6 – 12 December 2014

Ebola media coverage:

Peter Piot speaks to Time magazine about his experience co-discovering the Ebola virus, after the magazine include him amongst their People of the Year – ‘The Ebola Fighters’: “We had no clue this was so dangerous. What we did was good lab practice in terms of how to manipulate the samples. In theory that was enough for Ebola, but the problem is you don’t want to use this regular infection control for Ebola because the slightest mistake can be fatal. That we didn’t know.”

Shunmay Yeung talks to Times Higher Education about her experience volunteering as part of the Ebola response in Sierra Leone: ““I learned a lot from the process. It felt like we had a very clear purpose. In our daily life as academics, our time can be spread quite thin. You have to teach and to supervise PhD students; you have research projects and papers to write up and other papers to review. There are lots of different things pulling you in different directions. It was refreshing to have a single purpose.”

David Heymann, Ron Behrens and Peter Piot appear in Sky Vision’s ‘Ebola Exposed’ documentary, which is broadcast on the Discovery network – David Heymann: “That’s the Holy Grail, that’s what everybody would like to be able to do, say – this virus comes from this carrier, to this animal, to humans – and if you do this, you can prevent infections.” Ron Behrens: “The most destructive viruses are the ones that are least likely to survive, because if they kill everything they invade, they’re not going to survive – they kill their hosts.”

To mark the first Universal Health Coverage Day, Karl Blanchet warns in a New Statesman article that Sierra Leone’s health system is showing worrying signs of collapse in the face of Ebola:This is a hugely frustrating and sad situation as the country had started to make progress in public health in the years prior to the outbreak. Despite the progress, however, the health system was not strong enough to absorb a shock on this scale and rebuilding infrastructure and trust will require major investment in the post-Ebola period.”

Peter Piot is quoted in an article by The Economist about the WHO response to the Ebola outbreak: “The director-general has very little control over the organisation’s budget, human resources and work in countries, including in case of emergencies.”

The School’s work modelling the Ebola outbreak is mentioned in a Huffington Post article.

Nigel Crisp, Honorary Professor at the School, talks to The Conversation about the Ebola response and African health leaders: I think there’s a lot of hidden stories, unsung heroes, because inevitably in the UK and America and around the world the stories you hear are the stories about your own people. We hear about the great successes of the Bob Geldof sort of mission and we don’t hear these stories from people actually within the situation, the leaders who are there all the time.”

Ian Roberts’ comment piece on clinical care for Ebola patients continues to receive coverage on BBC News and NY Daily News. Ian also speaks to BBC’s Kick Ebola from Liberia programme (At 5mins 30secs).

Other media coverage:

David Heymann talks to BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme about microbial resistance (at 2hours 13mins): “It must be a diagnosis before treatment, but in addition the animal sector, the food animal sector, the plant sector, plant agriculture, and the fish culture sector all use antibiotics. So they’re providing antibiotics and multi-resistant organisms into the environment as well as humans.”

After the WHO World Malaria Report shows that malaria deaths have fallen by 47% since 2000, David Schellenberg discusses the findings on BBC News at 10: “We have come a long way in the last decade, but there is a long way to go. We should not be complacent with nearly 500,000 people dying every year from this very treatable disease. We could do better – we should do better. We’ve got the tools that enable us to do it, we’ve just got to go out and do it.”

David Schellenberg also appears on the BBC News Channel: “It’s a sad fact that just over 10 years ago 2 to 4% of people living in malaria-exposed areas were protected by nets, this figure now is closer to 50%. At the turn of the millennium we saw about $100m dollars being invested in malaria control across the globe, that figure now is closer to $2.7bn, so a huge increase in the funding available.”

Jo Lines also provides commentary on the WHO Malaria report to Arise News.

The School’s team appears again on BBC’s University Challenge, where their second round match ended in narrow defeat by Bristol University. Jeremy Paxman said of the team: “You are certainly the giggliest team we’ve ever had, and you’ve got to stop being surprised when you get things right – because you’re very, very good – and you very nearly took it!”

Andrew Bastawrous and Stewart Jordan talk to BBC Radio Four’s Design Dimension programme about the inspiration behind PEEK – the portable eye examination kit (at 11mins 30secs) Andrew: “The minute I put glasses on everything really changed for me, but until that point I had never even seen leaves on trees, I had just seen blurs. It left me with a deep appreciation of what it means to be able to see and also how fortunate how I was to so simply access that care.”

Peek is also included in The Guardian’s top 10 Design Highlights of 2014, and the project’s new partnership with Optibrand is featured in Yahoo News.

Vikram Patel is quoted by Reuters talking about suicide in India, after a WHO report finds youth suicide is rising in the country: “Aspirations are at a much higher level and society around them is not always keeping pace, so the disappointment is much greater.” Also features in The Daily Mail, Yahoo News, The Japan Times.

Michel Coleman talks to The Times of India about the implications of his research into global cancer surveillance: Some of the most advanced medical facilities in the world can be found in Mumbai (for example), but they are out of reach of the vast majority of the Indian population. The inequality in India may be extreme, but inequalities in access to cancer diagnosis and treatment exist in very many countries, including the US and the UK, even if the disparities may be more severe in India than in some more developed countries.”

David Lawson writes for The Guardian about the Maasai people of Tanzania, and his research into the difficulties the community face:The Maasai, a semi-nomadic people predominantly reliant on livestock herding, face a number of challenges. They are socially and economically marginalised, vulnerable to drought and displacement from historic rangelands, affected by ongoing land-grabbing, and threatened by the expansion of the ecotourism industry.”

David Conway talks to Thomson Reuters Foundation about research suggesting that spraying insecticides indoors offers no additional protection from malaria when bed nets are used. Also covered by other publications including Yahoo News, All Africa, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Medical News Today, Durham Chronicle.

Joy Lawn’s research into infant mortality is mentioned in an article focusing on milk banks in India. Covered in Business Standard, First Post, Khaleej Times, Gulf News.

Ben Goldacre writes for the British Medical Journal, commenting on new research that suggests much of the exaggeration in mainstream media coverage of health research is already present in the press releases from the academic institutions. Covered by NHS Choices and other websites.

Martin Mckee writes a joint comment in The Lancet about the controversial debate over e-cigarettes: “Numerous national and international organisations have reached the conclusion that it is possible that these products might help some people who are heavily addicted to nicotine but there are many very serious concerns about their effectiveness, safety, and potential to renormalise smoking.”

Ricardo Uauy’s talk to the British Nutrition Foundation last month is quoted by Food Manufacture: “Nutrition needs to be fine-tuned accordingly so that the right nutrients are being obtained by women pre-conception and during pregnancy, and by their children in early life, to help them achieve weight gain without becoming overweight or obese, ensure adequate nutrient intakes, optimum bone growth and protect against stunting.”

Research done by the School features in Pulse Today, after finding that most people would rather their GP had longer weekday openings than weekend openings.

Research into disability in Tanzania, done in collaboration with the School is reported in All Africa.


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