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Africa looks to extend new disaster insurance to Ebola-like epidemics

Health workers carry the body of a suspected Ebola victim for burial at a cemetery in FreetownBy Daniel Flynn DAKAR (Reuters) - African countries want to extend a new catastrophe insurance fund, which made its first payout of $25 million this month, to include protection against epidemics in the wake of the devastating Ebola outbreak. The African Risk Capacity (ARC) agency, a specialised body of the African Union, launched a scheme last year to insure against natural disasters. It is an effort to break Africa's reliance on foreign aid and address the impact of climate change by using innovative financial techniques. The ARC paid $25 million in its first year of operations to Senegal, Mauritania and Niger to mitigate the effects of a severe drought in the arid Sahel region south of the Sahara -- well above the $8 million in premiums paid by those countries.


Liberia delays school reopening by two weeks as Ebola cases fall

RNPS: YEAREND REVIEW 2014 - HEADLINE MAKERSLiberia said on Friday it would delay reopening schools for two weeks in order to better prepare safety measures against the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 3,650 people in the country but now appears to be receding. A ministry statement said it wanted to "raise awareness about safety protocols, logistics and training requirements", adding: "Actual teaching will begin on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015." Some Liberian opposition parties and members of parliament had called for the reopening date to be moved to March 2, concerned that the Ebola epidemic is not yet fully under control. Liberia and its neighbours Sierra Leone and Guinea have been hardest hit in the worst outbreak of the viral haemorrhagic fever on record. The number of Ebola infections and deaths has fallen sharply in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the past few weeks, with just 20 deaths recorded in Liberia in the 21 days to Jan. 25, according to the World Health Organisation, raising hopes that the disease is gradually being brought under control.


Second patient hospitalized in California undergoes Ebola testing
Hours after a suspected Ebola patient in Sacramento, California, was found to be free of the virus, a second person hospitalized in the city was reported by public health officials on Friday to be undergoing testing for the deadly disease. The second patient was admitted to Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center on Wednesday and, like the previous case, is considered to be at low risk of having contracted the virus, the hospital said in a statement.

Crash victim thanks donors whose blood saved his life

Motorcycle crash victim Brandon Levine smiles as he is introduced during a ceremony at the UCLA campus in Los Angeles on Friday, Dec. 30, 2015, before expressing his gratitude to some of the blood donors of the 207 units of blood, plasma and platelets that preserved his life after a devastating motorcycle accident on April 27, 2014, that left him comatose for a month. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)LOS ANGELES (AP) — Brandon Levine exchanged handshakes and hugs with nearly two dozen of his blood brothers and sisters, people he had never met but knew had saved his life.


Drive to repeal medical device tax no slam dunk in Congress

FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2015 file photo, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah leaves the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington. It flew through the Republican-run House in 2012, and a year later 79 of the Democratic-led Senate’s 100 members embraced it. With Republicans now controlling both chambers of Congress, the chances for repealing the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices are better than ever. Yet abolishing the tax won’t be easy, even though Republicans rank it a top priority and are backed by Democrats from states that rely on the industry for jobs. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — It flew through the Republican-run House in 2012, and a year later 79 of the Democratic-led Senate's 100 members embraced it. With Republicans now controlling both chambers of Congress, the chances for repealing the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices are better than ever.


5 Ways to Be Happier Today

5 Ways to Be Happier TodayBrrr, its cold outside! These cold, grey winter days can send even the most positive people into a downward funk. Now that winter is truly upon us, what can you do to keep your spirits up? Here are five ways to be happier TODAY:1. Start a gratitude list or journal. Concentrating on what you are thankful for in your life is a sure-fire way...


Do You Have Metabol-Envy?
Yesterday, I sat with a friend, and she said if she could have one wish it would be to be able to eat whatever she wanted and not gain weight. I clarified, "You mean instead of your family being healthy or world peace?" She said, "Well one wish or thing I could change about myself." I think I believe that last part. The truth is, I hear all...

Heat Up Your Intimacy by Cooking Together

Heat Up Your Intimacy by Cooking TogetherThere is no escaping it -- Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and those chalky candy hearts staring at you in the drug store are proof of it. In this world of mass-produced love, it can often be hard to find that feeling of authentic romance. This year, instead of packing yourself into an overstuffed restaurant filled with irritated...


