One Health working will improve health and well-being of us all: plant, animal, human and ecosystem!

   P1080980
    Pastoralists, Mongolia. Image courtesy of Esther Schelling, Swiss TPH.

 One of a series of blogs written by CABI editors for One Health Day on November 3rd 2016
 
It's always nice to meet up with a CABI author at a conference especially when they are giving a talk around a theme dear to CABI‘s heart,  namely “One Health”: the concept of working across the interface of animal, plant, human  and environment  to achieve health  & development  which is sustainable and fair. CABI has been gathering, managing and generating research information across all these sectors since 1912.  We know “its all connected”.

The conference was the RSTMH biennial meeting [Cambridge UK, Sept 12-16th, 2016], and the author in question, Esther Schelling, co-editor  of CABI’s  book One Health: The Theory and Practice of Integrated Health Approaches [2015].    To read a  free e-chapter, use this link.

In One Health beyond early detection and control of zoonoses Esther talked about her long-time project with nomadic pastoralists in Chad and a rift valley fever (RVF) control project in Kenya.  She drew attention to the need for:

  • more interdisciplinary studies to include an evaluation of One Health working
  • involvement of social scientists
  • engagement of key stakeholders

And tellingly she provided a cost-benefit analysis to society of controlling zoonoses when the disease is in its animal host before it infects human beings. 

Those cost-benefit analyses made a deep impression on the delegates, many of whom were involved in zoonotic neglected tropical diseases. Perhaps for the first time they were appreciating the added benefits and synergies that a transdisciplinary approach between science, society, humanities and medicine could bring.

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Angry and sad at Xmas: victims of adolescent bullying

FACES_Tiny_with_creditThere have been far too many stories recently of desperate teenagers committing suicide, and an unknown number of families today will be reeling from the discovery that their teenager is seriously self-harming because of bullying. Mobile phones and social networking sites have exacerbated an age-old problem so that there is nowhere to hide. 

Poison-pen letter writers are no longer adults in detective stories. They have been brought right up-to-date, and are alive and well reincarnated in teenagers. Incapable of empathy with their victim, remote bullying via texts, phones, videoclips and the internet makes it so easy & so much more devastating, reaching  beyond a school, covering entire towns & counties,  and as its not face-to-face, even less likely for the teenage bully to empathise.

There also seems to be more serious consequences to bullying these days:  beyond loss of confidence, our society is experiencing a rise in self-harming and suicide amongst teenagers. Is it because teenagers these days are so interested in relationships & celebrity, following soaps avidly, that they are posting the minutiae of their lives online for all to see as if they were part of a soap opera?

What is the research evidence available to understand what’s going on?

I took a look and discovered to my horror that being bullied in primary schools can set you up to self-harm when you are a teenager in your next school.  Being Bullied During Childhood and the Prospective Pathways to Self-Harm in Late Adolescence ,  was co-authored at Warwick University, UK. Their press release reveals that 16.5% of 16-17 year olds had self-harmed in the previous year, and 26.9% of these did so because they felt as though they ‘wanted to die’. Those who were subjected to chronic bullying over a number of years at primary school were nearly five times more likely to self-harm six to seven years later in adolescence.[see press

Furthermore, other research shows being both the bully and the bully-victim is linked to an increased risk of suicide or mental illness. I also discovered that self-harming is a very difficult habit to break.

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Low-level iodine-deficiency produces lower IQ children in UK


IStock_000014455936Large

IN my March
2013 blog “Eat
less salt but make sure it contains iodine
!”, I described the  problems of addressing iodine–deficiency
diseases
in Pakistan and  the worrying
rise in iodine deficiency in the UK, 
linked to a shift  in eating patterns
away from dairy and oily fish, our traditional sources of iodine.   Whereas, other developed countries had relied
on introducing a national supply of iodised salt, we had got away without it.
But even countries using iodised salt, now had to watch out, as salt–reduction  campaigns to tackle rising cardiovascular
diseases, were allowing iodine-deficiency to reoccur albeit at a low-level (as
compared to the high level of iodine deficiency found in developing countries)

NOW there is further support for re-emerging iodine deficiency
in the UK:  this time a study on pregnant
women
published in the Lancet. They have identified changes in the IQ of primary-school
children born to mothers with low-level iodine deficiency:  IQ goes down 3 points & reading age is
reduced.   For more information, read the BBC article Iodine deficiency 'may lower
UK children's IQ
and the Lancet
study
.

Need I say more? In the March blog, which featured
on Global Health Knowledge Base
and CABI-Handpicked & carefully
sorted
, I covered the spectrum of iodine-deficiency diseases which can
occur in children born to mothers with iodine-poor diets,  leaving the children with permanent physical
& mental intelligence problems. 
Daily it seems, the case is being made to consider introducing iodised
salt into the UK  and to advise would-be
pregnant mothers not only to ensure folic acid is in their diet but also
adequate iodine ( BUT not  through
seaweed supplements). Pregnant mothers who rely on organic milk should be aware that this contains less iodine than usual and they will need to increase iodine intake to compensate.

WE do indeed “have a new challenge to addressing
iodine deficiency in both developing and developed countries”.

