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"World Health Minute" 30 March, 2017

News Highlights
Somalia faces major cholera outbreak Al Jazeera got access to a hospital in Baidoa in the southern region of Somalia and reported that the UN has raised alarm over a major outbreak of cholera in southern Somalia. Aid groups are scrambling to help people suffering from severe drought and mass malnutrition
Despite growth, one in 10 Asians live in extreme poverty A report released at the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development said ‘some 400m people, a tenth of Asia’s population, live on less than $1.90 a day – a global definition of poverty – despite the region’s impressive economic growth. Taking into account wider indicators of poverty such as health, education and living standards for the same period (2010-13), the number of poor was higher at 931m, or one in four,’ the UN and the ADB said
Asia suffered S$116b losses from disasters last year, study shows Total economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters almost doubled last year, compared with the previous year, with Asia suffering the highest damage. Globally, insured losses were also at their highest since 2012, a study from the research arm of global reinsurer Swiss Re Institute showed
Preparedness, surveillance and response
Thousands afflicted by malaria
The Health Minister for Namibia said 11,902 people had contracted malaria in Namibia and 18 had died of the disease since January this year. This figure is an increase of 5,402 since the last figure (6,500) was given by the health ministry earlier this month
Somalia faces major cholera outbreak
Al Jazeera got access to a hospital in Baidoa in the southern region of Somalia and reported that the UN has raised alarm over a major outbreak of cholera in southern Somalia. Aid groups are scrambling to help people suffering from severe drought and mass malnutrition
Gantsi district has recorded 16 malaria cases with a further 44 suspected
In Botswana, the Gantsi district said it has recorded 16 malaria cases with a further suspected 44 cases. The affected settlements include; Qabo, Grrotlagte, D’kar and D’kar farms 
Sokoto state govt treats 10,000 meningitis, malaria patients in 9 days ―Commissioner
The Sokoto State Government in Nigeria says it has treated no fewer than 10,000 meningitis and malaria patients since March 20th following the announcement of a high state of alert in the health sector
Registran 366 casos de zika en primer trimestre
The Bolivian health minister told the press that there had been 366 cases of Zika to date this year with 42 of these cases identified as pregnant women. This number is up on the most recent figure where there were only 19 pregnant women affected at the end of January
WHO warns of measles outbreak in areas of Europe where vaccinations have dropped
The World Health Organization warned that there is a high risk of large measles outbreaks in countries where immunization levels dropped, after more than 500 cases of the highly contagious disease were reported in Europe in January
New cholera outbreak flares up in Malawi
Malawi health officials reported a new cholera outbreak in Nsanje district in the southern part of Malawi. As of March 24th there were 14 cases recorded and no deaths so far. Nsanje district shares a common border with Mozambique  
Reportan 56 casos confirmados de dengue en el distrito de Coishco
Peruvian health experts in the Pacifico Norte region recorded 56 confirmed cases of Dengue in the Coischo health district. The health team told the media that these cases form part of 204 cases in the province of Santa
Casos de chicungunha avançam 23,4% ao longo de uma semana em PE e levam à investigação
In little more than a week Pernambuco has registered a 23.4% increase in Chikungunya cases, it is now being found in 73 of the 184 districts within the state, as well as the Fernando de Noronha archipelago. Health authorities taking note of the increase have decided to send experts to investigate further 
Swine flu cases from January to March ’17: 63 deaths in Maharashtra prompt minister to call review meeting
There has been a slight change in the pandemic virus H1N1 – an antigenic drift – according to the National Institute of Virology experts. This has been the reason for the rising number of cases and deaths across several Indian states since January this year. According to experts, from January to mid-March, there have been reportedly over 5,000 cases and more than 125 deaths with the southern and western states being largely affected
Yellow fever continues to advance in southeastern Brazil
An outbreak of yellow fever continues to advance across Brazil’s south-eastern region, with Rio de Janeiro state announcing the sixth yellow fever case in the state earlier this week. It was recorded in the town of Sao Fidelis and is the first case of yellow fever in the state not in the town of Casimiro de Abreu
Has the Meningitis Vaccine Failed? Outbreak in Africa Kills More Than 260 Nigerians
