“Countries need to change their current mindset to successfully tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the head of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said [Monday], adding that governments will need to explore new approaches to prevent and treat these diseases, which have quickly become one of the most pressing issues in public health,” the U.N. News Centre reports (1/16). “In an opening speech to the annual WHO Executive Board meeting, Director-General Margaret Chan … urged the 34-member board to tackle the root causes of non-communicable diseases,” VOA News writes (Schlein, 1/16).
Non Communicable Disease/Chronic Disease
“While the U.S. military has formally withdrawn from Iraq, doctors and residents of Fallujah are blaming weapons like depleted uranium and white phosphorous used during two devastating U.S. attacks on Fallujah in 2004 for what are being described as ‘catastrophic’ levels of birth defects and abnormalities,” Al Jazeera reports. Samira Alani, a pediatric specialist at Fallujah General Hospital, “told Al Jazeera she had personally logged 677 cases of birth defects since October 2009,” the news service notes, adding, “Just eight days later when Al Jazeera visited the city on December 29, that number had already risen to 699.”
“About 200 million people around the world use illegal drugs every year, and that may be taking a toll on health and death rates in various countries, says a report released Thursday in the Lancet,” the Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” blog reports. According to the blog, “[t]he study, part of a series the journal is doing on addiction, offers a plethora of information about [the] use of opioids, amphetamines, cocaine and marijuana worldwide” (Stein, 1/5).
Scientific American examines the interface between climate change and human health, writing, “WHO research suggests that current warming of global average temperatures of just under one degree Celsius is responsible for an additional 150,000 deaths per year, largely due to agricultural failures and diarrheal disease in developing countries. … As a result, WHO — and a consortium of other public health organizations — declared climate change to be among the most pressing emerging health issues in the world at the recent climate negotiations … in South Africa.”
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).
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 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.”
“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).
In this post in the Public Health Institute’s “Dialogue4Health” blog, Jeffrey Meer, director of PHI’s Washington-based advocacy on global health, writes that “a significant expansion of [PEPFAR's] existing work to combat cervical cancer” through a partnership with the George W. Bush Institute known as Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon (PRRR); a…
Former President George W. Bush will travel next month with former first lady Laura Bush and officials with the George W. Bush Institute to Tanzania, Zambia and Ethiopia “where they’ll visit clinics and meet with governmental and health care leaders … to raise awareness about cervical and breast cancer, an effort he calls a ‘natural extension’ of” the PEPFAR program launched during his presidency, the Associated Press reports. “The new program, called the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative, seeks to expand the availability of cervical cancer screening and treatment and breast care education in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America,” the news service notes.