Global Health News Last Week

May 12 was International Nurses Day.
USAID’s Frontlines magazine is running an exclusive interview with Dr.

Margaret Chan, the WHO Director-General, in which she discusses current global health priorities and systems strengthening.

Peoples-uni, an open-access education initiative, offers open-access resource and online learning materials for capacity-building in low- and middle-income countries.

POLICY

  • Excessive bleeding following childbirth is the leading cause of maternal deaths in the developing world, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has now approved the use of misoprostol, a drug that considerably reduces this risk.
  • Shanghai’s health authority and local hospitals are seeking to reduce the rate of births by cesarean section this year after a recent report showed that far more Shanghai women are undergoing the procedure than is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • For the fifth time, at next week’s WHO General Assembly, countries will debate whether or not to destroy the last two known stockpiles of smallpox.
  • The Director General of Nigeria’s drug and food regulator, Dr. Paul Orhii, was in London last week where he lodged a strong case before members states of the World Health Assembly to institute a legal platform to combat the spread of counterfeit drugs.

PROGRAMS

  • Humanosphere’s Tom Paulson writes that funding for childhood vaccinations is not keeping up with the need and is struggling to compete with more high-profile priorities.
  • The phenomenon of “poverty tourism” – in which charities and aid organizations take donors on trips to “experience poverty” and meet their beneficiary – is coming under increased scrutiny and generating controversy.
  • John Donnelly, writing in GlobalPost, characterizes the Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative as off to “a slow, stumbling start” in a short series called “Healing the World.”
  • Last Wednesday, the WHO launched a campaign to reduce the huge but largely unrecognized burden of traffic deaths and injuries over the next decade.

RESEARCH

  • An HIV-positive person who takes anti-retroviral drugs after diagnosis, rather than when their health declines, can cut the risk of spreading the virus to uninfected partners by 96%, according to a study.
  • New research has revealed that a bacteria present in the gut of mosquitos may be another tool to fight the spread of malaria.
  • An experimental drug helped monkeys with a form of the Aids virus control the infection for more than a year, suggesting it may lead to a vaccine for people, or even a cure.
  • A study by US scientists, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that 400,000 females aged 15-49 were raped over a 12-month period in the DRC 2006 and 2007. That comes out to an average of 48 women and girls being raped every hour.
  • A new report by MSF argues that switching from using quinine to artesunate to treat malaria could save up to 200,000 lives a year.
  • A US study has suggested that homosexual men are more likely to have had cancer than heterosexual men.
  • According to the findings of the last Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, getting pregnant soon after childbearing, miscarriage or abortion places mothers and newborns at a higher risk of health complications or even death.
  • Results announced today by the United States National Institutes of Health show that if an HIV-positive person adheres to an effective antiretroviral therapy regimen, the risk of transmitting the virus to their uninfected sexual partner can be reduced by 96%.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • According to statistics released by the National Coordinator of the Nigeria’s National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), Dr. Babajide Coker, Nigeria contributes a quarter of the malaria burden in Africa, and a staggering 90 per cent of its citizens are at risk for contracting the disease.
  • Johnson & Johnson’s recalled at least 11,700 bottles of HIV/AIDS drug Prezista in several countries, after discovering trace amounts of a chemical emitting offensive odors in five batches of products sold in the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Austria and Canada.
  • In China, around 1.5 million people require organ transplants, but just 10,000 receive them each year, as few Chinese agree to donate their organs upon death. Illegal organ traffickers have stepped in to fill that gap.

TOTALLY UNRELATED TO ANYTHING ELSE: Princess Beatrice’s atrocious weird attention-grabbing hat, worn to the royal wedding, is now being auctioned on eBay for UNICEF and Children in Crisis. Um, yay?

Global Health News Last Week

The IH Newsletter is up! The Winter 2011 edition features several articles written by section members on various topics, a social media corner, fellowships and internships, and member publications. Check it out, and please consider contributing to the Spring edition!

On Tuesday, USAID administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah gave the 2011 David E. Barmes Global Health Lecture at NIH. His speech, titled “Addressing Grand Challenges:The Role of Science in Global Health Development,” can be viewed here. The transcript can also be downloaded, or you can read it on USAID’s website here. Also, you can check out commentary by Amanda Glassman, Sarah Arnquist, and K4Health.

Cholera, as usual, remains in the news: experts say the outbreak in Haiti has plateaued, while the one in Papua New Guinea rages on, and it is just getting started in Ghana. Meanwhile, health officials in Bangladesh prepare to launch the world’s largest cholera vaccine trial near Dhaka, the capital.

Scientists from Edinburgh University claim that the malarial parasite is particularly deadly because it competes with other strains of the infection by focusing on producing quickly-replicating cells, thus “duking it out” in the bloodstream. On a more positive note, Kenyan scientists believe that a spider that is attracted to the smell of human sweat may aid in the fight against the disease.

UN experts maintain that the laws in many Asian countries obstruct access to HIV/AIDS care and services. Nineteen countries in the region outlaw same-sex relations, and 29 criminalize prostitution. The remarks were made just before the Global Commission of HIV and the Law took place in Bangkok, where experts from around the world gathered to discuss HIV-related legal and human rights issues. Also, China has declared its intention to bring the spread of AIDS under control by 2020.

According to the WHO, Moldova has emerged as the world leader in per-capita alcohol consumption.

Experts have been sounding the alarm about rising food prices, and many analysts have linked the crisis to the recent riots in north Africa and the Middle East.

Obama and the Republicans continue to battle over the budget, as the president requests a modest increase in global health funds while Congressional Republicans try to slash spending.

Rajiv Shah’s David E. Barmes Global Health Lecture

On Tuesday, USAID administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah gave the 2011 David E. Barmes Global Health Lecture at NIH. His speech, titled “Addressing Grand Challenges:The Role of Science in Global Health Development,” can be viewed here. The transcript can also be downloaded, or you can read it on USAID’s website here.