More mandatory vaccination for France; Australia proposes ban on homeopathic products in pharmacies; HPV programme for Scottish gay men; The NHS, DNA testing & personalised medicine
France proposes increase to mandatory vaccination
New French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn has indicated she wants to increase the number of mandatory vaccinations from 3 to 11. This follows on from the recent Italian decree to mandate vaccinations and fine those parents who don’t vaccinate their children. Currently only 3 vaccinations are required (diphtheria, tetanus and polio). Vaccinations such as those for measles, meningitis C, rubella, mumps and whooping are cough are recommended, but left to parental choice. French pharmacist, Serge Rader, has expressed his strong opposition to the proposal and highlighted the hand of the pharma lobby, rather than public health need. More and more European countries have already mandated vaccinations thus removing a basic parental right to choose what is best for their children. A rapidly growing number of people have concerns about the lack of safety information on vaccines from which to base informed decisions. This is the reason why ANH-Intl have launched a petition to stop health authorities from claiming vaccines are safe and to ensure safety information is made available to parents prior to vaccination consent being given. Please share widely.
Australia proposes ban on homeopathic products in pharmacies
Health Scotland have announced plans to implement a programme of HPV vaccination for men who have had sex with men (MSM). The vaccine will be offered through sexual health and HIV clinics to men aged 15 to 45 years old. The vaccine’s use, which was originally introduced to prevent cervical cancer in women, is now being widened to include other types of cancer (such as anal and oral) and genital warts. Only time will tell whether or not the adverse events being experienced by young girls will also be experienced by this new population.
The NHS, DNA testing and personalised medicine
In a surprising move for a financially beleaguered behemoth such as the NHS, the UK’s Chief Medical Adviser has called for all cancer patients to undergo genetic testing to allow their treatment to be optimally personalised. Genomic testing has been available for a number of years, but has remained largely in the domain of private healthcare. Whilst costs have come down dramatically, the cost of testing is still likely to pose a significant challenge for the NHS. The most well-known test is 23andMe, which is now widely available globally, and looks at an individual’s disease risk and ancestry across 602,000 gene ‘copying errors’ (SNPs). Integrated and functional medicine practitioners have long recognised the value of personalised medicine and the use of genomic testing to assist in developing strategies to support health with diet and lifestyle medicine. The challenge with some tests, such as the full 23andMe profile is that it comes as raw data, without a clinical interpretation. The data is then required to be run through a database such as Promethease. In the hands of the untrained healthcare practitioner genomic reports can be of little use and open to misinterpretation. They can also be downright scary if they are seen as predetermining health, so disempowering people from controlling those parts of their environment, including their diets and lifestyles, that will influence their gene expression and ultimately their health. Genomics — testing, interpretation, treatment and counselling — in a healthcare setting is a largely new skillset for many doctors. Whilst degrees in genetic counselling are springing up all over the UK, it is still a relatively new profession and it is going to take time to have a sufficiently large enough workforce to handle the NHS demand. It's hugely encouraging to hear talk of DNA testing and personalised medicine discussed in the context of the NHS, but there are some significant challenges to be overcome before we see this becoming mainstream healthcare in the UK.