Deliberate disinformation aids ignorant measles outbreaks

❝ A large measles outbreak in Washington state shows no sign of abating.

According to the State Department of Health, there are now at least 54 cases of the illness, all but one of which were located in Clark County, Washington, just across the river from Portland, Oregon. Directly to the south, the Oregon Health Authority has reported at least four cases. Within Clark County, the vast majority of diagnoses are of children 10 years old or younger.

❝ Measles — an airborne virus that can lead to lung infections, brain damage, and death in the worst cases — was responsible for thousands of deaths in the U.S. each year prior to the discovery of a vaccine in 1963. Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, but in the last year, there has been a worldwide resurgence of the virus, with cases increasing 30 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). One of the main drivers of this trend is a growing reluctance to vaccinate children, so much so that the WHO listed the anti-vaccination movement as one of its top ten threats to global health in 2019…

❝ According to a 2018 study by the American Journal of Public Health, combating the problem has been made even more difficult by Russian trolls spreading disinformation on the subject. As ThinkProgress has previously documented, Kremlin-backed disinformation agents have specifically focused on wedge issues designed to divide Americans — like Black Lives Matter and immigration issues. Anti-vaccination, it seems, has also fallen into that category.

Ignorance ain’t bliss, folks. It can kill your children and the kids around them. RTFA!

I grew up in the age when the only vaccine available for regular childhood vaccination was for diphtheria. It was common practice every spring among my playmates to gather in the schoolyard first nice day we were allowed outdoors at recess and see who didn’t make it through the winter. We lost one or two kids every winter. Even though measles could and would land in our factory town any time in the year, winter was always the most worrisome. Flu was a big killer. And, yes, we worried as much about polio in the summer. Still, the number one killer in our neighborhood was measles.

WHO Proposes Downgrading Cannabis Under International Law


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❝ The World Health Organization (WHO) is proposing downgrading cannabis under international law for the first time, in light of growing evidence of its legitimate medicinal benefits.

❝ Currently classified by the WHO as schedule IV – the same class as heroin – which is the most strictly controlled category, the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) has proposed to reschedule cannabis, and other cannabis-related products as a schedule I classification. What’s more, they’ve proposed removing non-THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) cannabis products, such as CBD oil, from international drug controls completely.

WHO spent way too much time paying attention to thugs like Nixon BITD. Overdue at WHO. Overdue in the US of A.

The OldChilla Concert


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If this is a handy venue – and you’re young enough to wonder why so many geezers uniformly agree that much of today’s music is crap – here’s an opportunity to find out what we’re talking about. Most of these artists are younger than me; but, that’s not saying much. 🙂

I know some of them are still in good voice. Regardless, worth checking out.

Me? I’m still a New Mexico hermit. I won’t be there; but, one of our regular contributors, Ursarodinia, will be there with bells on. And maybe a cardboard camel.

Uruguay wins case against tobacco giant

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An international arbitrator has ordered tobacco company Philip Morris to pay Uruguay $7 million in damages and court costs after losing a lawsuit that challenged government anti-smoking policies…

The International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, an arm of the World Bank, ruled that the Swiss-based tobacco-manufacturer had failed to prove that Uruguray had violated the terms of its 1998 Bilateral Investment Treaty in approving a ban on smoking in enclosed spaces, higher cigarette taxes and warning labels between 2005 and 2010. This lawsuit represented the first time a tobacco company had sued a sovereign state before an international forum…

In enforcing the laws, government officials ordered a review of each of the 12 brands of cigarettes sold in Uruguay and required the manufacturer to increase the size of the health warnings on cigarette packaging by 80 percent. The resulting costs forced Philip Morris to withdraw seven of the 12 types of cigarettes that it sold on the Uruguayan the market.

But in their defense, lawyers for Uruguay cited scientific studies which showed a correlation between smoking and a 15 percent increase in cancer cases in the country, making it an “addictive chronic disease.

“This position is shared by the World Health Organization and its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, as well as the Pan American Health Organization and international scientific and medical institutions,” Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez said.

Bravo, Uruguay. Keep making these greedy bastards pay for their crimes.

The global surge in diabetes – in one map

Around the world, the number of people living with diabetes has quadrupled since 1980, and most of the burden of the disease is concentrated in poorer countries.


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As this chart from Statista shows, many of the biggest increases in diabetes prevalence have happened in the developing regions of the world, such as the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. In 2014, 422 million adults were living with diabetes, compared with 108 million in 1980, according to a new report from the World Health Organization.

For years, researchers and health agencies have warned that urbanization and the influx of cheap, sugary, and processed foods into low- and middle-income countries are linked to the surge in noncommunicable diseases, including diabetes and obesity…

❝ “If we are to make any headway in halting the rise in diabetes, we need to rethink our daily lives: To eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain,” Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director general, said in a statement. “Even in the poorest settings, governments must ensure that people are able to make these healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose and treat people with diabetes.”

Whether they’re poor or rich, countries are also going to have to find ways to counter the ​food marketing messages​ urging people to consume more if they want to turn the trend around.

Any Libertarians, liberal or conservative, on your block who will support that approach? The right to sell people crap food is as sacrosanct as “debate” anchors refusing to challenge political lies from presidential candidates.

Zika virus may infect up to 4 million people in the Americas

The Zika virus, blamed for thousands of deformities in babies in what is a growing crisis across Latin America, could see “explosive” growth and affect up to 4 million people globally, experts at the World Health Organization said Thursday.

