The Health News – 17 March 2014

Overview

  • Health commentators are calling on the government to subsidise newly-developed Hepatitis C drugs to avoid an impending increase in long-patients suffering severe complications of the disease.
  • In Tasmania, a new trial offering free heart scans has revealed surprising numbers of people as being at risk of heart disease.
  • In Canberra, the new birth centre at Calvary Hospital is set to offer expectant mothers a family-friendly setting for their pregnancy.

Health News on HPR.

Hepatitis C treatments: Australia urged to subsidise ‘revolutionary’ new drugs – by Deborah Cornwall
Health commentators are calling on the government to subsidise newly-developed Hepatitis C drugs to avoid an impending increase in long-patients suffering severe complications of the disease.
People who contracted Hep C in recent decades are now developing complications such as liver failure at an increasingly high rate. Of the nation’s 250,000 Hep C patients, over half are baby boomers that contracted the disease in the 1960s and 70s, many through shared drug paraphernalia. The number of these patients with liver cancer or awaiting liver transplant has risen from 10 to 40% over the past 5 years. Hepatologist expert Professor Geoff McCaughan believes the new treatment currently underway in the United States and Europe is extremely effective, and said “We are talking about 95 per cent cure rates with one or two tablets a day, essentially without any side effect. Liver cancer associated with hepatitis C is the most rapidly growing cancer in the Western world.” However the new medications are costing overseas patients tens of thousands of dollars, leading to calls for the government to subsidise the medications before more Hepatitis C patients develop serious or terminal complications.

Heart disease trial turns up surprising results – no author listed
In Tasmania, a new trial offering free heart scans has revealed surprising numbers of people as being at risk of heart disease.
The initiative provides heart ultrasounds to Tasmanians over 65 living in rural areas. Early figures show that more than half of people scanned already have some heart damage. Director of the Menzies Research Institute Professor Tom Marwick has said the results are alarming and that heart damage like that found in the scans, often precipitates heart failure. He said “There is work to be done in the community in terms of changing the risk factors that drive the disease to begin with. We have more smoking, more obesity, more high blood pressure, higher cholesterol than the rest of Australia. In many markers, we’re either the most unhealthy of running second to the Northern Territory. We believe that before people develop heart failure which is a serious illness, requiring multiple hospital admissions, there is a stage where there’s some cardiac damage where potentially we could change the course of the disease if we could identify.”

New Calvary Birth Centre offers expectant Canberra mothers more options – no author listed
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-14/new-calvery-birth-centre-gives-expectant-mothers-more-options/5321542

In Canberra, the new birth centre at Calvary Hospital is set to offer expectant mothers a family-friendly setting for their pregnancy. The Calvary Birth Centre, which is supported by the Continuity of Midwifery Care Service, is comprised of two large birthing rooms and is equipped with a double-bed and bathtub, and accommodates partners. Calvary CEO Katy Gallagher said “Whilst they’re in a hospital, they don’t look like a hospital room, all the medical equipment is hidden. It really complements what we’ve got on the southside and makes it available to women on the northside,” Ms Gallagher said. Last year there were 1,870 births at Calvary Hospital, and the new facility is projected to account for an additional 240 births annually.