Iraq’s CCHF OutbreakIraq has confirmed 212 cases of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) between the months of January 2022 and May 2022, 27 of which resulted in death. In April and May alone, Iraq reported 169 of these cases to the World Health Organization (WHO). CCHF is a viral tick-borne disease “transmitted to humans by bites of infected ticks and by direct contact with blood or tissues from infected humans and livestock.” The viral disease is endemic in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and some Asian countries. Iraq’s CCHF outbreak is not the nation’s first, but it is the most recent and among the deadliest. Iraq and the WHO are taking measures to slow the spread and help the infected, including dispatching an epidemiological investigation team to a heavily infected region and treating animals suspected of carrying the disease. There is currently no vaccine available but health care professionals can treat the disease with the antiviral drug ribavirin, though its full effectiveness is unknown.

A Brief Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Overview

CCHF is a tick-borne disease and most commonly arises from exposure to livestock, meaning that people working in the industry, such as farmers and butchers, are at increased risk. The first experienced symptoms of the virus include headache, fever, back and joint pain, stomach pain, vomiting and a flushed face. People who have had the virus for longer may experience severe bruising and nosebleeds, which could lead to hospitilization.

CCHF In Iraq

The Middle Eastern country of Iraq has a long history of contact with the virus and considers it a year-round threat. However, this recent outbreak has proven to be widespread, reaching many regions of the country and taking lives along the way. Iraq’s CCHF outbreak has earned the attention of the WHO, which is working with Iraq’s Ministry of Health to help contain and treat the outbreak.

The WHO has released a risk assessment, stating that people living in rural areas of Iraq are at a greater risk of contracting the disease, since livestock is abundant. The WHO also warns that the upcoming religious holiday Eid al-Adha may worsen the outbreak considering that citizens will slaughter more livestock for the holiday and there may be cross-border transportation of animals.


The collaboration between the Ministry of Health and the WHO during Iraq’s CCHF outbreak is a cause for hope. An epidemiological investigation team is currently working to locate the original point of contact for the current outbreak, which will hopefully lead to more focused treatment. The WHO conducted a three-day workshop in March 2022 with local physicians, veterinarians, lab technicians, health workers and disease investigators, designed to increase the capacity of Iraq’s rapid response team. The training served as a source of information, better preparing the country to handle future outbreaks of CCHF.

The WHO has released many recommendations to the people of Iraq to help curb the spread of the virus and has provided resources for obtaining information and treatment. Since CCHF is a year-round threat in Iraq, the nation is prepared to treat cases of the virus, but the sudden influx of patients proved to be overwhelming. With the backing of the WHO, it is likely that this outbreak will soon slow and become manageable once again.

– Thomas Schneider
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19's impact on North KoreaOn May 12, 2022, the president of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, made a public appearance. For the first time, he was wearing a mask. The world took even greater surprise when he declared that North Korea was under its first lockdown. This calls into question: what is COVID-19’s impact on North Korea?

Isolated From the Rest of the Globe

Prior to this announcement, North Korean officials claimed that not a single case of Coronavirus had entered their country. The nation, isolated from the rest of the globe, has previously endured life-threatening conditions. Recently, after a severe flood, North Korea has faced its most intense food shortage in the past decade. What’s more, its already limited healthcare system has deteriorated and left millions of people without adequate care.

Many question the accuracy of disease data. As a closed-off country, journalists find it very difficult to paint the full picture of North Korea. For instance, researchers were unaware of the 1990s North Korean famine until its aftermath, when survivors told their famine stories.

Draconian Lockdowns

Professor Park Won-gon, from the Department of North Korean Studies at Ewha Woman University predicted that North Korea could “institute draconian measures to those of its biggest ally, China,” according to VOA News. This meant strict lockdowns confining people to their homes, workplaces and dorms. Unlike China, though, North Korea doesn’t have the basic food supplies that China has to enforce such extreme restrictions. Consequently, thousands of people in North Korea are starving to death under this new lockdown protocol. Citizens could not access new harvests or markets which further strangled the economy.

