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Pesticide and herbicide exposure tied to lung disease, how a crowdfunding initiative restored ponds in drought-hit south India, and more.

The World Health Minute Vaccine-preventable diphtheria surfaces in Mysuru scientists modify human embryo for first time Image for representation
news Public Health Wednesday, August 02, 2017 - 18:44

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 epidemic slowing after infecting 400,000

Yemen's cholera outbreak was set to hit 400,000 cases but there are signs the three-month-old epidemic is slowing, according to World Health Organization data. A dramatic fall over the past month in the number of people dying from the disease each day -- from about 30 to single figures -- suggests the WHO's strategy of setting up a network of rehydration points to catch patients early is working (reuters.com: 25/07/17)

  • WHO sees high risk from Kenya cholera outbreak

Since the beginning of the year, Kenya has experienced cholera outbreaks with an ongoing epidemic in Garissa and Nairobi counties. Some 1,216 cases, including 14 deaths, have been reported this year. Saying hotel closures were not punitive, Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu however warned that there is no room for anyone to defy the directives. “It is for the wellbeing of the public,” Dr Mailu said (trust.org: 21/07/17) (nation.co.ke: 27/07/17)

  • Unpaid doctors and nurses fight largest cholera epidemic on record

Nurses and doctors have been working overtime in public hospitals — without pay — to keep pace with the cholera epidemic in Yemen, which has now infected an estimated 400,000 people across the country. On July 25, the World Health Organization said cholera's spread is slowing in Yemen and may have reached its peak. But hundreds of thousands more Yemenis will likely be infected before the epidemic is over. The strain on medical staff in public hospitals will continue. Like tens of thousands of other Yemeni government employees, doctors and nurses have not seen a monthly pay check since September 2016 (pri.org: 28/07/17)

  • Should Fighting Antibiotic Resistance Always Include Finishing a Prescribed Medication?

A group of UK experts has taken a controversial stance on how to control superbugs, urging physicians and public health experts to change their tune. In a commentary published in the British Medical Journal, they wrote, “The ‘complete the course’ message has persisted despite not being supported by evidence and previous arguments that it should be replaced. ... Nevertheless, there is evidence that, in many situations, stopping antibiotics sooner is a safe and effective way to reduce antibiotic overuse” (scientificamerican.com: 26/07/17) (cnn.com: 27/07/17) (bmj.com: 26/07/17)

  • Mysterious disease outbreak in Manipur; 41 hospitalized

After the flood, Manipur has been struck with the spread of vector-borne and other diseases particularly in Imphal Valley and Churachandpur district, a state Health department official said. There were reports of an outbreak of an unknown disease in the interior parts of Churachandpur district, particularly Henglep village, where around 41 people had fallen ill, most of them children. The state Health department has been hectically engaging in combating outbreak of diseases like Swine Flu, Dengue, Japanese Encephalitis and Scrub Typhus following the flood in Manipur (nagalandpost.com: 29/07/17)

Health systems

  • Trump Budget Cuts Could Drastically Affect SA's Fight Against HIV And Aids

South Africa is holding its breath while the US Congress decides whether to approve President Donald Trump's proposed budget cuts to global health programmes -- cuts that, if approved, could significantly reduce support for HIV and Aids in South Africa. While South Africa reportedly funds most of its HIV and Aids programmes itself, donor funding accounts for 18.5% of the HIV and Aids funds available for the 2017/2018 fiscal year (huffingtonpost.co.za: 26/07/17) (iol.co.za: 26/07/17)

  • We can cure hepatitis C. But we’re now making the same mistake we did with AIDS.

The World Health Organization now reports that 4 out of 5 people infected with hepatitis C aren’t even aware of it. Of those who do know, fewer than 1 in 50 have received treatment. These numbers are far worse in parts of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of the global extreme poor live. In many places, such as Rwanda, infected patients remain on waiting lists for treatment, without which many succumb early to liver failure, cancer and other related complications. This is a failure not of science but of delivery (washingtonpost.com: 28/07/17)

  • Hepatitis drugs more affordable but disease still deadly: WHO

Prices of drugs to cure hepatitis C and to treat hepatitis B are dropping dramatically, offering affordability and hope to 325 million people living with the viral liver disease that can be fatal, the World Health Organisation said. A generic antiviral drug for hepatitis C, which can be cured in three months, was placed this week on WHO's list of pre-qualified medicines. That means it can be used safely by aid agencies and countries for bulk purchasing (reuters.com: 27/07/17)

