Medicine and Health

World powers stand by as Ebola death toll passes 4,000

By Niles Williamson, 11 October 2014

The United States and other Western powers are seeking to take advantage of the crisis sparked by the deadly Ebola epidemic, not to save the victims, but to establish a stronger military presence in West Africa.

The Ebola epidemic: A social disaster in West Africa

By Niles Williamson, 9 October 2014

Responsibility for the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa lies with the imperialist powers that have subjected the continent to extreme economic exploitation.

First Ebola case diagnosed in US

By Shannon Jones, 2 October 2014

A man from Liberia visiting family in Texas is the first person in the US diagnosed with the deadly virus.

Imperialism and the Ebola catastrophe

By Patrick Martin, 26 September 2014

The epidemic now devastating West Africa is not a natural calamity, but a social one: it is a product of colonialism and imperialist oppression.

Ebola outbreak grows exponentially

By David Brown, 25 September 2014

International health agencies predict the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could affect hundreds of thousands.

Obama uses Ebola crisis to “surge” 3,000 troops into West Africa

By Bill Van Auken, 17 September 2014

The response to the Ebola epidemic underscores the reliance of US imperialism on its residual military superiority in the second “scramble for Africa”, which pits it against China.

Victorian-era diseases return to Britain

By Julie Hyland, 17 September 2014

Figures from England and Wales indicate that there was a 19 percent increase in the number of people hospitalised for malnutrition in the last year.

International emergency declared in Ebola outbreak

By John Rowe, 11 August 2014

The Ebola virus has already claimed the lives of nearly a thousand people in West Africa, amid a breakdown of health care systems in the impoverished region.

German drug company covered-up deadly side effects of anticoagulant Pradaxa

By Douglas Lyons, 1 August 2014

The drug used for patients suffering from atrial fibrillation has a grave side effect: internal and irreversible bleeding.

Ebola outbreak kills hundreds in West Africa

By David Brown, 29 July 2014

Liberia has closed most of its borders in response to an Ebola outbreak that has killed one doctor and infected two others.

US Centers for Disease Control anthrax investigations reveal widespread safety issues

By Gabriel Black, 29 July 2014

In the wake of a massive budget cut in 2013, an investigation probing the anthrax scare at several CDC labs found a culture of “insufficient” safety.

Ebola outbreak spreads in West Africa

By John Rowe, 9 July 2014

International agencies say that the deadly Ebola virus is spreading out of control in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Chronic kidney disease spreads in rural Sri Lanka

By W. A. Sunil, 5 March 2014

The disease has reached epidemic levels because of inadequate health facilities and government neglect.

OECD report: US life expectancy below international average

By Kate Randall, 23 November 2013

Of the 34 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the US ranks 26th in life expectancy, below Greece, Portugal, South Korea and Slovenia.

Irish doctors vote for strike action

By Jordan Shilton, 10 September 2013

Facing intolerable working conditions as a result of an 8 percent health budget cut, Irish junior doctors have voted in favour of strikes.

More US doctors opting out of Medicare

By Kate Randall, 7 August 2013

The ranks of doctors accepting Medicare are steadily decreasing under the impact of the Obama health care legislation.

Denmark’s social democratic-led government targets health service for cuts

By Ellis Wynne, 31 July 2013

The attack on health provision follows the lockout of 70,000 teachers.

Pharmaceutical companies sign contracts for vaccine sales to poorer countries to maximise profits

By Joan Smith, 24 June 2013

Pharmaceutical conglomerates Merck and GlaxoSmithKline have won contracts to supply some of the world’s poorest countries with cancer vaccines.

One million schoolchildren in England to be vaccinated as measles threat grows

By Harvey Thompson, 1 May 2013

An epidemic outbreak of measles in Swansea, Wales has seen almost 950 cases to date.

Health study: Austerity is costing lives in Europe

By Dietmar Henning, 6 April 2013

Large sections of the European population are paying with their health, or even their lives, for EU-dictated austerity measures.

Two cases of a “functional cure” for HIV/AIDS

By Shane Feratu, 30 March 2013

Researchers have been able to neutralize the HIV virus from causing harm in two separate studies.

UN hides its role in Haiti cholera outbreak

By John Marion, 2 March 2013

The United Nations has refused reparations to Haitian victims and survivors of cholera, which was brought to the island by its forces.

Johnson & Johnson knowingly sold faulty hip implants

By Naomi Spencer, 25 January 2013

Although the company was aware that 40 percent of metal hip replacements would fail in five years, it sold the devices anyway.

Behind the newly proposed US food regulations

By Naomi Spencer, 9 January 2013

While the proposals have been hailed as “landmark” improvements to US food oversight, they will provide FDA inspectors with no meaningful enforcement powers.

UK: Hospitals across Greater Manchester under threat of closure

By Tony Robson, 4 January 2013

The downsizing of local hospitals is in line with plans to dismantle much of the NHS.

Mental health charity warns of “nightmare scenario” for North East England

By Mark Blackwood, 22 December 2012

A report reveals that when compared to the London area, the UK’s poorest region in the North East has almost three times the rate of self-harm/attempted suicide hospital admissions.

Private consultants reap rewards from UK National Health Service privatisation

By Richard Duckworth, 19 December 2012

Private consultancy firms have been central to the coalition government’s plans to carve up the National Health Service.

Massive job losses in UK’s National Health Service

By Robert Stevens, 26 November 2012

The ongoing offensive against the National Health Service (NHS) has led to 28,500 health workers losing their jobs since the Conservative Party/Liberal Democrat coalition came to power in 2010.

UK unions and Socialist Party isolate striking Mid Yorkshire NHS workers

By Mark Blackwood and Paul Mitchell, 24 November 2012

The Socialist Party is helping public sector unions Unison and Unite isolate 300 National Health Service clerical and administrative workers employed by Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust.

Germany’s long-standing thalidomide scandal

By Werner Albrecht and Konrad Kreft, 19 November 2012

It has taken the Grünenthal company 50 years to apologise for its role in subjecting thousands of people around the world to the disastrous effects of thalidomide poisoning.

Massive cuts to emergency health care in northwest London

By Richard Duckworth and Paul Stuart, 8 November 2012

Four out of nine A&E departments catering to nearly 2 million people in northwest London face closure as part of £20 billion in cuts to the NHS.

Thousands demonstrate to save children’s heart surgery in Leeds

By our reporters, 30 July 2012

Some 3,000 people gathered in Millennium Square, Leeds on July 23, to protest the proposal to end paediatric heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary.

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline fined $3 billion

By Will Morrow, 5 July 2012

Monday’s settlement is the latest in a long list of cases in which pharmaceutical giants have paid cash fines for fraudulent and criminal practices, without anyone being held accountable.

UK hedge funds and ex-bankers take over first privatised NHS hospital

By Paul Stuart, 9 April 2012

The first privatised hospital since the creation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948, Hinchingbrooke Cambridgeshire, began operating under Circle Healthcare Limited on February 1.

Putting profits before health: Siemens abandons cancer therapy project

By Elisabeth Steinert, 2 February 2012

The Siemens group has decided not to commission its particle therapy cancer treatment facility in Kiel.

Totally drug-resistant tuberculosis reported in Mumbai

By Debra Watson, 27 January 2012

Doctors in Mumbai, India’s largest city, reported in December that they had confirmed four cases of Totally Drug Resistant Tuberculosis.

UK: Breast implant failures threaten health of thousands

By Eileen Rose, 25 January 2012

The ongoing scandal over PIP (Poly Implant Prostheses) breast implants makes clear the human cost of the privatisation of health care in the UK, and the callous indifference of the political elite towards its consequences.

Profit drive leads to shortage of critical drugs, deaths in US

By Nicholas Russo, 11 January 2012

Since 2010, at least 15 deaths have been linked to the shortage of critical drugs in the US.

Widening health inequalities match UK poverty patterns

By Joe Mount, 16 July 2011

Detailed health profiles for each English local authority highlight large health inequalities and the underlying poverty in Britain’s major towns and cities.

New “super bug” threatens Australian hospitals

By John Mackay, 19 May 2011

Despite warnings by health professionals, no national surveillance system has been introduced for the potentially fatal Clostridium difficile bacteria.

