Attention IH section members! We are still in need of moderators for the scientific sessions at this year’s annual meeting. According to our program committee, the following sessions are still available:
Monday, October 31
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.: International Health Programs & Policy 1
2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.: Act Global, Think Local: Domestic applications of international health lessons; Child Survival & Child Health 1
Tuesday, November 1
8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.: Builidng Partnerships and Coalitions for better International Programs; Emerging, Re-emerging & Neglected Tropical Diseases
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.: International Health Communication/ Behavior Change Communication
12:30 p.m. 2:00 p.m.: HIV/AIDS 2
Wednesday, November 2
8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.: HIV/AIDS 3; Innovations in International Health 2
Please contact Omar Khan (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information, or to volunteer!
USAID celebrated its 50-year anniversary this week.
The benefits of breastfeeding are being showcased around the world
for Breast Feeding Week.
POLITICS AND POLICY
- US organizations will find it easier to deliver aid to parts of Somalia controlled by a pro-Al Qaeda group – the threat of prosecution if it ends up in the wrong hands has been reduced after an announcement by the State Department.
- Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez was sworn in as the new Assistant Administrator for the Global Health Bureau at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
- Although Congress resolved the debt ceiling debate, the way the budget package is being shaped — particularly by combining International Affairs with defense in a single “security” category, global poverty spending is getting severely handicapped.
- Blood tests for tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis may be putting patients’ lives at risk through providing misleading results, and should not be used, according to a WHO policy statement.
- The inaugural charter of the Alliance for Oral Health Across Borders was signed at Temple University yesterday.
- Tom Paulson of Humanosphere breaks down the 2010 Gates Foundation annual report, with some interesting commentary.
- Jaclyn Schiff of UN Dispatch says we can look for more global health leadership coming from the city of Houston (my hometown!), as Dr. Peter Hotez, whom Schiff calls “an international health force of nature,” and an arm of the Sabin Vaccine Institute move there.
- The Measles Initiative today announced it has helped vaccinate one billion children in more than 60 developing countries since 2001, making significant gains in the global effort to stop measles.
- India’s health minister announced Tuesday a new initiative underway to boost the country’s rate of immunizing newborns by collecting mobile phone numbers of all pregnant mothers to monitor their babies’ vaccinations.
- A multi-resistant strain of Salmonella Kentucky could be spreading globally, suggests a study by Institut Pasteur. Case numbers have risen in Europe and the US, and infections have also been acquired in various parts of Africa and the Middle East. The strain has also been found in food animals in Africa.
- Pharmaceutical manufacturer iBio, Inc announced the successful animal testing of a malaria vaccine candidate in trials sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
- A new study in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene shows a relationship between a kind of river flow and cholera outbreaks.
- A new study in the Lancet shows that text messaging can be an effective tool in malaria treatment and prevention.
- PLoS Medicine published a new study on HIV/AIDS in the Middle East and North Africa. Among its key findings was the startling fact that sex between men (MSM) accounts for nearly one quarter of all new HIV infections across the region.
- According to a new study, children of depressed mothers in developing countries are 40 percent more likely to be underweight or stunted than those with mothers in good mental health.
- A cheap and portable blood test could provide a breakthrough for diagnosing infections in remote areas of the world, a scientific study says.
- Using WHO data, researchers found that children who experience abuse and develop mental health disorders are at increased risk for chronic physical problems later in life.
- A new study in the journal Nature Medicine finds that a credit card shaped device used for testing HIV, known as “Lab-on-a-Chip,” has had a successful trial run in Rwanda.
DISEASES AND DISASTERS
- Mass treatment of river blindness and lymphatic filariasis with ivermectin has been hampered by severe reactions if the patient also has Loa loa. A new map developed by WHO’s African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control will help communities identify low risk areas for Loa loa and distribute ivermectin for lymphatic filariasis control safely.
- The CDC reports that the annual number of HIV infections in the USA is holding steady at about 50,000, and that African American MSM are at particular risk.
- AIDS remains a metaphor for inequality, argues Michel Sidibe in the LA Times. In the world’s wealthier nations, where access to medicine is widespread, AIDS is becoming a chronic disease rather than a death sentence. But in the eveloping world, 1.8 million people die of AIDS each year.
- Global cholera incidence has increased since 2000, with Haiti’s large outbreak tipping the largest burden away from Africa for the first time since 1995, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Sunday.
- Tens of thousands of Somalis have died and more than half-a-million children are on the brink of starvation. Western aid isn’t flowing to where the worst of the famine is — partly due to the “war on terror.”
