7 – 13 March 2015

Martin McKee appears on BBC Radio 4’s Inside Health (from 50 seconds) , ahead of the parliamentary vote on the introduction of standardised cigarette packaging: “We now have a wealth of evidence from Australia [where standardised packaging has been introduced] which completely confounds what the tobacco industry had claimed, so we’ve seen smoking down to its lowest rate ever in Australia – 12.8%, we’ve seen that there has not been an increase in illegal trade, which was what the industry proposed there would be. We are seeing a significant reduction in the number of young people taking up smoking, which is what we would expect – this is directed at people who are initiating smoking. Also we are seeing some impact on people who are established smokers as well, that was not expected, so we’re seeing an additional benefit above and beyond what was expected.”

In the programme presenter Dr Mark Porter also discuss the new findings on sex education from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and lifestyles (Natsal).

Wendy Macdowall explores some of the issues raised by the Natsal findings in an article for The Conversation UK: “Opponents of school Sex and Relationships Education inevitably argue that teaching young people about these issues should be the responsibility of parents. However, we found that parents, particularly fathers, are currently pretty low down the list of sources of information. This is especially true for young men, and there has been little change since the first Natsal survey in 1990.” Reuters also covers the Natsal sex education papers which leads to pieces on Channel News Asia and sites across the US. Other coverage includes Sec Ed website.

As the UN confirms that the number of Ebola deaths has passed 10,000, Seb Funk speaks to Associated Press: “If we (have) a vaccine stockpile for the future, we might be able to prevent (future outbreaks) from turning into what has happened in West Africa.” The story runs on more than 120 news sites including Huffington Post, USA Today, Japan Times.

Bayard Roberts writes an article for Thomson Reuters Foundation about the problem of harmful alcohol use among civilians affected by armed conflict: “Harmful alcohol use appears to be off the radar for humanitarian agencies and their funders. Humanitarian guidelines provide virtually no information on how agencies should address the problem, and there seems to be very little capacity (or appetite) within the humanitarian agencies to tackle the issue.”

Diana Lockwood speaks to The Sun about the stigma that still surrounds leprosy:It’s frustrating that a stigma around the disease remains today, even though it is now completely curable. I think the fear stems from the fact that if left untreated it can be very disabling. That’s frightening, but the key is to get people diagnosed and treated early… I am calling for all dermatologists and neurologists to be aware of the early symptoms so an early diagnosis can be made.”

Johanna Hanefeld is on BBC Radio Sussex (from 1h 40m) discussing figures suggesting Royal Sussex County Hospital has incurred £0.5m in unpaid medical bills in the past five years due to ‘health tourism’: “People travel all over the world for treatment, and that includes Brits who travel out of the UK. Some of the research we’ve done over the last three or four years shows an increasing number of UK citizens travel abroad for treatment, in fact more people than travel in to the UK for treatment… It’s a global problem and arguably it requires a global solution.”

Vicki Austin talks to The Naked Scientist about how the malaria parasite manipulates mosquitoes to increase transmission rates of the disease:Once the mosquito is infected with Plasmodium, lots of different aspects of this behaviour can change. There are lots of different things such as it is maybe more likely to take a blood meal or it’s more likely to take longer to feed. All of these things can increase the chance that it successfully pass on that parasite to a new host. The bit that I’m particularly interested in is that the mosquito is actually more sensitive to specific aspects of human smell and that’s what’s really fascinating.”

Simon Brooker speaks to CNN about lymphatic filariasis (commonly known as elephantiasis), efforts to eradicate the disease in India, and his work mapping the disease: “When targeting elimination you need to know where transmission occurs… Regions that were endemic (for disease) are no longer endemic … but what India is seeing is more and more hotspots of transmission.”

Susanne MacGregor takes part in a Q & A for The Conversation UK about whether drug reforms such as those seen in Portugal could work in the UK.

Shabbar Jaffar is quoted by Medical Xpress discussing his new research which showed that a new approach to HIV management in Tanzania and Zambia could reduce deaths by almost one third: “The combination of screening and community lay worker support reduced the death rate among patients with advanced HIV by almost a third. About 10 million people in Africa are on antiretroviral therapy, but there is a disparity in the number of people who die in the first year of treatment compared to wealthier regions like Europe. This new approach could begin closing that gap.” Also covered by other specialist news sites including Drug and Discovery Development.

Honorary Research Fellow, Adam Coutts, writes for Guardian Comment is Free about the need to accurately document the numbers of civilians killed and injured, and those dying of disease and lack of access to health services in Syria: “Without this information the international community runs the risk of being perceived by millions of Syrians and those affected by the crisis as being neglectful and complicit in their suffering. We need to accurately document and analyse conflict-related deaths in Syria not only as a moral imperative, but to bring credible evidence for the eventual prosecution of perpetrators in a post-conflict Syria.”

Hannah Kuper writes her latest blog on disability for SciDev.net: disabled people are more vulnerable to violence, and this can and should be prevented.

My Science covers the appointment of Prof Sharon Peacock as the Director of the Bloomsbury Research Institute, a partnership between the School and UCL to address the global challenge of infectious disease.

Deadline Hollywood, The Wrap, Yahoo Movies Singapore, Monsters and Critics and other entertainment sites cover the announcement by CNN Films of five forthcoming documentaries, including ‘Unseen Enemy’, a film exploring pathogens and pandemics, which will feature Peter Piot.

Beth Smout speaks to the Isle of Wight County Press about her work tackling the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone: “I certainly believe my work is important, but the people who are incredible are the frontline healthcare workers. The local staff are the true heroes of this epidemic—they were here at the beginning when nobody else was, and they will still be here long after it ends.”

In an article about the impact the Ebola outbreak has had on measles infections in West Africa, Vox.com reference the NEJM article by Peter Piot and Jeremy Farrar last year.

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