Tuesday, 28 May, 2024

FOCUS: NHI

Government open to more talks and 'collaboration' on NHI

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After taking many by surprise with the signing of the NHI Bill last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa and government Ministers adopted a more placatory tone, emphasising that they were still open to talks with stakeholders and that the implementation process would allow for changes, notes MedicalBrief. But several groups are nonetheless continuing with legal action against the legislation, which has also sparked fresh concerns of an exodus of medical professionals from South Africa. Presidential spokesman Vincent Magwenya said “… we have...

NEWS UPDATE

Official suspended after 'leak' over Bara Hospital CEO's appointment

A “witch hunt” has been launched by the Gauteng Health MEC to uncover “the leak” over concerns raised by the Chris Hani Baragwanath HR department and other staff regarding the appointment of Dr Nthabiseng Makgana as hospital CEO. A key HR official has been suspended and a prominent figure in the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) is being probed, two sources told Daily Maverick, after media queries about emailed correspondence by that department to the GDOH and deputy director-general of corporate services expressing concerns about Makgana’s CV and MBA qualifications. While the suspension letter cites “serious acts of misconduct” and “violation...

South African among anti-vaxxers at African conference

The World Health Organisation came under fire as zealous right-wing African members of Parliament, including some of the continent’s most vociferous anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQI lawmakers, united with anti-vax conspiracy theorists at a conference hosted in Uganda recently. The African Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Family Values and Sovereignty also gave a platform to a speaker who claimed that various vaccines were unnecessary, and designed to reduce African fertility – including the Covid-19, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), malaria and even tetanus vaccines. Others slammed the WHO pandemic agreement currently being negotiated, describing it as a “power grab” aimed at imposing abortion, same-sex marriage and lockdowns on...

HPCSA allegedly impeding overseas-trained doctors’ SA integration

The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) has been accused of “deliberately” frustrating efforts by overseas-trained South African doctors to integrate into the local medical fraternity. This is the view of the SA Internationally Trained Health Professionals Association (Saithpa), which is prepared to seek legal action if necessary. The Sunday Tribune reports that Saithpa has helped hundreds of doctors overcome integration hurdles since 2018, and is now demanding the release of the exam papers of doctors who wrote HPCSA’S recent board exams. Saithpa has claimed that since the HPCSA’S board exams had been facilitated at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, members’ pass...

More of Big Pharma's Covid vaccine bully tactics laid bare

With the release of a second tranche of information showing how South Africa was bullied into paying outrageously high prices for its Covid-19 vaccines, the Health Justice Initiative (HJI) has expressed concern about the NHI scheme, which will also involve mass state-private negotiations for medicines and vaccines. On Tuesday, the HJI released more details of the previously secret Covid jab deals, showing that although the government had resisted several of the terms demanded by Pfizer, it was ultimately forced to pay a premium and carry the risk of any delays or harm caused by the shots. The health advocacy group said...

Jobless Eastern Cape doctors threaten to storm provincial Health HQ

Fed-up unemployed Eastern Cape doctors and pharmacists are threatening to occupy the department's offices in East London, where they protested on Friday afternoon. They told News24 they had all completed their community service training, and had been promised jobs earlier this year, but at least 100 doctors are still unemployed. Dr Mava Mazeka, who graduated from Walter Sisulu University in 2020, said: “We have been out of work since the end of December after finishing our community service. “After realising there are no jobs for us, we went to the Eastern Cape Office of the Premier in February and handed over a...

First human bird flu case in Australia

Australia reported its first human case of avian flu this week, in a child who had apparently been infected in India but has since fully recovered, while a different, highly contagious strain, was found on an egg farm. Health authorities in Victoria said contact tracing had not identified any further cases but there was little chance of others becoming infected as the flu does not easily spread between people. Reuters reports that Dr Claire Looker, the state’s chief health officer, said it was the first instance of detection in the country of the H5N1 strain in a person or animal. The case...

WHO report flags global rise of STIs

A new report from the WHO shows that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are on the rise worldwide, with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis, all of which are curable, being responsible for more than 1m daily infections in adults aged 15 to 49. Cases of syphilis, in particular, have been rising rapidly, with new cases in that age category increased from 7.1m in 2020 to 8m in 2022, reports ABC News. There have also been increases in congenital syphilis: between 2020 and 2022, the rate per 100 000 live births per year rose from 425 to 523. The global trends mirror those seen in...

African countries pledge to end ‘silent disease’

African countries will prioritise plans to eliminate hepatitis, according to a declaration signed and adopted this week at the African Viral Hepatitis Conference in Cape Town. Hosted by the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Association of Sub-Saharan Africa GHASSA) in conjunction with the International Hepato-Pancreato Biliary Association (IHPBA), the conference highlighted the need to eliminate hepatitis B and C, which have infected millions of South Africans and can cause liver cancer if left untreated, writes Liezl Human for GroundUp. The WHO says Africa accounts for 63% of all new hepatitis B infections, and yet only 18% of newborns in the region receive the hepatitis...

Free State doctor shot in hospital living quarters

A doctor who was shot – apparently during a burglary – at Mofumahadi Manapo Mopeli Regional Hospital in QwaQwa, Free State, on Tuesday, is recovering in the facility after surgery. The shooting of the 26-year-old man took place while he was the hospital’s doctors’ quarters, reports TimesLIVE. Health MEC Mathabo Leeto said further steps would be taken to tighten security.   TimesLIVE article – Free State doctor shot at hospital living quarters (Restricted access)   See more from MedicalBrief archives:   Eastern Cape doctor shot and killed   Nurse stabbed at Helen Joseph Hospital   Free State doctor abducted, shot and killed   Doctors, nurses and paramedics are ‘soft targets’ for criminals   Spate of attacks reveal...

