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"World Health Minute" 27 June, 2017

News Highlights
Yemen Now Faces `The Worst Cholera Outbreak In The World,` U.N. Says Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF, and Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, say that "more than 1,300 people have died — one quarter of them children — and the death toll is expected to rise." They suspect that is because Yemen now has upwards of 200,000 cases to grapple with, and that number is growing quickly — by a rate of roughly 5,000 cases a day. "And geographically, it is expanding," Mohamed El Montassir Hussein, Yemen director for the International Rescue Committee, told NPR`s Jason Beaubien earlier this month
Number of dengue patients exceed 69,380 The number of dengue patients in Sri Lanka has risen to 69,380. Two hundred deaths have been reported and the majority came from the Western Province of Sri Lanka. The health ministry said the percentage of schoolchildren getting dengue fever has increased by 20%
Asian strain of zika virus has mutated: Scientists In a cause for concern, the Asian strain of zika virus has mutated, the scientists have confirmed. According to Hyderabad doctors, zika virus has been most possibly present in the country for decades, but due to lack of diagnostic facilities at the local level, the disease has gone undetected. Now that the WHO has confirmed the presence of zika virus in Hyderabad, they warn that a strong surveillance is needed to prevent the spread of the virus, particularly in the backdrop of research reports that the Asian strain of zika has mutated. "We have not yet developed widely accessible tests for zika infection. We may, at times miss out the coinfection due to low index of suspicion and poor availability of diagnostic tests," experts warned
Over 100 Million Nigerians Cannot Afford Treatment In Public Hospitals Over 67 percent of Nigerians, which amounts to over a hundred million poor families, cannot afford to pay hospital bills for treatment of illnesses such as malaria in public health facilities, Speaker Yakubu Dogara has disclosed. He added that if Nigeria is to achieve its national health objective of providing health for all, a situation where poor and vulnerable families in Nigeria do not have access to basic health services must be addressed by extending the coverage of national health insurance to them
Preparedness, surveillance and response
Yemen Now Faces `The Worst Cholera Outbreak In The World,` U.N. Says
Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF, and Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, say that "more than 1,300 people have died — one quarter of them children — and the death toll is expected to rise." They suspect that is because Yemen now has upwards of 200,000 cases to grapple with, and that number is growing quickly — by a rate of roughly 5,000 cases a day. "And geographically, it is expanding," Mohamed El Montassir Hussein, Yemen director for the International Rescue Committee, told NPR`s Jason Beaubien earlier this month
Kenya cholera outbreak hits dozens at health conference
Nearly 50 people have contracted cholera while attending a health conference in Kenya`s capital. The infected delegates were among hundreds who had gathered for the four day forum organised by the Ministry of Health. They have been isolated in a city hospital, but health officials say the number of people infected may rise. It is unclear how they caught the disease, which has led to five deaths in the past month
Cholera cases in North Darfur, Khartoum, eastern Sudan
The cholera epidemic that has claimed hundreds of lives throughout Sudan`s Nile valley has now spread to North Darfur. Nine people have reportedly died and about 82 others have been infected with cholera over the last four days at camp Naivasha in Shangil Tobaya locality, North Darfur. The former director of Nahar Medical and Health Organisation working in the area, Abdallah Rasheed, reported that on Wednesday, 47 patients, including four children, were suffering from acute watery diarrhoea and vomiting - characteristic symptoms of cholera
Red Cross official warns of cholera, famine risks in East Africa, Yemen
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned United Nation member states that outbreaks of cholera are compounding famine risk in East Africa and Yemen. According to IFRC figures, Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan are now grappling with escalating cholera outbreaks that have infected more than 220,000 people and killed nearly 2,100 people since the beginning of 2017. In Yemen alone, more than 166,000 cases have been reported since the end of April, a figure that is climbing by an average of 6,000 cases every day, IFRC said. In Somalia, there have been more than 51,000 cholera cases and nearly 5,000 in South Sudan
Dealing with increasing cases of monkey malaria in humans
There are increasing reports of monkey malaria, most of which are due to P. knowlesi, and which has established itself as the fifth Plasmodium species that infects humans. It has not been determined whether P. knowlesi is naturally transmitted from one human to another by the mosquito, without the natural intermediate host (monkeys). As such, P. knowlesi is still considered a zoonotic infection. There were 4,553 and 204 cases reported from Sabah and Sarawak, and Peninsular Malaysia from 2004 to 2016 respectively. The infection has also been reported in Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and China with 465, 37, 33, six, five, three, one and one cases respectively
H1N1 bigger killer than dengue and malaria in Maharashtra
The H1N1 influenza virus which entered the list of infectious diseases with a global pandemic in 2009, has overtaken dengue and malaria to become the biggest killer among seasonal ailments in Maharashtra. In the first half of 2017 alone, 247 people died of the airborne disease in Maharashtra, including 10 in Mumbai. Three deaths occurred in the last week, two of the victims being a pregnant woman and another a TB patient. Early diagnosis is becoming an issue with doctors waiting for test results. In H1N1, however, mortality could go up to 20% if treatment has not been started in the first five days, experts said
Bird flu pandemic worse than 2009 swine flu outbreak could be on its way to Britain
