Major health stories in the news last week

vaccination exercise
vaccination exercise [Photo: News Express NG]

Nigeria last week got the news that it may be certified polio-free in 2020 as the certification process begins this week. A lot also happened on both the local and international health scene during the week.

Here is a roundup of the major health stories last week.

Polio Eradication: Nigeria hopeful as certification process begins

Polio experts have said if Nigeria does not detect or report any new case of wild poliovirus, Nigeria and Africa would be certified polio-free in 2020.

This was disclosed by the Coordinator, Polio Eradication Programme at the World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa Regional Office, Pascal Mkanda, in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday.

Speaking during the 37th session of Expert Review Committee (ERC) on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunisation (RI) in Nigeria, Mr Mkanda said that the country might get its polio-free certification, having achieved the milestones of being three years’ wild polio-free.

Mongolia launches national anti-smoking campaign

Mongolia launched a national anti-smoking campaign on Wednesday to raise public awareness about the negative impacts of smoking.

The youth-oriented anti-smoking campaign, called `Let’s say goodbye to smoking,’ was co-organised by the country’s National Police Agency (NPA), Health Ministry, Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports, among other relevant institutions.

According to the NPA, over 27 per cent of Mongolia’s population smokes cigarettes, with many Mongolians taking up smoking before the age of 21.

Brazil Approves Sale Of Medical Cannabis

The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) on Tuesday approved the sale of cannabis-based products for medical use in pharmacies to people with a prescription.

The regulation, which takes effect in the coming months, also allows for the manufacture of such products in a laboratory, Anvisa said in a statement.

Anvisa is also analysing the possibility of permitting the cultivation of medical cannabis

Mammograms might help show women at risk of heart failure- study

Recent research has suggested that mammogram may help identify women at risk of heart failure by revealing the presence of calcium buildup in breast arteries.

Mammograms have, so far, had the single role of identifying potentially cancerous tumours in the breast.

The findings of the research by Quan Minh Bui and colleagues from the University of California, San Diego, shows that Mammograms also show the formation of breast arterial calcifications, which are calcium buildups inside the arteries in the breast

Bui and colleagues argue that breast arterial calcification can help identify women who may be at risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure, in which the heart is unable to pump blood effectively.

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More than 140,000 die from measles as cases surge worldwide

New estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United States Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that more than 140,000 people died from measles globally in 2018 .

The health agencies said most of the deaths occurred in children under five years of age. Measles is preventable through vaccination. However, vaccination rates globally have stagnated for almost a decade.

The report estimated that the worst impacts of measles were in sub-Saharan Africa, where many children have persistently missed out on vaccination.

In 2018, the most affected countries – the countries with the highest incidence rate of the disease – were Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia, Madagascar, Somalia and Ukraine. These five countries accounted for almost half of all measles cases worldwide.

Gates Foundation’s CEO to step down

The Chief Executive Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Sue Desmond–Hellmann, is stepping down after more than five years of holding the position.

Ms Desmond–Hellmann will be replaced by Mark Suzman, the foundation’s president of global policy and advocacy and chief strategy officer, on February 1.

The foundation – a multi-billion dollar philanthropic organisation – is working in many countries across the world including Nigeria.

The organisation works in Nigeria and focuses on improving people’s health and wellbeing, helping individuals lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty.

NCDC confirms UK patient diagnosed with monkeypox ‘visited Nigeria’

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said it is aware of a case of monkeypox disease reported in England.

NCDC in a tweet said it is aware of a case of monkeypox reported in England “in an individual who visited Nigeria recently”.

The Nigerian health agency said it is working closely with its counterparts from the Public Health England (PHE) and World Health Organisation (WHO) to monitor the disease.

Prostate cancer: Home urine test could ‘revolutionise diagnosis’

A new pilot study concludes that at-home urine tests could make prostate cancer diagnoses shorter, simpler, and possibly even more accurate.

Prostate cancer is common, affecting nearly half of males over 50. Currently, the two most common diagnostic tools are digital rectal exams and blood tests for prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Although PSA is useful, there are issues.

For this reason and others, researchers are investigating other ways of testing for prostate cancer, and some are looking to urine.

These tests are called prostate urine risk (PUR) tests, and studies have demonstrated that they can help predict whether or not prostate cancer will become aggressive.

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