December 6, 2013
Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid icon and father of modern South Africa, dies
Freedom fighter, prisoner, moral compass and South Africa’s symbol of the struggle against racial oppression. That was Nelson Mandela, who emerged from prison after 27 years to lead his country out of decades of apartheid. He died Thursday night at age 95. His message of reconciliation, not vengeance, inspired the world after he negotiated a peaceful end to segregation and urged forgiveness for the white government that imprisoned him. (CNN)
Philippines: ‘early recovery’ begins
A month on from Typhoon Haiyan, the situation is moving from “emergency” to “early recovery programmes”, health experts say. The World Health Organization (WHO) says major priorities are now getting essential health care, including neonatal care and treatment of chronic diseases to more people, and starting to get clinics and hospitals damaged or destroyed by the storm up and running again. (BBC)
Measles no longer eliminated in U.S.
Fifty years after a vaccine against measles was introduced, the disease still kills 430 children worldwide each day, U.S. health officials say. Dr. Mark J. Papania of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and colleagues reported U.S. measles elimination, announced in 2000, was sustained through 2011. Elimination is defined as absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months. (ABC News)
Opinion: Belgium’s experience with euthanasia teaches bitter lessons
Distelmans acknowledged that it is not exceptional for mentally-ill patients to be euthanized. He ought to know: He is the chairman of the Belgian Euthanasia Control and Evaluation Commission (Belgian Commission). In fact, Distelmans gave my own mother a lethal injection on April 19, 2012 — because she had chronic depression. Her departure wasn’t the serene family gathering, full of peace and reconciliation, which euthanasia supporters gush about. (Montreal Gazette)
December 5, 2013
‘Stem cell treatments’ mar trust
Many cases have emerged in which patients experience trouble after receiving treatment by private clinics under the name of regenerative medicine, which has been practiced without sufficient checks on their effectiveness and safety. Since the successful creation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, regenerative medicine has gained attention among the general public as a “dream treatment.” At some university hospitals and other medical institutions, clinical iPS research approved by the government has been steadily progressing. (The Yomiuri Shimbun)
Transplant doctors concerned about China organ trade
Organ transplant doctors at a conference in Sydney say they are concerned about unethical transplant practices in China, but remain undecided on reports of organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience. The specialists attending the International Society for Organ Donation and Procurement (ISODP) Congress in Sydney were united in their opposition to China’s admitted practice of using organs from prisoners on death row. Their understanding was vague, however, on the extent of the Chinese regime’s criminal behaviour, in light of an independent report on illegal organ harvesting in China. (The Epoch Times)
Closing the gap: The impact of technologies on the global divide
Even though nanotechnologies have immense potential, they are only in their infancy and have yet to reach full maturity. When considering the changes they could bring, it must be asked: are nanotechnologies going to reduce the rich-poor divide, or will they have the opposite effect? In light of debates that make nanotechnologies responsible for a further widening of the aforementioned divide, the Nanotechnology Industries Association (NIA) has published a report analysing this Nano-Gap, or Nano-Divide, by examining the pros and cons of nanotechnologies and their impact global development and the on-going fight against poverty. (Nanowerk)
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)
Medical tourism hamstrung by obsolete visa rules
India, long seen as a centre for cost-effective treatment by people around the world, is losing its competitive edge in the medical tourism space. The strict visa regime is making people give the country a miss in favour of other Southeast Asian nations like Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia which, although costlier, are seen as more welcoming of medical tourists. While there are no studies to show how much business is being lost annually, experts say getting a medical visa to India is almost impossible without hassles. (Business Standard)
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)
Child taken from womb by social services
A pregnant woman has had her baby forcibly removed by caesarean section by social workers. Essex social services obtained a High Court order against the woman that allowed her to be forcibly sedated and her child to be taken from her womb. The council said it was acting in the best interests of the woman, an Italian who was in Britain on a work trip, because she had suffered a mental breakdown. The baby girl, now 15 months old, is still in the care of social services, who are refusing to give her back to the mother, even though she claims to have made a full recovery. (The Telegraph)
Iran hit by drug shortage
A tightening of already draconian international economic sanctions against Iran is causing serious shortages of certain drugs, vaccines and other key medical supplies in the country, medical researchers and public-health officials are warning. The items, along with humanitarian goods such as food, are technically exempted from sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union, which have strangled Iran’s economy. But the sanctions’ effects, for example on financial transactions, are causing shortages that are having a severe impact on hospitals, medical-research centres and the Iranian people, says Ali Gorji, a neuroscientist at the University of Münster in Germany, and director of the Shefa Neuroscience Research Center in Tehran. (Nature)
Desperation for money pushes Turks to sell their kidneys
Turkish police have launched an investigation into online adverts posted by people allegedly so desperate for money they are offering to sell their kidneys, local media reported Monday.The adverts were apparently linked to an organ trafficking ring which had been carrying out illegal kidney removals and transplants in Turkey as well as Egypt, India, Iran and Iraq and was busted by police in October. (Middle East Online)
A New Edition of Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy is Available
Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy (Volume 16, No. 4, November 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “The diversity of bioethics” by Henk ten Have & Bert Gordijn
- “Respect for cultural diversity in bioethics is an ethical imperative” by Subrata Chattopadhyay & Raymond De Vries
- “Against culturally sensitive bioethics” by Tomislav Bracanovic
- “Balancing the principles: why the universality of human rights is not the Trojan horse of moral imperialism” by Stefano Semplici
- “Vulnerability, diversity and scarcity: on universal rights” by Bryan Stanley Turner & Alex Dumas
- “Religious and cultural legitimacy of bioethics: lessons from Islamic bioethics” by Ayman Shabana
- “Conflicts and conflict regulation in hospices: nurses’ perspectives” by Andreas Walker & Christof Breitsameter
- “Finding their voices again: a media project offers a floor for vulnerable patients, clients and the socially deprived” by Ralf Stutzki , et al.
- “Quality in ethics consultations” by Gerard Magill
- “E-care as craftsmanship: virtuous work, skilled engagement, and information technology in health care” by Mark Coeckelbergh
- “In pursuit of human dignity” by David Badcott & Carlo Leget
- “The varieties of human dignity: a logical and conceptual analysis” by Daniel P. Sulmasy
- “The dual role of human dignity in bioethics” by Roberto Andorno
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
Thalidomide lawsuit settled in Australia, NZ for $81m
A lawsuit filed by more than 100 people in Australia and New Zealand who suffered birth defects caused by the drug Thalidomide has been settled. British company Diageo, which did not distribute the drug but now owns the firm that did, agreed to pay $81m (£49m), lawyers of claimants say. The drug, sold in the 1950s as a cure for morning sickness, was linked to birth defects and withdrawn in 1961. (BBC)
Should your genetics be available to insurance companies?
Ontario is proposing a change to the Ontario Human Rights Code aimed at protecting people’s genetic information from being used by insurance companies and employers. This would allow more people to have genetic testing done, for health or research purposes — testing they would possibly not do if they had to disclose the test results to insurers. (Huffington Post)
Wealthy Chinese couples paying $120,000 for Americans surrogates to increase their children’s chances of getting into an Ivy League school
Wealthy Chinese couples are outsourcing their pregnancies to American women for upwards of $120,000 in order to secure citizenship for their children – and a shot at an Ivy League education. Jennifer Garcia, case coordinator at California-based surrogacy service Extraordinary Conceptions, says about 55 per cent of her clients are Chinese. (Daily Mail)