The ‘crookery of clinical trials’ in India, how Tanzania is cracking down on LGBT and getting away with it, and more.

The World Health Minute 100 cases of swine flu in Maha fast food health risks rising in AsiaImage for representation
news Public Health Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - 18:03

The World Health Minute brings you top health stories from around the world. This week we focus on outbreaks, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and women and children. 


  • Guinea: Battling a large-scale measles epidemic

Less than a year after the official end of the Ebola outbreak, the Guinean health system continues to struggle. Since the beginning of the year there have been 3,468 confirmed cases and 14 deaths dues to measles in Guinea, with most cases in the Conakry and Nzérékoré districts.(Doctors Without Borders: 06/04/17)

  • Swine flu deaths cross the 100 mark in Maharashtra

The number of Swine Flu deaths in Maharashtra has crossed 100 this year and there is a rise in the number of cases in March and April due to the scorching heat and prevailing conditions (Deccan Herald: 10/04/17)

  • Tibet reports first H7N9 case in migrant worker

A human infection of H7N9 bird flu has been reported in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, the local health authority said. The patient, a 41-year-old migrant worker from neighbouring Sichuan Province, was diagnosed on April 3 and is in quarantine at Tibet's Third People's Hospital in Lhasa, the regional health and family planning commission said  (Post Online: 08/04/17) ( 08/04/17) ( 10/04/17) ( 08/04/17) ( 08/04/17)

  • There are more than 1,000 cases of dengue in Formosa hidden by the provincial government

An Argentine parliamentarian, Martin Hernandez, said ‘there are more than 1000 cases of confirmed dengue fever in Formosa,’ which he feels the provincial government is hiding, and he says ‘it is criminal as it stops medical help from getting to them’ ( 08/04/17) ( 07/04/17)

  • Hundreds dead in Zimbabwe malaria outbreak

A malaria outbreak linked to devastating floods has killed nearly 200 people in beleaguered Zimbabwe. The 194 casualties have been recorded from a cumulative figure of 134,223 reported cases since the flooding began in January. The areas suffering the aftermath of flooding meanwhile are at risk of outbreaks of the typhoid situation currently tormenting the capital Harare and nearby districts where five deaths have been recorded from over 1,900 cases.
Worryingly, in the affected districts where thousands are displaced, children aged under five face imminent outbreaks of vaccine preventable conditions, particularly measles and cholera ( 10/04/17) ( 09/04/17)

  • Delhi: 79 chikungunya, 24 dengue cases reported in 2017, according to SDMC data

At least 79 cases of chikungunya have been reported in the national capital this year, revealed a report on vector borne diseases by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC). The data also revealed that 24 cases of dengue have been reported in the capital in the last three months. Of these, 11 patients had acquired the infection from one of the neighbouring states, the report states (Indian Express: 11/04/17) (Business Standard: 10/04/17) ( 10/04/17)

  • Two new H7N9 cases reported in China’s Hunan province

Two new cases of H7N9 infection were reported between March 31 and April 6 in central China Hunan Province, according to the health authorities. Live poultry trading has been suspended in the provincial capital Changsha since March 17, which will last until the end of April. Nationwide, 79 people died in January from the virus, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission (chinadailyasia:09/04/17) ( 08/04/17) ( 08/04/17)

  • Woman dies from H3N2 after not responding to Tamiflu in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

A 62 year old woman, with breast cancer, who had influenza type A H3N2, did not respond to treatment with Tamiflu and died on Thursdayafter intensive therapy in a private clinic in Santa Cruz. She followed on from an earlier victim in the week, a 14 year old girl ( ( 08/04/17) ( 08/04/17) ( 08/04/17) ( 08/04/17)

  • Ethiopia declares another acute watery diarrhoea outbreak 16,000 cases

Ethiopia has declared an outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea, also known as AWD, in the country’s Somali region, where people are already struggling to cope with a persistent drought. Dr. Akpaka Kalu, the World Health Organization representative to Ethiopia, told VOA on Fridaythat 16,000 cases of AWD had been recorded in the region since January ( 07/04/17) ( 10/04/17) ( 10/04/17))

  • Samoa issues typhoid health alert

Samoan health officials have issued a health alert, warning anyone who has been to Auckland in the past three weeks to get tested for typhoid. The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) on Thursday said there were now 18 confirmed cases of typhoid in the city. The day before, that figure was 16 ( 07/04/17)

