Children face hunger crisis in Venezuela as malnutrition soars, deadly dengue epidemic declared in region of Peru

The World Health Minute 10000 fever cases reported in Meerut since Jan 2017 Zika tally in Cuba rises to nearly 1900 cases
news Public Health Monday, May 22, 2017 - 19:58

The News Minute brings you a weekly round-up of stories on public health from around the world. This week in the World Health Minute we are focussing on preparedness, surveillance and response; health systems; communicable diseases; non-communicable diseases; promoting health through the life course; and WHO elections. 

Preparedness, surveillance and response

·        World Health Organization: 11,000 suspected cholera cases and 184 deaths across 17 governorates

The number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen now stands at 11,000. The suspected cases have been diagnosed as Acute Watery Diarrhoea, while the number of deaths cause by cholera is 124. The head of delegation at the ICRC tweeted that the number of deaths is higher at 184. The sudden hike in the number of patients has made hospitals in Sana’a unable to cope with the large number of AWD patients ( 16/05/17) ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17) ( 18/05/17) ( 17/05/17) ( 16/05/17

·       Children face hunger crisis in Venezuela as malnutrition soars

Child malnutrition in parts of Venezuela is now at the level of a humanitarian crisis warns a new report from the local Caritas agency. With the economy in freefall, shortages of food and medicine soaring, half of the under-fives monitored by Caritas are suffering from some degree of malnutrition or at imminent risk. The WHO’s threshold for malnutrition is 10% and Caritas says the latest analysis puts current levels at 11.4% ( 16/05/17)

·        Meningitis – outbreak has caused almost 180 deaths in Niger since January

At least 179 people, almost half of them children, have died of meningitis since January in Niger, where some 3,000 suspected cases have been reported, the UN said. OCHA said the fatality rate so far stands at 5.9%. The agency had previously reported 120 deaths out of 2,102 suspected meningitis cases at the end of April. Forty five percent of the total cases were children aged between five and fourteen ( 18/05/17)

·        Deadly dengue epidemic declared in region of Peru

WHO has declared a dengue fever epidemic in Peru’s north western region of Piura after the local death toll reached 19. According to official figures, 3,150 cases have been confirmed in Peru in the latest outbreak, with another possible 12,446. In Piura alone, there are three hundred possible new dengue infections daily ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17) ( 16/05/17)

·       2,100 dengue cases in Thiruvananthapuram

Among the 3,100 dengue cases reported across Kerala, 2,100 are from the Thiruvananthapuram district, the health minister told the state parliament. The government noted that healthcare professionals are contracting dengue and that the majority of the dengue cases are from within the city limits ( 18/05/17) ( 16/05/17)  ( 18/05/17

·       About 32 dengue positive cases reported in Visakhapatnam district this year

According to the officials of the Visakhapatnam district health department, since January 1st to May 15th, as many as 466 people had symptoms of dengue and their test samples have been sent for examination. As many as 32 of the 466 people have tested positive for dengue ( 17/05/17)

·        Malaysia – dengue is still a threat with 29 deaths and 18,534 cases in Selangor state so far this year

A spike in the number of dengue cases in Hulu Langat has the Selangor state government worried, especially with over 48% of the total deaths in the state since January being recorded in the district. This area has the highest number of dengue cases in the state, with 4,927 cases and 14 deaths. Overall, Selangor has recorded 18,534 cases up to May 13th with 29 deaths so far ( 17/05/17)

·        10,000 fever cases reported since Jan 2017; Chief Medical Officer sets up health camps across Meerut

The district of Meerut has registered 10,000 cases of fever since January. A majority of the 10,000 fever cases this year have been recorded as fever unknown origin, although efforts are being made to probe the causes of the fever. The health camps are in urban and rural areas to take samples, conduct tests and gather statistics on dengue or chikungunya( 17/05/17

·        Chikungunya viral disease is spreading fast in Dhaka

Bdnews24 has been told by the Bangladesh government’s disease monitoring arm (IEDCR) that chikungunya is spreading across Dhaka on the back of the sporadic rains. Bdnews24 was not told a number but was told the figure is far higher than official figures as they often do not get all the samples and some cases do not seek the necessary treatment or can be misdiagnosed ( 16/05/17)

