Health R&D is under funded, Zika can affect the eyes of foetuses, and more.

The World Health Minute Over 40000 affected by water-borne diseases in Tripura designer virus to kill cancer discovered
news Public Health Thursday, June 01, 2017 - 14:39

The 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.

Preparedness, surveillance and response

  • Gujarat government – deliberately didn’t reveal Zika cases to the public

Some Indian doctors expressed consternation that the Gujarat authorities have known about three Zika cases and did not make the information more widespread. A physician in Bapungar was quoted as saying he’d seen what he thought were a few cases of severe dengue which he would have tested for Zika had he known. Gujarat’s health commissioner said the NIV Pune has yet to give a report on the gene sequencing of the virus to pinpoint its origin. He added that the first Zika case detected in November 2016 was only confirmed by the NIV on January 4th 2017, still not fully answering why the lack of transparency (timesofindia.indiatimes.com: 29/05/17) (economictimes.indiatimes.com: 29/05/17)

  • Congo approves the use of Ebola vaccination to fight outbreak

DRC’s health ministry has approved the use of a new Ebola vaccine to counter an outbreak in its northeast that has killed four people, a spokesman said. The vaccine, known as rVSV-ZEBOV and developed by Merck, is not yet licensed but was shown to be highly protective against Ebola in clinical trials published at the end of last year. A WHO spokesperson said that the vaccination would be deployed ‘should an EVD laboratory confirmed case be identified outside the already defined chains of transmission’ (reuters.com: 29/05/17) (bfmtv.com: 29/05/17)

  • Tripura – water-borne diseases affect people more than malaria, over 40,000 people affected

The state of Tripura has recorded over 40,000 people affected by malaria, water-borne diseases and bacillary dysentery between the start of the year and now, although no deaths have been recorded. Water-borne diseases (13,159 patients) turn out to be a bigger villain than bacillary dysentery and malaria, with 1,081 dysentery victims and 703 malaria affected people (thenortheasttoday.com: 29/05/17)

  • Superbugs: The world is taking action but low-income countries must not be left behind

The WHO’s Dr Marc Sprenger said that while the world has woken up to the threat of antimicrobial resistance and is starting to respond, many low-income countries are struggling to find capacity and need greater support. Sprenger said that more than 90% of people live in countries which have developed a national action plan on antimicrobial resistance. Around 30% of low-income countries either have or are developing a plan and these are the ones that most urgently need to be best prepared (who.int: 29/05/17)

  • Sri Lanka's flood survivors threatened by dengue, disease: aid workers

Thousands of survivors of devastating floods and landslides in Sri Lanka are at risk of potentially fatal diseases such as dengue fever, charities warned as the death toll from the disaster continued to rise. "The threat of water-borne diseases is a big concern with over 100,000 people displaced from their homes, many of whom are staying in damp, crowded conditions," Chris McIvor, head of Save the Children Sri Lanka, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "I'm particularly worried we could start seeing even more dengue cases because of the floods, as stagnant water provides the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. It's the last thing needed by communities that have already lost so much" (reuters.com: 29/05/17)

  • Sepsa is investigating its first case of yellow fever in the Aveiro municipality of Para state

The Brazilian health authorities in the state of Para have confirmed the first case of yellow fever in the state as a 19 year old man has been transferred to the ICU of the Regional Hospital of Baixo Amazonas (g1.globo.com: 29/05/17)

Health systems

  • Health R&D is still under funded – WHO members are concerned, NGOs call for more ambition

NGOs urged that delinkage of the cost of R&D for new medicines and new medicine pricing needs to be on the WHO agenda every time public sector funding of R&D is discussed and when funding reforms are considered by the WHO. There was also calls for the collection and publication of data on R&D investment flow, the cost associated with specific clinical trials and the role of government in funding or subsidising drug development. MSF noted that its work is often hindered because medicines, vaccines and diagnostics are too expensive, too difficult to use or do not exist, so it believes there is a need for a comprehensive reform of the way medical R&D is prioritised, financed and conducted (ip-watch.org: 29/05/17)

  • Why Europe is resorting to China for its penicillin supply

Countries hit hard by shortages of penicillin are increasingly turning to Chinese companies as the majority of the factories still producing the drug are based in that country. With only four companies in the world responsible for the global supply of penicillin, China has three of them in it borders. However, shortages of the drug have been reported in at least 18 countries over the last three years, including Europe and North America. Even so, countries are sourcing from companies that do not always adhere to European drug manufacturing standards (ibtimes.co.uk: 29/05/17)

  • Trump’s proposed budget cuts trouble bioterrorism experts

One aspect of the nation’s defence under Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts which would put the US at risk is the slashing of the budgets of government bodies which protect the nation from deadly pathogens, man-made or natural. Agencies tasked with biosecurity would be severely hit: The Office for Public Health Preparedness and Response, which tracks the outbreaks of disease (cut by 9.7%), the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, a branch that fights threats like anthrax and Ebola (cut by 11%), the CDC’s Center for Global Health (cut by 18%) – experts in biological threats are reacting with alarm (nytimes.com: 28/05/17)