Reports highlight threats to women’s health in poorest countries

By Barry Mason, 11 May 2011

Two recent reports highlight the lack of health care provision affecting women in semi-colonial countries.

Johnson & Johnson recalls more over-the-counter medicines

By Ed Hightower, 30 June 2010

For the past several months, a recall crisis has been developing at the Johnson & Johnson company over serious quality control problems in over-the-counter medicines, including children’s versions.

Canada: Chaotic response to swine flu pandemic highlights government indifference

By Carl Bronski, 9 November 2009

Federal and provincial health officials are backtracking on earlier commitments to help both high-risk groups and members of the general population seeking vaccination.

Media sensationalism, corporate power and the swine flu outbreak

By Alex Lantier, 4 May 2009

The handling of the swine flu outbreak underscores the difficulty, in the present political environment, of separating medical science from corporate interests and the political agendas of governments that are beholden to them.

Rates of hospital-acquired infection rising in Canada

By John MacKay, 29 December 2008

A study, based on a survey of Canadian hospitals, has found that hospital-acquired infection rates continue to rise and that for want of funding, infection-control programs continue to fall well short of expert recommendations.

A letter on Canada, South Africa and deadly asbestos

1 November 2008

The following letter was sent to the World Socialist Web Site in response to the article, “Canadian Government defends export of asbestos to poorer nations.”

Canada: Listeriosis epidemic continues—Liberal and Tory policies culpable

By John Mackay, 14 October 2008

The number of deaths linked to the listeriosis outbreak that originated at the Maple Leaf Foods meatpacking plant in Toronto has now risen to 20.

WHO report discloses extent of global health inequality

By Barry Mason, 25 September 2008

In August the World Health Organisation (WHO) published a report, “Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health.”

China’s milk crisis: another disaster unleashed by the capitalist market

Unregulated dairy industry

By John Chan, 24 September 2008

The contamination of Chinese milk products with the toxic industrial chemical melamine is rapidly becoming a major national and international scandal. Already, some 53,000 infants have become sick and at least 12,892 have been hospitalised.

Canadian Medical Association Journal attacks Harper government for listeria epidemic

By John Mackay, 20 September 2008

The Canadian Medical Association Journal, one of the world’s top medical publications, has made a scathing attack on Canada’s Conservative government, charging that “government policy errors helped bring about” the recent epidemic of listeriosis.

AIDS conference reflects failure to tackle deepening catastrophe

By Barry Mason, 12 August 2008

The latest figures for the AIDS epidemic were published by UNAIDS and WHO (World Health Organisation) last month. Two million people died of AIDS in 2007—of whom one-quarter of a million were children. A total of 33 million people are now living with HIV/AIDS, two million of them children.

Report details spread of global AIDS epidemic

By Barry Mason, 13 January 2007

Last year saw a major spread of the global AIDS epidemic. According to the report “2006 Aids Epidemic Update” published by the United Nations bodies UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 39.5 million people now live with HIV, and in 2006 alone 4.3 million became infected with the HIV virus and 2.9 million died from the effects of AIDS.

Chikungunya epidemic on the French Island of Réunion: a “natural” catastrophe

By Françoise Thull and Pierre Mabut, 15 March 2006

The epidemic that has raged on the Réunion Island since March 2005 has, according to official figures, affected 157,000 people, 20 percent of the population, with 77 deaths directly or indirectly attributed to the chikungunya virus. This very debilitating disease is transmitted by the Aedes Albopictus mosquito, which had only been present in Africa before appearing in Réunion at the start of 2005. The disease’s symptoms are bouts of high temperatures associated with pain or even paralysis of the body’s joints, forcing the patient to move in a bent position; hence the name chikungunya, which in Swahili means “he who walks bent over.”

Bird flu threat grows in Europe and Africa

By Andreas Reiss, 13 March 2006

Cases of Asiatic bird flu are spreading in Germany and other European states, but no governmental authorities—at either the national, state or local levels—seem to have developed serious plans to deal with this fully foreseeable crisis.

