Half a million children die from diarrhoea globally, Syria opens its first solar-powered hospital, and more.

The World Health Minute 16 of all tobacco-related deaths occur in India obesity costs Asia-Pacific 166 bn annuallyChildren being treated for diarrhoea in Allahabad on Tuesday; PTI
news Public Health Wednesday, June 07, 2017 - 14:51

The World Health Minute (WHM) provides quick access to global public health news. It’s "news you can use” to inform investment, advocacy, development and implementation decisions.

Preparedness, surveillance and response

  • UNICEF fears Yemen cholera outbreak could hit 300,000 in coming weeks

The Yemen UNICEF regional director said he had never seen a cholera outbreak of the size it is in this country, which is already contending with the risk of famine and a collapse of the healthcare system because of the war. Half the cholera cases in Yemen are children, and parents have little recourse to help as many hospitals and clinics are closed or lack supplies (nytimes.com: 02/06/17)

  • Sri Lanka dengue – patients are flocking into hospitals

The Sunday Times reports that patients are flocking into hospitals and the need now is to declare a health emergency with regard to dengue. The latest data from the health ministry puts the dengue case count at 56,887, more than what was recorded during the whole of 2016, and approximately 30 dengue related deaths per 10,000 cases (outbreaknewstoday.com: 04/06/17) (sundaytimes.lk: 04/06/17)

  • Days before confirming three Zika cases, WHO moved India to the same risk category as Brazil on Zika

India was moved up from the safest category 4 for possible Zika infection to category 2 level, in the World Health Organization’s country classification system for the Zika virus. This indicates WHO believes India is now “an area with ongoing transmission of Zika” (thewire.in: 02/06/17)

  • Tanzania – up to sixty Tanzanian medical staff were needed to rescue the malaria outbreak in Kigoma refugee camp

Medecins Sans Frontieres is being supported by Tanzanian medical staff who are working alongside the charity organization to overcome the recent spike of diseases among Burundian refugees residing in the Nduta camp in the Kigoma region. Nduta camp, originally intended to shelter only 55,000 people, is overwhelmed and overcrowded, leading to a worrying health situation, experts are saying (allafrica.com: 02/06/17) (thecitizen.co.tz: 02/06/17)

  • TB cases up 23% in Karnataka in just one year

Despite the Karnataka state government spending large sums on preventative measures, tuberculosis has risen by 23% in the state in just one year. The percentage could even be much higher than this when the number from private hospitals are included. According to revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme figures, the number of registered patients with TB in 2016 was 60,751 up from 49, 396 a year before. Around 900 of the registered patients have been diagnosed with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) (deccanherald.com: 04/06/17)

  • The state of Ceara has epidemic level dengue, chikungunya and zika in 60% of its municipalities

The Brazilian state of Ceara has cities with more than 600 cases for every 100,000 inhabitants, way above the WHO epidemic threshold of 300 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The latest epidemiological bulletin confirmed dengue and chikungunya as having killed 25 people this year, with 20 of them in Fortaleza. There have been 64,031 fever like infections reported in the state and 25,533 cases have seen the disease confirmed (g1.globo.com: 03/06/17) (diairodonordeste.verdesmares.com.br: 02/06/17) (diariodonordeste.verdesmares.com.br: 02/06/17)

Health systems

  • Ban on foreign funds for non-profits may hurt India health programmes

India’s ban on foreign funding for the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), a non-profit group backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, may damage some government health programmes, according to the group and a health ministry official. In a letter to the health ministry, dated May 3rd, the non-profit said many of its programmes linked to the ministry were in suspended animation and that its domestic funds would only help it run operations until June. Affected programmes included those on eliminating black fever, HIV prevention, tobacco control and universal health coverage(reuters.com: 30/05/17)

  • Trump’s proposed birth control rollback is a very scary idea

A draft of the Trump administration’s plan to roll back the ACA’s birth control benefit, which requires insurance plans to provide contraception free of charge, has leaked to the press. The plan expands the exemption that allows religious houses to deny health insurance coverage on moral objection grounds, so if a CEO offering insurance provision as part of the work package believes women should not use birth control, they don’t have to cover it (elle.com: 31/05/17) (nytimes.com: 01/06/17)

