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"World Health Minute" 20 June, 2017

News Highlights
Nigeria: `Nigeria Loses 3,000 Women, Children to Preventable Diseases Daily` Nigeria loses 3,000 children and women daily to preventable diseases due to poor access to basic healthcare, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib has said. Speaking at a workshop on the Implementation of the Primary Health Care Under One Roof policy, Mr. Shuaib said "Primary Healthcare remains the foundation for reasonable and sustainable changes to the poor health indicators in the sector, since it deals with these preventable diseases"
Indonesia: 80 percent of children infected with dengue by age 10 Indonesia has one of the highest burdens of dengue fever in the world, and children account for many cases. Well over half of all children in urban areas are infected with dengue by the age of 5, and more than 80 percent have been infected with the virus at least once by age 10, researchers reported in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Many rape victims experience `paralysis` during assault Many sexual assault victims experience an involuntary inability to move during rape, and those who do are more likely to later develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, Swedish researchers say. “Victims tend to blame themselves for not resisting, so the fact that 7 out of 10 have paralysis is useful to know,” said lead study author Dr. Anna Moller. Past studies indicate that humans can similarly feel paralyzed when under attack or in other life-threatening circumstances, experiencing temporary, involuntary immobility that may also involve a dissociated, catatonic-like mental state. “In court situations, a lot of focus is given to whether the victim consented to the intercourse or not,” Moller said. “This paralysis and passiveness should not be considered consent”
Trump Doesn’t Care About HIV. We’re Outta Here Scott A. Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, writes: “Five of my colleagues and I resigned this week from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). As advocates for people living with HIV, we have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care. The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and—most concerning—pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease”
Preparedness, surveillance and response
Indonesia: 80 percent of children infected with dengue by age 10
Indonesia has one of the highest burdens of dengue fever in the world, and children account for many cases. Well over half of all children in urban areas are infected with dengue by the age of 5, and more than 80 percent have been infected with the virus at least once by age 10, researchers reported in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
China reports additional H7N9 avian flu, Health officials meet in Hong Kong
The China National Health and Family Planning Commission reported an additional five human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9), including one death during the week of Jun. 9 through 15. The four male patients and one female, who came from Beijing, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hunan and Zhejiang and were aged from 41 to 68, had onset from April 25 to June 6. Among them, three were known to have exposure to poultry or poultry markets
Cholera toll in Yemen reaches 1,054
The World Health Organisation announced that the toll in the cholera outbreak in Yemen has reached 1,054, with the total suspected cases reaching 151,000. The outbreak has spread fast in 20 out of 22 Yemeni governorates in just seven weeks, since April 27, Xinhua news agency reported. Last month, the WHO said the number of suspected cases could reach 300,000 in the next six months
146 cases of chikungunya, 87 of dengue in Delhi
Nearly 150 cases of chikungunya have been reported in Delhi this year, with 9 of them being recorded this month, even as authorities gear up to combat the outbreak of vector-borne diseases. Ten dengue cases have been reported this month till June 17, while eight cases were recorded in May, according to the report by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) which tabulates such cases on behalf of all the civic bodies of the city
15 swine flu deaths, 63 positive cases this year
Though the numbers of deaths and positive cases have declined lately, swine flu continues to make its presence felt in Nagpur. As per the data of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation, 15 deaths and 63 positive cases have been recorded since April this year. It means 2017-18 financial year has recorded the third highest number of deaths due to swine flu
U.S. issues Zika advisory in India
Taking note of the World Health Organisation categorising India last month as a site of active transmission of the Zika virus, the United States sent out an advisory informing its citizens in India about the number of confirmed Zika infections in India. The WHO, it noted, placed India as a ‘Category-2’ country for Zika risk. A Category-2, the second highest on a four-point scale and that also includes 2015 Zika-hotspot Brazil, indicates that the virus is being actively transmitted within the country. Until April, India was a Category-4 country
IMA chief wants pregnant women be tested for Zika
The national president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has called for screening of all pregnant women for Zika virus as a precautionary and vigilance measure against the disease. Dr Agrawal says that the very presence of the virus, even in three cases, proves that the virus is there in India and must be a cause of concern for all the health authorities. "Epidemiology says that for every single positive case, there are 200 subclinical cases that are not reported”
Israeli researchers fight back against antibiotic resistant superbugs
