Also In Global Health News: Online Tools For Infectious Diseases; Liberian Health Funds Misused; Drinking Water In India; Humanitarian Aid In Pakistan

Online Map, Twitter Could Be Used To Predict, Warn Against Spread Of Infectious Diseases

The “Supramap” application, which is an online map that shows the spread of pathogens and significant mutations across time, could be a helpful way for scientists to monitor and predict infectious disease outbreaks, according to a Cladistics study, the Scientific American reports. “Using data on the sequenced genetic code of H1N1 and other viruses, the evolutionary and geographic map enables tracking of how a virus moves from its origins to different hosts around the world,” according to the publication Daniel Janies, an associate biomedical informatics professor at Ohio State, said in a YouTube video, “What we’re able to do with Google Earth is put that in context. … Essentially, it’s like a weather map of disease” (Greenmeier, 4/13).

In related news, a study presented to the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases suggests that Twitter could be used “as an early warning system for epidemics,” Agence France-Presse reports. “According to a team of interdisciplinary experts, around three million messages – or so-called ‘tweets’ – posted in English on Twitter between May and December 2009 contained the word ‘flu.'” Patty Kostkova, a study co-author, said, “What we’re looking at now is, what is the potential of this enormous data set for early warning systems. Because it’s a real time media, it can call for an immediate response if required” (3/13).

Liberian Health Ministry Audit Uncovers Evidence Of Misused Funds

Liberia’s General Auditing Commission found that donor funds had been misused with little traces of accountability after a $16 million agreement for free health services prompted an audit of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, New Democrat/ reports. The audit “detailed misappropriation of donors’ funds, financial irregularities, fictitious transactions, coupled with undocumented spending along with poor health facilities and equipment.” The article goes on to detail the auditor’s findings and how funding misuse has affected the health system (Poquie, 4/13).

India’s Rural Development Minister Says Country Has Achieved MDG For Drinking Water

Rural Development Minister of India C P Joshi on Tuesday announced the country “has achieved the Millennium Development Goal for drinking water by providing 84 percent of its rural population with access to improved sources of water,” the Press Trust of India/Business Standard reports. Despite this achievement, Joshi said challenges remain for sustaining drinking water security in rural communities. “Our goal is to provide every household with an improved source of drinking water by 2012,” he said (4/13).

U.N. Says Funding Shortfall May Lead To Shut Down, Suspension Of Humanitarian Programs In Pakistan

The U.N. on Monday said humanitarian operations to assist the “hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis affected by military offensives against al Qaeda-linked militants” may be shut down or suspended after the agency received “only around 20 percent” of a $537 million requested in February, Reuters reports. “Health agencies had received only about five percent of requested funds, while those working on food and basic sanitation only about 25 percent. Food stocks were available only up to May,” according to the news service (Haider, 4/12).

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