Migration and public health in Europe

Reblogged from Science on the Net

Talking about public health in Europe today also means talking about migration. Nowadays, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 73 million migrants are estimated to be living in the European Region, accounting for nearly 8 percent of the total population, and 11 million immigrants have arrived in Europe in 2013. The point is that the word immigration has several meanings: it means people who choose to come and live in Europe for study and work; it means the difficult stories of those who have to leave their families to come to work as a domestic worker; last but not least, it means fleets of people crammed into small boats putting their lives in the hands of luck. This last phenomenon represents one of the biggest challenge for European health policy.

Although involving the whole of Europe, the problem of the ongoing management of migration flows does not affect all countries equally. Since the beginning of the crisis in North Africa in 2011, the Mediterranean countries have been experiencing a continuous state of emergency, due to the uncontrolled arrival of migrants fleeing from their countries, and the weakness of the infrastructure, often incapable to stem such a phenomenon. Although some places in the Mediterranean area are at the centre of the migratory routes, Italy was not the country with the largest number of immigrants in 2013.

In fact, according to WHO, France, Germany, the UK and Sweden have welcomed many more immigrants in 2013 than Italy. And even if we consider the totality of migration worldwide, Italy is not on the top of the rank.

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Italian physics and the Middle East

Reblogged from Science on the Net

On May 12, the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN), Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste and the International Centre for Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) signed a scientific collaboration agreement. Aim of this cooperation is the development and implementation of Italian technology for the radio-frequency cavities for SESAME’s storage ring – radio-frequency cavities serve to re-supply the electrons with the energy they lose when emitting synchrotron light.

“SESAME is an ambitious project for the construction of the first synchrotron light source in the Middle East,” explains Giorgio Paolucci, scientific director of SESAME. “Today there are 12 synchrotrons in Europe (and a total of about 60 in the world) but none in the Middle East, although the need for them was recognized by eminent scientists such as the Pakistani Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam about 30 years ago”. The Centre, which is intergovernmental, brings together Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority and Turkey (the Members), thus providing an extraordinary example of collaboration between entities with very diverse cultural, political and religious backgrounds.

“Perhaps the most significant feature of this project is that politics does not in any way interfere in the scientific research,” says Paolucci.

The project was born in the late nineties, thanks to the efforts of several scientists in and outside the region. These scientists proposed to use components of the BESSY I light facility in West Berlin, which was being decommissioned, to set up a synchrotron light source in the Middle East (following the re-unification of Germany it was decided to build a larger particle accelerator in East Berlin). The project then evolved and though a few of the BESSY I components, which have been greatly upgraded, are being used, SESAME is constructing a completely new 2.5 GeV storage ring, thus making it a state-of-the-art research centre.

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Antimicrobial resistance throughout the world

Reblogged from Science on the Net

Through the years and the development of pharmacology, Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing public health threat of broad concern to countries. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) produced a global report on surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in collaboration with Member States. This report monitors the situation worldwide, showing that the percentage of antibiotic resistance to various diseases is growing year after year all over the world, especially in developed countries, and the resistance to common bacteria has reached alarming levels in many parts of the world. It indicates that many of the available treatment options for common infections in some settings are becoming ineffective.

According to those who prepared the report, “a post-antibiotic era—in which common infections and minor injuries can kill—far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century.”

Particularly, the report focuses on antibacterial resistance (ABR), which involves bacteria that causes many common infections for which treatment is becoming difficult. The main focus of this report is therefore on ABR for which knowledge, support and concerted action are inadequate. The report considers seven types of antibacterial resistance pathologies and their respective drug treatments:

– Escherichia Coli vs. the third-generation Cephalosporins and vs. Fluoroquinolones

– Kleibsiella Pneumoniae vs. the third-generation Cephalosporins and vs. Carbapenems

– Staphylococcus Aureus vs. Methiccilin

– Strptococcus Pneumoniae vs. Penicillin

– Non Typhoidal Salmonella vs. Fluoroquinolones

– Shigella Species vs. Fluoroquinolones

– Neisseria Gonorrhoeae vs. 3rd generation Cephalosporins

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When excellence comes home

Reblogged from Science on the Net

Two aspects remain etched firmly after a talk with Andrea Lunardi and Graziano Martello, two “made in Italy” brains that have decided to return to work in Italy after years of research abroad. First, go abroad tout courtis not an essential step; the difference is choosing centres of excellence abroad. Second: a PhD in Italy is a great resource, not to be missed, as long as you choose a good group to work with.

These two young men, 43 years old Lunardi and 34 years old Martello, are certainly not the rule in our country. Two researchers that decide to bring their skills in Italy thanks to two grants from a private foundation, the Armenise Foundation, plus a Telethon grant for Martello, after spending years in centers of excellence worldwide, Lunardi at Harvard Medical School and Martello at the University of Cambridge.

Let us start from the end. What is the focus of your researches and why did you decide to come back?

AL: I am a biologist and in recent years I was involved in research on cancer, particularly prostate cancer, under the lead of Pier Paolo Pandolfi, Director of the Cancer Research Institute at the Beth Israel deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School of Boston. Together with a team of American colleagues, I developed the Co-Clinical Trial Approach, a new translational platform based on the enrollment of faithful genetically engineered mouse models of human tumors in specific treatments that perfectly mirror the clinical trial in human patients. I worked in the United States for years, knowing that I would be back in Italy after a few years, and now I had the opportunity to do so, bringing in my country the skills acquired in a center of excellence like the Harvard Medical School. I then tried to obtain funding and I won the Armenise scholarship, which allowed me to come back. Trento seemed to be the best destination for me at the moment, since it is a dynamic reality that is recruiting many new resources focusing on quality.

GM: My research combines experimental and computational methods to understand what controls the behavior of embryonic stem cells. I decided to return to Italy after four years in Cambridge because it was my desire since I started my activity abroad, and I think that if you want to return, once arrived at a certain moment you should try.  I was very lucky because I had the opportunity to go back to the University where I studied, which is an excellent research center at both Italian and international level. The funding I have obtained have been obviously fundamental: I got both the Armenise and the Telethon Scholarships, which will cover my project for five years.

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