The Health News – 30 May 2016

Overview:
• The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) announced the ban on advertising contraceptives on radio and television on Thursday and said it was acting in response to complaints from parents.

• The joint-project between St Vincent’s Hospital’s Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery and Melbourne University is looking at the way the arm and brain signals communicate. They have been able to send brain signals to the robotic arm, but now are looking at how to return those signals to give the sensation of touch.

• One hundred and fifty international doctors, scientists and researchers wrote an open letter to the World Health Organisation (WHO) calling for the games in Rio de Janeiro in August to be moved or delayed due to the virus, which is linked to serious birth defects. But the United Nations health agency rejected the call, saying that having the Games in Rio asplanned would significantly alter the spread of Zika.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  30th of May 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-29/pakistan-bans-broadcast-advertising-of-contraceptives/7456690

Pakistan’s broadcasting regulator has partially rescinded a ban on advertising contraceptives on radio and television.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) announced the ban on Thursday and said it was acting in response to complaints from parents.

But the regulator has now acknowledged that its intervention had caused widespread social concern.

It is now warning media organisations that their advertising content must conform to Pakistan’s cultural values.

The earlier ban came despite a Government initiative to encourage birth control in Pakistan, a conservative Muslim country of 190 million people where talking about sex in public is taboo.

Provincial population welfare departments regularly run campaigns to educate citizens on the benefits of various forms of birth control.

Advertisements for condoms and other forms of birth control are rare in Pakistan.

Contraceptive use in Pakistan is already low and fell by a further 7.2 per cent last year, according to Government statistics.

Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world with a population growth rate of 1.92 per cent, according to the Government, with its population projected to increase to more than 227 million by 2025.

The lack of use of contraceptives may also have implications for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS, which claimed over 2,800 lives in Pakistan last year, United Nations data showed.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-28/robotic-arm-that-sends-receives-brain-signals-tested-st-vincents/7455874

A robotic arm that could result in amputees regaining their sense of touch and increased movement is the latest breakthrough for Melbourne researchers trying to develop prosthetic limbs that work “like normal”.

The joint-project between St Vincent’s Hospital’s Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery and Melbourne University is looking at the way the arm and brain signals communicate.

They have been able to send brain signals to the robotic arm, but now are looking at how to return those signals to give the sensation of touch.

Professor Peter Choong from St Vincent’s Hospital said these new developments brought hope to amputees.

“It’s really very exciting. If you’re a patient who has lost a limb or part of a limb, something like this holds out hope for perhaps rebuilding them, allowing them to function much more normally than they do today,” Professor Choong said.

The research has been ongoing for a number of years, but scientists believe they are now even closer to simulating a “normal” arm.

They hope to have the next breakthrough in the next couple of years as they understand how the brain reads and interprets signals.

Professor Choong said this latest step was a perfect example of the need for more scientific funding.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-29/rio-olympics-poses-‘unimaginable-risk’-of-spreading-zika:-expert/7456530

Australian authorities are not taking the threat of the Zika virus seriously enough ahead of the Rio Olympics, a former chief health officer says.

… 150 international doctors, scientists and researchers wrote an open letter to the World Health Organisation (WHO) calling for the games in Rio de Janeiro in August to be moved or delayed due to the virus, which is linked to serious birth defects.

To press on with the Games in Rio, the second most affected city in Brazil by the Zika crisis, would be “irresponsible” and “unethical,” the letter argued.

But the United Nations health agency rejected the call, saying that having the Games in Rio as planned would “not significantly alter” the spread of Zika.

Charles Watson, who is now a professor of health sciences at Curtin University, agrees that the Games should be postponed, but said he doubted they would be due to commercial interests.

Professor Watson warned the virus could easily spread to Australia.

“A single person actually caused the epidemic that’s happening [in Brazil] now,” he said.

“Putting 500,000 people in there and then giving them a chance to get infected, sending them all home to their other countries is just an unimaginably risky thing to tolerate.