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"World Health Minute" 20 April, 2017

News Highlights
Home Ministry cancels FCRA licence of NGO linked to Gates Foundation The Indian government has cancelled the FCRA registration of the NGO Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) barring it from receiving foreign funds. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of its biggest donors. The MHA order listed a six point violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act accusing the leading NGO of misusing foreign funding by working with the anti-tobacco lobby
‘They’re just hiding’: Experts say Puerto Rico may be underreporting Zika-affected births The number of babies born in Puerto Rico with microcephaly and other birth defects caused by the Zika virus appears to be unexpectedly low, so much so that experts are questioning whether the count is being significantly underreported by authorities on the island. To date, Puerto Rico has reported only 16 cases of congenital defects associated with Zika, even though more than 3,300 pregnant women are known to have contracted the virus and several times that number are believed to have been infected
Trans fat bans link to fewer heart attacks, deaths—and they’re going national Three years after banning trans fats from eateries in some New York counties they have seen a 6.2% reduction in heart attacks and strokes compared with those that didn’t, researchers report in JAMA Cardiology. Another set of researchers reported last year in Journal of Health Economics that the ban appeared to have cut deaths from cardiovascular disease by 4.5%, sparing 13 lives from cardiovascular death per 100,000 people each year  
Preparedness, surveillance and response
56 more Chikungunya cases reported in Karachi
As many as 56 more cases of chikungunya viral fever were reported in Karachi city, taking the reported cases to 1,639 in the city since the start of the year. The majority of the suspected cases have been in Saudabad, Orangi, Bin Qasim and Lyari Town
Declaran en alerta a 18 centros de salud de Chiclayo por casos de dengue
A state of high alert has been declared by Peruvian health officials at 18 medical centres in Chiclayo in the face of a dengue outbreak. Regional authorities in Lambayeque said it is a necessary measure to reinforce health controls to combat the disease and said there were 22 cases of dengue in Chiclayo alone. In the Tuman district in the province of Chiclayo there were 322 confirmed cases and two people have died from dengue so far this year
Joven madre fallece por supuesto dengue grave
An investigation has been launched into the death of a 34 year old woman from haemorrhagic dengue in Caacupe in the Cordillera department of Paraguay
Casos de dengue, chikungunya y zika van en aumento
The health chief in the town of Villa Montes in south-eastern Bolivia said he was particularly concerned about the sharply rising number of dengue, chikungunya and zika cases in this region. To date the region has 406 recorded cases of dengue, with some 18 confirmed a day earlier. There are 163 suspected cases of chikungunya and 29 suspected zika cases, two of which have been confirmed during the last week
Beijing reports 10 H7N9 cases this year
Beijing has reported 10 cases of human H7N9 avian flu cases in 2017 so far, according to the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control. The latest two cases had contact with live poultry and one of them died of the infection after treatment failed
Sudan: Cholera Patient Dies, 42 New Cases in Eastern Sudan
Another cholera patient died in El Gedaref in Sudan and 42 new cases were recorded in various parts of the eastern Sudanese state. The victim was from the area of Madardama in West El Gallabat. Four new cases were recorded in the same area and eight other new patients were recorded in Sabouni, while the Mahala isolation district in East El Dallabat saw 10 new cases from Um Seneibra (
H1N1 victim’s relative tests positive, six others show symptoms of virus
In Malaysia, a family member of a pregnant woman who died from H1N1 influenza in Terengganu last week, has tested positive for the virus. The health director of the region said six other relatives are showing symptoms too, including fever, flu and cough
Swine flu claims 22 lives in Telangana since August
22 people have lost their lives due to swine flu and related complications in Telangana since August of last year, a stat bulletin on H1N1 said yesterday. As many as 9,614 samples had been tested since August last year to April 17 and 1,370 of them were found to be positive for the virus. To date, no deaths have been reported 
Over 500 cases of waterborne infections reported in Ahmedabad
Cases of waterborne infections reported in Ahmedabad have risen sharply to more than 500 in its weekly health report. There were 334 cases of vomiting and diarrhoea, 89 cases of jaundice and 90 cases of typhoid among the 514 cases reported. There have been 12 cases of cholera in civic-body run hospitals in Ahmedabad this year with one reported last week
H1N1 cases high in Ernakulam
The Deccan Chronicle reports that H1N1 cases are higher in Ernakulam this year, with 46 cases reported and 13 of these being confirmed in April. As many as 260 confirmed cases have been confirmed across the whole state and 17 people have died. The Deccan Chronicle says that ‘no special screening centres have been opened at hospitals and many existing centres are not functioning as they should. Tamiflu is not available in syrup form and paediatricians are having to prescribe capsules to children’
