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Malaria spreads with dizzying efficiency. In infectious disease theory, the R0describes how many people someone with a disease will infect: more than one and the disease will spread, fewer than one and it will die out. The R0 of the Ebola virus during the 2015 outbreak in West Africa was estimated to be between two and three. Estimates for the R0 of malaria in Africa vary from fewer than one to more than 3000.
Multi drug-resistant TB is now found in almost all countries around the world. Even worse, incurable TB with resistance to all the locally available drugs has been reported in several countries, including countries with a high burden of disease such as India and South Africa. Complete resistance to the cocktail of antibiotics used to treat TB is an alarming and realistic prospect. What can be done?
The cramped Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh are the perfect environment for the transmission of respiratory infections such as diphtheria. It’s no surprise that the disease, which can cause airway obstruction, damage the heart and sometimes cause death, has been sweeping through these camps for a few months now.
In 19th century England, goitres – or swollen thyroid glands – were prevalent in Derbyshire and the condition became known as ‘Derbyshire neck’. Goitres are disfiguring and can impede breathing; more significantly, a poorly functioning thyroid can lead to severely stunted physical and mental growth. In 1886, Dr William Webb noted that goitres were mainly found “in women belonging to the working classes”, but the local environmental causes were not understood.

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