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Tuberculosis neglected as health systems focus on coronavirus pandemic – dpa international

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The “profound” impact of the coronavirus pandemic and related cuts to health care left more than 4.3 million more people suffering from tuberculosis (TB) without treatment in 2020, according to the Stop TB Partnership. Neglecting TB cases means “all but certain death for probably half that number,” the Partnership, a United Nations-linked body, said on Tuesday. Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the partnership, warned that the roughly 50 per cent of survivors “will not only suffer the consequences of the disease but will also spread TB to many more, perpetuating the cycle of transmission.” The prioritization of coronavirus has in turn meant 1.2 million fewer TB diagnoses so far this year compared to 2019.

World Bank cuts East Asia GDP growth outlook, citing pandemic curbs – dpa international

Not many people around in this central Kuala Lumpur mall, more than three weeks after the end of Malaysia's lockdown (Simon Roughneen)

Much of East Asia and the Pacific faces far slower economic growth than was expected a few months ago, according to the World Bank, which on Tuesday slashed its outlook for most of the region’s 18 countries. Measured without China, the rest of the East Asia and Pacific’s “developing” economies are set to expand by 2.5 per cent this year, the bank warned, cutting a forecast of 4.4 per cent made in April before regional coronavirus case numbers and deaths soared. The less rosy outlook is due to pandemic restrictions “constraining economic activity,” according to the bank. It said the Delta variant and attempts to slow its spread were “disrupting production” and hindering prospects of a recovery.

Grim economic prospects for ‘least developed’ countries even after coronavirus fades – dpa international

The coronavirus pandemic has worsened a “grim” economic outlook for the world’s poorest countries, UN trade officials believe, with many likely to be “mired” in crises for years to come. An “emerging two-speed global recovery” from the pandemic and related restrictions, which last year caused most countries’ economies to shrink, could “reverse many hard-won development gains,” the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) warned on Monday.

Hundreds of millions of poorer people with diabetes left untreated – dpa international

Pandemic restrictions have left city landmarks, such as this mall in Kuala Lumpur seen during Malaysia's first lockdown last year, mostly empty (Simon Roughneen)

Around three-quarters of the world’s people with diabetes cannot get the treatment they need, according to the University of Birmingham in Britain, which warned of “huge drop-offs” in care worldwide. Around 80 per cent of the world’s approximately 420 million diabetes sufferers live in so-called low and middle-income countries, but “fewer than 6 per cent of these individuals can access the care they need to manage their diabetes and prevent long-term complications like heart attacks, strokes, kidney diseases or blindness,” the researchers estimated.

US researchers warn against harsh diets, say fat can be fit – dpa international

Standing on an escalator, as people are seen doing in this mall in Malaysia, rather than climbing stairs ,is likely to reduce overall fitness (Simon Roughneen)

Overcoming weight-related health problems depends more on hard work and exercise than on cutting calories, according to health researchers in the US.Though excess weight contributes to diabetes and heart disease, crash-dieting not is the answer to a tripling of obesity and surge in related health conditions worldwide since the mid-1970s. When it comes to regaining health and reducing mortality risk associated with excess weight, “increasing physical activity and improving fitness appear to be superior to weight loss,” the researchers said, in findings published by Cell Press.

Business research spending hit by pandemic side effects – dpa international

Medical rubber gloves produced by a leading Malaysian manufacturer, sales of which have surged due to coronavirus. Research spending has gone up in sectors that have grown since the start of the pandemic (Simon Roughneen)

Research and development (R&D) spending in booming sectors such as software and pharmaceuticals has increased since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, while transport and travel, which have been hit hard by the pandemic, have reported falling outlays. Overall spending was up, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which said that “scientific output, expenditures in research and development, intellectual property filings and venture capital deals continued to grow” last year after a record-setting 2019. WIPO had earlier reported an “all-time high” number of patent filings for 2020, describing the record on Monday as “driven by medical technology, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.”

Rethink sought for ‘chaotic’ pandemic travel rules – dpa international

The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, a famous landmark and tourist attraction and likely to be inundated with visitors if tourism revives (Simon Roughneen)

Governments need to “rethink global travel restrictions,” according to the Singapore-based secretariat of the 21-country Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) bloc, which described the pandemic-related curbs as “chaotic.” The frontier rules “are not consistent,” the secretariat said on Wednesday, leading to “even essential travel” becoming “more cumbersome” and “more exclusive” than it has been for decades.

Subsistence hunting labelled a threat to dozens of protected species – dpa international

Images of grinning, gun-toting, khaki-clad hunters posingI over dead lions and elephants have long provoked outrage, scorn and bewilderment. But safari trophy-seekers are not the biggest threat to some protected animals, including several species closely related to humans, according to a report published by the UN’s Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). According to the study, “most migratory ungulates” as well as “all chimpanzee subspecies and three of the four gorilla subspecies” are “experiencing large population declines” that can in part be blamed on them ending up on people’s dinner plates. Of the 105 species covered in the study, which was prepared by the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), 47 are hunted for so-called “bush meat” markets and another 20 are taken for other reasons, including “sport hunting.”

You are what you eat, going by Harvard-led obesity investigation – dpa international

Overeating does not always make you overweight, according to research published by Oxford University Press (OUP), which put the US’s “obesity epidemic” down to processed carbs prompting hormones to cause widespread metabolic mayhem. According to scientists and medics led by David Ludwig, an endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, gluttony is not really the problem. Instead the culprit is “modern dietary patterns characterized by excessive consumption of foods with a high glycemic load: in particular, processed, rapidly digestible carbohydrates.”

Pandemic shows non-infectious diseases must be taken more seriously – dpa international

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted widespread use of sanitisers, as seen in these dispensers inside a Catholic church, but campaigners think more needs to be done to combat so-called NCDs (Simon Roughneen)

The coronavirus pandemic has “intensified” needs to prevent and treat not only infectious diseases such as Covid-19, but “noncommunicable” illnesses such as cancer and diabetes, say health-issue campaigners. The pandemic “has brought about a greater recognition that the long-held distinctions between infectious and noncommunicable diseases are not as clear cut as once thought,” according to the Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) Alliance and The George Institute for Global Health, who warned in a report that “those with chronic conditions have a significantly higher risk of hospitalisation or death from the virus.”