| | |

"World Health Minute" 9 March, 2017

News Highlights
Hungry Somalian families face agonising choice: which child to feed Reuters Africa reports that hungry Somali families are facing agonising choices as drought kills off their livestock and leaves the country facing a likely famine – this choice is ‘which child to feed.’ Al Jazeera is reporting that WHO are saying there are only two months left to prevent Somalia’s third famine in 25 years. The last one, six years ago, killed more than 250,000 people. Cases of diarrhoea, cholera and measles are already spreading fast because of the severe drought  
Warming may disrupt four-fifths of world`s oceans by 2050: study Global warming will disrupt four-fifths of the world’s oceans by 2050 if greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, threatening fish, which are the main source of food for a billion people, scientists from the British National Oceanography Centre said
Could `resurrection` crops survive drought and feed a hungry planet? Research shows that survival mechanisms in drought conditions for 135 varieties of ‘resurrection plant,’ such as the Rose of Jerricho and Siempre Viva desert plants, are similar to the dessication processes found in crop seeds. As crops produce dry seeds, it implies the genetic mechanism for dessication tolerance exists in crops. By modifying the existing gene composition of maize, the team believe they can produce drought tolerant crops which can offer an answer to feeding a hungry planet
Preparedness, surveillance and response
Hungry Somalian families face agonising choice: which child to feed
Reuters Africa reports that hungry Somali families are facing agonising choices as drought kills off their livestock and leaves the country facing a likely famine – this choice is ‘which child to feed.’ Al Jazeera is reporting that WHO are saying there are only two months left to prevent Somalia’s third famine in 25 years. The last one, six years ago, killed more than 250,000 people. Cases of diarrhoea, cholera and measles are already spreading fast because of the severe drought  
Two malaria deaths in Pretoria
There have been two malaria deaths in Pretoria. The NICD said neither person had travelled to a known malaria transmission area and they are investigating the cases 
‘Antibiotic Misuse Killing Patients In JK`
The Jammu and Kashmir Doctors’ Association said they are worried about the rampant misuse of antibiotics in Jammu and Kashmir and ‘say this is responsible for unprecedented levels of antibiotic resistance which is killing patients’
Doctors ring warning bells against antibiotics resistance in children
Antibiotic resistance is making it harder to treat many infections; such as typhoid, pneumonia and tuberculosis, Indian healthcare experts said. ‘We are fast running out of treatment options’ they warned
Centro Materno Infantil reporta 30 casos confirmados de dengue
Tambogrande in the Piura region of Peru has confirmed a spike in the number of dengue cases from 26 to 30 over the last week
12 new chikungunya cases reported, toll rises to 39
As many as 12 new chikungunya cases were reported in Delhi this week, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 39 this year. In the corresponding months last year, there were no cases at all
Director upheaval threatens Brazilian dengue vaccine program, scientists say
Progress on a late-stage dengue vaccine candidate, developed by U.S. scientists, is threatened, as the licensee – the Butantan Institute in Brazil recently lost its top boss. Researchers have protested about the removal of Institute Director Jorge Kalil by the Sao Paulo state government, arguing his leadership was instrumental in moving the dengue programme forward 
WHO expands vaccination advice as yellow fever covers southeast Brazil state
WHO is toughening up its vaccination advice for Brazil, as yellow fever is now a risk across the entire Brazilian state of Espirito Santo. There are growing concerns the virus could spread to urban centres like Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Vitoria, where millions live and the virus could start spreading in a human-to-human cycle via the Aedes aegypti mosquito. After seeing its twentieth death from yellow fever, Espirito Santo has been sent 500,000 doses of vaccination. The state of Minas Gerais reported that 105 people have died from yellow fever so far. Belo Horizonte confirmed that it has seen several monkeys who have contracted the disease and died
Burundi: Malaria - Déni d`une crise par le gouvernement burundais
The Burundi government is refusing to ask for international aid despite several MP’s advising it to do so. A WHO report in January said the malaria situation in Burundi could end up being worse than last year
Caso de tuberculosis en la base de Guantánamo
The U.S. Army confirmed there has been a case of tuberculosis at the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba. They said the case was not someone who worked in the hospital, or one of the 41 remaining prisoners, and the Army has put everyone working at the base on a heightened state of alert
