Recent Publications

Scott A. Goldberg, Rebecca E. Cash, Gregory Peters, Scott G.Weiner, P. Gregg Greenough, and Raghu Seethala. 2021. “The impact of COVID‐19 on statewide EMS use for cardiac emergencies and stroke in Massachusetts.” JACEP Open. Publisher's VersionAbstract


To evaluate the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) on emergency medical services (EMS) use for time‐sensitive medical conditions. We examined EMS use for cardiac arrest, stroke, and other cardiac emergencies across Massachusetts during the peak of the COVID‐19 pandemic, evaluating their relationship to statewide COVID‐19 incidence and a statewide emergency declaration.


A retrospective analysis of all EMS calls between February 15 and May 15, 2020 and the same time period for 2019. EMS call volumes were compared before and after March 10, the date of a statewide emergency declaration.


A total of 408,758 calls were analyzed, of which 49,405 (12.1%) represented stroke, cardiac arrest, or other cardiac emergencies. Average call volume before March 10 was similar in both years but decreased significantly after March 10, 2020 by 18.7% (P < 0.001). Compared to 2019, there were 35.6% fewer calls for cardiac emergencies after March 10, 2020 (153.6 vs 238.4 calls/day, P < 0.001) and 12.3% fewer calls for stroke (40.0 vs 45.6 calls/day, P = 0.04). Calls for cardiac arrest increased 18.2% (28.6 vs 24.2 calls/day, P < 0.001). Calls for respiratory concerns also increased (208.8 vs 199.7 calls/day, P < 0.001). There was no significant association between statewide incidence of COVID‐19 and EMS call volume.


EMS use for certain time‐sensitive conditions decreased after a statewide emergency declaration, irrespective of actual COVID‐19 incidence, suggesting the decrease was related to perception instead of actual case counts. These findings have implications for public health messaging. Measures must be taken to clearly inform the public that immediate emergency care for time‐sensitive conditions remains imperative.

Adrienne Fricke and Rahaf Safi. 3/2021. Window of Hope: Sustaining education of health professionals in northwest Syria.Abstract
This report is based on a comprehensive needs assessment carried out remotely by the HHI team in Syria in 2019. The OSF HESP grant was awarded to a larger project to understand the impact of humanitarian emergencies, including armed conflict, on students enrolled in medical and nursing programs. The goal is to produce a needs assessment toolkit to help support professional health care education programs during conflict. In addition to Syria, where the conflict is ongoing, the project examines Colombia, a recent post-conflict setting, and Rwanda, a developed post-conflict setting.
Amir Khorram-Manesh, Krzysztof Goniewicz, and Frederick M. Burkle Jr. 1/2021. “Unrecognized risks and challenges of water as a major focus of COVID-19 spread.” Journal of Global Health . Read PublicationAbstract

The unpredictable emergence of Coronavirus 2019 has proven to be challenging for many countries and their preparedness systems. In the heat of the current pandemic, initial interventions have been directed to the medical component of pandemic management, while other parameters such as tracing, retaining, and controlling the infection have been dismantled. It must be remembered that a defective water management system for drinking or personal use cannot only worsen the medical management of an emergency but can also contribute to spreading the disease or other water-borne conditions. This report highlights the significant use of water as a necessity for life and for controlling the pandemic.

Amir Khorram-Manesh, Phatthranit Phattharapornjaroen, Luc J Mortelmans, and Frederick M. Burkle Jr. 2/2021. “Current Perspectives and Concerns Facing Hospital Evacuation: The Results of a Pilot Study and Literature Review.” Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. Read PublicationAbstract

Objective: To analyze the evacuation preparedness of hospitals within the European Union (EU).

Method: This study consisted of 2 steps. In the first step, a systematic review of the subject matter, according to the PRISMA flow diagram, was performed. Using Scopus (Elsevier, Amsterdam, Netherlands), PubMed (National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD), and Gothenburg University´s search engine, 11 questions were extracted from the review and were sent to representatives from 15 European Union (EU)- and non-EU countries.

Results: The findings indicate that there is neither a full preparedness nor a standard guideline for evacuation within the EU or other non-EU countries in this study. A major shortcoming revealed by this study is the lack of awareness of the untoward consequences of medical decision-making during an evacuation. Some countries did not respond to the questions due to the lack of relevant guidelines, instructions, or time.

