Modi hints at rules for doctors to prescribe generics drugs, Apple hires secret team for treating diabetes, and more.

The World Health Minute Smoking to kill 200mn in China this century first ever dengue vaccine approvedImage for representation
news Public Health Tuesday, April 18, 2017 - 19:06

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

Access to Healthcare

  • Narendra Modi hints at rules for doctors to make them prescribe generic drugs

Indian PM Narendra Modi indicated that his government may bring a legal framework under which doctors will have to prescribe generic medicines, which are cheaper than equivalent branded drugs, to patients. Modi said his government had brought in a healthy policy after 15 years and capped the prices of medicines and stents, which has angered some pharmaceutical companies, and this new direction would be a possible next step (india.com: 17/04/17) (thehindubusinesline.com: 17/04/17) (bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com: 17/04/17)

  • Trouble as dominant HIV testing kits fail crucial WHO test

Most of the dominant HIV testing kits used in Kenya and other African countries have failed crucial threshold tests set by the World Health Organization. The evaluation took place as WHO and partners say they are seeing increasing numbers of cases of misdiagnosis, reaching up to 10.5% in some African countries. The final report had some interesting findings, indicating that the insistence that misdiagnosis is mostly to be human error looks likely to be misplaced. It suggests the testing kits themselves may be largely to blame (standardmedia.co.ke: 17/04/17)

  • Every year, Nigerians spend $1bn on medical treatment abroad

Health experts in Nigeria said manpower, lack of facilities, literacy level, poverty, a lack of access to infrastructure and quality and safety issues all combine to undermine confidence in the country’s health system leading to those ‘with the financial resources’ and many policy makers to choose to seek medical treatment abroad. These experts said it was high-time Nigeria upgraded its healthcare skills base as a nation and it needed to sort out government policies which were confusing and often counterproductive (thecable.ng: 14/04/17)

  • A civic mess – MCD’s biggest hospital – staff shortages, broken windows and a lack of equipment

Indian Express visited one of the largest hospitals run by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation and found it a mess. There were staff shortages, broken windows, a lack of equipment – poorly organized to carry out the tasks it needs to do (indianexpress.com: 17/04/17)

Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs)

  • Apple hires secret team for treating diabetes - CNBC

Apple has hired a team of biomedical engineers as part of a secret initiative, initially envisaged by late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, to develop sensors to treat diabetes, CNBC reported, citing three people familiar with the matter. The news comes as the line between pharmaceuticals and technology is blurring as companies join forces to tackle chronic diseases using high-tech devices, jump starting a novel form of medicine called bioelectronics (reuters.com: 12/04/17) (cnbc.com: 12/04/17) (indiatimes.com: 17/04/17)

  • Diabetes still on the rise, but the rate of heart disease in adult diabetics is falling

Despite the worrying increase in the number of adults and children with diabetes around the world, the rate of cardiovascular disease among those with type 2 diabetes (90% of cases) has decreased by 20%, according to a Swedish study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (sg.style.yahoo.com: 13/04/17)

  • Millions of Americans risk hearing loss from jobs and guns

Many people are exposed to dangerously loud sounds at work and play, and most don’t take action by wearing ear plugs or take other steps to prevent hearing loss, a new U.S. study suggests. Untreated hearing loss is associated with increased stress, depression and social withdrawal, and may exacerbate problems for those with cognitive changes such as dementia, the study authors suggested, urging people at work to make use of protection against loud noise at work or from guns as a hobby (reuters.com: 13/04/17)

Mental health

  • Britain’s Prince Harry sought counselling more than a decade after his mother’s death

Britain’s Prince Harry sought counselling in his late twenties to help deal with the grief of losing his mother more than a decade earlier, he told the Telegraph newspaper. Harry revealed he had come close to a complete breakdown on several occasions after shutting down his emotions, impacting both his work and his personal life (reuters.com: 17/04/17)

  • People’s review calls for independent inquiry into New Zealand’s ‘overwhelmed’ mental health system

A review into mental healthcare in New Zealand has found that the system is at such a breaking point that a full-scale independent inquiry is needed (tvnz.co.nz: 16/04/17)

  • Mentally ill accessing less U.S. healthcare

More than 8 million American adults suffer from serious psychological distress and they are less likely to access healthcare services than other people, a new U.S. study says (reuters.com: 17/04/17)

Outbreaks

  • First polio infection in years in the Netherlands by ‘accident in a laboratory’

The Dutch health secretary said that a Dutchman has become infected with poliovirus. It happened in a laboratory at Bilthoven Biologicals. The man has been placed in quarantine to prevent him from infecting others. The health secretary said he is unlikely to fall ill as he has been vaccinated against the virus but he is being well monitored and tested to ensure he can become poliovirus free (msn.com.nl: 14/04/17) (nrc.nl: 13/04/17) (hnos.nl: 13/04/17) (telegraaf.nl: 13/04/17) (rtlnieuws.nl: 13/04/17)

  • Maharashtra reels under the onslaught of H1N1

With both day and night time temperatures across Maharashtra remaining volatile, the number of swine flu deaths in Pune has reached an alarming high of 33. Meanwhile, a further 18 patients are said to be critical. The death toll across the state has passed the 100 line and a further 190 cases have tested positive for the lethal virus. This is a fourfold increase in H1N1 deaths on the same period last year (thehindu.com: 13/04/17)