A unique antibiotic that can kill bacteria which are resistant to conventional anti-bacterials without damaging the cells that store them has been developed by scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The pioneering study, published in the prestigious Angewandte Chemie of the German Chemical Society, was carried out by Dr. Zvi Hayouka and colleagues at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition at the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment in Rehovot. Reviewers called the study “a most important discovery” in the field of antibiotics and researchers said they believe findings of their research “will help develop new antibiotics and reduce mortality from future infectious disease”
H1N1 strikes Kerala ahead of monsoons, 36 people dead
Before the monsoon arrives in Kerala, viral infections are on a killing spree in the state. According to the Health Department statistics, 36 persons have died due to H1N1 infection this year. In 2016, there was only one death recorded from the state. But now the H1N1 influenza outbreak that is spreading across southern Indian states is not the only infection killing people of Kerala. Dengue, viral fever, jaundice and rat fever (leptospirosis) are also on the rise in the state
Warning against cholera outbreak
The Palakkad health department issued a warning on the possible outbreak of cholera in the district. The officials said a large number of dysentery cases were reported after the onset of monsoon from different parts of the district. This could be a prelude for the outbreak of cholera. Meanwhile, the Kerala State Human Rights Commission has directed the health department to inform it within two weeks of the number of deaths due to dengue and other monsoon-related diseases in the district and the action taken to prevent them
Number of Cholera Cases in Taiz Increase Due to Houthi Siege
In a report issued by the Ministry of Health in Yemen, the ministry said that its medical and epidemiological and preventive monitoring teams are facing huge difficulties to reach Sana’a, Hodeidah and Hajjah governorates where cases of illness were recently detected as a result of the control of the coup militias over these provinces. The report showed that the total number of diarrhoea cases that have been documented until June 12 has exceeded 129,000 cases while the total number of outpatients and treatments is over 126,000, with a recovery rate of 98 percent. The report also explained that the total number of suspected cases is 2,914, while confirmed cases in laboratories have reached 432, and death cases amounted to 942
Woman who returned from Thai trip has Zika virus
Korean health authorities have confirmed another case of the Zika virus in a woman who returned from Thailand. The government has raised the official number of infected patients in South Korea to 21
Kochi declares war on mosquitoes after spurt in fever cases
Incessant rains have resulted in an increased number of fever cases in the state. So far, a total of 6,808 cases of dengue have been reported in Kerala. A total of 13 persons lost their lives. The number of fever cases reported is 11,624 among which 22 death cases were reported. 764 H1N1 cases were confirmed and of these 51 lost their lives while the total number of rat fever cases reported is 631 out of which seven have died in the State. Health experts warn that because of fluctuation in climate, the threat of contagious diseases will prevail for another couple of months
Government labs stay shut during dengue crisis in Thiruvananthapuram
Even as the capital faces a war-like situation battling dengue, not even a single case of dengue was confirmed on Sunday as the Public Health Laboratory and Medical College did not despatch any test result. Also, Health Centres barring the ones with two or more doctors remained close on Sunday despite several fever deaths being reported this week
11,717 cases of fever reported in Kozhikode on Sunday
As many as 11,717 cases of fever were reported at the outpatient wing of the various hospitals in the district on Sunday. Of them, 1,519 cases are viral fever. As many as 47 suspected dengue cases came for screening on Sunday. 108 cases of ADD (Acute diarrhoeal disease) were also reported. Health centres where the OP was not functional witnessed a heavy rush at casualty departments. Special clinics functioned at Koorachundu, Panangad, Kolathur areas where more dengue cases were detected
The WHO is still warning about Zika in over 30 Caribbean nations
The World Health Organization’s latest Zika classification table has over 30 Caribbean countries listed as areas “with new introduction or re-introduction with ongoing transmission” of the virus, News Americas Now has found
Dengue becoming a major menace – 60 cases arrive at national hospital daily – 115 patients/100 beds
With the spread of dengue all main hospitals are recording large numbers of patients and it is being reported that sufficient beds, doctors and nurses are not available in some places. Over 200 dengue related deaths have been reported out of a recorded 63,897 patients, and the Colombo National Hospital said 50 to 60 patients arrive seeking treatment every day
Health systems
WHO Starts Work On Essential List Of Diagnostics To Facilitate Access, Lower Prices
The World Health Organization announced that it has begun work on a list of essential diagnostics, as an echo of its Model List of Essential Medicines. According to a WHO release, the Essential Diagnostics List is indented to provide “evidence-based guidance to countries to create their own national lists of essential diagnostic tests and tools.” The Model List of Essential Medicines serves as a model for the diagnostic list, and the list “should be instrumental in developing medical guidelines as well as laboratory-accreditation schemes”
