Sunday December 17, 2017

Now Rats may help in Detecting Tuberculosis

The rats learn to recognize the presence of TB in samples of mucus that is coughed up from the patient's lower airways.

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Rats and treatment of Tuberculosis
FILE - An African Giant Pouch rat is seen before a training session where the rats will learn to detect tuberculosis (TB) at a laboratory in Sokoine University for Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania, Jan. 31, 2006. VOA

London, November 16,2017:

Giant rats are probably not the first thing that come to mind to tackle tuberculosis but scientists hope their sniffing skills will speed up efforts to detect the deadly disease in major cities across the world.

Tuberculosis, which is curable and preventable, is one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), killing 1.7 million people in 2016 and infecting 10.4 million others.

African Giant Pouched Rats, trained by Belgian charity APOPO, are known for sniffing out landmines in countries from Angola to Cambodia and for detecting TB cases in East Africa.

Over the next few years, APOPO plans to fight tuberculosis at the source by launching TB-detection rat facilities in major cities of 30 high-risk countries including Vietnam, India and Nigeria.

Rats can play a role in containing Tuberculosis
Dr. Simon Angelo (L) examines Iman Steven suffering from tuberculosis, held by her mother (R) at the hospital of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), June 15, 2016, at the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal, South Sudan. VOA

“One of the best ways to fight TB at source is in major cities that draw a lot of people from the rural areas,” James Pursey, APOPO spokesman, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It is a vicious circle. You can be reinfected. To fight TB, you have to hit it hard,” he said by phone from Zimbabwe.

Many people get infected in big, densely populated cities and spread the disease to rural areas, according to Pursey.

The rats learn to recognize the presence of TB in samples of mucus that is coughed up from the patient’s lower airways.

In Tanzania, people in communities where TB is most common, including in prisons, often fail to show up for screening because of a lack of money or awareness, placing a huge burden on health authorities, health experts said.

“TB is a disease of poverty,” said Pursey. “If nothing changes it can only get worse.”

The APOPO has seen the TB detection rate increase by 40 percent in clinics it has worked with in Tanzania and Mozambique, according to Pursey, who said that using rats to screen did not negate the need for proper diagnostic testing.

While a technician may take four days to detect a case of TB, a trained rat can screen 100 samples in 20 minutes, and a rat screening costs as little as 20 US cents, APOPO said.

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WHO launches a new global effort to end TB by 2030

The announcement was made in the Global Ministerial Conference in Moscow.

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WHO will start working towards ending Tuberculosis
Dr. Simon Angelo (L) examines Iman Steven suffering from tuberculosis, held by her mother (R) at the hospital of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), June 15, 2016, at the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal, South Sudan. VOA

Delegates from 114 countries have agreed to take urgent action to end tuberculosis (TB) by 2030, the WHO said.

The announcement on Friday came as the delegates gathered in Moscow for the first WHO global ministerial conference on ending tuberculosis, Xinhua news agency reported.

The delegates promised to achieve strengthen health systems and improve access to the people regarding TB prevention and care so that no one is left behind.

They also agreed to mobilize sufficient and sustainable financing through increased domestic and international investments to close gaps in implementation and research.

Resources are expected to advance research and development of new tools to diagnose, treat and prevent TB, and to build accountability through a framework to track and review progress on ending TB.

“Today marks a critical landmark in the fight to end TB,” said World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“It signals a long overdue global commitment to stop the death and suffering caused by this ancient killer.”

Though global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 53 million lives since 2000 and reduced the TB mortality rate by 37 per cent, progress in many countries has stalled, global targets are off-track and persistent gaps remain in TB care and prevention, according to the WHO.

As a result, TB still kills more people than any other infectious disease. Due to its antimicrobial resistance, TB is also the leading killer of people with HIV.

Representatives at the meeting, which was attended by over 1,000 participants, also promised to minimize the risk and spread of drug resistance and do more to engage people and communities affected by or at risk of TB. (IANS)

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Viral hepatitis Caused 1.34 mn Deaths Globally: Study

Viral hepatitis was found to be amongst the top ten leading global killers

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Viral hepatitis
World Health Organization poster for Hepatitis Campaign. VOA

London, Sep 16, 2017: Viral hepatitis with 1.34 million deaths globally has surpassed all chronic infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, according to a study by Global Burden of Disease.

The study reveals that in 2016, the total deaths caused by viral hepatitis, including liver cancer, acute cases, cirrhosis, hepatitis A, E, B, C and D account for 1.34 million globally, exceeding tuberculosis (1.2 million), HIV/AIDS (1 million) and malaria (719,000).

These staggering death rates occurred despite recent advances in hepatitis C medications that can cure most infections within three months and the availability of highly-effective vaccinations for hepatitis B.

“It’s outrageous, but not surprising, that the Global Burden of Disease Report found that deaths related to viral hepatitis have surpassed HIV, TB and malaria” said Charles Gore, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance — a not-for profit organisation based in London.

“This is largely due to a historic lack of political prioritisation coupled with an absent global funding mechanism,” Gore added, in the paper published in the journal the Lancet.

Further, viral hepatitis was found to be amongst the top ten leading global killers which include heart disease, road accidents, Alzheimer’s disease, amongst others.

Also Read: WHO Calls for stepped up action to Eliminate Hepatitis B and C by 2030 

If this trend has to be reversed, immediate action must be taken at both a regional and national level, said the report, while suggesting measures such as scaling up testing and diagnosis.

Viral hepatitis is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus and only 5 per cent of people living with the disease are aware of their conditions there are only few noticeable symptoms.

As a result, many people are either misdiagnosed or do not come forward for testing, increasing the chance of infecting others and missing the opportunity to access life-saving treatment.

Reducing hepatitis related deaths by 65 per cent by 2030 is a key component of the World Health Organization’s Global Hepatitis Strategy.

The strategy, which was adopted by 194 governments, sets out a list of key targets, which, if achieved, will eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. (IANS)

 

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Integrate National Plans to Eliminate TB by 2030: WHO

The WHO South East Asia Region includes India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, North Korea, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste

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India TB Outreach Work
A TB patient hopeful of being cured in India. Wikimedia

New Delhi, Sep 11, 2017: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has told the South East Asian countries to integrate their national plans and mobilise and utilise resources efficiently to reach the Tuberculosis elimination target of 2030, a statement said on Sunday.

The WHO South East Asia Region includes India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, North Korea, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Also Read: Malnutrition makes children susceptible to Tuberculosis: Experts 

The global health body said that there is a need for countries to identify the package of interventions best suited to their challenges — whether that means focusing on strengthening TB services, accelerating case detection or investing in research and development.

“All countries face unique challenges, meaning they should each adapt the regional and global strategies to their context,” said a statement issued by the WHO’s South East Asia Region Office.

“We must avoid taking one-size-fits-all approach, and must instead seek out and embrace tailored solutions that meet specific needs and challenges.”

The five-day 70th Regional Committee Session of WHO South East Asia Region concluded in Male on Sunday.

According to the global health body, by planning effectively and making smart, high-impact interventions, countries across the Southeast Asia Region can lift TB’s significant burden and end the disease as a public health threat once and for all.

Although the region accounts for approximately one quarter of the world’s population, it has nearly half the number of new TB cases and close to 40 per cent of TB deaths globally.

In recognition of TB’s outsized burden, accelerating progress towards the 2030 target — which requires a 90 per cent reduction in TB deaths and 80 per cent decrease in TB incidence — is now one of WHO South-East Asia Region’s flagship priority areas of work. (IANS)