Deaths from respiratory disease on a rise in Gurugram, paying Ugandan farmers not to chop down trees cut deforestation in half, and more.

The World Health Minute South India worst hit by dengue cows helping researchers fight HIVA BBMP worker fumigates the area at a park in Bengaluru; PTI Photo
news Public Health Monday, July 24, 2017 - 17:15

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.

Preparedness, surveillance and response

  • Yemen cholera to spread with rains; Oxfam sees 600,000 cases

Yemen's cholera outbreak is far from being controlled and may be further exacerbated by the rainy season, even if the rate of new cases appears to be slowing in some hotspots, the World Health Organisation said. Oxfam projected the number could rise to more than 600,000 cases, "the largest ever recorded in any country in a single year since records began", exceeding Haiti in 2011. The WHO has reported 368,207 suspected cases and 1,828 deaths in the Arabian Peninsula country since late April (reuters.com: 21/07/17) (dw.com: 21/07/17) (aljazeera.com: 21/07/17) (cidrap.com: 21/07/17)

  • Killer virus: South India worst hit as dengue spreads its tentacles

Kerala is in the grip of dengue: Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad districts are the worst hit, and experts say the worst is yet to come. Of the 23,000 cases and 32 deaths confirmed till July 16, 11,581 cases and 20 deaths have been in Kerala. Four of the five states with the highest cases and deaths are in south India (hindustantimes.com: 19/07/17)

  • Baby dies of viral meningitis after deadly kiss

Mariana Sifrit, the infant girl who contracted viral meningitis caused by HSV-1 when she was less than a week old, has died. HSV-1 is the same herpes virus that causes cold sores, and only rarely does it lead to viral meningitis, which causes the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord to become enflamed. It is believed that baby Mariana contracted the deadly virus from a kiss. Mariana's parents, Nicole and Shane Sifrit, both tested negative for the virus (cnn.com: 18/07/17) (medscape.com: 19/07/17) (globalnews.ca: 20/07/17)

  • Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – China

On 19 June 2017, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China notified WHO of five additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China. On 24 June 2017, the NHFPC notified WHO of 10 additional laboratory-confirmed cases and on 30 June 2017, the NHFPC notified WHO of six more(who.int: 19/07/17)

  • TB infection at mass facilities on rise: report

Suspected cases of tuberculosis outbreaks at mass facilities more than tripled in South Korea over the past three years, a report showed. According to a report from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the government conducted 3,502 epidemiological investigations in 2016 for possible TB outbreaks at schools, hospitals and other mass facilities where at least one person was confirmed to have contracted the infectious disease. The number of surveys more than tripled from 1,142 in 2013 (koreaherald.com: 20/07/17)

Health systems

  • China adds blockbuster drugs to insurance list after price cuts

China will add three dozen new drugs to a list of medicines covered by basic insurance schemes after global pharmaceutical firms agreed to slash prices of blockbuster treatments for cancer, diabetes and heart disease. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said it had agreed to add 36 drugs to the National Reimbursable Drugs List in return for an average 44 percent price cut against last year's retail prices (reuters.com: 19/07/17)

  • Escaping Big Pharma’s Pricing With Patent-Free Drugs

The U.S. government funded research and development of a new vaccine against Zika, but the Army, which paid a French pharmaceutical manufacturer for its development, is planning to grant exclusive rights to the vaccine to the manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, along with paying Sanofi up to $173 million. Sanofi will be free to charge the U.S. American health care providers and patients any price it wishes. Although American tax dollars funded the vaccine, and the U.S. took the economic risks, history suggests that many Americans would not be able to afford it (nytimes.com: 18/07/17)

  • Doctors, nurses must undergo tuberculosis screening to work

Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said newly employed doctors and nurses would have to go through tuberculosis screening within a month of starting work starting in September. KCDC will impose a fine of 2 million won ($1,770) on medical staffs who do not receive tuberculosis screening within a month of employment. The state agency also issued a recommendation for medical workers that come in contact with newborns to wear masks (koreabiomed.com: 20/07/17)

