Story of the Week

Road Safety: When Mileage Means Money

Truckers Resisting Rules On Sleep, Despite Risks Of Drowsy Driving

Jad Mouawad and Elizabeth A. Harris
(The New York Times, June 17, 2014)

“For decades, federal authorities have tried to ensure that truck drivers get adequate rest. But in a business that lives by the clock, miles mean money. Commercial truck operators have resisted, arguing, in effect, that Washington cannot regulate sleep. But now sleep-deprived driving…has once again come to the fore, after the [high-profile]…accident involving [a]…truck driver [who]…had not slept in more than 24 hours. Drowsy driving is a leading cause of crashes and highway fatalities…In all, more than 30,000 people die on highways annually in the United States; crashes involving large trucks are responsible for one in seven of those deaths. Federal rules last year reduced the maximum workweek for truckers to 70 hours, from 82 hours. Drivers who hit this limit can start their workweek only after a mandatory Continue reading

As Sequencing Moves Into Clinical Use, Insurers Balk

Julie Steenhuysen
(Reuters, June 19, 2014)
“Once strictly the domain of research labs, gene-sequencing tests increasingly are being used to help understand the genetic causes of rare disease, putting insurance companies in the position of deciding whether to pay the $5,000 to $17,000 for the tests.As use of the new technology has grown, a number of insurers…have reacted by putting the brakes on reimbursement Continue reading

Antidepressant Warnings May Have Backfired

Brady Dennis
(The Washington Post, June 18, 2014)
“Government warnings a decade ago about the risks associated with children and adolescents taking antidepressants appear to have backfired, causing an increase in suicide attempts and discouraging many depressed young people from seeking treatment, according to a study…Researchers said their findings underscore how even well-intentioned public health warnings can produce unintended conseque­n­c­­es, particularly when they involve widespread media attention Continue reading

In South Sudan, Some Act Against Cholera, Others Stick to Old Habits

Mugume Davis Rwakaringi
(Voice of America, June 18, 2014)
“Some residents of the South Sudanese capital are heeding the call of health officials and taking extra measures to fight cholera as the number of cases of the diarrheal disease continues to rise. But others are ignoring messages from health officials…Cholera is caused by a bacterium found in contaminated water or food…Very quickly after the outbreak was declared on May 15, the Ministry of Health developed a cholera response plan and established a Cholera Response Task Force, which coordinates both health and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) activities. Continue reading

Lifestyle Diseases Make Global Health Promotion More Difficult Than Ever

Sarah Hawkes and Tom Pegram
(The Conversation, London, June 18, 2014)
“We can all, in general, expect to live a little longer than our grandparents did…In addition to living longer, our risks of disease and causes of death are changing. Data from the 2010 Global Burden of Disease survey showed that all around the world populations are shifting away from infectious diseases towards non-communicable diseases (NCDs)…represent[ing] a wide range of conditions…Long thought of as diseases of the rich world, they are rising everywhere Continue reading

A Bolder Effort by Big Tobacco on E-Cigarettes

Matt Richtel
(The New York Times, June 17, 2014)
“Electronic cigarettes…are getting powerful new backers with an unhealthy reputation: big tobacco companies…E-cigarettes have become an overnight sensation, with $2.5 billion in sales, though that is a tiny fraction of the smoking industry. The devices have also touched off a public health debate. Some argue that e-cigarettes, which vaporize nicotine, offer a less dangerous alternative to cigarettes. Others warn there is insufficient evidence on the product’s health risks and whether e-cigarettes are prompting people to quit smoking…Concerns about marketing of e-cigarettes Continue reading

A Boost for Black Babies

Lola Duffort
(The Miami Herald, June 17, 2014)
Across the country, black infants are more than twice as likely than white infants to die before their first birthday — a gap at least half a century old that maternal and infant health experts say no quick fix can close. That trend is replicated across South Florida…simply providing access to prenatal care — the focus of most state and federal programs for roughly 20 years — hasn’t come close to having the necessary impact. The problem? Providing access to prenatal isn’t the same as ensuring quality prenatal care Continue reading

Supreme Court Upholds Federal Ban on ‘Straw’ Purchases of Guns

Jess Bravin
(The Wall Street Journal, New York, June 16, 2014)
“A federal law banning the ‘straw’ purchase of guns on behalf of others applies even to transactions where the person who ends up with the weapon could have legally acquired a firearm, the [U.S.] Supreme Court ruled [this week]…Justice Elena Kagan, writing for a court divided 5-4, rejected arguments from gun-rights groups who complained of arbitrary gun-purchase prosecutions, saying the outcome was necessary to retain whatever impact the law had in preventing Continue reading

US Issues Chikungunya Virus Travel Alert after More Cases Detected in Caribbean

Gail Alexander
(The Trinidad Guardian, June 16, 2014)
“Health Minister Fuad Khan has urged T&T [Trinidad and Tobago] communities to maintain vigilence to eradicate mosquitoes and ensure the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus — now in 20 Caribbean islands and some US states — doesn’t surface here…Khan said: ‘We can’t afford to be complacent. Ensuring your surroundings don’t harbour stagnant water and mosquitoes is key.’ Khan was commenting on news reports…that the viral illness has surfaced Continue reading