  • Health ministry takes PHFI off vaccination campaign over foreign funding

In its first action dissociating one of its programmes from the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), the Health Ministry has decided to take away its role in the Mission Indradhanush vaccination campaign. The decision has been taken keeping in mind that till its problems with foreign funding are resolved, the PHFI cannot access money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) for the programme, and therefore cannot possibly discharge its role. It is the first sign that the PHFI’s troubles with the government may not end any time soon (indianexpress.com: 29/05/17)

  • Gender Minister Wants Women to Take Leadership Role in Health System Management

Liberia’s Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Julia Duncan Cassell, says the untapped potential of women in health has undermined the contribution they could make to effective leadership for health systems strengthening globally. Speaking at the International Council of Nurses Program at the 2017 Congress and sharing experience on sustainable healthcare and empowering women under the theme, “Nurses at the Forefront Transforming Care” in Barcelona, Spain, Minister Cassell said women leaders in health require unique competencies to compete with their male counterparts(gnnliberia.com: 29/05/17)

Communicable diseases

  • Zika may cause eye problems in foetuses

Research shows there may be a link between the Zika virus and a number of neurological disorders including the Guillain-Barre syndrome and microcephaly. It could result in brain damage, disability, weakness, paralysis and could impact long-term memory. It could also lead to depression in some. This new research shows abnormalities in the eyes, which as part of the central nervous system, under develop in the foetus during pregnancy (health24.com: 29/05/17)

  • Uganda: Let yellow fever vaccination process be transparent

The Ugandan ministry of health said it has started issuing new standardised yellow fever vaccination cards as a measure to avert forgeries. The ministry is offering the first 50,000 certificates for free but after that there may be a cost for the certificates. The paper calls for this certification process to be transparent and credible and the government should educate the public on the process, it should be about eliminating haemorrhagic fever not enriching clinic owners and a few unscrupulous officials (allafrica.com: 29/05/17) (monitor.co.ug: 29/05/17)

  • HIV hidden reservoirs detected with new powerful test, bringing scientists closer to a cure

Scientists have developed a test sensitive enough to identify HIV lurking in a dormant state in the body. It appears to be faster and less invasive that the method used currently to track down 'hidden' HIV – and as such represents an important step in the direction of a potential cure. In a study published in Nature Medicine, scientists describe a new test which allowed them to identify the virus hiding in the body, and to assess if the detected virus could start replicating again if patients stopped taking their drugs (ibtimes.co.uk: 29/05/17)

  • Migrant labour, truckers play spoiler in anti-AIDS mission

A large population of migrant workers and truckers are non-receptive to the extensive campaign of promoting safe sex, thus contributing to the high number of HIV-positive cases in Andhra Pradesh. These two groups have been non-receptive to the use of condoms for sex which has in part fuelled the increase in HIV positive cases (thehindu.com: 29/05/17)

  • Newly Developed Molecule May Lead To First Synthetic One-Dose Antimalarial

A molecule that can become the first fully synthetic and one-dose treatment for malaria has been developed by researchers at LSTM in collaboration with the University of Liverpool. The molecule works against parasites showing the key genetic marker for artemisinin resistance in in vitro studies (scienceworldreport.com: 29/05/17)

Non communicable diseases

  • The trauma of a breast cancer diagnosis can have cognitive effects

The mental fog often experienced by breast cancer patients after chemotherapy might be due more to post-traumatic stress than to cancer drugs, a new study suggests.  The study finds that similar symptoms have been reported by breast cancer patients who have not started their chemotherapy yet and even by those whose treatment did not include chemotherapy. The study concluded that PTSD symptoms, not the treatment, were the principal cause (reuters.com: 29/05/17)

  • In search of a cancer cure: scientists discover ‘designer virus’ to kill cancer

Researchers at the University of Basel claim they have come up with artificial designer viruses that can work in tandem with the immune system to kill specific cancer cells. The engineered viruses alert the immune system and cause it to send killer cells to combat the tumour. The virologists infused certain proteins into the virus that are otherwise found only in cancer cells. Infection with the designer virus enabled the immune system to recognise these cancer proteins as threatening(ndtv.com: 29/05/17) (indianexpress.com: 29/05/17)

  • Young people could still get cardiovascular disease from obesity

A new study shows that a bad case of cardiovascular health disease caused by obesity is more likely to happen to people as young as 17 years old. Prior to this study, there had been a limited investigation of the effects of having a high body mass index (BMI) in young people. According to this study published in Alpha Galileo, the European Society of Human Genetics investigated a potential link between increased BMI and cardiovascular health. In the annual conference at which this paper was presented, the researchers hypothesized that cardiovascular risks due to obesity were likely to register at an earlier stage of life (sciencetimes.com: 29/05/17) (newsnation.in: 29/05/17) (deccanchronicle.com: 29/05/17)

  • Scientists reveal how sugar fuels various forms of cancer growth

A sugar rich diet may be fuelling various forms of cancer, as new research confirms a long suspected belief.  Previous studies have suggested that tumours thrive off sugar, using it as energy to mutate and spread across the body.  Now scientists have shown one type of cancer - which can be found in the lungs, head and neck, oesophagus and cervix - has more of a sweet tooth than others. Squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC) was more dependent on sugar to grow, experts at the University of Texas at Dallas found (nzherald.co.nz: 29/05/17) (express.co.uk: 29/05/17)

