Category Archives: Global Health

Liberia declared Ebola-free, signaling end to West African epidemic | Reuters

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Ebola virusLiberia was declared free of the Ebola virus by global health experts on Thursday, a milestone that signaled an end to an epidemic in West Africa that has killed more than 11,300 people.

But the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned there could still be flare-ups of the disease in the region, which has suffered the world’s deadliest outbreak over the past two years, as survivors can carry the virus for many months and could pass it on.

Health specialists cautioned against complacency, saying the world was still underprepared for any future outbreaks of the disease.

Source: Liberia declared Ebola-free, signaling end to West African epidemic | Reuters

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State’s disease outbreak preparedness falls short — report

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Washington Scored Five Out of 10 on Key Indicators Related to Preventing, Detecting, Diagnosing and Responding to Infectious Disease Outbreaks

MERS virus

A new report finds Washington state scored only 5 out of 10 on key indicators related to preventing, detecting, diagnosing and responding to outbreaks.

The state-by-state analysis was prepared by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)

Twenty-eight states and Washington, D.C. scored 5 or lower out of 10 key indicators.

Five states—Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, New York and Virginia—tied for the top score, achieving eight out of 10 indicators. Seven states — Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah — tied for the lowest score at three out of 10.

The report, Outbreaks: Protecting Americans from Infectious Diseases, concluded that the United States must redouble efforts to better protect Americans from new infectious disease threats such as MERS-CoV and antibiotic-resistant Superbugs and resurging illnesses like whooping cough, tuberculosis and gonorrhea. Continue reading

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Malaria deaths drop below half a million, Africa makes progress: WHO | Reuters

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Malaria parasite

The malaria parasite

The number of people killed by malaria dropped below half a million in the past year, reflecting vast progress against the mosquito-borne disease in some of the previously hardest-hit areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

The World Health Organization’s annual malaria report showed deaths falling to 438,000 in 2015 – down dramatically from 839,000 in 2000 – and found a significant increase in the number of countries moving toward the elimination of malaria.

Malaria prevention measures – such as bednets and indoor and outdoor spraying – have averted millions of deaths and saved millions of dollars in healthcare costs over the past 14 years in many African countries, the report said.

Source: Malaria deaths drop below half a million, Africa makes progress: WHO | Reuters

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Parents in poor countries have worry about vaccines, too: If they can get them for their children

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Globe 125X125The Republican presidential debates have fueled another round of vaccine anxiety in the U.S. But in the world’s poorest countries, parents have a different set of concerns: They worry about getting their kids immunized quickly enough.

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Travel smart: get vaccinated – CDC

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Before you travel internationally, ensure that you are up to date on all your routine vaccines, as well as travel vaccines.

airplane thumbMore and more Americans are travelling internationally each year. Today more than a third of Americans have a passport.  It is important to remember that some types of international travel, especially to developing countries and rural areas, have higher health risks.

These risks depend on a number of things including:

  • Where you are traveling
  • Your activities while traveling
  • Your current health status
  • Your vaccination history

Measles and International Travel

Each year, unvaccinated people get measles while in other countries and bring it to the United States. This has sometimes led to outbreaks.  The majority of measles cases brought into the U.S. come from U.S. residents. When we can identify vaccine status, almost all are unvaccinated.

Vaccination is the best protection against measles. Before leaving for trips abroad, make sure you and your family are protected against measles. Plan ahead and check with your doctor to see if you and your family need MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine.

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Global pandemic of fake medicines poses urgent risk, say experts

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pills-spill-out-of-bottleFrom the National Institutes of Health

Poor quality medicines are a real and urgent threat that could undermine decades of successful efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, according to the editors of a collection of journal articles published today.

Scientists report up to 41 percent of specimens failed to meet quality standards in global studies of about 17,000 drug samples.

Among the collection is an article describing the discovery of falsified and substandard malaria drugs that caused an estimated 122,350 deaths in African children in 2013. Other studies identified poor quality antibiotics, which may harm health and increase antimicrobial resistance.

However, new methodologies are being developed to detect problem drugs at the point of purchase and show some promise, scientists say. Continue reading

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No evidence Ebola in West Africa is becoming more deadly, study

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Ebola virusFrom the National Institutes of Health

The Ebola virus circulating in humans in West Africa is undergoing relatively few mutations, none of which suggest that it is becoming more severe or transmissible, according to a National Institutes of Health study in the journal Science.

The study compares virus sequencing data from samples taken from patients in Guinea (March 2014), Sierra Leone (June 2014) and Mali (November 2014).

Ebola virus, isolated in November 2014 from patient blood samples obtained in Mali. The virus was isolated on Vero cells in a BSL-4 suite at Rocky Mountain Laboratories.

“The Ebola virus in the ongoing West African outbreak appears to be stable—that is, it does not appear to be mutating more rapidly than viruses in previous Ebola outbreaks, and that is reassuring,” said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH. “We look forward to additional information to validate this finding, because understanding and tracking Ebola virus evolution are critical to ensuring that our scientific and public health response keeps pace.” Continue reading

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Ending subsidies, water sector graft key for global development – UN – TRFN | Energy & Oil | Reuters

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rain-dropsA crackdown on corruption in the water sector and increasing investment in infrastructure are essential to avoid conflicts over water, “life’s most vital resource”, a United Nations University report said on Tuesday.

Population growth, economic insecurity, corruption and climate change threaten the stability and the very existence of some nations, the report said.

via Ending subsidies, water sector graft key for global development – UN – TRFN | Energy & Oil | Reuters.

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Tech’s Next Challenge In Global Health: Tools, Not Apps – Forbes

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Earth against the black void of spaceThis month, PATH produced a new tool for diagnosing river blindness, a disease that affects nearly 18 million globally (stats that are often unheard of).  It’s the first of its kind, says Nicole Fallat, Communications Officer at PATH.

via Tech’s Next Challenge In Global Health: Tools, Not Apps.

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