Weekly health roundup February 14

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International health news

Cholera is still a threat in nearly 70 countries, but there might be a cure in sight. Researchers in Bangladesh and elsewhere have developed an effective cholera vaccine. The World Health organisation (WHO) started a treatment protocol 40 years ago, saving an estimated 50 million lives. Accepted by the WHO, the vaccine has been stockpiled for epidemics such as the one in Haiti in 2010.

No More Epidemics is urging all countries to publish their completed assessments of national capacities. Known as the Joint External Evaluation (JEE), they prevent, detect, and respond to epidemic threats. The publishing is important for civil society to be able to hold their government accountable for their obligations under the international health regulations (IHR), or to support their governments in their compliance efforts. Ethiopia, Liberia, Peru, Uganda, UK, and the US have already shared theirs.

Country updates

West Virginia officials in the USA have distributed a new antidote in response to opioid overdoses. In 2015, the state had 725 overdose deaths which was the highest rate of any state: 41.4 per 100,000 people. The antidote is called Naloxone and, when used in time, can resuscitate people in the event of an overdose.

The UK government has assured Conservative MPs that they will have an immigration system that “supports our economy and protects our public services” upon exit from the EU. In a letter to MPs, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that securing the right to remain for EU expats working in Britain was a top priority for the government, and that “nothing will change” after Brexit for any EU citizen in Britain without a vote in parliament.

The process of exportation of medical marijuana in Israel started last Sunday. This new development could be a windfall for other companies. However, the government announcing the vote stated that it could still take several months for the legislation to be able to pass parliament.

Health advice

A Finnish study has proved that liquorice can harm unborn babies. Teens who had been exposed to a larger amount of liquorice while in the womb performed worse than others in cognitive reasoning tests, memory measuring capacity tasks, and they also had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)-related problems.

A team of researchers is trying to shine new light on the importance of the development of children during the ages of 8 to 14. Child development during these years is almost as profound as those in the first two years. The team is led by Associate Professor Gerry Redmond of Flinders University, who conducted the Australian Child Wellbeing Project. The report, published a year ago, made a start on understanding these middle years.

A study has found that pet medication can be harmful to children. Curious children exploring cabinets find the medication close to pet food, which then finds its way to their mouths. The study aimed to bring awareness that parents should keep their pet’s’ medicine secured and out of reach for children.