07 – 13 March 2019

Dan Bausch is quoted in The New York Times for an article about why responding to the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo also involves tackling distrust, fear and alienated communities. Dan said: “The epidemic continues to smolder, and could still flare more dangerously – I don’t think we should be complacent. I don’t want to be alarmist, either, but one unlucky event can change everything.”

David Heymann contributes to a Nature article about how increasing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is hampering efforts to stamp out the virus. David said: “Leaders of armed groups in the region might use an emergency declaration as leverage to negotiate for territory, resources or power, in exchange for allowing Ebola responders to do their jobs. Infectious agents can be held hostage.”

Liam Smeeth provides expert comment to The Telegraph about prescribing medication for high blood pressure, after new draft guidance from NICE recommended that one million adults with stage one symptoms should be offered medication. Liam said: “The thresholds to decide who should get the drugs are somewhat arbitrary. It would be more rational to base decisions entirely on overall risk of heart disease.”

Heidi Larson talks to Devex about vaccination programmes, for a piece asking what is next in the fight against Lassa fever? Heidi said: “When you launch a vaccination campaign, communities already have their own approach to health care and we need to understand this because, in a sense, we are trying to displace it.”

Anthony Scott speaks to SciDevNet about the huge impact of the PCV vaccine on cases of pneumonia in Kenya. Anthony said: “The study shows that there is considerable improvement in child health associated with the implementation of a PCV10 programme, providing important evidence for policymakers in Africa as they confront the challenge of sustaining immunisation programmes independently.”

Rebecca French speaks to The Guardian about why the oral contraceptive pill remains the most popular choice of contraception in England. Rebecca said: “You have GPs that may not be incentivised to provide a full range of contraceptives and you are getting pressures on sexual health services. Therefore, women may not be getting the long acting reversible contraceptives that route particularly if there are waiting times.”

New LSHTM-led research features in Medical Xpress. The research maps for the first time, the developmental pathway of a newborn’s life. Beate Kampmann said: “Knowledge about key developmental processes during our earliest days remains sparse, but this study plugs some of those crucial gaps. This work is particularly important for vaccine research.”

Martin McKee and Lucinda Haim write an opinion piece for the BMJ about the deepening health crisis in the UK, calling for society-wide political intervention to help tackle it. They write “Urgent action is needed to halt the growing number of deaths in the UK. Without an urgent and deliberate change of course, statistics will likely to continue to worsen. And these statistics represent human lives.”

Adam Kucharski co-authors a blog for BioMed Central about how real-time modelling and forecasting helped to inform the response to a diphtheria outbreak at the world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh.

On social media

This week’s social media highlight is a World Book Day tweet from the LSHTM Twitter account. The first textbook on epidemiology was published in 1935 by Major Greenwood who joined the school as our first Professor of Epidemiology & Vital Statistics in 1927.

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