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"World Health Minute" 22 June, 2017

News Highlights
A bird flu pandemic looms but the US is holding back the fight Just two mutations could turn H7N9 flu into a deadly airborne strain, but restrictions meant to protect us from a possible pandemic are making it harder to combat the next one. This year, H7N9 in China acquired a mutation that makes it kill birds, and possibly people, faster. “Without animal infection studies, we can only speculate what might happen,” says Paulson. “Biology is complex, so we can predict that one set of mutations will influence transmission, but it is only that, a prediction.” But neither Paulson nor Fouchier are allowed to make viruses with these mutations. After Fouchier created transmissible H5N1, a regulatory committee in the US tried to stop the work being published, saying terrorists could use it to create a lethal pandemic. There were also fears that other labs would try to copy the work without sufficient containment, and a dangerous virus might then escape. The H5N1 work was finally published, but the US halted Gain-of-Function (GOF) research for flu viruses, and for SARS and MERS
Thousands dead in East Africa plagues Severe drought has coincided with an outbreak of lethal diseases in the Horn of Africa region. Somalia is experiencing its largest outbreak of cholera in 5 years with 48,607 cases and 763 deaths. Over 1,400 measles cases have been reported since early June and there have been 9,813 suspected measles cases since the start of 2017. Ethiopia reports 35,665 cases of acute watery diarrhoea and 780 deaths since January. Across the country 1,981 suspected measles cases with 961 confirmed. Kenya has 3030 suspected cholera cases and three deaths
Nearly 1,300 U.S. kids die from gunshot wounds each year Firearms kill almost 1,300 American youngsters each year, and boys and black children are most often the victims, a U.S. study finds. During the 13-year study, more than half of the gun-related deaths were homicides, while 38 percent were suicides and 6 percent were fatalities from accidental gun injuries, researchers report in Pediatrics. Each year, guns seriously wounded about 5,800 additional kids under 18. “Firearm injuries are a leading cause of death among U.S. children aged 1 to 17 years and contribute substantially each year to premature death, illness and disability of children,” said lead study author Katherine Fowler of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta
Sri Lanka warns of dengue epidemic Sri Lankan health authorities warned that the country was facing a dengue epidemic with over 63,000 people affected by the virus and at least 200 patients dead. Health workers at the Ministry of Health`s Epidemiology Unit said there was a tremendous rise in the Type 2 virus and urgent preventive and curative measures were ongoing to prevent it from spreading further
Preparedness, surveillance and response
WHO says child from Raqqa among 15 new polio cases in Syria
Seventeen children have been paralysed by polio following an outbreak of the disease in Syria that the World Health Organization says is "very serious". Earlier this month, the agency reported two polio cases in the Mayadin area of Deir al-Zour province, much of which is controlled by so-called Islamic State. Fourteen new cases have now been confirmed in the same area, while another was recorded in Raqqa province. It is the first re-emergence of polio in the war-torn country since 2014
A bird flu pandemic looms but the US is holding back the fight
Just two mutations could turn H7N9 flu into a deadly airborne strain, but restrictions meant to protect us from a possible pandemic are making it harder to combat the next one. This year, H7N9 in China acquired a mutation that makes it kill birds, and possibly people, faster. “Without animal infection studies, we can only speculate what might happen,” says Paulson. “Biology is complex, so we can predict that one set of mutations will influence transmission, but it is only that, a prediction.” But neither Paulson nor Fouchier are allowed to make viruses with these mutations. After Fouchier created transmissible H5N1, a regulatory committee in the US tried to stop the work being published, saying terrorists could use it to create a lethal pandemic. There were also fears that other labs would try to copy the work without sufficient containment, and a dangerous virus might then escape. The H5N1 work was finally published, but the US halted Gain-of-Function (GOF) research for flu viruses, and for SARS and MERS
488 malaria cases in 17 days of June
At a time when the civic body and the state government have intensified their efforts to destroy mosquito breeding sites and curb spread of vector-borne infections, malaria cases appear to be on the rise. According to data of the civic body, Ahmedabad registered 488 cases of malaria in the first 17 days of June. AMC health officials have also confirmed that they have received complaints of polluted water supply from at least 10 areas in the city. The weekly health report of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) states that six more cases of vector-borne infections including four cases of dengue and one each of chikungunya and falciparum malaria were also registered during this period
Robust Emergency Fund Needed to Respond to Future Disease Outbreaks
Creating a similar “rainy day” fund—and providing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with permission to use it in advance—could save lives and money, both at home and overseas. There have been some moves in this direction. President Donald Trump`s general budget proposal for 2018 includes such a fund. But it does not give any dollar figures, and the health care bill passed by the House of Representatives in May cuts at least $1 billion from annual public health funding
Aid workers race to contain Yemen cholera outbreak, UN agencies report
A “race” is under way to contain the cholera epidemic in Yemen where 20 out of 22 governorates are affected, United Nations agencies said. Nearly 1,200 people have died in the latest outbreak and there are more than 172,000 suspected cases in the crisis-torn country, according to the World Health Organization. Together with UNICEF, WHO says it is attempting to stop cholera being “exported” from the worst-affected areas. In Raymah in western Yemen, mortality rates are almost twice the national average
