WHO

Cutting Salt a Health Boost for Kidney Patients

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Blood pressure and fluid retention improve in those counseled by dietitians, small study shows

Encouraging people with kidney disease to reduce their salt intake may help improve blood pressure and cut excess fluid retention, at least for a while, a new study suggests.

Study participants lowered their systolic blood pressure (the top number)

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Reduction of salt intake helps improve blood pressure and cut excess fluid retention among people with Kidney disease

by almost 11 points, on average, on a salt-restricted diet versus their usual diet. They also flushed out a liter of water (about one-quart) from their bodies, on average, by slashing salt in their diets, researchers said.

 

Having high blood pressure and retaining excess salt and water in the body stresses the heart and blood vessels, explained lead author Dr. Rajiv Saran of the University of Michigan.

For kidney disease patients, high blood pressure (or “hypertension”) and excess fluid in the body can be a toxic combination. “They die predominantly of cardiovascular disease,” said Saran, a professor of internal medicine and epidemiology in the nephrology division.

Yet doctors rarely have time or make time to counsel each patient about salt-restricted diets, he said.

Saran and co-investigators wondered whether having trained dietitians talk to patients with chronic kidney disease by phone or in person about ways to lower daily sodium intake would make a difference. Read More

SOURCE: medlineplus.gov

New clinical guideline issued for treating low back pain

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Low back pain affects millions of people in the United States, and the condition is one of the most common reasons for people missing work. lbp2New guidelines from the American College of Physicians recommend noninvasive ways of treating nonradicular low back pain.

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA)

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Low back pain is responsible for many people missing work today worldwide 

report that approximately 31 million U.S. individuals experience low back pain at one point during their lives. The ACA also note that low back pain is the leading cause of disability across the world, as well as one of the most popular reasons why people miss work.

 

The condition accounts for a large proportion of all doctor visits in the U.S., and almost 25 percent of the entire adult population in the U.S. has experienced at least one day of low back pain in the past 3 months.

Read More 

Quote: medicalnewstoday.com

ROTARY BOOST GLOBAL FIGHT AGAINST POLIO

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The fight against Polio has been boosted by a new grant from Rotary International- the largest group of committed volunteering men and women committed to serve and change the world.

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Immunization is the only way to prevent Polio

Rotary has announced $35 million in grants to support the global effort to end polio, bringing the humanitarian service organization’s contribution to $140 million since January 2016.

Nearly half of the funds Rotary announced January 2017 ($16.15 million) will support the emergency response campaigns in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin (Chad, northern Cameroon, southern Niger and Central African Republic). Four cases of polio were detected in Nigeria in 2016, which had previously not seen a case since July 2014.

With these cases, funding is needed to support rapid response plans in Nigeria and surrounding countries to stop the outbreak.

While significant strides have been made against the paralyzing disease, with just 35 cases reported in 2016, polio remains a threat in hard-to-reach and underserved areas, and conflict zones. To sustain this progress, and protect all children from polio, experts say $1.5 billion is needed.

In addition to supporting the response in the Lake Chad Basin region, funding has been allocated to support polio eradication efforts in Afghanistan ($7.15 million), Pakistan ($4.2 million), Somalia ($4.64 million), and South Sudan ($2.19 million). A final grant in the amount of $666,845 will support technical assistance in UNICEF’s West and Central Africa Regional Office.

Rotary has contributed more than $1.6 billion, including matching funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and countless volunteer hours since launching its polio immunization program, PolioPlus, in 1985. In 1988, Rotary became a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and was later joined by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since the initiative launched, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases a year to 35 confirmed in 2016, and no cases in 2017 so far.

What is Polio?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children.

The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent. There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented by immunization.

Key Facts about Polio

  • Polio (poliomyelitis) mainly affects children under 5 years of age.
  • 1 in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. Among those paralysed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.

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    In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent.
  • Polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350 000 cases then, to 74 reported cases in 2015. The reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease.
  • As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio. Failure to eradicate polio from these last remaining strongholds could result in as many as 200,000 new cases every year, within 10 years, all over the world.
  • In most countries, the global effort has expanded capacities to tackle other infectious diseases by building effective surveillance and immunization systems

About Rotary

Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects over 1.2 million members of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas.

