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Fergus Walsh, Medical correspondent

Fergus Walsh Medical correspondent

This is my take on the medical and health issues of the day, especially those involving research and ethics

Why do 17,000 under-fives die daily?

16 September 2014
Mothers and newborn babies
"Kangaroo care" in action in Malawi - skin-to-skin contact helps keep premature babies warm

A "staggering" number of children around the world are dying before the age of five, according to the United Nation's child agency.

Unicef' s latest figures estimate every day 17,000 under-fives die - 6.3 million a year - from largely preventable causes.

This is despite the overall rate of infant mortality having been halved in the past two decades.

Most of the deaths happen in the first hours or weeks following birth.

Millennium Development Goal

Unicef says urgent action is needed to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of cutting infant mortality by two-thirds.

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Boy has ears created from ribs

11 August 2014

A boy who was born without ears has had a pair created from his ribs.

Nine-year-old Kieran Sorkin had the surgery at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital.

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Analysis: Assisted dying debate

Nurse and patient holding hands

There is a profound gulf between those who see assisted dying as a fundamental human right for the terminally ill and those who fear that right could easily turn into a duty for the disabled and vulnerable.

It was the case of the late Tony Nicklinson, who had locked-in syndrome and wanted doctors to help him die, which proved a powerful talisman for the pro-lobby.

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Tanni Grey-Thompson: Assisted dying 'a dangerous path'

Paralympic multi-gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, has spoken out against the legalisation of assisted dying.

She warned that a bill proposed by former Labour Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer does not have "adequate safeguards".

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Stephen Hawking: Why I support Assisted Dying

Cambridge scientist Stephen Hawking is backing the Assisted Dying Bill which is being debated by peers on Friday.

The 72-year-old cosmologist said it was "discrimination against the disabled to deny them the right to kill themselves that able bodied people have."

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Antibiotic resistance: Cameron warns of medical 'dark ages'

The world could soon be "cast back into the dark ages of medicine" unless action is taken to tackle the growing threat of resistance to antibiotics, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

He has announced a review into why so few anti-microbial drugs have been introduced in recent years.

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How can I cut down on sugar?

Let me confess. I love sugar.

I don't have it in tea or coffee, but I'm partial to biscuits, cakes, sweets and fruit juice, which are packed with the stuff.

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'World's smallest' pacemaker

This new technology has several potential advantages.

Most important is the absence of a wire or lead which carries the electrical impulse from conventional pacemakers to the heart. These wires can come under immense pressure and can be a source of complications.

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Skin cancer trial results 'exciting'

scan of lungs
The image on the left shows melanoma which has spread into the lungs - the large grey area are tumours. On the right, the tumours have shrunk after treatment.

The results of two international trials against advanced skin cancer have been hailed as "exciting and striking".

Both treatments, for advanced melanoma, are designed to enable the immune system to recognise and target tumours.

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About Fergus

Fergus began working for the BBC in 1984 and has reported on health, science and medicine for nearly 20 years.

He has reported for the BBC from around the world on topics such as stem cells, obesity, HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, polio and swine flu.

Fergus has had his genes sequenced, his heart, brain and other body parts scanned, as well as being vaccinated against bird flu for his reports.

He appeared in a BBC TV drama with Julie Walters. He didn't win any awards for his acting, but has won several for his journalism.

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