The Health News – 23 February 2017

• Western Australia’s medical community is hoping that the Government will encourage graduating “homegrown” doctors to take up and retain postings in rural and remote areas.

• Every 40 seconds, people from around the world commits suicide. Every 41 seconds, someone is left behind grieving  with the pain of loss. The show, 41 Seconds, explores how death affects the loved ones of those who committed suicide.

• Dr Sam Yockopua, head of emergency medicine, might get disciplinary action for making a public appeal on Facebook for basic medical supplies. This appeal has angered CEO of the hospital, who says there was no shortage.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  23rd of February 2017. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

Medical marijuana will soon be easier to access amid moves by the Federal Government to boost local supply and loosen importation laws.

The drug — used to treat patients with chronic or painful illnesses including cancer, severe epilepsy and motor neurone disease — could be available under the Government’s new scheme in eight weeks.

The medication is currently sourced from overseas on a case-by-case basis, but the new scheme would see local cultivation and supply with an interim fast track on importation while crops are grown.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said it was the “first time in history” the Government would facilitate an import process for the interim supply.

Mr Hunt said the change would ensure there were sufficient supplies for “all of the medical demand”, to be distributed to patients who have requested it from their doctor.

The Government last year legalised medicinal cannabis use and states regulate its cultivation, with Victoria having already harvested its first cannabis crop for medicinal use by people with epilepsy.

Mr Hunt praised Victoria for its work in cultivating the crop, citing the need for “safe, high quality, appropriately obtained medicine” while dismissing the potential for decriminalisation of wider cannabis use in the future.

He said there was also a private cultivation program being developed for long-term supply with the first licence issued last week.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has urged caution about the sale of medicinal cannabis.

AMA vice-president Tony Bartone said many doctors were still waiting to see the results of clinical trials.

The Turnbull Government looks set to unwind the Medicare rebate freeze on general practice and specialist visits in the May budget, a move that could cost in excess of $3 billion.

Some Cabinet ministers believe the thaw is essential if the Coalition is to ensure the successful “Mediscare” campaign run by Labor in the weeks before the July election can never be repeated.

Coalition strategists believes that campaign cost it several seats.

One minister told the ABC the Government needed to dramatically demonstrate its support for Medicare to inoculate it against future attacks.

The Prime Minister has admitted the Coalition’s 2014 budget fuelled public fears about the Government’s commitment to universal health care, by including plans like the ill-fated $7 co-payment for GP, pathology and imaging services.

New Health Minister Greg Hunt seems keen to strike a deal with Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) to remove a key irritant in the Government’s relationship with the powerful doctor’s lobby.

Overeating is having a bigger impact than simply affecting waistlines — the world’s population is consuming around 10 per cent more food than it needs, while almost 9 per cent is thrown away or left to spoil, a new study has found.

Efforts to reduce the billions of tonnes lost could improve global food security, ensuring everyone has access to a safe, affordable, nutritious diet, and help prevent damage to the environment, the University of Edinburgh team says.

Scientists … examined 10 key stages in the global food system, including food consumption and the growing and harvesting of crops, to quantify the extent of losses.

Using data collected primarily by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, the team found that more food was lost from the system than was previously thought.

“Reducing losses from the global food system would improve food security and help prevent environmental harm. Until now, it was not known how over-eating impacts on the system,” Dr Peter Alexander, from the university’s School of GeoSciences and Scotland’s Rural College, said.

Almost half of harvested crops — or 2.1 billion tonnes — are lost through over-consumption, consumer waste and inefficiencies in production processes, researchers say.

Rabobank report in September said Australians wasted $10 billion in food every year, with the national food waste figure increasing on the previous three years.

Livestock production is the least efficient process, with losses of 78 per cent, or 840 million tonnes, the University of Edinburgh team found.

Some 1.08 billion tonnes of harvested crops are used to produce 240 million tonnes of edible animal products including meat, milk and eggs.

This stage alone accounts for 40 per cent of all losses of harvested crops, researchers say.

Encouraging people to eat fewer animal products, reduce waste and not exceed their nutritional needs could help to reverse these trends, the team said.

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