Video – Public Health Seminar: Urban Mining and Disease Burden

by Dele Ogunseitan

October 2014

Electronic waste (e-waste) is currently a global predicament but it has a vanishing future. One Troy ounce (31 grams) of gold now sells for ~ $1,200 on the open market. The annual production of electronic products worldwide requires > 300 tons of gold and > 7,500 tons of silver, with a combined value of $21 billion. Currently, < 10% of these precious metals are recovered. Rising prices of the commodities have encouraged the phenomenon of urban mining, particularly in the developing economies of Africa, China, and India. But the rudimentary infrastructure for urban mining have exacted considerable toll on human health and environment quality. In particular, the employment of children in urban mining raises troubling questions about vulnerabilities to exposure and life-long adverse health effects. The convergence of initiatives to intensify research, regulations and remediation efforts at the national and international levels to combat trafficking in hazardous e-waste is promising. For example, in 2013 the landmark Safer Consumer Products Regulations came into effect in the Sate of California. This law aims to eliminate or drastically reduce the levels of toxic chemicals in consumer products, including electronic products that generate the fastest category of hazardous solid waste worldwide. This California law joins similar regulations in Europe and Asia that have addressed the manufacturing of electronic products and the management of e-waste. We will explore case studies from recent research on hazardous chemicals in electronic products to reveal opportunities for research on the health and environmental impacts of e-waste, the convergence of national and international regulations on e-waste management, and for remediation using the principles of green chemistry and alternative assessments to support the strategic Selection of Materials to Achieve Reduced Toxicity (SMART) products and processes.

Dele Ogunseitan is Professor of Public Health and Professor of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine, where he currently serves as Chair of the Department of Population Health and Disease Prevention. He is the Director of Research Education, Training and Career Development for the NIH-Funded Institute for Clinical and Translational Science. He serves on the Board of Directors of the UC Global Health Institute.


In the News: (In)equality and Ebola

posted by Tanya Schwarz

What is the role of economic (in)equality in local responses to Ebola? What are the economic consequences of the Ebola outbreak? Raymond Gilpin tackles these and other questions for African Arguments. He says,

Ebola is a complex global security emergency that demands much more than a focus on the virus, as we learn from theories of social epidemiology.

He argues that more attention needs to be paid to economic factors including the lack of health care facilities in rural areas as well as the “dire economic ramifications” of the outbreak.

One of the lessons of this Ebola outbreak is that countries that ignore pronounced inequality do so at their peril.  Not only are such societies more fractured and unstable, they are also less resilient to socio-economic shocks.  Investing in basic primary health care and education facilities protects rich and poor, urban and rural, men and women.

Read “Ebola, Economics, and Equality in Africa” in its entirety here.

In the News: Governments and NGOs in the Fight Against Ebola

Yesterday, The CIHA Blog assembled a number of articles about the ethics of treatment of the Ebola virus and the populations afflicted by it. Today, we are looking at a number of broader ethical issues, including distrust of NGO and government efforts to enact public health measures – often coming out of longstanding governance failures and the multitude of NGOs that enter during humanitarian crises.

How Not to End a Plague
by Clair MacDougall in Foreign Policy

Ebola Threatens to Derail a Decade of Peace
by Leymah Gbowee in The Guardian

Using a Tactic Unseen in a Century, Countries Cordon Off Ebola-Racked Areas
by Donald G. McNeil Jr. in The New York Times

As Ebola Grips Liberia’s Capital, a Quarantine Sows Social Chaos
by Norimitsu Onishi in The New York Times

Ebola, mistrust and humanitarian mobility
by Adia Benton for Mats Utas’ blog

Fear in Liberia turns violent as a mob attacks an Ebola clinic
by Marc Kilstein in PRI’s The World

Liberia’s poverty, skepticism of experts makes treating Ebola harder
by Pamela Scully for Reuters

On the off chance that war doesn’t change everything: More on Ebola
by Adia Benton for Ethnography 911 blog

On Ebola and the pathological movements of Others
by Adia Benton for Ethnography 911 blog

In the News: The Ethics of Ebola and Its Treatment

The CIHA Blog has had its eye on the ethical issues and questions around the treatment of the people who have been infected with Ebola and the efforts to fight the virus. In this post, we have gathered some posts about who gets the ZMapp experimental vaccine/treatment that has shown some efficacy, as well as who decides who gets to leave the West African countries for treatment in the U.S. and Europe and who must stay.

The Not-So-Secret Serum
by Adia Benton in Dissent Magazine

Opting Against Ebola Drug for Ill African Doctor
by Andrew Pollack in The New York Times

Hospitallers to regroup, return to Liberia after priest dies of Ebola
by Laura Ieraci for Vatican Radio

The Danger in Losing Sight of Ebola Victims’ Humanity
by Raphael Frankfurter in The Atlantic

Aid Worker Speaks Out On Why Ebola Keeps Spreading
by Eleanor Goldberg in The Huffington Post

NewLink says Ebola vaccine trial could start in weeks
by Sharon Begley for Reuters/Daily Maverick

For tomorrow’s post, we have a collection of articles to help understand some of the other ethical issues that the Ebola-afflicted countries (and their populations) face.

In the News: Fighting Ebola in West Africa

For about four months, the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia have been facing the worst-ever epidemic of Ebola in the capital cities as well as rural areas, and neighboring countries are also enacting policies to fight the disease’s spread.

Kim Yi Dionne writes in The Washington Post, “Why West African Governments Are Struggling in Response to Ebola,” about the complications of responding to Ebola, particularly when health professionals, already spread thin, might face cultural contexts different from their own.

Umaru Fofana writes in “How to Ignore a Plague” for of Sierra Leone ‘s response and how church and mosque leaders, among others, are adapting their practices to the disease.