Source: www.rotary.org

 

Close But Too Far: The Health Tale of the Batwa in Uganda

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By Cliff Abenaitwe

The 1995 Constitution of Uganda (Third schedule) recognizes 56 indigenous communities that existed in Uganda as at 1st February, 1926. One of these communities is the Batwa tribe- a unique group of indigenous people.

For generations, the Batwa lived in the forests of the Kigezi region (Kabale, Kanungu and Kisoro districts in Western Uganda), Eastern Congo and the forests of North Western Rwanda. Their way of life entirely depended of the forests.

These areas were not only for shelter but were sources of food, medicine as well as worshiping places. In the early 1990’s government gazetted areas where they lived as conservation areas paving way for the creation of EChuya Forest Reserve, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mugahinga National park. This was the turning point for the Batwa for good or for worse depending on the side you are looking at. One aspect to note about gazettment of these areas is that the Batwa were never compensated contrary to the statutory provisions on land acquisition by government.

The 2012 National housing and population census indicated that Uganda had 6,700 Batwa. The 2007 survey by the Organization for Batwa development in Uganda (OBDU) reveals that there are 3135 Batwa in South western Uganda with Kisoro district home to 1937 of them.

Today, that Batwa are mainly living in the districts of Kisoro, Kabale, Kanungu, Bundibigyo, Mbarara, Ntungamo, some in Lwengo and Mubende- in other words; they are scattered.

In all these areas, they are landless and this has negatively impacted on their political, social and economic aspects of life.

A family of five people live in this house. It is temporary and the roof leaks when it rains.
The Batwa live in poor houses like these ones in most areas. In the photo is a home of a Mutwa family in Ruceri Village- Kisoro district. In the back ground, is the Ruceri village chairman’s house – one of the few iron roofed houses in the area .

WAY OF LIFE

Majority of the Batwa are living as squatters. Their relationship with the land owners (the non Batwa) is that the Batwa stay on the land (where they build a small semi-permanent house and do some small scale subsistence farming) in exchange of cheap labor. This symbiotic looking but parasitic relationship has left the Batwa vulnerable, unsettled and poor.

During my visit to Batwa communities in Kanungu, Kisoro and Kabale districts, I found out that the moment the land lord is not satisfied with the output of the squatter, the relationship is terminated at will and the Mutwa’s family has to look for somewhere else to live. “I cannot for example grow long term crops like coffee or a banana plantation on the land that is not mine. The owner will not allow me or I might be chased before I enjoy the benefits of my sweat. Any time, you can be chased away. We cannot be sure of tomorrow”, a visibly worried Gad Bagaraya, a 32 year old father of six living in Ruceri village in Kisoro district told me. We just live today and when the land lord decides to terminate the relationship, you move to another area for another good Samaritan who will allow you to stay on his land, he elaborated adding that “ we are loved because of our energy and hard work character”.

Except the lucky few who have been resettled by some Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that bought land for them, many others live like this but they hope for a brighter settled future.

This is another house for another family. Take a close look at the nature of the sorrounding soil. It is too rocky to support crop growth.
The Batwa who have not been resettled (the majority) live in poor houses like this. This is a family home in Ruceri village on the slopes of Mount Muhabura in Kisoro district.

Health Status of the Batwa

Health is an important aspect of every community. I took a keen interest in the health status of the Batwa Community in Kisoro district which has the biggest number of this unique group of people. Ruceri village in Nyarusinza Sub County is home to over 20 Batwa families each with an average of 5 members. It is about 25 kilometres away from Kisoro Town but because of the poor road (which stops somewhere before the village) and the distance you must walk up the mountain to the village, its takes over one hour to reach.

Residents here somehow managed to put up where they call home on what they say is government land. Some in this village built of land belonging to the non- Batwa residents. Being a mountain, it’s too rocky and cultivation is impossible. They work for the non-Batwa in the villages near-by to get food or small pieces of land to cultivate. As a result, their nutrition leaves a lot to be desired. “We eat once a day and our children have little to feed on”, Nyirandufiye Celina, a 38 year old mother of six told me during my visit to the area on a relatively warm Sunday morning.

According to health experts and the World Health Organization (WHO), breast feeding mothers ought to feed well to perform this task well. Just imagine what a baby would get from a mother who spends hours working but gets one insufficient meal a day!

