Weekly Global Health News Round-Up

World AIDS Day was observed on December 1st by the CDC and its partners from around the globe. (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/worldaidsday/?s_cid=fb1285) According to the report by the World Health Organization (WHO) there has been 15% reduction of new infections and a 22% decline in death due to this deadly virus. (Source: http://www.who.int/en/)

The Guardian has put out a global map showing the level of corruption country-by-country based on data from Transparency International. (Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/interactive/2011/dec/01/world-corruption-index-transparency-international-map)

Politics and Policies:

Programs:

Research:

Diseases and Disasters:

These headlines were compiled by Vani Nanda, MPH Candidate at West Chester University PA.

Global Health News Last Week (plus interest in a new working group!)

Attention IH Section Members: Dr. Kaja Abbas, MPH student at the University of Rochester, is gauging interest in forming a working group focused on using system science to improve global health, similar to the intitiaves being promoted by NIH. Her interests are in conducting system science research on global health policy by modeling population and disease dynamics and economic evaluation of public health interventions and systems, with a focus on HIV and TB. Dr. Malcolm Bryant, our section chair, has encouraged the expansion of our section’s activities in areas of technical expertise, and Dr. Abbas is enthusiastic about a working group within the section that promotes system science methodologies for global health solutions. She welcomes your thoughts and suggestions at kaja [dot] abbas [at] gmail [dot] com.

Global Health Delivery online’s HIV prevention community is hosting a “virtual expert panel” March 7-11 to continue the dialogue around PrEP as a novel approach to prevention. Panelists from Uganda, South Africa and the United States will lead the online discussion, highlighting various barriers and opportunities to implementing PrEP in clinical settings; how to encourage long-term adherence; and what additional research questions need to be answered. Panelists include (1) Douglas Krakower, MD, a fellow in Infectious Diseases at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School, (2)Andrew Mujugira, MBChB, MSc, the East Africa regional medical director for the Partners PrEP study, and (3) Vivek Naranbhai, PhD, who was involved in CAPRISA microbicide gel study. All GHDonline members can participate in this online discussion. You can sign up here if you are not currently a member.

POLICY

  • Paramount Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people in the Eastern Province of Zambia has urged his subjects to get circumcised in order to reduce the chances of spreading HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases in his land.
  • Britain is threatening to pull out of the Food and Agriculture Organization due to “patchy” performance.
  • Due to uncertainty in past estimates, the Indian government has formed a 16-member expert group to determine the annual death rate caused by malaria in the country each year.
  • The breakdown of the air conditioning in the plenary hall of the Philippines’ House of Representatives stalled the heated debate of a controversial reproductive health bill. The bill is vehemently opposed by the Catholic Church and pro-life groups and has caused a stir in the largely Catholic country.
  • A massive demonstration rally was held in New Delhi to protest a free trade agreement between India and Europe, which many fear may threaten the production of low-cost generic drugs, particularly HIV medicines.

RESEARCH

PROGRAMS

DISEASES

Students: Internship in Maternal Mortality for Summer/Fall 2011

This opportunity was originally posted on the Maternal Mortality Daily blog.  Please contact the referenced individuals for details about the program.

The Safe Motherhood Program at UCSF is accepting applications for an upcoming internship opportunity in the Copper-belt of Zambia. The intern will spend the majority of their time in the labor and gynecology wards at a district hospital and several peri-urban clinics, gaining an understanding of front-line maternal health service delivery and research.
Position Description:

This internship is based in the Copperbelt Region of Zambia.  The intern will work on a study that aims to reduce maternal mortality and morbidities in Zambia and Zimbabwe caused by obstetric hemorrhage.  This is a cluster randomized control study that compares outcomes based on evidence from intervention and control clinics.  The intervention clinics in this study are the clinics that are using the NASG (Non-pneumatic Anti-Shock Garment) as a first aid device for patients suffering from hypovolemic shock caused by bleeding during pregnancy.

Some of the duties of the intern include:

-Providing logistic support for the local Zambian team – distributing supplies, copies, etc.
-Reviewing data collection forms
-Encouraging protocol adherence
-Conducting trainings with local hospital and clinic staff
-Visiting the study clinics
-Following up on cases
-Liaising with the San Francisco office and the in-country staff

Desired qualifications: Experience in international settings, interest in maternal health, research experience, familiarity with clinical environments.  Must be highly detail-oriented, be well organized and have excellent follow-through skills.

Time requirements: Must be able to commit a minimum of 2 months in the Copperbelt, although 3 months is preferred.

Compensation/Funding:
Interns must secure their own funding for travel and lodging. There is no funding for these positions but it is valuable experience for someone who wants to make a huge difference in women’s lives.

To learn more about the NASG (Life Wrap), visit: www.lifewrap.org.

If interested, please send your CV and cover letter to Elizabeth Butrick at ebutrick@globalhealth.ucsf.edu, with a copy to Kathleen McDonald at kathleen.p.mcdonald@gmail.com

Punished for the crimes of politicians: Zambians suffer as donors pull aid over accusations of corruption

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria has not distributed its grants to Zambia’s Ministry of Health since last August.1  The decision was made after Sweden and the Netherlands suspended aid when evidence of fraud was discovered in the Ministry of Health: senior officials have been charged with stealing US$5 million.2 The Fund demanded that the Ministry of Health return US$8 million in unspent funds and that the government take action against corruption within their ranks.  US$17 million in aid have been distributed through other channels, and the United Nations Development Programme will take over the management of the Ministry’s grants.1 

Though the Fund expects full grant activities to resume within the next two months,1 Zambians in rural areas are feeling the impact of the suspension.  Outreach programs for persons living with HIV, such as mobile counseling and testing and ART services, have stopped.3  Rural residents living with HIV have been traveling to urban health centers to get drugs, when health workers previously brought the drugs to them.  Obert Mubyana, district HIV and TB programmes officer for the Mpulungu district, said,

“The past three or four months, the situation has been very bad. We are not able to travel … [and] have a lot of patients that we need to monitor.  …[we have] to carry out mobile VCT, mobile ART, we need fuel, we need allowances, so we have had to suspend a lot of programmes.”   

Donor funds make up over half of Zambia’s health budget toward programs for malaria, TB, and HIV and training medical staff, so this suspension has raised concerns of a health crisis in the country.4  Many Zambians feel they are being punished.3  While it is certainly a donor’s right to withdraw help if it is being abused, it still begs the question: are citizens of countries that receive international aid unfairly punished for the crimes of their politicians when that aid is withdrawn?  Is it short-sighted to target direct services with aid money, rather than trying to use it to build a country’s capacity to administer such services on its own?  Can such a capacity even be built with donor funds?  And how much sense does it make to suspend aid over allegations of corruption, when a certain baseline level of graft and embezzlement is already expected?

Though there are no easy answers to these questions, Zambia still needs them.  The national average of HIV prevalence is officially estimated at 14 percent, but unofficial statistics from local health facilities suggest that the actual number may be around 50 percent.3  The Global Fund’s grants provide HIV treatment to over 200,000 Zambians, so a disruption of such aid would be devastating.