Link above to the Lancet…
Injection centre row Last week, the Government of British Columbia, Canada, faced the Canadian Federal Government in the Supreme Court over the fate of a medically supervised drug injection centre in Vancouver. At issue is whether the centre is exempt from federal drug laws by operating as a facility providing essential health services. The judges’ ruling is pending.
Mental health master plan India’s Ministry of Health has set up a policy group to formulate a national mental health strategy. Its remit includes analysis of the mental health-care needs of the country, preparation of an evidence-based policy, identification of priority areas for action, and consultation with stakeholders.
Disaster risk assessment The UN has released its second Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction. The report emphasises the importance of disaster risk reduction and provides information to governments and non-governmental organisations on potential approaches to reduce disaster risks. Drought risk is particularly poorly understood, according to the report, and data must be urgently improved.
Drug approvals to rise Janet Woodcock, head of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has predicted an increase in new drug approvals for 2011. 12 have been approved so far, compared with 21 in 2010—well below the 1996 peak of 53. The difficulty of recruiting experts without conflicts of interest to drug advisory panels was “a concern”, she said.
More doctors for Niger Niger will more than double its number of doctors this year, according to a government announcement. After an 8-year hiring moratorium, the government will employ an additional 450 locally trained, unemployed doctors. Although WHO recommends one doctor per 600 inhabitants, the country currently has a doctor–patient ratio of one per 41 000.
UK dengue rates double The UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) has reported a rise in imported dengue cases from 166 in 2009 to 406 in 2010; 21% of cases were associated with travel to India and 15% with travel to Thailand. An HPA spokeswoman advised travellers to cover up and use insect repellents around the clock when visiting endemic areas.
Chinese drug safety China’s drug watchdog, the State Food and Drug Administration, will launch a nationwide enquiry into the safety of widely-used essential drugs. The 2-month examination comes after headline drug safety incidents and a Chinese Government report which announced that 109 991 adverse drug reactions occurred in 2010, an increase of 16·2% from 2009.
Australian psychiatric care Critics in Australia are worried that a government plan to create 12 early psychosis prevention centres could lead to some adolescents being prescribed antipsychotic drugs unnecessarily. The focus on teenagers and young adults will divert funds away from true early-intervention initiatives to protect the mental health of mothers and young children, they state.
Lessons for HIV Amid growing evidence that early treatment reduces HIV spread, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has released a report examining HIV treatment in 16 high-burden countries. MSF concludes that, although progress has been made, many life-saving HIV/AIDS strategies have not been implemented. Sustained political and financial commitment is imperative, MSF urges.
Escherichia coli in Japan Japan’s health ministry has promised to impose new, enforceable standards on food handling after four patrons of a yakiniku restaurant chain died from Escherichia coli infection. The chain’s president admitted that it had been “careless regarding food safety”. Current government food handling guidelines are non-binding.
Onwards and upwards Indian paediatrician and human rights activist Binayak Sen has been appointed to a government steering committee on health, just weeks after being released from prison on charges of sedition. The committee is part of the Planning Commission and will help to determine health policy and spending priorities for the next 5 years.
Networks in Health Doctors.net.uk has launched an international alliance of online physicians consisting of more than 600 000 members across several other doctors’ networks in Europe. Networks in Health seeks to enable learning and collaboration between professionals, but will also offer “a single access point to an international physician audience” for those in the pharmaceutical, food, and private health-care sectors.