The News – 26 September 2014

Overview

  • Australians have joined the battle against the deadly Ebola virus raging through West Africa, which has now claimed more than 2,800 lives.
  • An attraction at the Perth Royal Show based on an infamous London mental health institution has been condemned and there are calls to shut it down.
  • The head of the Bethlem Royal Hospital in England has asked the Perth Royal Show to withdraw a controversial attraction based on the mental health institution, claiming it is “deeply offensive”.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 26th September 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-24/australians-join-fight-to-curb-spread-of-ebola-virus/5766578

Australians have joined the battle against the deadly Ebola virus raging through West Africa, which has now claimed more than 2,800 lives.

Amid warnings that the number of people infected could reach 1.4 million by January, aid agencies say a massive input of resources on the ground is the only hope of controlling the epidemic.

Australian nurse Libby Bowell is based in Liberia with the International Federation of the Red Cross.

The team Ms Bowell is helping coordinate has two key roles – the collection of dead bodies and community care.

With people being turned away from the treatment centres, locals are being taught how to care for their own without becoming infected.

“Some of the most tragic stories are when too many people try to look after somebody in a community and then we hear stories of five or as many as 10 people being infected, and we have got to stop that,” Ms Bowell said.

But she said the strict safety measures in place make that job even harder.

Psychologist Malcolm Hugo has just returned to his Adelaide home after a two month stint with medical aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières in Sierra Leone.

His work focused on providing support for the sick and their families as well as arranging care for children orphaned by the disease.

Dr Hugo said the majority of staff in the treatment centres were locals and the hygienists face probably the toughest job of all.

“They were the ones that had to prepare the dead bodies, put them in body bags, and this was extremely stressful for them and also culturally inappropriate for them to be dealing with bodies in this way,” he said.

Aid agencies say they need 20 times the resources currently on the ground.

The US has pledged $70 million and 3,000 troops and other countries have offered to send medical teams.

The Australian Government has offered money, but the Australian head of Médecins Sans Frontières, Paul McPhun, said it needed to do more.

Australian scientists are also playing their part, joining the global quest for a vaccine.

At the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, the CSIRO’s Dr Glenn Marsh is leading a team comparing two different Ebola viruses – the one raging through West Africa and a much less harmful virus.

“If we understand the differences between these two viruses and why one doesn’t cause disease then we may be able to develop therapeutics that can then trigger the body to respond differently when it is infected with an African Ebola virus,” Dr Marsh said.

A separate team in the UK has begun human trials of a possible vaccine which, if effective, could be fast-tracked for use in West Africa later this year.

But aid organisations say what they need right now is more treatment units and more people to staff them.

They say without a huge input of resources, what is being called the greatest peacetime challenge the United Nations has ever faced, is set to worsen.

If you would like to make a donation to help the fight against Ebola you can visit the following websites: www.redcross.org.au, www.unicef.org.au, www.msf.org.au.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-24/controversy-over-ride-based-on-infamous-mental-asylum/5764548

An attraction at the Perth Royal Show based on an infamous London mental health institution has been condemned and there are calls to shut it down.

Debuting at this year’s show, the “Bethlem Sanatorium” ride features an open ward with 20 actors pretending to be patients from the notorious Bethlem Royal Hospital, commonly known as Bedlam.

The institution, the first of its kind in Britain, was founded as a hospital in the 13th century and was known for its cruel treatment of patients.

The president of the WA Mental Health Association, Alison Xamon, said Bethlem Sanatorium was an unfortunate choice of theme.

WA Mental Health Minister Helen Morton has also condemned the attraction, saying it has the potential to stigmatise people with mental illness.

The executive director of Consumers of Mental Health, Shauna Gaebler, went further, demanding the attraction be shut down.

But the Royal Agricultural Society, which runs the Perth Royal Show, said it would not be cancelled. [A spokeswoman for the Royal Agricultural Society LATER said it would be meeting … to review the issue.]

The Perth Royal Show opens on Saturday.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-25/bethlem-hospital-ceo-demands-royal-show-pull-offensive-ride/5768220?section=wa

The head of the Bethlem Royal Hospital in England has asked the Perth Royal Show to withdraw a controversial attraction based on the mental health institution, claiming it is “deeply offensive”.

Debuting at this year’s show, the Bethlem Sanatorium ride features an open ward with 20 actors pretending to be patients from the notorious hospital, commonly known as Bedlam.

The institution, the first of its kind in Britain, was founded as a hospital in the 13th century and was known for its cruel treatment of patients.

It is still in operation, providing specialist mental health facilities for more than 450,000 patients a year.

Matthew Patrick from the South London and Maudsley Foundation, which runs the hospital, wrote to Royal Agricultural Society head Peter Cooper to request that the attraction, listed as “Sideshow Fun” in the kids and family section of the show’s website, be removed.

“The ride is deeply offensive; stigmatises mental illness and reinforces negative stereotypes about mental health,” he wrote.

“It fosters discrimination and promotes the perception of ‘scary mental health patients’ which will undoubtedly deter people from seeking the help they need.”

He said the hospital depicted in the attraction was “not merely an historical or fictitious institution” but “a real place, with real patients who are experiencing real illness”.

“I realise that the ride at your show is satirical and designed to appeal to a sense of fun, but there are ways of doing this without causing such offence or referring to an existing hospital and its patients,” Dr Patrick wrote.

“We ask that you cancel this ride so that it is not included in the show and does not cause detriment to our hospital, staff and most importantly to our patients and other people with mental health difficulties.”

The WA Mental Health Association, the Consumers of Mental Health group and WA Mental Health Minister Helen Morton have all condemned the ride.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Agricultural Society said it would be meeting later today to review the issue.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-25/hospital-sites-amongst-latest-wa-government-asset-sales/5768514?section=wa

The WA Government has unveiled its second tranche of asset sales, identifying 20 parcels of land expected to raise $250 million.

The Princess Margaret, Kaleeya, Swan District, Shenton Park and Woodside Maternity hospital sites, as well as the East Perth power site, are on the list of land sales aimed at reducing debt.

Police headquarters in East Perth and the Fremantle police station are also on the list.

Premier Colin Barnett said while initial land sales were expected to generate $250 million, the Government had flagged more than 400 sites that would raise significantly more revenue.

Services at many of the hospitals slated for closure will be moved to the new Fiona Stanley Hospital, set to open in October, and a new children’s hospital is under construction.

Mr Barnett said the sites “were some of the best land in Perth” and were expected to generate a lot of private sector interest.

“A lot of these prime sites are inner-city sites and so you’re going to see a lot of urban redevelopment as a result of that, higher density and that’s the changing nature of a maturing city,” he said.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said the Government should be more strategic with the land sales rather than selling it off in a “fire sale”.

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