The 2019 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: ensuring that the health of a child born today is not defined by a changing climate
Nick Watts, MA et al.,
The Lancet Countdown is an international, multidisciplinary collaboration, dedicated to monitoring the evolving health profile of climate change, and providing an independent assessment of the delivery of commitments made by governments worldwide under the Paris Agreement. A child born today will experience a world that is more than four degrees warmer than the pre-industrial average, with climate change impacting human health from infancy and adolescence to adulthood and old age. Across the world, children are among the worst affected by climate change. Downward trends in global yield potential for all major crops tracked since 1960 threaten food production and food security, with infants often the worst affected by the potentially permanent effects of undernutrition (indicator 1.5.1). Children are among the most susceptible to diarrhoeal disease and experience the most severe effects of dengue fever. Trends in climate suitability for disease transmission are particularly concerning, with 9 of the 10 most suitable years for the transmission of dengue fever on record occurring since 2000 (indicator 1.4.1). Similarly, since an early 1980s baseline, the number of days suitable for Vibrio (a pathogen responsible for part of the burden of diarrhoeal disease) has doubled, and global suitability for coastal Vibrio cholerae has increased by 9·9% (indicator 1.4.1).
Mosquito sterilization offers new opportunity to control chikungunya, dengue, and Zika
The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) is a form of insect birth control. The process involves rearing large quantities of sterilized male mosquitoes in dedicated facilities, and then releasing them to mate with females in the wild. As they do not produce any offspring, the insect population declines over time. “Half the world’s population is now at risk of dengue,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist. “And despite our best efforts, current efforts to control it are falling short. We desperately need new approaches and this initiative is both promising and exciting.” In recent decades, the incidence of dengue has increased dramatically due to environmental changes, unregulated urbanization, transport and travel, and insufficient sustainable vector control tools and their application.
Dengue fever cases rise, claiming 74 lives in Laos
Lao health authorities are advising people across the country to clear out potential mosquito breeding sites after dengue fever claimed 74 lives and more than 37,700 people have contracted the virus so far this year. The warning comes this week after more cases of dengue fever have been detected with most of the infections and deaths recorded in the capital Vientiane and the southern provinces of Laos, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Thursday. Director General of Lao National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology, Department of Communicable Disease Control, Onechanh Keosavanh, outlined authorities' concerns and measures to control and prevent dengue. Meanwhile, improvement of the diagnosis and treatment of dengue at provincial and district hospitals and dispensaries is essential to prevent unavoidable deaths, he said. "If you fall ill at this time of the year, you should consider the fact that dengue could be the likely cause. Please go to a hospital for a diagnosis as quickly as possible. Don't try to buy medicine at a pharmacy and take it at home," he advised.
Scientists move closer towards developing an effective malaria vaccine
Professor Denise Doolan from James Cook University’s Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) was part of an international team that narrowed down the malaria proteins and disease-fighting antibodies that could be used to develop a vaccine against severe malaria. “It’s the first time anyone has shown this – for years, researchers have thought that developing a malaria vaccine based on PfEMP1 would be virtually impossible, because the proteins are just so diverse,” Associate Professor Barry said. The team of collaborators – involving JCU, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) at Deakin University, and malaria experts from Papua New Guinea, France and the USA – collected hundreds of PfEMP1 proteins from malaria strains from children in PNG who had been naturally infected by the disease, made a custom protein microarray of those strains, and then examined serum samples to identify which of the many PfEMP1 variants were associated with protection. The research team managed to pinpoint which antibodies were most effective in fighting the most severe forms of malaria.