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth urged the Government to say what measures it is taking to improve preparedness to deal with such an outbreak. Scientists fear a bird flu pandemic worse than the 2009 swine flu outbreak could be heading Britain’s way. More than 1,300 bird flu victims have been identified, mostly in China. Of those, 476 have died, a rate of more than one in three. There are also victims in Indonesia, Egypt and Vietnam, and two cases in Canada of people travelling from China
Number of dengue patients exceed 69,380
The number of dengue patients in Sri Lanka has risen to 69,380. Two hundred deaths have been reported and the majority came from the Western Province of Sri Lanka. The health ministry said the percentage of schoolchildren getting dengue fever has increased by 20%
Dengue cases up in Zamboanga City
Zamboanga City health officials are reporting an increase in dengue fever cases prompting them to warn of an imminent outbreak. Based on data from the City Health Office, dengue cases for the months of April and May were significantly higher, registering 130 and 188 cases, respectively, as opposed to 97 and 127 cases reported last year for the same time period. Most cases are reported in children
92 Swine Flu patients found in Mumbai in a week, death toll climbs to 10
As many as 92 people were found to be H1N1 infected in the last week in Mumbai. This brings the number of total swine flu infected patients to 285 in 2017. Between 16 June to 22 June, 92 patients who were infected with H1N1 were admitted in different hospitals in Mumbai. Out of 285, 10 infected people have died. Six out of 68 H1N1 infected patients, brought from other cities to Mumbai for treatment, also lost their lives
The U.N. owes Haiti relief from cholera epidemic it introduced
Seven years after its soldiers sparked the world’s worst cholera epidemic in Haiti, the United Nations is finally preparing to close its MINUSTAH peacekeeping mission there. When MINUSTAH soldiers discharged contaminated waste into the Artibonite River in 2010, sparking a massive cholera outbreak, the U.N. denied its role in the tragedy, in defiance of overwhelming evidence and the organization’s own obligations. While the U.N. ignored cholera’s victims, at least 10,000 Haitians died from the disease (though the U.N. has reported that the number may be three times as high). Today, cholera continues to wreak havoc on the people of Haiti, and the crisis has weakened the organization’s credibility as a human rights defender
Dengue cases in Bengaluru shoot up by nearly 1,000 over a month
Dengue cases increased from 541 in the first week of May to 1,425 till Thursday. Chikungunya saw a spike from 132 in the first week of May to 284 till Thursday. As many as 21 fresh cases of chikungunya were confirmed on Thursday. The silver lining is the fact that there have been no deaths in the state so far
First Chikungunya-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes found in Brazil
While more than 13,000 cases of Chikungunya viral disease were reported in Brazil in 2015, scientists had never before detected the virus in a captured mosquito in this country. Now, researchers have identified a mosquito -- caught in the Brazilian city of Aracaju -- that`s naturally infected with the East-Central-South-African (ECSA) genotype of Chikungunya. Four strains of mosquitoes were captured, with Culex quinquefasciatus the most common, making up 78.2%, and Ae. aegypti making up 20.2% of the mosquitoes. One female Aedes aegypti mosquito was identified as carrying CHIKV and when the genome was sequenced, it was found to be the ECSA genotype
Dramatic increase in dengue cases in Tamil Nadu, Kerala
Dengue fever is spreading fast in the southern tip of India. Tamil Nadu ranked second in the country with 3,259 cases and two deaths in 2017 so far, compared to 2,500 cases and five deaths last year. Its neighbor, Kerala, is not far behind. Seven out of 10 dengue cases reported in the country are registered in these two states, according to the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme. Coimbatore, Pollachi, Udumalpet, Palani, Theni, Kadaiyanallur, Kanyakumari and Sankarankoil were reported to be the worst affected areas
How rubber plantations are exacerbating the dengue outbreak in one north Kerala area
Many residents of Koorachundu, in Kozhikode district in north Kerala, have been affected with fever in the last three months. Media reports suggest that about 12,000 residents have been infected with some kind of viral fever in the panchayat, which has a total population of 17,000. The microcosm of the Koorachundu panchayat reflects the falling health standards across Kerala. Reports suggest cups used to collect latex from where rubber trees were grown are a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Another is the fact coconut farmers have not cleaned the crown of palm trees and the fibrous stalks remain a good habitat for mosquitoes
Pacific News Minute: Dengue Outbreak in Palau; Mumps in the Marshall Islands
At least a thousand mumps cases have been confirmed since an outbreak began in March. The Ministry of Health notes that the number of cases has been dropping in recent weeks, but Radio New Zealand reports concern that the drop could be due to under reporting and that the real number could be as high as three thousand. Three people are reported dead among 200 infected by Dengue fever in Palau. On a visit to Taipei, Health Minister Emais Roberts welcomed the donation of three intravenous infusion pumps and 240 canisters of mosquito repellent to assist in the epidemic
Seven succumb to dengue in Penang
Malaysian State Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin said at the moment there are two dengue hotspots on the island namely in Sri Wangsa 2, George Town, and Taman Bukit Jambul in Bukit Jambul. “Penang has recorded seven dengue deaths up till June 8.” “The total number of dengue cases reported this year up till June 17 is 1,110 cases”
Outbreak hits 24 at Kampong Speu prison
Twenty-four inmates in Kampong Speu’s provincial prison – where five prisoners escaped earlier this week – are reportedly experiencing a combination of respiratory difficulties, coughing, skin rashes and swollen legs. Visiting the prison after the escape, Licadho Provincial Coordinator Ung Somith observed inmates suffering from a variety of ailments, which he described as “swollen legs, lung sickness, cough and skin diseases”. Somith said he could not determine whether the prisoners had tuberculosis but that inmates had trouble breathing
Ten H7N9 cases confirmed in China as poultry outbreak noted
The Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP) reported 10 additional cases of H7N9 avian flu, all in men, including 2 deaths. Nine out of the 10 patients had known exposure to live poultry or poultry markets. The men`s ages range from 31 to 79, and the cases are reported from a wide swath of China, including two each in Beijing and Sichuan, and one each in Anhui, Guizhou, Hebei, Jiangsu, and Tianjin provinces and in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
South Africa reports outbreak of H5N8 bird flu, industry body says
South Africa reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu at a farm in the Free State province, agricultural industry body group AgriSA said. Poultry producer Astral confirmed that the H5N8 bird flu strain was found on its Villiers farm on the outskirts of the Free State province. The company said the farm had been quarantined and the site affected would be depleted of all birds. "Astral assures all stakeholders that everything is being done to contain this incident. If this incident is contained to that specific site and/or farm Astral’s contingency plans do ensure continued operations with no impact,” Astral Managing Director, Agriculture, Gary Arnold said
Harare City Council should take blame for continued typhoid outbreak
Cases of typhoid continue to be reported in Harare with latest statistics from a weekly disease surveillance report (covering week ending June 4) from the Ministry of Health and Child Care indicating that 14 cases were reported in Harare
Health systems
Over 100 Million Nigerians Cannot Afford Treatment In Public Hospitals
Over 67 percent of Nigerians, which amounts to over a hundred million poor families, cannot afford to pay hospital bills for treatment of illnesses such as malaria in public health facilities, Speaker Yakubu Dogara has disclosed. He added that if Nigeria is to achieve its national health objective of providing health for all, a situation where poor and vulnerable families in Nigeria do not have access to basic health services must be addressed by extending the coverage of national health insurance to them
KMA says Cholera outbreak a sign of broken healthcare system
The Kenya Medical Association (KMA) has said the recent outbreak of cholera where 26 people were infected is a sign of a broken primary health care system in the country. National Chairperson Jacqueline Kitulu stated that primary health care falls squarely under the county governments under the devolved system of government and must be taken seriously
Stop giving soldiers banned malaria drug, says Sinn Féin
An attempt to ban use of a controversial anti-malaria drug by Irish soldiers will be launched in the Dáil this week. Sinn Féin is claiming that it has cross-party support for a motion it will table to stop Lariam being given to Defence Forces personnel on overseas duty. Lariam, the brand name for mefloquine, has been associated with severe side-effects causing long-term mental health effects including depression, suicidal thoughts and hallucinations. Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Sinn Féin’s defence spokesman, said there were other anti-malaria drugs on the market such as Malarone and Doxycycline that were considered safer with less dangerous side-effects
P1.4B dengue vaccine undispensed, mired in controversy
The Philippine government procured 3 million doses in 2015 for P3 billion to strengthen its anti-dengue campaign. It was meant to immunize one million public school students. Touted as the world’s first dengue vaccine, the cache of Dengvaxia is a remnant of the previous administration’s school based dengue immunization program. Today, less than half a million children have been vaccinated. An estimated P1.44 billion worth of vaccines continue to sit idly in the ice-cold storage. Dr. Anthony Leachon, past president of the Philippine College of Physicians, said the previous government should have purchased vaccines based on the number of parents who consented to the vaccination of their children, not the number of target beneficiaries
Broke on Eid: Dengue workers awaiting salaries as season approaches
Eidul-Fitr is around the corner and around 3,000 people who work as dengue workers and vaccinators in the city haven’t been paid yet. Around 400 workers, associated with the Shalamar Union Council, are also waiting to be made permanent by the health department since 2011. Almost every year, the workers are told by the health department their employment would be regularised by the next dengue season. The health department spokesperson said ‘instead of pressuring the health department, they should wait their turns to receive appointment letters’
5000 Queensland babies on waiting list for tuberculosis vaccine
Just a year after the Queensland Government introduced its “no jab, no play” policy in a bid to combat anti-vaxxers, it has emerged 5000 of the state’s children are on a waiting list for a tuberculosis vaccine. A chronic global shortage of the Bacille Calmette Guerin vaccine meant it was unavailable in Australia for all of 2016 and health authorities are struggling to clear the backlog, leaving thousands of children without defence to the wasting disease once known as consumption
New partnership to increase access to cancer medicines in Kenya
Kenya is one of the countries that will benefit from market access agreements between the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) with Pfizer Inc. and Cipla Inc. to expand access to sixteen essential cancer treatment medications, including chemotherapies. The other countries include Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. The agreements will set competitive prices on the medicines, thus allowing African governments to realize substantial savings while improving the quality of available treatment
MSF urges Modi to withstand US pressure to change India`s IP laws
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has urged India to withstand U.S. pressure to change its drug regulatory and patent system as it could result in millions of people in the U.S. and around the world losing their lifeline of affordable medicines. It said that as an international medical humanitarian organization, MSF relies on affordable generic medicines produced in India to run its medical programs in more than 60 countries. MSF urged Modi to stand strong and protect India`s role as the "pharmacy of the developing world"
German court rejects compensation claim over faulty breast implants
