Health & healthcare December 2023-

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European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
World Health Organization (WHO)
Global Health and Healthcare Strategic Outlook:
Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare

Stephen Colbert: Beware The Elderly Antifa!
They’re old, and they’re coming for us all

8 July
A treatment for anorexia nervosa?
McGill-led research team may have discovered neurological mechanism underlying common eating disorder
A McGill University-led research team working in collaboration with a French team (CNRS, INSERM and Sorbonne university) believes it has identified both the neurological mechanism underlying anorexia nervosa as well as a possible cure.
The international team’s findings, published this week in Nature Communications, have the potential to improve the lives of millions of people around the world, mostly women, who suffer from the common eating disorder, which has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disease.
Working with mice, the researchers discovered that a deficit in the acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter in an area of the brain called the striatum, which is associated with the reward system, can lead to excessive habit formation and precipitate the compulsive self-starvation seen in people who suffer from anorexia nervosa.

17 June
Surgeon General Calls for Warning Labels on Social Media Platforms
Dr. Vivek Murthy said he would urge Congress to require a warning that social media use can harm teenagers’ mental health.
(NYT) The U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, announced on Monday that he would push for a warning label on social media platforms advising parents that using the platforms might damage adolescents’ mental health.
Warning labels — like those that appear on tobacco and alcohol products — are one of the most powerful tools available to the nation’s top health official, but Dr. Murthy cannot unilaterally require them; the action requires approval by Congress.
The proposal builds on several years of escalating warnings from the surgeon general. In a May 2023 advisory, he recommended that parents immediately set limits on phone use, and urged Congress to swiftly develop health and safety standards for technology platforms.
He also called on tech companies to make changes: to share internal data on the health impact of their products; to allow independent safety audits; and restrict features like push notifications, autoplay and infinite scroll, which he says “prey on developing brains and contribute to excessive use.”
Surgeon General: Why I’m Calling for a Warning Label on Social Media Platforms
The mental health crisis among young people is an emergency — and social media has emerged as an important contributor. Adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on social media face double the risk of anxiety and depression symptoms, and the average daily use in this age group, as of the summer of 2023, was 4.8 hours. Additionally, nearly half of adolescents say social media makes them feel worse about their bodies.

7 May
An observational study has found that regular olive oil consumption may have cognitive health benefits.
Is olive oil really a health boon? Or is it just a sign of healthy eating habits?
A study published in JAMA Network Open on Monday rekindles that debate. The observational study led by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health examined two groups of U.S. health professionals and found daily olive oil consumption is associated with a lower risk of dying from dementia.
The study found that consuming at least a half tablespoon of olive oil every day was associated with a 28 percent lower risk of dying from dementia, as compared with those who never or rarely consumed olive oil.
Participants who reported more olive oil consumption had a lower risk of dying from dementia, regardless of the quality of their diet or their adherence to the Mediterranean diet, which consists of plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and moderate amounts of fish and poultry.

2 April
Immigration to address the caregiving shortfall
By the time the last baby boomers turn 65 in 2030, the Census Bureau projects that 73 million older Americans will make up over one-fifth of the U.S. population.
The caregiver shortfall, and associated increase in price, means that the caregiving burden often falls on family members, particularly female relatives.
The positive impacts of immigration on the availability and quality of long-term care are well-documented, particularly as they pertain to nursing homes.
(Brookings) In the upcoming years, a confluence of factors will produce an unprecedented shortfall in the necessary supply of caregivers. If left unchecked, this shortfall will result in a series of harmful economic outcomes—including sharply raised caregiving costs, outsized burdens on informal caregivers, and subpar quality of care. Since demand for care is largely out of policymakers’ control, the most promising way to address these challenges is by expanding the supply of caregivers. And one of the best strategies for expanding the supply of caregivers is through expanded pathways for legal immigrants.

12 March
Virginia bill would give alternate licensing path to foreign doctors
Valerie Plesch
(The World) Across the United States, communities are facing physician shortages, especially in rural and medically underserved areas. In Virginia, a new bill seeks to address these shortages. If passed, it would create a pathway for foreign-trained doctors to continue with their careers, while contributing to the medical workforce in those communities. Valerie Plesch reports from Maryland and Virginia on the foreign doctors interested in using their medical expertise here, and the places that need them.

14 January
Neurosurgeon works to slow Alzheimer’s progression, treat addiction with cutting-edge technology
(60 Minutes) Dr. Ali Rezai allowed us to witness his revolutionary attempt to use ultrasound to slow down the cognitive decline in three patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s never been done before.
Dr. Ali Rezai: There’s no miracle cures here. It’s advancing medicine with calculated risks and pushing the frontiers.
Dr. Rezai and his team are focused on these red patches in the patient’s brain scans. The red indicates the densest beta-amyloid protein. That gummy protein is believed to play a major role in Alzheimer’s by disrupting communication between brain cells.
Dr. Ali Rezai: In people with Alzheimer’s it accumulates much faster. And over time, these protein aggregates, we call them plaques. Like plaques in the arteries, they keep on accumulating and impacting function.
Dr. Ali Rezai: Typically, you go into the clinic, and you get an IV, and you have the antibody infusion over one to two hours. And you have to do it once a month or twice a month for 18 months and longer. And during those 12 to 18 months, the brain is continuing to progress. Alzheimer’s is not going away.
It takes so long because the drugs have a hard time getting through something called the blood brain barrier. This tight filter of cells line the blood vessels to keep toxins from leaking into the brain…but it also prevents almost all of the medication from getting in too.
Dr. Rezai thought he could solve that problem with ultrasound – the same technology that’s been used for 70 years to give doctors a view of organs and fetal development.
He chose ultrasound because it easily penetrates the skull and can be focused — like sunlight through a magnifying glass – to help open the blood brain barrier and allow the drugs to rush in.
Dr. Ali Rezai: This way we’re getting the payload– the therapeutic payload exactly to the area it needs to go with a high penetration.…

11 January
I Have Covid. Should I Take Paxlovid?
We asked experts about who should take the antiviral medication, how well it works and where to get it for free.
(NYT) As hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19 rise, fueled by a fast-moving new variant that now accounts for a majority of U.S. cases, Paxlovid can help protect patients from some of the worst outcomes of the illness.
But few people end up taking the antiviral medication. Some may not realize they qualify for the drug, or are wary of having a rebound case of Covid.
But there is clear evidence that Paxlovid can prevent severe illness in people at high risk, and it’s still possible to get the drug for free or at a low cost. Here’s what to know.

2023

14 December
A cry for help: Early detection of brain injury in newborns
(via FaceBook post) Since the 1960s, neonatal clinicians have known that newborns suffering from certain neurological conditions exhibit altered crying patterns such as the high-pitched cry in birth asphyxia. Despite an annual burden of over 1.5 million infant deaths and disabilities, early detection of neonatal brain injuries due to asphyxia remains a challenge, particularly in developing countries where the majority of births are not attended by a trained physician. Here we report on the first inter-continental clinical study to demonstrate that neonatal brain injury can be reliably determined from recorded infant cries using an AI algorithm we call Roseline. Previous and recent work has been limited by the lack of a large, high-quality clinical database of cry recordings.
Charles C. Onu: Did you know that using a simple recording of a baby’s cry, you can learn about their health?
We worked closely with AI pioneers Yoshua Bengio and Doina Precup to validate this in clinical settings. Our AI was accurate in detecting neonatal brain injury from cry sounds by a striking 92.5%!
This is the first clinical study to demonstrate the utility of the infant cry as a vital sign, in collaboration with leading neonatologists across 3 continents. This work opens the door for non-invasive and contact-free monitoring in newborns.

3 December
COP28: The climate crisis is also a health crisis
(UN news) Health has made it onto the agenda of a UN climate conference, and health advocates at COP28 in Dubai on Sunday said the topic was long overdue for discussion as climate inaction is costing lives and impacting health every single day.
Our planet has logged higher mean temperatures each year, with 2023 set to be the hottest on record. Ice sheets are melting at an unprecedented rate. Wildfires have made the air hazardous in some regions, while in others, floods regularly threaten to contaminate drinking water.
Against this backdrop, more and more people are being affected by disasters, climate-sensitive diseases and other health conditions.
WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told delegates at COP28 that it was long overdue for talks around environmental health, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers to include the direct impacts of such climate shocks on human health.
This first-ever dedicated ‘Health Day’ at a COP is highlighting several key events, including on public-private partnerships for healthcare climate action and on unlocking relevant financial and political commitments.

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