The efforts of WHO and Pugwash to eliminate chemical and biological weapons--a memoir.
The World Health Organization and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs (Nobel Peace Prize 1995) have been involved in questions concerning chemical and biological arms since the early 1950s. This memoir reviews a number of milestones in the efforts of these organizations to achieve the elimination of these weapons through international treaties effectively monitored and enforced for adherence to their provisions. It also highlights a number of outstanding personalities who were involved in the efforts to establish and implement the two major treaties now in effect, the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 and the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. (+info)
Reflections on a painful transition: from socialized to insurance medicine in Russia.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia decided to replace its deeply flawed and under-funded system of socialized medicine by a scheme of health insurance that involved the decentralization of health services and of off-budget financing. Every enterprise would pay 3.6% of its salary fund into a Regional Health Insurance Fund, and the Fund would finance private insurance companies that would compete for clients. The non-working population would have its insurance premiums paid from the budgets of regions or municipalities. The transition from one system to another has been problematic and plagued with a variety of problems not the least of which is that the Russian economic structure is not geared to sustain an insurance system at the present time. The Russian case presents an instructive experiment with the premature introduction of a scheme touted as an "anti-model" to socialized medicine and geared to market and legal arrangements that are, as yet, largely non-existent. Under-funding of health services remains and leads to the polarization of the population into those few who can afford private care, and the vast majority for whom this care is difficult to obtain, or unobtainable. This has ominous political implications. (+info)
Criteria for the health evaluation of polymeric materials building.
Various polymer-based synthetic materials have become increasingly ubiquitous in manufactured materials in the U.S.S.R. These release various chemical compounds to the ambient air. The maximum permissible concentrations that have been established for various hazardous chemicals in ambient air must be adjusted to account for the conditions of apartment life. Studies have been conducted to determine exactly what compounds are released and at what rate. Toxicological studies and studies of various physical and chemical properties are required to determine the health effects of these chemicals at concentrations at which they are expected to occur in apartments. More research has to be carried out in this field to further expand our knowledge, and we must beware of any introduction of new polymeric materials without first studying their contribution to possible detrimental health effects. (+info)
Resurgent diphtheria--are we safe?
Diphtheria, one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in the past, seemed nearly eliminated from industrialized countries, thanks to improved hygienic conditions and large scale vaccinations. In 1990, a large epidemic started in Eastern Europe, mainly in Russia and Ukraine, with over 70,000 cases reported within a 5 year period. The main factors leading to the epidemic included low immunization coverage among infants and children, waning immunity to diphtheria among adults, and profound social changes in the former Soviet Union. The possibility of new virulence factors in the epidemic strain has not yet been ruled out. Even though immunity among adults is far from complete in Western Europe, the epidemic did not spread there. The main reason for this might be the good immune status of children and lack of social turbulence favouring the spread of infection. Several countries have also taken preventive measures, which may also have played a role in protection against the potential epidemic. (+info)
New Rickettsiae in ticks collected in territories of the former soviet union.
Dermacentor nuttallii from Siberia, Rhipicephalus sanguineus from Crimea, and Rh. pumilio from the Astrakhan region were infected with Rickettsia sibirica (12%), R. conorii (8%), and the Astrakhan fever agent (3%), respectively. Three new Rickettsiae of the R. massiliae genogroup were identified in ticks by 16S rDNA, gltA, and ompA sequencing. (+info)
Radiological states around the Kraton-4 underground nuclear explosion site in Sakha.
A radiological survey around the site of Kraton-4, an underground nuclear explosion (Yield of 20 kt, depth of 560 m, 1978) in Sakha was carried out in March 1998. Gamma survey and in-situ spectroscopy on the ground exhibited quite normal levels: a dose rate of 0.022 microSv/h and Cs-137 surface contamination of less than 1.1 kBq/m2 around the hypocenter. The results suggested no remarkable leakage of radioactivity from the epicenter to the ground surface at least not for non-rare gas elements as of 1998. (+info)
Successful control of epidemic diphtheria in the states of the Former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: lessons learned.
Epidemic diphtheria reemerged in the Russian Federation in 1990 and spread to all Newly Independent States (NIS) and Baltic States by the end of 1994. Factors contributing to the epidemic included increased susceptibility of both children and adults, socioeconomic instability, population movement, deteriorating health infrastructure, initial shortages of vaccine, and delays in implementing control measures. In 1995, aggressive control strategies were implemented, and since then, all affected countries have reported decreases of diphtheria; however, continued efforts by national health authorities and international assistance are still needed. The legacy of this epidemic includes a reexamination of the global diphtheria control strategy, new laboratory techniques for diphtheria diagnosis and analysis, and a model for future public health emergencies in the successful collaboration of multiple international partners. The reemergence of diphtheria warns of an immediate threat of other epidemics in the NIS and Baltic States and a longer-term potential for the reemergence of vaccine-preventable diseases elsewhere. Continued investment in improved vaccines, control strategies, training, and laboratory techniques is needed. (+info)
Diphtheria surveillance and control in the Former Soviet Union and the Newly Independent States.
The Newly Independent States (NIS) inherited a common approach to diphtheria control from the Soviet Union and maintained a centralized system of surveillance and control managed by Soviet-trained epidemiologists with a shared professional culture. This system had controlled a diphtheria resurgence in the 1980s. In response to the epidemic of the 1990s, NIS health authorities responded with a set of control measures based on the Soviet-era experience. These measures included intensified childhood vaccination, aggressive case investigation, widespread diphtheria screening in institutions, and vaccination of adults in high-risk occupation groups. These measures proved insufficient due to high levels of susceptibility among adults, excessive contraindications to childhood vaccination, and insufficient resources in many countries. After these initial delays in implementing effective measures in some countries, most of the NIS health authorities rapidly and successfully implemented mass immunization of the population against diphtheria once the strategy was adopted and sufficient vaccine was available. (+info)