In brief

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 10 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6826

New political voice is launched to save NHS in England: A new political party called National Health Action ( officially launched this week and is calling for people from all backgrounds to join in its mission to oppose the Health and Social Care Act, which it believes is wrecking the NHS in England. It plans to put up around 50 candidates in carefully chosen general election constituencies and will urge the Labour party to repeal the act. It also intends to field candidates in local council elections.

More English patients to get targeted radiotherapy for cancer: The UK government is adding £15m (€19m; $24m) to England’s cancer radiotherapy innovation fund by April 2013 to speed up the delivery of intensity modulated radiotherapy. Nearly 8000 more cancer patients a year will be able to get the treatment by April 2013. It is of particular benefit to patients with head and neck cancers and reduces the likelihood of side effects such as damage to salivary glands.

Psychologist calls for limits on children’s screen viewing time: European governments should follow the example of the United States, Canada, and Australia and recommend limits on how long children spend in front of televisions and other visual media devices, says the psychologist and child health expert Aric Sigman in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.1 Under 3s should not watch any television, he says. Prolonged screen time increases the risk of obesity and markers for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can also disrupt food and hunger cues, reduce attention span, and lead to screen “addiction.”

Steel plant in Italy is ordered to close after cancers rise: Prosecutors have ordered a giant steel plant in Taranto, southern Italy, to begin shutting down by 12 October after a series of studies indicated that pollution had led to a high incidence of cancer and respiratory diseases in the area. The plant, run by the steel maker ILVA, is the largest in Europe, employing 12 000 workers. The government is looking at ways to reduce toxic waste from the plant so that it can continue to operate.

New taxes in Uganda to fund AIDS care: Uganda is planning to raise funds to fight HIV and AIDS by taxing a range of things from bank transactions and air tickets to beer, soft drinks, cigarettes, telephone calls, and electricity, says the UN humanitarian news service IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks). Uganda has long been held as a model for tackling HIV and AIDS, but a recent health ministry survey showed that, despite major foreign aid programmes, the prevalence of HIV has risen from 6.4% to 7.5% in the past five years. With international aid funds becoming harder to get, African countries are looking for ways to control the epidemic themselves.

UK bids to become world leader in dementia research: The UK government showcased its research facilities on 10 October in an effort to drive forward research in dementia. More than 150 global leaders from research, charities, and the biotechnology and drug industries attended the event to discover more about the UK’s world class research universities, the power of the NHS’s unique patient data, and the varied sources of funding available, from the government and leading charities.

Mass vaccination against meningitis A begins in Africa: Seven countries in Africa—Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan—are running campaigns over the next three months to vaccinate 50 million babies, children, and young adults against meningitis A, thanks to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI Alliance). This area of sub-Saharan Africa is vulnerable to severe outbreaks of meningitis, which occur every 7-14 years. In 1996 250 000 people contracted meningitis, and 25 000 died. The alliance plans to support vaccination in all 26 countries in the region by 2016.


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6826