Sally Speaks

Professor Dame Sally Davies – Britain’s Chief Medical Officer – was a busy lady yesterday, speaking to the Commons Science and Technology Committee on a range of health related issues, two of which will come as no surprise to readers of this blog.

First off, as I reminded you guys late last year, we’re all going to die horribly because pretty soon we’re not going to have any useful antibiotics available to us. By “useful”, I mean ones that work.

Prof Davies even went as far as to suggest that:

“…the threat from infections that are resistant to frontline antibiotics was so serious that the issue should be added to the government’s national risk register of civil emergencies.”

She described what she called an “apocalyptic scenario” where people going for simple operations in 20 years’ time die of routine infections “because we have run out of antibiotics”.

I would (and do) agree, but I take exception with her use of the term “apocalyptic”. Recent failed apocalypses (Harold Camping, The Mayans) have meant that the word lacks any sort of gravitas amongst the general public any more. They simply don’t take it seriously. And this is serious, although there’s actually very little that the general public can do about it. Except die. Horribly.

On a lighter, far more comedic note, the meeting of the Science and Technology Committee also included a brief discussion on Homeopathy. This is about as appropriate a conversation about tree-felling methods at a meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee or a chat about the fungal diseases of goldfish at a meeting of the Institute of Motor Mechanics Committee, but fortuitously, Dame Sally dealt with the subject with the ridicule it so richly deserves.

Professor Dame Sally Davies said she was “perpetually surprised” homeopathy was provided on the NHS, and branded homeopaths “peddlers””

She also expressed fears about the prescription of homeopathic remedies to treat malaria and other illnesses:
“I’m very concerned when homeopathic practitioners try to peddle this way of life to prevent malaria or other infectious disease,” she said. “I am perpetually surprised that homeopathy is available on the NHS.”

Dame Sally, who is England’s most senior doctor, concluded by remarking that homeopathy “is rubbish”.

Now all that we need is a Secretary of State for Health that chooses to listen to scientific and er… medical advice. Not like the incumbent Jeremy Hunt, who is an idiot.

  • Malaria is regarded as an infectious disease? News to me.

  • Richard > Er… I’m not sure how I can help here. Are you perhaps confusing the term with transmissibility? Malaria cannot be transmitted from human to human. But that’s not what an infectious disease is.

    The definition of an infectious disease:

    a disease caused by the entrance into the body of organisms (as bacteria, protozoans, fungi, or viruses) which grow and multiply there.

    Plasmodium spp are a protozoan organisms which do exactly what is required to fall into that definition.

  • Ok – was definitely confusing it with transmissibility – in my mind an infectious disease has always meant something that can be er… transmitted between people.

    Learn something new every day!

  • r

    IBM to the rescue: anti-bacterial hydrogel. Of course, nature dictates that mutation is inevitable, as is the conclusion that microbes/viruses/diseases remain the few remaining tools of nature to keep that elephant-in-the-room, human population, a little more sustainable.

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