14 – 20 February 2019

Heidi Larson appears on Aljazeera in a program about why measles is back and spreading. “There is no one main driver of measles and that is part of the challenge. We do see a dramatic 83,000 cases of measles across Europe alone, and there we know it’s not education, it’s not income, it’s less likely to be access, there’s more choice to refuse a vaccine.”

Heidi speaks on the Victoria Derbyshire about the importance of vaccinating children against Measles. “The measles vaccination has saved millions and millions of lives around the world and the number of people who are not vaccinating has now allowed nearly 85,000 cases across Europe”

Heidi is quoted in a New York Post article on the Philippines measles outbreak saying “It’s very serious. Historically measles outbreaks go up and down but this is a pretty dramatic increase.”

Mark Jit is quoted in The Mail and Irish Examiner about a new study showing that in high income countries such as the UK, US, Finland and Canada, cervical cancer could cease to be a public health problem in as little as 35 years. On the research Mark says “we now have the technological tools, an effective vaccine and a highly sensitive screening test, to eliminate both cervical cancer and the virus that causes it. However, uptake of these life-saving interventions has been poor in low and middle-income countries, despite the majority of cervical cancer deaths occurring in these countries.Making a significant dent in these deaths will require concerted global effort, and include engaging with populations and bringing vaccines and screening programmes into communities that have never seen them before.”

Heidi Larson is quoted in a related article in The Guardian about the possibility of eliminating cervical cancer in most countries by 2100. Heidi commented on issues around the uptake of the HPV vaccine and the effect that psychosomatic events and negative stories have on people choosing to vaccinate around the world: “We thought all would go well in Armenia, but nobody came. It is challenging. It takes a lot of work and a lot of engagement. Yet it is one of the best vaccines we have.”

Lucinda Hiam speaks to The Guardian about a European health report that found Britain has the highest Asthma mortality rate of 18 other high-income countries involved in the study. Lucinda says that the stalling in mortality rates among young people was a “red flashing warning sign of a society in trouble, the deepening health crisis in the UK requires society-wide, political intervention. The government must act urgently.”

Polly Roy is interviewed by The Weather Channel India on her research into the complex Bluetongue virus (BTV), why science was a difficult career choice in her day, and how, given the option she would do it all over again.

Johanna Hanefeld speaks to CNN about medical tourism in India. On the topic of who travels to India for treatment Johanna says “Initially, there was a prediction that people from rich countries would travel to middle-income countries to get a good deal. What seems to be more the case is that more people from low- or middle-income countries travel for care. It’s more about unavailability. What you see a lot of is the elite from lower-middle income countries simply because the procedures may not be available in the country they are from.”

Nick Black is quoted in BMJ feature on medical professionals turning to soft power to influence policy. On the topic of adversial approaches Nick says “Colleagues who go straight for the jugular and criticise a particular politician for coming up with a ludicrous policy get the response you can imagine from that politician. You’re certainly not going to be invited to come and give your views.”

David Heymann is quoted in a Nature article about the impact of Chikwe Ihekweazu’s leadership at the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control “He is showing that Africa can do what is needed, when it is needed, he is leading the way in how things can be done.”

Andy Haines is quoted in a Scientific American article on the major impact climate change is having on global health. A Lancet report published in December 2018 presented the latest devastating findings of the Lancet Countdown. On the report Andy says “overall, the report does suggest very serious concerns about the way in which climate change is evolving and its potential implications for human health. One of the problems is that we don’t have enough data on the actual impacts, particularly in the low-income countries.”

The Mail ran a story on how GPs who dispense drugs from their own practice could be costing the NHS more than £7 million per year by choosing more expensive medications. The article is based on a new study published in BMJ open, Liam Smeeth is the corresponding author.

Haleema Shakur-Still is quoted in a SciDevNet article about the LSHTM WOMAN trial, launched in 2010 to evaluate the effectiveness of tranexamic acid in childbirth, alongside other treatments for reducing postpartum haemorrhage. Tranexamic acid works by inhibiting the enzymes that usually break down blood clots, which slows bleeding. In 2017, the results of the six year trial showed that the drug prevented one-in-three deaths due to postpartum haemorrhaging. Haleema says timing is critical: “After every 15 minutes, you lose 10 per cent of the potential benefit.”

On social media

This week’s social media highlight comes from the LSHTM twitter account sharing an LSHTM news story about how the PCV vaccine has reduced childhood pneumonia hospitalisations in Kilifi, Kenya by over one quarter since its introduction in 2011.

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