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Science for democracy, D is for development, and hope in the desert

The info hub for the hub of global health

Science for democracy

President-Elect Joe Biden announced a coronavirus task force of 13 leading physicians and experts to advise his transition team. The highly esteemed group includes global health rockstar Loyce Pace, executive director of the Global Health Council. While Loyce is representing our sector, she’s not just thinking about the here and now. She’s also advocating for a forward-looking vision and a post-2020 global health narrative.

Additional transition team appointments include WGHA members in both Washingtons:

  • Linda Etim, formerly of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, International Development Team Lead

  • David Kaslow, PATH, Dept. of Health and Human Services

On trial

DF/Net is collaborating with clinical research partners in the United States, Switzerland, and South Africa—where it’s expanding its footprint—to provide data collection and management for new and ongoing COVID-19 treatment trials.

Additional trials we’ve got our eyes on include:

  • Three late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trials kicking off in Seattle, with the goal of enrolling nearly 2,000 regional volunteers.

  • Two ongoing clinical studies of a COVID-19 vaccine led by Pfizer and Moderna. Everyone’s heard the early positive findings, but we’re still not in the clear, so mask up and get tested if you’re feeling symptoms.

And speaking of vaccines, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed another $70 million to support global COVID-19 vaccine efforts in LMICs.

D is for (brain) development

A recent study found that higher vitamin D levels for moms-to-be may promote brain development and lead to higher childhood IQ scores. This is especially relevant for pregnant Black women, who had significantly lower vitamin D levels. And while more research is needed, Melissa Melough, lead author and scientist at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, shared one tip that moms-to-be can start right away: take a vitamin D supplement on top of your prenatal vitamins. Timely advice for Seattleites who can’t rely on sun exposure again until July.

Hope in the desert

Over 1,000 US counties now have no access to OB/GYNs, nurse-midwives, or maternity wards—and the number is growing. PRONTO International and partners, who were recently named awardees in Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s Maternal Health QuickFire Challenge, are working to fix that with their award-winning program training emergency room workers and paramedics to identify and treat obstetric issues, all with a focus on equitable care for patients of color. The PRONTO STAT™ training program is low cost and safe to carry out during COVID-19. Maternity deserts need this program – stat.

All bites aren’t equal

We know that women and girls are disproportionately affected by diseases like malaria, but we don’t know the full scale. Malaria No More and Kati Collective are working with partners to address that by better understanding malaria’s gendered dynamics and hidden impact.

After talking to leaders across malaria and gender sectors, they’re focused on building an action community to develop solutions and a shared advocacy agenda on gender and malaria, spanning policy, research, and programs.

New name, same mission

In other malaria news, Rotarian Malaria Partners has a new name: Malaria Partners International! Rotary members founded the organization 11 years ago, with a focus on advocacy within the Rotary community and supporting large-scale malaria prevention programs. Now they’re branching out to build bridges between Rotary and the broader global health community. The new name reflects their new goal—“working to end MALARIA with many PARTNERS on an INTERNATIONAL scale.” Check out their new look online

I can see clearly now

Did you know November is Eye Donation Month? SightLife’s operations were dramatically impacted when elective surgeries were halted, but now their grief, donation, and recovery services are growing online—celebrating life, grieving death, and helping more people give the gift of sight.

And that’s not all. SightLife CEO and Microsoft veteran Claire Bonilla is also speaking out about the digital divide for nonprofits and challenging the tech sector to step up and ensure equal access.

New doctors in town

Say hello to the newest cohort of Washington Research Foundation (WRF) Postdoctoral Fellows! The 2021 cohort includes 10 Fellows who will lead their 3-year research projects at Washington institutions including these WGHA members: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the University of Washington, and Washington State University. Their research ranges from new therapeutics to treat cancer or respiratory infections to more sustainable agricultural practices. Welcome to Washington!

Around town

  • Nov. 24: Fred Hutch is teaming up with UW Medicine to share how experts are rising to the challenges of COVID-19. Register and submit your questions here.

  • Dec. 3: Register for our final WGHA Communicators Roundtable event of the year, focusing on how to maximize your digital presence in 2021.

  • Dec. 3: Join Triangle Global Health Consortium for their annual conference exploring global health in the COVID-19 era.

  • Dec. 7–8: Sign up for the 2020 Goalmakers National Forum, an annual gathering (now virtual) for global development practitioners, funders, and partners from around the world. And don’t forget to download the in-conference app for networking and discussion opportunities.

  • Jan. 14: Calling all coders: Cambia Grove’s Incentivizing Health Hackathon is currently seeking participants interested in shaping future care and payment models. Space is limited, apply now.

Anytime: Ready to add to your trophy case? Fast Company added a special category of awards for people and organizations working on the COVID-19 response. Submit your World Changing Ideas by Dec. 11.

“Patients entrust us to take care of their health. In my opinion we’re more than just physicians. We’re leaders in this society. With that comes a responsibility.”

— Sean Sweat, a first-year medical student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, part of the group of students who wrote a new version of the Hippocratic oath that asks physicians to advocate for a more equitable health care system on a local and global level.

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