Second California patient tests negative for Ebola hours after first
By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - Two patients hospitalized in Sacramento, California, and tested for possible Ebola infection were found to be free of the deadly virus within hours of each other on Friday. The first patient, whose case came to light on Thursday, was transferred that day to the University of California-Davis Medical Center from a smaller hospital after having traveled recently in West Africa and exhibiting Ebola-like symptoms, officials said. Health authorities would not say whether they believed the two cases to be related or whether the second patient had traveled recently in West Africa, epicenter of the worst Ebola epidemic on record, as had the first. The back-to-back Ebola inquiries came five months after another person in Sacramento was hospitalized for testing and also found free of the disease.

More measles cases found in California
LOS ANGELES (AP) — More measles cases have been found in California, health officials said Friday.

More than 100 cases of measles now confirmed in U.S
By Dan Whitcomb LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - More than 100 people in the United States have been confirmed as infected with measles including 91 in California, most of them linked to an outbreak that began at Disneyland in December, public health officials said on Friday. The California Department of Public Health said at least 58 of the cases of the highly infectious disease in the state have been epidemiologically linked to the Disneyland cluster. No deaths have been reported in connection with the outbreak, which public health officials suspect began when an infected person from outside the United States visited Disneyland in Anaheim between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20. The White House on Friday urged parents to heed the advice of public health officials and scientists in getting their children vaccinated.

Spain uses stem cell therapy to treat damaged hearts

A Spanish hospital has successfully used stem cells, like those pictured here, culled from healthy donors to treat heart attack victimsA Spanish hospital has successfully used stem cells culled from healthy donors to treat seven heart attack victims, in what officials said was a world first. Madrid's Gregorio Maranon hospital plans to treat 55 patients in all with the technique in a clinical trial, the regional Madrid government which runs the hospital said in a statement. "Seven patients have already been operated on and they have progressed very well despite having suffered serious damage to their heart tissue," it added. It is the first time that allogeneic cells -- stem cells that come from another person -- have been used to repair damage to a heart caused by a heart attack, the statement added.


Ohio postpones all 2015 executions as it secures new drugs
By Kim Palmer CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Ohio will postpone all six executions scheduled for 2015 because it needs more time to prepare for a new execution procedure and to secure a new supply of execution drugs, the state's prison department said on Friday. Earlier this month, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction halted use of the two-drug lethal injection combination of the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone after the protracted death of an inmate last year. The state prison system wants to add a drug, thiopental sodium, previously used for lethal injections from 1999 to 2011, and pentobarbital as the two drugs permitted for lethal injections in the future. Ohio and other states with the death penalty are seeking new execution drug formulations after some pharmaceutical companies stopped supplying products because they no longer wanted to be associated with capital punishment.

Pivotal time for trans people as rigid notion of gender challenged
By Maria Caspani NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - For Kate Bornstein, the American author and pioneer gender activist, this is a pivotal time in history for transgender people as the rigid concept of two sexes is challenged by a growing number of individuals who don't conform to either. "That's very different from their parents or even their older siblings," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview. "In the early 1990s, there might be one 'trans' student in six or seven colleges and now the audience is filled with female to male...or really cool gender queer (people)," Bornstein, who does not identify as male or female, says in a new film about her life. In the United States and beyond, a growing movement views gender as a complex, mainly psychological phenomenon in which a person's external anatomy is no longer the defining factor.

Chimerix to stop participation in clinical studies of Ebola drug
(Reuters) - Drug developer Chimerix Inc said it would stop participation in clinical studies of its Ebola drug, brincidofovir, citing a significant decrease in the number new cases for the virus in Liberia. The decision was announced after the company's discussions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Brincidofovir was given to the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States, Thomas Eric Duncan, who later succumbed to the infection.

U.S. congressman from Mississippi has inoperable brain tumor: spokesman
(Reuters) - U.S. Representative Alan Nunnelee of Mississippi, who was diagnosed with brain cancer last year, has been told by doctors he has a new tumor and it is inoperable, a spokesman for the Republican congressman said on Friday. Nunnelee, who was elected to his third term in November, suffered a stroke while in surgery to remove a tumor in June. "After seven months of bravely fighting brain cancer and a stroke, Congressman Alan Nunnelee was informed last Friday that a new tumor has developed and no further medical treatment is possible," Morgan Baldwin, a longtime Nunnelee consultant, said in a statement.

