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Archive for October, 2014

Radio to the rescue: saving lives via the airwaves

Comedian Lankoande Ardiouma Tchadien acts in radio dramas carrying important health messages.

Could the humble radio save a million lives in the developing world?

Researchers have shown that a radio campaign broadcasting key health messages in Burkina Faso really does change people’s behaviour.

In Radio Djiawoampo’s studio, the actors are hamming up the benefits of using a proper toilet instead of relieving yourself out in the woods.

The entertaining drama is part of a radio campaign promoting child health across Burkina Faso.

Three quarters of the country’s population listen to the radio every day, so it can have real impact, according to Matthew Lavoie of Development Media International (DMI), the organisation behind the campaign.

“One of the most troubling, devilling, stubborn public health problems in the developing world is child mortality […] Our goal is to reduce mortality, and we think that the most effective tool is mass communication.”

Millions are spent each year on health campaigns in developing countries, but is there any real proof they work?

And in the current Ebola outbreak, public health messages are being put out by a number of radio stations.

In the first trial of its kind, researchers have shown that radio – often written off as an old-fashioned medium – really does affect people’s behaviour.

And this translates into saved lives: DMI has developed a mathematical model that predicts their campaign could save a million lives over several years, if it was rolled out across ten developing countries.

Not only that, pound-for-pound it could be as cost-effective as essential health interventions like vaccinations.

They are putting their model to the test in Burkina Faso, and early results are encouraging.

“Maize sickness”

Dinyeri Pognoagou stirs baobab leaves into a pot, while her nine children are busy ploughing the field.

Six years ago one of her sons fell ill and died.

Woman sitting in front of traditional house, with man in the background
Dinyeri Pognoagou lost her son six years ago; at the time no-one recognised the signs of malaria.

At the time, they thought his illness was “maize sickness,” says Dinyeri.

“When the maize grows, the children pick it from the trees, then they get the disease and need treatment.”

But it was malaria – the leading cause of child death in the country – that killed six-year-old Difiri.

One in 10 children in Burkina Faso dies before they reach the age of five; many of these deaths could be avoided by recognising the signs of malaria, or by adopting healthy habits like hand washing.


Radio Djiawoampo is Dinyeri’s local station, and is one of seven community stations involved in the child health campaign.

As well as dramas, local radio personalities broadcast adverts and live phone-ins about things like the importance of breastfeeding, or how to spot medical emergencies like pneumonia.

Man with portable radio hanging from his neck, carrying a water can in front of a mud hut
Radios are a a common sight in rural Burkina Faso, where TVs and computers are few and far between.

Radio is more cost-effective, argues DMI’s Innovation Manager Cathryn Wood, than other health initiatives like touring theatre and video screenings – which may only reach a few hundred people at a time, or poster campaigns – where illiteracy can be an obstacle.

And frequency is key in driving health messages home, she says: their minute-long health adverts are broadcast 10 times a day, while two 15-minute dramas air each weekday evening.

Solid evidence

Both funny and sad dramas have the desired effect on listeners, according to scriptwriter Patricia Ouaba.

“They say they prefer the funny ones because the ones that are so sad make them miserable […] But then we ask them – do the sad ones still help to change your behaviour? And they say yes!”

Not all behaviours are equally easy to change.”

Prof Simon CousensLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

The radio team clearly believe in their ambition of improving child health.

But is it just a nice idea, or is it really having an effect on people’s habits?

“The problem with mass communication is that it can be very soft – its effects aren’t accurately measured,” says Roy Head, CEO of Development Media International.

Child mortality rates have improved in Burkina Faso in recent years, but there was no proof that it was radio making the difference, rather than other factors like better trained health workers.

So researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Centre Muraz in Burkina Faso are running a randomised control trial to determine which changes are genuinely down to the radio campaign.

Because each of the seven radio stations only transmit to a limited area, they were able to compare people within range of the broadcasts – the experimental group – with those outside the broadcast range – the control group.

They surveyed both groups before the trial started, and again after 20 months to see what difference, if any, the broadcasts had made.

There was solid evidence that they were effective – though not in every case.

“Not all behaviours are equally easy to change,” says Professor Simon Cousens, who led the research.

“One-off behaviours, like seeking care for a sick child, appear to have increased as a result of the campaign; for daily behaviours like hand washing and child feeding practices, the campaign seems to have had little or no impact so far.”

Roy Head was surprised by the results.

“We thought what people could do in their own homes would be easier to change, rather than when they needed to actually travel to a health clinic. But in fact the campaign has been much more effective at getting people to go to a clinic.”

‘Opened my eyes’

The trial’s final results are due out next year, and they will assess the reduction in child mortality during the campaign as well as behaviour changes reported by those surveyed.

