New Strains of TB Called One of the World’s ‘Gravest Public Health Threats’

Efforts to combat tuberculosis resistant to drug treatment are called “inadequate.” The international health care organization Doctors Without Borders is warning that the rise in such new strains of TB represents “one of the gravest public health threats facing the world today.” In a message to world leaders, the group called for an “immediate international response” to find new treatments to improve the chances of survival for the eight million people who contract TB each year. Despite decades of efforts to combat TB, 1.3 million people still die from it every year. Cases of multidrug-resistant forms of the disease have been detected in nearly every country in the world. Globally, only half of multidrug-resistant TB victims survive. The Independent

University researchers in Japan say they are under pressure to play down the impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The pressure persists today, three years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Some researchers they cannot get funds or university support for their work. In several cases, the professors say, they have been obstructed or told to steer clear of data that might cause public concern. “Getting involved in this sort of research is dangerous politically,” said Joji Otaki, a biologist at Japan’s Ryukyu University who has written papers suggesting that radioactivity at Fukushima has triggered inherited deformities in a species of butterfly. His research is paid for through donations — a sign, he said, that the public supports his work. The Chronicle of Higher Education

State attorneys general urge big retailers to stop selling tobacco products in stores that have pharmacies. The plea, in letters from attorneys general representing 28 states and territories, would follow the example CVS Caremark set with its announcement this year that it would stop selling such products in its drugstores. The letters were sent to Rite Aid, Walgreen, Kroger, Safeway and Walmart, five companies that are among the biggest pharmacy retailers in the country. “There is a contradiction in having these dangerous and devastating tobacco products on the shelves of a retail chain that services health care needs,” the letters said. Separately, in a position statement, the National Association of Convenience Stores urged convenience stores and gas stations not to sell e-cigarettes to minors. The New York Times, The Associated Press

Recall of child seats expanded, but U.S. regulators press for a broader action. Graco Children’s Products has added 403,222 child seats to last month’s recall of 3.8 million to replace faulty harness buckles. The move won’t end a dispute with the U.S. government’s road safety watchdog, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which wants Graco to add 1.8 million infant seats to the recall because they have the same buckles. Buckles can get gummed up by food and drinks, making it difficult to remove children and possibly increasing the risk of injuries in emergencies. In some cases parents have had to cut harnesses to get their children out. Seats added to the recall: 2006 through 2014 Argos 70 Elite, Ready Ride, Step 2, My Ride 65 with Safety Surround, My Size 70, Head Wise 70 with Safety Surround, Nautilus 3-in-1, Nautilus Plus, and Smart Seat with Safety Surround. The Associated Press

Gun lobby may doom prospects for Obama surgeon general nominee. Amid intense opposition from the National Rifle Association, the White House isn’t pushing for a vote to confirm Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy, a Harvard- and Yale-educated internist and former emergency room doctor who has advocated stricter gun controls. Democratic leaders in the Senate have begun surveying senators to determine whether there is enough support to save Murthy, but one aide said a vote on the nomination isn’t expected. Few Republicans back Murthy, and as many as eight Democrats also could be opposed. The entrance of the NRA into the surgeon general confirmation opens a new front in the gun lobby’s efforts to halt U.S. firearms restrictions. Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg

GM is following a familiar script with the internal probe of its failure for more than a decade to deal with faulty ignition switches. There is a predictable trajectory to the modern institutional scandal: Charges of wrongdoing surface and mount, and then the company announces it will bring in an outside law firm to conduct an internal investigation. The announcement sends a calming message: We’re not hiding. We’re taking this seriously. But hiring outside counsel in these cases is part investigation, part public-relations gambit and part legal strategy. In most cases, the goal isn’t to publicly flog a company, but rather to limit damage to its reputation or to contain the financial harm. Separately, GM disputed a review of crash data commissioned by the Center for Auto Safety showing that 303 people died after air bags failed to deploy on two vehicle models recalled last month. The New York Times (internal investigation), The New York Times (303 deaths), Automotive News

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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One comment to “New Strains of TB Called One of the World’s ‘Gravest Public Health Threats’”

  1. Expat Health Insurance News and Health Tips » Weekly health news roundup: 24 March 2014

    […] TB is ‘gravest public health threat’ – Global efforts to combat drug-resistant TB are “inadequate” and new strains of the disease are a grave threat, say experts. […]

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