Posts filed under ‘health’

Mental health

Research suggests that mental disorders affect one in four people, yet stigma around mental disorders continues. Mental Health gives an overview of some chronic mental illnesses and looks at the difficulties we have in dealing with them – especially when friends or relatives are affected. This book also covers common psychological challenges and how to cope with them.

The information in this book comes from a wide range of sources including government reports and statistics, newspaper features, magazine articles, surveys and literature from lobby groups and charitable organisations.

You can read more about this book on the publisher’s website; you can buy it there, or on Amazon.

Editors: Cobi Smith and Sophie Crewdson
Publisher: Independence Educational Publishers
Price: £6.95
Cover: Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 86168 407 3
Published: September 2007

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November 21, 2007 at 6:50 pm 1 comment

Problem drinking

People drink alcohol for various reasons – socially, to relax or sometimes just to get through the day. Problem Drinking explores the issues around alcohol dependency and abuse and considers their implications for health and society.

The information comes from a range of sources including government reports and statistics, newspaper reports, features, magazine articles, surveys, and literature from lobby groups and charitable organisations.

You can read more about this book on the publisher’s website; you can buy it there, or on Amazon.

Editors: Lisa Firth and Cobi Smith
Publisher: Independence Educational Publishers
Price: £6.95
Cover: Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 86168 409 7
Published: September 2007

November 21, 2007 at 6:43 pm Leave a comment

Smoking trends

Smoking is now banned in all enclosed public places in England – a step already taken in some other parts of the world. This has sparked discussion about the effects of smoking on health and society. The ban has generated debate about human rights and freedom of choice, as well as consideration of the links between smoking, poverty and mental health. The impact of opposition to smoking in developed countries also raises questions about the increasing prevalence of smoking in the developing world.

The information in this book comes from a wide range of sources and includes government reports and statistics, newspaper features, magazine articles, surveys and literature from lobby groups and charitable organisations.

You can read more about this book on the publisher’s website; you can buy it there, or on Amazon.

Editors: Cobi Smith and Sophie Crewdson
Publisher: Independence Educational Publishers
Price: £6.95
Cover: Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 86168 411 0
Published: September 2007

 

November 15, 2007 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

Suriname has already hit malaria MDG

The country of Suriname in northern South America has already exceeded its 2015 Millennium Development Goal target for the reduction of malaria.

Leopoldo Villegas, consultant for the Global Fund Malaria Program in Suriname, presented a poster on the success at the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference in London last week (14 September).

Part of Millennium Development Goal six is to halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria.

Villegas said that rates of malaria in Suriname fell by 70 per cent between 2001 and 2006, and there have only been 700 cases of malaria this year – a 90 per cent reduction since 2001.

Suriname’s malaria decline is the result of an intensive campaign that began in 2005, Villegas said.

“We have the whole population of the interior of Suriname covered with insecticide-treated nets, we have passive case detection through the primary healthcare system and we have active case detection – so we don’t wait for patients to come to us, we look for them, we have mobile teams,” said Villegas.

These measures are complemented by insecticide spraying in high-risk areas, a comprehensive public awareness campaign and good detection systems for possible epidemics.

“When we had a lot of malaria our epidemic detection was at 70 or 200 cases. Now the epidemic starts when you have three cases reported,” he said.

“If three cases are coming from the same place we automatically activate a team who go there and have a mass screening of people to see who have parasites.”

Chris Curtis, professor of entomology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said Suriname’s progress was excellent, but warned the campaign must be maintained.

“They can’t afford to relax – the parasites and the mosquitoes are still there and if they do relax then there is the risk that eventually it will come back,” he told SciDev.Net.

He said the need for constant vigilance was demonstrated by the situation in neighbouring French Guyana.

“I think now French Guyana has the worst malaria rates in South America, which is a great shame because in the late 1940s they eradicated malaria in the inhabited north using DDT house spraying,” he said.

Villegas said Suriname’s malaria prevention measures have reduced the number of cases in French Guiana, and there are plans to replicate efforts in other South American countries.

“We’re now trying to put down all the data and start publishing to show that we can work in border areas between two governments, it doesn’t need to be one side,” he said.

Read this story on the Science and Development Network.

October 9, 2007 at 9:24 pm Leave a comment

Antimalarials ‘give children an edge’ at school

Preventative malaria treatment could improve schoolchildren’s performance in endemic areas, a study suggests.

The research was presented at the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine’s conference in London, United Kingdom, last week (14 September).

Benson Estambale, director of the Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, investigated whether giving preventative antimalarial drugs to primary schoolchildren improved their educational performance.

More than 6000 students from 30 schools in the Bondo district of West Kenya were administered antimalarial drugs three times in 2005–2006.

“[Preventative treatment] is very much recommended for pregnant women and has been tried in infants and young children, but nothing had been done in children over five years of age,” Estambale said.

“We found that quite a number of people wanted to have their children treated for malaria, because they said that malaria was causing a lot of absenteeism in school and the children were coming home when they had fever.”