Google bets on European biotech drugs, backs new fund
Google is betting on the potential of European biotech companies to deliver life-changing drugs by investing alongside Swiss company Novartis in a new $300 million fund run by leading life sciences investment firm Medicxi. The move shows Google casting an increasingly wide net as it pumps cash into global medical research, seeding what it believes will become a core long-term healthcare business
Nigeria: `Nigeria Loses 3,000 Women, Children to Preventable Diseases Daily`
Nigeria loses 3,000 children and women daily to preventable diseases due to poor access to basic healthcare, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib has said. Speaking at a workshop on the Implementation of the Primary Health Care Under One Roof policy, Mr. Shuaib said "Primary Healthcare remains the foundation for reasonable and sustainable changes to the poor health indicators in the sector, since it deals with these preventable diseases"
59 people evacuated from militant-besieged Marawi have died of illnesses: Philippine officials
At least 59 evacuees displaced by the fighting in Marawi City in southern Philippines have died of various illnesses, Philippine health officials have said. Muslim Mindanao health secretary Dr. Kadil Sinolinding said the fatalities include three children, who had died of dehydration, and two adults, who had complications of hypertension. “There are 40 cases of deaths due to dehydration” and the 19 others had died of conditions existing before the fighting started on May 23, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said
Uganda: Masaka Health Centres Run Out of Anti-Malaria Drugs
An anti-malaria drug stock-out has hit several health centers in Masaka district leaving several patients stranded. Health workers say they haven`t had artesunate, injectable quinine and IV water (drips) for the last two weeks. The drug stock-out comes at a time when NMS and the Finance ministry are feuding over the whereabouts of part of the $200 million acquired by government from the Preferential Trade Area (PTA Bank) for procurement of drugs
Sanofi chief says U.S. Supreme Court ruling on biologics has "immediate impact"
The U.S Supreme Court decision to speed access to copycat biologics drugs was expected but has an "immediate impact", Sanofi Chief Executive said. The justices, in a 9-0 ruling, overturned a lower court`s decision that had prevented Novartis from selling its copycat version of Amgen’s Neupogen until six months after the U.S Food and drug administration approved it. The decision has major implications for the pharmaceutical industry because it will dictate how long brand-name makers of biological drugs can keep near-copies, named biosimilars, off the market
California to give health clinics $20 million to counter possible Trump cuts
California will announce plans to award $20 million in emergency grants to local health and Planned Parenthood clinics in anticipation of possible U.S. healthcare funding cuts, according to State Treasurer John Chiang`s office. The grants are intended to buy time for state lawmakers to address potential shortfalls caused by federal attempts to undo the Affordable Health Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, and to eliminate funding for women’s health and for contraception, the state said
Only white organisations receiving money to deal with HIV/Aids scourge‚ SANAC official claims
South African National Aids Council (SANAC) deputy chairman Steve Letsike has claimed that billions of rand meant to deal with the HIV/Aids scourge in the country is being channelled to only white-led organisations. He was briefing the media at the 8th SA Aids Conference in Durban in response to a statement issued by five civil society organisations who are threatening to withdraw from SANAC because it has been “reduced to irrelevance". The organisations are Treatment Action Campaign‚ Section27‚ Legal Resources Centre‚ Masithandane End-Hate Crimes Collective and Rural Health Advocacy Group. They have accused SANAC of facing a “crisis of governance and legitimacy” and also criticised the National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2017 - 2022 that deals with HIV and TB and is guided by SANAC‚ saying it “fails to provide the much-needed direction and leadership we require"
Ukraine botulism outbreak sickens dozens in three months, most linked to dried fish
The number of botulism cases reported in Ukraine during the past three months has risen to 62, according to the Deputy Minister of Health of Ukraine on European integration Oksana Sivak. Of this total, nine have died. A huge problem is the lack of anti-botulinum serum in Ukraine, so there is nothing to help the patients. Most hospitals have no anti-botulinum serum and they haven’t had any since 2014, this is when the term of the certificate on state registration of the drug with Russian production ended
How Trump Can Curb Runaway Drug Prices
The affordability of prescription drugs is a growing public concern, as annual drug spending continues to rise year after year. Trump could use his deal-making skills to negotiate voluntary pricing restraints in the drug industry. Such restraints would reduce the distortionary effects that inevitably result when the government forces specific cost-control measures in areas that may not be the most efficient places to cut costs. Instead, voluntary pricing restraints would enable individual companies to determine the most effective ways to cut their costs to reduce aggregate drug spending
UK will pay for Roche breast cancer drug at centre of price row
