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Abdullah Aljoudi: An epidemic free Hajj

15 Oct, 14 | by BMJ Group

My photo 1 “Complete the pilgrimages … for the sake of God” Quran 2:196

The 2014 Hajj was epidemic-free, according to Saudi Arabia’s acting health minister. In addition to the regular Hajj health regulations, this year the Saudi government decided to ban pilgrims from Mano river Union countries (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone) because of the Ebola threat. The World Health Organization said there was “no report of MERS-CoV among pilgrims,”  and more than two million attended. more…

David Oliver: What would my mum think? The new CQC regime for care home inspection

9 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

david_oliverOn 9 October, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) announced the details of its new inspection regime for care homes, after a lengthy consultation and evidence gathering process.

The proposals amount to a step change in the depth, breadth, and consistency of inspections. They attempt to move away from superficial visits, focussing on minimum compliance standards and “tick box” approaches towards identifying excellence. The proposals also announce the use of “intelligent monitoring,” utilising a range of data to target homes that ought to be on the inspectors’ radar. The approach will also permit care homes to continuously upload and update their performance data, rather than relying only on the “big bang” of episodic inspections. more…

Abdullah Aljoudi: Are you fit for the journey of a lifetime?

2 Oct, 14 | by BMJ Group

My photo 1“Pilgrimage to the House is a duty owed to God by people who are able to undertake it.  Quran 2:97.

On Friday 3 October, over three million Muslims from more than 180 countries will come together for the Hajj, probably the largest human gathering on earth. more…

Alex Horne: The expense of neglecting adolescent mental health

24 Sep, 14 | by BMJ

alex_horneThe chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, recently called for more support for mental health services in her annual report, which highlighted how mental illness led to the loss of 70 million working days last year—an increase of 24% since 2009.

Of particular importance is the report’s call for improved support for young people with mental illness. More than 50% of adult mental health illnesses develop during adolescence, but the diagnosis is often missed at this stage and not picked up until many years later. GPs have an important role in supporting parents and picking up on any early warning signs—distinct from “normal” adolescent moods—so that they can act accordingly. more…

Ahmed Rashid: “Physics envy” in evidence based medicine

16 Sep, 14 | by BMJ

ahmed_rashidResearchers have long debated the relative complexity and importance of different scientific disciplines.

Traditionally, sciences that used the most mathematical equations—such as physics—were deemed the most intellectual and placed at the top of an academic hierarchy, while social sciences were consigned to the lowest point.

Willard Van Orman Quine, who held the Edgar Pierce chair of philosophy at Harvard University for over two decades, famously exemplified this belief in 1981: “Physics investigates the essential nature of the world, and biology describes a local bump. Psychology, human psychology, describes a bump on the bump.” more…

Ian Bushfield: Respond to EMA and FDA consultations

12 Sep, 14 | by BMJ

On Monday 15 September, two important consultations (one by the EMA and one by the FDA) will close, ending the public’s opportunity to respond to these consultations and help defend the independent analyses of medical data. The AllTrials campaign has been urging interested parties to respond and have their say on these two consultations, which are outlined below.

Tell the EMA not to censor independent analyses

In Europe, the medicines regulator wants the right to censor analyses of side effects data that it disagrees with. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is consulting on updates to its EudraVigilance access policy. EudraVigilance is the database where reports of side effects from approved drugs in Europe are recorded. The proposal would give researchers access to more detailed and systematic records from the database, but it also contains a condition that would give the EMA the ability to block publication of analyses it disagreed with. more…

Dawn Richards: A Canadian arthritis patient charter

9 Sep, 14 | by BMJ

Dawn-Richards_newIn 2014 the Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance (CAPA) undertook the creation of an Arthritis Patient Charter. The arthritis community in Canada has a history of collaboration, to which this project was no exception. In 2001 the creation of an Arthritis Patient Bill of Rights (English and French versions) was led by the Arthritis Society with input from all stakeholders and which was more advocacy-based document (it came out at the time when patients were lobbying for access to biologic treatments). In the nearly decade and a half since that bill was produced, we felt that it was time to provide new life to this document.


Roy K Philip: New “Kerala model” on alcohol policy: Great public health initiative or an “alco-pops” repeat?

8 Sep, 14 | by BMJ

The Indian state of Kerala has the highest alcohol consumption per head in India (8.3 litres against the national average of 4 litres,[1] while also being credited with the highest literacy rate (including female literacy),[2] best social indicators, and best infant mortality.[3] Kerala has the historical mix of influences from the spice trade, its early introduction to Christianity and the English language, tea and rubber plantations, the first elected Communist government of the world, and, during the past three decades or so, the economic affluence resulting from the millions of Keralites choosing to work abroad—particularly in the wealthy Gulf region. more…

Ohad Oren: Why soldiers are like patients

29 Aug, 14 | by BMJ


Credit: Herbert Bishko

Credit: Herbert Bishko

Each war revives the clash between the safety of a country’s own citizens and that of its soldiers. The recent Operation Protective Edge, taken by Israel with the objective of restoring calm to its citizens, should be examined by the same standard. Was the presumed political gain worth the soldiers’ loss of lives? Was the blow to Hamas’s infrastructure a reasonable compensation for the death of sixty four young combatants? And, more broadly, are we willing to sacrifice the innocent lives of soldiers in order to temporarily decrease the number of rockets targeting our neighborhoods? more…

Paul Teed: Is medical opinion shifting towards support for an assisted dying law?

27 Aug, 14 | by BMJ

Paul TeedOver the weekend, the Times published findings from a new survey conducted by Medix, which asked 600 doctors various questions on assisted dying, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. The coverage contrasted the findings with those from a similar Medix survey a decade ago, reported then in The BMJ. But reading the complete data in the new survey highlights what some would consider surprising, if not shocking, views from doctors, especially when we consider how the medical establishment is often cited as unanimously opposed to any proposals on this issue.

While the majority of doctors were against a UK change in law to allow physician assisted suicide and/or euthanasia when asked the question in broad terms, a majority of respondents also believed that there would be grounds for physician assisted euthanasia if a patient had a terminal illness. more…

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