Health and Fitness Sat, 01 Nov 2014 07:16:38 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-us Ebola: UN Envoy Says Response Must be Sustained ‘Until Every Last Case is Contained and Treated’
Cuban health care workers receive training at a WHO-supported Ebola Treatment Unit training Centre in Liberia. Photo: WHO

GENEVA--(ENEWSPF)--31 October 2014 – The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Ebola, David Nabarro, appealed today for the global response to the deadly virus to be sustained “until every last case is contained and treated,” as the United Nations health agency recommended more protective measures for health workers battling the disease on the frontlines of the outbreak.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) announced it is updating its guidelines of the so-called personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers to ensure protection of the mouth, nose and eyes from contaminated droplets and fluids.

WHO also said that given that hands are known to transmit pathogens to other parts of the body, as well as to other individuals, hand hygiene and gloves are essential, both to protect the health worker and to prevent transmission to others, and recommended health workers wear double gloves.

Face cover, protective foot wear, gowns or coveralls, and head cover were also considered essential to prevent transmission to healthcare workers, it said.

“These guidelines hold an important role in clarifying effective personal protective equipment options that protect the safety of healthcare workers and patients from Ebola virus disease transmission,” says Edward Kelley, WHO Director for Service Delivery and Safety.

At UN Headquarters in New York, Dr. Nabarro gave an update on the wider UN response to the Ebola outbreak, and while noting that there were signs of the strategy working in certain areas, he cautioned against drawing conclusions on the numbers, echoing what WHO concluded earlier this week when it had reported a decline in burials and sickbed occupancy rates, as well as a plateau in lab-reported new cases in Liberia.

Dr. Nabarro said: “Even if we get a reduction in the rate of increase, it does not mean the outbreak is under control…It just means we are on the right path.”

“We need to sustain the effort until every last case is contained and treated,” he said, and press on with the response strategy of community engagement, treatment and contact tracing – “all of which has be to practiced everywhere to prevent an outbreak.”

According to the latest WHO statistics on the Ebola outbreak issued today, 13,567 cases and 4,951 deaths have been reported in the six affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the United States, along with two previously affected countries, Nigeria and Senegal. The cases reported are fewer than those last reported due mainly to suspected cases in Guinea being discarded, WHO said.

Dr. Nabarro also raised concerns about recent travel restrictions put in place for those returning from Ebola-affected countries.

“Returning health workers are exceptional people giving for humanity,” he said, appealing to authorities “to think hard” before putting restrictions on them.

The Special Envoy said the Ebola Response Plan of $988 million had received $540 million, or about 50 percent of the total required.

WHO also announced today a new Ebola treatment unit opened on the outskirts of the Liberian capital, Monrovia. This new unit adds another 200 beds to the almost 500 currently available for Ebola patients in the city, which remains the epicentre of the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Dr. Nabarro said the UN Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund has now successfully received approximately $116 million in commitments and pledges. These funds will be used for the most critical, unfunded priorities of the response.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme reported that since the start of its operations in April, it had provided food assistance to 1.1 million people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and had delivered more than 15,400 metric tons of food.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), addressing the issues of Ebola preparedness in Cote d’Ivoire and Mali, stressed that prevention was fundamental for the fight against Ebola. UNICEF said it was supporting the media campaign with the view of mobilizing local communities, with the focus being on the west of the country.

A UN Development Programme (UNDP) socio-economic impact study on Guinea has shown that economic growth in the country slowed from 4.5 percent to 2.4 percent. The study also notes a deterioration of poor households' food and nutritional security, postponement of the beginning of the school year and lower attendance rates in health facilities.

Back from West Africa, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, noting she was at low risk for contracting the virus because she did not enter an Ebola treatment centre, and she was screened at the airport on arrival into the United States and will monitor her temperature twice a day for 21 days.


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Fri, 31 Oct 2014 23:14:47 -0500
Maine Judge Issues Order Regarding Ebola Quarantine

Healthcare worker required to comply with certain restrictions

AUGUSTA –(ENEWSPF)—October 31, 2014. Governor Paul R. LePage released the following statement with regard to an Order Pending Hearing issued today by the Aroostook County District Court located in Fort Kent, Maine:

“My duty to protect the health of the individual, as well as the health and safety of 1.3 million Mainers, is my highest priority. Despite our best effort to work collaboratively with this individual. she has refused to cooperate with us,” said Governor LePage.