In a community like this, housing will always be a challenge. Whereas a few through hard work and much austerity measures have managed to construct iron roofed houses, many stay in grass thatched or old tuplin thatched houses that leak when it rains. The temporary houses are small but a family will somehow find away to stay in. “I have worked and saved for years to get money to buy iron sheets for my house. It’s not easy. That is the reason why many people in our community stay in temporary shelter. They are also difficult to put up because grass and banana fibres for roofing are hard to get these days. They use the little they get and the houses leak when it rains”, Sserutokye Stephen,

Mr. Serutokye Stephen- the Vice chairman Ruceri village in Nyarusinza Sub County
Mr. Sserutokye Stephen- the Vice chairman Ruceri village in Nyarusinza Sub County

the Ruceri village vice chairperson explained.

A family of five lives in this house. It is temporary and the roof leaks when it rains.

During the visit, I entered 7 houses (both the iron roofed and the temporary roofed) and I noticed that clothing is inadequate and so are beddings while ownership and use of mosquito nets is a distant dream for all.

Latrine Coverage

The national latrine coverage stands at an average of about 77 percent. This is not a good figure but there are many areas doing badly in latrine coverage including Kisoro district. The Kisoro district Chairperson Ben Mutabazi puts the latrine coverage at about 55 percent- way below the wanting national average. The latrine coverage among the Batwa is however worse. It is less than 30 percent in Ruceri village in Kisoro district and in other Batwa communities I visited in Kisoro, Kabale and Kanungu districts.

In the Ruceri Village (Batwa community), only three households have pit latrines. The chairman, the vice chairman and one resident are the only ones with pit latrines. However, they are shallow and temporarily built with no roof. Their quality notwithstanding, these homes are better than the rest where members defecate in bushes.

This is a great health risk to the people of this area. Records at Mutorere Hospital in Kisoro District reveal that diarrhea cases account for the highest number of disease cases among children.

The world health body denotes that many diseases are associated with poor sanitation.

“Inadequate sanitation is estimated to cause 280 000 diarrhea deaths annually and is a major factor in several neglected tropical diseases, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis, and trachoma. Poor sanitation also contributes to malnutrition”, WHO elaborates.

It’s inexcusable for a family and a community to be without a latrine in the modern day age but the reasons advanced by this community deserve a hearing. According to Ruceri village Chairman John Haguma-Imana, land is the greatest problem. “The owner of the land gives you a little portion of land to build your home and establish a small garden- so you find yourself with no land for a latrine.

During my interview with Mr. the chairman of the Batwa of Ruceri Village. His house is one of the few iron roofed houses.
During my interview with Mr. Haguma-Imana John , the chairman of Ruceri Village. His house is one of the few iron roofed houses.

Besides, these people are temporary here. Am not trying to justify our problem but the people here are facing a number of challenges”, Haguma-imana explained.

An old adage goes – Health is made at home and repaired at a health facility. From the above experience, a Mutwa in Kisoro has the health facility to rely on for his well being. I took some time to look at the health services available and accessible to these people.

Nyarusinza health centre Three is the closest health facility – about 7 kilometers from Ruceri village. It’s a government health facility but just like many other public health centres, it has several challenges that negatively impact on its capacity to deliver and consequently it has failed to attract the confidence of the community including the Batwa.

Perhaps the biggest gift to the Batwa came in form of the Combating Child Mortality Among Batwa in Kisoro district (CCMB) program- an initiative of St. Francis Hospital popularly known as Mutorere hospital and its partners.

The front view of St. Francis Hospital Mutorere. It is among the best, clean and organized health facilities i have visited in Uganda
The front view of St. Francis Hospital Mutorere. It is among the best, clean and organized health facilities i have visited in Uganda

The arrangement under this program is that when a Mutwa falls sick or wants to access any health service including but not limited to testing, screening and child delivery, he or she simply walks to Mutorere hospital, is served for as long as it takes and the bill is footed by the hospital and its partners in this program.

For the pregnant mothers who definitely have to spend a couple of days as well as those who are admitted, the project takes care of their feeding as well as the feeding on the attendants for the longevity of one’s stay at the facility. It’s this treatment that makes the Batwa feel free, access quality medical care, stay healthy and hope for the best. “The services at Mutorere are excellent, a reason why we are healthy and few mothers and children die during and after delivery”, Nyiraneza Mereth, a resident of Rubuguri in Kisoro district who I found at the hospital attending to her pregnant aunt told me.

This facility is about 5 kilometres away from Kisoro town. Depending on the Batwa community you are from, people trek a good distance to come here. Ruceri village is about 30 kilometres away and many people from this village also walk to get service at Mutorere while a few afford parting with over 6000 shillings hiring a motor cycle for a single route journey for one person.

Ssendegeya Emmanuel aged 29 years comes from Birara Batwa Community which is about 27 kilometrers from this hospital. He is a carpenter but I found him at the hospital because he is on TB treatment.

Nurse Katto Justine, the CCMB Cordinator at St. Francis Hospital Mutorere interating with one of the patients Ssendegeya Emmanuel at his hospital bed. When i visited the hospital, Ssendegeya had spent 6 days in the isolation unit
Nurse Katto Justine, the CCMB Cordinator at St. Francis Hospital Mutorere interating with one of the patients Ssendegeya Emmanuel at his hospital bed. When i visited the hospital, Ssendegeya had spent 6 days in the isolation unit

The day in found him at this health facility (10th December, 2015), he had been there for six days with his wife attending to him. “I have been here with my wife for close to a week now. All is well. I get medicine and am regularly checked on by the professionals. My wife and I get food from these people (the hospital management). I hope for a quick recovery and hope to be discharged soon”, a weak toned Ssendegeya told me from his hospital bed in the isolation wing.

 

CCMB Project at a Glance

Credited for changing the lives of the Batwa, this project started in 2009.

According to Katto Justine- registered nurse and midwife who is the project coordinator the need for this initiative emanated from their observations and findings during the numerous community outreach projects they used to carry out as a hospital. “We found out that the Batwa are poor and they had difficulties accessing health services. Mortality was high in the Batwa communities especially among women and children. It is this that made us think of ways to help these people” she narrated.

In 2009, the hospital patterned with CARE- an international NGO to scale up community health out reaches in the Batwa communities. “We started with 12 community outreach centres. During these outings, we emphasized the need to visit hospitals, did a number of tests, treated diseases and also carried out monitoring of pregnant women”, She explained adding that the drive saw a surge in the number of Batwa visiting health facilities after some time. With sensitization, Katto elaborates, the Batwa have improved on sanitation and personal hygiene though there is much to improve on.

In 2011, the CARE partnership came to an end and Sustain for Life- another NGO came on board. This organization foots the hospital bills and also pays for the food rations given to the patients and their care takers.

The hospital now receives about four Batwa pregnant women per month seeking antenatal services. As of today, 20 Batwa women are taking family planning services from St. Francis hospital. “Though the numbers are low, it’s a big step and an achievement- considering that we started from zero”, an enthusiastic Katto- an enrolled nurse by profession noted.

 

Outstanding Health Challenges Among the Batwa

As already highlighted, sanitation is still a huge health challenge among the Batwa. With poor sanitation, this community is not at all safe from diseases.

Due to the Batwa’s Landless nature, food is still a huge mountain to climb. Consequently, malnutrition cases among the Batwa children are high. The most affected are children. “Due to poor shelter and clothing, we get many cases of pneumonia among the Batwa children”, Katto elaborated but added that under the CCMB project, they are now giving mothers free baby clothing kits.

According to Katto, another huge health challenge is HIV and Positive living among the Batwa. Like any other community in Uganda, the Batwa are also affected by HIV/AIDS.

Some people are positive but very few know their HIV status. According Katto, the CCMB project encourages HIV testing during the community outreaches but very few test to know their status. Those who test positive, she adds are enrolled on treatment and closely monitored. However, she notes that positive living is a big challenge. “Adherence to treatment is a huge challenge because the Batwa are always on the move. Because of little food, taking medicine is difficult and positive living in now a huge challenge.

Traditions like sharing of women have increased the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases”, Katto further narrated to me during our detailed discussion in her office at St. Francis hospital- Mutorere.

Birth rate among the Batwa is high and uptake of family planning services is still very poor. According to Katto, after years of sensitization, they have registered 20 Batwa women who are using family planning. “This is a small number but a positive step”, she observes.

Despite all this, the Batwa are moving forward and the future looks brighter. Peninah Zaninka- the head of the Organization for Batwa Development in Uganda (OBDU) observes that the Batwa have come from far and despite the challenges, they hope for a better tomorrow. According to Zaninka, the key to making the lives of the Batwa better is solving the land question- in other words; getting the Batwa Land to stay on and do developmental projects.

