Please see below selected recent health-related change.
- In Venezuela, around 13,000 doctors have fled in the past four years, and there’s currently an 85 percent shortage of medicines. AIDS-related deaths have tripled in recent years, according to the FT. Diseases thought to be all but eradicated - like yellow fever, diphtheria, and tuberculosis - are resurgent, warned GZEROMedia.
- For Quartz, probably the biggest invisible improvements the world sees year to year are essential indicators of overall global public health, like rates of infant mortality, maternal mortality, childhood stunting, and teen pregnancy. These are important, because they represent access the average person alive has to health care professionals, facilities, medicine, and more. All of these rates have been falling in the past few decades, in some cases dramatically.
- The right to health care is encompassed in numerous human rights instruments. According to the World Health Organisation, Universal health coverage implementation should ensure that governments provide all individuals and communities, including migrants, adequate health services without causing financial hardship. However, the conflict between international obligations and national legislation covering health and migration is evident in the barriers, both formal and informal to health care which migrants increasingly experience, warned Chatham House.
- Chatham House warned that many people in humanitarian crises suffer and die from chronic diseases, which now account for 7 in 10 of all deaths worldwide. Conflicts contaminate the air and water, reduce access to nutritious food and create stressful living conditions. This makes people sicker and more susceptible to chronic illness. At the same time, health workers flee, hospitals are targeted and there are medication shortages.
- Quartz's complete guide to Crispr explored how disruptive gene editing tools are triggering explosive innovation—and investment—in every industry that involves living things.
- A new report from the American Cancer Society found that deaths from cancer have dropped 27% over the last 25 years, with an estimated 2.6 million fewer people dying of the disease. According to the report, the reduction can largely be attributed to a decline in smoking, better detection methods, and treatments of cancer at earlier stages, according to CB Insights.
- Scientists discovered a breakthrough treatment to fight cancer, and claim the disease will no longer be deadly for future generations. Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in London believe it is possible to strengthen the body’s defences by transplanting immune cells from strangers. The team now wants to establish “immune banks” to store disease-fighting cells, meaning scientists and doctors could become more like engineers, upgrading the body rather than bombarding it with toxic chemotherapy.
- Australian researchers claimed in 2018 that they had developed a 10-minute test that's capable of finding cancer cells at any location in the body. If further testing achieves the same results, this accomplishment could be a real breakthrough in fighting cancer. The potential for quick diagnoses could help detect and treat cancer early, potentially helping the outcomes for millions of people. The test works by looking for a unique DNA nanostructure that seems to be common to all types cancers. What's especially remarkable is that the variability of cancers makes finding one simple signature shared by them all very complicated.
- Raconteur pointed to a vision that "hovers on a distant horizon", in which every citizen will recall their blood pressure and cholesterol levels as easily as their bank card PIN number. Most would have trained in cardio pulmonary resuscitation and the location of the nearest life-saving defibrillator machine would be triggered by an emergency call. Drones would fly in medication to beat traffic delays, medical-grade scanning booths could be positioned at supermarkets while condition-tracking sensors would be implanted in our bodies making hospital care an element of health rather than the overbearing and budget-draining norm.
- Digital health is transforming the way that health care is delivered in many parts of the world, while empowering individuals to more effectively manage their health and navigate an increasingly complex health care system. With increasing number of hospitals implementing digital solutions, digital offerings have improved to more rapidly meet their needs. However, EY warned that costs are rising, physicians are under enormous time pressure, and health consumers are requiring more complex care. Careful thought needs to be given to how to build effective and efficient services. Health businesses should therefore think about digital investments that bring the consumer and physician closer together, building on the trust of that special bond to encourage data sharing.
- Healthcare platform Ping An Good Doctor unveiled its first staffless medical clinic and pharmacy. The ‘One-minute Clinics’ include a Smart Medicine Cabinet and Independent Advisory Room. Patients enter the booth to receive a virtual consultation. This is initially via Ping An’s ‘AI Doctor' software, which helps assess a patient’s condition and supports the company’s human physicians’ diagnosis. Patients can then get their prescriptions from the attached Smart Medicine Cabinet vending machine, which stocks over 100 medications; any medicines not in stock can be purchased through the Ping An app and delivered in an hour.
