Archive for March, 2012
A data policy document issued by Facebook for their users that intends to make its system more transparent has seemingly backfired and created a firestorm instead.
The social network has announced that they just want to make their policies more clear and give users a chance to post feedback. And evidently, they are not happy campers.
Facebook’s aim to clarify things has their members freaking out, most of whom have taken to Facebook’s page to issue their rejection. On Facebook’s Springhill Group version, over 32,000 members have posted the same sentence as a protest. It translates to: “I reject the changes.”
But it seems to be too late to disagree as the actual changes have already been made 6 months ago. A Facebook spokesman even admitted that their current terms allow apps to access all the data available to the user. Once you or others who can see your content use an app, your content along with your data is automatically shared with that app.
Basically, Facebook is now directly saying that any app your friend has downloaded and given permission will be able to tap your friend’s and your data. Even if this has already been going on for some time now, explicitly stating it has earned the ire of users.
Another provision included in the document states that Facebook can disable some of its features in specific countries.
Surprisingly, even non-users have been included in their data use policy, which shows that Facebook does track visitors of other websites that have a Like button on the page. The creepy thing is, going to any website with a Like button will allow Facebook to track you even if you do not click anything — they already consider a visitor interacting with it just by being on the page.
This move is a clear acknowledgement on Facebook’s part, showing that they are really focused on collecting, storing and selling data because that’s their business model.
Springhill: New Study Reveals Significant Healthcare System Costs Associated with Meningococcal Disease
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, March 20, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Researchers find high incidence rates and deaths in first-ever analysis of the disease impacts in Latin America
Today, Latin American researchers and global health leaders revealed preliminary results from the first-ever study to estimate the burden and costs of meningococcal disease in the region. The study of springhill group found a need for improved surveillance and better understanding of meningococcal epidemiology and information on costs to help devise meningitis vaccination programs.
This new research was coordinated by the Sabin Vaccine Institute in partnership with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University (JHU’s IVAC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dr. Ciro de Quadros, Executive Vice President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute in Washington, D.C., said, “Clearly, meningitis is a real health and economic burden in Latin America. Too many children are debilitated or die from this serious disease, yet it is preventable by vaccines. Our new research proves that we need to improve our strategies to fight meningococcal disease.”
Dr. de Quadros spoke at the conclusion of the first Regional Meningococcal Symposium, convened by the Sabin Vaccine Institute and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO). The symposium, which took place March 19 and 20 in Buenos Aires, brought together more than 150 researchers, vaccine experts, economists and others to evaluate the extent and cost of meningococcal disease and what obstacles impede its prevention through vaccination.
“Few diseases have as much power to cause panic among the population as meningococcal disease, said Dr. Marco Aurelio Safadi, Head of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Division at Sao Luiz Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “This is primarily because of its potentially epidemic nature. The rapid onset and high case fatality rates (10 – 20 percent), combined with substantial morbidity compound its health and economic impact. Our study notes that up to 20 percent of meningococcal disease survivors develop permanent disabilities including deafness, neurological deficit or limb amputation–only adding to the long-term economic impact of an outbreak.”
The new research suggests healthcare costs associated with meningococcal diseases range from $4,500 to $6,500 (USD) per patient, and costs of controlling outbreaks have reached more than $3 million (USD) in some regions.
“The economic impact can vary widely across countries in the region,” explained Dr. Dagna Constenla of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. “However, what is clear from our research is that meningococcal disease has significant costs for society and governments.”
For example, one Florida community that reported seven confirmed meningococcal cases and vaccinated 13,000 persons spent $370,000 (USD) in intervention and management costs, or $53,000 (USD) per case. In Brazil, one community had a meningitis outbreak causing nine cases and spent $143,000 (USD) on investigation and outbreak management alone.
But the figures are much higher in large outbreaks. In 2007, Burkina Faso was hit with 25,000 cases of meningococcal disease and 1,700 related deaths, which resulted in direct costs of $3.5 million (USD), or 5 percent of its annual health expenditures. Costs of recent outbreaks in Oklahoma, Ohio, Brazil, Norway and Germany are largely unknown, the study said.
High incidence rates of meningococcal disease were reported in the countries with well-established disease surveillance systems including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, but low incidence rates were consistently reported in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
“Given that we do not have a clear picture of the burden of this disease in Latin America, and we lack information on circulating serogroups, we have to further strengthen our epidemiological surveillance of this disease. Based on that information, we will generate the studies of epidemiology, cost-effectiveness, and opportunity costs needed to make evidence-based decisions in our Region,” explained Dr. Cuauhtemoc Ruiz Matus, Coordinator of Comprehensive Family Immunization at PAHO.
Meningococcal meningitis, which infects the membranes of the brain and spinal cord, is a debilitating and potentially fatal disease that most severely affects children, adolescents and people living in overcrowded housing. In the Americas, it is most common in infants under 1 year of age. While the incidence of meningococcal disease varies widely among countries and over time, in recent years case fatality rates as high as 15 to 20 percent have been reported in several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the study noted.
The WHO estimates that 500,000 cases and 50,000 deaths of meningococcal disease occur annually worldwide. The new study concluded that more and better information is needed to help control outbreaks.
