Bulletin #44: Health systems in the Global South stagger under impact of earthquakes and outbreaks

This fortnight  

Health care delivery in the northwest of Syria remains under threat after the region was hit by two strong earthquakes on February 6. The damage caused by the earthquake adds to the burden accumulated in the health system after years of sanctions, armed conflict, and scarcity of essential medical products. Activists warn that the scale of relief efforts need to pick up soon in order to avoid an even bleaker scenario.

Like Syria, Malawi has been facing a cholera outbreak since 2022. The situation escalated near the end of the year, and over 1,000 people have lost their lives to the disease. We interviewed health activist Wilson Asibu on the causes and implications of the outbreak.

In France, protests against president Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform continue. Vladimir Nieddu from the People’s Health Movement France explains why the reform represents a threat to the local health system, which has already been exposed to austerity measures.

Health workers and their patients took to the streets in Madrid. Following weeks of industrial action in primary health care services and growing mobilizations for health rights in the whole country, hundreds of thousands of people in Spain’s capital protested against the regional government’s pro-privatization health policies.

During the recently concluded meeting of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Executive Board, country representatives discussed lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and the agency’s pandemic preparedness. We bring an overview of their agenda in Spanish.

In a new video interview, Nicoletta Dentico from the Geneva Global Health Hub explains why it is important that WHO members consider financial justice as they take key decisions on the agency's approach to health emergencies.

Two new episodes of the Global Health Watch podcast bring activists’ reflections on food systems and health, and threats that trade treaties represent for the right to health. In Data speaks, we highlight snippets on breastfeeding data recently published by The Lancet.

After the earthquake, Syria faces new health concerns

The earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey on February 6 added to the stress shouldered by health workers and services in Syria, already weakened by sanctions and conflict

Stopping cholera in Malawi: firefighting measures are not enough

As Malawi continues to face a rampant cholera outbreak, local activists call for long-term investment in the health system and more health workers to complement short-term solutions

‘Emmanuel Macron wants to shift the burden of the crisis on the working class’

A conversation with Vladimir Nieddu of the People’s Health Movement (PHM) France and the International Commission of La Fédération SUD Santé Sociaux on mobilization against pension reforms in France’s health sector

Hundreds of thousands rally across Spain against attack on public health services

Health workers and progressive political groups in Spain have condemned the conservative regional administrations in Madrid, Galicia, and Castilla y Leon over the plight of public health services

Video: Who will finance pandemic preparedness and response?

Nicoletta Dentico from Society for International Development and Geneva Global Health Hub talks about the recent discussions of the WHO Executive Board on the financing of the organization, and what the pandemic has taught us about funding models


El Consejo Ejecutivo de la OMS se reunirá mientras continúan los brotes y se estancan los avances hacia la cobertura sanitaria universal.

La 152ª reunión del Consejo Ejecutivo de la OMS se celebrará del 30 de enero al 7 de febrero, con un orden del día que incluye los avances hacia la Cobertura Sanitaria Universal, el acceso equitativo a diagnósticos y terapias, la nutrición y más.

Global Health Watch podcast

Food security

In the fifth episode of the Global Health Watch podcast, activists explore the flaws of the global food system, which pollutes, consolidates control in a few oligopolies, and ravages the land needed for production, while failing to meet the world’s need for healthy and nutritious food

Trade and health

Lauren Paremoer and Ronald Labonté, addressing the issue of new trade treaties and their potential threats to public health. They explain how international investment treaties have become one of the most predatory forms of financialized capitalism

Data speaks

Structural factors impacting breastfeeding

Source: The Lancet 2023 series on breastfeeding, https://www.thelancet.com/series/breastfeeding-2023

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