“As Governor, I have done everything I can to protect the health and safety of Mainers. The judge has eased restrictions with this ruling and I believe it is unfortunate. However, the State will abide by law,” said Governor LePage.

Related Material:

Order Pending Hearing:


Related Article:

Court Rejects State of Maine’s Attempt to Restrict Nurse Kaci Hickox’s Liberty

]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Fri, 31 Oct 2014 22:44:01 -0500
State-Level Attacks on Reproductive Rights Upping Ante at Voting Booth

Drastic anti-choice measures up for vote in Colorado, Tennessee, and North Dakota, and some have a decent shot at passing

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--October 31, 2014.
(Photo courtesy of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights)
"It's a tremendous loss of resources to our community to have to again defeat something that has been defeated twice before," said Corrine Rivera-Fowler of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights. (Photo courtesy of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights)

Despite strong support in the U.S. for abortion rights, lawmakers over the past three years have dramatically cut access to reproductive health care, state by state. This Tuesday, ballot measures in Colorado, North Dakota, and Tennessee escalate this state-level chipping-away strategy by proposing "personhood" provisions and constitutional amendments that, if passed, would open the door to even more extreme abortion bans and health cuts for millions of people.

Some of these initiatives have a shot at passing.

Voters in North Dakota and Colorado face proposed constitutional amendments that would grant full "personhood" rights to a zygote at the moment of fertilization. Not only would this eliminate abortion rights in the state—including in cases of rape, incest, and health risks—but it would also ban certain forms of widely-used birth control and fertility treatments. The vaguely worded amendments, reproductive health advocates say, could result in far-reaching health care consequences, including limitations to pregnancy care and even investigations of miscarriages.

National anti-choice organizations, including Personhood USA, are pressing for the measures in both states, where they are up against diverse coalitions of community organizations, health care workers and advocates, and civil rights and faith leaders.

The Measure 1 "personhood" proposal in North Dakota, where sweeping abortion restrictions were instated last year, could pass. A recent poll conducted by the University of North Dakota College of Business and Public Administration found that 49.9 percent of voters are in favor, 33 percent are opposed, and 17.1 percent are undecided. Opponents say the measure is worded to confuse voters, because it doesn't specifically mention abortion or reproductive rights. For this reason, analysts warn, it is slipping by largely unnoticed, despite its potentially severe repercussions.

In Colorado, voters have rejected two previous attempts to pass similar personhood provisions. But this time, proponents of Amendment 67 have sought to frame the proposal as a "protection" for pregnant woman, because it would allow for fetal homicide charges. The No on 67 coalition charges that the "misleading language of this far-reaching measure would actually harm pregnant women, and impede them from being able to seek medical treatment. It would also criminalize doctors and other medical professionals who treat pregnant women." The latest poll, conducted by Suffolk University Political Research Center, finds that the measure is likely to fail, with 55.4 percent of Colorado voters opposing, 30.8 percent in favor, and 13.4 percent undecided.

"For the Latina community, we have already unequal access to health care. More barriers create more imbalance and inequality for Latinos and African Americans in Colorado," Corrine Rivera-Fowler of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) told Common Dreams. COLOR members, along with the No on 67 coalition, are canvassing, phone-banking, and conducting media interviews to mobilize against the proposed measure. "It's a tremendous loss of resources to our community to have to again defeat something that has been defeated twice before," said Rivera-Fowler.

Pro-choice campaigners in Tennessee also face a fight to defend abortion rights.

The state's proposed Constitutional Amendment 1, if passed, would amend the state's constitution to say, "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion." For more than ten years, Tennessee Republicans have sought to enact the measure, following the Tennessee Supreme Court's ruling in the year 2000 to strike down a state anti-abortion measure. "If Amendment 1 passes, anti-abortion politicians are poised to pass the same draconian laws and regulations that have forced facilities providing abortion to close in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Virginia," warns Planned Parenthood.

