Global Health Weekly News Round-Up

  •  April 25, 2013 was World Malaria Day.
  • The International Labor Organization celebrates the World day for Safety and Health at Work on the 28th of April, 2013.

Politics and Policies:

  • The State House of Representatives voted to allow physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients with specific terminal illnesses or debilitating medical conditions.
  • Health officials in Australia have recommended a heavy government subsidy for the abortifacient drug RU-486.


  • First online mapping tool was launched in Kenya to tackle the burden of malaria by tracking insecticide resistance in malaria causing mosquitoes.
  • Healthcare workers expanding their vaccination programs in Somalia. The country is among the first few African Nations to receive new vaccines against five deadly diseases- diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and influenza.
  • Peace Corps volunteers on the occasion of World Malaria day participated in malaria eradication activities worldwide.
  • In their sixth ordinary session at the African Union the African Union Commission has called for more domestic investment in health to fight the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases and tropical diseases.
  • The Ministry of Heath of Ghana receives mobile clinic facilitates to boost health delivery and improving health care access to people.
  • Health groups at the United Nations –backed Global Vaccine Summit announced that they will get rid of polio by 2018 with $5.5 billion vaccination and monitoring plan to stop this disease.
  • The U.S Food and Drug Administration has announced the development of a new hand held device called C-3 capable of detecting substandard or counterfeit anti-malaria medicines.
  • World athletics governing body IAAF will open a blood test center (BTC) in Kenya’s rift Valley town of Eldoret for Kenyan and Ethiopian runners.
  • A donation of US $2.3 million has been announced by the Government of Japan to the United Nations World Food Program to assist people of Lesotho to help to boost food security.
  • Japan donates US$1.5 million to Nambia for its rapid reduction of child mortality, malaria related deaths and mother-to-child HIV transmission rates.
  • The Federal government of Canada will allocate $250 million between 2013 and 2018 to support eradication of polio in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
  • European Union has pledged more than 14.5 million euros to support Sudan health-related programs.


  • The International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung disease has issued guidelines for multidrug resistant tuberculosis bacteria management – appropriate treatment.
  • According to an analysis of previous studies published in the British Medical Journal, smokers with HIV were at double risk of contracting bacteria pneumonia compared to HIV-positive non-smokers.
  • According to the data obtained from a recently published study, childhood malaria admission rates in three out of four hospital chosen for the purpose of study in Malawi has increased between 2000- 2010. An increase from 41 to 100% was noted.
  • According to a survey more men die due to HIV related deaths as compared to women. It was due their living in denial and failed access to treatment.
  • A study published in American College of Nutrition suggests that intake of minerals zinc and chromium or taking zinc and or chromium supplements helps people suffering from type 2 diabetes.
  • According to a survey in done in the U.K., parents risk children’s future health by failing to understand sun protection.
  • In a study done by the Chinese scientists there is no evidence that new bid flu passes between people.
  • Haiti launches its vaccination campaign against fatal childhood diseases.

Diseases & Disasters:

  • The U.S. Department of State has issued a travel warning to the people who are planning to travel to Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced a nationwide shortage of products used in Tuberculosis skin testing.
  • The reports state that the outbreak of meningitis has killed at least 40 people in Guinea since the beginning of 2013. About 379 cases of this disease have been reported.
  • According to the reports communities in Northern Mali – Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal- are affected by food crises.
  • The bird flu H7N9 cases are rising in China. A total of 120 cases have been reported till now of which 23 deaths have been confirmed.
  • Air pollution rising in China. The level of air pollutants has risen to more than 40 times the recommended exposure limits.
  • According to the press release, two more human cases of avian influenza virus A – H7N9 has been verified by the Centre for Health protection (CHP) of the Department of Health of Hong Kong.
  • Reports have confirmed H7N9 bird flu in Taiwan.
  • According to the CDC, salmonella outbreak linked to cucumbers grown in Mexico.