Thousands dead in East Africa plagues
Severe drought has coincided with an outbreak of lethal diseases in the Horn of Africa region. Somalia is experiencing its largest outbreak of cholera in 5 years with 48,607 cases and 763 deaths. Over 1,400 measles cases have been reported since early June and there have been 9,813 suspected measles cases since the start of 2017. Ethiopia reports 35,665 cases of acute watery diarrhoea and 780 deaths since January. Across the country 1,981 suspected measles cases with 961 confirmed. Kenya has 3030 suspected cholera cases and three deaths
Sudanese doctors in UK urge Khartoum to declare cholera, take action themselves
The UK-Ireland section of the Sudanese Doctors` Union has called on Khartoum to officially declare the outbreak of cholera and activate the disaster protocols. The Union itself is taking actions to help contain the rapid spread of the epidemic. In an interview with Radio Dabanga, Sarah Abdeljaleel, Media Secretary of the Sudanese Doctors` Union in the UK and Ireland, said that "Urgent intervention is needed to stop the growing number of cholera deaths and infections among the people in Sudan.” "The collapse of the health services in the country requires intervention by international organizations to help eradicating the epidemic, and that can only be done if the government officially declares the cholera outbreak," the doctor said
Typhoid resurfaces
Sixteen cases of typhoid have been reported with 14 in Harare, a weekly diseases surveillance report by the health ministry has indicated. Cumulatively, a total of 2,371 suspected cases of typhoid fever have been reported, with 78 confirmed cases and six deaths countrywide since the start of 2017
No let-up in fever cases in Kerala
The fever situation in Kerala continues to be grave with more people falling prey to dengue and other fevers. As per official figures, one person died of leptospirosis in Kozhikode district and one died of dengue in Thiruvananthapuram district on Tuesday. The day also saw an increase in dengue cases with 933 suspected cases and 170 confirmed cases in the state. While 21,000 fever cases were reported, 31 people were reported to have leptospirosis. According to the DHS figures, 56 chicken pox, 15 H1N1 and six malaria cases were reported on Tuesday from across the state
Rise in vaccine-preventable diseases raises alarm
One more suspected case of diphtheria was reported in the district on Tuesday, taking the total number of diphtheria cases to eight this month. Pertussis, another vaccine-preventable disease, was detected in a person on Monday. Last month, three cases of pertussis or whopping cough were reported in the district, taking the total number of cases to four. While the management of the disease is said to be easier than diphtheria, it could be lethal in children
146 Chikungunya, 87 Dengue Cases in Delhi Before ‘Season’ Starts
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. Eighty-seven cases of dengue have also been reported till 17 June, according to a municipal report
Spurt in H1N1, dengue cases in district
The number of both H1N1 and dengue fever cases has increased in Ernakulam compared to the last month’s figures. With the number of H1N1 cases already touching 51 this month with a death (of a pregnant woman at Pallarimangalam on Sunday), severity of the spread of the disease looks imminent. Dengue fever this month has already had 423 suspected cases and 66 confirmed cases. So far this year there were five H1N1 deaths in 164 cases. There were 1,208 suspected and 160 confirmed dengue cases in the district
Lyme Disease: Inside America`s Mysterious Epidemic
A growing list of celebrities have gone public with their Lyme diagnoses. Roughly 329,000 new infections occur annually, and scientists are projecting a historic spike in infections around the country this summer. For a disease that`s been studied for 40 years, with many prominent people pushing for answers, the truly shocking thing about Lyme disease is how much of a mystery it still is
Dengue, chikungunya cases on the rise - Karnataka
According to sources, the number of dengue cases reported in the district are 94, including 35 in Chitradurga taluk, 13 in Challakere, 18 in Hosadurga, 12 in Holalkere, five in Molkalmuru and five in Hiriyur taluk. The number of chikungunya cases reported in the district are 42. Of these, 31 cases are reported in Chitradurga taluk, one in Challakere, two in Hosadurga, five in Molkalmuru and three in Hiriyur
Hospitals inundated with dengue patients
With leading hospitals in Colombo and the suburbs over crowded with dengue patients, the Health Ministry today decided to equip rural hospitals in Wetara, Piliyandala, Aniyakanda and Dankotuwa with additional staff, drugs and medical equipment to ease the congestion. The committee decided to use the yet unopened wing of the Ratnapura District Hospital to accommodate dengue patients. Authorities instructed officials to immediately supply these hospitals with medical specialists, nursing and minor health staff, drugs and medical equipment
Sri Lanka warns of dengue epidemic
Sri Lankan health authorities warned that the country was facing a dengue epidemic with over 63,000 people affected by the virus and at least 200 patients dead. Health workers at the Ministry of Health`s Epidemiology Unit said there was a tremendous rise in the Type 2 virus and urgent preventive and curative measures were ongoing to prevent it from spreading further
Sept foyers de H5N8 HP détectés en Belgique
Since June 1st, Belgium and Luxembourg have been hit by the H5N8 virus which seems to be spreading through markets, and 8 cases have been identified so far
Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and partners plan new approach to detect and respond to outbreaks
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in collaboration with WHO met with partners in May to plan a new approach to detect and respond to disease outbreaks in Africa. The new approach, called ‘event-based surveillance,’ involves using open source information, such as social media posts, to detect events that might pose a risk to public health. Africa CDC will partner with the World Health Organisation and others to strengthen event-based surveillance in the 18 countries that have already begun using this approach and will work to introduce it in the remaining 37 African countries
