Military Communities Can BE FIT in the New Year with Tips, Resources from Exchange Online Hub
4 January- The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is making sure military communities have health and fitness resources at their fingertips all year with the online BE FIT 360 Hub. The Exchange’s BE FIT 360 program focuses on holistic wellness, and the BE FIT 360 Hub offers all the tools for a healthy lifestyle in one place, including workout videos; fitness tips; healthy eating guidance; links to active wear and gear; wellness information; and more. “The BE FIT Hub is a bulked-up all-in-one resource for making healthier choices,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Osby, the Exchange’s senior enlisted advisor. “With the Hub, the Exchange can be a partner in helping keep those New Year’s resolutions all year long.” The BE FIT 360 Hub, which is updated often with new workouts, nutrition and wellness content, can be found at ShopMyExchange.com/BeFit. Since 1895, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (Exchange) has gone where Soldiers, Airmen, Guardians and their families go to improve the quality of their lives by providing valued goods and services at exclusive military pricing. The Exchange is the 54th-largest retailer in the United States. 100% of Exchange earnings support military communities. In the last 10 years, your Exchange benefit has provided $3.5 billion in earnings for critical military Quality-of-Life programs. The Exchange is a non-appropriated fund entity of the Department of Defense and is directed by a Board of Directors. The Exchange is a 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemorative Partner, planning and conducting events and activities that recognize the service, valor and sacrifice of Vietnam Veterans and their families in conjunction with the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. To find out more about the Exchange history and mission or to view recent press releases please visit our website at http://www.shopmyexchange.com or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ExchangePAO. DVIDS
959th Medical Group Airmen at BAMC receive distinguished awards
10 January- The New Year’s revelry may be over; however, with a host of local and national awards, the 959th Medical Group still has cause to celebrate. Several 959th Airmen assigned to Brooke Army Medical Center were recognized recently for their selfless service, professionalism, and clinical expertise, both at home and overseas. “These awards are just another reminder of how lucky I am to be in the presence of such an amazing team, let alone be given the chance to lead,” said Col. John Davis, commander, 959th MDG and BAMC’s deputy commander for health readiness. “What an awesome way to kick off the new year,” said Brig. Gen. Deydre Teyhen, BAMC commanding general. “We could not accomplish our healthcare and readiness missions without the tremendous contributions of our Air Force teammates. We are lucky to have an amazing and integrated team of Air Force and Army professionals caring for our community in Military City USA!” Of note, Maj. Dominick Vitale, trauma/critical care surgeon, 959th Surgical Operations Squadron, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his contributions during Operation Allies Refuge during a ceremony last month at Travis Air Force Base, California. Vitale was among 27 Airmen from two Travis-led missions who received the award for their acts of heroism and extraordinary achievements while participating in aerial flight. He served as part of MOOSE 98’s Critical Care Air Transport Team, which is the first CCATT to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross. For Vitale’s mission, the crew conducted a critical care aeromedical evacuation mission from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 26, 2021, in response to a suicide bombing near the airfield. The team delivered all patients to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, alive. “Major Vitale is a true team player who aided in a critical mission,” Davis said. “We are honored and proud to have him on the team.” Additionally, Maj. Jonathan Henderson, emergency medicine physician, 959th Emergency Medicine Squadron, was named a 2022 Hero of Military Medicine by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. This award honors military professionals who demonstrate excellence in medical research or clinical care. In other news, Col. Renee Matos, chief, Department of Pediatrics, received the 2022 MHS Award for Advancement of Women Physicians in Military Medicine, senior category. This competitive award recognizes contributions to military medicine and work mentoring others, particularly with inspiring young women working in the fields of medicine and science. As noted in the nomination packet, Matos “is a superb physician leader, educator and champion of women in medicine.” DVIDS
If It Is Worth Dying for, It Is Worth Living for