Margaret Chan, director-general of the U.N.’s health agency, said the organization will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to decide if Zika should be declared an international emergency. She added that the spread of the mosquito-borne disease had gone from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions…

The virus “is now spreading explosively,” she added.

“As of today, cases have been reported in 23 countries and territories in the (Americas) region,” Chan told WHO executive board members at a meeting in Geneva.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told reporters Thursday that there have been 31 cases of Zika infection among U.S. citizens who traveled to areas affected by the virus. So far, there have been no cases of transmission of the virus through mosquitoes in the United States…

Schuchat said that “any outbreaks in the continental U.S. would be limited” for reasons including the fact that urban areas in the U.S. are “not as densely populated” as in the countries where the virus has spread.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, said one of the potential vaccines was based on work done on the West Nile virus. Fauci said that vaccine was never developed because a drug company partner could not be found, but he did not see this as an issue for Zika…

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is a close cousin of dengue and chikungunya and causes mild fever, rash and red eyes. An estimated 80 percent of people infected have no symptoms, making it difficult for pregnant women to know whether they have been infected.

Brazil’s Health Ministry said in November 2015 that Zika was linked to a fetal deformation known as microcephaly, in which infants are born with abnormally small heads.

Brazil has reported 3,893 suspected cases of microcephaly, the WHO said last week, more than 30 times more than in any year since 2010 and equivalent to 1-2 percent of all newborns in the state of Pernambuco, one of the worst-hit areas.

Chan said that while a direct causal relationship between Zika virus infection and birth malformations has not yet been established, it is “strongly suspected…The possible links, only recently suspected, have rapidly changed the risk profile of Zika from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions…”

Scary stuff. Following on the Web, it appears a broad range of medical bodies throughout the Americas are marshaling forces as quickly as possible. From DNA research to a range of potential vaccines, folks are trying to get ahead of this.

I saw an interview, this morning, where the doctor simply said – sexually active young women should be conscious of mosquito season anywhere they may travel. If they live in a country with a substantial mosquito season and lacking the budget for eradication programs, consider insect repellents – until vaccines are available.

Doctors/Public Health prescription for healthier planet

Some top international doctors and public health experts have issued an urgent prescription for a feverish planet Earth: Get off coal as soon as possible.

Substituting cleaner energy worldwide for coal will reduce air pollution and give Earth a better chance at avoiding dangerous climate change, recommended a global health commission organized by the prestigious British medical journal Lancet. The panel said hundreds of thousands of lives each year are at stake and global warming “threatens to undermine the last half century of gains in development and global health.”

It’s like a cigarette smoker with lung problems: Doctors can treat the disease, but the first thing that has to be done is to get the patient to stop smoking, or in this case get off coal in the next five years, commission officials said in interviews…

Dr. Anthony Costello…called it a “medical emergency” that could eventually dwarf the deadly toll of HIV in the 1980s. He and others said burning coal does more than warm the Earth, but causes even more deaths from other types of air pollution that hurt people’s breathing and hearts…

Virtually everything that you want to do to tackle climate change has health benefits,” Costello said. “We’re going to cut heart attacks, strokes, diabetes.”…

In a companion posting in Lancet, World Health Organization director general Margaret Chan also compares fighting climate change to fighting smoking and saving lives. Both Chan and the Lancet commission quote WHO studies that say by 2030 climate change would “be likely to cause about 250,000 additional deaths per year” around the world.

Overdue.

Death from malaria has been diminished by half

Global efforts have halved the number of people dying from malaria – a tremendous achievement, the World Health Organization says…It says between 2001 and 2013, 4.3 million deaths were averted, 3.9 million of which were children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa.

Each year, more people are being reached with life-saving malaria interventions, the WHO says.

In 2004, 3% of those at risk had access to mosquito nets, but now 50% do.

There has been a scaling up of diagnostic testing, and more people now are able to receive medicines to treat the parasitic infection, which is spread by the bites of infected mosquitoes.

An increasing number of countries are moving towards malaria elimination.

In 2013, two countries – Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka – reported zero indigenous cases for the first time, and 11 others (Argentina, Armenia, Egypt, Georgia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) succeeded in maintaining zero cases.

In Africa, where 90% of all malaria deaths occur, infections have decreased significantly.

Here, the number of people infected has fallen by a quarter – from 173 million in 2000 to 128 million in 2013. This is despite a 43% increase in the African population living in malaria transmission areas.

WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said: “These tremendous achievements are the result of improved tools, increased political commitment, the burgeoning of regional initiatives, and a major increase in international and domestic financing.”

But she added: “We must not be complacent. Most malaria-endemic countries are still far from achieving universal coverage with life-saving malaria interventions.”

Based on current trends, 64 countries are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal target of reversing the incidence of malaria by the end of this year.

One portion of my personal efforts to get Americans to think beyond their family, their community, is the larger community that is our world. Just as we are affected by the loss of young people who may have grown up in the poverty and illness afflicting life that we see around us – there is an even larger community outside the comparative wealth of this nation that fights the same negatives to stay alive – times 10 or 100.

As a species we all lose every time we suffer a young death from disease or war. Someone who might have grown up to discover a way to a better, longer life for us all – never had a chance to achieve any contribution to humanity. We’re all moved to a new place of potential achievement by the simple opportunity of life extended to those who would have missed that chance a decade ago, a century ago.

We have to realize the human family really is a global family.