Related articles

Iodine Deficiency during Pregnancy Linked with Lower IQ in Children
VIDEO: Iodine deficiency 'may lower IQs'
Iodine deficiency 'may lower children's IQ'
Iodine levels in mothers linked to children's IQ scores
Iodine deficiency 'may lower IQs'
Mothers' diets may harm IQs in two-thirds of babies
Women who drink organic milk in pregnancy could be harming their baby's IQ
Pregnant women should up iodine intake to increase child's IQ

Designers help people to see and medicine to hitch a ride with cola

Adaptive-eyewear

This year’s “Designs
of the Year”
(an annual competition staged by Design Museum, London)
include two entries focussed on improving the health of people in developing
countries.

The first
is a pair of spectacles, whose lenses are filled with liquid silicon
via mini-syringes in the arms. All the wearer has to do is adjust a dial
to fill the lens (so changing its shape) until the world comes into
focus,
their refractive error corrected. Thus you don’t need an optometrist to work
out your prescription for you.                

Optometrists are in short supply in Africa &
India, so even if you can get hold of a pair of donated spectacle frames &
maybe the money to pay for the lenses ( =3 months wages in Africa), you mostly can’t
get someone to assess your prescription! Uncorrected refractive error and
cataract are the major causes of blindness in developing countries. There’s
only so much Unite for Sight and Vision20:20 can do in training &
field visits. 

These spectacles, whilst not high-fashion, will eliminate
the need for lens prescriptions and expert fitting, and would seem to be the
solution to getting 1 billion people to see properly for the first time.

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Dog share?

Bobby

“Can we have a pet for Christmas?” is something I hear a lot each December. The answer, much to my children’s disappointment, is always no.

In addition to the fact that we are often told that Christmas is not the best time to introduce a new animal into a household [e.g. see PetRescue.Com article: No Christmas Puppies, Please!], I can’t think of any pet that is both practical and fulfils the necessary fluffy/cute criteria that my kids are requesting. (Apparently the stick insects that we have are not ‘proper’ pets!). 

After listening to experts talk at CABI’s Human-Animal Bond Symposium last month, I can appreciate the benefits that introducing something cuddly into the family could bring. Professor Alan Beck, of Purdue University, described some of the ways that pets can benefit human health and welfare. For example, dog ownership generally results in increased exercise and greater social contact through talking with other dog owners; people with dogs or cats have been found to have lower blood pressure, heart rates and reduced cholesterol than those without; and even staring at a fish tank can provide enough of a distraction from our worries to induce a relaxation response. Animals can also help teach children about responsibility and compassion.

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Nodding syndrome raises its head

In a previous blog, Mystery
disease outbreak in Ethiopia solved
, I mentioned in passing Nodding Syndrome (NS), a neglected
condition that is epidemiologically associated with onchocerciasis and affects children
5-15 years old. 

The syndrome causes epileptic seizures where the afflicted
suffer from involuntary head nodding, usually triggered by food or cold. They end
up severely disabled and, without treatment, finally die.   It is
devastating communities in northern Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Cameroon.

As I reported at the time: “The USA’s Centre for Disease
Control is working to identify the cause: so far, the best guess is that it’s
linked to the parasite that causes river blindness combined with an autoimmune
reaction, and exposure to chemicals could predispose.”

I now hear that an international workshop was held on this
subject in Uganda, First
International Scientific Meeting on Nodding Syndrome (NS)
, with
the key objective to set a standardized case definition for suspect
and probable cases of NS.

I also hear that the journal African Health Sciences is to
devote an entire issue to the syndrome and is currently looking for authors to
contribute papers on NS/epilepsy. (Very necessary since there are literally just
a handful of research papers on the subject so far).

You can submit papers online to the journal at:  http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/mums-ahs
and
queries can be sent to: James K Tumwine, Editor in Chief African Health
Sciences: Email: kabaleimc@gmail.com;
kedgart@gmail.com;

I acquired this information through my membership of HIFA2015 and would encourage readers to
join this excellent forum of health workers, publishers, librarians,
information technologists, researchers, social scientists, journalists,
policy-makers…(you name it we have it).  HIFA2015
is a campaign and knowledge network with more than 5000 members
representing 2000 organisations in 167 countries worldwide, with
the aim that “By 2015, every person
worldwide will have access to an informed healthcare provider”.

You might even wish to become a HIFA2015
Country Representative
: their
role is to engage new members
and champion HIFA2015 goals in their countries. We are currently looking for  country representatives in China, Central and
Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Eastern Mediterranean Region. YOU can
register your interest when you join via the website.

References

Uganda: Nodding Syndrome
Symptoms Controlled, Hunt for Cure Continues

Investigation into
the Nodding syndrome in Witto Payam, Western Equatoria State, 2010.
[South
Sudan] This url takes you to our Global
Health database
record

CDC Responds to Nodding
Disease in Uganda
  Youtube video

No strings attached: public health messages from puppets!

Ma_and_pa_xmas
Image:Loren Javier           Father Christmas & wife puppets         Happy Christmas!
                                                                                       

One intriguing way of getting health messages across to communities who are illiterate and whose spoken language may not even have words to describe the medical concept, is to entertain them. Travelling theatre groups  in Africa sing or act out AIDs prevention stories, board games educate children on climate or help mothers cope with domestic violence, and, not to be left out, there is now an online game that can support the fight against hunger (see UN food aid agency helps create online game to fight hunger)

Another way is storytelling with puppets and I am going to tell you about the work of one particular company No Strings.

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