Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Fewer Young People Smoking, Drinking and Using Drugs – New survey reveals encouraging trend

Heaven knows I post enough somewhat depressing health statistics items…
Here’s some good news for a change..and an example of a public health measure that seems to have worked (as always be careful when inferring cause/effect!)

From the 31 May 2012 Health Canada press release (via an RSS feed I subscribe to…Full Text Reports)

May 31, 2012
For immediate release

OTTAWA – According to the latest results of the Youth Smoking Survey, only three per cent of Canadian students in grades 6-12 said they smoked daily in 2010-2011, down from 4% in 2008-2009.

The school-based survey also found that fewer students have even tried cigarettes once; a decline among those who had ever tried little cigars; and a drop in the percent of students reporting using alcohol, cannabis and other drugs.

“After seeing smoking rates hit historic lows in Canada recently, these new statistics are encouraging,” said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. “In particular, the drop in little cigar smoking suggests that the Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act is having an impact on consumption of these products by youth.”

The Youth Smoking Survey, funded by Health Canada and conducted by the University of Waterloo’s Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, is a survey of Canadian youth in grades 6-12 that captures information related to tobacco, alcohol and drug use. Among the findings for 2010-2011:

  • Nearly three-quarters (74%) of youth in grades 6-12 said they have never tried smoking a cigarette, not even a puff, a significant increase from 67% in 2008-2009.
  • Among younger students, just 2% of those in grades 6-9 smoked daily or occasionally, the lowest smoking rate recorded by the survey since it began, in 1994.
  • Just 6% of youth in grades 6-9 had ever tried smoking little cigars, a significant decrease from 10% in the previous survey. Similarly, in grades 10-12, 26% of youth reported having ever tried smoking little cigars, also a significant decrease from 35% in 2008-2009.
  • Among students in grades 7-12, alcohol use in the past 12 months fell to 45% from 53% in 2008-2009. Although one-third (33%) of students in the past year reported binge drinking (i.e., five or more drinks on one occasion), this is a significant decrease from 39% in 2008-2009.
  • Cannabis use was reported by 21% of students in grades 7-12, compared to 27% in 2008-2009. There were also significant decreases in the use of MDMA (ecstasy), hallucinogens and salvia, and in the abuse of psychoactive pharmaceuticals.

These and other results of the survey are available on Health Canada’s website.

In recent years, the Government of Canada has taken steps to reduce smoking among Canadian youth. The Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act, in force since 2010, prohibits the sale of little cigars and blunt wraps in packages of fewer than 20 units, and prohibits the sale of little cigars and other tobacco products that contain specified additives, including most flavouring agents.

June 9, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

WHO: Urgent action needed to prevent the spread of untreatable gonorrhoea

6 JUNE 2012 | GENEVA – Millions of people with gonorrhoea may be at risk of running out of treatment options unless urgent action is taken, according WHO. Already several countries, including Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom are reporting cases of resistance to cephalosporin antibiotics – the last treatment option against gonorrhoea. Every year an estimated 106 million people are infected with gonorrhea, which is transmitted sexually.

Dwindling treatment options

“Gonorrhoea is becoming a major public health challenge, due to the high incidence of infections accompanied by dwindling treatment options,” says Dr Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan, from the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at WHO. “The available data only shows the tip of the iceberg. Without adequate surveillance we won’t know the extent of resistance to gonorrhoea and without research into new antimicrobial agents, there could soon be no effective treatment for patients.”

Correct use of antibiotics needed

In new guidance issued today, WHO is calling for greater vigilance on the correct use of antibiotics and more research into alternative treatment regimens for gonococcal infections. WHO’s Global Action Plan to control the spread and impact of antimicrobial resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoea also calls for increased monitoring and reporting of resistant strains as well as better prevention, diagnosis and control of gonococcal infections.

Health implications are important

Gonorrhoea makes up one quarter of the four major curable sexually-transmitted infections1. Since the development of antibiotics, the pathogen has developed resistance to many of the common antibiotics used as treatment, including penicillin, tetracyclines and quinolones.

“We are very concerned about recent reports of treatment failure from the last effective treatment option – the class of cephalosporin antibiotics – as there are no new therapeutic drugs in development,” says Dr Lusti-Narasimhan. “If gonococcal infections become untreatable, the health implications are significant.”

Antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance is caused by the unrestricted access to antimicrobials, overuse and poor quality of antibiotics, as well as natural genetic mutations within disease organisms. In addition, gonorrhoea strains tend to retain genetic resistance to previous antibiotics even after their use has been discontinued. The extent of this resistance worldwide is not known due to lack of reliable data for gonorrhoea in many countries and insufficient research.

Gonorrhoea

Untreated gonococcal infection can cause health problems in men, women and newborn babies including:

  • infection of the urethra, cervix and rectum;
  • infertility in both men and women;
  • a significantly increased risk of HIV infection and transmission;
  • ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, stillbirths and premature deliveries; and
  • severe eye infections occur in 30-50% of babies born to women with untreated gonorrhoea, which can lead to blindness.

Gonorrhoea can be prevented through safer sexual intercourse. Early detection and prompt treatment, including of sexual partners, is essential to control sexually transmitted infections.

For more information please contact:

Tarik Jasarevic,
Communications Officer
Mobile: +41 793 676 214
Telephone: +41 22 791 5099
E-mail: jasarevict@who.int


June 9, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: