UN health agency seeks to halve number of snakebite deaths

1 / 2
A snake is seen at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool, Britain, in this handout photo obtained May 15, 2019. (Reuters)
2 / 2
In this Dec. 14, 2018, file photo, an African Bush Viper venomous snake is displayed for reporters at the Woodland Park Zoo, in Seattle. (AP)
Updated 25 May 2019
0

UN health agency seeks to halve number of snakebite deaths

  • WHO’s strategy includes plans to increase global access to treatment and anti-venom

LONDON: The World Health Organization is publishing its first-ever global strategy to tackle the problem of snakebites, aiming to halve the number of people killed or disabled by snakes by 2030.
Nearly 3 million people are bitten by potentially poisonous snakes every year, resulting in as many as 138,000 deaths. Last week, Britain’s Wellcome Trust announced an 80 million-pound ($100 million) program to address the problem, saying there were new potential drugs that could be tested.
In a statement, Doctors Without Borders said it was “cautiously optimistic” WHO’s snakebite strategy could be a “turning point” in addressing snakebites.
The agency called the problem of snakebites “a hidden epidemic” and said most bites are treatable.
WHO’s strategy includes plans to increase global access to treatment and anti-venom.


San Francisco becomes first major US city to ban e-cigarette sales

This file photo taken on October 02, 2018 shows a man exhaling smoke from an electronic cigarette in Washington, DC on October 2, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 26 June 2019
0

San Francisco becomes first major US city to ban e-cigarette sales

  • Since 2014, e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among young people in the country

LOS ANGELES: San Francisco on Tuesday became the first major US city to effectively ban the sale and manufacture of electronic cigarettes.
The city’s legislature unanimously approved an ordinance which backers said was necessary due to the “significant public health consequences” of a “dramatic surge” in vaping among youths.
The ordinance says e-cigarette products sold in shops or online in San Francisco would need approval by federal health authorities, which none currently has.
US health authorities are alarmed by the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes, battery-powered devices which enable users to inhale nicotine liquids that are often fruit flavored.
The number of young Americans using e-cigarettes grew by 1.5 million in 2018, with about 3.6 million middle and high school students using vaping products.
San Francisco is home to market-leading e-cigarette maker Juul.
The city’s mayor London Breed has 10 days to sign the legislation, which she has said she will do.
“We need to take action to protect the health of San Francisco’s youth and prevent the next generation of San Franciscans from becoming addicted to these products,” Breed said in a statement Tuesday ahead of the vote.
She added that e-cigarette companies were “targeting our kids in their advertising and getting them hooked on addictive nicotine products.”
But critics say the legislation will make it harder for people seeking alternatives to regular cigarettes. E-cigarettes do not contain the cancer-causing products found in tobacco.
An editorial in the Los Angeles Times noted that regular cigarettes were still for sale in San Francisco, arguing that “it’s bad public health policy to come down harder on the lesser of two tobacco evils.”
Juul said in a statement Monday that a ban would “not effectively address underage use and will leave cigarettes on shelves as the only choice for adult smokers.”
Concern is growing about the potential health consequences of vaping, which remain largely unknown in part because the practice is so new.
Experts point out that it took decades to determine that smoking tobacco — which accounts for more than seven million premature deaths worldwide every year — is truly dangerous.
Beside the well-known addictive consequences of consuming nicotine, public health experts are focusing on the effect of heating the liquid nicotine cartridges to high temperatures.
The San Francisco ordinance text said that nicotine exposure during adolescence “can harm the developing brain” and “can also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.”
Unlike an e-cigarette ban in force in Singapore, the San Francisco legislation does not restrict the use of vaping products.
Recreational cannabis use has been legal in California for people over the age of 21 since January 1, 2018.