Study finds 2 billion people overweight or obese, fake drugs a bigger killer than terrorism, and more.

The World Health Minute Diabetes rising among Indias urban poor seas could soon have more plastic than fishDead fishes float on the polluted Ana Sagar lake in Ajmer; PTI Photo
news Public Health Thursday, June 15, 2017 - 12:00

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

  • More than 29,000 breeding sites in Ahmedabad: Survey over 10,000 ‘malaria cases’ likely

At least 10,295 suspected cases of malaria and 29,402 mosquito-breeding sites were identified in Ahmedabad city during the 16-day-long anti-malaria drive that concluded on Friday. Out of the suspected malaria cases, 56 have been confirmed. Besides, two cases of falciparum malaria — a more lethal strain of malaria — and two cases of dengue have also been detected (indianexpress.com: 11/06/17)

  • Zika affects 5 percent of babies with confirmed infections: CDC

The first report on how the Zika virus affected US territories showed that 5 percent of women with confirmed infections had babies with birth defects, US health officials said. The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the first to include official numbers from the territory of Puerto Rico, which on Monday declared that its Zika epidemic had ended, based on data showing the number of new cases has fallen. The CDC reiterated its recommendation that pregnant women not travel to Puerto Rico, noting that Zika remains a risk for pregnant women there and anywhere else the mosquito-borne virus is active (reuters.com: 08/06/17) (huffingtonpost.com: 09/06/17)

  • MERS: Saudi Arabia reported 6 fatal cases, United Arab Emirates and Qatar report cases

According to a World Health Organization outbreak update, for the five weeks from April 21 through May 29, Saudi Arabia reported an additional 25 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection cases, including six fatalities. Twelve of the 25 reported cases during this time period were associated with three simultaneous, yet unrelated clusters of MERS cases in Bisha city, Riyadh city and Wadi Aldwaser city. In addition to the Saudi Arabia cases, two more cases were reported in the United Arab Emirates and one in Qatar (outbreaknewstoday.com: 08/06/17)

  • Highly Contagious Dog Flu Spreading Through U.S. (H3N2)

Dog owners need to be aware that a new strain of dog flu has been making the rounds in the United States and seems to be spreading. A news report out of Georgia said that the flu was spread by out-of-state dogs at a dog show in May. The dog flu, according to veterinarians is said to be so contagious that if a dog sneezes 20 feet away from another pooch it can be passed on (patch.com: 09/06/17)

  • Kelantan almost free from H5N1

Kelantan is close to being declared H5N1-free now that it has passed 72 days without any new cases of the bird flu. Veterinary Services Department director-general Datuk Dr Quaza Nizamuddin Hassan Nizam said that if there were no cases after 90 days, the state can be declared free of the virus (thestar.com.my: 10/06/17)

Health systems

  • Japan government scraps proposals for drug-price cuts in policy guidelines

Japan has dropped proposals on price cuts for prescription drugs aimed at boosting the use of generic drugs, underscoring the government's struggle to rein in bulging social security costs for a rapidly ageing nation. The step comes as Japan looks to boost the use of generics to 80 percent by September 2020 from about 56 percent now, thus saving the government hundreds of billions of yen every year. In an annual draft of policy guidelines that incorporated the change, the government floated the idea of lowering the prices of these prescription drugs to the levels of generic drugs. But the proposals were missing from the final version of the annual policy guidelines approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet (reuters.com: 09/06/17)

  • South Korea to fine Novartis unit over unfair drug promotions

South Korea's antitrust regulator said it would fine Novartis' local unit 500 million won ($444,089) for alleged unfair promotions, in another setback for the Swiss drug maker that was fined earlier this year over kickbacks to doctors. The Korea Fair Trade Commission added that it would file a complaint against the company with prosecutors. It said that Novartis Korea had spent 7.6 billion won to fund overseas trips by medical practitioners to attend academic conferences from 2011 to 2016. Novartis Korea selected recipients for the funding based on their prescription of the company's drugs, or anticipated prescriptions of the drugs, the regulator said (reuters.com: 08/06/17)

  • 'Withdraw irrational fixed dose combinations from government scheme'

In a letter on Thursday, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (People’s Health Movement – India) said the scheme operated by India’s department of pharmaceuticals, which falls under the ministry of chemicals and fertilizers, has about 90 Fixed Dose Combinations (FDCs) that are unscientific. “Most of these medicines are combinations of vitamins and supplements or that of antibiotics, which have no pharmacological validation. Only about a dozen of the FDCs in this list can be scientifically justified and out of these only half a dozen have been from those which have been included in the National List of Essential Medicines. (NLEM-2015),” JSA informed the minister. The many doctors who are part of this nationwide group said irrational FDCs are a matter of grave concern and expose patients to the risk of adverse drug reactions (timesofindian.indiatimes.com: 09/06/17)

