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.
- 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.
- 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.
The IH Section hosted its third topic-focused conference call, on Current Developments in MCNH, took place 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 included Laura Altobelli, Elvira Beracochea, Carol Dabbs, Miriam Labbock, and Mary Anne Mercer. Read the summary here.
IH Section Communications Chair Jessica Keralis attended APHA’s Mid-Year Meeting on healthcare reform. There were several interesting sessions on technology implications of reform, the public health workforce, advocacy, and others. Read all about it on the IH Blog.
POLITICS AND POLICY
- In the first part of a two-part series called “The great billion dollar drug scam,” investigative journalist Khadija Sharife questions the accuracy of figures given by the pharmaceutical industry to justify the high cost of drugs.
- The American Chronicle reports how Brazil has been implementing numerous programs to reduce the rate of HIV infection within the country.
- At the 7th annual meeting of the World Conference of Science Journalists, several speakers said clinical research trials done in the developing world lack adequate patient protections as well as an ethical and legal framework.
- Arizona State University Scientists have developed recombinant attenuated salmonella vaccines which they believe will make vaccines more effective.
- A test for dengue through saliva has been developed by researchers from Singapore.
- Researchers believe that they have discovered the precise mechanism by which drugs attack and beat malaria. In doing so, they believe that they can gain a more precise understanding of how resistances are forming and develop better malaria medicines.
- A recently published report on research and development by the Malaria Research Initiative examines the current state of malaria research and offers six recommendations in going forward to improve R&D.
- A dramatic increase in support for malaria R&D since the mid-1990s puts the world well on the way to achieving global malaria control, treatment and elimination goals in the next five to six years.
- A study has found that AIDS patients who take nucleoside analog reverse-transcriptase inhibitors experience premature aging.
DISEASES AND DISASTERS
- The WHO has put together a series of graphs based on 2008 global health data to illustrate the 10 leading causes of death by broad income group. Heart disease, stroke and other cerebrovascular disease represent the top two killers in middle and high-income nations while they sit as number three and five respectively for low-income countries.
- A report published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal of the CDC, has determined that UN peacekeepers from Nepal brought cholera to Haiti, which led to an outbreak last fall.
- More than 350,000 women die in childbirth every year and 8 million children will die of preventable diseases before their fifth birthday. A new report concludes that more trained midwives could help save prevent millions of such deaths.
- In a recently released report, UNICEF says as many as 70% of the world’s children are exposed to violence amounting to 1.5 billion children each year.
- The drug misoprostol is saving women’s lives around the world by preventing excessive bleeding after childbirth, the leading cause of maternal death in the developing world; it is also causing controversy, as the drug can also be used to induce abortion.
- Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is on the rise and hard to cure. Médecins Sans Frontières wants people with the disease to blog about it, to find out what they really need.
- A new study in The Lancet shows that over the past thirty years the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has doubled to 350 million.
- Ghana’s Food and Drugs Board (FDB) issued a statement to warn the public against the sale of counterfeit Artesunate tablets on the market, which it claims are from China; laboratory analysis had confirmed that contained no active anti-malaria ingredient.
Many thanks, as usual, to the Toms – Tom Murphy and Tom Paulson.
The 13th Triennial World Congress on Public Health, to be hosted by the Ethiopian Public Health Association and held from April 21-29, 2012 in Addis Ababa, will bring together leaders in health from across the globe. The conference, “Towards Global Health Equity: Opportunities and Threats,” is currently accepting abstracts; the deadline is Friday, October 21, at 12 a.m. PT (3 a.m. ET). More information can be found here.
International Women’s Day was March 8.
On March 11, a 9.0 earthquake rocked Japan’s Chiba prefecture, followed by a colossal tsunami that washed entire villages away.
The world, of course, stands ready to help, but it is unlikely that most of the assistance will be needed, as Japan is one of the most disaster-ready countries in the world. Unfortunately, the explosions in several of the country’s nuclear plants means that the threat of radiation poisoning
- A panel of independent experts has released a report harshly criticizing the World Health Organization’s handling of the 2009 epidemic of H1N1 swine flu.
- UN officials expressed concern that rising food and energy prices could compromise or even reverse progress toward the MDGs in developing nations.
- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has instructed senior managers to cut 3%, or US$5.4 billion, from budgets.
- The Kenyan government has moved to strip HIV/AIDS of its special status and begin treating it as a chronic medical condition. It has begun implementing a disease integration model that will do away with emergency response measures and dismantle parallel administrative structures set up to manage the disease.
- HealthMap, a project that aggregates health and surveillance data from sounces such as the WHO, Google News, and Eurosurveillance, was launched recently to “[bring] together disparate data sources to achieve a unified and comprehensive view of the current global state of infectious diseases and their effect on human and animal health.”
- According to a study done by Tuberculosis Research Centre in India, alarming numbers of women with TB become homeless after they are diagnosed. Approximately 100,000 women are abandoned by their husbands due to TB every year in India.
- A group of researchers from EPFL’s Global Health Institute and Inserm (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, the French government agency for biomedical research) has discovered that a class of chemotherapy drugs also kills the parasite that causes malaria.
- Oxfam recently released a report criticizing the World Bank for its praise of Ghana’s healthcare system. Amanda Glassman of CGDev disagrees, arguing that Oxfam ignored surveys indicating the system’s success in improving health indicators and beneficiaries’ satisfaction with the quality of service.
- On March 9, Saving Lives At Birth, a global partnership between USAID, the Government of Norway, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, and the World Bank, was launched. The partnership “will seek innovative solutions to reduce maternal and newborn mortality in developing countries.”