Conclusion: Hospitals are exposed to internal and external incidents and require an adequate evacuation plan. Despite many publications, reports, and conclusions on successful and unsuccessful evacuation, there is still no common guide for evacuation, and many hospitals lack the proper preparedness. There is a need for a multinational collaboration, specifically within the EU, to establish such an evacuation planning or guideline to be used mutually within the union and the international community.

MPH P. Gregg Greenough, MD, Ravi Goyal, Ruwan Ratnayake, Fatma Rawashdeh, Raeda AbuAlRub, Nahla Al-Ali, Muhammad Fawad, and Mohammad Bani Han. 10/14/2020. “Access to Care and Prevalence of Hypertension and Diabetes Among Syrian Refugees in Northern Jordan.” JAMA Network Open. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Importance  The management of noncommunicable diseases in humanitarian crises has been slow to progress from episodic care. Understanding disease burden and access to care among crisis-affected populations can inform more comprehensive management.

Objective  To estimate the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes with biological measures and to evaluate access to care among Syrian refugees in northern Jordan.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This cross-sectional study was undertaken from March 25 to April 26, 2019, in the districts of Ramtha and Mafraq, Jordan. Seventy clusters of 15 households were randomly sampled, and chain referral was used to sample Syrian households, representative of 59 617 Syrian refugees. Adults were screened and interviewed about their access to care. Data analysis was performed from May to September 2019.

Exposures  Primary care delivered through a humanitarian organization since 2012.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The main outcomes were self-reported prevalence of hypertension and diabetes among adults aged 18 years or older and biologically based prevalence among adults aged 30 years or older. The secondary outcome was access to care during the past month among adults aged 18 years or older with a diagnosis of hypertension or diabetes.

Results  In 1022 randomly sampled households, 2798 adults aged 18 years or older, including 275 with self-reported diagnoses (mean [SD] age, 56.5 [13.2] years; 174 women [63.3%]), and 915 adults aged 30 years or older (608 women [66.5%]; mean [SD] age, 46.0 [12.8] years) were screened for diabetes and hypertension. Among adults aged 18 years or older, the self-reported prevalence was 17.2% (95% CI, 15.9%-18.6%) for hypertension, 9.8% (95% CI, 8.6%-11.1%) for diabetes, and 7.3% (95% CI, 6.3%-8.5%) for both conditions. Among adults aged 30 years or older, the biologically based prevalence was 39.5% (95% CI, 36.4%-42.6%) for hypertension, 19.3% (95% CI, 16.7%-22.1%) for diabetes, and 13.5% (95% CI, 11.4%-15.9%) for both conditions. Adjusted for age and sex, prevalence for all conditions increased with age, and women had a higher prevalence of diabetes than men (adjusted prevalence ratio, 1.3%; 95% CI, 1.0%-1.7%), although the difference was not significant. Complications (57.4%; 95% CI, 51.5%-63.1%) and obese or overweight status (82.8%; 95% CI, 79.7%-85.5%) were highly prevalent. Among adults aged 30 years or older with known diagnoses, 94.1% (95% CI, 90.9%-96.2%) currently took medication. Among adults aged 18 years or older with known diagnoses, 26.8% (95% CI, 21.3%-33.1%) missed a medication dose in the past week, and 49.1% (95% CI, 43.3%-54.9%) sought care in the last month.

Conclusions and Relevance  During this protracted crisis, obtaining care for noncommunicable diseases was feasible, as demonstrated by biologically based prevalence that was only moderately higher than self-reported prevalence. The high prevalence of complications and obese or overweight status, however, suggest inadequate management. Programs should focus on reinforcing adherence and secondary prevention to minimize severe morbidity.

