Posts Tagged ‘World Health Organization’

The Return of the Black Death

March 6, 2014

I also found another email from Melanie Jones, when I checked my email. Watchdog.net is concerned about an outbreak of bubonic plague in Madagascar.

Dear David Hoffman,

The bubonic plague once wiped a third of the world’s population — and now, Black Death is sparking one of the worst outbreaks globally in years.

Black Death has already killed 20 villagers after a sudden outbreak in Madagascar, and the Red Cross warns the island nation is at risk of a plague epidemic. Even worse, strains of the disease seem to be spreading, and may even be mutating to populate at lower elevations.

The World Health Organization needs to send help to Madagascar, and to keep this potentially deadly disease from spreading. With antibiotics, bubonic plague is now treatable — but without them, this devastating illness will cause lymph swelling, pustules, gangrene, and an agonizing death.

That’s a fate no one should suffer — and a problem we can’t afford to ignore. Please, join us in calling on WHO to start beating this plague virus back, treating victims and keeping it from spreading!

PETITION TO THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Don’t ignore the bubonic plague outbreak in Madagascar. Help the Red Cross keep it from being an epidemic, sending medicine and stopping it from spreading the other nations.

Click here to sign — it just takes a second.

Thanks,
— The folks at Watchdog.net

P.S. If the other links aren’t working for you, please go here to sign: http://act.watchdog.net/petitions/4115?n=59053903.CFWH_H

This is a serious problem and I certainly hope that the World Health Organization is doing everything it can to help the victims in Madagascar and to prevent the spread of this disease. I have no problem with Melanie Jone’s message or petition. I just wonder what good signing this petition is going to do. I doubt that the World Health Organization is going to pay any attention to an online petition. I imagine that the WHO is already doing what it can with the resources at its disposal. If they are not, no petition is going to make the people in charge change their minds.

This is why I don’t usually sign online petitions. I think that online petitions are just a way for people to think they are making a difference without actually doing anything to make a difference. Clicking like buttons on Facebook or signing petitions is actually worse than useless because it leads to a sense of complacency that might discourage any real effort to help resolve the problem. There is little or nothing I can do about the bubonic plague in Madagascar and I am not going to delude myself into thinking that typing my name while sitting on my butt is actually doing something.

 

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India Defeats Polio

January 16, 2014

Here is a bit of good news, for a change. It has been almost three years since there has been a case of polio in India. Once India has been confirmed to be polio free for three years, the disease will be considered eradicated in India. I read this story in the Times of India.

India marked three years since its last reported polio case Monday, meaning it will soon be certified as having defeated the ancient scourge in a huge advance for global eradication efforts.

India’s polio programme is one of the country’s biggest public health success stories, achieving something once thought impossible thanks to a massive and sustained vaccination programme.

Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, along with global groups who have been working to eradicate the virus, hailed Monday’s anniversary as “a monumental milestone”.

“We have completed a full three years without a single polio case and I’m sure that in the future there won’t be any polio cases,” Azad told reporters in the capital.

Smiling and flashing a V for victory sign, he added: “I think this is great news not just for India but the entire globe.”

With the number of cases in decline in Nigeria and Afghanistan, two of only three countries where polio is still endemic, world efforts to consign the crippling virus to history are making steady progress.

“In 2012, there were the fewest numbers of cases in endemic countries as ever before. So far in 2013 (records are still being checked), there were even less,” Hamid Jafari, global polio expert at the World Health Organization, told AFP.

“If the current trends of progress continue we could very easily see the end of polio in Afghanistan and Nigeria in 2014.”

This is wonderful news. It is too bad that India’s neighbor Pakistan does not share India’s good fortune.

There are also reasons for caution in India, with the virus still considered endemic in neighbouring Pakistan, where vaccinators are being killed by the Taliban which views them as possible spies.

A fake vaccination programme was used by the CIA to provide cover for operatives tracking al-Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden, who was killed in Pakistan by US special forces in May 2011.

It is unfortunate that the CIA decided to use that particular cover for its operatives, although I understand  that the Taliban believes vaccination to be un-Islamic and would probably be killing vaccinators anyway.

 

 

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Chelsea Clinton Fights Diarrhea

October 17, 2012

I am glad that Chelsea Clinton is doing something important with her life. I am not being sarcastic. Diarrhea is perhaps the greatest preventable cause of death in the third world. Preventing these deaths is not all that difficult. The treatments for diarrhea are not that expensive compared to treatments for diseases like AIDS and the problem could be greatly curtailed by improved access to clean drinking water. What is lacking is awareness of the problem and the political will to do something about it. Read the whole story here.

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Chelsea Clinton is taking on the discomforting issue of diarrhea, throwing her family’s philanthropic heft behind a sweeping effort in Nigeria to prevent the deaths of 1 million mothers and children each year from preventable causes, including 100,000 deaths from diarrhea.

