Weekly health roundup January 23

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International health news

A new international partnership has pledged $500 million to fight worldwide epidemics. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) will develop and stockpile vaccines against known threats and develop new technologies that can be quickly and effectively deployed as soon as new threats emerge.

Malaria advocates are worried that changes in leadership both in the United States and in major international organizations could block much needed funding to keep the disease under control and work towards eradication. A decrease in funding could mean a further move away from the goal of reducing malaria incidence by 40% by 2020.

Health experts worldwide are evaluating the global response to the Zika epidemic, which has affected thousands since last year. Experts noted that many cities failed to effectively control mosquitoes and criticised the political considerations that prevented scientists and doctors from effectively advising women. Brazil, the hardest-hit country, failed to give women objective and competent advice regarding birth control, and consequences are expected to be seen for the foreseeable future.

Country updates

Expats in France could be forced to pay for healthcare during the first two years in the country, according to the health plan put forward by presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. The National Front leader has claimed that foreign citizens should not expect France to support new arrivals’ needs right away.

A report by the United States Congressional Budget Office estimates that 18 million people could lose health insurance if Obamacare is repealed without a substitute in place. If the Republicans’ plans go forward, health insurance premiums are also expected to double within a decade.

Dubai authorities have agreed to extend the period of health coverage for expats after excessive numbers of requests were overloading the insurance system. New regulations put in place at the end of last year had required visa renewals to be dependent on the acquisition of health insurance.

London mayor Sadiq Khan issued a smog alert last week, advising people with heart or lung conditions to avoid outdoor physical activity. Mayor Khan has pledged to use all measures at his disposal to tackle the city’s air pollution, which has been considered a ‘public health emergency’.

Health advice

Less sitting and more physical activity can keep you biologically younger. New research by the University of California San Diego has concluded that a sedentary lifestyle can age your cells by up to eight years. The study also found that exercising 30 minutes per day, even in combination with long periods of sitting, can counter this effect.

Scientists at the University of Vermont have found that eating spicy food can lead to a longer life. Data from the 23-year study showed that people who reported eating hot peppers showed a reduced risk of early death. It is assumed that capsaicin, a component of peppers, might have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Staying inside for long periods could affect your vision in the long term. A recent study suggests that lack of direct sunlight in children may lead to vision impairment later in life. People who got more sun as kids were found to be 25% less likely to develop myopia.