The lockdown also stymied other solutions proposed by organizations. Particularly, the lack of mobility severed communication with international agencies. COVID-19’s impact on North Korea has, thus, proved massive. Medical resources and help have been inaccessible due to such stringent lockdowns.

Herbal Medicine: Fix or Fallacy?

Without vaccines, North Korea has resorted to herbal solutions. KCNA recently reported that “Thousands of tonnes of salt were urgently transported to Pyongyang city.” North Korea will use salt to produce an antiseptic remedy — in place of vaccines. Shanghai also transported millions of traditional medicines like herbal remedies and flu capsules to address COVID-19 in North Korea.

Unfortunately, these have no scientific grounding. Citizens have been drinking teas, salt water and even taking antibiotics. However, due to mass famines, many North Koreans have weak immune systems.

It’s unclear if this has worked. The treatments are approved by the DPRK, which develops methods for “scientifically controlling the spread of the…virus.”

Before these herbal treatments, North Korea reached around 400,000 cases daily. Recently, it reported “about 17,000 to 30,000 new fever cases.” Many experts believe North Korea is manipulating health data to shield itself against geopolitical consequences. Yet if it isn’t manipulating data, these herbal remedies may help mitigate COVID-19’s impact on North Korea.

Necessary Compromises

So far, North Korea has rejected most international help. Aid agencies have opened their doors to provide the nation with the necessary medical resources. Kim Jong-Un twice denied vaccines from Covax, according to The Washington Post. South Korea and the U.S., too, have asserted that they are open to providing aid. Nonetheless, North Korean elites continue to prioritize geopolitical leverage over the health of their constituents. It remains unclear whether North Korea will accept aid and scientifically proven disease resources from other countries.

Looking Forward: The Broader Picture

North Korea’s sudden outbreak demonstrates that the COVID-19 pandemic is not nearing an end. While the U.S. and other major nations are equipped with a “vaccine arsenal,” other countries are not as fortunate.

As of May 18, 2022, one report found that fewer than 13% of people in low-income countries are vaccinated. With such low rates, COVID-19’s impact on North Korea and developing countries is disproportionately larger than developed nations.

These concerns are urgent. Officials in Geneva told reporters that “uncontrolled transmission of the virus” in developing countries could give rise to new COVID-19 variants, The New York Times reports. North Korea, for example, could be a new variant’s breeding base.

Although North Korea hasn’t accepted aid from many countries, it seems to be getting health resources from China as of May 30, 2022. However, if the outbreak becomes too severe, North Korea will always have the open arms of the U.S. and U.N. to provide assistance.

– Ashwin Telang
Photo: Flickr

Kenya is a country in Eastern Africa, bordered by Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Though the country is one of Africa’s most successful in crop production, the reoccurring droughts and dry seasons often cause food crises for Kenya’s people. The economy and uneven wealth distribution leaves 50% of the population living in hunger in Kenya.

Felix Koskei, Kenya’s agriculture secretary, estimates that Kenya will face a food shortage beginning in June. Koskei’s concern comes from the lack of maize being produced this year; Kenyans are estimated to eat about 45 million bags of maize a year, but they are currently only producing 40 million bags. Some of the estimates fluctuate because different areas consume more food than others.

Koskei also recognized the food crisis could be due to maize being exported to South Sudan, where Kenyans are able to make twice as much off of a harvest than if the product was sold in Kenya.

During the months before June, Koskei urges “private stake holders to import food and farmers to plant short span crops” to tide over Kenyans. He stated that maize is currently being harvested from the “long rain harvests” to help curb hunger in Kenya. Over 653,000 bags have been purchased so far.

To help during future food crises, Koskei mentioned that the government has arranged “negotiations with two prequalified bidders to start a fertilizer manufacturing plant,” which he estimates will be erected by 2016.

With this manufacturing plant, farmers in Kenya will have the ability to provide food for their families and Kenya will be able to sustain its population.

