Today’s top health stories: 23 February

The first rapid test for Ebola

Image source: NPR

Today the World Health Organization (WHO) approved a test for Ebola that can give results within 15 minutes, unlike the standard laboratory turnaround time of 12-24 hours.

Named ReEBOV and developed by U.S. firm Corgenix Medical Corp, the new Ebola test is easier to perform than pre-existing options and does not require any electricity. Although ReEBOV is not as reliable as current screening kits, it is able to accurately identify about 92 percent of infected patients and 85 percent not infected.

ReEBOV requires a drop of blood on a small paper strip and after 15 minutes a reaction in the test tube reveals the results. Critics are warning that the test can result in a dangerous false negative or positive and a follow-up standard laboratory test is recommended.

Source: Reuters


Eating disorders cost the UK more than £15bn a year

Image source: The Telegraph

Anorexia, bulimia and other such eating disorders are costing the country more than £15bn a year, according to a report by accountancy and professional services firm PwC.

PwC say that their calculations, which were made by adding together the financial burden on sufferers, their carers and the lost income to the economy, highlight the inadequate treatment options available to eating disorder patients in the UK and its economc impact.

If diagnosed early enough, eating disorders can be fully treated. However, according to the report almost half of eating disorder patients have to wait at least six months to receive treatment.

More funding is expected to be invested in treating eating disorders, with the government vowing to fund £150m into young people with eating disorders and stating a commitment to lower waiting times next year.

Sources: The Independent, The Telegraph

WHO call for smart injections to be used by 2020

Image source: M Health Watch

A new smart syringe, which breaks after a single use to prevent the spread of diseases, should be used for injections by 2020 according to The World Health Organization (WHO).

The smart syringes prevent the user from pulling the plunger back after an injection, meaning that it cannot be used again. Diseases like HIV and hepatitis are spread to more than two million people each year as a result of reusing syringes, meaning that the smart syringe is an easy way to combat the spread of disease. It is also impossible for healthcare professionals to accidentally prick themselves with a smart syringe.

The World Health Organization have said that smart syringes are more cost effective than traditional syringes, despite being more expensive, due to smart syringes stopping the need to treat diseases caught as a result of reused needles.

Source: BBC

Today’s top health stories: 18 February

Children of teenage fathers are more likely to inherit birth defects

Image source:

Teenage fathers have 30 percent higher rates of DNA mutation, according to a study by the University of Cambridge.

The study, which examined 2,400 parents and their children, discovered that teenage fathers carry a similar amount of DNA mutations as middle-aged fathers. Although scientists are uncertain why teenage fathers are at such high risk, the results explain why the children of young fathers are at an increased risk for disorders with a genetic link, such as autism, schizophrenia and spina bifida.

The study rejects previous assumptions that DNA mutations in germ cells increases with age, with scientists saying the new discoveries could force textbooks to be rewritten.

Source: The Telegraph


Drug Companies withdrawing funding from dementia research due to repeated failures

Image source: University of Bath

The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) has reported that drug companies are investing significantly less amounts of money into dementia compared to other major diseases following a series of “repeated and costly failures”.

Despite the huge burden that dementia imposes on international economies, the WISH report is lamenting a “funding fatigue”. Experts say that as resources shrink, dementia research is becoming more conservative, with limited unconventional strategies and parallel drug discovery opportunities.

The WISH report lists solutions that different countries are carrying out to combat the small amount of drug company investment into dementia, with one solution coming from 2013 when the UK named a World Dementia Envoy and established the World Dementia Council. One of the World Dementia Council’s three stated priorities is to increase financial resources for dementia research and drug development.

Source: The Independent


GPs encouraged to highlight colleagues who prescribe unwarranted number of antibiotics

Image source: Telegraph

The NHS are to encourage GPs to question and inform colleagues who they believe are giving out too many antibiotics.

Calls for GPs to self-regulate antibiotic prescriptions amongst their own field come following a report suggesting that 97% of patients who ask for antibiotics receive them. The draft guidance, written by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), has been created to counter increasing concern over the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The overuse of antibiotics in the Western world has been cited as a reason for the growing resistance of antibiotics.

NICE’s draft guidance points to the fact that it is often the patient themselves who demand antibiotics rather than being a suggestion from GPs.

Source: Telegraph


London, 17th February, 2015: Tonic Life Communications, the global healthcare communications consultancy and member of the Huntsworth Health family of best-in-class agencies, is delighted to announce the exciting appointment of three new hires to bolster its senior team in London. The news follows the recent appointment of Mary Smiddy as Global CEO.

Ainsley Cooper strengthens the current Directorship at the award-winning agency, and Elisabeth Neal joins as Associate Director while Alex Davies is the most recent Account Director addition. Together Ainsley, Elisabeth and Alex bring with them a total of 30 years healthcare communications experience.

Ainsley has an impressive range of experience across consumer, ethical and private healthcare, with specific expertise in digital health in which she has led over 20 global digital projects. Ainsley’s strategic experience has delivered countless relationships with world-renowned opinion leaders and patient advocacy groups.

Prior to joining Tonic Life Communications, Elisabeth held a Director role at Burson-Marsteller and has worked closely with a number of the world’s leading pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies.

Alex has previously worked at the BBC, AstraZeneca and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). He has significant experience in media management, corporate communications, public affairs and strategic communications. Like Ainsley, Alex also brings significant experience in digital communications, having won international awards for digital campaigns whilst at the RCN.

Mary Smiddy, Global CEO at Tonic Life Communications, commented ‘We are thrilled to welcome Ainsley, Elisabeth and Alex as experienced additions to the dynamic Tonic Life Communications senior team. Our new hires bring award-winning, cutting edge experience of health communications and an impressive flare for the world of digital. This experience in particular builds on our already impressive digital offering and ensures Tonic Life Communicators will continue to lead where others follow.’

The new starters will work out of the new Huntsworth Health offices in St James’s Park, where Tonic Life Communications Europe shares space with sister consultancies ApotheCom and Nitrogen. Consistent with Huntsworth Heath’s positioning each boutique agency provides its own specialised services while retaining the unique ability to provide fully integrated services via handpicked, dedicated multi-channel teams.

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Mary Smiddy, Tonic Life Communications, Global CEO

Office: +44 020 7798 9997 / Mobile: +44 07772 709217