Posted tagged ‘health’


November 27, 2013


Erle Frayne D. Argonza


It is night time as I write this note. The easterly winds have been blowing, seemingly reminding us here of the coming hot days. While this happens, winter has been bringing storms in America, storms that accompanied the torpedoing of the new health bill, the torpedo ‘storm troopers’ being the neo-fascistic ‘Tea Party’ of the Republican Party.


The world is watching the unfolding events in America concerning health care. This analyst is among those keenly interested, as the matter of making health care accessible to everyone in my own country has been a mind-boggling challenge for the development experts. We have been scouting around for models of health care accessibility, and the concept of ‘universal healthcare’ that some experts are espousing in the USA is worth examining.


A question that arises from the unfolding events is this: is health care headed for a new summer in America, or is it moving towards a long winter? The enthused readers can go ahead and choose to discuss the matter, and generate their own opinions about it.


My own reflection about the matter makes me conclude preliminarily that America’s health care is heading towards a parallelism with the Nazi health care of the Hitler’s heydays in Germany. Nazi policy in health means a dichotomous delivery of access to health: make those strongest physically and mentally have access to state-sponsored health care, while close the access to those who are the weakest.


To reduce the cost of sustaining a state-sponsored health care program, eliminate those who are the weakest. Round up those with lingering ailments, the lame and blind, the ‘subhuman’ or below-normal intelligence, and so on, line them up on the wall and machine gun them to death.  


My own reading of the events in America makes me see, among other things, the increasing closure of health care to the impoverished families and individuals there. Poverty now exceeds 40 Millions of Americans, with the Blacks and Latinos comprising the greatest percentage of ethnicities below poverty line.


It seems, as of now, that no one single political force has a monopoly of Nazi-type health policies there. True, the fascist wing of the Republicans, coming under the names of ‘Tea Party’ and ‘neo-conservatives’, have deep, elitist, condescending scorn for poor folks and colored peoples who are receiving too much state attention via welfare subsidies for health. But that is belaboring the obvious.


There are forces within the Democrat Party—masquerading in the mantle of liberalism—who would have none of the drift of America towards a Welfare State akin to what befell Europe. They know that America’s coffers don’t cough up enough funds for subsidies, so what they do is pretend to be pro-people by voting for bills that allocate greater state subsidies for health care.


Such forces are making use of political parties as Trojan Horses to wage a sadistic attack against the poor people of America. They will brook no quarters in excluding the poorer folks, including immigrants, from mainstream health care, and they commit the heinous act through rigmaroles of legislative fiats.


While such new Nazis, and real Nazis to stress the point, fiddle their superficial policy agenda and do backroom maneuvers that concern health care, hundreds of thousands of poor folks die yearly of every kind of ailment there. By dilly-dallying on the galvanization of the ‘universal health care’ idea alone, numerous dying folks are already being sacrificed in the altar of Evil there.  


Let us all watch closely the events concerning health care, and see what happens after another year will elapse. If it will be so easy to forecast that more Americans are being kept out of the health care circuits, then rest assured a Nazi killer agenda is in place to satisfy the sadistic lust for blood by demoniacs in the Establishment.


That being so, the rest of the world, more so the emerging markets, will add another reason to their rising list of rationales for ignoring America as a recognized leading state by showing leadership through example. The year 2012 will be a clear turning point, when nations will decide whether there is still an iota of leadership that America can demonstrate.


Health is wealth, and a nation that closes health care access to its people is a nation without soul and conscience. Other nations should move on in life without that soul-less state to reckon with.


[Philippines, 17 February 2011]




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September 26, 2013



Erle Frayne D. Argonza


Gracious day to you fellow global citizens!


An alarming report by health experts concerns the 450 millions of Africans who are at risk of meningitis. While the ailment can be cured, response systems are insufficient to reach out to the very poor families who comprise the greater majority in the resource rich continent.


The good news that is now ‘knocking on heavens doors’ in Africa and developing countries is that a recently innovated vaccine is now out in the open for immediate usage. Not only does it cure the deadly disease, it can also prevent meningitis from taking place for the persons who immediately seek an intervention.


Eradicating meningitis via vaccination is valuable an intervention to me, as my own country used to be very poor whence my own relatives in the provinces died of the ailment. There were also moments in my past when I was on the verge of being hit by meningitis, as I keep on contracting inflammations of my sinus and throat—with infections that can lead to meningitis if not treated early.


Chad was employed as a test case for the new vaccine, with stunningly high success. For the details on the report, please refer to the enclosed  article below.




