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Showing posts for "Yanzhong Huang"

Why China Should be Concerned About Zika

by Yanzhong Huang
Workers from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department kill mosquitoes outside a construction site near a residential area in Hong Kong, China August 26, 2016, after the first case of Zika was confirmed in the city (Bobby Yip/Reuters). Workers from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department kill mosquitoes outside a construction site near a residential area in Hong Kong, China August 26, 2016, after the first case of Zika was confirmed in the city (Bobby Yip/Reuters).

Zika, a mosquito-borne virus that was first discovered in 1947 in Uganda, has resurged, spreading rapidly across the world.  There were only thirteen countries with evidence of local Zika infections in or before 2015.  Since then, more than seventy countries and territories have reported evidence of Zika virus transmission.  In February 2016, the World Health Organization declared Zika a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).  Thus far, most cases have been clustered in Latin America (with Brazil reporting the largest number of cases), but they are increasingly being identified in North America, Asia, Africa, and the South Pacific. On September 10, fourteen new cases of locally transmitted Zika were confirmed by Singapore’s health authorities, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 318, making the city-state house the largest cluster of the disease in Asia.

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G20, Global Health, and China

by Yanzhong Huang
A man rides an electronic bike past a billboard for the upcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou (Aly Song/Reuters) A man rides an electronic bike past a billboard for the upcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou (Aly Song/Reuters)

New Yorkers who have been used to the annual UNGA sessions (which typically last two weeks and attract over one hundred heads of state and government) in September will probably have difficulty understanding why the two-day G20 summit—to be held in Hangzhou early next month—is such a big deal in China, as tight security measures appear to be causing a great deal of inconvenience to local residents. These measures can be rationalized when we take into account the fact that this will be the first ever G20 summit hosted in China and the second international summit since President Xi Jinping took the reins of the Chinese Communist Party and the military in 2012. Read more »

Podcast: Environmental Degradation and Political Change in China

by Yanzhong Huang
Air-pollution-shanghai A woman wears a mask as she takes pictures on the Bund on a hazy day in Shanghai, China, March 7, 2016. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China’s economic miracle has imposed tremendous social costs.  In December 2015, as levels of PM2.5—the deadliest airborne particles—were forecast to be more than twenty times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization, the Beijing municipal government issued its first-ever red alert for pollution (the most serious on a four-tier system), closing schools and restricting the number of cars on the road. Read more »

Taiwan’s WHA Status in Limbo

by Yanzhong Huang
Taiwan Health Minister Yeh Ching-chuan reacts at this arrival at the 62nd World Health Assembly takes place at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva May 18, 2009. The World Health Assembly is the annual meeting of the World Health Organization's (WHO) 193 Member States and it is the supreme decision-making body of WHO, It sets the policy for the Organization and approves its budget. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters) Taiwan Health Minister Yeh Ching-chuan reacts at this arrival at the 62nd World Health Assembly takes place at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva May 18, 2009. The World Health Assembly is the annual meeting of the World Health Organization's (WHO) 193 Member States and it is the supreme decision-making body of WHO, It sets the policy for the Organization and approves its budget. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

The World Health Assembly (WHA), the executive body of the World Health Organization (WHO), will convene on May 23-28 in Geneva. While member states have received invitations to participate in this year’s WHA, the only assurance Taiwan has received from the WHO Secretariat is that “internal operations were ongoing.” Read more »

Pharmaceutical PPPs and China’s Contribution to Global Health Security

by Yanzhong Huang
Shelves displaying medicines are seen at a pharmacy in Shanghai, China, November 27, 2015. China may more actively participate in global health innovation if it takes up more pharmaceutical public-private partnerships. Picture taken November 27, 2015. (Aly Song/Reuters) Shelves displaying medicines are seen at a pharmacy in Shanghai, China, November 27, 2015. China may more actively participate in global health innovation if it takes up more pharmaceutical public-private partnerships. Picture taken November 27, 2015. (Aly Song/Reuters)

One of the major challenges in developing new medical countermeasures against threats to global health security—be it a new flu pandemic or rapid spread of a neglected disease—is the lack of an underlying commercial market to support the financial investment needed for expeditious drug development and scale-up. This challenge was demonstrated at the outset of the 2014 Ebola outbreak: even though the lethal virus was known for nearly forty years, there was no cure or vaccine on the market. Paradoxically, while political attention to global health issues has revved up since the Ebola outbreak, funding is as short as ever when it comes to research and development (R&D) to address novel or neglected diseases. The funding shortage could be exacerbated by competing global challenges such as the need to raise money for funding the initiatives of the COP21 and implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Read more »

Off-Label Use of Drugs and Access to Medicines for All: A Thailand Example

by Yanzhong Huang
A worker makes his way on a bridge at Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche plant. Roche is the manufacturer of Avastin, a cancer medication used for off-label treatment for macular disease in place of the more expensive Lucentis. (Christian Hartmann/Reuters) A worker makes his way on a bridge at Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche plant. Roche is the manufacturer of Avastin, a cancer medication used for off-label treatment for macular disease in place of the more expensive Lucentis. (Christian Hartmann/Reuters)

Several years ago an Indonesian girl named Widya posted a message on my blog. She asked where she could obtain the drug Sorafenib for her father, who was terminally ill with liver cancer. Her family had already spent a significant sum on her father’s healthcare and could not afford further treatment. I forwarded the message to a pharmaceutical executive in Jakarta, who responded that Sorafenib was available in Indonesia but a month’s dosage would cost around $4,500 (the average monthly salary in Jakarta is about $1,180). “I hope the patient has health insurance coverage, otherwise the family will have to pay out of pocket,” he said.