More than 260 people have died in Nigeria as a result of the country’s recent meningitis outbreak, eight times more than the number of deaths caused by the disease in 2016. In a series of tweets, Nigeria’s Center for Disease Control said there were 1,828 suspected cases of meningitis reported so far in 2017. Across the country’s 15 states, 269 Nigerians had died as of last Monday, compared to the 33 people killed by the disease in 2016
First Zika cluster of 2017 reported in Hougang
Some three months after the Zika transmission in Singapore tapered off, two members of the same household have been found to have contracted the Zika virus, making the area in Hougang the first Zika cluster to be reported in Singapore this year
UN: Malaria outbreak kills over 4 000 in Burundi this year
An outbreak of malaria has killed over 4,000 people in Burundi so far this year, the UN said, a dramatic rise over the 700 victims the government announced just two weeks ago
Health systems
EU rapid drug approval plan worries some national agencies
A push by the European Medicines Agency to speed up the approval of new drugs that show promise is running into stiff resistance from some of the national agencies that will ultimately decide if the medicines are worth buying. Critics worry that lowering the requirement for lengthy clinical trials, selling drugs with relatively little testing data, even if the go-ahead comes with strict limits, will expose patients to greater risks 
Why do residents work such long hours?
Resident doctors call the practice of assigning shifts stretching 24-48 hours inhuman and an exploitation of doctors. In contrast, the medical establishment believes it is routine practice and it has been there for ages and should continue. A spokesperson said ‘it is part of the learning process. Residents need to observe and follow a patient over a period of time continuously and see if the disease is progressing or worsening, and this can only be done when they are on longer shift patterns’
Linking benefits for AIDS patients to Aadhaar triggers privacy concerns
Linking people living with HIV AIDS with Aadhaar cards has allegedly ‘driven away patients from hospitals and antiretroviral therapy centres’ in Madhya Pradesh. The patients feared that the compulsory submission of an Aadhaar card to get free medicines and medical check-ups under a government’s AIDS control scheme, could lead to disclosure of their identity, inviting social stigma
Trump FDA Nominee Wants Lower Drug Costs With More Generics
President Trump’s pick to head the FDA is one of the most vigorous advocates of lowering drug costs by approving generics faster. He’s particularly focused on complex medications that combine old drugs with newer deliveries, as well as those with unusually complicated formulations. The main generic drug law, crafted more than 30 years ago didn’t contemplate complex drugs and so it does not provide an efficient and predictable path for enabling generic entrants – Scott Gottlieb wrote in an Oct 24 Forbes column. Revamping the process is likely to be his focus
Zambia fears health programs will suffer under Donald Trump`s proposal to cut foreign aid
Critical programs across Africa will be impacted  by significant foreign aid cuts proposed by the Trump administration, Zambia warned. A White House blueprint calling for a 28% cut in State Department funding, means drastic reductions in funding to UN agencies with knock on effects around the world; the country’s vice president said a range of health programs involving maternal health, HIV/AIDS and malaria eradication could well be impacted
MP blames provincial govt for drugs shortage
In Papua New Guinea the local Kerema MP has called out the Gulf provincial government for not addressing the issue of medicine shortages at the Kerema General Hospital. The MP said he had been told there was no medicine at the local hospital and patients were told to use herbal medicine while waiting for new supplies. He said the government must immediately address the issue because people needed the basics like malaria and tuberculosis drugs urgently
Men who have sex with men face difficulty getting HIV medicine due to stigma
Homosexuals are a vulnerable group who struggle to access treatment for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases because of the stigma and discrimination against them, health professionals and NGOs from Eastern and Southern African countries were told at a Johannesburg event to discuss HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment 
Culture of disease diagnosis inevitable for health nation
In an opinion article for the Tanzania Daily News the editorial argues that it is time to introduce a culture of disease diagnosis in the Tanzanian healthcare system. He argues that identifying troubles early mean many diseases are far more treatable and the costs of treatment are lower as they are managed at this initial stage
Jharkhand will soon be second state in India provides `free health services`
