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WHO Calls for Global Solidarity to Stop Monkeypox

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Monkeypox

By Adedapo Adesanya

The rapidly spreading Monkeypox outbreak can be stopped, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday, “with the right strategies in the right groups”.

However, there is no time as “we all need to pull together to make that happen”, warned Dr Rosamund Lewis, WHO Technical Lead on Monkeypox, during a regular press briefing at the world health authority headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

This is coming after WHO’s Director-General, Mr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, declared the spread of the virus to be a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), the organization’s highest level of alert.

“Through this, we hope to enhance coordination, cooperation of countries and all stakeholders, as well as global solidarity,” Dr Lewis said.

WHO assessed the risk posed to public health by Monkeypox in the European region as high, but at the global level as moderate. With “other regions not at the moment as severely affected”, declaring a PHEIC was necessary “to ensure the outbreak was stopped as soon as possible”.

This year, there have been more than 16,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox in more than 75 countries but Dr Lewis said the real number was probably higher.

She pointed out that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, several thousand cases were suspected, but testing facilities are limited.

“The global dashboard did not include suspected cases,” she said.

First identified in monkeys, the virus is transmitted chiefly through close contact with an infected person (you can read Business Post’s detailed explainer on the disease, here).

Until this year, the virus which causes Monkeypox has rarely spread outside Africa where it is endemic but reports of a handful of cases in Britain in early May signalled that the outbreak had moved into Europe.

Dr Lewis pointed out that stigma and discrimination must be avoided, as that would harm the response to the disease.

“At the moment the outbreak is still concentrated in groups of men who have sex with men in some countries, but that is not the case everywhere,” she said. “It is really important to appreciate also that stigma and discrimination can be very damaging and as dangerous as any virus itself,” she said.

Monkeypox could cause a range of signs and symptoms, including painful sores.  Some people developed serious symptoms that need care in a health facility. Those at higher risk for severe disease or complications include pregnant women, children, and immunocompromised persons.

The WHO Lead said WHO was working with the Member States and the European Union on releasing vaccines, and with partners to determine a global coordination mechanism. She emphasized that mass vaccination was not required, but the WHO had recommended post-exposure vaccination.

Vaccine sharing should be done according to public health needs, country by country, and location by location as not all regions had the same epidemiology, she explained.

Dr Lewis stressed that countries with manufacturing capacity for smallpox and Monkeypox diagnostics, vaccines or therapeutics should increase production.

Countries and manufacturers should work with WHO to ensure they are made available based on public health needs, solidarity, and at a reasonable cost to countries where they were most needed.

The specialist explained that some 16.4 million vaccines were currently available in bulk but needed to be finished. The countries currently producing vaccines are Denmark, Japan, and the United States.

She reminded that the current recommendation for persons with Monkeypox was to isolate and not travel until they recovered; contact cases should be checking their temperature and monitoring possible other symptoms for the period of 9 to 21 days.

“When someone is vaccinated it takes several weeks for the immune response to be generated by the body”, she said.

According to Dr Lewis, the name “Monkeypox” is already present in the International Classification of Diseases, and a process had to be followed in order to potentially change its name.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

Health

UK’s Aide Health Raises £1m to Tackle Hypertension, Pain

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Aide Health

By Adedapo Adesanya 

Aide Health, a London, UK-based health-tech startup, has raised £1 million in pre-seed funding.

The round was led by Hambro Perks through its EIS fund, with participation from Fuel Ventures, 1818 Ventures and APX Ventures.

In a statement made available to Business Post on Friday, the company intends to use the funds to expand its services to include hypertension and chronic pain.

Co-founded by Mr Ian Wharton (CEO) and Mr Brian Snyde, Aide Health is a digital platform that helps patients and their clinicians understand and manage long-term health conditions, such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and IBD, paired with a mobile app for the patient which acts as a co-pilot through their care.

Medical professionals can use Aide Health’s platform to remotely monitor patients with chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and IBD. Patients monitored through the app can also receive medical advice.

“Like many people, I know first-hand the frustrations of trying to manage long-term conditions,” said Mr Wharton, CEO of Aide Health.

“Our goal is to give both patients and clinicians the tools and insights they need to have better conversations and make more informed treatment decisions together,” he added.

On his part, Mr Nicholas Sharp, head of the Hambro Perks Growth EIS Fund, said: “Ian and Brian’s vision and experience impressed us from the start, and we believe that Aide Health has the potential to be a hugely important tool for both clinicians and patients for managing long-term health conditions.”

Using natural language, Aide Health has short, daily conversations to help with the day-to-day management of health conditions through medicines optimisation, structured monitoring and structured education.

The service is currently being used by the UK National Health Scheme (NHS), with a pilot launched earlier this year supporting people aged between 18-75 with asthma or type-2 diabetes.

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Health

How VerveLife Brought Lagos to a Standstill

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VerveLife

As the day dawned on Saturday, November 5, 2022, there was a palpable buzz in the cool Lagos air as thousands of fitness enthusiasts trooped to the Oniru beachfront, specifically the Landmark Event Centre, venue of the VerveLife 5.0 fitness party tagged Never Stop.

