7 – 13 December 2013

Peter Piot is interviewed in the Guardian about dementia, which he believes is the next global pandemic, to coincide with the G8 summit on the issue being held in London: We’re on a very bad trajectory … one of the achievements of civilisation, society and technology is that we live a longer and healthier life… It’s one of those things that is everywhere, and yet it isn’t and no one wants to know. It’s not something that’s hypothetical so we must act now – and we can do something about it.”

Martin McKee comments in the Independent about government plans to raise the state pension age to 70 and how urgent action on health inequalities is needed before this is considered: George Osborne is thinking about the average life expectancy. The average life expectancy is fairly meaningless if you’re living in a former coal mining village in Nottinghamshire or in inner-city Glasgow. There are many parts of the country where people have nowhere near the average life expectancy and, crucially, nowhere near the average healthy life expectancy. It’s not just the fact people will be dead before they reach pensionable age, it’s that they will be unfit to work.”

Ruth McNerney speaks to BBC News online about the increasing resistance to tuberculosis drugs around the world, which the World Health Organization describes as a ‘ticking time bomb’:We’re just silently watching this epidemic unfold and spread before our eyes. TB is very clever because it kills you very slowly. And while it’s killing you very slowly you’re walking around spreading it. The issue of TB is if you get someone on treatment, they’ll become non-infectious quite quickly. But if the treatment’s not working because it is a drug-resistant strain, then they stay infected and they stay spreading drug-resistant TB. The treatment for drug-resistant TB is very, very difficult and at some stage it becomes impossible.”

Brendan Wren is interviewed on Newdsay (from 27mins) on the BBC World Service about an outbreak of pneumonic and bubonic plague in Madagascar:  “It’s very serious because this [pneumonic] is the most lethal form of the disease and can kill within 24 hours, and it’s more easily transmissible between human, so it’s a major concern. The bubonic form has been present in Madagascar for many years – it’s quite endemic in the area.”

Jo Lines speaks to Associated Press about the World Health Organization’s Global Malaria Report 2013, which shows great progress but also highlights that global efforts are now stalling: “It’s one thing to be aspirational but something else to be promising things that can’t be done. This is a marathon and we need to treat it like one.” His comments are covered by Huffington Post and over 300 other publications including NPR and Fox News.

Helena Legido-Quigley co-authors an article in the Lancet about the erosion of universal health coverage in Spain:“Whereas the recent UN resolution urges governments to accelerate progress towards universal access to affordable and quality health-care services, the Spanish Government, bypassing the parliamentary procedure, enacted a Royal Decree to limit access to free services at the point of delivery for all—undermining the principle of universal coverage.” 

The New York Times talks to Joy Lawn about the recent research that looked at the risk of death and disability for premature babies around the world.

Vikram Patel speaks to the Hindustan Times at the World Innovation Summit for Health in Doha, for an article about mental health services and proposals to decriminalise suicide in India: “We have to learn from the HIV success that reduced stigma and increasing diagnosis and treatment by involving stakeholders, such as the people affected and their families.”

Ben Goldacre is among 50 thinkers asked by Wired Magazine to select one emerging talent whose ideas or influence they think will soon be a part of our lives. Ben selects Peter Doshi, postdoctoral fellow at John Hopkins University: “There’s a huge problem in medicine: about half of all clinical trials for the treatments we use today haven’t been published. Peter has been at the forefront of solutions to this problem, documenting the details and helping to devise a project that might at least restore some missing trials to the public record.”

Haleema Shakur speaks to the Nigerian Tribune about tranexamic acid: “We could save 2,600 young lives per year in Nigeria, with a simple cheap intervention as tranexamic acid, is worthwhile, especially in resource poor settings. They have a choice between giving a treatment that is known to be effective and an ineffective one.”

Adam Kucharski writes on The Conversation UK about a study by Imperial College London and UCL exploring whether anticipating pain makes it worse.

Michel Coleman speaks to Health Canal about a study he co-authored showing that large differences in cancer survival between European countries still exist: The international differences have narrowed for cancers of the breast, rectum and prostate, and skin melanoma, but the differences remain wide for most other cancers. Survival in the four UK nations and Ireland is lower than the European average for most but not all cancers. The results will help drive health policy for cancer control in many countries, including the UK.”  Also covered by other sites including NHS choices.

The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles findings are referenced in a Guardian comment piece by Polly Toynbee on teenage pregnancy. The Times of India also covers the study results.

In an article about new research from the University of California Riverside into mosquitoes and human odour, the Daily Mail references School research published earlier this year suggesting that mosquitoes are able to ignore the smell of DEET for up to three hours after being exposed to it.

The University of Hong Kong reports on the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the School and the School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong’s Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine.

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