·        Tackling Ebola outbreak in remote Congo presents a huge challenge: WHO

WHO said its assessment of the outbreak was that risk of spread is high at a national level, medium at an African level and low at a global level. WHO said logistical challenges of the outbreak are immense in this very remote and insecure part of the country. WHO added that as it deploys teams over the next few weeks it will begin to fully understand the scale of the problem it is dealing with ( 18/05/17

·        Cuba says its Zika tally has now risen to nearly 1900 cases

Cuba said 1,847 residents have so far contracted the mosquito-borne Zika virus, warning that certain provinces on the island still had very high rates of infestation despite a series of measures to stave off the epidemic. Health authorities said there are provinces like Havana, Guantanamo, Cienfuegos and Camaguey where there are huge risks and high levels of infestation ( 18/05/17

·        G20 health ministers seek to avert return to ‘pre-penicillin era’

The world risks a return to the pre-penicillin era if leading nations do not cooperate to combat the threat from antibiotic-resistant bugs and means are not found to finance research into new, more effective medicine, Germany’s health minister told the G20. Decades of over prescription have led to the evolution of resistant strains of many bacteria. An EU report last year said newly resistant strains of bacteria were responsible for more than 25,000 deaths a year in the 28-nation EU alone( 18/05/17) ( 18/05/17)

·        Cholera outbreak in Nairobi, five admitted

Nairobi county has activated cholera treatment centres following an outbreak of the disease in the city. Health executives confirmed that five cases of cholera have occurred. The authorities believed it was an imported case as the five had travelled to the city to attend a wedding. There were reports three people had died after contracting the disease but the authorities are currently not aware of this and cannot confirm it ( 19/05/17) ( 18/05/17) ( 18/05/17) ( 18/05/17) ( 18/05/17)

·       As Ebola outbreak grows, the question of using a vaccine becomes more urgent

As health officials and aid workers head to a remote corner of the DRC to respond to an outbreak of Ebola a key question remains: will the government authorize the use of a promising experimental vaccine? The vaccine had stunning results in a clinical trial in Guinea in 2015, but it has yet to be licensed for broader use. Science Insider spoke to Marie-Paul Kieny, a WHO assistant director who oversaw the agency’s response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa 2014-16 and asked her about whether the vaccine will be used ( 18/05/17

        Health systems

·        Amazon’s long shadow falls on pharmacies     

According to a CNBC report, Amazon is considering a leap into the prescription drug business. It wouldn’t be easy, but the industry and its investors ought not to dismiss the threat. If Amazon offered an experience that improves on existing U.S. mail order options in price or convenience, then it could disrupt retail drug stores. The pharmacy is the golden nugget in the vast majority of retail revenue for America’s biggest drug stores ( 17/05/17) ( 16/05/17)

·        Fraud at malaria centre: Global Fund report uncovers systematic double billing and nepotism  

A report by the Global Fund’s Office of the Inspector General has confirmed evidence of corruption and nepotism at Cambodia’s National Malaria Centre, calling the centre’s oversight ‘dysfunctional and unauditable.’ The report was released ‘quietly’ in March, but passed to The Post this week. It found systematic double billing of donors for field missions conducted by the same staff in different areas during overlapping time periods and the practice of senior staff members hiring unqualified family members. These staff invariably went on field trips, despite lacking relevant antimalarial experience( 18/05/17)

·        More than half of the world’s deaths still have no recorded cause: WHO

More than half of all deaths have no recorded cause, making effective health monitoring and policymaking far more difficult, the World Health Organization said. Improved collection of statistics means 27m deaths were recorded in 2015, compared to about a third in 2005. In some countries the improvement in collection is remarkable; Iran now has 90% of all deaths recorded compared with 5% in 1999. WHO says all the data is needed because if countries don’t know what makes people sick and die it is a lot harder to know what to do about it ( 17/05/17

