The Supercourse team at the University of Pittsburgh has taken the initiative to spread the WHO’s definition of health, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” They have translated the definition into over 60 different languages using Google translate and have asked health professionals to review them to make sure they are correct. This global health knowledge campaign is being developed by the Supercourse team, WHO Collaborating Centre, University of Pittsburgh. Please contact Dr. Ronald LaPorte, Director, Professor of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, for more information.
July 28 was the first-ever World Hepatitis Day.
POLITICS AND POLICY
- As the UN gears up for its Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases this September, blogger Michael Hodin argues that by focusing on this issue, the world body has a “new shot at relevance” in an era where its importance is decreasing (and countries contemplate cutting its funding).
- Former U.S. Ambassador on HIV/AIDS Jack Chow says the CIA’s fake vaccination scheme in Pakistan, aimed at locating Osama Bin Laden, threatens to undermine a broad set of American global health initiatives.
- The U.S. government and the Gates Foundation were responsible for 85% of the steep increase in malaria funding between 2007 and 2009. Richard Tren argues that we need to diversify funding sources and focus on control efforts.
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has teamed up with FC Barcelona to promote the polio eradication campaign.
- To raise awareness about violence against women in Europe, the UN has opened up a contest to design a newspaper advertisement in support of the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign. View submissions and the winning entries here.
- Seattle-based development blogger Tom Paulson continues to raise some interesting issues regarding the Gates Foundation’s funding of media coverage for global health issues. Their latest venture is a weekly program on the BBC.
- Researchers have cracked the DNA code of the strain of E. coli that originated in German sprouts and killed over 50 people this summer.
- A cell phone that doubles as a blood-oxygen tester is one of the 77 mHealth innovation finalists for the Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development competition.
- A study conducted by the WHO found that France, the U.S., the Netherlands, and India have the highest rates of depression in the world, while China has the lowest. Detailed interviews were conducted with over 89,000 individuals in 18 countries.
- It is becoming more apparent that one of the most effective ways to deal with HIV/AIDS is to address neglected tropical diseases, argues the Public Library of Science in Eureka Alert.
- A study of the lifespan of HIV patients receiving combination ARV therapy by researchers at University of Ottawa has found that patients can expect to live a near normal lifespan.
- Researchers at Oklahoma University believe that a protein-based vaccine could prevent many cases of childhood pneumonia.
- Dutch researchers have found that children who were not breastfed were more likely to develop respiratory problems such as asthma.
- The first stage of trials for a new malaria vaccine by Swiss researchers in Tanzania have shown promising results.
- Has announced in a study in Pediatrics that the varicella vaccine for chickenpox has reduced the annual death toll in the United States from 105 to 14. Tests are in progress that could lead to major family planning advances. The New York Times reports on some innovations in male contraceptives that could offer safe and effective contraception.
DISEASES AND DISASTERS
- The Agbogbloshie slum outside of Accra, Ghana, is a major electronics waste dump. This site is an example of what happens to “donated” discarded electronics: residents burn them to extract precious metals and simultaneously exposed to a host of hazardous chemicals, as the goods release lead, mercury,
thallium, hydrogen cyanide, and PVC.
- A recent article by a global panel uses startling images to call attention to the woeful state of neglect and inadequate treatment of mental illness in developing nations.
POLITICS AND POLICY
- Attacks on aid workers are on the increase and one writer believes this largely due to the current “integrated mission” focus of the UN and other donors.
- If the Global Fund is to avoid further adverse media coverage and further consequent donor nervousness, it must urgently implement a more effective and fine-tuned approach to the issues of corruption and transparency.
- The families of two women who died in childbirth are starting a legal action against the government of Uganda, alleging that the inadequate care and facilities provided for pregnant women caused the deaths and violates their country’s constitution and women’s rights to life and health.
- The results of a recent bombshell study revealing the impact of taking ARVs and the spread of HIV has the Obama administration doing some serious pondering over the impact of a policy change.
- The elimination of mother-to-child transmission has become the focus of Rwanda’s ministry of health for reducing the rate of HIV.
- The states in India have been directed by the central government to provide free healthcare to pregnant women and sick neonatal children effective June 1.
- The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has frozen payments on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of disease-fighting grants to China, one of the charity’s biggest recipients, in a dispute over China’s management of the grants and its hostility toward involving grass-roots organizations in public health issues.