Áncash: detectan 86 casos de dengue en provincia de El Santa
Ministry of Health authorities in the Ancash region of Peru have confirmed 86 cases of dengue in Coishco, 6 in Nuevo Chimbote and 1 in Chimbote. There are also around 50 further probable dengue cases in Nuevo Chimbote, while the district of Coishco has 708 possible cases of dengue
Más de 150 policías infectados con dengue reciben cuidados intensivos
More than 150 policemen and women who tirelessly work to help victims of the recent heavy rains and floods in the Piura coastal region have fallen sick with dengue fever as an indirect consequence of the work. There is particular concern for one 24 year old officer who has been diagnosed with haemorrhagic dengue
Sube a 9 número de fallecidos por dengue en Piura
Some health centres in the Piura region are buckling at the knees at the volume of dengue cases they are having to admit to the hospitals each day. Deaths from dengue have risen once more and now stand at nine. There are around 8,000 probable dengue cases and 800 confirmed across the region. It is clear to local health experts that there is a need for more doctors to deal with the emergency
Malaria cases on the rise in Boma
The Minister of health in Boma state said that more 30 people have died of suspected malaria in a remote village since the start of April. The deaths were reported in Meun Payam, in a mountainous area close to the Ethiopian border. Despite assurances that the outbreak is in hand, the local MP said the rise in malaria cases was caused by a lack of medical services and 37 people have died, with two of them just a day earlier, with most of the victims being children
Nouvelle-Calédonie: 7 morts de la dengue
Against the backdrop of 2,400 suspected dengue cases, seven people have died in New Caledonia since January, yet still the local authorities believe this epidemic has not peaked. With standing water, following on from cyclone Cook and other storms, followed by warm weather, the situation is a perfect cocktail for mosquitoes to multiply and worsen the health crisis
Health systems
Government spends Shs10 billion treating 140 officials
The Ugandan government spent $2.8m on health treatment for 140 senior government officials abroad over the past three years, according to Auditor General John Muwanga’s report for the period ending December 2016. The officials received specialist treatment for heart and kidney conditions, eye problems, cancer and diabetes in hospitals in Kenya, South Africa, India, China and the United States during these years
Aid agencies accuse Nepal government of hampering their work
International aid agencies in Nepal say the government is hampering their work. Their projects face lengthy delays and they have to pay the government hundreds of thousands of dollars to get them approved. “When you have an environment that is opaque, it is a lot easier for bureaucrats who want to abuse the system to do so” said one NGO director speaking on condition of anonymity
Barring pharmaceutical imports will not heal Africa’s economy
A Business Day opinion piece says plans by the East African Community to implement a plan to foster local drug production and protect domestic markets through high tariff walls against medicine imports is wrong, given the woeful track record that policies such as these have had in Africa over recent decades. Africa should create environments that afford the protection of intellectual property and offer competitive tax regimes to attract investment, research and development and construct educational institutions to support that investment
It’s false to believe that antibiotic resistance is only a problem in hospitals – GP surgeries are seeing it too
A new study shows that the belief that antibiotic resistance is ‘only a problem for hospitals’ is completely false and that GP surgeries are seeing the problem appear too. The study indicated examples like women suffering from the commonest E.coli urinary tract infection, which was resistant to the prescribed antibiotic, had up to four times greater odds of having the symptoms for longer than those cases where they responded to the antibiotic. They not only had the symptoms for longer, the symptoms were more severe
Cameroon: diabetics at risk due to insulin scarcity
Diabetic patients in Cameroon are facing a severe shortage of insulin. Concerns are rising that many could end up dying if they don’t get the drug. The government is trying to blame the pharmaceutical supply chain
Communicable diseases
Partnership of nations set to combat pandemic health threats
The FT reports on the coming together of an international team of specialists who are going to work to combat pandemic health threats. Backed by the UK, Norway, the EU, the Gates Foundation and India, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) is a partnership designed to support research and coordination to accelerate the development and distribution of new vaccines, limiting the threat of emerging lethal infections 
Amid vaccine debate, Italy faces return of eradicable diseases
