Yemen declares emergency over cholera outbreak, Monsanto to fight move listing herbicide as cancer-causing, and more.

The World Health Minute Adulterated blood racket busted in Hyderabad pharmacists warn against buying prescription drugs onlineImage for representation
news Public Health Sunday, July 02, 2017 - 15:24

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

  • Experts find new strain of cholera that spreads faster

Forty-five strains of ‘vibrio’ cholera were isolated from 10 different places in India and their genetic modules compared to the Haitian strain, which was responsible for the outbreak of cholera in 2010 in Haiti. The new strain does not lead to sporadic cases, but attacks groups of people, which is why it is stated to be virulent.  The samples were taken from sewage treatment plants in Hyderabad and 16 strains were isolated, showing that that there was a gene mutation. The new strain of vibrio cholera showed that it had minor difference from the existing strain and this difference didn’t affect the toxin production in the bacteria (deccanchronicle.com: 28/06/17)

  • Mosquito Menace: New Species Of Deadly Mosquitoes Enters Delhi

Yet another malaria causing species of mosquitoes have arrived in the city, putting people's lives at risk. The National Institute of Malaria Research has recently found two species of the carrier anopheles mosquito-stephensi (urban vector) and culicifacies (rural vector) circulating this year, and resurfacing after 10 years. The Municipal Corporations of Delhi have reported around 113 cases of malaria, which are racing ahead of the number of Dengue cases (ndtv.com: 28/06/17)

  • UN Brought Cholera to Haiti. Now It Is Fumbling Its Effort to Atone

A $400 million voluntary trust fund for Haiti to battle cholera was created last year by Ban Ki-moon, then the secretary general, when he apologized for the United Nations’ role after having repeatedly denied any responsibility. But the fund, meant in part to compensate cholera victims, garnered only a few million dollars and is now nearly empty. Without an immediate infusion of funds, warned UN deputy secretary general, Amina J. Mohammed, “the intensified cholera response and control efforts cannot be sustained through 2017 and 2018” (nytimes.com: 26/06/17)

  • South Africa bans sale of live hens to contain bird flu

South Africa has banned the sale of live hens throughout the country in a bid to control an outbreak of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu, but no humans have been affected, the government said. Exports of processed poultry products, live chickens and fresh produce will continue depending on the requirements of importing countries, the department of agriculture said. "To date, no human cases of infection with avian influenza H5N8 have been reported. However, people handling wild birds, sick or dying poultry must wear protective clothing and wash their hands with disinfectants," the department said (reuters.com: 26/06/17)

  • Yemeni PM declares state of emergency over cholera outbreak

Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid Bin Daghr has declared a state of emergency in health sectors in the provinces of Abyan, Aden, Lahij, Dhale, and Shabwah. He also urged the rapid reporting of cases. Bin Daghr asked local authority leaders to be highly prepared to monitor and control cholera cases in hospitals and health centers in these provinces. The UN agency added that the decline in cholera cases should still be taken under consideration, as 1,400 have died in two months with nearly 219,000 suspected cases (alarabiya.net: 28/06/17)

Health systems

  • When Cutting Access to Health Care, There’s a Price to Pay

A study about equity in access to health care for 21 countries in 2000 revealed that the United States had the highest degree of inequity in doctor use, even higher than Mexico — which is both poorer and generally more inequitable. And as noted in a 2003 study by the Institute of Medicine, insurance status, more than any other demographic or economic factor, determines the timeliness and quality of health care, if it is received at all. A review of studies published this week in Annals of Internal Medicine reported that health insurance substantially raises people’s chances of survival. It improves the diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure, significantly cutting mortality rates. It reduces death rates from breast cancer and trauma. Over all, the review concluded that health insurance reduces the chance of dying among adults 18 to 64 years old by between 3 and 29 percent (nytimes.com: 27/06/17)

  • U.S. Republican healthcare bill imperilled with 22 million seen losing insurance

Twenty-two million Americans would lose insurance over the next decade under the U.S. Senate Republican healthcare bill, a nonpartisan congressional office said, complicating the path forward for the already-fraught legislation. Moderate senators are concerned about millions of people losing insurance. Key conservative senators have said the Senate bill does not do enough to repeal Obamacare. The CBO assessment that an additional 15 million people would be uninsured in 2018 under the bill and its prediction that insurance premiums would skyrocket over the first two years prompted concern from both sides (reuters.com: 27/06/17)

