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Latest stories, news and breaking health and medical news from across the world

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Why we dont know if plastics are safe

How can we determine conclusively whether a chemical is safe? Thats the question Jerry Heindel, a top health scientist in the United States government, wanted to answer. And what better chemical to ask this question about than bisphenol A — one of the most researched chemicals in the world, and one of the most controversial. BPA, as the chemical is known, is an industrial additive essential in the production of many plastic consumer goods: water bottles, plastic food containers, dental products. And yet, despite hundreds of studies dating back nearly a century, theres no scientific consensus on whether BPA is harmful to human health. Thats in part because any effects the chemical has would be long-term, complicated and hard to detect. But its also because academic scientists and government regulators disagree on how best to evaluate the safety of chemicals. The solution Heindel — at the time a health science administrator at the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Scien..

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Transgender no longer recognised as ‘disorder’ by WHO

Transgender health issues will no longer be classified as mental and behavioural disorders under big changes to the World Health Organization's global manual of diagnoses. The newly-approved version instead places issues of gender incongruence under a chapter on sexual health. A World Health Organization expert said it now understands transgender is "not actually a mental health condition". Human Rights Watch says the change will have a "liberating effect worldwide". 'Outdated diagnosis' In the latest manual, called the ICD-11, gender incongruence is defined as a marked and persistent incongruence between a person's experienced gender and assigned sex. In the previous version – ICD-10 – this was considered a gender identity disorder, in the chapter entitled mental and behavioural disorders. Dr Lale Say, a reproductive health expert at the World Health Organization, said: "It was taken out from mental health disorders because we had a better understanding ..

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English ‘short-changed on care funding’

Public spending on care for the elderly and disabled is much higher in Scotland and Wales than England, figures show. In England, £310 per person is spent each year on services such as care homes and home help for daily tasks such as washing and dressing. But in Scotland, £445 is spent – 43% more than in England – and in Wales it is £414 – 33% more. The analysis has been produced by the Health Foundation using official spending and population data. The think-tank said the differences were "huge" and had a major impact on the care that could be provided by councils to these vulnerable groups. It comes after the BBC revealed a number of councils are at risk of running out of their reserves if current spending continues. Care spending is likely to be a significant factor in this given it accounts for more than half of local authority budgets. Ministers in England have promised that new plans for care, including funding, will be published soon. How the system is failing the vulnera..

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Ebola virus disease – Democratic Republic of the Congo: Disease outbreak news, 9 May 2019

The Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak response this past week continues to be hampered by insecurity. On 3 May in Katwa, a Safe and Dignified Burial (SDB) team was violently attacked following the completion of a burial for a deceased EVD case. In Butembo and surrounding health zones, response activities were repeatedly halted due to a number of serious security incidents taking place from 4-6 May. On 8 May, a group of over 50 armed militia infiltrated the city centre. Security forces repelled the attack following intense gunfire in close proximity to staff accommodations. Although activities resumed on 9 May, after almost five consecutive days of suspension, threats of further attacks against EVD response teams and facilities remain prevalent. These security incidents, and especially the resultant lack of access to EVD affected communities, remain a major impediment to the response, with teams unable to perform robust surveillance nor deliver much needed treatment and immunisations...

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New hospital in Ulang for people affected by violence and neglect

Project Update Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is establishing a project in the town of Ulang, close to the Ethiopian border, in South Sudans northeastern Upper Nile region, to address the needs of people living in a remote and neglected area who have been affected by years of war and frequent bouts of intercommunal violence and who struggle to access medical care. We have already set up a 30-bed hospital in town, providing the only secondary healthcare for the 100,000 or so people living in Ulang and in villages scattered along the Sobat river. In July 2018, MSF launched a short-term emergency response, running mobile clinics in Ulang and the surrounding area. In October, we opened the new hospital, and in April we took the decision to run it as a stable project. “Our aim is to provide secondary healthcare to very vulnerable people affected by recurrent outbreaks of different kinds of violence, living in a dire situation and with little access to basic services, meaning that someti..

