Indians over 30 to be screened in 100 districts for NCDs, a revolutionary reactor that produces fertilizer from air, and more.

The World Health Minute 1 mln health workers paid less than Rs 1000 per month in India Vietnam burdened by NCDsPolio vaccination in a government hospital in Agartala; PTI
news Public Health Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 17:14

The World Health Minute brings you top health stories from around the world.

Preparedness, surveillance and response

  • Malaria has killed 268 people in three months in the Angolan province of Bie.

In Angola local health authorities said there have been 43,893 cases of malaria and 268 deaths in the province of Bie during the first three months of the year, this is up slightly on last year’s figures (observador.pt: 15/05/17) (noticiasaominuto.com: 15/05/17) (dn.pt: 15/05/17)

  • No vaccine roll out in DRC yet despite new Ebola infections – but WHO is preparing if needed

WHO said it is working with specialists to conduct an epidemiological investigation to better understand the extent of the current outbreak and to establish who is at risk of becoming infected with Ebola. Therefore its experts have not yet decided whether to use newly developed vaccines to try to contain the outbreak in the DRC, but officials are making preparations just in case (businesslive.co.za: 15/05/17) (theaustralian.com.au: 16/05/17)

  • UNICEF: Venezuela is a humanitarian catastrophe, the world must act now

UNICEF regional offices in Latin America have issued a statement calling Venezuela a humanitarian catastrophe with hunger and disease increasing the number of deaths of children across their first year of life. The data on infant and maternal mortality released by the Venezuelan Ministry of Health provides clear proof of the prolonged impact of this crisis on women and children in the country (globalist.it: 15/05/17)

  • Dengue tightens its grip on the city

Thruvananthapuram: The dengue-stricken capital has more to worry about as the healers are becoming sick. As of Monday, 50 dengue cases were reported among staff at the General Hospital. This hospital is also dealing with a blood shortage and an ever increasing incidence of dengue cases. One member of the hospital staff has even died from dengue. Times of India reports a lack of availability of preventative vaccines and adequate mosquito control measures in the hospital have added to the crisis (timesofindia.indiatimes.com: 15/05/17)

  • The looming threat of yellow fever

The New York Times highlights the unusually large outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil with 259 deaths and more than 715 cases confirmed, and says there is serious concern if the virus starts spreading in a major city, as it is already close to doing so in the Rio de Janeiro region. With the threat of yellow fever returning to areas where it was once thought gone, the NYT flags its ultimate spread to places like Asia a potential disaster in the making (nytimes.com: 15/05/17)

Health systems

  • Over one million health workers paid less than Rs 1,000 a month in India

Nearly a million workers, forming the frontline of India’s faltering public health system, are inadequately trained and underpaid, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of health ministry data, imperilling the country’s progress in healthcare efforts. Accredited Social Health Activists considered to be voluntary workers are paid an honorarium by the government and most make about Rs 1,000 a month, less than the cost of a bottle of single malt whisky. They are required to undergo a 23 day training spread across 12 months, but a third of them in north Bihar were not trained at induction and the rest received seven days training or read the manual, according to the study (business-standard.com: 16/05/17)

  • Illegal blood banks spreading disease

Illegal blood banks are thriving under the nose of the health department in Pakistan, and spreading diseases like hepatitis, HIV and thalassemia. According to the health department, there are at least 1,600 blood banks across the Punjab province and they need to be regulated. Express Tribune reported that the Punjab Blood Transfusion Authority has never conducted any raids on these illegal banks which sell blood on without a screening process (tribune.com: 15/05/17)

  • Ceaseless Middle East wars are forcing a change in approach to medical care

The ICRC warned that drawn-out crisis which are plaguing the Middle East could lead to the total collapse of health systems. One example is the disruption to vaccinations. As the children will not be vaccinated, diseases previously thought to be eradicated will simply re-emerge. Resistance to antibiotics because of drug usage in excess of prescribed limits has accelerated. Infections have spread as war has destroyed sanitation and clean water systems and triggered chaotic population movements (reuters.com: 15/05/17)

