The Health News – 4 March 2016

Overview:
• The new government in Vanuatu is planning to impose strict medical requirements on future political candidates, in an effort to deal with the long-running issue of elected MPs who don’t live long enough to see out their term of office.

• There is not enough money to run dedicated programs for problem gamblers in Tasmania despite there being a government fund to help such people, chief executive of treatment centre Holyoake Sarah Charlton has said.

• British researchers at the University College London discovered the gene responsible for grey hair and say it is a breakthrough that could be used by some people to stop their own greying process.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 4th of March 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-03/medical-requirements-for-mps-on-the-cards-in/7216364

The new government in Vanuatu is planning to impose strict medical requirements on future political candidates, in an effort to deal with the long-running issue of elected MPs who don’t live long enough to see out their term of office.

Already after the snap election in late January, the MP for the Malo/Aore constituency in northern Vanuatu, Havo Moli, has died, and the government will need to call an expensive by-election to find his replacement.

Amending the Representation of Peoples Acts is just one of the priorities listed in Prime Minister Charlot Salwai’s 100 day plan that was made public earlier this week.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister’s office, Tanna MP Johnny Koanapo, worked on the document and says it’s a necessary move, given the expenses involved in running by-elections.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-03/tasmanian-gambling-addicts-seeing-little-from-support-fund/7216060

There is not enough money to run dedicated programs for problem gamblers in Tasmania despite there being a government fund to help such people, an addiction treatment specialist has said.

The State Government’s Community Support Levy is paid by hoteliers as a percentage of their gross profits from poker machines.

Half is set aside for research, education and rehabilitation.

But chief executive of treatment centre Holyoake Sarah Charlton said very little money from the fund flowed to her organisation.

She said the Government’s response had been consistent.

“‘There is no more money, don’t bother asking for it because there is no more’,” she said.

“Every time a tender comes out, which is few and far between these days, we put our hand up along with all the others.

“Unless we can get behind the reasons why people are engaging in addictive behaviours they will continue to do that because it’s giving them pleasure, it’s making them feel better.

“It’s not something that one phone call can fix at all – it’s intensive psychotherapy that we do.”

Social welfare groups and some councils on Wednesday renewed their push to remove poker machines from pubs and clubs on the back of figures showing Tasmanians punters lost almost $200 million last financial year.

Ms Chapman also said simply removing poker machines from hotels and clubs was not a solution, because addicts would look for other ways to escape the stresses of their lives.

An interactive map released yesterday by Anglicare Tasmania showed gambling losses last financial year were concentrated in lower socio-economic areas.

Ms Charlton said she was not surprised.

Treasurer Peter Gutwein said people could have their say on poker machines next month when it reviews the Federal Group’s exclusive licence to run them.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-02/grey-hair-gene-discovery-could-reverse-process/7213606

Researchers have discovered the gene responsible for grey hair and say it is a breakthrough that could be used by some people to stop their own greying process.

British researchers at the University College London published a study in the journal Nature Communications, where they pinpointed the gene IRF4, which is involved in regulating melanin, the pigment responsible for hair, skin and eye colour.

This gene is known to play a role in hair colour, but this is the first time it has been linked to going grey.

The IRF4 gene accounted for about 30 per cent of hair greying, with the remaining 70 per cent due to other factors such as age, stress and other environmental exposures.

Professor Brian Morris, a molecular biologist at Sydney’s University’s School of Medical Sciences, said the study is a major breakthrough in hair genetic research.