 

Batwa Resettlement Efforts

For over the years, non- governmental organizations have tried to resettle the Batwa. Organizations like the Organization for Batwa Development in Uganda (OBDU), ADRA Uganda, CARE International, Bwindi Mugahinga Trust, the Adventist church and may others have bought land in several areas of Kisoro, Kanungu and Kabale districts where they have resettled some Batwa.

The Batwa in these areas are living in decent houses and have land for cultivation. As of December 2015, the Batwa had been resettled in Kabahenda, Butoobo, Kamugyemani all in Busanza Sub County- Kisoro district, Rubuguri, Nteko, and Nyakabande in Kisoro district.

In Kabale district, the Batwa have been resettled in Karengyere in Muko, Murambo, Ekinyarushengye and in Rubindi. In Kanungu, the Batwa have been resettled in Buhuma where they live today.

When I visited Kabahenda, Rubuguri, Nteko, Murambo, Karengyere and Buhuma communities where the Batwa have been resettled, I observed that the people here are living a more organized life, fully integrated into the community, sanitation levels are better, they are engaged in cultivation and they are more positive about life compared to those in communities like Kisoro Town, Ruceri village and other areas where the Batwa are living as squatters.

Voices of the People

Winnie Mukandinda- Land rights Officer at OBDU:

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Winnie Mukandinda- Land rights Officer at OBDU

 

The Batwa are such an interesting group of people with potential to do a lot. They have come from far and the future looks bright for them. Government of Uganda ought to come out now and work with the non- governmental organizations to address challenges of the Batwa especially Land. They were evicted from the forests without compensation and this injustice ought to be corrected.

Milton Mutabazi Bazanye, Chairman Kisoro District (2011-2015); As a leader I wish to see all the Batwa settled. As a district we have plans to resettle them but this is a long term project. We salute organizations that have really helped to resettle the Batwa much as more are still squatting. If the Batwa get land like those who have been resettled, we will be able to see their productivity and poverty among them will be history.

 

Sam Byibesho- the Kisoro Municipality Mayor (2011-16); When you compare the Batwa living in Kisoro town with those living in rural areas especially those who have been resettled, you realize that we need to get these people where they can call home.

Sam Byibesho Mayor Kisoro Town (2011-2016)
Sam Byibesho- the Kisoro Municipality Mayor (2011-16)

Addressing the Batwa land question is key but this needs all the stake holders to come on board. “ I propose that to get the Batwa on the same footing with the rest in development, after handling their land needs, we should come up with an affirmative action to economically empower them”, he notes.

 

Nyamihanda Alice- an Educated Mutwa: The Batwa have been marginalized for long.

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Nyamihanda Alice- an Educated Mutwa, currently working with OBDU

“We deserve better than this”. Am glad many Batwa children are now accessing education, many people are now engaged in income generating projects, the Batwa now access quality health care and of course the support from the NGOs is good.

However, one worrying aspect is the sustainability for some of these projects like the Health project at Mutorere hospital. “As a Mutwa, I believe we need a representative in Parliament who can be our voice and articulate our issues”, the 27 year old who dreams of representing her area in Parliament notes.

 

Ronah Ritah Ninsiima- The Kabale District Woman Member of Parliament (2011-2016): As leaders we must consider the plight of the Batwa people and see how to help them settle in the community.

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Hon. Ninsiima Ronah Ritah wants to see the Batwa benefit more from government programs and initiatives

They must also benefit from government programs like Operation Wealth creation, NAADS, Youth Livelihood fund but if they are still landless, they might not and they will unfortunately stay poor.

 

Tibamanya William Kisoso- The Mbarara district speaker (2011-2015);

Tibamanya William Kisoso- Speaker Mbarara district (2011-2016)
Tibamanya William Kisoso- The Mbarara district speaker (2011-2015)

I have visited families of the Batwa living in Mbarara district (Nyakayojo Sub County). The truth is, these people need to be loved, treated well, welcomed and they must enjoy every public good like all other Ugandans. Because of the historical injustice they faced, an affirmative action is needed to improve the situation they are in today.

 

John Justice Tibesigwa- Senior Warden Bwindi Impenetrable National Park; John Justice Tibesigwa- Warden Bwindi Impenetrable National ParkToday, we enjoy a good relationship with the Batwa. Many of them operate as tour guides in the national park where they get income, the areas neighboring the park where some Batwa stay benefit from the revenue sharing program. We are working with the Batwa leader and the district leadership to identify their former worshipping and ancestral places so that we preserve these places and also allow Batwa access to these important places.

 

 

Better supply systems key to reach all children with life-saving vaccines

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Joint news release WHO/UNICEF/GAVI Alliance/BMGF

18 April 2013 | Geneva – In advance of World Immunization Week, global experts are highlighting strategies to further advance progress on the Global Vaccine Action Plan that was endorsed by the World Health Assembly, 2012. Better supply and logistics systems are essential to reach the estimated 22 million children in developing countries who are still not protected from dangerous diseases with basic vaccines, according to a special immunization issue published today by Vaccine.

Articles in the special supplement also underline the need to improve understanding about the health benefits of immunization. World Immunization Week starts 20 April with its call to “Protect your world, get vaccinated” with a range of activities in some 180 countries to help immunize more children against preventable diseases.

“We have seen some major advances in the development and delivery of vaccines in the past few years,” said Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General at WHO. “But many countries still face obstacles in getting life-saving vaccines to every child who needs them.”

Many countries encounter serious challenges in vaccine supply and logistics, from inability to keep vaccines at the correct temperature, to record keeping which enables community health workers to ensure the right vaccines reach the children who need them.

Inefficient health and delivery systems threaten access, availability, quality – and health outcomes. WHO, UNICEF, the GAVI Alliance, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the many other partners active in the Decade of Vaccines have drawn up new plans to strengthen immunization systems to:

  • ensure that more vaccines are discovered and developed and that packaging is designed to meet the needs of developing countries – such as the MenAfriVac vaccine for Meningitis A in Africa which can be transported and stored for as long as four days without refrigeration;
  • establish supply and logistics systems that support and sustain efficient and effective vaccine delivery – this can include, using ‘moving warehouses’ to distribute vaccines to remote health centres, and integrating the distribution of vaccines with other health commodities;
  • Improve immunization information systems to show more accurately where the needs are – for example by using immunization registries, such as those used in Albania, Sri Lanka, and Uruguay. The registries track and follow individual children which makes it possible to trace and better understand who is not being vaccinated, and why;
  • maintain a competent and motivated health workforce, through professionalizing supply chain positions improved training for staff and better management and supervision

    Image
    Together we can have happy and healthy babies like this one.
  • explore the use of mobile technology to strengthen communication and data capture across the supply chain, including stock management;
  • allocate more resources to remote and marginalized groups, including specific programs to target nomadic and indigenous communities, such as the programs under way in Sudan.

There is also an urgent need to better communicate the health benefits provided by vaccines, and the dangers of not immunizing children. Immunization averts an estimated 2-3 million deaths every year, protecting children from diphtheria, measles, pertussis (better known as whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhoea, rubella (or German measles) and tetanus.

“In some parts of the world, complacency about immunization has led to gaps in vaccination coverage,” said Geeta Rao Gupta, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF. “When gaps occur, outbreaks follow.”

In other places, myths are circulating that vaccines do not work, or on the nature and frequency of side effects, which lead parents and caregivers to refuse to vaccinate their children.

“We need to help parents to better understand the benefits of immunization to ensure they reach all children, no matter where they live,” said Dr Seth Berkley, Chief Executive Officer of the GAVI Alliance. “Today vaccines protect the lives of hundreds of millions of children; but with our partners, we need to ensure that an additional quarter of a billion children are immunized by 2015,” he added.

Chris Elias, president of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, agrees. “We know that vaccines work to save lives and protect children for a lifetime. Strong immunization systems protect our gains against polio and provide a platform for new vaccines and primary health care.”

Nevertheless, in recent years, there have been resurgences of diphtheria, measles and rubella in developed and developing countries alike. For example, outbreaks of measles have occurred in France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Pakistan.

World Immunization Week, with its call to “Protect your world, get vaccinated” is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the health benefits of vaccination. Governments, development partners, international organizations, manufacturers, health professionals, academia, civil society, communities and individuals come together in 180 countries to promote the goal of universal immunization coverage – and to overcome challenges to achieving it.

Different geographical regions emphasize different themes to adapt to their specific needs. In World Immunization Week 2013 the regional focus is as follows:

  • Africa: Save lives, Prevent disabilities, Vaccinate!
  • The Americas: Vaccination, a shared responsibility.
  • Eastern Mediterranean: Stop measles now!
  • Europe: Protect. Prevent. Immunize.
  • South-East Asia: Intensification of routine immunization.
  • Western Pacific: Finish the job – No more measles for anyone.