Health systems
Interview: From Hong Kong to world stage - WHO chief Margaret Chan`s endeavor to safeguard public health
Xinhua interviews director-general of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan who expressed pride in her time at the helm of the world’s ‘doctor’ as she outlined how WHO and its partner organizations have made progress in improving people’s health and life expectancy during the 10 years she has been in charge
China cracks down on fake peer reviews
The Chinese government is going on the offensive against scientists who dupe journals by creating fraudulent reviews of submitted papers. A coalition of agencies led by the science ministry announced on 14 June that the government would suspend the grants of researchers involved in such fraud, which surfaced earlier this year when a cancer journal retracted 107 research papers from Chinese authors. And funding agencies in China promised to increase policing of the scientific community to prevent similar deceptions
How to reduce maternal deaths in the worst counties to give birth in
A prioritised set of interventions is to be applied over the next five years in Kenya. The implementation of a framework which would help achieve targets by improving coverage for key indicators. These include increasing skilled deliveries by 87 per cent, antenatal care by 69 per cent, full immunization to 76 per cent, contraceptive use to 73 per cent and pregnant women tested for HIV and post-test counselling to 75 per cent, all by 2020. Experts projected that following this, the absolute number of maternal deaths would reduce from 5,453 in 2014/15 to 3,276. To achieve these goals, the framework suggested key strategies that needed increased investments, including addressing disparities and increasing coverage through prioritising underserved counties and marginalized populations
Achieving universal health coverage in Kenya through Innovative financing
Every year, one million Kenyans are driven below the poverty line by healthcare-related expenditures. Poverty predisposes them to disease and slows all aspects of growth in the economy. Africa accounts for a quarter of the world’s disease burden but has less than five per cent of the world’s doctors. The continent lags far behind in basic healthcare coverage for services such as immunization, water and sanitation, and family planning. Kenya can institute targeted taxation as an innovative financing policy to complement existing financing mechanisms
Survey reveals health cures from plants being lost
More than 28,000 species of plants around the world have a medical use but poor documentation means people are not making the most of the health benefits, according to a recent survey. New plants discovered over the past year include nine species of a climbing vine used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, the survey found. “The report is highlighting the huge potential that there is for plants, in areas like diabetes and malaria,” said Monique Simmonds, deputy director of science at the world-famous botanical group. The report said two plants, artemisinin and quinine, are “among the most important weapons” against malaria, which killed over 400,000 people in 2015
Thiruvananthapuram: Ambulances mere showpieces!
Many of the ambulances available at Government health centres in the district do not cater to patients due to the absence of drivers or their unwillingness to drive, say activists. The crew members of 108 ambulances say that this puts pressure on their fleet which was primarily meant to attend to accident cases. For instance, the ambulance at Nedumanagaud hospital has not been functioning during the dengue epidemic outbreak. The driver appointed by the Public Service Commission has gone on leave citing health issues
Worldwide drug sale forecasts fall as pricing pressures mount
Forecasts for global sales of pharmaceuticals have declined for the first time in a decade as continuing pressure on prices in the key U.S. market has caused analysts to moderate revenue expectations. Evaluate Pharma, which compiles consensus numbers based on analysts` forecasts, said worldwide drug sales were now expected to hit $1.06 trillion in 2022, down from $1.12 trillion predicted a year ago for the same period. It is the first time in 10 years that total drug sales have failed to beat the previous year`s forecast level
Patients in India are not empowered and this leads to distrust: Dr D S Ratna Devi
Dr D S Ratna Devi, CEO, DakshamA Health & Education, New Delhi, talks about the major issues that the patient faces in the current healthcare system, which is ‘all fragmented and once a patient enters into a system they are lost in it, they keep asking questions and they don`t get all answers from one services provider’. ‘There is a lot of variation between what happens in the diagnostic area, treatment area and post treatment. There isn`t information given to the patient and that is why there is a lot of distrust and people don`t feel empowered at all’
Counterfeit curers: They claim to be doctors, but they are not
They say they are doctors but they are not. And they are a big reason why India`s healthcare system is not in the best of health. As part of the series Bad Medicine - The Ugly Truth of Indian Healthcare, CNBC TV18`s Archana Shukla uncovers a parallel world of unqualified medical practitioners, who appear to fill gaps in the public health system, but more often than not, create medical complications
As Philippines battle grinds on, some displaced die in centres
Four weeks since fierce fighting broke out in the southern Philippines, some people who fled the battle are dying in over-crowded and unsanitary evacuation centres, health officials say. Alinader Minalang, the health director for the Lanao del Sur province which includes Marawi, said 300 cases of diarrhoea had been recorded among the nearly 40,000 people huddled in emergency shelters set up in community halls, gymnasiums and Islamic schools. Many of those who died were elderly and had pre-existing conditions, but at least two of the fatalities were due to diarrhoea
Bad for health