- It is estimated there are more than 7,000 identified rare diseases, yet only around 400 have licensed treatments. A rare disease is defined as affecting less than 200,000 people, but in some cases it could be as few as one or two families. Therefore, due to the smaller end-market, traditional drug-discovery financing models are often inadequate, noted Raconteur.
- Anticipating the most needed drug in the future is a key role of pharmaceutical companies and recent years have seen a big shift in focus to cancer treatments, which are expected to make up almost one fifth of all drug sales by 2024.
- Diabetes, once a condition that predominantly affected richer nations, is a growing epidemic the world over, warned Raconteur. With the number of people suffering from diabetes expected to increase by a half within three decades, it is estimated that one in ten people worldwide will be living with diabetes by 2045.
- In 2018, the death of 9,000 chickens on a single farm in northeast China didn’t make global headlines; perhaps it should have. The poultry died from the lethal H7N9 virus. No humans suffered this time, yet this flu kills more than one in three people who catch it; 623 have already died in Asia. The next coughing bird could be incubating a lethal virus that humans could pass on too, warned Raconteur. Like climate change, death and taxes, a global pandemic is a certainty, and with the 100-year anniversary of the Spanish flu making headlines, there’s now a lot more interest in the next large-scale epidemic and what it could look like. In 1918, up to 100 million people died, this time the death toll could be three times as much, more than the population of America.
- More than 420 million people worldwide have diabetes, four times as many as in 1980, according to the World Health Organisation. But this global figure masks major difference between countries and regions, both in the prevalence and course of the disease, as well as in the problems associated with it. Diabetes prevalence has been rising more rapidly in middle and low-income countries, but some poorer countries have much greater numbers of undiagnosed disease than Europe and America.
- Technology in healthcare is increasingly becoming big business, reported Raconteur. According to a recent report from Markets and Markets, the global healthcare IT market is projected to reach $280.25bn by 2021, up from $134.25bn 2016, representing a compound annual growth rate of 15.9%. It’s not surprising that some of the world’s biggest IT players are turning their attention to this rapidly expanding field. Big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things all have clear applications in the world of healthcare, and the major players are getting in on the act.
- What might healthcare look like in the coming decades? CB Insights looked at different demographic, technological, and cultural shifts that are poised to change the landscape of healthcare in the next 10-15 years and where the opportunities might be. This includes:
- The aging boomer population in the US as well as very different age distributions across other countries
- How technologies like AI, genomics, and new types of monitoring are developing
- The changing physician-patient relationship and societal/ethical implications of new technologies
- New jobs that might exist in healthcare or grow in demand like genetic counseling and digital coaches
- Regulatory shifts that might be highly impactful,
- Debilitating mental illness that wrecks lives and careers is increasingly being addressed as a workplace issue, as employees and business leaders alike strive to overcome the stigma of mental illness.
- The Wall Street Journal found that while holistic approaches to mental as well as physical wellness often include nutrition, the connection between food and mental health is now gaining traction in the medical community, too. Research in the field of nutritional psychiatry supports the scientific claim that what you eat and how you feel may be connected, especially when it comes to managing anxiety and depression.
- Chatham House warned that, similar to climate change or antimicrobial resistance, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) represent a ticking time bomb for societies and economies. Yet global progress to tackle the rising burden of NCDs has not been adequate. NCDs such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer kill nearly 41 million people each year - many of them well under the age of 70.
- Raconteur reported how, as the incidence of heart disease continues to climb with an ageing population, digital technology is transforming every aspect of prevention, diagnosis and management. Already, many doctors hold virtual clinics in which test results are reviewed and communicated to the patient, saving the need for further trips to the clinic and remote monitoring really comes into its own when a person needs a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator device to control an abnormal heart rhythm or restart the heart if it stops.
- How do you care for today while building the health of tomorrow? Explore the options in EY’s annual report, New horizons: Executive insights on the future of health. Delivering health to a growing, ageing population will require digital technologies, a focus on health consumerism and a changing care model. Investment in digital solutions that focus on disease management and prevention is rising: diagnosis and monitoring of disease were the top funded digital health products in Q1 FY18 at US$270 million, according to EY.
- Outlining a range of new forecasts, Shaping Tomorrow claimed that by 2023, markets will be under pressure to find revenue, and governments and healthcare sectors will be entering a period of significant disruption.
