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Shreelata Rao Seshadri: Tracking India’s battle with malnutrition

18 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

For several years now, India has been sharply criticized for being one of the most undernourished nations on earth despite consistently high rates of economic growth. So the First Global Nutrition Report released recently by the International Food Policy and Research Institute (IFPRI) provides a welcome update on the nation’s progress on key nutrition indicators. Using the Indian government’s rapid survey on children (2013-14), the authors of the Global Nutrition Report estimate that under-five stunting in India has reduced on average from 47.9% in 2005-06 to 38.8% in 2013-14. This nine percentage point reduction translates into almost 14.5 million fewer stunted children. Perhaps the World Health Assembly target of reducing under-five stunting worldwide from 162 million children in 2012 to ~100 million in 2025 is feasible after all. more…

Samir Dawlatly: Would I make it through medical school these days?

18 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

I specialised at being a university student. I didn’t graduate from medical school until I was 30, for a variety of reasons, despite the fact that I first set foot in the hallowed halls at the age of 19. Only one of those years was spent recovering from illness. Aside from giving me the chance to grow up, meet my future wife, and learn how to be a junior doctor, it also gave me the opportunity to make lots of mistakes. more…

The BMJ Today: All I want for Christmas is a chocolate Aneurin Bevan

18 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

JohnWphotoIn the past year you may have read BMJ Confidential, the weekly column that grills healthcare professionals on their backgrounds and inspiration, earliest ambitions, career mistakes, and guilty pleasures. For The BMJ’s bumper Christmas issue Nigel Hawkes has reviewed the first 50 editions of this probing column, and a round-up of his findings is published today on thebmj.com.

The question on the best and worst health secretary has provoked many an impassioned response, but the only person to have been named more than once as the worst has been Andrew Lansley, with 15 votes. Twenty people named Aneurin Bevan as the best, and several favourable mentions went to Frank Dobson, Alan Milburn, and Stephen Dorrell. more…

Barbara Bokhour: Patient centered care in an epidemic—why it matters

18 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

Barbara G. BokhourAs the Ebola outbreak in west Africa continues, finding ways to control the epidemic is paramount. In some of the hard hit African countries, we have seen the reluctance of patients to disclose that they are ill and to access healthcare services, citing a fear of the health workers and believing that they will die if they go to the health centers for treatment.

Moreover, in the interest of limiting exposure to the virus, family members have been isolated from their loved ones who are infected and are prevented from conducting traditional burials when a patient dies. more…

Frank Chalmers: Channel swimming—the great leveller

17 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

Channel trafficAs soon as I opened The BMJ Christmas paper, Captain Webb’s legacy: the perils of swimming the English Channel, I knew I was in for something different. The Channel fare I’m used to consuming often begins with lazy questions, such as: “If you need a pee in the water, can you get on the boat”’

Answer: “No. You’d be disqualified, and if you’re swimming in billions of gallons of water, why would you want to?”

This paper was, interesting, informed, and authoritative, and the accompanying short film by Martin Freeth also brought memories flooding back of my own solo Channel swim in 2005. more…

The BMJ Today: Why diets don’t work and the rehabilitation of saturated fat

17 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

Depending on your world view, our obsession with food at Christmas (witness packed supermarket aisles, and the acres of menu ideas churned out by newspapers) is either a glorious, well deserved indulgence or evidence of an obscene festival of gluttony.

Come January many of us will have embarked on body sculpting diets. Before you do, read Richard Smith’s “Are some diets ‘mass murder,” for which the former BMJ editor ploughed through five books on diet and some of the key studies. His conclusion? That from low fat to carb-free, many diets are based on fragile science, and the long term results may be terrible. more…

Helen Morant: How should doctors look at patients?

17 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

helen_morantWhen health professionals talk about patient engagement, we express ideas of listening to patients’ voices, understanding their priorities, and changing our treatment models and priorities to focus on theirs. We should treat (in both senses of the word) patients more like people and less like objects we control. We should stop dehumanising patients.

I was challenged to think about how we do just that as I listened to this podcast—it’s worth a listen all the way through. more…

Emma Spencelayh: To FT or not to FT—that is the question. Or is it?

16 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

Emma Spencelayh_2As part of the Health Foundation’s work on analysing the controversial decision to prohibit the proposed merger of Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the Royal Bournemouth & Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, we’ve been grappling with what the role of foundation trusts really is in an ever changing system. more…

The BMJ Today: “Your husband can donate his tools” and other Christmas highlights

16 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

rich_hurleyWhat do you do if you have to treat a very sick child in intensive care whose parents do not speak English—and there are no human translators available? What do you do when presented with any seemingly insoluble situation in this day and age? Naturally, your first port of call is Google.

But can you be sure when using Google Translate that you’re not inadvertently giving parents the wrong message. For example, what if you said, “Your child’s state is not life stopping” rather than the opposite “Your child’s condition is life threatening,” which is actually what you meant. more…

Pritpal S Tamber: Creating health—the emerging principles

16 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

pritpal_tamber_2014The Creating Health Collaborative was formed to understand why, despite their potential, broader definitions of health remain only a fringe of health innovation. In today’s post, I am sharing their first report (opens a PDF) and have reproduced below an edited version of what the Collaborative thought were the emerging principles for creating health.

We are struggling to meet the growing demand for care and yet it will only grow. At the heart of this struggle is our inability to define health as more than just the absence of disease. Broader definitions of health may enable us to create health and so offset the growing demand for care. more…

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