IH News Global Health Weekly News Round-Up

  • The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (Gambia) in collaboration with WHO UNICEF, Rotary International and other partners  observe  the week of May 2013 (from 24- 27) as National Immunization (NIDs) days against poliomyelitis.
  • May is skin Cancer Awareness Month.
  • May 19 was observed as National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

Politics and Policies:

  • Kenya is the first country to protect girls against cervical cancer with GAVI- supported human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.
  • The government of Canada has announced its support in the fight against tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS.
  • India’s health ministry is tying itself in knots over the ban of drugs that are banned in some countries and some cases for some population segments.
  • The Illinois Senate has voted to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Programs:

  • Zambia- Zimbabwe Cross Border Malaria Initiative, a joint co-ordination launched by Zambia and Zimbabwe to control malaria and accelerate reduction of its transmission among the border communities.
  • Merck and Glaxo cut price of Human Papilloma Virus drug in the poorest countries. This cut is more than 95%.
  • Nigeria seeks support on guinea worm eradication.
  • Ghana Health Service has launched the country’s first online based health service which allows patients to engage with doctors online over minor ailments.
  • The Gambia and the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a Comprehensive Tobacco Control formulation in Bakau.
  • India develops cheap vaccine (against Rotavirus) against major cause of diarrhea deaths in children.
  • The Child Division at the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) is working to introduce pneumococcal vaccine against pneumonia– major cause of death among children less than five years of age in the country.

 Research:

  • According to Cervical Cancer Crisis card that used data from official reports by the World Health Organization, Africa has the highest cervical cancer deaths.
  • According to the 2011 National HIV Indicator Survey, prevalence rates among the Ugandans between ages of 15 to 19 are rising.
  • The Annual State of the World’s Mothers report states that every year three million babies die within the first month of life.
  • A study published shows that HIV prevalence and late diagnosis of HIV infection is high among young women with sexual risk behavior in Beira, Mozambique.
  • According to a Global Mother’s Wellbeings ranking report, Ghana ranks 146th out of 176 countries.
  • According to the Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination Initiative partners, landmark has reached in fight against tetanus. It has been eliminated in over half of 59 priority countries.
  • According to a study, number of Australian parents with mental illness has increased by 3% every year from 1990 to 2005.
  • The findings of a study published in the World Allergy Organization Journal, children dwelling in commercial areas of New Delhi, India are most susceptible as compared to those living in other parts of the capital, to the respiratory ailments followed by industrial and residential areas.
  • A study shows that the paradoxical TB-IRIS frequently complicates HIV-TB therapy in India.
  • A paper published in The Lancet Oncology, say that if current trends in cancer among the people of Latin America and Caribbean continue, the region will see cancer cases soaring by third each year to reach 16.8 million in total by 2020.
  • According to a study health of the immigrants suffer as they live longer in the U.S.
  • According to a study, newer whooping cough vaccine is as protective as was thought to be.

Diseases & Disasters:

  • According to the reports Zambia is facing shortage of HIV medicines.
  • Heavy rains have caused flooding of both Nyamamba and Nyamugasani rivers in Uganda. It has caused heavy flooding which has displaced thousands of people.
  • Two cases of wild polio virus have been recorded in Tafa Local government area of Niger and Fagge in Kano respectively in Nigeria.
  • Reports have indicated that African mineworkers are at significant risk of becoming resistant to tuberculosis treatment.
  • Body of a man who died in an unnamed hospital as having suffered from Creutzfeld –Jakob disease has been identified by the L. Greenberg Forensic Institute at Abu Kabir.  According to the Health Ministry danger of being infected under normal conditions are negligible.
  • A travel alert has been issued for dengue fever in Thailand. About 33 deaths have been reported since April of this year, particularly in northeastern part of the country.
  • According to the reports more than 1200 new cases of measles have been reported this year. Health officials are scrambling to catch up and stop a growing this growing epidemic.

 

 

Exitus Acta Probat: Negotiating humanitarian access

As I write a commentary about how the CIA’s attempt to locate Osama bin Laden under the cover of a hepatitis vaccination drive endangered the polio eradication effort (and vacciation efforts everywhere), I realize that I am beating a dead horse (so to speak). The collective global health and development community has complained about how ill-advised and irresponsible the plot was until it was blue in the face. We all understand the ramifications; we all shake our heads in unison when reports of health workers being attacked roll in. I saw no point in hashing it out again.

