Meningitis outbreak in Nigeria has killed 813 people, US a major market for illegal online drug sales from India

The World Health Minute Monkey fever claims womans life in Goa malaria cases rising in Nicaragua
news Healthcare Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 17:59

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


·        Confirmed dengue cases in Peru rise to 4,738 with 11,310 suspected cases under investigation

In Peru Minsa said that as of April 15th at least 4,738 people had contracted dengue in the year to date. Piura is the region with the majority of cases, with 1,900 confirmed and 5,307 suspected cases. To date seven people with dengue have died. There are 11,310 probable dengue cases across the 25 regions of the country ( 25/04/17) ( 25/04/17)

·        Angola records 3-4 million cases of malaria a year, 9-15,000 dead - minister

The Angolan minister of health told reporters the country recorded 4m cases of malaria in the last twelve months which resulted in 15,000 deaths across the country’s 18 provinces. Malaria continues to be one of the highest causes of morbidity in the country, particularly amongst children under five and pregnant women ( 25/04/17) ( 25/04/17) ( 25/04/17)

·        Monkey fever claims woman’s life in Goa

A 45-year-old woman from a remote area in Sattari taluka of Goa succumbed to monkey fever on Monday. The woman died due to acute respiratory distress syndrome. The Goa government set up a centre at Valpoi for suspected KFD patients. The official said the centre tested 422 samples of which 75 turned out to be positive for the disease ( 25/04/17)

·        Malaria cases in Nicaragua continue rising

In Nicaragua malaria cases continue to increase, there were 111 new cases last week, and to date there have been 1,759 malaria cases for the year – this is up on the same period in 2016 when there were 1,314 cases. There were seven deaths from pneumonia and there have been 38,039 cases so far this year. Also recorded were 41 cases of dengue and 6 cases of leptospirosos, an illness that has hit 187 people so far this year ( 25/04/17)

·        WHO – South Sudan has seen almost 400,000 new cases of malaria in the last four months

WHO said that there have been 391,000 new cases of malaria with 19 deaths in South Sudan since the start of the year ( 25/04/17)  

·        Meningitis outbreak in Nigeria has killed 813 people: minister

A meningitis outbreak in Nigeria has killed 813 people so far this year, the country’s health minister said. The government approved a house-to-house search in northern Nigeria to identify those afflicted with meningitis for vaccination and treatment, the minister told reporters ( 26/04/17)

·        Measles surges among children in famine-threatened Somalia

Thousands of children have been infected by measles in famine-threatened Somalia, already hit by an epidemic of cholera, UNICEF said. Data from the 2011 famine says that measles, combined with malnutrition and displacement is a lethal combination for children. Among vaccine preventable diseases none is more deadly than measles ( 25/04/17) ( 25/04/17) ( 25/04/17) ( 25/04/17)

Sustainable Development Goals

·        Concern over Zika leads WHO to go for pilot programmes

Growing concern internationally over Zika persuaded WHO to develop carefully planned pilot programmes accompanied by independent monitoring and evaluation. Oxitec trials show a reduction in mosquito populations of above 90%. But as critics point out, that does not necessarily lead to a similar level of disease reduction. Other factors may sustain infection even with a smaller number of insects ( 25/04/17) ( 25/04/17)

·        Bangladesh facing major data gaps in monitoring SDGs

Bangladesh is facing a considerable data gap for monitoring Sustainable Development Goals as statistics on over two-thirds of the indicators are either partially available or not available at all, a new study has revealed. There are 241 indicators to monitor the 169 targets under the 17 SDGs. But data on only 70 indicators is readily available, 108 partially available and in 63 instances not available at all, the study said ( 27/04/17)

·        WHO’s deadly omission as tuberculosis marches on

After an uproar over the omission of TB from the WHO list of 12 pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics, the global body said it was considering editing the list to include TB. This list was intended to encourage R&D of new antibiotics in the midst of gloom that medicines are losing their power to cure diseases. Researchers and health specialists did not take kindly to Mycobacterium tuberculosis being omitted from a list of micro-organisms that pose the greatest public health risk ( 25/04/17)

·        As Indian Kashmir’s lush valleys turn to concrete, fears of severe flooding are rising

In 2014, farming in the Indian-Kashmir region represented 17% of the region’s GDP whereby just 10 years earlier this stood at 28%. Farmers are cashing-in on soaring land prices and selling up, land for growing paddy has shrunk by nearly a third since 2012, with a loss of more than 44,000 hectares. Srinagar has become one of the fastest growing urban areas in the world as many migrate to it. But locals say unrestricted house building is now putting people at higher risk of floods as the climate change impact bites; it leaves behind those in the mountainous region where only a third of the land is cultivatable and dramatically forces up the need for food imports ( 24/04/17)