A notice issued by India’s health ministry expert committee in the first week of June signals the government’s intention to usher major change in India’s pharmaceutical sector. Currently, 98 per cent of the Indian pharmaceutical industry uses animal parts-based capsules. But the government has been pitching for “vegetarian capsules” for the past two years. However, there is little medical — or commercial — reasoning behind this proposal. By all accounts, a switch over to cellulose-based capsules could jeopardise the government’s recent initiatives to make medicines accessible to all
Allen AI Joins Microsoft, Baidu to Help Empower Academic Searches
Paul Allen`s artificial intelligence institute is putting together a coalition including Microsoft Corp., Google, Baidu Inc. and the Gates Foundation to share technology and ideas to help scientific researchers and academics find and take advantage of the latest discoveries and information. Called the Open Academic Search project, the goal is to aid researchers by having the companies, institutes and non-profits involved make their AI and analysis tools open-source, or freely available to other groups to use and tweak. The project seeks to empower researchers, doctors and professors to use the latest discoveries amid a sea of new work and data that`s being created too rapidly for anyone to keep track
FDA moves to prevent Pharma from `gaming` generic drug system
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration moved to prevent pharmaceutical companies from "gaming" the system to block or delay entry of generic rivals. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that the agency plans to hold a public meeting on July 18 to identify ways pharmaceutical companies are using FDA rules to place obstacles in the way of generic competition. "We know that sometimes our regulatory rules might be `gamed` in ways that may delay generic drug approvals beyond the time frame the law intended, in order to reduce competition," he said. "We are actively looking at ways our rules are being used and, in some cases, misused."
Missouri attorney general sues opioid manufacturers
ssouri has become the third U.S. state to accuse major drug manufacturers of fraudulently misrepresenting the risks of opioid painkillers now at the centre of a national addiction epidemic. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said his office filed a lawsuit in a state court against Purdue Pharma LP, Johnson & Johnson`s Janssen Pharmaceuticals and a unit of Endo International Plc. Last week a bipartisan group of state attorneys general announced an investigation. Purdue, J&J and Endo were previously sued in similar lawsuits by the Ohio and Mississippi attorneys general, who also targeted Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd and Allergan Plc
So Much for Trump Going After Pharma
President Donald Trump has gone from promising to bring down drug prices to looking like he`s been captured by Big Pharma in just a few short months. The president started out the year ripping into drug makers and threatening to make firms bid for government business but now, rather than pushing for pricing legislation, his administration is reportedly settling for an executive order -- which, according to a Kaiser Health News report, may end up looking more like a pharma wish list than a menu of onerous demands. The regulations the industry fears most include those that would give the government more negotiating power and limit drug monopolies. Those increasingly seem to be off the table
Eight `absentee` doctors from Gurugram sent packing by Haryana Government
After a stern warning, the Haryana Government finally cracked the whip by dismissing 160 doctors (including eight from Gurugram) for being absent from duty for several weeks. Besides Gurugram, large numbers of doctors that have been dismissed are 10 doctors from Hissar, nine from Bhiwani, eight from Fatehabad and eight from Kurukshetra
Communicable diseases
Government asks private clinics to submit list of AIDS patients they are treating
The National Aids Control Organization (NACO) under ministry of health and family welfare has written to all states and Union territories in India to direct private clinics and hospitals in their respective areas to compile and submit a list of HIV/AIDS cases they are treating. The move has been taken in a bid to get a definite data on HIV/AIDS
FDA approves new antibiotic to treat serious skin infections
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new treatment for patients with acute bacterial skin infections, made by privately held Melinta Therapeutics. The drug, Baxdela, or delafloxacin, is designed to treat skin and skin structure infections caused by a range of bacteria, including methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA
Walgreens - Greater Than AIDS - Unite to Serve Against HIV/AIDS
Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. recently formed an alliance with Greater Than AIDS, a national public information group, focused on the U.S. domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic. This is not the first time that Walgreens has teamed up with Greater Than AIDS. For the past six years, the companies have been coordinating with health departments and local AIDS service organizations (ASOs) as part of a National HIV Testing Day effort to offer free HIV testing and counseling on prevention strategies, including Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
Researchers develop new concept to predict universal anti-influenza drugs
University of Hertfordshire researchers have developed a new concept which could lead to the discovery of universal anti-influenza drugs. To predict the drugs, researchers first characterised the drug target – the viral PB2 protein required for the virus to become infectious – by analysing 12,000 sequences to assess its variability and identify constant regions. Secondly, they computationally scanned the PB2 protein surface for binding sites and then screened more than 40,000 molecules for binding. They also screened 1738 small molecule drugs which have been approved for humans and predicted that the antipsychotic paliperidone binds to the influenza PB2 protein. The results of this work enables laboratory-based virologists to test these computationally predicted drugs, in order to take the research onto the next stage
