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World Cancer Day: Early detection remains crucial



(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.


New evidence shows origin of COVID could have been raccoon dogs



(Last Updated On: March 18, 2023)

Scientists have uncovered new genetic evidence from the market in Wuhan, China, where COVID cases were first detected in late 2019.

Scientific America reports the findings add support to an animal origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID.

These findings were presented to an advisory group convened by the World Health Organization earlier this week.

Florence Débarre, an evolutionary biologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research discovered genetic sequences of the virus that researchers in China – led by George Gao, former head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention – had uploaded to a public genomic database called GISAID.

According to Scientific America, the sequences were subsequently taken down but not before several other researchers from different countries downloaded and analyzed them.

Samples containing viral RNA, which had been collected at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in early 2020, also contained genetic material from raccoon dogs – a foxlike animal sold at the market – as well as other animals.

The virus sparked a global pandemic that has killed nearly seven million people, and debate has raged over whether it was caused by a natural spillover from wildlife to humans or a lab leak from a facility studying coronaviruses in Wuhan.

The new evidence does not directly prove that COVID jumped into humans from infected raccoon dogs, but it adds to a growing body of evidence in favor of a spillover from animals, Scientific America reported.

“These data do not provide a definitive answer to the question of how the pandemic began, but every piece of data is important in moving us closer to that answer,” said the World Health Organization’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a news briefing on Friday.

The scientists who are analyzing the data are currently preparing a report on their findings, which they hope to release in the coming days.

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IEA’s health minister on six-day visit to Qatar



(Last Updated On: March 16, 2023)

The Minister of Public Health of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) Dr. Qalandar Ebad left Kabul on Thursday for a six-day visit to Qatar.

Leading a high-ranking IEA delegation, Ebad will meet with Qatari officials to discuss the coordination of health services with Qatar; building capacity for Afghan doctors; and discussing cooperation and investment in the field of health care in Afghanistan, the ministry said.

The ministry added that Ebad will also visit a number of health care facilities in Qatar while in the Gulf country.

The Ministry of Public Health is trying to raise the level of knowledge and expertise of Afghan doctors so that Afghans will no longer need to go abroad for treatment.

Ebad had previously said that nothing has been done in the health sector in the past twenty years.

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Health ministry launches polio vaccination campaign



(Last Updated On: March 13, 2023)

The Ministry of Public Health of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, in collaboration with international partners, launched its first national polio vaccination campaign for 2023 on Monday.

According to a statement issued by the ministry, “the first National Immunization Days (NIDs) for polio eradication for 2023” aims to vaccinate more than 9.4 million children under the age of five against polio.

Vitamin A will also be administered to all children from 6-59 months of age to improve their immunity, the ministry said.

“The leadership of the Ministry of Public Health is strongly committed to eradicating polio from Afghanistan,” said Dr. Qalandar Ebad, the Minister of Public Health.

“The recent progress made in this regard is encouraging. Right now Afghanistan is much closer to polio eradication. Together we can eradicate polio from Afghanistan,” he said.

“The support of all Afghans, including parents, community leaders, ethnic elders, and religious leaders, is critical to eradicate polio and we want them to take part in the fight against polio to save Afghan children from permanent paralysis,” Ebad added.

Poliovirus infection can cause permanent paralysis or even death in affected children.

This year, to date, no polio cases have been reported in Afghanistan. Last year, there were two cases – one in Paktika and one in Kunar.

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