Global Health Weekly News Round-Up

Politics and Policies:

Programs

Research

 Diseases & Disasters

Global Health News Last Week

May 18 was HIV Vaccine Awareness Day.

POLITICS AND POLICY

  • Hundreds of Kenyan AIDS activists held a protest on 18 May in the capital, Nairobi to demand that the government meet its commitment to increase annual health and HIV funding.
  • In response to the mutual expulsion of diplomats, the UK’s DFID announced that it has frozen new aid to Malawi.
  • DDT has made a controversial re-appearance in Uganda.

PROGRAMS

RESEARCH

  • The World Health Organization has just launched a new web-based information resource tool that should be of interest to many in global health and development community, the Global Health Observatory.
  • According to the World Health Organization, the worldwide prevalence of obesity has more than doubled between 1980 and 2008.
  • New research has found that a variant in one gene can lead to a 30 percent lower risk of developing cerebral malaria.
  • A new study from Bangladesh concludes that most of the world’s pregnant women don’t need vitamin A supplements.
  • American scientists have tested a treatment regimen for tuberculosis which will reduce the amount of time it takes to complete the full treatment as compared to current plans.
  • A new report from the Guttmacher Institute finds that that 7 in 10 women in Sub Saharan Africa, south central Asia and south east Asia who want to avoid pregnancy, but are not using modern methods give reasons for non-use which suggest available methods do not fulfill their needs.
  • Average life expectancy across much of the world — except Iraq and South Africa — is steadily climbing and infant deaths dropped across the world during the first decade of the 21st century, according to figures released by the World Health Organization.
  • The Clinton Health Access Initiative and Gates Foundation have teamed up to support research into developing a cheaper version of the drug Tenofovir.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • China has reduced its AIDS mortality by two-thirds since it began distributing free antiretroviral drugs in 2002; however, the improvements were seen largely in patients who acquired HIV through blood transfusion, rather than through sex or drug use. On a darker note, Chinese authorities ordered an AIDS activists’ web site shut down after it had published an open letter from a retired senior official concerning news restrictions placed on a 20th-century public health scandal.
  • Dr. Orin Levine looks at a disturbing global trend: Infectious killers that had been beaten back by aggressive immunization efforts are making a comeback in places long thought to be safe havens.

WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY

The IH Blog was featured in the “Buzzing in the Blogs” section of the Healthy Dose this week! Thanks to Tom Murphy for reading and tweeting us!

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.”

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.