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Poor quality medicines putting the lives of pregnant women at risk
on 10th July 2020 at 6:03 pm
Good-quality medicines, given at the right time, can save the lives of pregnant and recently pregnant women and their newborn babies. New evidence synthesis reveals however, that in many health-care settings across the world, women with life-threatening maternal complications are given poor quality medicines – putting their lives and well-being at grave risk.The systematic review, authored by staff at WHO Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research including HRP, and collaborators published in PLOS ONE, shows that in many low- and middle-income countries, low-quality medicines are used to manage life-threatening maternal conditions. Maternal mortalityIt is both tragic and unacceptable that so many women, particularly those living in low- and middle-income countries continue to die from causes related to health complications related to pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. The most recent estimates showed that every day in 2017, approximately 810 women died from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Preventable with the right treatmentFrequent life-threatening maternal complications include post-partum haemorrhage, pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, and sepsis. With timely and effective care and medications, any serious repercussions caused by these complications can often be avoided. Uterotonics (drugs used to stop bleeding, particularly for postpartum haemorrhage) such as oxytocin, are effective in preventing post-partum haemorrhage. Antibiotics administered during labour or after birth can prevent or treat sepsis for both women and their newborn babies. And magnesium sulphate can help to prevent and/ or treat eclampsia. These are medical options that are both affordable and effective. “Out of specification” and poor-quality drugsThere are growing concerns about the negative impact upon health of substandard and falsified medicines (also known as “out of specification” drugs) particularly in low- and middle-income countries. The new systematic review shows, however, that in many health-care settings in low- and middle-income countries, poor quality versions of these drugs are often provided. The findings suggest that this problem could contribute to the persistence of the high numbers of severe complications and deaths caused by pos partum haemorrhage, eclampsia, and sepsis in low- and middle- income countries. The new study showed that nearly half (48.9%) of all uterotonic drugs sampled failed quality assessments. 1 in 7 injectable antibiotic samples (13%) and 1 in 29 magnesium sulphate samples (3.4%) were of low quality.Nearly half of the samples assessed were collected since 2011, indicating that this is an issue of current global concern that requires immediate attention. The study also looked at differences in quality of medicines between the private and public sector, and found that in general, higher failure rates were in the private sector. This finding underlines the crucial need for national procurement bodies or private providers to procure medications that adhere to WHO prequalification, or similar stringent requirements. Quality and dignityEvery woman has the right to quality care before, during and following pregnancy and childbirth. The informed provision of good quality medicines, at the right time, is crucial for ensuring high quality and dignified care for women and their newborn babies.Health-care providers need also to be able to access good quality medicines in order to properly care for women. They should also receive proper training in how and when to administer these drugs. This is crucial as they work to uphold the Hippocratic oath of ‘do no harm’. Mariana Widmer, a Scientist at WHO and HRP, and an author of the paper reflects, “Health care workers need to be able to know they are truly caring for women, and treating any health complications of pregnancy and childbirth effectively. We need to ensure they receive training to provide medications, and that medications are always good quality.
