There are tons of examples of how technology is transforming global health, including this recent video from The World Bank.
The Pacific region contains many countries with populations spread across large distances and the Kingdom of Tonga is one of them. Containing 170 islands, Tonga has unique development challenges. According to the video, there are only about 55 doctors in Tonga serving a population of 100,000. Medical assistants and nurse practitioners serve the areas outside the main islands, thus access to doctors is limited. Also, Internet in Tonga is very expensive and provides limited bandwidth.
To address these two issues, The World Bank, along with its partners, constructed an 827 kilometer underwater fiber optic cable that connects Tonga to the Southern Cross Cable Network via Fiji and helps improve Internet services. So what impact does this have on healthcare? Increased bandwidth allows hospitals and health professionals to get what they need, improves information collection, leads to better diagnoses, and allows them to liaise with partners overseas to ensure best treatment for patients.
We all recognize that technology has a strong impact on many aspects of our lives (for better or worse). The benefits associated with the intersection of technology and healthcare is very interesting and becomes even more interesting when you examine the effects it has in rural versus urban areas. This video clearly highlights work done in rural areas where access is a huge problem. Watching it reminded me of an article I read in the New York Times last year about a failed MNCH project. The project failed because researchers took a model that was successful in rural areas and tried to replicate it in an urban setting.
That said, when it comes to global health, some people believe there are greater gains to be had in rural areas where successes are “easier” to achieve and measure. What is your opinion?
May 8 is World Red Cross Red Crescent Day.
Politics and Policies:
- US State Department has issued travel warning for Algeria.
- Marijuana bill passed by Connecticut. The state has legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes (- like cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy), with tight restrictions.
- Judge rejects law on Planned Parenthood in Texas. It was ruled out by the judge that Texas could not ban Planned Parenthood from receiving state money as there was sufficient evidence that this law of banning Planned Parenthood from participating in the state’s Women’s health program was unconstitutional.
- More than 100 people are charged by the United States authorities for trying to defraud the federal Medicare health care program for the elderly and disabled of about $452 million.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sent warning letters to the marketers of dietary supplements. These ‘workout boosters’ contain an ingredient called dimethyamylamine or DMAA, which could increase people’s blood pressure, potentially causing shortness of breath or heart attacks.
- A new rule approved by Texas board allows doctors to perform stem cell procedures as long as they are done for research and receive approval from an institutional review board. This rule also requires patients signed informed consent forms.
- A settlement meant to guarantee alternatives to segregation for mentally-ill inmates in Massachusetts prisons has been approved by a federal judge. It will prevent placing mentally ill inmates with disciplinary problems in small isolation cells for up to 23 hours a day.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has released their May 2012 Bulletin chronicling innovations in global health, under the theme of ‘eHealth’.
- With World Bank support, Benn expands decentralized basic services for poor people and empower communities. Basic services include education, health and water, roads and market infrastructure.
- The International Rescue Committee is launching an emergency response in Mali, where the drought spreading across the Sahel region has been compounded by political instability. The conflict meets a worsening food crisis.
- The UNICEF has received two donations from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) to provide treatment for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Sahel nutrition crisis in West and Central Africa.
- A new public health project to reduce maternal and infant mortality in 4 African countries has been inaugurated in Woisso, in Ethiopia. It is funded by the Italian Cooperation and launched in January 2012 by the doctor’s organization with African Cuamm.
- Red Cross youth use power of music to increase access to health care. They have put together the ‘Humanity Band’, a project aiding the developing music talents of young volunteers of the Banju and Kanifing municipality Red Cross (of Gambia Red Cross Society), fund raising for Red Cross programs and increasing public awareness of disease control and prevention.
- A UAE- based philanthropic organization, Dubai Cares, has launched Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) program in Ghana reaching over 400,000 beneficiaries.
- Project HOPE sends UCLA nurse to educate medical staff in Ghana hospital.
- Ouelessebougou Alliance to host 26th annual dinner auction to raise funds for people of Mali.
- With World Bank support Mozambique extends Crucial Early Childhood Development Services to 84,000 children in 600 rural communities.
- India offers $50m credit line, $25m in grant to Seychelles.
- Global Report says U.S. lags behind 130 other nations in preterm birth rate. The report ‘Born too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth’ ranks the U.S. 131st in the world in terms of its preterm birth rate of 12.0 per 100 live births.