  • Contraband drugs flood Cameroon markets despite the government fight against them

The health sector in Cameroon is faced with large amounts of contraband drugs in markets, hospitals, streets and pharmacies. Despite government best efforts to check the importation and sale of illicit drugs, contraband drugs remain a major scourge. Many inhabitants turn towards ‘their local chemist’ who sell drugs on the street rather than going to hospital as the hospital often proves to be costly (cameroon-concord.com: 29/07/17)

  • Romania to pass vaccination law to deal with immunization gaps

Romania needs to pass a vaccination law and overhaul medical services to prevent the spread of a measles outbreak that has already claimed 32 deaths, the most of any European country, the health ministry said. Vaccination rules are being tightened across Europe, where a decline in immunization has caused a spike in diseases such as measles, chicken pox and mumps. In Romania, the ministry said 224,202 children aged 9 months to 9 years had yet to be vaccinated against measles (reuters.com: 27/07/17)

Communicable diseases

  • New vaccine production could improve flu shot accuracy

For decades, vaccine manufacturers have used chicken eggs to grow the flu virus strains included in the seasonal vaccine. But because these human strains frequently mutate to adapt to their new environment, the resulting vaccine is often an imperfect match to the virus that it is supposed to protect against. Researchers have now devised a way to keep the human influenza virus from mutating during egg-based production, generating a perfect match to the target vaccine(sciencedaily.com: 24/07/17)

  • Ghana’s infant malaria prevalence rate down to 21 percent

Ghana has recorded significant improvement in reducing malaria prevalence among infants between six months and 59 months, according to the Ghana Malaria Indicator Survey. The survey observed that malaria prevalence rate among the infants surveyed decreased significantly by six percentage points to 21 percent in 2016, from the 27 percent prevalence rate in 2014. Acting Government Statistician Baah Wadieh said a lot more needed to be done to sustain the downward slope in the malaria infection rates (newsghana.com.gh: 28/07/17) (pulse.com.gh: 28/07/17) (ghananewsagency.org: 27/07/17)

  • Expecting mothers with hepatitis C have 90% chance of infecting their babies

Worryingly, there has been an eight per cent rise in the number of HCV cases among pregnant women in the last decade. Experts say that babies born with HCV often have a mild liver disease and around 80 per cent have very low to no liver scarring in the first 18 years. However, the actual nature of the disease becomes apparent once the child reaches adulthood as HCV usually takes more than a decade to cause liver problems — but whenever it happens, it is disastrous(india.com: 28/07/17) (thehealthsite.com: 28/07/17)

  • Diphtheria cases in Mysuru shows resurgence of vaccine-preventable disease

Even as the State Health Department is struggling to deal with the rapid increase in the number of dengue cases, it now has another challenge. Diphtheria, a vaccine-preventable disease, has again surfaced in the State with three confirmed cases being reported from a residential school in Mysuru this week. Fifteen other children, from Mahaboodhi Residential School at Mysuru, suspected to have contracted the disease, are also under treatment (thehindu.com: 29/07/17)

  • Vaccine lessens severity of whooping cough infections

Even though vaccinations don’t always prevent whooping cough, people have milder symptoms of the respiratory illness and lower odds of serious complications with the vaccine than without it, a U.S. study suggests. More than three in four cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, occurred in people who were up to date on their vaccinations, the analysis of multistate disease surveillance data found. Babies and young children had 60 percent lower odds of severe infections, however, when they had received all recommended childhood pertussis vaccinations (reuters.com: 27/06/17)

Non communicable diseases

  • Report: Scientists edit human embryos for first time in US

America reportedly has moved ahead in a controversial race to tinker with human DNA -- but the scientific feat is shrouded in unanswered questions. The MIT Technology Review published a news report about the first-known experiment to create genetically modified human embryos in the United States using a gene-editing tool called CRISPR. "Results of the peer-reviewed study are expected to be published soon in a scientific journal. No further information will be provided before then," according to a statement from the university's press office (cnn.com: 27/07/17) (statnews.com: 26/07/17)

