The World Health Minute: Rise in vaccine-preventable diseases in Kerala, thousands dead in East Africa plagues

US Supreme Court ruling threatens a litigation against Johnson&Johnson, why Japan accepts very few refugees, and more.
The World Health Minute: Rise in vaccine-preventable diseases in Kerala, thousands dead in East Africa plagues
The World Health Minute: Rise in vaccine-preventable diseases in Kerala, thousands dead in East Africa plagues
Written by:

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.

Follow us on the new WHM website -  To receive your WHM this week email -

Preparedness, surveillance and response

  • Syria war: Polio paralyses 17 children in Mayadin and Raqqa

Seventeen children have been paralysed by polio following an outbreak of the disease in Syria that the World Health Organization says is "very serious". Earlier this month, the agency reported two polio cases in the Mayadin area of Deir al-Zour province, much of which is controlled by so-called Islamic State. Fourteen new cases have now been confirmed in the same area, while another was recorded in Raqqa province. It is the first re-emergence of polio in the war-torn country since 2014 ( 20/06/17) ( 20/06/17) ( 20/06/17) ( 20/06/17)

  • Thousands dead in East Africa plagues

Severe drought has coincided with an outbreak of lethal diseases in the Horn of Africa region. Somalia is experiencing its largest outbreak of cholera in 5 years with 48,607 cases and 763 deaths. Over 1,400 measles cases have been reported since early June and there have been 9,813 suspected measles cases since the start of 2017. Ethiopia reports 35,665 cases of acute watery diarrhoea and 780 deaths since January. Across the country 1,981 suspected measles cases with 961 confirmed. Kenya has 3030 suspected cholera cases and three deaths ( 20/06/17)

  • Rise in vaccine-preventable diseases raises alarm - Kerala

One more suspected case of diphtheria was reported in the district on Tuesday, taking the total number of diphtheria cases to eight this month. Pertussis, another vaccine-preventable disease, was detected in a person on Monday. Last month, three cases of pertussis or whopping cough were reported in the district, taking the total number of cases to four. While the management of the disease is said to be easier than diphtheria, it could be lethal in children ( 21/06/17)

  • Lyme Disease: Inside America's Mysterious Epidemic

A growing list of celebrities have gone public with their Lyme diagnoses. Roughly 329,000 new infections occur annually, and scientists are projecting a historic spike in infections around the country this summer. For a disease that's been studied for 40 years, with many prominent people pushing for answers, the truly shocking thing about Lyme disease is how much of a mystery it still is ( 20/06/17)

  • Sri Lankan hospitals inundated with dengue patients

With leading hospitals in Colombo and the suburbs over crowded with dengue patients, the Health Ministry today decided to equip rural hospitals in Wetara, Piliyandala, Aniyakanda and Dankotuwa with additional staff, drugs and medical equipment to ease the congestion. The committee decided to use the yet unopened wing of the Ratnapura District Hospital to accommodate dengue patients. Authorities instructed officials to immediately supply these hospitals with medical specialists, nursing and minor health staff, drugs and medical equipment ( 20/06/17)

Health systems

  • China cracks down on fake peer reviews

The Chinese government is going on the offensive against scientists who dupe journals by creating fraudulent reviews of submitted papers. A coalition of agencies led by the science ministry announced on 14 June that the government would suspend the grants of researchers involved in such fraud, which surfaced earlier this year when a cancer journal retracted 107 research papers from Chinese authors. And funding agencies in China promised to increase policing of the scientific community to prevent similar deceptions ( 20/06/17)

  • Survey reveals health cures from plants being lost

More than 28,000 species of plants around the world have a medical use but poor documentation means people are not making the most of the health benefits, according to a recent survey. New plants discovered over the past year include nine species of a climbing vine used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, the survey found. “The report is highlighting the huge potential that there is for plants, in areas like diabetes and malaria,” said Monique Simmonds, deputy director of science at the world-famous botanical group. The report said two plants, artemisinin and quinine, are “among the most important weapons” against malaria, which killed over 400,000 people in 2015 ( 21/06/17)

  • Counterfeit curers: They claim to be doctors, but they are not

They say they are doctors but they are not. And they are a big reason why India's healthcare system is not in the best of health. As part of the series Bad Medicine - The Ugly Truth of Indian Healthcare, CNBC TV18's Archana Shukla uncovers a parallel world of unqualified medical practitioners, who appear to fill gaps in the public health system, but more often than not, create medical complications ( 20/06/17)