Perspective: A Day in the Life of Another Country’s Healthcare System

I will be the first one to admit that my job teaching English to privileged Korean children at a private academy has almost nothing to do with public health. While I have maintained most of my international-health related activities (and even added some new ones since being here), my income-generating activities are not typically health-related. There are times, however – and more than I originally expected, to be sure – when my public health knowledge and training comes in handy. For example, we have a lot of debate classes, and obesity, fast food, and eating disorders are frequent topics. It can be really enriching to bring my professional training into the classroom and engage my students beyond the textbook.

And then I occasionally get responses to writing assignments like these.
2013-01-21 20.59.36

If your first instinct is that this is just a witty response from a smart-ass middle school student, think again. I got two more with the same response.

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2013-01-21 20.59.36

Teacher, what?

By and large, South Korea’s healthcare system comes very highly reviewed. The government provides universal health coverage through the compulsory National Health Insurance scheme, which covers basic services – half of the premium is paid by the individual and the other half by that person’s employer. Experts and pundits love to list it as one of the examples that America’s own expensive and oh-so-broken system should aspire to be, as South Korea only spends about 7% of its GDP on health care (compared to our whopping 17%). Koreans, of course, take great pride in their healthcare system. A prime example can be found on the popular blog Ask a Korean, where the author writes about this very same topic.

Part of the reason why the Korean did not follow the [American healthcare debate] was because the entire thing was so moronic: to the Korean, it is obvious that a country should guarantee its citizens a health insurance, and the cheapest way to achieve that is a single-payer system like Korea’s. Scores of advanced and semi-advanced countries in the world manage to do this without turning their country into Russia. (Unless, of course, if their country is Russia.) There is no point in watching a debate where the other side is arguing the sky isn’t blue.

What has been strange for us to understand was not Koreans’ views on healthcare, but on accessing it. We noticed very early on that our Korean coworkers go to the hospital for everything – and by that, I mean everything. Have a stomachache? Time to go to the hospital. Sore throat? Going to the hospital. Cold? Hospital. Fever? Flu? Twitch under your eye? You get the idea. During our first few weeks, I was always very concerned to hear that someone had gone to the hospital, but now I don’t even bat an eye.

Coming from a country where healthcare is so expensive that people wait until they are at death’s door to get treated (and then, by necessity, have to go to the hospital), I found a system with the opposite problem to be somewhat fascinating. I asked one of my friends here, who is a neurologist at a local hospital, about it, and he explained some of the reasons behind this tendency:

  1. Many Koreans think that bigger is better, which means if they go to a hospital for a simple cold, they feel like they get better service than they would get from a small clinic.
  2. Also, many Koreans feel that they need to see someone who works at a reputable facility, graduated from a prestigious university, or has multiple advanced degrees to be satisfied, even for minor ailments.
  3. Third, he explained, Korea is still a hierarchical society, which means that upper-class individuals go to upscale hospitals for treatment to get the medical treatment they feel that they deserve according to your socioeconomic status.

In a system where a procedure costs the same amount no matter where you go, these reasons make sense, particularly in a culture that is as socially competitive as this one. Of course, every healthcare system has its own issues, and Korea is no exception. Because the price for a given procedure is the same everywhere and, as a result, larger hospitals have people lined up out the door to get their runny noses looked at, providers are pressured to see as many patients as possible in the shortest amount of time to minimize wait time and maximize profit. Absolutely everyone knows that this is a terrible idea, leading to stories like the one I read in the local English-language paper about a small colonoscopy clinic in Seoul that was seeing hundreds of patients per day – and not properly cleaning their instruments because they were so rushed. Also, much like the U.S., Korea is starting to see its healthcare costs rise and must come up with a way to continue to finance them, lest they become sustainable. Still, as Americans prepare themselves for the upcoming changes that the landmark healthcare reform will bring over the next few years, it is interesting to put the uproar into perspective.

Not all of the write-up books that I received were so drastic in their responses to the runny nose question. Two of my best students also gave me slightly more sensible answers.

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2013-01-23 14.13.07

Global Health Weekly News Round-up

Politics and Policies

  • Australia’s cigarette plain packaging law upheld by the government. The World Health Organization hails this decision. This ruling might be followed by other countries too.
  • New policy launched by South Africa government to restructure the current national health insurance policy faces criticisms by the citizens.
  • A new national body to lead the network of Medicare Locals has been launched in Australia.
  • The federal government of Australia has revealed its plans to remove all the asbestos from its government and federal buildings by 2030.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) baby boomers must be tested for hepatitis C.