Ex-Super Bowl champ Leonard Marshall to teach about concussions

A football helmet's health warning sticker is pictured between a U.S. flag and the number 55, in memory of former student and NFL player Junior Seau, as the Oceanside Pirates high school football team prepares for their Friday night game in OceansideTwo-time Super Bowl champion Leonard Marshall is teaming up with the lawyer who first sued the NFL over concussions to form an educational road show on how to avoid and treat head injuries in sports. The target audience for the Brain Unity Trust is players, coaches and organizations, said Marshall, who suffers from CTE-related illnesses, perhaps from concussions during his 12 seasons as a defensive lineman in the National Football League in the 1980s and '90s. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain often found in athletes who suffered repetitive brain trauma.


Father of Psych Ward Stabbing Victim Says Mental Patients Treated Like 'Prisoners'

Father of Psych Ward Stabbing Victim Says Mental Patients Treated Like 'Prisoners'The father of man stabbed to death by his roommate in a southern California hospital psych ward won $3 million in punitive damages this week against the hospital where his son died. "Mentally challenged individuals have just as many rights as other people," Joseph Camacho, 79, told ABC News. His son, Dean Camacho, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was attacked at Pacifica Hospital of the Valley in Sun Valley, California, by his roommate, Jerry Romansky in 2011, according to court documents. Though rooms throughout the hospital were equipped with emergency buzzers, they had been disabled in the mental health wing, according to Joseph Camacho's lawyer, John Marcin.


FDA approves Shire's Vyvanse for binge-eating disorder
By Toni Clarke WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Shire Plc's stimulant Vyvanse to treat binge-eating disorder, the first product to be approved for the condition. Vyvanse, which is currently approved to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, generated sales of more than $1 billion in the first nine months of last year. Dr. Flemming Ornskov, the company's chief executive officer, said in an interview that Shire's goal is to generate overall sales of $10 billion by 2020.

Suspected Ebola patient in California tests negative for virus
Hours after a suspected Ebola patient in Sacramento was found to be free of the virus, a second person hospitalized in California's capital was reported by public health officials on Friday to be undergoing evaluation and testing for the disease. The second patient was admitted to Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center on Wednesday, a day before the earlier patient came to light, and like the previous case is considered to be at low risk of having contracted the deadly virus, the hospital said in a statement. There was no immediate word on whether the two cases were linked or whether the second patient had traveled recently in West Africa, the epicenter of the worst Ebola epidemic on record, as had the first. The previous patient was transferred to the University of California-Davis Medical Center from another hospital in Sacramento on Thursday after exhibiting unspecified Ebola-like symptoms, health officials said.

Three U.S. House Republicans to seek Obamacare replacement

Ryan arrives to hold a committee hearing on the topic of U.S. economic growth at the U.S. Capitol in WashingtonThree top U.S. Republican lawmakers, including Representative Paul Ryan, will lead an effort to craft new health reforms that could replace Obamacare, party officials said on Friday. House leadership said Ryan, the former Republican vice presidential nominee, would join Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Education and the Workforce Committee John Kline as part of a new healthcare working group. The Republican-controlled House, which has voted numerous times to overturn the healthcare law, is expected to do so again next week. Republicans have failed in the past to reach consensus on legislation to replace Obamacare and analysts say that stubborn differences within the party persist.


Heavy kids can have celiac disease, too
By Andrew M. Seaman (Reuters Health) – Overweight children are just as likely as thin children to have celiac disease, a new study confirms. It's a common misconception - even among many doctors - that celiac disease is limited to people who are underweight. “Being overweight certainly does not exclude the diagnosis, as this paper shows,” said Dr. Peter Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, who was not involved in the new study. Between 0.5 percent and 1 percent of people living in the developed world are thought to have celiac disease, in which gluten in food triggers a damaging immune response in the small intestines.

Obama hails 'boundless' promise of precision medicine

US President Barack Obama speaks on investments in "precision medicine" on January 30, 2015 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DCPresident Barack Obama on Friday unveiled plans to plow $215 million into "precision medicine" research, a field he said provided "boundless" promise for the treatment of diseases like cancer and diabetes. The bulk of the money, $200 million, would go to the National Institutes of Health and its affiliate the National Cancer Institute.