WHO and partners to help more than 1 billion people quit tobacco to reduce risk of COVID-19
on 10th July 2020 at 2:40 pm
GENEVA — A new Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco aims to help the world’s 1.3 billion tobacco users quit. Stopping smoking is more important than ever as evidence reveals that smokers are more likely than non-smokers to have severe outcomes from COVID-19.The project gives people free access to nicotine replacement therapy and to Florence, a digital health worker, based on artificial intelligence that dispels myths around COVID-19 and tobacco and helps people develop a personalized plan to quit tobacco. It is being led by the World Health Organization (WHO), together with the UN Interagency Task Force on Non-communicable Diseases, PATH and the Coalition for Access to NCD Medicines and Products, with support from the private sector.The Secretariat of the WHO FCTC, salutes this initiative. The Head of the Convention Secretariat commented, “This will contribute to Parties’ implementation of Article 14 of the Convention, regarding measures concerning tobacco dependence and cessation. And, as previously said: there has never been a more appropriate time to support people in their efforts to quit tobacco use.”Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion said that, “We welcome the support of pharmaceutical and tech companies to improve people’s health and save lives during COVID-19. The partnership highlights what we can achieve when we work together both to end the pandemic and, moving forward, to build back better.”WHO received its first-ever donation of nicotine replacement therapies for the project from Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health. The manufacturer has donated 37,800 nicotine patches to help 5,400 people in Jordan quit smoking. These efforts will help WHO respond to the ongoing pandemic and improve health outcomes.Florence was created with technology developed by San Francisco and New Zealand based Digital People company Soul Machines, with support from Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud.Jordan, which has some of the highest tobacco use rates in the world, will be the first pilot country with additional companies and countries to join in discussion. HRH Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, President for the International Union of Cancer Control said, “I am pleased that Jordan is part of this initiative, which will help advocate for tobacco control and support civil society organizations in their continued efforts for a healthier smoke-free future for Jordan.”Just last week the Government of Jordan adopted a ban on smoking and vaping indoors in public places. The link between smoking and COVID-19 make it essential for governments to pass comprehensive tobacco control laws that will protect the health of their people during this pandemic and beyond.Although around 60% of tobacco users worldwide say they want to quit, only 30% of them have access to the tools that can help them do so The Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco is designed to deliver tobacco cessation services that will help people overcome both physical and mental addictions to tobaccoInfographic(click on image to download infographic in PDF)
Study estimates more than one million Indians died from snakebite envenoming over past two decades
on 10th July 2020 at 10:40 am
India is among the countries most dramatically affected by snakebite and accounts for almost half the total number of annual deaths in the world. Authors of the article entitled ‘Trends in snakebite mortality in India from 2000 to 2019 in a nationally representative mortality study’ analysed 2,833 snakebite deaths from 611,483 verbal autopsies from an earlier study1 and conducted a systematic literature review from 2000-2019 covering 87,590 snake bites.The authors estimated that India had 1.2 million snakebite deaths (representing an average of 58,000 per year) from 2000 to 2019 with nearly half of the victims aged 30-69 and over a quarter being children under 15.People living in densely populated low altitude agricultural areas in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh (which includes Telangana, a recently defined state), Rajasthan and Gujarat, suffered 70% of deaths during the period 2001-2014, particularly during the rainy season when encounters between snakes and humans are more frequent at home and outdoors.Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii) (Figure 1), kraits (Bungarus species) and cobras (Naja species; Figure 2) are among the most important biting snake species in India, yet other often unidentified species also represent a threat. Figure 1: Russel’s Viper Figure 2: Speckled Cobra in a field near an (Source: David Williams/WHO) agricultural worker. (Source: Ben Owens)The World Health Organization (WHO) has set the target of reducing by half the number of deaths due to snakebite envenoming by 2030 and India’s efforts to prevent and control this disease will largely influence this global target. “Since deaths are restricted mainly to lower altitude, intensely agricultural areas, during a single season of each year, this should make the annual epidemics easier to manage. India’s tremendous snakebite burden is staring us in the face and we need to act now” said Romulus Whitaker of the Centre for Herpetology/Madras Crocodile Bank. “Targeting these areas with education about simple methods, such as ‘snake-safe’ harvest practices, wearing rubber boots and gloves and using rechargeable torches (or mobile phone flashlights) could reduce the risk of snakebites.”Need for more nationwide epidemiological studies in snakebite endemic countriesAdditional nationally representative studies together with increasing mapping resolution and multi-sourced data granularity, including both hospital-based mortality and morbidity data including those collected at the community level, are needed for more targeted and effective public health interventions in other snakebite endemic countries.The authors also noted that the Government of India’s official declaration of snakebite deaths in public hospitals during the period 2003 to 2015 was only 15,500, one tenth of the 154,000 snakebite deaths detected during this same period by the MDS from public and private hospitals.“Our study directly quantified and identified the populations most affected by fatal snakebites in India. We showed that the overall lifetime risk of being killed by snakebite is about 1 in 250, but in some areas, the lifetime risk reaches 1 in 100” said Prabhat Jha, Director of the Centre for Global Health Research at the University of Toronto, Canada. “Ongoing direct measurement of mortality at local levels is key to achieving WHO’s global roadmap.”To repair this gross under-reporting, the authors recommend that the Government of India designate and enforce snakebite as a ‘Notifiable Disease’ within the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program. Accurate snakebite data are essential if the Government of India’s strategies to reduce snakebite deaths are to succeed. 1Snakebite Mortality in India: A Nationally Representative Mortality Survey published in PLoS in 2011 and based on the Indian Million Death Study estimated 46,000 annual deaths caused by snakebite in India.