Italy has become a battleground for vaccines, with tensions increasing in March following a measles outbreak. The country has seen more than 1,000 cases in the first three months of the year, a 450% increase year-on-year. Although vaccination for polio, diphtheria, tetanus and hepatitis B is compulsory to attend school, a member of parliament for the ruling Democratic Party is introducing a bill in May to make vaccinations compulsory for more diseases. The populist Five Star Movement opposes the plans arguing parents should have the freedom to choose and they’d revoke any laws. Experts say the measles crisis is growing because of vaccine hesitancy and false claims from discredited studies about the risks
Amid WHO praise for tackling tropical disease, concern over rise in leprosy
While India earned an honourable mention in a new WHO report on neglected tropical diseases (NTD), it is also one of the handful of countries around the world that have shown an increase in leprosy cases. The number of leprosy cases in India went up from 125,786 to 127,326 between 2014 and 2015 
‘They’re just hiding’: Experts say Puerto Rico may be underreporting Zika-affected births
The number of babies born in Puerto Rico with microcephaly and other birth defects caused by the Zika virus appears to be unexpectedly low, so much so that experts are questioning whether the count is being significantly underreported by authorities on the island. To date, Puerto Rico has reported only 16 cases of congenital defects associated with Zika, even though more than 3,300 pregnant women are known to have contracted the virus and several times that number are believed to have been infected
Poverty, open sewers and parasites: ‘America’s dirty shame’
The FT reports that tropical parasites are thriving in the hot, humid U.S. south where the poorest Americans are faced with a new era of budget cuts under Donald Trump’s new administration
Zika virus can trigger epilepsy
Beyond its known links to birth defects and other problems, the Zika virus may also trigger cases of epilepsy in infants, warn experts from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In a study of 48 babies in Brazil with probable congenital Zika infection, 50% reportedly had clinical seizures, the research team reported (
Togo`s battle with coastal erosion
The Togolese Environmental Department and the World Bank have launched projects to limit the damage being caused by coastal erosion. The strategy involves building physical structures to inhibit the destructive power of the wind and the waves. Secondly, encouragement for coastal communities to play an active part in defending their shorelines and to help them to develop alternative sources of income to replace those that contribute to the severe coastal erosion the country is currently experiencing
World Health Organization hails major progress on tackling tropical diseases
The WHO director general announced that significant strides have been made in the fight against sleeping sickness, elephantiasis and other neglected tropical diseases. Data from WHO showed that in 2015 more than 60% of the 1.6bn people suffering from neglected tropical diseases received treatment. In the same year there were fewer reported cases of sleeping sickness than in any other year since records began. There were roughly 3,000 cases of sleeping sickness recorded in 2015, an 89% reduction in numbers since 2000. There were only 25 cases of Guinea worm disease, a condition that affected 3.5m people in 1986
Home Ministry cancels FCRA licence of NGO linked to Gates Foundation
The Indian government has cancelled the FCRA registration of the NGO Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) barring it from receiving foreign funds. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of its biggest donors. The MHA order listed a six point violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act accusing the leading NGO of misusing foreign funding by working with the anti-tobacco lobby
Non communicable diseases
Trans fat bans link to fewer heart attacks, deaths—and they’re going national
Three years after banning trans fats from eateries in some New York counties they have seen a 6.2% reduction in heart attacks and strokes compared with those that didn’t, researchers report in JAMA Cardiology. Another set of researchers reported last year in Journal of Health Economics that the ban appeared to have cut deaths from cardiovascular disease by 4.5%, sparing 13 lives from cardiovascular death per 100,000 people each year  
Delhi`s Love For Booze Has Brought The City To The Brink Of A Heart Disease Epidemic
A unique set of data generated by Indian researchers has confirmed a trend doctors have been worried about for some time, Delhi is heading towards an epidemic of cardiovascular diseases, chiefly heart attack and stroke cases, due to a prevalence of alcohol use, obesity and raised blood pressure – all illnesses which have grown in number over the course of the last twenty years
Alphabet`s Verily unit launches study to track health data
Verily, Alphabet’s life science business, said it was launching a four year study with about 10,000 participants to understand how people transition from being healthy to becoming sick and to identify additional risk factors for diseases. The study will collect data as well as biological samples such as blood and saliva. The outcome of the study may inspire a new generation of tools geared towards disease prevention versus simply diagnosis and treatment  
Study finds body`s zinc supply affects heart health
