Public Health around the world
Health News Around The World.
- USA: The Flint lead controversy.
- Governmental incompetence and poor decisions in Flint, Michigan (North-East USA), are being blamed for the exposure of its predominantly poor and black residents to lead-contaminated drinking water – a situation which has been ongoing for over a year. A naturally occurring toxic metal, lead has been classified by the WHO as one of ten chemicals that are of major public health concern. There is no safe level of lead. Exposure to this toxin can lead to debilitating, adverse and sometimes permanent health damage – of which children are most vulnerable. In children, exposure can lead to a multitude of problems including, but not limited to: anaemia, delayed puberty, renal impairment, mental retardation and irreversible neurological and behavioural effects. These effects are more pronounced in impoverished and malnourished children. This crisis, which was aggravated by governmental oversight and incompetence, is an example of how inequity in the provision of services (such as water services) can promote health inequities.
- France: Clinical trial Faux-pas
In what the French Health minister has called a “serious accident”, 6 have been left hospitalized (1 is brain dead and the others have severe neurological complications) following their participation in a phase 1 clinical trial conducted by BioTrial, a Rennes-based drug evaluation and pharmacology research company. 128 volunteers participated to test the “safety, tolerance and pharmaceutical properties” of the orally-administered drug which was produced by the Portuguese drug manufacturer, Bial. Reports that the drug contains, or is a derivative of, cannabis were refuted by the Marisol Touraine, but it was confirmed that the drug acted on the endocannabinoid system. In so doing, it would have been intended to help with mood, anxiety and motor problems linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease. The clinical trial has now been suspended and the volunteers have been recalled.
- Zika Virus: Back with vengeance? Identified in 1947, Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito and usually leads to mild symptoms. However, the 2015 and 2016 outbreaks in South America are different to the previous outbreaks in French Polynesia, Yap and Cape Verde. Its outbreak has been linked with an increase in babies born with microphelagy, a medical condition causing incomplete brain development and leaving the baby with an abnormally small head. The association is not conclusive and more investigations are needed. For some, climate change is to blame for the emergence of this virus.
- Sierra Leone: Ebola’s not going away without a fight! At the close of 2015, WHO announced that Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone had all succeeded in interrupting human-to-human transmission of the fatal viral disease. However, new cases of the disease were identified in Sierra Leone in January 2016
- England: Junior Doctors strike back!
On January 12th 2016, English junior doctors, those who are not yet consultant doctors, took industrial action for the first time in forty years. The strikes were a result of a dispute between the doctors, via their trade union (British Medical Association, BMA), and the government over new contracts which are being imposed on them. The government insists that these new contracts will reduce bureaucracy within the NHS, increase transparency, make the health system more patient-centred and ultimately save lives. The doctors on the other hand are concerned over changes to their pay, effects on career progression and weakening of safeguards that prevent hospitals from overworking the junior doctors. They claim that this would lead to more tired and stressed doctors, undermine healthcare delivery, compromise patient safety and encourage more junior doctors to emigrate to more attractive locations. The next strike has been scheduled on February the 10th 2016.