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Showing posts for "Yanzhong Huang"

China’s Environmental Health Crisis: The International and Comparative Perspective

by Yanzhong Huang
Protesters walk during an anti-nuclear rally in front of the nuclear power plant Gundremmingen March 11, 2012, to mark the first anniversary of Japan's earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and set off a nuclear crisis. (Michaela Rehle/Reuters) Protesters walk during an anti-nuclear rally in front of the nuclear power plant Gundremmingen March 11, 2012, to mark the first anniversary of Japan's earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and set off a nuclear crisis. (Michaela Rehle/Reuters)

China faces a daunting environmental health crisis due to its economic rise that has polluted its air, water, and soil. That being said, many industrialized and other developing nations have successfully overcome their environmental challenges. To what extent do China’s problems follow a similar path to those strategies undertaken by other countries, and what are the prospects of success in achieving similar outcomes? Read more »

Environment-Health Linkages in China

by Yanzhong Huang
A family wearing masks walk on a bridge amid heavy smog in Shanghai, China December 5, 2016 (Aly Song/Reuters). A family wearing masks walk on a bridge amid heavy smog in Shanghai, China December 5, 2016 (Aly Song/Reuters).

One of the major victims of China’s runaway development is its air quality.  Just yesterday, China’s northern Hebei province issued its first “red alert” of the year for severe pollution, the highest level alert for smog which will see factories suspended and cars pulled off the road.  But this is just tip of the iceberg. China also faces other environmental health challenges including water pollution, soil pollution and food safety problems.

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Managing U.S.-China Relations in Uncertain Times

by Yanzhong Huang
xi-g20-speech Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers remarks at a Paris Agreements climate event ahead of the G20 Summit, at West Lake State Guest House in Hangzhou, China, September 3, 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The electoral victory of Mr. Donald Trump has placed U.S.-China relations in a dicey situation. While ordinary Chinese—most of whom dreaded a Hillary Clinton presidency—were delighted that their wishful thinking came true, political leaders in Beijing appeared to be caught off guard by Mr. Trump’s stunning defeat of his Democratic opponent. They are concerned about the “improper” remarks made by the president-elect and the lack of experience of his foreign policy team. Memories are still fresh of 1993–1994 when Bill Clinton, whose party had been out of power for twelve years, brought the relationship to a low ebb by establishing the link between progress in human rights and the “most favored nation” tariff treatment for China. Read more »

How Chinese People View Their Country’s Public Health Challenges

by Yanzhong Huang
Petitioners are seen outside the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China, in Beijing (Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters) Petitioners are seen outside the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China, in Beijing (Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters)

Last week, Phoenix TV, the largest private-held television company in China, broadcast my forty-minute lecture (styled similarly to a TED talk) on China’s public health challenges (the video is available here). In the lecture, I contended that China’s international ascendance is being crippled by its tremendous public health problems, ranging from environmental health degradation to greater prevalence of non-communicable diseases and food safety issues. What was missing from the talk is how the Chinese people themselves view these challenges (the lecture was recorded in late September). Fortunately, a report released from the Pew Research Center on October 6 filled the void with a snapshot of how domestic challenges are viewed by the Chinese public.

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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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