Another little sucker is spreading malaria in South Africa
A new species of mosquito has been implicated in spreading malaria in South Africa. Two Anopheles vaneedeni females, from Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal were caught by a team from Wits Research Institute for Malaria. They were found to be carrying the most dangerous form of the disease
ONLF: 300 dead in cholera outbreak in eastern Ethiopia
More than 300 people have died due to cholera in the last 3 days in eastern Ethiopia, according to rebel group ONLF. The group said ‘a thousand more are in dire straits without access to medicine or health support’
Cempaka Putih most affected by dengue in Central Jakarta
The Central Jakarta municipality is urging the Cempaka Putih administration to make a more concerted effort to reduce the risk of dengue fever in Central Jakarta, after the district recorded the most cases in Central Jakarta for the second consecutive time. There were 31 dengue cases in the district in January and the Central Jakarta municipality is calling for a renewed eradication effort
Health Minister announces malaria outbreak in northern Namibia
In Namibia, the Health and Social Services Minister announced ‘there has been an outbreak of malaria in the north of the country’ with the Kavango East and West regions being the hardest hit so far, with 3,881 cases reported and it has already claimed thirteen lives
Declaran urgencia sanitaria por manejo de la tuberculosis
Panamanian health authorities have declared a health emergency, due to the high risk that they will not have enough medicines at their disposal to be able to properly fight an outbreak of tuberculosis 
South Korea culls 50,000 farm birds as 2 new bird flu cases confirmed
South Korea has culled 50,000 farm birds as two new cases of bird flu emerged (H5N6 and H5N8 strains). Part of Vienna’s Schoenbrunn Zoo has been closed to the public, after the highly contagious H5N8 bird flu virus was found in a penguin. More than 500,000 animals have been culled in the Moscow area in response to a bird flu outbreak. Malaysia is reporting an outbreak of highly contagious H5N1 bird flu in the northern part of the country, OIE said on Wednesday, citing a report from the Malaysian agriculture ministry. Bird flu outbreaks have been detected in some provinces in Vietnam’s southern Mekong Delta (H5N1). Hong Kong authorities reported that a man has contracted H7N9 in Fuzhou, in Fujian Province. Karnataka state is reporting an alarming rise in H1N1 cases, it is now three times as high as it was as last year, now with 274 cases reported. Finally, USDA reported that the Tennessee strain of H7N9 bird flu that has hit a farm in the state, is genetically distinct from the China virus, which has infected humans
American Samoa declared dengue emergency to access funds
Questions have been raised over American Samoa’s declaration of emergency for a dengue outbreak, after no emergency was declared when people died of dengue two years ago. The health director explained that the territory ‘can get federal money to help prevent, diagnose and treat dengue with such a declaration.’ Two types of dengue fever (types 1 and 3) have been found on Kiribati. Elsewhere, the number of dengue cases is rising in French Polynesia and on Tahiti
Half of 4.3 million undocumented TB cases in India, Indonesia,
The World Health Organization said that India, Indonesia and Nigeria accounted for almost half of the estimated 4.3m cases of tuberculosis worldwide that were not documented by health authorities in 2015
Health systems
Poisonous drugs hit market
Business Day Ghana focused upon Ghana’s record as the sixth worst country for counterfeit drugs in the world. WHO has estimated counterfeit drugs make up around 25% of the total medicine supply in less developed countries and a more detailed sampling found that between 30-60% of the medicines in Africa and South East Asia were substandard
Trabajadores sector salud en Chiapas denuncian falta insumos. Con Denise Maerker
With health workers tasked with battling outbreaks of dengue, chikungunya and zika, their representatives were publicly calling for more help in getting hold of medical supplies and equipment to be able to carry out their work
Generic Firms Can Export Bayer Drugs for R&D in India Ruling
An Indian court granted a pair of drug makers the right to export the main ingredients of two of Bayer’s top-selling drugs to develop generics in other countries. This is a decision which has the potential to speed up copycat versions of some of the industry’s most profitable products
Lower $1,000 Pill Price? We`d Love It, Says Express Scripts
Gilead and Express Scripts Holding are in a spat over drug costs and rebate prices, with Express Scripts CEO challenging Gilead’s CEO to lower prices on their more expensive drugs
Over 30 killed as gunmen dressed as medics attack Afghan military hospital