  • Johnson & Johnson plans to remove potentially cancer-causing and other dangerous chemicals from nearly all its adult toiletries and cosmetic products within three and half years.
  • Zachary Kimotho raises Sh73 million for paraplegic center in Kenya.
  • Kenya National Hospital goes hi-tech to improve efficiency.
  • The Treatment Action Campaign in Gauteng says it will take health Department to the court to force them to deliver quality health care to citizens.
  • Drug major Cipla launched HIV/AIDS treatment kit in India at Rs 158. It consists of two tablets in one strip which represents a single day’s treatment.


  • A new ranking released by Bloomberg, Singapore has the healthiest population in the world.
  • According to the researchers eating walnuts help to improve sperm count. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins as folic acid and minerals like zinc and selenium which are important for the development of sperm.
  • A team of researchers from Italy say that coca contain flavanols which might reduce the level of dementia and help to improve cognitive functions in elderly.
  • According to a latest research chemotherapy during pregnancy is safe for the baby though baby might have low birth weight.
  • According to report male contraceptive pill might be available very soon in the near future.
  • The Australian researchers have brought before 3-D images to reveal secret life of Legionella bacteria. They have shown how this bacterium does not require a host to survive.
  • A group of U.S. researchers have used different magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to scan the brain of people to understand the changes in brain with age. This research can be useful for studying the changes in brain related to autism and ADHD.
  • According to a study treatment involving exposure to traumatic memories help people with post-traumatic stress-disorder and substance abuse issues.
  • A study shows that the Americans living in the south of the United States are fatter than those living in the north of the country. The fired southern U.S. cuisine might be responsible for this.
  • A study done by a group of Australian researchers might bring forward treatment of heroin and morphine addiction.  They have shown that by blocking the immune receptor called TLR4 opioid carving stop.
  • Researchers from Queensland are working on the spider venom as a treatment of breast cancer.
  • A group of researchers from Melbourne and Finland’s Murdoch Childrens Research Institute say that those children who eat vegetables during their children don’t have adult diseases like diabetes and increased cholesterol levels when they grow up.
  • According to the American Cancer Society researchers aspirin helps to prevent the risk of cancer.
  • According to a study vitamin C might help to reduce harmful the effect of air pollution for the people suffering from chronic lung disease.
  • According to a study done by the National Institutes of Health, older American though having a longer life span might not be enjoying better quality of life. They study should that the older people are obese and are facing higher housing costs.
  • A study reveals that children with more self-control might help them to remain thin. It might reduce their chances to gain weight later in life.
  • According to a study the workers at or nearby the Japanese nuclear plant are suffering from high rates of stress and depression.
  • According to a recent study about 206 million Indians use smokeless tobacco.

Diseases and Disasters

  • Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo. About ten suspected cases and six deaths have been reported so far.
  • Pickles contaminated with E.coli kills six people in Japan. At least 100 people have been reported getting sick after consumption of this contaminated product.
  • Emergency has been declared with the worst seasonal outbreak of West Nile virus in Dallas, Texas has been reported by the officials.
  • Warning has been issued by the state and federal officials after an outbreak of salmonella food poisoning in southwestern Indiana.
  • An emergency has been declared in Sierra Leone after the outbreak of cholera in the capital. Eight out of twelve districts have been affected by this disease.
  • A report released by ‘The Times of India’ newspaper reveal that about 121 people have died during clinical trials in India in past six months.

Global Health Weekly News Round-up

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) joins the World Health Organization to recognize the World Hepatitis Day July 27.

