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"World Health Minute" 13 April, 2017

News Highlights
Death toll rises to 489 in Nigeria meningitis outbreak A Nigerian health official said Wednesday that a suspected 489 people have died during the latest meningitis outbreak to hit the country. At least five northern states have been affected by the epidemic over the last five months. As of now, there have been 4,637 suspected cases from which the fatalities came
China`s H7N9 bird flu death toll at 47 in March - government data China reported 47 human fatalities from H7N9 bird flu in march, the national health authority said, compared with 61 deaths in February. It also reported 96 cases of human infection from H7N9 bird flu for last month, according to the statement posted on the National Health and Family Planning Commission website
Risk of mass starvation rising rapidly in Africa and Yemen - UNHCR The UNHCR said it was raising its alarm level over the risk of 20 million people in East Africa facing famine higher than it was in February, when the call for international aid began. In South Sudan a further 1 million are on the brink of famine. Acute malnutrition rates are already very high, if you don’t help with worsening nutrition rates people die. In some places like north eastern Nigeria aid workers previously had zero access, due to Boko Haram militants. Now access is opening up and aid workers are going in they are discovering more need of an extreme nature and the risk of famine is rising further still
Preparedness, surveillance and response
Death toll rises to 489 in Nigeria meningitis outbreak
A Nigerian health official said Wednesday that a suspected 489 people have died during the latest meningitis outbreak to hit the country. At least five northern states have been affected by the epidemic over the last five months. As of now, there have been 4,637 suspected cases from which the fatalities came
Le paludisme sévit toujours au Burundi
Over the last 3 months some 949 people have died from malaria in Burundi and over 1,800,000 people have been infected. Now, the government is looking to raise $32m in aid to fight the
Leishmaniasis outbreak kills one and puts 13 in hospital in south east Nepal
There has been an outbreak of Visceral Leishmaniasis, or black fever, which has led to the death of one woman and the hospitalisation of 13 villagers in Raiter Khor in the Sarlhari
Alarm as 100 malaria patients treated at MTRH
At least 100 people have been treated for malaria at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret in the past month, raising fears there could be an outbreak of the disease in the region. The Uasin Gishu County authorities confirmed the cases and says measures are being put into place to treat the infected
Hundreds diagnosed with tuberculosis in Ghazni
Local health officials in Ghazni (Pajhwok) in Afghanistan said that 1,600 people, half of them women, have been diagnosed with TB in southern Ghazni province. Local people have been complaining about an absence of health clinics for some while so the numbers are likely to be far higher
Two new cases of Zika confirmed in Singapore
Singaporean health authorities confirmed that two new cases of locally transmitted Zika virus infection have occurred in the Poh Huat Terrace/Terrasse lane area, in the neighbourhood of two other clusters discovered recently
China`s H7N9 bird flu death toll at 47 in March - government data
China reported 47 human fatalities from H7N9 bird flu in march, the national health authority said, compared with 61 deaths in February. It also reported 96 cases of human infection from H7N9 bird flu for last month, according to the statement posted on the National Health and Family Planning Commission website
Piura; Now the region has registered its sixth dengue victim as another two die
The number of dengue victims in Piura continued rising with another death bring the total to six for the year to date. Health authorities said there has been 746 cases to date and a possible 3,000 cases, which have also seen the spread of zika and chikungunya
More cases of dengue emerge in Karachi
Twelve more dengue fever cases were reported in Karachi city, taking the patient toll to 162 since the start of the year. A new health updates suggests around 170 dengue fever cases have been reported in Sindh province so far, 162 in Karachi, four in Hyderabad, two each in Tharparkar and Umerkot
MINSA says there is no phytosanitary alert for bovine TB in milk in Chiriqui province
There were also reports that Panamanian health authorities in the province of Chiriqui have withdrawn milk products from supermarkets which contained evidence of bovine TB from the province of Chiriqui. MINSA said it was due to problems with the systems of pasteurization and said people were spreading false rumours
Panama government failed to notify OIE of a bovine outbreak for four months
Panamanian government health officials were called out by the press for not formally notifying the OIE of an outbreak of bovine tuberculosis, which could put at risk both public health but also lead to restrictions on meat exports from the country. The government sat on the information for four weeks, claiming they were waiting to receive all the phyto-sanitary paperwork before doing so
Somaliland – first victim of cholera reported as a cross-border case with Ethiopia
Cholera has spread to Somaliland from the Ethiopian border, with one case reported in the Sabawanaag district close to Hargeisa. The victim was taken to Hargeisa in a very serious condition and later died in hospital. No emergency team has been sent to the area affected by the contagious disease and there is no government plan to counter this epidemic which could pose a threat to the Somaliland population
H1N1 claimed 103 lives in Maharashtra so far this year
