Health Highlights: April 20, 2015

Health Highlights: April 20, 2015

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Dr. Oz Defends TV Show

TV celebrity physician Dr. Mehmet Oz says his show provides “multiple points of view,” including his own, which are offered “without conflict of interest.”

In the statement released Friday, Oz was defending himself against 10 doctors who accuse him of promoting “quack treatments” on his show and want him removed from Columbia University’s faculty, the Associated Press reported.

Oz is chair of the surgery department and still occasionally teaches, and also performs heart surgery at Columbia’s affiliated hospital.

In responding to the doctors’ demand that Oz be removed from the faculty, a Columbia university spokesman said the school is “committed to the principle of academic freedom,” the AP reported.


WHO Acknowledges Poor Ebola Response

The World Health Organization admits that it’s initial response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was “slow and insufficient,” and pledges to make changes to improve its handling of future outbreaks

Some experts say the WHO’s inadequate response at the start of the outbreak was a major reason why it turned into the worst Ebola crisis on record, the British newspaper The Guardian reported.

“We have taken serious note of the criticisms of the Organization that, inter alia, the initial WHO response was slow and insufficient, we were not aggressive in alerting the world,” said a statement from the agency’s leadership posted on its website.

“We did not work effectively in coordination with other partners, there were shortcomings in risk communications and there was confusion of roles and responsibilities,” according to the statement, The Guardian reported.

So far, the outbreak has led to 25,000 cases of Ebola and 10,000 deaths.


Elmo Promotes Childhood Vaccinations in New Video

Sesame Street’s Elmo is featured in a new video emphasizing the need for all children to be up to date on their vaccinations.

The popular Muppet character appears in the video with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, ABC News reported.

“I explained to him that, as Surgeon General, it is my job to help everyone stay healthy,” Murthy said in a statement. “Specifically, Elmo and I talked about the importance of vaccines and making sure that all children are protected from easily preventable diseases.”

“Come on everybody get vaccinated with Elmo!” the Muppet says in the video, ABC News reported.

The overall rate of vaccination in the United States is high, but unvaccinated people have been linked to recent outbreaks of infectious diseases such as measles.

From 1994 to 2013, vaccines helped prevent 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths of children, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ABC News reported.


CDC Warns Ebola Survivors About Sex

Ebola survivors should abstain from all forms of sex or continue to use condoms “until more information becomes available,” rather than the previously recommended three months, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in revised guidelines issued Sunday.

Similar recommendations were issued in recent weeks by the World Health Organization and the government of Liberia, The New York Times reported.

Health officials are acting on evidence that a Liberian man who survived Ebola might have transmitted to deadly virus to his female sex partner many months later. Ebola genetic material was found in the man’s semen 175 days after he developed symptoms, 74 days longer than previously found in a survivor.

The genetic sequence of the Ebola virus in the woman was the same at several key points at the virus in her boyfriend’s semen and blood samples, the Times reported.