17 January- I once met a soldier from Texas named Dan. He did well in college and was commissioned by the U.S. Army through the ROTC program in the spring of 2001. The next January, he said goodbye to his loved ones and headed to Afghanistan for a 12-month deployment. His unit had many close calls but were fortunate not to have many casualties. Six years later, Dan was a company commander and was tasked to deploy for another tour, this time for nine months. He recalled a same sense of angst he felt on the first deployment. “Maybe it will be like that one,” Dan thought. “Maybe nothing too bad will happen this time either.” That was not the case. On his first day, Dan and his company were hit by improvised explosive device blasts and small-arms fire. Two soldiers died. The next two days grew consecutively worse. He and his unit were involved in a great many firefights on that tour–nearly one a day. Dan was one of the few fortunate soldiers who avoided physical injuries during that tour; but by the end, he was impacted by the conflict and number of subsequent condolence letters he sent to the families of soldiers. When Dan got home, he was not the same. Though physically present, his mind was thousands of miles away. Even with closed eyes, he could still see blood and flashes from rocket attacks. The chaotic sounds of war played loudly in his nightmares. Dan had post-traumatic stress. He experienced survivor’s guilt. Dan became depressed and anxious. He began to shut out from the world—spending less time with his loved ones and drinking more to cope. It was worse when he left the U.S. Army. His whole identity was wrapped up, not just in military service, but in the moral and mental wounds he endured. I asked him why he did it, “Why join the Army? Why go back to Afghanistan for a second deployment? He did not have to do it, right?” His answer struck me. “I wanted to go,” Dan said. “I had something worth fighting for and worth dying for.” He believed in the mission. He appreciated the ideals of an American life. He wanted others in the world to prosper. For him, this was worth dying for. Health.mil
Military Pharmacists Face Unique Challenges While Deployed
12 January- Tasked with having to know about hundreds of types of drugs and their interactions, equipment, and much more, pharmacists are vital in keeping warfighters healthy and ensuring that the U.S. military maintains a medically ready force. For deployed pharmacists, they face unique challenges, as they don’t work in a traditional brick and mortar setting. Rather, deployed pharmacists can be on a ship in the middle of the ocean, or in a makeshift building in the Middle East or Africa. The deployed pharmacy workforce may have to take care of warfighters in abnormal situations or locations. A deployed pharmacist is, “a pharmacist forward, in a hostile environment, supporting a broad range of contingency operations in support of our nation’s objectives,” said U.S. Army Maj. Lance R. Murphy, chief of ambulatory care pharmacy services at Tripler Army Medical CenterOpens Tripler.TRICARE.mil, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Typically, it’s the pharmacist’s job to screen, package, and distribute medication to patients, ensuring they are prescribed the correct dosage to treat their ailment. Yet while on deployment, it can be much more than that. “A deployed pharmacist is the primary drug/medication expert for the management, storage, and acquisition of pharmaceuticals. Many times, you are the only pharmacist within your area of operation and will expected to be always available,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Norman Tuala, deputy chief of the department of pharmacy at Tripler Army Medical Center. Tuala went on to explain that there are four positions for a deployed pharmacist: field hospital pharmacist, division pharmacist, medical logistics pharmacist, and theater pharmacy consultant. He said, “You need to be proficient as an outpatient and inpatient pharmacist; however, you’ll need to be more familiar with logistics such as different ordering platforms, forward logistic elements.” Health.mil
Antidepressants exit must happen in stages, says medical watchdog
16 January- Reducing an antidepressant dose should be done in stages, with help from a medical professional, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). It says this helps manage withdrawal symptoms that can occur from the drugs. NICE has published new information that sets out how mental health care can be improved in England and Wales. A committee of experts says community care services should work with patients to agree a treatment plan. This includes assessing whether it is right for them to come off their medication and over what time period withdrawal should take place. Another suggestion is that extra attention should be paid to adults from minority ethnic backgrounds who have depression. It comes after NHS Digital data from 2021 showed that 57% of people from mixed, Black, Black British, Asian or Asian British family backgrounds completed a course of treatment for depression compared with 64% of people from a white family background. The suggestion is that mental health services should be delivered in a way that is culturally appropriate and that language barriers are also removed. BBC News