Researchers in Germany have identified a link between the level of zinc in the body and the risk of cardiovascular issues related to oxidative stress. Researchers found that the concentration of glutathione and vitamin E in the heart muscle declines with the level of zinc affecting the heart’s ability to handle oxidative stress
South India`s scorching drought forces farmers into debt bondage
One of the worst droughts in decades across south India is forcing tens of thousands of farmers and labourers to take out loans to survive, pushing them into debt bondage and increasing the risk that they may be exploited, activists warn. Then there follows on from this that there is a chance of not managing to cope, leading to a higher risk of suicide
Over 1,800 amputations done between 2014-2016
The Fiji deputy secretary for Hospital Services, Dr Luisa Cikamatana said Fiji has an urgent need to make healthy lifestyle changes now with the ever increasing rate of non-communicable diseases in the country. She revealed that 1,869 amputations have been carried out between 2014 and 2016, of which 835 were females and 1,034 males who had lower limb amputations. She said she is seeing a growth in four major types of NCD: cardiovascular disease, cancers, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes
Prince William warns `stiff upper lip` can damage mental health
Prince William has warned that British men who ‘keep a stiff upper lip’ are bottling up their emotions and this is detrimental to mental health. The two princes, and William’s wife Kate, are spearheading a campaign called Heads Together which encourages people to open up about mental illness and seek help
Promoting health through the life course
Nigeria’s gender equality bill not against men, Senator says
A Nigerian woman senator, Binta Garba, has appealed to men in parliament not to see the Gender Equality Bill before the Senate as an ‘affront to them’ but to recognise that men and women are equal partners in progress across all sectors. The bill prohibits all forms of discrimination due to gender, age and disability through spoken words, acts, rules and practices by any person or institution
EU gender equality report reveals ‘mountain to climb’
Launching the EU’s annual gender equality report, Vera Jourova, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality told Government Global Forum that the EU still has a mountain to climb with women across the continent continuing to face a glass ceiling in reaching management and leadership positions
Kids with crooked bite may die early
A new study suggests that if a child has a crooked bite it is symptomatic of early life stress. This makes the children more susceptible to diabetes, heart disease and cancer in later life
In India, Ratio of Young Women Will Drop Sharply, Study Says
The ratio of women to men among India’s young people, which has been low compared with western nations for decades, will drop further in coming years, the Indian government reported. The decline outpaces a more modest drop in the sex ratio among the general population and indicates the continuing practice of sex-selective abortion, experts say. India outlawed prenatal sex determination in 1994 but enforcement is lax
India to see largest rollout of TB drugs this year
India is to be the first country to roll out the world’s first easily-dissolvable and flavoured TB drug. The child-friendly tablets, which are a combination of two or more medicines in a fixed dose combination, have been recently introduced through the government’s TB control programme in six states and will now be launched privately and through government centres in the remaining states this year
The trans women "fighting for survival" as rights crackdown continues in Tanzania
Recently 40 private drop-in clinics offering HIV/AIDS services to key populations such as gay men, transgender people and sex workers were banned by the Tanzanian government. A program supported by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and malaria and implemented by Save the Children to assist key populations eligible for HIV treatment in Tanzania has been put on hold. Another Global Fund grant to distribute water-based lubricants ended in December and lubricants are now banned for promoting homosexuality. The government appears unwilling or unable to tolerate education on LGBT matters and the crackdown on activists can be harsh
FEATURE-Kenya`s pastoralists look beyond patriarchy to property rights for women
Over-grazing and the sub-division and privatisation of land and its transfer to agricultural use has forced Kenyan herder communities to accept and adopt new land strategies, including applying for security of tenure and women in land transfer and inheritance, eroding the old patriarchal customs of men as decision makers and managers of land and stock
As member-states elect the next WHO leader
A leading expert with a background of experience working with WHO discusses the forthcoming WHO DG elections and concludes Sania Nishtar is best placed to lead the organization
Future of Health: A Call for Leadership from the Western Pacific Region
Two leading New Zealand professors, both with UN WHO backgrounds, make the case for the region offering its support for Sania Nishtar as the best candidate to run the World Health Organization and succeed Margaret Chan 
Now Is the Moment to Tackle Mental Illness Across the Globe
Dr David Nabarro wrote an opinion piece for Time magazine in which he issued a call for the world to come together to tackle mental illness across the globe