Deaths from measles drop, anti-malaria project threatened

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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Soda consumption and Stroke risk

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.”

Water scarcity: 64m Nigerians have no access to portable water.

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: to ban or not to ban?

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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