If the results are what DMI hope, it would be the first time anyone has proved, definitively, that a media campaign can save children’s lives.

But Dinyeri Pognoagou already has no doubt that the radio has changed her family’s health for the better.

Four children working in a field, with a dog
Dinyeri says the radio broadcasts have helped her learn how to look after her children’s health.

They have stopped drinking water from the dam and take the long walk to the safer water of the village pump instead.

Her husband even built a toilet, after constant nagging from their children – who also listen to the radio.

And now if one of them falls sick, they go to hospital straight away.

“The radio has opened my eyes,” says Dinyeri.

“It’s like a school for me. The radio is my teacher.”

via BBC News – Radio to the rescue: saving lives via the airwaves.

Ebola outbreak: UN health worker dies in Germany hospital

The clinic for infectious diseases at St. Georg Hospital in Leipzig, Germany, 9 October 2014.
The Ebola patient was being treated at St Georg hospital in Leipzig


A United Nations medical worker infected with Ebola has died at a hospital in Germany.

Doctors at the hospital in Leipzig said the man, 56, originally from Sudan, died despite receiving experimental drugs to treat the virus.

The outbreak has killed more than 4,000 people since March – mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria.

The World Health Organization says the outbreak is the “the most severe, acute health emergency in modern times”.


  • The US and UK are among countries to have introduced scanning at airports
  • A unit of Sierra Leone’s international peacekeeping force on standby for deployment in Somalia has been placed in quarantine after one member was confirmed with Ebola
  • A Spanish nurse remains in critical condition after becoming the first person to contract the disease outside of Africa last week, although doctors say there are signs of improvement
  • UN Ebola mission leader Tony Banbury has called for massive support from governments worldwide, saying: “We need everything… we need it everywhere, and we need it superfast.”
  • line
  • Ebola patients treated outside West Africa*
  • Map showing Ebola cases treated outside West Africa
  • *In all cases but two, first in Madrid and later in Dallas, the patient was infected with Ebola while in West Africa.
  • How not to catch Ebola:
  • Avoid direct contact with sick patients as the virus is spread through contaminated body fluids
  • Wear goggles to protect eyes
  • Clothing and clinical waste should be incinerated and any medical equipment that needs to be kept should be decontaminated
  • People who recover from Ebola should abstain from sex or use condoms for three months
  • Why Ebola is so dangerous
  • How Ebola attacks
  • Ebola: Mapping the outbreak
  • line
  • Temperature checks
  • The man had been working as a UN medical official in Liberia – one of the worst affected countries – when he caught Ebola.
  • He arrived in Germany last Thursday for treatment and was put into a hermetically sealed ward, accessed through airlock systems.
  • “Despite intensive medical measures and maximum efforts by the medical team, the 56-year-old UN employee succumbed to the serious infectious disease,” a statement from St Georg hospital said.
  • He was the second member of the UN team in Liberia to die from the virus, the BBC’s Jenny Hill in Berlin says.
  • He was the third Ebola patient to be treated for the deadly virus in Germany after contracting the disease in the outbreak zone in West Africa.
  • A health worker uses a protective suit during a presentation for the media at the international airport in Guatemala City 13 October 2014.
    Front-line health workers are at high risk of contamination
  • Passengers arrive at Terminal 1 of Heathrow Airport amid enhanced screening for Ebola on 14 October 2014.
    London’s Heathrow airport is to start screening passengers arriving from the worst affected countries
  • One patient – a Ugandan doctor infected in Sierra Leone – is still receiving treatment in a hospital in Frankfurt, while a Senegalese aid worker was released from a hospital in Hamburg after five weeks of treatment.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is alarmed by the number of health workers who have been exposed to the disease.
  • The WHO has warned the epidemic threatens the “very survival” of societies and could lead to failed states.
  • line
  • Ebola deaths: Confirmed, probable and suspected
  • Ebola infograph
  • Source: WHO
  • Note: figures have occasionally been revised down as suspected or probable cases are found to be unrelated to Ebola. They do not include one death in the US recorded on 8 October.
  • via BBC News – Ebola outbreak: UN health worker dies in Germany hospital.

Ebola: Heathrow to start screening passengers


Heathrow airport is to start screening for Ebola among passengers flying into the UK from countries at risk.

The health secretary told MPs a “handful” of cases were expected to reach the UK before Christmas.

Screening will start at Terminal 1, before being extended to other terminals, Gatwick airport and Eurostar by the end of the week.

In September, about 1,000 people arrived in the UK from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa.

Meanwhile, a UN medical official infected with Ebola while working in Liberia has died in a hospital in Germany.


Ebola: What to do in the UK?

Ebola virus
Ebola is spreading across West Africa, but experts do not expect many cases in Europe

Symptoms of Ebola include fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding – but these are similar to more common infections like flu and some stomach bugs.