[Manila, 24 September 2013]

Meningitis vaccine cuts cases by 94 per cent in Chad

Albert González Farran/UNAMID

Speed read

  • The MenAfriVac vaccine helped cut cases by 94 per cent in the 2012 epidemic season
  • Results are based on analysis of 1.8 million vaccinations in Chad
  • The vaccine’s roll out should continue, but also be monitored

A meningitis vaccine that has recently been rolled out in several African countries has reduced the incidence of the disease by 94 per cent in Chad after just a single dose per person, in what scientists say is a startling success for the new vaccine, called MenAfriVac.
And the presence of the bacteria responsible for the disease in people’s throats — carriage prevalence — dropped by 98 per cent, according to the study published in The Lancet today.
The research, based on an analysis of data from 1.8 million vaccinations in Chad, revealed that there were no cases of serogroup A meningococcal meningitis, the most dangerous strain of the disease, following vaccination.
“This is one of the most dramatic outcomes from a public health intervention that I have seen,” said lead author Brian Greenwood in a press release (12 September).
“There are now real prospects that the devastating effects of this infection in Africa can be prevented,” said Greenwood, a professor of clinical tropical medicine at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom, which carried out the study together with the Centre de Support en Santé Internationale in Chad and other partners. 
Deadly epidemics of meningitis A occur regularly in Sub-Saharan Africa’s meningitis belt, a band of 21 countries stretching from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east, where around 450 million people are at risk.
Group A meningococcus accounts for an estimated 80 to 85 per cent of all cases across the belt, with the most affected countries being Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia and Niger. If untreated, the disease — which mainly affects infants, children and young adults — kills half of those infected.

“One of the most dramatic outcomes from a public health intervention that I have seen”

Brian Greenwood, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

In the new study, researchers compared the impact of Chad’s 2011 vaccination programme on meningitis incidence and carriage in three vaccinated areas with the results from the unvaccinated areas over the same period.
When the 2012 epidemic seasons arrived, the incidence of meningitis of any type in the three vaccinated regions was 2.5 per 100,000 people, compared with 43.6 per 100,000 people in the unvaccinated areas.
And there were no meningitis A cases in the vaccinated regions, compared with 59 in the unvaccinated regions.
Carriage of the bacteria also dropped dramatically among vaccinated people, and even unvaccinated people — those too old or young to be vaccinated — showed no cases after their communities were vaccinated, suggesting that vaccination programmes substantially reduce carriage and transmission.  
Although mass vaccination campaigns in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger had shown the vaccine to be safe and highly effective so far, “until now, it was not known definitively whether MenAfriVac had a major impact on the incidence of serogroup A epidemics and carriage”, according to Greenwood.
The WHO says the vaccine has several advantages over existing vaccines, including: a higher and more long-lasting immune response; reducing the number of throat bacteria, and thus transmission; its expected long-term protection for those vaccinated, their family members and others who are exposed; and its lower than average price.
The findings support the case that vaccination programmes should continue across the African meningitis belt, according to Greenwood.
But he warns that continuing surveillance and further carriage studies in the belt will be needed to confirm the duration of protection provided by this vaccine.
“This is an extremely encouraging sign for those countries that are yet to introduce the vaccine,” Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, director of the WHO department of immunisation, vaccines and biologicals, said in a press release.
“We are not even half-way done with introducing this revolutionary new vaccine across the meningitis belt of Africa, yet we already have extraordinary results.”
The vaccine was developed by the Meningitis Vaccine Project, a partnership between the WHO and PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health), with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Link to paper abstract


The Lancet doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61612-8 (2013)



September 20, 2013


Erle Frayne D. Argonza


Worm parasitism, notably of the pinworm variety, infects over 2 billion children and pregnant mothers across the globe. That’s nearly 1 in every 3 Earthlings infested by the worm disease!


Sadly, many worms are now resistant to drugs. Reversing the process, with the object of eliminating worm parasitism in the long run, seems to find its salvation in the genetic modification of a certain bacterium. But while the new panacea awaits trial results on humans, many children and pregnant women will face the scourge of disabilities brought by worm parasitism.


The GM bacterium was already tested on hamsters in the laboratory. Gladly, the finds about the impact of the GM strain on the parasite-infested hamsters were positive and conclusive. The next stage—of testing the panacea on humans—is now in the works, which should cheer up many children and mothers.


The brightening reportage is shown below.


[Manila, 18 September 2013]





GM bacteria could help mass produce hookworm drugs

Speed read

  • GM bacteria similar to those used in food makes proteins against parasitic worms
  • The proteins are more effective in animal experiments than currently used drugs
  • The work has yet to reach the pre-clinical stage but plans are underway

[SÃO PAULO] Researchers have produced a protein that kills parasitic intestinal worms, by genetically engineering a bacterium similar to those used in probiotics — raising hopes of more effective and safer therapies for infections that affect up to two billion people worldwide.

“There is a growing number of drug resistant parasites.”