- A study finds that flash-heating breast milk inactivates HIV which reduces transmission of this virus that causes AIDS to their infants. The technique involves expressing breast milk into a glass jar that is placed in a small pot of water and heated until water boils.
- A six yearlong study in Rwanda found that funding dedicated to HIV/ AIDS does not undermine funding for other diseases.
- According to a study, a vast majority of HIV- infected persons in Kenya are unaware of their HIV status, posing a major barrier to HIV prevention, care and treatment efforts.
- A study shows that mobile phones are transforming the way HIV test results are being transmitted to AIDS patients in Africa.
- A study shows that prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening to detect prostate cancer can be beneficial to younger and at-risk men.
- According to a Australian research team, elderly people with pre-diabetes and type-2 diabetes suffer from an accelerated decline in the brain size and mental capacity in as little as two years.
- A long term follow-up analysis of participants in the Step-study, an international HIV vaccine trial has confirmed that certain subgroups of male study participants were at higher risk of becoming infected with HIV virus after receiving the experimental vaccine compared to those who received a placebo.
- A promising result has been reported from a trial of an experimental vaccine that appears to offer complete protection from the most common type of meningococcal disease.
- An international study led by the University of Sydney and published by the Annals of Neurology has potential to improve the design of clinical trials for the treatment of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a disorder which affects the peripheral nervous system.
- A research study shows that an ingredient in curry (curcumin) boosts bowel cancer treatment.
- Study shows school-based health centers boost vaccination rates.
Diseases & Disasters
- A tornado has hit the capital city of Japan this Sunday killing one person and injuring atleast 46 other people.
- Death toll from Kenya flash flood rises to 50. According to a relief agency the number of flash flood fatalities will still continue to rise due to heavy rains that have led to flash floods in several parts of the country.
Lawrence Macdonald, vice president for communications and policy outreach at the Center for Global Development, explains how CGD helped make $1 trillion available to developing countries after the global financial crisis. In the spring of 2009, participants at the G-20 summit decided to include developing countries in its global stimulus package. But how much money was needed for the most vulnerable countries and where would it come from? Nancy Birdsall, president of CGD, prepared a note stating that they would need access to 1 trillion dollars to cope with the effects of the crisis. Birdsall then put together a blueprint for making the resources available. By channeling the plan to the right people and testifying in front of Congress, CGD helped to unlock the $1 trillion and make it possible for the IMF and World Bank to help vulnerable countries cope with the crisis.
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, immediately following the annual meeting in Washington, D.C., 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 register here. Please note that registration will close on October 14th. Any questions should be directed to Peter Freeman, Advocacy/Policy Committee Chair, at email@example.com or 773.318.4842.
The University of Washington has launched the first full year of its Global Health Minor program!
POLITICS AND POLICY
- Tobacco companies knew that cigarettes contained a radioactive substance called polonium-210, but hid that knowledge from the public for over four decades, a new study of historical documents revealed.
- Latin American leaders have agreed to accelerate their efforts to address maternal health at the 51st Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization.
- Journalist Georgianne Nienaber looks at the impact of PEPFAR and how it may be impacted by budget battles in Congress.
- Earlier this week, the World Health Organization released a report analyzing air pollution levels in nearly 1100 cities in 91 countries. The analysis was based on air particulate levels between 2003 and 2010.
- When it came out a while ago that the CIA had used a fake vaccination scheme to try to find out where Osama bin Laden might be in Pakistan, many said it would undermine real health and humanitarian efforts. Here’s one group’s story.
- Foreign aid has acquired a bad reputation in recent years, as something usually wasteful and useless. Yet all this sound and fury has overshadowed the evidence that aid often can work.
- A report by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health finds that over 100 countries have increased financing for maternal and child health initiatives.
- The humanitarian impact of the world economic crisis became clearer this week, as the UN warned of huge job losses, a rise in the number of people afflicted by chronic undernourishment, and the “extraordinary price” being paid by children as “austerity programs” constrict the developing world.
- There is enough water in the world’s rivers to meet the demands of the expanding global population, but the rivers have to be better managed, according to a series of studies released today at the 14th World Water Congress in Porto de Galinhas, Brazil.
- UNICEF has called on the IMF and World Bank to ensure that children are not negatively impacted by austerity measures carried out by various countries.
- The New York Times shows how male circumcision is one of the most effective and simple solutions in HIV reduction, but has so far been hard to implement. Meanwhile, a group of economists, including Bjorn Lomborg, are casting doubt on the cost-effectiveness of voluntary male circumcision campaigns as an HIV prevention measure.
