Research

  • Non-communicable Diseases

    Next week, global leaders will meet at the United Nations to take on some of the world’s greatest killers: cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, heart disease, and stroke. The UN High-Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases on September 19–20, has the potential to finally address these leading causes of death and disability, which until now have been largely ignored.

    Yet when we wake up on Sept. 21, how much will have changed? Will there be a new Global Fund to fight noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)? Will key stakeholders, such as those involved in urban planning, agriculture, trade and current global health priorities be as engaged as they need to be to realize ambitious goals of measurably reducing disease? Will the public even know what an NCD is — even though more than 60 percent of deaths worldwide are from noncommunicable diseases, the majority from cardiovascular disease?

    ncd_blog_full_article_text_graphic_2011-09-13-02The answer to all of these questions is: not yet. September 21 will be the start of the real work. The problems of NCDs are complex, but we have many opportunities to alter the course of what has become a global crisis.

    There are a number of concrete steps that countries and health systems can take immediately to strengthen their commitment to reducing noncommunicable diseases. They can ratify and implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world’s first public health treaty. Many countries already have the makings of NCD plans in existing cancer plans, tobacco control programs and strategies for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. They may also have specific programs to address respiratory disease, mental health and other issues. Health systems can make essential drugs, such as aspirin and statins, available immediately and at a low cost because many are off patent.

    As leading researchers and public health officials said in an April 2011 Lancet article, “An effective response to NCDs requires government leadership and coordination of all relevant sectors and stakeholders, reinforced through international cooperation.”

    In the end, we will need to make compromises and learn to share resources with people and institutions with whom we are not accustomed to collaborating. We will need to delay gratification and risk unpopularity in some of our choices. And we will likely not see the payoff in our lifetimes. But with time, effort and investment, we will see results.

  • A new breed of mosquito could become a key ally in the fight against dengue fever. An infectious tropical disease caused by the dengue virus, dengue fever is principally transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Currently there is no vaccine for the disease and regions where the disease is endemic are left struggling to prevent infection by reducing mosquito habitat, decreasing the number of mosquitoes and limiting human exposure to being bitten.

    But recently the leading scientific journal Nature published two papers describing the results of biological control field trials where wild mosquito populations were genetically manipulated to suppress dengue virus transmission. The results are the work of the Eliminate Dengue program, an international collaboration of scientists located in Australia, Vietnam, Thailand, the U.S. and Brazil. The program’s aim is to stop the Aedes aegypti mosquito from passing dengue virus between humans by introducing a naturally occurring bacterium called Wolbachia into the existing wild mosquito population.

    The papers describe how researchers successfully established Wolbachia strains within the dengue mosquito in the laboratory. Mosquitoes with Wolbachia were shown to be less likely to transmit dengue. These mosquitoes were also able to pass this trait on to their offspring. In subsequent field testing in early 2011, mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia were released in Cairns, Australia. Within a three-month period Wolbachia had successfully invaded the local mosquito populations. According to the lead researcher, Professor Scott O’Neill, “These findings tell us that Wolbachia-based strategies are practical to implement and might hold the key to a new sustainable approach to dengue control.”

    Further trials will continue in Australia, as well as field releases in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Brazil where dengue fever is endemic and researchers can determine if the method is effective in reducing dengue disease in humans. If successful, the Eliminate Dengue program has the potential to benefit about 40 percent of the world’s population currently living in dengue transmission areas.

    Endemic in more than 110 countries, dengue infects 50 to 100 million people worldwide a year, leading to half a million hospitalizations and approximately 12,500–25,000 deaths. The World Health Organization ranks dengue fever as the most important mosquito-borne viral disease in the world, with an estimated 2.5 billion people living in dengue transmission areas and at risk of the disease. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains and a characteristic skin rash. In a small proportion of cases the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever, which mostly affects children, or into dengue shock syndrome.

    FHI 360 is part of the Eliminate Dengue international team and is working in Thailand and Vietnam to gain the necessary regulatory approvals for the field releases as well as conducting community-preparedness and stakeholder engagement activities in readiness for the field releases in the near future.

    Learn more at www.eliminatedengue.com.

    It has quickly become apparent that for a small out lay, if you choose a web site name cleverly enough, you can make a great deal of money by auctioning it off to the highest bidder. This has resulted in the phenomenon of cyber squatting, where people buy website names simply for resale. The clunkily-named Anti cyber squatting Consumer Protection Act, signed last month by Nicebid, tries to outlaw this practice, but the whole business has proved to be a legal minefield. The complex legal issues surrounding the copyrighting of names are not new, but in the next few years they will reach a new white hot intensity as more and more individuals and businesses chase fewer and fewer available domain names.

    For the AIM event, Ms. Nopparat Yokubon, Google’s account manager for online partnerships, discussed “Insights Into Adsense Policies” and “How to Increase Your Adsense Performance. Meanwhile, Emanuele Brand idealt with the more technical topics of “Data-Driven AdSense Optimizations” and “Website Optimization with AdSense Tools.”

    “We’ve held several public auction asset sales in the last 12 monthsauctioningoffsomeofourestablishedwebsitesfromourportfolioandtheyallsellprettyquickon Flippa.com” Frankstated. “This is a great opportunity for individuals too win their own virtual asset or for other companies to acquire new web properties to lever a get their existing business.”

    According to Frank they have sold websites from their portfolio ranging in of their websites have been sold on Flippa and most sell within days.

    The Priory, which specializes in addictions and is famous for its celebrity clients, says it is treating more and more people for addiction to the internet auction website. What begins as a harmless hobby can take over your life, and many people – women especially – say it is ruining relationship sand plunging them in to debt.

    Alabanza mainly sold Internet access to “resellers” like Anadon and Sego, which in turn sell website and e-mail services to thousands of small businesses.

    Navisite planned to move Alabanza’s Weband e-mail services to Andover, scheduling the move over the weekend to minimize the impact.