Global Health Weekly News Round-Up

Politics and Policies:

  • The Food and Drug Administration has announced that it will begin exercising its authority given under a 2009 law, power to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products that they believe pose public health risks.
  • In an effort intensify campaign to publicize new health insurance options and to persuade consumers, the White House is recruiting mayors, county commissioners and other local officials.

Programs:

  • A health check program has been launched in Accra, in order to reach out to the people of Ghana who are challenged with non-communicable diseases (NCDS), in an affordable and effective way.
  • The United Kingdom (UK) is starting a rotavirus vaccination program to protect the babies from infection which causes diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and dehydration.
  • Ben & Catherine Ivy foundation grants more that $9 million for brain cancer research.

Research:

  • To help avert 3 million AIDS deaths by 2025, the World Health Organization (WHO) through its guidelines is recommending the patients the start medicine at earlier stage of the deadly disease.
  • According to global Diabetes attitudes, wishes and needs 2 study one in five people with diabetes feel discriminated against them because of their condition. About 16% people suffering from this condition are at risk of depression.
  • According to the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Ghana cuts new HIV infections among children by 76% since 2009. It states that one three in ten children in need of treatment have access to it.
  • A report released by the United Nations state that Nigeria has highest number of children with HIV/AIDS virus in the world. It states that the incidence rate has not increased much but the increase in the prevalence rate has remained stagnant.
  • According to the scientists, new World Health Organization (WHO) test- based approach against malaria does not work everywhere. There must be a hard diagnosis before the disease is treated.
  • According to the research results published in the Journal of Infectious diseases, infant rotavirus vaccine is effective against this disease in Ghana. Results showed a significant response in parameters of efficacy, safety and immune impact of vaccine.
  • A study published in the journal’ Diabetologia’, ethnicity should be considered while making guidelines for physical activity. They state that south Asians need more exercise than white Europeans to reduce diabetes risk.
  • According to a research review published in BMJ, high consumption of fish reduces risk of breast cancer by 14%. It replenishes the body with all omega 3 essential fatty acids which can only be acquired from external sources as body cannot manufacture it.
  •  In a study published in Cell Transplantation journal, type 2 diabetes patients who receive self-donated bone marrow stem cells require less insulin. According to the scientist’s good glycemic control appeared as a critical factor in the transplanted and non-transplanted control group.
  • A study indicates that consuming more than 2-3 standard alcohol drinks per day is linked to deadly digestive tract cancers including mouth, throat, larynx and esophageal. They also warn of risk of bowel, breast and prostate cancers.
  • The scientists have found out that the patients of Crohn’s disease also have a virus – enterovirus in their intestines as compared to those who did not have this disease. It also said that the genes associated with the onset of this disease are vital for the immune response against this virus.
  • According to the researcher’s malaria parasite are full of iron which they cannot digest nor can excrete them. Their invention- hand-held battery operated malaria detector will use the power of magnets to detect them.

Diseases & Disasters:

  • Reports state that Lusaka (Zambia) records approximately 185 new HIV/ AIDS infections every day. It has high prevalence rate of 20.8 percent as compared to the other districts of Zambia.
  • The cholera epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo claims lives of 257 people. Lack of proper sanitation and clear water are stated to be the main cause of the outbreak.
  • Polio outbreak in Somalia jeopardizes global eradication. Before this there was no case of this disease for more than five years. This outbreak is reported in its early stages and WHO experts see more cases coming in next few weeks.
  • A report released by Greenpeace suggests that a Chinese herbal medicine contains a variety of pesticides. It is increasingly accepted in the western countries for medicinal use.
  • Reports have shown a new trend of HIV infection among the youths of Manipur (India). Unsafe sex practice has been indicated to be the major mode of HIV transmission among them.
  • According to the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Diclofenac, a common painkiller raises the risk of heart attack and stroke among the patients with serious underlying heart conditions.
  • Health officials are warning that tularemia cases are on rise in New Mexico. Four cases have been so far been reported.
  • Japan and Poland are facing epidemic of rubella. Travel warnings have been issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the pregnant females visiting these countries.
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PRI’s The World: Mysterious Kidney Disease Now Found in South Asia

I found this story particularly interesting, since I did a one-year fellowship with CDC-NIOSH on pesticide poisoning surveillance. The story examines a high incidence of kidney disease in Sri Lanka and discusses how farmers, medical professionals and government authorities have been dealing with it. The full story can be viewed here; a summary of the story, and a video, can be found below.


A form of chronic kidney disease (CKD), similar to one that has been killing sugarcane field workers in Central America, has now been observed in South Asia. The World‘s Rhitu Chatterjee reports from Sri Lanka, where thousands of rice farmers and their families are affected. Her story is part of a series, Mystery in the Fields, produced in collaboration with The Center for Public Integrity.

The afflicted show no signs of high blood pressure or diabetes – the most common causes of CKD elsewhere in the world – and yet their kidneys are failing. There is no known cure. Authorities are trying to find a cause, but their preliminary findings have not reached the people whose lives are threatened.

