Healthcare & Lifescience Talking Points | 28/07/2017

In today’s talking points: New carbon nanotube filters prove efficient at removing heavy metals from water; breakthrough has potential to conception problems in older women; non-profit public hospitals by 2020; reduction in Beijing cigarette sales

New carbon nanotube filters prove efficient at removing heavy metals from water

Researchers at the University of Texas have invented a novel filter for purifying heavy metal ridden water. The filters are composed of carbon nanotubes and quartz. During tests they were able to absorb over 99 per cent of metals from water samples, including metals such as lead, copper, mercury, nickel, cobalt and cadmium. Researchers calculated that just one gram of the filter material would be able to purify 83,000 litres of metal contaminated water to World Health Organisation standards.

In addition to extremely high efficiency, the filters are also cleanable and reusable. In fact, all that is required to clean the the nanotube filters are household cleaners such as vinegar. Alternatively, metals caught in the filter can be easily extracted and reused, meaning the filter has potential applications in metal recycling and processing.

Although still in its early stages, this new type of filter could usher in a new age of efficiently and cheaply produced safe drinking water.

Read more at: China Daily


Breakthrough has potential to remedy conception problems in older women

One of the mechanisms responsible for the deterioration in the egg health of older women has been identified, according to researchers from the University of Newcastle. Building upon this discovery, the research team, headed by PhD student Bettina Mahalas, has found a potential method to halt this deterioration via the use of an antioxidant.

This discovery is particularly pertinent as women are now deciding to start families later in life, which generally results in a higher prevalence of birth defects and miscarriage. More research into this antioxidant could result in supplements for already pregnant older women or those trying to conceive.

Read more at: ABC News


Non-profit public hospitals by 2020

According to a guideline released by the State Council, China’s Cabinet, public hospitals in China will operate under a new system by 2020 – one which prioritises patient healthcare and public interest over profits. The new “modern hospital management system” will seek to ensure the non-profit nature of public hospitals, as well as greater efficiency and sustainability.

To achieve this, the vice-minister of the health commission and head of the State Council Medical Reform Office, Wang Hesheng, has said that health authorities are to establish new health plans and to improve the integration of health care systems in various regions to better distribute health resources between institutions. The government will increase funding to help retain the non-profit statute of public hospitals.

This is a pressing issue as public hospitals provide services to the majority of the population.

Read more at: China Daily


Reduction in Beijing cigarette sales

According to a health population report released by the Beijing municipal government, there has been an 8% reduction in the number of cigarettes sold in Beijing from last year.  The total number of smokers has also decreased to 22.3% among people aged 15 and above. This appears to coincide with the tightening of tobacco control regulations in Beijing since June 2015.

The regulations ban both smoking in indoor work and public spaces including schools and hospitals, as well as outdoor areas where women and children are present. In 2016, health authorities inspected more than 95,000 public spaces and required 5,000 spaces to rectify problems pursuant to complying with the stricter tobacco control regulations. In total, 433 businesses were fined, totaling 1.3 million RMB; while individuals were fined a total of 104,000 RMB.

Despite efforts to enforce the strict tobacco control regulations, according to the director of the city’s Health Inspection Bureau, Wang Benjin, violations continue to occur at entertainment venues, restaurants and office buildings. He recognises that persistent efforts will be required to see a dramatic decline in violations of the tobacco control regulations.

Though other major cities in China have also adopted stricter tobacco control regulations, national regulations are yet to be established.

Read more at: China Daily