Fuqing Wu, Amy Xiao, Jianbo Zhang, Katya Moniz, Noriko Endo, Federica Armas, Richard Bonneau, Megan A Brown, Mary Bushman, Peter R Chai, Claire Duvallet, Timothy B Erickson, Katelyn Foppe, Newsha Ghaeli, Xiaoqiong Gu, William P Hanage, Katherine H Huang, Wei Lin Lee, Mariana Matus, Kyle A McElroy, Jonathan Nagler, Steven F Rhode, Mauricio Santillana, Joshua A Tucker, Stefan Wuertz, Shijie Zhao, Janelle Thompson, and Eric J Alm. 2020. “SARS-CoV-2 titers in wastewater foreshadow dynamics and clinical presentation of new COVID-19 cases.” medRxiv.Abstract
Current estimates of COVID-19 prevalence are largely based on symptomatic, clinically diagnosed cases. The existence of a large number of undiagnosed infections hampers population-wide investigation of viral circulation. Here, we use longitudinal wastewater analysis to track SARS-CoV-2 dynamics in wastewater at a major urban wastewater treatment facility in Massachusetts, between early January and May 2020. SARS-CoV-2 was first detected in wastewater on March 3. Viral titers in wastewater increased exponentially from mid-March to mid-April, after which they began to decline. Viral titers in wastewater correlated with clinically diagnosed new COVID-19 cases, with the trends appearing 4-10 days earlier in wastewater than in clinical data. We inferred viral shedding dynamics by modeling wastewater viral titers as a convolution of back-dated new clinical cases with the viral shedding function of an individual. The inferred viral shedding function showed an early peak, likely before symptom onset and clinical diagnosis, consistent with emerging clinical and experimental evidence. Finally, we found that wastewater viral titers at the neighborhood level correlate better with demographic variables than with population size. This work suggests that longitudinal wastewater analysis can be used to identify trends in disease transmission in advance of clinical case reporting, and may shed light on infection characteristics that are difficult to capture in clinical investigations, such as early viral shedding dynamics.
Fuqing Wu, Jianbo Zhang, Amy Xiao, Xiaoqiong Gu, Wei Lin Lee, Federica Armas, Kathryn Kauffman, William Hanage, Mariana Matus, Newsha Ghaeli, Noriko Endo, Claire Duvallet, Mathilde Poyet, Katya Moniz, Alex D Washburne, Timothy B Erickson, Peter R Chai, Janelle Thompson, and Eric J Alm. 2020. “SARS-CoV-2 Titers in Wastewater Are Higher than Expected from Clinically Confirmed Cases.” mSystems, 5, 4.Abstract
Wastewater surveillance represents a complementary approach to clinical surveillance to measure the presence and prevalence of emerging infectious diseases like the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This innovative data source can improve the precision of epidemiological modeling to understand the penetrance of SARS-CoV-2 in specific vulnerable communities. Here, we tested wastewater collected at a major urban treatment facility in Massachusetts and detected SARS-CoV-2 RNA from the gene at significant titers (57 to 303 copies per ml of sewage) in the period from 18 to 25 March 2020 using RT-qPCR. We validated detection of SARS-CoV-2 by Sanger sequencing the PCR product from the gene. Viral titers observed were significantly higher than expected based on clinically confirmed cases in Massachusetts as of 25 March. Our approach is scalable and may be useful in modeling the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and future outbreaks. Wastewater-based surveillance is a promising approach for proactive outbreak monitoring. SARS-CoV-2 is shed in stool early in the clinical course and infects a large asymptomatic population, making it an ideal target for wastewater-based monitoring. In this study, we develop a laboratory protocol to quantify viral titers in raw sewage via qPCR analysis and validate results with sequencing analysis. Our results suggest that the number of positive cases estimated from wastewater viral titers is orders of magnitude greater than the number of confirmed clinical cases and therefore may significantly impact efforts to understand the case fatality rate and progression of disease. These data may help inform decisions surrounding the advancement or scale-back of social distancing and quarantine efforts based on dynamic wastewater catchment-level estimations of prevalence.
Michael A DeLuca, Peter R Chai, Eric Goralnick, and Timothy B Erickson. 2020. “Five Decades of Global Chemical Terror Attacks: Data Analysis to Inform Training and Preparedness.” Disaster Med Public Health Prep, Pp. 1-12.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Chemical weapons attacks during the recent conflict in Syria and Iraq highlight the need to better understand the changing epidemiology of chemical weapons use, especially among non-state actors. Public health professionals and policy-makers require this data to prioritize funding, training, chemical weapons preparedness, disaster response, and recovery. The purpose of this investigation is to provide descriptive data that can be used by policy-makers and public safety officials to better prepare for these potential attacks. METHODS: A five-decade descriptive retrospective review of The Global Terrorism Database, maintained by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, was conducted to understand trends in chemical agents, targets, and routes of exposure. We reviewed and analyzed data specific to these documented chemical attacks between 1970 and 2017. RESULTS: 383 terror attacks involved chemical weapons over the study period. A specific agent was named in 154 incidents, while 124 incidents could be classified into traditional chemical weapons categories (eg, vesicant, choking agents). A route of exposure was identified in 242 attacks, with the most common routes of exposure being dermal-mucosal and inhalational. Caustic agents were used in the highest portion of attacks (25%) where the route of