- The head of World Food Program in Ethiopia says the country’s emergency food stocks are almost gone, the latest trouble caused by the drought in the Horn of Africa.
TOTALLY UNRELATED TO ANYTHING – Apparently Hollywood has discovered its next Greg Mortenson: Sam Childers, the “Machine Gun Preacher,” is the subject of much hubbub and an upcoming movie starring Gerard Butler. This man claims to have been a gangbanger and drug dealer who found Jesus and then took up arms to rescue child soldiers from the LRA. Global health blogger Brett Keller offers some commentary into Childers’ outlandish (and, frankly, dubious) story, while anonymous aid blogger “J” at Tales from the Hood has a few choice words.
Posted in APHA IH Section, News
Tagged African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control, Al-Shabaab, Alliance for Oral Health Across Borders, APHA Annual Meeting, Ariel Pablos-Mendez, Breastfeeding, breastfeeding week, Brett Keller, CDC, childhood vaccinations, cholera, debt ceiling, depression, Ethiopia, famine, foreign aid, foreign assistance, Gates Foundation, Haiti, HIV/AIDS, Houston, Humanosphere, iBio Inc, India, Institut Pasteur, international aid, ivermectin, Jaclyn Schiff, lab-on-a-chip, lymphatic filariasis, Machine Gun Preacher, malaria, measles, Measles Initiative, mental health, mhealth, Michel Sidibe, Middle East, moderators, MSM, North Africa, Peter Hotez, river blindness, Sabin Vaccine Institute, Salmonella, Sam Childers, Somalia, starvation, Tales from the Hood, TB, TB blood tests, Tom Paulson, Tuberculosis, UN Dispatch, USAID, WHO, World Food Programme, World Health Organization
Tom Paulson raised a very valid point on his Humanosphere blog entry this morning: for as significant and exciting as the progress toward an HIV vaccine, which was discussed during the AIDS Vaccine 2010 conference this week in Atlanta, strikingly little media attention has been given to it. Despite the fact that the entire meeting was held inside the CNN center, CNN has not covered the event at all, and even the local newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was not present at the press conference. As Mr. Paulson so aptly put it, “unlike many AIDS meetings, there’s been lots of enthusiasm and excitement here because…there’s actually been some significant progress in the search for an AIDS vaccine. But, really, who cares?”
An HIV vaccine would be an ideal solution to a disease that has defied all manner of interventions polarized public health and political responses. 33.2 million people around the world were HIV-positive in 2008; 2.7 million are infected every year, and two million die annually from HIV- and AIDS- related deaths.1 The statistics are familiar to virtually all global health professionals, but effective strategies to control the epidemic are hard to come by, and the debate over infection control has become hopelessly infected by ideological bickering. In 2008, for example, Pope Benedict provoked the wrath of sexual and public health advocates when he stated that condoms make the HIV problem worse during his first visit to Africa. In response, Rebecca Hodes, head of policy, communication and research for the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa, said that his “opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans.”2 Even when Edward Green from the Harvard School of Public Health pointed out that the empirical evidence supported the Pope, he said that “[w]e liberals who work in the fields of global HIV/AIDS and family planning take terrible professional risks if we side with the pope on a divisive topic such as this.”3
So if an effective HIV vaccine could solve the problem and end all of the ideological squabbling, why has it been largely ignored? Paulson points out that there is a significant paucity of funding which may be due to different priorities in the global health agenda or the economic downturn; public apathy also affects political support, which in turn influences funding (or lack thereof). But perhaps it goes beyond that – after so many years of failure and disappointment, it looks like most people have largely given up on the prospect of an HIV vaccine. When the US HHS Secretary Margaret Heckler announced in 1984 that the virus that caused AIDS had been isolated, she said, “We hope to have a vaccine ready for testing in about two years.”4 Researchers worked to develop that promised vaccine for decades and were met with persistent failure. After all, the first clinical trial with even modestly promising results did not come until last year in Thailand, 25 years later – and Dr. Nelson Michael, who lead the study, said that they “weren’t prepared for success,” and they had not even made enough vaccine for follow-up studies. If the researchers behind these vaccine candidates have so little faith in their work, what message does that send to the scientific and public health communities?
At the conference, leaders in the effort to develop an HIV vaccine discussed the need for a more aggressive approach to vaccine development and more funding for further research and trials. While these are valid concerns, more effort should be put into restoring the faith of the public health community (and the public) in the possibility of having an effective vaccine. In light of the public health victories that have been won through vaccines for diseases such as smallpox and polio, isn’t it worth getting excited about?