Hi! I came across this interesting piece on Malaria vaccine from the London Evening Standard. Enjoy!
A new malaria vaccine has the potential to prevent u
I came across this article from Punch Nigerian Newspaper and would like to share it with you all:
The World Health Organisation warns there could be a resurgence of malaria in countries where much progress had been made over the past decade.
The WHO has released its annual World Malaria Report, which warns of funding and resource shortfalls.
The WHO’s Richard Cidulskis says the past decade had seen a concerted effort by endemic countries, donors and others to ”strengthen malaria control around the world.” He said many lives were saved.
”Tremendous progress in that we estimate there have been 1.1 million deaths averted from malaria. Those 1.1 million deaths, the majority of them, have been averted in the 10 highest burden countries in Africa.
The other progress we’ve seen is 50 countries out of 99 with ongoing transmission are on track to meet international targets of reducing malaria incidence by 75 percent by 2015,” he said in an interview with the Voice of America.
However, those 50 countries represent only three per cent – or seven million people – of the malaria cases that were estimated to have occurred in 2000.
WHO said the 2000 estimate is the benchmark against which progress is measured.
There had also been a large increase in the availability of rapid diagnostic tests and in artemisinin combination therapy.
Cidulskis is the WHO’s coordinator for strategy, economics and elimination in the Global Malaria Programme.
He said, ”One of the concerns is the amount of money available for malaria control seems to be plateauing. In previous years, we’ve seen it rise to a large extent year on year.
“In 2011, however, the amount of money for malaria control was actually less than in 2010 and amounted to $2.3 billion.
“That’s a lot of money, but it’s well short of the $5.1 billion that are needed to ensure everybody has access to malaria interventions.”
There are other concerns. The number of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets – delivered to endemic countries – has dropped from a high of 145 million in 2010 to 66 million in 2012.
What’s more, the World Malaria Report said the ”expansion of indoor residual spraying programmes has levelled off, remaining at 11 percent of the population at risk.”
”If we don’t scale-up control operations in 2013, it is likely that we’ll have [a] major resurgence of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Cidulskis.
The WHO report said the malaria burden is concentrated in 14 endemic countries that account for 80 percent of malaria deaths. Most are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo are the hardest hit in that region, while India is the most affected in South East Asia.
It’s estimated there are 219-million malaria cases worldwide. About 660,000 people die every year from the disease.
”Each one of those cases and each one of those deaths is preventable,” he said.
Cidulskis said the levelling-off of funding is due in part to the global recession. But he also said most of the countries where malaria is endemic are poor. And while they’ve been increasing spending on control and treatment programmes, their resources are limited.
The WHO report called for strengthening malaria surveillance programs and ensuring affected countries have all the medicine and bed nets they need.
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This is a shared article by NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, published by the the New York Times on August 26, 2012.
NEW research is demonstrating that some common chemicals all around us may be even more harmful than previously thought. It seems that they may damage us in ways that are transmitted generation after generation, imperiling not only us but also our descendants.
Yet following the script of Big Tobacco a generation ago, Big Chem has, so far, blocked any serious regulation of these endocrine disruptors, so called because they play havoc with hormones in the body’s endocrine system.
One of the most common and alarming is bisphenol-A, better known as BPA. The failure to regulate it means that it is unavoidable. BPA is found in everything from plastics to canned food to A.T.M. receipts. More than 90 percent of Americans have it in their urine.
Even before the latest research showing multigeneration effects, studies had linked BPA to breast cancer and diabetes, as well as to hyperactivity, aggression and depression in children.
Maybe it seems surprising to read a newspaper column about chemical safety because this isn’t an issue in the presidential campaign or even firmly on the national agenda. It’s not the kind of thing that we in the news media cover much.
Yet the evidence is growing that these are significant threats of a kind that Washington continually fails to protect Americans from. The challenge is that they involve complex science and considerable uncertainty, and the chemical companies – like the tobacco companies before them – create financial incentives to encourage politicians to sit on the fence. So nothing happens.
