April 16, 2014
UK ‘Has Fewer Hospital Beds Per Person Than Most European Countries’
(The Guardian) – There are fewer hospital beds per person in Britain than most other European countries, with less than half the number of many, a report has found. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the UK had three hospital beds per 1,000 people in 2011, with Ireland having the same number. This was far behind the majority of other countries on the continent, with Germany having 8.3 per 1,000 people, Austria 7.7, Hungary 7.2, Czech Republic 6.8 and Poland 6.6.
China Bans Genetic Testing
(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – For nearly a half-century, interrupted only by the Cultural Revolution, China promoted the growth of genetic testing to prevent and address birth defects through state-run hospitals, as well as charities and increasingly in recent years, private enterprises. Then in February, China reversed course. The China Food and Drug Administration posted a new regulation that immediately banned genetic testing—even previously approved services “including prenatal genetic testing, gene sequencing technology-related products, and cutting-edge products and technologies.”
April 15, 2014
GlaxoSmithKline Faces Bribery Allegations in Poland
(The Guardian) – GlaxoSmithKline has been accused of bribing doctors to prescribe its medicines in Europe. The UK-based drug company, which has faced claims of corruption in China and Iraq, has been accused over its alleged behaviour in Poland. A former sales representative for the company told the BBC’s Panorama programme, which airs on Monday night, that reps paid doctors to boost prescriptions there.
Fertility Tourism: Couples Desperate for a Baby Heading Overseas
(The New Zealand Herald) – As a result of the 2002 law, lower costs, increasing medical infrastructure and the availability of surrogates, the country has emerged as a hotspot for this type of fertility tourism. International surrogacy, also legal in the United States, Thailand, the Ukraine and at least one state in Mexico, is a growing trend for couples and singles, both gay and straight, seeking ways to overcome the hurdles biological, technological, financial, and legal of having children.
April 14, 2014
IVF Patient Pregnant with Another Couple’s Twins in Embryo Mix-Up
(News.com.au) – A WOMAN who underwent fertility treatment at a clinic in Rome became pregnant with the twins of another couple after their embryos were mixed up. Italy’s health ministry says it’s launching an investigation into the error, which was only discovered when the woman was three-months-pregnant.
Payment Bid to Boost IVF Cycle
(Sydney Morning Herald) – Women who donate their eggs so others can have children would be paid for their trouble, under changes to the IVF code of ethics being considered by Australia’s chief medical advisory and research authority. As part of its review of the ethical guidelines for the practice of assisted reproductive technology in Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council has sought public comment on whether women should be ”compensated for the reproductive effort and risks associated with donating their eggs”.
Dubai Rolling Out Red Carpet for Medical Tourism Patients
(Medical Tourism Magazine) – The Dubai Health Authority has its eyes set on attracting 500,000 medical tourism patients a year and plans to build 22 hospitals, boosting the national economy by up to Dh2.6 billion by 2020. Designs aimed at making Dubai a major center for medical tourism in time for when the United Arab Emirates land territory hosts World Expo 2020 include the hiring of thousands of healthcare staff and new visas.
April 11, 2014
A New Edition of Health Policy and Planning is Available
Health Policy and Planning (Volume 29, No. 2, March 2014) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Impact of user fees on maternal health service utilization and related health outcomes: a systematic review” by Susie Dzakpasu, Timothy Powell-Jackson, and Oona M.R. Campbell
- “Estimates of performance in the rate of decline of under-five mortality for 113 low- and middle-income countries, 1970–2010” by Stéphane Verguet and Dean T. Jamison
- “Financial protection in health in Turkey: the effects of the Health Transformation Programme” by Mahmut S Yardim, Nesrin Cilingiroglu, and Nazan Yardim
- “Health reform and out-of-pocket payments: lessons from China” by Lufa Zhang and Nan Liu
- “Through the back door: nurse migration to the UK from Malawi and Nepal, a policy critique” by Radha Adhikari and Astrida Grigulis
A New Edition of Developing World Bioethics is Available
Developing World Bioethics (Volume 14, No. 1, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Bioethics and Forensic Psychiatry” by Debora Diniz
- “Impact of Three Years Training on Operations Capacities of Research Ethics Committees in Nigeria” by Morenike Oluwatoyin Folayan, et al.
- “On Abortion: Exploring Psychological Meaning and Attitudes in a Sample of Mexican Gynecologists” by Ma. Luisa Marván, Asunción Álvarez del Río and Zaira Campos
- “Ethical Issues in Field Trials of Genetically Modified Disease-Resistant Mosquitoes” by David B. Resnik
- “The Ethics of Engaged Presence: A Framework for Health Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Development Work” by Matthew R. Hunt, et al.
European Union Debates Initiative on Embryo Protection
(New York Times) – A packed hearing on a petition calling for the protection of human embryos led to a rare outbreak of raucous exchanges in the European Parliament on Thursday — a sign that the battles over abortion and stem cell research that divide nations like Spain and the United States are making a serious incursion into European Union affairs.