- Government think-tanks in China and India have recommended a jointly funded initiative to strengthen traditional medicine innovations in both countries.
- In Ghana, the Oxytocin Initiative Project has begun testing whether community health workers can safely and effectively prevent postpartum hemorrhage.
- ‘Tupange’ is the name of a new outreach program in Kenya that hopes to increase and sustain contraceptive use among urban women.
- Researchers discuss the new developments in vaccines for HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB in the scientific journal Nature.
- Vuvuzelas – the horns used by football fans celebrating last year’s World Cup – not only cause noise pollution but may also spread diseases, say experts. In crowded venues one person blowing a vuvuzela could infect many others with airborne illness like the flu or TB. Mercifully, organisers are considering whether to ban them at the 2012 London Olympics.
- Published by the Institute for Economics & Peace, the Global Peace Index tries to measure peace. This year has seen the world become less peaceful for the third year in a row – and highlights what it says is a continuing threat of terrorism.
- It may be against the law, but wealthier, better-educated families in India are choosing more and more often to abort pregnancies if the child is female, researchers in Canada and India report in the Lancet.
- Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston find that diabetics have a higher risk of contracting TB.
- Lancet once called it “potentially the most important medical advance of the 20th century.” But today, oral rehydration therapy (ORT) — a simple treatment often consisting of a home solution of sugar, salt and water — is under-used, causing untold deaths of children.
DISEASES AND DISASTERS
TOTALLY UNRELATED TO ANYTHING ELSE: Apparently, to Nigerians, Bill and Melinda Gates do not look like rich people.
May 18 was HIV Vaccine Awareness Day.
POLITICS AND POLICY
- Hundreds of Kenyan AIDS activists held a protest on 18 May in the capital, Nairobi to demand that the government meet its commitment to increase annual health and HIV funding.
- In response to the mutual expulsion of diplomats, the UK’s DFID announced that it has frozen new aid to Malawi.
- DDT has made a controversial re-appearance in Uganda.
- The World Health Organization has just launched a new web-based information resource tool that should be of interest to many in global health and development community, the Global Health Observatory.
- According to the World Health Organization, the worldwide prevalence of obesity has more than doubled between 1980 and 2008.
- New research has found that a variant in one gene can lead to a 30 percent lower risk of developing cerebral malaria.
- A new study from Bangladesh concludes that most of the world’s pregnant women don’t need vitamin A supplements.
- American scientists have tested a treatment regimen for tuberculosis which will reduce the amount of time it takes to complete the full treatment as compared to current plans.
- A new report from the Guttmacher Institute finds that that 7 in 10 women in Sub Saharan Africa, south central Asia and south east Asia who want to avoid pregnancy, but are not using modern methods give reasons for non-use which suggest available methods do not fulfill their needs.
- Average life expectancy across much of the world — except Iraq and South Africa — is steadily climbing and infant deaths dropped across the world during the first decade of the 21st century, according to figures released by the World Health Organization.
- The Clinton Health Access Initiative and Gates Foundation have teamed up to support research into developing a cheaper version of the drug Tenofovir.
DISEASES AND DISASTERS
- China has reduced its AIDS mortality by two-thirds since it began distributing free antiretroviral drugs in 2002; however, the improvements were seen largely in patients who acquired HIV through blood transfusion, rather than through sex or drug use. On a darker note, Chinese authorities ordered an AIDS activists’ web site shut down after it had published an open letter from a retired senior official concerning news restrictions placed on a 20th-century public health scandal.
- Dr. Orin Levine looks at a disturbing global trend: Infectious killers that had been beaten back by aggressive immunization efforts are making a comeback in places long thought to be safe havens.
WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY
- The assembly voted to postpone the decision to destroy official stockpiles of the the smallpox virus for another three years.
- The WHO announced extensive reforms to “reinvent itself” as a health knowledge hub. Also, it apparently angered Taiwan by referring to it as a province of China.
- Sixteen countries announced new commitments to dramatically reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality, as part of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.
- OneWorldUK’s Chelsea Ricker asks, Where are the women in women’s and children’s health?
- A number of civil society and non-profit organizations voiced their opinions during the Assembly, claiming that the World Health Organization is overly influenced by commercial and corporate interests.