A Roche breast cancer drug at the centre of a prolonged pricing row in Britain will now be paid for routinely, following a discount deal between the company and the National Health Service. Kadcyla, which can prolong the lives of some women with advanced disease, has been a battle-ground for campaigners wanting better access to modern cancer drugs, with 115,000 people signing a petition demanding its availability. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said it could now recommend funding for Kadcyla, following the commercial access arrangement with Roche
Parirenyatwa bemoans high blood user fees
Health and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa has said blood user fees continue to be a thorn in the flesh of the government, as many patients at public health institutions cannot afford to access the product due to high costs. “To the surgeon, blood products are key and many times doctors have had to cancel patients for theatre because of failure to secure blood, which most times is a prerequisite for the anaesthetists to put patients to sleep,” he said. Parirenyatwa said in 2016, the blood user fees were reduced from $135 a unit to $100 for government hospitals and from $160 to $120 for the private hospitals, which was a huge improvement
For many Haitians, street dispensaries are the only source of medicine
In Haiti, “Pharmacists are an endangered species,” explains Lionel Étienne, a local drug importer. “Medicine is considered an ordinary consumer good.” Street vendors are not pharmacists, and their wares are not regulated. This illegal, ubiquitous medical practice can have serious consequences for the health of many Haitians. "The majority of the population don`t have enough money to buy their medicine in pharmacy stores," he said. "Street sellers have generic medicines from China, expired pills, counterfeit drugs imported from the Dominican Republic. So basically, they are cheaper than the medicine you`re going to find in the pharmacies."
Licensed Production Holds Key to Pharma Success
Iranian pharmaceutical company Behestan Tolid has wrapped up partnership negotiations with Merck Sharp & Dohme and is waiting for the Health Ministry’s go-ahead to start licensed production, a partner of the Iranian firm said. The Iranian Pharmaceutical Importers Association said that licenced production can become the key to future success for the Iranian pharmaceutical industry
Exit interview: NOW’s O’Neill on GOP health policy and maternal deaths
Terry O’Neill, outgoing head of the U.S. National Organization for Women said ‘there is a connection between increasing maternal mortality in the USA and GOP policies under consideration in the U.S. Congress. The United States has the worst maternal death rate in the developing world and research suggests health-related complications — including diabetes and hypertension as well as mental health and substance abuse — are major contributing factors. These outcomes will worsen if Congress succeeds in scaling back Medicaid, which funds half of all births in the U.S., defunding Planned Parenthood and allowing states to opt out of Obamacare`s essential health benefit requirement that include maternity and mental health services’
How Trump has made the Department of Health and Human Services a center of false science on contraception
President Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price have stocked the corridors of health policy with purveyors of conclusively debunked claptrap about contraception, abortion, pregnancy and women’s reproductive health generally. Among their themes is that condoms don’t protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases and that abortions and contraceptives cause breast cancer, miscarriages and infertility. None of these assertions is true
Israeli NGO warns of worsening health conditions in Gaza
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHRI) demanded medicines and all basic needs of the people of the Gaza Strip be allowed entry into the besieged enclave, warning that the health and living conditions there are deteriorating. In a report, the organisation said: “240 children and hundreds of cancer patients and cystic fibrosis patients do not receive treatment because the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah refuses to send budgets to the Health Ministry in Gaza.” According to the report, the Gaza Strip today lacks one-third of the vital medicines it needs and more than 270 medical devices for operating rooms and emergency treatment
Exclusive: Ahead of Modi visit, U.S. lawmakers ask India to rethink price cap on stents
A group of U.S. lawmakers has backed medical device makers by urging India to reconsider its decision to cap prices of heart stents, raising the issue ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s visit to the United States. In a letter sent to the Indian ambassador to Washington last month, 18 members of Congress said they were "troubled" by the price cap, warning that it could deter firms from launching new medical products in India. Modi`s government has in recent years capped prices of hundreds of life-saving drugs to make them more affordable. And in February, it imposed a 75 percent price cut for certain heart stents
Dengue workers demand 10-month salary
A large number of daily wagers, hired by the Sheikupura district government for its anti-dengue drive, held a protest outside the Punjab Assembly against the non-payment of their salaries and sacking of trained staff. Carrying placards and banners inscribed with slogans in favour of their demands, dozens of participants, shouted slogans against the government. The demonstrators said they were demanding the payment of salaries for the last 10 months
Doctors nurses from private hospitals hit the road, want rate bill withdrawn
Around 2,000 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals hit the road to voice their opposition to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill, 2017, that seeks to regulate only private hospitals while leaving government establishments out of its remit. The bill empowers the Karnataka government to set the rates for various services offered by private hospitals and prescribes punishment, including imprisonment for any irregularities
