Health Highlights: Nov. 24, 2014

Health Highlights: Nov. 24, 2014

Health Highlights: Nov. 24, 2014

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

World 'Far Away' From Defeating Ebola: WHO Official

The Ebola situation in some parts of West Africa is improving, but the world is "far away" from defeating the deadly virus that's killed more than 5,400 people, according to Anthony Banbury, the head of the United Nations' Ebola mission.

United Nations' Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said the outbreak can be halted by mid-2015 if the international response is intensified, BBC News reported.

But while the rate of new Ebola cases in slowing in some parts of West Africa -- including Guinea, where the outbreak began -- there are growing concerns about Mali, where six people have died and a seventh case was reported on Saturday.

In Guinea, there are still some flare-ups of Ebola in the southeast, but the situation is improving in other parts of the country, World Health Organization coordinator Dr. Guenael Rodier told BBC News.

More than 15,300 cases of Ebola have been reported in the current outbreak in West Africa, according to the WHO.


Private Cancer Specialists Disappearing in U.S.

Private cancer specialists in the United States are disappearing, and patients are facing higher costs as a result.

Since 2008, 544 independent oncology practices were bought by or signed contracts with hospitals, 313 closed and 395 were facing financial difficulties, according to the Community Oncology Alliance, an advocacy group for independent practices, the New York Times reported.

Due to the way the payment system works, cancer patients and their insurers pay hospitals and their doctors about twice as much as they pay independent cancer specialists for administering treatments, the newspaper reported.

The reason why so many private oncology practices are being sold or closed is because insurers have drastically reduced payments to them, and because the drugs they buy and sell to patients have become extremely costly, Dr. Jeffery Ward told the Times.

The cancer specialist and his partners sold their private practice to the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.

A federal program enables medical centers to buy chemotherapy drugs for about half of what private doctors pay, the Times reported.
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