Swine flu (H1N1) has claimed more than 100 lives across Maharashtra this year, the state health department said. Up till April 11th, 103 people had died while 3700 people were diagnosed with H1N1 in civic hospitals across the state
Paraguay reports 116 confirmed cases of dengue
Paraguayan Health Department said it is seeing 500 cases of infectious diseases linked to the Aedes aegypti mosquito per week. It confirmed 116 cases of dengue and 288 probable, 4 cases of chikungunya and 2 cases of probable Zika. There are also cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome and flu
Deadly cholera/acute watery diarrhoea outbreak in Somaliland lays bare devastating vulnerability of millions
An outbreak of cholera/acute watery diarrhoea in Somaliland has killed 28 people in the last ten days and hospitalized a further 167. More than 411 cases of cholera/AWD have been reported in Somaliland since the start of April. In neighbouring Puntland, the numbers are concerning. Since the beginning of the year there have been more than 1600 cases of cholera/AWD with 57 deaths
Health systems
Nigeria, Ghana, China and India – major hubs for counterfeit medicine
Delegates from the ECOWAS Parliamentary Committee n Health and Social Service, Trade, Customs and Free Movement are in Liberia attending a week-long meeting to discuss ECOWAS policy on the fight against Counterfeit Medical products and expired products, and how Parliamentarians can contribute toward implementing and improving policy. According to reports about 70% of the medicines on West African markets are fake because the suppliers of these medicines see West Africa as a soft spot for international trade
Absent staff renders most health centres useless
A report on the functioning of health centres in Barmer reveals that a large number of sub-centres are lying closed and several others are not functional as the staff are missing. The report was compiled by district authorities responding to complaints against the non-functional health centres in rural areas in Barmer
Priority is to overhaul Punjab’s health department - Mohindra
The Punjab government’s priority is to overhaul the health department by filling the pending vacancies of doctors and paramedical staff to make the health service more accessible, state minister Brahm Mohindra told the news media. The previous government purchased expensive equipment without proper planning and in many cases there is no technician to operate the equipment and it is lying idle
India makes a long overdue move to ensure better drug safety
India has finally amended the law to make bioequivalence studies compulsory for certain classes of generic drugs manufactured in India. These studies establish that two medicines have the same biological equivalence, and they work the same way, to some extent and for the same purpose
HIV law promises equality
With the Indian parliament passing the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017, people living with HIV Aids are guaranteed equal rights in medical treatment, admission to educational institutions and jobs. The Bill lists grounds on which discrimination against HIV-positive people and those living with them is prohibited
FDA warns Mylan over quality concerns at its Indian manufacturing facility
In The U.S. FDA has raised concerns over quality controls at a Mylan manufacturing plant in India, according to a warning letter from the agency dated April 3
Crisis as blood bank stares at empty shelves
The South African National Blood Service says there is a nationwide blood shortage and it is calling on active donors, lapsed donors and potential donors to come forward to bolster national blood stocks
Communicable diseases
Le Nord-Est de Madagascar durement touché
OCHA said that the Enawo cyclone in Madagascar left 30,650 people at risk of food insecurity and 168,000 with no access to drinkable water. Now health authorities are raising concerns about possible disease outbreaks and the first malaria cases have been recorded
India topped the global list for reporting new cases of leprosy in 2015 at 60% of all cases
Recent analysis of a WHO report into leprosy for 2015 shows that India accounted for 60% of the new global cases reported that year by 136 countries
Polio in Afghanistan `Americans bomb our children daily, why would they care?`
After being denied access by the Taliban for 15 months, health workers resumed a vaccination campaign agaianst polio in parts of Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan. Days before the Taliban allowed vaccinators access, a 14-month old girl in Kunduz was found to have been paralysed by polio. Until the inoculation was blocked the disease had been all but eradicated in Afghanistan
Risk of mass starvation rising rapidly in Africa and Yemen - UNHCR
The UNHCR said it was raising its alarm level over the risk of 20 million people in East Africa facing famine higher than it was in February, when the call for international aid began. In South Sudan a further 1 million are on the brink of famine. Acute malnutrition rates are already very high, if you don’t help with worsening nutrition rates people die. In some places like north eastern Nigeria aid workers previously had zero access, due to Boko Haram militants. Now access is opening up and aid workers are going in they are discovering more need of an extreme nature and the risk of famine is rising further still
Volcanic Minerals, Not Worms, Caused Disease Outbreak in Uganda
The New York Times recounts a WHO investigation into what was initially thought of as an outbreak of crippling elephantiasis. After extensive tests the teams eliminated this tropical disease and concluded they were on to something even rarer than this disease caused by worms. The victims has podoconiosis, a disease caused by walking barefoot in volcanic soils, which contain sharp, alkaline mineral crystals that work their way under the skin, causing fierce itching and then are attacked by white blood cells, triggering inflammation that can develop into weeping sores and fibrous tissue