Communicable diseases
Three mutations could make bird flu a potential pandemic: study
Scientists have identified three mutations that, if they occurred at the same time in nature, could turn a strain of bird flu now circulating in China into a potential pandemic virus that could spread among people. The flu strain, known as H7N9, now mostly infects birds but it has infected at least 779 people in outbreaks in and around China, mainly related to poultry markets. Researchers led by James Paulson of the Scripps Research Institute in California looked at mutations that could potentially take place in the H7N9 virus`s genome. The team`s findings, published in the journal PLoS Pathogens, showed that in laboratory tests, mutations in three amino acids made the virus more able to bind to human cells - suggesting these changes are key to making the virus more dangerous to people
More pregnant women getting whooping cough vaccine
Babies are much less likely to get whooping cough if their mothers get vaccinated against the potentially fatal respiratory infection during pregnancy, and a U.S. study finds that a growing number of women are starting to follow this advice. About 49 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. got the Tdap booster vaccine against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis last year, up from just 27 percent in 2014, the study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found
Trump Doesn’t Care About HIV. We’re Outta Here
Scott A. Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, writes: “Five of my colleagues and I resigned this week from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). As advocates for people living with HIV, we have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care. The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and—most concerning—pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease”
New flu test: One drop of blood could save your life
Researchers have developed a world-first blood test to predict which flu patients will develop potentially life-threatening secondary infections that demand urgent medical treatment. The High-risk Influenza Screen Test (HIST) measures `an early warning signal` released by the patient`s body into their blood to `kick start` their immune system`s fight against the infection. The test, developed by Dr Benjamin Tang -- a doctor from the Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Nepean Hospital and medical researcher at Westmead Institute for Medical Research -- needs only a single drop of blood and a few hours to predict, with 91 percent accuracy, which influenza patients will develop potentially deadly secondary infections, such as pneumonia
Unproven Treatments for `Chronic Lyme Disease` Lead to Severe Infections
In a small but growing number of cases, people in the U.S. have suffered severe bacterial infections, bone damage or septic shock — all because of treatments they received for "chronic Lyme disease." The health care providers who diagnose these patients typically treat them with prolonged courses of antibiotics, lasting months or even years, a report said. That happens even though at least five studies have shown that such courses of antibiotics do not help people who have this diagnosis, according to the report. Moreover, taking antibiotics for that long can result in serious harm
Delay in `Made in India` chikungunya vaccine, researchers seek government intervention
India offers a rare ray of hope for an indigenously-made vaccine against chikungunya, but delay in finding volunteers is impeding its development. With chikungunya spreading very fast in the country, researchers are seeking urgent government intervention for speedy completion of the vital clinical trials. For the first time, an indigenously-developed vaccine against chikungunya has been developed and the first human trials are underway albeit on a slow pace. The novel vaccine candidate against chikungunya crossed a big hurdle last year when Bharat Biotech, a Hyderabad-based vaccine pioneer, got permission to start human trials and the first human subjects received the vaccine a few months ago
85% Raj rural women don’t know about HIV/AIDS
High migratory population in the state makes Rajasthan vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. But a matter of even more serious concern is that the percentage of women with comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS is quite low there. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) (2015-16), only 19.1% of women have comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS. The situation is even worse in rural areas, where only 14.7% of women (age 15-49 years) have comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS
Nsanje children scrambling for integrated Measles Rubella vaccine
A campaign which is underway across Malawi, aiming to reduce measles and rubella incidents, is targeting children born after the previous measles campaign, vaccinating those who were missed during routine immunization, covering children inadequately covered by routine immunization and vaccinating those who never had measles-rubella vaccine
New research finds light treatment may reduce mosquito bites at night
Scientists have found that exposure to just 10 minutes of light at night suppresses biting and manipulates flight behaviour of malaria mosquitoes. The findings, published in the journal Parasites and Vectors, suggest that light can be used to manipulate mosquitoes, thereby offering a potential novel solution to preventing bites and reducing malaria
Congenital Zika Syndrome Linked with Dysphagia in Infants
