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Health: News In Brief

Thursday, July 29, 1999 Published at 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK

Male suicide tops death league

Suicide remains the most common form of violent death for men in England and Wales while for women, accidental falls claimed the most lives, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The ONS figures showed there were 16,311 deaths due to injury and poisoning in 1997 - most (10,681) due to accidents, with the rest due to suicide, murder, or injury of undetermined intent.

Men were most likely to die from suicide - 36% - or a traffic accident - 22%, while women were more likely to suffer an accidental fall - 40% - or commit suicide - 21%.

Overall, the figures show a small decline in the rate of suicide and homicide since 1993.

Genes hold key to danger of blood thickening

US scientists say they have found genes which put the elderly at risk of strokes and heart attacks by making their blood thicker.

Blood tends to clot more easily in older people, and the clots can lodge in blood vessels in the brain, heart and elsewhere.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School found segments of DNA which control a clotting enzyme.

They say this is a breakthrough which will help doctors develop treatments.

Global positioning aids TB fight

Doctors are using global positioning systems to compile maps of tuberculosis hotspots in South Africa.

Prof David Wilkinson hope to make sure that no-one is more than a few kilometres from a health facility.

They say that being close to the treatment station helps ensure that patients stick to a six-month antibiotic course to help beat the disease.

Some communities in South Africa have yet to receive even the most basic TB treatments, and the disease is reemerging as a killer, especially as a predatory infection related to Aids.

GPs demand meningitis assurance

GPs want assurance that they will be properly paid for implementing the programme of immunising millions of babies and children with the new meningitis C vaccine.

The Department of Health has said GPs will be paid for their work on the programme - which will involve immunising 15 million babies, children and teenagers from the autumn - although a figure has not been set.

However, due to the complex way in which GPs' salaries are calculated, there is a danger that their pay review body would respond to extra payments by reducing doctors' basic pay.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association's GPs committee, said: "It is not that we are demanding that GPs are given a pay rise but if this is not sorted out they will actually lose money."

Fast-track for cystic fibrosis urged

The much-trumpeted discovery of the gene that causes cystic fibrosis 10 years ago has not yielded a cure but has produced hopes of more effective therapies for the disease, doctors have said.

They produced the progress review as pressure grew to speed up the progress of getting a drug from the test tube to the pharmacy.

At the moment this typically takes 14 years and costs $400m in the US, but campaigners hope that with better organisation and funding from biotechnology companies, this could be reduced to five years and $75m.

Robert Beall, head of the US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, said: ""That timetable is unacceptable to us. Fourteen years, unfortunately for many CF patients, is a lifetime."

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20 Jul 99 | Health
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UK Cystic Fibrosis Database

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