SAMRC renews funding for neonatal sepsis research

The Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP) is pleased to announce renewed funding from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) to support GARDP’s work in developing improved treatments for newborn babies with sepsis. The funding will be used to include Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and Tygerberg Hospital in part two of a global clinical trial aimed at evaluating much-needed antibiotic combinations for babies with sepsis. The SAMRC is providing R6.4m funding for the project and to support staff who are overseeing critical aspects of the study in South Africa over the next two years. “We greatly appreciate the support...

MEDICO-LEGAL

‘Midwife’ and MEC sued after death of twins

An unregistered midwife – Caitlyn Collins – and the Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo are being sued for nearly R5m by a couple who lost their twin babies in traumatic birth circumstances. The couple is claiming R4.46m for emotional, psychological and financial damages, reports the Mail & Guardian. Ernesta Chirwa and Chifundo Bingala have also filed a criminal case against Collins, who previously ran a business with colleague Ruth Erhardt called The Circle of Elephants, which the Western Cape Department of Health had ordered them to close in June 2021. This was after a doctor at Mowbray Hospital reported Collins to the CEO...

MEC forks out R17m for care of brain-damaged child

A Zimbabwean mother, whose daughter was born with cerebral palsy 10 years ago, will receive nearly R17.3m for future medical expenses in a negligence claim victory against the North West Health MEC. The North West High Court (Mafikeng) found that the staff at the hospital where the child was born were negligent, and that the health authority was 100% liable for the damages she had suffered. The Mercury reports it is not known how much the MEC had to pay in general and other damages, as this was decided on earlier, but that this latest ruling was on the amount due...

Justice yet to be served in US osteoporosis drug case

A US court case by 1 000 plaintiffs against pharmaceutical company Merck has been dragging on since 2011, writes Gregory Curfman in JAMA Network, who poses the question: to what extent does our society want to immunise pharmaceutical companies from liability for not warning consumers about the adverse effects of drugs? After 13 years in multiple courts at all levels of the federal judiciary, the plaintiffs in this case have not yet been provided a legal remedy for their injury. It is time for justice to be served. He writes: Since being approved by the FDA in 1995 for the prevention and...

Two UK pharmacists illegally sold 55m doses of controlled drugs

A pair of British pharmacists who sold “industrial quantities” of Class C controlled drugs were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months, after an investigation by the Criminal Enforcement Unit of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA). Both had pleaded guilty. Mandip Sidhu was sentenced to two years on each of five counts of supplying Class C drugs, and four months for forgery, all to run concurrently and suspended for 24 months on condition she completes 200 hours of community service for her role in the illegal supply of diazepam, zolpidem and zopiclone. Nabeil Nasr was handed two...

SOME RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS IN THE PAST WEEK

COVID-19

Genetics tied to Covid jab blood clots, say scientists

An autoimmune reaction, to which some people are predisposed, was responsible for the rare but deadly blood clots associated with the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines, suggest scientists in a discovery they believe will shape the development of future research. Adenovirus-based vaccines, like the J&J and AstraZeneca shots...

Death risk from Covid still higher than from flu – US study

Researchers have determined that the risk of death from Covid-19 infection is still higher than it is from flu. Using data from the Clinical Epidemiology Centre, VA St Louis HealthCare System, in Missouri, researchers wrote in their research letter in JAMA Network that in the first year of the pandemic, the...

Masks didn’t stop infections after first Omicron wave – UK report

Wearing face masks may not have lowered the risk of Covid infection after the first Omicron wave, research has shown, but nevertheless, it still played a valuable risk in slowing down transmission during the first two years of the pandemic, said the experts. Wearing masks on public transport and airplanes...

ENDOCRINOLOGY

Weekly insulin jabs show good results

A once-weekly insulin injection, efsitora, has showed blood sugar reduction consistent with commonly used daily insulins across two studies in patients with type 2 diabetes, while the weekly insulin injection, icodec, has been recommended for approval in Europe and is under regulatory review in the US. Food and Drug Administration...

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

Microplastics found in human and canine testes – US study

American scientists who detected microplastics in human testicles have said the discovery might be linked to declining sperm counts in men. The researchers tested 23 human testes, as well as 47 testes from pet dogs. They found microplastic pollution in every sample, with polyethylene, used in plastic bags and bottles,...

HARM REDUCTION

Plant-based solution may help nicotine-vape addicts quit – US study

“Natural” help may be on the horizon for the 11m American adults who use e-cigarettes to vape nicotine, at least half of whom want to quit but are battling to do so because of nicotine’s addictive nature. A plant-based medication called cytisinicline may be an effective therapy to help them give up vaping,...

INTERNAL MEDICINE

Common antibiotic for sepsis treatment linked to higher mortality – US study

Recent research by American scientists suggests that a commonly prescribed antibiotic for patients with suspected sepsis may be linked to increased mortality. The study, led by researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School and the Veteran Affairs (VA) Anne Arbor Healthcare System, found that in patients with suspected sepsis...

NEUROSCIENCE

Dopamine may play a role in autism disorders – Chinese study

Scientists believe they have made a breakthrough in the understanding of the neuroscience behind autism spectrum disorders, with their findings focusing on the chemical dopamine which could change how treatment is approached, they said. Autism spectrum disorders, the diverse group of conditions characterised by some degree of difficulty with social...

ONCOLOGY

Proteins in blood could give early cancer warning

British scientists have suggested that proteins in the blood could warn people of cancer more than seven years before diagnosis, according to their research. The University of Oxford team studied blood samples from more than 44 000 people in the UK Biobank, including more than 4 900 people who subsequently had...