To kick things off for 2016, we feel privileged to be starting our blog with the biggest news that has made headlines over the course of 2015.


You can find the full article in The New York Times.

1. Back and Forth with Ebola Cure

In Sierra Leone, Dr. Crozier was infected while working with Ebola patients. After having thought that he was cured, he was astonished to find that the virus had taken a hold of his left eye, and even changed his eye-color from blue to green. Fortunately, with proper treatment, his eye-color was able to revert back to normal. This goes to show that even if it seems evident that the Ebola virus has been cured in a patient, it can still be present.

 

2. Continuing War Against Epidemics

During the course of 2015, several advancements have been made around the world when it came to epidemics. Ebola had claimed 11,000 lives in 2014. However, by the time that a viable vaccine was created, there were very few cases of the virus. Also, polio has been eradicated in Africa, which is a huge advancement for worldwide health. The only two countries that have not eradicated polio are Pakistan and Afghanistan. Further advancements have been made with the treatment of AIDS. More serious efforts have been made to find and test all who were likely to be infected with the virus. The current drugs being taken by patients are 96 percent less likely to infect others.

 

3. Worry Not, Worry Away

Anxiety, stress and worry were increasing trends amongst adults and young adults alike. However, there can also be an upside to worrying about worry. In college campuses, anxiety deemed to be more prevalent than depression. Students faced increasing anxiety due to the pressures of living away from home. Many group sessions have been created to provide the students with coping mechanisms, some even brought in therapy animals during finals week to alleviate anxiety and stress. There is a growing belief that animals can help as coping mechanisms and a source of comfort for student. Due to this, many college students have petitioned to be allowed to host pets in their dormitories. Researchers have also discovered that anxiety can be socially contagious. The upside is that researchers have found that students who were anxiety-ridden handled their test results better than their counterparts who were more composed.

 

4. Heart Disease Costs More

LDL cholesterol has been seen as the bad kind of cholesterol. Doctors generally agree that the lower the LDL amount, the better. New drugs, called PCSK9 inhibitors, have gotten F.D.A. approval after seeing tremendously positive results. In studies, subjects taking these drugs have shown that their LDL levels have been reduced to the single digits. In retrospect, doctors suggest that LDL levels should be below 70. However, these new era drugs deem to be expensive alternatives to heart disease prevention. One of them, called Praluent, costs $14,600 a year and the other, Repatha, costs $14,100 a year.

 

5. End of the Line

$86 could buy a patient a 30-minute conversation with their doctor about how they would be cared for during the last moments of their life. That is the amount that Medicare has decided to pay physicians this year. Advanced care planning can take the stress out of the family of a patient who has reached the end of their life. Many patients preferred to be able to have control over how they would be cared for. As a result of this, a national nonpartisan panel recommended that care planning in advance should be a priority. In July 2015, Medicare introduced a proposal for covering end-of-life discussions.

 

6. Mental Illness in Shackles

Many religious retreats chain their patients, or captives, and offer prayer as the only treatment in West Africa. When Benedict Carey visited these retreats, he was appalled to witness that people were shackled to trees or in bunkers. He went on to mention that the reasoning behind shackling the mentally ill was due to the lack of better alternatives available as treatment. These prayer camps are institutions for patients who could not afford psychiatry.

 

7. Diabetes at a Young Age

Type 1 diabetes has risen by 21 percent amongst children throughout the past recent years. As of now, 167,000 schoolchildren in the US must have their glucose levels checked regularly, and insulin must be given through injections or a pump. The care needed for these children is falling short due to the shortcomings of school nurses and staff. Many parents of children diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes face the struggle of caregiving during school hours and experience difficulties balancing with work life. These parents sometimes have little knowledge of what their rights are when it comes to the school system’s responsibility of caring for their children.