Trial to examine effect of Zika in infants, young children infected postnatally
A new trial funded by the NIH will examine the impact of Zika virus infection on early brain development in infants and young children in rural Guatemala who were infected after birth. It will include a cohort of approximately 300 infants and young children under 5 who acquired Zika or dengue virus infection, as well as a cohort of 500 new borns without Zika virus infection and a sibling cohort of approximately 400 young children. Researchers will follow the participants for at least 1 year to compare the outcomes of Zika-infected participants with those of non-Zika-infected participants who will be screened for a wide ranging set of neurologic issues
More U.S. counties are finding mosquitoes that can spread Zika
With the summer mosquito season in full swing in many states, a new report shows a significant increase in U.S. counties across the South that have reported mosquitoes capable of spreading Zika and related viruses. Two types of mosquitoes are the primary transmitters of Zika, dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya viruses. Based on updated data collected through 2016, research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 38 additional counties — primarily in Texas but as far north as Illinois — documented the presence of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, Zika`s main vector. That`s an increase of 21 percent compared with an earlier 2016 survey
Moving Mountains: A Surgeon’s Fight to Legalize HIV-to-HIV Organ Transplants
An interview with Peter Stock MD, a transplant surgeon at UC San Francisco whose research has formed the core of the campaign to lift the HIV-to-HIV organ transplantation ban which were, until recently, illegal under state laws which were written at the height of the AIDS scare in the 1980s. Those bans were repealed thanks in part to ground breaking research by Stock that showed that transplants in HIV patients could be done safely and effectively
Biological fingerprint of tuberculosis meningitis discovered in children
Children with tuberculosis meningitis have a biological fingerprint that can be used to assess the severity of the condition, help decide the best course of treatment, and provide clues for novel treatments
AI lab-reader set for hospital trial
Australian-developed technology using artificial intelligence to rapidly diagnose infectious diseases is set for a laboratory trial at St Vincent`s Hospital in Melbourne. Medical technology firm LBT Innovations has developed the APAS Independence instrument, which automatically analyses and interprets growth on microbiology culture plates, enabling faster and more efficient diagnosis and reporting of infectious diseases. The product will be trialled at St Vincent`s Hospital from September, and LBT said it will then be trialled in other laboratories around the world.
Non communicable diseases
U.S. Supreme Court ruling threatens massive talc litigation against J&J
Johnson & Johnson is seizing upon a U.S. Supreme Court ruling limiting where injury lawsuits can be filed to fight off claims it failed to warn women that talcum powder could cause ovarian cancer. A fifth of the plaintiffs have cases pending in state court in St. Louis, where juries in four trials have hit J&J and a talc supplier with $307 million in verdicts. Those four cases and most of the others on the St. Louis docket involve out-of-state plaintiffs suing an out-of-state company. On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in a case involving Bristol-Myers Squibb Co that state courts cannot hear claims against companies that are not based in the state when the alleged injuries did not occur there
Global diabetes jumped 40% in the last two years, report says
Aetna International released “Diabetes: The world’s weightiest health challenge,” that found that diabetes has nearly doubled around the world since 2014-2016 with a 69% increase in North and South America last year alone. However, the Middle East and Africa were among the hardest hit, having the highest rate of diabetes over the last two years—that were twice the size of Europe and the Americas—and triple of Southeast Asia. Stella George, M.D. and senior medical director at Aetna International, who co-authored the report says the disease has the power to destroy “economies” if we don’t try to stop it now
New Three-in-One Blood Test for Prostate Cancer
Scientists have developed a three-in-one blood test that could transform treatment of advanced prostate cancer through use of precision drugs designed to target mutations in the BRCA genes. By testing cancer DNA in the bloodstream, researchers found they could pick out which men with advanced prostate cancer were likely to benefit from treatment with PARP inhibitors. They also used the test to analyse DNA in the blood after treatment had started, so people who were not responding could be identified and switched to alternative therapy in as little as four to eight weeks
In just one year, nearly 1.3 million Americans needed hospital care for opioid-related issues
The coast-to-coast opioid epidemic is swamping hospitals, with government data showing 1.27 million emergency room visits or inpatient stays for opioid-related issues in a single year. The 2014 numbers, the latest available for every state and the District of Columbia, reflect a 64 percent increase for inpatient care and a 99 percent jump for emergency room treatment compared to figures from 2005. Their trajectory likely will keep climbing if the epidemic continues unabated
WHO links Yoga to preventing lifestyle diseases; says it can be practised at all ages
“Yoga can be practised at all ages. It can prevent lifestyle diseases,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, said ahead of the International Day of Yoga. She said the only requirement is “a commitment to better health and a willingness to gently stretch, exercise and invigorate one’s body and mind”. “It (Yoga) can help kids get the 60 minutes of daily activity (which is) needed to set up a lifetime of good health. It can help adults reach the 150 minutes of weekly activity needed to stave off non-communicable diseases,” she said. “For persons aged 65 and above it can help reduce the risk of depression and maintain cognitive functioning”.