Politics and Policies:

  • Obama administration announces ground-breaking public-private partnership to prevent health care fraud. It is designed to share information and best practices in order to improve detection and prevent payment of fraudulent health care billings.
  • Doctors petition for limits on painkillers. They have urged the FDA to curtail the overuse and abuse of prescription painkillers by changing the labeling directions on how and when physicians should prescribe them.
  • African health experts- policy makers, advocates and researchers are meeting in Kampala, Uganda to reaffirm national and regional commitments to achieving Millennium Development Goal (MGD) 5, to ensure the health of girls and women become a regional priority.
  • A number of public health organizations in South Africa have extended their support for the amendments on the Tobacco Products Control Act which is meant to support the non-smokers.
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new inhaled drug for the treatment of the lung disease COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).
  • According to congressional budget office Supreme Court health care law leaves 3 million more uninsured.
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will award inpatient rehabilitation facilities $140 million increase in Medicaid payments under the IRF prospective payment system in fiscal year 2013.
  • Singapore ratifies ILO (International Labor Organization) framework for occupational health and safety.
  • The Australian Health Department wants to outsource its operational and management responsibilities for the personally controlled e-health record system to a single provider.


  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services awarded Colorado Health Insurance Cooperative Inc. a $69.4 million loan to launch a Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan in Colorado.
  • Hospitals in Iowa provided $1.4 billion community benefits (health screenings, support groups etc.) in 2011.
  • $6.1 Million “Innovation Grant” awarded to test comprehensive care physician model.
  • Bungoma (Kenya) Hospital project hit by row.
  • In Sierra Leone, youth want a review of abortion law.
  • Energy, health care dominates agenda on the eve of Canada’s annual summer summit.


  • A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that adult mortality rates fell after three states (New York, Maine, Arizona) Medicaid expansions.
  • Study finds drop in death rate in states that follow lines of Obama health law.
  • A new technique uses PET/CT imaging with a compound called choline (F-Flourocholine) to help doctors to detect prostate cancer earlier.
  • Trial signals major milestone in hunt for new TB drugs.  The results presented at the 2012 International AIDS Conference reveal progress in the pursuit of an antiretroviral- compatible TB treatment for the patients with TB/HIV co-infection.
  • The results of a study of HIV treatment policies in 23 countries show that governments have made improvements to get better antiretroviral treatment (ART) to more people but implementation of innovative community-based strategies is lagging behind.
  • According to study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, lung function may decline slower in smokers with sufficient vitamin D levels as compared to smokers who are vitamin D deficient.
  • A study shows that people with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are 2.6 times more prone to developing cancer.
  • A study shows that inactivity puts 1 in 3 adults at risk for disease.
  • According to a study some people are more physically active may be due to their genetic predisposition while evolutionary factors and the obesity, might also play a role in it.
  • Researchers have identified various successful and promising interventions to improve the opportunities for regular physical activity. Promoting exercise and community events through mass media campaigns as well as decision prompts and signage to motivate people are among the few identified as successful examples.
  • A study shows new way of delivering anti-scarring drug reduces the need for repeat injections by 40 percent. This process reduces post-surgical scarring of glaucoma patients.
  • Study shows that information and communication technologies could be an effective way of encouraging millions of people worldwide to become more physically active.
  • A paper in the Lancet says physical inactivity should be recognized as a pandemic.
  • Researchers have found that the drug resistant HIV is on rise in Africa.
  • Study suggests that short, cumulative exercise sessions are beneficial for health especially for maintaining a healthy blood pressure.

Diseases & Disasters

  • An earthquake of 3.8 magnitude hit Los Angeles on July, 25, 2012.
  • Five infant deaths signal serious whooping cough outbreak in UK.
  • According to the Ugandan health officials, about 14 people in western Uganda have been killed by the infection with the deadly Ebola virus. There is no cure or vaccine for the treatment or prevention from this deadly infection in Uganda. National emergency task force has been set up to prevent the spread of disease.
  • The typhoid outbreak in Zimbabwe is suspected to be caused by the consumption of contaminated water.
  • Mysterious nodding disease afflicts young Ugandans.
  • Whooping Cough epidemic in Washington State.
  • World Health Organization has expressed its concerns over the rise in cholera cases in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo amid clashes between the armed groups and government.



Global Health Weekly News Round-Up

  • National HIV testing day is Wednesday.

