An international study has discovered 11 new genes associated with epilepsy, which greatly advances knowledge of the underlying biological causes of epilepsy and may inform the development of new treatments for the condition.
Researchers compared the DNA of more than 15,000 people with epilepsy to the DNA of 30,000 people without epilepsy. This has created a better understanding of genetic factors that contribute to the most common forms of this condition, and the results tripled the number of known genetic associations for epilepsy and implicated 11 new genes.
The majority of current anti-epileptic drugs directly target one or more of the associated genes and identified an additional 166 drugs that do the same. These drugs are promising new candidates for epilepsy therapy as they directly target the genetic basis of the disease.
“This work illustrates the power of scientists collaborating across countries and continents. Discovering these new genes for epil Continue reading…
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has received increased scientific, clinical and public attention over the past few decades. It’s the most common psychiatric disorder in children – affecting 2% to 16% of the school going population.
But in South Africa data on prevalence rates, access to care, and treatment for ADHD is limited. Despite the known efficacy of treatment, access to health care and treatment remains limited for many children in the country. This is a problem as untreated ADHD results in substantial costs and has a negative impact both on educational attainment and quality of life.
We have recently completed a study that looked at the mental health barriers South African school children face. Our research focused on the work of a not for profit organisation, set up in 2017 to provide mental health screening services for school children and with a particular focus on ADHD.
We could be just months away from knowing whether Depo-Provera use is linked to a higher risk of HIV infection in women. For more than a decade, obstetrician Coceka Mnyani’s conversations with her patients followed a script.
Had they used contraceptives before? Did they want more children? What contraceptive did they plan on using after delivery and why?
“Depending on what a woman said, you would advise, you know, ‘that’s not such a great idea, have you thought about this’, ‘maybe this one would be a better option’,” Mnyani says.
“You’ve got this woman who has just had a baby, who’s tired, who has a crying infant — is she going to remember to take a pill every day?”
Health department data shows that most South African women visiting a public health facility for free contraception will leave with a shot of the three-month contraception depo-medroxyprogesterone acetate, which is most commonly sold under the name Depo-Provera. T Continue reading…
The NHI was the centre of the presidential health summit. Now the pressure is mounting for Treasury to figure out how to fund it.
The health system is in crisis, government officials admit. Now, they have just weeks to produce an initial plan on how to fix it ahead of introducing a National Health Insurance (NHI), Deputy President David Mabuza revealed this weekend.
With its namesake, President Cyril Ramaphosa was absent from the presidential health summit. The gathering drew more than 100 representatives from civil society, government, unions, academia and the private sector. Prior to the event, that was held in Boksburg, each delegate received a 21-page concept note outlining challenges within the health system — this included corruption and how the NHI will incorporate the private sector.
Solutions proposed during the meeting will now form the basis for wider consultation ahead of a public plan to turn the health system. Continue reading…
Globally, one in four private healthcare groups surveyed won’t work with governments. Whether the National Health Insurance (NHI) succeeds or fails will depend on public-private partnerships. But the scheme will have to overcome more than just money woes to get the two sectors to settle old quarrels if new research is any indication.
Under the NHI, a centralised fund will procure a package of services from both the public and private sectors on behalf of South Africans. But it’s unclear how this will work and South Africa isn’t the only country trying to figure this out. Countries such as Indonesia, Egypt and Kenya are also looking to buy services from the private sector as part of the move towards universal healthcare.
But a recent survey of 20 of the world’s biggest private healthcare providers showed many remain wary of working with governments. Collectively, these companies owned 500 hospitals and 7 000 clinics across 40 low- and middle-income coun Continue reading…
DNA tests have gained in popularity over the last few years. They reveal a lot about us, but the data can be overwhelming. We tried one to find out how it all works.
You’ve probably seen it somewhere. Personalised DNA tests are a big trend in medicine. Genetic tests are still a bit lowkey in South Africa, but globally, it’s a booming business.
These DNA tests can tell us a whole bunch of things.
From which diet is best, which exercise we might respond well to and, perhaps most crucially, help us understand how we process medication. It can also help us track our heritage, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the health aspects.
Are we doomed by our genes?
Most of the outcomes are theoretical, based on correlation, not causation.
And there is some debate around whether some of this information should even be shared with consumers. The reports have loads of info on them. Some scary, some less so. Some experts fear th Continue reading…
Pneumonia is a respiratory infection that affects the lungs. The viruses and bacteria that cause the disease are spread through airborne droplets from a cough or sneeze. An infection can cause the lungs to fill with pus and fluid, making breathing and oxygen intake difficult.
And while anyone can get pneumonia, children with weakened immune systems or underlying illnesses are more susceptible. That’s why, pneumonia kills more than a million children every year across the world.
There have been some critical advances in preventing and treating the disease. These include vaccines, antibiotics and providing supplemental oxygen. In 2009, South Africa became the first African country to include the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in its routine infant immunisation programme. By 2012 an estimated 81% of one-year-old babies had received three doses of the vaccine.
South Africa has also reduced its pneumonia burden through the mass roll-out of antiretroviral therapy a Continue reading…
Two types of bacteria were found in baby formula tested at the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital, but toxicology tests haven’t been done.
A possible link between baby formula and necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) in premature babies could explain the deaths of nine babies recently at Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Johannesburg, an expert has suggested.
But Stasha Jordan, director at SA Breastmilk Reserve, warned that while studies suggest a correlation between the use of formula in new-born babies and NEC – a medical condition – several factors had to be considered when such outbreaks occur.
