The Health News – 1 February 2016

Overview:
• When to slip, slop, slap is about to become clearer as five national health bodies aim to relieve confusion about whether Australians should spend less or more time in the sun via new guidelines. Experts say many Australians are confused when it comes to balancing skin protection with the need for vitamin D.

• At least 16 more people have died of starvation in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya since the delivery of aid earlier this month, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

•  Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley has demanded private health insurance companies provide more information to justify premium increases. Ms Ley said consumers had concerns about the affordability of their premiums, with fees rising by about 6 per cent per year over the past five years.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 1st February 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-31/vitamin-d-deficiency-guidelines-balance-skin-cancer-risk/7127718

When to slip, slop, slap is about to become clearer as five national health bodies aim to relieve confusion about whether Australians should spend less or more time in the sun via new guidelines.

Experts say many Australians are confused when it comes to balancing skin protection with the need for vitamin D.

The new guidelines urge people to avoid deliberate sun exposure in summer, when the UV index is three or above, to minimise the risk of skin cancer.

But they argue sun protection is largely not needed in winter, when the UV index is below three, and people should seek out some midday sun to increase their vitamin D levels.

Associate Professor Peter Foley from the Australasian College of Dermatologists said there were a lot of mixed messages.

Osteoporosis Australia’s Professor Peter Ebeling said about a quarter of Australians had a vitamin D deficiency, which could lead to bone problems like fractures and osteoporosis.

“When the UV index is below three, between May and December, please get outside at midday, roll up your sleeves go …for a walk, you’ll feel better but also you’ll help build up your vitamin D levels,” he said.

But Mr Ebeling said even those at risk from vitamin D deficiency should not spend a lot of time in the sun during summer.

The Cancer Council Australia’s (CCA) latest survey found 28 per cent of Australian adults were concerned about getting enough vitamin D.

But the chairman of the CCA’s Public Health Committee, Craig Sinclair, said people should not risk developing skin cancer in the summer.

CCA, Australian College of Dermatologists, Osteoporosis Australia, Australia and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society, and Endocrine Society of Australia collaboratively worked on the guidelines.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-31/more-syrians-starve-to-death-in-madaya-msf/7127424

At least 16 more people have died of starvation in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya since the delivery of aid earlier this month, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

The humanitarian group warned that several dozen more residents of the town were in “danger of death” because of severe malnutrition.

The latest deaths bring [out] the number of people reported to have died of starvation in Madaya to 46 since December, MSF said.

“MSF has clear medical reporting for 46 starvation deaths since December 1,” the group said in a statement to AFP.

“The real number is almost certainly higher, as MSF is aware of reports of people dying of starvation in their homes.”

Madaya, located in Damascus province, is under government siege and its fate has been one of the sticking points for fresh peace talks on the Syrian conflict that opened on Friday after delays.

Syria’s opposition wants to see the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions demanding an end to sieges in the country before committing to new negotiations.

Conditions in Madaya have reportedly been among the worst, with about 42,000 civilians there surrounded by government troops who have laid mines around the town to prevent people leaving.

While the government has some ability to airdrop supplies to …[some towns], the opposition has no similar capacity, and aid groups have regularly urged continuous aid access to all four towns.

They have also called for the evacuation of those suffering malnutrition or sick with other illnesses.

Citing medics it supports in the town, MSF said there were at least 320 cases of malnutrition in the town, including 33 that were so severe that the individuals could die without prompt treatment.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-30/private-health-insurance-fee-hikes-must-be-justified-sussan-ley/7126868

Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley has demanded private health insurance companies provide more information to justify premium increases.

The Health Department has ordered funds to reduce their proposed fee hikes or provide evidence of any extenuating circumstances as to why the proposed increases should be given the green light.

Ms Ley said consumers had concerns about the affordability of their premiums, with fees rising by about 6 per cent per year over the past five years.

Half a million Australians dropped or downgraded their private health insurance in the last financial year.                  

In response the Minister last year launched an online survey asking consumers for their views on what services should be covered by policies and how they could deliver better value for money.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accused the Government of presiding over “out-of-control” premium increases and exacerbating the problem with cuts to the public health system.