This reconnaissance study of radon concentrations in the Great Cave of Niah in Sarawak shows that in relatively deep pits and trenches in surficial deposits largely covered by protective shelters with poor ventilation, excavators are working in a micro-environment in which radon concentrations at the ground surface can exceed those of the surrounding area by a factor of > x 2. Although radon concentrations in this famous cave are low by world standards (alpha track-etch results ranging from 100 to 3075 Bq m(-3)), they still may pose a health risk to both excavators (personal dosemeter readings varied from 0.368 to 0.857 mSv for 60 days of work) and cave occupants (1 yr exposure at 15 h per day with an average radon level of 608 Bq m(-3) giving a dose of 26.42 mSv). The data here presented also demonstrate that there is considerable local variation in radon levels in such environments as these.
Recent research in Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia suggests that we can no longer assume a direct and exclusive link between anatomically modern humans and behavioral modernity (the 'human revolution'), and assume that the presence of either one implies the presence of the other: discussions of the emergence of cultural complexity have to proceed with greater scrutiny of the evidence on a site-by-site basis to establish secure associations between the archaeology present there and the hominins who created it. This paper presents one such case study: Niah Cave in Sarawak on the island of Borneo, famous for the discovery in 1958 in the West Mouth of the Great Cave of a modern human skull, the 'Deep Skull,' controversially associated with radiocarbon dates of ca. 40,000 years before the present. A new chronostratigraphy has been developed through a re-investigation of the lithostratigraphy left by the earlier excavations, AMS-dating using three different comparative pre-treatments including ABOX of charcoal, and U-series using the Diffusion-Absorption model applied to fragments of bones from the Deep Skull itself. Stratigraphic reasons for earlier uncertainties about the antiquity of the skull are examined, and it is shown not to be an 'intrusive' artifact. It was probably excavated from fluvial-pond-desiccation deposits that accumulated episodically in a shallow basin immediately behind the cave entrance lip, in a climate that ranged from times of comparative aridity with complete desiccation, to episodes of greater surface wetness, changes attributed to regional climatic fluctuations. Vegetation outside the cave varied significantly over time, including wet lowland forest, montane forest, savannah, and grassland. The new dates and the lithostratigraphy relate the Deep Skull to evidence of episodes of human activity that range in date from ca. 46,000 to ca. 34,000 years ago. Initial investigations of sediment scorching, pollen, palynomorphs, phytoliths, plant macrofossils, and starch grains recovered from existing exposures, and of vertebrates from the current and the earlier excavations, suggest that human foraging during these times was marked by habitat-tailored hunting technologies, the collection and processing of toxic plants for consumption, and, perhaps, the use of fire at some forest-edges. The Niah evidence demonstrates the sophisticated nature of the subsistence behavior developed by modern humans to exploit the tropical environments that they encountered in Southeast Asia, including rainforest.
The World Bank is publishing nine volumes of Disease Control Priorities, 3rd edition (DCP3) between 2015 and 2018. Volume 9, Improving Health and Reducing Poverty, summarises the main messages from all the volumes and contains cross-cutting analyses. This Review draws on all nine volumes to convey conclusions. The analysis in DCP3 is built around 21 essential packages that were developed in the nine volumes. Each essential package addresses the concerns of a major professional community (eg, child health or surgery) and contains a mix of intersectoral policies and health-sector interventions. 71 intersectoral prevention policies were identified in total, 29 of which are priorities for early introduction. Interventions within the health sector were grouped onto five platforms (population based, community level, health centre, first-level hospital, and referral hospital). DCP3 defines a model concept of essential universal health coverage (EUHC) with 218 interventions that provides a starting point for country-specific analysis of priorities. Assuming steady-state implementation by 2030, EUHC in lower-middle-income countries would reduce premature deaths by an estimated 4·2 million per year. Estimated total costs prove substantial: about 9·1% of (current) gross national income (GNI) in low-income countries and 5·2% of GNI in lower-middle-income countries. Financing provision of continuing intervention against chronic conditions accounts for about half of estimated incremental costs. For lower-middle-income countries, the mortality reduction from implementing the EUHC can only reach about half the mortality reduction in non-communicable diseases called for by the Sustainable Development Goals. Full achievement will require increased investment or sustained intersectoral action, and actions by finance ministries to tax smoking and polluting emissions and to reduce or eliminate (often large) subsidies on fossil fuels appear of central importance. DCP3 is intended to be a model starting point for analyses at the country level, but country-specific cost structures, epidemiological needs, and national priorities will generally lead to definitions of EUHC that differ from country to country and from the model in this Review. DCP3 is particularly relevant as achievement of EUHC relies increasingly on greater domestic finance, with global developmental assistance in health focusing more on global public goods. In addition to assessing effects on mortality, DCP3 looked at outcomes of EUHC not encompassed by the disability-adjusted life-year metric and related cost-effectiveness analyses. The other objectives included financial protection (potentially better provided upstream by keeping people out of the hospital rather than downstream by paying their hospital bills for them), stillbirths averted, palliative care, contraception, and child physical and intellectual growth. The first 1000 days after conception are highly important for child development, but the next 7000 days are likewise important and often neglected.