Addressing the crisis in antibiotic development
on 9th July 2020 at 3:49 pm
Today, more than 20 leading biopharmaceutical companies are announcing the launch of the AMR Action Fund that will invest in developing innovative antibacterial treatments. The Fund aims to bring 2-4 new treatments to patients by 2030. This initiative is a significant step towards addressing the current crisis in antibacterial treatment development.“AMR is a slow tsunami that threatens to undo a century of medical progress” highlighted Dr Tedros, Director General of the WHO at the launch event in Berlin. “I very much welcome this new engagement of the private sector in the development of urgently-needed antibacterial treatments. WHO looks forward to working with the AMR Action Fund to accelerate research to address this public health crisis.”The AMR Action Fund is the result of collaboration among major pharmaceutical companies, the European Investment Bank (EIB), Wellcome Trust and WHO. Since 2018, WHO and the EIB have been advancing an overall concept for an impact investment fund to support the development of antibacterial treatment for public health priorities. This concept was presented and discussed in several international fora including at the Biocom AMR Conference, the World Health Summit in Berlin, and the World AMR Congress in Washington. In 2019, a financial model was developed to assess the risks, success rates and the potential financial return of investment in new antibacterial treatments. WHO then played a catalytic role in bringing together the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations, the EIB and Wellcome Trust, providing critical input on the public health priorities and the investment strategy of the AMR Action Fund.Recent bankruptcies have shown how small antibiotics companies struggle to survive in the current market environment. The process of getting new drugs to market is cost intensive as new antibacterial treatments have to be underpinned with rigorous data that are derived from a series of complex and costly clinical trials to demonstrate their advantages over existing treatment regimens.The AMR Action Fund will invest, through equity or debt, in small companies developing innovative antibacterial treatments that target existing public health priorities. The annual reviews conducted by WHO of both the preclinical and clinical antibiotic pipeline, together with the recently published target product profiles for missing treatments, will provide detailed guidance in this regard. The WHO review of the clinical antibiotic pipeline identifies a number of potential investment candidates. Currently, there are only 32 antibacterial treatments, in clinical development, targeting the WHO’s list of priority pathogens and of these, only 6 fulfil at least one of the innovation criteria as defined by WHO. The latest WHO review of the preclinical pipeline revealed that new and innovative approaches are emerging in the development of antibacterial agents; of the 252 antibacterial agents that were in preclinical development, over one-third were non-traditional products. The next WHO clinical pipeline review will expand to include non-traditional products such as phages and other new innovative approaches to overcome antibacterial resistance. “Investment to ensure promising antibacterial treatments successfully move through to market is a critical step in tackling AMR,” said Dr Haileyesus Getahun, Director of the Department of Global Coordination and Partnership on AMR at WHO. ‘’WHO stands ready to support the AMR Action Fund in its focus on public health priorities and innovative new antibacterial treatments.’’ While the AMR Action Fund is an important step in addressing the challenge of AMR, it will only partly compensate for the rapidly diminishing flow of investment from the private sector and from public funding. Partnerships like the AMR Action Fund, CARB-X and the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP), bring together relevant stakeholders and play a crucial synergistic role in improving the current pipeline of antibacterial treatments. GARDP, a foundation that was set up by WHO and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) to develop new treatments for drug-resistant infections posing the greatest threat to public health, is playing an important role in mobilizing more funding from both public and private sectors for public health priorities. GARDP recently partnered with a small company on an innovative beta-lactamase inhibitor that works against serious multidrug resistant bacterial infections. The launch of the AMR Action Fund represents an important step towards revitalizing antibacterial drug development and also creates the opportunity to address the much needed reforms of the current procurement and reimbursement systems for new treatments.