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Tu Youyou: An Outlier of China’s Scientific and Technological System

by Yanzhong Huang
Tu Youyou, 84, has become the first Chinese woman to win a Nobel Prize, for her work in helping to create an anti-malaria medicine. (Flickr) Tu Youyou, 84, has become the first Chinese woman to win a Nobel Prize, for her work in helping to create an anti-malaria medicine. (Flickr)

On October 5, a native Chinese scientist, Tu Youyou, won the Nobel Prize in medicine for her role in developing an antimalarial drug that saves millions of lives in Africa and Asia. The award is considered a milestone in China’s history of science and technology as Tu is not only the first Chinese citizen but also the first Chinese-trained scientist ever to be awarded the most prestigious award in science. In fact, unlike other Chinese Nobel laureates in science, all of whom had overseas training, Tu had neither study nor research experience abroad. The most important research that led to the discovery of the medicine for which she was awarded the prize, artemisinin, was conducted in China. Surprised but exalted, many Chinese have attributed this prize to China’s scientific and technological (S&T) regime. Already, social media in China is flooded with discussions on who will be the next Chinese scientist to win the prize. Read more »

China’s Think-Tank Great Leap Forward

by Yanzhong Huang
Released balloons are pictured near a Chinese flag during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015. (Rolex Dela Pena/Reuters) Released balloons are pictured near a Chinese flag during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015. (Rolex Dela Pena/Reuters)

China is experiencing a think-tank great leap forward. Governments, universities, and non-governmental actors have all jumped on the bandwagon of growing and creating think tanks. In responding to the government’s call to build fifty to a hundred high-end think tanks “with Chinese characteristics,” existing think tanks were quick to release reform and rebuilding plans, while new think tanks mushroomed in China. Just this month, at least ten new think tanks were reported to have been launched. In addition to those housed by universities, many are affiliated with government agencies (e.g., China National Tourism Administration) or media groups (e.g., Phoenix media group). As Professor Yan Xuetong of Tsinghua University observed, nowadays “each unit is building a think tank, and all universities are building think tanks.” It was reported that even some academic institutions focusing on studying history and archaeology have sought to transform themselves into think tanks. Read more »

The Rising Anti-Intellectualism in China: Part II

by Yanzhong Huang
Graduates dressed up as red guards, wait for their picture to be taken, in front of a statue of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong at a university in Shanghai, June 19, 2015. (Reuters/Aly Song) Graduates dressed up as red guards, wait for their picture to be taken, in front of a statue of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong at a university in Shanghai, June 19, 2015. (Reuters/Aly Song)

In my last blog post, I examined the rise of anti-intellectualism in China from a historical perspective. As if to corroborate my argument, last week police in China’s Jiangxi province detained Wang Lin, a semi-illiterate qigong (a Chinese spiritual martial art) mystic, for his role in the alleged kidnapping and murder of one of his former “disciples.” What dragged Wang into the limelight was not the incident itself, but the laundry list of his followers and clients exposed after Wang’s fall. They included Jack Ma, Jet Li, and a number of other celebrities and high-profile businessmen. Chinese websites also circulated photos showing Wang with high-ranking government officials, including several former Politburo Standing Committee members and at least four former central government ministers. Among them was the now disgraced railway minister Liu Zhijun, to whom Wang promised to set up a magic stone in his office so that he would never fall from power. Read more »

The Rising Anti-Intellectualism in China: Part I

by Yanzhong Huang
Graduates, in academic dress, pose for pictures in front of a statue of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong at a university in Shanghai, June 19, 2015. (Reuters/Aly Song) Graduates, in academic dress, pose for pictures in front of a statue of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong at a university in Shanghai, June 19, 2015. (Reuters/Aly Song)

On June 10, a blogger named Zhou Xiaoping was elected to head the newly established China Online Writers Association in Sichuan Province. He thus followed the career path of another popular blogger, Hua Qianfang, who was elected the Vice Chairman of the Writers Association of Fushun City in Liaoning Province in November 2014, an honor that is usually reserved for professional writers whose achievements in literature are well recognized. While both of them received only secondary school education, Zhou and Hua were invited to join the seventy most famous writers and artists in attending a symposium on art and literature in Beijing last year.  Read more »