Resistance to antibiotic of last resort found in human pathogens infecting dogs
A team of Spanish investigators has identified examples of tigecycline-resistant bacteria (an antibiotic of last resort) living on dogs. This raises the probability that such bacteria are being repeatedly introduced into hospitals. The bacteria harbouring the resistance are Klebsiella pneumoniae which are frequently associated with hospital-acquired pneumonia, bloodstream infections and meningitis. These particular k. pneumoniae could well have been disseminated to hospitals worldwide. So the antibiotic of last resort for complicated infections in humans may be more complicated as pathogens could be resistant to last resort antibiotics
Swine flu scare in the summer? Researchers discover new strain in India as H1N1 cases continue to rise
Researchers from the National Institute of Virology in Pune identified a new strain of swine flu which has been circulating in India since September 2016, called the Michigan strain. This strain was identified in Hyderabad and other parts of India. The ICMR says they will be recommending new vaccine for this flu season as the existing flu vaccine may be ineffective against the new strain. At the same time, a prevalence of swine flu during India’s summer is also a cause of concern as the virus may be becoming increasingly tolerant to heat, ICMR says it is monitoring the situation closely. So far, more than 5,000 people have tested positive for swine flu infection and over 100 people have died this year across India
India vulnerable to infectious diseases like Zika and Ebola
A new report says that South Asian nations, including India, are vulnerable to emerging infectious diseases like Zika and Ebola and their level of preparedness is adequate to protect public health. Inadequate surveillance and uneven health system capacity may accelerate the spread of emerging infectious diseases in the region, which is already burdened by diseases like tuberculosis, HIV and malaria. This was an analysis published as part of twelve analyses on health in South Asia published in the BMJ
Why Chinese scientists are more worried than ever about bird flu
Chinese scientists are more worried about bird flu now than ever before. In an interview with Guan Yi, director of Hong Kong University’s virology lab, he explained how his work studying the evolution of avian influenza has led him to conclude H7N9 is more lethal than it was ten years ago, now it can kill chickens in a day. The virus is mutating fast and in rare cases where humans catch it, a third of them die. He fears a global pandemic and says preventing it depends on how well the governments of individual countries collaborate
Non communicable diseases
Risk factors for heart disease and stroke also tied to Alzheimer’s
Middle-aged people with risk factors for heart attacks and stroke are also more likely to develop changes in the brain that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, a new study suggests
More evidence ties insulin resistance to cognitive decline
Having a reduced sensitivity to insulin may lead to a more rapid decline in memory or other mental skills in old age, even among people who don’t have diabetes, a recent study suggests. Out of a pool of 489 older adults followed for more than two decades, the researchers found the people who have the highest levels of insulin resistance had the worst cognitive performance and the lowest scores on tests of memory and a mental skill known as executive function
Obesity contributes to health problems in Zambia
Radio France International reports on how Zambian health authorities have found that increased obesity in parts of the country is contributing to a sharp rise in non-communicable disease problems which are harming people’s
Heart attacks, suicides kill more CRPF than Naxal operations
Heart attacks, depression and suicides have killed more CRPF troops, over 24 times more, than have operations and ambushes in Naxal violence hit areas over the last two years. Five CRPF men were killed in 2015, 31 in 2016 and thirteen so far this year in the three left-wing extremist affected states of Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand
Hospitalizations drop where laws restrict trans fats
Statistics show that people were less likely to go the hospital with heart attacks or strokes after several counties in New York State restricted the use of trans fats, according to a new study. These new laws came in in July 2007 in many instances and research has not, until now, measured possible outcomes
Inconsistent healthcare across India with gaps due to stigma and service holes
According to the National Mental Health Survey, conducted by NIMHANS Bangalore, it was reported that despite three out of four people experiencing severe mental disorders, there are huge gaps in treatment. This has been reported due to the stigma associated with mental disorders and nearly 80% of those with mental disorders had not received any treatment despite being ill for over 12 months
Mystery clot reveals a helpful mutant gene in a hunt for a cure
A discovery in Italy of the case of a man who had a tiny change in his DNA that intensified the power of a protein called IX. In this man, this ‘super factor IX’ caused his blood to clot too easily. But for an estimated 26,000 people in the world with haemophilia B, a lack of the protein leaves them vulnerable to extreme bleeding where minor injuries become life threatening. Spark Therapeutics and its partner Pfizer released data showing that in 10 haemophilia B patients receiving the gene treatment, the average annual number of bleeds fell by 96%, to less than one a year. Since entering the trial the patients have not has to get infusions of the protein and they are planning to move the therapy into final stage trials    
Is liver disease the next major lifestyle disease of India after diabetes and blood pressure?
