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Ebola efforts in DRC seem to be working, despite challenges

New data on the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo suggest that efforts to stop the spread of the deadly virus there are working despite challenges. Health officials said yesterday there have been 142 cases, including 97 deaths. One key control measure: an experimental Ebola vaccine from Merck. Earlier this week, the WHO’s Dr. Peter Salama said 10,000 doses have been given so far. 

But officials warn there are still hurdles. The teams monitoring the health of contacts of Ebola patients have lost track of some. A few people diagnosed with Ebola have refused to go to treatment centers and have fled — increasing the risk people who care for them will contract the virus. And some local health clinics have been slow to recognize Ebola when patients present for care, leaving health workers exposed to the virus. 

Jerome Adams on his first year as surgeon general

It’s been one year since Dr. Jerome Adams stepped into his role as Surgeon General. STAT’s Andrew Joseph talked with Adams about his first year and what's on tap for the next one. Here are some snippets from their talk. 

  • On supervised injection sites: “As the Nation’s doctor, I want every discussion about public health programs to be based on high-quality scientific evidence. ... Currently, that level of evidence does not exist for supervised injection facilities in the United States.”
  • On naloxone access: "We still don’t have all of our first responders carrying naloxone. Every first responder, just as they know CPR, needs to carry naloxone."

  • On closures of syringe exchange programs: "When I see a program close, what that says to me is that we haven’t done a good enough job communicating to the community why this program is important and the value that it provides."

More studies from Cornell nutrition researcher retracted

Cornell nutrition researcher Brian Wansink has had six more studies retracted. Wansink has previously come under fire for data inconsistencies and other statistical issues in his studies, seven of which have already been retracted. The newly retracted studies were published in three JAMA family journals. JAMA asked Cornell to independently verify the data and pulled the papers when the school said it couldn't. Cornell told the AP it'll release a statement about its review of Wansink's work on Friday. Wansink says he's proud of the studies — which centered around whether cues like smaller bowls can help people eat healthier — and believes they can be replicated. 

Inside STAT: Bill would prevent patients from accessing and deleting clinical trial data

California Gov. Jerry Brown is slated to sign a bill into law soon that would prevent patients from accessing and deleting some of their data from clinical trials. The bill aims to tweak a law passed earlier this summer that would let California consumers demand that personal information collected by data companies be deleted. The new measure would make it clear that clinical trial data isn't covered by the law. Trade groups for biopharma companies in the state say that's a crucial fix and that without it, the law runs the risk of jeopardizing the integrity of clinical trial results. STAT's Rebecca Robbins has more here

A new bird's-eye view of health in America


The CDC just released a sweeping data set on health in the U.S., from vaccination rates to asthma prevalence among kids. A few findings that caught my eye:

  • Chronic liver disease: Among women ages 25 to 34, death rates for chronic liver disease and cirrhosis climbed by an average of 11 percent each year from 2006 to 2016. Among men in that same age group, rates rose about 8 percent annually.  

  • Life expectancy: Between 2014 and 2015, life expectancy at birth dropped 0.2 years, the first decline since 1993. It fell another 0.1 years the next year.  

  • Health spending: In 2016, personal health spending in the U.S. hit $2.8 trillion, more than a 4 percent jump from 2015.

WHO makes its case for more funding

With a new five-year plan in hand, the WHO is making the case for member countries and other donors to invest more in its global health work. The perennially cash-strapped agency says it needs $14.1 billion between 2019 and 2023 — a 14 percent increase in its base budget over the past five years. With that money, the WHO says it would be able to work with partners and countries to save up to 30 million lives and give low- and middle-income countries up to a 4 percent boost in economic growth by 2023.

What to read around the web today

  • The case for expensive antibiotics. Wired
  • Everything you know about obesity is wrong. HuffPost
  • Gawande-led venture taps consulting giant to hone strategy for chronically ill. STAT Plus
  • Opioid crisis emerges as a dominant campaign theme. Wall Street Journal
  • Rethinking innovation in maternal and child health in Africa: five case studies. STAT

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Thursday, September 20, 2018


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