Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Archive for July 2007

Live blogging by the National Press Foundation on HIV/AIDS

I was just notified of this event on HIV/AIDS from Sydney Australia. The folks from the Natioanl Press Foundation have put up quite a bit of information including what looks like audio files. Check it out:

“The National Press Foundation in collaboration with the International AIDS Society is holding a training session for 50 international journalists on covering HIV/AIDS in Sydney , Australia . The program coincides with the IAS’s 4th annual conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention. We’ll be writing about it on our new blog, The NPF Newsbag (www.nationalpress.typepad.com). We will be posting resources from our speakers’ sessions and will be inviting some of our participating journalists to guest blog.”

Written by Aman

July 18, 2007 at 11:58 pm

Blog Housekeeping: Welcome to the “Jungle”

I am on the road and will be headed to Seoul and then Beijing for the next two weeks, so there will be limited posting if any, but I will try to get something up. Jaspal is also traveling through Mongolia (and then to meet me in Beijing where he will be presenting at the HCI conference, session info here) and Ben is presenting his research on Output Based Aid for improving STD access in Copenhagen and will not return to his Uganda home base for a while as well. We hope to resume regular posting when we all return to our respective homes.

jungle_cover.jpgWith the recent news about China (431 products recalled since 2005), I am very curious to see things first hand. Let me say upfront, as the NY Times just covered this, China is not the “sole source of dubious food products”(article). However, with global manufacturing comes potential global health problems. In case you have not been following, some of the reports on China goods, foods, and environmental protection have been scathing and have noted these issues are widespread. I have heard one expert say that “China food and product safety is where the US was 100 years ago” (almost exactly when The Jungle was released). Some of the items recalled and in questions include:

– toothpaste
– children’s toys
– defective car tires (at least 2 deaths)
– medicine (at least 51 supposed deaths)
– pet food (hundreds of deaths reported)

The list goes on. BBC has some good coverage with other recent articles. Two articles are worth reading to get a quick summary here and here. While these may not be fair critiques, reports out of China indicate the crisis is not being overblown and in fact may be under reported (a very scary situation if true). Of course the first thing I thought of after following the news was Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” which was one catalyst in 1906 that lead to the creation of the US FDA. From wikipedia:

“Sinclair’s account of workers falling into meat processing tanks and being ground, along with animal parts, into “Durham’s Pure Leaf Lard”, gripped public attention. The morbidity of the working conditions as well as the exploitation of children and women alike that Sinclair exposed, showed the corruption taking place inside the meat packing factories. Foreign sales of American meat fell by one-half. In order to calm public outrage and demonstrate the cleanliness of their meat, the major meat packers lobbied the Federal government to pass legislation paying for additional inspection and certification of meat packaged in the United States. Their efforts, coupled with the public outcry, led to the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which established the Food and Drug Administration.”

We will see if this recent explosion of bad news for China will serve as a similar catalyst. I am very much looking forward to the trip and my first visit to China. For other opinions on this matter see the following sources:

Freakonomics on China, link
Product Global (views from someone who has visit 75+ Chinese factories), link
Economist Brad DeLong on executed “FDA” head, link
China Law Blog, link

Written by Aman

July 16, 2007 at 7:57 pm

Posted in Global Health

The Business of Humanitarian Aid: Fritz Institute

The recent article, “Big Business goes Humanitarian“, reminded me of the Fritz Institute in San Francisco, which I have been meaning to cover on the blog. First a few excerpts from this article lumped together below:

Imagine you’re the head of a major corporation – let’s say a logistics or telecoms firm. You get a news alert on your cellphone telling you there’s been a big earthquake in Asia, with tens of thousands feared dead. What do you do? Ideally, nothing… It’s not that you don’t care. In fact, the reason you can afford to just get on with your day is because your company’s cash, equipment and maybe even staff are already in the right place to help international relief groups respond to humanitarian emergencies as and when they happen…if stocks aren’t pre-positioned and staff aren’t pre-trained, then it’s too late. Any dollar given before an emergency goes much further than more dollars given after…Vodafone also works with WFP, the World Health Organisation, and Telecoms Sans Frontieres to provide communications equipment, training and other technical support in emergencies and health programmes.

Now onto Fritz, a non-profit organization in the business of logistical support for disaster relief. The Fritz Institute maybe a non-profit, but they have strong roots in the private sector. They are “dedicated to improving global disaster relief by creating innovative approaches to ensure help arrives when and where it’s needed most.”

You can think of the Fritz Institute as the UPS or FED Ex of humanitarian aid. The founder, Lynn Fritz sold his for profit company to UPS in 2001 and started the Institute thereafter. Fritz has been called a “visionary of the global logistics industry” and previously ran a Fortune 1000 global logistics corporation with 10,000 employees in a 120 countries. His non-profit institute just launched a “Certification in Humanitarian Logistics” (link). I could not find a similar type of organization with the same level of sector expertise, however there are smaller outfits that do exist. If anyone knows of other organizations in this sector let us know.