  • Pharmaceuticals regulator defends itself against quality breaches

The Kenyan state regulator of the multi-billion shillings pharmaceutical sector has defended itself against claims that it has allowed a local manufacturer of medicines to continue operation even without meeting quality standards. The Pharmacy and Poisons Board issued a statement saying it allowed Mac’s Pharmaceuticals to continue operation since all its essential drugs including painkillers, anti-malaria drugs and anti-bacterials are of good quality, safe and efficacious for consumption in line with required standards. The claims, circulated on media platforms, had suggested that Mac’s Pharmaceuticals was found to be in breach of Good Manufacturing Practices for medicines in July last year but PPB has not yet suspended its license despite being informed (standardmedia.co.ke: 28/06/17)

  • Adulterated blood racket revealed in India

Three people in India, including the managing director of a hospital, have been arrested for allegedly adulterating blood with saline and selling it to patients. Dr Vakati Chakravathy, the managing director of Venus Hospital, along with manager Chepuri Shravan and blood bank technician Bandi Prem Kumar admitted they had tampered with the blood products in order to make a profit. The blood dilution scandal came to the attention of authorities after a complaint was made by the son of a farmer who needed a blood transfusion (securingindustry.com: 28/06/17)

  • Pharmacists warn about online buying of prescription drugs

Pharmacists have warned people not to risk buying prescription medicines online or from unauthorised sources. Community pharmacist and president of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) Daragh Connolly said buying medicines online was “deadly dangerous”. “You don’t know what you are taking or what effect it might have on you,” he said (irishtimes.com: 28/06/17)

Communicable diseases

  • Venezuela's latest deadly plight: AIDS

Affordable drugs, education for at-risk groups, free condoms all helped control and reduce the country’s HIV epidemic. Stephanie Nolen, Latin America correspondent for Canada’s Globe & Mail, who covered the AIDS pandemic in Africa more than a decade ago, was recently in Venezuela which she described thus, "There is nowhere in the world today where people are dying of AIDS at the pace and in the sheer numbers that they are in Venezuela: Even the poorest African countries today have HIV treatment programs" (usatoday.com: 27/06/17)

  • WHO backs use of devices to test multiple diseases

The World Health Organization released new advice to countries, recommending the use of multi-disease testing devices for Tuberculosis, HIV and Hepatitis. A single device called the GeneXpert can be used to diagnose TB and HIV infections, and quantitatively measure HIV and hepatitis C viral loads. India recently procured 600 GeneXpert machines for the National Tuberculosis programme. “With the power and adaptability of molecular technologies, we are in an era of great advancement for the rapid diagnosis of many diseases using single platforms,” said Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme (hindu.com: 27/06/17)

  • Study links deforestation and malaria

A new study of 67 less-developed, malaria-endemic nations, titled Anthropogenic Forest Loss and Malaria Prevalence: a Comparative Examination of the Causes and Disease Consequences of Deforestation in Developing Nations, finds a link between deforestation and increasing malaria rates across developing nations (phys.org: 27/06/17)

  • Sun Pharma joins hands with NIV

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries and National Institute of Virology (NIV) have signed a pact to test new medicines developed by the company to combat zika, chikungunya and dengue diseases. Sun Pharma will provide drug molecules to NIV for testing against zika, chikungunya and dengue in model systems. The new molecules could be based on phytopharmaceutical, biologic and chemical entities. Candidate molecules with encouraging data will then be taken forward for commercial development. NIC Director Devendra Mourya said that dengue and chikungunya are major public health problems in India like most of the tropical and subtropical countries (biospectrumindia.com: 27/06/17)

  • Federal government declares Nigeria Meningitis Free

The Federal Government has officially declared Nigeria free from the latest ‘type c’ deadly Cero Spinal Meningitis (CSM) which has claimed thousands of lives since the outbreak in 2016. The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Oyewole disclosed this to State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council weekly meeting in Abuja. He said that there has been no polio case recorded for the year 2017 while cholera outbreak in Kwara State has fizzled out(channelstv.com: 28/06/17)

Non communicable diseases

  • 40 Million Deaths Per Year Due to Non Communicable Diseases

Non-communicable diseases are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behaviours factors. Cardiovascular diseases are the most prominent factors for causing the maximum deaths (17 million), followed by cancers (8.8-million), respiratory diseases (3.9-million), and diabetes (1.6-million). These four groups of diseases account for over 80 per cent of all premature NCD deaths. NCDs disproportionately affect people in low and middle income countries where more than three quarters of global NCD deaths – 31 million – occur (newsgram.com: 27/06/17) (b-live.in: 26/06/17)

