Is this a propaganda, or one that is politically-motivated? My mind can't grasp that yet... I really don't know what it is...

Posted: 19 November 2011

WASHINGTON: US health officials on Friday revoked the authorisation of Roche's Avastin for breast cancer treatment, saying it concluded the drug had "not been shown to be safe and effective for that use."

Avastin will still remain on the market as an approved treatment for certain types of colon, lung, kidney and brain cancer, the US Food and Drug Administration said in a statement.

"This was a difficult decision," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said.

"FDA recognises how hard it is for patients and their families to cope with metastatic breast cancer and how great a need there is for more effective treatments. But patients must have confidence that the drugs they take are both safe and effective for their intended use."

The latest move followed the recommendation of an expert panel that said the drug, also known under the generic name bevacizumab, carries risks such as severe high blood pressure and haemorrhage and does not prolong overall survival in women suffering from breast cancer.

The FDA had accepted the expert report that Avastin was not an effective treatment for breast cancer but Roche decided to appeal.

Hamburg said studies indicate that women who take Avastin for metastatic breast cancer "risk potentially life-threatening side effects without proof that the use of Avastin will provide a benefit, in terms of delay in tumour growth, that would justify those risks."

"Nor is there evidence that use of Avastin will either help them live longer or improve their quality of life," she added.

Avastin, which is marketed in the United States by the firm Genentech for its Swiss parent Roche, was approved for metastatic breast cancer in February 2008 under the FDA's accelerated approval programme.

The program provides early access to promising new drugs to treat serious or life-threatening conditions while clinical trials to confirm their efficacy are conducted.

In the case of Avastin, the accelerated approval was based on promising results from one study that suggested it could extend the lives of women with advanced breast cancer.

Genentech said in a statement it was "disappointed with the outcome."

"We remain committed to the many women with this incurable disease and will continue to provide help through our patient support programmes to those who may be facing obstacles to receiving their treatment in the United States," said Hal Barron, chief medical officer of the group.

"Despite today's action, we will start a new Phase III study of Avastin in combination with paclitaxel in previously untreated metastatic breast cancer and will evaluate a potential biomarker that may help identify which people might derive a more substantial benefit from Avastin."

European medical experts have urged that the drug be restricted to use in combination with paclitaxel only instead of other forms of chemotherapy because benefits were uncertain.

- AFP/de

Taken from; source article is below:
US revokes Roche's Avastin for breast cancer

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This is a late covering of the WHO reform...

Posted: 05 November 2011

Logo of the World Health Organisation (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)
GENEVA: The World Health Organisation plans financial reforms as it seeks to cope with budget shortfalls amid the global economic crisis, an official said Friday.

Proposals include reducing the size of the UN agency's Geneva headquarters by sending some staff to work in less expensive areas, the WHO's director of strategy Daniel Lopez-Acuna told reporters.

The WHO's executive body said after an extraordinary session this week that the organisation was planning "ambitious reforms designed to build on the organisation's already strong foundations and better equip it to respond to public health challenges in the 21st century."

But Lopez-Acuna said not to expect a "big bang". Reforms at the 63-year-old organisation with a staff of nearly 8,500 around the world will be "a process that takes some time," he said.

In May, the WHO's 193 members adopted an austerity budget for 2012-2013 in the face of a deficit of some $300 million (215 million euros) in donor contributions prompted by the global crisis.

Some 300 headquarters staff will be axed, but further reforms are needed.

Resources will increasingly be transferred to in-country programmes, Lopez-Acuna said, and some activities could be shut down entirely depending on funding and priorities.

The executive council's statement Thursday following a three-day meeting said the body would meet again in January to examine ways to "better anticipate and be more flexible in its financing".

In the interim, it authorised the WHO leadership to take "immediate measures", the statement said, without elaborating.

- AFP/wk

Taken from; source article is below:
WHO plans financial reforms

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It is good to know that even once is a while, world leaders are united towards a good cause, and not fighting each other...

Posted: 29 October 2011

File photo shows a child getting anti-polio vaccination drops from an Indian health worker in Amritsar (AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU/FILES)
PERTH, Australia: World leaders Saturday added their weight to a push to eradicate polio, pledging millions of dollars in new funds to bring an end to the crippling and potentially fatal disease.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, said her country would spend A$50 million ($53.5 million) over four years towards the global fight.

"While polio remains anywhere in the world it is a threat to anyone," she told a joint news conference with leaders from Britain, Canada and two of the world's four polio endemic countries -- Pakistan and Nigeria -- by her side.

"We are here today to demonstrate our commitment to ending the fight against polio, that is ending polio for all time."

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his country would commit further investments in polio surveillance and immunisations without giving a figure, while philanthropist Bill Gates pledged $40 million in new funding.

"We're at a crossroads," Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said via a video message, adding that recent cases in China highlighted the risk of polio spreading back across the globe.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said he would raise annual spending on fighting polio from $17 million to $30 million from 2012.