Nobel Prize for Medicine for gastric ulcer breakthrough

By Perla Astudillo, 6 March 2006

Last year’s Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded in December to two Australian scientists who revealed the bacterial basis for the world’s second most prevalent disease—gastritis and peptic ulcers. Ulcers were previously connected to bad diet or a stressful lifestyle—to the point that it pervaded popular culture, including in film and literature. The breakthrough paved the way for relatively straightforward treatments for a debilitating and potentially fatal disease.

Bird flu sparks emergency measures in India, Europe, Africa

By Patrick Martin, 21 February 2006

In the most rapid and far-flung extension of the area of infection since the most recent strain of avian flu was first detected nine years ago, health authorities in India, Western Europe and parts of Africa reported new outbreaks of the disease and announced emergency measures over the weekend.

The dangers of a global bird flu pandemic

By Frank Gaglioti, 4 November 2005

Health authorities around the world are warning that humanity could face the first global influenza pandemic of the twenty-first century. The spread of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza through poultry stocks in Asia and recently into Europe raises the prospect that the virus will mutate so that it can be transmitted from person to person, resulting in millions of deaths. In spite of the constant warning from scientists, governments in wealthier countries have responded in an uncoordinated and belated manner, largely leaving poorer countries to their own devices.

Lack of government preparation for flu pandemic

By Barry Mason and Chris Talbot, 20 October 2005

Cases of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu virus have now been confirmed in poultry in Turkey, Romania and Greece. So far, the virus that is spreading from the Far East, through Russia and into Europe is infecting birds, though more than 100 people working in proximity to infected poultry have caught the flu and at least 63 have died over the last two years. Large-scale culling of domestic birds in Vietnam, China and other countries has failed to stop the spread. A World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesman said, “Never before in the history of this disease have so many countries been simultaneously affected, resulting in the loss of so many birds.”

EU states downplay risk as bird flu spreads toward Western Europe

By Dragan Stankovic, 10 September 2005

The discovery of avian influenza, or bird flu, among migratory birds and domestic poultry in Siberia during July has triggered fears that the virus will reach Western Europe. Despite warnings by many scientists that bird flu could mutate and cause a global pandemic, sharp divisions emerged among European Union (EU) member states over whether to take action to stem the spread of the virus.

Research reveals link between tiny genetic structures and cancer

By Perla Astudillo, 5 September 2005

The complex connection between genes and cancer has been further clarified in fascinating findings published in the June 9 edition of the British science journal Nature. Separate studies by three major US cancer research laboratories have positively correlated the relationship between over 200 types of miRNA (also called microRNA) and the development of cancer tumours.

Nanotechnology and the treatment of cancer

By Perla Astudillo, 20 June 2005

Recent successful medical trials of a cancer treatment involving the use of “nanotechnology” may open up important new avenues for the diagnosis and treatment of other cancers and diseases.

New malaria study reveals huge underestimation of disease

By Barry Mason, 31 March 2005

A new study using epidemiological, geographical and demographic data has demonstrated that there are over 500 million cases of malaria each year. This figure is more than double that previously estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of around 210 million. Of these cases, 70 percent occur in Africa and 25 percent in Southeast Asia. Around 2 billion people, i.e., a third of the world’s population, are at risk of contracting the disease.

New cases of bird flu underscore dangers of a global pandemic

By Dragan Stankovic, 29 March 2005

The appearance of new cases of the bird flu virus HIN5 among poultry and humans in Asia has prompted urgent warnings about the potentially catastrophic consequences of a deadly worldwide pandemic. At present, the virus is transmitted to humans via infected birds. With the virus entrenched in parts of Asia, what concerns scientists and health workers is the possibility that a mutant strain will emerge that can spread directly from human to human.

Asbestos industry—corporate murder on a global scale

“You will know them by their trail of death”—an investigation into the asbestos industry

Review of a Real Life documentary produced in the UK for ITN television.

14 September 2004

This documentary, broadcast in August, is about corporate murder, premeditated and on a massive scale. Widows Joan Baird and Pauline Bonney listen to a haunting song about the epidemic of asbestos deaths that is an international scandal. The words of “He Fades Away” bring the heartache back. Joan lost her husband, William, seven years ago to asbestos-induced mesothelioma. Pauline’s husband, John, succumbed to the same deadly form of cancer five years previously. ITN followed the quest of these two courageous women as they investigate the reasons why their loved ones had died—a journey that takes them to disused, though still contaminated, asbestos factories, and all the way to the mines in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Wherever they travel, they uncover a trail of death.