Can the AIDS Epidemic End Without HIV Vaccines
15 January- As the new year began a few weeks ago, various scientists are focused on developing Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) vaccines. And vaccine development has accelerated in 2023 with candidates utilizing innovative technologies such as mRNA. Vaccines work by inducing the immune system to make antibodies that can neutralize a particular pathogen. But doing so for HIV has been challenging because there are countless variants worldwide, wrote the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) on December 13, 2022. This challenge is why mRNA vaccines may become the solution. Encouraging news was announced in 2022 when Moderna Inc., a global leader in mRNA vaccines, confirmed it was participating in the NIH's HVTN 302 study that examines the safety and immune responses of BG505 MD39.3 mRNA, BG505 MD39.3 gp151 mRNA, and BG505 MD39.3 gp151 CD4KO vaccines. Each of Moderna's vaccine candidates are designed to present the spike protein found on the surface of HIV that facilitates entry into human cells and encodes for different but highly related stabilized proteins. While this early-stage, Phase 1 clinical trial was updated on October 3, 2022, it could be years from achieving U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. As of January 15, 2023, the FDA had not approved any HIV prevention vaccine for use by people. Unfortunately, the AIDS epidemic continues to impact people everywhere, specifically in Africa. About 38 million people worldwide are living with HIV, and about 70% of them live in Africa. However, over 28 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy in 2022, a significant increase from 7.8 million in 2010. And in 2023, these people have expanded treatment options. Gilead Sciences, Inc. announced on December 22, 2022, that the FDA approved Sunlenca® for treating HIV-1 infections in heavily treatment-experienced adults with multi-drug resistant HIV-1 infection. Precision Vaccinations
Honey as an alternative to sugar? New study indicates the health benefits
7 January- Consuming raw honey from a single floral source may improve blood sugar control and lower cholesterol levels when taken within the context of a healthy diet, according to a recent study published in Nutrition Reviews. "These results are surprising because honey is about 80% sugar," said Tauseef Khan, a senior researcher on the study and a research associate in nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine, in a press release. "We’re not saying you should start having honey if you currently avoid sugar," added Khan. "The takeaway is more about replacement," he said. "If you’re using table sugar, syrup or another sweetener, switching those sugars for honey might lower cardio-metabolic risks," he said in the same release. "Honey is a complex composition of sugars (common and rare), organic acids, enzymes, proteins, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and bioactive substances made by honeybees from the nectar of flowers," the study’s authors noted. Fox News
J&J to discontinue HIV vaccine trial
18 January- Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) said on Wednesday the company and its partners will discontinue the late-stage trial of an HIV vaccine after it was found ineffective at preventing infections. The global trial, which began in 2019, was conducted at over 50 sites. While no safety issues were identified with the vaccine regimen, the trial's failure marks yet another setback in the search for an HIV vaccine. Another HIV vaccine by J&J also failed a mid-stage study in a population of young women in sub-Saharan Africa in 2021. Reuters
Long Covid can be debilitating, even for healthy kids
15 January- Jessica Rosario loved watching her 15-year-old, Eliana, play flute with the rest of the marching band during Open Door Christian School football games. But after the homecoming game in 2021, she got an alarming call from the Ohio school’s band director. Rosario’s daughter was on the floor of the band room, clutching her chest. “We ran up to the school, went into the band room, and I found her laying on the floor with her legs elevated on a chair, and I’m looking at her, and she’s not really moving,” Rosario said. The freshman couldn’t speak or stand. When paramedics transported her to the ambulance, she was dead weight, her mom says. Eliana’s condition turned out to be an extreme form of long Covid. She’s one of potentially millions of US children who have symptoms long after their initial infection. Children – even healthy teens and the very young – can have long Covid, several studies have found, and it can follow an infection that’s severe or mild. When Eliana collapsed, EMTs rushed her to University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center. “We had a room full of doctors. They were there ready to go, which I totally believe that God was in control of everything at this point,” Rosario said. Eliana’s blood tests, toxicology screens, chest X-ray and CT scan all looked OK, but she still had this strange paralysis. The hospital transferred her to UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s and hoped that the experts there could solve the mystery. “I was praying all this time for God to do a miracle and guide these doctors and nurses to shine some light on whatever it was that was causing this,” Rosario said. CNN