Rose Gomes Monnerat 

The protein, Cry5B, has previously been shown to kill parasitic worms. It is normally produced by Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium used as an insecticide and not considered safe for use in people.

Bacteria containing Cry5B could be an ideal drug against human parasites, researchers say, as they can be easily and cheaply produced in large quantities, as well as shipped and stored under adverse conditions.

The researchers inserted the protein-producing gene into another related bacterium, Bacillus subtilis — strains of which are commonly used in foods such as probiotic yoghurts.

They first showed that the modified strain successfully produces the protein, and then tested it for treating parasitic worms in hamsters.

When given in small doses to hamsters infected with hookworm, Ancylostoma ceylanicum — which is capable of infecting people, and is related to a major human parasite, A. duodenale — the protein reduced the parasite burden by 93 per cent.

The study reports that this is comparable or even more effective than currently approved drugs for treating hookworms, whipworms and large roundworms.

These parasitic worms “are the leading causes of disease burden and disability in children and pregnant women worldwide” and “infect mostly impoverished people in the developing world and contribute significantly to keeping these people trapped in poverty”, the study says.

Rose Gomes Monnerat, a researcher at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), and a member of the study team, tells SciDev.Net: “Treatment of gut parasites has been done with highly toxic drugs so far.”

“There is also a growing number of reports of drug resistant parasites. So it is important to have alternatives to their control,” she adds.

Manoel Victor Franco Lemos, a biologist at São Paulo State University, Brazil, says: “Although the results have been achieved by using animal models of parasitic infections, the worm species used are quite close to those that cause the same infections in humans”.

But he highlights the need for trials on humans.

Raffi Aroian, co-author and a biologist at the University of California, San Diego, says: “We are talking to knowledgeable people about how much pre-clinical testing would have to be done prior to human clinical trials”.

One of the main challenges, Aroian adds, is that although the B. subtilis strain used is a model for food-safe bacteria and used in some probiotics, it is not a proven food-safe bacterium.

“Now we need to put the gene into a proven food-safe one,” he says.

“Additionally, several toxicity tests must also be done until we can ensure its safety,” says Monnerat.

The study will be published in the September issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Link to full article in Applied and Environmental Microbiology


Applied and Environmental Microbiology doi:10.1128/AEM.01854-13 (2013)


August 16, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

We have a new alarming development concerning malaria spread. Gorillas and monkeys might just happen to be the dreaded carriers of the disease, a news that could cause chagrin on the legendary Tarzan.
This analyst has no fondness for Tarzan philosophy, but is more focused on highlighting risks to communities caused by a diversity of factors such as diseases. Being a development worker for long, I contracted malaria while doing field work and almost died of the falciparum disease in 1982.
We have no evidence yet of malaria being transmitted to humans by monkeys even though we do have species of monkeys among our diverse fauna. But Africa has shown less resiliency to that possibility, as shown in the report below.
[Philippines, 18 July 2011]
Primate malaria in Africa may be jumping species
Rachel Mundy
7 July 2011
A malaria parasite from gorillas has been found in an African monkey, suggesting it has jumped species and may be able to transfer to humans.
The finding has led some malaria experts to suggest that if transfer between monkeys and apes has occurred then monkey-to-human malaria transmission may already be happening. They have called for more research to quantify the risks.
“The evidence is sufficient to warrant further investigation into the possibility that these parasites may also jump to humans,” said Beatrice Hahn, a professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, United States. “We need to screen humans who live in flying range of mosquitoes that also bite primates, to establish whether they are susceptible to the primate parasites.”
Wild forest-living gorilla populations are known to harbour a parasite strain that is closely related to the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. And macaque monkeys in South-East Asia carry another malaria parasite, Plasmodium knowlesi — a potential threat to humans.
But this is the first time that a P. falciparum strain similar to the one that causes human malaria has been found in an African monkey — the spot-nosed guenon from Gabon (Cercopithecus nictitans).
The fact that “the genetic differences from the human strain are so slight” raises the possibility that monkey and ape malaria may be transmitted to humans, said François Renaud, a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, in Montpelier, and co-author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (5 July).
As humans come into closer contact with apes and monkeys as a result of deforestation, commercial hunting and population growth, the opportunity for the parasites to be transmitted to humans will increase.
“One single successful cross-species transmission event has the potential to result in a major human pandemic,” Hahn, who was not involved in the study, told SciDev.Net. 

