28 April – 1 June 2012

Highlights:  26 May – 1 June 2012

Ron Behrens speaks to Metro In Focus about rabies: “The symptoms really are unhelpful because once you have them, it’s a terminal illness.” Also interviewed on BBC Health Check and quoted in Independent, Evening Standard, Mirror, Scotsman and Huffington Post.

Heidi Larson in the Guardian on how significantly the CIA’s fake vaccination drive has damaged the battle against polio: “This choice of action has jeopardised people’s trust in vaccines, and in particular the polio-eradication campaign, now so close to success – broken trust that will take years to restore.”  Also covered by numerous titles worldwide from the Washington Post to the Lebanon Daily Star.

David Heymann and Heidi Larson in Nature on threats to progress in polio eradication: “If the money doesn’t come and they can’t build these walls of immunity, there is a risk that polio will implant itself and start circulating.”  Also in Scientific American.

Jo Lines speaks to Al Jazeera English about continuing the fight against malaria in the face of a huge shortfall in funding: “This is a great threat to the huge achievements that we’ve recently managed to bring about in the world of malaria control.”

Val Curtis explains to the Daily Mail why men are the grimier sex: “Men don’t take hygiene as seriously, but they also sweat more which attracts bacteria.”

Peter Smith on vCJD in the Daily Mail: “We didn’t know what to expect and couldn’t rule out a massive epidemic.”

Chris Grundy explains to BBC World Service how Geographical Information Systems estimate populations from space and help respond to disasters: “Given the fact there is often no population estimate at all or it may be very dangerous to visit (the areas NGOs work in), this remote method is a very good start… It can aid a vaccination campaign or providing medical treatment in an emergency.”

Klim McPherson in the Daily Mail on HRT research undertaken whilst at the School: “As an epidemiologist, then at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, I had collaborated with Finnish scientist Professor Elina Hemminki in assessing the impact on the heart of taking HRT from the time of the menopause for an average of seven years.” 

Oona Campbell in the Guardian on maternal health in Africa.

BBC Radio 4 Last Word pays tribute to David Ellis, who recently passed away aged 90. 

The conclusion to James Logan’s bed bug infestation experiment on Embarrassing Bodies: Live from the Clinic.

Huffington Post feature on smart homes and Val Curtis digitally tracking hygiene habits.

Feature on David Horn’s sleeping sickness drug resistance study in The Scientist.


Highlights:  19 – 25 May 2012

Ron Behrens on rabies, following confirmed case in the UK: “The prognosis is bleak as most patients with rabies encephalitis die. Only one or two cases are known to have survived the disease.”  Covered in the Independent, Telegraph, Sun, and Metro.

Chris Grundy in New Scientist on research showing satellite imagery methods can accurately estimate population size and help NGOs respond to medical emergencies: “These results are very good, and there’s no doubt they’d be good enough for what Medicins Sans Frontières wants to do.” Also covered by UPI.

Toby Leslie in Nature on biosafety concerns for labs in the developing world: “I can’t see a way that Afghanistan is going to be able to support it independently.”

Brian Greenwood speaks to IRIN about malaria research results progressing to policy: “All evidence points towards a potential licence for the RTS,S vaccine in 2014 or 2015, with implementation in 2015.”

James Logan in the Daily Record on his experiment to recreate a bed bug infestation for the new series of Embarrassing Bodies: “As soon as the lights went off, the bugs were out looking for their blood meal. They found our volunteer, had a good nibble and off they went.”

Graham Clark speaks to BBC News about a cheap drug to tackle amoebic dysentery: Although auranofin has to date only been tested in animal models of amoebic disease, this means that there is now a potential alternative treatment for individual cases where metronidazole fails to cure the infection.”

Ian Roberts in the Daily Telegraph on new research that shows tranexamic acid could cut the need for blood transfusions in surgical patients: “Blood transfusions can save lives but the procedure is not entirely without risk. Patients should be given more information and choice before they go ahead with a planned operation.”

Karl Blanchet speaks to the Jamaica Observer about the support provided for people who were disabled in the 2010 Haiti earthquake: “The earthquake in Haiti raised a lot of enthusiasm and charitable feeling. Many people stood up and said ‘I want to help’. But you need more than good will. You need the right skills. Otherwise, you can do more harm than good.”