More information also is needed to devise vaccine programs, the study said: “Consideration of vaccination strategies to control meningococcal disease can only be made with a sufficient understanding of the changing epidemiology of meningococcal disease.”
Currently, the only countries with routine immunization programs for meningococcal disease are Cuba and Brazil, though other countries are studying the options.
The two-day meeting where the study was presented featured sessions by global experts on the epidemiology of meningococcal disease, clinical presentation and treatment of the disease, cost analysis, immunity and meningococcal vaccines, and new strategies to prevent Meningitis B disease.
For meeting details, visit www.mening2012.org ; to learn more about the Sabin Vaccine Institute, visit http://www.sabin.org ; to learn more about PAHO, visit www.paho.org
About Sabin Vaccine Institute Sabin Vaccine Institute is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization of scientists, researchers, and advocates dedicated to reducing needless human suffering caused by vaccine preventable and neglected tropical diseases. Sabin works with governments, leading public and private organizations, and academic institutions to provide solutions for some of the world’s most pervasive health challenges. Since its founding in 1993 in honor of the oral polio vaccine developer, Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the Institute has been at the forefront of efforts to control, treat, and eliminate these diseases by developing new vaccines, advocating use of existing vaccines, and promoting increased access to affordable medical treatments. For more information please visit www.sabin.org .
About the Pan America Health OrganizationThe Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is an international public health agency with more than 100 years of experience in working to improve health and living standards of the countries of the Americas. It serves as the specialized organization for health of the Inter-American System. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization and enjoys international recognition as part of the United Nations system.
SOURCE Sabin Vaccine Institute
Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved
springhill group – We might see changes in the coming months in the way drug companies label their cholesterol-lowering medicines or statins that are being sold nationwide.
Food and Drug Administration is instructing drug firms to include warning in their product labels about the ‘small risk’ of increased sugar levels and diabetes. However, the FDA also said they want to assure the public that those drugs are still providing significant health benefit in lowering cholesterol.
Health regulators are including warning to the medicine labels of popular cholesterol-lowering drugs that they might increase blood sugar and possibly cause memory loss.
FDA has publicized last week that there has been alterations in the safety information labels of statins of Merck & Co’s, AstraZeneca and Pfizer — medicines that are used by millions of Americans.
Statins have long proven that it is effective in reducing the risk of heart attack and other heart disorders and, according to FDA, this new development must not scare people into halting the use of the medicines.
FDA announced that they know of studies wherein several patients taking statins might have an increased risk of having high sugar levels in the blood and, eventually, of being diagnosed with diabetes.
They have apparently known for 4 years now that statin ‘slightly’ increases blood sugar but they are insisting that this does not change that statins are effective in reducing heart risk for patients.
This is the first time that FDA has officially connected the use of statin to cognitive disorders like confusion and forgetfulness, even though several patients have already reported those problems for years. The drugs affected include big brands such as Vytorin, Crestor, Zocor and Lipitor.
The chairman of cardiovascular medicine in Cleveland has said that diabetics and those who acquired diabetes only through ingesting statins must still continue taking the medicines.
According to medical practitioners, even though the benefits of statins can really outweigh the possible side effects, patients might still be alarmed by this new announcement.
springhill group – The online community is all abuzz on Sunday after an explosive report has accused Facebook of snooping in smartphone users’ text messages.
Though Facebook admitted to reading SMS of users who have downloaded their app, they said they are only doing so as part of a limited testing phase prior to launching their own messaging service and not to deliberately expose users to fraud.
The Facebook app running on Android is authorized to process, read, receive and write SMS, something they have declared in their terms beginning from the 1.7 version. Facebook said this is in anticipation of new features that will integrate Facebook tools with user texts. Now, if Facebook eventually introduces a feature that will be applicable to those permissions, they are ensuring the users even now that it will be accompanied by proper educational and guiding materials.
Facebook retorted that users should be aware that it said it might access their messages, contained under “Permissions” — that long article you are expected to have read before downloading/using the app. Unfortunately, 70% of smartphone users do not seem to have the time for reading the terms and conditions attached to an app.
Other popular companies that are using smartphones to access data and other personal details of users include Yahoo Messenger, Badoo, Google and Flickr.
Several companies can reportedly control smartphone features remotely, which includes taking images and video using the camera, as in the case of YouTube. Also, details like contacts list, location and browser history are accessed and can be passed on to third-parties like advertisers.
According to a statement issued by Facebook, it does not read user text messages and described the Sunday Times report as ‘completely wrong’ on their terminology and the impression they have made. But Facebook gave an explanation anyway: “…we have done some testing of products that need the SMS part of the phone to talk to our app.”
Privacy concerns on smartphones have steadily increased in the past weeks as it was found out that a popular Android and iOS app, Path, is discovered to be collecting user contact details without permission — a move that can make users vulnerable to fraud. Other smaller companies that produce apps are capable of intercepting user calls like Tennis Juggling Game and My Remote Lock, which is supposed to be a security app to boot.
Just this month, Twitter has admitted that it has they have copied entire address books of their users from mobile phones. They have stored the data on their servers for 18 months without the users realizing it.