  • Sexual violence in Haiti is a public health problem

Rampant sexual violence in Haiti against women and children, including some toddlers, should be treated as a public health issue and more care made available for survivors, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said. Most of the 1,300 survivors of sexual violence who had been treated at one clinic run by MSF in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince since it opened in May 2015 are younger than 25, and more than half are children, according to a MSF report (trust.org: 19/07/17)

  • Gaza health care suffers as Palestinian factions play blame game

In what is seen as the latest step in an effort to force Hamas to relinquish its control of Gaza, Abbas in June reduced the payments the PA makes to Israel for electricity it supplies to the territory, meaning that Gaza's two million people now have only 3 to 4 hours of power a day, forcing hospitals and other medical facilities to rely chiefly on generators and expensive fuel. Hamas says that Abbas restricted transfers of medicine to Gaza in March, accusing Hamas of failing to reimburse the PA for its purchases, and cut the salaries of its officials in May (reuters.com: 19/07/17)

Communicable diseases

  • Battle against malaria: Fighting mosquitoes that killed 24,000 Indians in 2015

The Indian Space Research Organisation is providing remote-sensing technology to detect, map and classify mosquito breeding areas in the country, the latest in India’s war against the disease that is believed to have killed an estimated 24,000 people in the country in 2015. The number of officially recorded deaths for the year is, however, 384 (hindustantimes.com: 18/07/17)

  • Scientists plan to trick Zika-carrying mosquitoes into breeding themselves out of existence

This summer, a Silicon Valley tech company will have millions of machine-raised, bacteria-infected mosquitoes packed into windowless white vans, driven inland and released into the streets of Fresno, Calif. This year's mosquitoes are being bred and distributed by Verily, a subsidiary of Alphabet that was formerly known as Google Life Sciences. Verily officials estimate that they will release 1 million mosquitoes per week in Fresno County, more than 25 times last summer's numbers (washingtonpost.com: 20/07/17) (verily.com: 14/07/17) (npr.org: 21/07/17)

  • Brazil risks rodent-borne Hantavirus rise due to sugarcane, climate change: scientists 

The risk of being infected by Hantavirus could jump in Brazil's Sao Paulo state as climate change sends temperatures higher and farmers grow more sugarcane, said scientists. More effective health education and pest control could help cut the risk of the disease in the area, along with forest restoration and better land use. The virus, which can be inhaled or caught via contact with rodent droppings or urine, causes Hantavirus Cardiopulmonary Syndrome which is fatal in more than half of cases (reuters.com: 20/07/17) (ibtimes.co.uk: 21/07/17)

  • How Cows Are Helping the Fight Against HIV

Scientists estimate that only about 20% of people who are infected with HIV produce broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs): naturally occurring antibodies that can defend a cell against the virus. Even among people who do produce them, that production typically starts around two years after infection. Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and Texas A&M University showed that they were able to induce potent antibodies against HIV in cows. Though cows do not get HIV, their immune systems produce unique antibodies against infections (time.com: 20/07/17) (philly.com: 21/07/17)

  • 1 in 10 Babies Received No Vaccinations in 2016  

Nearly one in 10 infants worldwide, or 12.9 million, received no vaccinations in 2016, the WHO said. Those infants missed the critical first dose of the triple vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. An additional 6.6 million infants who received the first dose didn't receive the other two doses in the three-dose series last year. "Since 2010, the percentage of children who received their full course of routine immunizations has stalled at 86 percent, with no significant changes in any countries or regions during the past year," WHO said. "This falls short of the global immunization coverage target of 90 percent" (voanews.com: 17/06/17) (time.com: 17/06/17) (cidrap.umn.edu: 17/06/17)

Non communicable diseases

  • CDC: More than 100 Million U.S. Adults Have Diabetes

While the rate of new diabetes cases is steady, a report released by the CDC shows that a third of adults in the United States currently are living with diabetes or prediabetes. The National Diabetes Statistics Report found that as of 2015, 30.3 million Americans are living with diagnosed diabetes and another 84.1 million have prediabetes, a condition that if left untreated leads to diabetes within five years (ehstoday.com: 20/07/17) (upi.com: 20/07/17) (drugstorenews.com: 20/07/17)

