The World Health Minute: India’s mental health crisis can no longer be ignored

This week in the World Health Minute, we focus on mental health, women and children, outbreaks, sustainable development goals (SDGs) and access to healthcare.
The World Health Minute: India’s mental health crisis can no longer be ignored
The World Health Minute: India’s mental health crisis can no longer be ignored
Written by:

Mental Health

·        We can no longer afford to ignore India’s mental health crisis

In 1990, suicide in India was not among the top killers of Indians, now it is. Some 20% of the Indian population will suffer some form of mental illness in the next few years yet only 10% of them will receive treatment. By 2030, mental illness will reduce economic growth in India and China by $11 trillion, it needs addressing. (The Quint: 05/04/17)  

Experts urge huge expansion of online therapy for mental illness

A massive and growing mental health burden across the world can only be tackled successfully with a major expansion of online psychiatric resources such as virtual clinics and web-based psychotherapies, specialists said. With resources tight and the global mental health system only serving about 10% of patients even now, the web is the only option for significant extra treatment capacity. (Reuters: 03/04/17)

·        Scientists find common antibiotic could prevent or treat PTSD

A common antibiotic called doxycycline can disrupt the formation of negative thoughts and fears in the brain and may prove useful in treating or preventing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to research by British and Swiss scientists. The antibiotic works because it blocks certain proteins outside nerve cells, called matrix enzymes, which our brains need, to form memories. (Reuters: 04/04/17) (Business Standard: 05/04/17)

Women and Children

·        UN chief warns US funding cut may have devastating effects

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that a decision by the United States to withdraw all funding to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) could have ‘devastating effects’ on vulnerable women and girls around the world. The US State Department said it was dropping the funding because the UN Population Fund ‘supports, or participates in the management of, a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation.’ A UN spokesperson said Guteress ‘believes that the decision is based on an inaccurate perception of the nature and importance of the work done by UNFPA’. (Reuters: 04/04/17) (Reuters: 03/04/17) (Bloomberg: 04/04/17) ( 04/04/17)    

·        Vaccine credited with HPV virus reduction in Scotland

A campaign to vaccinate girls against a cancer-causing sexually transmitted infection has led to a dramatic drop in reported cases. Researchers found a 90% fall in levels of human papilloma virus in Scottish women since the vaccine was made available in 2008. HPV virus types are thought to account for about 90% of cervical cancers. Researchers found just 0.5% of the women from a group born in 1995 tested positive for the virus, but in comparison, in women born before 1990 the percentage was 21.4% ( 05/04/17) (Herald Scotland: 05/04/17)

·        Egypt urged to end its silence over female genital mutilation

Silence around female genital mutilation in Egypt is costing lives, campaigners warned on Tuesday ahead of the traditional ‘cutting season’ when thousands of girls are expected to undergo the ancient ritual. National data suggests almost 90% of girls and women in Egypt have undergone FGM; even though the practice was banned in 2008 it remains widespread. There has been mounting concern following the deaths of several girls during botched procedures, including a teenager who bled to death in a hospital last May. (Reuters: 04/04/17

·        Progress uneven as global child death rates fall

Deaths among children and adolescents became less common between 1990 and 2015, but not all countries benefited equally from the improvements, according to a new analysis. Countries with low social and economic status shoulder a much larger child and adolescent mortality burden compared to countries with better income, education and fertility levels, researchers found, and the difference between the ‘best’ and the ‘worst’ is growing. (Reuters: 03/04/17( 03/04/17) ( 03/4/17)             

·        Foundations launch road safety programme to protect children

Two global foundations, FIA Foundation and Puma Energy Foundation, will support the NGO Amend to implement proven and effective road safety measures around high-risk primary schools in Accra. They will also work with national institutions to see the measures become more widely implemented across Ghana. WHO estimates that over 6,700 people are killed on Ghana’s roads each year and children are among the highest risk groups for road traffic injury. ( 04/04/17)

