TIME Infectious Disease

Watch a Science Cop Take on Donald Trump

TIME's Jeffrey Kluger takes on The Donald for crimes against science

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The Ebola outbreak that is causing such fear and suffering in Africa is a very real and very deadly thing. But the fact is that the nature of the Ebola virus is such that it stands a very low chance of ever causing a pandemic like AIDS or H1N1. That hasn’t stopped America’s great foghorn—Donald Trump—and others like him from spreading all kinds of misinformation about the disease, warning people that patients should not be brought to the U.S. and that flights from West Africa should be stopped, otherwise we face an American epidemic.

But Trump and his ilk are committing a science crime—the crime of misinformation. Here’s the truth, from TIME’s Jeffrey Kluger.

 
 

TIME global health

Suspect in Schumacher Records Probe Found Dead

(ZURICH) — An air ambulance employee who was arrested in connection with the suspected theft of former Formula One champion Michael Schumacher’s medical records was found dead in his cell on Wednesday, prosecutors said.

The man, whose name wasn’t released, was found hanged in a Zurich police jail on Wednesday morning as officers were handing out breakfast, prosecutors said in a statement. Initial investigations indicated that no one else was involved, they said.

The air ambulance service, Rega, arranged the seven-time F1 champion’s transfer in June from a hospital in France to a hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland, to continue his recovery from a Dec. 29 skiing accident.

A week later, Schumacher’s manager said medical documents purported to be Schumacher’s were being offered for sale to some media. Swiss prosecutors opened an investigation into suspected violation of professional secrecy after Rega and Schumacher’s family filed criminal complaints.

The investigation led prosecutors to the Rega employee, who was arrested on Tuesday. He denied wrongdoing in questioning by police, and prosecutors had planned to question him further.

Prosecutors said they currently have no evidence of further suspects and likely will close the case.

“This tragic event leaves us sad and speechless,” Rega chief executive Ernst Kohler said, adding that the company is offering support to the man’s relatives.

Rega has said it organized Schumacher’s transfer to Lausanne and, as part of that, was given a medical report by the Grenoble hospital where he had been treated since his accident.

Schumacher’s accident happened on a family vacation as he was skiing with his 14-year-old son at the Meribel ski resort in the French Alps. He hit the right side of his head on a rock, cracking his helmet. Doctors operated to remove blood clots from his brain, but some were left because they were too deeply embedded.

Schumacher’s condition stabilized after he was placed in a drug-induced coma, from which he has since emerged.

TIME global health

Photos: How Muslim Families Around the World Break the Ramadan Fast

From Istanbul to Sydney to Beijing, here's what Muslim families are eating to break the fast

TIME global health

Aid Group: Cholera Threatens Thousands in South Sudan

Zacharias Abubeker—AFP/Getty Images
South Sudanese refugees fetch water at a watering point in the Kule camp for Internally Displaced People at the Pagak border crossing in Gambella, Ethiopia, on July 10, 2014. Zacharias Abubeker—AFP/Getty Images

"Children are especially vulnerable."

Thousands of people in South Sudan are being put at risk by a cholera outbreak, says international aid group Save the Children. Cholera has infected 2,600 people in 9 of the the country’s 10 states, according to the group, leaving 60 dead since cases were first reported in May.

“Save the Children’s feeding clinics are dealing with an influx of severely malnourished children. We urgently need to further funds to provide families with life-saving food supplements,” said Save the Children’s Country Director Pete Walsh in a statement Friday.

The cholera outbreak is tied to an ongoing conflict in the country. South Sudan is home to a long-standing civil war, with the most recent violence escalating in December after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy of attempting to launch a coup.

Aid agencies are struggling to receive needed funding even as the fighting has pushed the country to famine. Save the Children says the seven major international aid agencies operating in the country face closure, currently short an excess of $92 million.

“We are seeing a lot of cases of malnutrition at our treatment centers,” Save the Children Director Francine Uenuma tells TIME. “Children are especially vulnerable.”

Save the Children is working closely with local treatment centers, hoping to develop assessment plans and prevention education. However, with the rainy season approaching, conditions are only expected to deteriorate further. Walsh says that flooded roads will only slow down the delivery of life-saving drugs.