As superbug problem mounts, drug companies slash antibiotics research

By Guy Charron, 11 September 2004

Infectious disease specialists have drawn a causal link between an alarming rise in the number of Quebec hospital patients becoming infected with and dying from Clostridium difficile—a bacterium resistant to standard antibiotics—and government budget-cutting. As the World Socialist Web Site previously reported, researchers studying the C. difficile pandemic in Quebec have linked the bacteria’s spread to the unsanitary environment created by decaying infrastructure, patient overcrowding, and reduced staffing. [See “Canada: budget cuts have contributed to spread of super-bug”]

Canada: meatpackers profit from BSE crisis

By David Adelaide, 23 August 2004

A recently released report by Alberta’s auditor general reveals that the major meatpacking companies reaped windfall profits from Canada’s BSE crisis, while the social cost of the crisis fell onto cattle producers, including small farmers and farm workers, and the public treasury.

Britain: new findings point to larger outbreaks of vCJD “mad cow disease”

By Trevor Johnson, 18 August 2004

UK scientists are upwardly revising their estimates of the number of people likely to die from new variant CJD (vCJD, also known as “mad cow disease”). It follows the death of a second patient, who contracted the disease after a blood transfusion [1].

BSE/Mad Cow Disease crisis provokes trade war

By Paul Mitchell, 2 August 2004

The spread of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, has provoked a trade war in cattle and beef products.

Polio epidemic threatens Africa

By Trevor Johnson, 31 July 2004

The global rate of polio infection declined in recent decades to the point where the disease was almost eradicated. This year, the disease has experienced a resurgence, as basic health care collapses in large parts of Africa and in other poor countries around the world.

Anger at International AIDS Conference over Bush administration’s policies

By Carol Divjak, 29 July 2004

More than 17,000 delegates, including scientists, health officials, policy makers and activists, gathered from July 11 to 17 at the 15th International AIDS Conference in Bangkok. What dominated the agenda was not so much the latest scientific research but the failure of the major powers, especially the US, to provide the resources needed to deal with the rapidly spreading AIDS epidemic.

Huge funding shortfall for global AIDS epidemic

By Trevor Johnson and Chris Talbot, 26 July 2004

The UNAIDS report released at the fifteenth International AIDS Conference last week shows that there is an escalating shortfall in the funding required to deal with the global spread of AIDS.

Scientists identify a gene that may block HIV

By Perla Astudillo, 6 May 2004

Scientists at the Harvard Medical School in the United States have identified a human gene, known as TRIM5-alpha, which is capable of preventing the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) from replicating inside cells. While the discovery, announced in February, is unlikely to lead to any immediate medical breakthrough, it is an important step in understanding the life cycle of HIV and has the potential to enable the future development of a drug to block HIV infection.

US blocks UN proposal to combat obesity

By Barry Mason, 9 February 2004

Obesity is one of the major causes of non-communicable disease. Worldwide there are around 300 million obese people with another 750 million considered overweight—approximately one sixth of the world’s population. In May 2002 the World Health Organisation was mandated to prepare a report on the virtual “epidemic” of obesity that is concerning health workers around the world.

Asian bird flu threatens to trigger worldwide epidemic

By John Roberts, 6 February 2004

The current outbreak of avian influenza—popularly known as bird flu—in a number of Asian countries is looming as a major international health crisis. It has potentially catastrophic human and economic consequences. While the full story is yet to be established, it is already clear that economic backwardness, government cover-ups and an inadequate system of international monitoring and response have all played a part in enabling the emergence and spread of the disease.

Eastern Europe faces HIV-AIDS epidemic

By Richard Tyler, 12 December 2003

The reintroduction of the free market into the former Eastern Bloc countries has unleashed a health catastrophe.

UN International AIDS Day report reveals growing pandemic

By Ann Talbot, 2 December 2003

Five million people were infected with HIV this year. This is a record number of new infections and indicates that the global AIDS epidemic is continuing to worsen.

