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Global distribution of malaria. (CDC)

Global distribution of malaria. (CDC)

Trials of the first vaccine to show evidence of full protection against the deadly disease Malaria will take place at the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania, who are working with the developer of the new vaccine, the private company Sanaria.  Some postgraduate researchers with IHRR who have also worked at Ifakara have concentrated on preventing the spread of malaria, (such as providing bed nets) including Christina Makungu, a Moyes Postgraduate Fellow who completed her dissertation on the health of young people in self-care in Tanzania.  Prevention is still likely the best way in combating the spread of the deadly disease that has plagued less developed countries.  A vaccine would be most welcome.

While researchers have expressed ‘cautious optimism’ about the results, this scientific advance is clearly great news. The new vaccine (PfSPZ) ‘uses a weakened form of the whole parasite to invoke an immune response’, something that was previously thought too difficult to achieve.  It was produced from 850 mosquitoes that were dissected in about one hour by six researchers. Six subjects given five doses of the vaccine were completely protected against malaria, compared to three of nine who were given four doses. The vaccine must be given intravenously, which is not as efficient as injection or oral administration, but the dosage is small (.5 ml) and researchers are working on improving the delivery of the vaccine. Read the rest of this entry »

People living in areas of England with long-term low employment rates face a greater risk of premature death and poor health, according to new research led by Executive Director of IHRR Prof Sarah Curtis at Durham University that was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.  The study was co-authored by Dr Mylène Riva a former IHRR researcher.

The study, based on data from 200,000 citizens in England, looked at how employment trends are related to mortality and illness.  It examined employment rates in different parts of England from 1981 to 2008.  It found that people under the age of 75 living in parts of the country with persistent unemployment rates have a 20 percent higher risk of premature death than those living with better long-term employment rates. Read more

Smoking Prevalence and Lung Cancer Incidence, by Sex, Great Britain, 1948-2010 (Cancer Research UK)

This conference from the Tipping Points project focuses on modelling of social problems and health.  Researchers will present and discuss health problems of concern within society together with mathematical and statistical models, which may be useful predictive tools for deriving strategies that practitioners may use.  Emphasis of the workshop will be placed on actual health issues that are a huge financial burden to governments and taxpayers, such as smoking, alcoholism, substance abuse and heart problems.

Lectures will be given on mathematical and statistical methods by experts from the Universities of Bologna, Durham, Manchester, Strathclyde and Turin within the context of health problems. A key feature of the workshop are lectures by practitioners from government-sponsored bodies like FRESH (smoke-free North East), and NEPHO (North East Public Health Observatory), together with guests from Volterra Consulting, Rinicare, the Wolfson Research Institute, the NIBHI (Northwest Institute for BioHealth Informatics), and the Universities of Lancaster and Manchester. Read more

Earlier this year the UK government updated its National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies to include large global hazards such as the damaging impact of space weather on tele- and satellite-based communications, power grids, air travel and other forms of technological infrastructure.  These forms of hazards include solar flares, coronal mass ejections and solar energetic particle events.

While these extreme events are rare, with the last recorded space weather event affecting the UK occurring in 1859 known as the Carrington Event, space weather has the potential to cause mass disruption and devastation to any electrical system people depend on for survival. Read more

Terry McClure, who is studying for an MA in Risk, Health and Public Policy, explains how some insurance companies are using computer modelling and information about people’s lifestyle choices found on the internet to evaluate health-related risks.  This could largely affect whether some people are able to receive life insurance coverage in the future.  This form of ‘predictive modelling’ could also disproportionately affect poor people who may be perceived as a riskier clientele and denied coverage.


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Further Reading

Insurers Test Data Profiles to Identify Risky Clients. Wall Street Journal

Life insurance: Life in the fast lane. The Actuary

5 July, 18:00 to 20:30, Dales Suite, Collingwood College, South Road, Durham DH1 3L

A joint meeting between the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience and the Durham Health Forum to draw on recent North East research into smoking behaviours as the basis of a wider discussion of the social context of health risky behaviours and the implications for public health. Read more

We live in a world vulnerable to social panic and catastrophe.  Since the information we depend on for understanding how health risks could impact our daily lives is so integrated with the rest of the world (primarily through the internet) the question of reliable knowledge has become a difficult one.  Two leading researchers part of the Tipping Points project at IHRR, Dr Alex Bentley and Dr Paul Ormerod, revealed that awareness of health pandemics spreads socially rather than through people feeling a genuine need to find out about the disease. Read more

Hazard Risk Resilience Magazine Issue 2 Out Now!

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