Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) “are diseases of socially excluded populations that promote poverty by relatively depriving individuals from basic capabilities and freedoms,” Carlos Franco-Paredes of the Children’s Hospital of Mexico and Jose Santos-Preciado of the Faculty of Medicine at the National Autonomous University of Mexico write in this PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases editorial. The authors examine “[t]he social pathways of becoming ill with an NTD” which “include socially determined failures including widespread illiteracy, malnutrition, poor living conditions, unemployment and the overall failure of ownership relations in the form of entitlements.”
The Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report summarizes the latest, most relevant information on U.S. global health policy developments and related news from hundreds of sources. RSS feeds are available.
NPR’s health blog “Shots” describes how scientists are targeting biological structures called apicoplasts in malaria parasites in developing new medications to fight the infection. Without apicoplasts, which are not common in most species, malaria parasites die, so a drug developed to target them would theoretically kill the parasites, the blog notes.
“In dengue-endemic areas such as South-East Asia, in contrast to conventional thinking, rural areas rather than cities may bear the highest burden of dengue fever,” according to a study led by Wolf-Peter Schmidt from the Nagasaki Institute of Tropical Medicine in Japan and published in this week’s PLoS Medicine, a PLoS press release states. The authors “analyzed a population in Kanh-Hoa Province in south-central Vietnam (~350,000 people) that was affected by two dengue epidemics between January 2005 and June 2008” and “found that at low human population densities, mostly in rural areas, dengue risk is up to three times higher than in cities, presumably because the number of mosquitoes per individual is higher in low-density areas,” according to the release (8/30).
“A potentially cheaper and faster method for diagnosing tuberculosis (TB) has been developed by researchers” at the University of Basel, Switzerland, “who hope to test it in Tanzania,” according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology last week, SciDev.Net reports. “The lack of a cheap, quick and accurate test makes it hard to control the TB epidemic, which claims millions of lives every year in developing countries,” according to the news service.
“Mexico plans to administer the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer, to all girls beginning next year, the country’s health ministry said Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse reports. Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova “said while deaths from cervical cancer had fallen 47 percent in the country over the past two decades, there were still 13.4 cases for every 100,000 women last year,” AFP writes, adding, “Cervical cancer kills about 4,200 women in Mexico each year” (8/30).
WHO Study Finds Global Neonatal Mortality Rate Down 28% Since 1990, But Progress Slow In Developing Countries
“Global death rates among newborns under one month old are dropping,” but “developing nations are still reporting a disproportionately high level of child deaths,” with “99 percent of all newborn deaths occur[ing] in developing countries,” according to a study published Tuesday in PLoS Medicine, Agence France-Presse reports. The study, conducted by the WHO, Save the Children and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, showed that half of those deaths occur in only five countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the news agency notes (8/30). The study authors “used civil registration systems, household surveys, and other data sources to compile statistical models to estimate that in 2009, 3.3 million babies died during their first month of life compared to 4.6 million in 1990,” a decrease of 28 percent, according to a PLoS press release (8/30).
“A bill before Ghana’s parliament aims to improve mental health care and encourage more health professionals to enter the sector by tackling one of the greatest impediments to both — stigma,” IRIN/Guardian reports. “The draft reforms — developed with support from the World Health Organization — were completed in 2006, but the bill is only now under consideration by parliament,” which “is expected to take it up again when it reconvenes in October,” according to the news service.
The New York Times examines “[n]ew methods of quickly sequencing entire microbial genomes [that] are revolutionizing the field” of molecularly epidemiology and could help public health officials identify and track disease outbreaks.
In the refugee camps in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince nearly two years after a devastating earthquake, “health and human rights officials warn of another crisis: an explosion of tent babies,” the Miami Herald reports. “Haiti’s tent baby phenomenon comes as the country continues to struggle to rebuild, and as the nearly 600,000 Haitians still living in hundreds of squalid camps in quake-ravaged communities see the avalanche of medical assistance from foreign doctors and nongovernmental organizations disappear,” primarily because of a lack of funding, the newspaper writes.
Inter Press Service profiles a program launched by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) to develop antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) specifically designed for children living with HIV/AIDS. “The program will focus exclusively on developing child-adapted formulations for children under three, the most neglected segment in terms of availability of ARVs. The DNDi hopes to have new pediatric-specific medicines available between 2014 and 2016,” IPS writes. The article examines pediatric HIV treatment issues in India, Kenya and Brazil (Frayssinet et al., 8/29).