The Health Minister for the state of Jharkhand said he is looking to encourage Public Private Partnership and that Jharkhand is going to be the second state in the country to offer ‘free health services’ for all minors in government-run hospitals
Communicable diseases
Despite growth, one in 10 Asians live in extreme poverty
A report released at the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development said ‘some 400m people, a tenth of Asia’s population, live on less than $1.90 a day – a global definition of poverty – despite the region’s impressive economic growth. Taking into account wider indicators of poverty such as health, education and living standards for the same period (2010-13), the number of poor was higher at 931m, or one in four,’ the UN and the ADB said
SC bans sale, registration of BS-III vehicles from April 1
The Indian Supreme Court restrained auto manufacturers from selling BS-III vehicles from April 1st when emissions rules would come into force. The judges said ‘the health of millions of citizens was more important than the commercial interests of manufacturers’ and directed the government to not allow the registration of polluting BS III vehicles next month
Candidato a director de la OMS: "Los laboratorios deben bajar los precios a los paises pobres"
On a visit to Guatemala to learn more about the health challenges the country is facing, David Nabarro, candidate to be the next Director General of WHO, said ‘pharmaceutical companies should seek to find a way in which to reduce prices for medicines in poorer countries’
Asia suffered S$116b losses from disasters last year, study shows
Total economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters almost doubled last year, compared with the previous year, with Asia suffering the highest damage. Globally, insured losses were also at their highest since 2012, a study from the research arm of global reinsurer Swiss Re Institute showed
Western demand for goods from China is killing 100,000 a year
A new study claims Chinese-made goods bought in western Europe and the U.S. have, in effect, killed over 100,000 people in China in one year alone – as a result of air pollution associated with their manufacture.  Microscopic pollutant particles in the air from increased manufacturing and consumption mean India and China are now shouldering the biggest burden in terms of pollutant-linked deaths. The study authors say in 2007 22% of air-pollution related deaths were associated with goods and services produced in one country and consumed in another
Pro-poor urbanization, sustainable infrastructure can unlock Asia-Pacific`s prosperity – UN
Some 400m people in Asia and the Pacific still confront poverty as part of their daily lives due to widening income inequality, despite the region’s impressive gains in reducing poverty in recent decades, a UN-backed report has found. The report underscores the importance of addressing poverty through pro-poor urbanization, effective management of rural-urban transitions and investment in sustainable infrastructure
Era of self medication for fever is gone
Era of self medication for fever is gone given all the state is now currently facing
Waterborne diseases on the rise
Waterborne diseases appear to be on the rise in Ahmedabad. According to the weekly health report from AMC, five cases of cholera were reported in civic-run hospitals in the city. Last week, 287 cases of waterborne diseases were reported, of these, 186 cases of vomiting and diarrhoea, 39 of jaundice, 70 cases of typhoid and two cases of cholera. Two fresh cases of swine flu have also been reported
Do you pop pills without consulting a doctor? Inappropriate intake of antibiotics can destroy ‘good bacteria
Most doctors tend to treat a patient’s symptom and prescribe medicines in haste, sometimes before a consensus on the right medical condition, and then administer antibiotics. This lack of care is producing negligent results as there is an alarming increase in antibiotic resistance and antibiotics are gradually losing their capacity to fight an increasing number of diseases
41 million people in Nigeria without access to clean water —Water Aid Nigeria
To mark World Water Day, Water Aid Nigeria called for urgent action from the international community and the government to reach the 41m rural people in Nigeria without access to clean water. The organization called on governments to prioritize and fund water, sanitation and hygiene to fulfil fundamental human rights and to build communities’ resilience to extreme weather events and climate change
UN strategy for eliminating HIV in sub-Saharan Africa is unfeasible, according to UCLA study
