The Health News – 2 September 2015

Overview:

• The Northern Territory Health Department has confirmed 30 children have been found with elevated blood lead levels in three separate locations across remote areas of the territory. Long-term exposure to lead at levels less than those required to cause acute symptoms can result in weakness in the fingers, wrists and ankles, general fatigue, headaches, anaemia, small increases in blood pressure, and reduced kidney function.

• One of the major problems faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is the lack of basic eye care. With strong Commonwealth leadership we can make sure that in 10 yearstime, 32,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people do not needlessly have poor vision for lack of care and concern.

• Dr Dankovich of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh created the ‘drinkable book’, with pages that can be used to filter and kill bacteria in contaminated water.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 2nd September 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster. 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-01/thirty-children-in-three-communities-affected-in-nt/6741626

The Northern Territory Health Department has confirmed 30 children have been found with elevated blood lead levels in three separate locations across remote areas of the territory. Health News

… NT Health Department’s chief health officer Professor Dinesh Arya said the alert was raised after children … in the West Daly region, were subjected to routine health checks.

“It was discovered that some children had higher than expected blood lead levels,” he said.

After [initially] not revealing the number of children affected, … the department said 30 children were being monitored after returning high levels.

In addition … children from the Emu Point outstation were revealed as being interviewed to determine how they could have been exposed to the toxic substance.

The Health Department would not say how significant the lead levels were, except to say they were higher than normal.

Professor Arya again declined the ABC’s request for an interview and instead issued a statement.

“All 30 children and their families are being interviewed to identify a possible reason for high lead levels in these children. More than half of [the] interviews have been completed already and we anticipate all interviews will be completed this month,” he said.

“All the children are receiving continued care from specialist paediatricians.”

An information paper by the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council states:

All Australians should have a blood lead level below 10 micrograms per decilitre … all children’s exposure to lead should be minimised.

Lead is not required for human health, and even small amounts of lead and lead compounds can be toxic when ingested or inhaled.

Children are considered to be more sensitive to the health effects of lead than adults. They absorb more lead into their bloodstream from the gut and airways and retain more in their body than adults.

Long-term exposure to lead at levels less than those required to cause acute symptoms can result in weakness in the fingers, wrists and ankles, general fatigue, headaches, anaemia, small increases in blood pressure, and reduced kidney function.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-01/taylor-no-excuses-for-this-indigenous-eye-health-crisis/6741066

Most vision loss could be eradicated essentially overnight. Thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needlessly have poor vision because of a lack of care and concern, writes Hugh Taylor.

Australia has some of the most advanced health technology in the world, yet our citizens are still going blind from simple, preventable conditions.

In 2010, around 15,000 Indigenous adults had poor vision, three times the rate of mainstream populations. This will increase to 34,000 in the next 10 years if we carry on slapping bandaids on the problem [he said].

In fact, with proper care this number could be reduced to only 2,000.

A report released… by PwC shows that if the Government commits to a modestly increased investment to implement … recommendations, they could save $856 million over the next 10 years.


One of the major problems faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is the lack of basic eye care. Unbelievably, one in three Indigenous adults have never had even a basic eye exam and for those with diabetes, only 20 per cent get the annual eye exam that they need.

Although there has been an increase in Government spending on eye care for Indigenous Australians over the last few years, the PwC report released …shows that much of this expenditure is not being used efficiently and for each $1 spent, there is only a 90 cent return.

With strong Commonwealth leadership we can make sure that in 10 years time, 32,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people do not needlessly have poor vision for lack of care and concern.

Professor Hugh Taylor is Chair of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-01/drinkable-book-could-help-developing-countries/6739664

World Health Organisation figures detail that more than half a billion people around the world don’t have access to safe drinking water, and more than three million people die each year as a result of drinking unsafe water — but what if a book could change that?

Dr Theresa Dankovich has created the ‘drinkable book’, with pages that can be used to filter and kill bacteria in contaminated water.

Dr Dankovich is based at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and says the book is easy to use and has seen much success in field trials of the invention.

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