Global Health News Last Week

SECTION NEWS

The following announcement is from Peter Freeman, chair of the section’s Advocacy and Policy Committee, regarding their first Advocacy Day to take place in conjunction with this year’s Annual Meeting in Washington,DC.

To all International Health Section Members:

The Advocacy/Policy Committee would like to invite you to participate in our first Advocacy Day, led in partnership with the Global Health Council. The day, scheduled for Thursday, November 3rd, 2011, will be an opportunity for us to voice support for a continued focus on international health to our elected officials. With the intense Congressional pressure to cut the budget, our voices can make a real difference. As a participant during this exciting day, you will be provided with training materials on effective advocacy techniques to ensure your message is clearly heard. Even if you do not have advocacy experience, you need not hesitate to sign up because you will be teamed with others. Please consider joining your fellow International Health Section members on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 on Capitol Hill to advocate for a healthy globe.

Interested parties should contact Peter Freeman, Advocacy/Policy Committee Chair, at pffreeman@gmail.com or 773.318.4842 with their name, phone number and e-mail address. A registration link for the Advocacy Day will be sent out to the section by mid-September; please be on the lookout for it.


August 20 was World Mosquito Day.

On August 22, the Gates Foundation celebrated its 12-year anniversary (well, sort of).

POLITICS AND POLICY

PROGRAMS

  • Donor funding for AIDS has decreased by 10 percent during the recent economic recession. The overall decrease in global AIDS funding marks a stark reversal in trends for previous years.

RESEARCH

  • Proposals for Round 8 of the Grand Challenge Exploration, a $100 million grant initiative to encourage innovation in global health and development research, are now being accepted.  Proposals can be submitted until November 17, 2011 at 11:30 am Pacific Daylight Time.
  • Researchers from Michigan State Universityare working on bringing a low-cost, hand-held device to nations with limited resources to help physicians detect and diagnose cancer. The Gene-Z device is operated using an iPod Touch or Android-based tablet and performs genetic analysis on microRNAs and other genetic markers.
  • The problem of obesity is spreading around the world and poses serious health threats.  The finding is part of a new special report on obesity, and how to combat it in the medical journal the Lancet.
  • A team of Australian researchers have discovered a breakthrough in the reduction of dengue. By injecting mosquitoes with a bacteria, they were able to block them from transmitting the virus that kills 20,000 people a year.
  • Nanotechnology, the science of manipulating tiny particles, has is rapidly finding wide application. Developing countries that embrace nanotechnology should not overlook possible risks and must regulate products that contain nanoparticles.
  • A study has found that nasal spray vaccines for influenza delivered to children between the age of six months and three years old are more effective than other vaccines.
  • In a study released by the International Journal of Biological Sciences, analyzing the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers found that agricultural giant Monsanto’s GM corn is linked to organ damage in rats.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • The current famine in the Horn of Africa has again brought to our attention the interaction between climate change, food prices and extreme weather conditions on the African continent.
  • Most of the world’s population growth today is in urban areas creating what some are dubbing unstable, unsustainable “mega-cities.” A new report by the World Wildlife Fund says that by 2050, about 70 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas creating “horrendous” problems.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, a combination of inaccurate testing and patients quick to seek treatment has lead to a worrisome trend: treating patients for malaria when they do not have the disease.
  • HIV epidemics are emerging among men who have sex with men in the Middle East and North Africa, researchers say. It’s a region where HIV/AIDS isn’t well understood, or studied.  More than 5 percent of men who have sex with men are infected by HIV in countries including Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia, according to a recent study in PLoS Medicine. In one group of men in Pakistan, the rate of infection was about 28 percent.

INFOGRAPHICS AND OTHER INTERESTING VISUALS

Thanks to Tom Murphy and Mark Leon Goldberg, Tom Paulson, and Isobel Hoskins.

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.

Global Health News Last Week

May 18 was HIV Vaccine Awareness Day.

POLITICS AND POLICY

  • Hundreds of Kenyan AIDS activists held a protest on 18 May in the capital, Nairobi to demand that the government meet its commitment to increase annual health and HIV funding.
  • In response to the mutual expulsion of diplomats, the UK’s DFID announced that it has frozen new aid to Malawi.
  • DDT has made a controversial re-appearance in Uganda.

PROGRAMS

RESEARCH

  • The World Health Organization has just launched a new web-based information resource tool that should be of interest to many in global health and development community, the Global Health Observatory.
  • According to the World Health Organization, the worldwide prevalence of obesity has more than doubled between 1980 and 2008.
  • New research has found that a variant in one gene can lead to a 30 percent lower risk of developing cerebral malaria.
  • A new study from Bangladesh concludes that most of the world’s pregnant women don’t need vitamin A supplements.
  • American scientists have tested a treatment regimen for tuberculosis which will reduce the amount of time it takes to complete the full treatment as compared to current plans.
  • A new report from the Guttmacher Institute finds that that 7 in 10 women in Sub Saharan Africa, south central Asia and south east Asia who want to avoid pregnancy, but are not using modern methods give reasons for non-use which suggest available methods do not fulfill their needs.
  • Average life expectancy across much of the world — except Iraq and South Africa — is steadily climbing and infant deaths dropped across the world during the first decade of the 21st century, according to figures released by the World Health Organization.
  • The Clinton Health Access Initiative and Gates Foundation have teamed up to support research into developing a cheaper version of the drug Tenofovir.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • China has reduced its AIDS mortality by two-thirds since it began distributing free antiretroviral drugs in 2002; however, the improvements were seen largely in patients who acquired HIV through blood transfusion, rather than through sex or drug use. On a darker note, Chinese authorities ordered an AIDS activists’ web site shut down after it had published an open letter from a retired senior official concerning news restrictions placed on a 20th-century public health scandal.
  • Dr. Orin Levine looks at a disturbing global trend: Infectious killers that had been beaten back by aggressive immunization efforts are making a comeback in places long thought to be safe havens.

WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY

The IH Blog was featured in the “Buzzing in the Blogs” section of the Healthy Dose this week! Thanks to Tom Murphy for reading and tweeting us!

Global Health News Last Week

Note: I apologize for the hiatus in the news round-up; I went to a major conference for work in April and was very busy with preparations and then wrap-up afterwards.

April 25 was World Malaria Day. According to the WHO, world malaria deaths have fallen 20% from 2000 to 2009.

The Global Health Hub has developed a really nifty global health timeline. It is interactive and open – meaning it can be edited by anyone.

POLICY

RESEARCH

  • Scientists have isolated the tuberculosis enzyme that destroys lung tissue, MMP-1. The discovery could speed up the search for treatments, as current regimens do not prevent the lung damage caused by TB infection.
  • Results from a recent study indicate that advances in antiretroviral therapy over the last 15 years have considerably improved outcomes for children with HIV who are entering adolescence and young adulthood.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • Aging populations on Japan’s northeast coast are struggling to recover from last month’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, and health officials are concerned about increased incidence of pneumonia, influenza, respiratory illenss, and blood clots in the legs of older individuals.
  • The first WHO Global Status Report on Non-communicable Diseases found that these diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide.