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"World Health Minute" 23 May, 2017

News Highlights
Cholera outbreak spreading at `unprecedented` speed kills 315 in Yemen WHO said more than 29,300 suspected cases have been reported in 19 of the country’s 22 provinces. The highest number of likely cases, more than 6,000 are in the capital city Sana’a. Last week the UN warned that Yemen could have as many as 300,000 cases of cholera within six months and an extremely high number of deaths
Outgoing WHO Director Says Agency Remains Relevant Margaret Chan, outgoing director general of the World Health Organization, opened the World Health Assembly by staunchly defending the organization against critics who say it has lost relevance. She went through a ‘report card’ on her time at the agency and offered her take on the organization’s successes and where it fell short. The article concluded by outlining Tuesday’s election for her successor and explaining the process and the candidates
Two Chinese cities close poultry markets after H7N9 bird flu infections China said it will shut poultry markets in districts of two cities after H7N9 bird flu infections were detected. One case was of a man who sold poultry at a market in southwest Sichuan province’s Zigong city. In another incident, a man who visited poultry markets in Shandong’s Binzhou city was diagnosed too
Preparedness, surveillance and response
40 deaths in Kerala due to H1N1 in 4 months
Forty people have died in Kerala due to H1N1 infections in the last four months, the local health minister told the media, adding since the beginning of January this year, 2,349 people have been screened for H1N1, out of which around 500 were found to be positive and 40 have died
Ibatiba in Espirito Santo recorded 21 cases of leishmaniasis in four months – health experts say
The municipality of Ibatiba in the state of Espirito Santo has recorded 21 cases of leishmaniasis, according to health experts. The first case this year was on January 3rd; now, after the most recent case was declared on May 9th, the health authorities have called an emergency in this district over this disease
Chan’s Last Speech To WHA Opening: Affordable Medicines, Innovation, Listen To Civil Society, Partner With Industry
In her final opening speech to the annual World Health Assembly, Director General Margaret Chan underlined progress made and left to make, and highlighted access to medicines as the most contentious issue of her decade of services. She stressed the importance of innovation and investment in health, acknowledged the necessity of partners in the private sector and civil society and encouraged scientific evidence in decision making
More than half of the municipalities of Ceará have arbovirus epidemics: dengue, chikungunya and zika
In the Brazilian state of Ceara, 93 of the 184 municipalities say they are recording an epidemic level of arboviruses – dengue, chikungunya and zika, according to the latest epidemiological bulletins. Calculations on the ground put the infection rate at around 943.5 incidences per 100,000 inhabitants, well above the WHO threshold to define an epidemic which is 300 incidences per 100,000
SL on the verge of declaring a ‘state of emergency’ over Dengue as GMOA strikes again
Sri Lanka is ‘on the verge of declaring a state of emergency’ over the current dengue outbreak, reports News First. Meanwhile, the Government Medical Officers’ Association said it is planning another 24 hour token strike on Monday
High number of dengue fever patients reported in Hanoi
The number of dengue fever cases in Hanoi has increased sharply since the beginning of the year even though it is not yet high season for the disease. The capital has recorded 699 cases of dengue fever, double the amount of the same period last year. Just in Dong da, as many as 165 cases were reported in 18 districts, a threefold increase compared with last year. Hanoi has also reported its first death from dengue fever this year
Outgoing WHO chief says world `better prepared` for health crises
Margaret Chan defended her legacy and insisted that the world has become better prepared to face health emergencies like Ebola on her watch. She acknowledged mistakes had been made while she was at the helm but said that despite frequent criticism that WHO has lost its relevance, the organization has learnt and a wide range of reforms have occurred. She pointed to significant progress in the fight against HIV, TB and malaria as well as against a wide range of long neglected tropical diseases as achievements. She also said WHO is now better prepared to respond to the next epidemic
Cholera outbreak spreading at `unprecedented` speed kills 315 in Yemen
WHO said more than 29,300 suspected cases have been reported in 19 of the country’s 22 provinces. The highest number of likely cases, more than 6,000 are in the capital city Sana’a. Last week the UN warned that Yemen could have as many as 300,000 cases of cholera within six months and an extremely high number of deaths
Fourth person in probable Ebola death in Congo: WHO