WHO, UNICEF, the GAVI Alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are all committed to giving all children a healthy start to life by achieving the Decade of Vaccines vision via the Global Vaccines Action Plan launched in 2012. The Plan aims to deliver universal access to immunization by 2020.

About WHO

WHO helps countries integrate immunization into national health policies and plans and thus increase access to existing vaccines. The Organization promotes new vaccines (such as the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine) and new initiatives such as the integrated plan to end preventable child deaths worldwide from pneumonia and diarrhoea by 2025. It works to ensure access to quality vaccines and immunization equipment, notably through the prequalification of vaccines and immunization equipment.

WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.

UNICEF

UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

In June 2012, the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States with UNICEF launched a global roadmap to end preventable deaths of children under the age of five. Since then, under the banner of Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed, more than 170 countries have signed up and renewed their commitment to child survival.

GAVI Alliance

The GAVI Alliance is a public-private partnership committed to saving children’s lives and protecting people’s health by increasing access to immunization in developing countries. The Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. GAVI uses innovative finance mechanisms, including co-financing by recipient countries, to secure sustainable funding and adequate supply of quality vaccines. Since 2000, GAVI has financed the immunization of an additional 370 million children and prevented more than 5.5 million premature deaths.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people – especially those with the fewest resources – have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

From World Health Organisation

 

Danger Looms As Foodborne Diseases Hit Alarming Levels

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Danger Looms As Foodborne Diseases Hit Alarming Levels

Cliff Abenaitwe

Food safety is an increasingly important public health issue and governments all over the world are intensifying their efforts to improve food safety. These efforts are in response to an increasing number of food safety problems like foodborne diseases. According to the world health organization, these are diseases usually either infectious or toxic in nature, caused by agents that enter the body through the ingestion of food.

Foodborne diseases are extremely fatal and severe

Magnitude Of Foodborne Illness

Foodborne diseases are a widespread and growing public health problem, both in developed and developing countries. The global incidence of foodborne disease is difficult to estimate, but it has been reported that in 2005 alone 1.8 million people died from diarrhoeal diseases and ever since, this number is believed to have increased. A great proportion of these cases can be attributed to contamination of food and drinking water. Additionally, diarrhoea is a major cause of malnutrition in infants and young children.

In industrialized countries, the percentage of the population suffering from foodborne diseases each year has been reported to be up to 30%. In the United States of America (USA), for example, around 76 million cases of foodborne diseases, resulting in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths, are estimated to occur each year. While less well documented, developing countries bear the brunt of the problem due to the presence of a wide range of foodborne diseases, including those caused by parasites. The high prevalence of diarrhoeal diseases in many developing countries suggests major underlying food safety problems.

While most foodborne diseases are sporadic and often not reported, foodborne disease outbreaks may take on massive proportions. For example, in 1994, an outbreak of salmonellosis due to contaminated ice cream occurred in the USA, affecting an estimated 224,000 persons. In 1988, an outbreak of hepatitis A, resulting from the consumption of contaminated clams, affected some 300,000 individuals in China.

 Major Foodborne Diseases A Glance

 Salmonellosis: Thisis a major problem in most countries. Salmonellosis is caused by the Salmonella bacteria and symptoms are fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Examples of foods involved in outbreaks of salmonellosis are eggs, poultry and other meats, raw milk and chocolate.

Campylobacteriosis: This is a wide spreadinfection that is  caused by certain species of Campylobacter bacteria and in some countries, the reported number of cases surpasses the incidence of salmonellosis. Foodborne cases are mainly caused by foods such as raw milk, raw or undercooked poultry and drinking water. Acute health effects of campylobacteriosis include severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea and diarrhoea. In two to ten per cent of cases the infection may lead to chronic health problems, including reactive arthritis and neurological disorders.

Cholera: This disease is increasingly becoming synonymous with the developing world thus a major public health problem. The disease is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. In addition to water, contaminated foods can be the vehicle of infection. Different foods, including rice, vegetables, millet gruel and various types of seafood have been implicated in outbreaks of cholera. Symptoms, including abdominal pain, vomiting and profuse watery diarrhoea, may lead to severe dehydration and possibly death, unless fluid and salt are replaced.