- WaterAid urged leaders at the Assembly to support the countries affected by dracunculiasis, caused by guinea worm, to improve access to safe drinking water and reach their most vulnerable populations to ensure the disease is eradicated.
- Bill Gates addressed World Health Assembly where he called for global leaders to increase support for vaccinations.
- The world is not ready to deal with a lengthy public health emergency, according to a panel of international experts, which based its conclusions on the 2009 H1N1, or swine flu, outbreak.
The IH Blog was featured in the “Buzzing in the Blogs” section of the Healthy Dose this week! Thanks to Tom Murphy for reading and tweeting us!
May 12 was International Nurses Day.
USAID’s Frontlines magazine is running an exclusive interview with Dr.
Margaret Chan, the WHO Director-General, in which she discusses current global health priorities and systems strengthening.
Peoples-uni, an open-access education initiative, offers open-access resource and online learning materials for capacity-building in low- and middle-income countries.
- Excessive bleeding following childbirth is the leading cause of maternal deaths in the developing world, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has now approved the use of misoprostol, a drug that considerably reduces this risk.
- Shanghai’s health authority and local hospitals are seeking to reduce the rate of births by cesarean section this year after a recent report showed that far more Shanghai women are undergoing the procedure than is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
- For the fifth time, at next week’s WHO General Assembly, countries will debate whether or not to destroy the last two known stockpiles of smallpox.
- The Director General of Nigeria’s drug and food regulator, Dr. Paul Orhii, was in London last week where he lodged a strong case before members states of the World Health Assembly to institute a legal platform to combat the spread of counterfeit drugs.
- Humanosphere’s Tom Paulson writes that funding for childhood vaccinations is not keeping up with the need and is struggling to compete with more high-profile priorities.
- The phenomenon of “poverty tourism” – in which charities and aid organizations take donors on trips to “experience poverty” and meet their beneficiary – is coming under increased scrutiny and generating controversy.
- John Donnelly, writing in GlobalPost, characterizes the Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative as off to “a slow, stumbling start” in a short series called “Healing the World.”
- Last Wednesday, the WHO launched a campaign to reduce the huge but largely unrecognized burden of traffic deaths and injuries over the next decade.
- An HIV-positive person who takes anti-retroviral drugs after diagnosis, rather than when their health declines, can cut the risk of spreading the virus to uninfected partners by 96%, according to a study.
- New research has revealed that a bacteria present in the gut of mosquitos may be another tool to fight the spread of malaria.
- An experimental drug helped monkeys with a form of the Aids virus control the infection for more than a year, suggesting it may lead to a vaccine for people, or even a cure.
- A study by US scientists, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that 400,000 females aged 15-49 were raped over a 12-month period in the DRC 2006 and 2007. That comes out to an average of 48 women and girls being raped every hour.
- A new report by MSF argues that switching from using quinine to artesunate to treat malaria could save up to 200,000 lives a year.
- A US study has suggested that homosexual men are more likely to have had cancer than heterosexual men.
- According to the findings of the last Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, getting pregnant soon after childbearing, miscarriage or abortion places mothers and newborns at a higher risk of health complications or even death.
- Results announced today by the United States National Institutes of Health show that if an HIV-positive person adheres to an effective antiretroviral therapy regimen, the risk of transmitting the virus to their uninfected sexual partner can be reduced by 96%.
DISEASES AND DISASTERS
- According to statistics released by the National Coordinator of the Nigeria’s National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), Dr. Babajide Coker, Nigeria contributes a quarter of the malaria burden in Africa, and a staggering 90 per cent of its citizens are at risk for contracting the disease.
- Johnson & Johnson’s recalled at least 11,700 bottles of HIV/AIDS drug Prezista in several countries, after discovering trace amounts of a chemical emitting offensive odors in five batches of products sold in the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Austria and Canada.
- In China, around 1.5 million people require organ transplants, but just 10,000 receive them each year, as few Chinese agree to donate their organs upon death. Illegal organ traffickers have stepped in to fill that gap.
TOTALLY UNRELATED TO ANYTHING ELSE: Princess Beatrice’s atrocious weird attention-grabbing hat, worn to the royal wedding, is now being auctioned on eBay for UNICEF and Children in Crisis. Um, yay?