exposure was known. Explosive devices were used in 21% of attacks to deliver these chemical agents. Of particular note, private citizens and educational facilities were targeted in 25% and 12% of attacks, respectively. The average number of attacks increased from 6 per year between 1970 and 2011 to 24.9 per year between 2011 and 2017 (coinciding with the start of the Syria conflict). The most commonly utilized chemicals were chlorine (26.0%), tear gas (20.8%), and cyanide (15.6%). Blood agent incidents declined from 32.6% before the September 11, 2001 attacks to 13.6% after 2001, while nerve agent attacks fell from 9.3% to 1.2%. In contrast, choking (namely chlorine) and vesicant (mustard) agent use increased from 7% to 48.1% and from 2.3% to 6.2% of attacks, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Chemical weapon use in global terrorism remains an increasingly common occurrence that requires better characterization. The average number of chemical terrorist attacks per year is increasing, with a large proportion resulting from the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Choking (chlorine) and vesicant (mustard) agents have become the predominant chemical terror agent since 2001, with a decreased incidence of blood (cyanogenic) and nerve (sarin) agents. Future preparedness initiatives should focus on vulnerable targets such as private citizens and educational institutions. Improving blast injury response is essential, along with prioritizing disaster training focused on choking agents, vesicants, and caustics.
Norkio Endo, Newsha Ghaeli, Claire Duvallet, Katelyn Foppe, Timothy B Erickson, Mariana Matus, and Peter R Chai. 2020. “Rapid Assessment of Opioid Exposure and Treatment in Cities Through Robotic Collection and Chemical Analysis of Wastewater.” J Med Toxicol, 16, 2, Pp. 195-203.Abstract
INTRODUCTION: Accurate data regarding opioid use, overdose, and treatment is important in guiding community efforts at combating the opioid epidemic. Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is a potential method to quantify community-level trends of opioid exposure beyond overdose data, which is the basis of most existing response efforts. However, most WBE efforts collect parent opioid compounds (e.g., morphine) at wastewater treatment facilities, measuring opioid concentrations across large catchment zones which typically represent an entire municipality. We sought to deploy a robotic sampling device at targeted manholes within a city to semi-quantitatively detect opioid metabolites (e.g., morphine glucuronide) at a sub-city community resolution. METHODS: We deployed a robotic wastewater sampling platform at ten residential manholes in an urban municipality in North Carolina, accounting for 44.5% of the total municipal population. Sampling devices comprised a robotic sampling arm with in situ solid phase extraction, and collected hourly samples over 24-hour periods. We used targeted mass spectrometry to detect the presence of a custom panel of opioids, naloxone, and buprenorphine. RESULTS: Ten sampling sites were selected to be a representative survey of the entire municipality by integrating sewer network and demographic GIS data. All eleven metabolites targeted were detected during the program. The average morphine milligram equivalent (MME) across the nine illicit and prescription opioids, as excreted and detected in wastewater, was 49.1 (standard deviation of 31.9) MME/day/1000-people. Codeine was detected most frequently (detection rate of 100%), and buprenorphine was detected least frequently (12%). The presence of naloxone correlated with city data of known overdoses reversed by emergency medical services in the prehospital setting. CONCLUSION: Wastewater-based epidemiology with smart sewer selection and robotic wastewater collection is feasible to detect the presence of specific opioids, naloxone, methadone, and buprenorphine within a city. These results suggest that wastewater epidemiology could be used to detect patterns of opioid exposure and may ultimately provide information for opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment and harm reduction programs.
TB Erickson, PR Chai, and EW Boyer. 2020. “Chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19.” Toxicol Commun, 4, 1, Pp. 40-42.Abstract
The media have featured the antimalarials chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to treat coronavirus (COVID-19). Political leaders have touted their use and recommended availability to the public. These anti-inflammatory agents have substantial human toxicity with a narrow therapeutic window. CQ and HCQ poisoning cause myocardial depression and profound hypotension due to vasodilation. Bradycardia and ventricular escape rhythms arise from impaired myocardial automaticity and conductivity due to sodium and potassium channel blockade. With cardiotoxicity, ECGs may show widened QRS, atrioventricular heart block and QT interval prolongation. CQ may also cause seizures, often refractory to standard treatment. Of concern is pediatric poisoning, where 1-2 pills of CQ or HCQ can cause serious and potentially fatal toxicity in a toddler. The treatment of CQ/HCQ poisoning includes high-dose intravenous diazepam postulated to have positive ionotropic and antidysrhythmic properties that may antagonize the cardiotoxic effects of CQ. Infusions of epinephrine titrated to treat unstable hypotension, as well as potassium for severe hypokalemia may be required. Current scientific evidence does not support treatment or prophylactic use of these agents for COVID-19 disease. Regulatory and public health authorities recognize that CQ/HCQ may offer little clinical benefit and only add risk requiring further investigation before wider public distribution.
Sonny S Patel, Robert M Grace, Patrick Chellew, Mykola Prodanchuk, Olha Romaniuk, Yuriy Skrebets, Sergii A Ryzhenko, and Timothy B Erickson. 2020. “"Emerging Technologies and Medical Countermeasures to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Agents in East Ukraine".” Confl Health, 14, Pp. 24.Abstract
