IH News Global Health Weekly News Round-Up

Politics and Policies:

  • The government of Australia is preparing to soon offer a 20-minute HIV test in Melbourne. It has yet to decide which clinics will offer the test.
  • The National Population Commission has announced that China has planned to improve county-level family planning services.
  • Regulations have been issued by the government of Indonesia to bear graphic photographic warnings on the cigarette packets.
  • The United Nations has allowed Bolivia to return to the United Nations main anti-narcotics treaty and has given its approval on chewing the coca leaf.
  • Twelve nations have signed a new United Nations treaty which aims to counter the illegal tobacco trade.
  • New York City (U.S.) hospitals will adopt new guidelines that will forbid emergency room doctors to give out more than three days’ worth opioid painkillers to the patients.


  • Pfizer Inc. has included its pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to expand its pediatric immunization program in Tanzania.
  • UNICEF calls for cessation of child recruitment in the Central African Republic. More than 300,000 children have been affected by the violence which has led to their limited access to education and health facilities.
  • US$176 million announced by IMF and World Bank for debt relief for the Union of the Comoros. It will help the country to fight poverty and improve health and education facilities.
  • European Union gives EUR 16million support to Ghana. This money will support the implementation of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Accelerated Framework and Country Action Plan developed to combat maternal mortality.
  • $25 million has been awarded by Abt Associates for a three-year malaria prevention project in Kenya.
  • The FCC has launched $400 million heath care development fund with an aim to create and expand telemedicine networks.


  • According to a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry there is a relationship between mental health and spirituality.
  • According to the Journal of Infectious Diseases, nosocomial transmission responsible for XDR-TB outbreak in South Africa.
  • A study identifies the chances of infection (co-infection) with another disease when a person is infected with a disease.
  • A study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery Pediatrics, climate can be the reason for a neurological condition, hydrocephalus in children in Uganda.
  • Number of new annual cases of HIV/AIDS cases in India has dropped by 57 percent in the last decade.
  • A study published in J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry links loneliness with higher chances of dementia or memory loss.
  • Researchers have identified role in obesity and diabetes. They have found that blocking the expression of gene TRIP-B2r  in mice protects them against obesity and insulin resistance.
  • A report published by Natural News states that children who are vaccinated according to the CDC recommended schedule are five times more likely to develop diseases as compared those who are not.
  • According to the findings of a report, among all rich countries, people of U.S.  live unhealthy and shorter lives.

Diseases and Disasters:

  • The Flu has surpassed an ‘epidemic’ threshold in the United States. It is widespread in all except the three states of US.
  • According to The New Times survey, there is a severe drug shortage in Kigali hospitals (in Rwanda).
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) yellow fever has killed about 171 people in Darfur (Sudan).
  • Top U.N. Aid officials warn food crisis in two isolated southern states of Sudan. People of South Kordofan and Blue Nile have been feared dying of malnutrition and disease.
  • According to the officials, about 80 people have died in Bangladesh due to cold-related diseases like respiratory problems, pneumonia and cough.
  • People in Beijing have been warned of extremely hazardous air quality. The density of PM2.5 particulates has reached 700 micrograms per cubic meter in many parts of city.
  • Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health has warned the public of possible outbreak of Leptospirosis (rat fever) in flood affected areas.
  • According to the health authorities, Barbados has recorded an increase in dengue cases since the last year.
  • Paraguay has confirmed reports of outbreaks of dengue in the north and east of the country. It has declared a national epidemics alert.

The Greatest Thing You’ll Ever Learn: Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis on the Rise

On most days, tuberculosis only crosses the average American’s awareness radar when he or she is watching Moulin Rouge! for the fifth time. Even then, the sight of the courtesan Satine (played by Nicole Kidman) coughing up blood after singing about diamonds gives the impression that TB is the problem of prostitutes living in elephants in 19th-century France. All of this changed in 2007, when Georgia lawyer Andrew Speaker snuck back into the U.S. through Canada after honeymooning in Europe – and being diagnosed with extensively-drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB).

As if regular TB were not bad enough, global health professionals are now grappling with the rising incidence of multi-drug-resistant (MDR-TB) and extensively-drug-resistant (XDR-TB) tuberculosis. MDR-TB is resistant at least to isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most powerful first-line antibiotics used to treat TB. It typically develops when patients being treated for fully sensitive TB stop their treatment course or do not follow it regularly (either because they feel better or forget to take their drugs, or because treatment supplies run out). When the treatment is interrupted before all of the bacteria are killed, the microbes develop resistance to the drugs. XDR-TB has all of this and more: it is also resistant to any fluoroquinolone and at least one of three injectable second-line drugs (capreomycin, kanamycin, and amikacin). If these drugs sound scary, it is because they are: most second-line drugs are less effective than isoniazid and rifampicin and can be moderately to highly toxic.

While the incidence of drug-resistant strains of TB is low for the moment, it is on the rise: a recent report by the WHO found that over two million people will contract some form of drug-resistant TB by 2015. The frequency of these infections is increasing fastest in India, China, and the former USSR. The WHO is asking countries to put their money where their mouths are and step up to fight the disease. “Commitments by some countries are too slow off the mark or simply stalled,” said Rifat Atun, director of strategy, performance and evaluation at the Global Fund. In the meantime, the greatest thing you’ll ever learn…is to finish your antibiotic course.