More men diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer as PSA screening declines
12 January- More men are being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer that is less likely to respond to treatments, a new study from the American Cancer Society suggests. Prostate cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the U.S., rose by 3% yearly from 2014 to 2019 after two decades of decline, with the increase mostly driven by diagnoses of advanced disease, researchers reported Thursday in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The increases are “worrisome,” said the study’s lead author, Rebecca Siegel, senior scientific director of surveillance research at the American Cancer Society. That’s because prostate cancer that has spread to distant sites beyond the organ is “extremely difficult to treat,” Siegel said. “There is no durable cure for those with metastatic disease,” she added. The rise in cases of deadly prostate cancer may be partly linked to recommendations against prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, screening for healthy men, experts suggest. In the new report, Siegel and her colleagues found that the diagnosis of advanced stage prostate cancer increased by 4% to 5% annually since 2011. “In 2019, 8% were diagnosed at a distant stage, as compared to 4% in 2011, and 14% were diagnosed at a regional stage, versus 11% in 2011, for a total of 22% advanced stage,” Siegel told NBC News. Once prostate cancer has spread far from the original tumor, the prognosis is grim. The five-year survival rate for these cancers is 32%, according to Siegel. NBC News
What seniors need to know about taking Paxlovid
17 January- A new coronavirus variant is circulating, the most transmissible one yet. Hospitalizations of infected patients are rising. And older adults represent nearly 90% of US deaths from Covid-19 in recent months, the largest portion since the start of the pandemic. What does that mean for people 65 and older catching Covid for the first time or those experiencing a repeat infection? The message from infectious disease experts and geriatricians is clear: seek treatment with antiviral therapy, which remains effective against new Covid variants. The therapy of first choice, experts said, is Paxlovid, an antiviral treatment for people with mild to moderate Covid at high risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus. All adults 65 and up fall in that category. If people can’t tolerate the medication — potential complications with other drugs need to be carefully evaluated by a medical provider — two alternatives are available. “There’s lots of evidence that Paxlovid can reduce the risk of catastrophic events that can follow infection with Covid in older individuals,” said Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a professor of medicine at Yale University. Meanwhile, develop a plan for what you’ll do if you get Covid. Where will you seek care? What if you can’t get in quickly to see your doctor, a common problem? You need to act fast since Paxlovid must be started no later than five days after the onset of symptoms. Will you need to adjust your medication regimen to guard against potentially dangerous drug interactions? “The time to be figuring all this out is before you get Covid,” said Dr. Allison Weinmann, an infectious-disease expert at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Being prepared proved essential when I caught Covid in mid-December and went to urgent care for a prescription. Because I’m 67, with blood cancer and autoimmune illness, I’m at elevated risk of getting severely ill from the virus. But I take a blood thinner that can have life-threatening interactions with Paxlovid. Fortunately, the urgent care center could see my electronic medical record, and a physician’s note there said it was safe for me to stop the blood thinner and get the treatment. (I’d consulted with my oncologist in advance.) So, I walked away with a Paxlovid prescription, and within a day my headaches and chills had disappeared. CNN
CDC:Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report
Key Updates for Week 1, ending January 7, 2023:
- Seasonal influenza activity continues but is declining in most areas.
- Of influenza A viruses detected and subtyped during week 1, 72% were influenza A(H3N2) and 28% were influenza A(H1N1).
- Five influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported this week, for a total of 79 pediatric flu deaths reported so far this season.
- CDC estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 24 million illnesses, 260,000 hospitalizations, and 16,000 deaths from flu.
