Scientist warns of drug resistant typhoid strain, female clerics in Indonesia declare a fatwa on child marriage, and more.

The World Health Minute Dengue H1N1 alert for Kerala Somalia struck by cholera and famineIn Malawi, children learn about malaria and mosquitoes in school classes; Image credit: WHO/S. Hollyman
news Public Health Thursday, May 04, 2017 - 14:37

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

Outbreaks

  • Kerala – districts on high alert

Health authorities in all the districts are at a state of alert to the threats posed by dengue and H1N1 and they have stepped up action to deal with a rise in cases (thehindu.com: 29/04/17)

  • Dengue cases at an all-time high across Thiruvananthapuram

Dengue cases in Thiruvananthapuram stand at an all-time high as dengue has struck the city early, before the Monsoon period, and up to 923 dengue cases have been reported from various hospitals (newindianexpress.com: 01/05/17

  • Kerala – Swine flu claims 23 lives in 2017, 300-400 cases recorded

H1N1 virus has seen a rise in the entire southern Indian region, a health officer for the region said. H1N1 has claimed 23 lives in Kerala so far in 2017, with the state recording higher incidence of the flu than in previous years. A total of 300-400 swine flu cases had been confirmed so far across the state. People suffering from diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular issues, cancer, HIV among others and pregnant women are considered to be the high risk or vulnerable groups, the health officer added (dnaindia.com: 01/05/17) (manoramaonline: 01/05/17) (ptinews: 01/05/17) (timesofindia,indiatimes.com: 01/05/17) (thehindu.com: 01/05/17)

  • Cholera and famine strike Somalia and South Sudan

Caritas said there has been a massive influx of people into the region of Gedo in south central Somalia, most of whom are fleeing drought. This has led to high levels of hunger in the area and the assistance available is not enough to keep up with need. So doctors are facing high levels of malnutrition, which is then compounded by reduced access to water, adding indirectly to malnutrition by increasing the risk of infection, especially acute watery diarrhoea and cholera (caritas.org: 28/04/17)

  • Malaysia on alert over a rise in malaria cases and a newly discovered malaria parasite

Malaysia is on high alert due to an increase in the number of malaria cases and the detection of a new malaria parasite in three villages in Kuching, Sarawak. The newly discovered malaria parasite is called Plasmodium knowleslii, which is transmitted from infected monkeys to mosquitoes and then passed on to humans (star2.com: 30/04/17)

  • Sixth Brazilian state reports a case of yellow fever

Tocantins, a sixth Brazilian state, has reported that it has a human case of yellow fever. It joins Para, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Espirito Santo and Minas Gerais as states with confirmed human cases of yellow fever (cidrap: 27/04/17)

  • Humanitarian crisis in Somalia, fuelled by cholera outbreak

International aid agencies are trying to stem a burgeoning humanitarian crisis in Somalia, as a cholera and measles epidemic compounds near famine conditions there. The Australian Red Cross says there have already been 50,000 cases of cholera since last year in Somalia, but it is continuing to spread quickly, including across the border into Ethiopia. The Red Cross expects another 20,000 to 30,000 cases over the next few weeks (abc.net.au: 01/05/17)

  • Iran, Vietnam report more H5N1 outbreaks

The highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus has struck birds in Iran and Vietnam, as H5N8 outbreaks continue in Europe, including at a large poultry farm in Sweden, according to the latest notification from OIE (cidrap: 26/04/17)

  • Dengue hits Australia’s refugee camp in Nauru

A dengue fever outbreak in Nauru has now hit around 10% of all asylum seekers at the Australian-run asylum processing centre in Nauru (radionz.co.nz: 28/04/17)

  • 15,000 cases of dengue in the south of Vietnam so far this year

There have been more than 15,000 cases of dengue fever in the south so far this year, according to the Pasteur Institute of HCM City. HCM City, Binh Duong and An Giang provinces have reported the highest number of cases. (vietnamnews.vn: 28/04/17)

  • Scientist warns of drug resistant typhoid strain

Poor laboratory capabilities, poor surveillance and a lack of sanitation are enabling the spread of a typhoid strain that is resistant to drugs, a leading researcher at the Kenya Medical Research Institute has warned. Professor Sam Kariuki said the H58 strain can be traced back to the Nepalese capital Kathmandu but it is now in east Africa (nation.co.ke: 01/05/17)

  • Dengue – almost 6,000 confirmed cases across Peru with nearly 13,900 probable

Northern coastal regions have recorded almost 60% of the 6,000 confirmed cases of dengue across the country this year. Piura tops the list with 1,503 cases, La Libertad has 961, Lambayeque 688, Ica 617 and Ayacucho 388. In addition, there are around 13,897 probable cases as well, with Piura being the epicentre for most of these with 7,249 cases followed by Ica with 1,444 cases (elcomercio.pe: 01/05/17

Access to Healthcare

  • Pakistan warned it might face an ‘Africa-like’ situation with regard to HIV Aids in 3-4 years time

The Joint United Nations programme on HIV Aids has warned Pakistan that it could face an ‘Africa-like’ situation in the next three to five years with respect to HIV Aids. UNAIDS officials in Pakistan based their inference on their observation of the rising prevalence of the disease among injectable drug users, the transgender community and sex workers (thenews.com.pk: 27/04/17)