- Just one third of India’s 1.3 billion people has health insurance, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has now launched a plan called Ayushman Bharat (Long-Life India) to extend coverage to hundreds of millions more. Under the plan, needy families will receive nearly $7,000 a year in hospital expenses before they pay a penny.
- There are many different ways to treat cardiovascular disease (CVD), but drugs and surgery alone will never be enough to reverse the so-called “Western way of death”, warned Raconteur. A healthy lifestyle is critical. Support from relatives can also help, while also encouraging entire families to lead healthier lives. Lifestyle changes can produce dramatic results. For example, an estimated 60% of cases of type-2 diabetes could be prevented or delayed by measures such as weight reduction, diet and regular exercise.
- As regards mental health, The School of Life believes that, in the midst of a breakdown, we often wonder whether we have gone mad. We have not. We’re behaving oddly no doubt, but beneath the surface agitation, we are on a hidden yet logical search for health. We haven’t become ill; we were ill already. Our crisis, if we can get through it, is an attempt to dislodge us from a toxic status quo and an insistent call to rebuild our lives on a more authentic and sincere basis.
- In many countries, the way patients receive medical care has drastically changed over the past decade as most hospitals and doctors’ offices have transitioned from paper charts to electronic health records that help clinicians order medications, document treatment decisions, and review laboratory results. These digital records can introduce numerous efficiencies and give patients and medical professionals more complete information on which to base decisions.
- Medical research suggests that happiness certainly can reduce the risk of heart problems, reported Raconteur. People with a positive outlook, who experience joy, happiness, excitement and contentment in their lives, are less likely to suffer heart disease, according to researchers from Harvard School of Public Health.They set out to examine the association between positive psychological wellbeing and cardiovascular disease, conducting a systemic review of all relevant existing research.
- The US gave an update on the spread of a polio-like disease, reported Quartz. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention will provide weekly updates of new cases of acute flaccid myelitis, a disease that affects the spinal cord and can cause paralysis in children. The US has seen a substantial rise in cases in recent months.
- In These are the economies with the most (and least) efficient health care, Bloomberg asked: want medical care without quickly draining your fortune? Try Singapore or Hong Kong as your healthy havens. The U.S. will cost you the most for treatment, both in absolute terms and relative to average incomes, while life expectancy of Americans - about 79 years - was exceeded by more than 25 countries and territories, according to an annual Bloomberg analysis in almost 200 economies.
- The World Health Organisation found that more than 90% of the world’s young people, around 1.8 billion children, are exposed to toxic air pollution today. That’s a ticking health time bomb for many countries around the world, warned GZEROMedia.
- Further reading:
- UNICEF offered life-saving treatment to 4 million children for severe malnutrition in 2017.
- Humanity has only ever eradicated one disease: smallpox. Progress has been made with big killers such as malaria and AIDS, but much work remains to be done, warned The Economist.
- Indeed, there are about 10,000 known human diseases, yet human doctors are only able to recall a fraction of them at any given moment. As many as 40,500 patients die annually in intensive care in the U.S. as a result of misdiagnosis, according to a 2012 Johns Hopkins study. A British entrepreneur believes that AI can help doctors avoid these mistakes.
- Early diagnosis saves lives. This sounds obviously correct, and much early diagnosis can, without doubt, be a very good thing. What’s surprising is that in the wrong circumstances, it can also be a very bad one, argued Prospect.
- A WHO report estimates that more than a quarter of people worldwide - 1.4 billion - are not doing enough physical exercise, a figure that has barely improved since 2001. Inactivity raises the risk of a raft of health problems, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and some cancers.
- In the first-ever UN event dedicated to mental health, the head of the WHO met with activists and scientists to discuss the epidemic that causes 800,000 suicides globally, every year.
- A whole host of factors, from diet and alcohol intake to physical activity and blood pressure, can affect cardiovascular health - an infographic explained the importance of each and their impact on the heart
- By 2050, half the world’s population - up to five billion people - are expected to be short-sighted compared to roughly 1.4 billion people today, according to a 2016 study published in the journal Ophthalmology. More intense education and a lack of time spent outdoors is leading to an explosion in the condition, warn experts. From glaucoma to cataracts, incidence rates for the range of eye conditions worsen as people get older. An ageing population means a growing number of people will suffer from some form of sight loss in the future - see Raconteur infographic.