Yet although industry has, so far, been able to block broad national curbs on BPA, new findings on transgenerational effects may finally put a dent in Big Chem’s lobbying efforts.
One good sign: In late July, a Senate committee, for the first, time passed the Safe Chemicals Act, landmark legislation sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, that would begin to regulate the safety of chemicals.
Evidence of transgenerational effects of endocrine disruptors has been growing for a half-dozen years, but it mostly involved higher doses than humans would typically encounter.
Now Endocrinology, a peer-reviewed journal, has published a study measuring the impact of low doses of BPA. The study is devastating for the chemical industry.
Pregnant mice were exposed to BPA at dosages analogous to those humans typically receive. The offspring were less sociable than control mice (using metrics often used to assess an aspect of autism in humans), and various effects were also evident for the next three generations of mice.
The BPA seemed to interfere with the way the animals processed hormones like oxytocin and vasopressin, which affect trust and warm feelings. And while mice are not humans, research on mouse behavior is a standard way to evaluate new drugs or to measure the impact of chemicals.
“It’s scary,” said Jennifer T. Wolstenholme, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Virginia and the lead author of the report. She said that the researchers found behaviors in BPA-exposed mice and their descendants that may parallel autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit disorder in humans.
Emilie Rissman, a co-author who is professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at University of Virginia Medical School, noted that BPA doesn’t cause mutations in DNA. Rather, the impact is “epigenetic” – one of the hot concepts in biology these days – meaning that changes are transmitted not in DNA but by affecting the way genes are turned on and off.
In effect, this is a bit like evolution through transmission of acquired characteristics – the theory of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, the 19th-century scientist whom high school science classes make fun of as a foil to Charles Darwin. In epigenetics, Lamarck lives.
“These results at low doses add profoundly to concerns about endocrine disruptors,” said John Peterson Myers, chief scientist at Environmental Health Sciences. “It’s going to be harder than just eliminating exposure to one generation.”
The National Institutes of Health is concerned enough that it expects to make transgenerational impacts of endocrine disruptors a priority for research funding, according to a spokeswoman, Robin Mackar.
Like a lot of Americans, I used to be skeptical of risks from chemicals like endocrine disruptors that are all around us. What could be safer than canned food? I figured that opposition came from tree-hugging Luddites prone to conspiracy theories.
Yet, a few years ago, I began to read the peer-reviewed journal articles, and it became obvious that the opposition to endocrine disruptors is led by toxicologists, endocrinologists, urologists and pediatricians. These are serious scientists, yet they don’t often have the ear of politicians or journalists.
I’m hoping these new studies can help vault the issue onto the national stage. Threats to us need to be addressed, even if they come not from Iranian nuclear weapons, but from things as banal as canned soup and A.T.M. receipts.
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This is an interesting piece that I came across from Journal Watch worth sharing: MMWR details a case of lead poisoning in an infant of Nigerian descent who wore traditional eye makeup called tiro. The CDC is advising clinicians to look for cosmetic use in immigrant children with elevated lead levels.At his 6-month checkup, the infant had a blood lead level of 13 μg/dL, over twice the CDC’s reference value of 5 μg/dL. An investigation found that tiro, which was 83% lead, had been applied to the infant’s eyelids three or four times a week since he was 2 weeks old. It was said to improve attractiveness and promote healthy vision. Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants may use similar lead-containing products, for example, surma, kajal, and kohl. Accordingly, in the event of unexplained high blood lead levels, the CDC says, clinicians may want to consider cosmetics and folk remedies as a possible source.
I read this from the VOA and would like to share it with my blog visitors:
It was on late Thursday in Zamfara State, Nigeria, a fuel tanker overturned in a road accident and poured its entire contents into a nearby river, potentially impacting the drinking water of millions of people in Zamfara and neighboring Sokoto state. Officials say they currently don’t have the expertise or the equipment to clean up the oil and prevent another health disaster. Nigeria’s Zamfara state is also known for being the site of the worst lead poisoning outbreak in modern history, which is an ongoing crisis.
