By: Amy L. Kullas, Ph.D.
Antibiotic Resistance: Combating Deadly ‘Superbugs’ Weak In Most Countries, World Health Organization Report Says
According the the World Health Organization (WHO)’s recent report, most countries are still failing to address the serious issue of antibiotic misuse, and are ill-prepared for the resulting increase in drug resistant microbes, allowing previously-treatable diseases to become killers. This statement was delivered approximately a year after the organization released its first global report on antibiotic resistance, which should have sounded an emergency alarm to the world, but essentially went unheard or ignored. At that time, Charles Penn, WHO coordinator on antimicrobial resistance, had this warning for reporters: “We will lose the ability to treat a range of serious conditions such as blood stream infections, pneumonia, tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV, and the benefits of advance medical treatment, such as cancer chemotherapy and major surgery will also become much riskier and may well be lost.”
For the current report, a only dismal 34 of the 133 countries that even responded to the WHO survey, currently have comprehensive national plans to combat resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines. Counterfeit and low-quality drugs plague many regions of the globe, “resulting in sub-optimal dosing.” Additionally, many countries do not have standard treatment guidelines, which may allow the overuse and over-consumption of drugs. As a result, the WHO has drafted a Global Action Plan for addressing antimicrobial resistance and plans to ask all 193 member states to approve the plan at the next World Health Assembly, being held in Geneva, Switzerland later this month. By approving the plan, the countries will agree to develop their own national plans over the next two years and hopefully try to stem the tide of antimicrobial resistance. (Elizabeth Whitman, International Business Times)
Climate change policy
Analysis: In boosting climate goals, California daring others to follow
Californian governor, Jerry Brown, took action for climate change policy by issuing an executive order on April 29th requiring the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% of the 1990 level by 2030. This level is consistent with scientifically established levels needed in the United States to limit global warming below 2oC, the threshold implicated for “major climate disruptions,” such as rising sea levels, changes in the ocean currents or extensive droughts. Governor Brown stated, “With this order, California sets a very high bar for itself and other states and nations, but it’s one that must be reached-for this generation and generations to come.” Californians usage of renewable resources, such as LED lighting and electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars, will have to leap from the current “25% to at least 50%” while halving their oil consumption. Further, Dan Kammen, an energy professor at the University of California-Berkeley, has estimated “$27 billion of venture capital and other financing has flowed into California clean technology companies since 2006” and almost 460,000 payroll positions have been generated in the past year. California’s effort will be successful on a global level only if other states and nations make set similar goals for themselves. (Marianne Lavelle, ScienceInsider; Adrienne Alvord, The Equation)
Gender equality in science
‘Sexist’ peer review causes storm online
Controversy has erupted after comments made by a reviewer for the journal PLOS ONE about a manuscript submitted by two female researchers were made public last week on Twitter. The reviewer felt that “one or two male biologists” co-authors would improve the manuscript written by the two female researchers to verify that data were interpreted appropriately and to “serve as a possible (fact)check.” The anonymous peer reviewer further stated that men have “better health and stamina” which may contribute to why men publish in higher impact journals and more successful in the highest jobs in science.
Dr. Fiona Ingleby, a postdoctoral fellow in evolution, behavior, and environment at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, tweeted sections of the letter that she and her co-author, Dr. Megan Head, received after rejection of their manuscript. The manuscript highlights the progression of Ph.D. graduates in the life sciences to postdoctoral positions and “found that men finished their PhDs with more other-author papers than women, but no difference in number of first-author publications.” According to Dr. Ingleby, “the reviewer acknowledged that they had looked up our websites prior to reading the manuscript” suggesting that the reviewer may not have been an unbiased referee.
As a result, PLOS ONE has requested the editor involved in the situation to step down from the editorial board and removed the anonymous reviewer from the database. Furthermore, the journal “sincerely apologize(s) for the distress the report caused the authors, and …completely oppose(s) the sentiments it expressed.” This incident highlights that while women in science have made significant strides towards gender-equality, more still needs to be accomplished. (Holly Else, Times Higher Education; Rachel Bernstein, ScienceInsider)
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