New Delhi: Tuberculosis accounts for nearly half million deaths every year in the South-East Asian region even as the number of people suffering from the it has come down by 40 percent, the World Health Organisation (WHO) noted Thursday.
The WHO called for greater partnerships with all sections of society to eliminate this disease in the region, which has five of the world’s 22 TB high-burden countries. The region includes nations like Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia among others.
“Partnerships, education and empowerment of the people as part of primary health care, are key to eliminating TB. Partnerships, with NGOs, public and private hospitals, and others, since the 1990s, contributed to about 25 percent increase in case notification and more than 90 percent of the treatment success rate,” Samlee Plianbangchang, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, said, adding, “However, tuberculosis is a disease of poverty and unless we reach the poorest of the poor, and focus on prevention and education, we cannot eliminate the disease.”
According to the WHO annual report on tuberculosis titled Tuberculosis Control in the South-East Asia Region 2012, the region registered an estimated 5 million prevalent and about 3.5 million incident TB cases in 2010. “Though the death rates in the region have declined due to successful implementation of the directly observed treatment, short course (DOTS), the disease still claims about half a million lives a year in the region,” the report said.
In India, according to the health ministry’s TB Control statistics, the disease kills two people every three minutes, and accounts for over 3 million (3 lakh) deaths every year.
While India has been relying on DOTS treatment to fight the disease, the country has also faced the recent controversy of drug resistance after a team of doctors from Mumbai’s Hinduja hospital recently found cases of totally-drug resistant (TDR) TB resistant to all drugs used to treat the disease.
The health ministry, after its report by experts, stated the cases to be falling within the category of Extensively Drug Resistant TB (XDR TB). The ministry shrugged off the term ‘TDR’ saying it is not recognised by the WHO.
While XDR-TB cases are resistant to any of the three second-line drugs, the multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) cases do not respond to at least two of the most potent first-line anti-TB drugs.
The airborne disease is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis that affects the lungs. Symptoms include severe cough which lasts for three weeks or longer, producing bloody or discoloured sputum, night sweats, fever, fatigue and weakness, pain in the chest, loss of appetite, and pain in breathing or coughing.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.