Major health news last week

Doctors attending to patients used to illustrate the story
Doctors attending to patients used to illustrate the story
WHO paves way for stronger international human gene-editing regulations

The World Health Organisation committee on gene editing has called on all scientists conducting human genome research to open discussions with the committee so as to ensure that their work meets current scientific and ethical best practices.

This call was made by the advisory committee set up by the health agency to develop a global standard for governance and oversight of human genome editing.

Some of the concern raised is that the technology can be misused to create genetically altered human beings and heighten their physical features, intelligence among others.

23 new Lassa fever cases confirmed in Nigeria

The current Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria has killed at least 114 people this year, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said on Saturday.

From January 1 to March 17, a total of 1801 suspected cases were reported from 21 states. Of these, 495 were confirmed positive, 15 probable and 1277 negative (not a case).

The weekly situation report from NCDC for week 11 shows that 23 new confirmed cases were reported from nine states; Edo – 8, Ondo -4, Ebonyi 3, Bauchi -3, Taraba -1, Imo 1, Enugu 1, Benue -1 and Kebbi -1 States.

Four new deaths were also reported in three states for the week. The states are Edo -2, Benue -1 and Bauchi- 1 states.

HIV/AIDs prevalence rate in Akwa Ibom unacceptable – Ex-NMA chairman

A former chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Akwa Ibom State, Aniekeme Uwah, has said that the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDs in the state is “worrisome and unacceptable.”

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The Nigerian HIV/AIDs Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) has shown that Akwa Ibom has the highest prevalence rate of HIV in the country.

About 5.5 per cent of the people living with HIV in Nigeria are in Akwa Ibom State, followed by Benue State, which has about 5.3 per cent prevalence rate, according to the findings of the survey released in Abuja.

Tuberculosis (BCG) vaccine not enough protection against TB infection – Experts

Receiving vaccine for tuberculosis (TB) during childhood does not totally cover an individual from getting infected with the disease, a health expert, Odume Betrand, has said.

Bacilli Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is the vaccine for the prevention of TB and often administered to children at birth. However, there are some exceptional cases where people who had received the vaccines still get infected with the disease.

This could explain the reasons why there are TB cases recorded even among children or people who were given BCG vaccines at birth.

Mr Betrand, senior programme specialist, TB/HIV, United State Centre for Disease Controlsaid if a person is coughing for more than two weeks, they should suspect TB and go for a test. The test and treatment is free, in government facilities.

WHO calls on international community to join urgent push to end Ebola outbreak

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reaffirmed its commitments to ending the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Since the outbreak of the disease in Augut 2018, there have been 993 confirmed and probable cases and 621 deaths in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

More than 96 000 people have been vaccinated against Ebola in DRC, along with health workers in Uganda and South Sudan.

As of 21 March, 38 of 130 affected health areas have active transmission. More than 44 million border screenings have helped to slow the spread of Ebola in this highly mobile population. No cases have spread beyond North Kivu and Ituri provinces, and no cases have crossed international borders.

Hearing impairment: Surgeon advises parents to screen children’s ear

Parents have been advised to take their newly born babies for ear screening for detection for hearing impairment and treatment.

A surgeon Titus Ibekwe, Head of Department of Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), University of Abuja, Teaching Hospital said early detection is essential to addressing hearing disease and preventing children from avoidable hearing loss.

He said about 42 million children worldwide had hearing loss and described the figure as “unacceptable” because the burden was preventable.

WHO sends health assistance to victims of Cyclone Idai

The World Health Organization (WHO) is providing urgent assistance to meet the health needs of thousands of people impacted by flooding in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

The floods were triggered by Tropical Cyclone Idai, which swept through the region last week.

The Government of Mozambique estimates that more than 1 000 people may have died, with 600 000 persons affected in the northern provinces of Niassa, Tete and Zambezia.

State authorities in the three countries continue search and rescue missions. In Malawi, 922 000 people have been affected, with 82 700 people displaced, 577 injuries and 56 deaths. The cyclone also stormed through Chimanimani District in Zimbabwe, causing 65 deaths and displacing between 8 000 and 9 600 people.

World Optometry Day: Association tasks Nigerians on right to sight

The Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) has called on Nigerians living in rural and urban areas to take charge of their sight by demanding better eye care services from the government.

Ozy Okonokhua, President of NOA, every Nigerian, had the right to sight by having optometrists in their healthcare centres for constant eye checks and care, however, regretted that such rights were being denied citizens.

He said that a lot of persons in rural areas were avoidably blind due to lack of access to primary eye care providers.

Pediatrician in trouble for sexually assaulting 31 children

A former Pennsylvania pediatrician Johnnie Barto, will likely spend some time in prison after he pleaded guilty in December to some counts in the sexual assault of 31 children.

The case which sentencing is scheduled for Monday includes aggravated indecent assault and child endangerment.

Most of the children were patients, as at the time of the incident nearly two decades ago but state medical regulators failed to act.

Prosecutors say Barto spent decades abusing boys and girls in the exam room at his pediatric practice in western Pennsylvania and at local hospitals, with his victims typically ranging in age from 8 to 12; one was an infant.

Police arrest rapist through DNA match

Authorities in Alabama say a DNA match found through a genealogy website has led to an arrest in decades-old slaying and rape case.

Al.com reports 45-year-old Coley McCraney, of Dothan, was arrested Saturday and charged with rape and capital murder in the 1999 deaths of 17-year-olds Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley.

The girls left Dothan the night of July 3, 1999, to attend a party, but they never arrived. The pair was found the next day in the trunk of Beasley’s car alongside a road in Ozark, each with a gunshot wound to the head.

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