Saturday, February 24, 2007

Brainless Greenie logic arrives in the health field

Read the following report and see if you can find the flaw in it. Answer below

Global warming will take a toll on children's health, according to a new report showing hospital admissions for fever soar as days get hotter. The new study found that temperature rises had a significant impact on the number of pre-schoolers presenting to emergency departments for fever and gastroenteritis. The two-year study at a major children's hospital showed that for every five-degree rise in temperature two more children under six years old were admitted with fever to that hospital. The University of Sydney research is the first to make a solid link between climate changes and childhood illness.

"And now global warming is becoming more apparent, it is highly likely an increasing number of young children will be turning up at hospital departments with these kinds of common illnesses," said researcher Lawrence Lam, a paediatrics specialist. "It really demonstrates the urgent need for a more thorough investigation into how exactly climate change will affect health in childhood."

Dr Lam said the results, collated from The Children's Hospital at Westmead admissions, back up beliefs that children are less able to regulate their bodies against climate change than adults. The brain's thermal regulation mechanism is not as well developed in children, making them more susceptible to "overheating" and at risk of developing illness, he said. "They're particularly at risk of extreme changes, much more than other people."

The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research, analysed several different climate factors, including UV index, rainfall and humidity, collected from the Bureau of Meteorology in 2001 and 2002. Temperatures were the only negative risk factor, with findings linking heat to both fever and gastro disease but not to respiratory conditions.

Surprisingly, rates of gastroenteritis were lower on days with a high UV factor probably, says Dr Lam, because the rays "sterilised" the ground, killing more germs and reducing risk. He said it was still unclear whether the heat directly triggered the illnesses or whether other heat-related problems, like pollution, were responsible. A longer-term study was needed add strength to the findings, Dr Lam said.


The finding concerned Sydney, which is MUCH cooler than tropical North Queensland, where I come from. So if hot weather causes fever, North Queensland should be RIFE with fever cases, right? I have never heard anyone say that it is, either anecdotally or otherwise, and I am quite sure that it would be widely known in North Queensland if it were true. I have, however, heard many cases of people getting ill when they move to a COLDER climate.

It is true that certain nasty viruses (Ross River Fever, Dengue Fever) thrive best in hot climates so some elevated morbidity from that source would be expected. Overall, however, there is no noticeable inferiority in the health of North Queenslanders -- perhaps because there are also various health problems that are greatest in COLD climates. One notes that elderly people often move to warmer climates for the sake of their health. And surely it is WINTER when 'flu is most prevalent!

Cheney brings out the hate in peaceniks

About 350 anti-Iraq war protesters last night formed a hostile welcome committee for US Vice-President Dick Cheney, clashing with police outside Sydney's Town Hall as they ignored calls for peaceful protests. Mounted police officers and members of the riot squad scuffled with protesters in scenes reminiscent of violent anti-globalisation protests at the G20 summit in Melbourne last year.

The crowd, led by members of the Stop The War Coalition, marched down George Street - one of Sydney's main streets - without permission from police, who cited traffic concerns for the decision. The clashes occurred when protesters attempted to break through the wall of police officers. Ten protesters were arrested...

NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Terry Collins yesterday warned that the protest organisers did not have permission to stage the march from Town Hall to the US consulate near Martin Place. But leaders of the Stop The War Coalition said adequate notice had been given. "Police have attempted to drive the anti-war protest off the street," coalition spokeswoman Jean Parker told the crowd. "We will not be silenced."

Protesters carried placards bearing slogans such as "Cheney is a torturer" and "Go home Cheney, take Howard hunting".

NSW Premier Morris Iemma warned demonstrators against disrupting Mr Cheney's visit with violent protests. "Everyone's entitled to protest and to do so peacefully," Mr Iemma said. "But they are not going to cause inconvenience and disruption and take the law into their own hands."


Migrant policy shift on English

Mutual obligation is to become the Howard Government's new mantra on immigration, with migrants expected to learn English after they arrive in Australia. Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration Teresa Gambaro will use a speech tonight to unveil a major shift in the Government's approach to migrants, saying that Australia always helps those in need but expects "those receiving assistance to contribute in return".