WHO and UNAIDS propose using treatment prevention to eliminate HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. The strategy would treat people infected with HIV to reduce their ability to infect others as a way to prevent them from transmitting the disease. UNAIDS has set a goal to diagnose and treat 90% of those individuals infected by 2020. Now, a new study by UCLA researchers concludes that although the plan is laudable, implementing it might not be feasible. Spatial demographics of populations in predominantly rural countries will significantly hinder and possibly prevent the elimination of HIV. Only a minority live in urban centres and nobody knows where the vast majority of HIV-infected people live
Childhood lead exposure linked to lower adult IQ
Kids exposed to high levels of lead decades ago may now be approaching middle age with lower IQs and earning potential than they would have had otherwise, a new study suggests
Tuberculosis: Experts blame disease spread on recession, malnutrition
Experts said the high incidence of tuberculosis among rural and city slum dwellers in Nigeria can be blamed, in some part, on the economic recession in the country. The experts also identified malnutrition as a key factor in reducing a TB patient’s chances of surviving treatment. Health professionals said ‘there is a need to focus more on TB screening and treatment as more Nigerians have lesser access to good meals which boost immunity against infection
Non communicable diseases
Non-communicable diseases, threat to the world
The Burundi Non-Communicable Disease Alliance and the East African Non-Communicable Disease Alliance held a revealing workshop where patients detailed some of the various challenges they faced to get healthcare. One said diagnosis of NCDs in Burundi is tricky. In order to get a cancer diagnosis many need to travel abroad. Cancer drugs are virtually non-existent in Burundi. Waiting lists are often too long and treatment too expensive for most. The event view was that NCDs pose a serious risk to the population with little data on prevalence but the number dying from NCDs rises every day
New Mental Healthcare Bill decriminalises suicide attempt
The new Mental Healthcare Bill passed by the Lok Sabha decriminalises suicide attempts and bans the use of electric shock therapy for treating children with mental illness. The bill also gives an opportunity to a person to give advanced directions on the kind of treatment they would want in the event they were diagnosed with a mental illness in the future  
Cost of respiratory illnesses in New Zealand hits $6b and rising
A new study says that around one in six New Zealanders live with a respiratory illness and the rate is rising, with latest estimates showing the cost to the country has hit more than 56bn a year. Respiratory disease accounted for one in ten hospitalizations and highlighted the degree of socio-economic and ethnic inequality as by far the most relentless and disturbing pattern
U.S. approves Roche drug that targets severe form of MS
Roche’s multiple sclerosis drug Ocrevus won U.S. approval, putting it back on track after a brief delay and giving a lift to patients with a more severe form of the disease that until now had no approved treatment
Sickle cell: A silent killer in Chhattisgarh state
According to a 2013 report Raipur, 10% of Chhattisgarh’s population is affected by the hereditary blood disease sickle cell syndrome, with the state’s indigenous tribal population disproportionately affected. The Gond tribe in the region suffers from a rate as high 20%. And it can also be more prevalent among lower castes such as the Kurmi and Sahu, where rates are also at 20 and 22% respectively
12 new genes causing ovarian cancer identified
A dozen new genetic variants that have the potential to increase the risk of women developing ovarian cancer have been identified by a team of international scientists, in a study of nearly 100,000 people
Brain implant lets paralyzed man feed himself using his thoughts
A paralyzed man in Cleveland fed himself mashed potatoes for the first time in eight years, aided by a computer brain interface that reads his thoughts and sends signals to move muscles in his arm, U.S. researchers said. This research published in The Lancet is from BrainGate, a consortium of researchers testing brain-computer interface technology designed to give paralyzed individuals more mobility
Every 40 seconds a person commits suicide in world
A Rawalpindi conference on mental health was told that over 800,000 people die of suicide every year around the globe and 75% of those occur in low or middle income countries such as Pakistan. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among ages 15-29 and most alarmingly there is a death from suicide every 40 seconds
High-fibre diet key in fight against diabetes, study show
A diet that boosts good bacteria in the stomach could be the key to reducing the risks of diabetes, an Australian study has found. Researchers from Melbourne’s Monash University found for the first time that a diet rich in fermentable fibre stopped mice from developing Type 1 diabetes. The researchers recognised further study work in this area is required
Nearly $800 billion spent per year in U.S. on neurological diseases
