A Single Cell Shines New Light on How Cancers Develop (NYT)

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It was just a tiny speck, a single cell that researchers had marked with a fluorescent green dye. But it was the very first cell of what would grow to be a melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Never before had researchers captured a cancer so early.

By

The cell was not a cancer yet. But its state was surprising: It was a cell that had reverted to an embryonic form, when it could have developed into any cell type. As it began to divide, cancer genes took over and the single primitive cell barreled forward into a massive tumor.

Dr. Leonard I. Zon, at of Boston Children’s Hospital, poses for a portrait with an aquarium of zebra fish at the Karp Family Research Building in Boston, MA. Credit Shiho Fukada for The New York Times

Those were the findings of Dr. Leonard Zon of Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Charles K. Kaufman, and their colleagues, in a study published Thursday in the journal Science that offers new insight into how cancers may develop. The researchers stumbled on that first cell of a melanoma when they set out to solve a puzzle that has baffled cancer investigators: Why do many cells that have cancer genes never turn cancerous?

The work was in fish that had been given human genes, but the investigators found the same genetic programs in human melanomas, indicating that they too started when a cell reverted back to an embryonic state. Researchers say the result can help them understand why melanomas and possibly other cancers form, and potentially prevent them. And it may provide a way to stop melanomas from growing back after they have been cut down by new targeted drugs. Read more

(Macau Hub) ADB helps São Tomé and Príncipe improve agriculture and fisheries

Photo Credit: Macau Hub

A program funded by the African Development Bank (ADB) has enabled a significant modernisation of agriculture and fisheries in São Tomé and Príncipe, the bank said in a document published on its website.

The document on four years of implementation of the Recovery Programme of Infrastructure to Support Food Security (PRIASA), 2012-2016, said roads had been rebuilt and irrigation channels built for farmland, along with fish storage centres and various other structures and training sessions for farmers, fishermen and technical personnel.

The rural sector, which employs about 60 percent of the workforce, was the main target of the agreement signed in 2013 between the ADB and the São Tomé government, which included provision of US$156 million by 2018, distributed to agriculture and fisheries (45 percent), services (37 percent) and social support (18 percent).

The African Development Bank, which has supported São Tomé and Príncipe since 1978, also reported that PRIASA directly benefits over 10,000 people, nearly half of them women who play a key role in processing of products and organising the market. (macauhub/ST)

The article was published in Macau Hub.

(AllAfrica) Signature of a Grant Agreement for the Contribution in the Response Plan for the Syrian Refugees Crisis in the Arab Republic of Egypt in the Education Sector

The Grant Agreement was signed on behalf of the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt by the Minister of International Cooperation and on behalf of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development by Mr. Abdulwahab Al-Bader, Director-General of the Fund.

The Grant Agreement was signed on behalf of the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt by the Minister of International Cooperation and on behalf of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development by Mr. Abdulwahab Al-Bader, Director-General of the Fund.          Photo Credit: Kuwait Fund

PRESS RELEASE

A Grant Agreement was signed today in Cairo between the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, whereby the Kuwait Fund provide a Grant in the amount of US$ 20 Million to help finance projects aimed at relieving socio-economic impacts in the education sector within Egyptian host communities of Syrian refugees.

The Grant Agreement was signed on behalf of the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt by Her Excellency Dr. Sahar Ahmed Mohamed Abdel Moniem Nasar, Minister of International Cooperation on behalf of the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and signed on behalf of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development by Mr. Abdulwahab Al-Bader, Director-General of the Fund.

The Projects aim to address the education needs of Syrian refugees in host communities in the Arab Republic of Egypt, by raising the level of educational services provided to them, by supporting projects in the educational buildings sector, to ensure the continuity of providing the required education services in the areas where there is a concentration of refugees.

The Projects consist of the construction and equipping of about 30 schools with multiple educational stages in the Provinces of Cairo, Geza, Alexandria, Demyat, Deghaliyah and Sharquiah. The Projects are expected to start at the beginning of Year 2016, and to be finished before mid-Year 2017.

The total cost of the Projects is estimated at about US$ 20 million and the Kuwait Fund Grant will cover 100% of the cost.