Anti-PCSK9 vaccine lowers cholesterol, atherosclerosis in mice
A study published in the European Heart Journal concludes that it may be possible to immunize people against developing high cholesterol and atherosclerosis, or the narrowing of the arteries. The vaccine, AT04A, consists of a molecule that prompts the body to produce antibodies against the enzyme. Once PCSK9 is inhibited, the body is able to properly clear LDL cholesterol. When the vaccine was injected in mice that were fed fatty food to induce high cholesterol and atherosclerosis, their total cholesterol fell 53%. Damage to blood vessels fell 64%, while blood vessel inflammation decreased by at least 21%, the scientists said
BRCA1, BRCA2 study provides new clarity on breast cancer risk for carriers of gene mutations
A new study has provided a better understanding of the risk of breast cancer for carriers of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation, which points to the need for early identification and lifelong monitoring of the disease. The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association involved almost 10,000 women in Australia, the United States and Europe over 20 years, and found that those with the BRCA1 mutation had, on average, a 72 per cent risk of developing breast cancer by the age of 80. For those with the BRCA2 mutation, the risk of breast cancer was 69 per cent and the lifetime risk of ovarian cancer was 17 per cent
Public ignorant about Noncommunicable diseases, says minister
Health Minister Dr. Jane Aceng has called for sensitization of the public about non-communicable diseases. Speaking during an alignment meeting in Kampala, Aceng said there is an increase of NCDs, adding that about 97% of the population do not know about these diseases. She added that a recent study on NCDs shows that heart diseases are on the rise, hypertension at 10% and diabetes at 3%. Aceng said in the cost effective management of diseases, emphasis should be placed on ability to detect them as early as possible
Combo of sleep apnea and insomnia linked to depression in men
Men with both obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia are much more likely to have depression symptoms compared to men with either sleep disorder alone, suggests a recent Australian study. The depression symptoms also seem to be worse for men who have both apnea and insomnia compared to men with depression but without this combination of sleep problems, the authors report in the journal Respirology. Researchers found that more than half of the men had undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea
Occasional smokers who vape smoke more cigarettes
Tobacco companies have been selling electronic cigarettes as a way to wean smokers off paper cigarettes, but a new study suggests the strategy could backfire. The report in Preventive Medicine found that young adults who occasionally smoked conventional cigarettes smoked more of them if they also used e-cigarettes. “The participants who were vaping ended up using more cigarettes. It’s actually a risk factor for increasing their cigarette use,” lead author Neal Doran said
Air pollution tied to survival odds for liver cancer patients
For people diagnosed with liver cancer, living in an area with heavy air pollution from industry, traffic or smoke is linked to lower odds of survival, a California study finds. The association between levels of tiny particles known as PM 2.5 in the air and death from liver cancer or from any cause was strongest for people with the least advanced cancers, researchers report in the International Journal of Cancer. “Our study suggests that liver cancer patients may be another susceptible group that could benefit from reductions in air pollution,” study co-author Sandrah Eckel said
Tonga’s obesity epidemic is causing big trouble in paradise
According to a recent academic paper published by the UK medical magazine Lancet, Tonga is now the “most obese country in the world”. Today over 90 per cent of adults in this island nation of 107,000 people are either obese or overweight using the internationally-accepted BMI rating. In Tonga, average life expectancy has dropped from 72 ½ years in 2012 to 67 years today. And this former British Protectorate is now facing an epidemic of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and respiratory illnesses
Screen kids and teens for obesity, U.S. experts say
Children and teens should be screened for obesity at doctors` offices starting at age 6 and advised to attend intensive weight management programs if needed, according to a U.S.-government backed panel. The recommendation, from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), reinforces the panel`s previous guidelines, according to its chairperson. "Overall, (the) prevalence of obesity has levelled off, but we do see increasing rates in some populations," said Dr. David Grossman, of the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle
Promoting health through the life course
Suburban docs and parents are OK talking about food insecurity
In 2015 and 2016, researchers had healthcare providers at six doctors` offices in suburban Philadelphia screen for food insecurity when parents brought children for their 2-month, 15-month and 36-month check-ups. Altogether, the parents of 5,645 children were asked two questions: Had they ever run out of food for their family in the past year and had they ever worried about running out of food. About 77 percent of the families were successfully screened. About 3 percent answered yes to one of the two questions. With their permission, those families were connected with a non-profit organization that helps people apply for government food assistance programs
Lives in limbo: Why Japan accepts so few refugees
Despite being one of the most generous government donors to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - Japan was ranked the fourth biggest contributor in 2016 after the US, the EU and Germany - it has long been closed to immigration and reluctant to accept refugees. In 2016, a record 10,901 people applied or appealed rejected asylum claims, with the highest number of applicants coming from Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines and Turkey. Japan accepted 28, or less than one percent of applicants
Teach the fathers of tomorrow to keep girls in school today, study shows