  • Our so-called 'universal' healthcare: the well waste money and the poor get sicker

Amy Corderoy writes about health inequality in Australia, and points out that “only two out of every 10 people with a condition such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder can expect to make it to the average Australian life expectancy”. She is also concerned about “the difference between city and country, where the further out you go the more likely you are to die an avoidable death. And even if you don’t have an obvious risk factor such as a mental illness, there is one clear way of predicting your chances of living a longer or shorter life: your income. When researchers divide Australians into five income groupings, they find a steady increase in the rate of deaths as they move from the very richest to the very poorest”(theguardian.com: 11/06/17)

  • Fake drugs kill more people than terrorism, study shows

Counterfeit medicines kill more than 100,000 people each year globally, a number greater than terrorism deaths, a survey by the Institute of Research against Counterfeit Medicines (IRACM) shows. Speaking at a workshop on combating counterfeiting and piracy in Mombasa, IRACM director of studies Wilfrid Roge said the majority of unsuspecting consumers fall prey because “it is very difficult to recognise the fakes.”  “Sh7.5 trillion is lost annually because of fake drugs with firms in Africa making fake vaccines and veterinary products,” he said. Roge, however, said his firm is investing in the training of customs officers in the region to enable them to conduct proper risk analysis and prosecute culprits as a way of cutting the supply chain (mediamaxnetwork.co.ke: 08/06/17)

Communicable diseases

  • Doctor's call to 'equally protect' boys with HPV vaccine

A doctor is calling for boys to receive a vaccine currently only given to girls to protect against cancer.  The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) jab is offered to teenage girls in the UK to protect against cervical cancer.  A health committee was expected to meet later to review whether boys should also get the jab, which can protect against throat and penile cancers.  Dr Kirsty Bonney, from Devon, paid privately for her sons to be immunised.  She made the decision after working on a chemotherapy unit, where she looked after two young men with HPV-related throat cancers (bbc.co.uk: 07/06/17)

  • Pharmacists win big in HIV self-testing drive

The Government has partnered with pharmacists to drive the recently-launched HIV self-testing programme and administering preventive drugs to people at high risk.  The move is a major win for the more than 4,000 pharmacists registered with the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK) whose operations will be the primary healthcare centres to support the efforts to fight HIV/Aids.  Heavy backing from the programme is expected to drive constant traffic of customers to pharmacies, thus boosting their businesses (kdrtv.com: 11/06/17) (standardmedia.co.ke: 11/06/17)

  • Release of Transgenic Mosquitoes against Dengue and Zika Advances in Brazil

After the success in Piracicaba (São Paulo) with its transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, Oxitec is likely to release them to fly higher and further, perhaps even in other Brazilian states. Some of the potential cities that could receive the modified mosquito include Juiz de Fora (Minas Gerais) and Búzios (Río Janeiro). As the new mosquito cannot be commercialized yet – it has not been authorized by the Anvisa, the National Health Surveillance Agency, for this purpose – the release of the modified Aedes aegypti occurs under a research project in partnerships between the company and City Halls. The secretary of the health care department of Juiz de Fora, Elizabeth Jucá, told Folha that the company has been negotiating with the local government since 2015 and that the partnership contract is likely to be signed shortly (folha.uol.com.br: 09/06/17)

  • Anti-vaxxers don’t just put their own kids at risk, they imperil all

Mullumbimby has the lowest vaccination rates in Australia: the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has revealed the hippie hotspot has a vaccination rate of just 52 per cent, lower than any Third World country and shockingly far below the 95pc needed for herd immunity. That is why the town, and the schools, are awash with whooping cough. The one in two parents who do vaccinate their kids also end up with sick kids because the vaccine is not 100 per cent effective — it relies on herd immunity. That’s why the region has nine times the rate of whooping cough of nearby Primary Health Networks(dailytelegraph.com.au: 10/06/17)

  • NIAID scientists discover rare genetic susceptibility to common cold

Scientists have identified a rare genetic mutation that results in a markedly increased susceptibility to infection by human rhinoviruses (HRVs) — the main causes of the common cold. Colds contribute to more than 18 billion upper respiratory infections worldwide each year, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study. Now that scientists have better understood the pathway to infection it ought to become quickly possible to investigate more targeted ways to intervene with better treatment (nih.gov: 12/06/17)

Non communicable diseases

  • New study finds more than 2 billion people overweight or obese

Globally, more than 2 billion children and adults suffer from health problems related to being overweight or obese, and an increasing percentage of people die from these health conditions, according to a new study. The study, which spans 195 countries and territories from 1980 through 2015, was released at the annual EAT Stockholm Food Forum, which aims to create a healthier, more sustainable food system. It is based on data from the most recent Global Burden of Disease study (GBD), a systematic, scientific effort to quantify the magnitude of health loss from all major diseases, injuries, and risk factors by age, sex, and population (dw.com: 12/06/17) (nytimes.com: 12/06/17)

