Global Health News Last Week

SECTION NEWS

APHA’s 2011 Section elections are coming up soon! Online voting will open on May 16 and ends on June 20. Section members should receive an e-mail on May 16 (next Monday) which will include:

  • Your online election validation number
  • Your APHA membership ID number
  • Voting instructions
  • A direct link to your voting Web site

All you have to do is click on the direct link and VOTE!

APHA’s Trade and Health Forum has released its first newsletter! The Forum has established a quarterly APHA Trade & Health Forum Newsletter that includes brief reports from forum members regarding recent work and analyses of issues related to trade and health, as well as announcements for trade and health advocacy opportunities and events. The first spring issue can be viewed here (PDF).


David Sencer, the longest-serving director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and one of the leaders of the U.S. contribution to the smallpox campaign, passed away at age 86 on May 2.

May 5 was International Day of the Midwife.

POLICY

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have joined forces to assist Asia Pacific countries in identifying priority actions for dengue prevention and control.
  • On May 11, dozens of countries around the world will kick off the first global Decade of Action for Road Safety, from 2011-2020.
  • Starting last week, China’s Ministry of Health is strengthening its tobacco rules to require 28 types of businesses, including bars, coffee shops, hotels and stadiums to become 100 percent smoke-free.

PROGRAMS

  • After a sensationalistic (and rather silly) report from the AP on corruption and graft, the Global Fund has assembled a high-level panel of independent experts to assess the risk of fraud in the current portfolio. The review should be concluded by mid-September
  • Sri Lanka commemorated 100 years of its National Malaria Control Program, which has brought the death toll from malaria from 80,000 per year to 0, on May 5. In 2010, only 684 cases of malaria were reported in the country.
  • Health officials in India have taken up a pilot project at taluka places to identify areas with less number of institutional deliveries to bring down maternal deaths.
  • UNICEF has found that boreholes drilled in response to the Zimbabwe cholera outbreak in 2008 have not been adequately supported by the government in Harare.
  • USAID announced that it will be launching a $10 million mobile health program which will deliver information and tips to mothers via SMS.

RESEARCH

  • Protease inhibitors used to treat patients with HIV looks to provide an effective treatment to malaria as well and are being hailed as ‘superdrugs.’
  • Headaches are the most common health disorders across the world, yet they remain neglected and under-treated, according to a UN study.
  • Researchers warn that East African plants that could cure malaria could disappear before scientists have a chance to study them.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

Thanks, as usual, to the Healthy Dose and Humanosphere.

Global Health News Last Week (plus interest in a new working group!)

Attention IH Section Members: Dr. Kaja Abbas, MPH student at the University of Rochester, is gauging interest in forming a working group focused on using system science to improve global health, similar to the intitiaves being promoted by NIH. Her interests are in conducting system science research on global health policy by modeling population and disease dynamics and economic evaluation of public health interventions and systems, with a focus on HIV and TB. Dr. Malcolm Bryant, our section chair, has encouraged the expansion of our section’s activities in areas of technical expertise, and Dr. Abbas is enthusiastic about a working group within the section that promotes system science methodologies for global health solutions. She welcomes your thoughts and suggestions at kaja [dot] abbas [at] gmail [dot] com.

Global Health Delivery online’s HIV prevention community is hosting a “virtual expert panel” March 7-11 to continue the dialogue around PrEP as a novel approach to prevention. Panelists from Uganda, South Africa and the United States will lead the online discussion, highlighting various barriers and opportunities to implementing PrEP in clinical settings; how to encourage long-term adherence; and what additional research questions need to be answered. Panelists include (1) Douglas Krakower, MD, a fellow in Infectious Diseases at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School, (2)Andrew Mujugira, MBChB, MSc, the East Africa regional medical director for the Partners PrEP study, and (3) Vivek Naranbhai, PhD, who was involved in CAPRISA microbicide gel study. All GHDonline members can participate in this online discussion. You can sign up here if you are not currently a member.

POLICY

  • Paramount Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people in the Eastern Province of Zambia has urged his subjects to get circumcised in order to reduce the chances of spreading HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases in his land.
  • Britain is threatening to pull out of the Food and Agriculture Organization due to “patchy” performance.
  • Due to uncertainty in past estimates, the Indian government has formed a 16-member expert group to determine the annual death rate caused by malaria in the country each year.
  • The breakdown of the air conditioning in the plenary hall of the Philippines’ House of Representatives stalled the heated debate of a controversial reproductive health bill. The bill is vehemently opposed by the Catholic Church and pro-life groups and has caused a stir in the largely Catholic country.
  • A massive demonstration rally was held in New Delhi to protest a free trade agreement between India and Europe, which many fear may threaten the production of low-cost generic drugs, particularly HIV medicines.