  • Kenya’s first gay health clinic provides care without the judgement

NBC News speaks to the director of Ishtar, the first health care clinic in Kenya run by gay men that serves a population primarily of gay men. With discrimination still high in the country the clinic is a place where treatment comes without judgement as the staff are drawn from the community too.  At present they are still unable to provide antiretroviral therapy to those who are HIV-positive but they refer members to either an NGO with whom they have an agreement or to a government run facility. Many refuse to go as they are not treated well (nbcnews.com: 15/05/17)

  • WHO members are urged to delink R&D from cancer medicine prices

A number of civil society organizations and health specialists have sent a letter to delegates at the annual World Health Assembly and member states urging them to delink the R&D costs from the prices of cancer medicines. The letter reads ‘none of the 56 novel cancer medicines approved by the U.S. FDA from 2010 to 2016 are included in the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines’ (figo.org: 16/05/17)

Communicable diseases

  • Many U.S. day care centres may lack plans for a pandemic flu outbreak - study

Fewer that one in 10 U.S. day care centre directors have taken concrete steps to prepare for a pandemic flu outbreak, a recent study suggests. Pandemic influenza is different from seasonal influenza. It is a novel virus which transmits from person to person and to which most of the world’s population has no immunity (reuters.com: 15/05/17)

  • Many South African toddlers are falling through the South Africa vaccination net

One in 10 of Mpumalanga’s children under the age of two has not had any of the shots required under a government childhood immunization programme, according to the DHMS 2016 survey. The findings signal potential deadly weaknesses in the childhood immunization programme, as inadequate coverage of the population increases the likelihood of disease outbreaks. Both Gauteng and Western Cape have seen measles outbreaks this year (businesslive.co.za: 15/05/17)

  • Insomnia and sleep apnea rates are high and rising in the U.S. military

Insomnia cases have quadrupled, and sleep apnea cases have increased five-fold in the U.S. military over a decade, according to a recent study. Rates of these two sleep disorders among service members are now about double those seen in the general U.S. population. The rising rates could affect operational readiness, wellbeing and healthcare costs (reuters.com: 15/05/17)

  • Commitment at all levels is essential for the prevention of dengue – Indian minister

Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, JP Nadda, said commitment at all levels is essential for prevention and control of dengue, adding that by working together dengue can be prevented. For this purpose cleanliness is the most important thing. National Dengue Day is an occasion to spread awareness about its prevention and control. We must not create an environment for the dengue to breed in (businessstandard.com: 16/05/17) (outlookindia.com: 16/05/17)

  • Officials: Measles outbreak caused by anti-vaccination campaigns

There has been a recent measles outbreak in Minnesota and now the authorities know the reason behind it. A group of Somali-Americans, mostly children, have been diagnosed with the disease. The Minnesota Department of Health released a report that said the vast majority, 55 out of 58 cases, were unvaccinated (aol.com: 16/05/17)

Non communicable diseases

  • Segregated neighbourhoods may influence blood pressure

African-Americans who move from segregated neighbourhoods to more racially diverse communities might experience improvements in their blood pressure, a U.S. study suggests. The authors say the findings are interesting as they point to the important role that social policy can have on health (reuters.com: 15/05/17)

  • Billionaire Bloomberg to fund $5m public health projects in 40 cities worldwide

The Guardian reports on Michael Bloomberg’s Partnership for Healthy Cities. Bloomberg was appointed as the World Health Organization’s ambassador for NCDs last year. And now he is taking his philosophy and his cash to about 40 cities so far offering technical support for cities which choose to focus on one of 10 healthy lifestyle issues including, curbing sugary drinks consumption, air pollution, promoting exercise and bans on smoking (theguardian.com: 16/05/17)

  • People above 30 are to be screened in 100 districts for NCDs

All Indian citizens over 30 years of age are to be screened in 100 districts of the country under the first phase of a programme of universal screening and control for five non-communicable diseases. Gradually, it will cover the entire country and everyone will be screened under the programme to reduce the disease burden in the nation, the Indian health minister told the press (economic times.indiatimes.com: 16/05/17) (news18.com: 16/05/17) (news.webindia123.com: 16/05/17)