A fourth person has likely died from Ebola in remote north eastern DRC, the WHO said, as the overall number of cases rose to 37 from 29. Of the 37 cases of haemorrhagic fever discovered since early May, two have been confirmed as Ebola, three including the latest death are considered probable and 32 are suspected. Health authorities are monitoring 416 people who came into contact with sufferers and have dispatched mobile laboratories to the zone to test people more quickly
Incrementan enfermedades por zancudo Aedes en la región Ica
Ica state health authorities in Peru say there have been more than 1,113 cases of mosquito borne diseases with more than 400 confirmed cases in the province of Palpa and 290 more in the capital of the region
Protecting breastfeeding in Emergencies
Statement from Patti Rundall, Policy Director of Baby Milk Action, to the World Health Assembly calling for support in protecting breastfeeding in emergencies that the organization is tasked with responding to. Rundall reiterated the importance that so many myths surround these crisis such as: ‘women can’t breastfeed because of stress or malnourishment.’ She said ‘rarely do appeals for aid highlight the resilience of breastfeeding or that artificially fed babies can face more risks to their survival’
Two Chinese cities close poultry markets after H7N9 bird flu infections
China said it will shut poultry markets in districts of two cities after H7N9 bird flu infections were detected. One case was of a man who sold poultry at a market in southwest Sichuan province’s Zigong city. In another incident, a man who visited poultry markets in Shandong’s Binzhou city was diagnosed too
Dengue fever kills two in Rakhine State
The Myanmar press reports that there is an outbreak of dengue in Rakhine State with 220 reported cases and at least 16 districts affected, the Myanmar press also reported that two people have died from dengue in recent days
Health systems
Medicaid cuts coming in Trump budget: Washington Post
US President Trump’s budget proposal, set to be unveiled on Tuesday, will include cuts to Medicaid and propose changes to other assistance programmes for low-income citizens, the Washington Post reported. The Republican healthcare bill seeks to overhaul the national healthcare system and cut more than $800bn over the next 10 years from Medicaid, the government health insurance programme for the poor and the disabled
Kerala Generic in pilot mode
To date, 111 molecules have been identified to be procured through leading branded companies and some ninety four of them have been bought Most of the drugs the generic company is planning to support will be for non-communicable diseases, so the biggest advantage will become price reduction For example, insulin which costs Rs145 in the marketplace would cost Kerala Generic Rs70. Six months into the pilot run drugs will be made available to the medical community, very likely through Neethi stores or at Supplyco outlets
Free health care could pose challenge to development - IDB
The problems facing Jamaica’s health sector, especially with free access to public services and treatment, are among several gaps being looked at by the Inter-American Development Bank as it develops its 10-year strategic plan. IDB sources told the Jamaica Gleaner that ‘in some instances free health care can threaten the delivery of sustained quality care and we support a health system model which target those who could afford to pay to improve access for the poor’
Almost 700 Positions Remain Unfilled at the CDC Due to Hiring Freeze
Almost 700 jobs at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta are vacant due to the recent federal government funding freeze. The same issue is causing a variety of problems at the HHS and the NIH. The hiring freeze was technically lifted last month, but because the agencies have been asked to reduce their workforces, the practical effect has been a continued freeze
Swiss minister condemns attacks on health facilities
Swiss Health Minister, Alain Berset, addressed delegates at the World Health Assembly. He condemned attacks on health workers and health facilities around the world. He urged countries to put the UN Sustainable Development Goals at the centre of health policy and to guarantee health coverage for all, including migrants
Communicable diseases
Melbourne man tests positive to HIV while taking preventative drug
A man has tested positive for HIV at a Melbourne clinic, while participating in a trial of PrEP, an antiretroviral drug credited with preventing the spread of the disease. This has sparked fears in the gay community about possible resistance to the medication. However, it is not yet clear whether the man contracted a drug-resistant strain, or something else is to blame
Rural Tanzania hit by new mosquito species that see malaria cases rising
Scientists at Tanzania’s leading research institute have identified mosquito species which they say contribute to 90% of the malaria cases in rural areas of the east African country. The study says the anopheles funestus mosquito species occurs in very small numbers, compared to other mosquitoes, but it is extremely active at transmitting malaria to humans. This study has unearthed a major vector in the transmission of malaria that was not known, with 9-out-of-10 malarial infections in rural Tanzania coming from this species