·        Mexico becomes first in the Americas to wipe out tropical eye disease

Mexico has become the first country in the Americas to eliminate trachoma, but the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness remains endemic in Brazil, Colombia and Guatemala, the World Health Organization said. Key were specially trained medical workers who helped cut the number of cases in tricky regions, like Chiapas, from 1,800 in 2004 to zero in 2016, by promoting hygiene, antibiotics for infection and surgery for advanced cases of trachoma ( 25/04/17)

·        India has the potential for $1tr worth of sustainable business opportunities

Lise Kingo CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact said more than 50% of the progress towards the SDGs will come from India. The UNGC report shows there is $1tr worth of market opportunities for companies working in the sustainable area in India and sizeable employment generation by 2030 ( 26/04/17)

Women and Children

·        Green the red – Indian city breaks taboos for sustainable menstruation

The Indian city of Thiruvananthapuram is leading the way in breaking the taboo surrounding menstruation as it seeks to ‘green the red’ and develop a sustainable menstruation project promoted by the city’s civic authority. From vending machines dispensing cotton pads to awareness campaign and higher disposal fees for girls and women using disposable pads, the city of more than 1.5m is taking measures to help women switch to eco-friendly menstruation products ( 25/04/17)

·        Scientists develop fluid-filled artificial womb to help premature babies

Scientists in the United States have developed a fluid-filled womb-like bag known as an extra-uterine support device that could transform care for extremely premature babies, thereby significantly increasing their chances of survival ( 26/04/17) ( 26/04/17) ( 26/04/17) ( 26/04/17

·        Sex and labour trafficking survivors call for funding and jobs, not just pity

After escaping sexual slavery, forced labour and domestic servitude, survivors of human trafficking called for help in finding jobs and funding, not pity, to help them to rebuild their lives. An estimated 46m people are living in modern day slavery and profits from the illegal industry are said to be around $150bn. There are calls for more start-up money for survivors who want to start their own businesses. Survivors need job opportunities to help them pay off debts and bring back some normalcy into their lives ( 25/04/17)

·        Postpartum haemorrhage: Cheap lifesaver ‘cuts deaths by a third’

Every year, 100,000 women die from massive bleeding in the moments after giving birth. Now an international study published by the Lancet suggests that tranexamic acid could cut that number by a third. It acts by stopping blood clots from breaking down to make it easier for the body to stem bleeding ( 27/04/17) ( 26/04/17

·        Mom’s financial strain linked to smaller, weaker babies - study

A new study has found that a financially strapped pregnant woman’s worries about the arrival and care of her baby could contribute to the birth of a smaller, more medically vulnerable infant ( 25/04/17)

Access to Healthcare

·        TED 2017 – Frugal scientist offers malaria tools

Manu Prakash, a bio-engineer at Stanford University, designs cheap tools that can make a big difference in the poorest parts of the world. At Ted, he showed off his latest gizmo – a cardboard centrifuge that can spot malarial parasites in blood. Toy-inspired, it costs 20 cents. He also launched a citizen science project to identify disease-carrying mosquitoes by their sound, called the ‘Abuzz Project’ ( 25/04/17) ( 25/04/17) ( 25/04/17)

·        Venezuela – malaria cases have jumped 15-fold over the last four years and will worsen still further

Malaria has increased 15-fold in the last four years and four fold since the year 2000. Back then, malaria in Venezuela was just 2% of all the infections caused by the disease across Latin America (29,000 cases). By 2015, there were 136,000 cases, increasing to 140,000 cases in 2016. Now, Venezuela accounts for 48% of all cases across Latin America. The situation is likely to worsen as diagnostic capabilities within the healthcare system falter ( 25/04/17) ( 25/04/17)

·        No vaccines for Nagpur GMCH doctors and staffers treating H1N1 patients

Doctors and staffers handling swine-flu cases at the Nagpur GMCH hospital are facing the threat of the H1N1 virus as none of them have been provided with swine flu vaccines. Every year doctors in the risky environment put themselves at high risk and the Times of India reports this hospital sees two to three of them get infected with TB on average each year ( 25/04/17)

·        Harvard doctor just won $1m for a project that could prevent the next deadly pandemic

