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Rescue body warns over 90% of Afghan clinics face closure



(Last Updated On: January 8, 2022)

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has warned that over 90 percent of Afghanistan’s health clinics are expected to shut down amid the ongoing economic crisis in the country.

The committee on Friday said in a report that the closure of health centers could deprive millions of Afghans of “basic care, threatening the COVID-19 response and creating a major risk of disease outbreaks, malnutrition, and preventable deaths.”

The report stated that nearly half of Afghans were experiencing worse levels of food insecurity—the highest level ever recorded in Afghanistan and a 37 percent rise compared to six months earlier.

“Throughout early 2022, 55 percent of Afghans will face acute food insecurity, including nearly nine million people at emergency levels—one step before famine conditions,” the committee stated.

The committee warned that food insecurity would likely deepen in 2022 as the country continues to face shortages of food, rapidly rising food prices, and an ongoing drought.

“Hunger may drive further displacement, as evidenced by IRC assessments in five provinces in mid-2021 that identified lack of food and livelihoods as the top reasons for people leaving their homes,” the report read.


New Langya virus infects 35 people in China



(Last Updated On: August 10, 2022)

A new virus, which can be transmitted to humans from animals, has infected 35 people in Shandong and Henan provinces, according to a study by scientists from China, Singapore and Australia published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

So far, there has been no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

The Henipavirus (also called Langya henipavirus or LayV) was first detected in late 2018 but was only formally identified by scientists last week, the Guardian reported.

It was discovered  thanks to an early detection system for feverish people with a recent history of exposure to animals, Bloomberg reported.

The virus was found after throat swabs were taken from the patients who were mostly farmers.

The virus is entirely novel, meaning it has not infected humans before.

But two viruses from the same family had been identified previously – the Hendra virus and Nipah virus. Both can cause severe and sometimes fatal illnesses. There are no vaccines or treatments, The Sun reported.

So far, the cases have not been fatal or very serious, so there is no need for panic, said Professor Wang Linfa from the Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore who was involved in the study.

He added that it is still a cause for alarm as many viruses that exist in nature have unpredictable results when they infect humans.

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Italy kicks off vaccination campaign against monkeypox



(Last Updated On: August 8, 2022)

Italy launched its vaccination campaign against monkeypox on Monday, as case numbers increased at a time when health authorities are reporting vaccine shortages worldwide, Reuters reported.

Italy has reported 545 cases of monkeypox, according to the health ministry. Its vaccination campaign started more than a month after other countries that have seen higher numbers of cases, including the United States, Britain and Spain.

The first doses will be given at the Spallanzani hospital in Rome, the hospital said in a statement.

The vaccine used will be Jynneos (MVA-BN), a smallpox vaccine made by Bavarian Nordic and approved by the European Medicines Agency for protection against monkeypox, the hospital said.

On Thursday, vaccinations will also begin in Italy’s financial capital, Milan.

Monkeypox is spread chiefly by close contact, causes pus-filled sores and flu-like symptoms, and is rarely fatal. There have now been 26,500 cases worldwide outside the countries where it usually spreads, according to a Reuters tracker.

In July, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern”, its highest alert level.

The first case in Italy was recorded on May 20, 2022. There are no current plans for mass vaccinations.

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Cholera infects over 400 in quake-hit Spera district of Khost



(Last Updated On: August 7, 2022)

More than 400 people have been infected with cholera over the last 10 days in Spera district of Khost province, the site of a deadly earthquake that struck six weeks ago, officials said on Sunday.

Mohammad Nabi Zadran, head of a mobile health team in Khost, said that eight people have died of cholera in Spera district, including five children and three adults.

Most of those infected are women and children. Officials said cholera is reported also in Gyan and Barmal districts of Paktika province.

“They should assist us. Foreign countries should assist us as we are suffering,” said Abdullah Noor, a resident of Spera district.

Health officials said that efforts are ongoing to control the spread of the disease.

Fazl Karim, Khost’s health director, said that a total of 40 mobile health teams were deployed to fight the cholera outbreak.

The UN agency for children also said this week that after the recent earthquake there is an increased risk of an outbreak of diseases like cholera in Spera district in Khost.

“Thanks to the support from USAID, we have been able to provide safe drinking water to 1,500 of the most vulnerable families,” UNICEF said on Twitter.

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