August 21, 2013
A daily pill can keep away deadly TB from HIV patients, says a new study. From the NYT:
The drug is isoniazid, a generic antibiotic, and the World Health Organization has recommended a daily dose since 1998 for H.I.V. patients who harbor germs for tuberculosis but have no symptoms; full-blown TB is a leading killer of AIDS victims. But public health doctors in poor countries rarely bother.
“It’s a combination of ignorance, fear of creating antibiotic resistance and a belief among many TB doctors that it won’t work,” said Dr. Richard E. Chaisson, a tuberculosis specialist at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the research.
The study, published last week by Lancet Infectious Disease, found that a daily isoniazid pill reduced deaths and active TB cases by 31 percent among 12,816 patients at 29 Brazilian clinics. In patients whose urine samples proved that they actually took their pills regularly, Dr. Chaisson added, the effect was far greater — a reduction of about 80 percent.
Side effects were minor, and of the patients who developed TB despite taking the pill, none got an isoniazid-resistant form of the disease. So the concern about drug resistance is unfounded, Dr. Chaisson said. Patients who were already taking three to six daily pills for their H.I.V. were usually willing to take one more.
An editorial accompanying the study looked at several isoniazid trials and said the antibiotic worked, but only when public clinics could test patients correctly, provide pills steadily and make sure they were taken.
Imagine if you wanted to access birth control from your local health provider today. If your country has integrated health services than things can work quickly. If there are some gaps, then things may be a bit more complicated. This map (click through to see bigger version) from Population Action International shows where things can get derailed along the way.
When pneumonia began to spread from student to student at Georgia Tech, the school officials sent out emails warning students of the outbreak and advising on how to prevent spreading it. At least 83 students fell ill, five were hospitalized and fortunately nobody died.
The CDC followed up with a survey of more than 100 students and found out that most had no idea that there even was an outbreak. The emails that the school sent out went largely ignored. NPR has the story:
Among the 48 students in the sample who said they had heard or read the warnings about the spate of campus illnesses, 26 percent said they’d learned about it through an e-mail; 22 percent from a friend, 6 percent from a poster, and a mere 2 percent via social media.
Though nobody died, five students were hospitalized with complications – four with respiratory failure and one with the heart inflammation known as perimyocarditis.
August 20, 2013
The worst flooding in more than a century in Russia has displaced more than 20,000 people. From the AP:
Ministry spokeswoman Irina Rossius said the evacuations were underway in three regions along the Chinese border in the Far East, 5,000 kilometers (3,000 miles) east of Moscow, and some of those evacuated have moved into 166 emergency shelters.
The flooding, set off by torrential rains, has already affected 140 towns and villages across the broad area, the ministry said.
The Amur region has been the worst affected, but the ministry said the flooding there has passed its peak. As the rains move east, however, the situation was expected to worsen in the neighboring Kabarovsk and Jewish autonomous regions, Russian news agencies reported, citing Alexander Frolov, chief of the Russian Meteorological Service.
The Amur River, which has reached a record high, is still rising and could flood Komsomolsk-on Amur, a major city in the Khabarovsk region, Frolov said.
Rescuers decided to move the brown bears to higher ground from their home in a tourist camp near the city of Blagoveshchensk as the flood waters approached, the ministry said. Video posted on the ministry’s site shows a helicopter transporting the bears, with them dangling below the aircraft in a cage.
The ministry said it has delivered about 53 tons of food, water and clothing to people affected by the floods, while humanitarian aid and monetary donations also were being sent from around the country.
The floods have called into question mayoral elections in the Amur region on Sept. 8, when local elections will be held across Russia.
“People will not be expected to cross the flooded areas on boats just to tick a box on a ballot,” Nikolai Nevdomsky, the head of the Amur election commission, said in a statement. He said a decision would be made Aug. 27.
You may or may not know the Kid President for his viral videos. He teamed up with the UN to mark World Humanitarian Day today. This marks 10 years since a bombing at the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq killed 22 people. A resolution at the UN in 2009 determined to mark the anniversary as World Humanitarian Day.
Kid President chats with Beyonce and heads to the UN to meet with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos. He asks his viewers to share what they think the word needs more of.
Here are a few of the videos:
August 19, 2013
700 new cases of cholera in Guinea-Bissau is leading to concerns of a more significant outbreak. From IRIN:
Isolated health centres, insufficient medical personnel and detrimental traditional beliefs have contributed to the prevalence, explained Inàcio Alvarenga, an epidemiologist with World Health Organization (WHO).
Guinea-Bissau’s southern Tombali region is the worst hit, with 225 cases and 21 deaths as of late July, said Nicolau Almeida, a health ministry director.
“Tombali is the poorest region [in the country] in terms of human resources. There is only one nurse per health centre. The health system cannot properly cater for patients. This is in addition to superstitions by people who don’t believe the scientific explanation of cholera,” Alvarenga told IRIN.
As of 22 July – when the latest data was available – the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported 742 cases in Guinea-Bissau, 416 in Niger and 368 in Sierra Leone. The outbreak in Guinea-Bissau is a continuation of the 2012 epidemic, when 3,359 people contracted cholera.
“To confirm a new epidemic, the 2012 outbreak should have been declared over” by demonstrating the absence of vibrio cholera in diarrhoea, said Alvarenga.