·        Obamacare helped Americans detect cancers earlier

The number of Americans whose cancers were diagnosed at the earliest stage, when it is most likely to be cured, increased after Obamacare went into effect and more citizens had access to health insurance, a new study has found. Whilst the effect was small, the study found that a higher proportion of new breast, lung and colorectal tumours were detected at stage 1 in 2014 compared with a year earlier. The shift to earlier diagnosis happened primarily in states that expanded Medicaid under the law, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The researchers followed 273,000 patients under 65, who were diagnosed from 2013-14 with five kinds of cancer that can be detected by screening and the increases in early detection were small but consistent ( 17/05/17)    

·        India’s drug makers need more time to meet international standards: Industry group

India’s big drug makers will need at least five more years to improve their manufacturing standards and data reliability to a level demanded by international regulators, said a senior official. The industry has struggled to improve factory processes and train staff since 2013, when major violations were found at India’s then largest drug maker Ranbaxy Laboratories. Complaints have ranged from issues over hygiene and maintenance to concerns over falsifying manufacturing related test results and data ( 17/05/17)

·        South Africa: Medics protest as KZN healthcare system collapses

The South African Medical Association and public interest law firm SECTION27 warned the Kwa-Zulu-Natal health system is on the point of collapse. On 5th May over a thousand health workers marched to Durban to highlight the crisis. A memo addressed to the government highlighted the 16 problems which included: shortage of staff caused by unfunded or abolished posts, a lack of medical school graduates, an unwanted overtime policy, failures with equipment procurements, shortages of supplies, problems with medical records and poor management ( 16/05/17)

·        India’s drug pricing regulator clamps down on drug cocktails

India’s drug pricing regulator has demanded explanations from 65 domestic and global drugmakers for selling new forms of essential diabetes and antibiotic drugs without its approval. These companies have launched formulations by altering an essential drug without even applying for price approval from NPPA as required, it said in its website notice. The companies on this list include Sanofi, Abbott Laboratories and Indian firms such as Lupin and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries ( 18/05/17)  

Communicable diseases

·        China offers anti-malaria and healthcare support to millions in Africa

China has recently decided as part of its new health commitments to provide Africa with the popular anti-malaria medication, Artemisinin, for five million people. It said it will lend support to build health systems and policies in the areas of disease surveillance, strengthening of prevention and treatment of malaria and other communicable diseases ( 18/05/17

·        Malaria remains endemic in Indonesia

Based on data from the Ministry of Health, malaria is still endemic in the provinces of Papua, East Nusa, Maluka, North Maluka and West Papua, because the elimination achievement of this deadly disease in these five provinces is still zero percent. Papua province is still the largest contributor to the deadly disease. East Nusa Tengara Province has recorded as many as 29,000 malaria cases in these islands since 2016 ( 18/05/17)

·        Myanmar government details $460m plan to combat HIV/Aids

According to the Myanmar government there are around 200,000 people living with HIV and 115,000 who receive antiretroviral treatment. The government will contribute 18% of the budget to a programme to combat HIV with the rest of the money coming from international organizations and NGOs, including the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Three Millennium Goals Development Fund and the relevant UN agencies ( 18/05/17)

·        U.S. pledges $526m in aid in 2017 to Tanzania to fight Aids

The US approved $526m in aid to Tanzania over the coming year to expand the roll-out of life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs to people infected with HIV. Some 1.4m Tanzanians are estimated to be living with HIV in a nation of around 50m people, with about 850,000 of them currently on ARVs. The funds were donated through the PEPFAR programme( 18/05/17

·        Researchers discover first human antibodies that work against all ebolaviruses

After analysing the blood of a survivor of the 2013-16 Ebola outbreak, a team of scientists from academia, industry and the government has discovered the first natural human antibodies that can neutralize and protect animals against all three major disease causing ebolaviruses. The findings, published online in the journal Cell, could lead to the first broadly effective ebolavirus therapies and vaccines ( 18/05/17)

