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I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
A special committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine provided new recommendations and rationales for the U.S. to re-invest in improved global health, explains a report recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Among 14 new recommendations, the Academies' special committee suggests the U.S. invest to improve global health security, address the threats provided by communicable diseases, and spend additional money to enhance child health.
First, the committee suggests the U.S. should invest more to improve global health security. The committee reports that if a severe infectious disease outbreak occurred in the United States today, the number of deaths would double the total fatalities in all U.S. wars since the American Revolution.
The committee writes (and we quote): 'Regardless of whether epidemics or biosecurity threats originate naturally or though human engineering, it is critical for the United States to recognize their severity and take proactive measures to build capacities and establish sustainable and cost-effective infrastructure to combat them' (end of quote).
The committee adds a focus on health preparedness at home and abroad (and we quote): 'is essential to reduce the risk of outbreaks and the transmission of infectious disease globally' (end of quote).
Second, the committee suggests the U.S. more aggressively address the threats provided by continuing cross border communicable diseases, such as HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. While the committee reports two million persons are infected by HIV around the world annually, the committee counters more now die from tuberculosis than AIDS.
The committee writes (and we quote): 'complacency toward these diseases can lead to severe risk for the global community since all three pathogens are capable of evolving into strains that are resistant to currently available treatments' (end of quote).
Third, the committee suggests the U.S. seek to improve the health of children as a cost-effective, international socio-economic investment.
The committee notes new research suggests that child health interventions (and we quote): 'can translate into lifelong benefits in terms of labor-market participation, earnings, and economic growth — generating financial returns of up to 25%' (end of quote).
The committee reports 250 million children in low and middle-income nations currently fail to reach their developmental potential because of extreme poverty and related conditions. The committee recommends (and we quote): 'Building empowering, nurturing, and cognitively enriching environments to prevent such stunting and promote healthy and productive lives requires programs that span the health, education, and social service sectors' (end of quote).
Overall, the committee's report envisions a more proactive, systematic, and cross-cutting approach to global health. While the committee notes the U.S.' current initiatives are insufficient, they explain (and we quote): 'the United States can preserve and extend its legacy as a global leader, partner, and innovator in global health through forward-looking policies, a long-term vision, country and international partnerships, and most important, continued investment' (end of quote).
Meanwhile, an overview of current global health issues (from the U.S Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention) is available within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's international health health topic page.
MedlinePlus.gov's international health health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Clinical trials that may be occurring in your area can be found in the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about global health as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.
To find MedlinePlus.gov's international health health topic page, please type 'global health' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'international health (National Library of Medicine).'
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