Global Health News Last Week

SECTION NEWS

The 2011 IH Section award winners have been announced!

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Henry Mosley
  • Mid-Career Award: Neil Arya
  • Service to Section Award: Donna Barry
  • Gordon Wyon Award: John Bryant

Congratulations to this year’s awardees!  They will be honored at the section social on Monday night of this year’s Annual Meeting, so don’t miss it!


July 11 was World Population Day.  In honor of WPD this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a greater focus on providing improved health to mothers and children.

POLITICS AND POLICY

  • Last week, a United States federal appeals court overturned  a George W. Bush-era “anti-prostitution pledge” that required all organizations that receive US funds to fight HIV and AIDS to adopt a formal position condemning prostitution and trafficking.
  • Uganda’s legislative body has passed a bill that will criminalize  the intentional spread of HIV/AIDS.
  • An in-depth report by Gregg  Carlstrom for Al Jazeera examines the state of the new Republic  of South Sudan’s health systems. Future plans appear to be in the right direction, but the present health situation is dire for the newly established
    country.
  • U.S. officials are defending  the CIA’s use of a vaccination program in the hunt for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden amid concerns from international aid groups that the operation  could compromise future public health efforts in Pakistan. The CIA orchestrated a hepatitis vaccination program in the city of Abbottabad in a bid to collect DNA evidence to help identify the location of bin Laden family members.
  • A growing reluctance from donor countries to provide funds to help ever-wealthier China battle HIV/AIDS will adversely affect efforts against the disease’s spread, says Michel Sidibe, head of UNAIDS.

PROGRAMS

  • The Medicines Patent Pool, established by UNITAID to share drug patents, has just received its first contribution from Gilead Sciences. This will allow Indian generics companies to make cheap copies of some of the best HIV/AIDS drugs.

RESEARCH

  • A new study has shown that ARVs taken by women with HIV/AIDS may have an effect on fertility.
  • The United Nations praised a study showing that the use of ARVs by people with HIV can reduce chance of infection between partners by 73%.
  • Mosquitoes are growing increasingly resistant to pyrethroids, the only insecticides approved by the WHO for use on bednets.
  • HIV/AIDS drugs can be used to provide additional protection against infection as well as for treatment of those already affect by the disease, according to results of two studies conducted in Africa.
  • Researchers in Tanzania are developing a device that uses the scent of malodorous human socks to attract mosquitoes in the wild, then poisons them. Donations of $775,000 announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Grand Challenges Canada are intended to reduce the global infection rate of malaria by producing an affordable outdoor trap ranging in cost from between $4 and $27.
  • A new study says that an inexpensive de-worming pill can help people become deadly to malaria-carrying mosquitoes, but for the pill to work, nearly everyone in a community would have to take the pill at the same time — and repeat monthly. The drug reduces insect lifespan, helping against malaria because only the older mosquitoes can transmit it.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • The World Health Organization says the world is better prepared for the next influenza pandemic. The centerpiece of the plan is to strengthen the capacity of manufacturers to provide enough vaccines to immunize the world’s population against influenza.
  • The WHO has certified that Uganda has successfully eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus.
  • According to a report published in March 2011 by the United Nations Environment Programme, only two in every five people in the Southern Africa have access to safe water for drinking and household use. Three quarters of those lacking access, live in rural areas and the majority of these are women and children.
  • The CDC has expressed concern over the recently discovered strain of gonorrhea in Japan that is resistant to all present antibiotic treatments.
  • Drug manufacturers, government representatives and pharmacists from six countries in East Africa have estimated that as much as 30 percent of all drugs on the market are either of very poor quality or counterfeit medicines.
  • A lack of financial support and political will are contributing to the upsurge of measles in 33 countries. In an video interview, Andrea Gay at Measles Initiative, explains the different reasons for measles outbreaks in the developing and developed countries.
  • The number of children facing death by starvation in Somalia has almost doubled since March and the country’s child malnutrition rate is now the highest in the world, the International Committee of the Red Cross warns. Aid agencies have struggled to reach Somalis affected by drought due to security concerns across the conflict-ravaged country.

Much still needs to be done for women’s health

Blog contributor: Jessica M. Keralis

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report entitled Women and Health: Today’s Evidence, Tomorrow’s Agenda.  The report reviews evidence on health issues that affect women in all stages of life, from childhood, through adolescence and adulthood, and into advanced age.  The report found that across the globe, women are societal and cultural inequalities that make them more vulnerable to health disparities.  They die younger, and face challenges in mental health, malnutrition and lack of education.  And while women are the primary caretakers of the sick and elderly all over the world, health systems are ill-equipped to support them and often fail them when they themselves need care.

This report, while sobering, comes in an era where the perception of women’s health is changing.  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, two of the most prominent women in the international spotlight, have both made women’s health a priority, and both have made it clear that it is an issue that they feel passionate about.  In an interview with Lisa Ling on the Oprah Winfrey show, Secretary Clinton stated that she believes that women’s rights are a national security issue.  “[I]f you look at terrorism and extremism and abject poverty and a lot of the effects and the causes of instability, you more likely than not will find places that try to limit women’s roles and rights. And so often, those who stand against us stand against the rights of women. So we do have to integrate this into our national security.”  When Dr. Chan took the office of WHO Director-General in 2007, she asked that her performance be judged in part on progress in women’s health.  In her forward to the WHO report, Dr. Chan states that promoting women’s health is crucial to the health and development of the current and future generations.

In her address at the International Health luncheon at the 2009 APHA annual meeting, Dr. Susan Brems, the deputy assistant administrator of the Bureau for Global Health at USAID, emphasized the need to focus on women’s health – not simply as a means to access certain groups or target specific health indicators, but for the sake of the women themselves.  While progress is being made in improving women’s health around the world, the WHO report underscores the fact that much work remains to be done.