·        Tanzania struggles to end child labour from the lure of gold

The Tanzanian government has signed all the major international conventions on child labour and introduced its own laws to prevent the worst types of child labour, but not everyone knows these laws, including families and local officials. Government workers tasked with enforcing them lack the staff and funds for inspection, let alone pursue prosecutions. (Reuters: 03/04/17)  

·        Health department intensifies efforts to curb teen pregnancies

The latest shock statistics on pre-teen and teen pregnancies in South Africa revealed that 193 pupils in Grades 3,4 and 6 fell pregnant between 2014 and 2016. If school pupils from Grade 6 and 7 were added, this number would jump to 1,449. The Department of Health acknowledged the issue and explained how it was intensifying its efforts to address this societal crisis. ( 05/04/17)

·        Late marriage of women may boost child’s health and well-being

Reducing child marriages and delaying the marriage of younger women in India may have significant results in improving child health and educational outcomes, a study found. (Indian Express: 05/04/17)


·        New Caledonia hit by large-scale dengue epidemic

Six people have died of dengue fever in New Caledonia since the start of the year. Since September 1 last year, there have been 2,293 cases of dengue recorded, with over 1,000 in March alone. ( 05/04/17)

·        The Piura region tops the list of dengue cases in Peru this year, with 1,501 cases. MINSA said there are 6,362 cases of dengue at a national level and Piura accounts for the greatest number due to the recent intense rains and floods. Up till March this year, the region recorded 1,501 cases of dengue – made up of at least 600 confirmed and 1,257 probable cases, with one death. Dengue case numbers are said to have tripled in the past fortnight. (El Tiempo Peru: 04/04/17) ( 04/04/17) ( 04/04/17) (Diario 04/04/17) (El 05/04/17)

·        MERS causes new Saudi hospital outbreak: WHO

Ten people have caught the MERS corona virus after an outbreak in a haemodialysis unit in a hospital in Saudi Arabia, WHO said, without, at first, giving details of how the virus was able to spread within the hospital. At least 49 patients and medical staff were exposed. Later, Scientific American reported the cause was identified as a wrong diagnosis and wrong subsequent treatment. (Reuters: 04/04/17) ( 04/04/17) (Jakarta Globe: 04/04/17) (Scientific American: 05/04/17) (The 04/04/17)

·        Nigeria is launching a meningitis jab campaign as death toll from outbreak jumps to 336

Nigeria is launching a mass vaccination campaign as part of its emergency response to an outbreak of meningitis in its north-western states as the death toll climbed to 336, with the number of suspected cases hitting 2,997, which represents 1,000 more than at the beginning of last week. (Reuters: 04/04/17) ( 05/04/17)

·        Dengue in Tuman – 288 confirmed cases with another 500 likely

The regional health expert for Lambayeque said the authorities are doubling their efforts to fumigate and clean up the Chiclayano district of Tuman, where some 288 confirmed cases of Dengue have occurred, and where there are more than 500 likely cases classified as probable for now. He said there has been a notable jump in the number of cases over the last fortnight. ( 05/04/17) ( 05/04/17)

·        Samoans shocked by typhoid death – health officials failed to tell family for a week

Distraught family members of a Samoan woman who died of typhoid last week said Auckland health officials did not tell them she had the disease for a week. The woman was one of up to 18 Samoans who fell ill in a typhoid outbreak over the past 10 days or so. Her family had believed she died of salmonella but learned it was typhoid through the press. (Cook Island News: 04/04/17) (New Zealand Herald: 06/04/17) ( 06/04/17) (Radio New Zealand: 06/04/17) (Stuff New Zealand: 05/04/17)

·        Gombe state recorded 40 fresh cases of leprosy last year

The Gombe State Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control unit told the Nigerian press that there have been 40 fresh cases of leprosy recorded in the Gombe area during 2016. Of these 40 cases, 12 were children, which means there was still likely to be ongoing infection within the community. Efforts are being made to trace the source and health authorities urged care. (Information Nigeria: 05/04/17) ( 05/04/17) (Nigeria Today: 05/04/17)