A new study by the World Health Organization and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health suggests that Sri Lanka’s CKD sufferers may have been poisoned by chronic, low-level exposure to the heavy metals cadmium and arsenic. Researchers think the toxins may be coming from farm chemicals, such as pesticides and fertilizers. But while the study points to a possible cause, the study’s results have not been widely publicized.

Chatterjee speaks with rice farmers, doctors, government officials, and a representative from Sri Lanka’s farm chemicals industry. Her report examines the results of the WHO study, the secrecy that surrounds it, and the frustration of Sri Lankans who see little being done to prevent more people from falling ill.

The full report can be found here: http://bit.ly/Q9Gv1g

Global Health Weekly News Round-Up

Politics and Policies:

  • The Health Protection Agency (HPA) (England) has warned heroin users that the drug may be contaminated with anthrax spores.
  • The New York health board approves ban on large sodas. It is a move to combat obesity and encourage people to live healthier lifestyles.
  • New circumcision law by the state of New York to prevent the spread of Herpes infection to the child.
  • Norway upholds ban to display of tobacco products in shops as a measure to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Programs:

  • Early childhood health projects by PATH, in South Africa and Mozambique is funded by a donation of R200m by BHP Billi4on.
  • A memorandum of Understanding was signed by Apollo Hospitals with AfroIndia Medical Services to set up 30 telemedicine units in East and West Africa.
  • UC Davis center to fight child obesity in Latinos.  $4.8 million study funded by U.S. Department of Agriculture aims at identifying effective approaches to combat this growing problem among them.

Research:

  • According to a study nicotine not only in cigarettes but in nicotine replacement products like gum or patches harms sperm.
  • A study found that South African wine is good for heart. It protects against heart attack by reducing cell death and increasing contractility of heart.
  • A survey shows that about two thirds of men in Indonesia above the age of fifteen years smoke. It also revealed that large numbers of people are also exposed to the second hand smoke in work, home and in public places.
  • According to a study, mothers of Mexican origin are more nurturing than white females.
  • According to a charity drink related harm costs Scotland’s councils £2bn annually. The figures are based in Scottish government data.
  • A research study showed that lung transplant approval rates depend on the socioeconomic status of people.
  • According to the researchers at the University of Kentucky academic success of Latino immigrants is dependent on the school teachers and its climate.
  • In a study done by Cornell University researchers it was found that parents immigrants status affect their access to care and hence their children’s health.
  • A study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism states that swim training with healthy diet play a crucial role in fighting against cancer.
  • A research done by University of Michigan Medical School showed that it is possible for the people who are not able to smell things will be able to do so by gene therapy.
  • Massachusetts engineers have found a way to increase the permeability of skin to drugs using the ultrasound waves.
  • According to a study analgesics commonly used to relieve pain may cause hearing loss in females.
  • According to the researchers at Seoul National University in South Korea, Er:YAG laser microjet transdermal device could replace needle jab.
  • According to a study job strain might affect cardiovascular health.
  • A study showed that acupuncture works for head and neck pain, osteoarthritis and chronic headaches.
  • According to World Socialist Web Site UK politicians gain from privatizing National Health Service.
  • Scientists find insulin sensitivity gene, may lead to new diabetes treatments.
  • Scientists in Ohio have created artificial memory in brain tissue, in vitro for the first time.
  • According to a study, intrauterine exposure of nicotine either passive or active might affect the neurobehavioral development of infants.
  • A study showed that the Electronic Health Records Data (EHR) for research is often incomplete, inaccurate and unreliable.
  • A study found that peanut allergies are rising among the people of developed nations.
  • A study showed that healthy diet and lifestyle not only affects the growth of a tumor but also its metastasis.
  • A study found that traditional Chinese medicinal mushroom can help to cure cancer.

Diseases and Disasters:

  • Chinese health authorities are investigating whether children were tested for genetically modified (GMO) rice as a part of a Sino-U.S. research project.
  • Chicken pox outbreak reported in South Malawi (Africa). The health authorities have instructed to close schools to prevent the spread of this disease.
  • KwaZulu Natal (South Africa) Department of Health in crises.
  • Nearly half of Indonesians live without sanitation, clean water. Country’s health minister says it requires $5.9 Billion USD to improve access to sanitation and clean water.
  • The National Food Health, Safety and Quality Service (Mexico) said that the country’s poultry farmers slaughtered 22.3 million birds between June and August to stop the outbreak of avian flu.
  • Nepali workers in Malaysian palm industry face health risk caused by pesticides. They spray it without using any safety equipment’s.
  • The staff work in emergency department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Lambert (Scotland).
  • Eight infants were exposed to tuberculosis in a hospital in California. According to the health officials it’s unlikely that they will contact the disease.
  • Tewksbury’s West Nile Virus risk rose to ‘High’ by Massachusetts.
  • Superbug kills 7th person in Maryland National Institute of Health Clinical Center.