Additional reading: Mega-cities and Mega-disasters

Written by Aman

July 16, 2007 at 7:29 pm

Creative Mapping for Global Issues and Google Mashup “Action Planet”

I just discovered Maplecroft Maps that can filed under – awareness building via visual data representation. What is really cool about their maps, besides the tremendous breadth of issues they cover, are the additional resources linked to the map. For example, when you click on a map there are several tabs for: case studies, analysis and resources. Very cool stuff:

Maplecroft maps is a highly visual, web-based resource which contains detailed country information for over 200 states and maps for key issues significant to business and society. This innovative tool is designed to raise awareness amongst corporations, government and non-governmental organizations, academics, students and the general public of how an organisation’s operations interact with wider society, and how the risks and opportunities generated can be responsibly managed through stakeholder engagement and partnership.

maplecroftmaps.jpg

“More than 30 different issues are already available…a number of the more recent maps were developed in partnership with the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Network… Some of the maps are for:carbon resources, climate change, corporate governance, greenhouse gas emissions, natural disasters, pandemics, renewable energy use, aid, child labour, digital inclusion, displacement, education, HIV/AIDS, landmine risk, malaria, military expenditure, political risk, poverty, tuberculosis and water.” Check out their website.

Second, from what I understand, students at Stanford’s Design school came up with ActionPlanet.org in four weeks, which is a mash up of Google maps and GlobalGiving. Action Planet connects your issue of interest with a project in need. If you want to see another kind of “mashup” check out CNN’s site IMPACT (Impact your world) which was recently covered by Lucy Bernholz (she coined this type of technology meets philanthropy as “cross platform embedded giving“). A description of Action Planet can bee seen below.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fCu3g8rGbs]

Written by Aman

July 10, 2007 at 5:57 am

Links from recent contacts in East Africa

Two weeks ago, a Kisumu-based US researcher, Craig Cohen, gave a talk to the Mbarara University medical faculty and students on the PEPFAR funded AIDS treatment programs in western Kenya. The work is generally described on the FACES project site – best summarized as family-based care – bringing medical screening to other family members once the index patient has been identified.

After talking last week talking with other HIV researchers in Kenya and Uganda, I am getting excited about the potential for internet-based HIV education resources for youth. Although net speeds are generally slow in Uganda (and only marginally better in urban Kenya), it’s not hard to imagine what the HIV Web Study HIV educators or health information consumers. One recent study by researchers in Mbarara identified the HIV education potential of the web for youth (see Ybarra et al 2006 “Internet Use Among Ugandan Adolescents”).

To increase use of online HIV education resources, researchers are considering internet cafe credits that ISPs could offer in exchange for validated time spent on HIV ed modules. The next step is design the education resources as games to stimulate greater interest among youth.

Written by Ben

July 9, 2007 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Global Health

Global Call to Stop Cervical Cancer

We received another request to post about the Global Call to STOP Cervical Cancer. I will keep it brief as other bloggers have also just posted about this (links at the end of the post). They have a great coalition lined up, but unfortunately I had a difficult time finding information on cervical cancer itself (2 links deep on the site, see Discovery Health for facts and information) . One of the facts that is the driving force of this coalition is worth sharing with others:

“Cervical cancer, caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), strikes more than 500,000 women every year and causes more than a quarter million deaths annually. Approximately 80% of these deaths occur in developing countries, making cervical cancer the most common cause of cancer-related death for women in the developing world.”

For an interesting project related to this, see this research conducted by Haas Business school students on a self-diagnostic technology by Roche in South Africa for women living in rural areas.

Other sources:
Cervical cancer marketing and politics, link
Center for Global Develoment, link (Great post raising some important questions)
Global Health Report, link
Kenyan MP advocacy, link
Thailand rejects cervical cancer vaccine, link
For general information on reproductive health definitely check out this blog

Written by Aman

July 9, 2007 at 5:01 am

Physicians in training needed for leadership institute

Occasionally we get requests or suggestions to post competitions, deadlines, press releases, and other pieces of information in order to spread the word to a wider audience. Here is one of those suggestions, if you know any MDs in training, please send this very interesting opportunity onto them (deadline July 16th).

Pharmaceutical Policy Leaders in Medicine Institute

Are public health priorities being met by today’s drug industry and pharmaceutical policymakers?

 Are you prepared to help make the difference?

We are looking for twenty physicians-in-training with the potential to become the leading change agents of their generation to improve pharmaceutical policy. This four-day Institute, organized by the AMSA Foundation in collaboration with Duke University ‘s Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, will provide intensive training and interaction with some of the leading change makers, researchers and journalists reporting on pharmaceutical policy. More information here.

Written by Aman

July 8, 2007 at 11:39 am

Posted in Requested post