It is worth mentioning that the number of development finance extended by the Kuwait Fund are 40 loans to the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt or to public entities in the Arab Republic of Egypt with a total amount of about KD 721 million (equivalent to about US$ 2.4 billion). The Fund has also provided Egypt with ten technical assistance and other grants with a total amount of about KD 2.983 million (equivalent to about US$ 9.8 million) allocated for financing technical and economic feasibility studies for certain projects and financing other activities. Kuwait Fund also administered two grants provided by the Government of the State of Kuwait to the Arab Republic of Egypt, amounting in total to about KD 4.8 million (equivalent to about US$16.8 million) for the purpose of reconstruction of some schools that were affected by the earthquake in 1992, and the reconstruction of some villages that were damaged by floods in 1995.

Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development in Kuwait City is AllAfrica.com’s premium partner. 

The press released was published on AllAfrica.com. 

(UN News) Half the population of Central African Republic faces hunger, UN warns

Two and a half million people in the Central African Republic (CAR) are facing hunger. Photo: WFP/Bruno Djoye

20 January 2016 – An emergency food security assessment by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners has revealed that half the population of the Central African Republic (CAR) – nearly 2.5 million people – faces hunger.

This marks a doubling in the number of hungry people in a one-year period, as conflict and insecurity have led to limited access to and availability of food.

“Three years of crisis have taken a huge toll on the people of CAR,” said Guy Adoua, WFP Deputy Country Director in the country, in a press release.

“Families have been forced so often to sell what they own, pull their kids out of school, even resort to begging, that they have reached the end of their rope. This is not the usual run-of-the-mill emergency. People are left with nothing,” he added.

According to the assessment, one in six women, men and children struggles with severe or extreme food insecurity, while more than one in three is moderately food insecure, not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

“WFP is extremely concerned by this alarming level of hunger. People not only lack enough food but are also forced to consume low-cost, low-nutrient food that does not meet their nutritional needs,” added Mr. Adoua.

The report shows that the 2014-2015 harvest was poor and that food prices remain high as farmers have not tended their fields due to insecurity, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and abandon their land and livelihoods.

Further clashes erupted in late September as much of the food security data for the assessment was being collected. That violence fuelled more displacement as people were slowly returning home. Nearly 1 million people are still displaced inside CAR or seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

The report recommends continued emergency food assistance to displaced families and returnees; food and technical assistance to farmers to recover; creating safety nets through programmes such as the school meals programme; and providing support to rehabilitate the infrastructure through food-for-assets activities.

Meanwhile, WFP is providing emergency food and nutritional support to those most vulnerable and plays a crucial role in supporting recovery efforts. The agency’s programmes focused on cash-based transfers and local food purchases going into school meals for thousands of children boost the local economy and people’s livelihoods.

“We must help the most vulnerable, who need emergency food assistance to survive, yet we also need to focus on people across CAR so they can recover and rebuild,” stressed Mr. Adoua.

In December 2015, WFP provided food for nearly 400,000 people through general food distributions, cash-based transfers, nutrition support and school meals, as well as food-for-assets activities, but $41 million is required so that it can respond to urgent needs through to the end of June. To date, WFP’s operation is only 45 per cent funded.

This article was published in the United Nations News Centre.

(Xinhua) Interview: Guinea hails Chinese medical team for role in defeating Ebola

Source: Xinhua   2016-01-15 20:45:33
CONAKRY, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) — The Chinese medical team in Guinea has been hailed for its contribution to fighting the deadly Ebola virus.

The director of Sino-Guinea Friendship Hospital in the capital Conakry, Dr. Fode Ibrahim Camara, made the remarks in an interview with Xinhua on Thursday just after the World Health Organization declared free of Ebola in Liberia.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa had been pronounced over with Liberia’s end of the virus, however hours later a new case was confirmed in Sierra Leone which had been declared Ebola-free on Nov. 7, 2015.

Guinea was declared Ebola-free on Dec. 29, 2015.

Photo Credit: www.news.cn.com

Photo Credit: www.news.cn.com

The current 10-strong Chinese medical team in Guinea is the 24th mission sent by China to the country since 1968. They arrived in Guinea in August 2014 and serves a two-year term.

Camara said the 24th Chinese medical team had come to Guinea at “the most difficult time” when the Ebola epidemic was at its peak, when most people were leaving Guinea and most businesses were closing down.

“This support shows that our forefathers were right to establish the cooperation with China, which has continued to grow stronger since 1960s,” Camara said.

He hailed the good working relationship between Guinean and Chinese doctors in battling Ebola virus.

Camara said the Chinese government contributed effectively to the fight against Ebola in Guinea.

