December 4, 2013
Global health: One million deaths
The Million Death Study (MDS) involves biannual in-person surveys of more than 1 million households across India. The study covers the period from 1997 to the end of 2013, and will document roughly 1 million deaths. Jha and his colleagues have coded about 450,000 so far, and have deciphered several compelling trends that are starting to lead to policy changes, such as stronger warning labels on tobacco. (Nature)
December 3, 2013
Hong Kong on high alert after first human case of H7N9 bird flu
Hong Kong is on high alert after an Indonesian domestic helper contracted the city’s first human case of H7N9 avian flu, the city’s government says. (CNN)
Scientists find aggressive new HIV strain
Swedish scientists have identified a new strain of HIV that appears to progress much faster than most previously identified variations of the virus. The new strain, known as A3/02, is a recombinant, meaning it is a cross between two previously identified HIV strains. Writing in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, Lund University researchers said that the infection moves from HIV to full-blown AIDS in about five years, nearly two- to two-and-a-half years faster than most previously known strains. (ABC News)
How to treat depression when psychiatrists are scarce
Mental health doesn’t even rate a mention in most policymakers’ lists of global health priorities. But mental illness and substance abuse disorders rank among the greatest causes of disability worldwide. In poor countries, where there aren’t nearly enough therapists, these conditions cause tremendous suffering and block economic development. Vikram Patel, a psychiatrist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has a solution: train ordinary people to be counselors. (Wired)
Blood donation vCJD fears prompt inquiry
An inquiry is being launched to check the safety of donor blood amid fears of infection from the human form of “mad cow disease”. The Commons Science and Technology Committee called for the inquiry after studies revealed one in every 2,000 Britons could be carrying variant CJD. Although these people may never develop symptoms, they could spread the disease to others via blood. (BBC)
‘Nanosponge vaccine’ fights MRSA toxins
Nanosponges that soak up a dangerous pore-forming toxin produced by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) could serve as a safe and effective vaccine against this toxin. This “nanosponge vaccine” enabled the immune systems of mice to block the adverse effects of the alpha-haemolysin toxin from MRSA—both within the bloodstream and on the skin. Nanoengineers from the University of California, San Diego described the safety and efficacy of this nanosponge vaccine in the December 1 issue of Nature Nanotechnology. (Nanotechnology Now)
A New Edition of The New England Journal of Medicine is Available
The New England Journal of Medicine (Volume 369, No. 22, November 28, 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “The Quest for an HIV-1 Vaccine — Moving Forward” by D.H. Barouch
- “Medicare’s Physician Value-Based Payment Modifier — Will the Tectonic Shift Create Waves?” by A.T. Chien and M.B. Rosenthal
- “Grading a Physician’s Value — The Misapplication of Performance Measurement” by R.A. Berenson and D.R. Kaye
- “Critical Care Medicine: Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury” by A.S. Slutsky and V.M. Ranieri
- “Contagious Diseases in the United States from 1888 to the Present” by W.G. van Panhuis, et al.
A New Edition of The Journal of Public Health is Available
The Journal of Public Health (Volume 35, No. 4, December 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “The primacy of politics: the rise and fall of evidence-based public health policy?” by Clare Bambra
- “The appraisal of public health interventions: an overview” by A.J. Fischer, et al.
- “The Public Health Responsibility Deal: how should such a complex public health policy be evaluated?” by Mark Petticrew, et al.
- “‘It was just nice to be able to talk to somebody’: long-term incapacity benefit recipients’ experiences of a case management intervention” by J. Warren, et al.
- “Social inequalities in health expectancy and the contribution of mortality and morbidity: the case of Irish Travellers” by Safa Abdalla, et al.
- “Midwives’ influenza vaccine uptake and their views on vaccination of pregnant women” by D.A. Ishola, et al.
- “Coverage gap in maternal and child health services in India: assessing trends and regional deprivation during 1992–2006” by Chandan Kumar, et al.
- “Socioeconomic and ethnic inequalities in screen-detected breast cancer in London” by Elizabeth A. Davies, et al.