But David Conway, professor of biology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom, said the reservoir of malaria in African monkeys must be very small, given the low prevalence found in this study.
“Hopefully, monkey malaria will start to be recognised as an important area of research, but when examining the public health significance for humans, it is important to put the risk into context. Normal human malaria has a much higher prevalence, except in parts of South-East Asia where this has been reduced and the importance of malaria from monkeys has become more noticeable,” Conway said.
Looking for human infections with monkey malaria is “like looking for a needle in a haystack”, he said, adding that “there is every chance that human infections are occurring occasionally in the forest”.
“In this particular case, the vector of malaria is the key determinant in determining any public-health risk,” Conway said. “Identifying which species of mosquitoes transmits each parasite strain is a neglected area of research that needs additional funding.”
Link to abstract in PNAS
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August 16, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

How far do vaccines work? Is vaccination an opportunity or a threat to communities suffering from epidemic and pandemic outbursts?
Vaccination has generated its own level of fear responses, as cases of vaccination failures have led to fatalities on the parts of poor patients. Let it be stressed that pandemics, such as those that struck Africa, often than not strike down the poor classes, thus generating toxic fears that the vaccines coming from the West are meant as genocide bacteriological warfare weaponry.
Devising ways & means to track vaccine fears is a challenge to healthcare stakeholders across the globe. Below is one reportorial discussion on the subject.
[Philippines, 17 July 2011]
System tracks vaccine fears around the globe
Smriti Mallapaty
4 July 2011
[LONDON] Fears of a growing mistrust of vaccinations in developing countries have led academics to set up a ‘listening station’ that monitors local responses to new immunisation campaigns.
Researchers at the UK-based London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) are hoping their system will alert them when concerns have passed thresholds beyond which there may be a risk to the smooth implementation of a programme.
“I have been seeing an increasing number of episodes of communities, governments and individuals questioning vaccines and refusing them, even in some of the poorest countries,” said Heidi Larson, senior lecturer at LSHTM and principal investigator for the project.
“After several years of fire-fighting, I started to see patterns where early intervention could have prevented boycotts,” she said.
The project started in November 2009. Data are collected from local media, official and local observer reports and categorised by country, source, type of disease, vaccine and issue raised.
Risk is allocated to three categories, ranging from a potential problem requiring more data-gathering, to immediate action being needed to prevent vaccine refusal.
In Kenya, the researchers are piloting a ‘listening system’ model that documents local opinion as it emerges following the launch of the pneumococcal vaccine last February.
Today, mobile phones, the Internet and social media are providing new methods of self-organisation for those on all sides of vaccine debates.
Larson and colleagues recently published a case study in The Lancet examining the suggested link between the tetanus vaccine and sterility that disrupted immunisation campaigns across the world and led to a 45 per cent drop in coverage in the Philippines between 1994 and 1995.
They found that the Internet had been crucial in allowing the pro-life Catholic group Human Life International to communicate these fears to its members in over 60 countries, including Mexico, Nicaragua and the Philippines.
The eruption of fear usually results from underlying social and political issues, said the researchers. When fears arose in Uttar Pradesh in India that the polio vaccine might induce sterility, analysts found that mistrust revolved around the person administering the vaccine — often non-local men.
“When you have a group that is marginalised and is very conscious of its marginalisation, it is not a surprise that they would be more suspicious of government-driven initiatives,” said Larson.
Thomas Abraham, director of the public health communication programme at the University of Hong Kong, said: “I think that any tool that tells you that there is a problem is useful”.
“The question then becomes, what are you going to do about these rumours?”
He said that communication needed to be the starting point for any public health programme. “Health communication, especially around vaccines, is still very much in the dark ages.”
Link to case study in The Lancet (free registration required)
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August 16, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good day from the Pearl of the Orient!
Officials from 18 Latin American countries recently convened in Brazil to tackle HIV legislation. The Latin countries seem to have arrived at a consensus regarding HIV and how it should be managed.
Such a move is surely a most welcome one. Given the divergent perceptions about HIV, regional-to-continental consensus could somehow help country stakeholders in reshaping their frameworks, understanding HIV, and addressing the problems more equitably and judiciously.
Latin America is surely a continent that is worth watching in regard to concrete intervention measures on HIV with the proper legislative frameworks and public policies in place. There is yet a gestation period to wait till the consensus will take off as concrete interventions, though so far the consensus-building exercise is already a very productive one worth other regions’ emulation.
Below is a UNDP report on the HIV convention in Brazil.
[Philippines, 10 July 2011]
Officials, experts call for better HIV law, action in Latin America
29 June 2011
Sao Paolo, Brazil — Eighty-nine officials and experts from 18 Latin American countries concluded two days of talks here Monday calling for an end to violence and discrimination against people living with HIV and better access to potentially life-saving HIV treatments.
“It is no coincidence that the Global Commission on HIV & the Law is convening its regional dialogue in Brazil,” Heraldo Munoz, Director of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Latin America & the Caribbean, told a Global Commission on HIV & the Law Regional Dialogue here June 26-27.
“Brazil’s commitment to respecting human rights and addressing the underlying inequalities that fuel the epidemic has set their HIV prevention and treatment efforts apart from those of many other countries and, most importantly, have led to tangible reductions in infection rates.”
Representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela all took part in the fourth of seven regional dialogues convened by UNDP on behalf of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
The discussions, moderated by former CNN Español journalist Jorge Gestoso, will inform deliberations by the Global Commission on HIV & the Law. A town hall-style format aims to foster genuine dialogue in which all participants may share experiences, views, and concerns and identify innovative ways in which law and policy can effectively contribute to achieving better HIV, health, and development outcomes.
“If we don’t confront the uncomfortable inequalities, injustices, and stigmatizing norms of our societies and institutions which have been long denied, our fragile HIV and development gains will be lost and the cost—human and financial—will exact a terrible toll, which could have been prevented,” Commissioner Ana Elena Chacon Ecchevaria of Costa Rica said.
Participants concluded that:
• Countries must invest in implementing laws to protect people who are stigmatized, discriminated against, and criminalized
• Criminalization of people living with HIV—including women, youths, male, female, and transgender sex workers, and gay and transgender people—remains a barrier to effective HIV responses and is linked to increased violence experienced by these groups
• Violence against people living with HIV—including women, youths, male, female, and transgender sex workers, and gay and transgender people—remains a major barrier to effective HIV responses and must be stopped, with zero tolerance for police violence
• Where laws are causing harm and legal contradictions result in increased vulnerability and human rights violations, these laws must be changed
• Religious and cultural influences on laws and law enforcement that result in greater HIV vulnerability and risk must stop
• Intellectual property law and policy must not impede universal access to life-saving anti-retroviral treatment
Although UNAIDS says that HIV is a relatively stable epidemic in Latin America, the number of people living with HIV increased from 1.1 million to 1.4 million, from 2001 to 2009. Key populations such as men who have sex with men, trans people, sex workers, and drug users continue to experience much higher rates of HIV than the general population. One-third of all HIV-positive people in the region live in Brazil, and an estimated 550,000 women are living with HIV in Latin America.
“If laws are not able to express a modern thought, that is humane, a thought that takes into account human rights and eliminates repressive policies and practices, we will not see progress in HIV and development,” former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, chair of the Global Commission on HIV & the Law, noted in his remarks.
Contact Information
Sarah Jackson-Han
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-Washington
+1 202 331 9130 tel.
+1 202 674 7442 mobile
+1 202 907 4613 mobile #2
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August 16, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

