Why Assam’s two-child policy plan is being criticized, how the Panamanian government failed to notify OIE of a bovine TB outbreak for four months, and more.

The World Health Minute India vulnerable to liver disease cholera outbreak in Somaliland Mothers and caregivers wait in line at a health clinic; Credit: SEAR/A. Cabellero-Reynolds (WHO)
news Public Health Saturday, April 15, 2017 - 17:20

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


  • Deadly cholera/AWD outbreak in Somaliland lays bare the devastating vulnerability of millions

An outbreak of cholera/acute watery diarrhoea in Somaliland has killed 28 people in the last ten days and hospitalized a further 167. More than 411 cases of cholera/AWD have been reported in Somaliland since the start of April. In neighbouring Puntland, the numbers are concerning. Since the beginning of the year there have been more than 1600 cases of cholera/AWD with 57 deaths (somalilandpress.com: 12/04/17) (media.ifrc.org: 12/04/17) (apdnews.com: 12/04/17) (posts.naijamotherland.com: 12/04/17) (india.com: 12/04/17) (punchng.com: 12/04/17)

  • The Panamanian government failed to notify OIE of a bovine TB outbreak for four months

Panamanian government health officials were called out by the press for not formally notifying the OIE of an outbreak of bovine tuberculosis, which could put at risk both public health but also lead to restrictions on meat exports from the country. The government sat on the information for four weeks, claiming they were waiting to receive all the phyto-sanitary paperwork before doing so (impresa.prensa.com: 11/04/17)

  • Death toll rises to 489 in Nigeria’s meningitis outbreak

A Nigerian health official said Wednesday that a suspected 489 people have died during the latest meningitis outbreak to hit the country. At least five northern states have been affected by the epidemic over the last five months. As of now, there have been 4,637 suspected cases from which the fatalities came (dailysabah.com: 12/04/17) (abcnews.go.com: 12/04/17)

Women and Children

  • IOM learns of slave market conditions endangering migrants in North Africa

The International Organization for Migration released a report documenting shocking events on North African migrant routes, where slave markets have been set up, designed to buy and sell African victims bound for Libya. Immigrants are often held as ‘hostages’ as migrants call their families back home to ask for their relatives to send the gangs cash. Women were bought and sold as sex slaves and suffer brutal treatment from the gangs behind the evil trade (iom.int: 11/04/17) (globaltimes.cn: 12/04/17) (news.trust.org: 11/04/17)

  • Kidnapping, forced marriage – Pakistan’s Hindu women now have hope for protection from new law

Women from the mostly-Muslim Pakistan Hindu minority now have the right to a certificate establishing a wife’s marital status under the Hindu Marriage Act 2017, which was signed into law on March 19th. Prior to this, many Hindu girls and married women had lived in the constant fear of being kidnapped, forced to abandon their faith and convert and re-marry forcibly someone who is not of the Hindu faith. Activists said it still needs strong political will to ensure its implementation and campaigns in school and the media to raise awareness of the legislation (news.trust.org: 12/04/17) (timesofindia.com: 12/04/17)

  • Why Assam’s two-child policy plan is being criticized by public health experts

Assam has proposed a new population policy for the state which penalises people who have more than two children. If the draft becomes law they would be ineligible for government jobs and benefits and be barred from contesting all elections under the state election commission. Analysts believe this move by the BJP-led state government is directed at Bengali-speaking Muslim immigrants who are perceived to have larger families. Activist believe this policy is unconstitutional and violates rights of citizens (scroll.in: 12/04/17)

Access to Healthcare

  • Crisis as South Africa’s blood bank is staring at empty shelves

The South African National Blood Service says there is a nationwide blood shortage and it is calling on active donors, lapsed donors and potential donors to come forward to bolster national blood stocks (krugersdorpnews.co.za: 11/04/17)