Independent evaluation of global COVID-19 response announced
on 9th July 2020 at 1:40 pm
WHO Director-General today announced the initiation of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR) to evaluate the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.In remarks to WHO Member States, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Panel will be co-chaired by former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark and former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Prime Minister Clark went to on lead the United Nations Development Programme and President Sirleaf is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.Operating independently, they will choose other Panel members as well as members of an independent secretariat to provide support. “Prime Minister Clark and President Sirleaf were selected through a process of broad consultation with Member States and world experts. I cannot imagine two more strong-minded, independent leaders to help guide us through this critical learning process.” said Dr. Tedros in his speech.At the historic 73rd World Health Assembly in May, Member States adopted a landmark resolution that called on WHO to initiate an independent and comprehensive evaluation of the lessons learned from the international health response to COVID-19.“This is a time for self-reflection, to look at the world we live in and to find ways to strengthen our collaboration as we work together to save lives and bring this pandemic under control,” said Dr Tedros. “The magnitude of this pandemic, which has touched virtually everyone in the world, clearly deserves a commensurate evaluation.” Dr Tedros proposed that a Special Session of the Executive Board be called in September to discuss the Panel’s progress. In November the Panel will present an interim report at the resumption of the World Health Assembly.In January 2021, the Executive Board will hold its regular session, where the Panel’s work will be further discussed; and in May of next year, at the World Health Assembly, the panel will present its substantive report.The Director-General noted that the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme will also continue its existing work.“Even as we fight this pandemic, we must be readying ourselves for future global outbreaks and the many other challenges of our time such as antimicrobial resistance, inequality and the climate crisis,” said Dr Tedros. “COVID-19 has taken so much from us. But it is also giving us an opportunity to break with the past and build back better.”
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Cold Sores: Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
by Mark Burhenne, DDS on 11th July 2020 at 1:07 am
Cold sores, or “fever blisters”, are painful blisters that form on the face, usually near the lips. They’re caused by one of the most common viral infections in the world. According to the CDC, nearly 50% of people have at least one cold sore outbreak every year. You can’t cure cold sores permanently, but certain… The post Cold Sores: Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments appeared first on Ask the Dentist.
Dental Sealants: What are they, are they safe, and do they work?
by Staci Whitman, DMD on 21st May 2020 at 9:11 pm
What are dental sealants? Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that seal over the narrow grooves found on the chewing surfaces of back teeth (molars and premolars). When placed perfectly on these deep pits, sealants can prevent a significant amount of tooth decay (cavities) by protecting sensitive tooth surfaces from acid that causes cavities. Sealants… The post Dental Sealants: What are they, are they safe, and do they work? appeared first on Ask the Dentist.
Dental Cavitations: Definition, Facts, & Myths
by Alvin Danenberg, DDS on 10th April 2020 at 5:42 pm
Have you heard of dental cavitations? They can be big problems in your jawbone, but you may never know you have one. What are dental cavitations? There’s a lot of misinformation out there about dental cavitations. Some patients have been “led astray” because their doctors have misdiagnosed a dental cavitation. Also, the fact that two… The post Dental Cavitations: Definition, Facts, & Myths appeared first on Ask the Dentist.
Bacteria, Mitochondria, & Periodontal Disease
by Alvin Danenberg, DDS on 27th March 2020 at 9:00 pm
Being a periodontist who wants to tell a story, I’ll get into mitochondria’s influence on periodontal disease. Do you like science fiction? I’ve got a story to tell you that sounds like a simulating SciFi movie. My trailer to the movie would talk about the invasion of bacteria into an entity that eventually becomes a… The post Bacteria, Mitochondria, & Periodontal Disease appeared first on Ask the Dentist.
Scientific Meeting » Webinar: Understanding and Addressing Trauma and Violence in HIV Prevention and Treatment
by National Institute of Mental Health on 16th July 2020 at 4:00 am
Exposure to trauma and violence are associated with higher rates of HIV infection, as well as poorer HIV treatment outcomes. To date, there are few evidence-based interventions that address trauma or violence that have been shown to improve either HIV prevention or treatment outcomes. This webinar will focus on different intervention approaches that the speakers have utilized to address this gap in the literature.
Science News » Outdoor Light Linked with Teens’ Sleep and Mental Health
by Anna Mikulak on 8th July 2020 at 4:00 am
A large-scale study of U.S. teens shows associations between outdoor, artificial light at night and health outcomes.
Blog Post » NIH One Step Closer to Speeding Delivery of COVID-19 Testing Technologies to Those Who Need It Most Through RADx-UP
by Joshua Gordon on 24th June 2020 at 4:00 am
In this message, Dr. Gordon joins with 10 other NIH Institute Directors to spotlight NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative — a national call for scientists and organizations to advance their innovative ideas for new COVID-19 testing approaches and strategies.