The latest poll from Middle Tennessee State University finds that the outcome is "too close to call," with 39 percent of voters in favor of the measure, 32 percent opposed, and a whopping 29 percent undecided. "We stand today because pending legislation has the potential to send women back to the back alleys where we died from unsafe and unsanitary abortions," Cherisse Scott, founder and CEO of SisterReach, declared at a Thursday press conference in Memphis. "We assemble today to impress upon Black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote."

Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues associate for the Guttmacher Institute, told Common Dreams that, while this is not the first time similar ballot initiatives have been introduced at the state level, it is unusual to see three measures in one election. "Over the past three years, what we have seen is incredibly voluminous," said Nash. "There were about  230 abortion restrictions enacted between 2012 and 2014. These three initiatives are continuing this trend. If there was some success, if one of these measures was approved, it could spark additional interest in other states."

For special coverage on the Battle for Reproductive Rights in the 2014 election, click this image.For special coverage on the Battle for Reproductive Rights in the 2014 election, click this image.


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]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Fri, 31 Oct 2014 22:26:41 -0500
Lake County Medical Marijuana Patients Seek More Than $600,000 in Monetary Damages for Warrantless Raids

Patients demand compensation for constitutional rights violations by local law enforcement

Lakeport, CA – (ENEWSPF)—October 30, 2014. Nine medical marijuana patients from Lake County filed tort claims today for a total of $621,000 in monetary damages in a widely-watched ongoing legal struggle between growers and county officials. Two weeks ago, on October 15th, U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson granted a preliminary injunction preventing Lake County authorities from continuing warrantless raids.

The claimants, who were all raided over the past several weeks, include 60-year-old patient Mona Allen who was growing six mature plants, 66-year-old patient Carl Ray Harris who was growing nine plants, and 70-year-old patient Nina Faye Sikes who, together with her elderly husband, were growing 14 immature plants. Lake County law enforcement broke through several gates, entered the property of qualified patients without consent, and seized their medical marijuana without a warrant, consent, or any advance notice.

The claimants are seeking monetary damages from Lake County ranging from $59,000-$125,000 to compensate them for property that was unlawfully destroyed. The claimants, who accuse the Lake County Sheriff’s Office of conducting paramilitary-style raids without warrants or proper abatement notices required by law, are also seeking punitive damages.

"This case has made clear that law enforcement, when given such unbridled discretion, will use it to deprive citizens of their constitutional rights," said Joe Elford, a San Francisco-based lawyer who filed the claims on behalf of the unlawfully raided county residents. "And, when they do so, people whose rights have been violated deserve to be made whole for having to endure that abuse of authority," continued Elford. “The county is not above the law, and it has an obligation to respect people’s constitutional rights when carrying out local policy or pay the consequences.”

The tort claims are connected to a lawsuit filed earlier this year in San Francisco federal court, challenging Lake County’s enforcement of Measure N, an ordinance that restricts medical marijuana cultivation in the county. Measure N was narrowly adopted in June with less than 52 percent of the vote, after the county’s aggressive enforcement practices were successfully challenged in August 2012. A preliminary injunction was also granted in that case, which was brought by medical marijuana patient Don Merrill and others who feared the violation of their constitutional due process rights in much the same way the current plaintiffs/claimants were.

More information:
Tort claims for nine raided medical marijuana patients:

Federal court ruling on medical marijuana:

]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:15:55 -0500
RN Ebola Strike, National Day of Action for Ebola Safety Standards Coast to Coast Nov. 12

Action to Include Strike by 18,000 Kaiser California RNs

Silver Spring, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--October 30, 2014.  Registered nurses from California to Maine will hold strikes, picketing, and other actions Wednesday, November 12 in 12 U.S. states and the District of Columbia – with possible support actions globally – as the largest U.S. organization of nurses steps up the demand for tougher Ebola safety precautions in the nation’s hospitals.

One centerpiece of the actions will be a two-day strike by 18,000 RNs and nurse practitioners at 66 Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics who have been pressing the HMO giant for weeks to put in place proper safety protocols and training with optimal personal protective equipment. Kaiser has repeatedly dismissed the nurses’ concerns.

A strike will also occur at Providence Hospital in Washington D.C. affecting 400 RNs.