Gunmen dressed as medics attacked a military hospital in the Afghan capital on Wednesday, and battled security forces for hours, killing 30 people and wounding dozens more 
U.S. aid group Mercy Corps says Turkey has revoked its license
Turkey has ordered U.S. based Mercy Corps, one of the largest humanitarian organizations delivering aid to Syria, to immediately shut down its Turkish operations. The NGO says it remains in conversation with Turkey to see if it is possible to come to an agreement to resume Mercy Corps operations in the country as soon as possible
The House Republicans’ health-care bill is a thicket of bad incentives
The former acting administrator for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from 2015-2017, wrote an opinion article for The Washington Post about the new American Health Care Act, describing the Republicans’ new bill as a thicket of bad incentives  
Sub-Saharan Africa not winning friends in the medical device market
Fitch’s research arm BMI issued a report in which it said ‘Sub-Saharan Africa ranks as the least attractive region to commercialise medical devices because of the region’s poor operational environment and barriers to access healthcare.’ This reflects a range of economic and political risks, security threats in Nigeria and Kenya, pressurised aid flows, corruption and lower commodity prices. This is why Sub-Saharan Africa had the lowest regional average country risk score
Trump Sends Pharma Stocks Down With New Tweet on Drug Prices
President Trump jumped back into the drug pricing debate, earlier in the week, sending pharmaceutical stocks downwards again with a tweet promising to lower medicine costs for American people. In the tweet Trump claimed to be ‘working on a new system where there will be competition in the drug industry’
WHO Director General Candidates Showcase Campaigns To The World
IP-Watch reported on the recent Geneva Health Centre event which featured a Q&A with the remaining three candidates seeking to become the new Director General of the World Health
Communicable diseases
Could `resurrection` crops survive drought and feed a hungry planet?
Research shows that survival mechanisms in drought conditions for 135 varieties of ‘resurrection plant,’ such as the Rose of Jerricho and Siempre Viva desert plants, are similar to the dessication processes found in crop seeds. As crops produce dry seeds, it implies the genetic mechanism for dessication tolerance exists in crops. By modifying the existing gene composition of maize, the team believe they can produce drought tolerant crops which can offer an answer to feeding a hungry planet
In Costa Rica 1000 Children a year die as a Consequence of a Polluted Environment
Contamination and a dirty unhealthy environment make children sick and cause their death worldwide, according to a WHO report. In Costa Rica, 1,000 children a year die as a consequence of a polluted environment
Warming may disrupt four-fifths of world`s oceans by 2050: study
Global warming will disrupt four-fifths of the world’s oceans by 2050 if greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, threatening fish, which are the main source of food for a billion people, scientists from the British National Oceanography Centre said
Pollution, traffic biggest deterrent for people to walk: survey
Exposure to pollution and traffic is the biggest deterrent for people keen on walking, a multi-city study said. The study looked at what were the barriers to walking in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and
Survey finds most Tanzanians go hungry, despite government denials
Most Tanzanians have experienced hunger in the past three months, with food shortages most severe in drought-hit rural areas, a countrywide survey found, despite government denials of a food crisis. The survey, by think tank Twaweza, found that 64% of interviewees experienced shortages in cities, as opposed to 84% who did so in rural areas
Non communicable diseases
Arthritis` toll rises as too few take steps to reduce pain: CDC
A new study found that around 54m U.S. adults, or one in four, have arthritis, with few engaging in the types of physical activities that can help to reduce pain and improve mobility
Obamacare repeal seen as weakening mental health protections
The Medicaid aspects on Obamacare repeal are prompting concern from four Republican senators who are concerned about the prospect of reduced access to mental health and addiction services
Poor diet tied to nearly half of U.S. deaths from heart disease, stroke, diabetes
Ensuring that diets include the right amount of certain foods may help the U.S. cut deaths from heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes by almost half, suggests a new study
Gene activity in the nose may signal lung cancer
Genetic changes in the cells lining the inside the nose might someday help doctors to diagnose lung cancer, a recent study suggests
Novo Seen Missing Target of 40 Million Diabetics Treated by 2020
Novo Nordisk says it expects to fall short of its ambitious goal of doubling the number of diabetics it treats by the end of the decade, after it has failed to win some key government insulin contracts
