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 email@example.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.
On August 22, the Gates Foundation celebrated its 12-year anniversary (well, sort of).
POLITICS AND POLICY
Hospitals in Portland and elsewhere are banning elective inductions and c-sections before 39 weeks of pregnancy. New research suggests that critical organ and brain development is still occurring in developing fetuses during the last weeks of pregnancy.
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.
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.
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
The online international news organization GlobalPost has published this useful interactive map of the food crisis in the Horn of Africa, based on data from the UN’s World Food Programme.
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
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.
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 flowand 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.
Barzilai is a hospital in Israel that lies just 12 km from the border with Gaza, just on the other side of the Erez crossing. It is one of the three Israeli hospitals that receive most Gazan patients and, because of its proximity, sees the most severe cases. Dr. Ron Lobel, the deputy director, says that there are anywhere between five and 15 Gazan patients at any given time, and that doctors never ask patients how they got their injuries or if they belong to a militant group. “Even if they’re terrorists they’re treated like any other person being brought into the emergency room.”1
Barzilai is a rare window into human compassion within the war-torn public health landscape in Gaza. After Hamas won the democratic election and took over the Gaza strip in June 2007, Israel and Egypt closed off border crossings. Israel declared the strip a “hostile entity,” restricting the entry of goods and cutting fuel supplies.2 Additionally, a highly controversial military offensive in December 2008/January 2009 and subsequent military blockade has further aggravated the strip’s deteriorating health system. In an interview with Global Health TV, Merlin’s Fiona Campbell describes the effect of Israel’s military offensive against Hamas: in addition to over 1,300 deaths and 5,500 people being injured, half of the hospitals, one third of the health centers, and one fourth of the ambulances in the Gaza Strip were destroyed.3 The blockade makes it difficult to get supplies such as medical equipment and building materials – she tells the story of how it took four months to get a piece of equipment for a Merlin blood bank. Specialist care is very difficult to get in the strip, and the quality of care suffers because the few specialists there cannot get across to get medical training.
People needing medical treatment must apply for a permit to be able receive medical care in Israel. The application process is complicated and time-consuming; according to the WHO, 32 patients died between October 2007 and March 2008 while waiting for permission to cross into Israel to receive care.1 While Israel approves most of the permit requests (over 7,000 were approved in 2007 vs. approximately 1,600 denied), the WHO complains that the proportion of permits denied increased from 10% in 2006 to 18.5% in 2007. Israel counters that it must balance Gaza’s humanitarian needs with security measures, because militants are constantly trying to exploit its permit policy.
Unfortunately, the view of the public health situation in Gaza tends to be obscured by accusations of war crimes4 and, more recently, botched assassinations.5 In addition, care for Palestinians also faces difficulties from the other side of the wall: Hamas’s repeated bombardment of checkpoints means that they are frequently closed down, and it is impossible for both people and supplies to cross. Because Barzilai is so close to Gaza, it is perpetually in danger of being hit by militant rockets. “It’s absurd,” says Dr Lobel. “We’re treating Gazans while coming under fire from their own back yards.”