  • Syria opens its first solar-powered hospital aiming to save more lives

After nine months of testing, an international coalition of medical organizations and NGOs say they are launching the first ever solar-powered hospital in Syria. If there is a complete fuel outage, the solar system can power the hospital for up to 24 hours without diesel, Beyond reducing operational costs it also creates a more resilient infrastructure (trust.org: 31/05/17)

  • Zika cases in India reveal gaping holes in our healthcare system

A statement by the World Health Organization says that the Zika virus has been present in India since November 2016. The Hindustan Times says the Zika case was confirmed in January 2017, yet it took until May before this news was publicly released. This is no way to deal with serious public health emergencies where immediate remedial action is needed to control what could become serious public health outbreaks. Indian officials claim there was no responsibility to inform the WHO while the WHO says there was, both can’t be right (hindustantimes.com: 04/06/17) (scroll.in: 02/06/17) (scroll.in: 31/05/17) (thewire.in: 02/06/17)

  • CRM report shows poor blood services in Arunchal

The 10th Common Review Mission report of the National Health Mission expressed its concern about the availability of blood services in six Indian states, including Arunchal Pradesh, particularly at the sub-district level. The limited functioning of blood storage units, either due to a lack of trained human resources or non-linkage with a mother blood bank were significant causes (arunchaltimes.in: 04/06/17)

Communicable diseases

  • Botched anti-measles campaign kills 15 children in South Sudan

At least 15 died in South Sudan in early May after health workers vaccinating them against measles used the same syringe without sterilizing it, the health minister said. About 300 children were vaccinated on May 2-5 in Nacholdokopele village in Eastern Equatoria state, another 32 recovered after falling ill with symptoms which included fever, vomiting and diarrhoea. The team that vaccinated the children in this tragic event were neither qualified no trained for the immunization campaign, the minister said (reuters.com: 02/06/17) (bbc.co.uk: 02/06/17) (nytimes.com: 02/06/17)

  • Local solutions, people-centred health systems – key to ending Aids epidemic – UN deputy chief

In its annual review of the UN Secretary-General’s report there was a call for a reinvigorated global response to HIV/Aids. According to the report, with less than four years to go to 2020, the time by which countries promised to reduce new HIV Aids infections and Aids-related deaths to fewer than 500,000 and end HIV-related stigma and discrimination, all meaningful progress on reducing new HIV infections among adults has stalled, financing for the global response has dried up and more importantly, women and girls continue to bear the brunt of the AIDS epidemic (un.org: 01/06/17) (guardian.ng: 03/06/17) (ipsnews.net: 02/06/17)

  • Pilot programme offering 10-minute tests for HIV

ABC News report on a South Australia pilot programme which is offering 10 minute tests for HIV. The article highlights Shine SA’s Rapido programme which now has HIV volunteers and professionals running and handing out these simple tests for people in the community to be easily tested and to know their HIV status. Trained members of the gay community administer the finger prick and provide support as the blood sample develops and can become a non-medicalised expert in whom the person can confide (abc.net.au: 03/06/17)

  • Diarrhoea kills half a million children globally, shows Lancet study

Half a million children under the age of five died from diarrhoea-related illnesses in 2015, despite a significant reduction in the number of child deaths from such diseases over the past decade. The Lancet Infectious Diseases study say deaths fell by 34% between 2005 and 2015 after concerted efforts to improve water and sanitation. However, 499,000 under-fives and 1.3m people of all ages died as a result of diarrhoea in 2015, making it the fourth leading cause of mortality among young children with 8.6% of all under-fives’ deaths (theguardian.com: 02/06/17) (bbc.co.uk: 02/06/17)

  • Veterans say report on anti-malaria drug mefloquine downplays the side-effects

An unpublished report on an anti-malarial drug given to thousands of Australia soldiers has been criticized by a decorated war veteran for downplaying the drug’s side-effects. The drug, known also as Lariam, was given to soldiers in Bougainville and Timor-Leste more than 15 years ago as part of clinical trials comparing it to doxycycline. There have been well-documented questions about consent of those involved. Veterans have also spoken of experiencing suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and nightmares and other neurological issues (theguardian.com: 03/06/17) (rcinet.ca: 02/06/17) (outbreaknewstoday.com: 02/06/17)

