12 – 18 January 2013

Heidi Larson writes in New Scientist about how a global treaty on mercury pollution will do more harm than good if it bans a vital medical preservative: “A number of developing countries have expressed concern over thiomersal’s proposed ban. Public health experts around the world, including the WHO, have no doubt about the importance of allowing it to remain in vaccines. So why has thiomersal been dragged into the negotiations?”

Ken Eames speaks to FT about Flusurvey and using social media to track the spread of disease: “The problem with social media information is that it is often anonymous, and you may not know so much about its source, so the value for epidemiology may be limited. The advantage of [an online system] is that …we get a lot of very useful extra information, such as whether people went to see a doctor, whether they took time off work and whether they took medicines.”

BBC News ask Diana Lockwood for comments on University of Edinburgh research showing leprosy bacteria use ‘biological alchemy’ to transform parts of a host body: “Their finding that bacteria can reprogramme cells is very interesting and exciting. [However, there is] quite a gap between this and clinical leprosy and I don’t think it’s going to lead to new treatments.” Also covered by several online publications.

Caroline Free in the Guardian on new research into the success of health interventions that have used mobile technology: “Our systematic review shows there is good evidence that text-messaging interventions can increase adherence to antiretroviral medication and can increase smoking cessation. The effects of mobile phone-based interventions appear promising in some other areas, but further high-quality trials are required to establish their effects.” Also covered by SciDev.Net, Women News Network, and numerous online publications worldwide.

Jo Lines video interview with News-Medical on malaria control: “We’ve been having some success controlling malaria, we’ve made a great deal of progress over the last few years and that progress is mainly built around insecticide-treated nets… It is reckoned that in the last decade those treated nets have saved about a million lives, the bulk of them in Africa.”

Vikram Patel speaks to the Hindu about the shortage of mental health care staff in India: “I think we need to address mental health issues, both by addressing demand for and supply of services, and by services I mean evidence-based medical and psycho-social interventions that can address a wide range of mental health problems, including their prevention.”

Vikram Patel in the Hindu explaining why the work of the Sangth project is so important in the Vidarbha region of India: “We chose Vidarbha because there was considerable local concern among diverse stakeholders, including our partner organisations in the region, about mental health issues, particularly in relation to suicide. Among the most important mental health factors related to suicide are depression and alcohol abuse, and both of these are priority conditions for Sangth’s programme.”

Rosanna Peeling speaks to the Canadian Medical Association Journal about the International Diagnostics Centre: ” An International Diagnostics Centre based at the School will bring together members of School staff and our UK and international partners working on different aspects of diagnostics, and provide them with a global platform for advocating the value of diagnostics, sharing information, promoting best practice and enhancing collaboration to develop and deliver innovative diagnostic tools to improve global health.”

David Stuckler explains to the Bangkok Post how people could become unhealthier under the Asean Economic Community as imported junk food will be more accessible.

Times Higher announce a grant for Ian Robert’s HALT-IT trial looking at the effects of tranexamic acid in patients with acute gastrointestinal haemorrhage.

Sebastian Funk speaks to Science about new sleeping sickness research: “There really seems to be a whole mix of animals playing a role in transmission. So there is a good chance that if you get rid of the disease in humans, it will continue to cycle in animals and come back to humans.” Also covered by SciDev.Net, BBC World Service, Oman Tribune, and numerous online publications.

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