- The cumulative hospitalization rate in the FluSurv-NET system was 1.8 times higher than the highest cumulative in-season hospitalization rate observed for week 1 during previous seasons going back to 2010-2011. However, this in-season rate is still lower than end-of-season hospitalization rates for all but 4 pre-COVID-19-pandemic seasons going back to 2010-2011.
- The number of flu hospital admissions reported in the HHS Protect system decreased compared to week 52.
- The majority of influenza viruses tested are in the same genetic subclade as and antigenically similar to the influenza viruses included in this season’s influenza vaccine.
- All viruses collected and evaluated this season have been susceptible to the influenza antivirals oseltamivir, peramivir, zanamivir, and baloxavir.
- An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against flu. Vaccination helps prevent infection and can also prevent serious outcomes in people who get vaccinated but still get sick with flu.
- CDC continues to recommend that everyone ages 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine as long as flu activity continues.
- CDC issued Interim Guidance for Clinicians to Prioritize Antiviral Treatment of Influenza in the Setting of Reduced Availability of Oseltamivir through the Health Alert Network (HAN) on December 15, 2022. CDC
Error causes recalled frozen berries to be put back on sale
18 January- Some frozen berries that were recalled months ago due to hepatitis A have been mistakenly put back on sale in New Zealand. Pams brand frozen mixed berries in 500-gram packages were released from Foodstuffs South Island Hornby distribution center in error and sent to four stores. Mixed berries from Serbia have been linked to an outbreak that has affected 35 people since June 2022. Seven cases with the outbreak sequence profile reported not consuming berries. At least 14 people have been hospitalized. In total, 478 packs that have a best-before date of Aug. 14, 2024, were accidentally distributed following the recall in October 2022. The mistake was detected before most bags could be purchased. However, six have been sold and another four are unaccounted for. Three purchasers have been identified and contacted using available customer data. “We are urging consumers who bought frozen berries from New World Ashburton, Three Parks New World in Wanaka, Pak‘nSave Hornby, and Pak‘nSave Wainoni in Christchurch to check their freezers for the recalled product,” said Vincent Arbuckle, New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS) deputy director-general. “New Zealand Food Safety is disappointed to be informed of this error given the Hepatitis A outbreak was under control. We will investigate this error and ensure Foodstuffs South Island put in place appropriate measures to prevent a reoccurrence.” Foodstuffs South Island said the affected batch was only available to buy on January 14 from four stores. It was being stored at the distribution center until a decision was made to either return the shipment or destroy it. “As soon as we became aware of the error … the Foodstuffs South Island stores who received the product were contacted and all product on-shelf, or in storage at the store has been removed, isolated and destroyed,” said a company statement. “Any customers who shopped at these stores and purchased Pams Mixed Berries 500-gram on January 14 with a best-before date of Aug. 14, 2024, should either, return the product to the store for a full refund, or follow New Zealand Food Safety’s current advice for the consumption of all imported frozen berries in New Zealand, which is to briefly boil all frozen berries.” Food Safety News
FDA says Utopia Foods enoki mushrooms traced to outbreak of Listeria infections
17 January- Federal officials have confirmed that enoki mushrooms sold under the Utopia Foods Inc. brand name are behind an outbreak of infections caused by Listeria monocytogenes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have been investigating the outbreak for several months. As of the CDC’s last posting, two people from Michigan and Nevada have been infected. Both had to be admitted to hospitals. Both patients reported eating enoki mushrooms before becoming sick. It is difficult to trace Listeria infections to implicated foods because it can take up to 70 days for symptoms of infection to occur. There have been numerous recalls of imported enoki mushrooms sold under a variety of brand names in the past year because of Listeria contamination, but this is the first time a specific brand has been linked to illnesses. Listeriosis is a serious disease that develops from the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes and often results in death. Utopia Foods Inc. of Glendale, NY, initiated a recall of some of its enoki mushrooms in late November and expanded that recall on Dec. 13. The recalled fresh imported mushrooms may still be in the possession of consumers because of their long shelf life. The initially recalled mushrooms had dates of “Best before 03/02/2023” or “Best before 03.09.23” The fresh mushrooms were distributed between Jan. 6, 2023, and Jan. 13, 2023, in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to wholesale companies for further distribution. The mushrooms subject to the expanded recall were also imported from China and shipped nationwide. Food Safety News
4 healthy diets that could extend your life: study
11 January- You can reduce the risk of an early death by nearly 20%, just by eating more foods from four healthy eating patterns, according to researchers who analyzed decades of data collected on more than 119,000 adults. The study, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that people who ate the "highest-quality diets" had 20% lower risk of dying early from cancer, cardiovascular illness, and respiratory and neurodegenerative diseases during the study. Notably, the researchers found the link between the healthy eaters and lower risk of death held up across different racial and ethnic groups, including Hispanic, non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic White individuals.The "highest-quality diets" included the four dietary pattern indexes (Healthy Eating Index 2015, Alternate Mediterranean Diet, Healthful Plant-based Diet Index, and Alternate Healthy Eating Index). All share key components including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, although other components differ across different eating patterns. "Our findings support the recommendations of DGAs [Dietary Guidelines for Americans] for multiple healthy eating patterns for all US individuals with diverse cultural and personal food traditions and preferences," concluded corresponding author Frank B. Hu, M.D., of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. Fox News
Uganda declares end to Ebola outbreak
11 January- After less than 4 months, Uganda today announced the end of its Ebola outbreak, which marked the country's first involving the less common Sudan strain in more than a decade. The outbreak—announced on Sep 20, 2022—was centered around Mubende district in the central part of the country, with a few illnesses reported in Kampala, the country's capital and largest city, sparking fears that the virus would spread more quickly in the city of 1.7 million people. The first confirmed case involved a 24-year-old man from Mubende district, which came with reports of six suspicion deaths in the area. The outbreak total reached 164 cases, 142 of them confirmed and 22 listed as probable. Fifty-five people died from their infections, putting the case-fatality rate among confirmed infections at 39%, according to the World Health Organization. Early in the outbreak, health officials had feared a more widespread event, amid suspicions that the virus may have been spreading for 3 weeks before the first cases were detected. Also, the epicenter was located in a busy transit region not far from gold mining areas. Uganda, however, is known for its Ebola control efforts and its quick response when two imported cases were reported in 2019 that were linked to a large Ebola Zaire outbreak in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. Also, Uganda had battled five earlier outbreaks. The last patient in the current outbreak was released from medical care on Nov 30, starting the 42-day countdown, which covers two incubation periods. In a WHO statement, Uganda Health Minister Ruth Aceng Ocero, MD, said the country brought a swift end to the outbreak by ramping up control measures across nine districts. But she said community involvement played a crucial role. "The magic bullet has been our communities, who understood the importance of doing what was needed to end the outbreak and took action," she said. CIDRAP
Sudan Ebolavirus Screening Ends at Airports
16 January- The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced it joined the Republic of Uganda in marking the end of the fifth Sudan Ebolavirus outbreak in Uganda. The last Sudan Ebola outbreak in Uganda was in 2012. In addition, entry screening and public health monitoring of travelers to the U.S. who have been in Uganda in the last 21 days ended on January 11, 2023. “I commend the Government of Uganda, local health workers, and global public health partners who worked to end the country’s Ebola outbreak,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., in a media statement. The CDC confirmed it would continue supporting the Ugandan Ministry of Health in continuing surveillance, infection prevention and control, and response activities to help ensure rapid detection and response to future cases and outbreaks. Since this outbreak declaration in September 2022, there were 164 cases with a case-fatality ratio was 47%. Furthermore, three vaccine candidates launched human clinical trials for this type of Ebola in December 2022. Precision Vaccinations
France's health system under pressure of increasing demands
