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

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

The 13th Triennial World Congress on Public Health, to be hosted by the Ethiopian Public Health Association and held from April 21-29, 2012 in Addis Ababa, will bring together leaders in health from across the globe. The conference, “Towards Global Health Equity: Opportunities and Threats,” is currently accepting abstracts; the deadline is Friday, October 21, at 12 a.m. PT (3 a.m. ET). More information can be found here.

International Women’s Day was March 8.

On March 11, a 9.0 earthquake rocked Japan’s Chiba prefecture, followed by a colossal tsunami that washed entire villages away.


The world, of course, stands ready to help, but it is unlikely that most of the assistance will be needed, as Japan is one of the most disaster-ready countries in the world. Unfortunately, the explosions in several of the country’s nuclear plants means that the threat of radiation poisoning looms heavily.

POLICY

  • A panel of independent experts has released a report harshly criticizing the World Health Organization’s handling of the 2009 epidemic of H1N1 swine flu.
  • UN officials expressed concern that rising food and energy prices could compromise or even reverse progress toward the MDGs in developing nations.
  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has instructed senior managers to cut 3%, or US$5.4 billion, from budgets.
  • The Kenyan government has moved to strip HIV/AIDS of its special status and begin treating it as a chronic medical condition. It has begun implementing a disease integration model that will do away with emergency response measures and dismantle parallel administrative structures set up to manage the disease.

RESEARCH

  • HealthMap, a project that aggregates health and surveillance data from sounces such as the WHO, Google News, and Eurosurveillance, was launched recently to “[bring] together disparate data sources to achieve a unified and comprehensive view of the current global state of infectious diseases and their effect on human and animal health.”
  • According to a study done by Tuberculosis Research Centre in India, alarming numbers of women with TB become homeless after they are diagnosed. Approximately 100,000 women are abandoned by their husbands due to TB every year in India.
  • A group of researchers from EPFL’s Global Health Institute and Inserm (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, the French government agency for biomedical research) has discovered that a class of chemotherapy drugs also kills the parasite that causes malaria.

PROGRAMS

  • Oxfam recently released a report criticizing the World Bank for its praise of Ghana’s healthcare system. Amanda Glassman of CGDev disagrees, arguing that Oxfam ignored surveys indicating the system’s success in improving health indicators and beneficiaries’ satisfaction with the quality of service.
  • On March 9, Saving Lives At Birth, a global partnership between USAID, the Government of Norway, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, and the World Bank, was launched. The partnership “will seek innovative solutions to reduce maternal and newborn mortality in developing countries.”

DISEASES

  • Rwanda is on track to completely eliminate malaria, the first country in its region.