Global Health Weekly News Round-up

World Breastfeeding Week is from 01 August 2012 to 08 August 2012. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy makers in August 1990 to protect promote and support breastfeeding.

Politics and Policies:

  • The United Kingdom government is set to become the first country in the world to provide all children free of charge with a comprehensive flu vaccination program.
  • Ugandan health ministry says it needs Sh2 Billion to fight Ebola hemorrhagic fever.
  • Rwanda moves to close down children’s institutions and improves its childcare system.
  • Massachusetts passes Health Cost Control Bill. It aims to save $200 billion over the next 15 years by linking health care cost increases to the growth of the state’s economy.
  • Arizona delays Medicaid expansion decision.
  • International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (ITC Project) launched a new report on the effectiveness of tobacco control policies in Uruguay.

Programs:

  • United States Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration partner on food safety booklets to help those with compromised immune systems to prevent food borne illness.
  • The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved first generic versions of Singular to treat asthma and allergies.
  • FDA approves Zaltrap for treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer in adults.
  • The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners are scaling up efforts to reverse the ‘alarming’ rates of malnutrition, disease and death in two camps hosting Sudanese refugees in South Sudan.
  • Tullow Oil gives Sh100 million to the Uganda’s Ministry of Health to help to fight against the deadly Ebola disease.
  • The Global Campaign for Microbicides (GCM) which has been housed at PATH since its inception nearly 15 years ago will close operations in September.
  • Group Health teams with hospital system in Pacific Northwest.
  • United States announces $12 million more in the Syrian humanitarian aid. The U.S. is providing food, water, medicine, clothing and hygiene kits.
  • The United Nations office has announced that North Korea needs immediate food aid due to flood.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued its bulletin (online) for August.
  • Gilead Sciences inks deals with 3 Indian companies including Ranbaxy laboratories for low-cost HIV drug in developing countries.

 

 Research:

  • According to a research, diacetyl – artificial butter flavoring agent is linked to key Alzheimer’s disease process.
  • A study reveals that clusters of congenital anomalies are likely to go unnoticed due to lack of nationwide surveillance.
  • A study published in Health Care Management Review reports that mandatory individual insurance coverage in Massachusetts was followed by a significant near-term drop in hospital productivity.
  • A study suggests that there is a link between allergies and reduced risk of a serious type of cancer that starts in brain.
  • A study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology demonstrates that a new drug is effective in a common kidney disease.
  • A study done by an undergraduate student, published in Analytical methods journal could lead to a simpler and more accurate way to test for prostate cancer.
  • A report published in The EMBO Journal show that intellectual disability due to Fragile X and Down syndromes involve similar molecular pathway.
  • A team of Spanish and Italian researchers in their experiment showed how the extracts from strawberry protect against ultraviolet radiation as well as increasing its viability and reducing damage to DNA.
  • Findings of a study suggest that students with strong hearts and lungs may make better grades.
  • A study published in Hepatology journal provides a new approach to treat acute liver failure.
  • A study published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics states that urban outdoor air pollution causes an estimated 1.3 million deaths per year worldwide.
  • Researchers state that certain jobs dads do are linked to higher risk of birth defects. These jobs included artists, photographer and photo processors, drivers and landscapers and grounds men.
  • A study done by the researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital state that social deprivation has a measurable effect on brain of children. They suggest that positive interventions can partially reverse these changes.
  • According to a research published in BMJ Open, restricting the amount of time spent seated every day to less than 3 hours might boost the life expectancy of US adults by 2 years.
  • According to a group of Korean researchers a significant portion of people who receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation may end up with broken ribs or other bones.
  • Researchers have found that the resins not only boost the athletic performance but also prevent DNA damage due to oxidative damage prior to strenuous activities which are linked with several types of cancer and heart disease.

Diseases & Disasters:

  • FDA warns consumers not to eat cantaloupes from Burch Equipment LLC of North Carolina because of possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes (L.mono).
  • Death toll due to deadly Ebola virus is rising in Uganda. It has risen to 17. Rwanda health ministry has called upon general public not to panic.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning about a new pig flu virus.
  • Flood affects life in North Korea. It has killed 170 people and about 200000 people have fled from their homes.

 

Global Health Weekly News Round-Up

Politics and Policies

  • The Ministry of Health (Angola) with World Bank and Total E&P Angola has launched a project for the Reinforcement of Municipal Health Services. It aims to contribute to the reduction of maternal and infant mortality rate in the country.
  • American Embassy in Abidjan, Cote d’lviore, has sponsored the project launched by the Ministry of Health – HIV/AIDS hotline- to enable the public- especially the youth-to get information about the disease.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new guidelines for couples in which one partner is HIV positive and the other is not. The guidelines for so-called “discordant” couples are being praised by UNAID, Doctors without Borders and others.
  • Federal health officials endorsed a decision by their advisor to let publication of two controversial bird flu studies to prepare the world against a possible deadly pandemic.
  • Indonesian tobacco companies will be forced by the government to place photos of horrific health problems caused by smoking on ever pack and advisers will be banned from showing cigarettes under a planned governmental regulation.