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Less chemotherapy better for older or frail patients with advanced stomach and oesophageal cancers

Less chemotherapy is as effective at controlling disease for elderly or frail patients with advanced cancer of the stomach or oesophagus (food pipe), and leads to fewer side effects such as diarrhoea and lethargy. These are the results of a Cancer Research UK funded study, presented prior to the ASCO conference today (Wednesday). “Increasingly were realising its not just age that affects how well someone can tolerate their treatment and we need to do more work to understand how other conditions or aspects of frailty might play a role.” – Dr Peter Hall, Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre[contfnewc] Results from the GO2 trial could change the standard of care for patients who cant have full dose chemotherapy due to their age, frailty or medical fitness. The study, which ran at hospitals all over the UK, coordinated from the University of Leeds, involved 514 people with stomach or oesophageal cancer. Their average age was 76 and the oldest was 96 years old. All were either frail, elder..

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Skin and breast cancer drugs approved for NHS use in Scotland

Two cancer drugs have been approved for patients on the NHS in Scotland. An immunotherapy for some people with advanced skin cancer and a targeted drug for some patients with breast cancer got the green light this week. The fresh batch of decisions from the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) this week were hailed as “great news” by Gordon Matheson, Cancer Research UKs public affairs manager in Scotland. “The decisions mean that a treatment called pembrolizumab is now available for some patients whose skin cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.” Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) will now be an option for patients whose melanoma has spread to the lymph nodes and who have already had surgery. Matheson said the treatment provides another treatment option for patients whove had surgery to remove their cancer but who are at high risk of it returning. New option for patients with melanoma after surgery Pembrolizumab works by boosting the immune systems ability to kill cancer cells and can help ta..

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Strengthening the healthcare system in north-east Nigeria – a priority for WHO

Maiduguri, 22 May 2019 – It started like every other normal day. Mallam Isah and his wife, Hauwa, had set off to the farm as it was the peak of the farming season. Half way into the days work, the attention of the couple was needed back home. Bintu, their 3-year old daughter had high fever with rashes around the neck and eyes. The nearest healthcare centre, Babangida clinic was attacked in 2014 by insurgents. Since then, more than 23,000 inhabitants have difficulties accessing health care services. “We trekked no less than 12 kilometres to reach this outreach centre, says Mallam Isah. “Thank God, the outreach session is working in our community today. My daughter would have suffered from treatable illness. Since the insurgents attacked this community, the health clinic has not offered services. We have to travel more than 12 kilometres to access healthcare, resort to unorthodox medication or hope for recovery without medication. Sometimes, we suffer needlessly from treatable ailments..

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Contaminated blood scandal: Inquiry hearings to begin

Media playback is unsupported on your device A public inquiry into what has been called "the worst treatment scandal in the history of the NHS" is to start taking evidence on Tuesday. Some 4,800 people with haemophilia were infected with hepatitis C or HIV in the 1970s and 1980s. More than 2,000 are thought to have died. Thousands more may have been exposed through blood transfusions after an operation or childbirth. One victim's widow says she wants "justice" and people held to account. Su Gorman's husband, Steve Dymond, died aged 62 on 23 December last year of organ failure – ultimately caused by the medicine he was given as a young man. 'The wonder drug' Speaking to the Victoria Derbyshire programme in April 2018, Steve said: "It's not the life I imagined in terms of dreams, in terms of ambitions. "It's become a life of sickness, illness, worry, anxiety. "When I talk about my wife, I talk about her as my widow in waiting." Long reads on th..

Health

Contaminated blood scandal: Inquiry hearings to begin

Media playback is unsupported on your device A public inquiry into what has been called "the worst treatment scandal in the history of the NHS" is to start taking evidence on Tuesday. Some 4,800 people with haemophilia were infected with hepatitis C or HIV in the 1970s and 1980s. More than 2,000 are thought to have died. Thousands more may have been exposed through blood transfusions after an operation or childbirth. One victim's widow says she wants "justice" and people held to account. Su Gorman's husband, Steve Dymond, died aged 62 on 23 December last year of organ failure – ultimately caused by the medicine he was given as a young man. 'The wonder drug' Speaking to the Victoria Derbyshire programme in April 2018, Steve said: "It's not the life I imagined in terms of dreams, in terms of ambitions. "It's become a life of sickness, illness, worry, anxiety. "When I talk about my wife, I talk about her as my widow in waiting." Long reads on th..

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