Germany`s federal supreme court has rejected a woman`s claim for certification agency TÜV Rheinland to pay compensation for approving faulty breast implants produced by manufacturer PIP until its 2010 closure. Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP), the French company at the center of the scandal, sold implants globally over almost two decades until investigators discovered it was passing off low-grade industrial silicone as a much pricier medical product. The court said European regulations meant the agency had "no general duty to carry out unannounced inspections, to examine products and/or to check the manufacturer`s business documents"
Central African Republic health plan threatened by violence - WHO
As displaced people return to their homes in the capital of war-torn Central African Republic, they will need medical services but renewed violence threatens an already wounded healthcare system, the World Health Organization`s Africa director said. After more than four years of violence that have caused "extensive degradation" of health services, Central African Republic`s new national plan aims to re-establish public health systems and infrastructure, the WHO said
Solar energy powers clean water, business opportunities for refugees
As part of a broader initiative to help refugees access clean energy and sanitation, Water Mission is installing solar-powered water treatment facility in three refugee camps in western Tanzania. The $5.3 million project, funded by the Poul Due Jensen Foundation, is expected to provide safe water for some 250,000 refugees in Nyarugusu, Nduta and Mtendeli camps. According to Water Mission, the Tanzania project aims to pump 100 percent of the water using solar power, with diesel generators as back up. A recent shipment of 780 solar panels to Tanzania will produce 226,000 watts of power and provide a continuous supply of safe water to keep children in good health, it said
A decade under siege: Gaza health sector nears collapse
As the two million Palestinian residents of Gaza enter their 11th year under a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt, the many daily hardships they face are having an increasingly adverse effect on physical and mental health, particularly for the most vulnerable. Given the current local and international political landscape, conditions seem likely to deteriorate further, compounding adverse conditions for health and pushing a basic and fragile health system ever closer to collapse
India Fares Miserably in Providing Quality Healthcare Access to Its Citizens
India ranks last amongst all the BRICS nations in quality and access to healthcare, and 178th out of 195 countries worldwide. It even does poorly even compared to all of its neighbours, bar Pakistan. The second largest and the fastest growing economy in the region, India saw its gap widening by 5.5 points, 1.4 points less than Pakistan, in 1990-2015, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of the Healthcare Access and Quality (HAQ) Index published in The Lancet
Once again, 13 men wrote a bill that’s bad for women’s health
Childbirth in the US is already dangerous, but the Senate health bill would make it worse. Medicaid is incredibly important for reproductive health as it pays for half of all births, including two-thirds of unplanned births. It will be cut severely, and Planned Parenthood funding will stop as it becomes a prohibited entity. It will be harder for women to access abortions and health care in other insurance-related ways as restrictions to access are tightened. It makes essential health benefits optional
President Trump, Meet This 2-Year-Old
The New York Times’ Nick Kristof looks at the consequences of President Trump’s proposed cuts to international aid on a visit to Liberia where he meets a small child sick with malaria and who has suffered the consequences of counterfeit medicine firsthand. He also learns about the horrors of 14 year old girls attempting to self-abort and causing themselves untold damage as the price of healthcare and access to it, were beyond them
Mothers and babies at risk amid critical midwives` shortage in South Sudan
The number of midwives in South Sudan has risen to more than 400 from an estimated eight when the country became independent in 2011, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Still, less than 10 percent of women giving birth in South Sudan receive the help they need to give birth safely, according to UNFPA. More midwives are needed to be able to reach pregnant women in remote areas, so they do not have to walk for hours to get looked after
Communicable diseases
Ebola virus burial teams may have `saved thousands of lives`
New research suggests Red Cross volunteers who helped bury most of the bodies of Ebola victims in West Africa could have prevented more than 10,000 cases of the deadly disease. A major part of the response was ensuring the safe burials of people who had died of Ebola. The bodies of victims were particularly toxic. Community funerals, where people helped wash the bodies of their loved ones, contributed to so many people becoming infected in the earlier stages of the outbreak. The study used statistical modelling to measure the impact of the Red Cross safe and dignified burial programme
Burial teams dramatically reduced Ebola cases during west Africa outbreak: study
Top malaria drug losing potency, experts want it replaced
Health experts have warned that Kenya’s number one malaria treatment drug is no longer effective. Speaking at a forum, the scientists said AL— the first line malaria medicine in Kenya—should be replaced with the second line drug called DP which previous studies have shown is more effective. On Friday the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) released a statement saying the world’s most effective medicine against uncomplicated malaria is losing its edge. The Kemri statement was based on a four-year study in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. The results were presented in Arusha during a meeting of the East Africa Public Health Laboratory Networking Project
Asian strain of zika virus has mutated: Scientists
In a cause for concern, the Asian strain of zika virus has mutated, the scientists have confirmed. According to Hyderabad doctors, zika virus has been most possibly present in the country for decades, but due to lack of diagnostic facilities at the local level, the disease has gone undetected. Now that the WHO has confirmed the presence of zika virus in Hyderabad, they warn that a strong surveillance is needed to prevent the spread of the virus, particularly in the backdrop of research reports that the Asian strain of zika has mutated. "We have not yet developed widely accessible tests for zika infection. We may, at times miss out the coinfection due to low index of suspicion and poor availability of diagnostic tests," experts warned