If you have these symptoms and have had contact with an Ebola patient then ring 111 first, do not go directly to A&E or a GP.

If there has been no contact with Ebola then seek help from 111, your GP or A&E if necessary.

The chances of developing Ebola in the UK remain low.

Ebola screening: Will it work?

How not to catch Ebola


Most passengers flying from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where Ebola has killed more than 4,000 people, are screened before being allowed to board the plane.

Under the new UK screening measures, they will be identified by Border Force officers upon arrival. Nurses and consultants from Public Health England will then carry out the actual screening.

Passengers will have their temperatures taken, complete a risk questionnaire and have contact details recorded.

Anyone with suspected Ebola will be taken to hospital.

Passengers deemed to be at high risk due to contact with Ebola patients, but who are displaying no symptoms, will be contacted daily by Public Health England.

Heathrow Airport
It is estimated that 85% of all arrivals to the UK from affected countries will come through Heathrow

There are no direct flights to the UK from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea, which means people travelling from those countries would have to catch a connecting flight to the UK and could arrive at airports that are not screening passengers.

Instead “highly visible information” will be in place at all entry points to the UK.

The Department of Health estimates that 85% of all arrivals to the UK from affected countries will come through Heathrow.

BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott said there was one flight on Tuesday which would have been subjected to the new screening measures.

It was the Brussels Airlines flight which left Liberia for Brussels on Monday night, with transfers coming into Heathrow at 09.30 BST on Tuesday.

The screening will be extended to Terminal 2 on Wednesday, and rolled out to the other three terminals by the end of the week, our correspondent added.

“There is currently no screening at Brussels and Paris where most direct flights from the affected area will land or transfer to the UK,” he said.

ITV correspondent Neil Connery flew into Heathrow from Brussels on Tuesday morning and said he was asked at border control where his journey had started.

“A small team of border officials wearing blue protective glovesquestioned some passengers upon Lhr arrival,” he tweeted.

The Independent’s travel editor Simon Calder said three airlines were operating out of the three most-affected countries – Air France, Royal Air Maroc and Brussels Airlines – and there were only a handful of flights a week.

‘Low-risk people’

Screening arrivals marks a rapid shift in policy from the UK government.

Last week, it said there were no plans for screening as people were tested before leaving affected countries.

The WHO said it was unnecessary and that it would mean screening “huge numbers of low-risk people”.

In the Commons on Monday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the UK needed to prepare for the situation deteriorating in West Africa.

He said: “[The chief medical officer] confirms that the public health risk in the UK remains low and measures currently in place, including exit screening in all three affected countries, offer the correct level of protection.

“However, whilst the response to global health emergencies should always be proportionate, she also advises the government to make preparations for a possible increase in the risk level.”

Mr Hunt added that tackling the outbreak in Africa was the “single most important way” of preventing Ebola arriving in the UK.

Undated picture issued by MoD showing RFA Argus's Chief Officer Shane Wood (left) checking the first load of supplies for its deployment to Sierra Leone
RFA Argus is moored in Falmouth, Cornwall, and is preparing to sail to Sierra Leone

The UK government has pledged £125m “to help contain, control, treat and defeat Ebola”, hundreds of NHS staff have volunteered to travel to West Africa and 750 troops have been deployed to help build treatment centres and provide logistical support.

The UK’s casualty vessel RFA Argus, which has a fully-equipped hospital, is expected to set sail for Sierra Leone later this week. It will not be used to treat Ebola-infected patients but mainly to ferry kit and people.

Isolation units

There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola, which is transmitted through sweat, blood and saliva.

Anyone in the UK with suspected Ebola will be taken to hospital and blood samples will be taken to Public Health England’s specialist laboratory for rapid testing.

If the test is positive, then the patient will be transferred to an isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London. It is the centre that cared for the British nurse William Pooley, who contracted Ebola in West Africa.

The isolation unit at The Royal Free Hospital
The specialist isolation unit at London’s Royal Free Hospital

Hospitals in Newcastle, Liverpool and Sheffield are on standby to offer similar facilities if there is a sudden surge in Ebola cases. A total of 26 isolation beds could be prepared at the four hospitals.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham told BBC Radio 5 live that introducing screening “was the right thing to do” based on advice from the chief medical officer.

He said there was a shortage of the experimental drug ZMapp, which has been used to treat Ebola patients, and more should be done to expand the manufacturing capacity.

via BBC News – Ebola: Heathrow to start screening passengers.

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  6. 食量大。
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    1. 維生素B群:B群能促進身體的新陳代謝,協助能量釋放的輔因子,讓人體充滿活力,五穀米、糙米、燕麥等非精緻主食或豆製品有豐富的維生素B群,建議每日至少一餐高纖主食。
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