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Costa Rica confirms microcephaly birth, possible Zika link

A Salvadoran woman suspected of being infected with the Zika virus has given birth in Costa Rica to a baby girl that tested positive for microcephaly, a rare birth defect, authorities said on Friday. If confirmed, the case would mark the sixth instance of microcephaly linked to a Zika infection in Central America and the first in Costa Rica. According to the World Health Organization, there is a strong scientific consensus that Zika can cause microcephaly as well as Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that can result in paralysis, though conclusive proof may take months or years.

Drug resistance adds to India’s tuberculosis menace

After three years of battling tuberculosis, a disease that claimed the lives of his father and younger brother, Sonu Verma, a patient in northern India, hopes a cure for his illness may be within reach. “Only a few more months and my nightmare will end… it will be my rebirth, free from tuberculosis,” the 25-year-old scrap dealer, who has been left visibly lean and weak by the disease, told AFP. As India marks World TB Day on Thursday, it faces an estimated 2.2 million new cases of the disease a year, more than any other country, according to the World Health Organisation.

Brazil issues Olympics warning as WHO declares Zika emergency

Brazil warned pregnant women Monday to stay away from the Olympics after the World Health Organization declared an international emergency over the Zika virus, blamed for causing a surge in brain-damaged babies. “The risk, which I would say is serious, is for pregnant women.

World health chief says TPP trade deal raises concerns

GENEVA (Reuters) – The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal negotiated between 12 Pacific rim countries, raises serious concerns about the affordability of healthcare and medicines, World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan said on Thursday. “I’m following the discussion and debate and there are some very serious concerns about the trans-Pacific Partnership, the biggest trade agreement ever,” she told a conference in Geneva. …

Tests show Ebola in Liberia linked to virus found months ago

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Samples taken from the 17-year-old boy who died from Ebola in Liberia nearly two weeks ago show the virus is genetically similar to viruses that infected many people in the same area more than six months ago, the World Health Organization said Friday.

New Embassies Open Door to Cuba’s Health Care Triumphs

As President Obama proclaimed diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba for the first time in 50 years, the World Health Organization (WHO) was simultaneously celebrating Cuba Wednesday as the first country ever to eliminate mother-to-child transmissions of HIV/AIDS and congenital syphilis. Dr. Roberto Morales, minister of public health and the first Cuban minister to come to the United States since 1952, visited Washington, D.C., to discuss the historic success. While the monumental public health achievement was the intended focus of his news conference, Obama’s news was critical to the process.

WHO projections warn of burgeoning obesity crisis in Europe

Europe will face an obesity crisis of vast proportions by 2030, according to new World Health Organization projections, with many countries likely to see far more than half of adults above the healthy weight limit. The figures, which predict 89 percent of Irish men and 77 percent of Greek men will be overweight by 2030, present “a worrying picture of rising obesity across Europe”, researchers said, with very few countries showing decreasing trends. “Although there is no silver bullet for tackling the epidemic, governments must do more to restrict unhealthy food marketing and make healthy food more affordable,” said Dr Laura Webber of the UK Health Forum, which worked with the WHO and the European Commission to produce the new projections. She also said insufficient data from some countries in the WHO's European region – which comprises 53 nations – made surveillance of obesity more difficult, hampering efforts to make accurate predictions.

Quake overwhelms Nepal’s weak healthcare system

By Rupam Jain Nair KATHMANDU (Reuters) – A massive earthquake in Nepal has exposed the woeful state of its medical facilities as hospitals struggle to treat vast numbers of injured with limited supplies and staff. The country of 28 million has only 2.1 physicians and 50 hospital beds for every 10,000 people, according to a 2011 World Health Organization report. The situation is worsening a humanitarian crisis triggered by Nepal’s worst earthquake in 81 years. So far many of the seriously injured in Kathmandu were being referred to Bir Hospital’s Trauma Centre, which opened in February this year with 200 beds.

India failing to tackle ‘massive TB crisis’: British Medical Journal

India is failing to tackle a tuberculosis epidemic because of chronic shortages of funds and the government's inability to regulate an “exploitive” private health sector, an article in the British Medical Journal said. The article, published ahead of World Tuberculosis Day on Tuesday, called for a massive investment in public health infrastructure to diagnose and treat what it called India's biggest health crisis. India accounts for an estimated 2.2 million of the 8.6 million new cases of tuberculosis that occur globally each year and harbours more than twice as many cases as any other country, according to the World Health Organization. The article by Zarir F Udwadia, a doctor at one of Mumbai's biggest private hospitals, said the government's TB programme was failing to monitor the country's burgeoning private health sector.