"The principle of the 'fair go' is a uniquely Australian value. A 'fair go', however, expects fair effort," Ms Gambaro will tell a symposium run by the Islamic Council of Victoria and the federal Government. "The Government will continue to support all migrants by ensuring they have access to education, employment and involvement with mainstream community activities. "In return, the Government expects migrants to make the effort to learn the language and the culture."

It is unclear at this stage how the Government plans to enforce the program. The shift to mutual obligation will bring settlement services in line with the Government's approach to social security over the past decade, where responsibilities are imposed on welfare recipients. It follows moves by the Howard Government to emphasise integration over diversity as part of a broader shift away from multiculturalism.

Ms Gambaro says there are already many common values between Muslim and non-Muslim Australians and that "there is no incompatibility between a commitment to Islam and being Australian". "For Australia's Muslims, there is no conflict between veils and Vegemite," she says. Mutual obligation would also help Australia's non-Muslim population better understand Islam, the Queensland MP says.

The speech by Ms Gambaro is her first in the new portfolio and maps out a significant new direction for settlement services. Ms Gambaro says the term multiculturalism has become "redundant". She says: "Multiculturalism, as a term, can be interpreted in any number of ways ... in my view, its very imprecision is a critical weakness. "It doesn't tell us what we share in common, it doesn't tell us who we are, it doesn't tell us what our values are."

Ms Gambaro says that while individual backgrounds should be celebrated, "we cannot afford to be confined by them". "Australia cannot be a nation of islands within an island," she says. "Instead we should celebrate our cultural diversity and commitment to shared Australian values and a great method of doing this is by ensuring we can all speak to one another - in English."

Ms Gambaro, whose Italian parents came to Australia with scant English skills, says she can empathise with migrants. "Learning English can be difficult - I know this from personal experience - but it is not an insurmountable hurdle, nor is it an unreasonable expectation. This is because English language ability is a passport to participation, a passport to prosperity."



Inaction allows superbugs to spread

PATIENTS may be getting potentially fatal infections in hospitals because the State Government has yet to allocate any of the $1.6 million it promised to combat drug-resistant superbugs. Professor Lyn Gilbert, who heads an expert panel looking at the problem, said she was surprised more people were not taking legal action. "People are dying of diseases that should have been prevented," she said. "What surprises me is how infrequently people sue hospitals."

Professor Gilbert, who chairs the NSW expert group on multiresistant organisms and the director of Westmead Hospital's Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, said hospital managers recognised the importance of infection control, "but they are limited by resources". "None have enough [money] to do surveillance work. They put out fires, really," she said.

The NSW Government has long accepted that patients at highest risk of developing potentially lethal bacterial infections - those having joint replacements, heart or vascular surgery and those in intensive care - should be screened before their treatment to check whether the bugs are present on their skin. This is because usually harmless bacterial "colonisation" can cause serious illness if it enters a surgical wound. But hospitals cannot proceed with planned improvements because they have still received none of the funding, promised a year ago to carry out screening and other recommendations of an expert committee convened in the wake of disease outbreaks.

In the western Sydney area alone, said Professor Gilbert, it would cost about $220,000 a year to screen all patients using pathology tests. But hospitals would incur even greater costs if they isolated patients who had been infected or colonised by the virulent organisms. Associate Professor Peter Collignon, director of microbiology and infectious diseases at Canberra Hospital, said up to 5000 Australians developed septicemia from golden staph bacteria while in hospital. "One-third of those will die," he said. "These cause more deaths than the road toll. My firm belief is half of these infections at least are preventable." He said surveillance for pathogens was essential, because hospitals could not act unless they knew they had a problem.

Dr Tom Gottlieb, the vice-president of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases, said there was "a kind of nihilism" in the response of health authorities to hospital infections as neither challenged high rates of preventable illness. Dr Gottlieb, a Sydney specialist, said surveillance was expensive and inevitably would identify only a small number of colonised patients compared with the total screened. But it was worth screening for antibiotic-resistant golden staph, in particular, because of its high death rate, he said. If the bacteria affected an artificial joint, it could require three years or longer of antibiotic treatment and repeat surgery.

In a statement to the Herald, a Department of Health spokeswoman blamed "consultation to finalise an equitable split of the funds" and the need to put in place "performance indicators" for the long delay.


1 comment:

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