Antibiotics overused, Independence Day marches, satellite launched

People in Finland are prescribed more antibiotics than the EU average, police warn of neo-Nazi marches and the Finland 100 satellite blasted off.

Finnish medical patients use broad-spectrum antibiotics more commonly than the EU average, even though bacteria in Finland are not especially resistant to antibiotic treatments.

Daily Helsingin Sanomat writes that attacking a large number of different bacteria at once is all too common, and may lead to resistance build-up in bacteria, a situation that could pose problems in the long run.

A recent report by the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) finds that generally, the use of antibiotics has been falling, which it says is a positive development - because the less they are used, the less chance bacteria have to develop resistance. HS writes that the THL has proposed using bacteria-specific antibiotics rather than broad-spectrum varieties.

Even though antibiotic use in general is down, not enough is being done, according to THL medical expert Emmi Sarvikivi.

"Doctors treating individual patients may not realise that choosing broad-spectrum antibiotics can be harmful in the long run," Sarvikivi says. "If we don't take heed now there may be trouble ahead."

Resistance to the antibiotic class of carbapenems - which are used to treat severe or high-risk bacterial infection - has reached an all-time high in some European countries. The bacteria Klebisella pneumonia is 30 percent resistant to antibiotics in Italy, and 65 percent resistant in Greece, according to the THL. In Finland the bacterium is only 0.3 percent resistant, but the tables may also turn here.

Jonne Juntura is a graduating physician from Helsinki, and says the life-threatening challenges of antibiotic resistance can still be avoided.

"If we do nothing, 10 million people will die due to bacterial resistance in 2050," Juntura estimates.

The physician founded a worldwide innovation competition last year to combat the issue, with participants including the World Health Organisation as well as the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Police ready for marches

Police warn that representatives of the court-banned neo-Nazi group Nordic Resistance Movement (PVL) will likely take to the streets of Helsinki on Finland's Independence Day, 6 December.

Turku Appeals Court upheld a lower court's decision to ban the PVL in Finland in September, but the group has requested that the Supreme Court review the case, and there are expectations the organisation may hold the march before the court decides on whether to hear the case.

Police inspector Konsta Arvelin says in tabloid Ilta-Sanomat that police permit all demonstrations, including neo-Nazi marches, in the name of the right to free speech and assembly. The new guidelines for police response to the marches underscores that even neo-Nazis are protected by the law.

Police say they have received notice of the PVL's "Towards freedom" march (by an individual, not the group), a far-right "621" procession and a "Helsinki without Nazis" demo. All demonstrations will take place in the afternoon in central Helsinki, from 3 pm to about 7 pm.

IS writes that the National Police Board urges officers to focus on what is important: upholding order and security and safeguarding the right to free speech and assembly.

Finnish tech makes orbit

In extraterrestrial news, a satellite comemmorating Finland's indepdendence centenary and designed at the Aalto University was finally launched in California on Monday, 3 December at 8.32 pm Finnish time. Paper Turun Sanomat writes that the tiny satellite had to sit unused for more than a year.

Aerospace company SpaceX also wanted to do additional system checks, postponing the mid-November launch further.

The launch was historic in that the Falcon 9 booster rocket had been used twice before, and this time it also carried 64 different satellites for 35 different parties, including Aalto. The launch was one of the biggest ride-sharing satellite send-offs in history.

"I am really happy our satellite is on its way at last," project leader from Aalto University Esa Kallio says in TS. "It has been worth the wait, because soon we will be able to do new research and take stunning pictures of our 101-year-old country."

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