Govt lacks tools to stem virus infection cases: Health officials
At a time when viruses like the H1N1, malaria, influenza and dengue are on the rise, the Mumbai government is lacking the tools to combat them and is yet to design a vaccination plan to fight them. Health officials have also said that there is no proper awareness campaign in place either to educate people about the spread and effect of these deadly viruses, which is on the rise in the city due to temperature fluctuations brought by intermittent rainfall. Officials said viral infections have claimed nearly 2,500 lives in the state, most as a result of dengue and malaria. Viral infections are now proliferating in addition to tuberculosis (TB) and AIDS in the state’s list of top contagious killer diseases, they added
Can Synbio Cure Malaria? – Fireside Chat with Oxitec’s CEO Hadyn Parry
Oxitec’s technology hinges on engineering male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which transmit Zika and Dengue, with a ‘self-limiting’ gene causing their offspring to die. Using this approach, the biotech has been able to reduce mosquito populations of the Aedes aegypti species by over 90% by releasing Oxitec’s Friendly Aedes mosquito in field trials in Brazil, the Cayman Islands, and Panama. A massive shift, compared to the 35% reduction that can be achieved using conventional insecticides. Additionally, all of Oxitec’s mosquitoes are equipped with a fluorescent marker that allows to monitor the insects with an app
Malaria ‘epidemic’ looms as mosquitoes defy insecticides
According to a study, genetic analysis of mosquito populations in Africa shows that recent success in controlling malaria through treated bed nets has led to widespread insecticide resistance in mosquitoes. Previous research indicates there are four classes of insecticides recommended for malaria control of which only pyrethroid was approved for use on LLIN. It has been shown that the loss of this insecticide’s effectiveness will lead to increase in preventable deaths, particularly in the most vulnerable groups, hence the need to maintain the effectiveness of LLIN in an era of growing resistance
Malnutrition, lack of hygiene add to Tuberculosis risk
Tuberculosis spreads faster in packed settings and the transmission of the disease is high in large crowds if a person infected with TB is a part of it. The burden of TB in India is 2.2 million which is the largest and its spread has to be controlled to tackle the disease. The Indian Council of Medical Research is looking at these aspects at the ground level as reports show that the disease burden continues to be high, despite various interventions by the government to control it. Congregate settings have been known to be a high risk environment for TB due to overcrowding, poor levels of nutrition and lack of hygienic conditions in their work environment. These factors add to the spread of the disease and tackling them by identifying the people early will help, experts say
Newly discovered antibiotic could help treat drug-resistant tuberculosis
A newly discovered antibiotic, produced by bacteria from a cystic fibrosis patient, could be used to treat cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis. The team discovered that one particular species, Burkholderia gladioli, which was isolated from the sputum of a child with cystic fibrosis, produces a new antibiotic they called gladiolin. This compound is similar in structure to another antibiotic that has been investigated for its ability to jam bacterial cell machinery, but gladiolin is much more stable and could therefore potentially be a better drug candidate. Further lab testing also showed that this antibiotic blocked the growth of four drug-resistant TB strains
Threadworm infection can lead to active TB
A new study reveals that worm infection might be one of the major risk factors for individuals with latent tuberculosis infection to develop the active disease. The study was carried out in individuals with latent TB co-infected with intestinal worms (Strongyloides stercoralis). The exact cause of antibody increase is not yet fully understood; but the study was able to provide an evidence of a significant association of worm infection with modulation of B cell function
Combating HIV/AIDS: Mildmay Uganda launches 30 year master plan
Mildmay Uganda says all children born at their facility in 2014 by HIV positive mothers have remained HIV negative. The Executive Director of Mildmay Uganda, Dr. Babara Mukasa made the comments as Mildmay Uganda launched a 30 year master plan that will see it transformed into a modern teaching hospital. In 1998, Mildmay Uganda began comprehensive HIV care with just over 3000 children waiting for the life-saving drugs through PEPFAR in 2004. Now, Mildmay Uganda supports care for over 100,000 with 7,000 of them children
U.S. supports families affected by HIV/AIDS in Lagos with N2.9 million
The U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria has awarded a N2.9 million micro grant to support children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in some part of Lagos state. The Mission gave the grant to 50 women caregivers to support the economic wellbeing of families, especially vulnerable children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, in five local communities in Apapa Local Government Area of Lagos. Under the U.S. Ambassador’s PEPFAR Small Grants Program, a local non-governmental organisation, Blissful Life for Women and Children, will train the beneficiaries in business and vocational skills and trade mentorship, and will receive trade articles and supplies
Critical gaps in knowledge of where infectious diseases occur
The scientific journal Nature Ecology & Evolution has published a joint statement from scientists at the University of Copenhagen and North Carolina State University calling attention to a serious lack of data on the worldwide distribution of disease-causing organisms. Without this data, predicting where and when the next disease outbreak will emerge is inhibited. Macroecologists have the expertise to create the needed data network and close the knowledge gaps. We know less about where disease-causing organisms occur than the global distribution of most mammals, birds and even ants. Without this basic knowledge, it is very hard to predict if, for instance, certain bacteria or parasites transmitted via mosquitoes or other bloodsucking insects are likely to spread or not, and what measures we must take in order to prevent this
