Call For Action On Rising Cholera Cases, And Other Health Stories

  • This global round-up brings you health stories from the past month.
  • Top health news: Call for action on cholera cases; Most countries fall short of guideline limit for air pollution; Dengue outbreak in Argentina.

1. Action needed to prevent worldwide cholera upsurge – ICG

Immediate action is needed to prevent a “multi-year upsurge in cholera cases worldwide”, according to the organization that manages the world’s stockpile of cholera vaccine.

The International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision has warned that millions of people are at risk from the disease due to lack of clean water, soap and toilets, and a shortage of the vaccine used to prevent the disease.

Cases of cholera – an acute disease transmitted through the ingestion of contaminated food or water – have been rising globally since 2021. In 2022, 473,000 cases were reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) – more than double the number reported the previous year. Preliminary data for 2023 shows a further surge, with over 700,000 cases reported.

Cholera is preventable and treatable, and according to the WHO, cases have been declining in previous years. It recommends actions including investing in access to safe water and sanitation, testing and quickly detecting outbreaks, and fast-tracking the production of vaccine doses to better prevent cases.

2. Almost all of the world’s countries fail to meet air quality standard

Just seven countries worldwide are meeting an international air quality standard, according to a new report.

The report from air-quality technology company IQAir reviews air quality data for 2023 across 134 countries and regions, looking at whether they meet the WHO annual guideline limit for PM2.5 – particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less. These tiny particles – measuring less than the width of a human hair – enter the air from many sources, including fires, transport and industry.

The report found that of the countries monitored, just Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland, Mauritius and New Zealand met the WHO’s annual guideline.

Exposure to PM2.5 air pollution has been linked to many health conditions, including asthma, lung disease and cancer. “The burden of disease attributable to air pollution is now estimated to be on a par with other major global health risks such as unhealthy diet and tobacco smoking,” the WHO says.

3. News in brief: Health stories from around the world

Argentina is on course for a record-breaking outbreak of dengue, according to government data. More than 120,000 cases have been recorded in the country so far in the 2023/24 season – and the majority of those have been in the past two months. That puts it ahead of the previous season, which was already the worst on record.

study in India has said that working in extreme heat can increase the risk of stillbirth and miscarriage for pregnant women. The risks to expectant mothers are much higher than previously thought.

The first oral contraceptive pill to be available without a prescription in the US can now be bought online and in drugstores and supermarkets. Opill isn’t a new birth control pill – but it is the first that has been approved for use in the country without a prescription from a healthcare provider.

The WHO has launched a communications toolkit to equip health professionals with the knowledge and confidence to talk to patients about climate change and health. Climate change affects health in various ways, including air pollution, food insecurity and the spread of infectious diseases. The toolkit is designed to plug gaps in knowledge to help health and care workers raise awareness, advocate for policy changes and empower communities to tackle climate change.

New research published in Nature has introduced a cost-effective model to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates in developing countries. The study comes as developing nations struggle with disruptions to immunization campaigns in the aftermath of the pandemic.

4. More on health from Agenda

More than 1 billion people are now living with obesity, according to a new study, as global food systems and technology have led to changes in what and how much we eat.

As tuberculosis continues to impact communities around the world, businesses must take active steps to protect employees. This piece explains why.

In Africa’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, patient organizations are emerging as an important source of help for communities tackling both infectious and non-communicable diseases by addressing the wider needs of people living with illnesses.

This story was originally sourced from World Economic Forum

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