Australian Medical News Brief February 2017

Australian Medical News Brief December 2017.png   Welcome to Medshop Australia’s monthly series, News Brief, where we talk about what you may have missed. These are mostly articles we’ve posted in our social media news feeds. We consider them the most newsworthy events in Australian health and medicine from the last month. You will find links to the original articles. Let’s look back and review the top stories from February.    

Health Minister Greg Hunt Steps In To Ensure Meningococcal B Vaccine Supply

956730b0b238ed756d9e7de115864434   As reported by the Herald Sun, the Australian minister for health has recently engaged in a "very firm" conversation with global pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) regarding the year long scarcity and the limited supply of the Meningococcal B vaccine in Australia. The limited availability of this vaccine in Australia has lead to some parents travelling to find the vaccine and paying up to to $250.00 to immunise their child, more than double the standard cost for the vaccine. GSK has advised that the limited supply to Australia is due to the fact they have been prioritising supply to the UK, US, Canada, and Italy because those countries have the vaccine listed on their national vaccination schemes. This is alarming considering the B strain of the Meningococcal virus has until recently been the most prevalent strain of the virus in Australia, with almost 100 cases reported in 2016. The B strain is also the most common form of Meningococcal in babies. GSK is making another application to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Council for consideration and the Australian government is pushing for this vaccine to be made readily available at a reasonable cost.    

There is something rotten inside the medical profession

c900cdb08a92734ea72ef0144e78062d   As reported by, a topic that Medshop Australia covered previously has resurfaced in the media this February. The issue regarding the mental health of medical students and junior doctors has hit home again with an anonymous junior resident's account of the disturbing situation. The opening line of the article speaks grimly of an all too familiar plight, "In the year it has taken for me to finish my medical residency as a junior doctor, two of my colleagues have killed themselves." The struggle of extremely long working hours that would be considered inhumane in many other professions, the pressure to know everything and do no wrong, the potentially disastrous consequences of mistakes, and a culture of martyrdom that reveres the struggle and has no remorse for "weakness." These factors and many other concerns that the article addresses, create a perfect storm where mental health issues can become rife. Alarming suicide rates and mental health issues among junior doctors have been long-standing, still, to this day many young doctors and students feel like not enough is being done to improve the situation for anyone involved. Only through advocacy and campaigning will there be any hope for change, Medshop Australia will continue to speak up about this topic.    

Thousands of pacemakers and defibrillators 'at risk of hacking'

1486288546541   As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, in the past year Australian health authorities have been issuing warnings about Pacemakers and Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators (ICD) that are connected to the internet for monitoring. The concerns have been raised about the ability for unauthorized users to hack into and control individuals cardiac devices. In the case of ICD devices, hackers could potentially emit shocks to the implantee, they could also drain the device's battery or otherwise impede correct functioning. Medicare data shows thousands of Australians are being fitted with these remote access devices every year. While there have been no cases of these devices being hacked in Australia yet, there have been cases overseas. Device manufacturers and software developers have stated they are doing everything possible to reduce this already low risk.    

Lychee identified as cause for mystery deadly childhood illness in India

8236422-3x2-340x227   As reported by the ABC, for two decades Indian doctors in the town of Bihar have been baffled by many incidents of children suffering from seizures leading to unconsciousness and often resulting in death. Up until very recently, the pathology remained a mystery, now a group of Indian and American doctors has identified the causality to be eating too many lychees on an empty stomach. Parents of children affected said that during the months of May and June, many of their children would play outside climbing the lychee trees and eating so many lychees that they wouldn't want to eat anything else for dinner. In lychee growing regions of South East Asia, similar outbreaks of this condition have been reported. Researchers said that the earliest documentation of the toxic potential of lychees has been found in ancient Chinese literature. The specific amino acids found in lychees and other fruit from the soapberry family have been cited as the contributing factor. Citizens in these communities are being advised to limit their lychee consumption and ensure children are well nourished and eating regular meals.    

Aussiemade Smartphone Apps The New Heart Of Healthcare

e60ded3f2d2b31def4d208a1d2abb331   As reported by the Daily Telegraph, a new wave of Australian made smartphone apps are revolutionising patient care and experience. With free apps like Cancer Aid that gives patients and carers reliable information and a way of managing their treatment. Rise and Recharge is an app that is designed to reduce the risk of people developing diabetes by encouraging them to move more. PPD-ACT an app aimed at women who have suffered postpartum depression that forms part of a research program being conducted by the University of Queensland. Brainy App, is an app that encourages physical activity and mental challenges to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. With apps like these Australian developers are contributing significant progress to the challenge of managing health and diseases for Australians and the rest of the world.
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