Programs

  • Jeffrey Model Foundation joins 20 countries to Launch World Primary Immunodeficiency Week from April 22- 29. The campaign focuses on early diagnosis and access to appropriate treatment, through public awareness and physician education.
  • Eurostat Press Office has released Health in the EU27 in 2010. According to it, at the age of 65, both men and women in the member states are expected to live a further 9 years in a healthy condition.
  • Edo (state in Nigeria) receives N1.8 Billion cervical cancer vaccines from an international donor agency. The vaccines will be administered to the girl’s ages between 9 and 13 years in the state.
  • The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that obesity and diet related illness could emerge as major challenges for Europe and Central Asia while hunger will only be a minor problem.
  • Latest findings in Breastfeeding Science presented at Medela’s 7th international breastfeeding and lactation symposium in Vienna, Austria on April 20-21, 2012. Presentations include insights into the unique properties of human milk, breastfeeding and medication, and stem cells in human milk.

Research

  • Scientists of University of Edinburgh have found a key protein which is common to many potentially fatal forms of malaria. It could help to develop vaccines or drugs against life-threatening cases of the infection.
  • A study by U.S. National Institute on Aging showed that more daily exercises, even doing housework can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This prospective, observational cohort study involved 716 participants without dementia who participated in the Rush Memory and Aging Project.
  • A survey has revealed the misuse of pesticides, some of them banned, in northern Ghana is affecting the health of the farmers, sometimes with fatal consequences, and contaminating the crops.
  • A research study shows Ayurvedic cure of HIV/ AIDS might be possible by the Neem tree.
  • A study suggests second-generation drug used for hypertension aids heart function independent of blood pressure effect.
  • A study done by the Japanese scientists raise hope for treatment of baldness.
  • Report shows a link between money, education and life expectancy.
  • University of Illinois researchers have shown how soy protein could significantly reduce fat accumulation and triglycerides in the livers of obese patients by partially restoring the function of a key signaling pathway in the organ.
  • An Irish medical study confirms swine flu jab caused increased narcolepsy among those with age groups between five to nineteen years. International experts suggest a number of factors might have contributed to this increased risk.
  • Discovery of a yeast prion which helps cells to survive.
  • A study published in the journal Biofabrication, describes a new method for making medical devices called nerve guidance conduits or NGC’s which may help severely damaged nerves to regrow and restore function.
  • Neuroscientists have discovered key protein responsible for controlling nerve cell protection. It is responsible for controlling the chemical process which reduce or enhance protection mechanism for nerve cells in the brain.
  • The researchers at Columbia Medical Center have identified a molecular pathway that controls the retention and release of the brain’s stem cells- ‘Housekeeping’ mechanism.
  • A team of scientists have shown that the vessels grown from donor cells are good and natural alternative to synthetic vessels. Animal trials have shown promising results.

Diseases and Disasters

  • Earthquake in Chile. Two people died of heart attack.
  • Mexico’s Popo volcano throws glowing rocks. Residents of the semirural communities near the volcano have reported hearing hours of ‘low-pitched roaring’.
  • About 14 students in Bangladesh have been reported suffering from H1N1.
  • In Sri Lanka, dengue fever killed 38, infects 10,000 in a few months.
  • A mystery skin disease killed 19 in Vietnam. Officials seeking international assistance on this issue.

 

Global Health News Last Week

SECTION NEWS
Attention IH section members! We are still in need of moderators for the scientific sessions at this year’s annual meeting. According to our program committee, the following sessions are still available:

Monday, October 31
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.: International Health Programs & Policy 1

2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.: Act Global, Think Local: Domestic applications of international health lessons; Child Survival & Child Health 1

Tuesday, November 1
8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.: Builidng Partnerships and Coalitions for better International Programs; Emerging, Re-emerging & Neglected Tropical Diseases

10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.: International Health Communication/ Behavior Change Communication

12:30 p.m. 2:00 p.m.: HIV/AIDS 2

Wednesday, November 2
8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.: HIV/AIDS 3; Innovations in International Health 2

Please contact Omar Khan (ih.apha@gmail.com) for more information, or to volunteer!


USAID celebrated its 50-year anniversary this week.

The benefits of breastfeeding are being showcased around the world
for Breast Feeding Week.