Non communicable diseases

  • Cigarette taxes touted by WHO as one of the best ways to cut smoking

Tobacco taxes are one of the most effective ways to cut smoking rates, and one that countries are failing to take full advantage of, WHO said. More than 7.2m people die from tobacco related diseases each year, with 80% of them living in low and middle income countries. Imposing an 80% price increase per pack globally could generate an additional $141bn, which would offset to some small degree some of the costs incurred treating people with smoking-related diseases each year (bloomberg.com: 30/05/17) (businessghana.com: 03/06/17)

  • Healthy arteries rare but not impossible for the elderly

Some people who avoid risk factors for heart disease like obesity and diabetes may be able to maintain the blood vessels of a healthy 29 year old well into old age, a US study suggests. Researchers examined 3,196 adults aged 50 or older to see how their odds of vascular aging was influenced by the seven risk factors for heart disease. Those who avoided at least six of these problems were 10 times more likely to have properly functioning blood vessels than their peers who managed no more than one of these risk factors (reuters.com: 30/05/17)

  • Obesity costs Asia-Pacific $166bn annually

A study by the Asian Development Bank Institute suggests that obesity costs about 12% of total healthcare spending in the region per year. So the study concludes that obesity is a serious threat to the prosperity of the region and demands more policymaker attention or the problems will only get worse (nationmultimedia.com: 03/06/17)

  • Cancer taught me to love sunsets

Jheric Delos Angeles, founder of the Lymphoma Philippines Foundation, writes about his experience as a twice diagnosed cancer sufferer in a developing world country who had to raise cash for his treatment and learnt how the technology for treatment is not there in some far flung places. Now he is fighting to help create better access to healthcare for fellow cancer sufferers through his foundation (huffingtonpost.co.uk: 01/06/17)

  • 16% of all the world’s tobacco-related deaths take place in India – new study

A new global study into deaths from 55m deaths per year linked to smoking says that 9m tobacco-related deaths each year occur in India and the number is set to rise higher in the next decade. This number reflects a higher mortality rate than from other diseases such as TB, HIV/Aids and malaria combined (thestatesman.com: 02/06/17)

Promoting health through the life course

  • Online access to abortion pill may be safe alternative to clinics

A study into 1,000 women who used an online telemedicine service to get drugs for medical abortions in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland suggests women can safely use telemedicine to consult with a doctor and get drugs to terminate their pregnancy without surgery. About 85% of the women reported successfully terminating their pregnancies without surgical intervention using medication they received in the mail after providing their medical details and consulting with a trained helpdesk team on how to use the drug. No deaths were reported and less than 3% of the women had complications that required treatment like antibiotics or blood transfusions (reuters.com: 01/06/17)

  • One in five twins dies under the age of 5 in sub-Saharan Africa – Lancet study

One in five twins born in sub-Saharan Africa die before turning age 5, even as infant mortality has dropped for lone babies in the region, scientists say in a new study. This new research report said mortality rate was 213 per 1,000 pregnancies, compared to 11 per 1,000 in Finland as an example. The gravity of these findings calls for policy action, the researchers said(reuters.com: 01/06/17)

  • Trans, gender nonconforming people report poorer health - study

People who identify as transgender or gender nonconforming may have higher than average rates of poor or fair health, a new study suggests. For this report researchers used data collected in 2014 and 2015 looking at responses from 315,893 people including 1,443 who identified as transgender or nonconforming gender. About 23% of the transgender group reported poor or fair health, compared to 17% in the non-gender minority group. The gender minority group were also likely to be low income, unemployed, uninsured for health, overweight or have unmet medical needs or to report depression(reuters.com: 30/05/17)

  • Lack of ‘safe’ jobs keeping educated women from work in India

A lack of safe workplaces in India and the danger of reaching them by public transport is keeping more educated women out of the labour force, hurting the economy and leaving women more vulnerable. Nearly two-thirds of Indian women with college degrees are without jobs, pushing female participation in the labour force to 27%, among the lowest in the world, from nearly 40% a decade ago, according to the World Bank (trust.org: 02/06/17)

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