  • Piura – the number of confirmed cases of dengue has risen to 707 which is 20% of all of Peru

There are now 707 confirmed cases of dengue in Piura province which represents 20% of all the cases that exist to date in the country. The areas of Piura, Sullana and Tambogrande are the most affected places. Minsa also reported there are a possible 3,161 case of dengue in the region as yet unconfirmed ( 09/04/17) ( 10/04/17)

  • Battling meningitis – killer disease on the prowl, 438 dead

When the first outbreak of the deadly Cerebro Spinal Meningitis (CSM) appeared in February, many thought nothing of it as such reports had been usual. The number of deaths in Nigeria in the past week, however, is high, and more deaths are still being reported ( ( 09/04/17)

  • Cholera continues to claim victims in Sudan’s El Gederef

One person died of cholera, and four new cases were reported in the area of Shueib in Gireisha locality on Thursday and Friday, a medical source told Radio Dabanga. He strongly criticised the state Health Ministry for its lack of interest in combating cholera and curbing its spread. He also ridiculed the federal Ministry of Health that continues to define the disease as watery diarrhoea ( 09/04/17)

  • Cholera continues to kill victims in South Sudan

Authorities in the state of Jonglei, South Sudan, said that they can confirm 200 new cases of cholera and 28 deaths since this outbreak was declared in February. Most of those cases were of people from fishing villages along the Nile and from rural communities ( ( 07/04/17)

  • Update on the ‘undeclared’ Ogaden humanitarian crisis

The Ogaden region continues to be affected by the humanitarian crisis currently impacting the rest of The Horn. However, the strict restrictions on trade and movement imposed by the Ethiopian government on the Ogaden region continue to exacerbate this ongoing humanitarian crisis. Although a limited number of areas such as Jarar have experienced scarce rainfall recently, the crisis in the Ogaden persists. Areas in the Ogaden region which have been hit hardest include the city of Birqod, where it has been confirmed that 50 people have died from Cholera. It was also reported that on the night of April 2nd alone, 44 people were found dead in the town of Qorile in Doolo province. Today that number is at 91 ( 06/04/17)

Access to Healthcare

  • Meningitis outbreak exposes the Federal Government’s unpreparedness for epidemics

The Guardian Nigeria highlights the ongoing Cerebrospinal meningitis epidemic which has spread like wildfire in terms of cases and deaths across 17 states. It asks the pertinent question as to whether the government should have been better prepared to manage such an epidemic and not allowed it to cause this level of devastation (Guardian Nigeria: 09/04/17) (Punch Nigeria: 06/04/17)

  • Focus on ailing healthcare, lack of doctors on World Health Day

The Times of India reported that World Health Day in Assam was observed against a backdrop of deteriorating healthcare in the public sector, a lack of infrastructure, a shortage of doctors and rising incidences of medical negligence. On top of that, women in Assam are not aware of the importance of hygiene during menstruation nor do they have a comprehensive knowledge of HIV Aids (Times of India: 08/04/17)

  • Borno runs out of anti-retroviral drugs

The Borno Agency for the Control of HIV Aids said its state run specialist hospital had run out of anti-retroviral drugs at its main centre ( 06/04/17)

  • 23 dead in South Darfur camps lacking medicines

More than twenty people died of an unknown disease in Otash and Lama camps near Nyala in the past two weeks, most of the victims were women or children. Dabanga Sudan reported that many patients have been transferred to Nyala Teaching Hospital because of a lack of medicines and treatment at the camps’ health centres. They cited community leaders as appealing to the international community and aid agencies to provide medicines for the camps (Dabanga Sudan: 07/04/17)

  • Insufficient ratio of infectious disease specialists in Senegal and disorganized use of antibiotics

In Senegal, infectious diseases are a public health threat, but the number of specialists in that area is well below the recommended number by WHO. There is also a decidedly low level of equipment on the ground to fight any potential epidemic effectively ( 11/04/17)

  • MSF opens free treatment centre in Matadi to help cholera victims

MSF has opened up a free medical treatment centre in Matadi in the Congo to help treat the growing number of cholera victims (