POLITICS AND POLICY

  • US organizations will find it easier to deliver aid to parts of Somalia controlled by a pro-Al Qaeda group – the threat of prosecution if it ends up in the wrong hands has been reduced  after an announcement by the State Department.
  • Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez was sworn in as the new Assistant Administrator for the Global Health Bureau at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
  • Although Congress resolved the debt ceiling debate, the way the budget package is being shaped — particularly by combining International Affairs with defense in a single “security” category, global poverty spending is getting severely handicapped.
  • Blood tests for tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis may be putting patients’ lives at risk through providing misleading results, and should not be used, according to a WHO policy statement.

PROGRAMS

  • The inaugural charter of the Alliance for Oral Health Across Borders was signed at Temple University yesterday.
  • Tom Paulson of Humanosphere breaks down the 2010 Gates Foundation annual report, with some interesting commentary.
  • Jaclyn Schiff of UN Dispatch says we can look for more global health leadership coming from the city of Houston (my hometown!), as Dr. Peter Hotez, whom Schiff calls “an international health force of nature,” and an arm of the Sabin Vaccine Institute move there.
  • The Measles Initiative today announced it has helped vaccinate one billion children in more than 60 developing countries since 2001, making significant gains in the global effort to stop measles.
  • India’s health minister announced Tuesday a new initiative underway to boost the country’s rate of immunizing newborns by collecting mobile phone numbers of all pregnant mothers to monitor their babies’ vaccinations.

RESEARCH

  • A multi-resistant strain of Salmonella Kentucky could be spreading globally, suggests a study by Institut Pasteur. Case numbers have risen in Europe and the US, and infections have also been acquired in various parts of Africa and the Middle East. The strain has also been found in food animals in Africa.
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturer iBio, Inc announced the successful animal testing of a malaria vaccine candidate in trials sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • A new study in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene shows a relationship between a kind of river flow and cholera outbreaks.
  • A new study in the Lancet shows that text messaging can be an effective tool in malaria treatment and prevention.
  • PLoS Medicine published a new study on HIV/AIDS in the Middle East and North Africa. Among its key findings was the startling fact that sex between men (MSM) accounts for nearly one quarter of all new HIV infections across the region.
  • According to a new study, children of depressed mothers in developing countries are 40 percent more likely to be underweight or stunted than those with mothers in good mental health.
  • A cheap and portable blood test could provide a breakthrough for diagnosing infections in remote areas of the world, a scientific study says.
  • Using WHO data, researchers found that children who experience abuse and develop mental health disorders are at increased risk for chronic physical problems later in life.
  • A new study in the journal Nature Medicine finds that a credit card shaped device used for testing HIV, known as “Lab-on-a-Chip,” has had a successful trial run in Rwanda.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • Mass treatment of river blindness and lymphatic filariasis with ivermectin has been hampered by severe reactions if the patient also has Loa loa. A new map developed by WHO’s African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control will help communities identify low risk areas for Loa loa and distribute ivermectin for lymphatic filariasis control safely.
  • The CDC reports that the annual number of HIV infections in the USA is holding steady at about 50,000, and that African American MSM are at particular risk.
  • AIDS remains a metaphor for inequality, argues Michel Sidibe in the LA Times. In the world’s wealthier nations, where access to medicine is widespread, AIDS is becoming a chronic disease rather than a death sentence. But in the eveloping world, 1.8 million people die of AIDS each year.
  • Global cholera incidence has increased since 2000, with Haiti’s large outbreak tipping the largest burden away from Africa for the first time since 1995, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Sunday.
  • Tens of thousands of Somalis have died and more than half-a-million children are on the brink of starvation. Western aid isn’t flowing to where the worst of the famine is — partly due to the “war on terror.”
  • The head of World Food Program in Ethiopia says the country’s emergency food stocks are almost gone, the latest trouble caused by the drought in the Horn of Africa.

TOTALLY UNRELATED TO ANYTHING – Apparently Hollywood has discovered its next Greg Mortenson: Sam Childers, the “Machine Gun Preacher,” is the subject of much hubbub and an upcoming movie starring Gerard Butler.  This man claims to have been a gangbanger and drug dealer who found Jesus and then took up arms to rescue child soldiers from the LRA.  Global health blogger Brett Keller offers some commentary into Childers’ outlandish (and, frankly, dubious) story, while anonymous aid blogger “J” at Tales from the Hood has a few choice words.

Global Health News Last Week

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.

PROGRAMS

  • 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.

RESEARCH

  • 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.

Notes on IH Section Conference Call: Current Developments in MCNH (June 27, 2011)

The IH Section held its third topic-focused conference call on Current Developments in MCNH on Monday, June 27, 2011 from 1:00 to 2:00 EST. We had several members of the IH section offer their commentary and expertise on current issues concerning maternal and child health.