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report on a study that has linked congenital Zika syndrome (CZS) with dysphagia, or trouble swallowing, in 9 Brazilian infants. The report was published in Emerging Infectious Diseases. “All infants had a degree of neurologic damage, with global developmental delays, hypertonia of the limbs, and pyramidal and extrapyramidal signs,” according to the report. Furthermore, the majority of the infants also had “abnormal movement of the tongue,” which contributed to dysphagia. In some of the infants, hypertonia was responsible for abnormal posture and neck hyperextension
Non communicable diseases
Worldwide, more than 10 percent of young teens are smokers
Roughly 11 percent of youth aged 13 to 15 around the world use tobacco products like cigarettes and cigars, a global survey of students suggests. Tobacco use is the world’s leading cause of preventable death and serious illness, killing an estimated 6 million people each year, researchers note in the youth tobacco report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most smokers take up the habit in their teens
More liver cancer deaths could be averted in the U.S
Death rates from liver cancer in the U.S. have doubled since the 1980s and continue to rise, largely due to risk factors like hepatitis that should be the focus of better treatment and prevention efforts, researchers say. Despite improved survival rates overall, the rise in new diagnoses of liver cancer means that death rates are still increasing faster than for any other cancer type, the study team writes. “Large racial and socioeconomic disparities in liver cancer death rates still exist, reflecting differences in the prevalence of risk factors and, to some extent, inequalities in access to high quality care,” study author Kimberly Miller said
U.S. youth tobacco use in 2016 fell by largest amount in 6 years
Youth tobacco use in the United States fell to historic lows in 2016, leading public health experts to speculate that a smoke-free generation may be within reach. The number of middle and high school students who used any tobacco product fell to 3.9 million in 2016 from 4.7 million in 2015, figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show, the first such decline since the CDC began reporting the measure in 2011
Exercise may stave off postpartum depression
Physical activity during and after pregnancy improves psychological wellbeing and may protect against postpartum depression, according to a new analysis of existing research. Even low-intensity exercise, such as walking with a baby stroller, was linked to a lower likelihood of depressive symptoms in new mothers, researchers found. “The negative consequences of postpartum depression not only affect the mother but also the child, who can suffer poor emotional and cognitive development,” said study co-author Celia Alvarez-Bueno of the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Cuenca, Spain
Smog linked to bleeding stomach ulcers in elderly
Older adults may be more likely to have bleeding stomach ulcers on days when the air has higher levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant produced by car exhaust and power plants, a recent study in Hong Kong suggests. The researchers focused on peptic ulcers, or painful sores lining the stomach or small intestine, which are often caused by bacterial infections but have also been linked to drinking, smoking and certain medications. Researchers examined whether short-term spikes in air pollution could also influence the risk of serious bleeds, and estimated a 7.6 percent increased risk of emergency admissions for bleeding peptic ulcers during five-day periods with higher average nitrogen dioxide levels
State attorneys general probe opioid drug companies
A bipartisan group of state attorneys general are jointly investigating the marketing and sales practices of drug companies that manufacture opioid painkillers at the center of a national addiction epidemic. Attorneys general from states including Massachusetts, Texas, Illinois and Pennsylvania announced the investigation two weeks after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine sued five drug manufacturers for misrepresenting the risks of opioids. "We are looking into what role, if any, marketing and related practices might have played in the increasing prescription and use of these powerful and addictive drugs," District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine said
High obesity rates stealing the youth of SA kids
Rising obesity rates in South African youth are crippling their ability to live healthy lives and fully enjoy their youth as more and more develop life-threatening chronic diseases like Type II diabetes. This is according to the Healthy Living Alliance (HEALA), an alliance of organisations with a mission to promote healthy living. According to PRICELESS SA, a 20 percent sugary drinks tax is needed to facilitate much-needed daily dietary adjustments to reduce sugar consumption as it has been modelled to result in 220,000 fewer obese South Africans. Proof that this policy lever can be effective has also been established in a study conducted among households of lower socio-economic status in Mexico which showed a decline in sugary drinks consumption two years after a tax was implemented
Health experts call for more action on tobacco control
Health experts and stakeholder organisations in Ghana have declared a seven-point plan of action to be taken by the government on tobacco control, the reduction of its usage and its effect on non-communicable diseases and premature deaths. The actions place emphasis on the promotion of partnerships, building of capacities of different stakeholders to advocate, support and monitor progress on tobacco control as part of the Sustainable Development Goals implementation effort
Cash incentives to lose weight: Could this help solve Asia’s obesity epidemic?
