Weekly Highlight: 03.06.2008


Copenhagen Consensus: vitamins are best investment

If you had an extra $75 billion to spend on eliminating the world’s problems, where would you put it? Fighting disease? Stopping climate change? Or providing better education?
That question was put to leading economists taking part in the Copenhagen Consensus last week.
Fighting childhood malnutrition with vitamin supplements and fortifying foods with essentials such as iron came out tops.
Developing easier trade links between all countries was also highly recommended.
The idea behind the CC is to help prioritise the world’s limited economic funds and resources to get the best results.
The economic experts, including five Nobel prize winners, discussed 10 challenge areas where economic priority would make the biggest impact. Areas included malnutrition, global warming, trade and climate change.
The experts ranked the solutions to these challenges in order of the best possible results. As with the first CC in 2004, climate change ranked close to the bottom of the list in terms of return on investment.
Some 140 million children lack essential vitamins according to the CC analysis. The proposal before the CC was to increase the amount of vitamin A and zinc supplements available to undernourished children.
A member of the expert panel and Nobel Laureate Douglass C North said that there is a clear benefit for recommending this solution in the fight against malnutrition.
‘It has immediate and important consequences for improving the wellbeing of poor people around the world – that’s why it should be our number one priority.’ (KR)


New Safety Guidelines for Daycare Centres
Published 03.06.2008, 10.14

The Ministry of Health and Social Services disclosed new safety regulations for daycare centres on Tuesday.
The joint directives from the Ministry and the Centre for Research and Development of Welfare and Health are intended to help child care centres prevent risk and to develop safety plans to help manage crisis situations.
The guidelines map out plans to deal with cases such as illness, accidents, food handling, hygiene, kidnapping and the disappearance of children as well as the risk posed by low staff levels.
The new safety regulations were laid out in a set of proposals drawn up by a special working group.


Alternative healing gains in popularity
Monday 02 June 2008

The number of people seeking treatment from alternative therapists such as homeopaths, acupuncturists and paranormal healers went up by 7% in 2007, says national statistics agency CBS.
Some 9% of women and 5% of men use alternative therapies. Most are aged 45 to 65.


Traffic deaths soar, experts blame reckless driving
First published: 02 Jun 2008, 12:51

Deaths caused by traffic accidents in Norway are up 50 percent so far this year, even before the summer driving season gets underway. Speedsters, most often young men, have become a potentially lethal menace on the road.
An organization dedicated to improving road safety, Trygg Trafikk, has asked for and received an emergency meeting with both police and state highway officials this week, reports news bureau NTB.
A total of 106 traffic fatalities have been registered since January 1, and that’s considered “ominous, since we know that the most fatalities occur in June, July and August,” said Kristin Øyen of Trygg Trafikk.
Odd Reidar Humlegård of the state police is also worried about the trend. He noted that many of the fatal accidents have involved high speed or intoxication or both.
“We’ve been seizing drivers’ licenses and catching more speedsters than ever before,” Humlegård told Aftenposten.no. But not even a recent rash of especially gruesome accidents, widely reported in Norwegian media, has proved a deterrent.
Humlegård confirmed Trygg Trafikk’s concern that increasing numbers of motorists are simply driving too fast. “We’ve seen speeds of as much as 160 kilometres an hour in an 80 zone, and we’re worried about what they (the guilty motorists) are thinking,” Humlegård said. “It’s as if they don’t understand what danger they’re putting themselves and others into.”
Many of those driving way too fast are young men, and fully 11 of the traffic fatalities in May alone were youth, both male and female, aged 15 to 24. They included passengers in cars driven by reckless motorists.
The police plan to significantly boost highway patrols this summer, and many of the patrol cars will be unmarked.


Equal treatment eludes female PhDs
Published: 3 Jun 08 07:05 CET

More and more women are starting post-graduate research at Swedish colleges and universities, only to find they face a bitter reality in comparison to their male colleagues.
A news study from Sweden’s National Agency for Higher Education (Högskoleverket) shows that one in four women working toward a PhD in Sweden experiences negative treatment due to their gender.
Only 6 percent of men feel they’ve faced the same situation.
Circumstances are worst for women pursuing doctorate degrees in jurisprudence, law, social science, and veterinary medicine, where answers given by those questioned for the report are often disheartening.
Primarily teachers or advisors are responsible for the negative treatment.
The higher education agency first investigated the situation for doctoral candidates five years ago.
At the time, researchers emphasized their position of dependence relative to their advisors.
“My biggest worry is that not so much has happened,” said the agency’s head Anders Flodtröm to the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.
The agency has been criticized earlier that a high number of those who advise PhD students are men. Even if more women join the ranks of advisors, the field is still dominated by men.
Nine percent of female PhD candidates in the report state that they have been sexually harassed. But only 2 percent of their male colleagues report being subjected to “an unwelcome advance of a sexual nature”.

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