·        Sindhudurg to get Maharashtra’s first infectious disease research lab

The first Infectious Disease Research Laboratory in Maharashtra will be in the Sindhudurg district. The Hindu said the lab will work on 13 types of diseases and keep a detailed record of it. The lab will complete work on a generator facility to ensure the lab has an uninterrupted power supply which can guarantee low temperature storage facilities for the purpose of preservation ( 19/05/17) ( 18/05/17) ( 18/05/17)

Non-communicable diseases

·        Cardiovascular disease causes one-third of deaths throughout the world

Cardiovascular disease, including heart diseases and strokes, accounts for one-third of deaths throughout the world, according to a new scientific study that examined every country over the past 25 years. Countries with the greatest number of CVD deaths, after accounting for population size, are found throughout Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Middle East, South America, sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania. Additionally, the steep declines previously experienced in the developed world over the past two decades have begun to taper off and plateau ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17) ( 16/05/17)

·        Scientists get closer to making personalized blood cells by using patients’ own stem cells

New research has nudged scientists closer to being able to create customized human stem cells capable of forming blood that would be safe for patients. This potentially opens up a window on what goes wrong in such blood cancers as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma and offers the prospect for improved treatment of these cancers which affect millions ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17)

·        Cost of treating diabetes highest in the UAE: Report

The per capita cost of treating diabetes in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar are among the highest in the Middle East and North Africa region, according to a new report. The International Diabetes Federation estimates on average 13.6% of the adult population between 20 and 79 years in the region have been diagnosed with diabetes, which is higher than the global average of 8.5%. BMI Research, in its latest report, said Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar have one of the highest diabetes-related expenditure on a per capita basis, reported at $1,145; $2,156 and $2,868 respectively ( 17/05/17)

·        High blood pressure under spotlight this World Hypertension Day

High blood pressure is one of the most common risk factors for stroke, heart attacks and kidney disease within the African population. About 25% of South African adults are hypertensive and carry increased risks. On World Hypertension Day, the South African Heart and Stroke Foundation was encouraging all South Africans to measure their blood pressure and understand their personal risks under the hashtag #MeasureYourPressure ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17)

·        Bhutan is making its people healthier, happier, by beating non-communicable diseases

In 2014, Bhutan undertook a nationwide survey to collect, analyse and disseminate health data to get a scale of its problem. 39% of people were overweight or obese, 36% had raised blood pressure and half were not engaged in vigorous physical activity. Now Bhutan is zeroing in on NCDs. Tax on alcohol is now 100% and districts are implementing a WHO-backed alcohol control plan. Strong tobacco laws ban production, sale and use in public places and taxation is high together with strong promotion of physical activity ( 17/05/17)  

·        Obesity on the rise as a quarter of European teens eat sweets daily

A quarter of adolescents eat sweets or chocolate every day and 14% have a cola or other sugary drink daily, according to a WHO report showing obesity rising among teenagers. Too many young people are in a harmful cycle and most will not outgrow obesity. About four in every five adolescents who become obese will continue to have weight problems as adults. They then develop chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and face psychological issues such as low self-esteem, depression and social isolation ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17)

·        Kenya seeks to tackle rising cases of hypertension

Kenya’s health ministry said it has developed a training module for non-communicable diseases for community health volunteers as part of its efforts to tackle rising cases of hypertension in the country. Around 20m Kenyans have never tested their blood pressure levels despite the nationwide increase of hypertension cases which are potentially leading to a social explosion in kidney disease, heart disease or strokes ( 18/05/17)

·        Philippines’ Duterte gets tough on tobacco with ban on smoking in public

President Duterte signed an executive order banning smoking in public across the second-most populous country in Southeast Asia, one of the region’s strictest anti-tobacco laws. The ban which covers a maximum penalty of four months in jail, covers both indoor and outdoor smoking. It also covers existing bans on tobacco advertisements, promotions or sponsorships ( 18/05/17)      

·        Leading health expert decries the neglect of non-communicable diseases in Africa

A leading Nigerian health expert has called out the gross neglect of non-communicable diseases in Africa. Dr Abdulrahman Jafar identified hypertension and diabetes as NCDs which have proven to be far more deadly than communicable diseases. He said governments should engage medical experts to sensitise people on what they should know and encourage them to go to hospitals ( 18/05/17)

