This has been a quiet weekend. Most are; many health agencies take weekends off, and news sources turn their attention to other subjects (here in Canada, it's been all about the Grey Cup, a climactic contest in Canadian football).
But a lot was going on last week, and here are some subjects I'll want to pursue in the coming week:
The novel coronavirus. WHO's over-concise report on new cases raised more questions than it answered, but we may learn more this week. Among the issues: Were these new cases human to human, did they arise among participants in the Hajj, and what happened with the breakdown in communication about them when a patient went to Germany, his blood samples went to Britain, and no one told the Germans what they might be dealing with?
Yellow fever in Sudan. The vaccination program seems to be under way, but it remains to be seen if it's reaching everyone it should. The outbreak is also drawing attention to the larger continuing nightmare in Sudan and South Sudan.
Uganda in general. We hear hardly anything about nodding syndrome, and not much more about the new Ebola outbreak. Meanwhile Uganda is also debating an anti-homosexuality bill that is guaranteed to aggravate its already bad HIV/AIDS problems.
Cholera in Haiti. Hurricane Sandy pulled this issue out of the background noise for a week or two, but the resurgence of cholera doesn't seem to be slowing down. The self-styled "advanced" nations, with the attention span of a gerbil on methamphetamines, will soon be off worrying about fresh disasters elsewhere. I'm reading Jon Katz's forthcoming (and superb) new book The Big Truck That Went By, about the earthquake and its aftermath including cholera; it makes me think that with friends like us, the Haitians need no enemies.
Cholera in Cuba. I confess I don't entirely trust the Cuban dissidents, nor the Cuban government. Prensa Latina is great at covering problems elsewhere in Latin America; give them a dengue outbreak in Paraguay and they light up like Times Square. But something bad seems to be going on, at least in eastern Cuba, and only some very harassed dissidents are on the story. Here again WHO (or at least its sorry branch-plant operation PAHO) is keeping a silence that speaks volumes about it.
H5N1. I worry about the silence in the chicken coops of Indonesia, China, and Vietnam, not to mention Egypt, where political uproars are distracting everyone from what's going on with the family flocks in people's back yards.
Dengue everywhere. At some point we will collectively realize that Aedes aegypti is a worse enemy than all the terrorists in history, but probably not until climate change makes it endemic in Chicago. Until then, it will go on making life miserable for a couple of billion people.
On top of all that, this could be one of those weeks when something completely unexpected turns up. But I sure hope not.