“For reasons I’m not aware of, the government did not test cases in the first weeks of the year. These cases did not disappear but got spread around,” he continued. “I don’t think we will hit the 2008 level [when 14,204 people were infected and 225 killed], but the disease risks will be lingering for several months like in 1996-1998.”
Most cases have so far been reported in Catungo and Mato Foroba localities in the country’s south. “These are rice-growing areas where vibrio cholera can easily reproduce,” Alvarenga said.
Other cases have been reported in Catio area and in Quinara region – all in the south. Almeida said that the cases in Catio town indicated that the disease was spreading. Two cases have been confirmed in the capital, Bissau, said hospital sources.
“Residents of the city’s old town district are very concerned,” Alvarenga said. The water and electricity company has been unable to supply water to the capital in the past weeks due to financial difficulties, although it recently resumed partial service. “People are seeking all possible means to get water. It’s not rare to see water transporters on the streets.”
We are excited to share some new updates from the team over at PSI/LAOS. They have been quite busy introducing a new lubricant, tracing TB cases and working to eliminate stigma against people infected by HIV/AIDS. Check it out:
PSI introduces No.1 Lubricant in Laos
In collaboration with the Center for HIV/AIDS/STI and Ministry of Health, PSI launched No. 1 Lubricant, a health product that is easy and safe to use with condoms. Through social marketing of the No. 1 Lubricant and health education activities, PSI aims to promote safe sex among men who have sex with men (MSM) and female sex workers (FSW) who are at risk for HIV infection. No. 1 Lubricant is imported from overseaas and distributed by DKSH, a leading distributor of health products in Laos. The product is now available at pharmacies and minimarts.
By Christopher Elias, President, Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - This originally appeared in the Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists blog
One of the things I’ve learned working in global health and development for the past 25 years is that innovation comes in many forms. Scientific breakthroughs tend to get the most attention. A new vaccine that saves children’s lives. A drug that tackles a killer disease.
Innovation also happens incrementally, often building on previous advances. In the fight to eradicate polio, the first effective vaccine was introduced more than 50 years ago. Since then, scientists have developed many new vaccines, typically more effective than their predecessors.
The oral contraceptive introduced in 1960 was truly a transformative technology, but did not meet the needs of many women, and is used by relatively few women in places like Sub-Saharan Africa. So, researchers are improving contraceptive technologies to give women in all countries more options so they can plan their families.
August 16, 2013
Egyptian security forces cracked down on protesters in Cairo killing more than 500 people. From the LA Times:
The Health Ministry reported that the dead, mostly supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, included at least 43 police officers. More than 3,700 people were wounded in clashes that ignited Wednesday when security forces broke up two sit-ins by protesters loyal to Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood claims at least 2,000 people were killed in street battles that swept the country. Many of the deaths occurred when riot police firing tear gas and automatic weapons stormed the 6-week-old Islamist rally outside the Rabaa al Adawiya mosque in Cairo.
The violence stunned world leaders, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded Thursday that the U.N. Security Council move to condemn what he characterized as a massacre by Egyptian soldiers and security forces.
“I am calling on Western countries. You remained silent in Gaza, you remained silent in Syria. … You are still silent on Egypt. So how come you talk about democracy, freedom, global values and human rights?” he told a news conference.
The Brotherhood has vowed that its followers would continue protesting until Morsi, toppled in a coup last month, is reinstated. The group’s spokesman, Gehad Haddad, posted on his Twitter account: “We will always be nonviolent and peaceful. We remain strong, defiant and resolved. We will push forward until we bring down this military coup.”
The attacks on the protest camps devastated the Brotherhood, relegating it to the fringes of the nation’s politics. That prospect has raised fears that Brotherhood followers and hard-line Salafi Islamists may go underground to plot militant attacks on government and tourism targets, similar to the bombings and assaults that killed hundreds in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Interim Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi defended the crackdown, saying, “We found that matters had reached a point that no self-respecting state could accept.
In celebration of International Youth Day, Global Health Youth Advisor Cate Lane discusses U.S. Government and USAID’s health programs impacting urban youth. This originally appears in the USAID Impact Blog.
In 2010 I took a bike tour of Dar es Salaam’s slums. Over tea and chapattis my young guide told me he had lost both parents to AIDS. As the eldest, he had to ensure the education of his younger siblings. He dropped out of high school and migrated to Dar to work. Now at 24 with a good job, his siblings had finished school, and he was ready to return to school himself.
This glimpse of the vibrant yet chaotic life in Dar’s slums is one that we rarely see. I was struck by the large numbers of school-age youth in the streets working as petty traders: selling bananas, phone cards, sunglasses and pirated DVDs.
Dar is not unique. Rural to urban migration is accelerating, yet governments are ill-prepared to deal with it. In Timor L’este, I heard that that the capital’s population was growing by 10,000 people every year. Poorly serviced squatter settlements, slums, and camps are the norm in many cities, which are increasingly populated by youth seeking opportunities.
In Latin America and Asia, young female urban migrants outnumber young males. Many migrate to escape forced marriage or abusive relationships. UNICEF data from 12 countries show one in five migrant children aged 12–14 and half of those aged 15–17 move without a parent. Young urban migrants often find themselves in violent, stressful and unhealthy environments.