Posts tagged public health
Posts tagged public health
Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni warns of Ebola threat
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has urged people to avoid physical contact, after the deadly Ebola virus claimed one life in the capital, Kampala.
Fourteen people have now died since the outbreak began in western Uganda three weeks ago, he said in a broadcast.
There have been no confirmed cases of the infection spreading in Kampala.
Ebola, one of the most virulent diseases in the world, is spread by close personal contact and can kill up to 90% of those who become infected.
Mr Museveni said health officials were trying to trace everyone who had had contact with victims so that they could be quarantined.
People should avoid shaking hands, kissing or having sex to prevent the disease from spreading, he added.
Mr Museveni said relatives and friends should not bury anyone who is suspected to have died of Ebola.
“Instead call health workers because they know how to do it,” he said.
Mr Museveni said seven doctors and 13 health workers at Mulago hospital - the main referral hospital in Kampala - were in quarantine after “at least one or two cases” were taken there from Kibaale district, about 170km (100 miles) west of Kampala.
One victim - a health worker who had been transferred to the capital - later died.
“I wish you good luck, and may God rest the souls of those who died in eternal peace,” Mr Museveni said as he ended his address to the nation.
The BBC’s Ignatius Bahizi in Kampala says that some people have not yet heard about the latest outbreak of Ebola and are shocked when they find out.
Pictured: Up to 90% of those who contract Ebola die from the virus
Brazilian indigenous groups demand better healthcare
Groups of indigenous people in Brazil blocked roads and occupied government buildings to demand better healthcare for their communities.
Several ethnic groups staged a protest at the Health Ministry building in the capital, Brasilia, asking for a meeting with a senior official.
In a statement, the movement’s leaders called for better facilities and access to more doctors.
They say mortality rates are on the rise among the indigenous peoples.
“The authorities promise a lot and do very little,” said Pedro Kaingang, a spokesman for the group.
He said urgent action is needed, starting by improving pay for doctors and other health workers who serve their communities.
They also want better dental treatment, prescription glasses, wheelchairs and powder milk for infants.
The ethnic groups who took part in the protest - Kaingang, Guarani and Charrua - come from the south of Brazil, where they also occupied government buildings.
Arpinsul, the indigenous organisation behind the actions, says roads were blocked for several hours in the southern states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Parana.
Pictured: Health concerns: tribes take their protest to the capital
Half as many women dying in pregnancy, childbirth as 20 years ago.
About half as many women worldwide die from pregnancy, childbirth and related complications compared with two decades ago, according to United Nations estimates released Wednesday.
The declining numbers of maternal deaths — from 543,000 in 1990 to 287,000 worldwide as of two years ago — were cheered by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Fund, UNICEF and the World Bank, which jointly issued the report.
But a global goal of reducing maternal deaths by 75% from 1990 to 2015 remains distant in some countries where progress has been slow or nonexistent.
“We can’t stop here. Our work must continue to make every pregnancy wanted and every childbirth safe,” U.N. Population Fund executive director Babatunde Osotimehin said.
Women whose deaths are linked to pregnancy or childbirth most commonly lose their lives to severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy and unsafe abortions, the report said.
The report credited the increasing percentage of women who had skilled medical workers on hand during their pregnancy and childbirth, increased access to therapies for HIV-positive women giving birth, and more contraception use for the decline in deaths. The greatest strides were in eastern Asia, where the rate of maternal deaths dropped nearly 70% from 1990 to 2010.
But the problem remains grave in many parts of the world, particularly central and western Africa. Almost all maternal deaths occur in developing countries, with more than half occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.
The number of deaths rose in about one of seven countries analyzed in the report, including Chad, Somalia and Zimbabwe.
In the United States, the maternal mortality rate went up by almost two-thirds, putting it behind Western Europe, Canada and Australia and alongside Iran, Hungary and Turkey. The actual numbers, however, are still low compared with many other countries, going from 12 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births to 21 per 100,000.
The shaded map above, included in the U.N. report, shows the number of women who died per 100,000 live births as of two years ago, the most recent worldwide data available.