When Mouktar Lugga, the environment commissioner for Zamfara State, arrived on the scene of the fuel spill Friday morning, he saw about ten men standing nearby. They were artisanal gold miners, a mainstay of the local economy. But with 33,000 liters of industrial fuel in the river they couldn’t go to work.
Lugga says the tanker accident the previous night left oil slicks the size of two football fields on the river. He says Zamfara has neither the equipment nor the knowledge to clean up the spill and he is hoping the federal government will send technical experts to devise a clean-up plan.
I read this piece on Guardian Newspaper earlier today (25/4/2012) and decided to post it for the reading ‘pleasure’ of my blog visitors:
“AFRICA has been declared as making significant progress in the fight against measles. In the last 10 years, the continent was reported to have cut down deaths from measles by 85 per cent.
The statistics in Africa’s impressive crusade against the disease spread and death from the scourge, are contained in a report released yesterday by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
And ahead of the global celebration of World Malaria Day today, stakeholders have called for sustained funding of all initiatives to kick out the disease from Nigeria.
The stakeholders, who included the National Coordinator of National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Dr. Chioma Amajoh, Family Care Association (FCA), and ExxonMobil Foundation, declared that only concerted efforts by both the government and private bodies could ensure that the gains recorded by the Roll Back Malaria initiative were not lost.
The new report on measles published yesterday in the Lancet, the world’s leading general medical and speciality journal in oncology, neurology and infectious diseases, noted that through increased routine coverage and large-scale immunisation campaigns, “Africa made the most progress with an 85 per cent drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2010.”
It said using a state-of-the-art methodology, accelerated efforts to reduce measles deaths have resulted in a 74 per cent reduction in global measles mortality, from an estimated 535,300 deaths in 2000 to 139, 300 in 2010.
Also, the partners leading efforts to control measles announced a new global strategy aimed at reducing measles deaths and congenital rubella syndrome to zero.
The Director-General of World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan, said: “A three-quarter drop in measles deaths worldwide shows just how effective well-run vaccination programmes can be. Now we need to take the next logical step and vaccinate children against rubella, too.”
WHO said since 2001, the Measles Initiative had supported developing countries to vaccinate over one billion children against measles. And in keeping with the new Global Measles and Rubella Strategic Plan to control and eliminate measles and rubella, the initiative has been renamed Measles and Rubella Initiative. Measles and rubella elimination go hand-in-hand as measles and rubella vaccines are routinely combined in a single shot.
The report underscored that progress in reducing measles deaths was especially strong from 2001 to 2008. However, when investment and political commitment to measles control faltered in 2008 and 2009, many children were not immunised. Measles came roaring back and caused large outbreaks in Africa, Asia, Eastern Mediterranean and Europe. In 2010, an estimated 19 million infants – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia – did not receive measles vaccine.
The report added that these outbreaks combined with a delayed start in intensifying measles control in India, meant that the goal of 90 per cent reduction in measles mortality by end 2010 compared with 2000 levels was not met. India accounted for about 47 per cent of global measles deaths in 2010. In addition, target dates for measles elimination in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean and European regions had to be revised.
Meanwhile, the plan to make the most potent anti-malarial drugs affordable by most Nigerians is allegedly being threatened by lack of funds.
The Federal Government through the NMCP planned to bring down the prices of WHO-approved Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT) from N1,000 to N75 under the Affordable Medicines Facility Malaria (AMFM) project.
The Guardian learnt that in 2011, about 70 million treatment courses of ACTs were planned for procurement and delivery under AMFM. Of this, only about 38 million courses were bought and distributed to end-users.
National Co-ordinator of NMCP, Dr. Chioma Amajoh, told The Guardian that the 70 million treatment courses of ACTs represent more than 50 per cent of what was planned and considering the fact that it was the first procurement under the facility, it is a huge success and lessons learnt will be applied to overcome observable challenges in the supply chain processes.
