Image credit: UK Government, OGL v1.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Plans to cut Universal Credit is not simply a political decision. For many who depend on it and other benefits, it’s the difference between life and death.

The failings of the UK welfare system have become painfully apparent. In recent weeks, the harrowing story of Philippa Day gained traction — though not enough — following her death aged 27. Day left what is believed to be a suicide note in which she criticised the government’s handling of her personal independent payment (PIP). The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) rescinded Day’s disability benefits in January of 2019. …

Image credit: Chris F / CC BY (

In an exclusive interview, I speak with Dr Bonnie Halpern-Felsher of Stanford University and the Tobacco Prevention Toolkit about the research that indicates young people who use e-cigarettes are at elevated risk of developing COVID-19. You can watch our interview here.

Pranab Mukherjee, as Finance Minister, present at the 2009 World Economic Forum. Image credit: World Economic Forum / CC BY-SA (

Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee announced earlier this week that he has tested positive for COVID-19. The former head of state joins a number of leading Indian political figures afflicted by the disease, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or simply coronavirus.

Mukherjee, aged 81, took to Twitter to divulge the news. “On a visit to the hospital for a separate procedure, I have tested positive for [COVID-19] today,” he wrote. “I request the people who came in contact with me in the last week, to please self isolate and get tested for COVID-19.” Since then…

A testing site for COVID-19 in Karnataka state capital Bengaluru (pictured March 4th, 2020).

This article was first published on Health Issues India and can be read here.

Confirmed novel coronavirus cases to date now exceed 200,000, including 152 cases in India.

At the time of writing, a total of 204,069 coronavirus cases have been confirmed worldwide, of which 112,953 are active. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority (94 percent) of current coronavirus patients are in mild condition, translating to 106,519 people. The remaining six percent of active coronavirus patients are in serious or critical condition, translating to 6,434 people.

In India, there are 135 active cases of the novel coronavirus (or COVID-19), with fourteen people…

This article was originally published here.

The passing of a 76 year-old Karnataka man has marked the first coronavirus death in India, test results have confirmed.

Cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have reached 76 in India, dispersed across multiple states and union territories. At the time of writing, coronavirus cases have been detected in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana as well as in the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

News of India’s first coronavirus death is likely to add to public concern, although the…

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) included a chapter on traditional medicine in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) for the first time — in what many perceived to be a boon to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

The ICD is an influential document. In the WHO’s own words, “ICD is increasingly used in clinical care and research to define diseases and study disease patterns, as well as manage health care, monitor outcomes and allocate resources.” Its impact spans more than 100 countries. While the WHO maintains that traditional Chinese medicine is not endorsed by its inclusion in the…

Donald Trump at a rally in Nashville in 2017. Image credit: Office of the President of the United States (Donald J. Trump) [Public domain]

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”

So read Donald Trump’s October 7th tweet, precipitating what BBC News termed a “week of confusion over US policy” concerning foreign affairs. The catalyst for said week was a White House statement which read “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria. …

A memorial to Anna Politkovskaya outside her apartment in Moscow, where she was assassinated in 2006. Image credit: John Martens via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain).

The news of three men being charged in the case of the assault on British journalist Owen Jones serves to remind us in the United Kingdom and globally the perils which challenge the profession.

Just this week, on October 7th, we marked the anniversary of the assassination of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya — an event The Guardian described as “the murder that killed free media in Russia”. Politkovskaya’s death marked the culmination of a career in which time she had been subjected to a mock execution by military forces in Chechnya; had been poisoned; and had been repeatedly threatened by…

The Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences in India.

This article was originally published on Health Issues India.

World Hepatitis Day was observed on Sunday, July 28th. For India, it was an opportunity to remember a major but often overlooked threat to public health.

Viral hepatitis — which the World Health Organization classifies as “one of the leading killers worldwide” — affects almost sixty million Indians and kills 1.5 lakh people in the country annually. According to the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS), hepatitis B alone affects four crore Indians whilst approximately 1.2 crore are afflicted with hepatitis C.

Image credit: Timothy Vollmer [CC BY 2.0 (]

When I was a comprehensive school student, a teacher of mine I greatly admired took to the stage in an assembly to speak about Alan Turing. He taught IT and was discussing Turing’s contributions to computer science, including the pivotal role he played in cracking encrypted German messages. He also mentioned, at the end of his address, how Turing was a gay man. After the war, he was arrested and prosecuted under anti-gay laws. He was sentenced to be chemically castrated and died just over two weeks shy of his 42nd birthday from cyanide poisoning. …

Kerean J. Watts

Writer for Hyderus and Health Issues India. Views are personal.

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