  • Death toll from respiratory diseases rising in Gurgaon amid soaring pollution

The number of deaths from respiratory ailments being reported by hospitals in Gurgaon is rising year-on-year with the city's consistently high levels of air pollution seen as the exacerbating factor. According to the data collected by TOI, 2,500 people admitted to five leading private hospitals in the city died in the last one year — from April 2016 to March 2017 — because of respiratory illnesses in which air pollution was an aggravating factor (timesofindia.indiatimes.com: 21/07/17)

  • Tobacco companies interfere with health regulations, WHO reports   

Cigarette manufacturers are attempting to thwart government tobacco controls wherever possible, even as governments make progress regulating the products, a new WHO report has found. World health officials also warn that tobacco companies have moved their fight to the developing world, where smoking rates are predicted to rise by double digits in the coming decades (theguardian.com: 19/07/17) (dw.com: 19/07/17) (economictimes.indiatimes.com: 20/07/17) (un.org: 20/07/17) (reuters.com: 19/07/17)

  • Two key CKD biomarkers predict risk for future peripheral artery disease

Among patients without symptomatic peripheral artery disease at baseline, a lower estimated glomerular filtration rate and higher urinary albumin to creatinine ratio — even when not rising to the level of albuminuria — significantly increase the risk for developing future vascular disease, according to findings from a large meta-analysis of international prospective cohorts (healio.com: 21/07/17)

  • Cardiovascular disease may help speed glaucoma progression

Cardiovascular disease is an important risk factor for rapid progression of glaucoma disease, regardless of IOP, according to a study. Looking at the clinical and visual field data of 11,254 eyes collected between 1991 and 2015, the authors of the study selected 54 eyes that satisfied the criteria for rapid progression. A total of 486 eyes were selected as non-rapid progressors for the control group. Patients with a cardiovascular history had double the chance to be rapid progressors as compared with controls (healio.com: 18/07/17)

Promoting health through the life course

  • Women Murder Victims: Guns Used in Majority of Homicides

Guns are used in more than half of murders of women, and the highest frequency is among non-Hispanic black victims, according to a new analysis by the CDC. Domestic violence is a big factor: Firearms were used in nearly 54 percent of female homicides, and in 55 percent of those cases the perpetrator is someone with whom the victim has been intimately involved. Past studies have demonstrated that a woman’s risk of homicide increases greatly if her male abuser owns a gun (newsweek.com: 21/07/17) (npr.org: 21/07/17) (washingtonpost.com: 20/07/17)

  • With climate change driving child marriage risks, Bangladesh fights back

Climate change-driven extreme weather is accelerating migration to Bangladesh's cities, raising the risks of problems such as child marriage, according to UNICEF's head of Bangladesh programmes. Innovative efforts to curb the threat - particularly training young people to help each other - are paying off, with Bangladesh's government now incorporating programmes started by UNICEF and Save the Children (trust.org: 20/07/17)

  • China's War on Foreign Garbage

For more than 30 years, imports of recycled goods have fueled China's manufacturing boom. The government has now announced that it'd had enough. By the end of the year, it told the World Trade Organization, it would stop accepting most recycled plastics, paper, textiles and other products from overseas. The decision is part of a campaign against "foreign garbage" that harms public health and the environment (bloomberg.com: 20/07/17)

  • Insurance for poor could protect the most disaster-vulnerable - governments

Insurance is an underused way to help save lives in natural disasters and soften their impact on the poorest countries - and it needs to be better understood by governments and aid groups, said insurers, aid experts and government ministers. There is "clear evidence" that when insurance pay outs are available during a natural disaster "economic recovery is quicker, human deprivation is lower (and) there is lower cost to the taxpayer," said Stephen Catlin, chair of the Insurance Development Forum (trust.org: 20/07/17)

  • Paying Uganda farmers not to cut down trees halved deforestation - study

Paying Ugandan farmers not to chop down trees cut deforestation in half and was almost 50 times more cost effective in fighting climate change than many energy efficiency programmes in the U.S., according to a study by researchers from the U.S.'s Northwestern University and Dutch organisation Porticus. It involved 121 villages with half paid about $28 a year for every hectare of forest left untouched while the others continued as normal. Using satellite images to track deforestation over two years, the researchers found 5.5 more hectares of forest was preserved in the villages in the payment programme compared to the other villages (trust.org: 20/07/17)

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