21 December 2013 – 3 January 2014

Alan Dangour talks to BBC News online about a report by the Overseas Development Institute showing that the number of overweight and obese adults in the developing world has almost quadrupled to around one billion: “We need to act urgently to deal with the scandal of millions of cases of extreme hunger and under-nutrition in children, but we also need to think what happens if we provide lots of extra calories, containing few vitamins, and encourage excess consumption… Clever, joined-up policies are needed.”

Adam Coutts writes in the New York Times about the recent outbreak of polio in Syria and the World Health Organization’s response:  “The latest draft of a WHO situation report for Syria reveals that it took three months for the WHO and the Syrian Health Ministry to confirm a polio case detected in Aleppo in July 2013. It was then some weeks before a national vaccination campaign began. The consequences of these delays and failures now reach well beyond Syria’s borders.” The piece is subsequently reported in the New Statesman.

Richard Coker speaks to the Guardian about a thinktank report claiming that Britain is dangerously unprepared for a flu pandemic, largely because of the changes the coalition has made to the NHS: “The NHS is likely to be found wanting and current reforms hinder rather than help in facilitating a cohesive national response.”

Items from the School’s interactive festive calendar – including the maggot of a warble fly and the printed cholera notice – are featured in the Times Higher Education’s Odds and Quads column.

Neil Pearce speaks to Le Monde about a report published by the Mining Awareness Resource  Group and signed by Paulo Boffetta -formerly of the International Agency for Research on Cancer  (IARC) – which questioned the link between diesel and lung cancer: This work seems to have been written specifically to influence or contest the findings of the IARC.”

Ricardo Uauy comments in the Wall Street Journal about efforts in Latin America to steer customers away from processed food, and efforts by some multinational food corporations to stall such policies: The industry is playing backroom politics.”

Alma Adler speaks to BBC Radio Manchester and the Bury Times, to encourage schools in the region to take part in this year’s Flusurvey: “The Government’s decision to vaccinate youngsters was based in part on our Flusurvey findings from previous years that epidemics often start in schools, and spread to the adult population. We want as many people as possible in Bury to sign up to Flusurvey so we can monitor what impact the early roll-out of the vaccination programme for children aged four to 11 has had.” Also covered by This is Lancashire and Prestwich and Whitefield Guide, and Alma is also interviewed on BBC Radio Cumbria.

Looking back at the unpredictable weather of 2013, the Daily Mail references an estimate by School researchers of the number of deaths that could have occurred prematurely due to last summer’s heatwave.

The Guardian reports that business secretary, Vince Cable, has asked Jeremy Hunt for assurances that the recent privatisation of the state-owned blood plasma company will not compromise NHS resources and patient safety, following concerns raised by the School’s Lucy Reynolds and others.

Lori Heise speaks to the Daily Beast about a recent study led by Stony Brook University looking at underreporting of gender-based violence: It challenges the current investment or the current strategy that has been used globally in terms of focusing on trying to reform formal institutional responses to domestic violence. While clearly that’s important, I think we are really missing the boat. The first responders are basically friends and family members. What you see is that if women reach out to anyone for help, that’s where they go. And that is consistent across all of the countries in the world.” Also covered by Metro International.

Punam Mangtani speaks to the Nursing Times about a study showing that the BCG vaccine is more effective than previously thought: This research corrects a longstanding misconception that BCG is ineffective against pulmonary disease, and confirms its importance in controlling the major burden from TB and main source of transmission in all settings. Now that we know previous infection can lower the protection provided by the vaccine, it is important that BCG is given as early as possible in a person’s life, and ideally immediately after birth.” Also covered by other specialist publications including  News Medical, Medical News Today and Health Canal.

Heidi Larson is quoted in Slate magazine discussing the differing success in eradicating polio in India and Pakistan:Pakistan could try some of the approaches applied by India, but the big difference is the violence in Pakistan. India has faced challenges regarding the confidence of some communities vis-à-vis vaccines, but has never faced such a level of violence, and especially the fact that vaccinators are the target of murderous attacks.”

In an article about new research into man flu from Stanford University School of Medicine, the Telegraph mentions the School’s Flusurvey findings, showing that women are more likely than men to report flu-like symptoms. Also covered by the Vancouver Sun and Irish Independent.

Die Welt references a study by the School looking at caesarean rates in Malawi, for an article on caesarean sections in Germany. Also covered by other German publications.

Tony Fletcher talks to the San Francisco Chronicle about a study led by the School looking at infant exposure to Perfluoroalkl Acids through breast feeding:“It is a source of concern, of course – as is anything at all that’s a man-made chemical in the environment that’s potentially getting into breast milk… [However] this is not a cause for high alarm in mothers generally.”

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