Health Highlights: Feb. 13, 2014

Health Highlights: Feb. 13, 2014

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

Bill Allowing Child Euthanasia Passed in Belgium

Belgian lawmakers have passed a bill that allows terminally ill children to request euthanasia.

The nation's parliament passed the bill in an 86-44 vote, with 12 abstentions. It's expected to be signed into law by the king and will make Belgium the first country in the world to remove any age restrictions on requests for euthanasia, BBC News reported.

Belgium has allowed euthanasia for people older than 18 since 2002.

Before euthanasia is considered, a child must be terminally ill and face extreme physical suffering and make repeated requests to die. Parents, doctors and psychiatrists would have to be in agreement before a decision is made.

Supporters of the move say it will affect only a small number of youngsters, while opponents say children are not equipped to make such a difficult decision, BBC News reported.

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Global Effort to Reduce Infectious Disease Risk Announced

An international effort to reduce the risk of infectious disease was announced Thursday.

Over the next five years, the United States will work with at least 30 other countries and three global groups -- the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health -- to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats worldwide.

The Global Health Security Agenda seeks to counter natural threats and those caused by accidental or intentional releases of dangerous germs.

"While we have made great progress in fighting and treating diseases, biological threats can emerge anywhere, travel quickly, and take lives," Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, said in a U.S. government news release.

"The recent outbreaks of H7N9 influenza and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome are reminders of the need to step up our efforts as a global community. The Global Health Security Agenda is about accelerating progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats," she explained.

 
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