| | |

"World Health Minute" 4 April, 2017

News Highlights
Meningitis outbreak rises to 1,966 across five states WHO confirmed that the current epidemic of meningitis that started last December has killed hundreds of Nigerians and affected many others. There are heightened concerns as the new strain of CSM does not have enough vaccine readily available. The last outbreak of CSM in Nigeria in 1996 killed 11,717 and infected 109,580 with a fatality rate of 10.7%
H1N1 killed 854 in Gujarat last 5 years Since 2012 swine flu has claimed at least five lives every eleven days in the state, with the peak being 2015, when 517 people lost their lives to the disease. This year there have already been nine deaths, six in Rajkot and three in Ahmedabad. Officials said 8,834 people tested positive for swine flu from 2012 to 2016, which is nearly five patients hospitalised with swine flu daily in the state
Forged documents trap Indian children, help traffickers evade justice In a two-year study of criminal networks trafficking girls from Bangladesh to India, the charity Justice and Care found that school leaving certificates were the most forged documents used by traffickers to hide the ages of their victims. Corrupt doctors and village leaders are helping traffickers to obtain fake documents to pass these child victims off as adults and evade justice for crimes affecting thousands of young people
Preparedness, surveillance and response
Cholera spreads in famine-threatened Somalia
Deadly cholera is spreading through drought-ravaged Somalia as clean water sources dry up, a top aid official said, deepening a humanitarian crisis in a country that is on the verge of famine. Johan Heffinck, the Somalia head of EU Humanitarian Aid said the country has recorded more than 18,000 cases of cholera so far this year, up from around 15,000 in all of 2016 and 5,000 in a normal year. If the rains fail the country will tip into famine. Somalia’s last famine in 2011 killed more than 260,000 people
Meningitis outbreak rises to 1,966 across five states
WHO confirmed that the current epidemic of meningitis that started last December has killed hundreds of Nigerians and affected many others. There are heightened concerns as the new strain of CSM does not have enough vaccine readily available. The last outbreak of CSM in Nigeria in 1996 killed 11,717 and infected 109,580 with a fatality rate of 10.7%
Karnataka: Malaria spread in 20 districts, spreading at an alarming rate!
Malaria is spreading across northern Karnataka with health officials saying it is to be found in around 20 districts and is spreading alarmingly
India recorded 160 deaths due to swine flu between January 1 and March 26, govt tells Lok Sabha
Between January 1st and March 26th 160 people in India died from swine flu (H1N1) out of the 6,202 confirmed cases, the minister of state for health said. The highest number of deaths were reported in Maharashtra (63), while Telangana posted 16 deaths. A year earlier 1,786 cases were reported and 265 people had died
Cunene: Autoridades sanitárias registam aumento de casos de malária
The Angolan province of Cunene has seen 10,037 cases of malaria with 46 deaths in the first two months of this year, against 7,455 malaria cases last year
Rápido aumento de dengue en Boquerón
The western region of Paraguay, Boqueron, said the number of confirmed dengue cases reported last week (41) has jumped to 71 cases in just a week
China reports six new bird flu cases, one death
China is reporting six new cases of H7N9 bird flu, including one death in Hunan, after live poultry markets were shuttered in the province last month. This brings the total number of fatalities to 162 since last October. Health authorities said the cold and wet weather in Hunan played a role in the spread of the virus. The Huffington Post described the H7N9 outbreak as the worst bird flu epidemic in China since 2013
8 die of suspected Lassa fever in Kano
There has been a confirmed case of Lassa Fever in Kogi state. Kano has recorded 22 cases of meningitis and two fresh cases of Lassa fever. The Sierra Leone press reported that Lassa Fever outbreaks have been confirmed across five west African countries including Nigeria, Benin, Sierra Leone, Togo and Burkina Faso
H1N1 killed 854 in Gujarat last 5 years
Since 2012 swine flu has claimed at least five lives every eleven days in the state, with the peak being 2015, when 517 people lost their lives to the disease. This year there have already been nine deaths, six in Rajkot and three in Ahmedabad. Officials said 8,834 people tested positive for swine flu from 2012 to 2016, which is nearly five patients hospitalised with swine flu daily in the state
Ya son mas de 6 mil casos de dengue registrados en el pais
In part due to the relentless storms and rains along the cost, MINSA said that Peru has witnessed 6,362 cases of dengue across the country to date, with five deaths (Loreto 2; Piura 1; Ayacucho 1 and Chiclayo 1). MINSA said eight regions of Peru are under emergency health restrictions: Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque, Cajamarca, La Libertad, Ancash, Lima and Ica – with attention focused on outbreaks of infectious diseases
CHIKUNGUNYA, DENGUE E ZIKA: Roraima registra aumento alarmante de casos
In relation to chikungunya cases, Roraima went from 3 to 189 in the first 10 weeks of this year. For dengue, Roraima jumped from 51 cases to 251. Then for zika Roraima saw a jump from 51 cases to
China says has contained foot-and-mouth outbreak on southern Guangdong farm
China’s Ministry of Agriculture said 37 pigs on a farm in the southern Guangdong province had been killed after contracting the O-type strain of foot-and-mouth
2,500 patients of gastroenteritis, cholera admitted to PIMS
