The Health News United Kingdom December 5 2017

  • The Welsh and Scottish health ministers want Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to make it compulsory for UK suppliers of flour to fortify it with folic acid. Figures from Food Standards Scotland show roughly 4 out of 5 women of childbearing age in the two nations are deficient in the key nutrient. The US and 85 other countries already have a policy in place. Folic acid occurs naturally in dark green leafy vegetables but the findings found three-quarters of women across the UK don’t get enough.
  • The UK has committed $27 million dollars to a cybersecurity unit tasked with preventing the recurrence of hacks that knocked medical devices offline in May. Health chiefs will use the cash to hire ethical hackers to break into NHS computer systems and fix the vulnerabilities they expose.  Officials made the money available for cybersecurity at a time when the healthcare system is being made to work with a budget that is smaller than that request by its leaders.
  • The Office for National Statistics has said Antibiotic resistance has caused a fall in life expectancy for the first time.  Life expectancy in future years has been revised down after the statistics authority said that “less optimistic views” about the future had to be taken into account. Opinions on “improvements in medical science” had declined, it said, and fears of the “re-emergence of existing diseases and increases in antimicrobial resistance” meant people would not live as long as was previously expected.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 5th of December 2017. Read by Tabetha Moreto.

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-42199080

The Welsh and Scottish health ministers want Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to make it mandatory for UK suppliers of flour to fortify it with folic acid. In a joint letter, they argue this will help reduce neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in unborn babies. Figures from Food Standards Scotland show roughly four out of five women of childbearing age in the two nations are deficient in the key nutrient. The US and eighty five other countries already have a policy in place.

It came after an independent Scottish review found, it would not be cost-effective or practical to implement that change in Scotland alone. The Scottish government had considered making the change last year. Folic acid occurs naturally in dark green leafy vegetables but the findings found three-quarters of women across the UK don’t get enough. The ministers said their position is supported by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, where eighty three percent of women of childbearing age have folate deficiency.

In Scotland, one hundred fifty eight babies were born between two thousand seven and two thousand eleven who were suffering from neural tube defects while one hundred thirty one pregnancies were terminated after these were detected over the same period. A spokeswoman from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) also backed the call, saying: “We strongly support the mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in the UK, which often result in the termination of a much-wanted pregnancy.

https://www.fiercebiotech.com/medtech/u-k-to-hire-hackers-27m-health-cybersecurity-push

The United Kingdom has committed twenty seven million dollars to a cybersecurity unit tasked with preventing the recurrence of hacks that knocked medical devices offline in May. Health chiefs will use the cash to hire ethical hackers to break into NHS computer systems and fix the vulnerabilities they expose.  Officials made the money available for cybersecurity at a time when the healthcare system is being made to work with a budget that is smaller than that request by its leaders. Prioritizing spending on cybersecurity at a time when cash is constrained reflects the importance the U.K. is placing on digital defenses in the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attack, which hit medical devices and other connected technologies at one-third of NHS hospitals in England back in May.

Having been criticized for maintaining vulnerable systems running on Windows XP and failing to mount a coherent response to WannaCry, the NHS has put out its biggest cybersecurity contract. The twenty seven million IT contract will fund the creation of “a national, near real-time monitoring and alerting service that covers the whole health and care system.” Such a service would centralize these aspects of cybersecurity, rather than leaving the tasks up to individual hospitals. Officials are also looking to the contract to beef up other aspects of cybersecurity.
The ethical hacking aspect of the operation will task people with trying to break into NHS systems, starting with the central NHS Digital infrastructure and expanding to individual hospitals upon request.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/01/life-expectancy-has-dropped-antibiotic-resistance-says-ons/

The Office for National Statistics has said antibiotic resistance has caused a fall in life expectancy for the first time.  Life expectancy in future years has been revised down after the statistics authority said that “less optimistic views” about the future had to be taken into account.
Opinions on “improvements in medical science” had declined, it said, and fears of the “re-emergence of existing diseases and increases in antimicrobial resistance” meant people would not live as long as was previously expected. The ONS uses predictions about how medicine and science will improve to model how life expectancy will change.

Under the projection made in two thousand ten, a baby girl born in two thousand sixteen could expect to live eighty three point seven years. This has now been revised down to eighty two point nine.  Life expectancy for babies born in two thousand sixty, the latest year which appears in both models, is now two years shorter than it was in the two thousand ten data.  Baby girls born in that year were previously expected to live to ninety point one – this has now fallen to eighty eight point three.  Baby boys are also set to live less long, with children born in two thousand sixteen expected to live to seventy nine point two, instead of seventy nine point nine, and those born in two thousand sixty expected to live to eighty five point seven instead of eighty six point eight.
….
Experts have repeatedly warned of the dangers of antibiotic resistance, which could cause hundreds of diseases which are currently easily curable to become killers.  Antimicrobial resistance also includes the issue of viruses and funguses becoming resistance to antiviral and antifungal medication.  An increasing number of people with HIV have a version of the condition which is resistant to antiretroviral medication.  The NHS has previously warned that too many people are taking antibiotics for inappropriate conditions such as viruses, leading to greater resistance.   The World Health Organisation has said that the phenomenon is “one of the biggest threats to global health”.

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