The 32-year-old daughter of President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined Nigerian officials, the prime minister of Norway and other leaders on Tuesday in promoting expanded access to zinc and oral rehydration solutions or ORS, a treatment that could prevent more than 90 percent of diarrhea-related deaths in the country.

“It is unconscionable that in the 21st century, children still die of diarrhea,” Clinton told Reuters in an exclusive interview by phone from Abuja, Nigeria.

The ORS and zinc work in Nigeria is in coordination with the Clinton Health Access Initiative or CHAI, on whose board Clinton serves. She has stepped up her public role in the family’s global philanthropic efforts and in July took a six-day tour of Africa with her father, who founded the William J. Clinton Foundation in 2001.

The goal of the initiative in Nigeria is to help drive down the cost of high-quality ORS and zinc treatments and increase awareness for them, said Clinton, currently a doctoral candidate in international relations at the University of Oxford.

Currently, fewer than 2 percent of children in Nigeria have access to the World Health Organization-recommended treatment. Increasing the number of children with access to the therapy to 80 percent by 2015 would help prevent an estimated 220,000 deaths in Nigeria.

“I would like to see us make real, measurable progress here in Nigeria and in the other countries where we are working on ORS zinc,” said Clinton, including Uganda and parts of India, as part of the Clinton Health Access Initiative’s new push to improve access to essential medicines for children.

“For me, it’s not complicated. We know what works and we should be doing more of it. And when we don’t know what works, we should be innovating and spending time and energy on designing these solutions to solve problems that haven’t been solved yet,” said Clinton.

“That is what I love about the work CHAI does and the work of the foundation more broadly,” she said.

BRINGING COMPANIES ON BOARD

As part of its push, CHAI is meeting with companies like Unilever, which has big distribution networks in Nigeria, to get the message out on ORS zinc, Clinton said.

The hope is to increase demand for the treatment and drive down costs, which should put the price of a single dose of the treatment at about $0.50.

CHAI began working in Nigeria in 2007 with efforts in the Niger Delta to bolster the region’s HIV/AIDS infrastructure, which has helped increase pediatric HIV testing by 350 percent, and resulted in a 70 percent increase in pediatric access to powerful antiretroviral drugs.

Clinton conceded that diarrhea treatment is something many people would rather not talk about.

“It makes them feel squeamish,” she said, adding, “It’s important that we shine a light on these problems and then get to the business of solving them.”

Clinton said it’s hard to know just how much of her interest in charitable work has been influenced by the careers of her powerful parents, but in a way, it doesn’t much matter.

“I couldn’t imagine not doing work like this,” she said. I define success in my life by how much of a difference have I made in a given day, whether that is being a good wife to my husband, a good daughter to my parents, a good friend to my friends, or helping push forward our work at CHAI or the Alliance for a Healthier Generation or any other facet of the foundation.”

“I couldn’t imagine it any other way, and I don’t want to.”

Maybe we could raise awareness by distributing brown ribbons, or would that be too much?

 

 

Malaria Vaccine

October 18, 2011

This is simply wonderful news from Reuters. The world’s first vaccine against malaria has been proven to be effective in clinical trials.

An experimental vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline halved the risk of African children getting malaria in a major clinical trial, making it likely to become the world’s first shot against the deadly disease.

Final-stage trial data released on Tuesday showed it gave protection against clinical and severe malaria in five- to 17-month-olds in Africa, where the mosquito-borne disease kills hundreds of thousands of children a year.

“These data bring us to the cusp of having the world’s first malaria vaccine,” said Andrew Witty, chief executive of the British drugmaker that developed the vaccine along with the nonprofit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI).

While hailing an unprecedented achievement, Witty, malaria scientists and global health experts stressed that the vaccine, known as RTS,S or Mosquirix, was no quick fix for eradicating malaria. The new shot is less effective against the disease than other vaccines are against common infections such as polio and measles.

“We would have wished that we could wipe it out, but I think this is going to contribute to the control of malaria rather than wiping it out,” Tsiri Agbenyega, a principal investigator in the RTS,S trials in Ghana, told Reuters at a Seattle, Washington, conference about the disease.

Malaria is endemic in around 100 countries worldwide and killed some 781,000 people in 2009, according to the World Health Organization.

Control measures such as insecticide-treated bednets, indoor spraying and use of combination anti-malaria drugs have helped significantly cut the numbers of malaria cases and deaths in recent years, but experts have said that an effective vaccine is vital to complete the fight against the disease.

Allowing DDT to be used in Africa would also save a lot of lives. At any rate let’s hope that GlaxoSmithKline can get this vaccine to where it is needed most as fast as possible.

And, thanks to Instapundit for picking up this story.


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