Please see below selected recent health-related change.
- 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.
- 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.