Together we can lessen the spread and the effects of Foodborne diseases

The list is endless but what is more important to note is how to lessen the outbreak of these diseases. The world ought to join hands in promoting food safety through senstisation and policy formulation among other initiatives. These efforts should cover the entire food chain from production to consumption should embrace all types of expertise world over.

Some of the manifestations of Foodborne diseases.

 

 

FOOD SAFETY- WHAT YOU MUST KNOW

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FOOD SAFETY- WHAT YOU MUST KNOW

Cliff Abenaitwe

Foodborne diseases take a major toll on health. Millions of people fall ill and many die as a result of eating unsafe food. Deeply concerned by this, WHO Member States adopted a resolution in 2000 to recognize food safety as an essential public health function.

Food safety encompasses actions aimed at ensuring that all food is as safe as possible. Food safety policies and actions need to cover the entire food chain, from production to consumption.

Food safety is a public health priority; millions of people fall ill every year and many die as a result of eating unsafe food. Serious outbreaks of foodborne disease have been documented on every continent in the past decade, and in many countries rates of illnesses are increasing significantly.

Together we can

Key global food safety concerns include spread of microbiological hazards (including such bacteria as Salmonella or Escherichia coli, e. coli), chemical food contaminants, assessments of new food technologies (such as genetically modified food) and strong food safety systems in most countries to ensure a safe global food-chain.

FOOD SAFETY FACTS

More than 200 diseases are spread through food

Millions of people

Children are at a greater risk. Many of their diseases are food related.

fall ill every year and many die as a result of eating unsafe food.

Diarrhoeal diseases alone kill an estimated 1.5 million children annually, and most of these illnesses are attributed to contaminated food or water. Proper food preparation can prevent most foodborne diseases.

Foodborne diseases are increasing worldwide

Foodborne disease like stomach aches are taking the world by storm.

Disease-causing organisms in food are transmitted far and wide by today’s interconnected global food-chains – escalating how often and where foodborne illnesses occur. Rapid urbanization worldwide is adding to risks, as urban dwellers eat more food prepared outside the home that may not be handled or prepared safely – including fresh foods and fish, meat and poultry.

Food safety is a global concern

Globalization of food production and trade increases the likelihood of international incidents involving contaminated food. Imported food products and ingredients are common in most countries. Stronger food safety systems in export countries can reinforce both local and cross-border health security.

Emerging diseases are tied to food production

About 75% of the new infectious diseases affecting humans over the past 10 years were caused by bacteria, viruses and other pathogens that started in animals and animal products. Many of these diseases in people are related to the handling of infected domestic and wild animals during food production – in food markets and at slaughter houses.

Minimize the risk of avian influenza

The vast majority of H5N1 avian influenza cases in people follow direct contact with infected live or dead birds. There is no evidence that the disease is spread to people by eating properly cooked poultry. To avoid risk of foodborne illnesses in poultry one ought to separate raw meat from other foods, keep clean and wash your hands and cook thoroughly (until meat is 70 °C in all parts, with no pink areas).

Disease prevention starts from the farm

Preventing animal infections at the farm level can reduce foodborne illnesses. For example, reducing the amount of Salmonella in farm chickens by 50% (through better farm management) results in 50% less people getting sick from the bacteria. Salmonella-free chicken herds are becoming more common in some countries.

Chemical hazards can contaminate food

Acrylamide, which may cause cancer, is formed from natural ingredients during the cooking of some foods at high temperatures (generally above 120 °C), including fried potato products, baked cereal products and coffee. The food industry is working to find methods to lower exposure to such chemicals. Avoid overcooking when frying, grilling or baking food.

Everyone has a role to play in food safety

Food contamination can occur at any stage from farm to table. Everyone on the food delivery chain must employ measures to keep food safe – farmer, processor, vendor and consumer. Safety at home is just as vital to prevent disease outbreaks. Women are primary targets for food safety education as they are responsible for household meals in many societies.

Schools ought to champion food safety

Schools have a great role to play in promoting food safety especially among the young ones.

Educating children on safe food handling behaviors is key to preventing foodborne diseases today and in the future. Integrating food safety lessons into school curricula gives children essential life skills that can help to keep them and their families healthy.

Five keys to food safety

WHO and Member States are promoting the benefits of food safety, healthy diets and physical activity. The five keys to safer food are:

One of the food safety measures. It is simple but it works; try it out.
  1. keep clean
  2. separate raw and cooked
  3. cook all foods thoroughly
  4. keep food at safe temperatures
  5. Use safe water and raw materials.