  • Nigeria, Ghana, China and India – major hubs for counterfeit medicine

Delegates from the ECOWAS Parliamentary Committee on Health and Social Service, Trade, Customs and Free Movement are in Liberia attending a week-long meeting to discuss ECOWAS policy on the fight against Counterfeit Medical products and expired products, and how Parliamentarians can contribute toward implementing and improving policy. According to reports about 70% of the medicines on West African markets are fake because the suppliers of these medicines see West Africa as a soft spot for international trade (frontpageafricaonline.com: 11/04/17)

  • India makes a long overdue move to ensure better drug safety

India has finally amended the law to make bioequivalence studies compulsory for certain classes of generic drugs manufactured in India. These studies establish that two medicines have the same biological equivalence, and they work the same way, to some extent and for the same purpose (scroll.in: 12/04/17)


  • Is liver disease the next major lifestyle disease of India after diabetes and blood pressure?

Commonly caused by Hepatitis B and C, the most common causes of liver disease can now be called alcohol and other obesity related disorders. There has also been a paradigm shift in the dynamics of liver cirrhosis with hundreds of thousands of new patients diagnosed with it in India every year (timesofindia.com: 11/04/17)

  • Mystery clot reveals a helpful mutant gene in a hunt for a cure

In Italy, a man was found to have a tiny change in his DNA that intensified the power of a protein called IX. In this man, this ‘super factor IX’ caused his blood to clot too easily. But for an estimated 26,000 people in the world with haemophilia B, a lack of the protein leaves them vulnerable to extreme bleeding where minor injuries become life threatening. Spark Therapeutics and its partner Pfizer released data showing that in 10 haemophilia B patients receiving the gene treatment, the average annual number of bleeds fell by 96%, to less than one a year. Since entering the trial nine of the patients have not had to get infusions of the protein and they are planning to move the therapy into final stage trials (bloomberg.com: 11/04/17)

  • More evidence ties insulin resistance to cognitive decline

Having a reduced sensitivity to insulin may lead to a more rapid decline in memory or other mental skills in old age, even among people who don’t have diabetes, a recent study suggests. Out of a pool of 489 older adults followed for more than two decades, the researchers found the people who have the highest levels of insulin resistance had the worst cognitive performance and the lowest scores on tests of memory and a mental skill known as executive function (reuters.com: 12/04/17)

WHO elections

  • Ethiopian candidate for top WHO job gets full backing from Africa

The Rwandan Times features an article promoting the candidacy of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for Director General of WHO in the forthcoming elections. It gives the reader the impression that he has the full support of Africa, but only quotes ministers from Uganda and Rwanda as supporters (newtimes.co.rw: 12/04/17) (allafrica.com: 12/04/17)

  • David Nabarro is a friend of Sierra Leone and the right man to lead WHO

The Sierra Leone Concord Times expresses strong support for David Nabarro as the right man to lead the transformation of WHO as the next Director General (slconcordtimes.com: 11/04/17)

  • Word for word, a perfect example of how we treat women seeking power

Quartz looked at an article on the three candidates by the New York Times and tackled the subtle, but unwittingly discriminatory, language used in describing the candidates to deftly undermine the WHO DG candidacy of Sania Nishtar as she is a woman (qz.com: 11/04/17)

Mental health

  • Inconsistent healthcare across India with gaps due to stigma and service holes

According to the National Mental Health Survey, conducted by NIMHANS Bangalore, it was reported that despite three out of four people experiencing severe mental disorders, there are huge gaps in treatment. This has been reported due to the stigma associated with mental disorders and nearly 80% of those with mental disorders had not received any treatment despite being ill for over 12 months (dailyo.in: 11/04/17)

  • Heart attacks, suicides kill more CRPF than Naxal operations

Heart attacks, depression and suicides have killed more CRPF troops, over 24 times more, than have operations and ambushes in Naxal violence hit areas over the last two years. Five CRPF men were killed in 2015, 31 in 2016 and thirteen so far this year in the three left-wing extremist affected states of Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand (business-standard.com: 12/04/17)   

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.