Malaria superbugs threaten global malaria control, scientists say

More than half the world’s people are at risk of malaria infection. Most victims are children under five living in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Recent progress against the mosquito-borne disease has been dramatic and numbers falling ill have been significantly reduced, but it still kills more than 420,000 people each year, the World Health Organization says.

Malaria specialists worldwide say emerging drug resistance in Asia is now one of the most serious threats to that progress.

From the late 1950s to the 1970s, chloroquine*-resistant malaria parasites spread across Asia and then into Africa, leading to a resurgence of malaria cases and millions of deaths.

Chloroquine was replaced by sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine*(SP), but resistance to SP subsequently emerged in western Cambodia and again spread to Africa.

The fear now is that the same pattern of resistance spread and the resurgence will repeat itself.

*Chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine are drugs used to cure malaria, however, overtime, probably due to poor use of the drugs, malaria parasites grow immunity over the drugs. This make it impossible for the drugs to help treat malaria patients.

Source: ChannelNewsAsia

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Disease and death after Hurricane Matthew

The threat of hurricanes is not just storm surges, floods and the ferocious winds encountered as they made landfall.

Threats from the lack of clean water, decomposing bodies and the lack fo food and medical supplies due to problems with accessibility exacerabates (worsens) the already dire situation – especially in very poor countries like Haiti.

The other threats of conflict – starvation and disease

The paradox: Nigeria is Africa’s 2nd richest nation. However, the Northeastern corner of the country has been marred by conflict and clashes with militants, causing it to be isolated from aid. Information about the crisis is also limited due to the lack of action by the government and  the lack of journalists and aid groups on the ground.

As the conflict continues, the people’s living conditions continue to worsen as food and basic medical supplies remain out of reach.

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Across the northeastern corner of this country, more than 3 million people displaced and isolated by the militants are facing one of the world’s biggest humanitarian disasters. Every day, more children are dying because there isn’t enough food. Curable illnesses are killing others. Even polio has returned.

About a million and a half of the victims have fled the Islamist extremists and are living in makeshift camps, bombed-out buildings and host communities, receiving minimal supplies from international organizations. An additional 2 million people, according to the United Nations, are still inaccessible because of the Boko Haram fighters, who control their villages or patrol the surrounding areas.

“We will see, I think, a famine unlike any we have ever seen anywhere,” unless immediate assistance is provided, said Toby Lanzer, the top U.N. official focused on humanitarian aid for the region.

The staggering hunger crisis created by the insurgents has been largely hidden from view, partly because it has been extremely dangerous for aid groups and journalists to visit the area. But institutional failures have exacerbated the situation: For over a year, the United Nations and humanitarian groups dramatically underestimated the size of the disaster, and the Nigerian government refused to acknowledge the huge number of people going hungry in Africa’s second-richest nation. Thousands of people have already died because of the inaction, aid experts say.

 Source: Washington Post

Climate Change and Health


Climate change can impact health directly and indirectly:

1. Heat (can result in heat stroke)
2. Higher incidence of infectious diseases (vector-borne diseases) like malaria and dengue as areas become warmer and more suitable for mosquitoes to breed
3. Higher incidence of water-borne diseases like typhoid fever, cholera due to more rain – which result in unclean, waterlogged conditions.
4. Harvest losses can lead to malnutrition and starvation

The chain reaction climate change is MASSIVE, but proactive policies and actions can be made to mitigate the impacts.

Haiti Quake: NGOs may not always be helpful on the ground

Failures of aid.

In late 2011, the Red Cross launched a multimillion-dollar project to transform the desperately poor area, which was hit hard by the earthquake that struck Haiti the year before. The main focus of the project — called LAMIKA, an acronym in Creole for “A Better Life in My Neighborhood” — was building hundreds of permanent homes.

Today, not one home has been built in Campeche. Many residents live in shacks made of rusty sheet metal, without access to drinkable water, electricity or basic sanitation. When it rains, their homes flood and residents bail out mud and water.

The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people. But the actual number of permanent homes the group has built in all of Haiti: six.

Why the failure despite the massive outpouring of donations to the American Red Cross? 
1. an overreliance on foreigners who could not speak local languages (French or Creole)

The Red Cross said it has “made it a priority to hire Haitians” despite lots of competition for local professionals, and that over 90 percent of its staff is Haitian. The charity said it used a local human resources firm to help.

Yet very few Haitians have made it into the group’s top echelons in Haiti, according to five current and former Red Cross staffers as well as staff lists obtained by ProPublica and NPR.

That not only affected the group’s ability to work in Haiti, it was also expensive.

2. the lack of expertise to mount its own projects

…the Red Cross ended up giving much of the money to other groups to do the work. Those groups took out a piece of every dollar to cover overhead and management. Even on the projects done by others, the Red Cross had its own significant expenses – in one case, adding up to a third of the project’s budget.

3. Prioritised publicity over aid?
Malany says the officials wanted to know which projects would generate good publicity, not which projects would provide the most homes.
4. Difficult local conditions (including governance)
“Like many humanitarian organizations responding in Haiti, the American Red Cross met complications in relation to government coordination delays, disputes over land ownership, delays at Haitian customs, challenges finding qualified staff who were in short supply and high demand, and the cholera outbreak, among other challenges,” the charity said.

THE SILENT EPIDEMIC – child malnutrition

Poor harvest, superstitions and lack of education are the main causes of malnutrition in Chad.

“Some mums don’t have the means to be able to feed their children. Others do, but they fail to take proper care of them due to a lack of education about hygiene and nutrition. You need to be strong and brave to care for a child here. It’s not easy.”

Dangerous superstitions prevent malnourished children from receiving medical aid:

Mothers often prefer to take their sick child to a religious leader rather than a health clinic. Marabout [Islamic religious leaders] may say Koranic prayers for the baby, give them a plant-based concoction which can be poisonous, make three cuts on a baby’s stomach or cut out their uvula, at the back of the throat.

In the best cases, this can delay malnourished babies getting the treatment they need and, in the worst cases, vulnerable babies, whose immune systems have been weakened by a lack of food, can die from poison or infection.

Though there are provision for malnourished children – medical care is free, but…

It doesn’t help that making the journey to public health clinics in Chad can be expensive , the clinics often don’t have the necessary medicines or enough trained staff, and despite a national free care policy for malnourished children there are often other hidden costs that make it impossible for people in this area to afford this essential care.

Read more below to the NGO, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), understand the challenges of helping the community overcome malnutrition.

Source: http://www.msf.org.uk/article/chad-the-silent-epidemic-recurring-malnutrition

Reactions to zika 


As fear mongering and ignorance sets in, the government steps in with messages and communications to the public to educate them on the disease and possible prevention methods.

Bear in mind how they remind all that “Zika is generally a mild disease…”

Which is something the Singapore vigilantehs highlight :


Zika is not some new mutated strain of virus. It’s been around all along.

Dengue is scarier, and if we can survive dengue being endemic in SG, we can survive this increased incidence of Zika in our tiny island.

We can use this chance though to get people to do the mozzie wipeout a whole lot more regularly.