The World Health Organization today declared 2019-nCoV a public health emergency of international concern. This is the sixth such designation since 2009; earlier emergencies included the swine flu in 2009, Ebola in 2014 and 2019, polio in 2014 and Zika in 2016.
A strain of an influenza virus now circulating in China remains a potential pandemic threat while many gaps remain in preparing for such an event, a group of global health experts at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) warned last month.
This holiday season, Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post turned away from politics to acknowledge some important recent health gains. Among them: declining poverty and violence, increasing reading among youth and life expectancy.
The country that requires its citizens to be vaccinated with the highest number of distinct antigens (Italy, 26) just happens to completely surround one of the countries that requires the fewest (San Marino, 5), a fact which is probably useless for anything other than demonstrating how nifty and flexible the World Health Organization’s vaccine database is.
Their interface isn’t ideal, but you can get all the data in spreadsheet form as well, and from there it’s easy to import into your favorite database software. In addition to antigen and country, the database also includes information on the recommended vaccine schedule and, when applicable, the parts of the country where each vaccine is required.
It’s an interesting way to put the American vaccine debate, and global public health efforts, in context. The numbers are a little misleading — some antigens seem very similar, or used only in small areas — but the broad strokes are still enlightening. The Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine, for the record, is a reasonably effective tuberculosis vaccine.
(Hat tip to Madison Park at CNN’s health blog)
ProPublica’s Emily Witt has attempted to figure out how the live-donor organ trafficking scheme exposed in the recent massive New Jersey corruption bust could operate under the radar for more than a decade.
The secret, Witt finds, is a system that obscured lax enforcement and doctor-patient confidentiality and papered over with a thin facade of manufactured emotional connection between donor and recipient. Witt also looks at just how prevalent organ trafficking is in the United States and consults with an expert who says she notified feds about the New Jersey racket years before it was finally exposed as part of the larger corruption probe.
Almost half of the folks killed in traffic accidents annually are cyclists, pedestrians or motorcyclists, according to the World Health Organization’s first status report on global road safety.
Photo by kbrookes via Flickr
The report also includes breakdowns of laws and statistics by country, including information on drinking and driving laws, helmet requirements and child-safety regulations.
Individual country profiles begin on page 60 of the PDF and are alphabetical. Stats for the United States are on page 228 and stats for the United Kingdom are on page 226.
According to the U.S. profile, 51 percent of deaths are drivers of “4-wheelers.” Pedestrians make up 11 percent of fatalities and cyclists make up 2 percent. And 32 percent of road traffic deaths involve alcohol.