In addition, Ebola safety actions are tentatively set for Augusta, Ga., Bar Harbor, Me., Boston, Chicago, Durham, N.C., Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Lansing, Mi., Massilon, Oh., Miami, St. Louis, St. Paul, Mn., St. Petersburg, Fl., and Washington DC, as well as a number of other California locations. Additional details on exact sites of the actions will be announced soon.

NNU says it anticipates actions in many other states as well, as nurses are contacting NNU across the country and it is highly likely the national day of action will spread widely.

“With the refusal of hospitals across the country to take seriously the need to establish the highest safety precautions for when an Ebola patient walks in the door, and the failure of our elected leaders in Washington to compel them to do so, America’s nurses say they have to make their voices heard a little louder,” said NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro.

“If nurses are on the outside, it tells you there must be something wrong on the inside. What’s wrong on the inside is the cavalier attitude of most U.S. hospitals who would rather continue to put their nurses, other frontline healthcare workers, patients, and the public to the risk of exposure to Ebola than to take the steps necessary to ensure proper safety standards,” DeMoro said.

“The hospitals are willing to gamble with the lives and safety of RNs and other health workers. But we are not,” said DeMoro. “If registered nurses, the people who will be caring for Ebola patients and are at the most risk, are not protected from the Ebola virus, no one is protected. Stopping Ebola in our hospitals is the only way to stop Ebola in the U.S.”

“Kaiser has shown a complete disregard for the safety of nurses and patients in the face of a disease that the World Health Organization calls the ‘most severe acute health emergency in modern times’,” said Deborah Burger, RN, co-president of NNU and a Kaiser nurse. “We will not be silent while Kaiser puts all of us, our families, and our communities, at risk.”

“For far too long, Providence nurses have felt disrespected due to poor working conditions and unsafe staffing. Now, management is asking us to care for a possible Ebola patient without optimal protective equipment and training. We’re striking to protect ourselves and our patients,” said Providence RN Rose Farhoudi  

What NNU is demanding is that all U.S. hospitals follow the precautionary principle in safety measures for Ebola, which holds that absent scientific consensus that a particular risk is not harmful, especially one that can have catastrophic consequences, the highest level of safeguards must be adopted.

Specifically, that means for nurses and other caregivers who interact with Ebola patients are provided the optimal personal protective equipment including full-body hazmat suits that meet the American Society for Testing and Materials F1670 standard for blood penetration, F1671 standard for viral penetration, and that leave no skin exposed or unprotected, and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-approved powered air purifying respirators with an assigned protection factor of at least 50.

Second, that all facilities provide continuous, rigorous interactive training for RNs and other health workers who might encounter an Ebola patient, that includes practice putting on and taking off the hazmat suits where some of the greatest risk of infection can occur.

 NNU has also repeatedly called on the White House and Congress to direct all hospitals to meet these standards. “We know from years of experience that these hospitals will meet the cheapest standards, not the most effective precautions. And now we are done talking and ready to act,” DeMoro said.


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Thu, 30 Oct 2014 22:17:47 -0500
FTC Charges Gerber with Falsely Advertising Its Good Start Gentle Formula Protects Infants from Developing Allergies

Agency Also Alleges Health Claims Were Not Approved by the FDA, as Advertised

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--October 30, 2014.  The Federal Trade Commission has charged Gerber Products Co., also doing business as Nestlé Nutrition, with deceptively advertising that feeding its Good Start Gentle formula to infants with a family history of allergies prevents or reduces the risk that they will develop allergies.

The agency also alleges that Gerber has falsely advertised Good Start Gentle’s health claims as FDA-approved. Through its federal court enforcement action, the Commission is seeking to prohibit Gerber from making the alleged false and unsubstantiated allergy-prevention claims.

“Parents trusted Gerber to tell the truth about the health benefits of its formula, and the company’s ads failed to live up to that trust,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Gerber didn’t have evidence to back up its claim that Good Start Gentle formula reduces the risk of babies developing their parents’ allergies.”

Baby saying ‘I love Mommy’s eyes, not her allergies.’Advertising claim that use of Good Start will prevent or reduce the risk of a child developing allergies.