December 2, 2013
Risk of Alzheimer’s in older populations going down worldwide
Improved healthcare for physical and mental health are linked to a worldwide trend of less Alzheimer’s disease or delayed Alzheimer’s, U.S. researchers say. Dr. Kenneth Langa of the University of Michigan Medical School and Center for Clinical Management Research VA, Dr. Eric B. Larson, executive director of Group Health Research Institute, and Dr. Kristine Yaffe of the University of California, San Francisco, said people are less likely to experience dementia and Alzheimer’s disease today than 20 years ago. (UPI)
November 29, 2013
Haiti’s abortion crisis
Abortion is illegal in Haiti, but women and girls are losing their uteruses and their lives as they turn to clandestine, increasingly deadly ways to terminate their pregnancies. These unsafe abortions are leading to a public health crisis in a region with one of the world’s highest rates of unintended pregnancies, experts say. (Sacramento Bee)
Study unlocks trove of public health data to help fight deadly contagious diseases
In an unprecedented windfall for public access to health data, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health researchers have collected and digitized all weekly surveillance reports for reportable diseases in the United States going back more than 125 years. The easily searchable database, described in the Nov. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, is free and publicly available. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the project’s goal is to aid scientists and public health officials in the eradication of deadly and devastating diseases. (Medical Xpress)
November 26, 2013
A New Edition of The New England Journal of Medicine is Available
The New England Journal of Medicine (Volume 369, No. 19, November 7, 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Michigan’s Approach to Medicaid Expansion and Reform” by J.Z. Ayanian
- “Professionalism and Caring for Medicaid Patients — The 5% Commitment?” by L.P. Casalino
- “The Word That Shall Not Be Spoken” by T.H. Lee
- “Cancer Risk among Children Born after Assisted Conception” by C.L. Williams et al.
- “Global Health: Natural Disasters, Armed Conflict, and Public Health” by J. Leaning and D. Guha-Sapir
- “Baby Steps on the Road to HIV Eradication” by S.M. Hammer
November 21, 2013
You’ve got mail…about STDs
A new free mobile app, the first of its kind, provides broader tools than the others, earning it praise from public health experts for promoting STD testing and awareness. The cutting-edge program, however, is also stoking some concerns about privacy, legality and what message its services send. (Scientific American)
HPV: Sex, cancer and a virus
The medical community is struggling to come to grips with the implications. There is currently no good screening method for HPV-caused cancer in the head and neck, and commercially available HPV vaccines are still prescribed only to people under the age of 26, despite evidence that they could prevent head and neck cancer in all adults. Plus, if HPV can get into the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat, where does it stop? There are hints that HPV is a risk factor for other, even more common, types of cancer, including lung cancer. (Nature)
November 20, 2013
It’s World Toilet Day and it’s no laughing matter
It’s World Toilet Day today — not as much a celebration of the porcelain throne as a call to action to help the 2.5 billion people worldwide who do not have access to a basic, clean toilet. One in three people around the world do not have access to proper sanitation, according to the United Nations, putting many of them at risk of diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and typhus, and a host of other health problems. (ABC News)
November 19, 2013
Princeton University to use foreign vaccine
Princeton University plans to offer students a meningitis vaccine not usually approved for use in the United States in an attempt to prevent an outbreak at the school from spreading, officials said on Monday. The vaccine, which has been approved in Europe and Australia, is expected to be available on campus at no cost in early December, university officials said. (New York Times)
Public health chief: There is no political will to stop sexualisation of girls
The UK’s leading public health official has said there is no political will to get to grips with the “sexualisation” and “pornification” of young girls and teenagers, after David Cameron flat out rejected his call to consider lowering the age of consent for sex. (The Telegraph)
November 18, 2013
High marks for Columbia’s new public health curriculum
A fully re-envisioned Master of Public Health program was launched by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in the fall of 2012, ushering in the most sweeping changes in public health education in decades. Detailing the experience leading up to the launch and since, the principal architects of the new curriculum have published two articles in the current online edition of the American Journal of Public Health that together provide insight into the rationale for the changes needed in public health education, the goals and dimensions of the curriculum design, as well as the results of a preliminary survey suggesting that students and faculty are enthusiastic about the result. (Medical Xpress)
November 15, 2013
Preventing malaria by protecting mosquitoes
Mosquitoes suck. And malaria sucks even more. The disease—caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which is transmitted by mosquitoes—infects more than 300 million people and kills 1.2 million annually. One way to protect humans, though, is to protect the mosquitoes: If they’re not sick, you won’t be either. Researchers are working on two ways to get this done, both using bacteria. (Wired)
November 14, 2013
Scientists describe 1st human infection with strain of bird flu, call for more surveillance
A strain of bird flu that scientists thought could not infect people has shown up in a Taiwanese woman, a nasty surprise that shows scientists must do more to spot worrisome flu strains before they ignite a global outbreak, doctors say. The woman, 20, was hospitalized in May with a lung infection. After being treated with Tamiflu and antibiotics, she was released. One of her throat swabs was sent to the Taiwan Centres for Disease Control. Experts there identified it as the H6N1 bird flu, widely circulating in chickens on the island. (Associated Press)
November 13, 2013
AIDS prevention: Africa’s circumcision challenge
Since 2007, 14 nations have taken part in a massive public-health campaign aimed at circumcising millions of men in an attempt to drastically reduce the spread of HIV (see ‘Making the cut’). About 3 million men in the region have been circumcised since the start of the campaign, and the initiative was made a high priority in late 2011 by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) — which are funding part of the programme. The rest is being provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and other global health organizations. (Nature)