Modern Medicine, Mired at the Line of Scrimmage

Modern Medicine, Mired at the Line of ScrimmageModern medicine has some things in common with football -- or maybe I just have the Super Bowl on the brain. Both, it seems to me, tend to foster our occasionally-overinflated hopes, leaving us at times to contend with a relatively, well, deflated reality.Both are team sports, advancing courtesy of collective effort. And by and large, progress...


White House urges parents to heed advice urging childhood vaccines
By Susan Heavey WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With U.S. measles cases on the rise, the White House on Friday urged parents to heed the advice of public health officials and scientists in getting their children vaccinated. "People should evaluate this for themselves with a bias toward good science and toward the advice of our public health professionals," President Barack Obama's spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters. Asked whether people should be getting vaccinated, Earnest said: "That's what the science indicates." "The science on this is really clear," Earnest added. The measles outbreak has renewed a debate over the so-called anti-vaccination movement in which fears about potential side effects of vaccines, fueled by now-debunked research suggesting a link to autism, have led a small minority of parents to refuse to allow their children to be inoculated.

Flu Hospitalizations of Elderly Hit Record High, CDC Says
Elderly flu patients hit hardest in 9 years.

White House: Science indicates parents should vaccinate kids

Pediatrician Charles Goodman vaccinates 1 year- old Cameron Fierro with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, or MMR vaccine at his practice in Northridge, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. Some doctors are adamant about not accepting patients who don't believe in vaccinations, with some saying they don't want to be responsible for someone's death from an illness that was preventable. Others warn that refusing treatment to such people will just send them into the arms of quacks. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)WASHINGTON (AP) — Amid the measles outbreak stemming from California, the White House is telling parents that science indicates they should vaccinate their children.


Computer tracks eye movements to detect concussions
By Andrew M. Seaman (Reuters Health) – A new piece of technology that tracks eye movements after a head injury might be able to detect concussions and determine their severity, researchers say. The new technology is essentially like a doctor moving a finger in front of a person’s eyes after a hit to the head - except now it's automated, said Dr. Uzma Samadani of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

Athletes' biological clocks affect their performance
By Andrew M. Seaman (Reuters Health) – A week before the Super Bowl, a new study suggests that players' performances may depend at least in part on how the game's timing aligns with their body clocks. “The reason why we did this study is that all the existing literature talking about circadian rhythm in sports performance came to the same conclusion: that athletes give their best performance in the evening,” said Roland Brandstaetter, the study’s senior author from the University of Birmingham in the UK. As reported in the journal Current Biology, Brandstaetter and colleagues studied the performance of 121 athletes who competed in competitions. When the researchers separated the athletes into three groups based on their internal clocks, they found that those who naturally get up early reached peak performance in the early afternoon.

Thanks to Community Outreach, Obamacare Is Working for Diverse Groups
We are well into the second open enrollment period, and the numbers are telling: nearly 7.3 million people have enrolled in coverage in the federal health insurance marketplace. Ten million people have gained coverage since the first open enrollment period, including hundreds of thousands of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific...

Woman convicted of endangering children in her decrepit NYC home
A woman who was raising three children in a decrepit New York City house that lacked some exterior walls and a part of the roof was convicted on Friday on charges of endangering the children's welfare, the local prosecutor's office said. Katherine Vartholomeou, 48, had no running water in her home in the borough of Queens, and powered lights and other devices by running extension cords from a neighboring house, according to the Queens district attorney's account. The police had entered with a search warrant while investigating Dimitrios Vlahakis, Vartholomeou's 24-year-old son, for a string of burglaries. The home's structure had previously been damaged in a fire, and police feared another fire might be imminent as they found extension cords, lights and refuse in combustible proximity.

Michael Jackson's family denied new trial in negligence case

Brian Panish, attorney for the Michael Jackson family delivers his closing argument to jurors in packed courtroom in Los AngelesA California state appeals court on Friday denied Michael Jackson's family its latest attempt to reverse a jury's decision that cleared concert promoter AEG Live of negligence in the singer's death. The three-judge panel ruled that Jackson's mother and children did not have standing for a new trial after their attorneys argued last week that AEG Live was liable for Jackson's treatment, and that jury instructions were confusing and not wide enough in scope. A Los Angeles jury in 2013 cleared privately held AEG Live, the organizer of Jackson's ill-fated 50 "This Is It" comeback concerts in London, of negligently hiring cardiologist Conrad Murray as Jackson's personal physician. The child star turned King of Pop, who set the world dancing but whose musical genius was overshadowed by a bizarre lifestyle and sex scandals, died in 2009 at age 50 in Los Angeles from an overdose of the powerful anesthetic.