Since 2014, Ukraine has been beset by an armed conflict with international and internal dimensions. The nature of this conflict is multidimensional, and disaster preparedness and response in this context must be as well. Health experts from Ukraine, the United States of America, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, and Norway convened for an educational event in Dnipro, East Ukraine on November 11-15, 2019. At the event, "Emerging Technologies and Countermeasures to CBRN Agents: Advanced Training Response to Conflict and Security Challenges in East Ukraine," over 1,000 participants participated in panel discussions, didactic lectures, and an advanced training on various dimensions of disaster response. This report provides an overview of the key discussions and outcomes of the event.
Hanni Stoklosa, Nathan Kunzler, Zheng Ben Ma, Juan Carlos Jimenez Luna, Gonzalo Martinez de Vedia, and Timothy B Erickson. 2020. “Pesticide Exposure and Heat Exhaustion in a Migrant Agricultural Worker: A Case of Labor Trafficking.” Ann Emerg Med, 76, 2, Pp. 215-218.Abstract
To our knowledge, there are no published reports of heat exhaustion and pesticide exposure in a labor trafficked patient in the literature. Here we represent the case of J.C.J.L., who was labor trafficked. He presented to a local emergency department with heat exhaustion and pesticide exposure related to working conditions in a Mississippi corn field. Unfortunately, while he received medical treatment, his labor trafficking condition was missed. Emergency departments should be equipped to assess for human trafficking and connect trafficked persons with the resources they need. Emergency physicians should maintain a high index of suspicion for human trafficking among migrant workers presenting with occupation-related complaints.
Peter R Chai, EG Ferro, JM Kirshenbaum, BD Hayes, SE Culbreth, EW Boyer, and TB Erickson. 2020. “Intentional Hydroxychloroquine Overdose Treated with High-Dose Diazepam: an Increasing Concern in the COVID-19 Pandemic.” J Med Toxicol, 16, 3, Pp. 314-320.Abstract
INTRODUCTION: Recent attention on the possible use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat COVID-19 disease has potentially triggered a number of overdoses from hydroxychloroquine. Toxicity from hydroxychloroquine manifests with cardiac conduction abnormalities, seizure activity, and muscle weakness. Recognizing this toxidrome and unique management of this toxicity is important in the COVID-19 pandemic. CASE REPORT: A 27-year-old man with a history of rheumatoid arthritis presented to the emergency department 7 hours after an intentional overdose of hydroxychloroquine. Initial presentation demonstrated proximal muscle weakness. The patient was found to have a QRS complex of 134 ms and QTc of 710 ms. He was treated with early orotracheal intubation and intravenous diazepam boluses. Due to difficulties formulating continuous diazepam infusions, we opted to utilize an intermitted intravenous bolus strategy that achieved similar effects that a continuous infusion would. The patient recovered without residual side effects. DISCUSSION: Hydroxychloroquine toxicity is rare but projected to increase in frequency given its selection as a potential modality to treat COVID-19 disease. It is important for clinicians to recognize the unique effects of hydroxychloroquine poisoning and initiate appropriate emergency maneuvers to improve the outcomes in these patients.
DJ Tonellato, JR Ransohoff, C Nash, SEF Melanson, AK Petrides, NV Tolan, SA Goldberg, EW Boyer, PR Chai, and TB Erickson. 2020. “Traumatic pedestrian and bicyclist injuries associated with intoxication.” Am J Emerg Med.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Drug and alcohol use are risk factors for trauma among operators of motor vehicles and contribute to trauma in pedestrians and bicyclists. We describe the prevalence of drug and alcohol use and clinical consequences in a cohort of pedestrians and bicyclists with trauma. METHODS: We analyzed a 25-month data set of 916 trauma team activations from January 2017-January 2019 at an urban, level I trauma center. Blood ethanol levels and urine toxicology screens were obtained in 94 pedestrian and bicyclist trauma activations. We compared pedestrians or bicyclists with a positive urine or blood screen (n = 69) to those with negative screens (n = 25). We conducted a retrospective chart review to determine mechanism of injury, injury pattern, and disposition from the emergency department (ED). RESULTS: Overall, 38 (55%) of injured patients with positive screen were pedestrians and 31 (45%) were bicyclists. Fentanyl was the most commonly detected drug (n = 38; 40%), followed by opiates (n = 27; 29%), and tetrahydrocannabiol (THC) (n = 23; 25%). Twenty-one patients were positive for ethanol. Pedestrians and bicyclists with positive toxicology screens were significantly more likely to sustain fractures (p < .01), require an operative procedure (p < .05), or intensive care unit admission (p < .05). CONCLUSION: Our study builds on previous literature which suggests that intoxicated bicyclists and pedestrians suffer frequent and more severe injury than their sober counterparts. Public health campaigns should educate bicyclists and pedestrians about the risks of cycling or walking in areas of road traffic while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs.
Krzysztof Goniewicz, Maciej Magiera, Dorota Rucińska, Witold Pawłowski, Frederick M. Burkle Jr., Attila J. Hertelendy, and Mariusz Goniewicz. 5/2020. “Geographic Information System Technology: Review of the Challenges for Its Establishment as a Major Asset for Disaster and Emergency Management in Poland.” Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness.Abstract