Introduced in 2017 by Verve, Africa’s leading payment technology and card and member of the Interswitch Group, VerveLife has grown into a thriving platform, attracting thousands of fitness enthusiasts from Nigeria and beyond.

As the event kicked off at 8:00 am, the dancing queen, Kaffy, opened the event with an electrifying performance in celebration of Interswitch Group’s 20th-anniversary celebrations.

For several hours after, Africa’s premium band, Alternate Sound, thrilled the crowd as attendees were engaged in upbeat dance routines and exciting workouts led by a robust lineup of fitness experts – Kemen, Ihuoma Nwigwe, Isoken Uwaifo, Enoyong, Trebla, Kenyan fitness instructor Alvin Lee, and South African fitness royalty, Queen Fitnass.

In line with the VerveLife 5.0 theme, ‘Never Stop’, there was even more fun to come as other musical acts came on stage to thrill the audience. First was Crayon, who doled out his hit songs one after the other. Just as the audience thought they had had just enough for one day, Niniola hit the stage, and the hall went berserk again, dancing to several of her hit tunes.

At this point, the event was best described as an inexhaustible bar of fun, entertainment and good sweat.

The VeveLife 5.0 experience included a series of build-up events spanning over 12 weeks across eight Nigerian cities and Nairobi, Kenya and culminating in the Lagos grand finale.  Beyond the invigorating fitness routines, games and fun, the overwhelming crowd gave proof to the growing impact the VerveLife Fitness events have been making over the years.

Verve is the leading indigenous payment technology and card brand in Africa, offering simple and cutting-edge payment solutions. Through the VerveLife fitness events, the brand continues to serve as a platform that encourages Africans to maintain a healthy lifestyle through enjoyable and stimulating activities.

This year’s VerveLife fitness event has lived up to its promise of keeping Verve cardholders, and Africans fit and steering them on the path of healthy living while fostering a community of fitness enthusiasts.

Following the resounding success of VerveLife 5.0, one cannot but wonder what to expect from VerveLife 6.0!

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Health

Africa Records High Undiagnosed Diabetes—WHO

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Diabetes

By Adedapo Adesanya

The World Health Organisation (WHO), in a new analysis, has revealed that only 46 per cent of people living with diabetes in the African region know their status, raising the risk of severe illness and death, potentially worsening the situation in the region, which already has the world’s highest mortality rates due to the disease.

This is because only 55 per cent of people with diabetes know they have diabetes as the world celebrates World Diabetes Day. This year’s event is being marked today under the theme Access to Care which calls for better access to quality diabetes care as well as the importance of prevention and response.

The global health authority noted that the African region, lack of testing facilities and equipment, inadequate number of trained health personnel, poor access to health facilities, and lack of awareness about diabetes are some of the barriers to diabetes testing.

Currently, 24 million adults are living with diabetes in Africa. The figure is projected to rise by 129 per cent to 55 million by 2045.

In the African region, premature deaths from diabetes (defined as deaths occurring before the age of 70) stand at 58 per cent, higher than the global average of 48 per cent, while the region’s age-standardized death rate (a mathematical adjustment of different populations to have the same structure) for diabetes is 48 per 100 000 population, more than double the global rate of 23 per 100 000. In the region, only one in two people living with type 1 diabetes—the most common form of pediatric diabetes—has access to insulin treatment.

Speaking on this, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said, “One of the greatest challenges to diabetes care is lack of diagnosis. Without testing, diabetes becomes a silent killer.

“While countries face several barriers to tackling diabetes, the rising prevalence of the disease is a wakeup call to reinforce health care, improve diagnosis, access to life-saving diabetes medicines, and prioritize diabetes as a major health challenge.”

For the first time ever, countries agreed in May 2022 to key global targets to improve diabetes diagnosis and access to equitable, comprehensive, affordable, and quality treatment and care.

The goals contained in the WHO Global Diabetes Compact aim to have 80 per cent of people living with diabetes diagnosed; 80 per cent of people diagnosed with the disease have good control of blood pressure and blood sugar.

Additionally, countries should strive to ensure all those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes have access to affordable insulin and blood glucose self-monitoring and that 60 per cent of people with diabetes aged 40 years and above have access to cholesterol-lowering drugs. People living with diabetes have a higher risk of hypertension and are prone to high cholesterol—a risk factor for cardiovascular disease—than those without diabetes.

For people living with diabetes, access to affordable treatment, including insulin, is critical to their survival. Limited access to insulin puts their lives in danger. In rural Mozambique, for instance, the life expectancy of a child with type 1 diabetes is as low as seven months. Type 1 diabetes is due to the body’s inability to produce enough insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar.

Between 2011 and 2021, the region recorded a five-fold rise in type 1 diabetes among children and teenagers below 19 years, with cases surging from 4 per 1000 children to nearly 20 per 1000.

WHO is supporting African countries to improve their diabetes response. In August 2022, African health ministers endorsed a WHO-led initiative called PEN Plus to increase access to diagnosis, treatment, and care of severe chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mental and neurotological disorders.

The strategy calls on countries to adopt measures ensuring that essential medicines, technologies and diagnostics are available and accessible at district hospitals. Only 36 per cent of countries in the African region have essential medicines for chronic diseases in public hospitals, according to a 2019 WHO survey.

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