Human development and healing hinges on it

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Issue 50: 26 January 2021
Every week, HEADlines brings you the latest news, stories and commentaries
in education and healthcare. This week, get insights on the latest developments
in healthcare.
The power of the human touch

Fuelled by the constraints of a global pandemic, there is no denying that technology is enabling the transformation of medicine at an unprecedented rate. Amid the glitz of digital healthcare and automation, we need to not lose sight of the power of the human touch.

Human touch is fundamental to people forming personal connections. From a healthcare perspective, touch promotes trust and healing. When a patient enters the room to see a doctor, healing is already taking place as he receives a reassuring response and the touch from a pair of professional healing hands. Indeed, countless research shows the power of touch and empathy in medicine, something that cannot be replaced by cold digital tools. 

In fact, touch has been shown to be essential for healthy child development, and a lack thereof can even cause death. The isolation and lack of touch for the elderly in nursing homes in the COVID-19 pandemic also saw patients decline cognitively more quickly. In 2020, there were 38,000 unexpected Alzheimer's-related deaths in the US as the pandemic upended patients' lives, which is approximately 16% more than expected annually.

How then can we preserve the human touch and connection in healthcare in a new normal that pushes us towards digitalisation? This question demands a focus on the emotional needs of patients, while harnessing technology to improve the healthcare system. 
Healthcare in the Spotlight
Two existing medicines used to reduce inflammation in patients with arthritis have shown to be effective in curbing hyperinflammation which causes death in COVID-19 patients.
As the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out, three questions still need answers: can someone who has been vaccinated still spread the disease? How long will the vaccine's protection last? And will the vaccine remain effective as the virus evolves?
Researchers say that COVID-19 may have long-term effects on the brains and nervous symptoms of survivors and could increase their risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
The Aedes vittatus, a mosquito that carries the zika and dengue virus, has found its way into North America, threatening to unleash the next pandemic.
What are the challenges of integrating traditional medicine with modern medicine and how can we do better?
Research shows that there is a clear disconnect between where climate risk is greatest and where climate adaptation funding goes. This disconnection could very well cost lives.
Understanding how climate variability affects the transmission of infectious diseases is important for the general public, yet there still seems to be a widespread lack of knowledge of the effects climate change has on these diseases.

Source: Medical News Today

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That's all for the week!
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