From Townsville to Tuvalu: health and climate change in Australia and the Asia Pacific region
Mason Littlejohn et al.,
Most people accept that climate change is transforming the global atmosphere and environment. Yet far fewer understand the significant impacts that climate and environmental change are having on human health. In the Asia Pacific region, climate change is raising sea levels, exacerbating the severity of natural disasters, reducing nutrition levels in food and increasing disease produced by unclean water. All present substantial risks for the health of humans, including Australians. This policy paper highlights evidence and case studies to show how climate and environmental change will affect human health in the Asia Pacific region. It provides proposals for how Australian governments - federal, state and local - might respond to this challenge, arguing that Australia’s aid, health and agricultural portfolios have an opportunity to develop policies that build resilience in our region to the impacts of climate change on human health. Such an approach would elevate Australia’s standing in the region. The benefits are also closer to home, in terms of reduced health risks, and improved political, health and economic security for Australians.
Overcoming the ‘tyranny of the urgent’: integrating gender into disease outbreak preparedness and response
This article contributes to discussions on the gender dimensions of disease outbreaks, and preparedness policies and responses, by providing a multi-level analysis of gender-related gaps, particularly illustrating how the failure to challenge gender assumptions and incorporate gender as a priority at the global level has national and local impacts. The implications of neglecting gender dynamics, as well as the potential of equity-based approaches to disease outbreak responses, is illustrated through a case study of the Social Enterprise Network for Development (SEND) Sierra Leone, a non-government organisation (NGO) based in Kailahun, during the Ebola outbreak.
Read the latest malaria elimination news and updates in the APMEN Newsletter, a bi-monthly compilation of stories from the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network.
Showcasing Animal Health through Performing Art
In support of the government’s public awareness agenda, Stephen Rudgard, FAO Representative in Indonesia stated, “We are pleased to present the achievements of the Ministry of Agriculture and FAO to strengthen food security by improving animal health through an awareness-raising theatre performance. Theatre can uniquely educate and entertain the public.”
World-first gathering showcased health security's past and future
More than 900 members of the global health security community gathered in Sydney to participate in the first international scientific conference on Global Health Security, organised by Associate Professor Kamradt-Scott and Associate Professor Rebecca Katz from Georgetown University. High-profile speakers included Australia’s Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt MP and representatives from the NSW Government, Peter Sands from the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, Assistant Director-General and Regional Directors from the World Health Organisation, leaders from several Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Médecins Sans Frontières, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many more. “Achieving global health security requires collaboration across disciplines, industries and seniority, and Associate Professor Katz and I are thrilled that our conference was able to bring together members of the global health security community for the first time to measure progress, determine gaps, and identify new opportunities to enhance national, regional and global health security” Dr Kamradt-Scott said.
Cambodia sees rise in dengue fever cases
Cambodia reported 13,000 cases of dengue fever from January to June 24, about five-fold rise over the same period last year, Huy Rekol, director of the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, said on Thursday. In a bid to control the outbreak of the virus, about 300 tons of Abate (a chemical substance used to put in water pots to kill larvae) has been handed out to households, he said, adding that health officials have also been spraying insecticide to target Aedes mosquitoes which are the carrier of the dengue virus. According to a health ministry report, there were 24,684 cases of dengue fever with 23 deaths last year compared with 6,372 cases with three deaths in 2017.
Climate warming could increase malaria risk in cooler regions
Malaria parasites develop faster in mosquitoes at lower temperatures than previously thought, according to researchers at Penn State and the University of Exeter. The findings suggest that even slight climate warming could increase malaria risk to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people—including travelers—in areas that are currently too cold for malaria parasites to complete their development. The researchers used two of the most important malaria-hosting mosquito species in the world—Anopheles stephensi and Anopheles gambiae—to conduct their experiments. They maintained these malaria-infected mosquitoes in the laboratory under a variety of temperatures ranging from 16 to 20 degrees Celsius, or 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. They maintained a separate control set of mosquitoes at 27 degrees Celsius, or about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature at which malaria transmission is typically highest. The traditional model estimates that parasites in the mosquito take 56 days to develop at temperatures just above the minimum threshold for development—a cool 18 degrees Celsius, or 64 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the current study shows that as few as 31 days are required for such development for Anopheles stephensi. The researchers also found that variation in temperature at this cooler end of the range promotes faster parasite development. Parasites developed in as few as 27 days at 18 degrees Celsius.
Malaria hijacks your genes to invade your liver
In the search for new weapons against malaria, most drug development has focused on the parasites that cause the disease. Duke University researchers are trying a different tack, instead of targeting the malaria parasite directly, the idea is to discover drugs aimed at the human cell machinery conscripted to do malaria's dirty work. In a new study, a team led by assistant professor of chemistry Emily Derbyshire has identified more than 100 human genes that malaria parasites commandeer to take up residence inside their victim's liver during the 'silent' earlier stages of infection, before symptoms appear. For this study, researchers used snippets of silencing RNA to trick human liver cells into tamping down each of roughly 7,000 protein-coding genes. Then they infected the liver cells with a mouse malaria parasite similar to the Plasmodium species that causes human malaria.
Bovine Tuberculosis—International Perspectives on Epidemiology and Management
Andrew W. Byrne, Adrian R. Allen, Daniel J. O'Brien and Michele A. Miller
Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) remains a prominent zoonotic pathogen on the world stage, with significant impacts on animal and human health, and economic well-being.Modeling approaches were used to gain insights and make inferences on a number of different problems in bTB management.The use of genetic selection to improve animal health has emerged from recent advances in genomics and their application to epidemiological data. Resistance to bTB is a heritable trait in cattle, and provides an additional tool by which the disease can be controlled. Genomic methods are revolutionizing traditional molecular epidemiological approaches to disease source attribution, principally due to their much superior resolution. Application to bTB infectious systems promises to improve our knowledge of transmission dynamics. In multi-host epidemics, control or eradication of bTB in domestic hosts is often unachievable if disease control in wildlife reservoir populations is not simultaneously implemented. Vaccination with BCG has been shown to reduce disease in humans caused by M. tuberculosis, and Palmer and Thacker have also recently shown its potential for wildlife as well as the diagnostic regent variation, host physiological and immunological status can affect the performance of diagnostic tests. The “human component” of bTB epidemiology and control was highlighted in a number of papers relating to societal values and ethics of bTB control, as well as human zoonotic risk.Although bTB is a global disease, it can be neglected in smaller nations. Borja et al. describe findings of bTB in Fiji in “A Retrospective Study on Bovine Tuberculosis in Cattle on Fiji: Study Findings and Stakeholder Responses.”
The Big Read: As temperatures and urbanisation increase, fight against dengue will only get tougher
“Dengue always felt like a ‘it will happen to someone else but not me’ kind of thing, so it was a huge shock to find out that I had this virus,” said Ms Poh, a communications executive.' The experiences of Ms Poh and Mr Toh reflect just how enigmatic dengue fever can be — almost impossible to trace and at times, tricky to diagnose, and hard to guard against. The dengue virus also has four known strains or stereotypes. While infection with one strain appears to provide immunity against that one stereotype, evidence points towards increased risk of severe symptoms upon subsequent infections by the other three strains. The existence of these strains is one reason why dengue continues to be a perennial problem, especially in places like Singapore, whose tropical climate — abundant rainfall, high humidity and temperatures — creates an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Despite stepped-up inspections and having a predictive model to help forecast dengue incidence, our national pre-emptive response to impending dengue outbreaks appears to have limited effectiveness.