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"World Health Minute" 7 March, 2017

News Highlights
More wealth, less health: The changes fuelling China’s drug industry boom The Telegraph highlighted the changes which are sweeping through Chinese society, such as a growing middle class, and an increasingly elderly population with a demand for improving healthcare – which are all combining to open up opportunity for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries in China
More than 100 million at risk of starvation globally - U.N. official The number of people facing severe hunger worldwide has surpassed 100m and will grow if humanitarian aid is not paired with more support for farmers, a UN official told Reuters Africa
Japan’s tobacco lobby seeks to head off indoor smoking ban A Japanese plan to ban indoor smoking in public places before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, bringing the country in line with most of the developing world, is facing fierce resistance from the country’s powerful tobacco
Preparedness, surveillance and response
Over 120 cases of suspected H1N1 reported in Mysuru
There have been over 120 cases of suspected H1N1 in Mysuru. Serbia and Slovenia reported their first H5N5 avian flu outbreaks. The Czech Republic reported its first H5N5 outbreak, as H5N8 also turned up in Cameroon. Proplanta Germany reported that ‘more than a million animals have been culled due to avian flu.’ The toll of H1N1 cases in Karnataka has reached 618, with 7 deaths so far in 2017. In India, H1N1 samples being sent to IPM for analysis are being poorly packed and local officials have expressed alarm
Lassa fever breaks out in Borno after 48 years
Borno State, in north-eastern Nigeria, reports a first Lassa Fever outbreak in almost 48 years, with 20 people quarantined. MSF’s medical director said ‘there are dramatic gaps in healthcare’ whilst commenting on the displacement and violence in the area
Dengue strain associated with severe illness identified
A strain of dengue, not known to be common a decade ago, is behind the most severe cases of illness in Telangana according to researchers from the University of Hyderabad, who sequenced the virus’s genome
Ecuador: Casos de dengue y zika con repunte en últimas semanas en Guayaquil
Cases of dengue and Zika have leapt in recent weeks in the Ecuadorian port city of Guayaquil. Dengue cases grew by 11.3% while cases of zika shot up by 150% in Zone 8 
Casos de dengue crescem quase 400% em 2 meses em Três Corações
Dengue cases have grown by 400% in the last two months in Tres Coracoes, a municipality in the south of Minas Gerais state in Brazil. The number has leapt by 125 cases since the start of March
Tijuana, primer lugar en tuberculosis en el país
Tijuana is among the top 100 cities in Latin America with the most cases of tuberculosis, and it is number one for cases in Mexico, according to a popular local health news programme
Imminent cholera outbreak in parts of Brong Ahafo
The deputy regional director of public health raised public alarm about the possibility of a cholera outbreak in the region, this is partly due to a water crisis. The deputy director said ‘with the onset of rains there was the possibility that most river bodies, wells and boreholes could become contaminated’ and he urged people to boil water
Ministerio de Salud confirma 785 casos de dengue en el 2017
The majority of these Costa Rican cases are concentrated in the central canton of Alajuela, where there are 159 suspected dengue cases. In terms of Zika, there are 94 cases, and of these, 13 are pregnant women. There has been 86 cases of Chikungunya during the first eight weeks of the year  
Paraíba tem 943 casos suspeitos de microcefalia desde 2015, diz Saúde
In Paraiba state, there has been 943 suspected cases of microcephaly since 2015, according to the health department.
Cholera on the rise in famine-hit South Sudan
As tens of thousands of people flee from famine and conflict, aid organizations say more than 100 people have died from cholera over the last six month. Health workers say ‘they are facing difficulty getting access to those who are sick’
128 cases of waterborne diseases in Ahmedabad
Around 128 cases of waterborne disease were reported in Ahmedabad, up to the end of last week, according to data provided by the local health department 
American Samoa declares health emergency over dengue
American Samoa has declared a state of emergency over a dengue virus outbreak. The number of dengue cases on Fiji has risen from 143 to 155, according to the national advisor for communicable diseases. WHO says it is likely that dengue is being spread across the Pacific by travellers
Outbreak of chikungunya in Pakistan
Chikungunya is now spreading explosively in Karachi, reports The Lancet 
Malaria en Venezuela logró cifra récord de casos en 2016
The Latin American press reported that Venezuela tops the list of the 8 countries with the highest jump in malaria cases. It says around 241,000 cases of malaria were reported in the country during 2016
En 60 días registran 32 casos de dengue y 166 probables
During the first sixty days of this year, Paraguay saw 32 cases of dengue, plus another 116 cases which are suspected to be also, but this will be confirmed, or not, in the coming days, according to health experts. The health team say there are 3 probable cases of chikungunya and a suspected 75 cases of zika too
Reportan 40 muertes a causa de dengue hasta el 25 de febrero en Malasia
The number of reported deaths from dengue in Malaysia, up to 25th February, was forty, slightly lower than last year when it was fifty-four, according to the ministry of health
UN OCHA: 7,909 confirmed cases of cholera resulted in 196 deaths since beginning of 2017
Since the beginning of 2017, there has been nearly 7,909 cases of cholera resulting in 196 deaths in 11 regions across Somalia, according to new data released by UN OCHA on Sunday
