New Zealand Makes Rheumatic Breakthrough
A report published in the latest Pediatric Infectious Diseases Journal has become the first to provide robust evidence showing that community initiatives can successfully lower acute rheumatic fever rates.
Rheumatic fever is estimated to affect around one in every 150 Maori children in the country, and with the disease mainly an issue in less developed, poverty stricken, locations this has been a source of embarrassment and concern for New Zealand’s health authorities.
If not caught and worked with at an early stage the fever can lead to heart difficulties in later life, whilst the life expectancies for Maoris who have suffered from it are ten years lower than the country’s average.
Under the scheme more than 25,000 children across 61 primary schools in Auckland had access to sore throat management. This was set out in the form of a team of school nurses, alongside a whānau support worker, based at school clinics five days per week operating sore throat clinics with daily assessments, and treatments of Group A streptococcal sore throats.
The scheme’s lead researcher, Dr Diane Lennon, was pleased the clear conclusion of the work: “In the latest study, we were able to demonstrate for the first time using robust methodology, that first presentation of acute rheumatic fever is preventable in a community setting and using oral amoxicillin”.
“The sore throat programme in schools resulted in a significant decrease in acute rheumatic fever rates amongst primary school age children. Over the two years of running the sore throat clinics, the rates of rheumatic fever dropped 58 percent, from 88 in 100,000 children to 37 in 100,000 children.”
School clinics are now being implemented throughout New Zealand.
Saudi Arabia Launches New Scheme to Drive Down Childhood Obesity
A new health awareness program, known as Rashaka, has been launched in Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to reduce spiralling obesity rates amongst young people in the country.
Under the Saudi Government’s ‘Vision 2030’ scheme it aims to have reduced obesity rates in the Kingdom by 5% by 2020, as it strives for a healthier, more active population.
With figures showing that nearly a third of students in the country are overweight, the new Rashaka program will target 6000 schools throughout the desert Kingdom over the next five years.
Although the focus is mainly on increasing the amount of physical activity, Rashaka is also benefiting from some high profile sponsors, with AquaFina and Quaker Oats distributing information, and providing breakfast for the schools involved.
Saudi Arabia faces a long and difficult battle with an unhealthy lifestyle, and increasingly easy access to junk food. Targeting young people appears to be the most intelligent technique to try and reduce the country’s rapidly increasing obesity figures, before they become an even greater burden on the healthcare sector.
Changes at the top of NMC
After more than 40, highly successful years, at the helm of NMC Health Dr Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty (more commonly known as BR Shetty) is to step down from the company he helped grow into one of the Gulf’s largest.
Over his four decade long tenure Dr Shetty turned NMC from a small pharmacy with a diagnostic clinic into an £880m, FTSE 250 registered business - operating over 50 hospitals and clinics throughout the UAE and further afield.
Dr Shetty’s resignation comes after another highly successful year for the company, where it saw patient numbers rise by 34% to 4.3 million. On top of this pre-tax profits were up to more than $150m, making NMC one of the few companies not to have been affected negatively by the decline in the oil price.
Former chief executive, Prasanth Mangha, now takes over - with the aim of further developing a business which looks set for a breakthrough in Europe, having recently opened facilities in Spain and Denmark.