The Health News – 4 April 2017

Overview:
• With at least 60 new amputees registered in Syria and Afghanistan each week, medical professionals are struggling to keep up with the demand for prosthetics. A program called the Human Study is trying to help by using the internet to reach students in some of the most dangerous places on earth.

• Ivanhoe Grammar School has partnered with e-NABLE, a community of online 3D designers, so students can learn how to make and produce prosthetics. Steve Brophy, the school’s director of information and communication technology and eLearning, said his students were now thinking like designers and considering the needs of others.

• Currently, Australians above a certain income threshold incur what is known as the Medicare levy surcharge. But Francesco Paolucci, the head of health policy at Murdoch University’s Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs, has developed an alternative model. Professor Paolucci says his proposal builds on the strength of the current system but would let individuals decide the insurer and purchaser of their health services.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  4th of April 2017. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-03/students-in-warzones-learning-how-to-make-prosthetics-online/8411400

With at least 60 new amputees registered in Syria and Afghanistan each week, medical professionals are struggling to keep up with the demand for prosthetics.

A program called the Human Study is trying to help by using the internet to reach students in some of the most dangerous places on earth.

Louise Puli is a prosthetist and orthotist based in Melbourne.

“I actually came across Human Study whilst working in Tanzania and I could just see the huge need for prosthetists and orthotists in developing countries,” she said.

“On a daily basis we use different methods like Whatsapp or Viber, Skype, sometimes for them to send me real-time information about what’s happening and if the time difference allows for it we’ll have a real live conversation about what is going on with their patient.”

Humam Sadek, 21, from Aleppo in Syria, is a prosthetics technician and is studying for a bachelor’s degree with Dr Puli.

Mr Sadek’s brother was killed several years ago during a protest against the Syrian regime and he has seen many others maimed during the conflict.

But Mr Sadek said the ongoing conflict meant his work and study was often interrupted.

“One month they bomb four hospitals in my area so it’s so dangerous for anyone to be working inside this conflict area.”

Ms Puli said giving people the power to help their communities has been hugely rewarding.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-03/year-7-students-3d-print-prosthetics-for-people-in-need/8410078

A class of Melbourne year seven students is using 3D printers to make prosthetic hands for people born without limbs or those who have lost them.

Ivanhoe Grammar School has partnered with e-NABLE, a community of online 3D designers, so students can learn how to make and produce prosthetics.

Steve Brophy, the school’s director of information and communication technology and eLearning, said the school had used 3D printers for years but was looking for more meaningful projects.

By partnering with e-NABLE, Mr Brophy said his students were now thinking like designers and considering the needs of others.

Mr Brophy said the project was still in its infancy.

Once the students are confident with the prosthetic hand prototypes, Mr Brophy said they would contact people in need of prosthetics in Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Mr Brophy said it cost $50 in materials to make a 3D-printed prosthetic hand, which is considerably cheaper than a traditionally produced prosthetic.

And while the medical industry is yet to embrace 3D printers to produce prosthetics, Mr Brophy said he believed it was an inevitable progression.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-03/we-should-be-able-to-opt-out-of-medicare-says-francesco-paolucci/8397664

Your private health insurance should be able to fully substitute Medicare, rather than overlap with and supplement it, according to one economist with a radical proposal to overhaul Australia’s health system.

Currently, Australians above a certain income threshold incur what is known as the Medicare levy surcharge.

The Government offers a rebate for people who take up private health insurance as an incentive to help shift the burden of health care costs to the private sector.

But Francesco Paolucci, the head of health policy at Murdoch University’s Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs, has developed an alternative model.

He says it’s designed to avoid what he describes as “inefficient duplication”.

Lesley Russell from the Menzies Institute of Health Policy at Sydney University says the usual rationale given for the Australian system is “choice”.

“But what does that really mean?” she says.

“If you’re living in rural Tasmania, what sort of choice do you really have about using a private hospital facility or even a private doctor? We’ve never really had that explained.

Professor Paolucci says his proposal builds on the strength of the current system but would let individuals decide the insurer and purchaser of their health services.

At the moment, you can access private insurance while retaining Medicare coverage.

According to Professor Paolucci’s proposal, individuals would be enabled to make a choice between public and private health insurers.

Professor Paolucci says the key is universal coverage for a standardised nationally defined basic package, which would be the same for those who opt out and for those who stay with Medicare.