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  • Science & Medicine

How will population ageing affect future end of life care?

Increasing population ageing means that deaths worldwide are expected to rise by 13 million to 70 million per year in the next 15 years. As a result, there is an urgent need to plan ahead to ensure we meet the growing end of life care needs of our population in the future. Understanding where people die, and how this could change in the future, is vital to ensuring that health services are equipped to support people’s needs and preferences at the end of life.

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Global Health Days – immunity and community

24 April marks the start of World Immunization Week – an annual campaign first launched in 2012. The week is one of 8 WHO international public health events, which include those targeting major infectious diseases – World AIDS day, World Tuberculosis (TB) day, World Malaria day, and World Hepatitis Day. These infections share a few features with each other which mean they all will continue to be global health threats.

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The road to safe drugs

Healthcare is expensive, and not just in high income countries. Those who are suffering or struck by illness in resource limited countries are often unable to afford services that can provide them the care they need. Inequitable access to health services continues to be among the greatest public health challenges of our time. Since becoming […]

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Animal of the Month: ten facts about penguins

Penguins are some of the most varied and remarkable creatures on the planet. With 17 extant species’ inhabiting the earth, this bird family contain a vast range of sizes, habitats, skills, and behaviours. This April, to honour our animal of the month, we celebrate 10 amazing facts about the penguin.

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WANTED: An alternative to Competency-Based Medical Education

Nicaragua (1984): In a hospital—or at least what was labelled as a hospital—a physician receives an elderly woman in a hypertensive crises. He administers the only anti-hypertensive medication available—Reserpine—a drug that is now rarely used because of its side effects. To his profound dismay the patient suffers a stroke and dies a few hours later. There are no morgues in such rural hospitals. There are no ‘funeral parlours’ in the villages. Families take their departed loved ones home for burial.

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Earth Day 2018: ending pollution [quiz]

Happy Earth Day! Celebrated across the world, this day was created to help raise awareness and encourage action around environmental protection. This year’s earth day focus is on ending plastic pollution. Plastic pollution is threatening the survival of our planet, and is especially harmful within marine environments.

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Sustainable libraries: a community effort

To celebrate Earth Day, Katie D. Bennet takes a look at how environmentally conscious libraries from all over the world are using using sustainable architectural methods to achieve their green-goals. The team at the Vancouver Community Library shed some light on the steps they have taken to build an environmentall sustainable library that aligns with the ideals of the community.

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The promising strategy of rewilding

Since the 1950s there has been dramatic increase in threats to the world’s plant and wildlife. Scientists around the world agree that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction. In response, numerous laws have been enacted in order to halt or slow down this rate of extinction. Scientists and conservationists have teamed up and developed new methods in the field of conservation biology to combat this issue.

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What can brain research offer people who stutter?

There’s something compelling about watching a person who stutters find a way to experience fluent speech. British TV viewers witnessed such a moment on Educating Yorkshire, back in 2013. When teenager Musharaf Asghar  listened to music through headphones during preparations for a speaking exam, he found that his words began to flow. Singers, like Mark Asari who is currently competing on The Voice UK, also demonstrate how using the voice in song, rather than speech, can result in striking fluency.

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Learning to live in the age of humans

A new “great force of nature” is so rapidly and profoundly transforming our planet that many scientists now believe that Earth has entered a new chapter in its history. That force of nature is us, and that new chapter is called the Anthropocene epoch. Will the Anthropocene become a story of awakening and redemption, or a story of senseless destruction? At this point in Earth history, the Anthropocene is still young and the jury is still out.

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2019, the year of the periodic table

The periodic table turns 150 next year. Given that all scientific concepts are eventually refuted, the durability of the periodic table would suggest an almost transcendent quality that deserves greater scrutiny, especially as the United Nations has nominated 2019 as the year of the Periodic Table. These days it seems that physics gives a fundamental explanation of the periodic table, although historically speaking it was the periodic table that gave rise to parts of atomic physics and quantum theory. I am thinking of Bohr’s 1913 model of the hydrogen atom and his extension of these ideas to the entire periodic table.

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We can predict rain but can’t yet predict chronic pain

Accurate weather forecasts allow us to prepare for rain, snow, and temperature changes. We can avoid driving on icy roads, pack an umbrella, or purchase sunblock, depending on what is predicted.  Forecasting also generates information trustworthy enough to evacuate a city at risk from a category 4 hurricane. Meteorology has come a long way; today satellite data inform sophisticated computer weather models. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for forecasting chronic pain. In most cases, health care providers can’t anticipate early or accurately enough which patients might develop long-lasting pain.

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What’s the deal with genetically modified (GM) foods?

It’s complicated; but here is a quick summary of what the controversy over genetically modified foods is all about. GM engineering involves reconfiguring the genes in crop plants or adding new genes that have been created in the laboratory. Scientific modification of plants is not something new. Since time began, nature has been modifying plants and animals through natural evolution, meaning that the plants and ani­mals that adapt best to the changing environment survive and pass their genes on to their offspring. Those that are least fit do not survive.

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Better health care delivery: doing more with existing resources

The healthcare sector faces challenges which are constantly escalating. Populations are growing worldwide and so is the share of the elderly in society. There is a constant proliferation of new medications, diagnostic methods, medical procedures and equipment, and know-how. This huge progress greatly improves the quality of medical treatment but at the same time increases its costs. Governments and authorities are allocating ever growing budgets to healthcare systems but the increased budgets do not cover the increased costs of providing quality healthcare to the public.

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Animal of the Month: the lesser known penguins

Penguins have fascinated zoologists, explorers, and the general public for centuries. Their Latin name—Sphenisciformes—is a mixture of Latin and Greek derivatives, meaning ‘small wedge shaped’, after the distinctive form of their flightless wings. The genus of penguins comprises more than just the famous Emperors of the Antarctic, and while public awareness is growing, many of the seventeen extant members of this bird family, their habitats, and threats to their survival, remain relatively unknown.

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In defense of beating dead horses: probing a subtle universe

A February 2017 Workshop on Robustness, Reliability, and Reproducibility in Scientific Research was sponsored by the US National Science Foundation (NSF).  The workshop was part of NSF’s response to growing concerns in Congress triggered by increasing media coverage of an apparent lack of reproducibility among findings, especially in clinical sciences. The participants, spanning diverse scientific subfields, were charged to assess the extent of any problems of reliability and reproducibility, and to formulate next steps toward solutions.

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