Treatment cut the students’ risk of malaria parasite infection by more than a third, as well as reducing anaemia. Researchers found that treated children performed better in cognitive tests and also did slightly better in school exams.

Previous studies of malaria-infected regions indicate that up to 50 per cent of all preventable absenteeism in schools is due to malaria, and the research team found that a number of people wanted to have their children treated for malaria because of absenteeism, Estambale told delegates.

Estembale said the Kenyan Ministry of Education had expressed interest in the study and the researchers hope it could lead to the introduction of routine preventative therapy for schoolchildren, as the government has done with de-worming.

“De-worming has become official policy in the country and school health programs are now de-worming the children twice in a year to remove all the intestinal worms that could impact negatively on children’s performance in schools,” Estambale said.

Nick White, head of tropical medicine at Mahidol University in Thailand and a WHO advisor, said the results were exciting but future research should further examine the exact relationship between drug efficacy and educational performance, and whether the findings applied in other malaria-affected regions.

Nick White, head of tropical medicine at Mahidol University in Thailand and a WHO advisor, said the results were exciting but future research should further examine the exact relationship between drug efficacy and educational performance, and whether the findings applied in other malaria-affected regions.

Further studies are planned for Kenya and Senegal, but Estambale also hopes to hear from other potential partners.

“We would like to get partnerships even in Asia as well as South America, because children are children, and we know that in malaria-endemic areas, although quite a number of them are semi-immune, they continue having malaria impacting negatively on educational performance,” he said.

Read this story on the Science and Development Network.

October 5, 2007 at 1:09 pm Leave a comment

You decide what science is funded

If you could choose what kind of scientific research was funded, do you think you would choose the same as what’s funded now?

The Institute of Food Research investigated this question with a competition at Norwich arts venue the Garage, on the 13th of June. The public were invited to an event called ‘you decide what science is funded’, where four scientists pitched their research proposals to a broad audience, who voted on which should get £500,000 funding.

The four research proposals asked: how do chicken eggs get infected with salmonella; how does eating broccoli reduce the risk of cancer; could eating good bacteria reduce allergic reactions; and does eating burnt meat increase the risk of colon cancer?

PhD student Jeff Temblay easily won the competition with his proposal to investigate the impact of good bacteria on allergies.

“As an early stage researcher and someone who had never wrote a grant research proposal before, I didn’t think I’d have much of a chance,” Jeff said.

Despite his modesty going into the competition Jeff had good reason to be confident, because in fact his research had already been funded and the evening’s competition was a hoax, designed to investigate public engagement with science.

Dr Dee Rawsthorne, the Norwich BioScience Institutes’ Outreach Coordinator, was behind the event, which was a pilot study for further research into public understanding of how science is funded.

“It’s given me faith that the public really do understand – even if they don’t understand the technicalities of DNA repair and how cancers work, they do understand the basic ethics behind the way we do scientific research,” she said.

Ethical concerns were raised in response to the fake research presentation by Dr Liz Lund, who proposed a colon cancer research study that involved making healthy volunteers eat lots of burnt meat and little fish or fibre. The volunteers would then have colon biopsies taken for study.

Liz’s ‘red herring’ proposal was the only one that got no votes.

“I think I was relieved, it’s very nice that the audience recognised it was false,” she said.

Read this story on the i10 website.

July 15, 2007 at 9:53 pm Leave a comment

Biologists and engineers unite to make gut

Scientists and engineers in the East of England have worked with intellectual property experts to create the world’s first biochemically and physiologically accurate human gut model.

Dr Martin Wickham, the project’s lead scientist at the Institute of Food Research (IFR) in Norwich, worked with engineers from TWI in Cambridge to build the model.

Dr Wickham said the first six months of communicating with engineers was a challenge:

“We had to sit down and give them hours of biology lessons over several months, as we refined the model. I also had to learn a lot about engineering principles, like how stresses are applied to the gut. We’ve found middle ground and developed language that allows us to communicate about how the model gut works. The engineers now know more about the biology of the human gut than most biologists,” he said.

Dr Roger Wise, the lead engineer on the project, found it a rewarding experience.

“It was a very stimulating space that we explored together on the boundaries of biology and engineering. It took some time to acclimatise to the space but it was a very fertile and stimulating environment to work in,” he said.

After two years of cross-discipline collaboration the team have a sophisticated device that is already attracting the attention of major drug and food companies, as an accurate and non-invasive testing tool, with the potential to reduce human and animal trials.

Dr Wickham had the idea for the model gut twelve years ago whilst doing his PhD at the University of East Anglia studying the gut as a bioreactive model, and later developed the concepts further under funding at IFR from the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council).

Three years ago Dr Wickham took his idea to Plant Bioscience Limited (PBL), the commercialisation company at the Norwich Research Park. PBL filed patents on the invention and funded TWI to design and build the instrument.

PBL and Dr Wickham have started commercialising the model gut in a new space at the Norwich BioIncubator at the John Innes Centre. They’re developing the business with a select group of customers from different industries.

This article appeared in Innovation East magazine. Read this article on the i10 website or download the magazine.

January 27, 2007 at 11:46 am Leave a comment

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