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Jeffrey Aronson: When I use a word . . . Medical patronymics

24 Jun, 16 | by BMJ

jeffrey_aronsonOf the different types of surname origins, patronymics are the most common.

A patronym or patronymic (Greek πατήρ father + ὀνομα name) is a name that derives from the first name of your father, or more generally from that of a forebear. Originally, people’s names took the forms that we see in the Bible, like David, son of Jesse. Later, these were converted into surnames. In Iceland true patronymics are still used. Leifur’s son Eirik is Eirik Leifsson, Eirik’s son Harald is Harald Eiriksson, and so on. Daughters take their fathers’ names too, but with the suffix -dottir (for example, Gudrun Haraldsdottir), and women keep their surname after marriage. In Tajikistan, people are called by their first name followed by their father’s first name, a true patronymic more…

Alice Forster and Jo Waller: A new jab to prevent cancer

24 Jun, 16 | by BMJ

alice_forsterjo_waller_cropAround 5% of all cancers worldwide are caused by the human papillomavirus or HPV.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s two vaccines were developed that protect against the two types of HPV that cause around 80% of cervical cancers. In the UK, girls who are aged 12-13 years old in year 8 at school are now offered one of these vaccines as part of the childhood immunisation programme. The vaccine that is used as part of the UK programme also protects against two types of HPV that cause genital warts. Recently, a third HPV vaccine called the nonavalent or 9-valent vaccine has been licensed for use in the European Union, as well as in the US, and it may be introduced into the UK immunisation programme in the future.

The new 9-valent vaccine
The 9-valent vaccine, as the name suggests, protects against nine types of HPV more…

Martin McKee on the EU referendum: We have no idea what will come next, but it won’t be good

24 Jun, 16 | by BMJ

mcKee_martinThe British people have spoken. Just over half of those who voted in the referendum supported leaving the EU. Although their votes are not legally binding, politicians of all parties have agreed that they will follow their instructions. The big question is “what is next?”

I was in Norway on the night of the 23 June 2016. Ironically, given the dominance of migration in the debate on EU membership, I was attending a major conference on migration and health. I was phoned about 5 am by a journalist who asked me what next? I didn’t have an answer. She understood, and she was also audibly in shock. A few hours later I had to speak to the over 400 people at the conference, many of whom had dedicated their lives to supporting migrants. What was I to say? Again, I had no idea. All I could do was to thank them for everything they do, making a stand against the hatred and division that had been so prominent in the UK in the preceding weeks. The British in the audience were, like me, in shock. Some, including one of my closest Belgian colleagues, were particularly affected, having worked closely with Jo Cox. Together, we remembered her and the migrants she cared so much for. more…

Gemma Wright: Supporting military reserves in the NHS

24 Jun, 16 | by BMJ

Gemma_WrightAs we approach Armed Forces Day tomorrow, this is the time to consider the 4000 healthcare staff who, as reservists, give up their spare time to train and serve in either the Royal Navy, Army, or Royal Air Force. Most of them work in the NHS and combine their military commitments with a civilian life and career. More than a million people work in the NHS so NHS Employers want to raise awareness and help bust myths about what it means to be a reservist.

We are often asked what happens when a reservist is asked to take part in military or civil relief operations and complete their mandatory training as part of their reservist role. more…

Brexit live blog: What next?

24 Jun, 16 | by BMJ

eu_ref_remainOn 23 June 2016 the UK went to the polls to decide whether to remain a member of the European Union. We look at the immediate reaction to the victory of the Leave vote:

In her latest BMJ column, Margaret McCartney asks, what does leaving the EU mean for our NHS, research community, and our spirit of collectivism? Now we’ve voted to leave, it’s time for a messy divorce. more…

Richard Smith: Transparency for better decisions—still a long way to go

23 Jun, 16 | by BMJ

richard_smith_2014We may like to think with websites that allow us to compare prices and get feedback on books, plays, and restaurants that transparency is empowering us, but is the balance of information fair? Do we know more about Google, Tesco, and the government than they know about us? Clearly not, and, argued Roger Taylor and Tim Kelsey, in a lecture this week to launch their book Transparency and the Open Society, transparency has great promise but we have a long way to go to reach a truly open society.

The authors define transparency as “the degree to which I can evidence whether or not I am being treated fairly.” more…

Soumyadeep Bhaumik’s review of South Asian medical papers—June 2016

23 Jun, 16 | by BMJ

soumyadeep bhaumik“Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink,” said a mariner, who had returned from a long sea voyage, to a man on his way to wedding ceremony in The Rime of Ancient Mariner.

The sea level in Bangladesh is rising as a consequence of all the evil we are doing by polluting Mother Earth on our journey to be more prosperous. One of its many consequences is the intrusion of saline water in the coastal region which puts people living there at a higher risk of hypertension. A study from Bangladesh found that Bangladeshis did not recognise that salt can occur naturally in water and food and they believed that the cooking process makes it harmless. To top that the risk perception about excessive salt consumption was low. This makes public health communication very challenging in the region, but at least now the scale of the issue is known. more…

Sarah Walpole: Staying in the EU is better for health and the environment

23 Jun, 16 | by BMJ

The EU debate is a fantastic example of how statistics can tell you what you want to hear, with both sides appearing to use the same facts to come to opposing conclusions. Yet on environmental issues, the story is not so perplexing.

Environmental organisations, from the Wildlife Trust to the RSPB to Friends of the Earth, are firmly in the Remain camp. The EU guarantees a minimum level of environmental protection, because it defines the environment as a “shared competence” where there are minimum standards that member states must meet. The EU is also the right forum to create and monitor policy on international issues, for example fisheries, where reforms have allowed the protection of fish stocks. more…

David Tovey: The importance of getting evidence into health service decision making

22 Jun, 16 | by BMJ

david_toveyRecently I attended the launch of a King’s Fund paper in the rarefied setting of Portcullis House, an annex of the Palace of Westminster. The subject was “Bringing together physical and mental health: A new frontier for integrated care.” A panel that included Presidents of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Psychiatrists, was chaired by a member of the House of Lords. The diagnosis was an important and topical one: care for people with long term physical conditions is insufficiently holistic and frequently omits psychological effects.  The mirror image is also true, perhaps with even more serious consequences: people with long term mental illness suffer and die as a consequence of inadequate physical care. So, unmet need in both scenarios and a stimulating basis on which to construct my Evidence Live 2016 presentation on the subject of “Translating Evidence into Better Quality Health Services. more…

Brexit: Bad for your health and bad for the environment

22 Jun, 16 | by BMJ

The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, which brings together major health institutions including the Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Physicians, Faculty of Public Health, and Royal College of Nursing, considers a vote for Britain to “remain” in the EU as important for the protection of our health, environment, and tackling climate change.

It is well know that the environment and public health are inexorably linked. We are unable to have healthy people in a sick planet. There are wide-ranging impacts from poor environmental health, for example air pollution causes 40,000 premature deaths in the UK each year. Polluted air and waters, flooding, and heat waves increase the burden on our health services through increased admittance, staff absence, and health infrastructure not being able withstand the impacts of extreme weather. Policies and targets from the EU have substantially improved the quality of our air, water, soil and beaches, and have provided a stronger response to climate change. Leaving the EU threatens to weaken environmental policies, damaging the health of our environment and citizens. more…

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