In its complaint, the FTC alleges that since 2011, Gerber has advertised its Good Start Gentle formula through advertisements that ran on television, in magazines, at point-of-sale displays, online, and in other promotional material. Good Start Gentle sells for about $24 for a 23.2-ounce package of powdered formula.

Good Start Gentle is made with partially hydrolyzed whey proteins (PHWP). Gerber claims that feeding babies this formula, instead of formula made with intact cow’s milk proteins, will prevent or reduce the risk that they will develop allergies. In its ads, Gerber promotes Good Start Gentle by saying, for example:

  • “You want your baby to have your imagination…Your smile…Your eyes…Not your allergies.”

Also, a sticker on the package states that Good Start Gentle Formula is the:


The agency’s complaint charges that Gerber lacked the scientific substantiation to make these general allergy-prevention claims, in violation of the FTC Act.

Gold badge stating ‘First and only. Meets FDA qualified health claim.’Gold badge featured in some Gerber ads stating that Good Start Gentle is the “1st and Only” formula that “Meets FDA Qualified Health Claim.”

In addition, according to the FTC, Gerber’s ads also misrepresent that Good Start Gentle has qualified or received approval for a Food and Drug Administration health claim. For example, some ads prominently featured a gold badge stating that Good Start Gentle is the “1st and Only” formula that “Meets FDA Qualified Health Claim.”

In 2009, Gerber petitioned the FDA for permission to make a claim connecting PWHP with the reduced risk of one type of allergy, atopic dermatitis, in infants. The FDA allowed Gerber to make the narrow claim but only if Gerber carefully qualified its statement to make it clear that there is “little scientific evidence” for the relationship.

The Commission vote authorizing staff to file the federal court complaint was 5-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on October 29, 2014.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Thu, 30 Oct 2014 22:11:14 -0500
UN Ebola Response in West Africa to be Bolstered by Increase in World Bank Funding
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim (second left) touring the Kenyatta Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya and discussing preparations and readiness to deal with the Ebola outbreak. Photo: World Bank/Dominic Chavez

KENYA--(ENEWSPF)--30 October 2014 – The World Bank has announced it is boosting its efforts in assisting health workers fight the deadly Ebola outbreak in the three most-affected countries in West Africa as part of the wider United Nations Ebola crisis response.

In a press release today, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim confirmed an additional $100 million in funding to be directed towards speeding up the deployment of foreign health workers to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone – the three countries at the epicentre of the Ebola crisis. The new funding brings the Bank’s total pledges to $500 million.

According to current UN estimates, about 5,000 international medical, training and support personnel are needed in the three countries over the coming months, including 700 to 1,000 foreign health workers to treat patients in the Ebola treatment centres.

“The world’s response to the Ebola crisis has increased significantly in recent weeks, but we still have a huge gap in getting enough trained health workers to the areas with the highest infection rates,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said.

“We must urgently find ways to break any barriers to the deployment of more health workers,” Mr. Kim continued. “It is our hope that this $100 million can help be a catalyst for a rapid surge of health workers to the communities in dire need.”

To this date, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global total of 13,703 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of Ebola in six affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the United States) and two previously affected countries (Nigeria and Senegal). There have been 4,922 deaths.

The new injection of World Bank funding will fuel the Ebola response’s sprint towards reaching the 70-70-60 target established by UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) and WHO with the goal of isolating and treating 70 per cent of suspected Ebola cases in West Africa and safely burying 70 per cent of the dead within the next 60 days.

In addition, it will also help set up a coordination hub in close cooperation with the all stakeholders confronting the crisis – from the governments of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to the UN’s frontline Ebola responders such as the WHO and UNMEER.

“We need to find all ways possible to remove any obstacle that stops health workers from serving – whether it is pay for workers in developing countries, or the promise of evacuation services. Health workers are heroes, and we should treat them as such,” affirmed Mr. Kim.

The World Bank President added that amid the tragedy of the Ebola outbreak, there are also many lessons to be learned, noting that a key element in fighting the spread of disease such as Ebola is to ensure that countries build and maintain the appropriate systems for limiting contagion.

“Even as we focus intensely on the Ebola emergency response, we must also invest in public health infrastructure, institutions and systems to prepare for the next epidemic, which could spread much more quickly, kill even more people and potentially devastate the global economy.”


