Global health security, collaborating to stop epidemics

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Just three little words, “global health security”, but they represent such depths of meaning. A hundred years of modern scientific enquiry into infectious diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, and now zika. The wake up call of SARS and swine flu, where viruses with dramatic results leapt the species barrier. The galvanising effect of West Africa’s Ebola epidemic on the WHO, the international NGO and donor community and on governments. The concern over emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, so many of them zoonotic in origin.

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How Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) Enter the Food Chain in non-GMO Producing Countries

The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in livestock and crops, as well as trade and consumption of GMOs are highly controversial topics.

Proponents of genetic engineering argue that GMOs represent the only viable solution to food shortages in an ever-growing global population. They claim that the use of GMOs in agriculture and their consumption have caused no harm to livestock or humans so far. Heated debate also persists over GMO food labelling, with food manufacturers in the USA arguing that mandatory GMO labelling hinders the development of agricultural biotechnology, and may also “exacerbate the misconception” that GMOs endanger human health. Continue reading

Lancet Countdown reports on climate and health

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[Photocredit: iStock]

Lancet Countdown has published its first annual report, monitoring how we are doing on action against climate change in relation to health. Its findings show that climate change is affecting health today and affects those in developing countries disproportionately. Twenty-five years of inaction on climate change have damaged our health, says the report, but it also found some promising signs of accelerating action in the last few years including increased research into climate effects on health, more funding directed at health and climate change and moves away from fossil fuels to renewable, cleaner energy boding well for heart and respiratory health.

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Taking back control of opioid prescription drugs

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Addiction is, by its very nature, about loss of control. The more I’ve been in this job and the longer I’ve lived, the more substances seem to be added to the addictive list. 

In the past few weeks, my early morning news on the radio has featured addiction to alcohol, to food, to gambling, to smart phones, to illegal psychoactive substances, and, the inspiration for this blog, to opioid prescription painkillers. Sadly yet more deaths and lives destroyed. 

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Author of Month Blog: Olfaction in Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Birte L. Nielsen

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We all use our nose much more than we think. Is this fish okay to eat? Can you smell gas? Mmm, they smell nice! From knowing when to change a baby’s nappy to choosing (and using) a particular deodorant, odours affect our behaviour on a daily basis. And yet, we do not consider ourselves a very "smell dependant" species. Indeed, we rely heavily on sight and sounds in our interactions with our surroundings. But the reality is that odours – and our ability to smell them – have a huge influence on our well-being.

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Omega-3, 6, 7 and 9 what’s the difference?

Guest blog contributed by Claire Saunders, a student at Oxford Brookes University, currently on placement at CABI.

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Many people are not sure how omega oils feature in their diet and in what quantities they should be consuming them. Confounded by acronyms such as PUFA, ALA and DHA, it’s tempting just to eat a piece of fish and hope for the best. Considering that many of are not getting even the minimum levels in our diet that are deemed “critical” to health by the World Health Organization (WHO),  maybe we should rethink our 'laissez faire' attitude.  A 2016 systematic review  revealed that 80% of the world has low or very low blood levels of  DPA and EHA. When questioned,  a third or consumers in Germany, UK and USA were unsure how much they should be consuming.  There follows a practical guide to omega oils.

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On World TB day spare a thought for the health care workers.

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Health care workers have a risky job when it comes to treating tuberculosis. They can become ill themselves and suffer stigma and job loss. In countries where resources are scarce, this is a strain on the health care system as it loses valuable staff and expertise. There are already difficulties recruiting and retaining health care workers in many countries, this issue just adds to that. How many health care workers (HCW) are infected with TB and what could be done to protect them and reduce stigma about the disease? Action is needed at all levels.

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