The Asante Africa Foundation said girls` attendance increased by 80 percent in Kenyan and Tanzanian schools where its project taught about 9,000 adolescent girls, 3,000 mothers and 500 boys about problems like teenage pregnancy and domestic violence. "If we want to ensure that the next generation of women are given the chance to receive a quality education then we must train our boys to be champions for girls` equality," Erna Grasz, founder of the U.S.-based charity, said
U.S: New York Governor Signs Anti-Child Marriage Law
New York State has taken an important step toward ending child marriage, as Governor Andrew Cuomo on June 20, 2017 signed legislation to dramatically reduce the circumstances under which children can marry, Human Rights Watch said. Between 2001 to 2010, 3,850 children under 18 married in New York State. Under the previous law, the minimum age for marriage in New York was 18, but the law allowed children of 16 and 17 to marry with parental approval, and children of 14 and 15 to marry with permission from a judge and their parents. The vast majority of US states permit marriage under age 18 under some circumstances. In 27 US states, there is no limit to how young a child can marry if a judge authorizes the marriage
The World Bank reinvents itself – and puts poverty reduction at risk
The World Bank’s relationship with US president Donald Trump has raised concerns about its political neutrality in recent weeks, but a larger and potentially much more important shift in how the Bank operates is underway.” “The World Bank” say many academics and policy analysts, “is reinventing itself, from a lender for major development projects, to a broker for private sector investment.” “De-risking” entire countries for private sector investors is likely to include policies such as strict inflation controls, large-scale privatisations, rapid trade liberalisation and strong government cutbacks on social spending. These have in the past made World Bank lending activities notoriously destructive for developing countries
Northern Cape teachers are literally sick and tired and considering leaving the profession
A report by the Human Sciences Research Council indicates that absenteeism of 20 days or more was highest among teachers in the Northern Cape, with 28.4 percent of teachers in the Province off sick for more than 20 days last year. “An increase in self-reported NCDs is now evident, suggesting an increased level of morbidity in this population. However, teachers’ personal problems also influence absenteeism,” the report states. The overall HIV prevalence among teachers in South Africa was 15.3 percent, translating to approximately 58,000 teachers living with HIV in South Africa
A Step Back for Gender Equality in the Board Room
Just under 28 percent of the 431 open board seats in Fortune 500 companies were awarded to women in 2016, down from 30 percent the year before. In today`s "Walk the Talk," Bloomberg`s Jeff Green takes a look at gender equality in the board room
Placing gender equity in Stem on the radar
The skills shortage in science, technology, engineering and maths is deepening. There are plenty of jobs in the industry, but there are not enough people to fill the roles. The problem is, to a significant extent, caused by the failure of Stem to attract women. Fewer than 25 per cent of people working in Stem are female. Policy-makers have come to recognise that this is more than an issue of equality, and that the lack of female participation in Stem leads not only to a reduced labour pool but also to a world where technology and science is primarily made by men for men
No modification on ban on insecticide spraying onboard: NGT
The National Green Tribunal has refused to modify its direction banning spray of disinfectants in aircraft while passengers are on board saying there was no “apparent error” in its earlier order. A vacation bench headed by Justice U D Salvi declined to review its August 2015 order and junked the submission that spraying of Permethrin insecticide in the plane while the passengers are onboard does not cause harm to human health
CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna on gene editing’s potential for good and evil
CRISPR gives scientists the power to radically and irreversibly alter the biosphere by providing a way to rewrite the very molecules of life any way we wish. There needs to be more discussions of the possibilities it presents for good and for ill. However, even though it is still a thrilling moment for life sciences, we all have a responsibility to consider any ramifications in advance and engage in an inclusive conversation about how to harness gene editing in a natural world context
EU response to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – a sustainable European future
The Council calls on the Commission to set out by mid-2018 an implementation strategy with timelines, objectives and concrete measures to implement the 2030 Agenda in all EU policies. The Commission should also identify by mid-2018 gaps where the EU needs to do more by 2030 in the areas of policy, legislation, governance structures for horizontal coherence and implementation
India submits report on sustainable development goals to UN
The review is centred around the goals of ending poverty and hunger, and ensuring healthy lives, besides achieving gender equality, building resilient infrastructure, etc. On ending poverty in all its forms, it said there was compelling evidence that the rapid growth India has achieved following the economic reforms in 1991 had led to significant reduction in poverty. The report cited Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to emphasise that over two billion person-days of employment were generated during 2016-17 alone, largely for the disadvantaged sections of society
NGO to launch water initiative in Kibera
A Non-Governmental Organization is set to embark on a sustainable water project that is expected to transform Kibera and vastly improve the quality of life of residents there. According to the Nourafchan Foundation (TNF) the initiative will be commissioned during its inaugural community celebration, with this year’s theme titled ‘The Big Splash’. “Until recently Kibera’s only source was the Nairobi dam whose unsanitary waters are rife with infections like typhoid and cholera,” the NGO said
Early weather forecasts key to saving lives in drought - U.N.