Bush’s AIDS appointee spells out corporate agenda

By Chris Talbot, 9 October 2003

Randall Tobias, ex-Ely Lilly CEO and a member of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), was confirmed as head of the Bush administration’s Emergency Plan for AIDS by the US Senate last week.

International governments hold back stem cell research

By Paul Mitchell, 12 August 2003

Governments across the world are holding back stem cell research and its promise of revolutionising healthcare. Pressure from religious organisations and anti-abortion campaigners has forced many governments to introduce legislation to limit vital research.

US and Europe renege on AIDS pledges

By Richard Tyler, 22 July 2003

Pledges made by US president George W. Bush and European Union Commission president Romano Prodi to each provide $1 billion for the global fight against AIDS were proved worthless last week.

Hormone replacement therapy: Study reveals increased dementia risk

By Joanne Laurier, 4 June 2003

Postmenopausal women over the age of 65 using combined hormone therapy face significantly increased risks of dementia and strokes, according to new findings from a sub-study of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). The research, part of the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS) and reported in the May 28 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that older women taking Prempro, the most commonly used form of estrogen plus progestin, were twice as likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, than their placebo-taking counterparts.

The science and sociology of SARS

Part 2: Science, internationalism and the profit motive

By Joseph Kay, 13 May 2003

The outbreak of a new virus responsible for what is known as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) raises a number of scientific, medical and social problems. Thanks in part to the quick response and collaborative effort of a team of international scientists, the virus has remained fairly well contained. However, it has infected 7,000 people worldwide and has killed over 500. It is still an enormous health risk in China, and there is still the possibility of an international epidemic that would have devastating consequences.

The science and sociology of SARS

Part 1: Viruses and the nature of present outbreak

By Joseph Kay, 12 May 2003

The outbreak of a new virus responsible for what is known as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) raises a number of scientific, medical and social problems. Thanks in part to the quick response and collaborative effort of a team of international scientists, the virus has remained fairly well contained. However, it has infected 7,000 people worldwide and has killed over 500. It poses an enormous health risk in China, and there is still the possibility of an international epidemic that would have devastating consequences.

WHO report: alarming increase in cancer rates

By Joanne Laurier, 26 April 2003

Global cancer rates are expected to increase 50 percent by the year 2020, according to the latest report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO). The 351-page study, titled World Cancer Report, begins by explaining that 10 million people developed malignant tumors and 6.2 million died from the disease in the year 2000.

Ebola outbreak in the Congo

By Barry Mason, 27 February 2003

On February 19 the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva confirmed that an outbreak of haemorrhagic fever in the Cuvette Ouest region of northwest Congo-Brazzaville, near its border with Gabon, was due to the Ebola virus.

Bush uses AIDS funding as an instrument of foreign policy

By Barry Mason, 18 February 2003

US President George W. Bush announced $15 billion to fight HIV and AIDS in his State of the Union address on January 28. The proposed funds are to be spent in the African countries of Botswana, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. Also included are the two Caribbean countries Guyana and Haiti.

US blocks cheap drugs for undeveloped world

By Barry Mason, 17 January 2003

World Trade Organization (WTO) talks on the provision of generic drugs to underdeveloped countries broke down as the United States, on behalf of the major pharmaceutical companies, blocked agreement at the last minute.

UN fund says money running out to fight AIDS

By Barry Mason and Ann Talbot, 11 November 2002

The Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria has announced that unless donations double it will have to stop processing grant applications because requests for help have outstripped the money available.

Alarming breast cancer rates in northern California county

By Joanne Laurier, 31 October 2002

Women in northern California’s Marin County are presently being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at a rate approximately 40 percent higher than the officially recorded national average. In this affluent community the recorded incidence of the disease among white women aged 45 to 64 has increased by 72 percent during the last decade. Diagnoses of breast cancer for the entire female population climbed by 37 percent in the county during the last decade, compared with a 3 percent increase for the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Do cellular phones represent a health risk?

By Joanne Laurier, 11 July 2002

A major study carried out by scientists in Finland suggests that radiation from mobile phones causes changes to the brain. Professor Darius Leszcynski headed up the two-year program at Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority.

Human organs: the next futures market?

