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In: Environmental management and urban vulnerability, edited by Alcira Kreimer, Mohan Munasinghe. Washington, D.C., World Bank, 1992. 187-236. (World Bank Discussion Papers 168)Since 1950, only 13 acute chemical disasters in developing countries have resulted in more than 100 facilities or 1000 injured. The Bhopal, Indian, chemical poisoning that killed at least 2000 people is atypical. Some other accidents were unnoticed: 1) 10,000 people in Morocco in 1959 suffered from cooking oil contaminated with degraded lubricating oil, 2) 50,000 people were affected in Iraq in 1971 from exposure to methyl mercury, and 3) 7500 people were made ill in Pakistan in 1976 from a misuse of the insecticide malathion. Multiple risks are associated with producing, transporting, storing, using and disposing of dangerous chemicals. Nuclear plants, the transport of nuclear wastes over long distances, and the increasing byproducts of the deactivation of nuclear plants also pose risks. In the United States, by the year 2000, there will be about 47,900 metric tons of spent fuel, compared with 12,900 tons in 1985. There were 435 commercial nuclear plants in existence at the start of the 1990s with nearly 100 more under construction. Several computer-linked disasters in the United States as well as Japan have had negative chain reactions. In the 1970s the world became aware of nuclear power threats, in the 1980s of the chemical hazards risks, and the 1990s could witness a biotechnological disaster on the scale of Chernobyl or Bhopal in some developing country that has imported this new technology without instituting the safeguards. 96% percent of population growth is in developing countries with the growth of hugh cities by massive migration from rural to urban areas. The general implication is that to import more and improved disaster technology into developing countries can only address technological problems, and social problems can only be dealt with socially.
IPPF News 2(5): 3. September-October 1977.The International Planned Parenthood Federation finances more than $100,000 in biomedical research grants annually. The grants, given to scientists around the world, are to finance research into better maternal and child health programs and safer and more effective contraceptives. Examples of current projects are cited, e.g., nutrition, IUD mode of action, contraceptive properties of plants, and child spacing.
World Health. 1978 Aug-Sept; 16-19.Although no plant has yet been scientifically shown to have fertility-regulating effects in humans, peripheral evidence warrants an organized effort in this area. And although large numbers of people in the world use plants as drugs, most notably in China, at present the only plant principles found useful in humans for conditions relating to fertility regulation - the alkaloids sparteine and pachycarpine - cannot be used in a practical way. Perhaps the most interesting agent in plants which has been extensively studied in humans is m-xylohydroquinone, isolated from the common pea. Its antifertility activity was studied in Indian women, but found to be only 60% effective. A thorough reevaluation of this agent might prove useful. The Task Force on Indigenous Plants for Fertility Regulation at WHO has initiated a collaborative effort to conduct laboratory tests on plants alleged to have fertility-regulating properties. The testing procedures are complicated, and although it is too soon to determine results, the untapped potential for development of a plant-derived, safe and inexpensive fertility-regulating agent, is significant.
WHO Chronicle 33:56-57. February 1979.In May 1978 the 31st World Health Assembly urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to compile an inventory of medicinal plants with standardized botanical nomenclature of those most widely used and to compile and periodically update a therapeutic classification of the plants. WHO was also asked to review the available scientific data relating to the efficacy of medicinal plants and their products in the treatment of specific conditions and diseases and to make available the results of such reviews. In response, WHO has compiled an inventory of plants known to be used for therapeutic purposes thorughout the world. WHO will extract from the inventory a list of the plants which really do exert some pharmacological effect and which are most widely used. The initial list will consist of 228 plants. To draw up this preferential list of most used medicinal plants, a classification into 3 categories will be made: 1) plants that are used directly in therapy; 2) plants that constitute the raw mateiral for galenicals; and 3) plants that constitute the raw material for industrial processing and which are used either for the extraction and purification of their active principles or used as starting materials or intermediates for synthetic preparations. A code of specifications for vegetable drugs belonging to the 3 categories already classified in also planned. Much work needs to be done on medicinal plants used in traditional medicine and those whose reputed therapeutic properties have not yet been scientifically assessed.
WHO Chronicle 33:58-59. February 1979.6 centers have been designated to conduct research aimed at finding new and effective fertility regulating agents from plants. The centers are part of the WHO Special Program of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction. Information concerning about 3000 plants has already been computerized. The sources of this information are many and varied. Some of the reports are scientifically based. Some contain vague or hearsay evidence, and others use terminology which raises questions about the authors' awareness of some of the terms they used. Thus, currently, the amount of detail available regarding the administration of these plants for fertility regulation often provides an inadequate basis for assessing the possible mechanism of action. For the purposes of the WHO program, in which a Task Force has been established in this subject, only certain types of fertility regulating agents are being considered. Each is being assigned to a specific category, according to its use. The compuer is fed all the available weighted data concerning fertility regulation for each plant and for each category of fertility regulating agent. On this basis, the computer then provides a priority rank-ordered list of plants to assist in the selection of the most appropriate plants for experimental investigation by the 6 centers in the program. Each of the 6 centers will be assigned plants from the rank-ordered priority list, those indigenous to the country where the center is located being assigned there if possible. A few parallel studies will continue to be supported by WHO, based on the needs of the program and the merits of each study.
Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 1978; 56(3):343-52.The WHO Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction has established a 6-center program to investigate new fertility regulating agents from plants for use in humans. Establishment of the project was preceded by a comprehensive search of the literature, including the following sources: 1) articles on medical botany; 2) reports of testing crude plant extracts for fertility regulating purposes; 3) reports of in vitro effects of plant extracts; and 4) reports of a limited number of experimental studies in human subjects. The limitations of these sources of data are discussed. Information on 3000 plants was collected and computerized, using a weighting system, in order to assign priorities on the plant substances most promising for further study. The 6 centers will then procede to initiate pharmacological and chemical studies on the priority substances. Both male and female antifertility agents are included in the study. (Summary in FRE)
Advances in Steroid Biochemistry and Pharmacology. 1979; 7:1-8.Due to the numerous adverse side effects of steroidal contraceptives which continuously arise and result in potential decreases in the benefit-to-risk ratio, new chemical and biologic strategies need to be designed and implemented to assure continued success in the contraceptive area. Novel contraceptive stragegies include both new chemical classes and their receptive biologic targets. 4 basic pharmacologic approaches subserve female contraception: inhibition of ovulation; inhibition of fertilization; inhibition of implantation; and interruption of established implantation. Many diverse compounds have been evaluated in regard to a male contraceptive, but problems of toxicity and loss of libido have made the search difficult. The problem is further complicated by the task of trying to eliminate the hundreds of millions of sperm that are constantly being produced and which are in different stages of the spermatogenic cycle. This task calls for chronic dosing and the accompanying problem of eventual liver involvement and hypertrophy of the secondary accessory sex organs. An interesting area supported by the World Health Organization is the identification of plants and the isolation of their active principles for fertility regulating purposes. The United States National Institute of Health supports 3 major and separate programs related to contraception: 1) synthesis and testing of anti-ovulatory agents; 2) synthesis and testing of male contraceptive agents; and 3) peptide antagonists of LH-RH (luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone) as ovulation inhibitors. The following categories represent areas of research that might prove fruitful: LH-RH agonists; LH-RH antagonists; non-natural synthetic products; inhibin; and plant extracts. These categories are reviewed.
UNFPA Newsletter. 1978 Nov; 4(11):2.WHO's Task Force on Prostaglandins for Fertility Regulation has completed a computer search for all information on indigenous plants which have been traditionally used in different parts of the world as contraceptives. From this search, they have begun to study about 30. There are already 3 plants which show definite promise. 1 is the Mexican plant montanoa tomentosa, which is also called zoapatle. Zoapatle is an orally active uterotonic agent which seems to offer the advantage over prostaglandin of having very few side effects. A tea made with the zoapatle plant has been tested in Stockholm with good results. Some Paraguayan plants which interfere with the ovulatory process are also under study at the Research and Training Centre in Buenos Aires. And in Hong Kong, the leonorus artemesia, or Chinese mothewort, shows promise as a contraceptive. WHO hopes to get several new contraceptive agents within the next 5 or 6 years based on these studies. (FULL TEXT)