The Health News – 28 November 2016

Overview:
• Cambodia has offered a limited amnesty to Australians who have paid for surrogacy services, saying they can collect their babies without fear of arrest.The assurance comes a week after Australian nurse Tammy Davis-Charles was arrested in Phnom Penh for operating a surrogacy agency and allegedly falsifying documents. The amnesty will only apply to the 23 pregnancies that were arranged by Ms Davis-Charles.

• The Australian Medical Association launched its national 2016 report card on Indigenous health, taking the unusual step of homing in on one disease as its priority —rheumatic heart disease (RHD). AMA president Michael Gannon said the association had chosen to focus on the disease because it wanted to see it eradicated entirely.

• The WA Health Minister John Day has confirmed a worldwide shortage of meningococcal vaccine has caused wait times to blow out in Western Australia. While cases of B strain are decreasing, another strain is on the rise. Twenty cases of meningococcal have been reported in WA this year, five of those were the B strain, two were the Y strain and 12 have been the newer W strain.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  28th of November 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-26/cambodia’s-amnesty-for-surrogate-babies/8059714

Cambodia has offered a limited amnesty to Australians who have paid for surrogacy services, saying they can collect their babies without fear of arrest.

The assurance comes a week after Australian nurse Tammy Davis-Charles was arrested in Phnom Penh for operating a surrogacy agency and allegedly falsifying documents.

The Cambodian Government wants Australian intended parents to fulfil their financial commitments to surrogate women, who stand to earn $13,500.

The amnesty will only apply to the 23 pregnancies that were arranged by Ms Davis-Charles.

The amnesty was welcomed by surrogacy advocates.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-25/rheumatic-heart-disease-a-national-failure-ama/8059434

The Australian Medical Association has singled out a preventable disease caused by impoverished living conditions and untreated infections as Australia’s “national failure”.

The association launched its national 2016 report card on Indigenous health, taking the unusual step of homing in on one disease as its priority —rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

RHD is caused by several or one single acute bout of rheumatic fever, predominantly in children.

The disease damages parts of the heart, but mainly the valve.

It is caused by an untreated throat infection or group A Streptococcus.

AMA president Michael Gannon said the association had chosen to focus on the disease because it wanted to see it eradicated entirely.

“The goals we’ve set out are to eradicate this disease by 2031 — that sounds like an ambitious target, and yet it is readily achievable,” Dr Gannon said.

He said most Australians would be shocked to learn the disease persists in Indigenous populations at a rate 55 times than the general population.

“In fact, Australia has one of the highest rates of RHD in the world, almost exclusively localised to Indigenous communities,” Dr Gannon said.

The report noted the necessary knowledge to address RHD had been around for many decades, but action to date had been totally inadequate.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-27/shortage-of-meningococcal-vaccine-in-wa/8061694

The WA Health Minister John Day has confirmed a worldwide shortage of meningococcal vaccine has caused wait times to blow out in Western Australia.

“I understand there’s only one manufacturer worldwide and they are finding it hard to keep up with the demand,” he said.

The vaccine for the B strain of the disease is not expected to be re-stocked until early next year, but the minister denied it was cause for concern.

“I don’t think people should be overly alarmed at all, we’ve had only five cases for B strain in Western Australia this year, now they’ve had some tragic consequences there’s no doubt about that, but I think people do need to keep it in perspective.”

While cases of B strain are decreasing, another strain is on the rise.

Twenty cases of meningococcal have been reported in WA this year, five of those were the B strain, two were the Y strain and 12 have been the newer W strain.

In 2014, just two cases of the W [s]train were reported, then four in 2015, meaning the W strain is replacing the B strain as the most serious and is being monitored by the Communicable Diseases Network Australia.

Mr Day is hoping the Commonwealth will add the W strain to the National Immunisation Register, making it free of charge.

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