Monthly Archives: January 2016

Problems with UK National Health Service

The British show a mixture of pride and embarrassment when they speak about the National Health Service, and contrast it to health systems based on private health insurance.

We are proud of the cherished NHS principles: that it is ‘free at the point of use’ and that treatment is decided on the basis of a patient’s needs rather than the depth of his pocket. Those are sources of justified pride. Private health schemes cannot claim these virtues. However, they do with reason claim a greater sophistication and an ethos of caring for individuals in a more comfortable and individual way.

In terms of comfort and luxury as opposed to medical care, the NHS standard is indeed a basic one and that can be the cause of embarrassment, when the state of NHS hospitals is compared to the higher standards of comfort and even hygiene which often seem to obtain elsewhere. It is partly because of this that many choose to opt out of the NHS, and rely on privately funded care for a less traumatic experience when a serious illness strikes them or a family member. The draw-back of private insurance is of course that all insurances have a financial limit and when that runs out, care may no longer be funded. However, at that point the patient has the right to return to the NHS.

Provision of health care has always been contentious. The post 2nd world war UK government spent long hours and months at the negotiating table arguing with doctors about the terms under which the National Health Service would come into existence. The compromise which was eventually reached was one which allowed for the continued existence of the private sector, and since then it has continued to thrive alongside the NHS.

In recent years we have seen the influence of a more conservative political climate, increased influence from the United States, together with increased expectations which have grown along with scientific advances. These factors have fed into an expanding and successful private sector, which has continued to grow alongside an NHS which is itself better funded than ever before.

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USAID Assistance Tops $105 Million for Nigeriens in Need

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is expanding support for food-insecure people and acutely malnourished children in Niger. USAID has committed more than $105 million in humanitarian assistance to date in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010.

In response to alerts from early warning systems and field assessments as early as October 2009, USAID began to procure U.S. food aid in November 2009. When later assessments indicated increased needs, USAID increased funding for emergency programs supporting food security, nutrition, agriculture, and economic recovery and market systems and drew on the resources of the newly authorized Emergency Food Security Program to provide grants to the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and non-governmental organizations for local or regional procurement of food commodities and/or the use of food vouchers.

To address the food needs of up to 8 million Nigeriens over the next 5 months, USAID has contributed more than $47 million in emergency food assistance, including in-kind food aid and funding for the local and regional purchase of food aid. USAID’s assistance will help cover a majority of the estimated needs to support current WFP emergency operations in Niger.

USAID is increasing efforts to treat, mitigate, and prevent acute malnutrition among children in Niger under the age of five. USAID-funded nutrition programs, targeting approximately 1 million children and pregnant and lactating women, include support for community management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) initiatives, malnutrition screening, data collection and analysis, and the purchase of ready-to-use therapeutic foods and essential medicines.

USAID is also supporting economic recovery and market systems initiatives to increase household purchasing power, targeting an estimated 215,000 households in Niger through the provision of small cash grants and support for cash-for-work programs. With money to spend in local markets, Nigeriens are able to purchase food and restore assets sold or traded for food, helping to prevent or mitigate populations from adopting negative coping mechanisms, such as reducing food intake and eating difficult-to-digest wild foods, during the current hunger season. To help increase the likelihood of an adequate harvest during the September 2010 season, USAID has also provided support for agriculture and food security programs that provide agricultural supplies – such as seeds and tools – to farmers in affected areas.

The United States remains committed to helping the people of Niger in their time of need. In FY 2009, USAID provided more than $23 million in response to the global food price crisis in Niger, supporting nutrition, agriculture and food security, and economic recovery and market systems interventions, and emergency food assistance.

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Class of Drugs Linked to Higher Heart Risk in Older Diabetics

SATURDAY, June 25 New research shows that older people with type 2 diabetes who take drugs known as sulfonylureas to lower their blood sugar levels may face a higher risk for heart problems than their counterparts who take metformin.

Of the more than 8,500 people aged 65 or older with type 2 diabetes who were enrolled in the trial, 12.4 percent of those given a sulfonylurea drug experienced a heart attack or other cardiovascular event, compared with 10.4 percent of those who were started on metformin.

In addition, these heart problems occurred earlier in the course of treatment among those people taking the sulfonylurea drugs, the study showed.

The head-to-head comparison trial is slated to be presented Saturday at the American Diabetes Association annual meeting in San Diego. Because the findings are being reported at a medical meeting, they should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

With type 2 diabetes, the body either does not produce enough of the hormone insulin or doesn’t use the insulin it does produce properly. In either case, the insulin can’t do its job, which is to deliver glucose (blood sugar) to the body’s cells. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood and can wreak havoc on the body.

Metformin and sulfonylurea drugs the latter a class of diabetes drugs including glyburide, glipizide, chlorpropamide, tolbutamide and tolazamide are often among the first medications prescribed to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

The findings are important, the researchers noted, partly because sulfonylurea drugs are commonly prescribed among the elderly to lower blood glucose levels. In addition, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among people with type 2 diabetes.

For several reasons, however, the new study on these medications is far from the final word on the issue, experts said.

For one, people who are started on the sulfonylureas instead of metformin are often sicker to begin with, said Dr. Spyros G. Mezitis, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Metformin cannot be prescribed to people with certain kidney and heart problems, he said.

Both medications lower blood glucose levels, but go about it in entirely different ways, he explained.

“The sulfonylureas lower blood sugar by making the body produce more insulin, and this may cause low blood sugar or hypoglycemia,” he said. In contrast, metformin enhances the activity of the insulin that the body produces.