Dr Raj Panjabi just won the $1m TED prize for an idea that dramatically increases the number of paid community health workers around the world. Panjabi is a physician and co-founder and CEO of Last Mile Health, an organization that expands access to healthcare through the hiring of professional community health workers. He wants to recruit and train the largest army of community health workers that has ever been known ( 25/04/17) ( 25/04/17) ( 26/04/17) ( 25/04/17)

·        U.S. is a major market for illegal online drug sales from India

The modus operandi of racketeers is to create websites that look authentic and make customers believe that even if calls are being taken/made from outside their own countries, drugs are procured locally. The global anonymity of the internet provides a safe haven for illicit prescription drug sales and many counterfeit products sold in the U.S. seem to have been manufactured outside the USA, particularly in China and India ( 26/04/17)

·        India’s antitrust watchdog orders a probe into Roche cancer drug

India’s anti-trust regulator has ordered a probe into Roche for using anti-competitive practices to restrict cheaper copies of a blockbuster drug from reaching patients. Roche’s Trastuzumab is being challenged by several biosimilars which are sold at about 25% discount to the original. India’s Biocon and U.S. firm Mylan, which sell biosimilars of the drug in over a dozen countries including India, filed a complaint with the Competition Commissioner of India alleging Roche misled doctors and regulators to thwart competition to trastuzumab ( 26/04/17)

     Non-Communicable Diseases

·        Obesity ‘frightening’ in Latin America, driving disease and draining economies - UN

More than two thirds of people living in Chile, Ecuador and Mexico are overweight or obese, costing their economies tens of billions of dollars every year, driving rates of disease and straining health services, a UN report said on Tuesday. The implications for the future of the countries is frightening, undernutrition is declining, but over-nutrition is expected to become the largest social and economic burden in the region, said the UN World Food Programme ( 25/04/17)

·        One in five Vietnamese adults suffer from high blood pressure

It is estimated that around 12m people in Vietnam currently suffer from high blood pressure, meaning that one in every five adults has a condition that can cause a number of serious health problems. The warning was announced at a conference on the prevention of cardiovascular disease and hypertension in Hanoi by experts from the country’s ministry of health ( 25/04/17) ( 25/04/17)

·        Kenya – diet puts children at risk of developing diabetes

The chair of the Diabetes Association of Kenya called menus in schools ‘frightening’ saying schools are feeding children with lots of carbohydrates. The situation is made worse by unregulated development that leaves no room for playgrounds in schools and marketing that encourages the consumption of foods that not only contain carcinogens but also predispose them to cancer. What data on diabetes there is indicates that it is 3% in rural areas and 14% in urban ones – pointing at the potential scale of the problem ( 25/04/17) ( 25/04/17)

·        Study finds how polluting nanoparticles get into the blood and damage hearts

Inhaled nanoparticles like those pumped out in vehicle exhausts can work their way through the lungs and into the bloodstream where they can raise the risk of heart attacks and strokes, scientists said on Wednesday. Most worryingly, scientists who conducted this experiment said, nanoparticles tend to build up in damaged blood vessels of people who already suffer from coronary heart disease and make it worse ( 26/04/17) ( 26/04/17)

     WHO elections      

·        UK nominee to focus on the Pacific Islands

One of the nominees for the position of Director General of the World Health Organization has vowed to help the pacific nations develop their health services and promote healthier lifestyles ( 27/04/17)

·        UK candidate for top WHO job vows to help the Pacific

Attending meetings at the Pacific Heads of Health Meeting in Suva this week Dr David Nabarro said if elected as Director General of WHO he would seek to create a special relationship between WHO and the Pacific island countries through special initiatives ( 26/04/17)

     Mental health      

·        If we want to improve mental health, first we need to tackle poverty

The Guardian welcomes Prince Harry’s recent intervention on the topic of mental health but adds that removing the stigma attached to the illness is not enough and society needs to look at the role of poverty. In the UK the Mental Health Foundation says that the poorest fifth of the population is twice as likely to be at risk of mental health problems as those on average incomes, in fact, poverty increases the likelihood of developing mental illness and mental illness increases the likelihood of poverty ( 25/04/17)

·        As public attention turns to mental health, let’s not forget women and girls

About one in five women in the UK have a mental health problem, compared to one in eight men. Men remain far more likely to die by suicide, but there is a worrying increase in mental health issues with women, up 8.3% in a single year, and the number now stands at its highest rate in England in over a decade ( 24/04/17)

·        Government must boost investment in mental health care

An editorial article in the South China Morning Post called in the government to boost investment in the mental health care system. It called for a substantial increase in recurrent expenditure on psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses and social workers to meet the service demand without placing undue stress on the system and meet the needs of an ageing population which is growing in number ( 27/04/17)   

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