- Too often, public transit is insufficiently designed for people who are blind or have a low level of vision. Be My Eyes and Moovit teamed up to pursue one common goal: to make public transit more accessible for people living with blindness or vision loss.
- Further reading:
- Currently, nine in ten people around the world breathe air that has high levels of pollution, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). The agency estimates that 7 million deaths each year can be attributed to pollution.
- According to GZEROMedia, India spends about 1.4% of its yearly economic output on healthcare, less than half what China spends as a portion of GDP, and less than a quarter of US healthcare spending. However, the government is set to roll out the first phase of a new programme designed to provide poor Indian families with up to $7,100 each year to cover healthcare costs.
- Healthcare systems play a crucial role in supporting human health, argued new analysis from the Bruegel thinktank. They also have major macroeconomic implications, an aspect that is not always properly acknowledged.
- A large new global study published in the Lancet confirmed previous research which has shown that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. The researchers admit moderate drinking may protect against heart disease but found that the risk of cancer and other diseases outweighs these protections. A study author said its findings were the most significant to date because of the range of factors considered. The Global Burden of Disease study looked at levels of alcohol use and its health effects in 195 countries, between 1990 and 2016.
- Academics at Stanford University demonstrated that a “deep learning” algorithm was capable of diagnosing potentially cancerous skin lesions as accurately as a board-certified dermatologist. The cancer finding, reported in Nature, was part of a stream of reports offering an early glimpse into what could be a new era of “diagnosis by software,” in which AI aids doctors - or even competes with them. Experts say medical images, like photographs, x-rays, and MRIs, are a nearly perfect match for the strengths of deep-learning software, which has in the past few years led to breakthroughs in recognising faces and objects in pictures.
- Sperm counts in men in westernised countries fell by 50-60 per cent between 1973 and 2011. That decline has been happening steadily over the years and there is no sign of the drop abating. There are reportedly almost zero treatment options to offer currently, making this an a little known public health disaster.
- Gene-editing tool CRISPR is changing the ways we develop new medical treatments, power our vehicles, and even brew our beer. CB Insights identified the industries this cutting-edge technology could disrupt. From treating diseases like HIV and sickle cell to designer babies and custom-made pets, CRISPR has the potential to affect nearly every area of our lives. While still in the fairly early stages of development, the gene-editing tool’s price tag and flexibility makes it widely accessible and applicable, allowing scientists to edit genes with unprecedented ease and precision. Essentially, researchers can use CRISPR (often in the form of CRISPR-Cas9) as a pair of “molecular scissors” to cut into and alter DNA.
- Air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence, according to new research, indicating that the damage to society of toxic air is far deeper than the well-known impacts on physical health. The research was conducted in China but is relevant across the world, with 95% of the global population breathing unsafe air. It found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education.
- In 1980, only two out of 10 one-year-olds were vaccinated against polio. Globally we had around 350,000 paralytic polio cases every year. Today: 9 out of 10 are vaccinated. In 2016 there were 42 cases of polio globally.
- For decades, people have heard advice to eat hours before heading off to bed, noted Big Think. Now a new study offers an even more profound piece of evidence as to why an early dinner is essential: it reduces the risk of breast and prostate cancer. The study, conducted at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health found that those who eat dinner before 8 pm (or at least two hours before bedtime) experience a 20% reduction in the likelihood of developing the types of cancer listed above.
- Health Divides is an in-depth analysis of how the politics and economics of the place you live in influence your health. It explains why health inequalities exist both among nations and within them, examines such inequalities past and present, and details their ubiquitous, longstanding nature. Reducing them – and making people’s lives safer and healthier – will require vast changes in political and economic priorities. In other words, “where you live can kill you,” but often it’s death by politics, argued the author.
- Bill Gates asks us to imagine a world where diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease is as simple as getting your blood tested during your annual physical. Research suggests that future isn’t that far off, and Diagnostics Accelerator, which Gates has invested in, moves us one step closer, he claimed.
