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

STUDENTS AND NEW PROFESSIONALS: The Chatham House (formally known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs), a London-based think tank, is looking to fill two internship positions to begin in mid-April. They are looking for individuals who can work four days per week. The closing date is February 25, and interviews will be held on March 3 or 4. The position is unpaid.

End the Neglect is calling on global health bloggers to contribute guest posts for consideration. Read more about this opportunity here.

A study done at UCLA has apparently revealed that winning an Oscar may be a risk factor for stroke.

The International Vaccine Institute announced the launch of the Dengue Vaccine Initiative, which will “accelerate the development and untilization of safe, affordable and broadly protective vaccines to combat dengue.” The initiative will be funded by a $6.9 million grant from (surprise!) the Gates Foundation.

The World Bank reports that, despite the region’s robust economic development, South Asia is facing a health crisis as rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity rise. Meanwhile, the WHO released a report on alcohol and health, which found that alcohol is responsible for 4% of deaths worldwide (more than AIDS, TB, or violence), and that alcohol control policies are weak in most countries.

Mosquito-borne diseases are experiencing a comeback in Europe: in 2010, there were incidences of West Nile virus, dengue, malaria, and chikungunya. Some researchers predict that this may be an ongoing trend, as one study found that malaria may re-enter Europe by 2080.

A growing number of hospitals and medical businesses in the U.S. are implementing smoke-free hiring policies, barring employees from smoking and making smoking a reason to turn away applicants. The move is controversial, perhaps because the fact that the WHO has been doing this for years is not common knowledge.

In a surprising development, the Geneva-based Medicines Patent Pool announced that it is in negotiations with F. Hoffman-La Roche, Gilead, Sequoia, and ViiV (a joint venture of GSK and Pfizer) to begin sharing their patents for AIDS drugs. Unfortunately, Abbott, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, and Tibotec/Johnson & Johnson will not be joining the party.

The Kaiser Family Foundation released a (rather depressing) report on the state of global health journalism, which found that global health coverage is decreasing due to lack of funding in media outlets, among other reasons. Sarah Arnquist, who manages the Global Health Hub, reflects on what that means for us global health bloggers.

Holy cow – the AIDS rate in Zimbabwe has actually gone down?!

George Clooney has teamed up with Nicholas Kristof to raise awareness about malaria. After catching it himself while he was in South Sudan for the independence referendum, he fielded questions from readers via Kristof’s NYT column.

Cholera continues to make the rounds, this time appearing in Venezuela and New York City. Global health professor Karen Grepin points out that this “epidemic” has been going on for four decades, and that our inability to control it indicates a a major failure in global health.

The WHO is investigating claims from 12 different countries that the swine flu vaccine may be linked to narcolepsy.

February 7 marked the 11th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the U.S.

Brett Keller, a Master’s student in global health and international development, also does a weekly news round-up on his blog called “Monday Miscellany.”