The possible struggles Kenyans will be facing include malnutrition, starvation and possibly death. With malnutrition, Kenyans will be more susceptible to diseases such as waterborne illnesses and malaria.

– Rebecca Felcon

Sources: The World Factbook, Press TV, All Africa, Action Against Hunger
Photo: Totally Cool Pix

The Hepatitis C virus affects an estimated 180 million men, women and children worldwide. Patients in low to moderate income nations benefit from treatment at the same rate as those in developed regions. Yet, the high cost of this treatment prevents many from recovering.

One of the largest biopharmaceutical companies, Gilead Sciences, developed an $84,000 cure in 2013 with one pill priced at a thousand dollars. The total cost for a three-month regimen far exceeds most patients’ price range.

Solvadi, the pill, offers a solution to the pressing danger of this disease in developing countries. Egypt (22%), Pakistan (4.2%) and China (3.2%) rank the highest in disease prevalence, bearing most of the burden today.

How, though, can patients in these nations afford an $84,000 bill?

Gilead answered this question with a promising discount in sixty developing countries. Negotiating with generic drugmakers in India, the company plans to offer the treatment at 2 percent of the cost in the United States.

Rohit Malpani, a policy director at Doctors Without Borders, hopes for a more reasonable price. The company could produce Solvadi at a far lower cost, he contends. Malpani and other advocates estimate Gilead could cut the cost to $68 to $136 for a twelve-week treatment regime.

The company must revaluate how much the drug costs compared to patients’ ability to pay, Malpani asserts.

“If we want to see Hepatitis C treatment scaled up globally, we are going to need much lower prices in all countries with a high burden of the disease,” he remarks in a recent Doctors Without Borders statement.

Gregg Alton of Gilead reports future partnerships with three to five different companies. Gilead, he notes, plans to allow flexibility of price from the Indian companies. Alton also contends the starting point of $2,000 is “substantially less” that current costs in India – for inferior drugs. He promoted Solvadi in The Hindu Business Line, highlighting the drug as “more effective, less toxic…and without side-effects.”

Ideally, Alton remarks, the company signs voluntary licensing deals “in the next couple months” and market availability in two years. Last November, the Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge(I-MAK) filed a legal challenge against its patent application.

I-MAK claims Solvadi relies on “on science” with a “known compound.” Voluntary licensure protects Gilead from patent problems, adds Malpani. These licensing agreements prevent generic companies from overturning patents. Without these agreements, the Indian manufacturers could sell Solvadi at any cost and without paying royalties to the company.

The company also plans to limit the scale of these licensing agreements, allowing generic drugmakers to sell in 60 countries. In contrast, Gilead sells HIV drugs in more than 100.

The pricing and limited access to this drug threatens the health of more than 180 million patients. Brook Baker, an advisor to the Health Global Access Project, sees delinkage as the solution. With this system, governments fund pharmaceutical research and development as a public service.

Today, pharmaceutical companies absorb about 60 percent of the total cost. Treating these drugs as a public good offers the most in need. And though these companies need to profit, Hepatitis C patients around the world also need treatment.

Ellery Spahr 

Sources: NPR, WHO
Photo: Don’t Trade Our Lives Away

Global Health Accomplishments WHO
Global health has a huge impact with poverty. In many poverty-stricken areas, a lack of proper health equipment and the spread of diseases is a major function in the poverty trap. These countries rarely have the bare minimum to handle widespread disease and other health complications, making it hard truly to combat a global health issue. Despite these bleak conditions, there have been impressive global health accomplishments. The work and time put in by programs such as United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have made these ten necessary improvements for impoverished areas.

Global health has improved by leaps and bounds over the past decade. Many different factors have caused this great revolution of health, but ten specific reasons can be credited with carrying the weight. Without improvement in these specific areas by programs like USAID and the CDC, many of the great advancements seen today in global health would have never had the funds to be reached.


Factors Contributing to Global Health Accomplishments


In many areas with great health risks; immunizations and vaccines are not made readily available. Without these treatments, many people are often infected by disease that could otherwise be avoided or contained with the assistance of vaccination and immunization. First, USAID immunization programs have provided the funds to treat up to three million impoverished people per year.