Technical and technological progress in the 21st century, especially emerging geographic information system (GIS) technology, offers new and unprecedented opportunities to counteract the impact of crisis situations and emergencies. Computerization and development of GIS enabled the digital visualization of space for interactive analysis of multiple data in the form of models or simulations. Additionally, computerization, which gives rise to a new quality of database management, requires continuous modernization of computer hardware and software. This study examines selected examples of the implications and impact of the GIS commonly used in Poland.

Nasim Sadat Hosseini Divkolaye, Javad Khalatbari, Marjan Faramarzi, Fariba Seighali, Shokoufeh Radfar, Ali ArabKhazaeli, and Frederick M. Burkle Jr. 5/2020. “Frequency and Factors Associated with Violence Against Female Sex Workers in Tehran, Iran.” Sexuality & Culture.Abstract

Female Sex Workers are among those women who are significantly more vulnerable to violence. Apart from the human rights perspective, assessing the frequency of violence among sex workers is especially important because of its relation to the spread of HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections. This cross-sectional, observational study was conducted among 263 female sex workers in southern parts of Tehran and their suburban regions in 2017 where the population is considered more socially and economically vulnerable. To evaluate univariate analysis between sexual violence and physical violence as dependent variables and the assumed exposures as well as confounders, the models were built distinctly. The models included exposures of the questionnaire as independent variables. The exposure factors with a p value of less than 0.2 were moved into the multiple logistic regression models. The rates of sexual violence and physical violence were reported as 72.2% and 82.3% respectively. According to our results, sexual violence is associated with higher education, working in streets, drug usage, having the experience of forced unprotected sex and feeling of discrimination. Physical violence is associated with low education, drug usage and feeling of discrimination in multiple analyses. Addressing the violence against female sex workers is a complex multifactorial issue in Iran. It requires structural changes in some social, legal, economic and health infrastructure programs.

Frederick M. Burkle Jr. 3/2020. “Opportunities Lost: Political Interference in the Systematic Collection of Population Health Data During and After the 2003 War in Iraq.” Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness.Abstract

The review of the article, “Developing a Public Health Monitoring System in a War-torn Region: A Field Report from Iraqi Kurdistan,” prompted the writing of this commentary. Decisions to implement health data systems within Iraq require exploration of many otherwise undisclosed or unknown historical facts that led to the politicization of and ultimate demise of the pre-2003 Iraq war systematic health data monitoring system designed to mitigate both direct and indirect mortality and morbidity. Absent from the field report’s otherwise accurate history leading up to and following the war is the politically led process by which the original surveillance system planned for the war and its aftermath was destroyed. The successful politicization of the otherwise extensively planned for public health monitoring in 2003 and its legacy harmed any future attempts to implement similar monitoring systems in succeeding wars and conflicts. Warring factions only collect military casualty data. The field report outlines current attempts to begin again in building a systematic health monitoring system emphasizing it is the “only way to manage the complex post-war events that continue to lead to disproportionate preventable mortality and morbidity.”