·        Drought, cholera have killed over 400 people in Somalia to date

Somalia’s health ministry said almost 18,000 people are receiving hospital treatment amid the worst drought since 1945. To date, drought and cholera have killed more than 400 people – the areas most affected are in southern and central Somalia. Experts say this is not the Somali rainy season yet, which is still a few weeks away. Even so, health workers report at least 300 new cases every day along with dozens of deaths. ( 05/04/17) ( 05/04/17)

·        Cholera is spreading rapidly in Ogaden and may be spiralling out of control

The Ogaden News Agency is reporting a cholera outbreak which is spreading through the Dollo, Korahay, Nogob, Jara and Afdheer regions killing hundreds. Local Ogaden groups want the international community to persuade Ethiopia to work with international bodies to set up a humanitarian corridor for health treatment and supplies. ( 05/04/17)

·        85 swine flu deaths in Maharashtra in 2017, up from 25 in 2016

The number of H1N1 deaths has significantly increased since last year. A total of 85 deaths from H1N1 have been reported in the state since January, compared to 25 in 2016. Of the 410 H1N1 cases since January, most are from Pune, Nashik and Aurangabad. (Hindustan Times: 05/04/17) (Times of India: 05/04/17)

·        Kongo-Central – seven dead from ‘cholera-like’ symptoms in Songololo

There have been seven deaths in a week from the 82 cholera-like cases which DRC health officials have seen in Songololo (Kongo-Central). Confirmation remains a slow process, as test samples need to go to Kinshasa for confirmation and then return. (Radio Okapi: 04/04/17) ( 04/04/17)

·        Avian flu spread to more chicken farms in Taiwan

Frozen chickens at three Taiwanese slaughterhouses were found to be infected with H5N2 avian flu virus. As a result, all frozen chickens at three slaughterhouses, two in Kaohsiung and one in New Taipei, have been destroyed for quarantine reasons. (Focus Taiwan: 05/04/17) (US Ag Net: 05/04/17) ( 05/04/17)

·        The state of Ceara has the highest incidence of chikungunya in the whole of Brazil

According to a Brazilian Ministry of Health report, the state of Ceara has the highest incidence of Chikungunya disease in the country, with 4,735 probable cases up to March 13. This is worrying authorities as in 2016, there were only 912 cases of chikungunya throughout the whole year. (G1 04/04/17) (Diario do Nordeste: 05/04/17)

·        UNICEF warns of outbreaks of cholera in Yemen

UNICEF warned of outbreaks of cholera in Yemen due to the continuing conflict, lack of clean drinking water and sanitation-related diseases. UNICEF said nearly 462,000 children are suffering from malnutrition and 10,000 under-fives may have died from preventable disease. Across the country, 17 million people – 60% of the population – are food insecure. (Middle East Monitor: 05/04/17)

·        Bird flu comes to Uppsala in Sweden

A peregrine falcon which was semi-domesticated at Uppsala Cathedral in Sweden has died of bird flu virus H5N8. It was found dead on the steps just outside the church. (Uppsala Rya Tidning: 05/04/17) (Sveriges Radio: 05/04/17) ( 05/04/17) ( 05/04/17)

Sustainable Development Goals

·        Researchers discover new Swine Flu strain in India, government working on vaccine

Earlier this year, Indian researchers discovered a new strain of the H1N1 virus called the Michigan strain, which they isolated from samples in Maharashtra. The Indian Council of Medical Research is going to decide upon a new vaccine for the coming flu season as there is some fear that what is being used at the moment may be ineffective against the new strain. (Hindustan Times: 05/04/17

·        In India, switching to vegetables, oranges and papaya could help save water - study

A study published in The Lancet Planetary Health Journal said India could save water and reduce planet warming emissions if people added more vegetables and fruits, like melons, oranges and papaya to their diets while reducing wheat and poultry, according to researchers. (Reuters: 04/04/3/17) (Medical Express:04/04/17)

·        108 million people in the world face severe food insecurity – WFP reports

