global health | KUOW News and Information

global health

The University of Washington has received its largest donation ever: $210 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The gift will pay for a new building for an ambitious UW project -- the Population Health Initiative.

Adult Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which can carry the Zika virus.
Flickr Photo/NIAID (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/GhRvGn

Testing blood donations for the Zika virus doesn’t make sense for places like Seattle.

That’s what Dr. James AuBuchon, president and chief executive of Bloodworks Northwest, told KUOW’s Kim Malcolm.


In Puerto Rico the local association of obstetricians and gynecologists has launched a new attack on Zika. Because Zika primarily is a problem for pregnant women, the doctors are trying to reduce the number of pregnant women by offering free contraception across the island to any woman who wants it.

"We have had ... historical barriers to contraception in Puerto Rico for a long long time," says Dr. Nabal Bracero, the driving force behind the initiative and the head of the local chapter of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

"Look!" says Stefania Poggi. "They've made inflatable rafts."

Two dozen boys are splashing in a massive, muddy pool surrounded by 30-foot-tall earthen banks. They're jumping on grain sacks that they've filled with plastic bottles to make them float.

Poggi manages the Doctors Without Borders operation in the largest refugee camp in South Sudan.

The 35-year-old Italian is standing on the banks of the drainage ditch, which was bulldozed through the middle of the camp to alleviate flooding.

When they wouldn't hire her because she was a woman, she threatened her superiors. When the media asked her a stupid question, she gave them an earful. And when she thought she had contracted HIV/AIDS, she said, "if that's what happened, that's what happened."

Starting today, 155 countries and territories will start switching to a different polio vaccine.

The shift, which is expected to be completed by May 1, is the "largest and fastest globally coordinated rollout of a vaccine into routine immunization programs in history," according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

A Baby Boom In A Refugee Camp Is A Mixed Blessing

Apr 16, 2016

After their first child was born in 2014, Mohammed Salameh, 22, and his wife Khoulod Ahmad Suleiman, 21, planned to throw a small party for family and friends with walnuts and cups of hot cinnamon, as is customary in their hometown of Dara'a in southwestern Syria.

But when they learned that a cousin in Syria had been killed in fighting the same day, they cancelled the festivities.

Critics call them "parachute researchers": Scientists from wealthy nations who swoop in when a puzzling disease breaks out in a developing country. They collect specimens, then head straight back home to analyze them. They don't coordinate with people fighting the epidemic on the ground — don't even share their discoveries for months, if ever.

Sometimes it's because they want to publish their results – and medical journals prefer exclusives. And sometimes it's because they can make a lot of money by coming up with copyrighted treatments for the disease.

You wouldn't think of calling a mosquito "man's best friend." But that's the nickname that biologist Denise Valle uses for Aedes aegypti, the species that's been spreading the Zika virus in Brazil and many other countries in Latin America.

I think "man's best enemy" might be better.

The thing is, this mosquito likes to live near humans.

Chart: The alarming rise in maternal mortality in the US

Dec 21, 2015

Number 8.

That's the ranking of the US in the latest Human Development report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). But in terms of gender equality, the survey finds, the US is Number 55. And our ranking is slipping, pointing to some underlying trends that are disturbing for women.

Norway comes out as the best place to live in the world, and Niger the worst, according to factors that include life expectancy and income.

The world has made a big commitment in recent years to treat and prevent infectious diseases like tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria. But another threat to global health is on the rise: Cancer rates are going up in the developing world.

There's a place in the city of Tijuana, Mexico, called El Bordo, which has always been somewhat reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic movie scene. The name comes from "the border," which is where it's located: right by the fence that separates the U.S. from Mexico, among the enormous paved canals that run through Southern California like concrete veins. Hundreds of people live in those canals, often in makeshift tents, the smell of sewage made ripe by the hot Tijuana sun. It's a place where many deportees try to get by. It's also a site of heavy drug use.

A 15-year-old boy died of Ebola in Liberia on Monday night, the first person in the country to perish from the disease since July, health officials say.

After twice being declared Ebola-free, Liberia is reporting new cases of the disease.

The first case that was confirmed, according to the World Health Organization, was a 10-year-old boy in the capital, Monrovia. He fell ill on Nov. 14, was hospitalized a few days later and confirmed as having Ebola Thursday.

It's still unclear how the boy became infected, says WHO's special representative on Ebola, Bruce Aylward.

Today is World Toilet Day, a chance to think about the billions of people in the world who don't have toilets. People like me.

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