World Malaria Day: WHO calls to close gaps in prevention and treatment to defeat malaria

WHO is calling on the global health community to urgently address significant gaps in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria. Despite dramatic declines in malaria cases and deaths since 2000, more than half a million lives are still lost to this preventable disease each year.

At least three quarters of malaria deaths occur in children under 5. Yet in 2013, only about 1 in 5 African children with malaria received effective treatment for the disease, 15 million pregnant women did not receive a single dose of the recommended preventive drugs, and an estimated 278 million people in Africa still live in households without a single insecticide-treated bednet.

“As we celebrate World Malaria Day on April 25, we must recognize the urgent need to expand prevention measures and quality-assured diagnostic testing and treatment to reduce the human suffering caused by malaria,” said Dr Hiroki Nakatani, WHO Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases.

For uncomplicated malaria cases, WHO recommends the use of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). Globally, 392 million ACT courses were procured by malaria-endemic countries in 2013, up from just 11 million in 2005. However, millions of people are still not treated for malaria, primarily because the communities most affected by the disease have limited access to health care.

WHO also  recommends diagnostic testing for all suspected malaria cases to ensure that malaria drugs are used only for those who have the disease and that—when a test is negative—other causes of fever are investigated. Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are now widely available and more than 319 million were purchased in 2013 compared to 46 million in 2008. Despite this progress, nearly 40% of people with suspected malaria at public health facilities in Africa are not tested.

The need to urgently address gaps in preventive treatment for malaria is also being highlighted by the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership, which has issued a global call to action to increase national coverage with preventive treatment in pregnancy.

WHO has developed a new global malaria strategy for the 2016-2030 period, which will be reviewed by the World Health Assembly in May 2015. Developed in close consultation with endemic countries and partners, the new strategy sets the target of reducing the disease burden by 40% by 2020, and by at least 90% by 2030. It also aims to eliminate the disease in at least 35 new countries by 2030. The strategy provides a comprehensive framework for countries to develop tailored programmes that will sustain and accelerate progress towards malaria elimination.

Commitments to malaria elimination have already been made by a number of countries and regions. In recent years, elimination efforts have been intensified in many parts of Africa—including in Southern Africa’s “Elimination 8” countries (Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe)—in Central America and Hispaniola, as well as in South-East Asia.

Increased political commitment and greater funding have averted more than 4 million malaria deaths since 2001, and 55 of the 97 countries and territories with ongoing malaria transmission are on track to meet the current World Health Assembly target of reducing malaria incidence by 75% between 2000 and 2015.

World Malaria Day was instituted by WHO Member States during the 2007 World Health Assembly and is celebrated on 25 April each year. It is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria control and elimination. The theme for the 2013-2015 campaign is “Invest in the Future. Defeat malaria”.

 

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WHO Global status report on non-communicable diseases 2014

This global status report on prevention and control of NCDs (2014), is framed around the nine voluntary global targets. The report provides data on the current situation, identifying bottlenecks as well as opportunities and priority actions for attaining the targets. The 2010 baseline estimates on NCD mortality and risk factors are provided so that countries can report on progress, starting in 2015.

In addition, the report also provides the latest available estimates on NCD mortality (2012) and risk factors, 2010-2012.

All ministries of health need to set national NCD targets and lead the development and implementation of policies and interventions to attain them. There is no single pathway to attain NCD targets that fits all countries, as they are at different points in their progress in the prevention and control of NCDs and at different levels of socioeconomic development. However all countries can benefit from the comprehensive response to attaining the voluntary global targets presented in this report.

CLICK Here to Download the Report.

Drug resistance deadlier than cancer by 2050: Study

Infections resistant to medicines will kill more people per year than cancer by 2050, and cost the world $100 trillion annually, according to a U.K. government-backed report led by Jim O’Neill, the well-known former Goldman Sachs economist.

The wide-ranging study, called the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, was commissioned by the U.K. government earlier this year amid growing concerns about drug-resistant “superbugs”, including new strains of E. coli, malaria and tuberculosis.

Its forecasts, based on research by RAND Europe and KPMG, suggest that drug resistance, which is estimated to have caused around 700,000 deaths globally this year, will cause 10 million by 2050 if further action is not taken.

CLICK HERE to read complete story

via CNBC.com

Vitamin D Deficiency can Cause SAD; 5 Tips to Fight Winter Depression

Insufficient levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of depression, says a new study.

In a study reported in Medical Hypotheses, researchers found that vitamin D deficiency was directly linked to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) , a type of depression related to changes in season, that appears during the same time, every year.

In a study reported in Medical Hypotheses, researchers found that vitamin D deficiency was directly linked to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) , a type of depression related to changes in season, that appears during the same time, every year.

Symptoms of the condition include tiredness, irritation, low energy, weight gain, oversleeping, hypersensitivity, temptation to eat more carbohydrates and difficulty to adjust with others.

The symptoms usually appear in the fall and persist throughout winter. The condition, according to the Mayo Clinic in US, often progresses into major depression in spring or early summer.

CLICK HERE to read more

via International Business Times

AIDS campaigners say pandemic has finally reached tipping point

The world has finally reached “the beginning of the end” of the AIDS pandemic that has infected and killed millions in the past 30 years, according to a leading campaign group fighting HIV.

The number of people newly infected with HIV over the last year was lower than the number of HIV-positive people who joined those getting access to the medicines they need to take for life to keep AIDS at bay.

But in a report to mark World AIDS Day on 1 December, the ONE campaign, an advocacy group working to end poverty and preventable disease in Africa, warned that reaching this milestone did not mean the end of AIDS was around the corner.

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via Reuters.

Using smartphone can be damaging to your back

Looking down at our phones isn’t just making us bump into one another, it’s also exerting a damaging amount of weight onto the back of heads and necks, says scientists.

How much weight exactly? Twenty seven kilograms is the most recent estimate according to a study published in the journal Surgical Technology International.

That’s about the same weight as four full-size bowling balls or – to use a more relevant comparison – 200 iPhones. All piled up on the back of your head.

Dr Kenneth Hansraj, the spinal and orthopaedic surgeon behind the study, says it’s become increasingly common for patients suffering from back and neck pain to report hours spent hunched over smartphones and tablets.

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via The Times of India.