 

 

 

TIME health

A Third of the World is Now Obese or Overweight

No country on earth has reduced obesity rates in more than three decades

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Almost 30 percent of the earth’s population is obese or overweight, a new study reports, estimating that this affects about 2.1 billion people.

Obesity rates have increased in countries all over the world, but it’s not an evenly distributed health problem, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reported on Wednesday.

In the developed world, adult men have higher rates of obesity (defined as having a Body Mass Index of 30 or more) than adult women. In the developing world, the opposite is true.

The prevalence of overweight and obese children and adolescents worldwide has increased by nearly 50 percent since 1980, the study says, and no country on Earth has successfully reduced obesity rates in the last 33 years.

Childhood obesity rates are notably higher in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly among girls.

Though the rate of increase in obesity has slowed in the developed world, in the developing world, home to two-thirds of the world’s obese people, obesity rates are projected to continue their climb.

TIME Religion

White House, Congress Should Remember Pope Francis During Budget Process

Remember the world's poor throughout the federal budget process

The United States has had a long and proud history of being a world leader on global health issues. Over the last decade, the U.S. has led the charge in tackling numerous challenges such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases, showing both pragmatic and moral leadership in the effort to improve health worldwide.

In doing so, the U.S. has demonstrated particular attention to the poor, a focus that Pope Francis has strongly encouraged in his first year in office. After his meeting last month with the Holy Father, President Obama said he and the American people had been inspired by the new pope’s global leadership on poverty.

“I was extremely moved by his insights about the importance of us all having a moral perspective on world problems,” the president shared after his conversation with the pope.

One of the biggest indicators of a country’s priorities from a moral perspective is how it chooses to spend its revenue. The United States has steadily increased its aid in important global health efforts, most notably those that improve the lives of the poorest people on earth. In the most recently passed budget, a bipartisan group of lawmakers continued this trend, increasing federal funding for global health.

Sadly, the budget proposed by the president last month for the coming year is a step backwards. The White House document includes significant and worrisome cuts to programs tackling health conditions affecting the world’s poorest people, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases.

The human cost of these cuts would be profound. The impact of last year’s sequester on global health programs made that painfully clear. But, beyond the humanitarian dimension, there are strong pragmatic reasons to maintain and even increase our investment in global health.

We already know that investing in health has tremendous returns. For instance, the global effort to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases that infect over a billion of the world’s poorest people is scaling up–and with dramatic results. A person treated will not suffer severe symptoms, such as blindness and disfigurement. They can stay in school, find work, and provide for their families. The cost of treating and preventing the most common neglected tropical diseases is just $0.50 per person annually. This is a small investment with large and immediate returns. Provided adequate funding can be found, we will succeed in eliminating these diseases as public health threats by the end of the decade.

While the United States weighs the value of its investment in this and other areas of global health, the world community is stepping up. Just last week, pharmaceutical companies, philanthropists, and international leaders committed more than $240 million in new resources to the fight against neglected tropical diseases.

The United States must not back away from its global leadership on these issues. President Obama and leaders in Congress, who have found new inspiration in Pope Francis, must act on his call “to remember the people, especially the poor, who are affected by the economic decisions we make.”

The Holy Father is right: governments must work together to protect the poor. And as the richest country on earth, the United States has a moral obligation to lead on global health. Though we spend far less than one percent of the federal budget on global health programs, these funds save lives while strengthening America’s security and economic interests abroad. An investment in the fight against neglected tropical diseases creates a crucial rung on the ladder out of extreme poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

The Catholic Church has said it again and again: the federal budget is a moral document that represents the priorities of a nation. While Washington might consider these cuts a small sliver, the poor who benefit from these programs know otherwise. They are the ones who will be disproportionately impacted by a budget that cuts global health funding.

Pope Francis was recently named the most influential voice in Washington. Let’s hope this is true. If our leaders follow his example, the poor will see the dollars and cents of moral leadership.

And that is an investment worth making.

Emily Conron coordinates faith-based outreach for END7, a campaign of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and is a member of the Young Leaders Council of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. She can be reached at emily.conron@sabin.org.

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