The Chinese government was the first to come to Guinea’s aid, providing all the necessary material and financial support in the war against Ebola, he said.

China was the first country to provide aid for Ebola-hit countries after the outbreak was reported in March 2014. Guinea received the first Chinese supplies in April 2014.

Camara said China also helped to train over 1,500 health workers who engaged in the fight against Ebola, both in Conakry and other parts of the country.

The 23th Chinese medical team in Guinea, which returned in August 2014, helped to fight against Ebola for six months. Its 19 members have been lauded by the country for their contributions.

As of November 2014, China has offered aid worth 750 million yuan (about 113.77 million dollars) and sent thousands of medical personnel to Ebola-hit countries.

Ebola has killed more than 11,000 people mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since December 2013.

Editor: An

Ebola: what is working and what is not. (CNN)

(CNN)Despite a massive international effort, several treatments that once held great hope for fighting Ebola have turned out not to work against the dreaded virus that killed more than 11,000 people in the most recent outbreak.

The “harvest of that massive effort is thin,” writers in the journal, Science, recently commented.

But researchers are looking into some other options, with more studies coming out just in the past week. Here’s where various Ebola treatments stand, both the losers and those still up for consideration.

By Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent

2014: Doctor treating Ebola with HIV drug

2014: Doctor treating Ebola with HIV drug 02:08

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hepatitis

SHABAS EL SHOHODA, Egypt — Abdel Gawad Ellabbad knows exactly how he was infected with hepatitis C.
As a schoolboy in this Nile Delta rice-farming village, his class marched to the local clinic every month for injections against schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease spread by water snails.

A nurse would boil the syringes, fill each with five doses and then jab five boys in a row with a single needle.

“I didn’t want that hot needle touching me, so I thought I’d be smart,” Mr. Ellabbad, 52, said. “I let the other guys go first.”

Abdel Gawad Ellabbad, 52, riding to work in Desouq, Egypt. He contracted hepatitis C as a schoolboy and was cured of the disease this spring after taking a regimen that included the drug sofosbuvir. Credit David Degner for The New York Times

Six million Egyptians were infected with hepatitis C by unsterile needles during the country’s decades-long fight against schistosomiasis. The virus spread insidiously; today, at least 10 percent of Egyptians, nearly nine million people, are chronically infected, the highest rate in the world.

But a grand experiment unfolding across the country may change all that.

(Fortune) How Big Data is Helping Fight AIDS in Africa

Photo Credit: sorbetto — Getty Images

Photo Credit: sorbetto — Getty Images

By  |  | DECEMBER 14, 2015, 11:57 AM EST

Sometimes knowing the facts leads to surprising solutions.

HIV transmission from mother to child is a major, and preventable, factor in the ongoing prevalence of AIDS in Africa. While transmission rates are below 5% with effective prenatal treatment, the World Health Organization says they can range up to 45% without treatment—unfortunately, a common situation in the developing world.

Postnatal testing, then, is often vital in spotting infections in newborns, and treating them. But even as testing has become more accessible in Africa, it has remained slow, with devastating results—untreated infant HIV is usually fatal within a year. The problem isn’t just the time needed for the actual tests, but also the unpredictable ways that samples traveled from clinics to labs.

To tackle the problem, Mozambique brought in logistics expert Jérémie Gallien, a professor at the London Business School. Before looking at health systems, Gallien had consulted on retail logistics, including for the fast-fashion chain Zara and a dominant online seller he prefers not to name. And he’s found common ground between selling sweaters and saving lives.

Gallien says the basic conundrum of medical planning is the same as that in retail—striking the right balance between instant gratification and system-wide agility. When a retailer puts all its stock in stores instead of distribution centers, or a medical authority puts all of its drugs in clinics instead of a central facility, they can sell or treat patients at those locations much more quickly. But if they bet wrong on demand, moving materials where they’re needed becomes much more challenging.

Balancing those concerns comes down to understanding a specific problem, and in Mozambique, Gallien, with co-authors Sarang Deo and Jónas Oddur Jónasson, found a surprising answer. To speed the return of test results, they recommended that testing facilities, instead of dispersed, be highly centralized. While slightly slowing average sample transportation times, the added efficiency in test processing would more than make up for it.

That conclusion was based on tons of data, gathered through partnerships with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the National Institute of Health in Mozambique. “We got access to a data set of more than a year of shipments from clinics to the labs, then back, time stamped,” says Gallien. That was more than 30,000 records, also including information on patient outcomes and engagement.

