Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dubai school children to get health lesson

School children in Dubai will be taught about healthy food habits and activities as part of an anti-obesity campaign.

The programme 'Your Health in Your Food and Activity' will run till April 27 in order to spread awareness about health lifestyle and physical fitness, said Fatima Al Falasi, director general of the Dubai Women's Development Society which has launched the campaign in coordination with the education ministry.

Parents and family members of students will also take part in various workshops aimed at fighting obesity, she said.

Obama health care bill now faces repeal bid in Senate

It sounds like President Obama is going to have to defend his health care bill before the Senate as well.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said today that he and fellow Republicans will push for a health care repeal vote, even though their chances of success are very slim in the Democratic-run chamber.

"I'm not going to discuss how we'll do it from a parliamentary point of view here," McConnell said on Fox News Sunday, but he added that "I assure you we'll have a vote on repeal."

The House, which is controlled by Republicans, voted for repeal last week.

McConnell said he expects the effort to fall short in the Democratic Senate. If so, he said Republicans "intend to go after this health care bill in every way that we can," though, again, he would not elaborate.

"It's the single worst piece of legislation that's been passed in my time in the Senate," McConnell said.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., also on Fox News Sunday, said Democrats are willing to work with Republicans to improve the bill, but they support it overall.

Durbin also cited raw political numbers, notably the fact that there are 53 Democratic senators and 47 Republicans; if worse came to worse, 60 senators could vote to block any piece of repeal legislation.

"I think there's a serious question whether Senator McConnell can find four Democrats to join him in repeal," Durbin said. "I certainly don't believe he's going to find anywhere near 60, which is probably going to be the vote required to repeal health care reform."

White House officials said more and more Americans are coming to support the health care bill, especially provisions that prevent insurance companies from refusing coverage to people who are sick or have pre-existing conditions.

"I think they understand that insurance companies are not in charge of making all the decisions anymore," said Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, "and I think that's a good thing for our medical system."

Research for Congo virus antidote on: Health expert

Further research needs to be done to come up with an antidote to the Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) that has claimed at least three lives in Gujarat, a senior health official has said.

'We have suggested some strong anti-viral drugs to counter the symptoms, but more research will have to be done on the blood samples collected to come up with an absolute solution,' Doctor A.C. Mishra, director of National Institute of Virology (NIV), said.

'We have also suggested isolation of patients and usage of masks for doctors and other medical staff treating the patients as well as for the relatives of patients. This is a must as the virus is highly infectious,' Mishra told IANS over phone from Pune.

'The virus that has so far killed three people in Gujarat is a category 4 virus, the most dangerous of all,' Mishra added.

Three people died in Gujarat's Sanand early January in the country's first reported attack of the Congo virus.

The three deaths are of Amina Momin, Gagan Senke, the doctor who treated her at a hospital in Ahmedabad, and a nurse in attendance.

Since then, three more patients, who include Amina's husband Rehman and a male nurse, are undergoing treatment in the isolation ward, besides another female patient, said Dr M.M. Prabhakar, superintendent of Ahmedabad's Civil Hospital.

BJ Medical College in Ahmedabad has been designated as the dedicated hospital for isolation and treatment of suspected cases. Its dean Dr Bharat Shah, when contacted, refused comment.

The Pune-based NIV is testing 132 samples received from Gujarat, of which 58 samples were found negative, reports said.

The Gujarat government is screening the Sanand area where the infection was first reported.

In its initial report, the NIV has said the Congo Virus has the potential of killing 20 to 90 percent people. The virus causes multi-organ failure and affects the brain, triggering epileptic convulsions and death.

Dr V.M. Katoch, director general of Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), said: 'Antibodies in animals have been seen, which show that the virus is present in the country.'

The Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) first came to light in 1944, when it infected over 200 Soviet military personnel who were assisting peasants in war-devastated Crimea in Ukraine.

Since then the infection has been surfacing in Africa, Europe and Asia, with outbreaks being recorded in Kosovo, Albania, Iran, Pakistan, South Africa and now for the first time in India.

CCHF is a a tick-borne viral disease. Ticks are blood-sucking parasites often found in tall grass where they wait to attach to a passing host, an animal. Although CCHF causes a mild fever in the animal briefly, the effect is severe in humans.

Examples of similar infections include rabies that infect humans through a dog or monkey bite. Anthrax infects ruminants (grass eaters) namely goats, cattle, sheep and horses and can be transmitted to humans by contact with infected specimens or their products.

According to Dr Nata Menabde, World Health Organisation's representative in India, the presence of CCHF in the country is not unexpected because cases have been reported in neighbouring Pakistan.

The Financial Daily of Pakistan has reported that the first CCHF suspected case in the country surfaced Sep 14, 2010.

Since then, 5,000 more such patients have been hospitalised, of whom 3,000 were tested positive by the NIH (National Institute of Health) in Pakistan, the report said.

Initial human symptoms of CCHF include fever, aching muscles, dizziness, stiffness, backache, headache, sore eyes and sensitivity to light. They may be followed by nausea, vomiting and sore throat, later diarrhoea and abdominal pain, according to health experts.

Over the next few days, the patient experiences mood swings, becoming confused and aggressive. Gradually, sleepiness, depression and langour may replace restlessness with localised abdominal pain and an enlarged liver. The liver, kidney and lung may fail after the fifth day of illness.

Outbreaks are usually attributable to humans handling infected animals and people. Clusters of illness typically appear after people treat, butcher or eat infected livestock, particularly ruminants and ostriches.

As a precautionary measure, US Army personnel maintain special stocks of ribavirin to protect themselves from the infection in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Significantly, CCHF is also listed as a 'potential bioterrorism agent,' classified as a Category C Disease/Agents by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the US, according to globalsecurity.org.

'These emerging pathogens could be engineered for mass dissemination in the future because of availability, ease of production, dissemination and potential for high mortality rates and major health impact,' the website said.