Friday January 24, 2020

Myth Of Refugees Transmitting Disease In Europe Busted

The report says refugees and migrants are more affected by depression and anxiety than host populations

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Sub-Saharan migrants aiming to cross to Europe take shelter in a forest overlooking the neighborhood of Masnana, on the outskirts of Tangier, Morocco, Sept. 5, 2018. (VOA)

A new report by the World Health Organization disputes a belief that refugees and migrants bring exotic communicable diseases into the European region.

The report is based on evidence from more than 13,000 documents. It provides a snapshot of the health of refugees and migrants who comprise about 10 percent of the nearly 1 billion population in 53 European countries.

The survey finds migrants and refugees are generally in good health, but, due to poor living conditions, they risk falling ill while in transit or while staying in receiving countries. The report says contrary to common perception, the risk of refugees and migrants transmitting communicable diseases to their host population is very low.

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Europe is the only one among WHO’s six regions where HIV is prevalent . VOA

The WHO regional director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab, tells VOA displacement itself makes refugees and migrants more vulnerable to infectious diseases.

“The refugees and migrants who come to Europe, they do not bring any exotic diseases with them, any exotic communicable diseases,” said Jakab. “The diseases that they might have, they are all well-established diseases in Europe. And also, we have very good prevention and control programs for these diseases. This applies both for tuberculosis, but also HIV-AIDS.”

Europe is the only one among WHO’s six regions where HIV is prevalent and increasing, especially in the east. Jakab says a significant proportion of migrants and refugees who are HIV-positive acquire the infection after they arrive in Europe.

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WHO considers it critically important that European countries provide quality and affordable health care for all refugees and migrants. VOA

The report finds refugees and migrants seem to have fewer noncommunicable diseases on arrival than their host populations; but, it notes the longer they stay in the countries in conditions of poverty, their risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke and cancer increases.

Also Read: European Union Agrees To Cut Greenhouse Gases Emission

The report says refugees and migrants are more affected by depression and anxiety than host populations. It says unaccompanied minors are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and suffer from higher rates of depression and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

WHO considers it critically important that European countries provide quality and affordable health care for all refugees and migrants, regardless of their legal status. Providing universal health coverage, it says, would significantly improve the well-being of both the displaced and host populations. (VOA)

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This New Device Helps in Capturing and Identifying Virus

New device to capture and identify viruses developed

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Virus device
Researchers have developed a fast and inexpensive handheld device that can capture virus. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Researchers have developed a device to quickly capture and identify various strains of virus.

“We have developed a fast and inexpensive handheld device that can capture viruses based on size,” said study researcher Mauricio Terrones from Penn State University.

“Our device uses arrays of nanotubes engineered to be comparable in size to a wide range of viruses. We then use Raman spectroscopy to identify the viruses based on their individual vibration,” Terrones added.

This device, called a VIRRION, has a wide range of possible uses. For farmers, for example, early detection of a virus in the field can save an entire crop. Early detection of a virus in livestock can save a herd from illness. Humans also will benefit by the detection of viruses in minutes rather than in days with current methods.

According to the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, because of its size and low cost, such a device would be useful in every doctor’s office as well as in remote locations when disease outbreaks occur.

virus device
The device uses arrays of nanotubes engineered to be comparable in size to a wide range of viruses. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Currently, virologists estimate that 1.67 million unknown viruses are in animals, a number of which can be transmitted to humans. Known viruses, such as H5N1, Zika and Ebola have caused widespread illness and death.

The World Health Organisation states that early detection can halt virus spread by enabling rapid deployment of countermeasures. “Most current techniques require large and expensive pieces of equipment,” Terrones said.

“The VIRRION is a few centimeters across. We add gold nanoparticles to enhance the Raman signal so that we are able to detect the virus molecule in very low concentrations. We then use machine learning techniques to create a library of virus types,” Terrones added.

According to the researchers, the VIRRION enables the rapid enrichment of virus particles from any type of sample — environmental or clinical — which jump-starts viral characterisation. This has applications in virus emergence, virus discovery and in diagnosis.

“We synthesized a gradient of aligned carbon nanotube forest arrays to capture different viruses according to their size and detect them in-situ using Raman spectroscopy,” said study lead author Ying-Ting Yeh.

Also Read- Know the Difference between Parkinson’s Disease and Bipolar Disorder

“We designed and assembled a portable platform that enriches virus particles from several milliliters of clinical samples in a couple of minutes,” Ting Yeh added.

“We hope to use this device for the capture and sequencing of single virions, giving us a much better handle on the evolution of the virus in real time,” said Elodie Ghedin from New York University. (IANS)