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MoPH marks World AIDS Day in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) Ministry of Public Health marked World AIDS Day on Sunday under the theme “Get tested for HIV, free, easy and confidential”.

Officials of the health ministry said that more than 3,000 people in the country are infected with HIV/AIDS, 75% of whom are men and 25% women, including a small number of children under the age of fifteen.

According to MoPH, out of 12,000 suspected infections, 3,000 of them have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

“3229 cases of AIDS have been registered in Afghanistan, of which 75% are men and 25% are women. Likewise, 195 of them are children under the age of 15,” said Habibullah Akhundzada, deputy minister of health services.

Economic problems, immigration, blood transfusions with contaminated equipment, low level of awareness among people, illiteracy, and drug addiction are said to be factors behind the increase of AIDS in the country.

Meanwhile, MoPH has expressed hope and said that the ministry will deal with this disease with a small budget.

“Five percent of AIDS cases are among drug addicts and we tried to help AIDS patients as much as possible with all the economic problems,” said Haidar Khan, head of MoPH’s disease prevention unit.

On the other hand, officials said that the spread of the disease in Afghanistan is 0.1 percent.

Based on statistics, Afghanistan has one of the least numbers of people infected with AIDS in the world.

“Until now, 3,292 people are suffering from HIV disease, of which 27% are aware of their disease and 9.5% are under treatment,” said Mohammad Akhtar, WHO’s program manager for Afghanistan.

According to figures, the number of people suffering from this disease in the world totals more than 38 million people, and more than 600,000 people died from the disease last year.

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World Cancer Day: Early detection remains crucial

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(Last Updated On: February 4, 2023)

Among the leading causes of death worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 9.6 million people lost their lives to cancer in 2018.

Cancer is a group of diseases that attack any organ or tissue in the body. Eventually, the abnormal cells invade adjoining body parts, invading more cancer cells. Without early detection, it can also result in the loss of human life.

The burden of this disease grows continuously; individuals feel the pressure on a physical, emotional and financial level, Longevity reported.

Each year, World Cancer Day is observed on February 4 around the world to increase awareness of cancer-related issues.

The multi-year theme for World Cancer Day 2022-2024 is “Close the Care Gap and it focuses more on exposure, engagement and opportunities to meet global awareness of Cancer Day.

Meanwhile, nearly half of cancers worldwide can be traced back to a known risk factor, primarily tobacco or alcohol, a huge global study found on Friday, which said that behavioral changes can help reduce the threat of disease.

The study—published in The Lancet and conducted as part of a vast research program funded by the Bill Gates Foundation—concluded that 44.4 percent of cancer deaths worldwide were attributable to a known risk factor, AFP reported.

The Global Burden of Disease Study is a comprehensive regional and global research program involving thousands of researchers from most countries across the world.

The study analyzed the impact of 34 risk factors and confirmed what is already widely known—that tobacco is by far the biggest contributory factor to cancer, accounting for 33.9 percent of cases, followed by alcohol with 7.4 percent.

More than half of all male cancer deaths were attributable to such risk factors, and over a third of female deaths, the study found.

And since “the leading risk factors contributing to global cancer burden in 2019 were behavioral… reducing exposure to these modifiable risk factors would decrease cancer mortality” worldwide, the study concluded.

That also meant greater emphasis should be placed on prevention, the study found.

However, around half of cancers are not attributable to a known risk factor, meaning early diagnosis and effective treatments must accompany efforts to raise prevention efforts, the study found.

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Malawi cholera outbreak death toll rises above 1,000

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2023)

Malawi’s cholera outbreak has claimed more than 1,000 lives, according to the country’s health minister, who warned that some cultural beliefs and hostility toward health workers were slowing efforts to curb infections, AP reported.

Cholera had killed 1,002 people as of Tuesday, while 1,115 people were hospitalized from the outbreak that started in March 2022, Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said. It’s the country’s worst outbreak of the waterborne illness in two decades.

The country of 20 million people recorded 12 deaths from 626 new cases in 24 hours, she said.

Frustration and suspicion over the rising cases resulted in weekend violence. Angry villagers beat up health workers and damaged a facility at the Nandumbo Health Centre in the Southern Region’s Balaka district.

Residents accused health workers of denying them an opportunity to conduct dignified burials. They forced some health workers to vacate the facility, stoned a cholera isolation ward and forced the discharge of 22 cholera patients.

Esnath Suwedi, vice-chairperson of the Nandumbo area’s development committee, a traditional local authority, said people thought the health workers were acting “mysteriously.”

Suwedi said residents alleged the workers were using contaminated syringes to inject people. The Balaka district is one of the worst affected areas, recording 46 deaths from 1,450 cases in the outbreak.

Cultural burial rites are also becoming a source of contention, Chiponda, the health minister, said during a daily briefing Tuesday.

“For example, people who are dying of or who have died from cholera may be washed by family members, who then prepare funeral feasts for family and friends held very soon after death. Outbreaks of cholera commonly follow these feasts,” the minister said.

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Bill Gates warns countries around the world need to prepare for next pandemic

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(Last Updated On: January 25, 2023)

Bill Gates has a clear message for the world: get ready for the next pandemic.

The Microsoft co-founder told the Lowy Institute think tank in Sydney that politicians need to be able to set aside their differences in order to prepare for the next major virus.

But, despite his warnings, Gates praised Australia’s policies that kept the coronavirus from spreading while the world waited for a vaccine.

“Some of the things that stand out are that Australia and about seven other countries did population-scale diagnostics early on and had quarantine policies…that meant you kept the level of infection low in that first year when there were no vaccines,” he tech billionaire turned philanthropist said.

“The one thing that still hangs in the balance is will we have the global capacity and at the regional and country levels that would mean that when an [infectious disease] threat comes up we act in such a way that it doesn’t go global.”

He then went on to stress that leaders need to be revisiting their pandemic policies every few years to ensure they are as prepared as possible in the event of a mass-scale virus, infection, or disease.

“We need to be doing every five years a comprehensive exercise at both country and regional levels of pandemic preparedness and you need a global group that’s scoring everybody,” he said.

He likened the exercise to workplace fire drills to ensure everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency.

“That’s definitely a best practice in the future,” Gates said.

Speaking of America, Gates slammed Donald Trump’s Covid-19 policies in the US during his tenure as President, stating that America’s failure to quarantine en masse and scale up diagnostics for the virus was precisely why the nation recorded a staggering 1.1 million deaths.

Gates is currently visiting Australia with members of his Breakthrough Energy company.

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