Global Health News Last Week

September 5 was Labor Day.

POLITICS AND POLICY

  • The State Department has announced the official US Delegation to the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs, which will take place September 19-20.
  • Access to affordable lifesaving medicines will be threatened where they are needed most—in parts of the developing world—if the U.S.insists on implementing restrictive intellectual property policies in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, says Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders).
  • Sarah Boseley shares the great news that Kenya has officially made female genital mutilation illegal.
  • A federal appeals court in Virginia has dismissed two lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
  • United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon singled out sustainable development as the top issue facing the planet with the world’s seven billionth person expected to be born next month. Key to this was climate change, and he said time was running out with the population set to explode this century.
  • Thousands of proposed cuts in the US Congress could lead to significant cuts to USAID.
  • The Philippines reproductive health bill is still making its way through the senate.  Meanwhile, 7 villages in Bataan, the Philippines have banned “artificial contraception” amid national debate over the bill.
  • A report co-authored by an Australian academic highlights the need for healthy ecosystems as the basis for sustainable water resources and stable food security for people around the world.

PROGRAMS

  • Sometime this fall, the world’s population will reach 7 billion people. Experts now forecast that by 2050, the population could be 10 billion. Some say those numbers should force policy makers to focus more intently on making family planning much more widely available in the developing world.
  • The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has put together a one day conference bringing together innovators and health workers to share ideas about ways to more easily deliver interventions.
  • It has been commonly held that insecticide treated bed nets reduce the rate of malaria for people who use them. Now there is hard evidence to back up that assumption.

RESEARCH AND INNOVATIONS

  • A new study shows that less than three doses of the vaccine against cervical cancer can effectively protect women in the developing world where 80% of global deaths due to cervical cancer take place.
  • Only three African countries are on track to achieve MGD 5, according to an African Institute for Development Policy study.
  • Most efforts in the Western world seeking to find solutions for developing world problems tend to think of inventing new technologies or, at least, using the tools we typically use to fix things — modern drugs for diseases, improved seeds for crops, a better mousetrap. Sometimes, all you need is a newly geared donkey
  • Scientists may have developed a new TB vaccine after tests showed the elimination of TB from infected tissue in mice.
  • A socially active lifestyle can dramatically speed up weight loss through the burning of fat in mice, a study shows. Researchers at Ohio State University in the US identified a link between the amount of social interaction in a mouse’s environment and its weight.
  • An easy-to-use diagnostic chip for HIV could “give results in minutes” and be a game changer in the field of cheap diagnostics for remote regions, claim the researchers who developed it.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • Having to contend with U.S.army drones and the crossfire between the Taliban and the Pakistani army, the residents of Pakistan’s tribal areas find access to treatment for HIV/AIDS harder than in most other parts of the world.
  • Three-quarters of a million people are facing death by starvation in Somalia according the United Nations, who declared Monday that famine had spread to a sixth southern region of the beleaguered Horn of Africa state.  Meanwhile, an investigation has revealed that masses of food meant for famine victims in Somalia are being stolen. There have also been reports of rioting and killings during food distribution at camps for famine victims.
  • A magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck 100km southwest of the city of Medan, Sumatra and 110km beneath the earth’s crust.
  • A New York Times editorial castigates the international community’s response to the cholera outbreak in Haiti.
  • The CEO of insulin manufacturer Novo Nordisk says the WHO should buy low cost diabetes drugs in bulk for the developing world.
  • Messages of good health and positive self-esteem for girls aren’t hard to come by in kid lit, so what’s the deal with all the attention for a not-yet-published rhyming picture book about an obese, unhappy 14-year-old named Maggie?

INFOGRAPHICS AND OTHER MEDIA

Plasmodium goes viral as the global health community observes World Malaria Day

If you think you’re too small to accomplish something big, picture yourself locked in a room with a mosquito. –African proverb  

An African woman lies under a light-blue bed net.
Mali 2010 @ Barbara Sigge/MSF

Yesterday, World Malaria Day was observed by organizations and communities all over the world with all the resolve appropriate for one of the world’s deadliest diseases.  According to the WHO, approximately half of the world is at risk for the disease.  Though most of the cases and deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, malaria was present in 108 countries and territories in 2008, causing approximately 247 million cases and nearly one million deaths.1  Most deaths are in children under 5.  The international day of observation was recognized by high-profile celebrities, NGOs, and small communities in a variety of ways.  But the newest – and potentially the most effective – way to raise both money and awareness is by going viral with the protozoan parasite.  

Malaria first went viral when Ashton Kutcher celebrated his beating CNN to one million followers on Twitter by donating $100,000 to Malaria No More to purchase 10,000 mosquito nets.2  Through his donation, 89,724 insecticide-treated bed nets were sent to villages in Senegal.  By using the RT2Give Twitpay service, any Twitter user can retweet a message from their malaria-related non-profit of choice and donate $10 to Malaria No More.  Internet Explorer and Firefox users can also download and use the Nothing But Nets browser toolbar, which raises money every time it’s used to search and shop online.  

The battle against malaria continues to rage on many fronts, and much progress has been made.  A variety of rapid diagnostic tests are available to facilitate accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment, requiring only a drop of blood and giving results in 15 minutes.  Artemisinin-based combination therapy acts quickly with few side effects and has proven extremely effective at treating malaria cases.3  Malaria vaccine candidates, though they only confer partial protection, have shown great promise and are currently in Phase III testing.4  However, there is still much work to be done: insecticide-treated bed nets must be made more widely available, reliable testing and treatment need to be implemented on a much wider scale, and care and treatment must be made more affordable and accessible.   

When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the first World Malaria Day in 2008, he made the bold proposal of ending malaria deaths by the end of 2010 by ensuring universal coverage in Africa.  In an op-ed piece in the Guardian, he cautioned that while we may not be able to wipe out malaria right away, we can combat it effectively if we act together.  “We have the resources and the know-how. But we have less than 1,000 days before the end of 2010. So let’s get to work.”5 

~~~traduction française~~~ Continue reading “Plasmodium goes viral as the global health community observes World Malaria Day”