Wednesday, 17 April, 2024

FOCUS: PRACTICE

SAMA gets tough after Cape Western branch ‘revolt’

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The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has suspended all 13 members of its Cape Western branch council for three years for ‘open revolt’ and using SAMA funds to obtain legal opinion, Chris Bateman reports for MedicalBrief. In a ‘notice of sanction for breach of the SAMA code of conduct,’ served yesterday, a SAMA disciplinary panel demands a public apology from the members within three months, failing which their membership will be terminated for 10 years. The letter says a disciplinary inquiry...

FOCUS: PUBLIC HEALTH

Half of SA’s forensic pathology units fail competency tests

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Nearly half of the country’s forensic pathology units have failed to achieve competency certification – with just three out of 16 in the Eastern Cape actually making the grade; an indictment of lack of oversight and governance, and despite the overwhelming crime rate in South Africa, notes MedicalBrief. This, as the pathology labs struggle with a mounting backlog of cases, with toxicology cases alone rising to 38 974 toxicology backlog cases, leading to families waiting for months before they can...

FOCUS: INFECTIOUS DISEASES

Alarm as syphilis rates rise worldwide, including in SA

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One of the oldest diseases in the world, syphilis is making an alarming comeback, with leading scientists describing it as a public health crisis and failure, given that the STI, which can have dire and fatal consequences especially for newborn babies, is curable with early treatment. The return of the disease was recently under discussion at the international Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), where scientists, clinicians and public health advocates gathered in Denver in March, writes Biénne Huisman...

NEWS UPDATE

Focus on private practice, experts urge jobless young doctors

As KZN relented after protests by unemployed junior doctors, and advertised 120 posts for medics this week, experts are suggesting that the debate should turn to young doctors setting up private practice instead of depending on the state for employment, writes MedicalBrief. Among the suggestions is for young doctors to...

Health Ombud hamstrung by lack of funds

The Office of the Health Ombudsman is battling to resolve serious complaints against public and private health facilities because it has no money to hire investigators. Health-e News reports that the complainsts, classified as high and extreme risk, can relate to death and injury, for example, but budget constraints mean the watchdog...

Hospital gives mother wrong baby to bury

The trauma of a mother whose baby was stillborn was compounded two months later when the hospital said she had been given the wrong baby to bury – and asked her to return to identify the body of her own baby. The pregnancy of Itumeleng Baloyi (27) from Limpopo, had...

Gauteng claims surgery backlog cleared

Gauteng Health says it has cleared its massive backlog of 37 000 operations, including of stoma reversals – completing 100 of these procedures in March during its marathon surgical campaign, although the DA is sceptical of the claim. Rinae Munyae (34)mfrom Soweto was one of the patients to benefit from...

Gauteng boosts EMS services with intern programme

Gauteng’s Emergency Medical Services welcomed 1 120 emergency care interns to its newly launched Green Angels programme last week, a 12-month initiative providing essential training in emergency care, aimed at expanding the pool of qualified personnel in the sector. With one of the fastest-growing populations, Gauteng is desperately in need...

Deadly eye drops kill one, infect dozens more in UK

One person has died and dozens more have been infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in an outbreak that has been linked to contaminated eye drops from India, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). Health officials said at least 52 people had been infected by the burkholderia cepacia bacteria, which...

New injectable antibiotic approved for three uses

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the injectable drug ceftobiprole medocaril sodium (Zevtera) to treat adults with Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia (SAB), the agency announced last week. The antibiotic prodrug is indicated for people with right-sided infective endocarditis, those with acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections (ABSSSI), and adult and...

FDA clears digital app for depression treatment

The US Food and Drug Administration is allowing the use of Rejoyn, the first prescription digital treatment for major depressive disorder that involves an innovative approach for sufferers. Rejoyn is a smartphone app made by Otsuka Pharmaceutical and Click Therapeutics, and intended for use alongside antidepressant medications for people 22 and older...

France a step closer to disposable vape ban

France is inching closer to a ban on disposable e-cigarettes, with lawmakers last week reaching an agreement on a Bill proposing prohibition of sales of the devices by the end of 2024. The devices can contain as much as 20 mg/mL of nicotine salts, the highest rate allowed in the...