Jonathan said while the disease had been reduced by 75 per cent in the African nation, it remained present in some states and had started to make a comeback over the past year.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, whose government in January pledged 40 million pounds ($64.5 million) to fight the disease, said the world was in sight of eradicating the disease.

"Today for the vast majority of countries polio has been eliminated and the harrowing images of children in iron lungs banished to the past," he said.

"But for all this progress we haven't quite finished the job and the truth is that nearly eradicated is just not good enough."

Cameron said the world now ran the danger of going backwards on ending the disease which mainly affects children.

"If we fail to get rid of polio we run the risk of seeing it spread back to countries from which it has been eradicated," he said.

Polio remains a challenge for the 54-nation Commonwealth, with three of the four of the world's endemic countries -- India, Nigeria and Pakistan -- members. Afghanistan is the fourth state in which the highly contagious disease has not been eradicated.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said he was concerned that polio had re-emerged in his country, which shares a long, rugged and porous border with war-ravaged Afghanistan.

"This situation is totally unacceptable," he said, adding that medical staff often had difficulty reaching those in need given the difficult terrain and the problem of insurgents.

In areas where the oral vaccine was most needed, he said, there were people who were "so fanatical they don't let the doctors into this area".

"But we are trying our best," he added.

Gillard said it was possible the disease, which in 1954 held Perth in its grip, preventing Britain's Queen Elizabeth II from staying onshore during her maiden visit Down Under, could be ended for ever.

"Change is possible," she said. "This is an issue which within our lifetime was a problem right around the world. Now we are in grasping distance of the end of polio worldwide and that is what we are determined to do."

- AFP/wk

Taken from; source article is below:

World leaders vow to fight polio

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002 Top PupilsImage by via Flickr28-Nov-2011

Last week, specifically 24th November, the results for PSLE was out. The many feelings and emotions. Mixed. Varied. Elation. Depression. Name it, and you have it (or others have it).

One student was very brave and forward-looking, the kind of spirit that can survive crises. Although the result indicated failure, the child did not - and was looking forward to making good the next time around.

And many posted their numbers and categories at Facebook.

And their arrogance!

Well, I was keeping my quiet, and my wife and I, we were discussing how some achieved, and some others simply failed.

A remark said on one’s result: “Mana!” (Genetics!)

It was proven come Sunday school class. Whatever triggered the discussion, each one who took the PSLE told of their score in class. And surprisingly (or should I say NOT surprisingly), one boy said out loud, “I got 2xx and the highest in my class is 2xx!”

The figure is the same, so you know what the boy was telling.

Everybody was quiet, until another boy said, “Don’t boast lah!”

And everyone in the class LOL!

Later at home evening time, my daughter told about that incident, and we were all laughing. I was telling her, you should have answered back, “That score is the lowest in our school!”. Okay, okay, that is just an exaggeration, but it is a way to slap the arrogant person, figuratively…

My wife relayed that incident later on to another church mate, and the reply was, “The father is known for that same mark – arrogance.”

So the remark is correct: “Mana talaga!” (Really genetics!).

And these are the kind of leaders we elect… I’m just glad that I had no participation whatsoever in the election…

May God forgive me for being arrogant myself… sometimes… I mean, you don’t have to be the one telling how great you are – wait for others to do that, especially the Lord.

Ps 75:5: God is the judge. He decides who will be important. He lifts one person up and brings another down.

Jer 9:24: but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD."
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This is a late post, and just chronicling...

Posted: 16 October 2011

An Indian child suffering from Japanese Encephalitis lies on a bed in Gorakhpur (AFP Photo/Varun JAISWAL)
NEW DELHI: At least 430 people, mainly children, have died from an outbreak of encephalitis in a deeply neglected region of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, officials said on Saturday.

K.P. Kushwaha, chief paediatrician at the BRD Medical College in the state's hardest-hit Gorakhpur district, said it was one of the worst outbreaks of encephalitis in the impoverished region, which borders Nepal.

"The situation is grim and the epidemic is worse than previous years and with so many patients there are no empty beds at the hospital," Khuswaha said.

"We count such cases since January but most of these casualties have occurred since July."

He said more than 2,400 patients have been admitted to government hospitals in the region so far this year of which at least 430 have died.

"Until Saturday, 336 children and 94 adults have died," Kushwaha told AFP by telephone from the overcrowded hospital where patients were lying two to a bed.

He said 262 patients were undergoing treatment in the state-run facility.

"Everyday between 30 and 40 patients are being brought in for treatment," he said.

Some 215 people, a majority of them children, succumbed to encephalitis in Gorakhpur last year while the death toll from the disease in 2005 was more than 1,400 in Uttar Pradesh.

Eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh are ravaged by encephalitis each year as malnourished children succumb to the virus, officials say.

Encephalitis causes brain inflammation and can result in brain damage. Symptoms include headaches, seizures and fever.

Health experts say 70 million children nationwide are at risk of encephalitis.

Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, has been struggling for years with an encephalitis prevention programme, vaccinating millions of children against the virus.