Frederick M. Burkle Jr. 4/2020. “Declining Public Health Protections within Autocratic Regimes: Impact on Global Public Health Security, Infectious Disease Outbreaks, Epidemics, and Pandemics.” Prehospital and Disaster Medicine. Read PublicationAbstract
Public health emergencies of international concern, in the form of infectious disease outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics, represent an increasing risk to the worldʼs population. Management requires coordinated responses, across many disciplines and nations, and the capacity to muster proper national and global public health education, infrastructure, and prevention measures. Unfortunately, increasing numbers of nations are ruled by autocratic regimes which have characteristically failed to adopt investments in public health infrastructure, education, and prevention measures to keep pace with population growth and density. Autocratic leaders have a direct impact on health security, a direct negative impact on health, and create adverse political and economic conditions that only complicate the crisis further. This is most evident in autocratic regimes where health protections have been seriously and purposely curtailed. All autocratic regimes define public health along economic and political imperatives that are similar across borders and cultures. Autocratic regimes are seriously handicapped by sociopathic narcissistic leaders who are incapable of understanding the health consequences of infectious diseases or the impact on their population. A cross section of autocratic nations currently experiencing the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) are reviewed to demonstrate the manner where self-serving regimes fail to manage health crises and place the rest of the world at increasing risk. It is time to re-address the pre-SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) global agendas calling for stronger strategic capacity, legal authority, support, and institutional status under World Health Organization (WHO) leadership granted by an International Health Regulations Treaty. Treaties remain the most successful means the world has in preventing, preparing for, and controlling epidemics in an increasingly globalized world.
Frederick M. Burkle Jr. 4/2020. “Political Intrusions into the International Health Regulations Treaty and Its Impact on Management of Rapidly Emerging Zoonotic Pandemics: What History Tells Us.” Prehospital and Disaster Medicine. Read PublicationAbstract
For a large number of health care providers world-wide, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is their first experience in population-based care. In past decades, lower population densities, infectious disease outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics were rare and driven almost exclusively by natural disasters, predatory animals, and war. In the early 1900s, Sir William Osler first advanced the knowledge of zoonotic diseases that are spread from reservoir animals to human animals. Once rare, they now make up 71% or more of new diseases. Globally, zoonotic spread occurs for many reasons. Because the human population has grown in numbers and density, the spread of these diseases accelerated though rapid unsustainable urbanization, biodiversity loss, and climate change. Furthermore, they are exacerbated by an increasing number of vulnerable populations suffering from chronic deficiencies in food, water, and energy. The World Health Organization (WHO) and its International Health Regulation (IHR) Treaty, organized to manage population-based diseases such as Influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), H1N1, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), HIV, and Ebola, have failed to meet population-based expectations. In part, this is due to influence from powerful political donors, which has become most evident in the current COVID-19 pandemic. The global community can no longer tolerate an ineffectual and passive international response system, nor tolerate the self-serving political interference that authoritarian regimes and others have exercised over the WHO. In a highly integrated globalized world, both the WHO with its IHR Treaty have the potential to become one of the most effective mechanisms for crisis response and risk reduction world-wide. Practitioners and health decision-makers must break their silence and advocate for a stronger treaty, a return of the WHO's singular global authority, and support highly coordinated population-based management. As Osler recognized, his concept of "one medicine, one health" defines what global public health is today.
Frederick M. Burkle Jr., David A. Bradt, Joseph Green, and Benjamin J. Ryan. 10/2020. “Global Public Health Database Support to Population-Based Management of Pandemics and Global Public Health Crises, Part II: The Database.” Prehospital and Disaster Medicine. Read PublicationAbstract

This two-part article examines the global public health (GPH) information system deficits emerging in the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. It surveys past, missed opportunities for public health (PH) information system and operational improvements, examines current megatrend changes to information management, and describes a new multi-disciplinary model for population-based management (PBM) supported by a GPH Database applicable to pandemics and GPH crises.