  • Novo Nordisk reveals results from real-world study of Tresiba drug

Danish diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk presented its findings from the real-world study EU-TREAT at the American Diabetes Association's 77th Scientific Sessions. "Switching to Tresiba provides significant reductions in blood glucose and lower rates of hypoglycaemia in a real-world settings," Novo Nordisk said. People with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes experienced a significant reduction in HbA1c, a measure of long-term blood glucose levels, six months after switching to Tresiba from another basal insulin, primarily rival Sanofi's Lantus (insulin glargine), and its own insulin Levemir (insulin detemir), in a real-world setting (reuters.com: 10/06/17)

  • Black and Hispanic patients less likely to see neurologists

Black and Hispanic patients with neurologic disorders are less likely to see brain specialists than white people with these conditions, a recent US study suggests. Researchers examined data on more than 279,000 patients, including nearly 17,000 who reported having neurological disorders, like epilepsy, Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis or other conditions like headaches or cerebrovascular disease. They found that black patients were 28 percent less likely to see neurologists for outpatient care than white patients. Hispanic patients were 39 percent less likely to see neurologists (reuters.com: 09/06/17)

  • IBD patients living far from specialists may not get needed care

The further away inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients live from specialist doctors, the more likely they are to need IBD-related surgery or drug therapy to manage their disease, a small study suggests. Because people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis require specialized care, having to travel long distances to get it may lead to worse outcomes, the study team writes in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (reuters.com: 08/06/17)

  • India’s improving economy driving diabetes rise among urban poor

Diabetes in India is undergoing a demographic transformation, shifting from largely afflicting the affluent to increasingly burdening the poor and middle income population. According to a new study, this metabolic disorder is increasingly affecting the urban poor in part due to the improving economy. On average, the study found that diabetes was twice as common in urban areas as rural – 11.2 percent and 5.2 percent respectively. And although the disease was still more common, for the most part, in wealthier populations, it was actually higher among the urban poor in seven of the more economically advanced states (humanosphere.org: 09/06/17) (scroll.in: 08/06/17) (hindustantimes.com: 08/06/17) (business standard.com: 08/06/17)

Promoting health through the life course

  • Delaware is first U.S. state to enact abortion rights law under Trump

Delaware's governor has signed into law a bill ensuring abortion remains legal in the state, the first such move in the United States since President Donald Trump was elected on a pledge to overturn a landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationally. A spokesman for Democratic Governor John Carney Jr. said he supported the rights and protections afforded under Roe v. Wade, a 1973 Supreme Court decision protecting a woman's right to abortion.  "For that reason, he signed the bill into law," said the spokesman, Jonathan Starkey, noting that the law takes effect immediately (reuters.com: 09/06/17)

  • Deadly protests in India highlight despair of poor landless farmers

The killing of five farmers in clashes with police in central India exposes the plight of landless peasants struggling to pay back debt with meagre earnings from lower produce prices, activists say. Low prices for produce such as lentils and cereals amid a glut in supply have triggered protests by farmers in central Madhya Pradesh state and neighbouring Maharashtra, where officials have said they will waive loans of some defaulting farmers. But the waivers will only benefit farmers who own land and do not address the main reasons for farmers' distress including landlessness and the small size of holdings, said Kishor Tiwari, head of a committee set up by the Maharashtra government to address farmers' issues (trust.org: 09/06/17)

  • 'Wombs for rent' business flourishes in communist Laos

Dozens of fertility clinics have mushroomed in land-locked Laos after scandals over commercial surrogacy have spurred wealthier southeast Asian neighbours to ban the controversial procedure since 2015. Rights groups say communist Laos, one of Asia's poorest countries, is a linchpin of transnational crime, and a transit centre for contraband from drugs and wildlife to timber - and recently, semen. Paid surrogacy is illegal in much of Asia, having been forbidden in neighbouring Thailand in 2015, after a series of high-profile cases, with Cambodia following suit last year. Despite the bans, would-be parents are drawn by Asia's lower costs, as compared to wealthier nations (reuters.com 08/06/17)

  • Plastic to outweigh fish in the sea if waste keeps flowing

Internationally, significant efforts are being made to remove plastic from the world's water bodies: one example is "The Ocean Cleanup", a Dutch foundation formed after a speech by a concerned Dutch teenager went viral online. It aims to clear over half of the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch", an area between Hawaii and California where ocean currents have concentrated plastic debris. Last month, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Prince of Wales' International Sustainability Unit launched a $2-million prize to come up with new ways to design packaging to help keep plastics out of the ocean(trust.org: 08/06/17)

  • The weaker sex? Science that shows women are stronger than men

When it comes to longevity, surviving illness and coping with trauma, one gender comes out on top – women. The Guardian profiles scientists working on studies to find out why (guardian.com: 11/06/17)

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