Those records let Gallien get a precise but broad-scale view of transit times, which averaged 10 days.

“Increasing the transportation time to 13 days, you end up needing two lab locations,” he says. That would have led to a more complex problem of which samples go to which lab—which Gallien compares to the retail relationship between customers and warehouses.

The data also revealed a more complex human component of the problem—the relationship between turnaround time and caretaker followup. When test results took more than 30 days, babies’ mothers were much less likely to come back to get their results—or treatment.

“There’s all kinds of stigma and psychological impact having to do whether you transmitted the virus to your infant,” says Gallien. “It’s [a] very challenging, difficult psychological context in the first place,” and the discouragement of slow test results can trigger disengagement. Though far less dire, it’s not hard to see the parallels in retail—speedy fulfillment makes it easier for customers to make decisions, and stick with them.

Authorities in Mozambique are still processing Gallien’s recommendations, but he says Uganda has already begun to implement a similar set of solutions. The move to data-based planning, he says, opens up big possibilities for improving global healthcare.

“Particularly in these environments where there’s limited resources, limited time—this could really improve outcomes.”

The article was published on Fortune.

(New American Media) Slaves, Experiments and Dr. Marion Sims’ Statue: Should It Stay or Go?

a_caballero_statue_500x279New America Media, News Report, Andres Caballero, Posted: Dec 08, 2010

NEW YORK CITY—The statue of Dr. James Marion Sims, a surgical pioneer considered the father of modern gynecology, stands amid fallen autumn leaves in northeast Central Park, bowing to passersby who look with curiosity, but fail to recognize him.

Sims’ contributions to science and medicine are revered by many, but reviled by those who know of the pain endured by female slaves on whom he operated without anesthesia in the mid-1800s: he was trying to find the cure for a painful post-birth condition known as vesico-vaginal fistula.

“There is no doubt that he carried out experiments on women, and that he was only able to do so because they were slaves,” says Deborah McGregor, a history professor at the University of Illinois and author of From Midwives to Medicine: The Birth of American Gynecology.

The issue now is whether the city should continue to honor Sims’s achievements or signal its disapproval of his methods by removing his statue from its place at Fifth Avenue near 103rd Street, opposite the New York Academy of Medicine, a historically African-American neighborhood that is now largely Puerto Rican.

“Should the NYC Parks Department remove the statue of Dr. Marion Sims from its East Harlem location considering his experiments on female and infant slaves?” asked a recent poll on EastHarlemPreservation.Org, an advocacy organization that promotes and preserves the neighborhood’s cultural, architectural and environmental history.

Of the 650 respondents, 62 percent voted for removal, while 16 percent wanted to keep the statue in place, and 23 percent said they needed more information.

A 2007 petition by the office of New York City Councilmember Charles Barron to remove the statue went nowhere, said Marina Ortiz, president and founder of East Harlem Preservation. But Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito has told the group that she is open to advocating for the statue’s removal.

Meanwhile, a spokesman from the NYC Parks and Recreation department says there have been no requests to get rid of the statue. Frances Mastrota, chair of the Community Board 11 Parks and Recreation Committee, says she did not know about the statue, but added that she would look into possible requests to have it removed.

Sims was a controversial figure even in his lifetime. Born in South Carolina in 1813, he attended medical school in his home state and in Philadelphia, and spent the early part of his career practicing in Alabama, where he owned slaves. In addition to his pioneering work in the field of gynecology —among other things — he invented the speculum, an instrument that allows doctors to see into the vagina—he boasted of being the first doctor in the South to successfully treat clubfoot and cross-eyes.

A major focus of his gynecological work was finding a way to repair vesico-vaginal fistula, a painful and embarrassing disorder caused by prolonged labor that results in the complete loss of urinary (and often fecal) control, as well as other side effects. In Sims’s era, the condition was “a physical and social calamity,” as one researcher puts it, and women with the condition were forced to avoid contact with other people, and were sometimes sent away from their families.

Sims operated on at least 10 slave women from about 1845 to 1849.

Although anesthesia became available in 1846, at least three of the slaves—Lucy, Anarcha and Betsey — endured surgery without it.

A New York Times article in October 1894 explains how Sims’s “first operation was on a female slave and was unsuccessful. He operated again and again on the same subject [Anarcha], and finally, in his thirtieth trial, he was successful.”

