Global health news round-up: G7 proposals, NZ’s early COVID app

If you missed any UK-based stories this week, you can catch up with our news in brief round-up, which covers important local developments from Oldham to Newcastle and beyond.

There’s also been some big national-level news for the health sector, including a new workforce report from The Royal College of Radiologists, the recommencement of blood plasma donations for medical research in England after a 20-year pause, and requests for public input into a new Women’s Health Strategy for England.

But there’s been a lot going on across the rest of the globe, too. So we’ve picked out some of the most intriguing recent international stories for our latest worldwide health round-up. Find out what’s been hitting the headlines…

We start our news travels in New Zealand, where the government is set to test out a new app that may detect the early signs of COVID-19. The tech is to be trialled on border workers and uses AI tech to monitor bodily changes – such as small differences in heart and respiration rate or body temperature – and other warning signs that may indicate infection.

Using the information from wearable devices, such as smartwatches, the ëlarm system calculates a risk score for each user every four hours, which it divides into four risk categories: normal, slightly, moderately, and highly elevated.

Around 500 border workers will be involved in the trial, with the app hoping to detect cases before the onset of symptoms – thereby potentially limiting the impact of asymptomatic carriers, and allowing people to self-isolate and get tested quicker. (Forbes /Healthcare IT News)

Due to the slightly slower roll-out of its vaccine programme, New Zealand has also lost its ‘title’ as the best place to be during the COVID-19 pandemic. That crown has passed to Singapore, which now tops Bloomberg’s COVID Resilience Ranking.

The ranking takes into account case numbers, vaccination rates and other economic factors before scoring – with Singapore achieving 79.6 in the latest edition. It’s worth noting that the island nation does, however, have a smaller population – around 5.7 million – than some other nations indexed, such as Australia, which placed third.

Yet, to take nothing away from the city-state, it has maintained low levels of local community transmission and, as of 18 April, when it last reported its vaccine numbers, Singapore had delivered 2,213,888 doses overall – including first and second shots. (MOH / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

Elsewhere, the G7 – an organisation made up of seven nations that have some the world’s largest economies – has announced new proposals to ‘boost online safety worldwide’, which could have implications for both global health and health technology.

The UK government announced that a declaration was signed in a digital and tech ministerial meeting, ahead of the UK-hosted G7 Leaders Summit in June. The literature includes commitments – to be made by countries such as Italy, Japan, the US, Canada, France, Germany and the UK – to ensuring online safety and human rights, and the protection of young people online, as well as plans to digitise paper-based systems for global trade, a framework for the use of electronic transferable records and the development of best practice for data sharing. (GOV.UK)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has outlined a new strategy for achieving ‘interruption of transmission’ and ‘zero new cases’ for leprosy in over 100 countries. The plan has a target date of 2030 for the WHO to achieve its aims.

According to the WHO, the strategy is calling for “zero-leprosy road maps” in all endemic countries, which includes reducing new cases to 63,000 worldwide and policies such as combatting stigma and scaling up prevention. (WHO)

Japan’s National Cancer Center has recently released a new online system, whereby people can check five-year cancer survival rates by inputting filters such as cancer type, sex and age. This was announced at the same time as the release of a report, which explained that the 10-year survival rate of people in Japan who were diagnosed with cancer in 2008 is 59.4%.

The report was produced from a large-scale survey of 238,000 cancer patients across 240 medical institutions. Notable findings, according to The Japan Times, included: 98.7% survival rate for prostate cancer, 87.5% for breast cancer, 67.2% for bowel cancer, 66% for stomach cancer, 34.5% for lung cancer, 21.8% for liver cancer, and 6.5% for pancreatic cancer.

A five-year survival rate of 826,380 people with cancer who were diagnosed in 2012 and 2013, meanwhile, was found to be 67.3%. (The Japan Times)

And finally, France has extended its COVID-19 vaccine roll-out by opening up the opportunity for vaccination to more adults with certain chronic health conditions. It’s reported that, from 1 May, all adults who are obese (with a BMI above 30) will be eligible, as well as those with conditions such as diabetes, dementia, cancer and hypertension. (The Local)