Global Health News Last Week

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.

PROGRAMS

  • 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.

RESEARCH

  • 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.

Global Health News Last Week

The IH Newsletter is up! The Winter 2011 edition features several articles written by section members on various topics, a social media corner, fellowships and internships, and member publications. Check it out, and please consider contributing to the Spring edition!

On Tuesday, USAID administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah gave the 2011 David E. Barmes Global Health Lecture at NIH. His speech, titled “Addressing Grand Challenges:The Role of Science in Global Health Development,” can be viewed here. The transcript can also be downloaded, or you can read it on USAID’s website here. Also, you can check out commentary by Amanda Glassman, Sarah Arnquist, and K4Health.

Cholera, as usual, remains in the news: experts say the outbreak in Haiti has plateaued, while the one in Papua New Guinea rages on, and it is just getting started in Ghana. Meanwhile, health officials in Bangladesh prepare to launch the world’s largest cholera vaccine trial near Dhaka, the capital.

Scientists from Edinburgh University claim that the malarial parasite is particularly deadly because it competes with other strains of the infection by focusing on producing quickly-replicating cells, thus “duking it out” in the bloodstream. On a more positive note, Kenyan scientists believe that a spider that is attracted to the smell of human sweat may aid in the fight against the disease.

UN experts maintain that the laws in many Asian countries obstruct access to HIV/AIDS care and services. Nineteen countries in the region outlaw same-sex relations, and 29 criminalize prostitution. The remarks were made just before the Global Commission of HIV and the Law took place in Bangkok, where experts from around the world gathered to discuss HIV-related legal and human rights issues. Also, China has declared its intention to bring the spread of AIDS under control by 2020.

According to the WHO, Moldova has emerged as the world leader in per-capita alcohol consumption.

Experts have been sounding the alarm about rising food prices, and many analysts have linked the crisis to the recent riots in north Africa and the Middle East.

Obama and the Republicans continue to battle over the budget, as the president requests a modest increase in global health funds while Congressional Republicans try to slash spending.