  • U.S. will run out of yellow fever vaccine by ‘mid 2017’ warns a new report

The country’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention warned that it expected a complete depletion of yellow fever vaccine available for the immunization of U.S. travellers by mid-2017.’ According to the CDC report, the only U.S. approved vaccination had experienced manufacturing problems which has led to the shortage (uk.news.yahoo.com: 30/04/17) (cnn.com: 30/04/17) (ibtimes.co.uk: 30/04/17) (voanews: 28/04/17) (usatoday.com: 28/04/17)

  • Global Med-tech companies and India, locked in a tussle after stent pricing sting

A group of global medical technology companies plan to tell Indian officials next month that any further price control measures would risk future investments and make them less likely to introduce new products in the country. This lobbying effort follows on from PM Modi’s decision to set a price cap for stents, slashing prices that patients pay for some devices by about 75% (reuters.com: 28/04/17)

  • Zimbabwe – HIV Aids chokes the country’s informal sector

A National Aids Council report has revealed that HIV Aids is wreaking havoc with Zimbabwe’s informal economy, a key development given that this is the sector most likely to lead any potential recovery. The report said this sector has not been targeted within the range of national efforts to fight HIV Aids, TB and cancer and this is a critical omission (allafrica.com: 27/04/17) (financialgazette: 27/04/17)

  • Nigeria records a short supply of tuberculosis vaccine as Kaduna plays host for the 7th Africa vaccination week

Nigeria is in need of more tuberculosis vaccine: Kaduna state health authorities said they have all vaccines in stock except the Bacilus Calmette-Guerin vaccine which is primarily used against tuberculosis (newsexpressngr.com: 29/04/17

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)

  • We’re getting closer to mass production of bones, organs and implants

Medical researchers have been able to create certain kinds of living cells with 3D printers for more than a decade. Now a few companies are getting closer to mass production of higher-order tissues (bone, cartilage, organs) and other individually tailored items, including implants. This kind of precision medicine, treating patients based on their genes, environment and lifestyle could herald the end of long organ donor lists and solve other problems too (bloomberg.com: 27/04/17)

  • Risk factors for heart disease may also predict Alzheimer’s

New U.S. research has found that the main risk factors for heart disease – smoking and high cholesterol – may well predict your risk of contracting Alzheimer’s disease later in life. A study of 322 men and women observed that patients affected by at least one of these factors had a higher chance of developing brain plaques (abc.net.au: 01/05/17)

  • Beware of searing belly pain

The main cause of pancreatitis is gallstones. There is a growing need for relevant government agencies to create awareness about the disease. This story also points out that the ‘young drinking generation’ of adults between 25-35 are particularly susceptible to the risks this disease poses (nation.co.ke: 30/04/17)

  • Heart failure mortality is inversely related to wealth of country

Death in patients with heart failure is inversely related to the wealth of the country they live in, according to new research. Death rates in India and Africa were three to four times higher than those documented in Western countries (sciencedaily: 30/04/17)

Women and Children

  • Low immunization is behind Pakistan’s infant mortality rate

Pakistan has the highest infant mortality rate in South Asia because of the low rate of immunization and vaccination coverage. With about 56% of the country covered, almost half the children in the country are simply not immunized, according to an expert from the Pakistan Paediatric Association (dawn.com: 30/04/17) (newsinternational.pk: 30/04/17) (nation.co.pk: 30/04/17) (nation.co.pk: 30/04/17) (pakistantoday.com: 30/04/17)

  • 93,000 people die annually from firewood smoke - NGO

The Women’s Initiative for Sustainable Environment and the Women’s Earth Alliance have trained 30 women from different communities across Kaduna State on how to use clean and energy efficient cooking stoves. The NGO director said ‘if a woman cooked breakfast, lunch and supper with firewood, the consequence of her action was equivalent to smoking three packs of 20 cigarettes a day.’ Smoke is the biggest killer of people, particularly women, after malaria and HIV Aids; no less than 72% of Nigerians solely depend on firewood for cooking their meals (pmnewsnigeria.com: 29/04/17)

  • Education helps break the silence around domestic violence in Africa

Across Africa, domestic violence is the most prevalent form of violence against women and girls, but many authorities see it as a family matter. Women’s groups say education is key to helping survivors stand up and report abuse when it happens (newsdeeply.com: 27/04/17) (allafrica.com: 27/04/17)

  • Female clerics in Indonesia declare a fatwa on child marriage

Female clerics in Indonesia issued an unprecedented fatwa against child marriage in the country in a bid to stop young girls becoming brides. The fatwa came at the end of a three-day conference of female clerics: a rare example of women assuming a lead role in religious affairs in this mostly Muslim country. ‘Maternal mortality is very high in Indonesia so we as female clerics must play a lead role on this issue and not just wait for the government to protect these children’ (news.trust.org: 27/04/17)

  • Feature – India’s Muslim women fight tradition and family for the right to property

The Thomson Reuters Foundation features the story of how Muslim Indian women are starting to reject outmoded tradition and family prejudice to start fighting for their legal rights to own property(trust.org: 27/04/17)

  • NGO trains 6,000 women in Nigeria

The Women Inspiration Development Centre (WIDC), an NGO, said it has trained 6,000 women and girls in 12 rural communities in self-protection against gender-based violence in 2016. Mrs Busayo Obisakin, WIDC Founder, said the training has been done in collaboration with a U.S.-based NGO called ‘Imagine.’ In her presentation in Lagos, Mrs Obisakin listed the organizations outcomes: with some women achieving peace in their homes as a result of economic empowerment, some women have left their unrepentant husbands and are in peace with their children, some with health issues understand their situation better and are seeing improvement, some are furthering studies and attending weekend schools and others have small businesses and are accessing microfinance from banks (pmnewsnigeria.com:  27/04/17)

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