Trump’s New Travel Ban Could Hinder Research On HIV And Mental Health
President Trump’s temporary travel ban has had consequences for a scientist at Harvard Medical School, who has been seeking to collaborate with Iranian academics on HIV/AIDs research. Another at Columbia Law School’s human rights clinic, wanted to study the impact of armed conflict on the mental health of people in Yemen
Scientists uncover genetic clues to rare kidney disease
A new study has identified genetic clues to understanding the cause of the rare kidney disease IgA nephropathy, or Berger’s disease
Global fund to help solve India’s HIV drug crisis
After running out of the child-friendly HIV syrup, Lopinavir, India is likely to procure the drug from a rapid supply facility routed through the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria. At the same time, the Indian Health Ministry released the first instalment of the payment it owed to Cipla Pharmaceuticals, the sole manufacturer of the drug
No salary for the last nine months: NACP employees forced to live on alms
Employees of the National Aid Control programme in Pakistan have not been paid for the last nine months and have had to live on hand outs and alms from the community. It seems the Ministry of Planning has wanted to consolidate the three programmes (HIV, TB and Malaria) into one programme to make it more effective, but it has just not got around to organising it 
Intensive speech therapy helps months after stroke
A recent German study has shown that even months after a stroke, survivors can make major strides forward in terms of communication and quality of life with intensive speech therapy
Promoting health through the life course
Smoking during pregnancy tied to eye damage in kids
When women smoke during pregnancy, or have underweight babies, their children have a greater risk of developing  a type of retina damage, a Danish study suggests
Early Periods May Increase Women`s Risk of Gestational Diabetes
Earlier periods may increase a woman’s risk of gestational diabetes as a pregnancy complication, a new study has found
For refugee women, periods a dangerous, shameful time
A study conducted by Global One in displacement and refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon found that almost 60% of female refugees did not have access to underwear and many more had no sanitary products for when they had their period. Over half the women interviewed had suffered from urinary tract infections which were often left untreated, the study found
Bangladesh acid attack survivors show new confidence on fashion runway
Bangladesh hosted a fashion show with a difference to mark International Women’s Day, featuring 15 confident catwalk models fighting to overcome the trauma of acid attacks
Las embarazadas pueden sufrir gripes H1N1 más peligrosas tras el parto
Pregnant women could be at more risk of contracting hazardous H1N1 flu after delivery, says a new study, because their immune system levels are lower
One in five believe women inferior to men: global survey
One in five people around the world believe women are inferior to men and should stay at home, and that men are more capable in the workplace and at school, a new global survey released for International Women’s Day has found
Gender equality is out of reach, a quarter of all women fear
One in four British women believes gender equality is impossible to achieve, according to a new study. Nine out of ten of them are not optimistic that gender equality can be achieved in the next five years  
For women of color, the `healthcare gap` is real and deadly
A recent study found that women of colour in America die from cervical cancer at more than twice the rate of white women in America. In fact, they are dying at rates comparable to those in much poorer developing countries. Cervical cancer is highly preventable, so why is this happening?
Folic acid levels in pregnancy linked to children`s blood pressure
A new study found that babies born to mothers who took high levels of folic acid during pregnancy were less likely to develop high blood pressure
On International Women’s Day UNAIDS is urging countries to stop 1 million women and girls from becoming infected with HIV every year
UNAIDs released a new report showing there is an urgent need to scale up HIV prevention and treatment services for women and girls. In 2015 there were 18.6m women and girls living with HIV, with 1m of them becoming newly infected and 470,000 women and girls dying of AIDS related
One in three Kenyan women battered before 18
One in three Kenyan women have experienced violence before reaching the age of 18, a youth campaigner told Capital FM Kenya
Kenya to campaign against child marriage, protect women’s rights
Kenya became the 19th African country to commit to the African Union’s campaign to end child marriage. It declared zero tolerance to violence and discrimination against women and girls, as it signed up to International Women’s Day