While the number of polio cases is at a historic low, new obstacles are delaying global eradication. The three remaining endemic countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan – are hampered by insecurity that makes it difficult to vaccinate all children against the disease.
Last year, Tanzania suffered from its largest cholera outbreak in a decade. New research helps identify the culprit – El Niño. By causing more rainfall in parts of Africa, some 177 million people experienced a threefold increase in cholera cases due to El Niño. That means 50,000 more cholera cases compared to other years.
The World Health Organization released what is a essentially a ‘most wanted list’ of the 12 families of bacteria that pose the greatest threat to our health. WHO officials hope that this list we will spur research and development of new antibiotics. Many of the bacteria listed are already resistant to multiple antibiotics.
Much like eradicating a disease, ending poverty requires knowing where it exists. A new project uses satellites and artificial intelligence to measure poverty rates – reaching places missed by traditional household surveys. Researchers say this can help track changes more quickly and improve the ability of governments and nonprofits as they try to end extreme poverty by 2030.
A new vaccine may help protect people against malaria. Two studies on variants of the same vaccine released today found that it is effective at preventing malaria. The promising results are tempered by the fact that roughly 100 people participated in the two studies and they provided protection well below the 75 percent threshold set by the World Health Organization.
The return of rain following the end of El Niño should be good news for farmers in Southern Africa. But a pest from the Americas is ruining everything. Countries recovering from the two-year long drought that caused widespread food insecurity now face a rapidly spreading crop killer. The invasive fall armyworm is destroying maize across the region and spreading quickly from country to country serving a “blow to prospects of recovery” for the region, says the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
As air pollution continues to plague China, India and cities around the world, researchers have developed a new air filter that can block 99.94 percent of the most harmful particulates in smog as well as toxic chemicals that existing filters miss, including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and sulphur dioxide. Even better, it’s inexpensive and eco-friendly, because it’s made of paper towels, bacteria and soybeans.
Researchers have identified a potential treatment for Zika to protect both mothers and their unborn babies, and it may be ready for human use in as little as two years.
Climate change is causing glaciers in the Bolivian Andes to melt at an alarming rate, according to a recent study, posing serious risks to the millions of people who rely on the glaciers for drinking water, hydropower and irrigation.
In the latest attempt to stem the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, scientists are now planning to release millions of mosquitoes infected with bacteria in areas of Brazil and Colombia.