19-24 March 2016

A report by the School and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has found ‘substantial variation’ in practice between maternity units in England, and warns this variation in the care received by women when giving birth is concerning. BBC Online, Guardian, Daily Mail and the Mirror cover the story, as do the Press Association which leads to coverage in nearly 100 regional outlets.

BBC World Service Focus on Africa reports on the Yellow Fever outbreak in Angola and the new cases in Kenya. Ron Behrens tells the programme that there appears to have been a failure of disease control (from 26mins in): “The cases in Kenya are not unexpected as the disease is quite easy to spread locally and globally. However it is slightly surprising that someone from a country with an outbreak of Yellow Fever is allowed into another country when they clearly have not been vaccinated.”

BBC World TV’s Health Check focuses on the spread of Zika. Jimmy Whitworth describes what we know and don’t know about the virus: “Nobody predicted we’d have an outbreak of Zika. Is there a link between the virus and microcephaly? The evidence is compelling and very strong but what we don’t know, and this is really important, is the likelihood of a person who is pregnant and has Zika would have a baby that is affected.  We simply don’t know if that is one in three or one in 1,000.”

In a piece for The Straits Times Mishal Khan says Singapore is in a prime position to lead the fight against tuberculosis: “Singapore is located in the heart of the TB epidemic, being close to Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, China and India – countries which are known to have the highest number of TB cases in the world. At 5.4 million, this region houses more people with diagnosed and undiagnosed TB than any other region in the world, including Africa. TB therefore poses a risk and an opportunity for Singapore.”

The Economist examines the current state of play regarding global vaccination programmes. The piece includes comment from Heidi Larson: “The best way to handle a vaccine scare is to express empathy and promptly share the results from investigations of alleged adverse reactions. British authorities’ dismissive response to the MMR scare failed to reassure worried parents.”

MPs on the Health and Petitions committees are taking evidence after more than 800,000 people signed a petition calling for all children up to the age of 11 to be given the meningitis B vaccine. John Cairns is heading a working group commissioned by the Government to reassess how the cost-effectiveness of vaccines is calculated. Story is covered by the Daily Mail.

In a Q&A with Research Gate, Peter Piot discusses the issues of a competitive scientific landscape during an epidemic: “Our whole science enterprise is very competitive; a lot hinges on academic careers, grants, patents, and sometimes even the publishers want money. This all goes against what we need in the case of epidemics.”

As UK supermarkets pledge to cut food waste by 20% within the next decade, Phys.org features a BMJ article co-authored by Andy Haines which says the Government’s failure to respond positively to the proposed bill ‘should not detract from the need to pursue legislation to reduce food waste as part of an integrated approach to improving health, increasing food security, and reducing environmental damage.’

A New Scientist piece examining the Meningitis B vaccine debate explores the modelling study on which the decision was made. John Edmunds, one of the study’s authors, says the lack of weight given to ‘future health’ is debatable.

South Africa’s Zululand Observer asks what we know about TB and how we can beat it. The article highlights Alison Grant’s work which is furthering our understanding of drug resistant TB.

Ellen Flint’s research which found that walking and cycling to work is linked with lower body fat and BMI in mid-life results continues to be featured. Further coverage includes Huffington PostCanadian Broadcasting Corporation and Tech Times.

Laura Rodrigues’ comment on a new study that estimates that the risk of microcephaly is about one for every 100 women infected with Zika virus during the first trimester of pregnancy generates further coverage in MSN Austria, Stuttgart Newspaper and NYSE Post.

Irish Independent and SciDev.net feature Oona Campbell’s study which examined how long women around the world stay in health facilities after giving birth.

Prospect Magazine says buying Adam Kucharski’s new book The Perfect Bet is not a gamble: “The book is an interesting account of the interactions between gambling, science and mathematics, but what makes it so readable is the way the stories are told.”

 

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