Politics and Policies

  • Health care proposal gives Louisiana more Medicaid spending flexibility.
  • Azerbaijan can prohibit abortion.


  • U.S. forces support anti-malaria health campaign in Africa.
  • Commonwealth to tackle non-communicable disease in West Africa. Meetings will explore plans to deal with NCD’s such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory diseases.
  • Scientists at the University of Saskatchewan have teamed up with researchers in Ethiopia and Kenya in the two innovative projects to help deliver safer and more nutritious food in Africa through better plant breeding and soil management and a state-of-art vaccine for cattle.
  • McCann Health pledges to help end preventable child deaths; joins USAID’s new public-private partnership. It has announced $5 million commitment of in-kind resources and technical assistance to accelerate progress towards ending this problem.
  • United Nations and its partners have made a global appeal for $1.6 billion to provide humanitarian relief to Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Gambia and Senegal.
  • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) office in Gambia has recently supported the government of Gambia to respond to the severe malnutrition of children, by providing highly nutritious products.
  • DHL (Gambia office) donates 150 cartons of long lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets (LLINS) to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare as a part of contribution towards the fight against malaria in this country.
  • The government and donors have finalized plans for a Sh400 million cancer treatment and chronic diseases center in Eldoret (Kenya).
  • Council of Ministers in South Sudan has approved U.S. $173 million to construct 100 health units.
  • The Global Fund has resumed support to Zambia with a $100 million grant to help the country to fight AIDS.
  • India to receive Rs 20 crore healthcare grant from Norway to improve rural health services to further reduce child and maternal mortality.
  • Recall stops New Zealand tuberculosis vaccinations.


  •  The scientists from the University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories at the Institute of Metabolic Science, UK, have found the genes responsible for a disease in which parts of the body grow disproportionately. They found this disorder was linked to a mutation that drives cell growth.
  • According to recent study done by the researchers from Glasgow outdoor physical activities like walking, running, biking had a 50 percent greater positive effect on mental health than going to gym. They found that the activities through green space lowered the stress level.
  • A study published recently describes the biodiversity and epidemiology of drug-susceptible and drug-resistant tuberculosis in Ibadan, Nnewi and Abuja, using 409 DNAs extracted from culture positive TB isolates.
  • A research published in BMC Public Health by the researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine indicates global weight gain more damaging than rising numbers. They say if the increasing levels of fatness are replicated globally it could mean the equivalent of an extra billion people on the planet.
  • A study brings forward unwanted pregnancy and associated factors among the pregnant married women in Hosanna town in Southern Ethiopia.
  • A survey named as ‘Integrated Biological and Behavioral Surveillance among Migrant Female Sex Workers in Nairobi’ indicates that female sex workers from Somalia have a little knowledge about the deadly HIV/AIDS.
  • A new research at MIT could improve the ability of untrained workers to perform basic ultrasound tests, while allowing trained workers to much more accurately track the development of mental conditions such as the growth of a tumor or the buildup of plaque in arteries.
  • A study indicated that the oral health status of patients with mental disorders in Southwest Ethiopia is poor. There is a need to impart education about the oral hygiene to them.
  • A study shows how easily pandemic H5N1 bird flu could evolve. Their main conclusion was that this virus can acquire the ability of aerosol transmission between mammals. Mutations as low as 5 (but certainly less than 10) are sufficient to make H5N1 virus airborne.
  • A study reveals that the teens that spend more time indoors in front of screens are more likely to feel lonely and shy, while those who spend their time outdoors are much happier.
  • Study shows that the genetically modified cows produce healthier milk. This milk can be consumed by the lactose intolerant people. One more study shows that this milk contains healthy fat like that found in fishes. Chinese have produced this milk which has same properties as human breast milk.
  • A study suggests that cauterization of a peculiar population of stem-like sells in a part of cervix when infected by human papilloma virus can be a method of prevention of this deadly infection.
  • A team of scientists in Singapore have discovered a human antibody that can kill the dengue virus within two hours.
  • According to a study, to reduce the diabetes risk we should eat slowly.

Diseases and Disasters

  • Two fatal cases of Vibrio vulnificus infection investigated in Hong Kong.