This week in the World Health Minute we are focussing on mental health, access to health and sustainable development goals.

The World Health Minute TNM Bulletin on health news from across the world
news Healthcare Friday, March 24, 2017 - 17:36

The News Minute brings you The World Health Minute, a weekly round-up of major public health stories from around the world. This week we focus on Mental Health, India's un-spoken public health disaster, an issue we follow closely. (Here is our series).  The Director General of the Border Security Force (BSF) says there is evidence that personnel are dying of mental illnesses and lifestyle diseases in the line of duty. The second issue we looked at is access to health care which is a major area of focus not only in India but also around the world. We also bring stories about the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Mental health      

·         Stigma attached to mental disorders leading to high mental morbidity in India - experts

More than 100m people in India (over 10% of the population) suffer from mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, but society’s views about these disorders are clouded by misconceptions and stigma, which in turn leads to high mental morbidity in India. (New Kerala: 22/03/17) (indiablooms.com: 21/03/17)

·         UnitedHealth sued for denying coverage for eating disorders

UnitedHealth Group has been hit with a proposed class action lawsuit accusing the largest U.S. health insurer of denying coverage for medically necessary treatment of eating disorders. (Reuters.com: 21/03/17)

·         BSF is losing more men to lifestyle diseases and mental illness than it is to operations – DG says

More Border Security Force personnel are dying of mental illnesses and lifestyle diseases than in the line of duty, BSF Director General, KF Sharma said on Tuesday. As a consequence of the study, the force is taking some remedial measures to control lifestyle diseases by including yoga in the daily routine and changing the dietary habits. (Times of India: 21/03/17)

Access to Healthcare

·         In a study of a drug shortage for septic shock in 2011, researchers found the shortage was tied to increased deaths

In a study into a drug used to treat a deadly infection known as septic shock in 2011, the researchers found that the shortage of norepinephrine was tied to an increase in deaths among patients with this condition. During the shortage, the risk of death among septic shock patients was about 40% compared to 36% when hospitals weren’t experiencing a shortage. The 4% difference is likely to represent hundreds of excess deaths among this group. (Reuters: 21/03/17)

·         53 Indian doctors attacked in two years and still not a single conviction

The Bombay High Court criticised resident doctors at hospitals in Maharashtra for their strike because of the impact it was having on patients. The young doctors remained firm in their demand for adequate security to protect them from recent attacks by enraged relatives of patients in Dhule and Sion in Mumbai. (Mumbai Mirror: 22/03/17) (The Guardian: 21/03/17)

·         Stigma and discrimination are silent killers in Africa

The Kenyan media focuses on the recent case of Salome Karwah, Time Magazine Person of the Year 2014, for her part in the fight against Ebola in West Africa. In February, this year, Karwah died from childbirth complications in Liberia. Staff initially refused to help her due to the stigma that still surrounds the disease. (Standard Media Kenya: 22/03/17)

Trump says he wants a provision to lower drug costs in the Republican bill

President Donald Trump said he wants to add a provision to the Republican healthcare plan that would lower prescription drug costs through a ‘competitive bidding process’. (Reuters: 20/03/17)

Sustainable Development Goals

·         Water Aid said ‘number of rural Indians without clean water equals all the UK population combined’.

Reuters reports India is home to the highest number of rural people without access to clean water, and it faces increased strain on scarce resources due to a rising population and climate change among other facts, Water Aid said. (Reuters: 21/03/17) (ptinews.com: 21/03/17) (The Hindu: 21/03/17)

·         Nearly 600m children will live in areas with extremely limited water resources by 2040 - UNICEF

In a new UNICEF report, the writers outlined the scenario where one of four children worldwide will be living in areas where water demand far outstrips supply by 2040. (newsexpressngr.com: 22/03/17) (Reuters: 22/03/17) (The Guardian: 22/03/17) (bdnews24.com: 22/03/17)

·         Burundi – 7,602 students have dropped their studies due to socio-economic reasons or disease

Governor of Mwaro province in Burundi said, ‘7,602 students have left their studies for socio-economic reasons since the start of this year. The reasons given are searching for work to be able to support themselves or other disease-driven constraints such as malaria or other illnesses’. (burundi-agnews.org: 21/03/17)

·         Uttarakhand high court grants living entity status and legal rights to the Ganga and Yamuna rivers

Uttarakhand’s high court granted the Ganga and Yamuna rivers status as living entities, bestowing on them the same legal rights as a person, a move that could help in efforts to clean the pollution-choked rivers. (Hindustan Times: 22/03/17) (Reuters: 21/03/17) (Le Figaro: 21/03/17) (Times of India: 20/03/17) (Indian Express: 22/03/17) (The Asian Today: 21/03/17

·         Tobacco treaty has helped cut smoking rates but more work is still needed

A global tobacco treaty put in place in 2005 has helped reduce smoking rates by 2.5% worldwide in 10 years, researchers said, but use of deadly tobacco products could be cut even further with more work on anti-smoking policies. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control analysis over the last ten years saw those countries which have fully implemented more FCTC measures obtain significantly greater reductions in smoking rates. (Reuters: 21/03/17)

·         Identity politics and intolerance are barriers to human development, says UN report

The UN’s annual human development index cites Brexit as an example of a nationalist agenda that could hold back progress towards global development goals. (The Guardian: 21/03/17)

·         Three out of 5 Ghanaians drink water contaminated by human waste

Three out of every five Ghanaians are said to be drinking water contaminated by human waste, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio, according to David Duncan, CEO of WASH, an NGO present in Accra, on the occasion of World Water Day. (myjoyonline.com: 22/03/17)

·         Why global warming could lead to a rise of 100,000 diabetes cases a year in the U.S.

If the average temperature rises by one degree, sea levels will rise, crop yields will fall and vulnerable species will see their habitat shrink or disappear. Now, a new study suggests the number of American adults suffering from diabetes would rise by more than 100,000 a year. People develop type 2 diabetes when their extra pounds and sedentary lifestyle make their bodies less sensitive to insulin. That in turn causes blood sugar to rise and can eventually lead to all sorts of diseases. Why the numbers of diabetics will rise is down to brown adipose tissue which kicks in when temperatures are low and the body needs heat to stay warm. So changes in the weather will trigger changes in sensitivity to insulin. (latimes.com: 20/03/17)

·         European pension funds tilt capital towards ‘SDG investing’

Fund manager and other major asset owners gathered at the Impact Summit Europe in The Hague to outline proposals as to how pension funds could tilt capital finance towards SDG investing.  (impactalpha.com: 21/03/17) (ftseglobalmarkets.com: 21/03/17)

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