Pig kidney transplant patient discharged from hospital

The recipient of the world’s first pig kidney transplant was discharged from Massachusetts General Hospital last week, nearly two weeks after the surgery, to continue his recovery at home. “Leaving the hospital today with one of the cleanest bills of health I’ve had in a long time is one I wished would...

NHS gender treatment model slammed in damning report

Children given NHS transgender treatment have been set on a path of irreversible change despite scant medical data, and based on “remarkably weak evidence” according to a damning independent report led by a leading British paediatrician. The landmark study by Dr Hilary Cass was commissioned nearly four years ago, and makes 32...

Discovery judgments mount amid RAF dispute

Discovery Health says it has obtained judgments totalling more than R170m since the RAF’s controversial directive not to reimburse past medical expenses where a beneficiary had medical scheme coverage. According to a Die Burger report on the Legalbrief site, Discovery Health CEO Ron Whelan said the RAF had not resumed payments...

New sentencing date for Dickason

Former doctor Lauren Dickason, convicted of the murder of her three daughters – and currently in custody at the psychiatric Hillmorton Hospital – will be sentenced in June. The 42-year-old, found guilty by a New Zealand court in August 2023 for the murders of three daughters on 16 September, weeks...

NHI will lead to more financial hardship, says DA

The DA said it commends the South African Medical Association (SAMA) for telling Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla that the health system is not ready for National Health Insurance (NHI). In a statement in PoliticsWeb, shadow health minister Michele Clarke said SAMA chair Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa had again highlighted the...

‘Martha’s Rule’ launches this month in UK

Britain’s three main regulators for health professionals and providers are fully supportive of the new "Martha’s Rule" being rolled out this month, giving patients and families the power to request a review of their care if they think clinicians failed to spot a serious deterioration. The rule will be rolled...

MEDICO-LEGAL

Discovery judgments mount amid RAF dispute

Discovery Health says it has obtained judgments totalling more than R170m since the RAF’s controversial directive not to reimburse past medical expenses where a beneficiary had medical scheme coverage. According to a Die Burger report on the Legalbrief site, Discovery Health CEO Ron Whelan said the RAF had not resumed payments...

Court rules police raid on Gauteng pharmacy unlawful

The SA police has been ordered to return confiscated items, including cannabis products and edibles, after it unlawfully raided a pharmacy without first obtaining a warrant, according to the Gauteng High Court. THC Health Centre, trading as THC Pharmacy, had applied to the court saying SAPS had unlawfully swooped on...

Short-lived ALS drug faces class action suit after withdrawal

The manufacturer of the world’s newest treatment approved for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often called Lou Gehrig’s disease, has withdrawn the drug from the market because a large clinical trial did not produce evidence that the treatment worked. It is also being sued by investors in a class action suit....

SOME RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS IN THE PAST WEEK

CARDIOLOGY

Less invasive, new approach to diagnose heart disease – Irish study

A clinical trial that saw high resolution scanning technology used to identify heart disease has been welcomed as a potential game-changer for cardiac treatment, being safe, minimally invasive and highly accurate. A team at the University of Galway, in Ireland, used CT-scan imagery to pinpoint coronary artery disease and blockages...

NEUROLOGY

Diabetes drug shows promise in slowing Parkinson’s – French study

Researchers say findings that diabetes drug lixisenatide may slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease could be a major step forward, and provide hope for the millions of sufferers around the world. Although there is no cure for the condition, in recent years, glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists (or GLP-1R agonists)...

CARDIOVASCULAR

High salt consumption among CVD sufferers – US study

A recent study found that people with cardiovascular disease consumed double the amount of sodium per day than recommended – 89% of them exceeding the ideal daily allowance of 1 500mg. For those without heart disease, the current recommendation for the maximum daily amount of sodium is 2 300mg –...

ONCOLOGY

Prostate cancer cases could double by 2040 – global analysis

A recent analysis – the largest of its kind – suggests the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer worldwide could double to 2.9m a year by 2040, with annual deaths predicted to rise by 85%. Prostate cancer is already a major cause of death and disability – the most common...

RESPIRATORY

UK team finds new cause of asthma airways damage

A team of British scientists has found a new cause behind much of the damage caused by asthma, offering a faint glimmer of hope for future sufferers of this potentially deadly condition. Cells lining the airways are squeezed to destruction during an attack, and medication to prevent this, rather than manage...