South Korea

MERS’s best friend is ignorance, so it’s time to wise up

TORONTO, 16 June 2015 (IRIN) - The full story of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is yet to be told. Would South Korea now be in the grip of one of the disease’s largest ever outbreaks if more had been done sooner to unravel its mysteries?
A key point about MERS was that it gave some warning of its arrival. This was not the case with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which struck in early 2003 after an infected Chinese doctor and travellers from Vietnam, Singapore and Canada mingled in a Kowloon hotel.

Alarming levels of drug-resistant TB found worldwide

Scientists have found an alarming number of cases of the lung disease tuberculosis in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America that are resistant to up to four powerful antibiotic drugs.

In a large international study published in the Lancet medical journal on Thursday, researchers found rates of both multi drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) were higher than previously thought and were threatening global efforts to curb the spread of the disease.

TB drug resistance a fast-growing problem, researchers warn

Researchers on Thursday sounded the alarm over drug-resistant tuberculosis, calling it a curse that was swiftly becoming more difficult and costly to treat.

In eight countries they studied, 43.7% of TB patients did not respond to at least one second-line TB drug, a strategy used when the most powerful first-line drugs fail.

The probe, covering Estonia, Latvia, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, South Korea and Thailand, is reported in The Lancet medical journal.

Are we effectively controlling tobacco? A look at the industry’s data

If BMW made a car that was sold to one billion people worldwide, and had a fatal mechanical flaw--it locked passengers into their seatbelts and suddenly accelerated uncontrollably, crashing and killing half of its owners--surely the car would be pulled immediately off the road with great scandal, and probably tarnish the company's reputation for decades. But today, tobacco is sold to about one billion people worldwide and kills almost half of them; it requires about five to seven attempts on average to quit smoking because of addictive materials in tobacco products; and while sales have diminished in the United States, they are accelerating and even being sponsored by governments in some low- and middle-income countries, where 80% of smokers live.

‘Health is not about deep pockets’

Investing in a strong primary healthcare system, eliminating fragmentation and containing hospital prices.

These are some of the key lessons that the national Health Department can draw on from other developing countries as it prepares for the rollout of the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.

Speaking at the opening of the national consultative health forum’s NHI conference on Wednesday, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development economist Ankit Kumar said SA could learn a few lessons from South Korea, which achieved universal coverage for the entire population in just 12 years.