Heidi Larson writes a commentary for Nature News warning that the biggest risk factor for pandemic spread is not a lack of preventative technology but the rapid spread of misinformation undermining public trust in vaccines: “Dialogue matters. Strategies must include listening and engagement. We have to get better at this.” The piece is referenced in Fortune’s health round-up.
Heidi also provides comment to The Daily Telegraph on a new LSHTM-led study that finds the Philippines’ highly politicised response to newly-reported risks of a dengue vaccine led to a dramatic drop in public trust in vaccines overall. Heidi says: “Rumour management and trust building is so important – but if you don’t get in early then there can be significant long term problems.”
Peter Piot speaks to Vox on the challenges faced by teams responding to the current outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo: “Ebola outbreaks have been in fragile states and environments but not where there’s outright armed conflict. The Congolese are doing their best. The WHO is really passing the test and doing everything they can. But they are in a situation that’s not fully under their control.”
James Logan offers his expert advice to PEOPLE on how the Duke and Duchess of Sussex can minimise the risk of contracting Zika whilst travelling to Fiji and Tonga, following Meghan Markle’s pregnancy announcement. James says: “The advice would be to wear a repellent which contains an active ingredient and wear that repellent all day and all evening…one of the main ones is DEET and it’s safe to use that during pregnancy one of the main ones is DEET and it’s safe to use that during pregnancy.” Adam Kucharski is also quoted by CNN and the Daily Mirror on the prevalence of Zika in the two countries.
Victoria Simms is quoted in a BBC Future article on the Friendship Bench programme, which has successfully trained lay health-workers in Zimbabwe to deliver brief psychological treatments: “We were thrilled to bits with the results, which showed the intervention is having a big effect on people’s daily lives and ability to function.”
Julian Eaton provides comment to NPR on the Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health, released on World Mental Health Day: “People probably quite legitimately think that mental ill health is more complex than infectious diseases or broken bones… investors want to know how much it costs.”
Bloomberg report on the prospect of peace talks in South Sudan, referencing a recent LSHTM report that estimates the conflict in the country has likely led to nearly 400,000 excess deaths since 2013.
Martin McKee is quoted by the Daily Express on recent Office for National Statistics life expectancy figures: “Life expectancy in the UK has been improving consistently for decades and, when improvements have stalled in other countries…it has signalled that something is very wrong with society.”
On social media
This week’s social media highlight comes from the LSHTM Facebook page, for a post highlighting Global Handwashing Day. A recent LSHTM co-led study found that children who have fled their homes due to conflict were four times more likely to wash their hands with soap if it was made in a fun way – find out more.