  • The silent killer ‘kidney disease’ that is striking 9 out of every 100 Malaysian, yet we lack enough donors, medical specialists for organ transplants

The writer highlights the growing burden in Malaysia with approximately 40,000 kidney dialysis patients at critical fourth or fifth stage of the disease and the numbers predicted to rise to 106,249 by 2040, based on recent research (Reuters: 04/04/17)

  • Blame game over high drug prices escalates with new advert

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America launched an advertising campaign urging insurers to share with customers more of the benefit of rebates they have negotiated. In response, the main health insurance lobby pushed back and pinned the high cost blame on drug makers (Bloomberg: 06/04/17)

Sustainable Development Goals

  • UN – Latin America’s poor need more help to tackle Zika

The ripple effects of the Zika virus are hitting the poor hard in Latin America and the Caribbean and could knock back development unless states involve communities in a stronger push to tackle the disease, a UN-led study said. The virus will cost the region between $7bn and $18bn from 2015-17, said the report, large economies like Brazil will shoulder the biggest share of the cost, put poorer countries like Belize and Haiti will suffer the severest impacts ( 06/04/17) (Reuters: 06/04/17) (Huffington Post: 04/04/17

  • Bush steps back into the spotlight to help Africa fight epidemics

As the U.S. Congress headed for a bruising showdown over international aid budget funding later this month, former President George W. Bush flew to Africa to publicize a $6.8bn HIV Aids assistance programme that has done much to rehabilitate the continent’s future. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or Pepfar, which he established in 2004, has saved millions of lives he argued and the investment is in the U.S.’s own national interest ( 08/04/17) (Washington Post:07/04/17) (

  • Madagascar still  in need of help from effects of cylone Enawo one month on

One month ago cyclone Enawo struck Madagascar leaving behind a trail of devastation. Now the government is appealing for international help as it has 81 dead and more than 200,000 badly affected by the extreme weather event. It needs expertise, medical support and help from donors and international aid groups to get itself back on its feet ( 08/04/17) ( 08/04/17)

  • Here’s a reason behind depleting groundwater

A new study by researchers has found that the use of non-renewable groundwater in food production has increased exponentially. In 2000, non-groundwater use accounted for 20% of the world’s irrigation. In 10 years it jumped to 22%, driven by countries such as China, which registered a 102% increase in groundwater depletion, the USA (31% increase) and India (23%) (Economic Times: 01/04/17)

  • The ‘crookery of clinical trials’

A long-drawn out battle over collusion between the Indian Health Ministry and international non-governmental organizations to test experimental drugs on Indians landed on a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court. It is alleged that among all the clinical trials conducted between 2005 and 2012 nearly 2,800 patients may well have died in India. A parliamentary panel pointed to gross ethical violations by all parties behind the trials. However, because of a legal hurdle, this report could not be considered. Now these allegations are in the Supreme Court’s hands, the evidence can soon begin to be considered (The Hindu: 08/04/17)

  • Fast food health risks are rapidly rising in Asia – according to new Philippine study

As Asia Pacific opens up more to international trade it also gets a flood of ultra-processed food and drinks which means young people in the region are at a greater risk of acquiring non-communicable diseases from consuming fast food. Researchers said in China expenditure of fast food has increased 18-fold since 1999 and now the Coca-Cola Company has around 18% of its total global sales from the Asia Pacific region ( 11/04/17)  

  • Doctors must check weather forecasts to stop epidemics in their tracks

Experts at the international non-profit, the Malaria Consortium, called for health agencies in Africa to start consulting seasonal weather forecasts to help prepare for malaria epidemics and ensure outbreaks are spotted early and curbed before they become severe. Rising temperatures, floods and droughts can cause major epidemics in areas not usually affected by malaria and people there may lack immunity and are more likely to fall ill and die (Reuters 06/04/17) ( 07/04/17)

  • How climate change could make air travel even more unpleasant

A new study says that climate change is likely to significantly increase flight turbulence, upping the risk of injury for future airline passengers. Furthermore, fuel and maintenance costs could rise for carriers. An increase in atmospheric CO2  concentrations would cause changes in the jet stream over the North Atlantic flight corridor, leading to a spike in air turbulence. With no effort to reduce atmospheric CO2, the volume of airspace experiencing light turbulence would increase by about 59%. The airspace experiencing severe turbulence could rise by anywhere between 36-188% the study found (Washington Post: 06/04/17) (Science Alert: 08/04/17) (Eureka Alert: 06/04/17)