Academics in Singapore say giving obese people cash incentives to lose weight could help stem the rise in non-communicable diseases. In a study researchers used insights from behavioural economics to develop rewards programmes aimed at addressing the disconnect between long-term health and short-term temptation. “Our findings not only show the value of rewards in increasing weight loss but they also show this can be done in a manner which minimizes third party payments, such as those by employers or insurers. This should help to expand access to these type of programmes” the researchers concluded
India’s ballooning obesity and undernutrition issue: The health risks and remedies
More people are overweight in India than the combined populations of France, Spain and the United Kingdom, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine said. The number of overweight people almost doubled from 10.5% of the country’s population in 2006 to 19.6% in 2016, latest data shows. Anaemia has not shown a corresponding decline, affecting 53% women in 2016, down from 55.3% a decade ago. In comparison, 22.7% men were anaemic in 2016, as against 24.2% in 2006. This shows India is struggling with the twin burdens of chronic malnutrition and obesity
Scientists find new biomarker to guide cancer immunotherapy
Scientists said they have pinpointed a particular type of immune system cell that could predict more precisely if cancer patients are likely to respond to modern immunotherapy medicines. The discovery, reported in the journal Nature Immunology, suggests doctors and drug developers will need to get smarter in zeroing in on those people who stand to benefit from the expensive new drugs, which are revolutionizing cancer care. Drugs such as Merck & Co`s Keytruda, Bristol-Myers Squibb`s Opdivo, Roche`s Tecentriq and AstraZeneca`s Imfinzi can boost the immune system`s ability to fight tumors, but they only work for some patients
Tackling sickle cell disease
Lack of sickle cell equipment for early detection of sickle cell disease in children is cited to be one of the contributing factors that leads to a high number of deaths from the disease in Tanzania. The government, in partnership with Medomix Business Development launched a facility to diagnose sickle cell disease. The new technology does not require electricity, it could be used in remote areas and it does not require an expert to interpret the results. It has a 99% specificity and sensitivity rating
Health ministry in new drive against drug abuse
The Ministry of Health of Rwanda has unveiled a six month campaign against drug abuse focusing on prevention and treatment of mental disorders. It will be launched during the International Day against Drug Abuse on June 26 which will be held in Kirehe, a district, which according to the officials, is among the main entry points for cannabis and illegal brews. It will also involve sensitisation of health providers on their role in prevention and creation of anti-drug abuse clubs in schools, general sensitisation through media
Promoting health through the life course
Many rape victims experience `paralysis` during assault
Many sexual assault victims experience an involuntary inability to move during rape, and those who do are more likely to later develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, Swedish researchers say. “Victims tend to blame themselves for not resisting, so the fact that 7 out of 10 have paralysis is useful to know,” said lead study author Dr. Anna Moller. Past studies indicate that humans can similarly feel paralyzed when under attack or in other life-threatening circumstances, experiencing temporary, involuntary immobility that may also involve a dissociated, catatonic-like mental state. “In court situations, a lot of focus is given to whether the victim consented to the intercourse or not,” Moller said. “This paralysis and passiveness should not be considered consent”
Break silence on `terrifying` femicides in Dominican Republic - minister
The wave of femicides in the Caribbean nation is "terrifying", said Janet Camilo, the country`s minister for women. So far this year, 43 women have been killed in gender-based killings and six femicides have been reported this month alone, according to latest police figures, Camilo said. Victims of femicide usually have a history of suffering domestic violence and killers are often the victims` current or former partners, sometimes motivated by jealously or because a woman has refused to go back with an ex-boyfriend, activists say
U.N. rights expert urges Myanmar to protect detained Rohingya children
Myanmar should guarantee the rights and medical care of children from the Rohingya Muslim minority detained in an army crackdown launched in October, a U.N. human rights investigator said. Speaking at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Yanghee Lee said children should not be "arbitrarily deprived of their liberty" and she urged the government to investigate the death of a child who, according to the government, died because of ill health in February. The government did not report the death until last week, she said
Nepal court demands quick compensation for acid attack victims
Nepal`s Supreme Court, in response to a petition by rights group Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD), last month ordered the government to amend the law to ensure victims of acid attacks and burning receive immediate compensation and critical care. There are about 40 reported cases of burns and acid attacks every year in Nepal, with nearly three-quarters of the victims women, according to New York-based charity Donor Direct Action, citing non-profit Burns Violence Survivors Nepal
