Unless you’ve been distanced from the news and the internet, you have heard that tuberculosis has become increasingly drug resistant and is resurging in many areas of the world and this is much more than a minor inconvenience.
Kari Stoever, the Vice President of External Affairs at Aeras – a global nonprofit biotech advancing TB vaccines for the world, has put together a team to create an educational series of videos, which are available in its entirety for screenings, to raise awareness about the re-emerging infectiousness and virulence of pulmonary TB across the world. More
I have talked to many many people who have experienced India, I’ve read numerous books (fiction and non-fiction), and watched many documentaries, TV shows, and fictional movies about India, but knew that the experience of visiting would be something valuable. I was warned of the approximately “five people per square foot” population density in Mumbai, of the smell–a persistent sewer/trash odor, the pollution, the noise, the dogs, cattle, and goats, and the widespread extreme poverty. I discovered that the southern port city of India in Maharashtra State where we first landed, formerly known as Bombay, to be all that and even more. It was humid and warm during our visit, but actually in a relatively cool and dry streak, at least for India. The city, as I was exaggeratively informed by John Schidlovsky, founder and director of the IRP, “was built on mold” and with my allergy to mold so severe that I carry an epipen, I found myself taking more than the recommended dose of allergy meds just to breathe, each day grateful it wasn’t the rainy season. Thankfully, we eventually traveled north to cooler, drier, and less moldy climes to a rural area outside Nagpur and later to New Delhi.
Throughout most of India, I found myself delighted at the fact that women still wear colorful sarees on a daily basis, not yet succumbing to western trends, and impressed that men and boys generally wear button-down shirts, slacks, and nice shoes everyday, no matter their income level or age (try convincing a young boy to do that in America day to day–no way!)
<–Niramaya Health Foundation
If you have seen the movie “Slumdog Millionaire”, it begins in Mumbai, in one of the largest slums located near the airport and situated right at the largest dumping ground in India. This area was our first stop in order to visit the Niramaya project drop-in health center. We toured the slums and received an overview of healthcare and educational awareness work Niramaya does in the community.
What if children seem to have enough of the appropriate nutritive food, yet still exhibit signs of malnutrition? Could there be something else going on here? Indeed. In the past few years, scientist have discovered a phenomenon called ENVIRONMENTAL ENTEROPATHY which is caused by prolonged exposure to food and water contaminated with feces.
Environmental enteropathy, (EE) also known as gut dysfunction, affects up to 50% of children in the developing world, and causes no overt symptoms or signs in children.
Part 1: The Science of Nutrition and Malnutrition.
Today’s post is number three in the run-up to my International Reporting Project trip to India where I will be part of a team of 10 journalists covering the topic of child survival. First, I addressed Infectious Diseases, then Vaccinations. Today, we will look at Malnutrition. What is the state of malnutrition in India? How has scientific understanding of what good nourishment means helped us work on the malnourishment issue particularly in developing nations? Can science put an end to world hunger? How are sanitation and hygiene related to malnutrition?
Before we go on, let’s define a few terms so there is no confusion:
Malnutrition is the condition that occurs when your body does not get enough nutrients.
Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient, and vitamin intake.
Famine is a widespread scarcity of food, usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality.
Emaciation is abnormal thinness caused by lack of nutrition or by disease.
Marasmus is chronic wasting of body tissues, especially in young children, commonly due to prolonged dietary deficiency of protein and calories.
Kwashiorkor is a syndrome occurring in infants and young children soon after weaning. It is due to severe protein deficiency, and the symptoms include edema, pigmentation changes of skin and hair, impaired growth and development, distention of the abdomen, and pathologic liver changes.
Part 2: Vaccination Challenges in Developing Countries
Developing countries generally wait an average of 20 years between when a vaccine is licensed in industrialized countries and when it is available for their own populations. Economic, infrastructural and scientific hurdles all contribute to this long delay. The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) is a partnership between many public and private organization, including UNICEF, WHO, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, members of the vaccine industry and NGOs. GAVI was formed in 1999 to address the long delay between vaccine availability in industrialized countries and developing countries. Scientific advances that would help make more vaccines available in developing countries include the development of temperature stable vaccines, development of vaccines that required less than three doses to immunize and the development of needle free methods to administer vaccines.
In 2008, WHO estimated that 1.5 million of deaths among children under 5 years were due to diseases that could have been prevented by routine vaccination. This represents 17% of global total mortality in children under 5 years of age.
Hygiene, proper nourishment and sanitary conditions make for a healthy community, with lowered incidence of infectious disease, but since much of this is lacking in developing countries, vaccination is very helpful to giving the immune system a boost.
We can thank scientists, physicians and engineers for their work in understanding the immune system and how to make it work for us against disease by using vaccinations.
I will limit this discussion to pneumonia and tuberculosis (which isn’t solely respiratory) for the sake of brevity.
Pneumonia is the leading global killer of children under five, responsible for almost 1.6 million deaths per year. In that vulnerable population, it is a disease of poverty and occurs most commonly when a child’s still-developing defense system is weakened by malnutrition, air pollution, co-infections with HIV/AIDS and measles, and low birthweight, with 43 million cases for children in India alone.
Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children worldwide.
Pneumonia kills an estimated 1.2 million children under the age of five years every year – more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
Pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi.
Pneumonia can be prevented by immunization, adequate nutrition and by addressing environmental factors.
Pneumonia caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics, but around 30% of children with pneumonia receive the antibiotics they need. (source)
Pneumonia occurs when the sacs of the lungs, known as alveoli, become filled with pus and fluid, limiting oxygen intake and making it hard to breathe.
“Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that affects more than 500 million people annually, causing between 1 and 3 million deaths. It is most common in tropical and subtropical climates and is found in 90 countries—but 90% of all cases are found in Sub-Saharan Africa. Most of its victims are children. The first stage consists of shaking and chills, the next stage involves high fever and severe headache, and in the final stage the infected person’s temperature drops and he or she sweats profusely. Infected people also often suffer from anemia, weakness, and a swelling of the spleen. Malaria was almost eradicated 30 years ago; now it is on the rise again.” (source)
Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Cause Patterns
This is by far one of my favorite interactive graphics. It comes from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. If I could embed the graphic in this post, I most certainly would.
If you haven’t done so yet, check out the informational video above.
8 years ago Blog, Health, Travel, Video • Tags: accidents, causes of death, disease, epidemiology, GBD, GIS, Global Burden of Disease, global health issues, health, interactive graphic, life expectancy, medical research, risk of death, STEM