  • Genetic mutations study validates new strategy for reducing cholesterol

According to a recent study, an injectable antibody can be really helpful for lowering blood lipids and thereby potentially preventing coronary artery disease and other conditions caused by the build-up of fats, cholesterol. This new study targets a protein called ANGPTL3, a regulator of enzymes that clears triglycerides and other fat molecules from the blood. The scientists studied ANGPTL3 in both humans and mice. They found that blocking ANGPTL3 activity with an investigative injectable antibody, known as evinacumab, reduced triglycerides by up to 76 percent and lowered LDL cholesterol 23 percent in human study participants and largely reversed signs of atherosclerosis in mouse models(economictimes.indiatimes.com: 29/05/17)

Promoting health through the life course

  • INTERVIEW-First woman to lead Indonesia's indigenous peoples alliance

Thomson Reuters Foundation news spoke to Rukka Sombolinggi, 44, of the Torajan tribe from the highlands of Sulawesi island, who this week became the first woman at the helm of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN). She discussed how indigenous women in Indonesia are taking the lead in the fight to protect their land and communities as a rise in conflicts threatens tribes living on lands coveted by extractive and logging companies (trust.org: 29/05/17)

  • Millions of Yemenis suffer from lack of food during Ramadan

Nearly 17 million people are facing hunger in war-torn Yemen as Muslims around the world observe the holy month of Ramadan. At the same time, more than two million children suffer from malnutrition in the country, and a child under the age of five dies every 10 minutes of preventable diseases, a UNICEF report said.  Additionally, the country is facing a cholera outbreak with more than 29,000 people infected, according to the World Health Organization (dailysabah.com: 29/05/17) (aljazeera.com: 29/05/17)

  • Dar rivers in danger of drying up

Human and industrial activities around Mzinga and Kizinga streams as well as Mpiji and Msimbazi rivers have polluted them. People living around the areas have turned the streams and rivers into dumpsites and disturbed alignments and natural water. The rivers are being polluted by the concentration of high organic and nutrient, low dissolved oxygen, and high counts of indicator organisms from home and industrial activities, environmental experts told the press (thecitizen.co.tz: 28/05/17) (allafrica.com: 28/05/17)

  • ‘Baby boxes’ help new moms stick to safer sleep practices

Providing new mothers with a “baby box” - a cardboard bassinet with a mattress and fitted cotton sheet - reduces the likelihood that they’ll adopt the unsafe habit of sharing a bed with their new born, new research shows. A previous survey of 1,200 new moms, conducted by Dr. Megan Heere of Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia and colleagues, found that mothers who received sleep education in the hospital were less likely to bed share, but those who did not have a place for their baby to sleep were at increased risk (reuters.com: 29/05/17)

  • In drought-stricken Mali, women manoeuvre for land - and a future

Malian men control access to land and decide which parts women are allowed to farm - that's a problem for women as erratic weather increases competition for land and harvests. In some cases, crop losses on their own land have led men to encroach on land traditionally farmed by women and even steal women's crops, according to development workers in the area. But an experiment in securing women's access to small plots of land - and training them to grow crops in difficult climate conditions - aims to change that (trust.org: 29/05/17)

WHO elections

  • WHO’s identity crisis

Given that President Trump is proposing funding caps on a whole host of UN agencies, the recent travel expenses at WHO report could not have come at a worse time for the agency, which is facing a severe funding shortfall. Dr Tedros will need to move swiftly to bring transparency and accountability to the WHO to demonstrate that every dollar is well spent. The world desperately needs a fully functioning WHO and must hope that in Dr Tedros the organization has found the leadership it needs to overcome its current woes (nytimes.com: 29/05/17)

  • World Health Organisation chief Margaret Chan leaves big shoes to fill

The former Hong Kong director of health is retiring as director-general of the World Health Organisation after serving more than 10 years in the role. On the front line she will be remembered for rising to the challenges of severe acute respiratory syndrome and Ebola in particular and the hard lessons learned. But her most valuable legacy, if the world takes up her initiative seriously, may yet turn out to be a global action plan on bacterial resistance to antibiotics, which if not curbed could make common infections life threatening once again (scmp.com: 29/05/17)

  • World Health Assembly Elects Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as New WHO Director

The newly-elected head of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, outlined his priorities for journalists at the agency’s headquarters today in Geneva, where he stressed the need for Member States to provide healthcare for all and to implement global health regulations (normangeestar.com: 29/05/17)

  • Nation warmly welcomes new WHO Director General elect Dr. Tedros

The Director General-elect of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom, received a warm welcome at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Among those who received him include Hirut Zemene, Foreign Affairs State Minister, according to FBC. Ambassadors and delegates from Ethiopian public diplomacy team, including Minister of Health, Prof. Yifru Berhan, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam joined the welcoming ceremony (ezega.com: 29/05/17) (waltainfo.com: 29/05/17)

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