This year’s World Malaria Day, with the theme: “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria,” Family Care Association and ExxonMobil Foundation warned that failure to adequately fund the project, would make the pursuit of the near-zero deaths from Malaria by 2015 impossible.
They said that achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially those relating to improving child survival and maternal health would be unrealistic.
As part of activities to mark the day, the two groups plan to train 300 medical personnel and community health workers on current issues on malaria diagnosis, treatment and control in Plateau, Kogi, and Lagos states this month.
The organisations have also concluded plans to hold free malaria screening tests and treatment at the Family Care Unit, Ikota Medical Centre, Lekki, Lagos, and distribute Long Lasting Insecticide-treated mosquito nets during the Nigeria Malaria Control and Prevention Programmes (NMCPP) campaign”.
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This latest study showed direct relationship between Soda consumption and stroke risk. The study was posted on April 20, 2012 by Stone Hearth News Researchers from Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute and Harvard University. They have found that greater consumption of sugar-sweetened and low-calorie sodas is associated with a higher risk of stroke.
Interestibgly, consumption of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee was associated with a lower risk.
This latest study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is the first to examine soda’s effect on stroke risk as previous research has only linked sugar-sweetened beverage consumption with weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gout and coronary artery disease.
“Soda remains the largest source of added sugar in the diet,” said Adam Bernstein, M.D., Sc.D., study author and Research Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. “What we’re beginning to understand is that regular intake of these beverages sets off a chain reaction in the body that can potentially lead to many diseases –including stroke.”
The research analyzed soda consumption among 43,371 men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study between 1986 and 2008, and 84,085 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study between 1980 and 2008. During that time, 2,938 strokes were documented in women while 1,416 strokes were documented in men.
In sugar-sweetened sodas, the sugar load may lead to rapid increases in blood glucose and insulin which, over time, may lead to glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and inflammation. These physiologic changes influence atherosclerosis, plaque stability and thrombosis –all of which are risk factors of ischemic stroke. This risk for stroke appears higher in women than in men.
In comparison, coffee contains chlorogenic acids, lignans and magnesium, all of which act as antioxidants and may reduce stroke risk. When compared with one serving of sugar-sweetened soda, one serving of decaffeinated coffee was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of stroke.
In addition, study findings show that men and women who consumed more than one serving of sugar-sweetened soda per day had higher rates of high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol and lower physical activity rates. Those who drank soda more frequently were also more likely to eat red meat and whole-fat dairy products. Men and women who consumed low-calorie soda had a higher incidence of chronic disease and a higher body mass index (BMI). The investigators controlled for these other factors in their analysis to determine the independent association of soda consumption on stroke risk.
“According to research from the USDA, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has increased dramatically in the United States over the past three decades, and it’s affecting our health,” said Dr. Bernstein. “These findings reiterate the importance of encouraging individuals to substitute alternate beverages for soda.”
I came across this important piece of article (courtesy Daily Trust Newspapers) and feel it is necessary I share it with my blog visitors: ‘About 63.6 million people in Nigeria do not have access to safe drinking water’. Enjoy….!
While 103 million do not have access to sanitation, the Country Representative of WaterAid in Nigeria, Michael Ojo has said.
Speaking at the water works and art exhibition for select primary schools in Abuja as part of activities to mark this year’s World Water Day, Ojo said that only 58 percent of Nigerians have access to portable water and only 31 percent have access to sanitation.
He said that water, sanitation and hygiene are human rights central to the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adding that they sit at the very heart of human development and underpin education, health and livelihoods for overcoming poverty.
He said that as part of their water works campaign which they launched during this year’s World Water Day, they decided to organize arts and essay competition in selected government schools in the FCT in order to join the campaign by contributing their own creative actions.
He called for action from the federal, states and local governments levels so that the people can have access to clean, safe and hygienic water.
BPA use in food packaging has greatly transformed the industry both in terms of profit making and also food safety. However, the issue of whether to ban or not has over the years been a topic that divided scientists, industries and regulatory agencies.
