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, immediately following the annual meeting in Washington, D.C., 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 register here. Please note that registration will close on October 14th. Any questions should be directed to Peter Freeman, Advocacy/Policy Committee Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773.318.4842.
POLITICS AND POLICY
- An op-ed advocates for a new global health strategy based on a recent meeting at the United Nations aimed at incorporating chronic diseases into an agenda that had tended to emphasize infectious diseases.
- The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a bill on Wednesday that zeroes out U.S. aid to the United Nations Population Fund, a women and children’s health program that works to reduce maternal mortality, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide contraception to the world’s most vulnerable populations.
- For the second year in a row, U.S. President Barack Obama has waived a Congressionally-mandated ban on military aid for four countries that use child soldiers.
- A decision was announced that the amount of money spent on HIV/AIDS by DfID will drop by 1/3 over the next 4 years.
- Sanitation and hygiene are sensitive and unpopular subjects, but funding them is essential to fighting disease, ensuring basic rights and meeting millennium development goals.
- The Gates Foundation’s European director Joe Cerrell comes to the defense of the beleaguered Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, arguing to improve on its “impressive record and ensure that millions more lives are saved and the progress against global disease is secured for generations to come.”
- Almost four months into the Horn of Africa crisis, aid agencies are involved in much soul-searching as to whether they could have responded more quickly to the drought and famine.
RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
- A Japanese company, the Sumitomo Chemical Company, unveiled a new kind of insecticide treated bed net at a product launch in Kenya.
- Pregnant women who load up on fruits, veggies and whole grains have a reduced risk of having babies with neural tube defects, such as spina bifida or cleft lip, according to one of the first studies to look at the connection between diet and birth defects.
- A study by Stanford researchers has determined that infant health can be improved when a mother has a low-fat high fiber diet up to a year prior to getting pregnant.
- A study published in the British Medical Journal says that if current smoking trends continue until 2050, TB related deaths will jump by 40 million.
- Though young, there is a lot of potential in what mHealth can offer in developing countries. Amanda Glassman shares some ways that it can be improved.
- Researchers at the University of Washington have reported some highly problematic findings regarding a common method of birth control in eastern and southern Africa. They are problematic in that they indicate a popular injectable hormone, Depo-Provera, used by perhaps 140 million women worldwide (and often in poor settings) signficantly raises a woman’s risk of HIV infection.
- Test subjects in a Spanish HIV vaccine trial have shown a 90 percent immune response.
DISEASES AND DISASTERS
- A cohort of American and British researchers say that by investing in AIDS treatments, money can be saved in the long term.
- What should be the top priorities in global health? Infectious diseases? Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)? Non-communicable diseases (NCDs)? A research scientist wonders at the confusion amid this sea of bad acronyms.
- Former US President Carter is leading the fight against guinea worm making a request that WHO members provide $93 million in funding to wipe out the disease. DfID has committed to support the push against guinea worm by announcing it will allocating £20 million to the effort.
- The business news channel CNBC has published an extensive report on the lucrative and growing Dangerous World of Counterfeit Prescription Drugs.
Professor K Srinath Reddy, President of the Public Health Foundation of India, and co-chair of Global Health Council’s 2011 Conference, discusses the changing nature of health care, including issues of providing funding for health programs and the responsibility of donor countries.
- Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) introduced the Water for the World Act of 2011, a bill in the Senate which will make providing safe and clean drinking water around the world a priority for US foreign aid.
- More than 60 world nutrition experts met at WHO headquarters last week to revise guidelines and to identify solutions to tackle the growing problems of both malnutrition and obesity around the world.
- Ministers of health and other high-level health officials from throughout the Americas called for a series of actions to reduce the toll of chronic noncommunicable diseases, in a declaration issued last week in Mexico City.
- The Global Fund announced that former President of Botswana Festus Mogae and former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt have agreed to lead a high-level panel of experts that will conduct an independent and thorough review of the Global Fund’s financial safeguards.
- UN agencies are concerned that reduced donor funding due to the recession, combined with free trade agreements, will reduce the availability of low-cost HIV medications in developing countries.
- The United Nations General Assembly will convene a high-level meeting in September this year to discuss the financial burden caused by non-communicable diseases (NCD) on countries.
- A study done is Malawi by the World Bank attracted attention (and criticism) from Businessweek. Young women were given to stay in school and deter them from accepting money and gifts from “sugar daddies” in exchange for sex. The study found that HIV infection rates were 60% among schoolgirls who received cash compared to those who received nothing.
- A recent review of malaria treatment clinical trial results, published in the Chochrane Library, shows that artesunate was more effective that quinine at treating severe malaria.
- A personalized text messaging reminder service significantly boosted antiretroviral (ARV) adherence over a six-week period compared with a standard beeper reminder system, according to a study published in the March issue of AIDS Patient Care and STDs.
- About 600 people gathered at the Global Health Metrics and Evaluation conference in Seattle to discuss issues surrounding the evaluation of effectiveness of health programs.
- Global health blogger Alanna Shaikh discusses how micro-credit and the Green Revolution, two of international development’s biggest successes, are being re-evaluated.
- The Nepalese government is planning launch a large vaccination campaign against elephantiasis in 40 high-risk districts.
- Dubai’s Ministry of Health introduced Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine PCV13, a vaccine that protects young children from the worst effects of illnesses including pneumonia, blood infections and meningitis.
- The National Influenza Center of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has been designated as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, making China the first developing country to house such an institution.
DISEASES AND DISASTERS
- Europe is concerned by the growing incidence of drug-resistant TB, particularly in children.
- The world continues to follow the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, including the unfolding situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The WHO has assured that there is no danger to individuals being exposed to radiation in nearby nations (e.g. China).
- As if Haiti needed any more bad news, a study published in the Lancet says that the UN estimate of 400,000 cholera cases in Haiti this year is nearly half of what the real projection should be for the recovering nation. Meanwhile, health officials in Lagos have called on residents to observe high standards of personal and environmental hygiene and have designated emergency numbers to call in case of suspected cases; the Ghana Health Service has set up cholera centers in Accra to deal with the outbreak there; and the interim federal government of Somalia on Tuesday denied reports of an outbreak of cholera in the country, responding to an Associated Press story over the weekend that Somali doctors had reported that more than 20 people had died from the disease.
- In the February 2011 issue of PLoS Neglected Tropical Disease Journal, contributing editor Serap Aksoy discussed the triumphs behind the control of human African trypanosomiasis, or African Sleeping Sickness.
- Although women get diagnosed for tuberculosis (TB) later than men, treatment outcomes among women are better than men with higher TB treatment success rate and lower default (drop-out) rate in the female patients. The finding was announced at a meeting on TB and women in New Delhi, India.
- While the total number of newly reported HIV positive people and AIDS patients are still low in Japan compared with other countries, the number of newly HIV-infected people in Japan has doubled in the past decade due to public complacency and lower awareness.
In a field where war, communicable and vector-borne diseases, and access to clean water and sanitation are everyday crises, chronic diseases are often minimized or simply overlooked by global health advocates. Billions of dollars are poured into HIV prevention and treatment efforts and malaria vaccines with the idea that once we deal with these “acute issues,” we can begin to focus on chronic diseases that receive so much more attention in developed nations. However, we overlook chronic disease at our own peril, or perhaps the peril of those that are suffering from it while it is unaddressed. These diseases are becoming a major problem in poorer countries where they are not being dealt with: 80% of chronic disease deaths now occur in low and middle income countries.1
Diabetes in particular is a growing burden on the developing world. This chronic condition, caused by the body’s inability to produce enough insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar) or to use the insulin it produces, can lead to heart disease and stroke, kidney failure, nerve damage, and blindness.2 Reduced blood flow and nerve damage often leads to foot ulcers and eventual limb amputation. The WHO tells the story of Zahida, a Pakistani woman whose diabetes went undiagnosed for eight years. She is now receiving insulin and proper care, but an infected foot ulcer eventually led to her losing her right leg below the knee.
The International Diabetes Federation estimates that diabetes may cause nearly four million deaths in 20103 – more deaths than either malaria,4 AIDS,5 or tuberculosis6 cause each year. Like many other diseases that weigh heavily on the public health of developing nations, it is relatively easy to prevent and to treat. Good diet and regular physical activity have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying onset of type 2 diabetes.7 Early diagnosis with simple blood tests and moderate blood sugar control with insulin are cost-effective interventions for patients with type 1 and 2 diabetes in low and middle income countries. However, as with other diseases that receive more attention, reaching people with these interventions remains a challenge – it is as difficult to provide people with insulin as it is to bring them mosquito nets, antiretroviral medications, antibiotics, or clean water. Still, it is a condition that we can no longer afford to ignore: the WHO estimates that diabetes deaths will double by the year 2030. It is a condition that deserves at least as much attention as the other “everyday crises” of global health.