As many as 2,500 patients of gastroenteritis and cholera have been brought to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Science in the last two weeks indicating the spread of these diseases mainly due to the use of contaminated water and unhygienic food 
Cerebrospinal Meningitis: 328 deaths in 16 states
More than 2,254 people have been affected by the CSM  with 328 deaths recorded in ninety local government councils of 16 states of the federation. Of additional concern is the fact that the Polio virus has been detected in Gombe. And the health minister confirmed that out of the 131 samples laboratory tested a majority indicate this is a Neisseria Meningitides type C. The health minister added that other countries such as Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Togo are facing meningitis outbreaks at the moment as well
Cholera spreading again in eastern Sudan
Isolation centres in El Gedaref in eastern Sudan have received dozens of new cholera patients over the last week and two have died. Between March 25-28 the centres received 66 new cases
Health systems
The cost of cancer: new drugs show success at a steep price
Newer cancer drugs that enlist the body’s immune system are improving the odds of survival, but competition between them is not reigning in prices that can now top $250,000 per year
The Campaign to Lead the World Health Organization
The New York Times looks at the campaign to lead the World Health Organization. It explains the new voting procedure and who the three remaining candidates to lead WHO are. It runs over the list of challenges the new WHO boss faces, the organization is suffering from an identity crisis, it is often accused of being lumbering and slow, it is dependent on partnering medical charities like Doctors Without Borders, it is bureaucratic and under pressure from competing lobby groups and donors
Polio vaccine in short supply in private hospitals
The Hindu says that the polio vaccine is in short supply in private hospitals in Hyderabad. After India’s switch to bivalent oral polio vaccine from trivalent oral polio vaccine, there has been a global shortage of IPV
How poor vaccine supply systems put thousands of Kenyans at risk
Outdated vaccine supply and distribution systems are delaying and limiting the impact of vaccines, placing the health of millions of people at risk, according to new articles published in Vaccine Journal. One in every three countries in the world experiences at least one stockout of at least one vaccine for at least one month, while 19-38% of vaccines worldwide are accidentally exposed to freezing temperatures, potentially compromising the potency of the vaccines
Govt apathy hits vaccine unit
India’s only Yellow Fever vaccine manufacturing unit at the Central Research Institute in Kasauli has been shut for the last five years, even as the government continues to import the critical vaccine. While production at the unit was halted on the grounds of poor manufacturing practice, over the years the government has done precious little to upgrade the unit. The CRI was one of three public sector vaccine manufacturing units that were shut in 2008
1 039 vacant posts at health ministry
The Ministry of Health and Wellness in Botswana has a total of 1,039 vacant posts across all departments. The ministry said they lacked the ability to attract and retain skilled staff, there was an unavailability of skills in the labour market and a slow uptake by local healthcare workers to work in rural areas
In numbers: Maharashtra’s under-funded health services keep its junior doctors in the line of fire
What is not being highlighted in Maharashtra sufficiently is the correlation between understaffed and inadequately resourced public hospitals and the growing discontent among patients seeking care in these hospitals. A symptom of this is the violence against doctors, at which they are protesting. Violence against doctors is not about doctor-patient conflict as much as it is about a lack of funds and personnel to attend to the sick 
UN: 50% of Yemen Health Facilities Closed, Medicines Urgently Needed
More than 14m people in Yemen have no access to health services, the UN health agency said, warning that transportation of medical personnel and treatment for the injured is getting increasingly difficult as this week heralds the third anniversary of the conflict
Mumbai: Govt cracks whip on hospitals for overpriced medical devices
The state government has filed cases against eight top city hospitals found to be overcharging for stents and other equipment used to treat heart ailments
Communicable diseases
Paying for healthcare with trees: win-win for orangutans and communities
Borneo’s exhilaratingly innovative ASRI programme is saving the rainforest with a stethoscope, using healthcare to decrease logging and increase organic farming. Health in Harmony asked the communities what was driving them to log the conserved forest and what it would take for them to stop. The answers that came back were surprising but compelling, affordable healthcare and organic farming. Extremely high medical bills were forcing people to logging to pay their healthcare bills. The NGO set up a clinic to the west of the national park which provides healthcare at an affordable rate. They also reward community leaders who reduce logging or encourage others to do so with further treatment cost reductions
Alarming measles outbreak in Italy blamed on anti-vaccination populist movement
An alarming rise in measles cases in Italy has been blamed on an anti-vaccination movement in the country supported by the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) party. In the first three months of 2017, more than a thousand cases have been recorded exceeding the total number of cases for the whole of 2016.The outbreak is primarily concentrated in the wealthier regions of northern and central Italy. The regional differences are due to the country’s decentralised public health system which permits regional authorities to legislate how they see fit for health issues
