Showing posts with label HEALTH & NUTRITION. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HEALTH & NUTRITION. Show all posts

21 October 2021

New genes identified for fibromuscular dysplasia.

Three new genetic variants that regulate gene expression in the arteries are connected to fibromuscular dysplasia, an arterial disease that can cause dangerous consequences for the heart and vessels, according to a new study.

The findings, published in Nature Communications by an international team of FMD experts from the United States and Europe, also confirmed the importance of a fourth genetic target that has already been identified as involved with the disease.

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Israel detects 1st case of COVID-19 Delta variant "AY4.2".

The first case of the new COVID-19 Delta variant "AY4.2" was detected in Israel on Tuesday (19th), the country's Ministry of Health said. 

This is the variant that was previously detected in several European countries, the ministry noted. It was diagnosed in an 11-year-old boy, who underwent a coronavirus test at Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv, upon his return from Moldova.

"AY4.2", which some are calling “Delta Plus”, contains mutation that might gives the virus survival advantages.


20 October 2021

WHO Global TB report for 2021.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released the ‘Global TB report for 2021, where it highlighted the effects of COVID-19 which led to a huge reversal in the progress of Tuberculosis (TB) elimination. The report also mentioned India as the worst-hit country in TB elimination, where the detection of new TB cases saw a huge impact in 2020.

A dramatic reduction of 20% TB cases were witnessed in 2020 as compared to 2019, ie; a gap of 4.1 million cases. The progress in TB detection has gone back to the levels of 2012, with India accounting for 41% of the total case drops in 2020.

Please note that direct comparisons between estimates of TB disease burden in the latest report and previous reports are not appropriate. The most recent time-series of estimates are published in this global TB report.



18 October 2021

Covid-19 treatment Sri Lanka explores possibility of using Merck’s oral antiviral pill.

Sri Lanka is exploring the possibility of using the oral antiviral pill developed by the pharmaceutical giant ‘Merck’ for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, Daily Mirror learns.  Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) which developed the pill has already applied for U.S. emergency use authorisation to treat mild-to-moderate patients of COVID-19. It is the first oral antiviral medication for Covid-19 patients.   

State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulations of Pharmaceuticals Prof. Channa Jayasumana requested Director General of Health Services Dr. Asela Gunawardane in writing on October 11 to submit to him the opinion of the experts’ panel on the use of this pill in the treatment of Covid-19 patients.   

The treatment which is called Molnupiravir reduces the risk of hospitalisation and death by half.  Already, several countries such as Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore scramble to strike a supply deal with Merck.  

Prof. Jayasumana also mentioned in his letter that the pill is prescribed in several countries at the moment. According to foreign media, Merck plans to double manufacturing capacity since there is a surging demand for its product. 



08 October 2021

First Malaria Vaccine Approved by W.H.O.

World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission. The recommendation is based on results from an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya & Malawi that has reached more than 800 000 children since 2019.

The vaccine is developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Many vaccines exist against viruses and bacteria but this was the first time that the WHO recommended broad use of a vaccine against a human parasite. The vaccine acts against Plasmodium falciparum, one of five parasite species and the most deadly. The symptoms of malaria are fever, headaches, and muscle pain, then cycles of chills, fever, and sweating.



02 October 2021

Chinese organic manure sample rejected due to contains of Bacillus Bacteria.

Due to the presence of Bacillus bacteria in the fresh sample of the Chinese organic fertiliser, the agriculture department has rejected the organic fertiliser from that country, Agriculture Director General Dr. Ajantha de Silva said.

He told the Daily Mirror that two tests have been conducted on the organic fertiliser samples. The results revealed that there is a serious issue with the bacteria which should not enter the country.

Therefore, the Ministry has decided to cancel the supplier's contract to import the Chinese organic fertiliser due to the above mentioned factor, Dr. Silva said.

With the rejection to bring this fertiliser, the farmers will not face any threats to their agricultural activities, as the Ministry granted permission to several private firms to import them, he said.

Every consignment of fertiliser that are imported into the country should be channeled  through out strict process. The Agriculture Department will never allow such organic fertilizer with harmful bacteria to enter the country.

He also said that no Chinese manure is being imported into the country categorised as organic fertiliser, and that will never happen, the DG confirmed. 


01 October 2021

COVID-19 pandemic cut life expectancy by most since World War Two.

The COVID-19 pandemic reduced life expectancy in 2020 by the largest amount since World War Two, according to a study published on Monday, 27th September 2021 by Oxford University, with the life expectancy of American men dropping by more than two years.

Life expectancy fell by more than six months compared with 2019 in 22 of the 29 countries analysed in the study, which spanned Europe, the United States and Chile. There were reductions in life expectancy in 27 of the 29 countries overall.

The university said most life expectancy reductions across different countries could be linked to official COVID-19 deaths. There have been nearly 5 million reported deaths caused by the new coronavirus so far, a Reuters tally shows.

There were greater drops in life expectancy for men than women in most countries, with the largest decline in American men, who saw life expectancy drop by 2.2 years relative to 2019.

In the United States, the rise in mortality was mainly among those of working age and those under 60, while in Europe, deaths among people aged over 60 contributed more significantly to the increase in mortality.



29 September 2021

Scientists develop a 3D-printed microneedle patch.

Scientists have developed a tiny 3D-printed microneedle vaccine patch that could offer a pain-free alternative to needles.  

In trials on mice, it offered a 10-fold greater immune response and a 50-fold greater T-cell and antigen-specific antibody response compared with a needle in the arm. 

The polymer patch, which is smaller than a 5p coin, needs lower doses and could be mailed to people's homes and self-administered, eliminating the need for trained medical personnel. 

It also offers an 'anxiety-free' vaccination option for people who have a 'needle phobia', also known as trypanophobia, which is putting some off getting their Covid jabs. 

The researchers are yet to conduct clinical trials of the patch on humans, which could pave the way for a new way of administering vaccines in the future.  

The new vaccine patch has been developed by researchers at Stanford University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

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27 September 2021

Health Minister on making COVID-19 vaccine compulsory

It would be possible to pass legal provisions making anti-coronavirus vaccination compulsory if the need arises, Minister of Heath Keheliya Rambukwella said.

He mentioned this speaking to journalists following a program held at the Kandy National Hospital today (September 26).

If there is a need to formulate a legal framework regarding vaccination in the future, it will be done in consultation with the health sector, Minister Rambukwella added.



26 September 2021

World Contraception Day - 26 September.

Every year on September 26th, World Contraception Day spreads awareness about contraception and safe sex. The day also teaches younger generations to make informed decisions about sexual health.

Many believe birth control is a fairly modern invention. However, men and women as far back as 3000 BC used various ways to prevent pregnancy. In 3000 BC, ancient Egyptian men had invented the first condom. IN 1850 BC, women were using a pessary as a way to prevent pregnancy. This contraceptive device was placed inside the vagina to kill sperm. The pessary contained a concoction of crocodile dung, honey, and sodium carbonate.

In 2007, 10 international family planning organizations came together to form World Contraception Day. They set a goal to promote safe, effective, and preferred family planning options and contraceptive methods. Additionally, 15 NGOs throughout the world, along with several scientific and medical societies, support this day.



WHO revises air quality norms for first time since 2005.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced a tight revision in its air quality guidelines (AQG). This is the first revision in the global air quality by WHO since 2005. In the new guidelines, WHO has lowered the acceptable exposure levels to key pollutants, including ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter (PM).

Under the new guidelines:

  • WHO has lowered acceptable thresholds for several pollutants, including PM 2.5. Now, PM 2.5 concentrations must remain below 15µg/m³.
  • According to the new limits, average annual PM2.5 concentrations should not be higher than 5 micrograms per cubic meter.
  • Air pollution kills at least 7 million people prematurely each year. The revised guidelines encourage countries to slash fossil fuel emissions.
  • These guidelines are not legally binding on countries. The reduced level of air pollution will improve the health of people.


Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed WHO Ambassador for Global Health Financing.

The WHO announced the appointment of The Rt Hon Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, as WHO Ambassador for Global Health Financing. He is widely credited with preventing a second Great Depression through his stewardship of the 2009 London G20 summit. He mobilized world leaders to commit an additional $1.1 trillion to restore credit, growth and jobs.

Mr Brown has tirelessly called on wealthy nations as well as the private sector to ensure the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, advocating for a concerted global effort — rooted in science and sound economics – to save lives, end the pandemic and restore livelihoods the world over.

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24 September 2021

Sri Lanka begins COVID vaccinations for children with co-morbidities today. (24 September 2021).

COVID-19 inoculation program for children aged between 12 - 19 years who suffer from disabilities or chronic illnesses kicked off at three hospitals today (Sep. 24).

Accordingly, Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are rolled out for such children at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children in Colombo, Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital and Kurunegala Teaching Hospital.

The parents are required to produce all the medical records of children when bringing them for vaccinations.

A Consultant Paediatrician will assess the relevant medical records before deciding whether the vaccine would be administered.

The parents are also required to sign a letter giving consent to administer the Pfizer vaccine to their children.

As per the guidelines, children who recovered from COVID-19 should be vaccinated irrespective of the previous infection disease condition. They can be vaccinated after two weeks since recovery.

In the initial phase of this program, vaccinations will continue in Colombo, Kalutara, Gampaha, Kurunegala and Anuradhapura districts. It is expected to be expanded to other areas in due course.

The underlying health conditions eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations are as follows:

1. Primary immune deficiency disorders

2. Acquired immune suppression due to disease or treatment:

  • • Haematological malignancies, including leukaemia and lymphoma
  • • Any other malignancy on radiotherapy or chemotherapy
  • • On biological therapy
  • • On high or moderate doses of corticosteroids
  • • On any other immune modulating or suppressant drug like methotrexate, azathioprine, MMF, tacrolimus, cyclophosphamide
  • • Any transplant recipient
  • • Any condition which requires a long-term immunosuppressive treatments

3. Haematological conditions or other causes leading to asplenia or splenic dysfunction:

  • • Thalassemia major and intermedius, 
  • • Hereditary spherocytosis
  • • Sickle cell disease

4. Endocrine disorders:

  • • Diabetes mellitus
  • • Addison’s disease
  • • Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia                
  • • Hypopituitary syndrome
  • • Other significant hormonal dysfunction

5. Chronic neuro-disability:

  • • Cerebral palsy
  • • Autism
  • • Epilepsy,
  • • Neuro-degenerative diseases
  • • Neuro-muscular disorders

6. Congenital genetic syndromes with any chronic disability or disorder and learning             disabilities

  • • Down syndrome
  • • Severe or profound and multiple learning disabilities due to any aetiology

7. Any other significant genetic and/or metabolic abnormalities that affect a number of systems

8. Chronic heart disorders

  • • Unrepaired congenital heart diseases
  • • Repaired heart diseases with significant residual diseases or shunts
  • • Haemodynamically significant acquired heart diseases

9. Chronic respiratory disorders

  • • Poorly controlled asthma which requires long term oral steroids or a history of severe asthma which required an ICU care 
  • • Cystic fibrosis
  • • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • • Interstitial lung diseases
  • • Significant bronchiectasis due to any aetiology
  • • Pulmonary hypertension

10. Chronic disease involving genito-urinary tract

  • • Chronic kidney diseases due to any cause
  • • Nephrotic syndrome on regular follow up
  • • On treatment for glomerulonephritis
  • • Any other chronic condition involving genito-urinary tract

11. Chronic disease involving gastrointestinal tract

  • • Chronic liver cell diseases due to any cause
  • • Chronic gastrointestinal disorders including inflammatory bowel disease
  • • Malabsorption syndrome

12. Chronic rheumatological diseases

  • • Presence of active connective tissue diseases
  • • Presently being on long-term prophylaxis fever
  • • Any other rheumatological or surgical condition with disability, requiring long-term treatment

13. Being on long-term treatment for chronic psychiatric diseases

14. Any other child with significant co-morbid condition as recommended by the treating consultant in relevant speciality and endorsed by the paediatrician and physician in the vaccination centre.



22 September 2021

Pfizer/BioNTech Company said data show COVID-19 vaccine safe and protective in kids.

Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and BioNTech SE said on Monday (20th) their COVID-19 vaccine induced a robust immune response in 5 to 11 year olds, and they plan to ask for regulatory authorization as soon as possible to use the shot in children in that age range in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

The companies said their two-dose vaccine generated an immune response in the 5-to-11 year olds in a Phase II/III clinical trial that matched what was previously observed in 16-to-25 year olds. The safety profile was also generally comparable to the older age group, they added.

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19 September 2021

Cuba becomes first country to vaccinate young kids against Covid-19.

Cuba started vaccinating children as young as two years old against covid-19 this week, becoming the first country in the world to inoculate toddlers. At least 12 young kids have died from covid-19 in Cuba this year, while there were no infant deaths from the disease in that country during 2020, according to the Miami Herald.

Cuba developed its own covid-19 vaccine, a two-shot regimen known as Soberana 2 that has an efficacy of 91.2% after a booster called Soberana Plus, according to studies in the country which haven’t yet been peer-reviewed. Cuba developed its own vaccine, a point of pride for Cubans, due to harsh sanctions still imposed by the U.S., an antiquated holdover from the first Cold War.

Cuba, which is averaging roughly 8,000 new covid-19 cases every day, reported 3,727 new covid-19 cases in children on Monday and Tuesday alone, according to the Miami Herald, including 236 infants and 16 newborns.

Getting children vaccinated will be vital to stopping the global pandemic, largely because kids now make up an increasingly large share of the cases. There were at least 243,000 cases of covid-19 in children from Sept 2. to Sept. 9 in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, representing roughly 29% of all cases in the country. Compared to the percentage of cases in children since the start of the pandemic last year, 15%, the virus is clearly making its way through unvaccinated children at an alarming speed.

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Sri Lanka surpassed WHO vaccination goals.

Sri Lanka surpassed WHO vaccination goals, with 50% of population fully vaccinated.

Sri Lanka reached an important milestone yesterday (September 18) with 50% of the population fully vaccinated, surpassing vaccination goals set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate has been the chant for the pandemic response.  This is based on the science of vaccines and global evidence that COVID-19 vaccines can protect against severe disease as well as limit the transmission of the virus, the WHO says.

WHO has called for all countries to vaccinate 10% of their population by the end of September and 40% by the end of the year.  

Issuing a press release, WHO says that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s ‘ambitious vaccination effort’ that spearheads Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 response has long surpassed WHO’s targets.  It is also likely to surpass its own target of vaccinating 60% of the population by 31 December, the WHO predicts.

Sri Lanka has used six vaccines – AstraZeneca (Japan), Covishield, Moderna, Pfizer, Sinopharm, and Sputnik.  All except Sputnik have WHO Emergency Use License (EUL).  So far, Sri Lanka has received 27 million vaccine doses, of which 12.2% were accessed through COVAX AMC.  

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18 September 2021

Sri Lanka-born researcher appointed to U.S. National Cancer Advisory Board.

A leading Johns Hopkins cancer researcher Dr. Ashani Weeraratna, who is of Sri Lankan origin, has been appointed by U.S. President Joe Biden to serve as a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board.

The White House announced the appointment on Wednesday (15th).

Dr. Weeraeatna, who specializes in melanoma and the effects of aging on cancer, is the E.V. McCollum Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor.

She also serves as the co-leader of the Cancer Invasion and Metastasis Program at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, and a professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She had joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2019.

According to John Hopkins University statement, Dr. Weeraratna’s research focuses on the effects of the tumor microenvironment—the normal cells and structures surrounding a tumor—on metastasis and therapy resistance.

She is one of the first researchers to study how the aging microenvironment influences metastasis and therapy resistance in melanoma.

Her studies encompass biophysical changes that affect the ability of both tumor and immune cells to migrate through tissues. Her research has found age-related differences in responses to both targeted therapy and immunotherapy, findings that may one day inform clinical practice.

Born in Sri Lanka and raised in Lesotho in Africa, Dr. Weeraratna first came to the United States in 1988 to study biology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She earned a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Oncology at the Department of Pharmacology of George Washington University Medical Center.

She is President of the Society for Melanoma Research, and a fierce champion of and a mentor for junior faculty, people of color and women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).



15 September 2021

Britain begins world's largest trial of blood test.

Britain's state-run National Health Service will on Monday begin the world's biggest trial of Grail Inc's (GRAL.O) flagship Galleri blood test that can be used to detect more than 50 types of cancer before symptoms appear.

The Galleri test looks at the DNA in a patient's blood to determine if any come from cancer cells. Earlier diagnosis of cancers leads to dramatically increased survival rates.

The NHS said it wanted to recruit 140,000 volunteers in England to see how well the test worked as part of a randomised control trial. Half of the participants will have their blood sample screened with the Galleri test right away.

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13 September 2021

U.S. will authorize Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for kids age 5-11 in October.

Top US health officials believe that Pfizer Inc's Covid-19 vaccine could be authorised for children aged 5-11 years old by the end of October, two sources familiar with the situation said on Friday 10 September 2021.

The timeline is based on the expectation that Pfizer, which developed the shot with Germany's BioNTech, will have enough data from clinical trials to seek emergency use authorisation (EUA) for that age group from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) towards the end of this month, the sources said.

They anticipate the FDA could make a decision on whether the shot is safe and effective in younger children within three weeks of the EUA submission.

The decision on whether to authorise a vaccine for younger children is eagerly anticipated by millions of Americans, particularly parents whose children started school in recent weeks amid a wave of infections driven by the Delta variant.



11 September 2021

COVID-19 pandemic increasing risk factors for suicide.

COVID-19 pandemic is triggering an increase in risk factors for suicide, and suicide prevention “must be prioritized” after 18 months into the pandemic that brought social isolation among the population, America’s office of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day.

Novel COVID-19 has exacerbated risk factors associated with suicidal behaviours, such as job loss, trauma or abuse, mental health disorders and barriers to accessing health care, the global health agency warned. Furthermore, it added that globally, one in 100 deaths is reported by suicide, making it among the leading causes of death worldwide and the fourth leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year-olds.

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