In brief

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 22 February 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1161

China promises more action on HIV: China’s cabinet, the State Council, has ordered more effort to tackle the country’s HIV epidemic, including more public education, better blood safety, increased supply of affordable drugs, and efforts to reduce transmission from mothers to children. UNAIDS estimates that 740 000 people in China are infected.

Gulf states report high rate of risk factors for heart disease: Hani Najm, president of the Saudi Heart Association, has said that rapid improvement in the socioeconomic conditions of the Gulf states has led to an “extremely high” rate of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Around a quarter of Saudis have diabetes, more than a quarter have hypertension, as many as 50% are obese, and around 6% have coronary disease, Dr Najm said ahead of the association’s annual meeting this week. Although cardiac care is good in the states, preventive medicine is not, he said.

Adviser attacks use of pseudoscience: The UK government’s chief scientific adviser, John Beddington, has called on his fellow government scientists to be “grossly intolerant” if science is misused by religious or political groups. Speaking to an annual conference of around 300 scientific civil servants, he said that selective use of science ought to be treated in the same way as racism and homophobia. He described the “pernicious influence” of “what purports to be science by the cherrypicking of the facts and the failure to use scientific evidence and the failure to use scientific method.”

Dutch underage drinkers face fines: Young people in the Netherlands could be fined for possessing alcohol in public under government plans to tackle underage drinking by making teenagers “more responsible” for maintaining the 16 years age limit. Currently only retail outlets can be prosecuted for selling alcohol to under 16s. Public health campaigners oppose criminalising young people, arguing that it is adults who create a climate where drinking is acceptable.

Spain approves drug derived from cannabis for multiple sclerosis: Spain has approved the use of Sativex, an oral spray that contains cannabinoids, for the relief of spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis. The spray will be prescribed only to patients who have been given a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis by a hospital doctor. Spain is the third country to approve Sativex, after Canada and the UK.


Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1161

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