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:59:57 -0500
Outdated Policies, Critical Gaps Fueling Global Drug-Resistant TB Crisis
An MSF doctor shows a lung X-ray to a extensively drug-resistant TB patient in Kara Suu hospital, Kyrgyzstan. Vincent Tremeau

BARCELONA/NEW YORK—(ENEWSPF)--October 30, 2014.  Outdated policies and practices and critical gaps in care for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) are fueling a worldwide public health crisis, said the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in a new report, Out of Step, released today at the 45th Union World Conference on Lung Health. Based on a survey of eight high TB-burden countries, MSF’s research reveals that efforts to control the epidemic are dangerously out of step with international recommendations and proven best practices, leaving drug resistant forms of TB to spread unabated. MSF warns that governments, donors, and industry must act now, using every means available, to step-up the response to the crisis, or face a further growth in resistance. 

“This is no time for complacency: in some former Soviet Union states, MSF diagnoses multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) in more than one in three people who have never been treated for TB before, indicating its spread from person to person,” said Dr. Petros Isaakidis, medical epidemiologist/senior operational research fellow, MSF India. “In Mumbai, India, MSF sees that primary transmission of drug-resistant strains is likely driving the epidemic in hot spots like slums and within vulnerable groups such as people living with HIV. DR-TB is a manmade disaster, born out of years of neglect and driven by a slow and piecemeal response. Countries must increase their efforts to optimize DR-TB care in line with international guidelines and seize the opportunity that new tools offer to strengthen and accelerate the fight against TB.”

The latest damning data from the World Health Organization shows that less than a third of the estimated MDR-TB patients worldwide are diagnosed, and only one in five receive proper treatment. Gaps in care fuel the spread of DR-TB from person to person; in some countries, MDR-TB is diagnosed in up to 35 percent of new TB patients, a trend reflected in MSF clinics.

The Out of Step report reveals five deadly gaps in the TB response that are costing lives: poor access to drug resistance testing, a growing number of people diagnosed with DR-TB left untreated, continued use of outmoded and costly models of care, limited access to promising new and repurposed drugs, and dire funding shortfalls.

MSF’s research found that testing for drug resistance, crucial for preventing misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment, is grossly insufficient in most of the countries surveyed. In half of the countries, fewer than 75 percent of MDR-TB patients diagnosed are enrolled in treatment. Further, some form of routine hospitalization takes place in half of the countries, despite community-based care having proven more tolerable for patients and more cost effective while delivering similar medical outcomes. Five out of eight National TB Programs face critical funding gaps, with Kenya, Myanmar, and Zimbabwe having less than 50 percent of the required funding available.

New and promising DR-TB drugs remain out of reach of most patients more than a year after their introduction, with bedaquiline and delamanid unavailable for routine use in all countries surveyed. In four of the countries surveyed, the new drugs are available to a limited few via compassionate use or equivalent programs. None of the countries have all of the Group 5 repurposed medicines listed in their national guidelines—drugs that are critically important in salvage therapies.

“Patients are missing out on the potential of new and promising treatments because companies and countries are dragging their feet with registrations. Meanwhile, the lack of clinical trials incorporating new TB drugs into much-needed short, tolerable, and effective regimens highlights the failings in the way medical innovation is conducted and incentivized. It’s time for TB research and development efforts to be prioritized and funded in a way that ensures lifesaving diagnostics and treatments rapidly reach the people who so desperately need them,” said Grania Brigden, MSF Access Campaign TB advisor.

MSF and Tuberculosis

MSF has been involved in tuberculosis (TB) care for 30 years, often working alongside national health authorities to treat patients in a wide variety of settings, including chronic conflict zones, urban slums, prisons, refugee camps, and rural areas. MSF’s first programs to treat multidrug-resistant TB opened in 1999, and the organization is now one of the largest NGO treatment providers of drug-resistant TB. In 2013, MSF treated 29,900 TB patients worldwide, including 1,950 patients with drug-resistant TB.


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:54:02 -0500
Doctors Without Borders Begins Malaria Program in Ebola-Ravaged Monrovia, Liberia
Women pick up antimalarials at an early-morning MSF distribution in Monrovia, Liberia.  Armelle Loiseau/MSF

PARIS/NEW YORK—(ENEWSPF)--October 30, 2014.  In order to address a deeply troubling but little-known consequence of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has begun distributing antimalarial medicines in Monrovia, Liberia, a crucial medical intervention in a city where the basic health care system has collapsed in recent months.

