Five academics from Oxford have received honours in the New Years’ Honours List, with three appointed CBEs, one an MBE and one an OBE.Christopher Bulstrode, a fellow of Green Templeton College, was made a CBE for services to humanitarian medicine. He retired in 2010 from his work as a professor ith charity Doctors of the World, for which he received the honour.Bulstrode said of his charitable work, “It has been an honour to be invited to join the teams set up by Doctors of the World and to contribute what I can. Certainly helping those less well off than ourselves, especially when war or disaster has struck, feels like one of the most useâ€¨ful thing that we can do. I do hope this award will stand as a recognition of the work of those teams, not of an individual.”Linda McDowell was also appointed CBE for services to geography and higher education. She is a fellow of St John’s College, where she teaches economic geography. McDowell is also a member of the college Equalities Committee and has taught across the social sciences to a range of students.Wolfson College fellow Keith Willett, who is also director for acute care at NHS England and an orthopaedic surgeon, was appointed CBE for services to the NHS. He said that he had been “enormously privileged to build a career with so many dedicated individuals and friends who are our NHS”.Fran Bennett, a senior research and teaching fellow at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, is an OBE for services to social science.â€¨Reverend Canon Brian Mountford, Chaplain of St Hilda’s, has been made an MBE for services to ecclesiastical history. He is also Vicar of the University Church, a post from which he will retire in April, and Honorary Canon of Christ Church Cathedral.
For 30% of pension funds, the drop would be greater than 500bps; around 18% of schemes, however, would see funding levels improve.The effect would be worse for public pension funds (a 620bps drop), as many are underfunded or being kept partly funded under a state guarantee.Complementa said it expected the group of Pensionskassen experts that annually sets a benchmark discount rate to propose a cut to 2.25% in its next session at the end of September.The 6.8% minimum conversion rate set down in current regulation for mandatory savings is widely considered too high.In the AV2020 reform proposal, a rate of 6% is under discussion, but experts have described a rate closer to 5% as being “actuarially correct”, according to Complementa.The consultancy said the alleged increase in the discount rate based on the parameters Pensionskasse are actually applying had been boosted by a 2.7% return over the first eight months of the year.In 2015, funding at the more than 380 Pensionskassen surveyed fell by 170bps.Complementa said it was also concerned that 51% of the 119 Pensionskassen taking part in a special survey said they did not yet have a systematic risk-management process.Nearly 80% of the participants, however, said they were content with the risk management they had, while 17% said they would need to improve it were they to take on more risk. Complementa’s latest risk update for Swiss pension funds has largely offset the positive news of increasing average funding at the country’s Pensionskassen.Average funding has increased year on year to more than 105%, yet the consultancy’s research shows that Pensionskassen “have only partly adjusted their valuation parameters to the low-interest-rate environment and increasing life expectancy”.For its latest risk analysis, Complementa applied harmonised parameters based on an average discount rate (technischer Zins) of 2.25% and a conversion rate of 5.1%.According to these calculations, the average funding level would then drop by 480 basis points.
Ethiopia’s need for food aid risesEthiopia’s government is calling for international assistance to help feed 8.2 million people after erratic rains devastated crop harvests.Climatic shocks are common in Ethiopia and often cause poor or failed harvests that lead to acute food shortages.Mitiku Kassa, secretary of the Ethiopian Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Committee, said the government has allocated $192m for food and other aid and is appealing for $596m in aid from the international community for the remainder of 2015.John Aylieff, an official in Ethiopia with the UN’s World Food Program, described the situation as “incredibly serious,” saying Ethiopia needs the international community to weigh in to contain the worst effects of El Nino conditions.
A new USC study published on Jan. 16 found that doctor’s offices, rather than emergency rooms, prescribed the most opioids to patients.According to the study conducted by USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics and the Keck School of Medicine, opioid prescriptions have exploded in the United States, increasing by nearly 471 percent from 1996 to 2012.While many regulations have been focused on restricting emergency room prescriptions, the share of opioids prescribed in emergency rooms during the 17-year study period decreased from 7.4 percent to 4.4 percent. “One hypothesis has been that the emergency room is a recurrent site of care and that patients could be going from ER to ER to obtain multiple prescriptions to support their addiction,” USC Keck assistant professor Sarah Axeen said in a press release. “But our analysis shows that emergency rooms account for a very small share of all prescribed opioids. In fact, doctor’s offices are the source of many more of these drugs.”Out of the four settings where opioids are prescribed — including the ER, doctors’ offices, dental offices and outpatient sites — doctors’ offices were the only setting in which opioid prescriptions increased. In 1996, they prescribed 70.6 percent of all opioids in the United States and by 2012, that number had jumped to 83.45 percent. “From the 1990s to at least 2013, we had convinced ourselves that prescribing opioids was a fine thing to do [for chronic pain],” Keck associate professor Michael Menchine said in a press release. “It is hard to look in the mirror years later and say two million people might be dependent on opioids because of this sort of practice.”Opioids have been declared an epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2016, a record of over 42,000 Americans overdosed on prescriptions, and opioid prescriptions were involved in at least 40 percent of these deaths. According to Keck professor Seth Seabury, in the push to address this epidemic, policymakers must focus on targeting the source of the problem. Policies to restrict opioid prescriptions in the ER, however, may have limited effects.“We are not saying these policies are bad,” Seabury said in a press release. “What our findings suggest is that they should really be focusing these policies on other places in the system.”Menchine encourages a more holistic approach to the opioid epidemic, including treatment for substance abuse over prescription regulations.“I want to be there for my patients and if they have substance abuse problems, I want to be able to address it in the best way I can,” Menchine said in a press release. “Too often, people think the solution is to simply say we can no longer prescribe opioids. For me, the solution is to say: It looks to me like you have a problem with opioid addiction and here are the options available so you can address it.”