Adam Fletcher and Martin McKee editorial in the BMJ on the British government’s Troubled Families Programme: “The Troubled Families Programme may be an eye catching populist response to the riots, but obliging troubled families to accept a non-negotiable non-evidence-based intervention is unlikely to prevent future disorder and may well produce unintended harms.”

Lucy Reynolds in Science Magazine on the serious public health threat of antibiotic resistance in China: “The whole thing really boils down to perverse incentives.”

David Warhurst in PJ Online on artemisinin-resistant malaria: “We know from past experience with chloroquine that we must do everything we can to address the current problems with artemisinins before resistant parasites reach parts of Africa where the disease is endemic.”

Colin Sutherland speaks to SciDevNet about a ‘very promising’ potential malaria vaccine produced by genetically-engineered algae.

BMJ report on Mass Gatherings Medicine event.


Highlights:  12 – 18 May 2012

Shah Ebrahim and Juan Casas commentary on statins in the Lancet: “Because most people older than 50 years are likely to be at a greater than 10 per cent 10-year risk of CVD (cardio-vascular disease), it would be more pragmatic to use age as the only indicator of statin prescription.” Covered by Daily Telegraph, ITV, Independent, BBC News and many other media worldwide.

Matthew Chico on research which suggests dual treatment for malaria and STIs could reduce sub-Saharan Africa newborn deaths: “It’s been established that universal coverage with preventive treatment for malaria would reduce neonatal mortality by a third. So add to that an STI and RTI component and the reduction could certainly be more…” Featured by Reuters AlertNet, IRIN and many others worldwide.

Val Curtis on disgust and hand sanitisers in the Guardian“It’s a particular group of people who use hand sanitiser at first, people who are particularly squeamish about dirt and germs… When you have a sense of high contamination in a population it moves people into the next category – it’s no coincidence that during the swine flu epidemic there was an increase in clinical concentration of OCD.”

Ken Eames in BMJ on whether Twitter can predict disease outbreaks: “All of these tools are useful, but I don’t think any one of them does it perfectly. Getting all the data streams and tools together is the really big job that will have to happen at some point.”

Ian Roberts and tranexamic acid in Canada’s Globe and Mail.

Highlights:  5 – 11 May 2012

Sanjay Kinra counsels caution over claims that testosterone injections can aid weight loss:  “It is quite possible that a drug that is improving the mood of middle-aged people over a period of time will likely make them a bit more active and help them lose a little bit of weight, but it is a serious drug, testosterone, and it causes serious health effects.” Daily Mail and other worldwide media .

Philip James in Live Science on fighting obesity with economics, not health campaigns: “Want to end obesity? Then talk to the ministries of finance, not health. The impact of health education is zero.”

Andy Haines in BMJ on Jim Yong Kim’s selection as the World Bank president: “A tremendous opportunity for Jim to ensure that the bank puts human health and welfare at the centre of development, and not just economic growth.”

Postgraduate diary from LSHTM student Lucie Graham in the Independent: “I am studying with an amazing bunch of people… There are doctors, midwives, and people who’ve run Médecins Sans Frontières programmes… It’s been real value for money given the amount of teaching hours I get, and the resources of the school.”

Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases launch in the Lancet.

Highlights:  28 Apr – 4 May 2012

Kim Mulholland in the Independent on the measles outbreak in Merseyside: “The current outbreak of measles in the Merseyside area is a timely reminder that Britain, like other European countries, remains susceptible to measles outbreaks.” Also in PA, Daily Telegraph, Heart FM, and many others.

James Logan in Bloomberg on genetically modifying mosquitoes to tackle dengue: “It is a promising technology. If you stop us being bitten, you stop the disease from being transmitted.”

Hannah Blencowe in the Columbus Dispatch on premature birth estimates in the Born Too Soon report: “People haven’t been realising how important the problem is globally.” Also in the Malawi Daily Times and Chicago Tribune.

Karl Blanchet in the BMJ on Haiti: “Thanks to the earthquake, for the first time this country has proper rehabilitation services… But the quality depends on the international organisations. If they leave, the services will go too.”

The importance of disgust in the Mirror.

Thailand achieving ‘good health at low cost ‘ in Yahoo! News.

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