A new report shows the United States spends an estimated $789bn annually on neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The list also includes dementia, low back pain, stroke, traumatic brain injury, migraine, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury
Promoting health through the life course
Women in slums face greater heat risk
A recent study by the Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar on women in various slum clusters in the city revealed their body temperatures rise sharply during peak summers. The rise is by three to four degrees, up to feverish levels. The most vulnerable groups included kite makers, rag pickers and street vendors who saw body temperatures rise by an average of 80%. More startling was women working indoors also had higher body temperatures, by a degree or two, compared to those outdoors. Constant exposure to heat and increases in mean body temperature is hazardous to a woman’s health and can lead to health issues
A New Kind of Male Birth Control Is Coming
A new birth control method for men came a little closer after Indian researchers said they are preparing to submit it for regulatory approval after years of testing. Results say it’s safe, effective and easy to use, but it has gained no interest from drug makers. The reversible procedure could cost as little as $10 in poorer countries and may provide males with years of fertility control, overcoming compliance problems and avoiding associated  costs with condoms and the female birth control pill taken daily. It could also ease the burden on the 225m women in developing countries who have an unmet need for contraception. So far drug companies run by white males say ‘we’d never do it’ so its pick up for international markets is being held back
Study links oral clefts to maternal passive smoking
Use of tobacco can affect pregnant women even if they are not active users. Scientists say women exposed to second hand smoking during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to children with cleft lip or palate, a non-fatal congenital deformity. A new study found that 48% of mothers of children with oral cleft were exposed to second hand smoking compared to 24% of mothers of typical children. The authors of the study say there should be more research done in this field to learn more about this possible link
Equal Pay for Men and Women? Iceland Wants Employers to Prove It
This week Iceland became the first country to introduce legislation requiring employers to prove they are paying men  and women equally. Iceland has had equal pay laws for half a century, pushing companies and the government to gradually reduce the pay gap. The thinking behind the new legislation is that unless the laws are applied more forcefully, the imbalance may never close
Global Warming Is a Matter of Survival for Pacific Islander Women
In some Pacific Island communities, due to rising sea levels, health centres and hospitals have been built on higher land making it difficult for a six-month pregnant woman to reach as she travels from island to island. Climate change in Papua New Guinea has contributed to mudslides and landslides, loss of food crops due to heavy rains or severe drought. Women are often at the sharp end of the impact of climate change. Flooding leads to lower food production which affects families and can lead to gender-based violence. Cash poverty and health risks increase
Brasil fecha mais de 10 mil leitos pediátricos em seis anos
A survey by the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics (SBP) said more than 10 thousand pediatric beds in hospitals and clinics have disappeared from the public health network over the last seven years. In November last year there were 38,200 beds. In 2010, Brazil had 48,300 places for children who needed to stay in hospital overnight for more than 24 hours. The reduction in the number of beds has a direct impact on care causing delays in diagnosis in a population that is steadily growing in numbers
Ireland must loosen abortion laws: Council of Europe rights commissioner
Ireland must loosen its strict abortion laws and replace them with a regime more respectful of women’s rights, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner said. Rules on terminating a pregnancy are among the world’s most restrictive and a referendum of widening access could be held if a citizens’ assembly set up by the government recommends it in a decision expected next month. Commissioner Nils Muiznieks said it has a chilling effect on doctors who must decide who meets the restrictive requirements
Uma criança morre no Iêmen a cada 10 minutos por doenças evitáveis
UNICEF’s Christoph Boulierac said ‘Millions are on the brink of famine in Yemen, more than two-thirds of the entire population are struggling to feed themselves and nearly half a million children are suffering from severe and acute malnutrition. The UN estimates that a child dies in Yemen every ten minutes from a preventable disease – but still the warring parties delay, obstruct or impede the delivery of humanitarian assistance’