Archive by category | World watch

Disaster in the time of cholera

Disaster in the time of cholera

Haiti is back in the news this morning, as its Ministry of Health just announced that lab tests have confirmed that cholera is responsible for an outbreak of diarrhea in rural areas. The epidemic has sickened more than 1,500 and killed at least 150, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). For months, aid organizations have been warning that crowded conditions amongst refugees from January’s devastating earthquake could lead to rapidly spreading illnesses.  Read more

Tobacco trends suggest challenges ahead

Tobacco trends suggest challenges ahead

A lung conference on Friday put a spotlight on trends in tobacco around the world. Health experts estimate, for example, that smoking-related deaths in China will climb to two million each year by 2020 unless the country does more to curb tobacco use. Stamping out cigarettes might be a real drag on the country’s budget, though, as tobacco taxes generate a reported 7.6 % of Chinese central government revenues. In Africa, the World Health Organization has stepped in to reduce smoking-related deaths, announcing the launch of a new campaign last week with $10 million in funding from the Gates Foundation.  Read more

The best defense against biowarfare

The best defense against biowarfare

The recent suicide of vaccine researcher Bruce Ivins, the FBI’s prime suspect in the fatal anthrax mailings following the 9/11 attacks, has brought bioterrorism back to the forefront of the national consciousness. Many people are pondering out loud: Is the US prepared to respond to a bioweapons attack? Probably not, according to recent media reports. The government has invested some $50 billion in biowarfare research since 2001, which has gone into creating new labs, building up stockpiles of antibiotics and smallpox vaccines, and devising strategies for large-scale distribution of these medicines. Yet despite considerable progress, there is still work to be done; we still don’t have a suitable anthrax vaccine, for example.  Read more

New Wrath over ‘Honest’ Jim

The scientific community shunned Nobel laureate James Watson, of double-helix fame, this week after he suggested that Africa’s prospect is “gloomy” because blacks are not as intelligent as other races. Watson was quoted by the UK’s Sunday Times as saying, “All our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really.”  … Read more

Science on a shoestring

Speaking of Apoorva, before she left the journal she managed to produce a fitting swan song — a collection of reports called “”http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v13/n10/index.html#subcatxt”>Science on a shoestring”. In this collection, we present the stories of some scientists who, using materials as simple as litmus paper, bamboo and blenders, prove that science on a shoestring is possible.  Read more

Science down under

I’ve just returned from a two-week trip to Australia to scout out stories on the state of research in the country. We’re planning to run a special issue about Australia science early next year so you can read about it in detail then, but one thing I can tell you is I have never met a bunch of people who take more pride in their country.  Read more