Tag Archives: charity

INDONESIA: Swamp Fever Outbreak

Bantul regency in Indonesia’s central Java region has declared a state of emergency and health agencies nationwide are on alert following an outbreak of leptospirosis, commonly known as swamp fever, a fatal animal-borne disease that can result in high fever, internal bleeding and organ failure, said the Health Ministry.

Four of 15 people reported to have been infected with the bacterial disease have died since the onset of the outbreak in late January, a case fatality rate of 27 percent.

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MYANMAR: Mass Vaccination Target Rare Polio Strain

YANGON, 17 February 2011 (IRIN) – A rare strain of the polio virus is re-emerging in Myanmar after three years, say health workers. One case was confirmed in Myanmar last December – followed by two more of unknown origin reported but not yet confirmed in January – prompting health officials to organize a mass vaccination campaign to target millions of under-five children.

A seven-month old infant was infected with vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) in December in central Myanmar’s Mandalay division in Yamethin Township, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) office in Myanmar.

“But one case is enough [to require] an emergency response,” said Marinus Gotink, UNICEF’s chief of health and nutrition in Myanmar.

The Department of Health has already immunized 10,000 children living in or around the area where the December polio case was diagnosed.

“But the campaign should be much bigger,” Gotink said, adding that UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) were planning a mass vaccination national campaign, expected to target 3.34 million children in 109 of the country’s 325 townships.

In January two more polio cases were detected but not yet lab-confirmed in Mandalay Division’s Yamethin Township and Mon State’s Thanbyuzayut Township.

VDPV comes from a strain of polio contained in oral polio vaccines that mutates into a form that can paralyze. The only way to fully protect children from either the more common wild polio strain or VDPV is full vaccination, according to the WHO.

From 1997-2007, nine countries with low levels of polio immunization worldwide reported outbreaks of VDPV that resulted in fewer than 200 polio infections, according to the world health body. In the same period, 33,000 children were paralyzed by the wild poliovirus.

VDPV first appeared in central Myanmar in 2006 in Mandalay Division. The following year, four more cases were confirmed in Yangon Division, home of the economic capital, Yangon, as well as Mon and Kayin State bordering Thailand in the east and Bago Division East.
[Courtesy of IRIN]

East Africa: Albinos Killed for Body Parts

Thousands of peple with albinism in Tanzania and Kenya have left their home villages out of fear of persecution and moved to live in urban areas where they believe they are safer, according to activists defending the rights of albinos.

Most reported killings have occurred in Tanzania, where a “set” including limbs, ears, tongue, nose and genitals sells for thousands of dollars. The meeting heard that persecution of albinos was also common in Kenya. In August, a man was arrested for attempting to sell a Kenyan albino for US$250,000.

Albinos are people with a genetically inherited condition caused by the body’s inability to produce melanin pigment. This pigment helps the skin protect itself from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. Their killings are driven by the false belief that their body parts have a special potency when included in concoctions used in witchcraft.

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South Africa : ARV Drug Myth

Media in South Africa recently erupted into a frenzy of coverage of an allegedly new illegal drug, ‘whoonga’, said to contain life-prolonging antiretrovirals (ARVs), but experts say the drug is actually an old foe, heroin, and does not include ARVs.

The South African AIDS lobby group, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), has expressed concern that misreporting in the media may fuel a craze of its own and put HIV patients and ARV drug stocks in jeopardy.

Traditionally, the term ‘whoonga’ in South Africa referred to low grade heroin, which was often mixed with substances like rat poison and detergent to increase its volume prior to sale. Recent media reports have alleged that ‘whoonga’ now contains crushed ARVs and that the use of the combination of heroin and HIV treatment is widespread among the country’s townships, particularly those surrounding the port city of Durban in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province.

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SOUTH AFRICA: HIV School Testing Controversy

South Africa is preparing to take HIV testing into the classroom as part of its national voluntary HIV testing and counselling (VCT) campaign, but testing kids is controversial and implementing the programme is fraught with challenges – just ask those already doing it.

Government departments, together with the South African National AIDS Council, are holding nationwide consultative meetings with members of the education, children’s rights and HIV sectors to formulate a national policy for school-based HIV testing, as well as guidelines and recommendations for the country’s nine provinces.

Activists from the Durban-based Yezingane Network of children’s organizations met with national Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and identified consent and confidentiality as two of the main challenges.

however some student and teacher unions are opposed to school-based testing, arguing that children as young as 12 years old may not be psychologically or emotionally prepared to deal with an HIV-positive diagnosis.

Launched in April 2010, South Africa’s VCT campaign is seeking to test 15 million South Africans by April 2011. A schools-based component was included from the outset, but public debate did not erupt until the Department of Health (DoH) announced it had pushed back the February 2011 start date for student testing to allow it and the Ministry of Basic Education to formulate a child-sensitive VCT strategy.

About 3 percent of South African children 18 years and younger are HIV-positive, according to a 2010 report by South African research body, the Human Sciences Research Council.

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CAMBODIA: Diabetes – The Silent Killer


Rapid lifestyle changes over the past two decades combined with poverty in Cambodia (according to government statistics, a third of the population lives below the national poverty line of 75 US cents a day) mean diabetes has become a major health problem.

The number of people with the disease is rising: Of the country’s 14.5 million inhabitants, about 352,000 adults live with diabetes, according to the 2009 Diabetes Atlas published by the Belgium-based International Diabetes Federation.

In 2005, about 255,000 people suffered from diabetes, according to an article published that year in the Lancet, a UK-based medical journal. Two-thirds of all cases went undiagnosed before the survey.

In 2010, Cambodia had about 8,000 diabetes-related deaths, according to the International Diabetes Federation. By contrast, the government records more than 200 malaria deaths per year, and has calculated over 1,000 HIV/AIDS-related deaths each year since the most recent prevalence data were collected in 2006.

“It’s a silent killer,” said Lim Keuky, an author of the 2005 study and head of the Cambodian Diabetes Association. “You don’t know about it until the symptoms appear, and then it might already be too late.”

Keuky’s study found a surprisingly high prevalence (5 percent) in Siem Reap, a province in the northwest, and surprising, the study said, that the country is poor, and lifestyles are still fairly traditional.

However, economic growth and urbanization mean many of Cambodia’s poor are eating processed food and not exercising enough.

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COTE D’IVOIRE: HIV/Aids Drugs Crisis

As Côte d’Ivoire’s political stalemate drags on, NGOs are becoming increasingly concerned about its effect on the supply of life-prolonging antiretroviral medicines.
The street protests, blockades and other problems have disrupted the supply of antiretrovirals (ARVs) in different areas; patients in Abobo District on the northern side of Abidjan were only able to buy drugs up to the end of January.
The last shortage of ARVs in Côte d’Ivoire was in 2005. People living with HIV/AIDS were hit by a three-month break in supplies.
Antiretroviral therapy was made free of charge by the Ivoirian government in August 2008. In 2010, an estimated 104,000 Ivoirians were on ARVs, largely due to funding from the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief and other international organizations fighting HIV/AIDS.

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