Reportan un caso sospechoso de dengue hemorrágico en el distrito de Coishco
The Preuvian director of health for the Pacific North region said she knew of a new suspected case of hemorrhagic dengue fever, and there may be a further case. There were also five cases of dengue detected 
Com mais de 140 casos de suspeita de dengue, Ji-Paraná entra em alerta
Globo Brazil reports that there are more than 140 suspected cases of dengue fever (30 confirmed) in Ji-Parana and the city is on a state of alert for more, with 19 suspected zika cases and a further 15 chikungunya
Health systems
More wealth, less health: The changes fuelling China’s drug industry boom
The Telegraph highlighted the changes which are sweeping through Chinese society, such as a growing middle class, and an increasingly elderly population with a demand for improving healthcare – which are all combining to open up opportunity for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries in China
South Korea fines Novartis over kickbacks, suspends sales of some drugs
South Korea has decided to fine Novartis over paying kickbacks to doctors in exchange for recommending the company’s drugs. The government said it has levied a fine on 30 drug items and banned sales of 12 variations of 3 drug types, including Alzheimer drug Exelon, for three months
Ministry of Health suspends 18 health workers for obstructing Polio vaccine program
The Nepalese Ministry of Health suspended 18 health workers, including three health office chiefs, on the charge of obstructing the Polio vaccine administration programme 
Obese people may get less `comfort care` at the end of life
Obese people in the U.S. may not receive the same kind of care at the end of their lives, as people who are thin, or normal weight, a new study suggests 
UK competition watchdog alleges illegal drug deal between Concordia and Actavis
The Competition and Markets Authority is alleging that two pharmaceutical companies, Concordia and Actavis, signed illegal agreements that enabled high prices for a life-saving drug to be prolonged
Attackers Target Afghanistan Health Centers 240 Times in Two Years: Report
Hospitals and clinics in Afghanistan have increasingly been targeted by armed groups over the past two years, weakening an already degenerated health care system, a children’s rights group said in a report issued Monday 
Drug Costs Too High? Fire the Middleman
Bloomberg Business Week looked at how Caterpillar Inc examined its employee drug plan and sensed money was evaporating. So, by a process of squeezing pharmacy benefit managers, they brought the costs right down
Medical providers oppose Trump-backed health plan, Democrats take aim
U.S. Republicans unveiled a plan to dismantle Obamacare, critics look set to pounce
Germany to scrap plan to lower prices of new drugs: lawmakers
Germany’s ruling coalition will scrap plans, announced last year, to lower prices of newly launched drugs within the first 12 months, should sales exceed 250m euros lawmakers told
Drop in London HIV rates `may be due to internet drug PrEP`
A drug being bought online is believed to be the reason for a 40% drop in new rates of HIV in London. Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, reduces the risk of catching the virus and costs around £40 per month. Four London clinics are reporting dramatic falls in new cases of HIV last year, when compared to 2015, and they suggest the new drug may be the reason why 
Communicable diseases
Japan’s tobacco lobby seeks to head off indoor smoking ban
A Japanese plan to ban indoor smoking in public places before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, bringing the country in line with most of the developing world, is facing fierce resistance from the country’s powerful tobacco
In drought-hit Kenya, fairer sharing of rivers helps keep the peace
Associations for water users along the Enkare Narok tributary are complementing the work of nine other groups on the main Ewaso Nyiro River. Together they are managing the resources in a way to avoid the violence that has erupted elsewhere, between herders and farmers, as drought shrank pastures
Top Trump Advisers Are Split on Paris Agreement on Climate Change
The New York Times reports that ‘the White House is fiercely divided over President Trump’s campaign promise to cancel the Paris Climate Change agreement, with more moderate voices maintaining that he should stick with the agreement despite his campaign pledge’
Experts urge BD using tobacco surcharge to combat NCDs
At a recent meeting with stakeholders in Dhaka, the Bangladesh government was urged to adopt a 1% health development surcharge on tobacco products to fund policies to prevent the most common non-communicable diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and chronic lung diseases
Air pollution can change efficacy of antibiotics, says study
A new study from University of Leicester researchers shows that bacteria which cause respiratory infections in humans are directly impacted by air pollution, altering the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment, and thus, increasing the potential for infection
Polluted environments kill 1.7 million children each year: WHO reports
Unhealthy environments are responsible for one-quarter of child deaths, according to two new reports from WHO. ‘A polluted environment is a deadly one, particularly for young children as their developing organs and immune systems, smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water’
Mediterranean diet may reduce risk of form of breast cancer – study
Eating plenty of nuts, fruit and fish may cut the risk of getting oestrogen-receptor negative cancer, a Dutch research finds
Non communicable diseases
Roche trial finds new drug cocktail cuts breast cancer deaths
