Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Urgent Need To Fight Diseases Affecting The World’s Poor

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From the 22 June 2011 Medical News Today article 

Despite significant advancements in increasing distribution and development of vaccines against childhood killer diseases – including pneumococcal disease, rotavirus, and Haemophilus influenzae Type B – global efforts to reduce the burden of infection from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) has greatly lagged, argues Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) President Dr. Peter Hotez in an article for the June edition of Health Affairs.

[Above link is abstract only, for suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here]

NTDs, a group of 17 parasitic infections, represent a significant contributor to global poverty, and have well documented chronic and disabling effects. Yet efforts to develop vaccines for NTDs have not benefitted from larger ongoing initiatives to combat major childhood diseases.

In his article, “A Handful of ‘Antipoverty’ Vaccines Exist for Neglected Diseases, But the World’s Poorest Billion People Need More,” Dr. Hotez cites three critical reasons for the lack of interest in “antipoverty” vaccines:

  • Though NTDs disable, they do not typically cause high levels of mortality leading some in the public health community to misleadingly conclude that NTDs are not a significant public health threat;
  • NTDs predominately occur in rural settings and are largely hidden diseases unknown to the public and infrequently documented; and,
  • Pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to make an investment in NTD vaccines because there is no financial incentive.

June 22, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Electronic medical records improve quality of care in resource-limited countries, study suggests

Electronic medical records improve quality of care in resource-limited countries, study suggests

From the March 18 2011 Science Daily news item

ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2011) — A new study [Abstract***], conducted by researchers from the Regenstrief Institute and the schools of medicine at Indiana University and Moi University, is one of the first to explore and demonstrate the impact of electronic record systems on quality of medical care in a developing country….

…This work is particularly significant because of the many medical errors that occur in settings where too few skilled health-care providers deal with a large patient population with critical illnesses. In developed countries, patients with HIV are often seen by infectious disease specialists for their HIV care. In contrast, a large number of HIV-positive patients in resource-limited countries like Kenya are taken care of by clinical officers whose level of training is similar to that of nurse practitioners. The combination of overworked staff with limited training, increasingly busy clinics, the challenges of providing chronic disease management, and the difficulty of keeping up-to-date often results in suboptimal patient care.

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Related articles

Towards electronic healthcare centred on the patient (Science Daily)

A vast computer based glossary of healthcare terms culled from so-called e-health tools, medical news sites, telemedicine applications, home care-management systems, internet-based public health records, and even health-oriented and medical blogs could help improve the relationship between patients and healthcare workers, according to new research.

Abstract is here

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March 22, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Growing number of farm animals spawn new diseases

Growing number of farm animals spawn new diseases

A cow stands on the Klausenpass mountain pass road, 1,952 m (6,404 ft) in the Swiss Alps August 19, 2009. In the background is the Urnerboden Valley. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

 

HONG KONG (Reuters) – A growing number of livestock, such as cows and pigs, are fuelling new animal epidemics worldwide and posing more severe problems in developing countries as it threatens their food security, according to a report released on Friday.

Epidemics in recent years, such as SARS and the H1N1 swine flu, are estimated to have caused billions of dollars in economic costs.

Some 700 million people keep farm animals in developing countries and these animals generate up to 40 percent of household income, the report by the International Livestock Research Institute said.

“Wealthy countries are effectively dealing with livestock diseases, but in Africa and Asia, the capacity of veterinary services to track and control outbreaks is lagging dangerously behind livestock intensification,” John McDermott and Delia Grace at the Nairobi-based institute said in a statement on the report.

“This lack of capacity is particularly dangerous because many poor people in the world still rely on farm animals to feed their families, while rising demand for meat, milk and eggs among urban consumers in the developing world is fueling a rapid intensification of livestock production.”

Seventy-five percent of emerging infectious diseases originate in animals, they added. Of these 61 percent are transmissible between animals and humans.

“A new disease emerges every four months; many are trivial but HIV, SARS and avian influenza (eg. H5N1) illustrate the huge potential impacts,” McDermott and Grace wrote in the report.

HUGE ECONOMIC COSTS

Epidemics like SARS in 2003, sporadic outbreaks of the H5N1 avian flu since 1997 and the H1N1 swine flu pandemic of 2009 racked up enormous economic costs around the world.

While SARS cost between $50 billion to $100 billion, the report cited a World Bank estimate in 2010 which pinned the potential costs of an avian flu pandemic at $3 trillion.

The report warned that rapid urbanization and climate change could act as “wild cards,” altering the present distribution of diseases, sometimes “dramatically for the worse.”

The two researchers urged developing countries to improve animal disease surveillance and speed up testing procedures to help contain livestock epidemics before they become widespread.

(Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn; Editing by Yoko Nishikawa)

 

 

 


February 15, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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