Friday Five

MMR vaccines, a global tuberculosis crisis and a rise in dementia – this week’s Friday Five

Global TB crisis

Reports suggest that there are 10 million new cases of Tuberculosis (TB) every year and unfortunately around 1.7 million people succumb to the disease.

On 26 September heads of state, doctors and scientists are gathering at the UN general assembly meeting on ending TB, to discuss the failing global efforts to tackle tuberculosis, the deadliest infectious disease on the planet. The UK Academics and Professionals to End Tuberculosis has written a letter to Theresa May urging that she attend.

TB is caused by a bacterium that destroys the tissues in patients’ lungs and is spread by aerosol droplets through coughing and sneezing.

Problems contributing to these staggering figures include a number of antibiotic resistant strains and shame, with people hiding that a death in their family had been caused by TB, due to the stigma of only those that are unclean or poor contract TB.

Read more on the Guardian.


Pre-sex HIV drug should be made available on NHS

Tory MPs Crispin Blunt and Nigel Evans, and Labour’s Stephen Doughty, say that the pre-sex HIV drug, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) should be made available on the NHS to anyone at risk.

The drug has proven to be cost effective during trials with Mr Blunt saying “[Making it available] for all the people that might benefit will save the NHS money and assist the long-term elimination of HIV,” this was echoed by Mr Doughty “The long-term costs to the NHS of people acquiring HIV and other co-morbidities is going to cost lots, lots more,”

PrEP is already available on the NHS in Scotland and Wales and NHS England have said they will “look at evidence from the trial”.

Read more on the BBC.


Drop in proportion of children being immunised with MMR vaccine

Experts warn of measles risk as the proportion of children being immunised from MMR by the age of two is down by 91.2%. This is the forth year in a row that that take-up has fallen.

So far this year 876 cases have been confirmed, illustrating the concern for the limited number of children being immunised against MMR. Dr Doug Brown, the chief executive of the British Society for Immunology, said: “We are currently witnessing the impact of this lower vaccination rate in the ongoing measles outbreak in England … Measles is a highly infectious disease that can lead to serious consequences for those infected. However, we have at our disposal a safe and effective vaccine that can stop the spread of [it].”

Brown has suggested that issues contributing to the fall in vaccinations is due to a combination of factors including parents facing logistical problems in accessing immunisation services and the fact there is no consistent approach to reminding people when the vaccination is due.

Read more in the The Guardian.


Air pollution linked to higher risk of dementia 

A study focused on tracking the health of 131,000 patients aged between 50 and 79 for approximately 7 years, until they were diagnosed or died, has found a link between developing dementia and exposure to nitrogen dioxide and microscopic particles, known as PM2.5.

The authors of the London-based study say “Our results suggest both regional and urban background pollutants may be as important as near-traffic pollutants.”

Those living in areas in the top fifth of nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5. levels had a 40% increased risk of being diagnosed with dementia. However, Dr David Reynolds, chief scientific officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, warned the latest study does not show cause and effect.

Read more in The Independent.


Free trade group urges NHS to compete with US health firms post-Brexit

The Inititative for Free Trade (IFT) recommends that ministers should allow American healthcare companies to compete with the NHS to run hospitals as part of a free trade pact after Brexit.

The think tank also suggest that Britain should also end its ban on imports of products such as chlorinated chicken and allow the free movement of workers between the UK and USA. The report also advocates that in areas such as consumer safety, workers’ rights and the environment, businesses could only have to comply with one country’s regulations in order to eliminate barriers to free trade.

Striking a new trade deal with the US is one the government’s key post-Brexit goals.

The report was edited by Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, and its authors say it will eliminate trade barriers and encourage innovation. But Amy Mount of the Greener UK coalition said: “Flooding our supermarkets with chlorinated chicken, undercutting our farmers and lowering environmental standards would be a strange way to take back control. The UK has benefited from trade deals that embrace high standards, and enjoyed high quality food and safer products as a result. Our blueprint for post-Brexit trade should be defined by a lighter footprint on the global environment, not a low-standards free-for-all.”

Read more on the BBC.


Quote of the week

Our quote of the week is from Tilly Griffiths, an 18 year old student from Staffordshire who suffers from a debilitating spinal condition, who will continue to receive round the clock care when she heads to the US to study communications at Stanford University, thanks to funding from the NHS.

“It’s not costing any more than if I’d gone to university in London for example, so I’m really grateful that the NHS have worked with us and have been able to support me.”

Read more on the ITV website.