After several infant deaths in hospitals around the country this year, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases couldn’t find the cause of the outbreak.
According to the institute, the presence of two types of bacteria were found in the baby formula they tested at the hospital. The testing revealed the presence of Bacillus and Streptococcus Continue reading…
Originally published by Faith Osier on The Conversation. There are over 200 million clinical cases each year and approximately half a million deaths.
There are different ways in which malaria can be controlled. Preventive measures include use of insecticides in bed nets or indoor spraying programmes. Medicines can also be used to prevent or treat malaria, but resistance often develops and drugs lose their effectiveness.
The World Health Organisation reported that progress in controlling malaria has stalled.
As an immunologist, I dream that one day we will have an effective vaccine that will help eliminate malaria. I think this is possible because for over a century, we have known that humans do become immune to malaria. In places where there is lots of malaria adults don’t succumb to the disease, but their young children do.
In experiments conducted over 50 years ago, researchers showed that blood could be taken from adults who had become immune and used Continue reading…
The South African Human Rights Commission inspected the Rahima Moosa Mother & Child Hospital on 8 November.
The investigation at the Rahima Moosa Hospital followed after a necrotising enterocolitis outbreak at the hospital took the lives of nine infants from March to July 2018.
After the visit to Rahima Moosa Hospital , Buang Jones from the South African Human Rights Commission said in a press briefing:
“From what we’ve gleaned so far, the hospital has violated the right of access to health. [..] They’ve also violated Section 28 of the Constitution which says that’s the best interest of children are of paramount importance.”
The hospital, which assists in the delivery of the approximately 13,000 babies yearly, acknowledged the death of the infants in August, but the cause of the outbreak is still unknown. The outbreak was contained in August.
According to a tweet posted by Jacaranda News, the SAHRC’s investigation also revealed that the Rahim Continue reading…
Spectramed Medical Scheme and Resolution Health Medical Scheme (Resolution Health) have merged to form Health Squared Medical Scheme, as from 1 January 2019.
Independent auditors confirmed that 93% of members voted for the merger, and the schemes have extensively engaged with the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) and, with their involvement, the merger process is now subject to final approval by the CMS and Competition Commission.
Health Squared will be administered by Agility Health, which is currently the managed care provider and administrator for both Spectramed and Resolution Health.
The launch of Health Squared forms part of an overall strategy to protect the interests of members while strengthening the service offering in the context of future developments in the South African healthcare landscape.
Would you like to advertise on this very popular website ??Just drop me an e-mail atContinue reading…
According to Kirstie Haslam, partner at DSC Attorneys, the proposed State Liability Amendment Bill which the government is seeking to pass, will have consequences for medical malpractice claimants, as it aims to both limit and structure the payment of damages where a patient has been a victim at a State hospital…
Haslam believes that the move from the lump sum system to the proposed periodic system is unworkable.
“The principle difficulty with the introduction of this Bill is that it is nothing more than a stop-gap interim solution pending possible greater legislative reform,” she explains. “As matters stand, the South African Law Reform Commission is undertaking an extensive investigation into what it terms “medico-legal claims” and in that context this Bill – which has a potentially massive impact on victims of medical malpractice perpetrated in State-run institutions, which would be mostly the poor – is premature.”
Insurance and finance group Discovery has published its integrated annual report for 2018, revealing what its top executives got paid for the year.
Group CEO, Adrian Gore, was rewarded with a total package of R19.8 million, including a R6.6 million basic salary, a bonus of R7.8 million, long-term incentives of R4.1 million and other benefits of R1 million and R313,000.
Gore’s incentives were largely based on the handling of Discovery Bank, which is set to launch as South Africa’s next big full service bank in the coming months. He also saw that the group hit its growth targets and ran a profitable business, Discovery said.
Group financial director, Deon Viljoen earned a R10.2 million total package, while CEO of Discovery Life Hylton Kallner was the highest-paid exec with a total package of R29.2 million.
Kallner’s huge payday was due to a R17.6 million LTI payout, which was as a result of the vesting of a three-year LTI scheme.
The Conradie Hospital was opened in 1938 and was, at one stage, one of the top treatment centres for Spinal Neurodegenerative Disease.
The City of Cape Town has prioritised the development of the old Conradie Hospital precinct which has lain dormant for more than 16 years.
The ‘Conradie Better Living Model’ is a redevelopment initiative undertaken by the Western Cape Government to provide affordable housing to locals. The dilapidated and disused area, which is 22 hectares in size, is due to be converted into an integrated, sustainable, and affordable residentially-led, mixed-use neighbourhood.
Conradie Hospital grounds get a new lease on life
The abandoned Conradie Hospital, which is nestled between Thornton and Pinelands, will be revitalised by the construction of 3602 houses‚ two schools and a commercial centre.
For the past 16 years, the derelict Conradie Hospital has been a thorn in the side of local government and nearby residen Continue reading…
The South African government has committed to upgrading and maintaining the ageing and dilapidated infrastructure at public healthcare facilities.
Speaking at the two-day Presidential Health Summit held in Boksburg, Deputy President David Mabuza said it was agreed that in the context of fiscal constraints, provinces will be expected to prioritise their financial resource allocations in a manner that ensures that the delivery of healthcare is not compromised.
“More importantly, this summit pointed out that we need to develop a sustainable financing model for our health system. We will commence with this task immediately.
“National Treasury will be seized with this task to ensure that this model is finalised within a short space of time.”
“We will seek to draw on this compact as we fast-track the licensing of all health facilities in readiness for implementation of the NHI. It has drawn together a remarkable cross section of South Africans – and many Continue reading…