Category Archives: Global Health
Tomorrow, February 4, is World Cancer Day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention joins organizations around the world to promote ways to reduce the burden of cancer. Each year globally, 12.7 million people learn they have cancer, and 7.6 million people die from the disease. In the U.S., cancer is the second leading cause of death, exceeded only by heart disease. Cancer kills more than half a million Americans every year.
Around the world, more people die from cancer than from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The World Health Organization projects that without immediate action, the global number of deaths from cancer will increase by nearly 80% by 2030, with most occurring in low- and middle-income countries. At the United Nations Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases in September 2011, leaders from more than 120 countries declared non-communicable diseases, including cancer, a global priority and committed to taking action to address them. Read more on cancer and global health.
About 45,000 Americans die each year from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released yesterday. According to the report, in 2010 there was only a small increase in the immunization rate for just three vaccines: Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis or whooping cough); HPV and shingles. Get more updates on vaccine news.
A growing number of businesses now promote hookah tobacco smoking on the Internet, but less than 1 percent included a tobacco-related warning about the practice on the first page of their websites, according to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study also found that, while cigarette-related web pages are often required to verify users’ ages, none of the hookah tobacco web pages required any type of age verification.
“Hookah tobacco smoking is growing in popularity in the United States, but many people are unaware of the health risks. It’s believed that one session of smoking tobacco through a hookah can deliver about 50 to 100 times the smoke volume, 40 times the tar and twice the nicotine usually delivered by a single cigarette,” says lead author Brian Primack, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “Hookah smoking has been linked to serious diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease, and people should be aware of these risks,” says Primack. The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute. Get the latest news in tobacco policy, prevention and cessation efforts.
Reuters is reporting that the world's major pharmaceutical companies are joining with governments and leading global health organizations to donate drugs and technical expertise to help control or eliminate ten neglected tropical diseases by 2020. The diseases include leprosy and sleeping sickness, and largely impact the developing world. Estimates suggest a billion people, including 500 million children, are impacted by these diseases. Read more global health news.
Reducing the Pain of the iPad
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Microsoft Corp. and Brigham and Women's Hospital say shoulder and neck pain associated with iPad use can be avoided if people don’t use iPads while they’re resting in a lap and instead use cases that enable higher viewing angles. The recommendations appear in the journal Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation. Read more on injury prevention.
A new study in the journal Addictive Behaviors finds that college students who host off-campus parties drink more than their guests. The study also found that hosts tend to be males, members of a fraternity, in their sophomore year or higher and have more money to spend than other students. Read more on substance abuse.
The American Public Health Association (APHA) has released a veteran's health-themed supplement to the March 2012 issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Key findings in the supplement include:
- Suicide rates among active duty military increased between 2005-2007.
- Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan experience elevated mental health and substance abuse risks; Army and Marine veterans fared worst.
- Major depression and substance use disorders have increased among active duty combat-exposed veterans.
Lawrence Gostin wrote two of the founding books on public health law and developed some of the most influential public health model policies of our time. NewPublicHealth spoke with Lawrence Gostin, JD, Linda D. and Timothy J. O’Neill Professor of Global Health Law at the Georgetown University Law Center and director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, about his keynote address at this week’s Public Health Law Research (PHLR) Annual Meeting and emerging trends in public health law.
>>NewPublicHealth will be covering the PHLR Annual Meeting all week, including Q&As with some of the top researchers and influencers who are presenting. Follow our coverage here.
NewPublicHealth: What do you plan to speak about at the PHLR meeting?
Lawrence Gostin: I’m going to speak about global health law and global health governance. The idea is to talk about something that’s innovative and exciting and I have a proposal for a Framework Convention on Global Health, which is a global health treaty that the UN Secretary General has endorsed and many countries now are on board. So it’s an exciting, fascinating and vital time for global health. We’re really expanding the horizons beyond America to how we can make sure that all the world’s people have good health, and particularly those who are poor and vulnerable.
NPH: That’s very interesting. What is the treaty about?
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke today at a packed morning session at the Kaiser Family Foundation about the HHS Global Health Strategy, released late last year.
It’s hardly the first time the department has focused on global health, the Secretary pointed out—ticking off areas such as smallpox eradication, global health assistance programs and partnerships such as biomedical research and disease surveillance. “But most of these efforts were seen as fundamentally separate from our work to improve health here in America,” said Sebelius. “Today, we can no longer separate global health from America’s health and we need to look beyond our borders to improve health inside our country.”
Considerations that prompted the new strategy include:
- Global pandemics like the H1N1 flu have always been a threat. But today, they can spread faster and more unpredictably than ever before. “A million people drive across our borders, dock in our ports, or land in our airports every day, and any one of them could be bringing a new virus or bug with them,” said Secretary Sebelius.
- Nearly half of the fruit and over three quarters of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported from abroad, prompting food safety concerns.
- Many medicines are imported from abroad, often from countries with fewer safety controls than the US.
- Innovations are needed to reduce the burden of chronic disease and other countries are working on such innovations that could be valuable here in a range of areas, including lowering health costs, training more primary care providers and improving population health.
The strategy has three goals, according to Nils Daulaire, MD, MPH, Director of the HHS Office of Global Affairs:
- A focus on areas where our work abroad helps protect and promote the health and well-being of Americans such as disease surveillance and treatment research partnerships;
- Leadership in areas where HHS has special technical expertise, such as NIH research, CDC epidemiology efforts and regulation expertise at the Food and Drug Administration; and
- Partnerships within the administration to advance U.S. interests, with agencies including the State Department and USAID.
A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and UNAIDS finds that 34 million people worldwide are living with HIV. Increased access to HIV services has resulted in a 15 percent reduction of new infections over the past decade and a 22 percent decline in AIDS-related deaths in the last five years. The number of people receiving AIDS medicine worldwide rose to 6.65 million in 2010 from 400,000 in 2003.
"It has taken the world ten years to achieve this level of momentum," says Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of WHO's HIV Department. "There is now a very real possibility of getting ahead of the epidemic. But this can only be achieved by both sustaining and accelerating this momentum over the next decade and beyond."
Despite the advances worldwide, concerns remain, according to the report:
A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report finds that the number of new syphilis cases in the U.S. has fallen for the first time in ten years, but cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea are up. The report also finds that sexually transmitted diseases continue to impact minority groups disproportionately. Read more on sexual health.
A parent survey in the journal Academic Pediatrics finds that drivers of four to nine year-old children say their children’s seat belts often don’t fit correctly. The researchers suggest that clinicians should encourage the use of size-appropriate child passenger restraint systems, including car seats and booster seats, instead of seat belts, which may not fit well for this age group. Read more safety news.
New HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen to the lowest levels since the peak of the epidemic, according to a new report by the United Nation’s Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS. New HIV infections decreased by 21 percent since 1997, and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses decreased by 21 percent since 2005. Read about a recent effort to usher in a global AIDS-free generation.
Some of the most interesting conversations overheard at the recent American Public Health Association annual meeting were among public health students discussing their plans to work in the developing world after graduation. Those plans often include a round trip ticket, says Jennifer Kates, Vice President and Director of Global Health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, who says overseas public health posts build skills that often come back home. CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, for example, worked in India for six years where he helped develop that country’s tuberculosis treatment program.
The inter-connectedness of U.S. and global health was underscored in a major address by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week at the National Institutes of Health. The Secretary pointed to recent, significant HIV and AIDS-related research findings and treatment advances largely spearheaded by U.S. funding and scientists. “[U.S.] efforts,” said Secretary Clinton, “have helped set the stage for a historic opportunity… to change the course of this pandemic and usher in an AIDS-free generation.”
“The Secretary’s speech was an important marker to think about in a world that has changed its response to HIV,” said Kates. “It’s a marker because of who it was, that it was a policy goal, and that has not been a goal before,” said Kates.
Among the recent advances:
- Research that shows the potential for voluntary medical male circumcision to reduce HIV incidence
- Earlier initiation of AIDS treatment to reduce the likelihood of one partner passing HIV to another, uninfected one
- Studies on the effectiveness of using vaginal microbicides to prevent infection in women
- Pre-exposure preventive treatment in heterosexual and homosexual populations
“These approaches, combined with behavioral interventions, condom access, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, syringe exchange programs, and other initiatives present the opportunity to make real progress against the epidemic, said Kevin Robert Frost, CEO of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, in response to Secretary Clinton’s address.
Secretary Clinton went on to explain exactly what she meant by an AIDS-free generation: “one where virtually no children are born with the virus; second, as these children become children and adults, they are at far lower risk of becoming infected than they would be today thanks to a wide range of prevention tools; and third, if they do acquire HIV, they have access to treatment that helps them from developing AIDS and passing the virus on to others.”
Additional advances are expected to be announced when the annual International AIDS Conference returns to the U.S. this July for the first time in 22 years. Conferences organizers decided decades ago not to allow the conference to be hosted by countries that banned entry to travelers who are HIV-positive. The U.S. ban was lifted in July 2010.
>>This continues a series of discussions around the impact of global health efforts here in the U.S. Read a related Q&A with Kaiser Family Foundation’s Jennifer Kates around the U.N. High-Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases. In a Q&A with Public Health Newswire about the U.N. meeting and other topics, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who was a delegate at the meeting, said, “all nations need to apply what we can learn from other countries beyond our borders that are facing very similar public health challenges—and from leaders around the world who are on the vanguard of addressing the risk factors.” Read the full Public Health Newswire Q&A with Lavizzo-Mourey here.
>>Read more on global health.
Don't forget to check out NewPublicHealth coverage of the APHA 2011 Annual Meeting.
As of today, seven billion people live on earth. It took all of human history to reach 1.6 billion people in 1900. By 2000, the number was 6.1 billion and eleven years later another billion people were added, according to the Population Research Bureau in Washington, DC. Read more on global health.
The Food and Drug Administration has a list of precautions and advisories to make Halloween safer for children and adults, including reminders against wearing decorative lenses and have adults check candy for hidden or sharp objects before children start eating the sweets. Get more safety updates.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced grants in all fifty states for repairs and improvements to low income and very low income housing. Read more on housing and health.
A new study in the American Journal of Medicine found that people were more likely to fill a new prescription if they lived in a high-income zip code rather than a low-income zip code; if their medication was on their insurance plan's list of approved drugs; and if their doctor had transmitted the prescription directly to the pharmacy instead of handing it to the patient. The researchers also found that patients were more likely to fill prescriptions for antibiotics to treat an infection than for medication to lower high blood pressure. The study looked at data on 280,000 patients who received new prescriptions.
Across the globe on October 15, children and international health organizations celebrated Global Handwashing Day with educational events, school handwashing competitions – and plenty of handwashing videos. Since its inception in 2008, which was designated as the International Year of Sanitation by the United Nations General Assembly, Global Handwashing Day has been reinforcing the call for improved hygiene practices worldwide.
Handwashing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, which together are responsible for the majority of global child deaths. Every year, more than 3.5 million
children do not live to celebrate their fifth birthday because of diarrhea and pneumonia.
Handwashing is a serious issue, but videos from across the world aim to make handwashing fun for kids. View a sampling of videos, from silly to serious, below.
This video from the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing offers a look at handwashing from Africa, Asia and Latin America.
UNICEF posted this video by Rose Akwasi, age 19, from the Solomon Islands, asking, "Do you know where those hands have been?"
In past years, UNICEF recruited the popular Australian children's music entertainers, The Wiggles, to spread the message of clean hands:
UNICEF Japan also used dance and song to show kids how to wash their hands properly, with a dance choreographed by renowned Japanese dancer Kaiji Moriyama. The dance has almost no verbal instruction, making it easy for children of any age to learn the steps for proper handwashing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer more resources on handwashing here.
A thought-provoking article in the Yale Alumni Magazine, “The Health Spending Paradox,” finds that the ratio of social-service spending to health-care spending in the United States is less than 1:1, while the average among other middle to high income countries is 2:1. Why does that matter? According to Elizabeth Bradley, Ph.D., professor of public health and the faculty director of the Yale Global Health Leadership Institute, and a co-author of the article, in countries where health-care spending was high and social-service spending (such as housing and family support services) was low, outcomes were significantly worse for infant mortality, life expectancy, and potential years of life lost.
Bradley says the research suggests that spending outside of health care — in this case, on social services — may have more important ramifications for a population’s health than the spending inside the health-care system. "Given these findings, legislators who are eager to save money on government health-care costs may want to think twice before cutting funding for social-service programs. Those cuts may themselves have substantial health consequences in the future.’’
Read the article here.
>>Read more on a related study that found that increased spending by local public health departments can save lives lost to preventable illnesses.