Previous research has shown that metformin is not linked with as high a risk of low blood sugar as the sulfonylureas. Hypoglycemia robs the muscles including those in the heart of the glucose they need for energy, so they don’t work as well.

This is why these drugs may confer a higher risk for heart attack, Mezitis said. The new study, however, is based only on observations and does not prove any cause-and-effect relationship between these drugs and heart problems.

Dr. Jerome V. Tolbert, medical director of the outreach team at the Friedman Diabetes Institute in New York City, urged caution in reacting to the new findings.

“I wouldn’t bet on this study and say, ‘Everyone stop taking sulfonylureas,’” he said. But, “we are using less and less of these drugs because there are now newer and better drugs out there,” he added.

Some of the newer drugs are more costly, he noted. “If you are concerned about your risks, talk to your doctor for reassurance,” he said, adding that people should never stop taking any prescribed medication without first talking to their doctor.

Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, agreed that the latest findings are far from definitive.

But, “we are using sulfonylureas less and less now,” he said. “And we are only using them in very specific patients and often for short periods of times to treat high blood sugar, and then we switch to another drug.”

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Seasonal Changes Can Put Teens’ Sleep/Wake Cycles Off Track

SATURDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) — When the days grow longer in the spring, teens experience hormonal changes that lead to later bedtimes and associated problems, such as lack of sleep and mood changes, researchers have found.

In a study of 16 students enrolled in the 8th grade at an upstate New York middle school, researchers collected information on the kids’ melatonin levels. Levels of melatonin — a hormone that tells the body when it’s nighttime — normally start rising two to three hours before a person falls asleep.

“This is a double-barreled problem for teenagers and their parents,” study author Mariana Figueiro, an associate professor at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., said in a news release from the institute.

“In addition to the exposure to more evening daylight, many teens also contend with not getting enough morning light to stimulate the body’s biological system, also delaying teens’ bedtimes,” she explained.

This delay in getting to sleep may lead to sleep deprivation and mood changes, and may also increase the risk of obesity and possibly lower school grades, Figueiro noted.

“This latest study supplements previous work and supports the general hypothesis that the entire 24-hour pattern of light/dark exposure influences synchronization of the body’s circadian clock with the solar day and thus influences teenagers’ sleep/wake cycles,” Figueiro stated in the news release.

“As a general rule, teenagers should increase morning daylight exposure year round and decrease evening daylight exposure in the spring to help ensure they will get sufficient sleep before going to school,” she advised.

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UH Cancer Center receives $3.58M for mesothelioma research

The University of Hawaii Cancer Center has received a $3.58 million gift from an anonymous donor to support mesothelioma research. It is the second-largest gift that the research institute has ever received, the center said.

The mesothelioma research is being conducted by Michele Carbone, director of the UH Cancer Center, along with Haining Yang and Giovanni Gaudino.

Mesothelioma is a disease that causes malignant cancer cells to form within the lining of the chest, abdomen or around the heart. Its primary cause is believed to be exposure to asbestos.

The UH Cancer Center is affiliated with the University of Hawaii Manoa and is one of 65 centers across the nation that are designated by the National Cancer Institute. The center is currently building a research facility in Kakaako, which is scheduled to open in 2013.

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Happy Canada Day and 4th of July!

To the majority of our readers, it is a holiday weekend, one that celebrates the birth of Canada on July 1st, and the the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on the 4th.

But I only have three things on my mind: fireworks, food, and family and friends.

So how are you enjoying your long weekend?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Perhaps you need some weekend recipes to get you started? Read more here for some homemade guacamole, corn chips, stuffed zucchini, and marinade ideas.

While youre at it, check out our twist on a classic broccoli salad as a great side dish.

And you can never saw no to grilled corn on the cob. Have you never had it? Trust me those sweet, juicy kernels with a hint of that delicious char.. Youll never boil those babies again.

Spend the time with family and friends going on a leisurely bike ride. If you dont have one already, heres a short guide to buying the perfect bike and take the weekend to relax and peruse the local shops for what they have to offer.

If you have nothing planned, take some time to do some yard work. That might include tending to your garden, looking after your lawn, or getting that clothes line ready for eco-friendly laundry.

Hopefully, no matter what you do, the weather complies, and you can spend it outside, relishing in natures own vitamin D.

I cant understand why you wouldnt want to end it with some ice cream. Sure, these ice creams are vegan, but theyll be the best youve ever had. Really.

Need some more? Here are some other tips from July 4th, 2010.

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Report: Hunger kills five children in flood-stricken Pakistan

Islamabad – Five children have died of malnutrition in the north-western region of Pakistan hit hard by the floods currently plaguing the country, a media report said on Sunday.

The first reported deaths due to lack of food in flood-affected areas took place in Kohistan, a mountainous district cut off from the rest of the country since the rising waters washed away bridges and roads.

There was a huge food crisis in different flood-stricken parts of the district, local politician Abdul Sattar Khan told Dawan television. Five children had already died of malnutrition, he said.

“The number of casualties, due to malnutrition, is expected to rise if the Karakorum highway and other connecting routes are not opened to bring in food for the flood victims,” Khan told the television station.

“The government has completely failed in coordinating relief efforts for the flood victims,” he added.

The surging waters that devastated the north-western region before sweeping across large areas in central and southern parts of the country have affected 20 million people and killed around 1,400.

The United Nations has appealed for 460 million dollars to assist the six million people in dire need of food, shelter and medicine.

The UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who visited Pakistan on Sunday, urged the world community “to speed up assistance to the Pakistani people.”

“We are trying to mobilize all the necessary assistance, and remember that the whole world is behind the people of Pakistan at this time of trial,” Ban said after his plane landed at an army airbase near Islamabad.

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