How does climate change dovetail into health, hygiene, and public policy concerns regarding healthcare?
The impact of climate change is surely very complex a matter, as it involves many intervening factors affecting epidemiology and ailments. Health perspectives must, first of all, be re-tooled to constitute emerging paradigms about the matter.
Below is an update report by the development group Country cases showing climate change impact on health are incorporated.
[Philippines, 08 July 2011]

5 July 2011
In this issue:
1. Predicting and mapping malaria under climate change scenarios: the potential redistribution of malaria vectors in Africa
2. A human health perspective on climate change
3. Impacts of climate change on public health in India: future research directions
4. The implications of climate change for health in Africa
Predicting and mapping malaria under climate change scenarios: the potential redistribution of malaria vectors in Africa

Authors: EZ Tonnang,Henri; YM Kangalawe,Richard; Z Yanda,Pius
Produced by: Malaria Journal, BioMed Central (2010)

This paper, published in the Malaria Journal, posits that malaria is rampant in Africa and causes untold mortality and morbidity. Since vector-borne diseases such as malaria are climate sensitive, the authors argue that this fact raises considerable concern over the implications of climate change on future disease risk, as malaria vectors (Anopheles mosquitoes) may shift from their traditional locations to invade new zones.

Exploiting the sets of information previously generated by entomologists, e.g. on geographical ranges of vectors and malaria distribution, the authors build models that will enable prediction and mapping the potential redistribution of Anopheles mosquitoes in Africa.

Key findings of this study are:
• Shifts in the Anopheles mosquitoes species boundaries southward and eastward of Africa may occur rather than jump into quite different climatic environments.
• In the absence of adequate control, these predictions are crucial in understanding the possible future geographical range of the vectors and the disease, which could facilitate planning for various adaptation options.
The authors conclude that the outputs from this study will be helpful at various levels of decision making, for example, in setting up of an early warning and sustainable strategies for climate change and climate change adaptation for malaria vectors control programmes in Africa.

Available online at:

A human health perspective on climate change

Produced by: Environmental Health Perspectives (2010)

This report, published by the the Interagency Working Group on Climate Change and Health, highlights 11 key categories of diseases and other health consequences that are occurring or will occur due to climate change.