- The New York Times features an article about the simple innovation of using vinegar to detect if a woman has cervical cancer by applying it with a brush to the cervix.
- The Global Fund, the world’s largest funder of global health, is set to radically shake up the way it disburses and manages donor money, in a move to boost efficiency that could reallocate a third of its financing in order to save more lives.
- On Tuesday, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization announced that it will be expanding its target vaccine areas to directly address diarrhea and pneumonia.
- UNFPA has announced that it is now collaborating with UNICEF to combat Female Genital Mutilation.
RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
DISEASES AND DISASTERS
- Roads may accelerate spread of antibiotic resistance: Samples from villages by major roads in Ecuador compared to more rural villages shows antibiotic resistant E. coli is spreading along roads.
- The recent heavy flooding caused by the monsoon in Pakistan, most devastating in Sindh, has affected the lives of over five million people. The Health and Nutrition Cluster is appealing for US$45.9 million. WHO requires US$14.8 for response for Health, Nutrition and Water and Sanitation intervention.
- New enterovirus causes respiratory disease: Promed reports on 6 clusters of respiratory illness associated with human enterovirus 68 in Asia, Europe, and the United States during 2008–2010.
- More than 20 percent of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean lacks basic sanitation and 15 percent has no access to drinking water because of poor management, said experts at a meeting that ended Thursday in Brazil.
- The likelihood of water-borne disease outbreaks is high in areas in Philippines recently devastated by Typhoon Nesat.
- Aid groups are criticizing the U.S.government delay on deciding whether to resume large-scale food donations to North Korea. The charities warn that many vulnerable people in the impoverished communist state could die from starvation.
- In a new report on rabies, the WHO finds that 45% of cases in the world take place in Southeast Asia.
- A decade-long study of 135,000 men found that those who did not have children had a higher risk of dying from heart disease than those who did, raising new questions over the links between fertility and overall health,U.S. researchers said on Monday.
- More money is needed to save lives in famine-ravaged East Africa, with the UN saying it’s something like $700 million through year’s end. The World Bank announced from Washington it would boost its aid to area countries to nearly $1.9 billion. As if famine weren’t enough, Nick Kristoff tells us that as Somalis stream across the border into Kenya, at a rate of about 1,000 a day, they are frequently prey to armed bandits who rob men and rape women in the 50-mile stretch before they reach Dadaab, now the world’s largest refugee camp.
- An explosion of new technologies and treatments for cancer coupled with a rapid rise in cases of the disease worldwide mean cancer care is rapidly becoming unaffordable in many developed countries, oncology experts said on Monday.
TOTALLY UNRELATED TO ANYTHING – Twitter knows what you’re feeling!
Back in April, the World Bank hosted an online open forum to generate discussion about, and solutions to, the global food crisis. I recently received an e-mail from them assuring me that they had listened to me and carefully pored over the dialogue generated:
Dear World Bank Open Forum subscriber,
You talked. We listened.
On April 14-15, 2011, the World Bank held an Open Forum to gather ideas on ways to overcome the food crisis and help the world’s one billion hungry people. The response was overwhelming: comments and proposed solutions rolled in from more than 500 people in 88 countries.
Bank experts read through your ideas and are now responding to the issues that generated the most discussion: land and water management, climate change and environmental pressures, agriculture and support to smallholder farmers.
You can watch expert video messages on the Open Forum response pages, where we’ve also included an interactive map that aggregates Open Forum comments by country. The site is available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic, reflecting the wide diversity of forum commenters.
Food price volatility and food insecurity remain pressing issues for policymakers, farmers and consumers worldwide. We launched the response in advance of this week’s meeting of G20 Agriculture Ministers in Paris, where the food crisis is front-and-center. Our goal? To make your thoughts and solutions part of the global debate.
These “open forums” are emerging as a new trend with aid agencies; the Bank held one on open development, unemployment, and MDGs in October, and USAID’s similarly-styled Global Pulse took place last March.
I tend to be a bit skeptical when it comes to these kinds of “town hall” type exercises. For one thing, I question the utility of diverting the time and energy of an otherwise-productive staff to sifting through thousands of messages from people who like to hear themselves talk to find a handful of useful suggestions. Also, how does anyone know that this is nothing more than a PR exercise?