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Good morning, This is Elaine, of Health Policy Watch bringing you today’s global health news - in a week where the record-breaking Indian surge in Covid cases is making waves around the world - but also among India’s regional neighbors.

Today we look at how mass religious and cultural gatherings contributed to the recent Indian wave - and what other neighbouring countries are now doing to avoid a similar fate. On the brighter side, we note a new study showing that OECD countries from Iceland to Australia, which cracked down harder on the pandemic, also recovered faster - even before vaccine campaigns kicked in.

And finally, we note WHO’s approval of a new malaria medicine for young children - which will significantly expand supplies of vital treatments used to prevent malaria during the peak season of infection risks.

photo journaliste

Elaine Fletcher


Global health news

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A group of Indian men accompany a funeral procession, wearing face masks to protect against Covid infection. After weeks of unbridled religious festivities that saw a huge surge in Covid cases, authorities in several Indian states, including Delhi, have imposed a two-week lockdown. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

📈 😷 Mass gatherings for religious holidays despite surge in Covid numbers. The dense gatherings of some 25 million Indians along the Ganges River to mark the Hindu festival of Kumbh came at a huge cost in terms of world-record Covid case counts. Belatedly, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan are trying to tighten restrictions on mass religious and social gatherings to avoid a similar fate. But this means adapting new formulas for traditions during the holy month of Ramadan and beyond

Health Policy Watch (EN)

💊🚦Malaria drug combination given the green light. Suprya® is the second seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) drug to be ‘prequalified’ by the World Health Organization, a seal of recognition for the medication’s safety, quality and efficacy. Given to children under the age of five during the rainy season, the drug combination has shown promising signs in sub-Saharan African countries like Ghana, reducing malaria incidence by up to 75 per cent.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

✋🔒Tougher Covid restrictions pays off. Five countries that acted quickly and strictly to eliminate Covid-19 transmission fared better over the duration of the pandemic than others. As a result these nations experienced far fewer deaths, faster economic recovery, and were able to preserve a greater range of personal liberties, according to a sweeping review published in The Lancet today.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Here’s what else is happening

Image of the day

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A Gambian mother getting checked for Trachoma. Trachoma is a neglected tropical eye disease. Infection mainly affects children, becoming less common with increasing age. Credit: World Health Organization-Gambia Eye Health Program/UPI.

👢Giving trachoma the boot. The Gambia has become the second African state to end trachoma, one of the leading causes of blindness. The achievement, announced by the World Health Organization, came after decades of work on the disease, which has damaged the sight of about 1.9 million people worldwide. One of WHO’s 20 neglected tropical diseases, the infection is spread from person to person through hands, clothes or bedding, and by flies.

The Guardian (EN)

Next on the agenda

📍 29 April | What lessons from Covid-19 for advancing antibiotic R&D? The development of, and equitable global access to diagnostics, drugs and vaccines remains a challenge beyond Covid, with other threats looming such as the silent pandemic of drug-resistant infections. At this event experts will draw lessons from the current pandemic on how to advance access to new antibiotics for antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Graduate Institute (EN)

📍 4 May | Advances in social listening for public health. In its fourth infodemic management conference, this session will bring together stakeholders from research and practice to exchange lessons learned for advancing approaches in digital social listening for public health to strengthen health systems for earlier detection of emerging and resurgent health threats.


Number of the day

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🔊 Pumping up the volume for child immunisations. A new global vaccine strategy launched in celebration of World Immunization Week plans to reach more than 50 million children who missed out on life-saving jabs due to the pandemic. According to UNICEF, the UN’s Children’s Fund, campaigns for routine vaccinations against diseases such as measles and diphtheria were heavily disrupted by the Covid-19 crisis, with deliveries falling from 2.29 billion in 2019, to just over two billion vaccine doses last year.

UN News (EN)

Deep dive into International Geneva

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