48% of drug addicts in Pakistan suffering from HIV/AIDS: UN survey
The UN expressed concern after conducting a survey in Pakistan which revealed that 48% of drug addicts are suffering from HIV/AIDS. The survey, involving more than 37,000 drug addicts, was carried out across 14 cities including Karachi, Bahawalpur and Kasur on those who inject drugs into their bodies with syringes
Bill and Melinda Gates are placing bets on this biotech in the race to develop a Zika vaccine
The US Department of Health and Human Services has provisionally agreed to put in $125m to underwrite Moderna’s attempt to make a vaccine for Zika. The Gates Foundation has pledged to give Moderna Therapeutics up to $100m to develop mRNA-based vaccines for infectious diseases. The company claims it can direct cells to develop whatever protein it chooses, in effect, turning a body’s own cells into miniature factories, capable of developing the therapeutic proteins necessary to fight infections and heal diseases
Nigeria: Why South West States Have No Meningitis C Vaccines - Officials
There is a tangible absence of the Cerebro Spinal Meningitis Type C vaccine in public health institutions across many states in the South West Zone and Kwara, a survey by the News Agency of Nigeria has revealed. Authorities said there was no vaccine because there are no cases of the disease in these zones at the moment. A pharmacist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the storage and preservation of vaccines was expensive, due to an irregular power supply, and this can often result in a loss
NGO condemns stigma against sex workers in Malawi
Dignitas International says there is no way Malawi can win the battle against HIV/AIDS if society continues stigmatizing sex workers, who are one of the key populations involved, in the spread of HIV. The NGO is implementing an HIV key populations project, which seeks to fight for the rights of key population members to access health services, as a way of minimizing the spread of the virus
Study Shows Antibiotic Therapy Does Not Work In One Out Of Four People With Pneumonia
A new study shows that about one in four adults who are prescribed an antibiotic in an outpatient setting for pneumonia do not respond to the treatment. In an article published in Eurekalert, 22.1% of adults observed were deemed to be not responsive to the antibiotics prescribed to them
Non communicable diseases
Overweight boys at risk of bowel cancer
A new Danish study said overweight boys may be at a greater risk of bowel cancer when they grow up, however, if they shed the kilos and achieve a healthy weight by young adulthood, the risk is nullified, the research team concluded. The study looked at 61,000 Danish schoolboys between 1939 and 1959 to examine how changes to BMI from childhood to adulthood are associated with the risk of colon cancer in later life
AMA commits to international effort to reduce non-communicable diseases
Accra has joined the Partnership for Healthy Cities to reduce non-communicable diseases and injuries in communities by December 2018. Participating cities receive a seed grant of up to 100,000 dollars and technical assistance to accelerate the implementation of a proven intervention to prevent NCDs and injuries. Accra chose to implement increasing seat-belt and helmet use to improve road safety
Scientists develop flexible DNA-barcoding test to detect cancer
Researchers say a new test based on tumour cell DNA in the blood suggest the possibility of a better, more accurate method for detecting cancer before a tumour is visible via imaging methods such as MRI
Smoking `Light` cigarettes may increase lung cancer risk
A new study indicates that smokers using ‘light cigarettes,` for their lower levels of tar or nicotine, need think again. They are at an increased risk of developing a certain form of lung cancer that develops deep in the lungs, adenocarcinoma. The claims by cigarette manufacturers that they are safer are just plain wrong, as the holes in the cigarette filters mean smokers inhale more smoke
Diabetes drug may work by changing gut bacteria makeup
Researchers looked into the most successful treatment for type 2 diabetes and found that it seems to work by changing the makeup of the gut bacteria. Metformin is commonly prescribed to help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar. It is believed to work by reducing the amount of glucose made in the liver, which in turn lowers blood sugar levels. Researchers discovered that the drug seems to encourage the growth of strains of bacteria called Akkermansia and Bifidobacterium and this seems to influence blood sugar levels. Researchers believe more investigation of these findings may be necessary
Kenya: Time for Holistic Approach to Diabetes