Frederick M. Burkle Jr., David A. Bradt, and Benjamin J. Ryan. 10/2020. “Global Public Health Database Support to Population-Based Management of Pandemics and Global Public Health Crises, Part I: The Concept.” Prehospital and Disaster Medicine. Read PublicationAbstract
This two-part article examines the global public health (GPH) information system deficits emerging in the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. It surveys past, missed opportunities for public health (PH) information system and operational improvements, examines current megatrend changes to information management, and describes a new multi-disciplinary model for population-based management (PBM) supported by a GPH Database applicable to pandemics and GPH crises.
Erica Nelson, Saira Khan, Swapna Thorve, and P. Gregg Greenough. 12/2020. “Modeling pastoralist movement in response to environmental variables and conflict in Somaliland: Combining agent-based modeling and geospatial data.” PLOS ONE.Abstract

This study explores how pastoralists respond to changing environments in Somaliland . An agent-based model is used to simulate the movement of nomadic pastoralists based on typologically diverse, historical data of environmental, interpersonal, and transactional variables in Somaliland and Puntland between 2008 and 2018. Through subsequent application of spatial analysis such as choropleth maps, kernel density mapping, and standard deviational ellipses, we characterize the resultant pastoralist population distribution in response to these variables.

Signal Program. 3/2020. Displacement & Destruction: Analysis of Idlib, Syria 2017-2020.Abstract
As the Syrian civil war enters its tenth year on  March 15, the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology conducted satellite imagery analysis to capture the rapid expansion of displaced people’s camps and the widespread impact of aerial bombardment in Idlib, Syria. This work was completed in collaboration with Save the Children and World Vision International. On 1 March 2020, the UN estimated that 961,286 individuals have been displaced since December 1, 2019; this is the largest mass displacement and acute humanitarian crisis since the  Syrian conflict began in 2012. Analyzing two internally displaced person (IDP) camps, the Signal team found that the camp areas analyzed increased by approximately 100% and 177% respectively between September 2017 and February 2020. Camp growth between December 2019 and 2020 revealed new structures and further construction, consistent with a significant influx of displaced persons.  The UN Human Rights Council reports that between May 2019 and January 2020, aerial bombardment and a surge of ground-level assaults contributed to a wave of IDPs throughout Idlib as civilian areas were repeatedly targeted. Signal’s analysis of two areas in conflict-affected towns in southern Idlib found that approximately 30% of structures were damaged; this figure likely underestimates the total damage.
Vincenzo Bollettino and Sarah Ferguson. 5/2020. “Case Study: Academic/NGO Collaboration to Understand Climate Change and Disaster Resilience Implementation in Bagerhat District, Bangladesh”.Abstract
This case study describes a research collaboration between an academic institution and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) designed to inform programs to strengthen coordination in Bangladesh. The case describes the rationale for conducting the study, the research process, and outcomes of the research. The objective of the case study is to support local or municipal governments, NGOs, students, or other program managers to consider how collaboration with academic institutions could enhance their programs, as well as how research such as a network analysis could be useful to inform their work. For those interested in conducting a network analysis, the case also provides resources and tools to support researchers and organizations to replicate the study in their program context.
Sarah Ferguson, Vincenzo Bollettino, Phuong Pham, Patrick Vinck, Rachel Dickinson, Alexis Smart, and Evan Bloom. 5/2020. “Bangladesh Network Analysis Report”.Abstract
Coordination among actors during an emergency is crucial for effective, efficient action. The existence of pre-disaster relationships between actors can strengthen the speed with which coordination occurs in a disaster setting, making relationshipbuilding before a disaster an important element of preparedness. As such, understanding the relationships between stakeholders working to advance disaster resilience and response is a crucial first step to support institutional strengthening and capacity building. The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), Concern Worldwide, and Jagrata Juba Shangha (JJS) are jointly implementing programs to enhance climate change adaptation and disaster resilience among coastal communities in Bagerhat District, Bangladesh. This district is located in Bangladesh’s low-elevation coastal zones, which are especially vulnerable to natural disasters and have already begun to see the effects of climate change. Bagerhat has high levels of food and water insecurity and poverty, and is highly vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change impacts (5). The district has been heavily impacted by recent cyclones, and is experiencing sea level rise and saltwater intrusion. This network analysis was undertaken to support strengthening coordination and collaboration among actors working on climate change adaptation and disaster resilience in Bagerhat.