Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

New report highlights need for action on health in the aftermath of war

From the 31 December 2011 Eureka News Alert

Issue of noncommunicable diseases in post-conflict countries must be addressed

Countries recovering from war are at risk of being left to their own devices in tackling non communicable diseases, leaving an “open door” for exploitation by alcohol, tobacco and food companies, health experts warn.

Writing in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Bayard Roberts and Martin McKee, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Preeti Patel, of King’s College London, argue that the post-conflict environment risks increases of mental health problems and other NCDs, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.

After exposure to violent and traumatic events, people may be prone to developing harmful health behaviours, such as excessive drinking and smoking, which exacerbate the problem of NCDs in the long-term. This is why the lack of a strong will from the authorities to restore the health system leaves an open door for commercial ventures to influence health policy to their advantage.

The authors write: “This toxic combination of stress, harmful health behaviours and aggressive marketing by multinational companies in transitional settings requires an effective policy response but often the state has limited capacity to do this.”

Afghanistan has no national policy or strategy towards NCDs and, apart from the European Commission, none of its partners has given priority to introduce and support them. High blood pressure is largely untreated in Iraq, three times as many people die prematurely from NCDs in Libya than from infectious diseases and similar patterns can be found in other countries recovering from conflict.

“This policy vacuum provides an open door for multinational companies to influence policies in ways that undermine efforts to control tobacco and alcohol use or improve unhealthy diets in transitional countries,” the experts say.

Little attention is paid in reconstruction and humanitarian efforts to helping countries emerging from conflict deal with their present or future burden of NCDs – with the topic virtually ignored during the United Nations high-level meeting on NCDs in September 2011. The authors argue that this gap must be filled, pointing out that the post-conflict period can provide an opportunity to completely rewrite strategies and undertake reforms to better address the health needs of a population and lay the foundations for a more efficient health system.

Dr Roberts, a lecturer in the European Centre on Health of Societies in Transition at LSHTM, says: “While great attention is rightly paid to infectious diseases, noncommunicable diseases should also be given attention –especially as the post-conflict environment can provide the perfect breeding ground for unhealthy activities like smoking, drinking and poor diet. We are making the argument that if the authorities do not step up to lead the way in developing policies which will benefit public health, then they leave the route clear for companies to step in and serve their own interests.”

January 2, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Taking A Predictive Approach To Identifying Adverse Drug Reactions

New mathematical method combines widely available data to potentially predict drug safety issues years earlier than currently possible

From the 21 December 2011 Boston Children’s Hospital news release

Boston, Mass. – In a move aimed at bolstering current systems for assessing and monitoring drug safety, researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston have created a new method that combines multiple forms of widely available data to predict adverse drug reactions. Unlike current approaches, which rely on detecting evidence of drug safety issues as they accumulate over time in clinical databases, this new method may be able to identify issues years in advance.

This study, led by Aurel Cami, PhD, and Ben Reis, PhD, of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Informatics Program (CHIP), appeared online December 21 in Science Translational Medicine.In a move aimed at bolstering current systems for assessing and monitoring drug safety, researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston have created a new method that combines multiple forms of widely available data to predict adverse drug reactions. Unlike current approaches, which rely on detecting evidence of drug safety issues as they accumulate over time in clinical databases, this new method may be able to identify issues years in advance.
This study, led by Aurel Cami, PhD, and Ben Reis, PhD, of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Informatics Program (CHIP), appeared online December 21 in Science Translational Medicine.

The safety of drugs in the market is currently assessed through a combination of adverse drug event (ADE) reporting and data mining tools designed to detect previously unrecognized drug-ADEs relationships. While generally effective, these methods may not be able to flag the presence of certain types of ADEs until patients have been on the drug for some time.

Because of these limitations, it can take years before physicians and regulators accumulate enough data to recognize serious safety problems with a particular drug and take appropriate action.

To help address these delays and the public health risks associated with them, Reis and Cami set out to create a mathematical model for predicting drug-ADE relationships that might likely appear within a few years of a drug’s entry into the market. …

Read the entire news article

Related Resources

  • MedWatch: The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program (jflahiff.wordpress.com)

    Some examples of good drug information Web sites

    Drugs, Supplements, and Herbal Information (from a MedlinePlus page)

    Prescription and over-the-counter medication information contains answers to many general questions including topics as what a drug is used for, precautions, side effects, dietary instructions, and overdoses. From the American Society of Health System Pharmacists

    Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians.


    Drugs and Supplements (sponsored by the Mayo Clinic)

    Somewhat lengthy drug and over-the-counter medicationinformation with these sections: description, before using, proper use, precautions and side effects. From Micromedex, a trusted source of healthcare information for health professionals. 

    Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians.

    Drug Information Portal

    A good central source of drug information by the US government (the National Institutes of Health). It links you to information on over 12,000 drugs from trusted consumer drug information sources, the US Food and Drug Information, and LactMed (summary of effects on breastfeeding), It also gives any summaries from medical and toxicological articles (however, some whole articles may not be for free on the Internet).

     

January 2, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , | Leave a comment

Even Limited Telemedicine Could Improve Developing Health

 

English: Cell phone tower near the village of ...

Image via Wikipedia

From the 2 January 2012 Science Daily article

…Until now, there have been no viable models for overcoming the limitations inherent in existing communications infrastructure in Africa, and elsewhere. Leach suggests that a relatively low- cost solution makes use of existing communications channels, computing equipment, text messaging via cell phone, medical personnel and technical support service personnel and says that parts of the system are relatively easy-to-implement, at least from a technical perspective. The approach also exploits the daylight time difference between Africa and the US to utilise bandwidth on communications satellites at a time when US users are least active. There is in asynchronous telemedicine no need to network the computers just to provide each with access to the information via available satellite channels.

A nine-step example shows how asynchronous telemedicine might benefit a patient who is seen by a local healthcare worker or can reach a rural clinic.

1 The healthcare practitioner makes a preliminary analysis of the patient’s condition and enters identifying information into a laptop or cell phone.

2 The healthcare practitioner connects a cell phone or laptop over underused satellite networks to the electronic healthcare records, EHRs, database stored somewhere in the cloud of servers in the USA.

3 The healthcare practitioner queries the EHRs database for information on this patient or on local outbreaks of relevant diseases. …

Read the entire article

January 2, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

On your feet a lot? Looking for advice on shoe selection/foot care? Good short article from a doc

From a January posting by  at Kevin MD.com

Excerpt from the article

Basic concepts to choose good shoes for work in the hospital

  • Look for good support.  The classic “nursing” or “operating room” shoe exists for a reason – they are designed to provide the support your feet need during long days of standing and walking.
  • If you are not in scrubs, you’ll still need OSHA compliant, comfortable shoes.  They can be stylish, but make sure they fit the overall professional image you are trying to achieve. Check out San Antonio Shoes (SAS), Clarks, Rockport and Ecco.
  • If you will be standing for long periods on rounds or in procedures, think about getting shoes that slip on and off.  When you are standing for a long time, being able to slide out of your shoes becomes important.  If you’ve been standing for hours it really helps to stretch your calves and change the pressure points.  It’s also easier to step out of your shoes all together and stand barefoot for a little while.  When you are sitting, you can slip them off and let your feet breathe. Dansko Professional clogs are expensive but are probably the best in this class.  Sanita clogs are supposedly now made in the original Dansko factory.  Birkenstock, Keen or Clarks clogs are good alternatives. Crocs are tempting but have poor support, minimal ventilation and have been banned in some hospitals.
  • Try to get shoes that breathe.  …

Read the entire article

January 2, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

   

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