A report by the World Food Programme states that around 108 million people in the world were facing severe food insecurity in 2016. Notably, this figure has risen from 80 million in 2015, which indicates the situation is worsening. The WFP report lists 18 countries in which it projects the prevailing Food Security crisis Phase 3. Yemen tops the list with 14.1m people, about half the population facing severe food insecurity. Ethiopia and Afghanistan came in second and third with 9.7m and 8.5m facing food insecurity respectively. ( 03/04/17) (Trade 04/04/17) ( 03/04/17) (Global 03/04/17)

·        Zika causes birth defects in one in ten pregnancies: US study

A new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention analysed a group of US women with clear, confirmed test results of Zika infection during pregnancy. About one in 10 women had a foetus/baby with birth defects, researchers found. Babies affected by Zika can develop congenital Zika syndrome which includes brain abnormalities, vision problems, hearing loss and problems moving limbs. (Reuters: 04/04/17) (Miami Herald: 04/04/17) (Tech (Live Science: 04/04/17) (Health News Digest: 04/04/17)   

·        Getting clean power to the poor hits a bump

Around one in seven people – just over one billion – still have no access to electricity, a new tracking report by the World Bank and the International Energy Agency (IEA) pointed out, saying the figure has barely moved in two years. The report identified a lack of political leadership as a main cause, adding that getting clean energy to the poor is vital if the world is to achieve other goals linked to ending poverty and boosting healthcare and education. (Deutsche Welle: 03/04/17) ( 03/04/17)  

·        Nine SE European countries sign well-being agreement

Nine South-Eastern European countries are set to sign a new, far-reaching cooperation pledge to continue improving the health and well-being of their populations. The South-Eastern Europe Health Network has made visible progress to the health status of participating countries. Infant mortality decreased significantly in all nine countries and halved in some. This collaboration arrangement in public health has provided a platform to identify and address common challenges. (Post 05/04/17)  

·        Former US President Bush touts his signature Africa AIDS programme in Botswana

Former US President George W. Bush touted his signature aid project for Africa during a visit to Botswana, saying he hoped Washington would recognise its importance in saving lives threatened by AIDS. ‘I hope our government, when they analyse what works around the world, will understand that PEPFAR has saved over 11 million lives,’ Bush said. (VOA News: 04/04/17) (Business Insider: 04/04/17) (Africa Review: 04/04/17) ( 04/04/17) (Reuters: 04/04/17)

·        How the genomics revolution could finally help Africa

Nature magazine explains the downside of precision medicine when it fails to take account of local community gene variants which may alter the impact of a single-targeted drug solution, by highlighting the less than successful WHO recommendation to incorporate the antiretroviral drug efavirenz as a first-line therapy for a programme in Zimbabwe. It goes on to highlight the new approach called ‘Precision Public Health’, a new approach to precision medicine that bases health decisions on populations and communities rather than just on individuals. It takes account of genomic insights into a population to inform general treatment programmes. And gives examples of how some African countries have applied this and are seeing the benefit. (Nature: 05/04/17)

·        David Nabarro: WHO’s next?

Politics Home interviews David Nabarro, the candidate set to become the next Director General of the World Health Organization. It highlights ‘Nabarro is the only candidate with a proven record of running an international response to disease outbreak.’ It explains Nabarro’s vision for WHO’s future: reinforcing procedures for responding to disease outbreaks early, strengthening systems capacity at country-level and capacity, globally backed up with world-class laboratories and proper expertise. It detailed how Nabarro wants to focus on NCDs and work on improving best practice advice with particular focus on women and children. He summed up his vision thus: ‘Less operational, more strategic. Less project, more policy’. (Politics Home: 05/04/17)

·        Indian railways asked to reject unhealthy food ads

With the Indian Railways planning to brand trains and stations to augment revenues, the Union Health Ministry has asked it not to allow advertisements of products, which may have a negative effect on health. The Health Ministry said the initiative could be used to promote alcohol, foods with high fat content, sugar and salt and sweetened beverages. Ads for these products could increase the problem of NCDs in India and lead to more costly and premature deaths. (The Hindu: 05/04/17) (Telegraph India: 04/04/17) ( 04/04/17)

