As if a natural disaster was not enough, Vibrio cholerae emerged to make the situation worse in post-flood Pakistan, and for the first time since the 1960s in post-earthquake Haiti. How do we, as researchers, policy-makers and human beings, respond to such situations? In response to the tsunami on 26 December 2004, concerned reviewers within The Cochrane Collaboration established Evidence Aid – an initiative that pools together systematic reviews that might be useful to disaster response agencies and decision-makers in crisis situations...
Malaria remains a major cause of illness and death in Africa and other endemic, and often resource-limited, settings. Most cases of malaria are uncomplicated but can quickly turn into severe, often fatal, episodes in vulnerable individuals if not promptly diagnosed and effectively treated. Parasitological diagnosis of malaria has for a long time been based on microscopic detection of asexual malaria parasites on a blood smear from a person suspected to have malaria. But many areas lack laboratory support to provide malaria microscopy. Even where it is available, many factors affect the quality of microscopic diagnosis: the experience and training of the microscopist; the quality of the slide preparation, staining, and reading; the quality of the equipment; and the availability of electricity and reagents...
The July 2012 issue of The Cochrane Library included an update of a Cochrane Review on deworming drugs for soil-transmitted intestinal worms in children. The review hadn't been updated in four years and although a number of new trials had been found, the update didn't radically change the conclusions -- that there is a lack of high-quality evidence that community-based deworming programmes improve outcomes. Given the global investment in deworming programmes it’s not surprising that there was debate and differing opinion on the conduct of the review and its findings.
We normally think of calcitonin as a hormone produced by the C-cells of the thyroid, with the role of balancing parathyroid hormone in the conservation of calcium in the body. It's less widely known that calcitonin’s precursor, procalcitonin, can be made by many cells, albeit at undetectable levels in healthy people. The discovery that procalcitonin is released into the blood in detectable amounts in response to severe bacterial infection was unexpected.