  • Vietnam has burden of non-communicable diseases

Vietnam’s Deputy Health Minister said that of every ten deaths, seven are caused by cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and pulmonary diseases. Non-communicable diseases cause 73% of all deaths and 40% of these people are dying before the age of 70. The financial burden of these diseases will cost the country $47bn over the next 20 years. Vietnamalso bears a further cost of $1bn in tobacco-related diseases. Vietnam is committing to intensifying prevention but also propagating more information about the risks and investing in earlier detection (vietnamnet.vn: 15/05/17)

  • Tobacco consumption epidemic reaches alarming levels

The epidemic of tobacco consumption has reached alarming levels in Indonesia, where more than one-third of the country population are smokers. The fast rising number of cases of non-communicable diseases caused by tobacco consumption now pose a serious threat to the sustainability of the National Health Security Programme in Indonesia, the health minister said. Some 20% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 15 smoke and unhealthy lifestyles of smoking, alcoholic drinks and sugary drinks are creating a slow burning health crisis in the country (antaranews.com: 15/05/17)

Promoting health through the life course

  • Producing fertilizer from air could be five times as efficient

Eureka Alert reports that an Eindhoven University of Technology Phd has created a revolutionary reactor that converts nitrogen from the atmosphere into NOx, the raw material for fertilizer. The method, in theory, is up to five times as efficient as existing processes, enabling farms to have a small-scale installation without the need for a big investment. His idea is particularly suited for application in remote areas that have no access to power networks, such as Africa. Evonik Industries was involved in this research project and is now working on developing the technology (eurekalert.org: 15/05/17)

  • Remote Pacific Island found buried under tonnes of plastic waste

Henderson Island is an uninhabited, 5-km wide speck of land halfway between Australia and South America. A recent expedition by researchers from the University of Tasmania found 38m items of rubbish weighing a total of 18 tonnes spread across its beaches. The South Pacific Gyre is a circular water current and it appears Henderson Island is one place where debris is spat out, these items are decades old in many cases (newscientist.com: 15/05/17) (npr.org: 15/05/17) (forbes.com: 15/05/17) (livescience: 15/05/17)

  • New analysis reveals deadly scale of diesel emissions

Illegal and unregulated diesel emissions are causing tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths worldwide, a new analysis says. The meta-analysis examined data from 30 studies and found excess nitrogen oxide was linked to 107,626 premature deaths around the world in 2015. Researchers warned the number of people dying due to diesel emissions could grow to 180,000 in 2040 if governments don’t act (dw.com: 15/05/17) (theguardian.com: 15/05/17) (phys.org: 15/05/17)

  • Child sex crimes remain taboo as cases surge in conservative India

Sexual violence against children remains a taboo subject in India, despite reports of children being raped, molested and trafficked for sex surging by almost 70% in the latest data, activists and government officials said. There were 14,913 reported sex crimes committed against children in 2015, against 8,904 the previous year. In India’s socially conservative society it remains ignored within families and communities, where victims are afraid to come forward for fear of being blamed for the abuse (trust.org: 15/05/17)

  • Ongoing forest destruction has put Asia-Pacific at risk of missing global development targets – UN agency

The destruction of forests in many Asian countries continues apace, threatening the realization of global sustainable development goals by the 2030 deadline, according to the UN agricultural agency. Forests continue to be degraded and lost at a rate of 3.3m hectares per year, they provide clean air for breathing and safe water to drink and are home to more than 80% of land animals and plants and a natural defence against climate change (un.org: 15/05/17)

WHO elections

  • WHO’s the boss? Inside the race to elect a new head of the World Health Organization

UN Dispatch reports on the race to become the next Director General of the World Health Organization; it reviews the three main candidates backgrounds and the challenges any new leader will face on taking office (undispatch.com: 15/05/17)

  • An end to pandemics is within reach, but we must redouble our efforts now

Daniel Schar, senior regional infectious diseases advisor for USAID’s regional mission in Bangkok, writes a personal opinion article for Stat News in which he makes a strong case for the newly elected Director General of the World Health Organization making ‘ending the era of pandemic diseases’ one of their top priorities (statnews.com: 15/05/17)

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