“Polio has broken out in China for the first time since 1999 after being imported from Pakistan, and there is a high risk of the crippling virus spreading further during the annual Haj pilgrimage, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports (9/20). Nine cases of wild poliovirus type 1 have been recorded in China’s western province of Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan, WHO spokesperson Oliver Rosenbauer said, according to Daily News and Analysis, GlobalPost notes (9/21). A genetic link has been confirmed between the virus detected in China and a strain circulating in Pakistan, according to the Associated Press/USA Today (9/20). BBC News reports that “Chinese authorities are now investigating the cases, and a mass vaccination campaign has been launched in the region” (9/20).
World leaders attending the first-ever U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) kicked off the summit on Monday by “unanimously approving a ‘political declaration’ meant to stem a rising tide of [NCDs], now the world’s leading killer,” CNN reports (Ariosto, 9/19). The declaration “call[s] for a multi-pronged campaign by governments, industry and civil society to set up by 2013 the plans needed to curb the risk factors behind the four groups of NCDs — cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes,” according to the U.N. News Centre.
Low-income countries “could introduce measures to prevent and treat millions of cases of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and lung disease for a little as $1.20 per person per year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday” in a report released on the eve of the U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) taking place this week in New York, Reuters reports (Kelland, 9/19).
NCD Draft Declaration Lacks Specific Targets, Calls For Nations To Adopt Recommendations For Reducing Chronic Disease Deaths
“World leaders at a meeting of the United Nations on Monday will agree to a deal to try to curb the spread of preventable ‘lifestyle’ diseases,” including heart disease, cancers and diabetes, also known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs), “amid concern that progress is already being hampered by powerful lobbyists from the food, alcohol and tobacco industries,” the Guardian reports. “The scale and disastrous potential of these diseases has led the U.N. to call only its second high-level summit on a health issue on Monday — the first was over AIDS in 2001. Months of negotiation have led to a draft declaration [.pdf] that will be signed at the summit,” the newspaper writes (Boseley, 9/16).
“The number of cases and deaths from breast and cervical cancer is rising in most countries across the world, especially in poorer nations where more women are dying at younger ages, according to a global study of the diseases” by researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Reuters reports. Between 1980 and 2010, breast cancer cases more than doubled worldwide, rising from 641,000 cases in 1980 to 1.6 million cases in 2010, while deaths from breast cancer rose from 250,000 a year to 425,000 a year, according to the study, which was published in the Lancet on Thursday, Reuters notes. The “number of cervical cancer cases rose from 378,000 cases in 1980 to 454,000 in 2010, and deaths from cervical cancer rose at almost the same pace as cases,” the news service writes (Kelland, 9/15). The majority of new cases occurred among women under age 50 in low-income nations, BBC News writes (Briggs, 9/14).
Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) “are spreading at an alarming rate in Europe and will kill thousands unless health authorities halt the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday” during the launch of “a new regional plan to find, diagnose and treat cases of the airborne infectious disease more effectively,” Reuters reports. “The WHO said that if the plan is fully implemented — at an estimated cost of $5 billion — 127,000 people will be successfully treated for drug-resistant TB and 120,000 deaths will be averted by 2015,” according to the news agency (Kelland, 9/13).
When the only community health care center providing medical and psychosocial care for people living with HIV/AIDS in India’s northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir “closed down [six months ago] for lack of patients, it was a sure sign that the north Indian state had beaten back dire forecasts,” Inter Press Service reports.
Two opinion pieces published on Monday examine the real-life health risks of an outbreak portrayed in “Contagion,” a movie that opened this weekend in which a mysterious airborne virus kills thousands of people.
After a landmark study published in May “showed major reductions in HIV transmission among discordant couples due to early treatment,” Rwanda has decided to begin treating people in discordant relationships with antiretroviral therapy as soon as they test HIV-positive “as part of a plan to boost national HIV prevention and treatment efforts,” PlusNews reports. “According to the government, an estimated 7.1 percent of cohabiting couples seeking voluntary counseling and testing services in the capital, Kigali, are HIV discordant,” and “[i]nfections within stable relationships have been identified as one of the main sources of new cases in Rwanda,” according to the news agency.
In this New York Times opinion piece, W. Ian Lipkin, a professor of epidemiology and a professor of neurology and pathology at Columbia University and a paid technical consultant on the film “Contagion,” which opened this weekend, writes about the risks of an infectious disease outbreak as portrayed in the film, stating, “Those risks are very real — and are increasing drastically.”