  • As Philippines battle grinds on, some displaced die in centres

Four weeks since fierce fighting broke out in the southern Philippines, some people who fled the battle are dying in over-crowded and unsanitary evacuation centres, health officials say. Alinader Minalang, the health director for the Lanao del Sur province which includes Marawi, said 300 cases of diarrhoea had been recorded among the nearly 40,000 people huddled in emergency shelters set up in community halls, gymnasiums and Islamic schools. Many of those who died were elderly and had pre-existing conditions, but at least two of the fatalities were due to diarrhoea ( 19/06/17)

  • Missouri attorney general sues opioid manufacturers

Missouri has become the third U.S. state to accuse major drug manufacturers of fraudulently misrepresenting the risks of opioid painkillers now at the centre of a national addiction epidemic.  Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said his office filed a lawsuit in a state court against Purdue Pharma LP, Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Pharmaceuticals and a unit of Endo International Plc. Last week a bipartisan group of state attorneys general announced an investigation.  Purdue, J&J and Endo were previously sued in similar lawsuits by the Ohio and Mississippi attorneys general, who also targeted Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd and Allergan Plc ( 21/06/17)

Communicable diseases

  • Government asks private clinics to submit list of AIDS patients they are treating

The National Aids Control Organization (NACO) under ministry of health and family welfare has written to all states and Union territories in India to direct private clinics and hospitals in their respective areas to compile and submit a list of HIV/AIDS cases they are treating. The move has been taken in a bid to get a definite data on HIV/AIDS ( 21/06/17)

  • FDA approves new antibiotic to treat serious skin infections

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new treatment for patients with acute bacterial skin infections, made by privately held Melinta Therapeutics. The drug, Baxdela, or delafloxacin, is designed to treat skin and skin structure infections caused by a range of bacteria, including methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA ( 19/06/17)

  • More U.S. counties are finding Zika-carrying mosquitoes

With the summer mosquito season in full swing in many states, a new report shows a significant increase in U.S. counties across the South that have reported mosquitoes capable of spreading Zika and related viruses. Two types of mosquitoes are the primary transmitters of Zika, dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya viruses. Based on updated data collected through 2016, research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 38 additional counties — primarily in Texas but as far north as Illinois — documented the presence of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, Zika's main vector. That's an increase of 21 percent compared with an earlier 2016 survey ( 20/06/17) ( 20/06/17) ( 20/06/17) ( 20/06/17)

  • Moving Mountains: A Surgeon’s Fight to Legalize HIV-to-HIV Organ Transplants

An interview with Peter Stock MD, a transplant surgeon at UC San Francisco whose research has formed the core of the campaign to lift the HIV-to-HIV organ transplantation ban which were, until recently, illegal under state laws which were written at the height of the AIDS scare in the 1980s. Those bans were repealed thanks in part to ground breaking research by Stock that showed that transplants in HIV patients could be done safely and effectively ( 20/06/17)

  • Biological fingerprint of tuberculosis meningitis discovered in children

Children with tuberculosis meningitis have a biological fingerprint that can be used to assess the severity of the condition, help decide the best course of treatment, and provide clues for novel treatments ( 21/06/17)

Non communicable diseases

  • U.S. Supreme Court ruling threatens massive talc litigation against J&J

Johnson & Johnson is seizing upon a U.S. Supreme Court ruling limiting where injury lawsuits can be filed to fight off claims it failed to warn women that talcum powder could cause ovarian cancer. A fifth of the plaintiffs have cases pending in state court in St. Louis, where juries in four trials have hit J&J and a talc supplier with $307 million in verdicts. Those four cases and most of the others on the St. Louis docket involve out-of-state plaintiffs suing an out-of-state company. On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in a case involving Bristol-Myers Squibb Co that state courts cannot hear claims against companies that are not based in the state when the alleged injuries did not occur there ( 20/06/17)

  • Global diabetes jumped 40% in the last two years, report says

Aetna International released “Diabetes: The world’s weightiest health challenge,” that found that diabetes has nearly doubled around the world since 2014-2016 with a 69% increase in North and South America last year alone. However, the Middle East and Africa were among the hardest hit, having the highest rate of diabetes over the last two years—that were twice the size of Europe and the Americas—and triple of Southeast Asia. Stella George, M.D. and senior medical director at Aetna International, who co-authored the report says the disease has the power to destroy “economies” if we don’t try to stop it now ( 19/06/17)

