Public health & disease

Person filling syringe with vaccine

Nigeria becomes world’s first country to introduce ‘revolutionary’ meningitis vaccine

Nigeria has become the first country to roll out a “revolutionary” five-in-one vaccine against meningitis, the World Health Organization has announced. The Men5CV vaccine offers a powerful shield against the five major strains of the meningococcal bacteria that cause the disease. Known by the brand name MenFive, it provides broader protection than the vaccine currently used in much of Africa.

Nigeria becomes world’s first country to introduce ‘revolutionary’ meningitis vaccine More

Satellite view of hurricane

Global death tolls from natural disasters have plummeted over the last century

According to a recent study from Our World In Data, in the early-to-mid 20th century, the average annual death toll from disasters was very high, often climbing to over a million. In recent decades, such deaths are typically fewer than 20,000 people, even as natural disasters become more frequent and more extreme.

Global death tolls from natural disasters have plummeted over the last century More

Water flowing from faucet

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announces first-ever national regulations for “forever chemicals” in drinking water

Commonly called “forever chemicals,” PFAS are synthetic chemicals found nearly everywhere — in air, water, and soil — and can take thousands of years to break down in the environment.

The EPA has stated there is no safe level of exposure to PFAS without risk of health impacts, but now it will require that public water utilities test for six different types of PFAS chemicals to reduce exposure in drinking water. The new standards will reduce PFAS exposure for 100 million people, according to the EPA, and prevent thousands of deaths and illnesses.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announces first-ever national regulations for “forever chemicals” in drinking water More

Elderly man

Thousands of people in the U.K. to receive landmark trials for dementia blood tests

Thousands of people across the U.K. who are worried about their memory will receive blood tests for dementia in two trials that doctors hope will help to revolutionize the low diagnosis rate. Teams from the University of Oxford and University College London will lead the trials to research the use of cheap and simple tests to detect proteins for people with early stages of dementia or problems with cognition, with the hope of speeding up diagnosis and reaching more people.

Thousands of people in the U.K. to receive landmark trials for dementia blood tests More

Elderly person smiling

Global life expectancy increased by 6.2 years between 1990 and 2021

A new study from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation found that the super-region of Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Oceania had the world’s largest net gain in life expectancy between 1990 and 2021 (8.3 years), largely due to reductions in mortality from chronic respiratory diseases, stroke, lower respiratory infections, and cancer.

Global life expectancy increased by 6.2 years between 1990 and 2021 More

Contraceptives

Canada to make contraception for women free

The government will pay for the most widely used methods to avoid pregnancy, such as IUDs, contraceptive pills, hormonal implants or the day after pill, for the nine million Canadian women of reproductive age, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said at a press conference. “Women should be free to choose the contraceptives they need without cost getting in the way. So, we’re making contraceptives free,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

Canada to make contraception for women free More

Hand holding living cannabis plant

Germany approves partial legalization of cannabis

The new law will allow adults to carry up to 25 grams of cannabis for their own consumption and store up to 50 grams at home. Public consumption will be allowed, so long as it is not within sight of children or near sports facilities. It will also be prohibited in pedestrian zones between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. It is slated to come into effect on April 1.

Germany approves partial legalization of cannabis More

Old asbestos roof

U.S. bans last type of asbestos still in use

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that the U.S. will join 50 others nations worldwide enacting a comprehensive ban on asbestos, a carcinogen that kills tens of thousands of Americans every year but is still used in some chlorine bleach, brake pads, and other products. The final rule marks a major expansion of EPA regulation under a landmark 2016 law that overhauled regulations governing tens of thousands of toxic chemicals in everyday products, from household cleaners to clothing and furniture.

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Mushrooms

Nearly 9 in 10 Americans now think using psilocybin is ‘morally positive,’ in dramatic shift in public opinion

Researchers—representing institutions such as the universities of Oxford, Yale, Johns Hopkins, and Grenada—surveyed 795 people on the issue, asking about supervised use specifically for treatment and for well-being enhancement. Participants, the report says, “rated the individual’s decision as morally positive in both contexts.” The study is of note because although psilocybin “has shown promise both as a treatment for psychiatric conditions and as a means of improving well-being in healthy individuals,” authors wrote.

Nearly 9 in 10 Americans now think using psilocybin is ‘morally positive,’ in dramatic shift in public opinion More

Silhouette of person looking at stars

Oregon area named world’s largest dark sky sanctuary

The Oregon outback is now home to the world’s largest dark sky sanctuary, offering pristine views of the night sky across 2.5 million acres. The Oregon outback international dark sky sanctuary received the certification this week, becoming the largest of 19 sites around the world with the same designation. The sanctuary covers Lake County in south-eastern Oregon, a remote area roughly half the size of New Jersey, and could eventually expand to include more than 11 million acres.

Oregon area named world’s largest dark sky sanctuary More