Malaria is endemic in Liberia but due to the incredible demand of the Ebola outbreak on the medical system, basic health care such as malaria treatment is now very difficult, if not impossible, to find in Monrovia. MSF’s program is designed to both prevent and treat new malaria cases, and to minimize the number of people with malaria at Ebola treatment centers.

“The first symptoms of malaria are the same as those of Ebola,” says Dr. Chibuzo Okonta, MSF’s deputy director of emergency programs. “They include fever, headache, and overwhelming fatigue. The antimalarial medicines treat and prevent the disease. The objective is also to eliminate the risk that patients with fever, suspected of having Ebola, will end up in Ebola treatment centers in contact with infected persons.”

MSF’s teams began distributing antimalarials in the western part of Liberia’s capital city on October 25, with the goal of reaching 300,000 people in all. This treatment—artesunate and amodiaquine—is intended for children over the age of six months and adults alike. The medicine is taken for several days for three months.

The distribution is taking place in the poorest neighborhoods, where population density is very high and where access to care, which was already very limited before the Ebola epidemic, barely exists any longer. It will be repeated the next two months at the same locations, with the same treatment and mosquito nets.

By October 29, 20,000 families—100,000 people—living in the New Kru neighborhood had already received one treatment.

Before the distribution, volunteers who live in the neighborhood and who are trained by MSF visit families to explain how the distribution works. They give each family a ticket indicating the number of people living in the same room, which will authorize them to obtain the drugs. A female family member comes to the distribution site to pick up a packet that contains the treatments.

Given the backdrop of Ebola, vigilance is essential. To protect both the population and health care workers against the risk of infection, the distribution takes place early in the morning, when the streets are still empty. Participants keep their distance from each other to avoid any physical contact. The operation is divided among 55 sites.

After each distribution, the MSF-trained volunteers ensure that the message has gotten through, going door-to-door to confirm that all family members have taken the drugs even if they are not ill, because the treatment both cures and prevents the illness.

October 30, 2014


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:49:38 -0500
NIH-led Study Explores Prevention of Heart Disease in HIV-infected People

Bethesda, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--October 30, 2014.  The National Institutes of Health has launched a clinical trial to assess the effects of aspirin and cholesterol-lowering drugs, or statins, on preventing cardiovascular disease in people with long-term HIV infections. This group, which includes people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) as well as “elite controllers” who can limit the virus without ART, have a higher risk of developing heart disease and stroke compared to the general population. The study is funded by NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

“With the remarkable success of antiretroviral therapy, people living with HIV have a near-normal life expectancy,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “However, as this population ages, non-infectious complications such as cardiovascular disease begin to arise. We need to study the effects on the immune system of drugs normally prescribed for these conditions to ensure that they are beneficial for HIV-infected individuals.”

Researchers have long speculated that the enhanced risk of heart disease and stroke in people with long-term controlled HIV infections is associated with drug toxicity, immune defects and chronic inflammation. This study will specifically examine the role of chronic inflammation and allow researchers to observe how drug-related changes influence the levels of virus.

“Elite controllers and people on ART have elevated levels of clotting factors and blood markers that indicate inflammation and an active immune response,” said Irini Sereti, M.D., chief of the HIV Pathogenesis Unit in the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation, which leads the clinical trial. “Over time, these factors likely contribute to an enhanced risk of cardiovascular disease, so if we can lower the levels of these factors with aspirin or statins, then maybe we can lower the risk of disease, too.”

The study, which is currently recruiting, will enroll elite controllers and people on ART who have not taken aspirin or statins during the past six months. The participants will be monitored for three months to establish baseline levels of clotting and inflammatory agents in their blood. Afterward, participants will be assigned randomly to either a regimen of aspirin or atorvastatin for nine months. The researchers will monitor clotting and inflammatory markers from blood samples and use MRI scans to measure the thickness of blood vessels in the neck.

For more information, visit using the identifier NCT02081638.

NIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:15:27 -0500