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Reporting global health news Thomas Abraham JMSC 0042.

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Presentation on theme: "Reporting global health news Thomas Abraham JMSC 0042."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reporting global health news Thomas Abraham JMSC 0042

2 3 important stories in the future Bio terrorism Naturally occurring disease threats Newly emerging infectious disease




6 The 2001 anthrax attacks Sept and October 2001- at least five letters with anthrax were mailed 3 to media organizations 2 to two US senators 22 people contracted anthrax 5 died


8 Robert Stevens, photo editor


10 “terrorists -- people who were either involved with, associated with, or are seeking to take advantage of the September 11 attacks -- are now poisoning our communities with anthrax.” John Ashcroft


12 US intelligence believes Iraq has the technology and supplies of anthrax suitable for terrorist use. 'They aren't making this stuff in caves in Afghanistan,' the CIA source said. 'This is prima facie evidence of the involvement of a state intelligence agency. Maybe Iran has the capability. But it doesn't look likely politically. That leaves Iraq.’

13 Bruce Ivens

14 Smallpox as a weapon While anthrax was dangerous, smallpox would be a lot more dangerous as a bio-weapon


16 Egyptian Pharoah Ramses V, 1157 BC (photo WHO)


18 Eradicated in 1979 after a global vaccination programme led by The WHO

19 Smallpox virus repositories Official repositories: US CDC in Atlanta and a Russian government lab, Koltsovo, Siberia

20 Through the Cold War period, both the United States and the Soviet Union developed bio-weapons. Other countries, including the UK, worked on bio weapons research For more on this, go to an excellent PBS documentary “The Plague Wars (

21 Soviet defector Kantjan Alibekov (Ken Alibek) Soviet Union had weaponised and stored 20 tons of plague, 20 tons of smallpox, and “hundreds of tons of anthrax ”

22 Dr Matthew Messelson, Harvard University “we had developed tularemia as our standardized lethal weapon, Venezuelan equine encephalitis as our standardized non-lethal weapon. We had brucellosis weapons, we had anti-crop fungal weapons. We had a very impressive series of munitions, ready-to-go biological weapons”

23 Many developing countries want smallpox stocks destroyed If the virus is released, or used as a weapon, poorer countries will have no access to vaccines The United States, Russia and other countries say they need to keep these stocks for research into vaccines and drugs, in case terrorists or “rogue states” get hold of the smallpox virus This year, there was no agreement at the WHO- will be considered again in three years time. A story worth following…

24 Diseases as global political issues: the case of swine flu In April 2009, a new flu virus emerged in Mexico and the United States, spreading rapidly. Flu and public health experts were alarmed.




28 Where politics comes in No country wants to be seen as harboring disease No country wants to be seen as managing a disease outbreak badly So they try and hide things..

29 Disputes on how the disease should be handled China was criticised for putting Mexican tourists under quarantine in a hotel in Beijing In China and elsewhere, people were critical of the US for not putting in health checks at airports to see that sick people did not travel and spread the disease

30 Disputes over vaccines and medicines Flu vaccine manufacturers are concentrated in the richer countries (eg Glaxo Smith Kline in the UK, Sanofi Pasteur in France, Novartis in Switzerland, CSL in Australia). Wealth countries had pre-booked vaccines, leaving little for other countries WHO arranged for poorer countries to receive vaccines

31 Environmental change and disease In 1997, giant forest fires broke out in Kalimantan and Borneo in Indonesia

32 1997 forest fires in Kalimantan and Borneo

33 Haze reaches Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand

34 1998. Perak, Malaysia An unusual disease breaks out among people working in pig farms High fever, muscle pain, convulsions and possible death Pigs also affected, and transmitted the disease to humans 265 human cases, 105 deaths Eventually traced to a previously unknown virus

35 Malaysia flying foxes

36 Emerging infectious diseases Population growth has led humans to expand to new environments and come in contact with new pathogens Social and cultural factors have contributed to the spread of new diseases Globalization has led to the spread of new diseases Most of them are zoonotic diseases= spreading from animals to humans

37 Disease is global Viruses and bacteria do not recognise human borders Disease fighting needs to be coordinated globally- which is what the WHO does The International Health Regulations Tensions between what national and international, between governments and the international community

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