We all like to read those stories about how even poor countries, like Ghana, have the noble ambition to explore the final frontier. In this article for SciDev, some are suggesting maybe the space race in low- and middle-income should wait until they’ve dealt with poverty.
Clinical trials. Research findings. Data. Metrics. Numbers.
Humanity’s tendency to soil its nest reaches a new threshold.
An online mapping system to track insecticide resistance in malaria-causing mosquitoes around the world has been launched. The free interactive website identifies places in more than 50 malaria-endemic countries where mosquitoes have become resistant to the insecticides used in bed nets and indoor sprays.
I didn’t know there was a global scientific agenda, but apparently there is and some think it’s dominated (like most things) by Western interests:
“In Africa, we sometimes believe that global curiosity-driven research — studies driven by researchers’ inquisitiveness rather than political or strategic directives — is at “odds with the continent’s development priorities.”
Infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm, writing in the NY Times, says that the steady drumbeat of news stories about bird flu or other new viral strains emerging here and there threatens to create a new kind of global malaise – ‘contagion exhaustion,’ lack of interest in the threat of pandemic flu. I wrote about this problem yesterday, in my post The never-ending threat of pandemic flu.
Osterholm says we must remain ever-vigilant, which would be ideal. But it won’t happen. Our attention will drift, as it always does. So rather than keep trying to scare people into remaining on ‘orange alert’ for pandemics perhaps we should raise awareness of the potentially scarier threat represented by underfunding basic public health systems (here and worldwide). Our best bet against any and all emerging new diseases is not going to be to respond with a new vaccine so much as it is in the basic, pre-emptive kind of work — disease monitoring, food safety, prevention — that most of us tend to take for granted.
An update on scientists testing the idea of using bacteria to infect mosquitoes infected with malaria to undermine spread of the parasite.
Nice piece from the NYTimes: “The name Maurice Hilleman may not ring a bell. But today 95 percent of American children receive the M.M.R. — the vaccine for measles, mumps andthat Dr. Hilleman invented, starting with the mumps strain he collected that night from his daughter. It was by no means his only contribution. At Dr. Hilleman’s death in 2005, other researchers credited him with having saved more lives than any other scientist in the 20th century.”
Kinda cool: Blood samples are loaded into micro-channels on a modified, semi-transparent DVD disc and scanned by a DVD reader, which has been adapted to detect light transmitted through the disc. The image can then be visualised on a computer screen.