- This comprehensive summary tells you the health stories of the past two weeks.
- Major health news: Scientists race to investigate highly mutated coronavirus variant; America’s drinking water is contaminated with toxic chemicals; Air pollution poses a serious risk to life expectancy in South Asia.
1. Scientists investigate risks of highly mutated coronavirus
Research is underway to determine the risks posed by a new form of coronavirus found around the world. The variant has been detected by several labs and appears to be rare, but is significantly different from other strains currently in circulation.
While there’s no immediate cause for concern, the differences were dramatic enough to get scientists’ attention, as they could make it easier for the virus to evade people’s existing immunity. The omicron variant that emerged in late 2021 was also significantly different from other strains in circulation and led to another wave of infection.
The World Health Organization has designated the mutated form as a variant under surveillance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States says existing tests and treatments appear to be effective against the strain.
2. ‘Forever’ Toxic Chemicals Discovered in US Drinking Water
According to test data released by the country’s Environmental Protection Agency, toxic chemicals have been found in the drinking water of millions of people in the United States.
“Forever chemicals,” a group of extremely long-lasting compounds found in a variety of products, also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), have been detected in the water supplies of as many as 26 million Americans.
PFAS have been shown to cause health problems including liver damage, thyroid disease, obesity, fertility problems and cancer.
The World Economic Forums Center for Health and Healthcare collaborates with governments and businesses to identify and amplify solutions to build resilient, efficient and equitable health systems. Here are some examples of the centre’s impact:
Global Vaccine Delivery: The Forum actively supports global vaccine delivery efforts, and its contributions to COVAX have resulted in the delivery of more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines. The Forum also played a key role in launching Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which has helped save more than 13 million lives over the past 20 years.
Davos Alzheimer Collaboration: Through this collaborative initiative, the Forum is actively working to accelerate progress in the discovery, testing and delivery of interventions for Alzheimer’s disease.
Mental Health Policy Toolkit: In partnership with Deloitte, the Forum has developed a comprehensive toolkit to assist policymakers in crafting effective technology-related policies for mental health.
COVID Action Platform: In the midst of the pandemic, the Forum, in collaboration with various organizations, has launched more than 40 initiatives around the world to address the challenges posed by COVID-19.
Global Coalition for Value in Healthcare: The Forum coalition is promoting a sustainable and equitable health sector. It launched innovative value-based health hubs to address ineffective global health spending.
UHC2030 Private Sector Constituency: Hosted by the Forum, the Constituency plays a crucial role in supporting universal health coverage and highlighting the potential of the private sector to help achieve this ambitious goal.
To participate or find out about other initiatives undertaken by the World Economic Forum, contact us.
3. News in Brief: More health stories from around the world
Air pollution remains the largest external risk to human health, but its impact is unevenly distributed around the world. In Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, Nigeria and Indonesia, people’s life expectancy is being reduced by one to more than six years because of the air they breathe, the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute said in its latest Air Quality Life Index. Many of the countries most affected by air pollution lack the tools to make improvements in air quality, the report said.
A better diet, eating less red meat, reading and playing more sports can improve children’s reasoning skills in the first two school years. Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland found that children with healthier eating habits, who read more and participated in organized sports showed greater cognitive development than their peers.
In the United States adults who greet their neighbors regularly are more likely to have higher well-being than those who greet less or no one. According to a Gallup poll, Americans’ well-being score increases with the number of neighbors they welcome, up to a maximum of six people.
4. More health information from the Agenda
As it turns out, the secret to a long and happy life lies in our relationships with other people. According to a study conducted by Harvard scientists over 85 years, people in strong relationships live longer and are also happier and healthier.
Cyberattacks on healthcare facilities have the potential to put lives at risk. Culture, endpoint protection, and access control are three key ways to help prevent them.
Providing affordable and quality healthcare poses a significant challenge to the Indian healthcare system, particularly in rural areas such as Madhya Pradesh. Digital dispensaries could help close the health gap and enable underprivileged communities to quickly access care.
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