Weekly Digest: Polio eradication efforts set back in Syria; WHO Essential Medicines Lists updated

9 Jun 2017
Authors: Ellyse Stauffer, Shalini

A weekly roundup of news on drug resistance and other topics in global health. 

WHO Essential Medicines List update aims to preserve antibiotics. On Tuesday, the World Health Organization released an updated Model List of Essential Medicines and Essential Medicines for Children, with medicines necessary for the treatment of widespread or high-priority diseases. The updated list includes the most in-depth review of antibacterials in the 40-year history of the EML and proposes a new system for grouping antibacterial agents, with important implications for the future of antimicrobial resistance. CDDEP Fellow Sumanth Gandra was part of the Expert Committee that shaped the updated lists, evaluating the scientific evidence for medicines’ comparative effectiveness, safety, and cost effectiveness. [WHOCDDEP]

Polio eradication efforts set back in Syria: A rare type of polio that mutates from strains in the oral polio vaccine (OPV) is circulating in Syria, with two children paralyzed and a third child recovered. The circulating virus typically appears in under-immunized populations and has set back Syria’s nearly 30-year eradication effort. In two vaccination campaigns earlier this year, only limited coverage was achieved in Deir-ez-Zor Governorate, the site of the recent cases, as conflict has compromised security. [PBS NewsHour, Global Polio Eradication Initiative]

India reports drop in tobacco use: Highlights from the 2nd Global Adult Tobacco Survey India. The second GATS India reports a 6 percentage point drop in tobacco consumption among adults from 2009-10 to 2016-17—more than 8 million Indians have quit the habit. Tobacco use among youth age 15-24 nationwide has also fallen by 6 percentage points, which translates to a one-third reduction in smoking prevalence in that age group. Currently, 20 percent of adults use smokeless tobacco and 10 percent are smokers. The one measure that has not improved is exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace, which has plateaued at 30 percent. [PIBScroll.in]

Rising cholera outbreak in Yemen “unprecedented,” says OCHA. An outbreak of cholera in Yemen resulting in nearly 800 deaths since April is “of an unprecedented scale,” according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). BBC reports that more than half of the country’s health facilities are no longer functioning after two years of war between government forces and rebel movements. The number of deaths due to the diarrheal disease has been three times higher in the past month than any other time between October 2016 and March 2017, with more than 100,000 suspected cases currently. [OCHABBC]

Serious shortage of clean water by 2050: U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has issued a global warning of a serious shortage of fresh water by 2050. Global demand is expected to increase by up to 40 percent, including at least one-quarter of the world’s population living in countries with a chronic or recurrent lack of clean water. Currently, more than 800 million people lack access to safe drinking water and more than 2.5 billion do not have basic sanitation. Speaking to the Security Council, the Secretary-General observed that all regions are witnessing “strains on water access” and the world is currently failing to meet the U.N. water security goals for 2030. [AP News]

Market-entry rewards for new drug R&D: A report from the Transatlantic Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance (TATFAR) finds that ensuring the profitability of drugs through “pull incentives” may be particularly effective in encouraging the development of new antimicrobials. Governments have offered mainly “push incentives” to lower the cost of drug development. The authors write, “The balance of promoting and rewarding innovation while ensuring patient access and aligning stewardship and public health objectives is necessary in the design of any successful pull incentive.” [CIDCIDRAP]

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can transmit Zika and chikungunya in a single bite. A single bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito can carry Zika and chikungunya viruses simultaneously, according to a laboratory study in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. Both viruses were found in the saliva of mosquitoes exposed to them experimentally, suggesting the potential for joint transmission. [PLoS Negl Trop DisCIDRAP]

CDDEP Weekly Digest Featured Video:  Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea: An Urgent Public Health Issue. Antibiotics have been used to successfully treat gonorrhea for several decades, but gonococcal bacteria have grown resistant to nearly every one of these drugs in all parts of the world. The current U.S. recommendation is a combination treatment of ceftriaxone (a cephalosporin) plus azithromycin. Learn more about gonorrhea and how treatment has evolved since the 1960s in this video from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) AR Solutions Initiative: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFwlnljV2Go [YouTubeCDC]