  • New Three-in-One Blood Test for Prostate Cancer

Scientists have developed a three-in-one blood test that could transform treatment of advanced prostate cancer through use of precision drugs designed to target mutations in the BRCA genes. By testing cancer DNA in the bloodstream, researchers found they could pick out which men with advanced prostate cancer were likely to benefit from treatment with PARP inhibitors. They also used the test to analyse DNA in the blood after treatment had started, so people who were not responding could be identified and switched to alternative therapy in as little as four to eight weeks ( 20/06/17) ( 20/06/17) ( 20/06/17) ( 20/06/17)

  • WHO links Yoga to preventing lifestyle diseases; says it can be practised at all ages  

“Yoga can be practised at all ages. It can prevent lifestyle diseases,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, said ahead of the International Day of Yoga. She said the only requirement is “a commitment to better health and a willingness to gently stretch, exercise and invigorate one’s body and mind”. “It (Yoga) can help kids get the 60 minutes of daily activity (which is) needed to set up a lifetime of good health. It can help adults reach the 150 minutes of weekly activity needed to stave off non-communicable diseases,” she said. “For persons aged 65 and above it can help reduce the risk of depression and maintain cognitive functioning”. ( 20/06/17) ( 20/06/17) ( 20/06/17)

  • Public ignorant about non-communicable diseases, says minister

Health Minister Dr. Jane Aceng has called for sensitization of the public about non-communicable diseases. Speaking during an alignment meeting in Kampala, Aceng said there is an increase of NCDs, adding that about 97% of the population do not know about these diseases. She added that a recent study on NCDs shows that heart diseases are on the rise, hypertension at 10% and diabetes at 3%. Aceng said in the cost effective management of diseases, emphasis should be placed on ability to detect them as early as possible ( 19/06/17)

Promoting health through the life course

  • Lives in limbo: Why Japan accepts so few refugees

Despite being one of the most generous government donors to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - Japan was ranked the fourth biggest contributor in 2016 after the US, the EU and Germany - it has long been closed to immigration and reluctant to accept refugees. In 2016, a record 10,901 people applied or appealed rejected asylum claims, with the highest number of applicants coming from Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines and Turkey. Japan accepted 28, or less than one percent of applicants ( 20/06/17)

  • Teach 'fathers of tomorrow' to keep girls in school today, study shows

The Asante Africa Foundation said girls' attendance increased by 80 percent in Kenyan and Tanzanian schools where its project taught about 9,000 adolescent girls, 3,000 mothers and 500 boys about problems like teenage pregnancy and domestic violence. "If we want to ensure that the next generation of women are given the chance to receive a quality education then we must train our boys to be champions for girls' equality," Erna Grasz, founder of the U.S.-based charity, said ( 19/06/17)

  • US: New York Governor Signs Anti-Child Marriage Law

New York State has taken an important step toward ending child marriage, as Governor Andrew Cuomo on June 20, 2017 signed legislation to dramatically reduce the circumstances under which children can marry, Human Rights Watch said. Between 2001 to 2010, 3,850 children under 18 married in New York State. Under the previous law, the minimum age for marriage in New York was 18, but the law allowed children of 16 and 17 to marry with parental approval, and children of 14 and 15 to marry with permission from a judge and their parents. The vast majority of US states permit marriage under age 18 under some circumstances. In 27 US states, there is no limit to how young a child can marry if a judge authorizes the marriage ( 20/06/17) ( 20/06/17)

  • A Step Back for Gender Equality in the Board Room

Just under 28 percent of the 431 open board seats in Fortune 500 companies were awarded to women in 2016, down from 30 percent the year before. In today's "Walk the Talk," Bloomberg's Jeff Green takes a look at gender equality in the board room ( 20/06/17)

  • Nearly 1,300 U.S. kids die from gunshot wounds each year

Firearms kill almost 1,300 American youngsters each year, and boys and black children are most often the victims, a U.S. study finds. During the 13-year study, more than half of the gun-related deaths were homicides, while 38 percent were suicides and 6 percent were fatalities from accidental gun injuries, researchers report in Pediatrics. Each year, guns seriously wounded about 5,800 additional kids under 18. “Firearm injuries are a leading cause of death among U.S. children aged 1 to 17 years and contribute substantially each year to premature death, illness and disability of children,” said lead study author Katherine Fowler of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta ( 19/06/17) ( 20/06/17)

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.

Follow us on the new WHM website -  To receive your WHM this week email -    

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute