Archive by category | World watch

Even if Somalia’s turmoil subsides, famine might increase long-term disease risk for survivors

Even if Somalia’s turmoil subsides, famine might increase long-term disease risk for survivors

Drought and war have come together in Somalia, culminating in the worst famine to hit the region in decades. An estimated 800,000 children in the Horn of Africa are acutely malnourished, and over 80% of them are cut off from relief by warlords in the area. Today the UN World Food Programme intended to drop food supplies to the Somali capital to feed the 40,000 refugees gathered there, the first airlift in the two weeks since the UN declared the crisis an official famine.  Read more

Winning hearts and minds to beat polio

Winning hearts and minds to beat polio

Today, in the historic New York City residence of former US president and polio survivor Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Bill Gates took to the podium. As he spoke before a group of journalists, the Microsoft founder detailed the goal of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help stamp out polio. His words come on the heels of an announcement last Thursday when Gates, together with the Crown Prince of Abu-Dabhi of the United Arab Emirates, pledged to donate a total of $100 million toward many vaccines, including that against polio.  Read more

To combat Haitian cholera epidemic, researchers look to vaccines and early detection techniques

To combat Haitian cholera epidemic, researchers look to vaccines and early detection techniques

More than a year after a catastrophic earthquake struck Port-au-Prince and killed an estimated 230,000 Haitians, public health officials are still grappling with the fallout from a cholera outbreak that has so far killed more than 3,000 people and infected nearly 150,000 others. To strengthen the response on the ground, the World Bank yesterday awarded $15 million to aid efforts in identifying and responding to future cases of the disease.  Read more

Disaster in the time of cholera

Disaster in the time of cholera

Haiti is back in the news this morning, as its Ministry of Health just announced that lab tests have confirmed that cholera is responsible for an outbreak of diarrhea in rural areas. The epidemic has sickened more than 1,500 and killed at least 150, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). For months, aid organizations have been warning that crowded conditions amongst refugees from January’s devastating earthquake could lead to rapidly spreading illnesses.  Read more

Tobacco trends suggest challenges ahead

Tobacco trends suggest challenges ahead

A lung conference on Friday put a spotlight on trends in tobacco around the world. Health experts estimate, for example, that smoking-related deaths in China will climb to two million each year by 2020 unless the country does more to curb tobacco use. Stamping out cigarettes might be a real drag on the country’s budget, though, as tobacco taxes generate a reported 7.6 % of Chinese central government revenues.  Read more

The best defense against biowarfare

The best defense against biowarfare

The recent suicide of vaccine researcher Bruce Ivins, the FBI’s prime suspect in the fatal anthrax mailings following the 9/11 attacks, has brought bioterrorism back to the forefront of the national consciousness. Many people are pondering out loud: Is the US prepared to respond to a bioweapons attack? Probably not, according to recent media reports. The government has invested some $50 billion in biowarfare research since 2001, which has gone into creating new labs, building up stockpiles of antibiotics and smallpox vaccines, and devising strategies for large-scale distribution of these medicines. Yet despite considerable progress, there is still work to be done; we still don’t have a suitable anthrax vaccine, for example.  Read more

New Wrath over ‘Honest’ Jim

The scientific community shunned Nobel laureate James Watson, of double-helix fame, this week after he suggested that Africa’s prospect is “gloomy” because blacks are not as intelligent as other races. Watson was quoted by the UK’s Sunday Times as saying, “All our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really.”  … Read more