Measles Outbreak has Spread to 14 States, 84 Cases this Month
Arizona health officials??? concerned virus could spread during Super Bowl.

POM Wonderful loses bid to tout health benefits in drink ads
Pomegranate juice maker POM Wonderful cannot advertise that its pomegranate drinks treat or prevent heart disease or other ailments unless it has proof, a U.S. appeals court said Friday, upholding an order by the Federal Trade Commission. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit largely upheld a 2010 order by the Federal Trade Commission, which found that POM Wonderful's advertising was misleading in claiming its products would treat or reduce the risk of diseases ranging from heart disease to prostate cancer to erectile dysfunction. "Many of those ads mischaracterized the scientific evidence concerning the health benefits of POM's products with regard to those diseases. The FTC Act proscribes — and the First Amendment does not protect — deceptive and misleading advertisements," the court said in its ruling.

Gates Foundation awards $50 million to Stanford vaccine discovery

Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gestures next to his wife Melinda French Gates during the session 'Sustainable Development: A Vision for the Future' in the Swiss mountain resort of DavosThe Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said on Friday it had awarded Stanford University a $50 million grant to accelerate vaccine development efforts for the world's most deadly diseases, including AIDS and malaria. The $50 million grant over 10 years will go toward establishing the Stanford Human Systems Immunology Center on the school's California campus, the foundation and university said in a statement. The center will focus research on how the immune system can be harnessed to develop vaccines for the world's most deadly infectious diseases, the university said. Stanford said cost and the amount of time needed for research have been obstacles in developing new vaccinations.


Sun Pharmaceutical wins U.S. approval to buy Ranbaxy

A logo of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd at its research and development center in MumbaiIndia's Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd has won U.S. approval to buy Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd on condition that it sell its interest in a generic antibacterial medicine, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Friday. Sun Pharmaceutical said in April that it had agreed to buy the Indian generic drugmaker from its current owner, Japan's Daiichi Sankyo Co, for $3.2 billion. Ranbaxy has been involved in a wrangle with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has barred a range of its medicines from the United States after finding that some of the company's plants did not meet U.S. standards. The FTC, whose job is to ensure that anti-monopoly laws are enforced, did not weigh in on the safety issue but said it would allow the transaction if Ranbaxy sold its interests in generic minocycline tablets and capsules to generic maker Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd, which is also based in India.


Canada says husband of woman diagnosed with avian flu also infected
The husband of a woman who tested positive for the H7N9 avian flu virus earlier this week was also infected, likely from a common source during their visit to China, Canadian federal and provincial governments confirmed on Friday. The couple, residents of British Columbia, exhibited symptoms one day apart and likely did not infect each other, Canada's chief public health officer and British Columbia's deputy provincial health officer said in a joint statement. The H7N9 virus has not been detected in birds in Canada. The virus first infected three people in China in March 2013.

Two Different Paths to Obesity and What They Have in Common

Two Different Paths to Obesity and What They Have in CommonThe naturally thin often have a hard time understanding the struggles of the very many who battle with overweight and obesity. Why is losing weight -- and especially keeping it off -- so very hard? What is it that drives us to obesity, and what can we do about it? And why has obesity spread like an epidemic in the last few decades?A new article...


Everything You Want to Know About the Measles
Measles was eliminated by vaccines years ago but is making a comeback.

U.S. proposes effort to analyze DNA from 1 million people

A DNA double helix in an undated artist's illustration released by the National Human Genome Research Institute to ReutersBy Toni Clarke and Sharon Begley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers as part of a new initiative to understand human disease and develop medicines targeted to an individual's genetic make-up. At the heart of the "precision medicine" initiative, announced on Friday by President Barack Obama, is the creation of a pool of people - healthy and ill, men and women, old and young - who would be studied to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. "Precision medicine gives us one of the greatest opportunities for new medical breakthroughs we've ever seen," Obama said, promising that it would "lay a foundation for a new era of life-saving discoveries." The near-term goal is to create more and better treatments for cancer, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told reporters on a conference call on Thursday.


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