarks were made just before the Global Commission of HIV and the Law took place in Bangkok, where experts from around the world gathered to discuss HIV-related legal and human rights issues. Also, China has declared its intention to bring the spread of AIDS under control by 2020.

According to the WHO, Moldova has emerged as the world leader in per-capita alcohol consumption.

Experts have been sounding the alarm about rising food prices, and many analysts have linked the crisis to the recent riots in north Africa and the Middle East.

Obama and the Republicans continue to battle over the budget, as the president requests a modest increase in global health funds while Congressional Republicans try to slash spending.

Global Health News Last Week

STUDENTS AND NEW PROFESSIONALS: The Chatham House (formally known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs), a London-based think tank, is looking to fill two internship positions to begin in mid-April. They are looking for individuals who can work four days per week. The closing date is February 25, and interviews will be held on March 3 or 4. The position is unpaid.

End the Neglect is calling on global health bloggers to contribute guest posts for consideration. Read more about this opportunity here.

A study done at UCLA has apparently revealed that winning an Oscar may be a risk factor for stroke.

The International Vaccine Institute announced the launch of the Dengue Vaccine Initiative, which will “accelerate the development and untilization of safe, affordable and broadly protective vaccines to combat dengue.” The initiative will be funded by a $6.9 million grant from (surprise!) the Gates Foundation.

The World Bank reports that, despite the region’s robust economic development, South Asia is facing a health crisis as rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity rise. Meanwhile, the WHO released a report on alcohol and health, which found that alcohol is responsible for 4% of deaths worldwide (more than AIDS, TB, or violence), and that alcohol control policies are weak in most countries.

Mosquito-borne diseases are experiencing a comeback in Europe: in 2010, there were incidences of West Nile virus, dengue, malaria, and chikungunya. Some researchers predict that this may be an ongoing trend, as one study found that malaria may re-enter Europe by 2080.

A growing number of hospitals and medical businesses in the U.S. are implementing smoke-free hiring policies, barring employees from smoking and making smoking a reason to turn away applicants. The move is controversial, perhaps because the fact that the WHO has been doing this for years is not common knowledge.

In a surprising development, the Geneva-based Medicines Patent Pool announced that it is in negotiations with F. Hoffman-La Roche, Gilead, Sequoia, and ViiV (a joint venture of GSK and Pfizer) to begin sharing their patents for AIDS drugs. Unfortunately, Abbott, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, and Tibotec/Johnson & Johnson will not be joining the party.

The Kaiser Family Foundation released a (rather depressing) report on the state of global health journalism, which found that global health coverage is decreasing due to lack of funding in media outlets, among other reasons. Sarah Arnquist, who manages the Global Health Hub, reflects on what that means for us global health bloggers.

Holy cow – the AIDS rate in Zimbabwe has actually gone down?!

George Clooney has teamed up with Nicholas Kristof to raise awareness about malaria. After catching it himself while he was in South Sudan for the independence referendum, he fielded questions from readers via Kristof’s NYT column.

Cholera continues to make the rounds, this time appearing in Venezuela and New York City. Global health professor Karen Grepin points out that this “epidemic” has been going on for four decades, and that our inability to control it indicates a a major failure in global health.

The WHO is investigating claims from 12 different countries that the swine flu vaccine may be linked to narcolepsy.

February 7 marked the 11th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the U.S.

Brett Keller, a Master’s student in global health and international development, also does a weekly news round-up on his blog called “Monday Miscellany.”

Are you interested in the APHA Trade and Health Forum?

The APHA Trade and Health Forum was formed last April.  Some of you have asked for an update as to what the forum is, what it has done, and plans for the coming year.   

This past year’s APHA conference in Washington DC included the first face-to-face business meeting of the new Forum on Trade and Health. Over 25 people from a variety of sections gathered to discuss how global trade affects public health, and what we can do about it. The Forum sponsored three oral sessions and one poster session, and co-sponsored several other events. The Forum welcomes new participants from any section! Continue reading “Are you interested in the APHA Trade and Health Forum?”