Canadian team helps find way to break through armour of dangerous biofilms
Not many Canadians have ever heard of "biofilms," but doctors and infectious diseases experts know them well. The slimy, glue-like sheets of bacteria or fungi can grow on tissues or wounds, forming a protective layer around themselves that make it difficult to kill the infections. Now Canadian researchers say they may have found a way of fighting biofilms by breaking up their protective coatings. The team say they can use enzymes help to "bust up" a biofilm`s shell, or matrix, creating holes that allow antibiotics or the immune system to kill the bacteria or fungi. What`s more, the enzyme technology can also prevent biofilms from forming at all
`Remarkable` drop in new HIV cases among men
For the first time, new diagnoses of HIV have fallen among men who have sex with men in England, according to data from Public Health England. They have decreased from 2,060 in 2014-15 to 1,700 in 2015-16, while in London there was an even steeper drop. PHE said increased testing, fast treatment with HIV therapy and the use of preventative drug Prep have all contributed to the trend
Non communicable diseases
New ethical lapses alleged in controversial India cervical cancer screening trial
A long-debated study aimed at validating a low-cost way to screen for cervical cancer in India has come under fire again, based on new evidence of ethical lapses contained in documents obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. Critics of the 18-year trial said that U.S.-funded Indian researchers used ineffective screening that endangered thousands of poor women in Mumbai. They were told the test could help prevent cancer, but far fewer pre-cancerous lesions were found than expected, suggesting that some lesions were missed — possibly leading to an unknown number of deaths. The trial should have been stopped years earlier for another reason, critics said: Other research had already shown that the screening method worked when properly applied, making it unethical to use an unscreened control group
Novo Nordisk says obesity drug helps up to 13.8 percent weight loss in phase 2 trial
Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk said a phase 2 trial for its big hope in tackling obesity, an improved GLP-1 drug called semaglutide, showed a weight loss of up to 13.8 percent in people with severe conditions. The clinical trial, which lasted a year and included 957 people, resulted in a weight loss up to 17.8 kg after 52 weeks of treatment with semaglutide from a mean baseline weight of around 111 kg and a body mass index of around 39, Novo said. That corresponded to an estimated weight loss of 13.8 percent compared to the 2.3 percent achieved by diet, exercise and placebo alone
Relatives of people with fatty liver cirrhosis also at risk
If a parent or sibling has cirrhosis due to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a person`s odds of having liver scarring are more than 12 times higher than for people without close relatives who have this condition, a small study finds. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common cause of liver disease in the U.S., the study team writes in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The more severe form of NAFLD, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), tends to develop in people who are overweight or obese or who have diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglycerides, according to the American Liver Foundation
Novartis heart drug success opens up new care option
A Novartis anti-inflammatory drug cut cardiovascular risk for heart attack survivors in a pivotal trial, potentially changing ideas about treatment. Canakinumab, already approved as Ilaris for rare autoimmune conditions, was also found to reduce further heart attacks or strokes, when used with current therapies, the drugmaker said. The drug targets inflammatory atherosclerosis, where inflammation aggravates risks posed by clogged arteries
Racism tied to worse asthma symptoms for black youth
African-American children and young adults with a hard-to-treat type of asthma may have a more difficult time keeping symptoms in check when they have experienced racial discrimination, a recent study suggests. Researchers asked 576 black youth in the U.S. with asthma whether they had been hassled, made to feel inferior or prevented from doing something because of their race, ethnicity, color or language in situations at school, in medical settings or at restaurants and stores. Roughly half of them reported experiencing some form of discrimination at some point in their lives. When they had not experienced these forms of discrimination, the children and young adults were almost twice as likely to have well-controlled asthma than when they had, researchers report in the journal PLoS One
Hitting cardiovascular health targets can help elderly live longer
Meeting some or all of the American Heart Association’s seven ideal cardiovascular health goals is associated with longer life and fewer heart attacks and strokes, no matter your age. Gaye and colleagues analysed whether achieving some or all of the American Heart Association seven “ideal” goals – “Life’s Simple 7” - would affect people’s risk of dying or having a stroke or heart attack during a specific study period. Compared to people who meet no more than two of the goals, in those who met three or four the risk of death during the study was reduced by 16 percent, and meeting five to seven goals cut the risk by 29 percent
U.S. physicians move to more flexible mammogram schedule
Women at average risk for breast cancer should be offered screening mammograms every year or two starting at age 40 and they should start regular screening no later than age 50, an influential U.S. group of obstetricians and gynaecologists said. Amid divided expert opinions on whether more screenings are beneficial, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which previously recommended yearly screenings starting at age 40, wants to stress shared decision-making between women and their doctors based on their personal preferences in the new, more flexible schedule
Heart healthy lifestyle tied to lower drug costs