With droughts set to become more frequent due to global warming, delivering timely, long-term weather forecasts to farmers in the developing world will be key to limiting damage and saving lives, the head of the U.N. food agency said. Better access to reliable weather data and early warning systems could help farmers in rural areas get ready to endure long spells of no rain, said FAO director-general Jose Graziano da Silva. "Most of the times poor rural communities in developing countries don`t even know that a drought is about to strike," he added
Nearly 1,300 U.S. kids die from gunshot wounds each year
Firearms kill almost 1,300 American youngsters each year, and boys and black children are most often the victims, a U.S. study finds. During the 13-year study, more than half of the gun-related deaths were homicides, while 38 percent were suicides and 6 percent were fatalities from accidental gun injuries, researchers report in Pediatrics. Each year, guns seriously wounded about 5,800 additional kids under 18. “Firearm injuries are a leading cause of death among U.S. children aged 1 to 17 years and contribute substantially each year to premature death, illness and disability of children,” said lead study author Katherine Fowler of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta
Hotline, `gender champions` tackle violence against girls in drought-hit Kenya
A group of women and men – drawn from community members, police officers, journalists, health workers, and non-governmental organisations, among others – have set up a gender support desk and hotline in Wajir for victims of violence. Once a girl calls the toll-free number, the group alerts a local colleague or police officer, who investigates the accusation while providing the victim with moral and medical support. If the allegation is found to be substantiated and the victim is willing to come forward, the gender desk helps her bring the case to court. The initiative, which is part of the Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) programme, is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and led by Mercy Corps
Caring like a kangaroo: India can cut neonatal death toll, world’s highest
Although the rate of neonatal mortality in India has declined from 52 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 28 in 2013, the rate of decline has been slower than that of infant and under-five mortality. One of the best low-cost interventions that can save lives with babies younger than four weeks who die every year is regular skin contact, like kangaroo mothers – an expert said
Conflict, drought push "unprecedented" 81 million into food aid - study
Prolonged conflicts and droughts have left an unprecedented 81 million people needing food aid in 2017, a specialist U.S.-based agency said, revising up its earlier estimates. People in 45 countries are unable to feed themselves, said the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), which issues alarms about food shortages to the U.S. government. "Additional contributions to emergency appeals, particularly in these four countries, are urgently needed to prevent large-scale loss of life," FEWS NET said
Humanitarian aid hits record $27.3bn, but Middle East donors cut contributions
International humanitarian aid hit a record $27.3 billion last year, but several leading donors in the Middle East slashed their contributions, data showed. Although total assistance rose for a fourth consecutive year, the pace of growth slowed, UK-based research organisation Development Initiatives said. One factor behind the slowdown may have been the lack of any sudden large scale disaster such as the 2015 Nepal earthquake or 2014 West African Ebola epidemic
U.N. glimpses into blockchain future with eye scan payments for refugees
Thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan`s Azraq camp don`t pay for their food with cash but by a scan of their eyes. Purchases are then recorded on a computing platform based on block chain - the technology behind bitcoin. Iris recognition devices at the checkouts of the camp`s supermarket authenticate customers` identities and deduct what they spend from sums they receive as aid from the World Food Programme. The U.N. agency launched the futuristic system in May as a one-month pilot involving 10,000 of Azraq`s more than 50,000 inhabitants in a bid to explore block chain`s potential to cut costs and bottlenecks
Indian police thwart indigenous people in land complaints, activists say
Indigenous people in central India are thwarted by police when trying to file complaints about their land being forcefully taken, activists say, highlighting the enormous challenges they face in securing their land rights. More than 80 tribal men and women in Chhattisgarh state who say they were coerced, threatened and duped into giving up their land, could not file First Information Reports last week in Raigarh city. "They didn`t even realise they no longer owned their land, or who the new owners were. That is why it took them so long to approach the police, who are always resistant to filing FIRs in these matters," Sudha Bharadwaj, a rights lawyer, said