Luring Medical Tourists for Cash Is a Trip Down the Slippery Slope
(The Globe and Mail) – So it looks like the ‘magic bullet’ solution has been found at last to cure Canada’s health care woes: medical tourism. Last week, Toronto’s Sunnybrook hospital defended its position to court affluent medical patients from other countries who can afford to pay generously for out-of-pocket care in a Canadian hospital. It’s a revenue-generating solution for a cash-strapped system, we are told. A handful of other hospitals already engage in this practice, and many across the country are starting to sit up and take notice. Should we break out the champagne and celebrate?
April 10, 2014
Italian Court Overturns Divisive Ban on Donor Eggs, Sperm
(Reuters) – Italy’s constitutional court overturned a ban on using donor sperm and eggs in fertility treatments on Wednesday, knocking down part of a divisive set of restrictions on assisted reproduction. The court said in a statement the ban breached the constitution, without going into further detail, and lawyers in the case said the ruling was effective immediately.
Scientists Disagree on Responsible Research
(Nanotechnology Now) – Responsible research has been put firmly on the political agenda with, for instance, EU’s Horizon 2020 programme in which all research projects must show how they contribute responsibly to society. New research from the University of Copenhagen reveals that the scientists themselves place great emphasis on behaving responsibly; they just disagree on what social responsibility in science entails. Responsibility is, in other words, a matter of perspective.
April 9, 2014
Pro-Life Citizen’s Initiative Worries E.U. Scientists
(Science) – A group of European pro-life organizations is mobilizing against embryonic stem cell research in a way that the European Commission cannot ignore. One of Us, a so-called European citizens’ initiative, has collected 1.7 million signatures from all 28 E.U. member states for a proposal that would block funding for research in which embryos are destroyed; under E.U. rules, the European Commission must now consider turning the proposal into legislation.
April 8, 2014
UK Scientists Make Body Parts in Lab
(Associated Press) – In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in the laboratory in a bold attempt to make body parts using stem cells. It is among several labs around the world, including in the U.S., that are working on the futuristic idea of growing custom-made organs in the lab. While only a handful of patients have received the British lab-made organs so far- including tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes – researchers hope they will soon be able to transplant more types of body parts into patients, including what would be the world’s first nose made partly from stem cells.
Polio Spreads from Syria to Iraq, Causing Worries
(New York Times) – Syria’s polio outbreak has now officially spread to Iraq, the first neighbor of the war-ravaged country to be hit by the crippling virus despite an ambitious Middle East inoculation effort, and global health officials warned Monday that dozens of vulnerable Iraqi children could potentially be infected. The transmission of polio, a highly contagious disease that primarily afflicts children younger than 5 and can lead to partial and sometimes fatal paralysis, reflects one of the most insidious effects of the three-year-old Syria conflict, which has sent millions of refugees across the country’s borders and severely undermined its public health system.
Surrogacy Mishaps Shift Medical Tourism Focus Toward Education
(Medical Tourism Magazine) – The Bay Area Reporter said Planet Hospital closed its surrogacy services in December 2013. Following the sudden halt to services, an estimated 30 sets of intended parents are out of money and scrambling to secure a place in the “mothering by proxy” process and move forward with planning their families, Catherine Moscarello, former director of client services for Planet Hospital’s services in Cancun, Mexico, told The Reporter.
April 7, 2014
Teacher Died at Dignitas Because She Couldn’t Bear Modern Life: Healthy Spinster’s Despair at Fast Food, Email and Lack of Humanity
(Daily Mail) – A retired art teacher committed suicide at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland after she grew weary of the pace of modern life and how technology was changing society. The 89-year-old felt that her failing health, as well as her belief that people were becoming ‘robots’ attached to their gadgets, gave her little reason to live. The woman, who wanted to be known only as Anne, had suffered from worsening health in recent years, but was neither terminally ill nor disabled.
Minister Orders Investigation into Abortion of Girls
(The Telegraph) – A new survey of birth ratios in Britain has been ordered by the Government, amid fears that sex-selective abortions are taking place in Britain. Earl Howe, a health minister, said the Government wants to “monitor the situation” and “remain vigilant” following evidence that some doctors in the UK are carrying out selective abortions.
April 4, 2014
European Parliament Approves Bill to Increase Clinical Trial Transparency
(Science) – Researchers who do clinical trials in the European Union will have to make the results public under a bill approved by the European Parliament yesterday. In a sweeping vote held here yesterday, 594 members of the Parliament voted in favor of the plan, while only 17 voted against and 13 abstained. The vote, which confirms an informal deal reached in December between Parliament and the European Union’s 28 member states, is a victory for activist groups who want trials data out in the open.
April 3, 2014
UN’s Safe Drinking Water Target Was Never Really Met
(New Scientist) – In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that a UN Millennium Development Goal – to “halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water” between 1990 and 2015 – had been met. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon hailed “a great achievement for the people of the world”. But now the WHO’s official journal has admitted that the claim does not stand up.