Promoting health through the life course

·        Forced from their forests, Cameroon’s female pygmies bear the brunt of alcohol abuse

Driven from their ancestral lands by logging and mining firms, many of the 50,000 Baka pygmies in eastern Cameroon are turning to alcohol to cope. Struggling to adapt to life outside the forests, the Baka’s problems of poverty, hunger and alcoholism are likely to worsen. Some pygmie girls are abducted by traffickers to work in major cities as maids or sex slaves. Many return with Aids and STIs, some Baka die or go blind from drinking home-grown alcohol ( 17/05/17)

·        No man is ‘born trashy’

An article in News24 tackles the scale of domestic violence in South Africa where it was found 60,000 women and children are victims of domestic violence, according to a study carried out by the World Health Organization. South Africa is the second most unsafe country out of the 48 countries south of the Sahara. Many domestic violence victims do not understand what it is and two in three women suffer a form of abuse, but the problem is being ignored ( 17/05/17

·        Trees in eastern U.S. head west as climate changes

A study suggest that, in the near-term, trees are responding to changes in water availability more than to temperature changes. A study tracking the shifting distributions of 86 types of trees using data collected by the U.S. Forestry Inventory and Analysis Program found more trees heading west than (as they had expected) north. Angiosperms, or flowering trees went west and gymnosperms, mostly conifers headed north ( 17/05/17)

·        Nigeria: New research shows rising support for Nigeria’s gay marriage ban

More than half of Nigerians surveyed do not think that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people should have access to basic health services, according to new research released by Nigerian human rights organization, the Initiative for Equal Rights. Of the 2,000 people surveyed, 90% of them said they supported the introduction of a 2014 Act banning gay marriage, a slight increase over the previous year’s survey ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17)

·        Dangote, Adenuga, Otedola, others can end poverty in Nigeria – Oxfam

As part of its ‘Even it Up’ campaign, a new Oxfam report highlighted the large and growing gap between the rich and the poor in Nigeria. It said economic inequality is a key factor behind the conflict that has led to the severe food crisis in its north eastern states, which the UN estimates will see 5m people suffer from food shortages this year. Despite a growing economy, Nigeria saw the number living in poverty increase from 69m to 112m between 2004 and 2010 and the number of millionaires grew by 44% during that same period ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17)

·        Jordan’s Azraq becomes the world’s first clean energy refugee camp

Thousands of Syrian refugees will be able to light their homes, charge their phones and chill their food by solar power as Jordan’s Azraq camp became the world’s first refugee camp to be powered by renewable energy, the UN refugee agency said ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17) (timesofisrael: 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17) ( 17/05/17)

·        Survey – Asians say they back breastfeeding, yet harassment persists

Women in Asia face widespread harassment for breastfeeding in public, according to campaigners, despite a new poll showing that most people in Asia say it should be protected by law. The survey found 77% of respondents were in favour, 75% said it should be protected by law. However, campaigners say the reality falls short of the numbers released by YouGov due to conservative values or a lack of awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding ( 17/05/17)

·        Smart bangle delivers pregnancy tips to Asian wrists

A hi-tech bangle that alerts pregnant women to toxic fumes and issues audio tips promises to boost maternal health in South Asia, as smart devices deliver more services to remote communities. The bangle was developed by Intel Social Business and it is designed to withstand the rigours of village life. Made of durable plastic, water-resistant and with a long-lasting battery that does not require charging during the duration of the pregnancy, neither does it need an internet connection to work. It can deliver wellness messages twice a week, what to eat and when to see a doctor ( 17/05/17

·        Spain’s smoking ban tied to drop in pre-term and underweight babies

One year after a nationwide ban on smoking in public took effect in Spain, women had significantly fewer premature or underweight infants, a recent study suggests. Researchers examined data on more than 5m babies born in Spain from 2000 to 2013. The study included infants born before any restrictions on public tobacco use, after a 2006 ban covering many workplaces with exceptions in the hospitality industry, and in 2011, after a law curbing tobacco in nearly all public places. The rate of babies born small for their gestational age declined after the partial smoking ban took effect in 2006, and then once more it dropped after the comprehensive ban in 2011. The study authors said second hand smoke exposure during pregnancy is associated with health complications affecting perinatal and neonatal health ( 17/05/17)