Speakers
Laura Altobelli (Future Generations)
Elvira Beracochea (Midego)
Carol Dabbs (U.S. Department of State)
Miriam Labbock (Carolina Global Breastfeeding Insititute)
Mary Anne Mercer (University of Washington)

Laura Altobelli: Brief presentation of the APHA policy resolution proposal submitted by the IH section entitled, “Call to Action to Reduce Global Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Morbidity and Mortality.”
Laura discussed the new APHA policy proposal on MCH. There was nothing previously on the APHA policy regarding global action on this issue per se – one previously existing resolution focuses on reducing maternal and child mortality in the US, and one focuses on breastfeeding and has both domestic and global aspects. This, then, is the first policy proposal on global MNCH. Justification for the policy proposal is lack of progress on the MDGs and lack of policy commitment to protect vulnerable populations. APHA will be joining important other organizations that are putting out strategies, including the Partnership for MNCH (WHO), and the UN, and attended global meetings in 2010 in observation of the Year of Maternal Health (some of these mentioned below). There is also an effort to increase attention to this in the Global Fund and GHI. Six other sections/forums are co-sponsoring the resolution.

Elvira Beracochea: Update on the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.
A factsheet has been sent out (available upon request – please contact jmkeralis [at] gmail [dot] com). These MDGs and their targets have served us well to measure our progress so far. There have been improvements, though progress has been uneven. MDGs 4 and 5 focus on reducing mortality but not necessarily on improving health, development and well-being, and we need to address this as well. We know where women and children die and how. We also have the knowledge to prevent these deaths. We need to coordinate work at global scale and have a concerted strategy to ensure the rights of all women and children are met. We need to take global health goals to a new level of effectiveness using efficient strategies and a human-rights-based approach. A rights-based approach does not focus on only survival, but also on development. We need new targets and indicators that measure not only deaths but also number of children whose right are fulfilled; the children that are breastfed, fully immunized, drink clean water, are protected from malaria, and that that attend school. We need targets and indicators that measure not only the number of women that died or delivered with assistance of a skilled attendant, but that also measure the number of pregnancy complications effectively treated. We need new MDGs and targets.

Miriam Labbok: An update on reproductive health continuum (birth, breastfeeding and birth spacing promotion, protection, support) as an essential MNCH intervention approach.
It is vital that we pay attention to the reproductive health continuum within the life-cycle approach: birth, breastfeeding and birth spacing. Programming must include not only promotion, but also skill- and capacity-building so that support can be provided. In addition, policy change is needed to: support treating women with dignity, provide NFP knowledge (at least for the times that family planning supplies run out), and create the capacity to support health-supportive birth, breastfeeding and spacing practices. All such programming and policy creation should be carried out with recognition of the rights of both women and children to the best possible health support and with attention to appropriate technologies, as one size does not necessarily fit all. In addition, programs that address cultural change and intimate family and social decisions demand the building of trust that comes with reliability and long-term relationships. Programming should be designed for the long term, with a strong base and phased in activities, and with excellence and sustainability as the focus.

Mary Anne Mercer: Partnership for Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health – what it does and how one can get involved.
The Partnership for Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health is a WHO-based coalition of organizations that support increased funding commitments to MDGs 4 and 5. Any organization that supports MCH can be a member simply by filling out an application from the PMNCH web site at http://www.who.int/pmnch/. Be sure your organization is a member (it’s free!) by checking the member list. Also check out the ‘Knowledge Portal’ that aims to maintain updated programmatic information on current approaches to improving MCH. I am on the Board of Directors of the Partnership as an NGO representative, and we will be electing a new member of the Board this year that will represent an Africa-based NGO or the Africa office of an international NGO — please let me know if you have any suggestions for good candidates for that position.

Carol Dabbs: Trends in US government funding levels for global MNCH.
Funding has increased and is overseen by the State Department. Global Health targets are to be achieved with funding from FY 09-14, generally for implementation in FY 10-15. The Global Health Initiative includes principles supporting country-led plans and to coordination with other partnerships and donors, as well as between USG agencies and health programs. Eight countries have been selected as “plus” countries (places to conduct learning laboratories): Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Guatemala. Almost all of the Global Health Initiative funding is from USAID and State (there is also some DHHS funding, but that was not included in this discussion). There are two stages in the fiscal year: requesting funds from Congress and appropriation of funds by Congress. Unfortunately, delays have been a reality this year. However, we should look at trends and context of the rest of foreign assistance and of overall health fundig. The budget now includes nutrition as a separate item, and it’s included in the MNCH numbers here. There has been a trend of increased funding; funding for MNCH has increased about by 22% over two years (FY 2008 to FY 2010), but the full year continuing resolution for FY 2011 allocation to MNCH is still pending. We do not know what the appropriations for FY 2012 and FY 2013 will be.

Discussion: Is this in addition to Dept of State HIV funds? Yes, there are additional funds in USAID for HIV/AIDS, as well as funds for MCH and the rest of the health programs.