The CEO of MP Shah Hospital, Nairobi, writes an opinion article for Daily Nation in which he calls on people to adopt a holistic approach to tackling one of Kenya’s biggest killers, diabetes. He points out that it leads to complications in many parts of the body and increases the risk of dying prematurely. He calls for screening for risk, diets tailored to healthier foods, increased levels of awareness and exercise, so that risk can be better managed
Novo Nordisk looks to expand Latin American obesity business
Novo Nordisk wants to expand its obesity business in Latin America on the back of its successful anti-obesity injection product called Saxenda. The company has aready begun launching Saxenda in Latin America ahead of other markets and it will now increase its capacity and expand in those markets. One country identified as a key market by Novo Nordisk is Mexico
World No Tobacco Day: Smoking robs your wallet, health – Cansa
Cansa South Africa said over 20% of cancer deaths worldwide are due to tobacco and that cigarettes cause over 18 types of cancer. It is not just the smoker who increases the risk of disease, but also people exposed to second hand smoke. Cansa said ‘the tobacco industry produces and markets products that kill millions prematurely. It robs household finances of cash that could have been used for food and education and imposes healthcare costs on families, communities and countries"
Promoting health through the life course
Vietnam urged to stop rising trend of caesarean section deliveries
The Vietnamese government should intervene to reduce the rate of caesarean section deliveries, which has been rising in the country, an International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) official said. In Vietnam the rate was only 12.45 in 2003 and it has risen sharply to 33% in 2008 and it is now higher still
Eclampsia in pregnancy: Sleep apnoea increases risk of life threatening condition by 195%
Women diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea are at a greater risk of suffering serious pregnancy complications, health experts said. These include hypertensive disorders such as pre-eclampsia and eclampsia or gestational diabetes. The study presented at the American Thoracic Society’s Annual International Conference, drew on medical data from more than a million pregnant women across the USA
Spreading south, jihadist violence threatens future of children in central Mali
The growing Islamist threat in central Mali has hit farming and shut down hundreds of schools, while a nationwide state of emergency restricts movement – hindering aid delivery and making it harder for people to access services like healthcare. With aid agencies stretched thin already, at least 3.8m people across Mali will need food aid this year, up from 2.5m in 2016, according to OCHA. More than half of those in need are children, who also run the risk of being recruited if they are not at school
Maternal healthcare expenses push 46.6% mothers in India into poverty: Study
A new study found that maternal healthcare expenses push 46.6% of mothers in India into poverty – with the illiterate being especially susceptible – according to a December 2016 study by researchers at Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Indian Institute of Technology
Nurture over nature
A new paper published by the Centre for Economic Policy Research has come up with crucial findings that provide evidence against the idea that genetic factors explain the disappointing growth performance of Indian children
UN health agency slammed for high travel costs
According to internal documents obtained by the Associated Press, WHO routinely spends about $200m a year on travel expenses, more than what it doles out to fight some of the biggest problems in public health, including AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Last year, WHO spent $71m on AIDS and hepatitis. It devoted $61m to malaria. To slow the spread of tuberculosis WHO invested $59m. Some agency programmes, though, do get healthy budgets – the agency spends $450m trying to wipe out polio every year
Indian activists hail minister`s call to end female genital mutilation
Women activists campaigning to end FGM in a minority Muslim community in India, hailed a minister’s pledge to introduce a law to end this centuries old custom. FGM is carried out by the Dawoodi Bohra community which considers the secretive practice an obligation
One person every second displaced by conflict, disaster in 2016 - report
In 2016, nearly 7 million people, mostly from Africa or the Middle East, were displaced by conflict, while 24 million in Asia were forced to flee because of storms, floods or wildfires, according to data from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. Unlike refugees, who seek asylum in other countries, internally displace people cannot claim international protection, IDMC says
Girls account for nearly 80 per cent of new HIV infections in Africa-WHO
WHO said that girls represent nearly 80% of all new HIV infections in Africa. Recent data showed that only 13% of adolescent boys had been tested for HIV in the past 12 months in the region. In spite of the large numbers of adolescents, African governments have few policies or plans in place to encourage testing, or a deeper understanding of subjects such as HIV/AIDS, contraception or the need for screening/testing in the first place
