WHO warns against the spread of antimicrobial resistance

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 20, 2019   •   3610

A person holds pharmaceutical tablets and capsules in this picture illustration taken in Ljubljana September 18, 2013. REUTERS/SRDJAN ZIVULOVIC.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns against the spread of antimicrobial resistance around the world.

A recent UN report showed that 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases. Among the 700,000 there are around 230,000 people who die from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

“Drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050 and damage to the economy as catastrophic as the 2008-2009 global financial crisis,” the report reads.

On June 18, the WHO launched a campaign which aims to reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance, adverse events and costs. 

The AWaRe tool or Access, Watch, Reserve tool aims to make antibiotic use safer and more effective. The tool specifies which antibiotics to use for the most common and serious infections.

Dr. Hanan Balkhy, WHO Assistant-Director General for antimicrobial resistance said tackling antimicrobial resistance requires a careful balance between access and preservation

“The AWaRe tool can guide policy to ensure patients keep being treated, while also limiting use of the antibiotics most at risk of resistance,” she said.—AAC

Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk – WHO

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Microplastics contained in drinking water pose a “low” risk to human health at current levels, but more research is needed to reassure consumers, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday (August 22).

Studies over the past year on plastic particles detected in tap and bottled water have sparked public concerns, but the limited data appears reassuring the U.N. agency said in its first report on potential health risks associated with ingestion.

Microplastics enter drinking water sources mainly through run-off and wastewater effluent, the WHO said. Evidence shows that microplastics found in some bottled water seem to be at least partly due to the bottling process and/or packaging such as plastic caps, it said.

It added however that the current and available studies on the toxicity of plastic parts are limited, and also have not used standardized methods enabling scientists to have reproducible and comparable metrics, and that more studies are needed to be more conclusive on certain of the issues.

Microplastics pose three threats, a physical one, a chemical and the third is about bacterial colonization.

The majority of plastic particles in water are larger than 150 micrometers in diameter and are excreted from the body, while the vast majority of smaller ones are likely to be excreted too, there still remains concern. WHO technical experts reported that more research needs to be conducted to know more about what is being absorbed, the distribution and their impacts.

The chemical hazard, experts have looked at the concentrations found in marine microplastics and chose a worst-case scenario saying we would ingest the highest possible concentrations. According to WHO, whatever the chemical, the exposure level was a lot safer than any threshold of risks.

Bacterial colonization, health experts say there are so many particles in the environment bacteria might adhere to, that microplastics would make a negligible contribution to any microbioflora that would be released and pose a risk.

For this report, however, despite the flaws, they say they worked with worst-case scenarios and are confident that the risk would remain low should some data change.

The WHO recommended for consumers to keep on consuming tap or bottled water, provided it is correctly treated, and didn’t recommend for any regulations to be put in place. It also called for more studies, investigating the potential cumulative effects of the ingestion of microplastics present in food, air, water.

The biggest overall health threat in water is from microbial pathogens —including from human and livestock waste entering water sources — that cause deadly diarrhoeal disease, especially in poor countries lacking water treatment systems, the WHO said.

Some 2 billion people drink water contaminated with faeces, causing nearly 1 million deaths annually, Gordon said, adding: “That has got to be the focus of regulators around the world.”

Plastic pollution is so widespread in the environment that you may be ingesting five grams a week, the equivalent of eating a credit card, a study commissioned by the environmental charity WWF International said in June.

That study said the largest source of plastic ingestion was drinking water, but another major source was shellfish. (Reuters)

(Production: Marina Depretis, Emilie Delwarde)

Anti-Botcha: Mayor Isko orders intensified meat inspections in Manila

Robie de Guzman   •   August 22, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on Thursday ordered the conduct of intensified inspection in public markets following the seizure of thousands of kilograms of “botcha” or spoiled meat in the capital city since July this year.

Report from the Manila Veterinary Inspection Board presented on Thursday showed that since July 1, around 2,689 kilograms of spoiled beef shanks, pork and chicken meat were seized by authorities from different areas in Manila.

Hot meat are food items that did not pass proper inspection and are deemed unsafe for consumption.  

Mayor Isko also ordered concerned local agencies to set up checkpoints in the entry and exit points of Manila Harbor to prevent the entry of spoiled meat to the city.

He also urged the public to be cautious and observant when buying meat products.

Domagoso also called on meat vendors to join in the city government’s campaign against botcha and to make sure to only sold food products from accredited meat establishments. (RRD with details from Harlene Delgado)

UP students discover horn snail extract as potential cancer treatment

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 15, 2019

Researchers from the University of the Philippines (UP) has discovered that extracts from horn snails contain potential cancer treatment.

According to their research several extracts from horn snails (Telescopium telescopium) may prevent angiogenesis or formation of blood vessels from pre-existing ones.

“By preventing this process to occur, cancer cells are starved and do not grow and spread,” according to the study.

The study was published in journal Acta Medica Philippina last month.

“This study evaluated the potential antiangiogenic activity of Telescopium telescopium or locally known as Bagongon. It is highly abundant in the country and consumed as food by the locals,” the study further reads.

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