Blog Post » Racism and Mental Health Research: Steps Toward Equity
by Joshua Gordon on 19th June 2020 at 4:00 am
In this Director’s message, Dr. Gordon describes NIMH efforts to address mental health disparities and ensure an effective and inclusive workforce for mental health research.
Science News » Brain Cells Can Harbor and Spread HIV Virus to the Body
by Claire Cole on 11th June 2020 at 4:00 am
Researchers funded by NIMH have found that astrocytes, a type of brain cell, can harbor HIV and then spread the virus to immune cells that traffic out of the brain and into other organs.
Are Cold Showers Good For You? An Unlikely Immunity Booster!
by Oswaldo Flores on 20th May 2020 at 3:00 pm
For many of us, cold showers are an unpleasant mishap on a routine day. When you hear a shout of “THERE’S NO HOT WATER!” coming from the bathroom, it usually isn’t a good thing. But it may be time to rethink that knee-jerk reaction. If you are wondering if cold showers are good for you, read on. It turns out that cold showers offer a wealth of health benefits: they boost your immune system, improve circulation, lift your mood, ease muscle tension, and give you a big boost of energy! The post Are Cold Showers Good For You? An Unlikely Immunity Booster! appeared first on Dr. Group’s Healthy Living Articles.
Elderberry & the Immune System: A Powerful Combination
by Oswaldo Flores on 18th May 2020 at 3:00 pm
Every once in a while, an herbal remedy works so well that even the most skeptical experts sit up and take notice. Such has been the case with elderberry (Sambucus nigra). From ancient times, people have used elderberry for the immune system. This plant has a long history of traditional use backed by solid scientific evidence. With its abundant phytochemicals, many experts consider it a superfood. Richard K., a Wisconsin-based pharmacist who specializes in integrative healing, has witnessed the wonders of elderberry many times over the years. “I grew up The post Elderberry & the Immune System: A Powerful Combination appeared first on Dr. Group’s Healthy Living Articles.
Delicious Body-Nourishing Immunity-Support Bowl Recipe
by Oswaldo Flores on 13th May 2020 at 3:00 pm
If you want comfort food that’s good for you, look no further. This delicious everything bowl contains sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrot, and spinach on brown rice with ginger-miso dressing. It’s not only comforting but also super nutritious! Packed with immune-boosting vitamins, like A, B-6 (pyridoxine), C, and E, as well as minerals like zinc and selenium, this bowl will leave you feeling nourished to the core. Pumpkin seeds and hemp seed hearts add a dash of calcium and iron, and the spices used — turmeric, garlic, paprika, and pepper — The post Delicious Body-Nourishing Immunity-Support Bowl Recipe appeared first on Dr. Group’s Healthy Living Articles.
Lift Your Mood! 16 Natural Mood Enhancers
by Oswaldo Flores on 11th May 2020 at 3:00 pm
Some days, you wake up feeling energetic, happy, and positive about the day ahead. Others, you may wake up on the wrong side of the bed, feeling irritable and blue with low energy. You might think, “I’m not at my best,” and do what you can to get through it. Whether it’s work or family or financial woes causing stress, there are natural mood-enhancing supplements you can take to help. Taking care of your mental health is as important as caring for your physical health and well-being. Mood-enhancing supplements are The post Lift Your Mood! 16 Natural Mood Enhancers appeared first on Dr. Group’s Healthy Living Articles.
Zinc & Testosterone: How This Mineral Boosts Libido & More
by Maddy Rodriguez on 6th May 2020 at 3:00 pm
Is there a connection between zinc and testosterone? Consider the case of sales manager Tom P. from Milwaukee, WI. As his 50th birthday approached, Tom felt a mixture of pride and concern. He was in the best shape of his life thanks to regular sweat sessions at the gym and a plant-based diet. He was at the top of his game professionally. Yet something wasn’t quite right. Tom was getting sick a lot. He didn’t have much of an appetite. He had a cut on his hand that was taking The post Zinc & Testosterone: How This Mineral Boosts Libido & More appeared first on Dr. Group’s Healthy Living Articles.
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