Roche’s bid to shield its ageing but lucrative oncology franchise from cheaper copies got a lift from a trial showing a new drug cocktail kept breast cancer patients alive longer. Combining its drug Perjeta with Herceptin and chemotherapy after surgery, cut recurrence of an aggressive type of early breast cancer or death, when compared to just Herceptin and chemo
FT Health: Global Fund’s Oscars moment, EU health commissioner, antibiotic alert
Last week, the board of the world’s largest multilateral donor to tackle infectious diseases issued a deeply embarrassing statement that it was restarting the selection process for its new director
Gene Variants Linked To Fatal Gallbladder Cancer, New Study Finds
A recent study shows that some genetic variants are responsible for making certain individuals prone to develop gallbladder cancer. The study was carried out at around 700,000 varied locations of the genome in order to better understand the major cause of the fatal disease and to facilitate its treatment
Gene therapy relieves sickle cell in world first: study
Scientists have used gene therapy to relieve symptoms of a teenager suffering sickle cell disease in a world’s first breakthrough. The research team collected so-called haematopoietic stem cells from the bone marrow of the youngster, then aged 13. The immature cells were treated with a therapeutic gene, carried in a deactivated virus, which recoded the DNA to correct blood cell production. The treated cells were then reinjected into the boy’s body  
`Epidemics` of TB and pneumonia could hit Ireland due to antibiotic resistance
Epidemics of TB and pneumonia could hit Ireland due to antibiotic resistance. The Journal pointed to misuse and overuse of medication, which will eventually fuel a nationwide health crisis, if the parlous state of antibiotic resistance is not reversed
One third of lymphoma patients cancer free after 6 months in CAR-T gene therapy study
An experimental gene therapy that turns a patients’ own blood cells into cancer killers worked in a major study, with more than one-third of very sick lymphoma patients showing no signs of disease six months after a single treatment
Medical experts warn of link between obesity and kidney disease
A new study reported that there is a strong link between obesity and kidney disease. Individuals with a low number of nephrons are the most susceptible to a change in the blood flow in the kidney due to obesity. Obesity hampers a child’s development and quality of life leading to secondary complications such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases
Somalia says 110 dead in last 48 hours due to drought
Some 100 people have died in southern Somalia in the last two days from famine and diarrhea resulting from drought, as the area braces itself for a widespread shortage of food
Venezuela`s epileptic patients struggle with seizures amid drug shortage
Venezuela’s epileptic patients are struggling with seizures amid a drugs shortage according to Reuters
More than 100 million at risk of starvation globally - U.N. official
The number of people facing severe hunger worldwide has surpassed 100m and will grow if humanitarian aid is not paired with more support for farmers, a UN official told Reuters Africa
Promoting health through the life course
Children with HIV write to Modi after Cipla stops drug supplu over non-payment by government
A report in The Hindu said that stocks of Lopinavir syrup (an HIV drug that is child-friendly) were finished after Cipla stopped manufacturing it because of non-payments by the Indian health ministry
Companies back transgender rights in Supreme Court fight
A coalition of 53 companies backed transgender rights at the U.S. Supreme Court, signing on to a brief supporting a Virginia student who is fighting to use the school bathroom that corresponds to his gender identity
Children of depressed mothers at risk for unintentional injuries
Children under the age of 5 are more likely to accidentally get injured if their mothers are having a depression or anxiety episode, according to a study in the UK. The rate of child poisonings, small fractures and minor burns increased during these episodes, researchers found
E-therapy tied to better body image, intimacy for breast cancer survivors
Internet-based psychotherapy focused on changing behaviour may be tied to improved body image and sexual functioning in breast cancer survivors, a recent study suggests
Most older women don’t get bone tests after hip fractures
When older women fracture a hip, they usually don’t get bone density tests which might show whether they need treatment to help prevent more broken bones, a U.S. study
After Trump ban, Brussels pro-choice conference raises 181 million euros
A Brussels conference to finance global family planning initiatives raised 181m euros, after the U.S. halted such programmes, which had left NGOs worldwide with a large funding gap
India police find 19 fetuses dumped in plastic bags, suspect female feticide racket
Indian police found 19 aborted foetuses dumped in plastic bags in the western state of Maharashtra, while they investigated a woman’s death after an abortion. They believe they may have uncovered an inter-state female feticide racket, performing sex-selective abortions
Women in India earn 25% less than men: Monster Salary Index
Women in India earn 25% less than men, according to the publication of the new Monster Salary Index
`A child dies every two minutes` Emeli Sande makes charity plea
Singer Emeli Sande made a charity plea, after visiting a malaria-stricken Ugandan hospital for Comic Relief. UK TV presenter, Davina McCall, also visited a malaria hospital in Tanzania and followed suit
Zika caused twenty-fold spike in birth defects -US study
U.S. researchers said that rates of microcephaly and other birth defects were 20 times higher in pregnancies affected by Zika, than in the years before the virus arrived in the Americas