·        How AIDS denialism spreads in Russia through online social networks

The Huffington Post reports on a research project carried out by an international team into AIDS denialism in Russia, with a focus on online communities and on getting a handle on what themes or ideas drive the thinking of those involved. Much to their surprise, ‘three important factors were determined: inadequate counselling, denial of the diagnosis because the informants felt OK and an unwillingness to follow antiretroviral treatment.’ They also pointed to ‘an arrogant and paternalistic approach’ which many doctors employed, leading to the deniers seeking their own answers often online. They concluded with some advice, ‘believe whatever you want about AIDS but check your immune system just in case’. (Huffington Post: 04/03/17)

Access to Healthcare

·        $1.1bn required for meningitis vaccines as deaths rise to 328

The Nigerian government says it needs the sum of $1.1bn to be able to afford to vaccinate the 22 million people at risk of the current outbreak of Type C cerebro-spinal meningitis, which is sweeping through five states and has already claimed hundreds of lives. (This Day Live: 04/04/17) ( 04/04/17) ( 03/04/17)

·        Only a quarter of damaged health facilities have been rebuilt in Nepal

Two years after the Gorkha Earthquake in Nepal damaged 628 health facilities, only 27% of the structures have been rebuilt thanks to the sluggish pace of reconstruction. (Kathmandu Post: 05/04/17)

·        Yogi Adityanath’s big plan to revamp UP’s health services over the next five years

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, called for an end to kickbacks involving medical transactions and the exploitation of poor people in the name of expensive treatment. He said he hopes to revamp the state’s health service with more hospitals and medical colleges over the next five years. (Financial Express: 05/04/17) ( 05/04/17)

·        Burundi demands money from employees in a desperate effort to avoid economic meltdown

Burundi authorities are demanding money from citizens in a desperate effort to avoid economic meltdown. Documents obtained by IB Times UK show how teachers have to contribute up to an eighth of their salaries and doctors and nurses are expected to contribute too. ( 05/04/17)

·        A healthy nation is necessary for economic development

K Srinath Reddy, President of the Public Health Foundation of India, said the poor performance of India on many healthcare counts related to the well-being of its people. He said India was second from bottom in the Human Development Index and linked this to health-related indicators, with only 64% immunization of the total population, which is far higher in many Sub-Saharan African countries. He also pointed to 30% of children as being underweight, attributing it to poor nourishment and criticized India’s high maternal and infant mortality rates. (The Hans 05/04/17)

·        State Counsellor to medical staff – be competent, be ethical and serve the nation

Aung San Suu Kyi said that Myanmar was in need of more doctors and medical staff who are not only professionally competent but who are also ethically committed to their work in raising the standard of healthcare in Myanmar so that they can help everyone maximize their opportunities for the benefit of the nation. (Myanmar Times: 04/04/17)

·        India’s Dr Reddy’s says FDA has raised fresh concerns about the Srikakulam drug plant

India’s Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd said that the US FDA has outlined two more concerns with the company’s Srikakulam drug-making plant after an inspection of facilities. It did not make these concerns public but said it is working on improving processes at the plant. (Reuters: 04/04/17)

·        Why India should use private pharmacies in its war on tuberculosis

India has over 850,000 private pharmacies or chemists nationwide, yet only nine per cent of them have been engaged in efforts to control tuberculosis, according to a January 2017 paper published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Practice and Policy. Despite making drugs and treatment free for TB since 1997, nearly 2.2m people, or around 50% of TB patients sought treatment in the private sector, according to a Nov 20 study in The Lancet. (Economic Times: 04/04/17)

·        Health needs of men who have sex with men neglected in South Africa

MSM men are twice as likely to be HIV positive partly because their health needs are not being met and they are stigmatized and discriminated against in health facilities in South Africa. The Anova Health Institute explains how it is working to sensitise health facilities to help them become more MSM friendly through its Health4Men programme. ( 04/04/17)

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute