“Zambian President Michael Sata on Friday told former U.S. president George W. Bush that the West should help fight the scourge of maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa,” Agence France-Presse reports, adding, “Bush is in Zambia on the second stop of a three-nation trip aimed at promoting efforts to fight diseases like cancer, AIDS and malaria” (12/3). While in Zambia, “Bush and his wife … launched a project … to expand the availability of cervical cancer screening, treatment and breast care education,” making the country “the first … to become part of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon project,” the Associated Press/Seattle Times writes (12/2).
Non Communicable Disease/Chronic Disease
“The public and private sectors have achieved remarkable success in Africa in the battle against AIDS, and the question now is: Where do we go from here?” James Glassman, founding executive director of the George W. Bush Institute and former under secretary of state for public affairs and public diplomacy, writes in this Forbes opinion piece. Noting the “incredible accomplishment” made in fighting HIV/AIDS over the past decade, Glassman says “the first answer to where we go from here is more of the same, and then some,” and states that the UNAIDS targets of “Zero new HIV infections” and “Zero AIDS-related deaths” “soun[d] right.”
With disease burden shifting from infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) over the coming years, “African health scientists need more funding and support to overcome the barriers and deal with a changing health situation on the continent,” Olive Shisana, chief executive officer of the South African Human Sciences Research Council, said during a keynote address at last week’s World Health Summit in Berlin, Germany, SciDev.Net reports. “Many of these diseases can be prevented by putting scientific research and health technologies to work, said Shisana, adding that this ‘epidemiological transition is an opportunity for us to build capacity and to collaborate to tackle these diseases together for the benefit of the globe,'” the news service writes.
In this Lancet editorial, Giuseppe Raviola, Anne Becker and Paul Farmer, professors with the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, write, “Unprecedented opportunities to promote excellence and equity in health care delivery for the world’s most underserved populations are upon us,” but “delivery of mental health services in low-resource settings lags unacceptably and unjustly far behind that of other services.”
“More than 50 percent of all new cancers and two-thirds of the annual cancer mortality worldwide happen in low-income and middle-income countries,” a Lancet editorial states and describes how the recently released report Closing the Cancer Divide, by the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control in Developing Countries, “presents a compelling case for comprehensive action on expanded access to cancer care and control with realistic recommendations that will be beneficial beyond cancer.” The editorial says the report notes that cancer and issues surrounding it “need to be addressed on humanitarian and rights-based grounds,” as well as “in terms of economic productivity and development.”
“‘First world’ health problems such as obesity and heart disease may be gaining ground in developing nations, but they are mostly afflicting the rich and middle class while poor people remain undernourished and underweight,” according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Reuters reports. “Researchers who looked at more than 500,000 women from 37 mid- and low-income nations in Asia, Africa and South America found that there was a clear divide between the better-off and the poor,” Reuters states, adding, “Across countries, the wealthier the women were, the higher their average [body mass index (BMI)], a pattern that held steady over time.” The news service notes, “The pattern is different from that seen in wealthy nations, such as the United States, where lower incomes and less education often correlate with higher weight” (Norton, 11/3).
“One in 10 adults will have diabetes by 2030, posing a huge challenge to health care systems around the world, according to a report” released by the International Diabetes Federation to coincide with World Diabetes Day on Monday, Reuters reports. According to the report, the number of people living with diabetes worldwide will increase to 552 million by 2030 from 366 million in 2011 unless action is taken, Reuters notes (Hirschler, 11/14).
“The pollution that has accompanied China’s spectacular rate of economic growth will have dire health consequences for its population, the United Nations has warned in a report,” the International Business Times reports. “Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), told media that already hundreds of thousands of Chinese people have suffered respiratory illnesses or died prematurely due to the heavy smog that envelops some cities in the country,” the news service writes.
Unexplained Kidney Disease Affecting Rural Workers Across Central America, PRI’s ‘The World’ Reports
PRI’s “The World” reports on an epidemic of an unexplained kidney disease that is affecting rural workers across Central America, writing, “[I]t’s the second biggest cause of death among men in El Salvador, and in Nicaragua it’s a bigger killer of men than HIV and diabetes combined,” and “the latest theory is that the victims are literally working themselves to death.” According to the news service, “El Salvador’s health minister recently called on the international community for help,” stating that “the epidemic is ‘wasting away our populations.'”
The Guardian on Thursday published several articles about people living with disabilities. One article reports on how “[a]ccess to HIV information, testing and treatment for people with disabilities was raised for the first time as a central theme at the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), held last week in Addis Abba, Ethiopia” (Powell, 12/15). A second article interviews 14 people with disabilities about the challenges they face in their respective countries (Cummins, 12/15). A third article presents an interactive graphic of the key data on global disability from the first WHO World Report on Disability, published in June (Cummins/Villani, 12/15). And a fourth article examines the stigma faced by those with disabilities around the world (Ford, 12/15).