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: 13 January

Fear that NHS cuts could be contributing to lower life expectancy

Image source: Huffington Post

Social care cuts and increased pressure on the NHS could be a factor in the “statistically significant” lowering of life expectancy of elderly people in the North west of England.

Blackburn with Darwen Council emailed Public Health England late last year warning that people aged over 85 in the area “are no longer living longer”. Following the alert, Public Health England have announced that they are “conducting further analysis of these trends”.

Official life expectancy figures have dropped slightly in recent years, with some areas of the North west seeing life expectancy lower in both sexes.

Source: The Independent

 

World Health Organization wants more power to tackle health emergencies

Image source: Talk Radio News

Following criticism of its slow response to the Ebola outbreak, the WHO have claimed that it could have operated more efficiently if it were given greater capabilities to react to situations quickly.

The WHO have accused countries of lacking basic surveillance, risk communication and thorough outbreak preparations. The Ebola outbreak has claimed the lives of 8371 people and infected over 20 thousand across Western Africa.

According to the WHO, a restructuring of the organisation would allow them to set up a team of rapid deployment experts, as well as better communications and logistics systems.

Sources: Reuters, Centers for Disease Control

 

Regular naps helps infants boost memory and learning

Image source: Tesco

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have found that infants who sleep during the day have a greater memory and ability to learn than those who do not.

The study, which was the first of its kind, found that infants who took a short nap within four hours of being shown an action could remember the task whilst those who did not nap were unable to do so.

The research paper was published in PNAS and shone light on an area which we previously knew “very little about”, according to the authors of the study.

Sources: PNAS, BBC News, University of Sheffield

 

Today’s top health stories: 08 January

Pharma companies threaten legal action over NHS England’s decision to halt access to expensive drugs

Image source: The Guardian

Pharma companies have expressed their discontent at NHS England’s expected plans to remove access to a range of medicines due to their high prices.

NHS England’s Cancer Drugs Fund, which was set up to allow patients access to drugs regardless of their cost and has been used by 55,000 people, is set to be £100m over budget by the end of the financial year.

Medicines which will be no longer paid by the fund include breast cancer drugs Eisai’s Halaven (eribulin, breast cancer), Sanofi’s Zaltrap (Aflibercept, bowel cancer) and Roche’s Kadcyla (Trastuzumab emtansine, bowel cancer).

Chief executive of Myeloma UK, Eric Lowe, believes that the Cancer Drugs Fund is unsustainable and a “policy anomaly”.

Sources: Financial Times, BBC News

 

Scientists discover 25 new antibiotics in clinical study

Image source: Institute for Creation Research


Following a three-year gap since the last clinical discovery of antibiotics, a novel approach to cultivating bacteria has led to a yield of 25 new antibiotics.

These new antibiotics, described by the researchers as the “tip of the iceberg” in their published journal in Nature, could potentially revive antibiotic discovery.

Recent decades have seen microbes become increasingly resistant to antibiotics, leading to so-called ‘super bugs’ which have caused media stirs.

Source: BBC News

 

Signs that Ebola is slowing in Sierra Leone

Image source: MarketWatch

Although 248 new confirmed cases of Ebola have been reported in Sierra Leone during the past week, the spread of Ebola in the country appears to be slowing according to the World Health Organisation.

Ebola cases in Sierra Leone far outstrip those of any other country, with almost 10,000 cases and 3000 deaths. Ebola cases are still underreported throughout western Africa.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, head of the United Nations Ebola response team, is warning against complacency in Sierra Leone against the continual threat of Ebola:  “It is only at this moment of optimism and relative success that sometimes we are worried of a sense of complacency”.

Sources: Reuters, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention