TNM Bulletin on health news from across the world.

The World Health Minute HIV patients protest in TN Beijing ends hospital mark-ups on drug pricesPatients wait outside the OPD at GMC hospital in Nagpur last week as resident doctors were on a strike; PTI
news Health Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 14:59

TNM Health Bulletin: World Health Minute brings you a global round up of stories on women and children, access to healthcare, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and mental health.

Women and Children

  • Thailand bids to reduce HIV infection in babies to 1% within three years

Thai health authorities have set themselves the goal of cutting the transmission rate of HIV from mother to child to less than 1% within the next three years. The campaign includes preventative medical support measures in tandem with education and support on HIV prevention to pregnant women, via a series of campaigns (Bangkok Post: 25/03/17)  

  • How to fix war-torn societies? Help women work

Experts say women as survivors of war are agents of change, and through that change they can empower both themselves and the whole community. These are not people sitting back waiting for food as refugees, back in their country of origin they were almost always incredibly resourceful, reasonably well educated and only setback by the loss of all their identity when they became a refugee. Empowerment turns a refugee into a champion for change (Reuters: 24/03/17)

  • Durex wants to break India’s condom-buying taboo and social stigma

India has condom use of less than 6% in a country also battling the world’s third highest HIV burden. It also has more married women without family planning than any other country. Reckitt Benckiser Group is trying to counter that with its release in India of ‘Durex Jeans,’ two condom packs in packaging resembling the leather patches sewn on denim jeans and displayed in jar-like bowls on drugstore counters. The aim is to help consumers overcome the embarrassment of buying a product linked with sex, a taboo subject in conservative India (Bloomberg: 27/03/17)

  • 8.6m women die due to CVD each year

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, heart disease accounts for a third of all female deaths, around 8.6m worldwide. One in four South African women will have some form of heart condition before the age of 60 (randfonteinhearld.co.za: 27/03/17)       

  • Child marriage soars in Yemen as famine looms - UN

Child marriage soars in Yemen as families struggle to feed their children amid a conflict that has left the country on the brink of famine, UNICEF said. Around 80% of all families in Yemen are in debt or are borrowing money to feed their children. Dowry payments are an additional incentive for poor parents to marry daughters off early and, as there is no minimum age for marriage, campaigners say girls sometimes as young as eight or nine are being married off (Reuters: 27/03/17)

  • Rural women are leading the fight against infant mortality in DR Congo

UNICEF and the Congolese government are providing all pregnant women and mothers with children under five with free health kits containing mosquito nets and basic medication to treat children for diarrhoea, fever and malnutrition. UNICEF is also teaching mothers how and when to use the kits and offering them vouchers to get treatment at the nearest health clinic for a nominal fee. The relative stability in Mbaza-Ngungu region of the DRC is one reason for the project’s relative success in what is otherwise a troubled healthcare system (Reuters: 23/03/17)  

  • ‘Khoon ka Rishta’ campaign enables pregnant women in Bihar to avoid anaemia

BBC Media Action India’s charity is working with women across eight districts in Bihar and giving them 180 iron and folic acid tablets to prevent anaemia, a similar number of blood-drop red stickers and a booklet and an outline of a baby for pasting in the stickers for every tablet consumed (Pro Kerala: 26/03/17)

Access to Healthcare

  • Counties to share health experts to address the shortage across a region

Governors from 13 counties that make up the Kenyan Lake Region Economic Bloc have initiated a plan that will see the devolved units share medical specialists to address shortage. Hospitals will specialise in treating different ailments and reduce patients in key referral hospitals. The plan also involves tackling the high growing disease burden and prevalence of malaria, HIV and infant mortality (Nation Kenya: 24/03/17) (Business Daily: 24/03/17)

  • Lone surgeon at NICVD in Karachi, as 15,000 children lose life battle every year

More than 15,000 children die in Pakistan from cardiac disease. Despite that. Professor Sohail Bangash is the only paediatric cardiac surgeon at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, which is the largest public-sector hospital in the Sindh-Balochistan region catering to cardiac care (Tribune Pakistan: 26/03/17))

  • Tamil Nadu – there’s nothing positive in the HIV bill, say patients

HIV positive people came together to protest against a recent government proposal to ‘take measures, as far as possible, to provide anti-retroviral treatment, diagnostics and treatment for opportunistic infections to those living with HIV’. They argue the bill fails to ensure free and complete treatment of HIV positive people and want the phrase ‘as far as possible’ removed from the proposed law (Deccan Chronicle: 24/03/17) (New Indian Express: 24/03/17) (Hindustan Times: 24/03/17)

  • The city has just 54 doctors per 100,00 population as opposed to Beijing with 355

The Times of India reports that there are only 54 doctors per 100,000 population in Mumbai, which is poor when compared to 296 in Shanghai, 282 in Tokyo, 393 in New York, 355 in Beijing and 85 in Sao Paulo. The upsurge in demand for medical services in India is not being matched by the training of health professionals (Times of India: 27/03/17)

  • Beijing ends hospital mark-ups on drug prices

Beijing announced public hospitals will end mark-ups on drug prices to separate medical treatment and drug sales and to lower costs to patients. Previously, drug prices were marked up by 15%, but this is now disallowed in over 3,600 hospitals and medical institutions across the city from April 8 (xinhua.net: 22/03/17)

  • Venezuela’s Maduro asks the UN to help ease medicine shortages

Triple digit inflation and a decaying economy have left medication ranging from simple anti-inflammatory drugs to chemotherapy medication out of reach for most Venezuelans (Reuters: 25/03/17)

