Some 7,200 people in Afghanistan were estimated to be HIV positive, according to figures released by the the World Health Organization (WHO).
Marking World Aids Day, the WHO on Sunday called for a broader public awareness campaign in Afghanistan to deal with the issue, reports TOLO News.
But the Afghan Ministry of Public Health said that it registered only 2,883 cases of HIV in the country.
“According to our statistics, there are 2,883 cases of HIV registered in the country. The 7,200 cases reported by the World Health Organization are only an estimate,” said Fida Mohammad Paikan, deputy minister of public health.
Referring to factors behind the spread of the virus, Paikan said: “Last year the Ministry of Public Health registered 183 cases of HIV, and the figure has decreased to 150 new cases this year. But we need to undertake a comprehensive study to determine the exact number of those suffering from the disease.”
Victims however, have complained of social discrimination.
Nearly 80 million children under age 1 are at higher risk of preventable diseases such as measles, cholera and polio because of the disruption of routine vaccination programs, according to a report released Friday by the World Health Organization and other global organizations.
Immunization campaigns have been disrupted in half of the 129 countries surveyed around the world in March and April, according to data produced by the WHO, UNICEF, the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Of the 68 countries, 27 have suspended their measles initiatives. Thirty-eight countries have suspended campaigns to vaccinate children against polio.
The COVID-19 pandemic is “walking back progress” that was made in vaccinating children around the world, putting children and their families at greater risk of diseases that routine vaccinations can prevent, Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, said.
“More children in more countries are now protected against more vaccine-preventable diseases than at any point in history,” Berkley said in a statement. “Due to COVID-19, this immense progress is now under threat, risking the resurgence of diseases like measles and polio. Not only will maintaining immunization programs prevent more outbreaks, but it will also ensure we have the infrastructure we need to roll out an eventual COVID-19 vaccine on a global scale.”
Fearing doctor visits
Routine immunization has been hindered for many reasons.
Some parents are no longer taking their children to clinics and hospitals out of fear of exposure to the virus, while others are unable to do so because of lockdowns.
The delivery of vaccines and required protective equipment has been delayed in many countries because of a cutback in commercial flights and chartered plane availability.
Health care workers also have been relocated to help fight the pandemic, leaving fewer to administer vaccinations.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said that to combat this decline in immunizations, countries need to intensify efforts to find and track unvaccinated children, address gaps in delivery and develop innovative solutions.
The consequences if countries are unable to give routine immunizations, “can be deadly,” Fore said.
Experts are concerned that deaths from normally preventable diseases could surpass coronavirus deaths if vaccination efforts are not reinstated.
Berkley, of Gavi, requested $7.4 billion for vaccination efforts over the next five years.
Experts said a decline in vaccinations in one country could have consequences for other countries.
Dr. Kate O’Brien, director of WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, said inoculation efforts should be viewed as a “global public good” because “pathogens do not recognize borders,” and if one country is at risk of an outbreak, all countries are at risk. (VOA)
In a bid to help Corona Warriors on the forefront of the global battle against the pandemic, Guwahati-based NGO Global Pandemic Response Forum (GPRF) launched the ‘Dhara Helpline’ to provide free psychological consultations. It has now opened the helpline to the general public with the freedom of “Pay as you wish” option.
With more than 150 professionals from across the country, the platform offers services 24×7 in English, Hindi, Assamese, Bodo, Marathi, Khasi, Bengali, Garo and Tamil.
Dharitri Nath, Project Head, Dhara Helpline said: “On May 14, the Director General of WHO made a worldwide appeal to immediately increase access to mental health services or risk a massive increase in mental health conditions in the coming months. As the second highest populous nation, a major component of our country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic will need to include support for the masses with their mental health needs immediately.”
She added: “At Dhara Helpline we have been making efforts to make mental health counseling accessible to all, especially women and children, and the opening of the helpline for the general public was a natural progression for us.
While the Dhara Helpline to the Corona Warriors will remain free, we have added a ‘Pay as you wish’ option for the general public to make the initiative sustainable. It is open for all and accessible from anywhere in the country.” Dhara Helpline for Corona Warriors is +91 92054 67567 (4am to 2am daily) while for general public is +91 2239560964. (IANS)
The UK needs to drastically cut back its meat intake to avoid a future global health crisis, a group of doctors have warned.
Plant Based Health Professionals (PBHP) said that the connection between major disease outbreaks and factory farming is being “swept under the carpet” amid the coronavirus pandemic, as they join a wave of experts urging people to go vegan, the Metro newspaper reported.
The vast majority of new infectious diseases that have appeared in humans over the past century have been caused by tampering with farmed animals and their habitats, including Swine Flu (pigs), Avian Flu (birds) and Spanish Flu (poultry).
Speaking to the Metro newspaper, PBHP founder and Consultant Haematologist at King’s College Hospital, Shireen Kassam, said that another disease outbreak was “inevitable if we do not move towards a plant-based diet”.
In the UK, demand for cheap meat has fuelled a huge expansion of factory farming – a controversial process that often sees thousands of animals being packed into small, unsanitary cages.
This “provides the perfect conditions for the generation of novel infections with epidemic and pandemic potential” as well as necessitating the widespread use of antibiotics in animals, “contributing to a crisis in antibiotic resistance among humans”, Kassam said.
“The last 100 years has shown that pandemics will continue unless we change the way we eat and how our food is produced.
“Disease is spread predominantly through confinement, we don’t have the land capacity to feed the 8 billion people on this planet free range.
“We are in this race to find an antiviral, but other than HIV, there are very few viruses where there are very effective drugs available. (A vaccine) isn’t just going to save our problems, there is a risk of a mutation that could come back in a few years.
“We need to learn from our mistakes. We need to change our land use to grow beans and legumes, we need a system change,” she told the newspaper.
Poor diets are the main cause of chronic health conditions in adults in the UK, while pre-existing health conditions such as obesity and diabetes are seen as risk factors in catching COVID-19, which has infected 252,246 peopled and killed 36,124 in the country so far.
Research from the University of Oxford last year found foods with the largest negative environmental impacts such as unprocessed and processed red meat, were linked with the largest increases in disease risk, while foods associated with improved health (whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and some vegetable oils high in unsaturated fats, such as olive oil) have among the lowest environmental impacts. (IANS)