By Joanne Laurier, 26 April 2002

Recent advances in human tissue transplantation have created an exploding commercial industry for the purpose of supplying hospitals and clinics with transplantable human tissue. The business of processing and storing human tissue used to treat a myriad of medical problems operates largely outside of any governmental control.

Britain: Report highlights BSE danger from infected sheep

By Barry Mason, 21 January 2002

The risk to humans developing variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) could be far greater if the brain-wasting disease Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) has entered the sheep population. This was the conclusion of a study published in the British science magazine Nature on January 10.

South African government to appeal against AIDS drug verdict

By Barry Mason and Chris Talbot, 27 December 2001

The South African government is to appeal a court decision instructing it to make the drug Nevirapine universally available in order to prevent maternal transmission of the HIV virus. It is appealing to the Constitutional Court, the country’s highest legal body, against the right of a judge to set government policy.

AIDS epidemic grows unchecked

By Barry Mason, 8 December 2001

The United Nations (UN) has just issued its latest AIDS epidemic update. It is now 20 years since the immunodeficiency syndrome that came to be known as AIDS was first reported. In that time the disease has wrought death and debilitation across the planet. According to the UN in that 20 years more than 60 million people have been infected with the AIDS virus. Worldwide it is the fourth largest killer, whilst in sub-Saharan Africa it has become the foremost cause of death. The report states that in the year 2001 there are 40 million people living with the disease, five million people became infected and three million people died as a result of AIDS.

Britain: Government suppresses report showing hospital patients face danger from Human BSE

By Paul Mitchell, 29 November 2001

The Labour government has suppressed a damning report into the procedures used by hospitals to prevent the spread of the incurable brain-wasting disorder variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD).

Britain: Labour government accused of cover-up over BSE experiments

By Paul Mitchell, 26 October 2001

Farming and Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett has been accused of seeking to suppress how vital experiments concerning the safety of British lamb and mutton were botched-up. Scientists had hoped to determine whether deadly Mad Cow Disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE) has infected British sheep.

Britain: Big increase in human form of "Mad Cow Disease"

By Paul Mitchell, 11 September 2001

The incidence of variant Creutzfeldt Jacobs Disease (vCJD)—the human form of “Mad Cow Disease”—has increased 20 percent in the UK since last year. In his announcement last week, Professor James Ironside, head of the CJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh, said that instead of “a flat line, we are now seeing an upward trend that has been sustained for the past four quarters”. The total number of cases could vary between several hundred and 150,000, he added. Professor Ironside’s unit has released figures showing there are now 106 confirmed or probable cases of vCJD, the fatal and incurable brain wasting disorder in the UK. Most scientific opinion now accepts that the disease is probably related to eating beef infected with BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), or “Mad Cow Disease”.

Sleeping Sickness rampant in Sub-Saharan Africa

By Barry Mason, 7 September 2001

The recent announcement that the Microsoft Gates Foundation has donated $15 million to fund research into sleeping sickness has only served to highlight the abysmal response by pharmaceutical companies and Western governments to a disease that is now affecting millions in Africa.

Diabetes: a major new health problem

By Leanne Josling, 21 August 2001

According to various studies and statistics, diabetes has become the fourth leading cause of death in most developed countries and will be one of the most challenging health problems worldwide in the 21st century.

TB poses growing international health threat

By Barry Mason, 19 July 2001

Tuberculosis, or TB, poses a growing threat to world health. According to an article in the New Scientist magazine, it is estimated that a third of the world’s population carry the disease, but nine out of ten do not show symptoms. It infects one person every four seconds. Eight million people a year develop the disease, of which three million die. According to the charity TB Alert, by 2050 there will be five million deaths a year from the disease. Many of its victims are young.

A "modest proposal" from tobacco giant Philip Morris

By Joanne Laurier, 19 July 2001

In a move that cries out for a response from a master satirist on the order of Jonathan Swift, Philip Morris, the New York-based tobacco giant, recently handed the government of the Czech Republic a study arguing that the Czech state had benefited from “health-care cost savings due to early mortality” resulting from smoking. According to the company-commissioned study, premature deaths from cigarettes saved the Czech government between 943 million koruna and 1.19 billion koruna (between $23.8 million and $30.1 million).