That is, until I shared my views with my non-professional network on Facebook.

Those of you who are more avid Facebookers know that in addition to it being a place to share pictures of new babies, social antics, culinary ventures, and personal details that no one really wants to know, it is a space for people to air out their political and religious beliefs, and to comment (and flame) others’ similar beliefs. Election season can be particularly miserable. While I refrain from doing this most of the time, I will occasionally share stories on things that I find interesting or (in this case) frustrating. In response to this article on the consequences of the CIA’s scheme, I got the following comment:

I fail to see what the CIA has to do with polio. It’s the Taliban that is attacking workers and keeping the vaccine from getting to people.

On the surface, my friend’s comment is true: it is the Taliban, not the CIA, that is attacking health workers and reversing out progress toward polio eradication. But the fact of the matter is that public health and humanitarian workers will always have to work around unsavory characters to reach those most in need. That is why the medical workers are negotiating with the Assad’s government to gain access to the wounded in Syria; it is why health providers worked with al-Shabaab and local warlords in Somalia; it is why midwives work through armed rebel groups to educate ethnic minority communities in Burma. Though affected by all of it, people’s health goes beyond foreign policy, diplomatic relations, and political stalemates. Whether an area is controlled by government forces, extremist groups, or local warlords, its people – and in the case of polio, most critically, its children – will get sick if they can’t access disease prevention. More importantly still, if health workers lose access to these vulnerable populations, progress made in containing disease will be lost – and they can spread even further. Letting up the pressure of polio vaccinations in Pakistan has allowed the virus to rear its ugly head in China and, more recently, Egypt.

After some discussion, he conceded that I had a point. Now I just wish that Obama would do the same and ban the CIA from implementing this kinds of bad ideas to gather intelligence. Bad guys come and go, but negotiating with them to obtain humanitarian access is a reality that will never go away.

WHO Video: Dr Bruce Aylward interview regarding attacks on health workers in Pakistan

During the week of 18 December 2012, at least six people working on a polio vaccination campaign have been reported shot dead in several locations in Pakistan – Gadap, Landi, Baldia and Orangi towns of Karachi city, Sindh Province and Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Those killed were among thousands who work selflessly across Pakistan to eradicate polio.

The Government of Pakistan and the affected provinces temporarily suspended the vaccination campaign due to concerns over safety of health workers.

Such attacks deprive Pakistan’s most vulnerable populations — especially children — of basic life-saving health interventions. of the children of Pakistan.

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that can cause permanent paralysis in a matter of hours. Safe and effective vaccines protect children from the disease. Currently the disease remains endemic in only three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Global Health News This Week

Richard Holbrooke, an American diplomat who worked for peace in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and the founding President of the Global Business Coalition against AIDS, passed away on Monday due to complications in surgery.

The State Department has launched the Foreign Assistance Dashboard (v. 1.0), which allows visitors to see how the government’s foreign aid money is being spent. The website is still in its beginning stages and there is a lot that has not yet been published, but it is a step in the right direction. In related government news, Secretary Clinton announced the full release of the first QDDR on Wednesday.

The Gates’ seem to be establishing themselves as the new “Big Brother” of global health, which makes some journalists uncomfortable – most recently with regard to ABC’s new “Be the Change” global health series. The Gates Foundation (along with the WHO, UNICEF, and NIAID) has also recently announced the “Global Vaccine Action Plan,” following the Gates’ call this past January to make the next ten years the “Decade of Vaccines.” They also provided funding for the development of a new polio vaccine developed by researchers at the University of Leeds.

The Canada-based organization Aids-Free World is accusing the UN of endangering women and children in their push to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Swine flu (H1N1) has reared its ugly head again in the UK, shocking doctors by its severity and spread.

An article in the Lancet revealed that TB cases have risen by 50% in London in the last ten years, making it the tuberculosis capital of Western Europe.

The WHO released its 2010 World Malaria Report this week.

Doctors in Germany claim to have cured a man of both cancer and HIV, though critics maintain that the treatment – a transplant of bone marrow and stem cells from a naturally HIV-resistant individual – is not a reasonable option for the general population.