By now, even casual observers of public health know that if tuberculosis ever was a disease of the past, it is no longer. This week, National Public Radio’s Jason Beaubien filed a moving story from Moldova, a small country once part of the former Soviet Union that’s been hit hard by forms of the disease tenaciously resistant to treatment. At PATH, the story sounded familiar. Since 2002 our staff has been working to improve detection and treatment of TB in another former Soviet republic, Ukraine. We have a great slideshow about the problem and our work to solve it. We’re also working in other regions of the world where TB is a serious threat, including Africa and Southeast Asia.
Faces of drug-resistant tuberculosis
NPR, June 4, 2013
Forms of tuberculosis are emerging that are costly, difficult, and, at times, nearly impossible to treat. This new, worldwide threat is called multidrug-resistant TB, and it occurs when the bacteria no longer respond to the most common TB medications. Doctors have to turn, instead, to older, less effective drugs that can have devastating side effects such as hearing loss, blindness, aches, and severe depression.
UN: global malnutrition costs are unacceptable
Voice of America, June 4, 2013
Global hunger, poor nutrition, and obesity are costing the world trillions of dollars in health costs and lost productivity, according to a new report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The report says fighting hunger is not enough. Tackling the more complex problem of malnutrition calls for action across the entire food system, from farm to fork.
HPV prevention: vaccination works
The Guardian, June 3, 2013
No one wants to become infected with human papilloma virus, commonly known as HPV. Not Michael Douglas, who has recently talked to the media about his HPV-induced oral cancer and how he thinks he caught it. Not Jade Goody or Anita Mui, two celebrities who died young of cervical cancer, which is entirely attributable to HPV. And not the estimated 600,000 men and women worldwide who each year develop a cancer linked to one of the ten varieties of HPV infection that are spread through sexual intercourse and promote genital and oral cancer. More than half of them will die of their cancer, many in the developing world and without receiving any treatment.
The new idealism of international aid
The Atlantic, May 29, 2013
In 2002, the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health set out to provide primary health care for the nation’s 85 million rural citizens—many of whom didn’t live within accessible distance of a hospital or even a doctor. The plan was shocking to some, said Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, Ethiopia’s Minister of Health. After all, they had given themselves only five years to implement it, and lacked both the resources and facilities needed to train an anticipated 30,000 community health workers. With only a year of training, these workers would be sent out to villages across the country to address disease prevention and promote general health. Since the program’s unlikely implementation, however, Ethiopia has seen decreases in the number of women dying in childbirth, and in children dying before the age of five, among other markers of success.
That Ethiopia’s health care development began with simple, community-driven improvements, instead of through “top-down” means like the creation of hospitals, is itself significant. Equally important, however, is that the idea was implemented by the nation’s own government.