Web Roundups

Web roundup: Global health futures and hidden toxic histories

The Guardian began the year with a series of articles on innovation in global health. Devices such as “nanopatches” for pain free vaccinations that can be self administered are striking examples of technologies whose development and course to market can shed light on the role of design in possible futures of global health. As Peter Redfield has argued, these technologies materialize powerful desires for healthy futures – the nanopatch is evocatively described as “vaccine utopia“. A paper published this month by the WHO looks at some of the barriers to creating and producing medical devices for low-income countries.

Also this month high profile stories about poisoning revealed the hidden histories of environment pollution and its continuing impact on global health in the present. Deborah Blum examined the potential links between lead poisoning and violence  [Wired].

On January 19th 140 countries signed up to the first legally binding treaty on the regulation of mercury [Nature]. Talks around the treaty turned on establishing and distributing responsibility for mercury emissions – a question complicated by the fact that mercury pollution is a result of both contemporary human activity and re-emission of mercury released into the environment over the last half century by global “historical polluters”. While governments sought to negotiate “flexibility” for developing economies, a UN report stressed that the burden of disease associated with mercury is shifting towards the global South,

Julianne Kippenberg argued that in its current form the Treaty pays too little attention to health, allowing governments to define mercury exposure as a primarily environmental issue and to avoid responsibility for surveillance, public health campaigns and health care.

Other items:

  • The chemical pollution of the Zhonzhang River in China reminded Dan Fagin of the struggle to hold the chemical industry to account for industrial pollution in New Jersey [NYT].
  • Amnesia and the self that remains when memory is lost [The Atlantic]
  • What the hell is in Beijing’s air? [Mother Jones]
  • Is PTSD contagious? [Mother Jones]
  • Seroxat, Vioxx and now Avandia, why is it so hard to bring cases against big pharma in the UK? [The Guardian] [The Guardian]
  • The Red Umbrella Fund for sex worker decision makers announces the first grant recipients and denounces “rescuers” ; Laura Agustín blogs about HIV and Sex Work
  • Morgan Stanley backs health care for underprivileged [Wall Street Journal]
  • Polio eradication was an ideological project [British Medical Journal]
  • Who will pay for chimp retirement? [NPR]