  • Four new cases of H7N9 reported in northern China 

Two new cases of H7N9 infection have been reported in Henan Province in China, local authorities said, taking the number of new cases in northern China in recent days to four. Earlier, authorities in Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, said a man had contracted the H7N9 virus. Tianjin also reported a 58 year-old woman had been infected with H7N9 last Friday (scmp.com: 16/04/17) (apdnews.com: 15/04/17) (french.china.org: 14/04/17) (news.sina.com.cn: 14/04/17) (english.jschina.com.cn: 14/04/17) (englishsina.com: 15/04/17)

  • Search for Ebola and Zika carriers in Kenya finds deadly germs in bats

A four year countrywide search for the deadly Ebola, Zika and Marburg virus in bats has identified germs that are potentially dangerous to Kenyans. A collaboration between Kenya and China found local bats host viruses closely related to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS (standardmedia.co.ke: 13/04/17) (rocketscience.co.ke: 13/04/17

Sustainable Development Goals

  • Smoking to kill 200m in China this century – WHO

WHO officials told the Chinese that economic dividends from China’s tobacco industry are a false economy and at odds with the government’s Healthy China 2030 vision. The cost of tobacco use in china in 2014 amounted to a staggering 350bn yuan ($57bn), a tenfold increase since 2000. This increase is due to more people being diagnosed with tobacco-related illnesses and increasing healthcare expenditure. When you factor in productivity losses from premature deaths the figure is even higher, said the UN report (womenofchina.cn: 16/04/17) (thesundaydaily.my: 18/04/17) (chinadaily.com.cn: 18/04/17)

  • Japan’s bid to stop ‘death by overwork’ seen to be falling short

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe promised to change the way Japan works, including cutting the notoriously long hours that can lead to illness and death (karoshi). A plan expected to become law does not go far enough, according to economists. Work issues were a contributing factor in more than 2,000 suicides in 2015, according to a labour ministry white paper. Currently, overtime limits can be waived by mutual consent between employer and worker (bloomberg.com: 13/04/17)

  • Uganda – HIV Aids fund is still to be set up two years on

More than two years after Uganda passed a law to establish an HIV/Aids fund it has yet to be implemented. Uganda is among 35 countries that account for 90% of the new infections globally. Data shows that with each new 100,000 infections, Uganda ranks third in the world after Nigeria with 230,000 and South Africa with 340,000. Young people, especially girls between 15 and 24 are affected by the high infection rates (africa-news.info: 14/04/17)

  • WHO approves the world’s first ever dengue vaccine

Known as the Dengvaxia, several countries have already licensed it: for example, Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador and the Philippines, but last weeks’ WHO approval is likely to spur a host of other developing nations to follow suit at a time when climate change and urbanization are putting increasing numbers of people at risk from mosquito-borne diseases (time.com: 15/04/17)

Women and Children

  • HIV positive model crowned Miss Congo UK 2017

Horcelie Sinda Wa Mbongo was crowned Miss Congo UK 2017 at a gala ceremony held in London. Horcelie (22) was born with the virus but had no idea she was positive until she was eleven years old. She has been an active campaigner in the battle against HIV Aids and is an advocate of living positively with the disease. She plans to work in collaboration with a youth group called Youth Stop AIDS which campaigns for a world without AIDS (face2faceafrica.com: 15/04/17) (beautypageants.indiatimescom: 13/04/17)

  • Aussie Muslim leaders slam a Hizb Ut-Tahrir domestic violence video

Prominent Muslim community leaders slammed a video from radical Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir defending violence against women. In the video women from this fringe group argued that disobedient wives could be disciplined by being hit. The video sparked outrage across Australia and the rest of the world with a coalition of Muslim leaders and commentators saying “there is absolutely no justification for men to demean, threaten or abuse women, whether symbolically or otherwise” in a public statement (huffingtonpost.com.au: 13/04/17) (thewest.com.au: 13/04/17) (theguardian.com: 15/04/17) (standard.co.uk: 13/04/17

  • Trump signs resolution allowing U.S. states to block family planning funds

President Donald Trump signed a resolution that will allow U.S. states to restrict how federal funds for contraception and reproductive health are spent, a move cheered by anti-abortion campaigners. “Allowing states to withhold Title X funding from family planning clinics won’t make anyone safer or healthier – it will instead place essential services out of reach, a spokesperson for Physicians for Reproductive Health said, adding that for many the clinics are the only place where they can receive affordable health services such as disease testing (reuters.com: 13/04/17) (bloomberg.com: 13/04/17)                         

  • Caesarean deliveries or C-section cases in India have spiked up by 15%

India has witnessed a sudden increase of 15% in caesarean sections or  caesarean deliveries – normally only performed during complicated pregnancies or difficulty in vaginal delivery. The rise in C-section cases, both in rural and urban areas, is due to delayed marriage and as a consequence late child birth, coupled with lifestyle and environmental factors. In some parts of India the numbers have escalated, reaching as high as 41% of deliveries in Kerala and 58% in Tamil Nadu. Surgery can also be ‘charged’ at a higher rate than vaginal delivery, so it may have been a further factor (food.ndtv.com: 17/04/17)

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