Note: There will be no news round-up next week, as the IH section will be conducting its usual array of activities during APHA’s Annual Meeting. Please tune in for updates on section sessions and activites at the conference. Meanwhile, you can get your global health news fix from the DAWNS digest, Humanosphere, or the Healthy Dose.
October 16 was World Food Day.
October 17 was International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
POLITICS AND POLICY
- Scientists are warning officials negotiating a global treaty on mercury that banning the deadly chemical completely would be dangerous for public health because of the chemical’s use in vaccines.
- The Washington Post runs an editorial critical of the GOP presidential candidates’ hostility toward foreign aid.
- An influential panel of MPs warned that changes in UK aid policies may make overseas aid more prone to corruption and misuse.
- Attendees at the Asia Pacific Conference on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights have called on countries in the region to introduce comprehensive sexuality education in schools.
- The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a report which finds that global HIV/AIDS funding dropped by 10% in 2010.
- HP Signed a Memorandum of Understanding with USAID to collaborate in the fight against global poverty through initiatives directed at issues such as public health.
- GAVI CEO Seth Berkley pens an op-ed in Huffington Post on the economic value of childhood vaccines.
- The Pan African Parliament has passed a resolution that urges African nations to prioritize maternal, newborn and child health programs.
- USAID is initiating research to find out whether developing world families will adopt a new cooking technology and adapt their cooking methods to save their health.
- At an event in Washington, the Aspen Institute’s Global Leaders Council called for increased accessed to contraception worldwide.
- Microfinance initiatives to fund development could benefit from reinvigorating their aims and taking on new, integrated approaches, according to experts at the 2011 International Forum on the Social and Solidarity Economy in Montreal.
- A new study, by researchers from the National Institutes of Health, Gilead Sciences Inc. and universities in Belgium and Italy, suggests that a microbicide gel, which was originally developed to fight AIDS in Africa, could lower the incidence of herpes in many women.
- RTS,S a malaria vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline, is showing great of promise in the early stages of its huge clinical trial. The American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Council Member and Science Director at the PATH Malaria Control Program, Rick Steketee, explores the impact of the new RTS,S clinical trial results and what this breakthrough means for science and neglected tropical disease research. On the other hand, Sarah Boseley wonders where the money will come from once the vaccine has passed its trials, and Karen Grepin is not as excited about the new GSK malaria trial results as many others.
- Adults who have fallen behind on mortgage payments exhibited higher rates of depression and are skipping meals and medications because they cannot pay the bills, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found.
- Teenage drivers have fewer crashes after they’ve been driving for a while, but new research in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that a few months behind the wheel do not improve their driving skills much.
- A recent study finds that the best way to fight TB in patients with HIV is to treat as early as possible.
DISEASES AND DISASTERS
- The famine in Somalia isn’t getting much public attention, but not because things are improving. Aid workers predict things will get worse before they get better. Much-needed rain is coming, but the rainfall could deepen the crisis for the four million people there who need help.
- Numerous UN agencies are ready to be deployed if Southeast Asian nations ravaged by flooding request for assistance.
- A report by Roll Back Malaria Partnership released at the start of the Gates Foundation’s Global Malaria Forum says that the world is making positive steps towards eradicating malaria. Specifically, 29 countries are on track to stop malaria within a decade.
- Environmental hazards sicken or kill millions of people — soot or smog in the air, for example, or pollutants in drinking water. But the most dangerous stuff happens where the food is made — in peoples’ kitchens.
- World Health Organization officials say the rapid and extensive globalization of food production has increased the incidence of food contamination worldwide.
- Speculators in the agricultural commodities markets are forcing grocery prices to rise too quickly and erratically, according to some top economists marking World Food Day Sunday.
- Climate change poses an immediate and serious threat to global health and stability, as floods and droughts destroy people’s homes and food supplies and increase mass migration, experts warn.
- A survey of 87 countries showed more than half the countries reported more or much more awareness of mental illnesses in the past three years. Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot of new money behind that awareness.
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
- 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.
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!
Attention IH Section Members: Dr. Kaja Abbas, MPH student at the University of Rochester, is gauging interest in forming a working group focused on using system science to improve global health, similar to the intitiaves being promoted by NIH. Her interests are in conducting system science research on global health policy by modeling population and disease dynamics and economic evaluation of public health interventions and systems, with a focus on HIV and TB. Dr. Malcolm Bryant, our section chair, has encouraged the expansion of our section’s activities in areas of technical expertise, and Dr. Abbas is enthusiastic about a working group within the section that promotes system science methodologies for global health solutions. She welcomes your thoughts and suggestions at kaja [dot] abbas [at] gmail [dot] com.
Global Health Delivery online’s HIV prevention community is hosting a “virtual expert panel” March 7-11 to continue the dialogue around PrEP as a novel approach to prevention. Panelists from Uganda, South Africa and the United States will lead the online discussion, highlighting various barriers and opportunities to implementing PrEP in clinical settings; how to encourage long-term adherence; and what additional research questions need to be answered. Panelists include (1) Douglas Krakower, MD, a fellow in Infectious Diseases at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School, (2)Andrew Mujugira, MBChB, MSc, the East Africa regional medical director for the Partners PrEP study, and (3) Vivek Naranbhai, PhD, who was involved in CAPRISA microbicide gel study. All GHDonline members can participate in this online discussion. You can sign up here if you are not currently a member.
- Paramount Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people in the Eastern Province of Zambia has urged his subjects to get circumcised in order to reduce the chances of spreading HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases in his land.
- Britain is threatening to pull out of the Food and Agriculture Organization due to “patchy” performance.
- Due to uncertainty in past estimates, the Indian government has formed a 16-member expert group to determine the annual death rate caused by malaria in the country each year.
- The breakdown of the air conditioning in the plenary hall of the Philippines’ House of Representatives stalled the heated debate of a controversial reproductive health bill. The bill is vehemently opposed by the Catholic Church and pro-life groups and has caused a stir in the largely Catholic country.
- A massive demonstration rally was held in New Delhi to protest a free trade agreement between India and Europe, which many fear may threaten the production of low-cost generic drugs, particularly HIV medicines.