In brief

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 04 March 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:540

NIH closes oestrogen-only arm of HRT trial: The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has instructed the 11 000 participants in the oestrogen-alone study of the women's health initiative (WHI), a large multicentre trial, to stop taking their study pills because after seven years of the trial the hormone does not seem to affect heart disease and increases the risk of stroke. In July 2002 the WHI stopped the arm of the trial in which women were taking a combination of oestrogen and progestogen (JAMA 2002;288: 321-33).

Avian flu vaccine is imminent: The World Health Organization says it is only weeks away from designing a human vaccine for H5N1 avian influenza, which has so far killed 22 people in Vietnam and Thailand.

MSF sends help to Canary Islands: Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has set up a field hospital on the shoreline in Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands to treat immigrants arriving by sea from Africa. Last year, more than 7800 immigrants made the 20 hour crossing to Fuerteventura after police surveillance on the former route, along the Straits of Gibraltar, was increased. The island's government has not set up any reception centres for the immigrants, who are suffering from hypothermia, hunger, and thirst.

Malpractice award: A jury has awarded $63m (£34m; €50m) against a Florida doctor and Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Boynton Beach, Florida. The case involved an induced labour and high forceps delivery. The baby spent 19 days in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit with severe brain damage, resulting in permanent disabilities.

UK medical schools failing students with disabilities: Eleven UK medical schools still do not provide adequate disability related information on their websites, despite being made aware of this one year ago, according to The Sequel to Pushing the Boat Out, published online this week (

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