Forest and biodiversity loss make pandemics more likely

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Issue 60: 13 April 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 impact of deforestation on human health 

The world loses about 15 billion trees a year to make way for agricultural and commercial activities. While beneficial for economic progress, a growing body of scientific evidence is showing that deforestation and biodiversity loss make pandemics more likely.

Scientists estimate that six out of every ten infectious diseases in humans, and three quarters of the world's emerging diseases, are zoonotic, i.e. passed from animals to humans. When natural habitats and species are destroyed, animals and insects find their way closer to human civilisation, creating conditions for mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and malaria, and zoonotic viruses such as Ebola and COVID-19, to spread. 

The call to protect our forests and reverse the destruction of ecosystems has never been more urgent. To counter this trend, the World Economic Forum (WEF) launched the Trillion Tree challenge with the goal of regenerating the planet through the planting of 1 trillion trees by 2030. Start-ups, too, are contributing to these efforts through the use of artificial intelligence, satellites, drones and data.

Together with endeavours to predict how diseases may move between species and with active surveillance of hotspots for novel diseases, reforestation could provide a stronger protection against the next pandemic. 
Healthcare in the Spotlight
People with dementia were twice as likely to get COVID-19 compared to people without dementia, even after adjusting for age, sex, living in a nursing home, and having similar pre-existing conditions.
This could include giving people doses of different vaccines, or changing the number of doses and the length of time between doses to optimise efficacy.
Topotecan, a drug typically used in chemotherapy, has been found to reduce the severity and death rates of infection by COVID-19 by suppressing inflammation in the lungs.
In a study, middle-aged and older people with early signs of memory loss raised their cognitive scores after they started walking frequently.
Its dengue vaccine trial results have shown to induce immune responses against the four strains of the dengue virus with no important safety risks.
After the World Health Organisation called for a green and healthy COVID recovery, health must be a priority in countries’ climate plans
Source: Medical News Today

A person’s diet plays a crucial role in how healthy their cholesterol levels are. Eating foods that keep cholesterol within a healthy range can help prevent health issues, including a heart attack or stroke.

That's all for the week!
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