- AFP/wk

Taken from; source article is below:
Encephalitis in India kills 430

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BEKASI, INDONESIA - FEBRUARY 10:  Patients lie...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeEven in resilient people, six months' unemployment has psychological impact, research shows

October 19, 2011

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Americans who were jobless for longer than 25 weeks in the past year were three times more likely than those who were continuously employed to suffer mental health issues for the first time, a new study finds.

Being jobless also has a greater psychological impact on people with more than a high school education than on those with less education, the researchers found.

The study involved people who had never had clinically defined emotional health issues in their life or who had their first bout of problems in the most recent year.

"In looking at this group of resilient individuals, we compared the psychological health of those who were fully employed with those who were exposed to short-term unemployment or less than 25 weeks of involuntary joblessness, and with people who were exposed to long-term unemployment over the past year," Arthur Goldsmith, an economics professor at Washington and Lee University, said in a university news release.

The findings were scheduled for presentation Wednesday at a Congressional briefing on the emotional impact of unemployment sponsored by the American Psychological Association.

"The reason we focus on this group is that if you're 55 years old, and you've never had a bout of poor emotional well-being that would be described clinically in that way, and have your first bout in the past year when you are exposed to unemployment, it's very unlikely that your poor mental health led to the unemployment rather than your unemployment leading to the poor mental health. Thus, we are able to address the issue of causality that has plagued prior studies of the link between unemployment and mental health," Goldsmith explained.

He and his colleagues found that the risk of first-time mental health issues was about the same for people who were fully employed and those who experienced short-term unemployment.

"On the other hand, we found that people exposed to long-term unemployment were three times as likely as employed people over the past year to be exposed to their first bout of psychological distress in a clinically defined way," Goldsmith said.

Depression and general anxiety are the two primary causes of poor mental health related to long-term unemployment, the study found.

"When people are exposed to long-term unemployment, they obviously feel that they've lost control of their capacity to earn a living and take care of their families," Goldsmith said. "They worry about their futures."

The study also found that the psychological impact of unemployment tends to be greater among people in minority groups and those with higher levels of education.

For a person in a minority group, unemployment likely heightens their concerns about their ability to do well due to a history of job discrimination because of race and ethnicity.

"People with a lot of education tend to believe that they have control of events in their lives and are self-blamers. That is really damaging to emotional well-being," Goldsmith explained.

The research should be considered preliminary because it has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information
The Canadian Mental Health Association offers tips for coping with unemployment.
Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Taken from, Health News; source article is below:
Long-Term Unemployment Can Tax Mental Health

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Dr. Shore Armani. Armani Internal MedicalImage by Augur Marketing via Flickr
OCTOBER 17, 2011

By Phil Izzo

Just 1 in 7 U.S. workers is of normal weight without a chronic health problem, according toGallup polling data, and it could be costing the economy more than $153 billion a year in lost productivity from increased sick days.

Gallup polled more than 100,000 full-time workers, and found that two-thirds of the work force is either overweight or obese and nearly half are both overweight and have at least one chronic health problem. The numbers on obesity are calculated using self-reported height and weight, which means the numbers could be even higher. Studies have shown that people tend to underestimate their weight and overestimate their height.
Workers who were overweight or obese were more likely to miss work than those of normal weight, but chronic health problems were a much bigger factor. Even among those of normal weight, chronic conditions are prevalent, as nearly 60% of those workers report a continuing health issue. Chronic health problems included having ever been diagnosed with a heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, asthma, or depression; and recurring physical pain in the neck or back or knee or leg in the last 12 months.
Gallup estimates that 450 million days of work a year are missed because of weight and other health problems, resulting in an estimated cost of $153 billion in lost productivity.
“The $153 billion in lost productivity estimated in this analysis would increase if it included presenteeism, which is when employees go to work but are less productive in their jobs because of poor health or wellbeing. Including part-time employees would also add to the estimate of costs in lost productivity,” said Dan Witters and Sangeeta Agrawal who presented the data on Gallup’s Web site. They also point to a study that puts the figure much higher at $1.1 trillion.
The data were collected this year, and there is a chance that the slow-to-recover economy is making the problem worse. Workers are facing stressful conditions amid a stubbornly high unemployment rate and demands from wary employers to do more with less. The Mayo clinic notes that stress puts people at increased risk for developing health problems including obesity, depression and heart disease.

Taken from Wall Street Journa blogl; source article is below:
86% of Workers Obese or Have Other Health Issue

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 04:  Eliza Hender...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
October 17, 2011

UNDATED (WTVB) - If you are a full time worker, there’s an 86% chance you have weight or health problems. That eye-popping number is part of a Gallup Healthways study which says these workers are costing businesses in the U.S. more than 150-billion dollars a year in sick days.
Chronic health problems were defined as past heart attacks, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, asthma or depression.  Researchers found that overweight workers with at least three chronic health conditions reported an average of 42 days a year in which poor health kept them from their usual activities.  That's compared to about four days a year for workers of normal weight with no chronic health problems. 
Researchers found that workers took about one day off work for every three of these so-called "unhealthy days."

Taken from; source article is below:
Overweight Workers With Health Issues Have More Sick Days