  • Fewer admissions for heart failure, but blacks still fare worse than whites

Between 2002 and 2013, hospital admissions for heart failure fell by nearly a third in the U.S., but blacks are still more than twice as likely as whites to be hospitalized for the condition, researchers say. “These findings are impressive and suggest that efforts to prevent heart failure and improve the outpatient treatment of heart failure have had overall success in reducing the number of heart failure patients needing hospitalizations,” senior study author Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow said. “However, the improvements were not equally distributed across race/ethnicities and genders, and additional efforts are needed.” (reuters.com: 27/06/17)

  • Lifestyle illnesses reach tribals too: Study

A two-year study by a professor from a Chennai-based government-run epidemiological department has revealed that both urban and rural areas of India are undergoing an epidemiological transformation and the nation will soon face a huge burden of non-communicable diseases. The findings are based on a study conducted by Professor Vijayaprasad Gopichandran from the Katkari tribe of Raigad district. They show prevalence of 16.8 per cent hypertension and 7.3 per cent diabetes among tribe members who were observed and tested over a period of two years (asianage.com: 27/06/17)

  • Family-led rehabilitation ineffective for stroke patients, says Lancet study

Family-led rehabilitation is ineffective for stroke patients, a recent study has found. The study titled — ‘family-led rehabilitation after stroke in India’ — published in The Lancet is based on one of the largest stroke rehabilitation trials that was conducted at 14 centres across India, following up 1,250 stroke patients over six months (hindustantimes.com: 28/06/17)

  • Too many children are sun tanned because parents are increasingly abandoning sun cream, NHS England warns

Health experts claim that a golden glow may be more harmful than it appears as they warn that too many children are becoming sun tanned because parents are increasingly abandoning sun cream. NHS England said the findings showed a "worryingly relaxed attitude" towards sun care among the parents of young children, highlighting the fact that one in ten parents of children aged 2-7 admitting they have encouraged them to sunbathe. The study, of 1,000 parents with children aged 11 and under, found that more than a fifth do not apply any sunscreen on their child until they are visibly starting to burn (telegraph.co.uk: 26/06/17) (bbc.co.uk: 27/06/17)

Promoting health through the life course

  • California to list herbicide as cancer-causing; Monsanto vows fight

Glyphosate, an herbicide and the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weed killer, will be added to California's list of chemicals known to cause cancer effective July 7, the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment said. Monsanto vowed to continue its legal fight against the designation and called the decision "unwarranted on the basis of science and the law." The listing is the latest legal setback for the company, which has faced increasing litigation over glyphosate since the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer said that it is "probably carcinogenic" in a controversial ruling in 2015 (reuters.com: 27/06/17)

  • French ethics panel backs lesbian procreation help

Campaigners for lesbian motherhood got a significant boost in France on Tuesday when a panel of ethics specialists said that female couples and single women should be granted access to sperm-donor techniques of medically assisted reproduction. The recommendation from the National Consultative Committee on Ethics (CCNE) comes two months after President Emmanuel Macron promised to legislate on access to medically assisted procreation for lesbians if elected(reuters.com: 27/06/17)

  • At food trading 'chokepoints', climate change could disrupt supplies - report

International trade in food relies on a small number of key ports, straits and roads, which face increasing risks of disruption due to climate change, a new report says. Disruptions caused by weather, conflict or politics at one of those so-called "chokepoints" could limit food supplies and push up prices, the study by British think-tank Chatham House warned. "The risks are growing as we all trade more with each other and as climate change takes hold," Laura Wellesley, one of the study's authors, said (trust.org: 27/06/17)

  • Politics of Death: Land conflict and murder go 'hand in hand' in Brazil

The scale of violence, role of farming in the economy, hazy nature of property ownership and impunity make land conflicts particularly dangerous in Brazil. Brazil's National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), the government agency responsible for protecting the land rights of indigenous people, has missed its own deadline to demarcate the land, or in essence to ring fence it for indigenous people. "The government only thinks about agribusiness, not us Guarani-Kaiowa," indigenous activist Elson Gomes said. "We don't have enough land or a place of our own to survive" (trust.org: 27/06/17)

  • How investing in poor children saves lives and boosts the economy

UNICEF is launching a compelling report, Narrowing the Gaps: The power of investing in the poorest children, showing that investments in the most deprived children and communities provide greater value for money. The study indicates that every $1 million invested in the poorest children saves nearly twice as many lives as the same investments that do not reach the poor. These findings have important implications, also in Kenya, especially as the Government works to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and Kenya’s Vision 2030. The SDG child mortality target aims to end all preventable new born and child deaths by 2030. This universal goal demands urgent action to reach the still unreached children, families and communities (standardmedia.co.ke: 28/06/17)

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