Hello and welcome to our Weekly News Summary, bringing you up-to-date news in healthcare and making it relevant to you as a medical school applicant.
This week, we will discuss the following topics: increasing use of antidepressants amongst children, record numbers of obese children leaving primary school, and problems funding research into HIV treatments.
One learning point that you can take from this is to always be critical when faced with statistics. It’s easy to come to the wrong conclusion if the statistic is misinterpreted. For example, in this case, an increase in prescription of antidepressants for children may imply that more children are suffering with mental health problems than previously.
However, this is not necessarily the case; perhaps more children are being diagnosed because there are better services available, or perhaps there are more drugs available for children with mental health problems than there used to be. It is important to think critically in this manner, for example if you have a statistical interpretation station in an interview.
It is important to think about why obesity is more prevalent amongst the deprived – it seems almost counterintuitive that those with the least would suffer with a problem that stems from excess. However, there are deep rooted societal issues which have caused this paradoxical trend, including the cheap availability of unhealthy, high-calorie food and poorer quality of education surrounding nutrition.
Experts have stated that as it stands, the world is no longer on target to end the pandemic in the next two years, a target set by the United Nations. There are currently about 37 million people worldwide who are living with HIV or AIDS. The number of new cases has been falling, but it is no longer falling fast enough.
What can we learn from this?
Doctors and researchers often have to solve complex problems, and thus it is good for medical school applicants to demonstrate problem-solving abilities. Consider the problem of lack of funding for HIV treatment and testing – how would you be able to solve this? One idea proposed involves combining the facilities for HIV screening with other conditions, thus allowing the same amount of funding to address multiple health problems, making consultations more cost-effective. You may be asked to solve problems individually or as a group in an interview, and therefore it is good to practice by contemplating issues you read about on the news.