New penalties for Dutch euthanasia doctors who bend rules </b>

The Dutch health minister wants to introduce penalties for doctors who disregard "procedural" guidelines when they administer euthanasia. Cl?mence Ross is responding to evidence that the real number of cases is twice the reported number. The Dutch public prosecution service believes that criminal penalties are not appropriate for these doctors (as opposed to doctors who ignore "material" guidelines such as informed consent). So the minister now wants to introduce sanctions such as reprimands, suspensions and fines. Other measures will be introduced to "promote transparency" and "create clarity" over the guidelines. click here to read whole article and make comments




Health crisis follows staffing crisis as African nurses emigrate

African governments are subsidising health systems in the UK, the US and other developed countries because many of their nurses are migrating for better pay and working conditions. According to a long report in the New York Times, almost two-thirds of the nursing jobs in Malawi's public health system are vacant. More registered nurses have left to work overseas in the past four years than the 336 who remain in the public hospitals to care for the country's 11.6 million people.

According to a recent report by Physicians for Human Rights, about 75% of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa… click here to read whole article and make comments





US doctors shunning O&G </b>

Young American doctors are turning away from obstetrics and gynaecology. Since 1996, the number of graduates of US medical schools who enter O&G courses has dropped 23%, from 968 to 743. Only two-thirds of new residencies in O&G were filled by graduates of US medical schools -- compared with 86% eight years ago. "Nationally, we certainly are concerned about quality," says that head of O&G at Johns Hopkins Hospital. "If we're seeing fewer people going into the speciality, then we do need to start worrying about the quality of the people." The reasons are familiar ones: the highest insurance premiums… click here to read whole article and make comments




Authors failing to disclose competing interests </b>

Despite strict disclosure policies, some authors writing for highly respected medical journals still keep their financial interests to themselves, according to a report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based pressure group. After researching the financial connections of the authors of 163 articles in four journals, the CSPI found that 13 (8%) failed to comply with disclosure policies. The authors of one paper on coronary heart disease were consultants to more than 20 companies in the field, but failed to disclose them. However, the situation actually may be improving. In 2001, only 1% of papers disclosed… click here to read whole article and make comments




Adult stem cells can flourish without fusion </b>

One of the objections to the promise of adult stem cells is that they do not actually transform themselves into heart, brain, blood or liver cells but rather fuse with other cells. However, a researcher at Yale University in the US has found that bone-marrow derived stem cells can form tissues other than blood without fusion.

In an ingenious experiment, two strains of genetically-engineered mice were created whose cells would produce a glowing green jellyfish protein if fusion occurred. Male bone marrow was then transplanted into a female. Two to three months later, they found differentiated cells from the donor… click here to read whole article and make comments





ODD SPOT: Neo-Nazi sets up Aryan baby farm

 A German neo-Nazi has used an English shelf company to set up a racially-pure Aryan baby farm in a quiet commuter suburb near Bremen. The company, the Wilhelm Tietjen Foundation for Fertilisation Ltd, "aims to help childless couples produce children" with the help of surrogate mothers, says the organiser, Jurgen Riegen, a lawyer who has become notorious for defending members of the German far right.

Local townsfolk are outraged. "At first, we thought he was merely planning to develop agricultural fertilisers and manure," said the mayor of Doerverden. "We didn't realise human fertilisation is intended." The foundation is named… click here to read whole article and make comments





ABI Publications </b>

Ethics as Our Guide(letter)
by Michael Cook, PLoS Biology, June 2004

Blackburn and Rowley's (2004) criticism of a report on embryonic stem cell research from the President's Council on Bioethics (2004) is puzzling. Where is the bioethics?...
  

IN BRIEF: BMJ's ethics click here to read whole article and make comments





The Lancet launches embryo stem cell campaign

 One of the world's leading medical journals, The Lancet, has launched a campaign for human embryonic stem cell research as the UN approaches a debate on a cloning ban and US voters go to the polls. Its current issue is dedicated almost solely to medical, scientific and regulatory issues surrounding stem cells, with an editorial urging scientists to lobby hard for the cause. It also includes a profile of Australian stem cell scientist Alan Trounson and a personal plea from the father of a paralysed footballer. Ironically, the journal's press release highlighted only progress in the field of adult stem… click here to read whole article and make comments




New promise for adult stem cell research

 Two articles in the current issue of The Lancet highlight possible therapeutic uses of adult stem cells. In a German study, adult stem cells derived from bone marrow improved cardiac functioning after heart attacks.

Helmut Drexler, of the University of Freiburg, found that the transfer of patients' own bone-marrow cells could improve functioning of the left ventricle of the heart six months after treatment. Patients who had been given stem-cell transfers had around a 7% improvement in left ventricular function compared with only a 0?7% increase for patients given drugs.

In a second study, skin cells were… click here to read whole article and make comments





British doctors debate ethics at annual meeting </b>

The annual meeting of the British Medical Association defeated a motion that policy statements on controversial issues should be decided at the annual meeting rather than in its ethics committee. According to the BMJ, "there was a general feeling that the committee lacked transparency and was remote from the membership".

Dr Greg Gardner, a general practitioner from Birmingham, cited approval given by the BMA's ethics committee to the UK's fertility authority and also to artificial reproduction by same sex couples. "The ethics committee may be in close touch with the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) but it is out… click here to read whole article and make comments




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