·        Nearly 1.2m teens die every year from mostly preventable causes

Around the globe, over 1m adolescents die each year, more than 3,000 per day, from largely preventable causes, according to new research from the World Health Organization. The most common causes of deaths among adolescents are road traffic injuries, lower respiratory infections and suicide, the report concluded. More than two-thirds of the deaths occurred in low and middle income countries in Africa and South-East Asia. Physical violence as a cause of death among young men also ranks high ( 18/05/17) ( 18/05/17) ( 18/05/17) ( 18/05/17)

·        Birth weight may impact intelligence throughout life

Being born at below-normal weight is associated with a lower intelligence quotient not only in childhood and young adulthood but also at age 50, according to a new study from Denmark. Researchers found IQ differences between underweight and normal weight babies remained stable into midlife, and even within the normal birth weight range, higher weights equated with slightly higher IQ throughout life ( 18/05/17)

·        EU suspends funding to refugee NGO following claims of sexual abuse, corruption

The EU has suspended funding to a non-government organization aiding refugees in Greece pending an investigation into allegations of sexual exploitation and financial corruption, the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management said. The EU said the Commission had already informed the Greek authorities and submitted the case to OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud office for immediate investigation, it also guarantees immediate support for the refugees in the interim( 18/05/17)

·        Michigan Senate votes to outlaw female genital mutilation

The Michigan Senate approved legislation on Wednesday, making genital mutilation of girls a state felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, both for doctors who perform the procedure and parents who transport a child to undergo the surgery( 17/05/17)  

     WHO elections       

·        The lead candidate for the world’s top health job is being accused of covering up deadly epidemics

Dr Tedros Adhanom is being accused of allegedly covering up cholera epidemics in 2006, 2009 and 2011. The government labelled the outbreaks, which led to the deaths of hundreds of people, as acute watery diarrhoea, a symptom of cholera. The controversy comes as Ethiopia is experiencing another outbreak which it has again labelled as diarrhoea. Human rights organizations say the Ethiopians are pressurising health professionals not to refer to the outbreak as cholera ( 18/05/17)

·        Ethiopia’s candidate for the World Health Organization does not like mentioning a certain disease

      Since a cholera outbreak in 2006 in the Oromia region, Ethiopia has referred to the disease as ‘acute watery diarrhoea’, a symptom of cholera. Tests at the time by the UN confirmed it was actually cholera.  Since then there have been several AWD outbreaks including in Addis Ababa in 2016, and in the drought-hit Somali region, where more than 16,000 have been diagnosed since January and 3,500 new cases are being identified every month. None have been identified as cholera, which is a breach of the WHO rules to report disease outbreaks ( 18/05/17)

·        Ahead of WHO leadership elections ‘dirty tricks’ aim to muddy Africa’s choice

Tedros ‘is having a week from hell’ the paper says, as he is on the receiving end of a barrage of allegations designed to fracture his chances to lead the WHO. Aides told the paper the New York Times article accusing him of covering up cholera outbreaks in Ethiopia was nothing more than a smear campaign designed to ruin his chances ( 18/05/17)

·        The world needs Tedros as DG of WHO

A regional blog speaks out in favour of Tedros Adhanom’s candidacy to run the World Health Organization. It lists his talking points from Dr Tedros’ website and warmly backs his campaign ( 18/05/17)

·        Tedros is the right man to lead the World Health Organization

The Ethiopian government press is using a quote, seemingly out of context, to create the impression that Bill Clinton backs the Tedros for WHO DG campaign ( 18/05/17

·       Who is Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ethiopia’s candidate to lead WHO?

The International Business Times looks at the background and candidacy of Tedros Adhanom and discusses his vision and reasons why he is seeking to become the next director general of WHO 

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