People with heart disease spend a lot less on medications when they take steps to lower their risk of complications by doing things like getting enough exercise, avoiding cigarettes and keeping their blood pressure in check, a U.S. study suggests. For the study, researchers focused on adults diagnosed with the most common type of heart disease, atherosclerosis. When these patients did as much as they could to avoid so-called modifiable risk factors for heart disease - inactivity, obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure and diabetes - their total average annual pharmaceutical expenditures were $1,400, the study found. But patients who did little to modify these risk factors had total average annual pharmaceutical expenditures of $4,516
Mother`s heart health tied to breastfeeding
A woman`s risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke later in life may be influenced by how long she breastfed her children, according to a new study from China. Women who reported having breastfed for any amount of time were about 9 percent less likely than mothers who never breastfed to have signs of coronary heart disease, like a heart attack, in middle age and later and about 8 percent less likely to have a stroke. "This study suggests that it reduces the mother’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease," said study author Zhengming Chen, of the University of Oxford in the UK. But, Chen added, the study does not prove a direct or causal link between not breastfeeding and poor cardiovascular health
More blood but no victory as Philippine drug war marks its first year
President Rodrigo Duterte`s brutal war on drugs has resulted in thousands of deaths, yet the street price of crystal methamphetamine in Manila has fallen and surveys show Filipinos are as anxious as ever about crime. Most victims of Duterte’s war are small-time users and dealers, while the masterminds behind the lucrative drug trade are largely unknown and at large, say critics of Duterte`s ruthless methods. If the strategy was working the laws of economics suggest the price of crystal meth should be rising as less supply hits the streets. But the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency`s own data suggests it has become even cheaper in Manila
A peek into Bloomberg`s new public health initiative
A total of 46 out of a goal of 50 cities have signed up to date to be part of “Partnership for Healthy Cities,” Bloomberg Philanthropies’ latest initiative launched just before the 70th World Health Assembly. The program will see the foundation investing up to $100,000 per partner city to help them in their efforts to implement one of 10 proven interventions in NCD and injury prevention. For the next 18 months, Bloomberg Philanthropies, in partnership with the World Health Organization and Vital Strategies, will be working with cities across the globe to tackle the different factors contributing to non-communicable diseases
Soft drink makers back product reformulation as ‘healthier’ than taxation
Governments can steer consumers towards healthier choices by supporting the reformulation of food ingredients, rather than imposing “discriminatory” taxes, according to the soft drinks industry. Product reformulation is in fact encouraged at European level. “One area which we are addressing at EU level is food reformulation to encourage reductions of sugar, salt and fats in processed foods,” said European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis recently. Last week, the EU’s 28 health ministers backed national initiatives aimed at reformulating foods in order to reduce levels of salt, saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, added sugar and energy density, given the role they play in the development of non-communicable diseases and weight problems
Promoting health through the life course
Facebook`s WhatsApp is so huge in India that one app reached 9 million users without spending a dime
According to Mary Meeker`s annual internet trends report published last month, WhatsApp is the most popular Android app in India, followed by Facebook Messenger at number two and the core Facebook service at number five. With over 200 million users in India, WhatsApp is how digital health start-up 1mg went viral, even without founder Prashant Tandon having to spend any money promoting it. Since its launch in 2015, more than 9 million people have downloaded his app, which helps users research prescription drugs and find the lowest prices.
From floods to disease, disaster risk rising in surging African cities
Disaster risks are arguably rising faster in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else, said Arabella Fraser, a risk and resilience researcher at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). That`s in part the result of surging urban populations, a quickening pace of climate-related problems - such as flooding and drought - and an inability to beat back those risks because of poverty, poor data, lack of training and badly run government, she said. One thing that can help is ensuring that efforts to build urban resilience are not just short-term, donor-funded projects but are based on community demand and then built into city plans, often with innovative funding
Malaria prevention drug improves birth outcomes in Zambia
A study recently carried out in Zambia found that a drug recommended for the prevention of malaria in pregnant women also reduces the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections and reproductive tract infections. The study also found that the drug, sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine can lead to improved birth outcomes. Women who received two or more doses of the drug saw their risk of experiencing stillbirth, low birth weight, preterm delivery or intrauterine growth retardation cut by 45 percent
Feeling sick at home? The wallpaper in your room might be the reason
Toxins produced by fungus growing on the wallpapers in our home can contaminate the air and be easily inhaled, leading to "sick building syndrome," a new study has found. Mycotoxins can be inhaled and should be investigated as parameters of indoor air quality, especially in homes with visible fungal contamination. The impetus for the study was the dearth of data on the health risk from mycotoxins produced by fungi growing indoors
United States rejects U.N. call for access to safe abortions
The United States has rejected a United Nations resolution on violence against women because it called for access to safe abortion for all women in countries where legal. The administration of President Donald Trump said last month it was vastly expanding the scope of a policy blocking U.S. assistance to foreign groups that perform or provide information about abortions. U.S. First Secretary to the U.N. in Geneva Jason Mack said, after a resolution from Canada on eliminating violence against women was adopted by consensus, that the U.S. "must dissociate from the consensus" specifically on access to safe abortions