Commonly caused by Hepatitis B and C, the most common causes of liver disease can now be called alcohol and other obesity related disorders. There has also been a paradigm shift in the dynamics of liver cirrhosis with about hundreds of thousands of new patients diagnosed with it in India every year
Promoting health through the life course
India, better access to contraception is key to reducing maternal deaths
In India one woman dies from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth every 12 minutes, the second highest number of maternal deaths worldwide. For an estimated 45,000 Indian women every year, getting pregnant turns out to be a death sentence but it does not have to be this way. Maternal mortality could be reduced by a third just through healthy timing and spacing of births. So it is essential to a woman’s health that they be able to control whether and when they get pregnant, and this means they need access to
NGO trains 300 traditional birth attendants in Kaduna
A Kaduna-based NGO, Womanhood Foundation, said it has trained over 300 Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) in Kaduna state as part of effort to ensure safe motherhood. The beneficiaries were mostly from communities without health facilities. The aim is to empower the TBAs to go back to their communities and offer help to pregnant women before, during and after delivery. She urged the state government to support those trained with necessary kits to enhance their skills and support to women at the community level
Indian TV commercial showing adored transgender mother goes viral
A TV commercial by Proctor & Gamble’s Vicks brand, which tells the real-life story of a transgender woman and her adopted daughter has sparked a conversation about transgender rights in India, where the community still faces deep biases despite gaining rights. The 3.5 minute commercial has racked up more than 9 million views on YouTube since its release two weeks ago
Kidnapping forced marriage – Pakistan’s Hindu women now have hope for protection from new law
Women from the mostly-Muslim Pakistan Hindu minority now have the right to a certificate establishing a wife’s marital status under the Hindu Marriage Act 2017, which was signed into law on March 19th. Prior to this, many Hindu girls and married women had lived in the constant fear of being kidnapped, forced to abandon their faith and convert and re-marry forcibly someone who is not of the Hindu faith. Activists said it still needs strong political will to ensure its implementation and campaigns in school and the media to raise awareness of the legislation
One third of Indonesian women suffer abuse, prompting UN calls for action
One third of Indonesian women have faced physical or sexual violence, according to new government data, prompting calls by a UN agency for urgent action to protect women. The government’s first national survey on violence against women showed 33% of women between the ages of 15-64 – around 26 million people – said they faced abuse in their lives. Cases of violence are most common among women who have received a higher education and those who live in an urban area
Why Assam’s two-child policy plan is being criticized by public health experts
Assam has proposed a new population policy for the state which penalises people who have more than two children. If the draft becomes law they would be ineligible for government jobs and benefits and be barred from contesting all elections under the state election commission. Analysts believe this move by the BJP-led state government is directed at Bengali-speaking Muslim immigrants who are perceived to have larger families. Activist believe this policy is unconstitutional and violates rights of citizens
IOM learns of slave market conditions endangering migrants in North Africa
The International Organization for Migration released a report documenting shocking events on North African migrant routes, where slave markets have been set up, designed to buy and sell African victims bound for Libya. Immigrants are often held as ‘hostages’ as migrants call their families back home to ask for their relatives to send the gangs cash. Women were bought and sold as sex slaves and suffer brutal treatment from the gangs behind the evil trade
97% of meningitis victims in Zamfara are women - NGO
Save the Children says that about 97% of all the meningitis victims in Zamfara are women.  The NGO monitored the victims of meningitis in isolation centres set up by the state government at various health facilities to arrive at this percentage. The news was attributed to poverty, illiteracy and poor accessibility to healthcare services. By educating girls and empowering women within the family the meningitis scourge could have been foreseen and managed more efficiently
Ethiopian candidate for top WHO job gets full backing from Africa
The Rwandan Times features an article promoting the candidacy of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for Director General of WHO in the forthcoming elections. It gives the reader the impression that he has the full support of Africa, but only quotes minister’s from Uganda and Rwanda as supporters 
David Nabarro is a friend of Sierra Leone and the right man to lead WHO
The Sierra Leone Concord Times expresses strong support for David Nabarro as the right man to lead the transformation of WHO as the next Director General 
Qatar – QNV 2030 ‘ in line with UN development goals’
WHO DG candidate Dr David Nabarro spoke to MENA in a wide-ranging interview with covered his vision for the WHO moving forward. Nabarro also said he felt the Qatar National Vision 2030 was in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030
Word for word, a perfect example of how we treat women seeking power
Quartz looked at an article on the three candidates by the New York Times and tackled the subtle, but unwittingly discriminatory, language used in describing the candidates to deftly undermine the WHO DG candidacy of Sania Nishtar as she is a woman