- Also known as bioelectronics, electroceuticals are implantable devices which alter electrical signals in the body, according to Disruption Hub. When attached to bundles of nerves, they can change the signals sent to the brain, organs, and other body parts. Possibly the next step in personalised medical treatment, electroceuticals can be used to record, stimulate, and block the neural signals which control our organs and limbs. Altering our electrical impulses in precise ways can give balance to organs producing the wrong amount of hormones, reduce inflammation, and even restore function to paralysed limbs. Crucially, the targeted operation of electroceuticals removes the side effects experienced with many modern medicines. Although not yet available to human patients, it is expected that electroceuticals will arrive in clinical medicine over the next few decades.
Hans Selye, the Hungarian-Canadian scientist who gave the world its modern understanding of stress as a biological function, never meant for the word to take on such a negative connotation, suggesting for Quartz that we’re still missing out on some of stress’s benefits because of our misunderstanding of his theories.
A warning emerged that CRISPRd cells may have a higher incidence of cancer.
Deepak Chopra and Rudolph E. Tanzi’s “The Healing Self: A Revolutionary New Plan to Supercharge Your Immunity and Stay Well for Life” shows that many chronic diseases begin years before showing major symptoms and focuses on how to care for our bodies, improve immunity and prevent dangerous inflammations while ageing gracefully.
Society is stuck in its search for an Alzheimer’s cure, warned Quartz. There hasn’t been a new treatment in over a decade because, although dementia isn’t a disease itself, it is caused by many, and for every question answered about Alzheimer’s, two more appear, making the condition like a hydra that modern medicine struggles to tackle.
Health Precision medicine has the potential to transform how we treat or even cure cancer and other genetic diseases, claimed Harvard Business School. However, inefficiencies continue to slow the advancement of this breakthrough treatment approach. Challenges of this magnitude cannot be solved through scientific endeavours alone; they require novel business solutions.
Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organisation says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing. In its latest revision to a disease classification manual, the U.N. health agency said that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a mental health condition.
Over just a few years the CRISPR gene-editing technique has revolutionised science, affecting everything from medicine to agriculture. Two new breakthrough studies have just been published describing dual methods that make the process more precise and efficient paving the way for scientists to safely alter DNA mutations that cause thousands of different human diseases.
- CRISPR could help humanity overcome some of the biggest and most persistent challenges in global health and development, according to Bill Gates, while Goldman Sachs noted that gene therapies that cure patients could challenge the business models of firms dependent on recurrent sales of drugs.
- Disease can strike any of us at any time. However, many now believe that diseases can be completely eradicated. The most important of these so far is smallpox, which thanks to vaccination, was removed from the world in 1977.
- The death toll from malaria has been reduced by more than half since 2000, thanks to a multi-pronged attack. But a lot more remains to be done. There’s no vaccine for malaria yet, but the world has been getting better at treating and preventing the deadly disease, according to a new study. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the death rate from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa has dropped by 57% since 2000.
- While HIV/AIDS is still a serious health threat, with the availability of antiretroviral treatment, the number of deaths from AIDS has been declining over the last decade.
- Analysing the top causes of death worldwide, one finds that 13% of all human deaths are now caused by heart attacks; in the richest countries, 16% and in the poorest, 6%.
- Drug-resistant TB is now at record levels according to a UN report calling for better diagnosis of the disease.
- Every year 600,000 non-tobacco users, mostly women and children, die from exposure to tobacco smoke.
- The latest data from the World Bank suggests an improving situation for women's health.
- Please also see a related infographic by Chloe Tseng.
- It was claimed that a Human Genome Project for personalised health care is needed, linking up genetics with promising research on the impact of environmental factors affecting disease, using alternative scenarios based on diet and lifestyle that can increase or decrease the likelihood of cancer, diabetes, or heart disease, and other illnesses.
- It was also claimed that we might be entering an age of pandemics.
- A laboratory in Mali started to rear Africa's first mosquitoes that are genetically modified to resist malaria, according to Glimpses of the Future.
- In order to provide universal access to reproductive, maternal and newborn health services in the 51 countries with the lowest incomes and highest burden of disease, more than 4.2 million health workers are required. The World Health Organisation recognises the role that midwives play in reducing infant mortality rates and wants to increase the number of midwives. Unicef offered18-month midwife training programs in Pakistan and Afghanistan - see here.