21 – 27 March 2019

Heidi Larson speaks to BBC World Service (9m 50s in) for a piece on autism and the MMR vaccine and how Andrew Wakefield’s flawed research still impacts confidence in the vaccine. Heidi said: “The notion of vaccines causing autism and developmental disabilities is circulating in Eastern Europe and South India. Last year there was a big Facebook and Whatsapp campaign against the MMR vaccine. These have a mix of reasons for refusal but within that is the suggestion of autism and the anxiety about safety.”

Haleema Shakur-Still is quoted in Mosaic about the WOMAN trial, which showed that tranexamic acid can prevent postpartum haemorrhage in new mothers. The article looks at why it is not more widely available to women. Haleema said: “For lots of women, by the time they start bleeding, it’s almost too late. We wondered if we give tranexamic acid even before they start to bleed, whether you can prevent postpartum haemorrhage happening in the first place.”

Sian White comments in The Guardian about a new Unicef report, which finds that children under five living in conflict zones are 20 times more likely to die from diarrhoeal diseases linked to unsafe water than from direct violence as a result of war. Sian said: “Perpetrators of conflict are increasingly viewing water and sanitation systems as an asset of war that can be harnessed to gain power and destroyed to inflict harm on civilians.”

Stephen Evans provides expert comment to CNN about new research which finds a link between drinking very hot tea and risk of esophageal cancer. Stephen said: “It is probably anything hot. Microwaved jam has been known to cause esophageal injury. It is possible that the trauma leads to cell changes and hence to cancer.”

Martin McKee speaks to the Financial Times (£) about e-cigarettes and the marketing campaigns developed to promote them, which particularly target young people. Martin said: “We haven’t seen the intensity of marketing that the US has had yet.”

Martin also writes a BMJ opinion piece about Brexit, unpicking the latest developments.

The Hindu cover a keynote lecture delivered by Andy Haines about how human health is inextricably linked to our planet’s health. Andy said: “Climate change, declining freshwater availability, deforestation and change in land use are posing a major challenge to human societies and can adversely affect a range of health outcomes, including water and vector-borne diseases.”

Val Curtis is interviewed by the psychologist about how her work researching water, sanitation and hygiene crosses over with psychology. Val said: “I’ve collaborated with psychologists and trained them as students. In fact, being transdisciplinary is important: I work with social scientists, anthropologists, psychologists – anyone interested in behaviour.”

Sally Bloomfield is quoted in the Daily Mail after a new survey found that gloves can contain five times as much bacteria as a toilet seat. Sally said: “Dirty gloves are unlikely to cause serious ill health, but like hands, they have the potential to transmit germs.”

Oliver Brady speaks to Healio about new LSHTM research looking at why northeast Brazil experienced a disproportionately higher rate of microcephaly. Oliver said: “The findings suggest the reason for the greater numbers of microcephaly in northeast Brazil is due to a more severe Zika outbreak than other areas between 2015 and 2017.”

On social media

This week’s social media highlight is from the LSHTM twitter account, which linked to a news story about the Lancet TB Free Commission on World TB Day.

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