Inoculating against the spread of viral misinformation
The role of social media in giving a platform to unscientific anti-vaccine messages and organizations has become a flashpoint. Research calls attention to the threat of social media misinformation as it may contribute to increasing "vaccine hesitancy," which the World Health Organization ranks among the top threats to global health this year. This increasing reluctance or refusal to vaccinate threatens to reverse the progress made in halting vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, which has seen a 30% increase in cases globally. The research team, co-led by UMD's Dr. Sandra C. Quinn, GW's Dr. David Broniatowski and JHU's Dr. Mark Dredze, examined more than 500 vaccine-related ads served to Facebook users and archived in Facebook's Ad Library. This archive, which became available in late 2018, catalogued ad content related to "issues of national importance." Their findings reveal that the majority of advertisements (54%) which opposed vaccination, were posted by only two groups funded by private individuals, the World Mercury Project and Stop Mandatory Vaccination, and emphasized the purported harms of vaccination.
Optimising systemic insecticide use to improve malaria control
Hannah R Meredith et al.,
The review identified drugs from four classes commonly used in livestock and companion animals: avermectins, milbemycins, isoxazolines and spinosyns. Simulations predicted that isoxazolines and spinosyns are promising candidates for mass drug administration, as they were predicted to need less frequent application than avermectins and milbemycins to maintain mosquitocidal blood concentrations.
Algorithm-guided empirical tuberculosis treatment for people with advanced HIV (TB Fast Track): an open-label, cluster-randomised trial
Prof Alison D Grant, PhD et al.,
Tuberculosis, which is often undiagnosed, is the major cause of death among HIV-positive people. We aimed to test whether the use of a clinical algorithm enabling the initiation of empirical tuberculosis treatment by nurses in primary health-care clinics would reduce mortality compared with standard of care for adults with advanced HIV disease. Our intervention substantially increased coverage of tuberculosis treatment in this high-risk population, but did not reduce mortality. 930 (61·7%) of 1507 participants in the intervention group versus 172 (11·4%) of 1515 participants in the control group had started tuberculosis treatment by 2 months. At 6 months, the mortality rate was 19·0 deaths per 100 person-years for the intervention group versus 21·6 deaths per 100 person-years in the control group.
There's A Promising New Vaccine For One Of The World's Top Health Threats
A new vaccine to prevent dengue may be on the horizon. And health officials say it's desperately needed. The World Health Organization this year listed dengue as one of the top 10 threats to global health. The mosquito-borne disease is a growing threat for several reasons. First, the sheer number of dengue cases has been increasing dramatically in recent years. The WHO says there's been a 30-fold increase in infections since 1970. Last year nearly 100 million people came down with the disease. s Derek Wallace, who leads the Takeda Pharmaceutical Company think they're very close to having a marketable vaccine that could dramatically reduce the number of cases of the mosquito-borne disease. "We're thrilled with the results," Wallace says, about a large-scale study of a vaccine they're calling TAK-003. Staring in 2016, Takeda enrolled 20,000 people between the ages of 4 and 16 in a study of TAK-003. The vaccinations occurred at 26 sites in seven dengue-endemic countries. In results just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Wallace and his colleagues found TAK-003 to be 80% effective in preventing participants from getting dengue and 95% effective in preventing cases of severe dengue.
Korea pledges more support for health sector
The government of Korea has pledged to invest more in Ghana’s health sector, which remains a priority area of development assistance and cooperation between the two countries. Korean International Cooperation Agency had also collaborated with the US Centre for Disease Control, the Ministry of Health and the GHS for the implementation of a $7.5 million Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) project in Ghana last year, which was expected to end in 2021.
One Health in Action
An article in the current issue of the Veterinary Record (dated Saturday 2 November 2019) discusses ‘a new action report from the British Veterinary Association (BVA)’ that which focuses on ‘how One Health can work in the real world’. The article (Mills 2019) summarises a BVA report published to mark One Health Day (Sunday 3 November) and highlights ‘the integral part vets play in the One Health agenda’. The BVA report ‘aims to bring together experts from human and animal medicine, alongside environmental organisations to tackle pressing global issues, and has contributions from leading national organisations such as The Wildlife Trusts, the APHA, the Royal College of Nursing and the National Trust’.