RESEARCH

PROGRAMS

DISEASES

Students: Internship in Maternal Mortality for Summer/Fall 2011

This opportunity was originally posted on the Maternal Mortality Daily blog.  Please contact the referenced individuals for details about the program.

The Safe Motherhood Program at UCSF is accepting applications for an upcoming internship opportunity in the Copper-belt of Zambia. The intern will spend the majority of their time in the labor and gynecology wards at a district hospital and several peri-urban clinics, gaining an understanding of front-line maternal health service delivery and research.
Position Description:

This internship is based in the Copperbelt Region of Zambia.  The intern will work on a study that aims to reduce maternal mortality and morbidities in Zambia and Zimbabwe caused by obstetric hemorrhage.  This is a cluster randomized control study that compares outcomes based on evidence from intervention and control clinics.  The intervention clinics in this study are the clinics that are using the NASG (Non-pneumatic Anti-Shock Garment) as a first aid device for patients suffering from hypovolemic shock caused by bleeding during pregnancy.

Some of the duties of the intern include:

-Providing logistic support for the local Zambian team – distributing supplies, copies, etc.
-Reviewing data collection forms
-Encouraging protocol adherence
-Conducting trainings with local hospital and clinic staff
-Visiting the study clinics
-Following up on cases
-Liaising with the San Francisco office and the in-country staff

Desired qualifications: Experience in international settings, interest in maternal health, research experience, familiarity with clinical environments.  Must be highly detail-oriented, be well organized and have excellent follow-through skills.

Time requirements: Must be able to commit a minimum of 2 months in the Copperbelt, although 3 months is preferred.

Compensation/Funding:
Interns must secure their own funding for travel and lodging. There is no funding for these positions but it is valuable experience for someone who wants to make a huge difference in women’s lives.

To learn more about the NASG (Life Wrap), visit: www.lifewrap.org.

If interested, please send your CV and cover letter to Elizabeth Butrick at ebutrick@globalhealth.ucsf.edu, with a copy to Kathleen McDonald at kathleen.p.mcdonald@gmail.com

Despite successes in reducing global maternal mortality, Yemen still struggles to provide adequate maternal care

The Lancet grabbed the attention of global health advocates this week when it published a study recording a significant drop in maternal mortality between 1980 and 2008.  The global maternal mortality rate has declined approximately 1.3% per year, due to a combination of lower pregnancy rates, higher income, more education for women, and higher availability of skilled birth attendants.1  Though progress toward the fifth Millennium Development Goal varied significantly by country, the news is encouraging, particularly in a field where there has been a perception of no progress.

Woman a black hijab cleans a newborn baby.
An Oxfam-trained midwife cleans up a newborn at Sayoun General Hospital, Yemen. Photo courtesy of Abby Trayler-Smith/Oxfam.

However, this positive finding also brings a new sense of urgency to countries where maternal mortality remains high.  Yemen in particular has a depressing maternal and child health record.  According to UNICEF, each Yemeni woman has 5.2 children on average, and the adjusted maternal mortality ratio was 430 per 100,000 live births.  Only 47% of women were attended by skilled health personnel even once during pregnancy from 2003-2008 (only 11% were attended four times or more), and a mere 36% gave birth with a skilled attendant present.2  In 2005, 1 in 39 women died from childbirth or related complications.  And yet maternal care is only one area where women suffer in Yemen: the country, which has attracted recent media attention for “child brides,”3,4,5 is ranked last in the World Economic Forum’s global gender gap index.3

In the face of such dismal statistics, one intervention, supported by the Extending Service Delivery project at Ibn Khaldoun Hospital in Lahej, is working to reduce maternal mortality.  This intervention has greatly improved care given to mothers and newborns over the past year by implementing eight best obstetric practices:

  • family planning counseling for women immediately after delivery
  • Vitamin A provision to mothers after labor
  • infection prevention controls
  • kangaroo mother care for premature babies
  • exclusive and immediate breastfeeding
  • active management of the third stage of labor
  • tetanus and polio vaccines for newborns
  • newborn resuscitation

Through a partnering program, progressive religious leaders preach the merits of family planning in mosques and midwives meet with women’s groups to discuss contraceptive choices.  Prior exposure to these issues then increases couples’ acceptance of the best practices when they arrive at the hospital.  Dr. Jamila Raebi, Yemen’s deputy minister of health, is championing the program and has developed a plan to scale-up the practices to health facilities throughout the country.

The global-scale progress in maternal health currently being made highlights the need for progress in countries struggling with MDG5.  Though these interventions have demonstrated promising results, all Yemeni women desperately need improvements to their country’s maternal health capabilities.