Sunday November 19, 2017

World Health Organization (WHO) says Time to Stop Deaths of Young Children through Immunization and Programs

Dr. Anthony Costello, director of WHO's Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health told VOA, "We’re finding 1.2 million (adolescents) die each year. That’s 3,000 deaths a day. That’s 10 jumbo jets."

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FILE - Ana Garcia, center, fills out a form for her 13-year-old son, Jose Hernandez, before getting a Tdap shot outside Tustin High School in Tustin, Calif. Source-VOA

Washington, May 20, 2017: The World Health Organization has delivered dramatic news about the causes of death for young people the world over. Governments and health agencies have made great strides in reducing deaths of young children through immunization and programs that address maternal and infant care. But adolescents have somehow fallen through the cracks.

Dr. Anthony Costello, director of WHO’s Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health told VOA, “We’re finding 1.2 million (adolescents) die each year. That’s 3,000 deaths a day. That’s 10 jumbo jets.” What’s more, Costello says these deaths are largely preventable.

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The study shows traffic injuries are the top cause of death among adolescents, those between 10 and 19. In most cases, the adolescent is struck by a car while walking or riding a bicycle.

Other leading causes of death include lower respiratory infections and suicide, the report found. The causes differ by gender, age and region. Boys between 15 and 19 years old are more likely to die from traffic injuries than girls or than younger boys. In sub-Saharan Africa, children are more likely to contract HIV.

Girls between 10 and 14 are at risk for getting respiratory infections from indoor air pollution and from breathing in fumes from cooking fuels. Older girls, between 15 and 19, had a greater risk of death from pregnancy complications, childbirth or unsafe abortions. Teenage girls generally have small pelvises which lead to difficult labor.

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Costello said pregnant adolescent girls are also “more likely to get high blood pressure; they may be more vulnerable to bleeding, they may be more anemic. They may be in situations more vulnerable to malaria, to HIV.”

The point of the study that was conducted by the WHO and partners at other U.N. agencies and the World Bank.

Head of the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health at the World Health Organization(WHO) Dr Anthony Costello attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 2, 2016.

Head of the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health at the World Health Organization(WHO) Dr Anthony Costello attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 2, 2016.

Looking forward

While the study focuses on the causes of death, Costello said the point was to help develop a framework and a plan to improve the health of adolescents. If adolescents had access to good health services, education and social support, fewer young people would die. In the case of traffic related deaths, he said better traffic laws, speed limits, the use of seatbelts could save lives in countries that don’t have strict driving safety laws. Costello pointed out that “In India, for example, there are 90,000 deaths on the road each year; many of those are adolescents and children.”

Dr. Flavia Bustreo, the assistant director-general at WHO, said, “Adolescents have been entirely absent from national health plans for decades.” The report proposes changing these plans and trying to help adolescents develop healthy lifestyle habits.

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Costello said, “The roots of diabetes, of heart attacks, of strokes, of lung cancer, the root of that lies in the adolescent years, how the adolescents approach nutrition, and diet and exercise, whether they start to smoke or not, or abuse other substances.

Concept shift

Costello said countries need to create more adolescent friendly cities so adolescents have places to play, gather together safely and avoid gang violence.

“Governments have got to invest in young people,” Costello said, because “they’re the future. We mustn’t be afraid to involve children in designing their own environments, in coming up with creative ideas, in working with peer groups, and investing in things that will give them an exciting life without exposing them to long term risks that could be avoidable.”

A study published in The Lancet in April shows that improving the physical, mental and sexual health of adolescents could result in significant economic returns. The study contends that an investment of about $4.60 per person per year would yield more than 10 times as much in benefits to society. This study was conducted by researchers from Victoria University and the University of Melbourne along with the United Nations Populations Fund.

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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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Goodbye Holy Smoke, Vatican City bans Sale of Cigarettes

The Vatican, a tiny walled city-state surrounded by Rome, is one of the few states to ban smoking.

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The faithful gather in front of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. VOA

Vatican City, November 10, 2017 : Pope Francis has ordered a ban on the sale of cigarettes inside the Vatican from next year because of health concerns, a spokesman said on Thursday.