As Ethiopian Seeks to Head WHO, Outbreak at Home Raises Questions
The Malaysia Sun reviewed the controversy surrounding Lawrence Gostin’s allegations against WHO director-general candidate, Tedros Adhanom. In a New York Times article he alleged Tedros had been less than forthcoming in acknowledging outbreaks of cholera in Ethiopia, during his time as health minister, preferring to call it Acute Watery Diarrhoea. The paper lists the subsequent defence of Tedros by Tom Frieden, former CDC director, who argued the terminology was not irresponsible but rather a necessary compromise
Outgoing WHO Director Says Agency Remains Relevant
Margaret Chan, outgoing director general of the World Health Organization, opened the World Health Assembly by staunchly defending the organization against critics who say it has lost relevance. She went through a ‘report card’ on her time at the agency and offered her take on the organization’s successes and where it fell short. The article concluded by outlining Tuesday’s election for her successor and explaining the process and the candidates
World Health Organization needs new leadership for a changing world
Ian Scott, executive director of the Emerging Markets Symposium at the University of Oxford, writes an opinion article for The Hill, in which he argues that WHO needs fresh leadership for a changing world and Dr Sania Nishtar may be the best person for that role
Anti-Dr. Tedros protesters in Geneva clash each other over Teddy Afro’s new Song
An Ethiopian press viewpoint criticizing the anti-Dr Tedros demo outside the World Health Assembly in Geneva
La OMS elige al sustituto de Margaret Chan en la 70ª Asamblea Mundial
ConSalud wrote an article about the Director General of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan and her leaving office this week after a new DG is elected to replace her
Margaret Chan verlässt die Weltgesundheitsorganisation
General Anzeiger looks more closely at the record of Margaret Chan as head of WHO over the last decade, it scans the highs and lows, and concludes the organization has lost some ground in terms of trust and needs a reboot at the hands of the next director general
Ethiopia`s Tedros gets Dangote, AU chief`s final backing for WHO DG post
The chair of the African Union has issued a rallying push in favour of Ethiopia’s former health and foreign affairs chief to become director-general of the World Health Organization. In a tweet, AUC chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat, alluded to the strength of Africa when it is united with one voice. Preceding the AU chief was Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, who also took to Twitter to endorse Dr Tedros
Top Ten Reasons Why Tedros Adhanom is TOTALLY Unfit to Head the WHO?
One of Tedros Adhanom’s Ethiopian opponents writes a critique of Tedros and his candidacy to become the next director general of the World Health
NoTedros4WHO Demonstration in front of UN Office in Geneva , Switzerland
Protest groups gathered in advance of the election of a new Director General for the World Health Organization on Tuesday. The NoTedros4WHO supporters vociferously expressed their opposition to the candidacy of former Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Tedros Adhanom
Behind closed doors, WHO prepares to elect its next leader
STAT looked at the forthcoming director general of WHO elections and commented ‘Tuesday is going to be a long day.’ This is because few countries, if any, have tipped their hands about how they are casting their votes. It reviewed the allegations against Tedros Adhanom in the recent New York Times article and Dr Tom Frieden’s intervention to suggest the claims were not as strong as many had initially believed
Ethiopia`s Tedros Adhanom: 10 top facts about Africa`s WHO candidate
Africa News takes an in-depth look at the candidacy of former Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Tedros Adhanom, who is running to become the next director general of the World Health Organization
Ethiopia: Dr. Tedros - the Right Candidate for WHO
All Africa runs an article from the Ethiopian Herald which strongly supports Dr Tedros Adhanom’s candidacy to become director general of the World Health Organization
Should WHO be accountable to businesses? Responses from two of the Candidates for WHO Director General
The Baby Milk Action NGO publishes the replies it received to the question it posed from Dr David Nabarro and Dr Sania Nishtar. This question was as follows: Should WHO be accountable to businesses?
70th World Health Assembly begins today in Geneva
The Guardian Nigeria tells its readers about the start of the World Health Assembly in Geneva and suggests which issues may top its agenda: the Ebola outbreak in the DRC, the Cerebro Spinal Meningitis epidemic in Nigeria, not excluding the important election of a new director general to succeed Margaret Chan