The Health News – 7 January 2014

Overview

  • The World Health Organisation has been criticised for ineffectiveness regarding its recent effort to raise funds for neglected diseases.
  • The H7N9 flu virus, which emerged in China in February last year, has been the subject of recent findings regarding immunity to the virus.
  • Queensland Health today issued a statement reminding citizens not to touch or handle bats, in the wake of the recent spate of bat deaths, attributed to recent extreme temperatures.
  • The UK-based Overseas Development Institute has released a report detailing the rise in overweight and obese adults in developing countries.
  • Researches at the University of Newcastle have recently identified a protein that plays a role in the growth of melanoma cells, which it is hoped will lead to a new treatment for the disease.

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http://www.scidev.net/global/medicine/news/who-scheme-attacked-for-not-living-up-to-innovation-aim.html
The World Health Organisation has been criticised for ineffectiveness regarding its recent effort to raise funds for neglected diseases. The panel of experts was formed to find and develop new methods of raising funds, but are said to have defeated the purpose of the panel’s formation by submitting unimaginative options, instead of more innovative ideas hoped for by many civil society groups. At a conference in Geneva in early December, the panel introduced several example projects, demonstration new avenues for funding research and development for diseases and other global health issues which have been receiving inadequate support, particularly in developing countries.

But the eight total proposals that were submitted break no new ground in fundraising methods, according to Judit Rius Sanjuan, who manages the US Access Campaign for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which seeks and promotes global access to medicines and diagnostic tests. After attending the Geneva meeting, she said “We are disappointed, we were very happy that some of the proposals coming forward were interesting and provided new models for innovation but unfortunately those weren’t the ones selected.”

http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2013/s3921482.htm
The H7N9 flu virus, which emerged in China in February last year, has been the subject of recent findings regarding immunity to the virus. A new study by the University of Melbourne has implicated that ethnicity plays a role in peoples’ autoimmune ability to ward off the influenza strain, and that Indigenous Australians are particularly at risk. 137 people were infected, 45 of whom died, as a result of the China outbreak last year. Officials believed domestic birds are the source of the virus and there are concerns it will return during the Northern winter. A key risk factor is humans lack of antibodies against this newly-formed strain.

http://www.health.qld.gov.au/news/media_releases/2014/january-2014/140107-bat-warning.pdf
Queensland Health today issued a statement reminding citizens not to touch or handle bats, in the wake of the recent spate of bat deaths, attributed to recent extreme temperatures. Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said Qld Health have seen a 250% increase in the number of reports of bat bites and scratches since the beginning of 2013. Wildlife groups have reported an increase in the number of bats and flying foxes searching for food and water in suburban areas, with some trapped in fruit netting and barbed-wire fences. The report further noted, “Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) can be transmitted from bats through bites and scratches and by bat’s saliva having contact with a person’s broken skin or the mucous membranes of the eyes, mouth or nose. This most commonly occurs through bites and scratches. ABLV infection in humans causes serious illness which results in death. The most recent case was in March 2013 in an eight year old boy from north Queensland.  While ABLV can be fatal, immediate medical attention and receiving a course of post-exposure rabies immunisations can prevent the onset of clinical signs. There is no specific treatment once clinical signs begin.”

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270803.php
The UK-based Overseas Development Institute has released a report detailing the rise in overweight and obese adults in developing countries. The report, entitled Future Diets, contains comprehensive analysis of global eating habits, and estimates that 1 in 3 adults in the world are overweight, and criticizes governments for failing to take action. The document claims the number of overweight adults in developing countries has risen from 250 million to nearly a billion over the last 30 years. Richer nations have also seen significant rises, with cases tripling from 200 to 600 million in the same period. Cases have doubled in China and Mexico since 1980, and North Africa, the Middle East and Latin America have caught up with Europe in obesity stakes. Steve Wiggins, co-author of the report, said “The growing rates of overweight and obesity in developing countries are alarming. On current trends, globally, we will see a huge increase in the number of people suffering certain types of cancer, diabetes, strokes and heart attacks, putting an enormous burden on public healthcare systems.” The report acknowledges the difficulty of implementing nutritional regulation, stating “Looking at the range of policies on offer, it seems that regulation and taxation are the most effective policies for diet, but these are precisely the policies that are least palatable to both the public and politicians.” Steve Wiggins urges politicians to be “less shy” about trying to influence what people eat, explaining that: “The challenge is to make healthy diets viable whilst reducing the appeal of foods which carry a less certain nutritional value.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-03/breakthrough-in-melanoma-research/5182974
Researches at the University of Newcastle have recently identified a protein that plays a role in the growth of melanoma cells, which it is hoped will lead to a new treatment for the disease. Professor Xu Dong Zhang and a team of researchers will study the protein’s responses to manipulation and treatments. The research includes identifying molecular markers to develop individual treatment which could be applied to patient management. Professor Zhang thinks progressing with this research is vital to develop new treatments to increase melanoma survival rates until a cure can be found. “Australia has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world, and you know melanoma is quite often referred to as an Australian national cancer” he said.  Professor Zhang is a member of the Hunter Medical Research Institute’s cancer research program, and he and his team have been in collaborative efforts with other countries including China. “I do believe we still have a long way to go, but progress is being made just a little by little,” he said.