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nucleus: Easter 2009

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Editorial

Humility is vital not only in medicine, but also in the Christian life (Philippians 2:3-11). The past year has been a rocky one for my faith. But each time I surrendered myself to God, he made his sustaining grace known to me in a real way. At times I wondered...

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Cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe

I t's in the early hours of the morning in mid January. I'm standing in a cholera camp in the town of Kadoma, 140km south-west of Harare (the capital). As I look around, my eyes widen taking in the sights. People are everywhere: beds, benches, floor and wheelbarrows. Sunken eyes...

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Living in the light of tomorrow

In the midst of stressful exams and hectic ward rounds, it is easy to forget where we are heading. Over 400 medical students from around the UK (and abroad) arrived in Derbyshire for the annual national student conference from 13-15th February. We were there to learn about living in the...

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Nurse suspended for offering prayer to patient

A 45 year old community nurse was suspended in December 2008 simply for offering to pray for a patient. Caroline Petrie, a committed Christian, had finished attending to the patient's dressings at her home. The patient politely refused and was not offended, but mentioned the incident to another nurse in...

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Global conflict zones

More than 20 conflicts are currently taking place around the world. Of these, seven conflicts are each causing over 1,000 violent deaths per year. Most topical of the 'minor' conflicts (causing fewer fatalities) has been the resumption of sectarian killings in Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, the UK has been involved in...

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Rape - a weapon of war

Civilians in conflicts worldwide are being subjected to sexual, as well as physical, violence. Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Darfur are some of the countries that have witnessed mass rape of men, women and children. In a recent report by MSF in Darfur, nearly 300 women attended a health clinic in...

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Assisted dying update

Should doctors be required to assist the deaths of their patients? There is much action in Westminster, and Scotland where health matters are devolved. Margo MacDonald, Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), has Parkinson's disease. She wants to change Scottish law to legalise voluntary euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, and...

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Cheaper drugs for poor countries

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has promised to cap drug costs for the world's 50 poorest countries at a quarter of their US and European prices. In addition, Andrew Witty, GSK's new chief executive, will reinvest 20% of the company's developing world profits into upgrading local health care infrastructure (eg improving clinics, drug...

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Too many teenage pregnancies

At 13 years of age, Alfie may be Britain's youngest father. Chantelle (the mother) is reported to have had numerous other boyfriends, so the fatherhood of baby Maisie is in question. Their story is another milestone in the disintegration of our society's moral stance on sex outside marriage. Journalist Melanie Phillips...

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Let down by hybrid embryo hype

 Due to a shortage of human ova for embryonic stem cell research, animal-human hybrid embryos were portrayed as vital to finding cures for conditions like Alzheimer's disease. Recent research cast serious doubt on this assertion from last year's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill debate. Scientists inserted human DNA into egg cells...

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Gender reassignment for transsexual teens?

Transsexual children should be given puberty-blockers from the age of twelve, say controversial draft guidelines from the International Endocrine Society. Preventing early pubertal changes would give children, who express a wish to change sex, time to make a decision. The guidelines come amid news of the world's youngest person to undergo...

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Non-invasive fetal tests - coming soon

The NHS should prepare for advances in non-invasive fetal DNA tests, recommends the Foundation for Genomics and Population Health. With no risk of miscarriage, these are safer than current invasive methods (such as amniocentesis), and can be used much earlier in pregnancy. The technology uses cell-free fetal DNA in maternal...

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Obama: change for good?

meet the new president Before Obama's meteoric rise to the land's highest position, his time in elected office was limited to the Illinois state senate and a partial term as a US senator. But his intellect, drive and people skills were proven early on at law school (where he became...

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Time for a spiritual health check?

The last health check I had was an occupational health screen at the BMJ. I passed with flying colours and ate suitably large portions of dessert in the cafeteria for the rest of the week. As far as I was concerned I'd passed and didn't need to worry for a...

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behind research headlines

'Medical breakthrough': yet another one - and experts promise a revolution in treatment within five years. 'New psychiatric research unit puts local residents at risk!' So many headlines; so many points of view. Whom do we believe and why? Can we trust the viewpoint espoused by our favourite newspaper, medical...

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The myth of secular neutrality

People of faith are often accused of irrational bias. Some ethicists go further to argue that the morally neutral demands of the secular state should always supersede doctors' personal beliefs. They would even deprive doctors of their current legal right of conscience not to participate in abortions, for instance. Ethicist...

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the Epistles: the hermeneutical questions

We started looking at the Epistles in the last issue, focusing on God's message to its original first century recipients (exegesis). We now consider the hermeneutical questions: how his Word applies to us today. (1) Though people share much common ground when asking hermeneutical questions, differences of opinion always arise....

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Balance

A gymnast lies still on a beam, preparing for a series of impressive tumbles. Her body looks supremely balanced and perfectly at rest. This is achieved by complex interactions between her nervous system and muscle cells that are organised into motor units. As 'an octopus would encircle a pole', motor...

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A heart of compassion

This book is powerful, challenging and inspiring; at the same time a short and easy read. Though focusing on abortion, the main message is about practical love and exploring more deeply God's heart of compassion - learning to see people as he does. Philip Clarke takes the sometimes abstract command 'love...

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Walking with Gay Friends

The issue of sexual orientation generates much debate. But we often forget about individual Christians, our friends, for whom this struggle is a daily reality. Alex Tylee convinces the reader of the need for compassion, honesty and uncompromising holiness in relating to ourselves and others. Tylee affirms her commitment to salvation...

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Letters

Editor, 'Homelessness and asylum' made me examine my own prejudices and accept the challenge to change. The simple question, 'what would Jesus do?' produces such a simple answer. Yet how many of us have demonstrated Christ-like compassion when walking past the cold and hungry man sitting on the footpath? I remember...

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Doctors, Drink and Drugs

IntroductionMisuse of alcohol and other drugs is a growing problem in Western society, and doctors and medical students are at least as susceptible to it as the rest of the population. This booklet reviews the evidence in this area, and makes recommendations from a Christian perspective. The scale of the...

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