  • FDA plans to reduce nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels

Nicotine levels in cigarettes could be reduced to non-addictive levels, according to new plans set out by the US regulatory body. The Food and Drug Administration announced a roadmap to reduce deaths from tobacco, and tobacco-related disease. According to the body, more than 480,000 deaths in the US are caused by tobacco every year (theguardian.com: 28/07/17)

  • Occupational pesticide and herbicide exposure tied to lung disease

Workers exposed to pesticides and herbicides on the job may be more likely than other people to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis and other breathing problems, an Australian study suggests. With any herbicide exposure at work, people were more than twice as likely to develop COPD by middle age, and workplace pesticide exposure was associated with 74 percent higher odds of the common lung disease (reuters.com: 28/07/17)

  • HbA1c, Plasma Glucose Linked to Alzheimer's in Diabetes

For patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, fasting plasma glucose visit-to-visit variation, represented by the coefficient of variation, and haemoglobin A1c CV are independently associated with Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published in Diabetes Care. Researchers included 16,706 patients with T2DM in the National Diabetes Care Management Program who were age 60 years or more and without diagnosis of AD. The authors sought to examine the correlation between glycaemic variability and incidence of AD. The researchers identified 831 incident cases of AD during a median follow-up of 8.88 years, with a crude incidence rate of 3.5/1,000 person-years (neurologyadvisor.com: 28/07/17)

  • Higher risk for celiac disease in diabetic children

Celiac disease is more common in young people with type 1 diabetes than in diabetes-free kids, although how often the two conditions occur together varies in different countries, a new study finds. “Celiac disease is not uncommon in type 1 diabetes, and regular screening is important,” the study’s lead author Dr. Maria Craig, from UNSW Medicine in Kensington, New South Wales, Australia, said (reuters.com: 28/07/17)

Promoting health through the life course

  • Children bear brunt of militia violence in central Congo

Children in central Democratic Republic of Congo are bearing the brunt of violence between the army and a local militia which has uprooted at least 1.4 million people over the past year, UNICEF said. Six in 10 of those forced to flee their homes in the conflict-ravaged Kasai region - about 850,000 - are children, leaving them prey to attack, detention, sexual violence, and recruitment by militia fighters, according to the U.N. agency (trust.org: 28/07/17)

  • Crowdfunding restores ponds in drought-hit south India

The worst drought in more than a century in southern India has led to protests, farmer suicides, and clashes at the water taps as reservoirs and lakes dry up in the searing heat. It has also led to an unusual crowdfunding campaign that helped restore a village pond in one of the worst affected areas, with a similar effort planned for a second pond. The effort, led by The Better India website, raised more than 1.1 million rupees ($17,000) on crowdfunding site Milaap (trust.org: 27/07/17)

  • Indonesia environment minister wants permanent ban on licences to use forest land

Indonesia's environment minister wants to make permanent a moratorium on issuing new licences to use land designated as primary forest and peatland. The moratorium, part of an effort to reduce emissions from fires caused by deforestation, was extended by President Joko Widodo for a third time in May. "So far its only been extended, and extended again. I want a permanent (moratorium)," said Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar (trust.org: 24/07/17)

  • German Court Backs Bid to Ban Diesel Cars in Stuttgart

A German court backed an effort to ban diesel cars from Stuttgart, dealing a blow to carmakers such as Daimler and Volkswagen which had sought to avert legal curbs by modifying vehicles to cut their emissions. Since Volkswagen admitted in September 2015 to cheating emissions tests, diesel cars have been scrutinized for nitrogen oxide emissions blamed for causing respiratory disease. Environmental group DUH went to court two months after the VW scandal broke seeking to force the city of Stuttgart to drastically improve its air quality by banning diesel cars. The city has since said it would bar diesel cars which did not conform to the latest emissions standards, on days when pollution is heavy(reuters.com: 28/07/17)

  • India plans overhaul of colonial-era land titles

India is considering updating its colonial-era land records with a system that cuts fraud and protects the poor as mounting wrangles over land crimp economic growth, an official said. But the overhaul could take decades to come good, he added, despite a growing thirst for land deals in fast-growing India. "Every transaction is imperfect, and the onus of establishing ownership is on the buyer," said S. Chockalingam, director of land records in western Maharashtra state(trust.org: 26/07/17)

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