A new editorial published in more than 200 health journals challenges health professionals and world leaders to look at global biodiversity loss and climate change as “one indivisible crisis” that must be confronted as a whole. The authors of the editorial call separating the two emergencies a “dangerous mistake,” and encourage the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a global health emergency, a press release from The BMJ said. “The climate crisis and loss of biodiversity both damage human health, and they are interlinked. That’s why we must consider them together and declare a global health emergency.
Boston, Massachusetts - The Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity (Mass. CHE) held an online press conference on April 5 to demand the state keep protections against COVID-19 in place to safeguard health care workers, people with disabilities and the general population during the continuing pandemic. The conference was a response to Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healy’s decision to comply with the Biden administration’s decision to terminate the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) on May 11. Ending the PHE, which was initially declared by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services in January 2020, will allow bosses at medical facilities in the U.S. privatized health care system to strip millions of health care workers and patients of safety measures, including masking, social distancing and surveillance testing.
As US-based news is inundated with coverage surrounding the spectacle of former president Donald Trump’s arraignment, 15 million people are being quietly phased out of receiving Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) benefits, beginning April 1 and going through May and July. As the Joe Biden administration will end the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration on May 11, starting this past weekend states have already begun to kick people off of Medicaid and CHIP. These states are all Republican Party-controlled: Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, New Hampshire, and South Dakota.
In this year’s State of the Union address, President Joe Biden took care to portray the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as a trial that is behind us and a victory for the people. “Today, Covid no longer controls our lives,” Biden said, adding that “while the virus is not gone, thanks to the resilience of the American people … we have broken Covid’s grip on us … And soon we’ll end the public health emergency.” This rosy depiction belies reality. Even by the official count, hundreds of people in the United States are dying of Covid-19 daily. In recent months, more than half of all Covid deaths have been among people who are fully vaccinated.
Spain - On Sunday, February 12, massive mobilizations took place in several cities across Spain, organized by health workers, trade unions, and left-wing groups. The protesters demanded an improvement in public health services, which are currently suffering from a lack of resources and understaffing. Protesters at a major mobilization in Madrid, attended by hundreds of thousands of people, condemned the apathy of the regional government led by the conservative People’s Party (PP) towards the needs of the public health sector. They also protested bids to privatize health care. The march in Madrid was organized by several organizations, including the Federation of Associations in Defense of Public Health (FADSP), and was backed by political groups including Communist Party of Spain (PCE), Podemos, the Communist Party of the Workers of Spain (PCTE), and others.
Just a week after the midterm elections, the Senate voted to end the National Emergency Declaration on Covid-19. This vote, in which Democrats joined Republicans 62-36, comes after the U.S. handled the Covid-19 pandemic in impressively pitiful fashion, with over 1 million dead and millions more grappling with long Covid-19 symptoms. It also comes as winter months approach and respiratory illnesses are on the rise, particularly among children as pediatric intensive care units reach capacity. Ending the National Covid-19 Emergency declaration could affect anything from the access to medical supplies to helping cover costs of Covid-19 testing. Its end could also help pave the way to restart student loan payments. Ironically, the vote comes with the help of the Democrats, members of the same party who claimed just a week earlier that they needed the public’s support at the ballot box so they that could keep protecting the public interest, from Covid-19 policies to protecting abortion rights.
American citizens pride themselves for living in a country that most of them believe is superlative — freest, most powerful, most entrepreneurial. Yet despite the spheres where it has high standing, the United States ranks dismally among its peer nations when it comes to deaths from COVID-19. “Dismal” might not be a strong enough adjective, actually: the U.S. ranked dead last among its peer nations, with the most deaths per capita. The data comes from a new study published in the medical journal JAMA, which also analyzed state-by-state vaccination and public health data. Alarmingly, researchers noted that if every state in the United States had the same vaccination rates as those states with the highest vaccination rates, more than 100,000 lives would have been saved.