The purpose of this paper is to identify research needs for all aspects of the research-to-decision making pathway that will help us understand and mitigate the health effects of climate change, as well as ensure that we choose the healthiest and most efficient approaches to climate change adaptation. This way, the authors provide a starting point for coordination of research to better understand climate’s impact on human health. The authors articulate, in a concrete way, that human beings are vulnerable in many ways to the health effects of climate change. They lay out both what we know and what we need to know about these effects in a way that will allow the health research community to bring its collective knowledge to bear on solving these problems.

The paper highlights the state-of-the-science on the human health consequences of climate change on:
• Asthma, respiratory allergies, and airway diseases.
• Cancer.
• Cardiovascular disease and stroke.
• Foodborne diseases and nutrition.
• Heat-related morbidity and mortality.
• Human developmental effects.
• Mental health and stress- related disorders.
• Neurological diseases and disorders.
• Waterborne diseases.
• Weather-related morbidity and mortality.
• Vectorborne and zoonotic diseases (like malaria, which can be transmitted from animals to humans).
The report also examines a number of cross-cutting issues for research in this area, including susceptible, vulnerable, and displaced populations; public health and health care infrastructure; capacities and skills needed; and communication and education efforts.

The authors conclude that the actions we take today will help to shape our environment in the decades to come. Some degree of climate change is unavoidable, and we must adapt to its associated health effects; however, aggressive mitigation actions can significantly blunt the worst of the expected exposures.

They recommend research to identify who will be most vulnerable, and what efforts will be most beneficial; and to focus on the following areas:
• Integrating climate science with health science.
• Integrating environmental, public health, and marine and wildlife surveillance.
• Applying climate and meteorological observations to real-time public health issues.
• Down-scaling long-term climate models to estimate human exposure risks and burden of disease.

Available online at:

Impacts of climate change on public health in India: future research directions

Authors: F. Bush,Kathleen; Luber,George
Produced by: Environmental Health Perspectives (2011)

Building on the information presented at the 2009 Joint Indo–U.S. Workshop on Climate Change and Health in Goa, India, this paper reviews relevant literature and data, to address gaps in knowledge, and identify priorities and strategies for future research in India.

The authors argue that:
• Climate change and associated increases in climate variability willlikely further exacerbate global health disparities. As such, moreresearch is needed, particularly in developing countries, to accuratelypredict the anticipated impacts and inform effective interventions.
• The scope of the problem in India is enormous, based on the potential for climate change and variability to exacerbate endemic malaria, dengue, yellow fever, cholera, and chikungunya, as well as chronic diseases, particularly among the millions of people who already experience poor sanitation, pollution, malnutrition, and a shortage of drinking water.
• In light of this realisation, the authors highlight the importance of improving the surveillance, monitoring, and integration of meteorological, environmental, geospatial, and health data while working in parallel to implement adaptation strategies.
Key conclusions and recommendations:
• It is critical for India to invest in improvements in information infrastructure that are innovative and that promote interdisciplinary collaborations while embarking on adaptation strategies.
• This will require unprecedented levels of collaboration across diverse institutions in India and abroad.
• The ensuing data can be used in research on the likely impacts of climate change on health that reflect India’s diverse climates and populations.
• Finally, the authors recommend the enhancement of local human and technical capacities for risk communication and promoting adaptive behavior.

Available online at:

The implications of climate change for health in Africa

Authors: Chimbari,M., J.
Produced by: Arid Lands Information Network (2010)

The interactions between health and climate change are clearly recognised; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change includes a chapter on health issues in all its publications. But we still need to better understand all the possible impacts of climate change on health.

To date, much of the evidence of the health impacts of climate change has focused on malaria. But the impacts are much wider than this. Climate change projections for Africa indicate that temperatures will increase by 0.2–0.5°C per decade, and many African regions will experience more severe droughts. This will translate to a short growing season for food crops, thus leading to food shortages. These changes may affect human health directly, as the changing weather patterns encourage the production of disease vectors and parasites, such as those causing malaria. Indirect changes will result through impacts on water availability, air quality, food quality and quantity, ecosystems, agriculture and economies – all factors that affect people’s health.

This issue of Joto Afrika features articles from different countries, which highlight ongoing or completed research into climate change and health across Africa. These articles indicate:
• climate change may increase the prevalence of diseases transmitted between humans and animals
• children are most vulnerable to climate change; in times of food shortage, they must be well-fed to avoid malnutrition, as this can make them more vulnerable to other diseases
• communities living in areas prone to flooding are often displaced, forcing them to move to temporary accommodation with basic facilities. This makes them more vulnerable to waterborne diseases
• modelling is an important tool for early warning for climate-induced health disasters
• vulnerable people in communities, for example people living with HIV, can develop successful coping strategies.
Climate change is a significant and emerging threat to public health. There is need for capacity building and implementation of projects to strengthen the health system response to climate change and to ensure that health is appropriately considered in decisions made by other sectors such as energy and transport.