“The motive is very simple: the Holy See cannot be cooperating with a practice that is clearly harming the health of people,” spokesman Greg Burke said in a statement.

He cited World World Health Organization (WHO) statistics that smoking causes more than seven million deaths worldwide every year.

Cigarettes have been sold at a discounted price to Vatican employees and pensioners.

Vatican employees are allowed to buy five cartons of cigarettes a month. Many Italians ask their non-smoking friends who work in the Vatican to buy cigarettes for them because they cost much less than in Italy, where they are subject to heavy taxes.

Burke acknowledged that the sale of cigarettes has been a source of revenue for the Holy See, adding, “However, no profit can be legitimate if it is costing people their lives.”

The spokesman said the sale of large cigars would continue at least for the time being because the smoke is not inhaled.

The Vatican, a tiny walled city-state surrounded by Rome, is one of the few states to ban smoking. Bhutan, where smoking is deemed bad for one’s karma, banned the sale of tobacco in 2005. (VOA)

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Neurologists say rising air pollution can cause stroke among adults

The WHO states that 4.3 million people a year in India die from the exposure to household air pollution, which is among the highest in the world.

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Research bodies estimate that the number of fragments of dead cells in the bloodstream increase with higher levels of pollution. Pixabay

New Delhi, October 29, 2017 : As pollution levels deteriorate in the National Capital Region, health experts have warned that continuous exposure to polluted air has the potential to cause a stroke among adults.

Alhough it was earlier believed that pollution only increased the risk of heart problems, it also possesses the capability to damage inner linings of veins and arteries.

“In the current scenario, the situation is getting worse. Many young patients in the 30-40 age group suffer from stroke. We get around 2-3 patients almost every month. The number of young stroke patients has almost doubled as compared to last few years. Studies suggest major risk factors include soaring air pollution,” said Praveen Gupta, Director Neurology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.

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Research bodies estimate that the number of fragments of dead cells in the bloodstream increased with higher levels of pollution. Polluted environment promote stroke incidences more pervasively and at an earlier stage than previously thought.

Nearly 15 million people annually suffer a stroke worldwide, of which around six million die and five million are left with permanent disabilities such as loss of sight and speech, paralysis and confusion.

On the occasion of World Stroke Day, October 29, the experts emphasised that indoor air pollution caused by combustion of solid fuels is equally contributing to the stroke burden in the society.

On an average, the internal air pollution in Indian rural homes exceeds the World Health Organisation (WHO) norms by 20 times.

“Women inhaling the household fumes are at a 40 per cent higher risk of getting a stroke. The reason being the carbon monoxide and particulate matter from burning solid fuels tend to reduce the levels of HDL (high density lipoprotein). This in turn prevents the removal of LDL (low density lipoprotein) from the body leading to hardening of the arteries,” said Jaideep Bansal, head neurologist at Saroj Super Speciality Hospital.

He added that the rise in the levels of LDL, or harmful fat, thereby raises the risk of a clot, blocking blood supply to the brain and causing stroke.

More than 90 per cent of the global stroke burden is linked to modifiable risk factors, of which internal air pollution tops the list. Other preventable factors include hypertension, a diet low in fresh fruits and whole grain, outdoor air pollution, high BMI and smoking.

The WHO states that 4.3 million people a year in India die from the exposure to household air pollution, which is among the highest in the world.

According to surveys, over 30 crore people in India use the traditional stoves or open fires to cook or heat their homes with solid fuels (coal, wood, charcoal, crop waste).

Poor ventilation and such inefficient practices, especially in rural India, mean the smoke and ambient air in households exceeds the acceptable levels of fine particles by at least 100-fold.

According to neurologists, recognisable symptoms, known often as a ‘mini stroke’ will occur prior to getting a stroke attack which is often known as a mini-stroke.

“Though it lasts only for a minute but certainly indicates the onset of a major stroke attack within 48-72 hours. Delay in treatment can lead to loss of 2 million neurons each minute. This happens due to the fact that the blood flow to certain part of the brain is blocked by the clot formed due to inhalation of compound like carbon monoxide and particulate matter,” said Atul Prasad, Director and Senior Neurology Consultant at BLK Super Specialty Hospital. (IANS)