  • As cities surge, careful planning is needed for the ‘invisible poor’

With 70% of the world’s population expected to live in cities by 2050, getting urban planning right is crucial to ensuring cities are safe, resilient and fair, particularly for the poorest residents. What is happening now on many occasions is the demolition of vast swathes of slums, home to many of those most in need. A genuine rethink of planning efforts is needed to spread the use of clean energy and address the use of scarce resources to address climate change. Existing fault lines in cities exacerbate the inequality that causes the poor to become invisible and this needs to be reversed (Reuters: 05/04/17)

  • Latin America needs to climate proof infrastructure – World Bank

The World Bank reported that Latin America has to climate change proof its infrastructure so it can manage melting glaciers, intense storms and other climate-related shocks. Better infrastructure can help reduce inequality and lift people out of poverty and promote development, the World Bank said in a new report (Reuters: 10/04/17) (NBC News: 10/04/17)

  • Senegal – anti-smoking league is partnering with trade union to highlight consequences of tobacco

The Ligue Senegalaise Contre le Tabac (Listab) and the Confederation Nationale des Travailluers du Senegal are building a strong alliance to collaborate in a campaign to spread an anti-smoking, pro-health message throughout the population in northern Senegal (Le Soleil Senegal:06/03/17)

 Women and Children

  • About 90% of Indian toddlers do not receive a proper diet

Around 90% of children under two in India are struggling to get a proper diet crucial for their development, according to NGO Child Rights and You, citing National Family Health Survey data from 2015/16. Deprived of a healthy start, millions of these children will bear the impact of this under-nutrition not just in early years of their childhood but throughout their lives (Asian Age: 08/04/17) (Deccan Chronicle: 08/04/17) ( (India Live Today: 08/04/17)    

  • Somalia – malnutrition, cholera and diarrhoea rising among children – cases increase

Thousands of children in Somalia suffer from acute malnutrition, cholera and diarrhoea and the figure is increasing rapidly. According to UNICEF, therapeutic food was given in the months of January and February to 35,400 sick children, double the amount compared to the same period in 2016, while 18,400 were diagnosed with cholera and watery diarrhoea (Foreign Affairs NZ: 07/04/17) (Agenica Fides: 07/04/17)

  • 12,000 infants died in Odisha in 2016-17

According to data from the Odisha state health department a whopping 12,000 infants died in the state during 2016-17. The data revealed 6,500 infants died due to anaemic conditions inherited from the mother or malaria, Similarly a total of 1,600 babies died from pneumonia or sepsis, which increased during this period. The two biggest causes behind infant mortality were low birth weight and asphyxia, the data reveal, pointing to how poor nutrition is playing havoc with new born lives (Daily Pioneer: 09/04/17

  • How Tanzania is cracking down on LGBT and getting away with it

BuzzFeed reports that Tanzania has been terrorizing its LGBT community on the back of stigma and prejudice and imperilling the country’s response to HIV Aids programme management ( 08/04/17))             

  • Parental smoking linked to genetic changes in kids with cancer

Parents who smoke may contribute to the genetic changes in their kids that are associated with the most common type of childhood cancer, a recent study suggests. The study links smoking by both parents to specific genetic changes in tumour cells of children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (Reuters: 06/04/17)

  • Malaria drug could cut women’s risk of other infections

A drug used to combat malaria in pregnant women could also treat sexually transmitted infections, a study shows. Results show that sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine can cut the risk of gonorrhoea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis ( 07/04/17)  

  • Most doctors’ breast cancer advice may be out of date

A new study says that women may be getting contradictory advice on when they should start having a regular mammogram. The study found some doctors suggesting between the ages of 40 and 44 (81%) and others between the ages of 45 and 49 (89%), advice with contradicts U.S. Federal recommendations which say start at age 50 (Time: 10/04/17)

  • Drought in Kenya has brought a surprise – more girls in school

A recent safety net of cash transfer payments is helping persuade families that investing in girls makes good economic sense. Since 2013, the country’s Hunger Safety Net Programme, implemented by the government through the National Drought Management Authority is starting to show signs of progress ( 05/04/17)

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