Available online at:

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October 5, 2010


Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Magandang gabi sa mga ka-global citizen! Good evening to fellow global citizens!

It’s now night time as I compose this piece, which is a sequel to the article written earlier titled “Fitness Program & Capacity-Building.” From capacity-building impact I now move to incapacitation as a most likely effect of a neglect of fitness program.

You see, if you really wish to find out about the incapacity that results from fitness program neglect, just visit a hospital and inquire from the epidemiology department whether those who frequent hospitalization have a great deal to do with the lack of fitness regimen. Fix the age limits to those past 30 years old. Chances are that you’ll get the same answer as you verify the matter from one hospital to another: neglect of fitness results to health risks and frequent hospitalization.

Now, go out to a shopping mall and let your eyes scan the people inside the building. Make finger counts as to how many overweight persons there are for every ten (10) shoppers and/or mall visitors. Go up and down the mall, turn your eyes to the left and right, in front of you and behind you, and you’d truly get the shock of your life to find out the fact that overweight is a deadweight reality in today’s fast-paced urban life.

When I visited the USA in 2000, ‘01 & ‘02, I got the shocker of my life for witnessing a humungous quantity of warm bodies afflicted with obesity. My eyes just couldn’t believe how appalling the lifestyles of people are in America, with as much as 2/3 of people in a mall, transport hub or office building manifesting obesity. If only the late Pitirim Sorokin were alive today, he’d faint with disbelief that he could have missed out on obesity as among the indicators of the Crisis of our Age (his classic book).

How appalling indeed urban life and the rat race have made out of today’s habitués across the world, with the USA seemingly taking the lead. My own country, the Philippines, has an incidence of 25% obesity and that could be under-estimated as the figure is moving rapidly to 30% (per Department of Health reports).

The Department of Health technocrats in Manila have already raised the alarm bells in the media over the rising obesity incidence. But alas! No one seems to be paying attention to the experts, as the peoples’ eyes are made to focus on the hunger incidence which afflicts around 20% of the population (poor folks largely). Contrast the hunger of 20% to the obesity of past 25% and you know which figure is indubitably larger.

The absence of a fitness program is truly debilitating, as per my own experience. So dedicated to my grassroots development work in 1981-82, I neglected my physical program and resorted to every kind of rationalization for that neglect. Along the way, I contracted falciparum malaria while doing the rounds of program monitoring of small towns for my employer (Ministry of Human Settlements).

The malaria could have gotten into my veins as early as 1981 yet, but since I was still fresh out of college then (I jogged and walked a lot till graduation time in Oct. 1980) the effects of my previous regimen were still working on my system. Then, came August of 1982, a deadly fever struck me cold turkey that rendered me pathetically bedridden for over three (3) weeks. I almost died from that ailment, which was diagnosed as malaria falciparum.

I had repetitive attacks of the malaria fevers for many months to come, and so I had to be armed with quinine pills at all times. At one time, in early ’84 (I was already beginning graduate school), the fever was so high that it knocked me out unconscious while taking a pee in our apartment’s toilet. I was so lucky then that my friends and siblings, with whom I shared the apartment unit in Manila’s suburbs, were around, so they quickly plucked me out from the toilet (I was still unconscious) and rushed me to the nearest hospital.

Do reckon that I was already beginning with a renewed fitness regimen since late 82 yet, but to no avail! See what inroads of a degenerative disease can do that it can knock you out even if you’re back in the trails of fitness programs. It took some three (3) more years before my body stabilized completely, and no more malaria attack came since then.

But the parasite is with me forever, and I easily chill when the temperature radically drops in any environment (e.g. airconditioned hall). And I can no longer donate blood to those in need, since donating would mean transferring the parasite to the recipient.

My chilly cryptic experience was my own teacher that wakened me up from my physical lethargy. I have since mutated into a wellness buff and lifestyle guru sort-of, even as I continue to re-echo wellness themes whenever the opportunity permits.

To add the cryptic facet to that experience, a first cousin of mine, Eroll Argonza, who was my kababata (childhood playmate) and of identical age, also suffered from a debilitating disease (typhoid) simultaneous with my own malaria attack. My cousin tragically failed to make it, died while struggling in the hospital bed, and was buried when I was just recovering from my own malaria ailment.

The death of my cousin, who was a young bank professional then and had a family of his own (he fathered an only girl child who later graduated from the University of the Philippines and is happily married to a maritime engineer), sent shuddering tectonics and shockwaves for years to come on our entire family lineages. His sad travail was an added teacher to me, mentoring me with the ‘stick’ in hand to never again be remiss on my fitness regimen.