Portugal’s sick economy triggers health crisis
To cut costs, Portugal has increased the rates it charges for public health services. For many cash-strapped residents, the fee scheme has had a grim effect, potentially putting lives at risk.
LISBON — For Francisco Reposo, the 30% pay cut he was forced to take this year amid government austerity measures is the least of his worries. The high school science teacher is also on dialysis, awaiting a kidney operation, and Portugal’s financial bailout means he’s saddled with hundreds of dollars in monthly medical bills.
The cost of seeing a doctor in Portugal has more than doubled, from about $12 to $26 a visit. Reposo used to pay nothing for dialysis because he’s a blood donor, but that exemption was lifted, and he now pays about $53 for each session. Last month, he went three times.
“It’s had a serious impact on my financial situation,” said Reposo, 51. “But I need to go to the hospital, because otherwise it’s horrible pain.”
Those fees may seem low by U.S. standards. But the Portuguese, like most Europeans, have long been accustomed to universal public healthcare, one of the government benefits at the core of Europe’s postwar welfare state. Now such entitlements are slowly being chipped away by the continent’s debt crisis.
At least half a dozen European countries have either increased health fees in recent years or are considering it as a way to cut costs. Spain, Portugal’s neighbor on the Iberian peninsula, is in the process of implementing a slightly less punishing version of Lisbon’s new fee scheme in hopes of staving off the need for a bailout.
The cutbacks may be having a particularly grim effect here in Portugal, already Western Europe’s poorest country. The nation’s mortality rate shot up this winter: Nearly 20% more people died in February and March than in those months last year.
The government blames a nasty flu strain to which the elderly are most vulnerable, especially this winter, which was colder than average. But independent organizations and some opposition politicians say it’s evidence that austerity not only imperils people’s livelihoods, but may also endanger their lives.
Pictured: “Indignant” demonstrators prepare placards and a banner May 12 to protest in downtown Lisbon, Portugal. (Patricia de Melo Moreira, AFP/Getty Images / May 12, 2012)
Peru issues public health alert over pelican and dolphin deaths
Peruvian government urges people to stay away from Lima’s beaches as it investigates deaths of thousands of animals
Peru’s government has declared a health alert along its northern coastline and urged residents and tourists alike to stay away from beaches, as it investigates the unexplained deaths of hundreds of dolphins and pelicans.
At least 1,200 birds, mostly pelicans, washed up dead along a stretch of Peru’s northern Pacific coastline in recent weeks, health officials said, after an estimated 800 dolphins died in the same area in recent months.
The health ministry on Saturday recommended staying away from beaches, though stopped short of a ban, and called on health officials to use gloves, masks and other protective gear when collecting dead birds.
The agriculture ministry said preliminary tests on some dead pelicans pointed to malnourishment. Oscar Dominguez, head of the ministry’s health department, said experts had ruled out bird flu.
The peak tourism season around Lima’s beaches is over, though many surfers are still venturing into the waters near the capital.
“The health ministry … calls on the population to abstain from going to the beaches until the health alert is lifted,” the ministry said in a statement posted on its website, along with a photograph of a dead pelican. It added that officials had so far checked 18 beaches in and around Lima for dead birds, but gave no details on any findings. A mass pelican death along Peru’s northern coast in 1997 was blamed at the time on a shortage of feeder anchovies due to the el Niño phenomenon.
Pictured: Peru is investigating the deaths of more than 1,200 birds, mainly pelicans, as well as those of 800 dolphins along a 40-mile stretch of coastline. Photograph: Violeta Ayasta/AFP/Getty Images
Port-Au-Prince: A City Of Millions, With No Sewer System by RICHARD KNOX
Port-au-Prince is about the size of Chicago. But it doesn’t have a sewer system. It’s one of the largest cities in the world without one.
That’s a big problem, but never more so than during a time of cholera.
Since cholera was introduced into Haiti 18 months ago — most likely by United Nations peacekeeping troops from Nepal, where the disease is endemic — more than a half-million people have gotten sick and at least 7,050 have died.
Public health authorities say cholera will stay in the environment for a long time, because Haiti has the worst sanitation in this hemisphere.