Tanzanian leader reaffirms ban on pregnant girls attending state schools
Tanzanian President John Magufuli has rejected activists` calls for the government to allow pregnant students to attend state schools, saying it was immoral for young girls to be sexually active. Tanzania`s ban on pregnant girls attending state primary and secondary schools dates back to 1961, when the country secured its independence from Britain, though it does not extend to private schools. Activists have stepped up calls in recent years for the ban to be scrapped, saying expelled teenagers face widespread stigma, the possibility of being forced into early marriage and the challenge of providing for themselves and their babies
Kenya gives girls free sanitary pads to boost school attendance
Kenya has promised free sanitary pads to all schoolgirls to encourage them to go to school during their periods, rather than stay at home with rags or tissues stuffed in their underwear. Every schoolgirl in Kenya is entitled to "free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels" and a safe place to dispose of them, according to the law introduced this week. "We are treating the access to sanitary pads as a basic human right," government spokesman Eric Kiraithe said. "We are improving the sanitation and healthcare of our schoolgirls, which will boost their class attendance
Afghan women refugees resurrected as India`s plastic waste warriors
Employed under "Project Patradya" - an initiative led by Delhi University students - Afghan refugee women produce and supply edible bowls, cups and cutlery to cafes and ice-cream parlours as an alternative to non-biodegradable plastic ones. Made from millet and wheat flour, the biscuit-like tableware is gaining popularity in the West as a sustainable, environment-friendly option to disposable plastic utensils, and those behind the initiative believe India is an untapped market. "We wanted to create a social enterprise model which was not only looking at improving the environment but also had a business plan that could employ excluded communities such as refugees," said 20-year-old commerce student Nishchay Hans
The enemy within: as FARC rebels disarm, what peace for Colombia`s women?
One woman is killed every four days in Colombia. Many are victims of femicide - a killing of a woman by a man because of her gender - often at the hands of a former or current partner. Tackling violence against women is a key challenge for Colombia as the nation puts behind it 52 years of war that has killed 200,000 people and displaced 7 million. The FARC peace deal is an opportunity for the government to focus more attention and resources on combating gender violence, and for the domestic violence problem to become more visible
Chained to health ministry, Peruvians protest mining pollution
Parents of sick children who live near one of Peru`s oldest mining pits camped out in front of the health ministry in Lima for an eighth day on Thursday, demanding help to deal with the impact of decades of mining pollution. Dozens of residents of Simon Bolivar, a district in the city of Cerro de Pasco in the Peruvian Andes, travelled to Lima to press the government to declare a health emergency and build a regional hospital specializing in exposure to heavy metals. More than 40 percent of the area`s children who were tested in a 2012 study had dangerously high levels of lead in their blood, according to a screening of some 2,700 children by regional health authorities
Haiti orphanages hotspot of child trafficking, abuse, says charity
Children living in hundreds of orphanages in Haiti suffer sexual and physical abuse and some are trafficked into orphanages for profit, according to a charity founded by author J.K. Rowling. Many of Haiti`s orphanages use deception to recruit children from unknowing and impoverished parents - a form of trafficking - and use those children to attract donations, said the report released by the London-based charity Lumos. In some cases, families had been paid $75 to give their children away, the report said
India builds game-changing database to track human trafficking
A charity in New Delhi is building India`s first online database of human trafficking cases in a bid to plug a massive information gap and help law enforcers clean up the epicentre of the modern slave trade. "After inputting details from court records into the database, we will for the first time be able to analyse everything from the profile of traffickers, their modus operandi and the types of trafficking, to the quality of police investigations and the quantum of sentences being handed down," the charity’s head said
Tens of thousands have fled violence in Congo Republic
More than 80,000 people have fled their homes in Pool province surrounding Congo Republic`s capital since the government began a military operation there last year, a joint U.N. and government statement said. The United Nations is seeking around $20 million in emergency funding to provide humanitarian assistance in the province, after a recent visit found widespread signs malnutrition, the statement said. Many of the displaced remain beyond the reach of aid workers, it added
A health issue, not a crime: it`s time to scrap outdated abortion laws
Last Wednesday the Queensland law reform commission (QLRC) received a reference to consider how Queensland should amend laws relating to termination of pregnancy and remove abortion offences from the criminal code. The QLRC has 12 months to report on how to repeal these archaic Queensland laws dating back to 1861. The abortion provisions from that 1861 act are alive and kicking in the Queensland criminal code and the NSW crimes act, in both of which it’s still an offence for a woman to obtain an abortion or for anyone, including a doctor, to assist her. Penalties range up to 14 years in jail in Queensland and 10 years in NSW
White House Pushes Military Might Over Humanitarian Aid in Africa
Pentagon officials are concerned that shifting to a military-heavy presence in Africa will hurt American interests in the long term by failing to stimulate development. An absence of schools and jobs, they say, creates more openings for militant groups. If Congress passes Mr. Trump’s proposed Pentagon budget for the 2018 fiscal year — it calls for an additional $52 billion on top of the current $575 billion base budget — the United States will spend more money on military affairs in Africa but reduce humanitarian and development assistance across the continent