China says pollution inspectors find firms falsifying data
Chinese air quality inspectors found problems at more than 3,000 companies during inspections over the first three months of this year, of which, a large proportion were found to be falsifying data, the environment ministry said. Some companies tried to stop inspectors from carrying out checks, including Apple supplier Foxconn
U.S.-UK alliance targets the world`s deadliest superbugs
Eleven biotech companies and research teams in Britain and the United States were awarded $48m in funding to speed development of new antibiotics powerful enough to take on the world’s deadliest superbugs. Announcing its first funding, the new UK-U.S. alliance known as CARB-X, underlined its intention to meet the challenge posed by drug-resistant infections which kill 700,000 people a year worldwide
Prior exposure to dengue or West Nile could make Zika worse: report
A new study says that prior infection with West Nile of dengue, two viruses closely related to Zika, can make Zika symptoms worse. It raises a degree of concern about current or experimental dengue vaccines because they could inadvertently make Zika infection worse. The study authors suggested that companies consider combining a dengue and Zika vaccine to protect against both illnesses at the same time
Malawi urged to ban cheap super-strong liquor destroying young lives
A draft alcohol policy drawn up by the Ministry of Health and NGOs, which includes recommendations to restrict young people’s access to alcohol, was presented to the Malawi cabinet for approval in 2015, but has still not been adopted. Drug Fight Malawi, a group campaigning for tougher controls, said it believes the drinks industry had intervened to block the policy. The government said it could not comment on the delay but agreed alcohol was having a negative impact on development
What they knew and when they knew it
Slate draws on new emails which show that American officials quickly realised that the UN had brought cholera to Haiti. The emails show that the U.S. government at the highest levels was almost immediately aware that UN forces likely played a role in the outbreak. Multiple federal agencies shielded the UN from accountability to protect the organization. The UN continued to deny any involvement in the outbreak until it admitted it ‘played a role’ in 2016. By then, 800,000 people in Haiti had been sickened and more than 9,500 killed, with some experts saying the real toll could be two or three times higher
How successful were the millennium development goals?
A new study tries to measure the success of the Millennium Development Goals. The research indicates that at least 21 million lives were saved due to accelerated progress. Two-thirds of the lives saved were in sub-Saharan Africa, around a fifth were in China and India and the remainder were spread across the developing world. Between 8.8 to 17.3m of the lives saved were due to faster progress on child mortality; 8.7m due to expanded treatment for HIV Aids, 3.1m due to declines in TB deaths and approximately half a million due to improvements in maternal mortality
`White coats` alone can`t combat infectious disease outbreaks: U.N. adviser
Poor countries need more resources and training on the ground to combat infectious diseases that are spreading in new ways and to new places, partly due to climate change, said David Nabarro, who is in the race to be next head of the World Health Organization. The first thing in dealing with outbreaks is to make sure there is capacity in the countries to deal with the problems early and simulation exercises are crucial in ensuring local communities are prepared
Positive signs as Asia-Pacific moves towards SDGs
Dr Shamshad Akhtar, under-secretary general of the UN and executive secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific, praised the efforts made by Asia Pacific nations to push ahead with the implementation of the 17 SDGs. She highlighted the domestication of the action plan by these countries, many of whom have developed a national sustainable development strategy, as a particular success. She picked out progress on gender equality in primary education and maternal mortality rates which are down, except for isolated pockets
“What we have seen is hard to believe:” A blog from aid worker in Baidoa, Somalia
International Medical Corps expert explains what he saw when he was part of a fact finding missions to Baidoa in Somalia, in a team to assess the situation and plan for the best way to help the IDPs who have been forced to leave their homes because of drought and hunger
International Nurses Day Gets a Multimedia Makeover in 2017
The International Council of Nurses has released a new report called ‘Nurses: A Voice to lead the sustainable development goals.’ The report makes the case that strong positive investment in nursing is a key factor in ensuring healthier nations
Non communicable diseases
More evidence linking stress to obesity
A new study using hair to measure long-term levels of the stress hormone cortisol confirms the link between chronic stress and packing on the pounds, as well as explaining the difficulty in shedding excess
Chandigarh health department starts screening for non-communicable diseases
The Chandigarh health department has started screening the residents in the age group of 30 and above for non-communicable diseases including cancer and diabetes. The screening is under the national programme for the Preventions of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke
`Let`s Talk`, WHO says, as depression rates rise 18 percent in a decade
Depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide, the World Health Organization said, with more than 300 million people suffering. Rates of depression have risen by more than 18% since 2005, but a lack of support for mental health combined with a common fear of stigma means many do not get the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives 
With 30 crore patients, depression now No 1 reason for ill health
Depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability in the world, according to WHO. The condition has overtaken lower respiratory disease as the biggest global health problem. WHO identifies a link between depression and other mental and physical health problems; the risk of substance abuse and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease
One in three `inactive` Britons at risk of heart disease, says heart charity
Almost one in three people in the UK are at risk of heart disease because of physical inactivity, according to a new study by the British Heart Foundation
Promoting mental well-being ensures sustainable development
A mentally healthy citizen is able to study, form relationships and engage in work that contributes towards the economic growth of the community and nation. The direct consequence of this is poverty reduction. Poverty is linked to worse health outcomes so a more virtuous circle begins 
Novartis Looks to World`s Rich to Meet Need in Chronic Ailments
Novartis is in talks with banks to create a fund for investors interested in opportunities that have a social impact, Harald Nusser said in an interview. A $1bn fund started by the Abrajal Group, the Dubai-based private equity firm, is a potential model he said
Hepatitis Infection May Raise Risk for Parkinson`s Disease
People with the liver infection hepatitis may be at heightened risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a large new study suggests. The study is the second in the past year to link Parkinson’s and hepatitis
Overweight, obese young men at increased risk of liver disease
Young men who are overweight or obese have up to double the risk of normal-weight peers of developing liver disease later in life, a large study in Sweden suggests. If the young men also had type 2 diabetes, their risk of having liver disease by the time they reached middle age was as much as 3.3 times higher, researchers reported in the journal Gut
Can grandma help spot autism earlier?
Kids with autism who spend a lot of time with their grandmas may get diagnosed with the disorder at a younger age, a small study has suggested. Earlier diagnosis means earlier intervention, which is critical for improving treatment outcomes
Promoting health through the life course
With micro-credit and tricycles, disabled women confront stigma in Burkina Faso
Reuters features the story of the NGO Light of the World which has provided support for disabled women in Burkina Faso that has enabled them to build independence and develop opportunities for education, jobs, health and social services
HPV vaccination during pregnancy shows no ill effects
New evidence from a Danish nationwide study suggests that Merck’s quadrivalent papillomavirus vaccine (HPV), marketed as Gardasil, is not dangerous in the unusual case when it is inadvertently given during early pregnancy
Malnutrition, disease rise sharply among children in Somalia - UN
Early numbers show an increasing number of children in Somalia are suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and cholera or acute watery diarrhoea, the UN warned. The UNHCR warned in a statement that children suffering from SAM are nine times more likely to die of disease than a well-nourished child, adding that during a 2011 famine the biggest killers were diarrhoea and measles
Binge drinking prior pregnancy ups diabetes risk in kids later
A study finds that binge drinking before conceiving may lead to high blood sugar in kids, increasing the risk of developing diabetes in their adulthood. The researchers concluded the use of alcohol during pregnancy is well-known and includes possible birth defects and behavioural problems. The impact of binge drinking prior to pregnancy may have an effect too
Kailash Satyarthi launches child rights campaign in Bangladesh
Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi launched his child rights campaign in Bangladesh aimed at mobilizing millions of children from affluent families to speak up for their underprivileged peers. He said 100 million children were exposed to trafficking, slavery and other forms of violence while another 100 million youths want to change the world. Satyarthi said he describes his campaign as the globalization of compassion
Maternal mortality on the rise in Gujarat
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India stated that maternal mortality rates are on the rise in Gujarat and have been for the last three years. CAG found Gujarat’s healthcare system patchy at best fraught with many deficiencies and gaps. For instance, only 33% of women for post-natal care were provided with free transportation. CAG also found shortcomings in the storage of drugs, availability of blood, supply of free diet and diagnostic facilities
Myanmar trains midwives to tackle maternal death rate
Myanmar is training up hundreds of midwives in an effort to reduce the number of women who die in childbirth, one of the many social policy reforms launched by the country as it emerges from decades of military rule
Forged documents trap Indian children, help traffickers evade justice
In a two-year study of criminal networks trafficking girls from Bangladesh to India, the charity Justice and Care found that school leaving certificates were the most forged documents used by traffickers to hide the ages of their victims. Corrupt doctors and village leaders are helping traffickers to obtain fake documents to pass these child victims off as adults and evade justice for crimes affecting thousands of young people