In his autobiography, Sims wrote about Lucy: “The poor girl, on her knees, bore the operation with great heroism and bravery. Lucy’s agony was extreme.”

After perfecting his technique and repairing the fistulas successfully in Anarcha. Sims then repaired those of several other slave women. Only after these surgeries proved successful did he try the procedure on his white female patients, this time with anesthesia. (According to McGregor and others, Sims also operated on infants born to slaves).

Sims moved to New York in 1853, becoming famous over the next few decades for a number of advances in the treatment of female patients. During the Civil War, he traveled to London and Paris, where his patients included Empress Eugenie. He was named president of the American Medical Association in 1875 and the Gynecological Society in 1879. He died in New York in 1883.

Sims’s bronze and granite statue, designed by German sculptor Ferdinand von Miller II, was first erected in Bryant Park, near the New York Public Library in midtown Manhattan, in 1892, and moved to East Harlem in 1934. A placard on the monument reads: “Surgeon and philanthropist, founder of the Woman’s Hospital State of New York. In recognition of his services in the cause of science and mankind.”

The current backlash against Sims has its roots in the women’s movement of the mid-1970s. But Sims also has his defenders, including L. Lewis Wall, a doctor and professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Sims’s modern critics have discounted the enormous suffering experienced by fistula victims, Wall wrote in a 2005 article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, adding that Sims’s failure to use anesthesia on his black patients in the 1840s was not necessarily racist:

“Acceptance [of anesthesia among doctors at the time] was not universal, and there was considerable opposition to its introduction from many different quarters, for many different reasons.”

Walls noted: “The evidence suggests that Sims’s original patients were willing participants in his surgical attempts to cure their affliction—a condition for which no other viable therapy existed at that time.”

“I think it’s important to add that he did help some of the women by creating a working treatment for a miserable condition,” agrees McGregor, the history professor. Still, she adds, “I sympathize with the desire to remove the statue. Perhaps the best compromise is to make a statue honoring Anarcha, Betsy and Lucy.”

But Ortiz, of East Harlem Preservation, believes the Sims statue should go.

“I don’t think that the average Puerto Rican in East Harlem would find this statue representative of their community,” she says, adding. “Building a statue of the three [slave] women won’t solve the issue.”

Andres Caballero is currently an MS student at Columbia  School of Journalism.

The article was published on New American Media.

Technology to speed up emergency response in SA (South Africa)

Cenhealth has partnered with ER24 to use technology to speed up emergency response. This partnership will aim to close the gap between patient information and emergency services, saving crucial minutes by providing paramedics with rapid access to life-saving information.

CenHealth is a user-controlled platform which allows users to keep a digital version of their health records. Members open an online account and can store information ranging from their weight and height, to allergies, upload X-rays, vaccination records and keep a health diary of all their doctor’s appointments.

CenHealth users now can access ER24’s pre-hospital emergency care, including Emergency Stabilisation, medical emergency care transportation by road and air to the nearest hospital and Trauma assistance.

by Staff Writer

CenHealth users now can access ER24’s pre-hospital emergency care, including Emergency Stabilisation, medical emergency care transportation by road and air to the nearest hospital and Trauma assistance. This service works in conjunction with CenHealth’s emergency profile, through which users enter important details such as allergies, medications they are taking, their age,  doctors’ details, medical aid information as well as next of kin – all of which help paramedics respond more speedily and accurately in the event of an emergency.

Puseletso Mompei, CenHealth’s New Business Director, says that Cenhealth is passionate about offering users value added services, in conjunction with their digital health record. “Our vision is to centralise the health experience for users. While having the ability to create, store and manage your health history from any device is empowering, we believe that this should integrate with real-life situations and allow user’s access health related services.”

This partnership, according to the company, is the first of its kind in Africa – where most patient’s records are in paper format, making critical information unavailable in an emergency. By using a secure, cloud based platform such as Cenhealth, users can enjoy services such as ER24 in real time.

The service is available for a fee of R30/month and is bundled with other new services including camera feature to allow users to upload images to their digital record as well as additional storage. Users can also pay a discounted annual fee. “Access is a priority for us, so keeping the price friendly was important.” says Mompei.

With the usual spike in road accidents, drownings, food poisoning and other injuries that occur more over the festive season, the launch of this service couldn’t come at a better time. ER24 has branches with ambulances and other emergency resources placed in all the major metropolitan areas, cities and towns across the nation.

Read more at IT News Africa