Many nations struggle with health issues because of water deprivation. Second, USAID introduced oral hydration therapy to these areas, in hopes it would counteract dehydration problems. As of today, the oral hydration therapy has been successful in areas all around the globe, with tens of millions of people being properly nourished through the low-cost program yearly.

Thirdly,  not only is the oral hydration therapy combatting worldwide dehydration, USAID has partnered with The United Nations Drinking Water Supply to help some 1.3 billion people receive proper water nourishment sources.

Sanitary water is a vital piece to figuring out the poverty puzzle, but the eradication of poverty begins with the young people. Fourth, the average number of children per family in impoverished nations has dropped from 6.1 in the mid-1960s to 4.2 today. In addition, infant and child deaths have decreased by 50 percent in these impoverished areas.

Fifth, USAID child survival programs have made a 10 percent child mortality rate reduction in just the past eight years. Not only has the number of children’s lives saved risen, but life expectancy has improved by 33 percent in these nations.

The decrease of major diseases worldwide is a major improvement made possible by USAID, CDC, and similar programs worldwide. Sixth, Smallpox has been eradicated, and now only exists in laboratories. Seventh, USAID has accounted for thirty-two HIV/AIDS prevention programs throughout the world.

Eighth, over 850,000 people have been reached by the HIV program, and (ninth) another 40,000 people have been trained to treat the virus. Lastly, programs like the CDC have been responsible for the diminishing malaria cases, from 2004 (2.1 million cases) to 2009 (1.8 million cases).

By combatting major poverty causing issues such as disease epidemics, unsanitary water, and child mortality rates, programs such as USAID and the CDC have been instrumental in causing the turnaround of world poverty. With the continued support from these programs, the world’s impoverished people can be assured of better conditions outside of these ten beneficial starts.


10 Key Global Health Accomplishments


1. USAID immunizations and vaccines have provided funds to treat up to three million impoverished people per year.

2. Introduction of oral hydration therapy in impoverished areas.

3. Supplied roughly 1.3 billion people proper nourishment sources.

4. Average number of children per impoverished family has dropped from 6.1 to 4.2.

5. 10 percent child mortality rate reduction.

6. Smallpox only exists in laboratories.

7. USAID has 32 HIV/AIDS programs throughout the world.

8. 850,000+ people have been reached by the HIV program.

9. 40,000 have been trained to treat HIV.

10. Diminishing malaria cases, from 2.1 million to 1.8 million over a five year period.

– Zachary Wright

Sources:  USAIDCDC

Photo: USAID

Dengue Fever Epidemic in BrazilBrazil has a dengue fever epidemic. Compared to 2012, nearly three times as many Brazilians have been infected with dengue fever in 2013’s first seven weeks, according to health officials. The mosquito-borne disease has spread to over 200,000 people, whereas last year, there were roughly 70,000 reported infections. To make matters worse, the heavy levels of rainfall create beneficial conditions for mosquito breeding, leading experts to believe that the climate will add additional challenges for medical professionals.

This particular strain of dengue first appeared in Brazil in 2011, but dengue itself has been around far longer. However, immunity to one strain does not grant immunity to the three variants, so this relatively new form of the virus has the potential to run rampant.

Fortunately, Brazilian Health Minister Alexandre Padilha explains that fewer people have died as a result of this year’s dengue fever epidemic than last year despite the dramatic rise in infections, which demonstrates that “authorities were following the right strategies…extra training…has clearly paid off.”

Dengue fever presents flu-like symptoms; eradication efforts are centered around both the development of a vaccine, as well as containment tactics for mosquitos. An extremely popular and cost-effective measure for keeping mosquitos at bay is the implementation of mosquito nets: cheap, re-usable material to protect living quarters from the buzzing disease-carriers. Mosquito nets are already popular candidates for foreign aid funds, but more is always better when it comes to saving lives.

Jake Simon

Source: BBC
Photo: EMS Solutions