25 April – 01 May 2019

Gates Notes publish a feature recognising Peter Piot and the work of the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team (UK-PHRST). As part of the feature, Gates Notes interview Peter, along with members of the UK-PHRST including Dan Bausch, Katie Carmichael, Olivier Le Polain and Ben Gannon. “In just a little more than two years since it was created, the RST has already assisted in controlling 11 outbreaks in seven countries. The team has deployed to scenarios ranging from a diphtheria outbreak at a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh to a plague in Madagascar.”

Beate Kampmann speaks to BBC News about the importance of the MMR vaccine, after Unicef released new figures showing that more than half a million children in the UK missed out on the vaccine between 2010 and 2017. Beate said: “These figures are a wake-up call. Measles is highly infectious, even before the typical rash appears, so you cannot simply keep away. We must protect children and communities against this potentially very serious but entirely preventable infectious disease – and the only way to do that is through vaccination.”

Beate was also interviewed by BBC World TV, ITV News and LBC (live links not available). On the same topic, Emilie Karafillakis was also interviewed for BBC World TV (live link not available)

Pauline Paterson was interviewed by BBC World at One about measles outbreaks and why people might not be vaccinating. Pauline said: “When people are not vaccinating, what we have seen in the UK is a lack of perceived need for the vaccine, measles not being considered a serious disease, concerns with side effects and issues around access to the vaccine.” (from 14m 39s in)

Sian Clarke provides expert comment to the Financial Times (£) about the world’s first ever malaria vaccine, which is now being offered in Malawi as part of a pilot programme. Sian said: “The antigens on the malaria parasite are highly variable, so it is much harder to develop a vaccine. The new vaccine is imperfect, in offering only partial immunity for a limited amount of time and should not be regarded as a cure.”

Martin McKee and Emilie Karafillakis are both quoted by Politico in a piece about vaccine confidence, which explores the reasons why Europe is failing to counter confusion and distrust of vaccines. Emilie said: “In France it is linked to a general mistrust of health authorities, as well as cultural barriers such as the popularity of homeopaths who may not support vaccination.”

Alan Dangour speaks to Thomson Reuters about how changing food habits could help our environment. Alan said: “We could have successful trade policies which enable food to be passed between countries in a sensible way, in a fair way. If that doesn’t happen, we could see civil unrest and mass migration”.

Guardian’s long read publish a piece about LSHTM honorary Vikram Patel’s career, looking at how Vikram’s work helped in showing that depression can affect anyone, even people in low income countries. The piece also talks about LSHTM’s Dixon Chibanda and his ‘Friendship Bench’.

Nason Maani Hessari writes an opinion piece for BMJ about PHE’s collaboration with gambling and alcohol industry-funded charities. Nason writes: “The evidence showing the public health benefits of partnering with industry is lacking, and the risks of such endorsements are high.”

Martin McKee writes an opinion piece for BMJ about Brexit. Martin says while we wait to find out what will happen next, damage is being done. Martin writes: “There are concerns by NHS executives that the government’s proposed post-Brexit immigration policy is the most destructive policy proposal for NHS recruitment and there are fears that it could force some hospitals to close 25 per cent of services.”

Lucy Tusting writes a blog for the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene about the relationship between housing and health. Lucy explains how transformations in housing can help reduce vector-borne disease in countries in Africa. Lucy writes: “The housing revolution is an exceptional opportunity to improve human wellbeing.”

Times Higher (£) explore whether universities should operate like thinktanks to influence policy, after a former civil servant urged universities to translate their research into language understood by government, if they want it to be acted upon. Kathryn Oliver was quoted in the piece: “I love the idea of postdoctorates going on secondment, but it’s much more complicated than that.”

On social media

This week’s social media highlights come from the LSHTM Twitter account.

The first is from Bill Gates account sharing the Gates Notes feature with his 47m followers.

With the MMR vaccine and outbreaks of measles making headlines in recent weeks, Liam Smeeth spoke about his 2004 paper, which was crucial in showing that there was no association between the MMR vaccine and autism.

 

Finally The Royal Family tweeted about LSHTM’s Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium, after the Countess of Wessex visited Bangladesh to see projects pioneered by the initiative.

 

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