Category Archives: Global Health
The World Disasters Report from the International Federation of the Red Cross finds the number of overweight people in the word—one billion—tops the 925 million who are undernourished.
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that 70 percent of high school students get less than the recommended eight hours of sleep per night for this age group, based on responses to the 2007 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Students who reported insufficient sleep were more likely to engage in health-risk behavior than students who reported sufficient sleep, including low physical activity, cigarette smoking, alcohol use, physical fights and unsafe sexual behavior.
The current issue of Pediatrics includes articles that detail new recommendations for the polio, Tdap and Hepatitis B vaccines. This update brings the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations in line with those of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Some of the new recommendations include:
- Hepatitis A vaccine for all household members and close contacts of an adopted child from a country with high rates of hepatitis A.
- A single dose of Tdap for children 7 through 10 years of age who were under-immunized or who have an incomplete vaccine history.
- Vaccinations for adults at risk of exposure and new guidelines for immunocompromised children.
The U.S. sent some impressive firepower as part of its delegation to the United Nations High-level Meeting on non-communicable (also known as chronic) diseases that met this week in New York. The delegation included HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D., M.P.H. and CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. Additional delegation members included American Public Health Association Executive Director Georges Benjamin, M.D., and Risa Lavizzo-Mourrey, M.D., M.B.A., president and C.E.O. of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The U.N. meeting, the first high-level meeting on a health issue since a summit on AIDS ten years ago, was attended by more than 30 heads of state and at least 100 other senior ministers from around the world. The delegates adopted a declaration calling for a multi-pronged campaign by governments, industry and the public. The declaration calls for an international plan by 2013 to curb risk factors behind cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.
Chronic Disease Surpasses Infectious Disease in Global Deaths
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill 35 million people each year and more people now die from these chronic diseases globally than from infectious diseases, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO also notes that the most prevalent diseases share common risk factors including tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
“Our collaboration is more than a public health necessity. Non-communicable diseases are a threat to development. NCDs hit the poor and vulnerable particularly hard, and drive them deeper into poverty,” said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a speech to the summit. The Secretary General said families are often pushed into poverty when a member becomes too weak to work or when the costs of medicines and treatments overwhelm the family budget. According to the WHO, deaths from NCDs will increase by 17 percent in the next decade, and in Africa, that number will jump by 24 percent.
The United States and the World Health Organization have signed a memorandum of understanding to help developing nations strengthen their capabilities to support the International Health Regulations. The regulations are an international agreement that requires WHO member countries to prevent and respond to public health risks that have the potential to cross borders and threaten people around the world.
A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services task force released recommendations yesterday on using text messaging to convey health information. The recommendations include development of HHS-sponsored health text message libraries, creating partnerships to develop and disseminate health text messages, and integration of health text messaging with other HHS health information technology priorities such as electronic health records, cloud computing and health games.
This week the United Nations General Assembly will be holding a high-level summit during its annual meeting on chronic, or non-communicable, diseases. The conference conveners hope to bring attention to the global problem of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases and agree on a plan of action to address them.
While the U.S. already has domestic action plans underway on both the prevention and treatment of these diseases, Jennifer Kates, Vice President and Director for Global Health and AIDS policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, says U.S. public health officials have a great deal to both share with, and learn from, the global health community. Kates spoke about these learning opportunities with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation last year in a conversation about the White House Global Health initiative, a commitment of $63 billion, that runs through 2014.
NewPublicHealth: There are some distinct issues globally when it comes to health and then there are some that dovetail issues and problems in the United States. What are some of those that are similar?
Jennifer Kates: That’s a good question. If you think about today’s world – people, animals, insects, birds, ideas, innovations, technologies increasingly recognize no borders. So the idea that there’s a domestic public health problem and a global public health problem increasingly doesn’t make sense.
Now there are some distinct differences. The United States economically is doing much better than developing countries, and we know that the economy is linked to health, clearly, but there are a lot of lessons to be learned. For example, if you think about the developing world, a lot of the models that have had to be developed are in hard-to-reach areas with hard-to-reach populations. That’s actually where we’ve done the worst in our country in public health, reaching hard-to-reach populations, dealing with the issues of poverty, dealing with the complicated but important family and community structures in hard-to-reach places. So we have a lot we can learn and some of the same diseases and challenges exist all over the world.
NPH: Such as which?