To end this note, let me re-echo the challenge that each and every working man and woman build and sustain a fitness regimen. The overall goal is to capacitate the person. No one forces fitness regimen unto those emotional morons who are indifferent to it, fitness is just a mere choice really. Those among us who are attitudinally smarter should just go ahead and make ourselves physically smarter and serve as exemplars of smartness by doing instead of talking.

[Philippines, 18 September 2010]







June 19, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza

Visionary genius, patriot, martyr for Philippine independence, Gat Jose Rizal was a man too far ahead of his own time. So titanic was the luck that came upon this blessed archipelago, the Philippine islands, for the embodiment among its humble people of this encyclopedic mind, Dr. Jose Rizal. He is impeccably a ‘man for all seasons’. And he is the national hero of the Philippine nation.

Most nations declare among their top patriots a warrior or military leader as their ‘national hero’. But for the Philippines, ours’ is a genius, an intellectual giant, a mind capable of engaging in issues so recondite and subjects so diverse that, in so short a span, he was able to pen an enormous variegation of topics that befit, in their totality, an encyclopedia. At the age of 35, he was terminated by the demonic imperial forces of Spain, but he never died in vain. On the contrary, his death continued to inspire libertarian patriots here and in other Asian lands, an inspiration that continues for our youth till these days.

Mystically gifted, little did people know that he was actually transformed into a spiritual guru before his death. His guruship was unique, in that he mentored his fellows on the wisdom of nationhood and patriotism. One of his avowed readers if not disciples, Mohandas Gandhi of India, followed in his steps and became, upon his transformation into a spiritual master, a mentor of nationhood and patriotism just like Rizal.

So mighty a mind Rizal possessed, without doubt, that till these days his works overshadow the combined works of his own fellow patriots, including those who’ve gained double doctorate degrees and published widely in academic circles. Rizal’s following is solid, he need not further articulate nor gesticulate thoughts in the vogue of a desperate social marketing campaign, for even long after his death, youthful and scholarly minds read him, try to follow his ethical precepts, and emulate his exemplary patriotic behavior.

He was the first Filipino. Before his time, the term Filipino was bestowed only on those Spaniards born and raised in the Philipines. The Malayan natives were pejoratively called Indios; Chinese, Sangleys; Aetas and IPs, negritos and montanosas; and Muslims, Moros. With scathing indictment of arrogant racism of  Spaniards most especially the friars, Rizal declared, with his mighty pen, that from this day on everybody born and raised in the islands will be called Filipino. That was how we islanders were to be bestowed with the name Filipino, a term that will stick till way into the distant future when a ‘Filipino race’ will evolve from out of a mere nationality today.

In his thoughts he pre-empted the political philosophy of Antonio Gramsci, the eminent Marxist leader of the Italian Left. Rizal mentored his fellow patriots that it will prove unwise to wage an insurrectionary campaign and seize political power, at a time when the ideas of nationhood haven’t permeated the private sphere yet. The most fitting strategy for that long-term goal—of building nationhood—is education. Build the new world’s ideas first till they become hegemonic, after which winning a revolution will be more facile as it was in the French revolution. That’s Rizal, and that’s Gramsci as well, but Rizal preceded Gramsci, let the world be made aware of this fact.

In gender relations, Rizal was no less ahead of his time. He scorned the ‘Old World woman complex’ so deeply that he chose to bury this woman in catacombs of history, which he did by killing Maria Clara, the Old World’s embodiment, in his novels. He advanced the idea of Modern Woman in the figures of the ‘women of Malolos’, even as he championed women who were civic-minded, actively engaged as co-partner in shaping the modern world, intellectually adroit and well-schooled. The Filipino nation he likened to the figure of Sisa in his novels, a nurturing mother who no matter under dire duress will never self-destruct but will stand out firm, tall and well-esteemed by fellows.

Amid Rizal’s liberalism, he never had any fondness for anarchism. Following Zola’s novel-writing tradition (e.g. Germinal), Rizal embodied the anarchist in the young bourgeois creole Ibarra who, at the end of his novel scripts, self-destructed. Anarchism can never be a substitute for prudent authority that should follow the Enlightenment principles of reason, progress, fraternity, and scientific verity. He was a true-blue liberal nationalist, never an anarchist.

We Filipino nationalists will continue to be inspired by Gat Jose Rizal. And his thoughts, the most treasured jewels of Asia during his time, will continue to inspire us, diadems that we magnanimously share to all enthused Fellows of the Planet, thoughts that mentor and serve as balm on the soul, like unto those writ by the most sagely personages. For these are the thoughts of a man no less sagely than the wisest of the days of old, thoughts that long after they are gone will continue to make waves into the minds of men and women of many generations yet to come.

Hail Gat Jose Rizal! Glory, genius, grandeur!

[12 June 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]