For women in Kenya`s dry north, water is power
A new way of funding climate change projects at the local level is giving women more say over the use of precious resources. Ahmed Abdi, CEO of Arid Lands Development Focus Kenya (ALDEF Kenya), said women now have a chance to influence decisions that affect their livelihoods, particularly on issues of grazing pastures and water thanks to the Wajir’s Climate Change Fund
Venezuelan congress says $200 million wasted on low-income food packs
A commission of Venezuela`s opposition-controlled congress said the government overpaid $206 million for food imported from Mexico, stepping up criticism of its handling of a scarcity crisis that charities said is causing more malnutrition. The congress` inspection commission said that between January and June the government bought 7 million boxes of basic foods like rice and cooking oil imported from Mexico by middlemen, paying 55 percent above market prices. "This government is addicted to corruption. Not even the hunger of Venezuelans stops it creating new ways to steal," lawmaker Carlos Paparoni said
Africa eyes green jobs to fight radicalisation and stem migration to Europe
African governments have pledged to restore degraded land, invest in agriculture and create "green jobs" for young people in a drive to tackle youth unemployment, fight against radicalisation, and stem the tide of migration to Europe. The presidents of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger and ministers from several other African nations met to discuss sustainability and security on the continent, and the need to create land-based jobs for the booming youth population. Climate shocks, deteriorating land and a lack of development are driving many young Africans to risk their lives trying to reach Europe, and pushing others into extremist groups, says the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
Medical app aims to tackle rape, flag war crimes in conflict-torn Congo
Activists behind an app designed to assist doctors document evidence of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo aim to go beyond obtaining justice for rape victims and collect data which could help secure prosecutions for war crimes. Developed by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), MediCapt allows clinicians to record medical examination results digitally and photograph victims` injuries, store them online and send them directly to law enforcement officials and lawyers
The ‘rainbow village’ hoping to improve mental health in Kabul
The Kabul authorities are painting houses bright colours in order to give a new lease of life to the area - and improve residents` mental health. The Kabul city administration has taken this aesthetic and run with it, launching a project to paint the exteriors of nearly 2000 houses on the western-facing hills of Kabul. There was a significant uptick in mental health amongst the young of Santa Marta, one of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, when a similar campaign was launched. Another village — Kampung Pelangi in Indonesia — has become an Instagram sensation with its transformation into a Rainbow Village
New Beijing Chief Vows to Finally Win Fight Against Pollution
Beijing’s new top official vowed to tackle the city’s smog problem, a simmering cause of discontent among China’s expanding middle class. Cai Qi, the Communist Party chief in the capital, told a gathering of local delegates that the metropolis of 22 million must slash pollution levels to “win the battle against pollution.” He pledged to cut levels of the most hazardous airborne particulate by 30 percent over the next five years, while pushing polluters and “non-essential” services out to “display the image of a major country’s capital city”
Bangkok struggles to protect slum dwellers as floods worsen
Squatter communities along canals are no strangers to floods - but they are happening more often, and the concerns of the urban poor are being overlooked, say experts. As Thailand`s rainy season gets underway, residents in and around Bangkok say they are experiencing more intense and frequent seasonal floods since 2011, when the capital was hit by its worst flooding in half a century. Experts do not expect floods of that magnitude again any time soon but say the city`s low-lying location, continued urbanisation and extreme weather linked to climate change are raising Bangkok`s vulnerability to floods
Wombs for rent: Indian surrogacy clinic confines women in "terrible conditions", say police
Police raided an illegal fertility clinic in southern India at the weekend and discovered 47 surrogate mothers - who had been lured to rent their wombs for money - living in "terrible conditions", they said. "They were mostly migrants from north eastern states who had been brought here through agents and promised up to 400,000 rupees (around $6,000)." India`s surrogacy industry has come under attack from women`s rights groups who say such clinics are "baby factories" for the rich, and lack of regulation results in poor and uneducated women signing contracts they do not fully understand
Exclusive: Priti Patel insists UK`s aid influence is `massive`
Britain’s foreign aid minister, Priti Patel, has told the Guardian she is fed up with the myth that all she does is sit at her desk “writing cheques to North Korea”, in her most robust response yet to critics of the foreign aid budget. Patel said it was UK investment in “resilience” and the early lead taken by Department for International Development which put £110m into Somalia in January and persuaded the World Bank to add another £40m – which had kept the death rate down