• Targeting of Syrian healthcare as “weapon of war” sets dangerous precedent: Experts

    The strategy of using people’s need for healthcare against them by violently denying access sets a dangerous precedent that the global health community must urgently address, researchers say. As new estimates of death toll for health workers are published, experts say the deliberate and systematic attacks on the healthcare infrastructure in Syria – primarily by government forces – expose shortcomings in international responses to health needs in conflict.

  • Universal public coverage of 117 essential medicines would improve access, save billions

    A list of 117 essential medicines — including antibiotics, insulin, heart medication, anti-depressants, oral contraceptives, and more — accounted for 44 percent of all prescriptions written in Canada in 2015, and up to 77 percent of all prescriptions when therapeutically similar medications were considered. Researchers calculated that publicly funding these 117 essential medicines could cover the cost of nearly half of all prescriptions in Canada, removing financial barriers for Canadians while saving $3 billion per year.

  • DHS-developed software powers humanitarian project

    Software – called Krona — originally developed at the at the DHS’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) to sequence DNA for biodefense is now being used by Microsoft to sequence mosquito DNA in the fight against disease. Krona is a unique visualization tool that enables users to quickly analyze massive quantities of data — such as more than 100 million sequences of DNA in a single mosquito sample. Mosquitoes collect blood samples from every animal and human they bite and in turn can be an early warning indicator of disease. Microsoft is using Krona to analyze the complex DNA collected by mosquitos.

  • WHO issues list of bacteria for which new antibiotics are urgently needed

    WHO today published its first ever list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens” – a catalogue of twelve families of bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health. The list was drawn up in a bid to guide and promote research and development (R&D) of new antibiotics, as part of WHO’s efforts to address growing global resistance to antimicrobial medicines.

  • Preventing a “post-antibiotic era”

    A landmark report by the World Health Organization in 2014 observed that antibiotic resistance — long thought to be a health threat of the future — had finally become a serious threat to public health around the world. A top WHO official called for an immediate and aggressive response to prevent what he called a “post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill.”

  • Genetic tool improves arsenic studies

    Arsenic-contaminated drinking water impacts millions of people worldwide. Groundwater contamination is primarily caused by microbes that convert one form of arsenic into another form that can infiltrate groundwater. Researchers developed a genetic tool that makes it easier to identify which microbial species have the arsenic-converting genes.

  • How a travel ban could worsen doctor shortages in US hospitals and threaten primary care

    While the world waits for a final decision on President Trump’s travel ban, potentially from the Supreme Court, it’s critical to look at the potential ramifications of the ban. As physicians involved with educating and training the next generation of doctors, we see dire consequences for health care delivery in our country if the travel ban is reinstated. President Trump’s immigration ban has the potential for immediate ramifications for the hospital and health care system workforce in the U.S. Long term, decreases in the number of international medical graduates in training will result in fewer primary care physicians and general surgeons, just as the country is likely to need more. This immigration policy can have significant adverse impacts on health care delivery and the health of Americans. These consequences should be critically considered in related immigration and travel ban policy decisions moving forward.

  • U.K. nuclear safety regulations place too low a value on human life

    New research has shown that the benchmark used by the U.K. Office for Nuclear Regulation for judging how much should be spent on nuclear safety has no basis in evidence and places insufficient value on human life. The review suggests it may need to be ten times higher — between £16 million and £22 million per life saved.

  • World leaders urged to take action to avert existential global risks

    World leaders must do more to limit risk of global catastrophes, according to a report by Oxford academics. He academic define global catastrophe as a risk “where an adverse outcome would either annihilate Earth-originating intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.” Three of the most pressing possible existential risks for humanity are pandemics, extreme climate change, and nuclear war.

  • Step closer to developing major new drug in fight against antimicrobial resistance

    Scientists have for the first time determined the molecular structure of a new antibiotic which could hold the key to tackling drug resistant bacteria. This development is an important next step in understanding how different derivatives of teixobactin function, and which building blocks are needed for it to successfully destroy drug resistant bacteria.

  • ISIS followers hack U.K. National Health Service

    ISIS-linked hackers have attacked and defaced several NHS (U.K. National Health Service) websites in a series of cyberattacks. The hackers, going by the name of Tunisian Fallaga Team, targeted six websites three weeks ago, replacing legitimate web pages with graphic photos of the war in Syria. The attacks said they were retaliating for the West’s interference in the Middle East.

  • Low-cost imaging system detects natural gas leaks in real time

    Researchers have developed an infrared imaging system that could one day offer low-cost, real-time detection of methane gas leaks in pipelines and at oil and gas facilities. Leaks of methane, the primary component of natural gas, can be costly and dangerous while also contributing to climate change as a greenhouse gas. Infrared device enables reliable monitoring under a range of environmental conditions.

  • Malaria superbugs pose threat to global malaria control

    A lineage of multidrug resistant P. falciparum malaria superbugs has widely spread and is now established in parts of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, causing high treatment failure rates for the main falciparum malaria medicines, artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs). The emergence and spread of artemisinin drug resistant P falciparum lineage represents a serious threat to global malaria control and eradication efforts.

  • Global partnership to prevent epidemics with new vaccines launched

    A global coalition to create new vaccines for emerging infectious diseases, designed to help give the world an insurance policy against epidemics, launches today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

    With an initial investment of $460 million from the governments of Germany, Japan, and Norway, plus the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, CEPI - the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations will seek to outsmart epidemics by developing safe and effective vaccines against known infectious disease threats that could be deployed rapidly to contain outbreaks, before they become global health emergencies.

  • Cocktail of bacteria-killing viruses prevents cholera infection in animal models

    Oral administration of viruses that specifically target cholera bacteria prevents infection and cholera-like symptoms in animal model experiments. The findings are the first to demonstrate the potential efficacy of bacteria-killing viruses—known as bacteriophages, or phages—as an orally administered preventive therapy against an acute gastrointestinal bacterial disease.