EMEA Health and Science Correspondent
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Feb 23, 2015

U.N. experts warn of ‘critical knowledge gaps’ on Saudi MERS virus

LONDON (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has not done enough to investigate and control a deadly new MERS virus that has killed hundreds of people there and remains in many ways a mystery, United Nations health experts said on Monday.

Cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) are surging again, but Saudi health officials and scientists appear unable to explain where the infections start and how they spread, the UN experts said.

Feb 20, 2015

UN team investigates Saudi surge in cases of deadly MERS virus

LONDON (Reuters) – An international team of United Nations human and animal health experts has flown to Saudi Arabia to investigate a recent surge in cases of a deadly virus known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS.

Speaking from Riyadh on Friday, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization-led team said it was worried by a steep rise in cases of MERS, which has infected some 50 people in the Kingdom in February alone — one of the highest monthly rates since it first emerged in humans in 2102.

Feb 20, 2015

Drug-resistant malaria found close to Myanmar border with India

LONDON (Reuters) – Malaria with total resistance to the antimalarial drug artemisinin has taken hold in Myanmar and spread close to the border with India, threatening to repeat history and render crucial medicines useless, scientists said on Friday.

If the spread of artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites were to reach into India, they said, that would pose a serious threat to the chances of global control and eradication of the killer mosquito-borne disease.

Feb 19, 2015

WHO urges developing countries to fund tropical diseases fight

LONDON (Reuters) – The World Health Organization called on developing countries on Thursday to invest $1 per person per year until 2030 to tackle 17 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and improve the health and well-being of more than 1.5 billion people.

Forecasting a total of $34 billion needed to fight NTDs for the next 16 years, the WHO said governments whose people are blinded, disfigured and killed by such diseases should recognize the great potential human and economic return on tackling them.

Feb 18, 2015

Global progress against obesity “unacceptably slow”

LONDON (Reuters) – Global progress toward tackling obesity has been “unacceptably slow”, health experts said on Wednesday, with only one in four countries implementing a policy on healthy eating before 2010.

In a series of studies published in The Lancet medical journal, researchers said that in less than a generation, rates of child obesity have risen dramatically worldwide, yet few countries have taken regulatory steps to protect children or implemented recommended healthy food policies.

Feb 17, 2015

Plain tobacco packs likely to deter smoking, studies show

LONDON (Reuters) – Studies on the health impact of “plain” or standardized cigarette packs suggest they can deter non-smokers from taking up the habit and may cut the number of cigarettes smokers get through, scientists said on Tuesday.

In a collection of scientific papers in the journal Addiction, researchers said that while standardized packs were still too new to provide substantial evidence, studies so far showed they were likely to reduce smoking rates.

Feb 10, 2015

Gilead faces challenge to European patent on pricey hep C drug

LONDON (Reuters) – Global health charity Medecins du Monde (MdM) launched a legal challenge on Tuesday to a European patent held by U.S. drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc which it accused of charging “exorbitant” prices for a hepatitis C drug.

Arguing that Gilead is “abusing” its patent on Sovaldi, known generically as sofosbuvir, MdM said its challenge marked the first time in Europe a medical charity has used this method to try and improve patients’ access to medicines.

Feb 9, 2015

The fat fight: Study fuels row over UK, U.S. diet guidelines

LONDON, Feb 9 (Reuters) – Nutrition and health specialists
criticised a study on Monday which argued that dietary fat
advice given in the United States and Britain was based on
flimsy evidence and should not have been introduced.

The study, published in the Open Heart journal, said
national advice on fat consumption issued to millions of Britons
and Americans in 1977 and 1983 with the aim of reducing heart
disease “lacked any solid trial evidence to back it up”.

Feb 5, 2015

WHO still concerned about spread of Saudi MERS virus

LONDON (Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday it remained worried about the spread of MERS, a respiratory disease that has infected and killed hundreds of people, overwhelmingly in Saudi Arabia.

In an update issued after a meeting of its emergency committee on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, the United Nations health agency said more must be done to track the virus, which is known to have infected at least 965 people, of whom some 357 have died.

Feb 5, 2015

Review calls for global fund to fight dangerous superbugs

LONDON (Reuters) – A global fund should be created to speed development of much-needed new antibiotics to counter the growing threat of drug-resistant superbugs, a British-government backed review said on Thursday.

The review, headed by the leading economist and former Goldman Sachs chief Jim O’Neill, said far too little is currently invested in research that could lead to new drugs to fight drug-resistant bacterial and viral infections.

    • About Kate

      "I cover health and science news for the region of Europe, Middle East and Africa -- from flu pandemics to the newest planetary discovery to the latest drug and research developments. I joined Reuters in 1993 and worked in London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt before moving to BBC television to work on European politics for Newsnight for 2 years. Since returning to Reuters, I have also worked as a parliamentary correspondent in Westminster and on the main news desk of the London bureau."
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