  • EU recommends suspending hundreds of drugs tested by Indian firm

Europe’s medicines regulator has recommended the suspension of more than 300 generic drugs and drug applications due to unreliable tests conducted by Indian contract research firm Micro Therapeutic Research labs. The decision is the latest blow for India’s drug testing industry, which has run into a series of problems with international regulators in recent years (Reuters: 25/03/17)

  • Lawyer with a heart

Birendra Sangwan was interviewed by The Asian Age and he told readers how he ‘took on the medical fraternity and brought a capping on the price of coronary stents in India (Asian Age: 26/03/17)

  • Poor patients turned away as doctors strike against assaults in India

Reuters reported that poor patients in western India were unable to access care for a fourth day at state hospital as doctors maintained a strike in protest at assaults by patients families. The High Court in Mumbai ordered doctors back to work in Maharashtra but asked the government to ensure their security, adding more pressure to an overburdened public healthcare system (Reuters: 23/03/17) (firstpost.com: 25/03/17) (Hindu: 27/03/17)

Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs)

  • Diabetics more prone to TB – SVIMS study

Diabetes is increasingly becoming a major contributor to TB, worldwide data shows. Epidemiological modelling data suggests 14.8% of all pulmonary TB cases in India and 20% of sputum smear positive cases have diabetes, suggesting it’s a substantial contributor to the burden of TB, in addition to HIV/AIDS, corticosteroid, immune-suppressant drug use and alcoholism (The Hindu: 25/03/17) (The Hindu: 27/03/17)

  • People with Type 2 diabetes need to get off their chairs

People with Type 2 diabetes who sit all day have a riskier blood fat mixture than those who move around or exercise periodically throughout the day, according to researchers in Australia. Breaking up sitting reduces the levels of lipids in the bloodstream that are associated with type 2 diabetes and its complications (Reuters: 24/03/17) (Business Standard: 25/03/17)

  • ·        Palliative care linked to fewer repeat hospitalizations

Comfort care for advanced cancer patients is associated with fewer repeat hospitalizations and more hospice referrals, according to a study highlighting how this approach may offer chronically sick or terminally ill people a better quality of life (Reuters: 23/03/17)

  • Two thirds of cancers are caused by random genetic mistakes – U.S. study

About two thirds of cancers are caused by random typos in DNA that occur as normal cells make copies of themselves, a finding that helps explains why healthy individuals who do everything they can to avoid cancer are still stricken with the disease, U.S. researchers said. The new findings are based on genetic sequencing and cancer studies from 69 countries around the world (Reuters: 23/03/17) (University Herald: 26/03/17) (iflscience.com: 24/03/17)

  • What a relief: cutting salt avoids night time toilet trips

Reducing salt significantly decreases the need to make night trips to the lavatory, research indicates. Nocturia affects more than half of the over-50s and leaves them feeling fatigued and irritable in the morning. Japanese researchers now believe it can be resolved with a minor dietary adjustment (The Times: 27/03/17) (telgraph.co.uk: 26/03/17)

  • Nigeria – kidney patients battling for their lives in Sokoto

About 10% of Nigeria’s population has some form of kidney disease, but only 2% were in hospital for diagnosis or treatment. Only a maximum of 100,000 out of two millions Nigerians with the problem are on dialysis while the rest are battling to survive because they cannot afford it (allafrica.com: 25/03/17) (Daily Trust Nigeria: 25/03/17)

  • ‘Healthy’ obese still face a higher heart disease risk

Even without high blood pressure or other signs of illness, obese adults have a much higher risk of developing heart disease than normal weight peers, according to a new study from Denmark (Reuters: 23/03/17)

  • One in five Indians suffer from liver disease

One in every five Indians suffers from liver disease for which alcohol consumption and Hepatitis C are found to be the top causes. As many as 30% of Indians suffer from fatty liver and a quarter of this number develop liver cirrhosis and liver failure (Deccan Chronicle: 25/03/17)

Mental health      

  • Deaths of despair are surging among the white working class

Researchers who sounded the alarm on increasing white working class mortality blamed the trend on economic upheaval that has created a web of social issues so tightly interwoven than even successful policies would take years to unsnarl them. Mortality and morbidity rates began climbing in the late 1990s for less educated whites between 45 and 54. That came as progress against heart disease and cancer slowed and drug overdoses, suicide and alcoholism – so-called deaths of despair – became pervasive (Bloomberg: 23/03/17) (vox.com: 23/03/17)

  • What is the Mental Healthcare Bill?

The Indian parliament passed a Mental Healthcare Bill which decriminalizes suicide attempts by mentally ill people and provides services for people with mental illnesses (Indian Express: 28/03/17) (India.com: 28/03/17) (Hindustan Times: 27/03/17)

  • Physicians rank high in suicide cases, an expert laments

Physicians in Nigeria have been known to rank high in suicide cases. Most doctors are stressed and depressed because of workload and poor remuneration, family expectation and friends. Many are going through a lot but they hardly have time to attend to their own health and often simply continue to just about manage until they reach breaking point (Vanguard Nigeria: 25/03/17)

  • Steady fall in suicides offers a glimmer of hope in Japan

Fewer Japanese people are taking their own lives, a positive sign in a country with one of the world’s highest suicide rates. The number of cases in 2016, 21,897, is the lowest number since 1994 (Bloomberg: 23/03/17)

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