In brief

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 14 December 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1378

Onchocerciasis eliminated from west Africa: Officials from the World Health Organization last week celebrated the elimination of onchocerciasis, or river blindness, as a public health threat in west Africa. The organisation's onchocerciasis control programme, which began in 1974, sprayed larvicide in the area to eliminate the disease's vector, the black fly, and distributed the anti-parasite drug ivermectin. More details can be accessed at

CHI to investigate Manchester mental health trust: The Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) has announced an investigation into Rowan ward at Manchester Mental Health and Social Care NHS Trust after concerns about the standard of care for older patients with mental illness. More information can be accessed at

Primary care trusts to start receiving performance ratings: Primary care trusts and mental health trusts will receive performance ratings for the first time next year. Performance indicators have previously been issued only for acute, specialist, and ambulance services.

Breast cancer rates rise in Hong Kong: A study by the Chinese University of Hong Kong has shown that breast cancer rates in Hong Kong have risen 25% since 1983. The incidence rose from 30.9 per 100000 women in 1983 to 40.8 per 100000 in 1999 (Public Health and Epidemiology Bulletin 2002;11:57-68).

Doctors' helpline will be open over Christmas period: The Doctors' SupportLine, which started in December 2001, funded by a grant from the Department of Health, will be open over the Christmas period to provide a listening service. It is staffed by volunteers, all of whom are doctors. It will be open in the evenings of Christmas week 6 pm to 10 pm, except Boxing Day and Saturday. It is also open on Tuesday mornings from 10 am until 2 pm and Sundays from 10 am to 10 pm. The number is 0870 7650001.

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