Global Health News Last Week

POLITICS AND POLICY

  • South Africa’s government has set out its plans to introduce a universal health care scheme with a pilot program in 10 areas by 2012 and nationally over the next 14 years.
  • The U.N. must make reducing salt intake a global health priority, sayUK scientists. Writing in the British Medical Journal they say a 15% cut in consumption could save 8.5 million lives around the world over the next decade.
  • IRIN reports on the story of Daniel Ng’etich, a Kenyan man who was arrested and jailed for not continuing his TB treatment.
  • Dr. Jill Biden is leading a high level American delegation toKenya, which includes Raj Shah, to look into the American response to the famine crisis in the Horn of Africa.
  • A report on the state of maternal health in South Africa by Human Rights Watch has uncovered some alarming trends.

PROGRAMS

  • WHO has launched a new website to help those combating malnutrition. eLENA, a new e-library, gathers together evidence-informed guidelines for an expanding list of nutrition interventions. It is a single point of reference for the latest nutrition guidelines, recommendations and related information.

RESEARCH

  • A TB vaccine designed for those with HIV enters phase IIb trials this week in Senegal. The vaccine works by boosting response of T cells already stimulated by the traditional BCG vaccine.
  • Female smokers are more at risk for heart disease than male smokers, finds a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Lancet.  This is a concern, as smoking rates are increasing in young women worldwide.
  • Scientists are in the second phase of research into using microwaves to kill malaria parasites in mice.
  • A USC researcher has developed a lentiviral vector that can track down HIV infected cells which can potentially act as a marker for targeted elimination of infected cells.
  • People living with HIV who receive the proper ARV treatment have no greater risk of death compared to people without HIV, finds Danish researchers.
  • Around 30 genetic risk factors for developing multiple sclerosis have been discovered by a UK-led team.
  • A new study, showing that a simple blood test can accurately determine the sex of a fetus 95 percent of the time, is great news for parents at high risk of having a baby with rare genetic diseases. But it is bad news to those concerned that the tests could be used to abort a fetus based on gender.
  • British researchers have discovered that the introduction of spermless male mosquitoes can lead to fewer malaria carrying females.
  • A device which can test blood for HIV/AIDS in a matter of minutes has been developed by University of Columbia scientists.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • As if it did not have enough problems already, Somalia is now facing cholera epidemic, World Health Organization officials said.
  • In an August 4 article, Trustlaw’s Lisa Anderson exposes the “silent health emergency” faced by child brides around the globe.  Not yet physically mature, they face grave danger in childbirth, due to narrow pelvises. Girls younger than 15 years of age have a five times greater risk of dying during delivery than women over 20; most of these deaths occur in developing countries that lack adequate and accessible pre- and postnatal care.
  • Amid contradictory government statistics, a volunteer group in Japan has recorded 500,000 radiation points across the country.
  • A Mexican teenager is the first officially known person to die from vampire bat induced human rabies infection. The 19-year-old victim was a migrant farm worker in theUnited States.
  • An estimated 500,000 people in West Africaare infected with lassa fever every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, amid calls for more money to be spent on preventing its spread.
  • Over at Global Pulse, Human Rights Watch researcher Katherine Todrys guest blogs on the HIV epidemic in Uganda’s penitentiaries.Uganda, she explains, has often been presented as a success story in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, and has received over $1 billion from the US for AIDS programs. Many HIV-positive Ugandans have been excluded from these efforts, though, including gay men, drug users, sex workers, and prisoners.
  • Sleep apnea, a fairly common and treatable disorder that causes people to stop breathing momentarily while they sleep, may lead to cognitive impairment and even dementia.
  • Although cases of sexual violence have been under-counted during some wars, during others, such as the ongoing unrest in Libya, they have been vastly over-counted.
  • All patients getting cancer treatment should be told to do two and a half hours of physical exercise every week, says a report by Macmillan Cancer Support.

Global Health News Last Week

STUDENTS AND NEW PROFESSIONALS: The Chatham House (formally known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs), a London-based think tank, is looking to fill two internship positions to begin in mid-April. They are looking for individuals who can work four days per week. The closing date is February 25, and interviews will be held on March 3 or 4. The position is unpaid.

End the Neglect is calling on global health bloggers to contribute guest posts for consideration. Read more about this opportunity here.

A study done at UCLA has apparently revealed that winning an Oscar may be a risk factor for stroke.

The International Vaccine Institute announced the launch of the Dengue Vaccine Initiative, which will “accelerate the development and untilization of safe, affordable and broadly protective vaccines to combat dengue.” The initiative will be funded by a $6.9 million grant from (surprise!) the Gates Foundation.

The World Bank reports that, despite the region’s robust economic development, South Asia is facing a health crisis as rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity rise. Meanwhile, the WHO released a report on alcohol and health, which found that alcohol is responsible for 4% of deaths worldwide (more than AIDS, TB, or violence), and that alcohol control policies are weak in most countries.

Mosquito-borne diseases are experiencing a comeback in Europe: in 2010, there were incidences of West Nile virus, dengue, malaria, and chikungunya. Some researchers predict that this may be an ongoing trend, as one study found that malaria may re-enter Europe by 2080.

A growing number of hospitals and medical businesses in the U.S. are implementing smoke-free hiring policies, barring employees from smoking and making smoking a reason to turn away applicants. The move is controversial, perhaps because the fact that the WHO has been doing this for years is not common knowledge.

In a surprising development, the Geneva-based Medicines Patent Pool announced that it is in negotiations with F. Hoffman-La Roche, Gilead, Sequoia, and ViiV (a joint venture of GSK and Pfizer) to begin sharing their patents for AIDS drugs. Unfortunately, Abbott, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, and Tibotec/Johnson & Johnson will not be joining the party.

The Kaiser Family Foundation released a (rather depressing) report on the state of global health journalism, which found that global health coverage is decreasing due to lack of funding in media outlets, among other reasons. Sarah Arnquist, who manages the Global Health Hub, reflects on what that means for us global health bloggers.

Holy cow – the AIDS rate in Zimbabwe has actually gone down?!

George Clooney has teamed up with Nicholas Kristof to raise awareness about malaria. After catching it himself while he was in South Sudan for the independence referendum, he fielded questions from readers via Kristof’s NYT column.

Cholera continues to make the rounds, this time appearing in Venezuela and New York City. Global health professor Karen Grepin points out that this “epidemic” has been going on for four decades, and that our inability to control it indicates a a major failure in global health.

The WHO is investigating claims from 12 different countries that the swine flu vaccine may be linked to narcolepsy.

February 7 marked the 11th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the U.S.

Brett Keller, a Master’s student in global health and international development, also does a weekly news round-up on his blog called “Monday Miscellany.”