Those who are in support of allowing the use of BPA in the food industries are of the believe that there are several discrepancies among the studies claiming its negative effect on health. However, the other side (who are calling for its ban) argues why, that with so much evidence in place, there is still a question of whether it should be banned from use in food packaging or not.
I strongly believe that those not in support of banning BPA are merely looking at the profit aspect alone (over looking the negative consequences it has on human health).
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What you are about to read is an extract of email content from Health and Environment. Enjoy……….
The federal government is set to declare a bacteria killer found in many toothpastes, mouth washes and anti-bacterial soaps as toxic to the environment, a move which could see the use of the chemical curtailed sharply, Postmedia News has learned.
Health Canada has been probing the effects of triclosan on the body’s endocrine system and whether the antibacterial agent contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance. Environment Canada has been studying the effect of the widely used chemical on the environment.
The government’s draft risk assessment is now complete and it says triclosan is toxic to the environment but there’s not enough evidence to say it’s hazardous to human health. The formal proposal to list the chemical as toxic to the environment will be published Friday.
A toxic designation under the
Canadian Environmental Protection Act triggers a process to find ways to curtail a chemical’s use, including a possible ban in a range of personal-care products.
Canada’s proposed toxic designation comes as other regulators wrestle with what to do with triclosan.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration already has said existing data raise “valid concerns” about the possible health effects of repetitive daily exposure to triclosan and is expected is unveil its own risk assessment next winter. Currently, the American regulator’s position is triclosan “is not known to be hazardous to humans” but “animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation” and that it warrants further review.
The Canadian government reviewed the safety of triclosan under the government’s Chemicals Management Plan (CMP).
The plan, first announced in 2006 with a startup budget of $300 million, initially identified 200 “high-priority” chemicals to undergo safety assessments over five years. When chemicals are deemed to be toxic to human health or the environment under this program, the government then outlines risk-management steps to be taken to protect people or the environment.
During the first phase of the plan, the federal government banned bisphenol A in baby bottles an international first that began with listing the hormone-disrupting chemical as toxic to human health. Major companies have since announced they are phasing out the use of BPA in canned foods.
The Canadian Medical Association has been calling for a ban on the household use of triclosan since 2009, when the organization raised serious concerns about the potential for increased bacterial resistance and argued the benefits are minimal compared to regular washing with soap.
Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence and co-author of the book Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects our Health, said he wasn’t aware of the government’s decision on what he calls “modern-day snake oil.”
But “like the Canadian Medical Association, we’ve been concerned about the environmental and human health impacts of triclosan for a while, so we would very much welcome some regulatory action by the Canadian government,” Smith said Monday.
Smith, who also said “there’s evidence that triclosan is a thyroid toxin,” added there’s “now a mountain of scientific evidence that triclosan is doing nasty things to aquatic organisms. Because so much of it is being used in our kitchens and bathrooms, it’s going down the drain and winding up in lakes and rivers at increasing levels.”
Darren Praznik, president of the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, said it would be premature to comment on the government decision until “we actually know what it says,” but he said his group is “very supportive” of the Chemicals Management Plan.
“What we like about it, generally speaking, is at the end of the day, it really is about the application of sound science and risk assessment to substances. And I think it also adds another level of safety, rather than just product reviews but also substance reviews,” said Praznik.
The CMP reviewed another a funding boost last fall when Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq and Environment Minister Peter Kent announced the program’s renewal with more than $500 million over five years.
At the time, the government said it would be looking at phthalates, flame retardants, boron, selenium, cobalt and other chemicals in the second phase, as well as finalizing its risk assessment of triclosan.
Smith and co-author Bruce Lourie took aim at triclosan for their book, published in 2009.
Smith, who banished triclosan from his home years ago after reading studies identifying the antibacterial agent as a possible endocrine disrupter, saw the levels rise in his body by 2,900 times after using, over a two-day period, brand-name deodorant, toothpaste, anti-bacterial soap and shaving cream containing triclosan.
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