In the last week of October, João Pedro Stedile, a leader of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) in Brazil and the global peasants’ organisation La Via Campesina, went to the Vatican to attend the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace, organised by the Community of Sant’Egídio. On 30 October, Brazil held a presidential election, which was won by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, affectionately known as Lula. A key part of his campaign addressed the reckless endangerment and destruction of the Amazon by his opponent, the incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro. Lula’s victory, helped along by vigorous campaigning by the MST, provides hope for our chance to save the planet. This week’s newsletter contains the speech that Stedile gave at the Vatican. We hope you find it as useful as we do.
Natalie Rhodes, PhD candidate at University of Leeds, and People’s Health Movement, along with Remco van de Pas, researcher at the Centre for Planetary Health Policy, and People’s Health Movement discuss in detail about the implications of the newly established World Bank fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response and the Bank’s other policies pertaining to public health.
In May and June of 2022 two milestones were passed in the world’s battle with Covid and were widely noted in the press, one in the US and one in China. They invite a comparison between the two countries and their approach to combatting Covid-19. The first milestone was passed on May 12 when the United States registered over 1 million total deaths (1,008,377 as of June 19, 2022, when this is written) due to Covid, the highest of any country in the world. Web MD expressed its sentiment in a piece headlined: “US Covid Deaths Hit 1 Million: ‘History Should Judge Us.’” Second, on June 1, China emerged from its 60-day lockdown in Shanghai in response to an outbreak there, the most serious since the Wuhan outbreak at the onset of the pandemic.
These are deeply upsetting times. The COVID-19 global pandemic had the potential to bring people together, to strengthen global institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO), and to galvanize new faith in public action. Our vast social wealth could have been pledged to improve public health systems, including both the surveillance of outbreaks of illness and the development of medical systems to treat people during these outbreaks. Not so. Studies by the WHO have shown us that health care spending by governments in poorer nations has been relatively flat during the pandemic, while out-of-pocket private expenditure on health care continues to rise.
International comparisons to U.S. health outcomes make clear that GDP (Gross Domestic Product) cannot reliably suggest a healthcare system’s quality. Defined by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as “a monetary measure of the value of final goods and services,” GDP tells us nothing about the efficiency of health services or the accessibility of critical medical care such as vaccination, hospitalization and basic health exams – all important determinants of a healthcare system’s adaptability when emergencies put pressure on our health infrastructure. This is particularly true in the case of Cuba.
As COVID-19 continues to rage, another health crisis persists — one that is decades long. In the first year of the pandemic, the United States hit the devastating milestone of 100,000 overdose deaths, a nearly 28.5 percent surge from the record numbers we saw the previous year. Now, fentanyl is the leading cause of death in Americans ages 18-45. The reaction from many of our leaders has been to call for more arrests and criminalization, but this response is rooted in fear, not science. We have spent the last 50 years trying to treat a public health issue with a criminalization response, yet people are dying of overdose at record rates. This response is clearly not working. The evidence is clear: Criminalization worsens public health outcomes.
n a shake-up of an institution named for one of the world’s wealthiest and most influential oligarchs, Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa was appointed to the Gates Foundation’s board of trustees this January. He will be joined on the board by a seemingly diverse cast of corporate elites known for their embrace of technocratic and neoliberal policies. Back in 2007, Masiryiwa helped orchestrate a failed attempt to overthrow the government of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe alongside the US and the Zimbabwean opposition party it was backing, the Movement for Democratic Transition. Both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency were made aware of the regime change plans by the Zimbabwean telecom magnate Masiyiwa, and were advised by the US embassy in Pretoria, South Africa to share “elements” of the US government’s “strategy” with him.
A year after Joe Biden’s inauguration, things seem bleak. Despite the existence of life-saving vaccines, tests and masks, on January 21, more than 3,000 people were reported to have died of Covid-19, and the last time daily deaths were below 1,000 was in August. With the more transmissible Omicron variant spreading like wildfire, and only 63% of the country with two doses of the vaccine (only 43% of adults with their booster), things may continue to get worse before they get better. Hospitals are filled to the brim while schools and industries deal with absences. Clearly, we need a policy reset. We need to provide people with the resources and information they need to get through this surge and the rest of the pandemic.