10 January- The UK's health system is buckling under the weight of staff shortages and a lack of beds. In France, meanwhile, there are more doctors and many more nurses, yet its healthcare system is still in crisis. President Emmanuel Macron has promised to change the way its hospitals are funded, and to free doctors from time-consuming administration, in a bid to break what he called a "sense of endless crisis" in its health service. A series of eye-catching measures over the past few years - such as signing-up bonuses of €50,000 (£44,000) for GPs in under-served areas, and ending a cap on the number of medical students in France - have failed to plug healthcare gaps. The pressure on both hospitals and GPs has continued to mount with a triple-whammy of winter illnesses, leading medical staff to nickname this month "Black January". After years of Covid, and with inflation biting, many say chronic staff shortages and increasing demands are making their work impossible and threatening the French health system. Some hospitals are reporting up to 90% of their staff on "sick leave protest" at the conditions. And France's second-largest health union has called an "unlimited walkout" this week, following a fortnight of strikes by French GPs. Julia Venturini, eight years into her medical degree, joined a rally of GPs in Paris last week. BBC News
In China, doctors say they are discouraged from citing COVID on death certificates
17 January- During a busy shift at the height of Beijing's COVID wave, a physician at a private hospital saw a printed notice in the emergency department: doctors should “try not to” write COVID-induced respiratory failure on death certificates. Instead, if the deceased had an underlying disease, that should be named as the main cause of death, according to the notice, a copy of which was seen by Reuters. If doctors believe that the death was caused solely by COVID-19 pneumonia, they must report to their superiors, who will arrange for two levels of "expert consultations" before a COVID death is confirmed, it said. Six doctors at public hospitals across China told Reuters they had either received similar oral instructions discouraging them from attributing deaths to COVID or were aware that their hospitals had such policies. Some relatives of people who have died with COVID say the disease did not appear on their death certificates, and some patients have reported not being tested for coronavirus despite arriving with respiratory symptoms. Reuters
U.S. cancer death rate falls 33% since 1991, partly due to advances in treatment, early detection and less smoking, report says
12 January- The rate of people dying from cancer in the United States has continuously declined over the past three decades, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society. The US cancer death rate has fallen 33% since 1991, which corresponds to an estimated 3.8 million deaths averted, according to the report, published Thursday in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The rate of lives lost to cancer continued to shrink in the most recent year for which data is available, between 2019 and 2020, by 1.5%. The 33% decline in cancer mortality is “truly formidable,” said Karen Knudsen, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. The report attributes this steady progress to improvements in cancer treatment, drops in smoking and increases in early detection. “New revelations for prevention, for early detection and for treatment have resulted in true, meaningful gains in many of the 200 diseases that we call cancer,” Knudsen said. In their report, researchers from the American Cancer Society also pointed to HPV vaccinations as connected to reductions in cancer deaths. HPV, or human papillomavirus, infections can cause cervical cancer and other cancer types, and vaccination has been linked with a decrease in new cervical cancer cases. Among women in their early 20s, there was a 65% drop in cervical cancer rates from 2012 through 2019, “which totally follows the time when HPV vaccines were put into use,” said Dr. William Dahut, the society’s chief scientific officer. “There are other cancers that are HPV-related – whether that’s head and neck cancers or anal cancers – so there’s optimism this will have importance beyond this,” he said. The lifetime probability of being diagnosed with any invasive cancer is estimated to be 40.9% for men and 39.1% for women in the US, according to the new report. CNN
Brazil: 1,618 cases of acute diarrhea were reported during the first two weeks of 2023 in Florianópolis
15 January- The diarrhea epidemic in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina Island, Brazil reached 1,618 during the first two weeks of 2023, according to the Municipal Health Secretariat. The causative agent is still unknown. The epidemic has hit residents and tourists alike. One of the hypotheses under investigation is whether the case is related to unsuitable places for bathing on some beaches, especially in the north of the island. The report by the Institute of the Environment of Santa Catarina (IMA) pointed out that famous beaches such as Canasvieiras and Ingleses have most of the points unsuitable for bathing. Officials say acute diarrheal illnesses can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Outbreak News Today