Thinking and Acting in a Disrupted World: Governance, Environment, People, Inequality and Disease

An ecological civilization should care for the natural and built environments, the cultural heritage, the collective bonds, education, health, ethics, aesthetics, equity and justice. But this involves many actors, in a planet united only by the media and ‘globalization’ and divided by confrontation and competition.

Increasing awareness of researcher mental health

Recently, there has been an increasing amount of attention paid to the mental health of researchers. Research is an activity that aims to confront the boundaries of human knowledge: it demands excellence from all researchers, who aim to publish in peer-reviewed publications, submit grant applications, achieve tenure or defend a PhD thesis. Researchers identify with and are dedicated to their work to a very great extent. A recent report noted that researchers simultaneously demonstrate high levels of job satisfaction and high levels of stress and depression. Nevertheless, hard work does not have to lead to suffering.

Tackling Europe’s biggest healthcare challenges

The Wild Card initiative, launched this month by EIT Health, seeks to engage the biggest and brightest minds in implementing ground-breaking and high-risk ideas in healthcare. The two areas of focus for 2018 are: application of artificial intelligence and big data to diagnostics and finding non-pharmaceutical solutions to antibiotic resistance. In this inspired opinion piece, Jan-Philipp Beck, COO at EIT Health, who is based in Munich, Germany, tells us about the main challenges ahead to find solutions to these issues.

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How citizens’ feedback can shape health research

Experts will discuss the latest research on healthy populations at the forthcoming EuroScience Open Forum event to be held in July 2016 in Manchester. The trouble is, until recently, often people who may be impacted by health research did not have a say in it. Several session organisers share their views on the new avenues that are explored to improve the link between health research and citizens.

Health Policy

The shift towards prevention or wellness has now been operated a few years ago in health policy. Particularly in the field of chronic diseases, which is the focus of our independent coverage in this issue and of a campaign orchestrated by the REIsearch project. This has led to a number of policy experiments over time. As yet, there is no magic bullet to entice people to try and take greater care of their health. It appears that a combination of voluntary actions by citizens, with prevention campaigns from interested groups, and regulations can help. But too much of any of these ingredients may affect the fragile dynamic between them.

Trans-fats: health time bomb by regulatory omission

Although several European countries, starting with Denmark, have started a battle against trans-fats in process food, the European Commission is dragging its feet to regulate on the matter. As food-related matters are about to take centre stage during Christmas and other end-of-the-year celebrations, EuroScientist looks at what is happening behind the scenes. As more and more stakeholders in the food sector are gradually signing up to reducing the use of partially hydrogenated plant oils in their products, the delays in taking regulatory action appear to be attributable to more than mere bureaucratic inertia.

Drugs: time to fight for health

International drug enforcement is failing to win the war on drugs. This ailing prohibitionist approach costs tens of billions of euros in global diplomatic relations plus vast health and social costs, including thousands of deaths and millions of infections such as HIV ad HCV. Michel Kazatchkine, UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon’s special envoy on HIV/AIDS to Eastern Europe and Central Asia, explains why fighting drug matters more than ever.

The ethics of intervening in addicts’ lives

Philosophical puzzles apply in public health too. In addiction, there is a subtle balance between the rights and responsibilities of the individual and the State. Particularly, when it comes to intervening in the lives of people addicted to substances such as tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs. Here, Julian Kinderlerer, professor of intellectual property law at Cape Town University, South Africa, who is also president of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE), outlines all the facets of the ethical dilemma associated with State intervention towards addiction, and places the role of scientists and ethicists in informing a balanced debate.